What I’m REALLY Thinking…
And asking you to think about.
I’ve really been struggling with something. You actually know it and can feel it I think. It’s evident in some things we are trying together recently. I even mentioned the genesis of this recent angst a few weeks ago in a sermon. I believe we are being called to intentionally shift towards culture, not in our message, but in our strategy, to keep on mission. Some of those shifts will impact your comfort and the short version is I’m asking all of us to prayerfully consider what Jesus is asking us to yield to in order that He might be lifted up. You can skip here and get the cliff notes/bottom line/ new things that might impact you.
I put a quote on the screens about the failure of most churches in America. The reality has hit home hard and I’ve been asking so many questions about who God is calling GCC to be after reading that quote. You might remember it better if I remind you that I had a deck of cards in my hand to help illustrate the point It came from Jim Putnam’s book, “Church is a team sport”. The staggering quote was,
“Only 15% of churches in America are growing, of those, only 3% are growing with new people. That means that most church ‘growth’ is just reshuffling the same 52 cards in the deck in a different order.”
This snapshot of the American church has been on my mind and so I’ve been reading, visiting with other pastors around the country who are in the 3% that are growing, listening to you, working with consultants (Thanks for taking the survey) and praying. I’ve uncovered some insights and formed, with some great help a complex answer to that question. BUT, I have boiled it down to the a more simple basic answer I want to put in front of us. Many churches are not connecting people to Jesus because . . . they don’t want to. Sound harsh? It’s not that people don’t want others to know about Jesus?, they just want other things more. Not a lot more, it only takes a little bit more desire for something to see our main goal snuffed out. The hardest thing about this contemplative journey I’ve been on is that I’ve discovered I’m the worst! Okay, it’s confession time, here are the things I’ve done that hurt our main goal:
- Announcements that non-believers don’t care about
- Talking insider language (things that make people feel uninvited or on the outside)
- Asking people to make a decision to connect to Jesus but not making time for them to process it and take a first step
I believe in the importance of the gathering of believers for edification, the communion meal and fellowship. We all get to enjoy our corporate times of worship together but a tension does exist on what we do and how. What normally gets hurt as we accommodate our personal preferences is the mission. There is a clear New Testament practice of non-believers in the midst of the gathering and Jesus, Acts 2:47 “praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” How can we get closer to that description of the church?
If you are new to Generations Christian Church you might not know some of the history. In fact, Generations has a long history of being the church for people who are unchurched, hurt by church or against church in general. Former GCC pastor Greg Johnson has regularly said to me, ‘there are plenty of churches for people who believe already, I wanted to be a church for those farthest from Jesus.” Thankfully, GCC has been ‘connecting people to Jesus’ with that mindset for a long time. How can we continue this and be more effective?
Bring A Friend Weekend
The ‘Bring A Friend Weekend’ tactic is an effort to help all of us take a step towards being in the 3%. Remember the startling quote about failing churches? There are churches that are growing by connecting new people to Jesus, people who are new cards in the deck! This is exciting to experience and it’s happening right here at our church. Let’s all be working towards the same goal! Does inviting someone to church mean we are connecting them to Christ? Not always, but, Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Our commitment is to clearly tell people about Jesus and let them make a decision to connect to Him that weekend. What a great step towards being in the 3%.
- Optimal times
- If one third of us who attend 2nd and 3rd service invite a friend we will be out of seats. Will some of you plan to attend and bring someone on Saturday Night or Sunday and let us know! We don’t want Sunday services empty; but we want visitors to have a great experience too. Help out the process by thinking about attending a less prime time service.
- Optimal Length. We always need a few extra minutes to process what God is doing in our midst and just be in His presence. Because we believe that we should have communion every weekend in our service our one hour box can get a bit tight and we don’t want to rush any important element of our worship.
- Grab some of our small invite square cards and pass them out/ they are no good after BAFW because the times are special!
- No OFFERING: We are not going to pass for an offering on Bring A Friend Weekend (November 23-24th). We are going to talk about our mission and the things we do with Kingdom resources! We just are not going to ask your friends to give.
- The bags are usually empty because many of us give online. Some get the impression that we all are not “in” on the mission or that the church has nobody giving at all. Neither is true. Over 50% of those who consistently tithe give on-line automatically. May we all give generously online this week and show your support for our decision to not pass the offering bags on this weekend. Here’s how you can give online:
- http://www.generationscc.com/give Click on “Give Here”
- Underneath is even a video to show you how to set it up if you need help. Text to give: 84321
Here’s How You Can Choose Adventure
We have to point our hearts where we want them to go. If we don’t, our own desires will, by default, lead us to selfishness. Jesus came to serve. He is our ultimate example. It is at times like these that those who are most mature in Christ have the opportunity to truly lead by serving. Sometimes we don’t need another class or bible study, we need something to do for somebody else. Transformation comes through putting our Bible knowledge into actions and here are two things we can all DO to be on the adventure together:
PRAYER: Let’s all Join together Tuesday Night at 7pm for a dedicated service of prayer and worship for Bring A Friend Weekend. We will be handing out shirts to everyone who signs up to serve in an area on Bring A Friend Weekend. We will be doing baptisms and have brand new baptism shirts for people!
SERVE: Okay, here’s the truth. We don’t NEED another volunteer to pull this off. Seriously. Have you ever heard a church say that? We don’t need another car parker or kids worker to pull it off. The same people who always do it will do it. But it won’t have the excellence and impact it could have. Imagine a team of people cheering kids and helping parents fill out paperwork! Imagine more car attendants than we really need, all wearing new GCC shirts and greeting people over and over again as they walk in. THIS IS WHAT makes people start to believe that Jesus really can help them with their “This Is Your Time” moment.
- We are trying some different service times.
- We are not collecting offering that weekend. We are giving online and crushing our weekly budgetary need cheerfully.
- We are doing spontaneous baptisms that weekend.
- Prayer/Worship Service 11/19 7PM / Volunteer T-shirt handout.
- We don’t need any more servers in any area . . . unless they want to party!