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These are great! Thanks Amy for posting these important and helpful steps. Some of our greatest Ministry successes and Kingdom opportunities have come directly from #2 Take a City Leader to Lunch. One quick question for people to wrestle with BEFORE you do this: what happens when a Community Leader asks you and your church for help with a urgent need in the community, and you can't get 'buy-in' from either the Church Council or Church Members? Just something to consider as you 'head in the right direction' this New Year...Thanks again. 

Thanks for the article!

I agree wholeheartedly that our children and their Faith Formation NEEDS to be an important focus of every Church.

From the context of a Church Plant perspective, I spoke with various people from Faith Alive often over the past 8 years. I shared with them the problem we face is complete Biblical illiteracy of many people of our congregation. With 2/3 of our people coming into our faith community being brand new to church or returning after many years, most of the parents we meet have very little Biblical knowledge to speak of. While the content of Faith Alive materials like Dwell are fantastic, they have been tried in our setting and are 'over the head' of most if not all of our kids. More and more families from the area are not just coming to us with a deficiency of Bible knowledge, they are coming to us with ZERO Biblical understanding...because they didn't even own a Bible!

We serve in a Post-Christian setting where some kids think the story of Adam and Eve is on the same level of authenticity as the story of 'Beauty and the Beast.' When God brings them into our midst, guess which story they know better?

Very helpful article! The description of Secular3 is spot on and something we deal with every day.

Since it is useless (and therefore exhausting) to try and draw people 'back to church' when they are so far removed from any type of faith community, the only way for a church to effectively minister today is to go out and meet people where they are at. Once we've learned what the needs really are, we can better create a ministry context that can help connect them to God. Like Jesus in the Incarnation, we need to 'become' more like the people we are called to minister to. As we see the Apostle Paul describe in 1 Corinthians 9:20-22: “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”

Thanks for the great article! Speaking as a fellow former Illinois resident (and knowing that I sometimes struggle with an unhealthy mid-western 'work till you drop' work ethic), I have felt the very same way in these days. So, I really needed to hear this. Thanks for your continued leadership at CTS!  

GREAT article Resonate Global Mission. Very helpful! At first, I was taken aback by #7. "We don’t know if we’ll ever be financially stable." I've heard stories of the 'Chapel Strategy' from yesteryear that always bugged me. To send out a group of people to start a new Ministry who may or may not ever be self-sufficient just seems unwise. I would hope that every new Church begins with a good strategy to somehow be self-supporting at some point. Yet I know the reality of the doing Ministry in 2019 North America, is that most Churches (both New & Old) still don't know if we will ever be financially stable. I guess that is why Jesus called us to pray for our DAILY Bread. Finally, if I could add an 11th item, it would be: Just because new Churches might 'look' and 'feel' VERY different to those who have only known an Established Church context, that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with that Church Plant. In fact, if it doesn't 'feel' like Church to you, it just might be the perfect worship atmosphere for a person in that community who does not YET know the Lord Jesus.

Great article!

Thanks for your passion, and I'm so glad people are having these discussions.

This conversation is SOOO important! 

The question we continue to wrestle with is how absolutely painful the changes necessary for a Church to bring revitalization really are for the 'grandparent' and 'parent' use your analogy. If those folks are used to having everything in the ministry be about them, their needs, and their preferences, then at some point I think they loose their ability to look at ministry through a missional lens. The end result is that they no longer "know, love, and serve the community where God has placed them.”

I've seen it over and over again. A Classis may want to Plant Churches and Revitalize their ministries, but nobody wants to be the person who comes in and says "Its not about YOU! It's about what Jesus wants for His Church." Let's say a Church in your Classis wants to be a "Mother Church" of a Church Plant, yet if effective outreach and evangelism isn't part of their DNA, then you are just transferring un-healthy DNA to an otherwise healthy Church Body.

This is the reason why perhaps the best option is to model the 'death and resurrection' of Jesus in a Church Re-Start where we all 'die to self' and 'live for Christ.'

Step 1.) Take a struggling Church congregation that truly desires to learn to love their community and share Christ, but has NO idea how to do that. Step 2.) Celebrate what God has done in that Church, and communicate 'well done good and faithfully servants.' Step 3.) After an extended time of morning the 'death' of that old congregation, allow new Life to begin in it's place by turning the building and assesses over to a Classis supported Church Planting group. Step 4.) Communicate to everyone (including those from the Church which just died) that moving forward, the Church is going to be about doing whatever it takes to communicate the Gospel to the surrounding community. Step 5.) Spend several months getting to know and love the community you are called to serve. Step 6.) As you come to care for those people who do not YET know the Lord, you come to look at ministry through their eyes, and the Spirit gives you ministry ideas to welcome them into the Fellowship of this new and 'resurrected' Church. 

