Showing posts from 2021

Declining Churches Searching for the Silver Bullet Pastor

  The problem of declining churches in America was nothing new when the COVID-19 pandemic first struck in March 2020. I tend to ignore 2020 through 2022 when measuring whether a church has declined. But let’s be honest: if you look back to March 2020 and compare your attendance and financial giving back then to that of today, in March 2024, and both are lower, on average, by more than a few percent, your church has declined. If you had a children’s ministry before the pandemic, and you now struggle to wrangle up more than a few kids on a typical Sunday, you have declined. Your church needs revitalization. Sure, there are other, less tangible measures of health. How are you doing evangelistically? Are you reaching your neighborhood with the gospel? Are you making disciples? Maybe your church has already taken proactive steps in the direction of revitalization. Perhaps you’ve already decided to make some hard decisions rather than kicking the can down the road. If so, good on you! Sadl

"People just don't want to come to church anymore!" The Last Words of a Dying Church

 Lately, I've had the opportunity to observe some dying churches, and to talk to people about the increasing problem of church decline and death. I know many dying organizations subscribe to the mantra, "We've never done it that way before." But, in the case of churches, it assumes that at least someone  in the organization is trying to turn things around.  Why does no one show up for worship on Sundays? Because "no one wants to come to church anymore." It's actually an answer that I heard before COVID, but the pandemic seems to reinforce that line of thinking. And I understand that cultural Christianity is dead. There is no societal expectation that people show up for church just because that's what "respectable" people do. That should be a win. Do we really want unregenerate people in church leadership? But it does cut into the numbers, especially for churches that don't really have much to offer by way of authentic community, vibrant

Church Revitalization Is Spiritual Warfare

  Is your church is inward-focused, squabbling over petty things, straining at doctrinal gnats, and otherwise just generally ineffective in reaching your community with the Gospel?   There’s at least one person happy about that. Who? The Devil. Yes, you heard me right. I do believe in Satan’s active influence in this world—and without apology. The Bible clearly tells us demonic forces are engaged in the world. As the Apostle Paul writes, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV). Now, I don’t blame the Devil’s direct control for every single bad thing that happens. Instead, I think he’s generally happy to let people be people. People just being themselves will do the work of the Devil for him. If your church is declining or near death, take a look around. Are you preference-driven? Is

Tactical Patience: A Church Replanter's Greatest Asset

I spend a great deal of time studying church replanting, and, for me, it’s more than academic interest. No, I haven’t replanted multiple churches (just one), but I am hooked. It’s exciting to see God bring renewal and growth, opening a new chapter in the life of a local church that may have feared there was no hope for its future. One aspect of church replanting that particularly interests me is the characteristics that make a successful replanting pastor. One trait that comes up over and over again is patience— tactical patience. If delayed gratification is not your thing, being a church replanting pastor is probably not for you. As Bob Bickford and Mark Hallock write, “progress and pace are unique are unique in church replanting. Some things can be addressed immediately; others have to wait—either for the congregation to be ready to move or for the resources to be present.” [1] Tactical patience requires knowing when to change something and when not to change it. Tactical patience

Why I Love Church Replanting

Church revitalization and replanting—the effort to bring struggling or even dying churches to new health and vitality—positively excites me.  Why? Because church revitalization and replanting showcase the miraculous work of a God who turns crucifixions into resurrections. When you look at a struggling church, you may see a church stuck in the past, a church whose facilities have become unappealing, or a church whose members have long ago ceased to be outwardly focused. Many times they have little hope and have resigned themselves to the idea that they are a few years of funerals away from closing. Perhaps some remember the glory days. They recall a time when teens and children were a presence in the church. But that was a long time ago. Surely, those days can never come back. What is Church Replanting? So, you’ve seen me use the terms “revitalization” and “replanting.” What’s the distinction? Basically, the difference is in how much runway you have to get back off the ground. How lon

Why you should join the church replanting movement.

  Churches in America are dying at an alarming rate. That’s the stark reality, and Christ-follower, you need to do something about it. Yes, I’m talking to you! Christians in America should be sitting up, taking notice, and urgently acting to stem the tide of dying churches. Estimates of how bad the problem really is are varied. Pre-pandemic, most experts said that between 65 and 90 percent of all Protestant churches in America were plateaued or declining. [1] Many of the same experts said that around ten percent of churches were in imminent danger of death. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, reported that about 900 churches affiliated with the denomination would close every year. Extrapolated across Protestant denominations, that could mean that upwards of 4,000 churches in America were closing their doors every year.   That was before COVID-19 hit, and no one really has a handle on just how desperate thi

Pastoral Leadership and an Ethic of Artificial Human Intelligence Enhancement

A paper from a class: Ethics in Christian Ministry Leadership and Education (CLED 815), Liberty University, Rawlings School of Divinity by Bart L. Denny, Th.M. December 14, 2020 You might find this a strange article, but I believe pastoral leaders will soon have to deal with the possibilities explored here not as science fiction, but as a medical reality our people are considering. Cybernetics—the melding of electronic and computer systems with the human nervous system—seems to hold the genuine possibility of healing diseases with a neurological basis.   However, many futurists dream of far more than the restoration of normal functioning; they see a human race on the cusp of forcing its own “evolution,” with the melding of the human mind and artificially intelligent computer systems. The desired result is a cybernetic transhuman, with intelligence far beyond normal human cognition and perhaps even the ability to attain immortality. Such an eventuality smacks of humanity’s desire to be