Showing posts from August, 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

What’s more important in ministry: Faithfulness or fruitfulness?

by Bart L. Denny, Ph.D., Th.M. I’ve often heard it said (harped upon, at times) that Christian ministry is about more than faithfulness—it’s about fruitfulness. I just don’t buy that. Not in the way it seemed to have been meant when I heard it said, anyway. Yes, sometimes ministries have been unfruitful when they lack no resources to help them yield a bountiful spiritual harvest. But this sort of fruitlessness may actually be the result of un faithfulness. What is faithfulness anyway? All Christians are called to ministry. However, I do write primarily from the perspective of a church leader. As ministry leaders, we ought to be willing to take a long, hard look at ourselves in the mirror, having the fortitude to eliminate ineffective practices in our given context. We should gladly attempt to find and implement those biblically informed ministry methods that have proven fruitful for others ministering in similar circumstances. We should humbly seek coaching and mentorship from th

Why I Am Hopeful for the Neighborhood Church in America

 by Bart L. Denny, Ph.D., Th.M. If you’ve read much of my blog, you might think my outlook on the Church (capital “C”) in America is pretty negative. Not so! I hope you’ll see in my writings that, in my view, the Church must face some stark realities. I think I can. Further, in light of the world as it is and not as we would like it, we must step up to the plate to meet these challenges, or we will see more decline and further decay. We will reach fewer of our fellow Americans with the life-transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ. But for now, I will focus on the many reasons to hope for a bright future for the American Church—especially for small, neighborhood, and rural congregations. Reason #1: Most people are open to spiritual conversations. Americans may be dropping out of organized religion, but that doesn’t mean they’ve all become atheists. According to research that the Christian publisher LifeWay conducted in 2022, two-thirds of Americans are open to conversations about faith.