The ONLY problem I've experienced with this approach, is that most of the resources (money) are found in the larger established Churches that think they have ministry all figured out. For when their Community doesn't 'resonate' with their missional efforts, they blame the Community for not appreciating what they have to offer. Then they continue to pour resources into things that just don't work.

Any suggestions?

There are MANY conflicts in our church right now over this very issue. On the mission field and in past churches, we have come to know several people who have been seriously abused by the occult on Halloween. It's an important holiday on the satanic calendar. Each year, Halloween seems to get bigger and bigger as it's hold on our people grows stronger and stronger. I continue to be criticized because I've asked people in influence to abstain from participating in things like haunted houses and then putting the pictures on Facebook for the world to see. The occult is growing in strength in our town, and yet people continue to think it's cute to dress up like witches. When people ask our position, we give them a helpful book to read called,  "Mommy, Why Don't We Celebrate Halloween?" by Linda Winwood. At the end of the day, I still land on what the Apostle John said, “This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5–7). Christians are called to walk in the Light and bring Life to the world, and not embrace death and darkness.

Thanks for the article!

I think these type of distinctions are very helpful. I just shared this with our Elders as we just dealt with the unpleasant but necessary realities of Church Discipline.

Over 9 years ago, we set out to plant a new/restarted Church uniquely designed to make room for people who had been outside or returning to the Christian faith. At the time, we believed that in an established church setting, it’s often an unwritten policy that a person must not only fully believe and understand the truths of the Christian faith, but must visibly be on the road to becoming Christ-like in their daily life. Only then could that person fully belong in a Church community.

Knowing that paradigm for ministry creates a toxic environment for anyone ‘new’ to enter into a Church community, we turned that process on its head and created a place where anyone can ‘belong’ to our Church, without first believing. We trusted that in the Lord’s timing, people would become more and more like our Savior. The Lord blessed our efforts and we can all think of several individuals who ‘only at RedArrow’ could they feel a deep sense of belonging in a faith community.

However, the unintended consequence of this effort is that we have an extremely diverse congregation that bring a wide variety of belief systems and Biblical understandings. This is all well and good until the time comes to put people in positions of influence. It is in those settings that Biblical ignorance and spiritual immaturity really begins to surface. 

It's now clear to the Elders that there was a small group of people in our Church that wrongly believed Christian fellowship should look more like a 'social club' or a 'service league' and less like a transformative force for good in a broken world. When we pointed out the 'high bar' of expectations were those given by God Himself, several walked away from the Church preferring to be conformed to the patterns of this world. If nothing else, we have learned to be more intentional about highlighting the reason God calls His people to righteous and holy living; out of gratitude for what Christ has done for us.

Just last week, we held our Community Wide VBS at the local public elementary school. It was Group's "Maker Fun Factory" and to pull it off, RedArrow again partnered with other churches in town including Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, & Roman Catholic. Out of over 200 kids who attended throughout the week, when parents registered their kids, more than 50% said they have no Church family. As the week ended, Crew Leaders and other volunteers confirmed that many of their students were hearing the Gospel of Jesus and other Bible stories for the very first time. While I agree that investing in those new relationships is absolutely essential, we should NEVER underestimate how the Lord can use outreach events like these to plant the seeds of Faith. 

Speaking as one of the (former) students you are referring to, I would be VERY careful confusing which of your students arrive at CTS thinking they 'already know how to preach,' with men and women who are just longing to bring their unique voice to the proclamation of God's Word. We didn't just chafe at a man-made-form being imposed on the preaching of God's Holy Word, we also didn't think we should be forced to preach the text like you would. If we as a Denomination can agree that World Missions/Home Missions should be combined because North American has become a mission field much like that of Africa or Asia, then the way in which we proclaim God's Word should be contextual to the environment we are called to. Keep in mind that the diversity in the 'styles' of preaching you hear from your students may be the exact thing God plans to use in order to grow His Church. Perhaps we seemed impatient with your methods because our heart's desire was only to use our diverse voices to introduce God to the people surrounding a small church in Iowa, or a campus ministry in Seattle, or even a thriving church plant in Paw Paw Michigan.

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