Category Archives: Church
Ever thought about taking your churches children’s ministry to the streets? I think we should. Most children’s ministry is focused on reaching/teaching/discipling kids that show up at my church on the weekends or midweek. Some of the questionable outcomes of this:
- Can teach kids that church is all about them & most importantly, about them having fun, falling just short of disciple-making.
- Wanting to grow our churches, we sometime start talking about kids as only a hook to get their parents “butts in the seats” (to quote Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act). “If the kids have fun, the parents will come back” ~ church growth quip.
- Children’s facilities can cost mega bucks.
- Can cut the rug out from under parental responsibility for discipling kids as they become more and more dependent upon the “professionals” down at the church.
AND the big one, that our team has been grappling with: WHAT ABOUT THE MAJORITY KIDS THAT ARE NOT COMING TO THE FULL COLOR KIDS MINISTRY EVENTS AT OUR CHURCH EVERY WEEK?
In my region of 345,000 people, demographic reports show that around 21% of the population is age 14 or below. That’s around 69,000 kids!!!! In my denomination, which is one of largest in the region with 11,500 worshipers on any given Sunday, approximately 18% of that number are children under 14. Meaning on any given week only 2,500 or so kids are attending, which is only about 4% of the population in the 14 and under age bracket. We average about 7,000 each year for Vacation Bible School, which is a 1-week, 4-hour overdose of Sunday’s Kids Ministry. That gets us to 10%. Add the other evangelical groups to the mix and best figures, after consulting with other church leaders, give me a number of 4,500 kids in an evangelical church each Sunday for faith & fun. That’s only 7% of the kids in our community. And many of these kids are growing up with absolutely no access to the Gospel story or a Christian witness in their lives. Are we losing a generation as we strategize on how to improve our children’s facilities? (& considering the # of kids that need to be reached, can we even build a big enough facility to do what’s needed?) & preach loudly about God being taken out of schools? & order next years Vacation Bible School curriculum? & continue to think of kids ministry as a facilities focused ministry?
A New Vision for Kids Ministry
What if we began to consider the 93% in our Kids Ministry strategy? Not neglecting the 7%, providing faith & fun on Sunday’s as we are, but also thinking of new ways to get God’s story into the lives of kids in our community. When you think of it like this you’ll realize there are more opportunities then you might imagine. Here’s a few ideas:
- Encourage your congregation to get involved in schools on their terms, not yours. There are a variety of mentoring, tutoring, encouraging opportunities that will equal relationships with unchurched families in the community & opportunities to invest in kids. Our church recently provided free popcorn for an area schools open house & met several families in need.
- Partner with local kids organizations that are serving children & asking (if not begging) for volunteers. In my community, there’s the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, local multi-housing complexes, private schools. And we’ve found many of them are open to you sharing THE story as part of your work.
- Multiply what you do on-site, off-site. You’ve made great backdrops & costumes, produced cool videos & posters, you’ve bought expensive curriculum, & prepared awesome crafts, & you’ve trained volunteers who are loving it. Why not look for an avenue to multiply that in the community? Do the VBS at a local multi-housing complex or another church that would not be able to do it for the kids in their neighborhood on their own. Do a one day kids ministry event at a local park or multi-housing complex utilizing all the stuff you’ve done over the past few months.
- Local Festivals provide opportunities to show kids & families that faith is fun by providing some of the crafts or games or other elements you do each week. This is a great way also to build trust with community leaders & parents. And you can say, “if you like what we do here, you’ll love our Kids ministry at ______ Church on Sunday.”
- Get the Kids involved. Instead of seeing them as hooks to get more “butts in the seats.” See them as missionaries who can invest in their friends & demonstrate that faith is fun & meaningful in the community. Teach kids that it’s important to serve & that faith is not just about them but others, by taking them on a local mission trip to the park or festival or multi-housing complex for Kids Ministry Day.
- Start or get involved in a mentoring program for children without dads, grandparents raising grandchildren, foster children, etc.
- Instead of VBS. I heard of one church that instead of VBS they encouraged neighborhood Bible Clubs during the summer & trained & empowered people to reach the kids & families around them, utilizing the same curriculum sets & production quality, but in yards & subdivision common space all around the city.
- Other ideas?
We’ve reached a point where we can’t keep preaching about culture decay, God kicked out of schools, & bad parenting. We’ve got to get involved. The doors are open in our communities. It won’t be easy, but salt is no good left in the salt-shaker. Could our churches add salt by taking your kids ministry to the streets?
