I think the Internet has a lot to do with that. Pics and video of extremely rare moments in science are now being caught and recorded. Sure we have evidence of the supernatural. I saw Lt. Dan without legs in Forest Gump and saw him later on TV with legs. I believe I would put less trust in photographic proof of the supernatural today than ever. Believing replaces the need for proof. I would suggest that one reason we have so many small churches is that way too many pastors and wannabe pastors start their own church.
It creates a position which they control. No need to be 3rd fiddle in an existing larger church or perhaps a seemingly invisible congregational member. One day I may feel I am an under-appreciated member who has an anointing and the next day I am Pastor of my own little flock. Suddenly I find myself in a position that gleans respect and lends an air of superiority. It matters not that I have not thought about the responsibility part of that scenario.
I get my loyal followers who I have convinced they are also anointed and special and reign as Holy Man. The Church of God has suddenly in some part become the Church of Me. With so many churches having empty seats, why are we starting so many new churches. Is this what one would call good stewardship? I would suggest that in a typical church not all members agree on every part of doctrine, even though we probably agree on much. We should not be splitting up churches over the few disagreements that may exist.
Because so much of the Gospel is a matter of translation, people are bound to see some things differently. I have no doubt that when we stand in front of the throne of God we will all find that some TRUTHS we clung to all our life were never really true. I believe Christ never meant for the church to fracture over questionable issues.
God with Christ at his side will do as he wishes, not as we wish. It is better in my opinion to have fewer churches with the seats full than a thousand store front cathedrals holding twenty people in each. We are not special because God anointed us. We are special because God offered to adopt us, even before we knew what our beliefs would be. Yes, this is true about Christians. Non-Christians look for the supernatural in the wrong places. If any church should suddenly start believing what the Bible says is true, it will start to grow. They say they believe but where is the proof.
The Bible says that if what is being preached is what God wants to be preached, there will be signs confirming what is taught. No signs then there is no confirmation. In other words God is not happy with what is being preached. Call on the elders and they shall anoint them with oil and they shall recover.
What shepherd will allow his sheep to be sick and do nothing about it? I doubt he even had that many. All we have are unsubstantiated church mythology about them. In reality, we have no idea who penned them or edited them into their current shape for example, the Great Commission was added much later, as was the story of the Woman Taken in Adultery—both of which are, incidentally, beloved of Christians who are in the religion just to exert control over others. Nobody seems to have any idea they exist at all until then.
Now, a lot of apocalyptic preachers were running around Jerusalem around CE wailing and screeching about the end of the world; in fact, the observation gets made a few times about them. Jesus might have been one of those nameless, gormless, witless nutjobs, and maybe he did accumulate a small following as many of his similar peers did. Much of the stories and art around those supposed men reflects the religious thinking of the ancient world. Between the years of CE we had dozens of educated men running around Jerusalem whose job it was to record the important events of their day, and not a single one of them actually wrote a single word about Jesus or his followers.
When I entered college, I specifically sought these works out, and could not find a single one. In the early decades of Catholicism, that lack of contemporary accounts bothered at least one clergyman enough to write worriedly about it, but Christians these days just assume that anything that old and universally-accepted must be true. You sound angry discrediting the only document that actually have other proof through family history of Jesus existance.
Read the bible again without hate in your heart calling people names. Let me assist you: the disciples started as 12 and then multiplied. They are know as deacons minister apostles etc. The multitudes were the congregation. Even the Pharisees…say cheese! Also excuse my grammar and spelling. No, he was just gathering crowds at the sea of Galilee and elsewhere. The Jews wanted to get rid of him and they thought they did. Many great artists and musicians were not great during their lifetime.
Ah but History. The Creator and Lord love you. I hope you will eventually, Lee Ann. Leonardo Ramirez, you got it very wrong. Jesus Ministers apostles were 12, that was not the members. In Luke and Luke there were 70 disciples he sent on errand. In 1 Corinthians , Jesus was seen off by brethren. In Mark ; Luke and John , there were he ministered to spiritually and physically. Jesus was not running a congregation, he was running a seminary.
Christian leaders: do you want your churches to grow? Just find ways to engage with it that are real, relevant, and do some good and no harm to both members and their community. People have shown that they respond to that approach. Me, I think most Christians would rather see their religion disintegrate than change anything about their groups and behavior. I used to think there was time for them to right their ship.
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Not one single survey done in the last 5 years gives them any chance of regaining their onetime effortless dominance of American society. You mention toxic groups at church. I am not a member of any one church—I attend various churches. I have yet to run into a toxic group at a church, however; your email was very toxic. You will never be free until you realize that.
Wow, Leslie, you really did show us exactly what I was talking about. Well done! What did I say that was toxic? I was critical of toxic church culture, and I showed my work. You just want to shut me down, and you did it by being exactly the kind of hypocrite I talked about. But you failed. YOU are why your religion is failing. YOU, personally, are a tiny piece of how people know Christianity is false through and through, and bad for humanity as a whole. Instead, Christianity has just given you permission to mistreat others. Where was love in your comment?
