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Six Reasons Why Dying Churches Die (via Thom Rainer)

Thom Rainer lists six reasons why dying churches continue on a terminal trajectory.

  1. They refuse to admit they are sick, very sick. I have worked with churches whose attendance has declined by over 80 percent. They have no gospel witness in the community. They have not seen a person come to Christ in two decades. But they say they are fine. They say nothing is wrong.
  2. They are still waiting on the “magic bullet” pastor. They reason, if only we could find the right pastor, we would be fine. But they bring in pastor after pastor. Each leaves after a short-term stint, frustrated that the congregation was so entrenched in its ways. So the church starts the search again for the magic bullet pastor.
  3. They fail to accept responsibility. I recently met with the remaining members of a dying church. Their plight was the community’s fault. Those people should be coming to their church. It was the previous five pastors’ fault. Or it was the fault of culture. If everything returned to the Bible belt mentality of decades earlier, we would be fine.
  4. They are not willing to change . . . at all. A friend asked me to meet with the remaining members of a dying church. These members were giddy with excitement. They viewed me as the great salvific hope for their congregation. But my blunt assessment was not pleasing to them, especially when I talked about change. Finally, one member asked if they would have to look at the words of a hymn on a screen instead of a hymnal if they made changes. I stood in stunned silence, and soon walked away from the church that would close its doors six months later.
  5. Their “solutions” are all inwardly focused. They don’t want to talk about reaching the ethnically changing community. They want to know how they can make church more comfortable and palatable for the remnant of members.
  6. They desire to return to 1985. Or 1972. Or 1965. Or 1959. Those were the good old days. If we could just do church like we did then, everything would be fine.

Read the whole post here.


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Some Questions About ‘Tiger Pastoring’ (via Peter Ko at Gospel Coalition Australia)

Peter Ko explains that ‘tiger parenting’ is what happens when parents push their children hard to succeed.
He goes on to add that church leadership could fall into ‘tiger pastoring’ and create, either directly or indirectly, thoughts in a congregations minds that they constantly have to strive hard to grow.
Usually in a pattern of activities established by the church leadership.
Apart from issues of busyness, he wonders if the model really stacks up biblically:

Does healthy Christian growth require us to apply our model of ‘tiger pastoring’? Or is God powerfully at work by his Spirit, through his Word, so that if his sheep are fed and taught well, and are guarded and cared for by good shepherds, they will grow?
Back to the analogy of parenting, isn’t it healthier to assume that if a child is given his or her basic necessities: food, shelter, clothing, security, schooling, friendships etc., that child will naturally grow and flourish? Could it be that in our well-motivated desire to shepherd our people well, we’ve stopped trusting that Christ will help his people and his body to grow and flourish if the basics are given to them? Corporate worship, faithful teaching and preaching, a church community, and leaders who will guard the truth and fight error. Is there much more that’s needed for healthy Christian growth?

Read the whole article here.


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Ten Quick Things To Improve A Church Website (via Communicate Jesus)

Communicate Jesus features ten website hacks.
One of them is maximising responsiveness on mobile devices.
I think websites need to have mobile, tablet and handheld devices in view as the primary methods by which their content will be accessed.

Review mobile responsiveness
As more and more people access websites from their phones and tablets, the need for a great mobile experience continues to increase. So how does your church website appear when it’s opened on a mobile phone? Or an iPad?

Read the whole post here.