Just thinking. Please share other ideas, opinions, corrections, smart remarks, etc. in the comments.
Recently traveled back through the book of Acts in conjunction with reading Thirty Years that Changed the World by Michael Green. A lot of work, volumes of books, rants and raves, doctoral dissertations, op eds, and more are being produced about the decline in American Christianity. I’m always struck by the simplicity of early Christianity. Here’s 4 things that jumped out at me that I want to personally lean in on in the coming months:
1. Disicpling: Relationships being built around an open Bible. It all started/starts with people gathered around the Word of God.
2. Faith in Action: Relationships being built around a ministry/mission or the needs of others. Growing Christians in Acts and today are others focused and mission driven. Follow the lives of early Christians in Acts and the first decades beyond and you’ll be struck by the incredible capacity for meeting needs. From pastoral care within to church planting in other regions, evangelistic campaigns, responding to disaster.
3. Apostolic Networking: New Relational tracks being established for the Gospel to run on. The big “A” Apostles established networks for the Gospel to take root. Today, with the declining influence of “the Church” and “the Bible says it” not being a good enough answer, we need new apostolic leaders to establish relational tracks with community leaders, neighborhood “elders,” Christianity’s critics, government agencies. Deeper than invitations to invocate at events, but to establish beach heads for the gospel to spread. More on this must be developed. Alan Hirsch’s newest book The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century is a long look at this. Also, check out his Christianity Today article from a few years back, “Where have all the APE’s gone?”
4. Multiplication: More people in more places doing 1, 2, & 3.
And they did it without manuals, conferences, podcasts, computers. May the Holy Spirit stir such simplicity in us.
Loved this statement of values and definition of discipleship by a new church out west:
…a community bent on extending God’s Kingdom by building relationships that point to Jesus.
– Impacting our culture outside the church walls.
– Going into the world and Serving those in need.
– Invading secular space by gathering at beaches, coffee houses, parks, homes etc.
We Value… growing, worshipping and serving in community and making disciples who are…
- Developing habits that bring us to maturity in Christ
- Practicing accountability in the area of personal growth
2. Easy-Bleeders (Sacrificing self for others)
- Involving ourselves in social justice endeavors
- Participating in missional opportunities…serving the poor and needy
3. Passionate-Breeders (Multiplying God’s kingdom)
- Going into the world, engaging our culture to build relationships that point to Christ
- Making disciples who make disciples
Agreed! Praying for more Self-Feeders, Easy-Bleeders, Passionate-Breeders.
via Dave Devries.
Our Church Multiplication Network Round-tabled this week about multi-site church. We learned from local practitioners Woodland Park Baptist, Hammond and Celebration Church. Most of the q’s were practical, not theological, which may demonstrate that this trend is becoming more mainstream as research is showing. As a church planter and strategists, I love multi-site, because it’s the heart of New Testament church growth: MULTIPLICATION, OFF-CAMPUS MULTIPLICATION. Here’s a few big takeaways and some of the resources that we shared:
- “We took this journey on our knees” ~ Pete Charpentier, Pastor of Woodland Park Baptist in Hammond
- “We just didn’t believe the best use of our resources was to build a bigger building”~ Peter Charpentier
- “We’re doing this because God said ‘Go and make disciples’” ~ Pete Charpentier
- Multi-Site has a 90% success rate.
- Only 20% of Multi-Site expressions are video based.
- “We never use the word ‘merger.’ Adoption is a better term” ~ Craig Ratliff, Celebration Church, St. Bernard
- Multi-site churches now outnumber Mega-churches in North America.
Resources on Multi-Site:
- Multi-Site Church Road Trip – Leadership Networks Multi-Site Church Website.
- Gospel Coalition Video: Multi-Site, Yea or Nay? Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald debate multi-site church.
- 9 Marks Journal Devoted to the Issue of Multi-Site. Helpful articles for and against, theologically and practically.
- Ed Stetzer’s Summary of the 9 Marks Journal Multi-Site issue. From 160 pages down to 4.
- The Multi-Site Church Planting Strategy by Tom Cheyney, Director of Mission for the Greater Orlando Baptist Association.
- Multi-Site Church Survey by Leadership Network. Ton of great info here.
- Should Your Church Go Multi-Site? Great worksheet by Leadership Network to assess readiness to go Multi-Site.
- Pete Charpentier has blogged about his personal journey through multi-site. Find his posts here.
