Monday, August 31, 2009

The 3 P's of Church Planting

  • Prayer

  • Passion

  • Perseverance

Ten Deadly Sins of a Dying Church

1. Doctrinal Drift

In a desire to reach more people, churches have often watered-down doctrinal truths believing that they are creating a more inviting environment for seekers. The Word of God may not be very sensitive to an unbeliever, but it should be intelligible. Make no mistake, the younger generation likes straight-talk. They are tired of the mush.

2. Evangelism Atrophy

Most churches in America aspire to have evangelism as a driving force but they have lost their passion. Ask every one of them, however, and they will proclaim it as a core value. Yet, a quick look at their checkbook, annual budget and programs will tell the truth. For most churches in America evangelism is a great thought and desire, but in all actuality very little in the way of evangelism is done.

3. Failure To Be Relevant

The Gospel was not written in a cultural vacuum. The words we read today were written thousands of years ago. They still apply today, but we must learn to understand them in their cultural context and then find ways to help 21st century people understand.

Church is no different. We have to do church in a way that connects with this culture otherwise the church simply becomes a huddled mass of cloistered believers hiding from a sin-sick world.

4. Inwardly Focused

The new unspoken mantra of the modern American church is; “It’s all about me.” While no one will readily admit it, all one has to do is look at the ministries and programs. What can be quickly discovered is that most churches build ministries to satisfy the already fed. These programs are good to keep the flock happy. Not necessarily a bad thing, but too much of a good thing ends up being a bad thing.

5. Personal Conflict

Church people have found a way to make an argument out of almost anything. Political power struggles rule the day.

6. A Priority Of Comfort

Dying churches refuse to reach out beyond their own comfort-zones. When any real ministry does happen and dirty, sinful people walk in among the righteous, it upsets the apple cart. It simply isn’t comfortable.

7. Biblical Illiteracy

The latest research by Gallup and other pollsters reveal that most long time members of churches don’t really know what they Bible says. Phrases like; “God helps those who help themselves” are regularly quoted as scripture.

8. Hording

It amazes me the amount of money many dying churches have in their saving accounts. The thought is that they are saving it for a rainy day, but I wonder what God thinks about this? Will he be happy if we, like the man with one talent, have not invested his Kingdom resources in the Great co-mission work when returns. Which would be best; Die rich, having saved our resources and done as little as we can get by with, or Die broke with the knowledge that we have done all we can.

9. Failure to Follow

Too often pastors are treated like hirelings and not called, anointed people of God. The pastor is forced to walk on eggshells to avoid losing their job.

10. Idolatry

You may think this is absent from today’s Church, but it is very alive. Beloved programs, versions of the Bible, furniture, paintings on the wall and the placement of objects have caused more quarrels than I care to mention. We have taken these items to god-like levels in the church and forgotten the main thing.

[from Essential Church by Thom and Sam Rainer]

Buildings for Churches

What has happened to the 250 Circuit City stores that have closed? Many churches are seeing some great opportunities in these abandoned stores and other run down theatres and strip malls.

Read this from the Orlando Sentinel: "There are 250 Circuit City stores that have gone dark," said Matthew D. Messier, who specializes in faith-based and nonprofit real estate for CNL Specialty Real Estate Services in Orlando. "Through 'adaptive reuse,' churches have stepped in. ... Because of what's happened with the economy, there are more options for churches now."

The International Council of Shopping Centers has no data to support the trend but said it's apparent throughout the country. "Vacancy rates are high, and they need to fill those spaces," said Erin Hershkowitz, a spokeswoman for the industry group. "If it's a big box, like a Circuit City, that's a perfect venue for a church."

During boom times, commercial landlords rarely wooed churches. Houses of worship typically draw parishioners the one day of the week when neighboring stores are closed and cannot benefit from the foot traffic. Upstart churches have been leasing empty storefronts for years, though they tend to move on when they outgrow the space or can afford more-attractive quarters. But shopping centers are now filled with For Lease posters. And unconventional space in high-traffic retail settings has become so attractive to some churches that they are leaving their old sanctuaries for trendier digs.

The Rev. Byron Bledsoe, former pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in east Orange, recalls getting national recognition years ago from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for baptizing new members. But on the flight home from the awards ceremony in Kentucky, Bledsoe said, he knew the church could do a better job of attracting newcomers to Christianity rather than "rechurching" members from other congregations. So he helped lead an effort to transform the church. It was renamed C3 Church, which stands for Connecting the Community with Christ. It renovated its fellowship hall and soon began attracting newcomers. But Parkway's steepled sanctuary still did not convey the image of a church dynamic enough to draw potential converts to the faith. "We knew early on that our facilities were a hindrance to what we were trying to accomplish," Bledsoe said. "We had a ton of resources locked up in bricks and mortar."

Working through Messier and Nicholas A. McKinney at CNL, the church in 2007 sold its buildings and 20 acres on Lake Underhill Road for $8million to Eastland Baptist Church, which had lost its property to an interchange expansion at State Road 436 and Colonial Drive. C3 Church now leases space for its sanctuary from Regal Cinemas in Waterford Lakes Town Center. Its offices are in a three-car garage at Bledsoe's home.

[from MMI Weblog]