Take a look at the article in World magazine (October 29, 2005 issue) about church closings.
Get ready, America. Get ready for the huge collapse from within that is soon to result in the locking of hundreds and then thousands of church doors across our countryÄîall from the inside.
The trend is already well under way, of course, in Roman Catholic circles. In Boston, in Toledo, and in St. Louis, parishioners are protesting, but to no avail. They don’t buy their bishops’ arguments that priest shortages, dwindling finances, rising maintenance and utility costs, and shifting populations are forcing once familiar facilities to be boarded up. From the vigor of the protests, you’d think that hundreds of thousands of folks had been displacedÄîbut it was the emptiness of the pews in the first place that produced the phenomenon.
Mainline churches, like the Methodist church in my own neighborhood, will not be far behind. Denominational treasuries simply aren’t up to the task of sustaining ministry personnel and facility upkeep for neighborhood “franchises” that can’t carry their own weight. When the 25 elderly people who gather now each week dwindle to a dozen, someone will have to pay the piper. And someone will have also to figure out who will mow the lawn of the church that isn’t being used anymore.
And thenÄîsooner than you thinkÄîit will be the turn of the evangelical churches as well. Thousands of them, too, are teetering on the edge of their existence. Stick your head in the door on a typical Sunday, and see how many children are around. If you were a regional manager for McDonald’s, you’d close the place in a jiffy. Except for the grit and determination of a few old stalwarts, it would already have happened. But there’s no promise for the future.
Go to your Google search engine and enter “church closings.” This morning I got 508,000 responses. A few of them had to do with finding out who was closing in case of snow or ice. Most of the entries, though, are about a much, much worse storm that is brewing.
Another reason I hope to start DonateChurch.org as a place for dying churches to plant their seed into new church plants. Kind of a classifieds for new churches who are growing to find dying churches and the reverse. More to come…
“Fundamentalist Muslims are manifesting what they believe today. Their mission is to change the world so that it is under their control. If you don’t agree with them, they will kill you. They don’t value or respect other people’s lives or even their own lives. They will have no mercy. Americans may want to be tolerant, peaceful and loving, but [Fundamentalist] Muslims will get rid of [these Americans] because they are not following their teachings. They want to change the lifestyle of everyone to the way things were 1000 years ago. The culture, customs, and dress will return to the Stone Age. These Muslims undermine women, who are considered second-class citizens. These Muslims want to tell you what to wear, eat, and how you live. If a person doesn’t go by their rules, they are justified in their killing of you,” said Getachew (Gary) Wymedihin, chairman of the board at Salvation Gate Ministry. Salvation Gate Ministry is a group of San Diego–based Ethiopians whose stated mission is to bring the revelation of God and His kingdom to Islamic regions. Fundamentalist Muslims have targeted Africa as a continent to Islamize as part of their growth strategy. “Ethiopia is being targeted by Muslims. Muslims believe if Ethiopia is converted, Islam will spread through all of Africa,” said Henock Menebo, the founder of Salvation Gate Ministry. Menebo said this is based on a plan that Muslims devised and taught at a 1989 conference in Nigeria. “There are three reasons Ethiopia is central to their plans,” said Menebo. “First, it is the capital city of the African nations, with ambassadors from every African country present there. Second, Ethiopia has the second largest number of ambassadors, second only to New York. Third, the Ethiopian city of Harer is considered the fifth holiest place, according to Islam.”
Full Article: Salvation Gate Ministry
Years ago I would enjoy a good Anne Rice book with her depiction of vampire life. Her take on vampires (while controversial) portrayed a thirst for blood like a drug addiction, immortality as a path towards isolation and loneliness and a burning desire for power. It was in her writing that I saw James 1: 14-15
…each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
But Anne Rice has left these writings as she returns to her Christian roots…
In two weeks, Anne Rice… will publish “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt,” a novel about the 7-year-old Jesus, narrated by Christ himself. “I promised,” she says, “that from now on I would write only for the Lord.” It’s the most startling public turnaround since Bob Dylan’s “Slow Train Coming” announced that he’d been born again. Source MSNBC News
Some interesting stances she takes:
-Christ’s birth date of 11 B.C.
-James, Jesus’ disciple, is the son of Joseph by a previous marriage.
-The young Jesus studies with the historian Philo of Alexandria,
-She’s used legends of the boy Messiah’s miracles from the noncanonical Apocrypha such as bringing clay birds to life, striking a bully dead and resurrecting him.
-The article states that “Rice’s most daring move, though, is to try to get inside the head of a 7-year-old kid who’s intermittently aware that he’s also God Almighty.”
This should be pretty fascinating and/or disturbing.
I spent 5 hours Saturday with the Twelve Tribes community in Vista. Have you ever heard of it?
I spoke with an Ethiopian who provided some pretty amazing stories of what is happening as Islam targets the conversion of Ethopia. Ethopia is the United Africa capital and all countries have their ambassadors there. Islam has dedicated considerable resources to convert this nation…more to come.
Read The Growth and Influence of Islam In Ethiopia From 1989 to 2000 (doc).
An interesting article about how useful people consider their church website. Poll question, How Useful is your Church Website?
12% say they use their church web site every day
12% ask “What church web site?”
