Showing posts from June, 2023

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

Your Church Deserves Its Reputation in the Community

by Bart L. Denny, Ph.D., Th.M. How does your community view your church? Do you even know? First, I ought to say that it’s easy to find out. Just go to the nearest grocery store and ask the cashier. Go to places nearby where there are people and ask them what they know. You’ll find out. Your church either has a good, bad or—perhaps most likely—no reputation. And let me be blunt: no matter your church’s reputation—good, bad, or none—you deserve it. It doesn’t matter if you argue the minor points where you think people have been unfair; you have given off an impression. Several months ago, I talked to a deacon chairman who shared that his church had a bad reputation in the community. I got the distinct sense that he thought the community had been unfair. First, I would say that it doesn’t matter whether such judgment is unjust or not. The reputation you have in the community is the reputation you have—that’s what you’ve got to work with. But had the community really been unfair? The

Original Sin: Inherited Corruption or Inherited Guilt? (and Why It Matters)

by Bart L. Denny, Ph.D., Th.M. Maybe you’ve heard the term “original sin.” You might be surprised to learn that there is considerable debate about precisely what the phrase “original sin” entails. Christians hear the term original sin and have differing conceptions of it. Reading the Bible, I have always understood original sin to mean what I more often heard described as a “sin nature,” an invariable propensity to sin inherited from our first father, Adam. Except for Jesus Christ, the God-man, all have sinned, and none can help but sin. All flavors of orthodox Christianity have accepted that humankind inherits a sinful nature and that no human can attain sinless perfection in this life. This sinful nature, because it has come down through Adam, might be considered “inherited corruption.” One of the consequences of this inherited corruption is the eventual physical death of all human beings. But I never recognized that this understanding of original sin, common among Baptists, Arminian