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Seven Vital Components Of Church Revitalisation (via Ron Edmondson)

The only change most dead and dying churches want is to see different results from the things they’ve always done.
They (collectively) look blankly at you when you suggest their present situation is the certain destination of all the previous steps they’ve been taking.

Ron Edmondson offers seven components which are vital for churches that need to regrow.
They’re also important aspects of life in healthy churches that want to keep growing.
If we’re only committed to maintenance then we’re committed to going backward.

Admitting you need to revitalize – That’s hard isn’t it? Recently a senior member of our church visited another church that has undergone revitalization. She saw the excitement and came back with a new understanding. Her comment to one of our staff members was, “We have to change some things, don’t we? We don’t have a choice!” The church as a whole must come to that level of understanding.

Letting go of right to control – This is what makes or breaks revitalization in many churches. If the “No Change Allowed” sign is hung…or even the “but not that change”…on issues that aren’t even Biblical, then revitalizing the church will be very difficult.

A vision of something better – What’s next for this church? Where are we going? How are we going to get there? There must be a compelling vision, such as loving a community for Christ and clear avenues for people to be involved in reaching that vision.

A history worth revitalizing – This will be the toughest part of this post. There are some toxic churches that seem to have never been healthy. They’ve run off every pastor they’ve called. Many of these churches wouldn’t follow Jesus well either. They are stuck in systems and personal agendas and aren’t going to budge. (I realize that’s a cruel statement, but it’s a sad reality.)

Leadership willing to lead change – This is more than the pastor. In many cases, the pastor is only the figure head of vision and change. Change is hard. It requires trusted leaders within the church willing to step up and lead along side the pastor. I wrote recently the difference in trust and popularity as a leader. Read that post HERE and understand the difference. It’s what makes collective leadership that much more important, especially in the early days of revitalization.

The tenacity to weather storms – It won’t be easy. It’s far easier to start something than to try to grow again after a period of decline. Some pastors, leaders and churches have the patience. Some don’t.

A few committed people – You need some people already established in the church who love the church more than their personal agenda. These might be leaders or might not. Many times newer people attracted during times of change don’t have the roots or credibility to do this. As great as they are…and even with them as a primary focus…the church needs longer term people to embrace a new future. These people have to support the pastor, speak up for the changes and create an atmosphere conducive for growth again.

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Four Keys To Unlocking Congregational Singing (via Worship Leader Magazine)

The first one of these is one of my all time favourites.
I also don’t mind the second one as long as it doesn’t involve asking folk to ‘sing it like they mean it’.

Read Neil Oldham’s whole post here.

1. Stop using Chris Tomlin’s key signature!
Most male recording artists — regardless of how good a worship leader they are — record their albums in a register that the average human cannot aspire to sing in. Female artists are often altos and, thus, tend to write in more reasonable keys (though occasionally they fall too low)…
2. ASK them to participate.
What a novel idea, huh?! Sounds overly simple but, if you commit to making strategic asks, I think you’ll be surprised at how well your church responds…
3. Play songs they know and give them time to really learn a song.
What good is it to have the hottest song repertoire around if you lose your church in the process? Choose your songs purposefully and teach them thoroughly…
4. Be willing to throw out a song that’s just not serving to engage your church.
It may be a top 10 song on all the worship charts. Maybe you even heard it at a big conference where it was everyone’s favorite! Perhaps your whole band even loves to play it. Even so, if you try teaching it to your church and they never really buy into it, you may have to cut it loose…

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The Problem With Information About God Exceeding Our Experience Of Him (via Tim Keller)

It makes for immature Christians.
This is one exchange from a Twitter Q&A that Tim Keller recently participated in:

best advice for helping teenagers grow in their faith, ministry & discipleship on a real level?

A. (From Keller)
Teenagers have more information about God than they have experience of him. Get them in places where they have to rely on G[od].

I found the answer interesting because the application is not confined to teenagers. Christian growth is not simply learning more, we grow when that which we have learned about God is put into practice and our relationship with Him is expressed in our current circumstances.
It also generally touches on another observation. A lot of the time when we’re in a difficult situation we look for answers as if new knowledge will fix a problem rather than acknowledge that we already know what we should be doing and either aren’t doing it, or we’re growing impatient waiting for the situation to change while doing it.

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Five Reasons God Calls Us To Wait (via Paul Tripp)

Paul Tripp provides five reasons God calls us to wait at the Mars Hill blog.
The content is taken from a Gospel Coalition post I linked to a couple of years ago, but this is worth revisiting.
Here are the introductions to each point:

We are called to wait because the broken condition of the world makes everything we do harder. Nothing in this life really functions as originally intended.
We must wait because we are not writing our own personal and ministry stories. Life does not work the way we want it to, in the time we want it to.
Waiting is one of God’s most powerful tools of grace. It’s important to realize in your ministry that God doesn’t just give us grace for the wait. The wait itself is a gift of grace.
Waiting is central to any ministry activity. If you are truly committed to being part of what God is doing in the lives of others, you will be willing to wait.
Finally, we are called to wait because everything in life and ministry exists not for our comfort and ease but for God’s glory. The whole redemptive story is written for one purpose and one purpose alone: the glory of the King.

Read the whole post here.

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List Of Retuned Hymn Project Albums (via Cardiphonia)

Bruce Benedict has published a comprehensive master list of albums/projects featuring “some relational or institutional connection to the retuned hymn movement of the PCA, RUF, Indelible Grace strain” at Cardiphonia blog.
There are over seventy-five albums listed featuring musicians including Indelible Grace, Red Mountain, Zac Hicks + Cherry Creek, Bifrost Arts, High Street Hymns, along with many, many others.If you’re interested in discovering timeless Christian lyrics set to contemporary tunes for corporate praise, this is a great place to start, and to return to often.

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Cat Sees Owner After Six Months

There are lots of videos showing dogs welcoming owners who have been away for tours of duty and the like.
Cats are criminally underrepresented in these touching clips.
This should even things up.