Recently, in a coaching call with a group of church leaders on Long Island, the questions arose, “How can our church begin to build relationships with the people who meet in our space during the week? We have lots of people in and out our doors, but we don’t know them, and none of them come to worship on Sunday.”
Friday, December 20, 2013
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Recently I stepped out of my familiar comfort zone twice within a week’s time: to attend a non-denominational conference (spelled P-E-N-T-E-C-O-S-T-A-L) and then from there, to go on a Carnival cruise. Oh my goodness! I did not speak in tongues at the church thing, nor was there any onboard disaster with the cruise ship. In other words, I survived. Moreover, I heard some really, really good music in both places! But these two experiences brought home some pretty significant realities to me:
Monday, October 21, 2013
It's the season of two or three hundred thousand stewardship campaigns in churches across the USA. We do very expensive church in the USA, and fall is the usual season where we rally the saints to foot the bills for another year. Here are seven key thoughts for those of us who lead judicatories and long to see financially sustainable ministries within our denominational tribe:
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
A dependable follow up system is one of the most critical elements in developing and sustaining a high retention of first time worship attendees. Worship service content quality, onsite hospitality, quality of facility and quality of children's ministry are four other very important elements. But nothing is more important than follow up. And follow up is impossible without a dependable conduit of information about our visitors flowing into the hands of the leadership team.
Sunday, September 1, 2013
A few years ago, my good friends Bill Easum and Jim Griffith wrote a book of the Top Ten Reasons why some church plants go belly up. This past week, I was asked this question, and I decided to respond with my own list of ten reasons. It echoes their list, but it differs in a few ways.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Two Supreme Court decisions last of June seemed to be pulling the country in two directions. But in fact they reflect a unified trend: the nation is lurching toward an even greater sense of individualism. "Don't mess with me. I won't bother you. Don't muffle me - even if it is my money that is doing the talking. Don't tell me what kind of gun I can buy or whom I can marry. And don't even think about sending me the bill for the improvements that we desperately need at the school down the street or to fix the bridge over the river that is going to fall in one day soon. You live yours. I will live mine. I owe you nothing, not even a watchfulness to protect your right to vote. If you have problems, it's not my problem. Get a life. If you don't like the laws in Alabama, move to New York."
Monday, June 10, 2013
Over the last couple years, my co-author, colleague and Epicenter associate Kim Shockley led a landmark study of church vitality in The United Methodist Church. The project was named Toward Vitality. Her team interviewed hundreds of churches in all parts of the United States. The study was jointly sponsored by four of our church's general agencies. The biggest headline was the role of pastoral leadership in church vitality - not a surprise, exactly, but well documented. However, they learned a lot more than that!
Thursday, March 21, 2013
When I was in seminary, I sometimes wondered if Luther, Calvin and Wesley were all such geniuses or if, instead, they were simply capable, talented people whose lives came along at pregnant moments of history when Reformation was bound to happen anyway. Now that I am living through a real-life Reformation, I am leaning more toward the latter idea. None of us chose to paddle the rapids of this fast-changing post-Christendom era, but like it or not, God has placed us here: in the middle of white water with a Bible and a paddle and an assortment of characters on the journey with us, ranging from the bold and brilliant to the timid and the panicky.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Sustainability is one of the key words of this still very young century. We will be thinking about it more and more in days to come.
We are learning how to live so that there are adequate resources left for the other seven billion people. We are learning how to reduce our carbon footprint, so as to curb global warming and keep the planet healthy and habitable for centuries to come. We are learning how to offer excellent and reasonable healthcare to an aging populace in ways that do not bankrupt our society. And we are learning how to live in faith community in a far less cash-intensive manner, making possible a lighter, more agile Christian movement, with a greater ability to invest beyond our own internal buildings and management.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Abingdon Press is releasing my newest book this month, one of their first titles of 2013. The Surprise Factor: Gospel Strategies for Changing the Game at Your Church. Kim Shockley and I co-authored this book as a conversation between a clergyperson and a layperson, exploring ten key strategies that Jesus utilized as a change agent in a long-existing faith community. In each case we asked what Jesus' strategy looks like in a twenty-first century North American congregation. The project has been a lot of fun.