Tuesday, December 15, 2015
By Rick Richardson • December 14, 2015 (from Outreach,com) With as many as two-thirds of emerging adults (those ages 19 to 29) turning from their Christian upbringing, we are at a critical moment to understand why this is the case and to begin to reach out to these dechurched individuals in such a way as to recapture their image of the true God. A team from the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism (BGCE) journeyed to Burning Man earlier this year to learn more about this community, research the dechurched and share God’s love. Many of the 70,000 people who attend Burning Man attend the event in order to express their creativity, find community and seek spiritual encounters. Ninety percent of the people the BGCE team interviewed were from mainline Protestant and Catholic backgrounds. They are, at this point, very dechurched. Most attended church in high school and earlier, but were never captured by the church. They are not hostile, just disinterested. They are spiritual, but not religious. Here are three themes that emerged as we interviewed “Burners.” We believe these can help us better reach out to the younger, dechurched, spiritually seeking generation. 1. Many Burners are looking for the opportunity to express, in a context of radical acceptance, sides of themselves they have ignored, repressed or discounted. The church is not often perceived as a place of radical acceptance (or radical grace) toward people as they are. The church for Burners will have to practice a radical grace and acceptance that will be surprising for people who long to express “new” selves. 2. For many Burners, the good news they are longing to discover relates to achieving wholeness and expanded consciousness. They long to feel whole, connected to others and to the world. The church for Burners will have to bring the healing and transformed consciousness (mind) that Jesus so often modeled in his ministry and community. 3. Many Burners are looking for a faith that is integrated with their bodies, sexuality, minds, hearts, creativity, imaginative sides and larger social and cosmic environments. For many, the church seems more focused on managing behavior and controlling thinking through dogma. The church for Burners will have to express a positive vision for the arts, imagination, sexuality, intuition, the cosmos and the interconnectedness of all humanity. Dr. Rick Richardson is evangelism fellow at the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism and director of and professor in the M.A. in Evangelism and Leadership and the M.A. in Missional Church Movements programs at Wheaton College.
Monday, December 14, 2015
Thursday, November 5, 2015
Craig Groeschel Senior Pastor, Life.Church Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of Life.Church. Meeting in multiple locations around the United States, and globally at Church Online, Life.Church is known for the innovative use of technology to spread the Gospel. Sometimes people ask about our communication strategy for attracting new people to Life.Church and retaining current attenders. Because people are more distracted than ever and going to church less frequently, we want to get them excited about upcoming content so they’ll come (and bring a friend). So, at Life.Church, we decided to promote our message series with exciting trailers, just like the previews you see when you go to the movies. We also do what I call “The Seven Touches.” These are small, constant communication touch points that help people get excited about coming to church. Pastor: I always promote the next series three or four weeks before it even starts. I do this on the weekends and for multiple weeks since most people are not at church every week. Campus Pastor: I want the campus pastors to talk about the next series. In our multi-campus model, attenders hear from me as I'm teaching, and they hear from campus pastors. I want our communication about upcoming series to be in sync. Video: I want the audience to see a promotional video that creates interest and intrigue. A visual link to the series also makes it easier to remember. Invitation Cards: We give our attenders invitation cards or door hangers so they can invite other people by simply handing them a card with our information on it. Banner: We want everyone to see a banner in the parking lot to remind them again of what to expect when they come into the church. Mailer: We want people to receive a mailer reminding them about the series a week before it starts. Rather than sending mailers to the general public, we send them to attenders since they’ll be the ones most likely to invite others. A cold invitation in a mailbox isn’t nearly as effective as a warm personal invitation. Social Media: We want to use social media to share it everywhere.We post about new series on official Life.Church social media channels, but we also encourage our staff, volunteers, and attenders to post on their personal accounts too. We can't always control who will come to church or how the church will grow, but these touch points are seven consistent things we can do that will contribute to the desired outcome—leading people to become fully devoted followers of Christ. Open Idea: The more people are familiar with something coming up, the more they'll care about it. We want Life.Church attenders to care about what happens at their church, so we're intentional about creating opportunities for them to hear and see what's next and what God is doing through them.