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Forty Years On And A Question About Protective Investment Or Sacrificial Investment (via John Wilson)

John Wilson, current moderator-general of the Presbyterian Church of Australia remembers the time forty years ago when the Presbyterian Church of Australia continued after the departure of those who formed the Uniting Church.
It was a season in which the desire to continue had to be matched by a vision of what was worth the struggle of continuing.
After some history and some observations John includes six questions that are posed as challenges to a denomination that has no reasons to rest on its proverbial laurels.
Here’s the sixth and final challenge:

Notwithstanding our generous giving to support cross-cultural work here in Australia, world mission and relief of the poor, the PCA is not free from the love of money. Somewhere … between our personal wealth and congregational accounts and our denominational resources … we have enough wealth within PCA to securely fund 600 first-inducted ministers and then 600 assistants to the ministers and then to fund 600 church plants. (Spending time working alongside our colleagues and friends in India and Africa has shown me that). But we have our wealth tied up in seldom-used property, worldly investments, material comforts, insurance safety nets and superannuation nest eggs. We still have a holding mentality (holding reserves for a rainy day) instead of releasing funds for expansion, church planting, new works and different works for the kingdom (refreshing our memory of my point 2 above).

Question: Can we be content with less, for the advancement of the kingdom (1 Timothy 6:7)? Are we really free from the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10).

Read the whole post here.


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Breaking The Growth Barrier That Matters (via Steve McAlpine)

Why as a church would we be expressing an aim for two worship services on a Sunday morning instead of one?
It’s a question we’re working through at MGPC.
Steve McAlpine writes about the struggle of the church (his and others) to break through a growth barrier that does more than simply keep pace with population growth.
But there’s a less noticed, but more foundational growth barrier that needs to be broken first, and then the other growth barrier may give way:

…the real growth barrier that I want to see broken is actually being broken, as we showcase Christ from the front, and encourage our people to find their joy in him. We’re finding that this is breaking growth barrier of personal maturity among our people.
That’s the growth barrier that really matters – the growth and maturity of our people individually and as a body of believers. We’re trusting them to feed on the Word together and grow up as a Christians. We’re trusting that our ministry to them is helping them take responsibility both to serve and to learn and to share the gospel in word and deed for themselves. We’re trusting our sermons and teaching not to be about “do more”, “get involved in…”, “turn up at..”, “do more evangelism”, but to be about the wonder of Jesus and how he fulfils all of God’s promises that humans yearn for, even if they don’t realise it.

Read his whole post here.


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A Place Where Love Comes True (via Jon Bloom)

Jon Bloom writes about the nature of the church at Desiring God.
Church is never an extension of our agenda.
It’s the place where our agendas yield to the purpose of growing like Jesus.
Jesus did not design the church to be a place where our dreams come true. Actually, it’s where many of our dreams are disappointed and die. And this is more of a grace to us than we likely realize, because our dreams are often much more selfish than we discern.
Our personal expectations easily become tyrants to everyone else, because everyone else fails to meet them. When we are more focused on how others’ failings and foibles obstruct the ideal community we want to pursue than we are on serving those others and pursuing their good and joy, our expectations can kill love, which impedes the real mission.
Jesus designed the church to be a place where love comes true, where we lay our preferences aside out of deference to others. It is meant to be a living laboratory of love, a place where there are so many opportunities, big and small, to lay down our lives for each other that the love of Christ becomes a public spectacle.
That’s why when it comes to church in this age, the picture of community we should have in our minds is not some utopian harmony, but Golgotha. In living life together, we die every day (1 Corinthians 15:31). We lay down our lives for each other (1 John 3:16).

Read the whole post at Desiring God.


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Pastors Exist For The Church, Not The Other Way Around (via Francis Turretin)

The church does not exist for the sake of pastors; pastors exist for the sake of the church.
It’s a helpful reminder of who is supposed to be serving who.
Shane Lems refers to this quote from Francis Turretin:

“…Now the church is superior to pastors, not pastors to the church; the church does not belong to the pastors, but the pastors to the church. ‘All things are yours,’ says Paul, ‘whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas’ (1 Cor. 3:21-22). Here he rebukes those who gloried in men as heads and for whose sake they raised dissensions and parties among the Corinthians. He shows that they acted falsely because the church is greater than and superior to all. Hence pastors are called servants and ministers of the church: ‘We are your servants for Jesus’ sake’ (2 Cor. 4:5).”

Read the whole post at The Reformed Reader.