Any small(ish) church pastor or ministry leader who’s been to a conference at a mega-church knows the feeling: a feeling of guilt that their church hasn’t jumped to over 1000 overnight, and a sense of despair that growth is out of reach. The conversations with these growing church pastors, however, offer us some reassurance and some challenges for us as a denomination.
Today’s entry continues with the factors that led to growth in CRC and RCA churches.The church was at a point where it was ready to take risks and to make changes.
As we all know, this five year span has not been easy in North America, with the downturn of the economy directly affecting our churches and their members. And yet, in the midst of this crisis, there were 42 CRC churches and over 30 RCA churches (exact number not available) who showed significant growth.
More Books for under the Tree . Perhaps it is an occupational hazard of being a minister, but around this time of year a lot of family and friends decide to give books as the perfect Christmas present. In the spirit of that giving and perhaps to enhance your asking here are seven more books that I’ve found helpful from a number of different genres.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…which at my house means, “What books are doing to show up under the Christmas tree?” Perhaps it is an occupational hazard of being a minister, but
Premise: the vast majority of our church planting resources need to be invested in planting churches in Alpha Cities. If this premise is true then we need a way in the CRC to come together (churches, classes, agencies, synod, and our partners) and discern how to create a church plating movement that focuses on Alpha Cities.
...new wine is the sign of the eschatological age.
What did it feel like? It felt like being hungry, I suppose, in a place where being hungry is shameful, and where one has no money and everyone else is full. It felt, at least sometimes, difficult and embarrassing and important to conceal.
Advertising encourages people to want things and to satisfy their desires. Education encourages people to reflect critically on their desires, to restrain or to elevate them.
In the face of changing demographics in America, many African Americans find themselves becoming a minority-minority, or shrinking minority. For instance, in the west where I live, Asian and Latino populations are increasing dramatically as a result of immigration and soaring birth rates. The U.S. black population has shrunk from about 17% to 12% as we enter the second decade of the third millennium. The white population has shrunk to 72% while the Latino/Hispanic population has risen to over 16%.
African American theology had its earliest roots in an experience of pain and suffering. Mourning freedom and agonizing over loss of identity and opportunity were a huge part of the Southern African American experience. But, with civil rights and a more socially engaged African American population in the North and the West, black theology has evolved into more of a need for empowerment and survival.
Here are some factoids about African American churches and church plants.
One African American Church planter in Atlanta has an interesting expansion strategy for church planting in African American communities. He envisions planting “bubble churches” in well educated and well resourced corners of the community and then hiving off need based churches that are highly subsidized by the parent church in order to create a sustainable church planting movement.
As of 2013, no one could simply say, “I am going to plant an African American church” with the implied presumption that one size fits all. The dream of freedom, employment, opportunities, education and mobility has created many strong sub cultures within the overall African American community.
As I study the book of Luke there are continuing moments of surprise. Some of the surprises come from words that I have read many times before, but failed to catch their meaning or nuance.
A couple of years ago in an article entitled, To The Praise of his Glory” in the Review and Expositor the author wrote, “Paul mentions ‘redemption,’ the great metaphor of emancipation taken from the slave market in Ephesians 1. The costliness of this act is spelled out in the term "through his (Jesus') blood," a reference to his life poured out.
And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. —Luke 5
"[T]he Bible is a masterpiece. The Bible is one of the greatest works produced in the world. Those people who only have the Bible actually are set up for life. Not only do they have a spiritual vision given to them but artistic fulfillment. They don't even recognize just the pleasure of dealing with this epic poetry and drama. Everything is in the Bible." — Atheist, Camille Paglia
Tim Keller and Planting More Churches in the CRC -- Recently Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC spoke with a number of reporters at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Today’s blog post lifts out one part of his talk on the place of church planting.
Kerry Patterson in the book Influencer lays out important ways that we can influence people to bring about change. The book is filled with interesting ideas and important ones for leaders. One of the places that Patterson focuses on is the area of physical space. The power of space to influence behavior, to change attitudes, and to lower conflict is often overlooked...
A while ago as I was reading in Luke I noticed something, namely, Elijah and Elisha get a lot of play in this gospel. I first noticed it when reading Luke 9 and 10. In Luke 9 there is the feeding of the crowd which echoes the feeding in 2 Kings 4.42ff, a miracle performed by Elisha.
There is an increasing emphasis on discipleship among evangelicals. It seems that this is the present great movement that is consuming us. In the 1980s and 90s it was evangelism, the recognition that we had not done well generally, and in the case of the CRCNA specifically, at reaching those who were not connected to Christ and his church.
The latest Utne Reader has an article entitled, “Me, Myself, and I: Why is it so hard to admit when we are lonely?” The author, Olivia Laing, talks about the pain of loneliness in her own life as she lived in New York City, surrounded by people but still terribly alone. In the article she points out not only her own pain of loneliness but also the research on loneliness,
1 John 3.1 raises a bunch of interesting questions. The words of the verse are "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him." One of the questions is, "When John tells us that God has "given" (or bestowed) the kind of love that makes it so we are called "his children", how do we understand "given" or "bestowed"?
When we asked when they considered a church to have become “mature,” the measure was quite simple: The church after three years is 1) Self-sustaining 2) Self-governing and 3) Self-propagating.