Friday, October 23, 2015
October 21, 2015 By Rick Warren Pastor, you’re surrounded by dirt. To be more precise, you’re surrounded by soil – all kinds of soil. In your community, you have people who are ready to respond to the Gospel and people who aren’t. Your job is to isolate the good soil and plant your seed there. Jesus clearly taught this notion of spiritual receptivity in the Parable of the Sower and the Soils (Matt. 13:3-23). Like different kinds of soil, people respond differently to the Good News. Everyone is not equally ready to receive Christ. Some people are very open to hearing the Gospel and others are very closed. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explained that there are hard hearts, shallow hearts, distracted hearts, and receptive hearts. If you want your ministry to maximize its evangelism effectiveness, you need to focus your energy on the right soil. That’s the soil that will produce a hundred-fold harvest. Take a cue from those who work with actual dirt. No farmer in his right mind would waste seed, a precious commodity, on infertile ground that won’t produce a crop. In the same way, I believe careless, unplanned broadcasting of the Gospel is poor stewardship. The message of Christ is too important to waste time, money, and energy on non-productive methods and soil. We need to be strategic in reaching the world. We should focus our efforts where they will make the greatest difference. Spiritual receptivity comes and goes in people’s lives like an ocean tide. People are more open to spiritual truth at certain times than at others. Many factors determine spiritual receptivity. God uses a variety of tools to soften hearts and prepare people to be saved. So who are the most receptive people? I believe there are two broad categories: people in transition and people under tension. That’s because God uses both change and pain to get people’s attention and make them receptive to the Gospel. People in transition: Any time people experience major change, whether positive or negative, they develop a hunger for spiritual stability. This has occurred in America during the last several years. The massive changes in our world have left us frightened and unsettled and has produced an enormous interest in spiritual matters. Alvin Toffler says that people look for “islands of stability” when change becomes overwhelming. This is a wave the Church needs to ride. People are also more receptive to the Gospel when they face changes like a new marriage, a new baby, a new home, a new job, or a new school. That’s why churches can generally grow faster in newer communities where new residents are continually moving in than in stable, older communities where people have lived for 40 years. People under tension: God uses all kinds of emotional pain to get people’s attention: the pain of divorce, death of a loved one, unemployment, financial problems, marriage and family difficulties, loneliness, resentment, guilt, and other stresses. When people are fearful or anxious, they often look for something greater than themselves to ease the pain and fill the void they feel. I claim no immaculate perception on the list I want to share with you. This is not a scientific study. But based on my many years of pastoring, I offer the following list of what I believe have been the 10 most receptive groups of people that we’ve reached out to at Saddleback: Second-time visitors to your church (unbelievers who come, regardless of the reason) Close friends and relatives of new converts People going through a divorce Those who feel their need for a recovery program (any type: alcohol, drugs, sexual, etc.) First-time parents Terminal illness of self or family member Couples with major marriage problems Parents with problem children Recently unemployed/major financial problem New residents in the community A great benefit of focusing on receptive people is that you don’t have to pressure them to receive Christ. I tell my staff: “If the fruit is ripe, you don’t have to yank it!” I believe God has called pastors to catch fish and feed sheep – not corral goats! It usually takes about five times more energy to reactivate a disgruntled or carnal member than it does to win a receptive unbeliever. The truth is that some of your inactive members probably need to join somewhere else for a number of reasons. Growing churches focus on reaching receptive people. Non-growing churches focus on re-enlisting inactive people. Once you know who your target is, who you are most likely to reach, and who are the most receptive people in your target group, then you’re ready to establish an evangelism strategy for your church. So my suggestion to you is this: start checking the soil.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
