The urgent need of our time.
All of the latest research on churches points to several facts:
- In the US attendance at church is declining (now at 17%)
- About 3,700 churches close every year
- About 4,000 churches start every year (Net growth: 300 churches)
- We need more than 3,000 new churches each year to simply keep pace with our
- Many growing churches gain most of their members from failing churches.
- This is true in all parts of the Church in America: Roman Catholic,
Mainline and Evangelical.
Clearly if we do not revitalize the churches of America, the percentage of people in
the Church, Jesus Church, in America will continue to fall.
Our Lord deserve better. He commands better.
“Make all peoples into disciples
(apprentices of me)
by going to them,
(we change to reach them)
baptizing them into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
(we enfold them into Christs body)
and training them to obey everything that I have commanded you.
(so that they do more than sit in pews).”
If we are going to have to revitalize churches in four different ways:
- Strengthen existing churches A healthy church, one which works the
way God designed churches to work, will effectively draw people to Jesus. Through
its love, leadership, worship, passion and so many other things the church has,
through the centuries transformed the lives of whole populations throughout the world,
including America. Healthy churches in America can and are just as effective.
However, many churches lack that essential spiritual health. There are several ways
to regain it. One way I have seen is effective is
Natural Church Development. There may be other ways
of increasing heath in a church. Whatever way we choose, we all need to be very
serious and diligent in seeing God's body increasing in strength.
- Refocus churches visions on Outreach All of our churches were
established to bring the Good News of Jesus to someone, even if it was just our children.
They did not exist to keep established members happy, but to make younger members
and non-member holy, different, more like God through Jesus Christ.
However, our present priorities (as shown in budgets, buildings and
show that for many of us our focus has wandered. We pour 90% of the gifts God
has given us into maintaining and expanding that which pleases us, and which does not
effectively reach others with Jesus message. As a result many of our churches
go for years without someone who did not already attend another church becoming
members of ours.
Today we need to think outside the box. We accomplish Outreach not only when we
enfold people into our present worship services, but also when we establish satellite
services at other locations, nesting congregations in our buildings and many other
innovative approaches. Some of then can be noted in the
Fresh Start Models suggested by the Reformed Church in America, as well as those
found in Bob Humphreys
Fresh Start curriculum for church consulting.
How can we get back on track? It may be a simple as comparing our stated purposes
with our actual actions. By considering the people around us and how Jesus can
most powerfully touch their lives we can find plenty of
Mission Opportunities. We may even know who to reach and how already, but our
ministry programs do not align with our stated
mission. Of course, we may not even have a stated mission to reach out to the
community. There are people whom no other church can reach but your.
Seeking Gods specific mission for your church can be found in a number of ways,
including a VisionQuest and through an
On-site Interim Pastoral Ministry.
- Match the leadership for the churches to the task of the churches Not
every pastor is the right pastor for your church. Not even every “good”
pastor is the right pastor. Every pastor has unique gifts, training, temperament and
experience. How will you find the right one?
The right pastor will be the one who can help you follow where God is leading you.
Knowing Gods mission for His church (aka your congregation) will enable you to
write a more accurate Pastoral Profile and choose a pastor on more than preaching.
If God calls you to enlarge your small group ministry, you will want a pastor with that
kind of experience. If your mission includes a new ministry to local military personnel,
a pastor with some knowledge of the needs of those people will be important.
Since mission provides the vital context for calling a pastor, a
Mission-centered Pastoral Search will focus your search. This can be done
both using pulpit supply between pastors or as a part of an
On-site Interim Pastoral Ministry.
- Increase the reproduction of the churches Planting daughter churches
revitalizes the mother church as well as expands the Kingdom. Recent studies show that
new churches (those under 10 years old) more successfully draw unchurched people into
a relationship with Jesus than older or larger churches. However, we often overlook the
fact that churches that intentionally daughter new churches regularly grow in their own
abilities and effectiveness to reach out. The daughter church both reinvigorates the
mother church passion for those without Jesus, and also becomes an incubator and
test case for ministries that will later prove effective for the mother church.
Many churches are worried about the timing. “How will we know that we are ready
to plant a church?” Using Natural Church Development
as well as other measures we can determine both whether
your church is ready and what preparations you need to take to become ready to
plant a daughter church.