- The Multi-Site Church Revolution: Being One Church in Many Locations by Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, Warren Bird
- Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers by Ed Stetzer, Warren Bird
- Deliberate Simplicity: How the Church Does More by Doing Less by Dave Browning
- Exponential: How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement by Dave & Jon Ferguson
- One Church Many Congregations: The Key Church Strategy by Tim Ahlen & Lyle Schaller
And I appreciate what one of the initial innovators and author of The Multi-Site Church Revolution Geoff Surratt recently wrote as a caution. Find his post here.
Multisite is a great tool for some churches to fulfill their God-given mission. It is not, however, the right direction for many or even most churches. Multisite can be a drain on leadership and budgets, it can feed an already overfed pastor ego and it can be very difficult to undo. (Once a site is launched it is really hard to un-launch.)
For a church that is experiencing rapid growth, or has a God-inspired passion for a unique outreach into an underserved community, multisite is brilliant way to expand the Kingdom. But for a church that is just looking for a new growth curve or the next big thing multisite is a terrible idea. It is never a good idea to attempt to give birth when you aren’t pregnant.
“…God Himself thought they were worth dying for.” Acts 20:28 (The Message Paraphrase)
“Feed and shepherd God’s flock—HIS CHURCH, PURCHASED WITH HIS OWN BLOOD—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders” Acts 20:28 (New Living Translation)
Many people don’t have much for churches anymore. Thank God that He did.
Last month the Archdiocese of New Orleans announced the opening of their first offices on the Northshore. With the announcement came the stat that 91,000 Catholics live in St. Tammany Parish. With the population estimates at 261,000, that’s about 35% of the population. However, almost 50% of the population when polled claim to be Catholic. 22% claim to be Baptist, but actual attendance roles show only 7% of the population actually attending a Baptist Church at least 3 out of 8 weeks (3.3% weekly for Southern Baptist). Dave Olson’s research of actual attendance roles reveals that 24% of St. Tammany residents attend some kind of church at least once per month, but 64% claim to attend church at least once per month in our recent opinion poll.
Researchers call this the Halo Effect. We tend to give ourselves credit for our intentions when asked without knowledge of ability to fact check. Same holds true for voting. If polled 10-25% more people say they voted then actually did each election according to the voting rolls.
Question: What if we actually followed through on our best intentions? What if we actually did what we give ourselves credit for? What if we actually lived what we believe to be right and best for our families? Would the world be different? Would I be different? Would anything change? Is there a gap between your intentions and your actions?
James 4:17 says, “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
Jesus can give us the power to close the gaps and live with intentionality, not just good intentions.
Most people want to make a difference in the world. Ability, time, and permission is often in question among us church goers. How can I be a blessing to those around me? Here’s a simple strategy that anybody can implement. I heard this last week during the Verge Conference from Dave Ferguson. BLESS:
B - Begin w/prayer.
Pray for opportunities and open doors. Pray for the heart of God for those around you.
L – Listen.
If we’re willing to listen, people will tell us their needs, hurts, desires, questions.
E – Eat.
Build relationships. Do coffee or lunch. Invite someone over for dinner.
S – Serve.
When we listen and build relationships with people we will know what they need and can serve them.
S – Story.
It’s incomplete without sharing the story of Christ. His is the story promised to bring blessing to every nation.
What if you committed to do at least one of these each day? Just one. If so, you’d find yourself on the way to making a difference from where you are.
Got to catch a couple of sessions of the Verge Conference this week via Simulcast with some of our Northshore Church Multipliers. This conference and network has really stimulated my thinking over the past couple of years. Here’s a few big take away’s from the sessions we caught:
- “If God is a missionary God, we must become a missionary people. If God is an incarnational God, we must become an incarnational people.” ~Alan Hirsch
- The Jesus Mission = Reach, Restore, Reproduce ~Dave Ferguson
- “What if we took the words of Jesus seriously and didn’t water them down?” from the video Sara’s story. Incredible testimony. Watch it here.
- We all must live as missionaries. “A missionary sacrifices everything but the Gospel for the sake of the Gospel.” ~Todd Engstrom
- “Consumerism is a cancer that kills mission.” ~Jen Hatmaker
- “Live it or you have no hope of leading it.” ~Jen Hatmaker
- “If people imitated you, where would the kingdom be in five years?” ~Jen Hatmaker
- Does the church affirm comfort as a Christian virtue when Jesus affirmed death? ~Jeff Vanderstelt
- Most Christians are not willing to die for the one who died for them. ~Jeff Vanderstelt
- The Great Commission is to make disciples, not converts. ~Gilbert from India
- The fruit of the mango is a mango tree. The fruit of discipleship is a disciple maker. ~Gilbert from India
- Discipleship is leading people to an ongoing surrender and dependency to Jesus as Lord. ~Jeff Vanderstelt
- You will make disciples, but what are you making disciples of?