From churchfuel.com: APR 29 2015 This post could come with all kinds of disclaimers. But we’ll save those for another post and get right to the reasons your church might not be growing. 1. You’re not growing. The number one growth barrier in a church is not service times or seating capacity, it’s leadership. If you want your church to grow, invest in your own leadership. With all the books, blogs, conferences, coaching networks and online courses, it’s never been easier for you to work on yourself. 2. You are not developing other leaders. The Senior Pastor is not a superhero Christian. For the church to grow, you need to develop leaders at all levels. Many churches adopt the genius with a thousand helpers model and never reach their full potential. 3. You’re not leading spiritually. The church is not just an organization, it’s a spiritual endeavor. Faith, prayer, holiness and a host of other spiritual attributes are key to both growth and health. You can have a great team, brilliant ministries and all the strategy in the world, but without the spiritual engine, your church will not have God’s full blessing. 4. You’re competing with other churches. The spirit of competition will kill any attitude of thankfulness. Stop trying to outdo the church down the street or the churches you follow online. God wants to do something unique in your life and in your church. 5. You don’t have a clear vision. The mission of the church is God-given, but you also must paint a clear and compelling vision of the future. A lot of churches don’t grow because they lack a vision to do so. 6. You don’t set goals. Goals will keep you focused on what’s next and prevent you from simply responding to every problem and opportunity. For goals to be effective, they need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. You also need to talk about them on a regular basis. 7. You think preaching solves all problems. Preaching is one of the primary ways you communicate doctrine, instruction and even pastoral care. But preaching won’t solve all of the problems in your church. That’s why many great preachers struggle to lead. 8. You are only thinking short term. Your church might not be in a growth season now, and if you can’t see past that, you might miss what God wants to teach you. If you’re in a wilderness period or waiting time, keep trusting God and waiting on the Lord. We often overestimate what we can do in a year and underestimate what we can do in ten. 9. You’re afraid to change. Many pastors are comfortable with the status quo, but growth requires change. If you aren’t afraid to stop doing what’s good in order to pursue something that’s great, you might not grow. 10. You’re too busy. It’s likely you have too many ministries and programs on your calendar. Which means everything is mediocre and nothing is great. The pull you feel on your calendar and task lists extends all the way throughout the church. Being busy has a lot of dangerous consequences. 11. You are micromanaging. Leaders who micromanage their staff and volunteers in the name of excellence inhibit growth and rob others of their God-given potential. If your team can’t hang with you, it’s on you for not developing them. 12. You’re afraid of people. Leaders who are afraid to lovingly confront or call people to change won’t break through the roadblocks of growth. 13. You’re not spending money on outreach. If you want to reach more people, spend more money on outreach, community service and advertising. Start building a growth fund and leverage resources for growth, not just maintenance. If you want to reach people, put your money where your mouth is. If you’re looking for a fresh way to engage people and invite them to church, try this. 14. Your services are not consistent.Like it or not, church in the Western world centers around the church service. If those services are not engaging and excellent, people will struggle to attend. Rather than bemoan the state of American Christianity, work hard on to make your church services great. Study and pray so your sermon is good. Make sure the musicians practice. Think about the environment. 15. God has something else in mind. Who can really know the mind of God? Maybe you’re doing everything right but God still isn’t allowing your church to grow like you want. It can be frustrating, but maybe God has a different plan. 16. You’re blaming others. God is bigger than your deacons, elders, staff, building, location, bi-vocational status, or budget. Limitations are a cause for creativity, not excuses. An attitude of blame will never lead to church growth. 17. You keep listening to the same people. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, particularly those of you who are a part of a network or denomination. But God is doing things all over the world and you would be wise to listen to people who think different. 18. Your structure inhibits growth. Some churches just aren’t set up for growth, with structures that slow down decision making and leadership. If that’s the case, you’ve got to work on the structure before you change programs and ministries. 19. You don’t have healthy systems. Many of the problems you face in church are systems problems disguised as people problems. And you can’t solve systems problems with better preaching or more vision. Anytime you do something more than once, you need a system. This will help. 20. You are not focused on young people. If you want your church to grow, focus on children and young families. Shift your programming, staff and budget to serve the next generation.