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The Creeping Trend Of Church Absenteeism (via Murray Lean)

Helpful article about church absenteeism by Murray Lean at Gospel Coalition Australia.
It’s most pitched toward leaders, but the content is helpful for everyone concerned about personal and corporate spiritual growth and well-being.
Among the accessible content is a list of the downsides that sporadic attendance cultivates:

  • Loss of the “spurring-on effect” of regular interaction with other believers
  • Gaps in the continuity of systematic Bible teaching
  • Inability to commit to serving in Sunday ministries, especially children’s programmes
  • Impact on children who miss the regularity of involvement in their weekly Sunday groups
  • Increase in the workload on the “committed core” who are faithfully there week by week
  • General discouragement of the rest of the church family who miss out on the fellowship of friends
  • Poor example to children and less mature Christians
  • General devaluation of the Lord’s Day
  • Weakening of overall connection with and commitment to the local church family, and enhancing the privatizing of faith

And there’s also a list of suggestions about how to respond pastorally:

  • Remind people from the pulpit of the positives of regular attendance, including its impact on others in the church family
  • Preach relevant passages that reinforce commitment to the local church, and also the harm caused by absenteeism
  • Ask yourself whether there are good reasons why people can’t be in church regularly e.g. Does the time of the service need to be more family friendly? Is the preaching boring?
  • Make a note of people who are irregular attenders and speak personally (and gently) with them about it. Some might have good reasons for their irregularity. (This obviously requires some form of record keeping.)
  • Use elders, small group leaders and pastoral carers in this process
  • Work at building fellowship within the church family e.g. meals, hospitality, creating a space for mingling after services

Read the whole post here.


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A Simple Formula For Church Administration (via Jared Olivetti)

At Gentle Reformation Jared Olivetti offers a formula that seeks to narrow the gap between communication practice and communication desired outcomes.

The formula is: Information + Inclusion = Importance & Involvement
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So before we start pointing fingers at congregation members for not showing up to work days or not “buying in” to the latest ministry, it may help to re-examine how well the leaders are informing and including in every possible way they can. Often, by examining and evolving in these areas, we will see involvement increase as people understand how valued they by their church family.

Read the rest of the explanation here.


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Praying Together (via Megan Hill)

A curious modern situation: churches that focus on the Bible(though not necessarily reading the Bible, but that’s another post) when they meet , but not on corporate prayer.
Megan Hill points out how historically anomalous this is, and how counterproductive in mission:

In 1646 John Eliot, a minister in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, began preaching in a local Native American community. At the meetings, he also prayed aloud in the Massachusett language “in proof that if they thus prayed, God could understand them.” And as Eliot faithfully ministered God’s Word, hundreds trusted Christ. Those Christians came to be known in the colony as “Praying Indians” and their settlements as “Praying Towns.” The distinguishing mark of Christ’s newborn children was obvious to all: they became praying people.Throughout redemptive history, corporate prayer has been a primary feature of the redeemed. From the godly descendants of Seth who “began to call upon the name of the Lord” (Gen. 4:26) to the Israelites who worshiped God in His “house of prayer” (Isa. 56:7) to the first members of the early church who “devot[ed] themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14), God’s people have always been praying people.
And so we should ask: Is this a distinguishing mark of our churches today? Do our worship services devote time and attention to substantial prayer? Do our church calendars feature regular prayer meetings? Do our families and community groups prioritize calling on the name of the Lord together?
Brothers and sisters, like all the saints before us, we must be praying people.

Read the whole post here.


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Maybe It’s Time To Take It Down

Recently we’ve been sorting through lots of items at MGPC and finding an embarrassing amount of material that was pretty much junk when we put it into storage and now simply looks weird that we’ve still got it.

Just south of Penola there’s something called Greenrise Lake.
It’s always completely devoid of water, even when the rest of the region is awash.
The water table would need to rise, or the lakebed would have to be sealed for it contain water again.
But this sign still sits adjacent to a depressed paddock of grass.
Hope springs eternal, even if the water doesn’t.
Maybe it’s time to take the sign down.
You’ve got to embrace change before it’s obvious to everyone else but you that the situation is ridiculous.


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New Ministry At MGPC

Mark Lewis, licensed to preach the Gospel by the Presbytery of South Australia, 20/1/2017.