- We all look great from afar off, but are we willing to allow people to get close enough to imitate us? ~Jo Saxton
- You can’t be what you can’t see. From afar we can illustrate and inspire, but imitation can’t happen. ~Jo Saxton
Remembered and shared this a few times over the past month while working on Associational Church Revi Strategies. I think I heard it first from one of John Maxwell’s Enjoy Tapes back in the 90′s. It’s passed around a lot. I guess because it’s so true. Got any dead horses around?
25 Ways to Ride a Dead Horse
The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians—passed on from generation to generation—says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
Modern churches, however, have found a whole range of far more advanced strategies to use, such as:
- Buying a stronger whip.
- Changing riders.
- Declaring, “God told us to ride this horse.”
- Appointing a committee to study the horse.
- Threatening the horse with termination.
- Proclaiming, “This is the way we’ve always ridden this horse.”
- Develop a training session to improve our riding ability.
- Reminding ourselves that other churches ride this same kind of horse.
- Determining that riders who don’t stay on dead horses are lazy, lack drive, and have no ambition – then replacing them.
- Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
- Reclassifying the horse as “living-impaired.”
- Hiring an outside consultant to advise on how to better ride the horse.
- Harnessing several dead horses together to increase the speed.
- Confessing boldy, “This horse is not dead, but alive!”
- Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.
- Riding the dead horse “outside the box.”
- Get the horse a Web site.
- Killing all the other horses so the dead one doesn’t stand out.
- Taking a positive outlook – pronouncing that the dead horse doesn’t have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the church’s budget than do some other horses.
- Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
- Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.
- Name the dead horse, “paradigm shift” and keep riding it.
- Riding the dead horse “smarter, not harder.”
- Stating that other horses reflect compromise, and are not from God.
- Remembering all the good times you had while riding that horse.
Great thoughts from @GeoffSurratt on the Problems w/Church Buildings & why/how to make portable church sustainable. Our church has been portable since inception in 2009. There are limitations, but Surratt does a great job demonstrating that the grass is not always greener on the side of having a permanent building. I learned this the hard way when our first church plant moved from being portable and meeting in an unairconditioned fire station to owning our own property. The building sucked much of the energy out of community ministries but we had air conditioning. Interestingly enough, 6 months later, many of our leaders were saying, “I wish we were back in the fire station.” Below is a synopsis of Surratt’s comments. All the posts are well worth reading for church planters and those thinking of multiplying through multi-site:
I agree with Surratt: “Church buildings are not evil, obviously most churches have had them for the past 1700 years. But if we are going to really make a dent in reaching lost people I think we are going to have to literally think outside the box.”
Part 1: What a Building Want Do
- First, a building won’t make you a real church. I’m sure you realize that the Christian church built few, if any, buildings before 300 AD.
- a building doesn’t validate a church, the anointing of the Holy Spirit validates a church.
- if you have a leadership development problem, a discipleship problem or a volunteer recruitment problem now, you will still have those challenges once you have a building. If people aren’t growing at your church now they still won’t be growing when you put a permanent roof over their heads.
Part 2: The Hidden Costs
- Buildings Attract Christians - If your target audience is now sitting in someone else’s pew, then a new building is just the bait to lure them in. If you really are after the unchurched a buidling might not have the impact you think it will have.
- Buildings Eat 24/7 - When you get a permanent facility you won’t have to set up and tear down any more, but you will have to pour endless amounts of cash into the care and feeding of your new money pit.
- Buildings Modify Vision - Once you have a permanent location the vision of your church will be greatly impacted by your building. A lot of what you do will be guided by paying for your box, filling up your box and expanding your box.
- Realize you have meeting space now
- Lease an office space with a small to medium size meeting room
- Make sure have multiple teams for set up and tear down
- Select the right team leaders
- Honor the setup and tear down teams
- Build community into the teams
- Create a path for advancement
- Hire the setup/tear down crew
And interestingly enough, 62% of residents in our community recently said in a professional opinion poll that they would be ok with attending church in a school, movie theater or other public building.
Thoughts? Follow-up questions? Ideas or experiences on portable church?