35% say their church’s web site is as current as a 1980 hymnal.
Another reason we create a web-based church content management system (and assimiliation, contact mgmt, event mgmt, etc…)
I’ve been given a pass to attend the National Outreach Convention. I listened to the promo video, it says:
Every day in America, 6 new churches are born but 8 close their doors.
Only 6% of churches are growing at the pace of their community.
95% of Christians have never led a person to Christ.
Their conclusion, Churches are not effective ambassadors for Jesus. It will be interesting to see all the outreach ‘technology & techniques’ and see what they are all about….these include:
Youth Outreach – How to better reach youth and empower Christian youth to reach their peers and the local community.
Children’s Outreach – How to create empowering ministry that reaches children and families in your community.
Postmodern Outreach – How to better reach the postmodern generation and identify the trends and issues that impact your current ministry.
Targeted Outreach – Proven strategies and “how toÄôs” for specific target groups and niche audiences.
Outreach Events – The best outreach event ideas from churches and ministries across the country.
Outreach Technology – How to use technology to expand your outreach effectiveness.
Outreach Marketing – Successfully implementing the 4 laws of effective outreach in your church. (Coordinated by Outreach Marketing)
Outreach Assimilation – Great solutions for churches seeking to improve their assimilation and “front door” ministries.
Creative Outreach – Using multimedia, worship, creativity and innovation to engage unbelievers through your church.
Outreach Strategies – Practical and proven strategies to equip leaders for effective outreach.
Community Outreach – Best practice models of spiritual bridge-building through innovative, authentic, community-based ministry.
Here are some drive-by observations from a sort of
Harvard Business Review (HBR) Jesus Business Review (JBR) perspetive:
How Companies Turn Buzz Into Sales
In recent years, firms have turned to nontraditional marketing campaigns to generate buzz about their products and services. Indeed, positive word-of-mouth is anecdotally cited as the secret behind such successes as Chrysler’s PT Cruiser and the revival of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Knowing that the average consumer often listens to what trendsetters say, marketers go after specific groups of influential consumers.
But they may be missing the mark. Recent research reveals that the most obvious targets for a marketing campaign Äî loyal customers and tastemakers Äî may not create the best buzz for the marketing buck. (Source: MIT Sloan Management Review )
Kaleo’s Experience: Our ‘loyal customers’ (those who’ve attended 6-months or more) typically lag behind newer converts or attenders to Kaleo in actively inviting others to participate in Kaleo’s community.
The Art of Making Change Initiatives Stick
Many organizations regress after major change efforts because they lack a foundation that enables initiatives to stick. Through a detailed study of a major clothing retailer, the authors demonstrate the importance of starting early, having the right processes and avoiding top-down directives. The four critical processes they describe rely on understanding emotions and behavior, not just numbers. Giving employees a visceral sense of the need for change motivates them to maintain their efforts long after management attention has turned elsewhere. (Source: MIT Sloan Management Review )
Kaleo’s Experience: To quote Rick McKinley, “Sometimes your feel like you are yelling at dirt waiting for the plant to grow.” Meaning, often the leadership of the church feels a distinct message and direction the church goes in and it can take months before this is translated into the live’s of the congregation. The important thing is A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (to quote a book by Eugene H. Peterson) where a vision is cast and consistently re-enforced in messages, communication and teaching.
“The Episcopal denomination has always been one of the most inclusive denominations. We don’t fight over doctrine. For example, in my church we have pro-life and pro-choice congregants. My preferences are for life, but the decision needs to be based on the circumstances,” said Reverend Michael Russell of All Souls. Russell declined to provide circumstances in which he would endorse abortion. “Regardless of the circumstances, we wouldn’t expel someone from our church for having an abortion. My job is to teach people how to think as Christians, not what to think.” Russell said All Souls falls on the progressive end of Protestant churches. He summarized his church’s stance on divisive issues, “In any gray area, we would rather include people than exclude them. We are not agents of God’s judgment.” Russell said that many All Souls congregants left Roman Catholic and Protestant churches where they were judged for their behavior. “People come to our church because we allow for divorce. Sometimes a marriage is causing so much damage to the people involved that it’s best to get divorced. We are very welcoming to gays and lesbians. When looking at scripture on this issue, we believe the historical circumstances have changed. Tradition, current culture, what scripture says and whether it is still applicable as it was when it was first written are elements to consider on these matters,” said Russell
Full Article: All Souls
I went and saw Domino last night. It follows a long-line of Pulp Fiction/Guy Ritchie style knock-offs. The film was mildly entertaining (the first half dragged a bit) but all-in-all I’d give it a thumbs down. Just not enough there to make a good film. They incorporated a mild level of Christian Spirituality in the main character Domino (Keira Knightley). But, while her belief in God existed, in no way did it interfere with her decisions in life. God was a good-luck charm or talisman that protected her. (WARNING: It seemed like the producer or whoever convinced Keira Knightly that in order to get this lead role, she would have to go topless. So there are two scenes with nudity for those who would prefer to avoid these things. One of the scenes seemed guided by a contract with how much and in what context they could show Knightley’s body, so it felt forced and mechanical. I wish they would have left the scene out…)