Where was grace? Freedom does come from within. And from within, we are rejecting your brand of toxic religion. From within, we are choosing a better way. How about freedom is freedom? Bertha, you have no idea in the world what you just said looks like in the real world. This level of magical thinking would be comical, except you clearly think you said something profound. Such pseudo freedom could come at the highest cost. Fact: Jesus loves you. Fact: Jesus died for you. There are no unbelievers after death.
Just wide and narrow paths that have eternal destinations. The Lord is gentle and kind that would forgive you of your sins. I choose in the perfect design. Pray this, Jesus I want to invite you to come and reveal truth to my mind, heart, and spirit. Find His truth and you will live the abundant Life.
Say to Jesus I am coming to the end of my self made naturalists, realists, and distained fallen creation of God. The real miracle would be your transformation into the kingdom along with the acceptance of your adopted blood bought family waiting to welcome you as you are. I pray for that miracle. I know one interesting method of earning money, I think you will like it.
Captian Cassidy: You have the traits if a Very Toxic individual. Your email reflected the following: 1. I have often struggled with the idea of how much do we depend on the spiritual and how much on strategy. My personal observation over the years is leadership that is not strategic usually fails. In my experience the spiritually based leaders that also use strategy are able to reach more for Christ.
I wonder how many of the negative commenters in this thread have ever significantly grown at church in present times. Todd, I was a no one before I met you. A plain Jane that no one would take a second glance at. Since requesting you cast the public attraction love spell I have had more dates in the past month than I have in my entire life! You are a miracle worker! I have actually had guys stop me on the street to ask me to grab a cup of coffee with them.
I could not have asked for anything more. I am having a great time and having fun! E-mail:manifestspellcast gmail. Hello blogger, i must say you have high quality articles here. Your website can go viral. You need initial traffic boost only. How to get it? That is a big one!! I would suggest that you are leaving out a HUGE aspect as to why many go mega churches not all but many …to hide or even get self serving needs met. Look at the crowds that followed Jesus. Most of them followed him for health and food.
They can just punch their attendance cards and go home. I propose small churches consist mostly of people who put their hands to the plow. Most arent there to punch cards and meet selfish needs from self serving programs but are there to work and serve the Lord. People can move from one group to another if they want. Some will grow, others will shrink. It challenges each group to perform. He was teaching his disciples a duplicatable system that should reach the entire earth by the time he is ready to return.
These in turn were to teach others and so on as the group grew exponentially. Sometimes a thousand people were saved because one person was healed. The system broke down somewhere between — AD at least during the reign of Constantine who made it a state religion and built churches, and only returned relatively recently.
Pagans filled this new church and the Holy Spirit left. From such stay away. Healings also confirm the message spoken according to the Bible. If Jesus and the Holy Spirit are in us, we already have the healer. If Jesus took our sicknesses on himself, we are already healed, we just need to have the faith to manifest it. That is what the Bible teaches, and if we ignor it, we do so at our own peril, we die early. It only costs a couple of bucks but it will help to build any church because there will be new converts.
There is nothing like proof to dispel doubt and change lives. When I was in seminary, we were taught that, when your congregation reached , it was time to split into 2 churches to better serve the community. I thought it was a good idea. One of the dirty secrets of church growth I found in a footnote of a national church paper on growth.
Churches tend to grow in communities that are growing and tend to shrink in communities that are shrinking!
If you are leading a church in a small town that a lot of people especially young people are leaving, you can do everything right and still see your church get smaller. Another dirty secret is that churchgoers self-select for size. Some people want a small church and will leave if it gets larger. Some people want a medium-sized church and some want to go to a megachurch. Though few people will admit aloud to not wanting their church to grow, they might find their family-sized church comfortable and not really want it to change. All of these things are relevant, but only for churches in a certain context and demographic area.
Yeah, I really like the part in scripture where the megachurch would gather in a house and really share the spirit and word. This issue has been widely researched, using a variety of different instruments, for many years. I recall that my alma mater once did such a study, only to discover that the vast majority of their alums pastored churches of or less.
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This term refers to the factg that our brains have limited capacity for certain kinds of information. When we examine channel capacity from the lens of social psychology we discover that when networks grow beyond our capacity to maintian social connections, we begin to feel estranged. In other words — there is a human limit to how large our social networks, including our churches, can become.
The magic number seems to be about people in our network. Now, in response to this blog post — which is quite good — I would add that the FIRST and PRIMARY reason why churches top out at or less than is that the pastor fails to understand this fundamental feature of human cognitive and social psychology and adapt to it. Number 2 is gold. As always, keep writing! Carey — great stuff and the podcast is amazing. Recently you and Brian Wangler mentioned a Reggie Joiner sermon using shopping carts.
Anyway you can link me up to this? All in a small town of about 2, people. I have to say the suggestions Carey makes are exactly right, if you want to see your church grow you have to be willing to make some changes. Carey, I just heard you speak at the Activate Conference and really enjoyed it. Can you break down the strategy piece a little? What is your strategy? Have you written some posts on it? I know you use Deep and Wide, but can you give an example of some of your strategy?
I pastor a church in academia, near to Harvard called Journey Church. We are clear on our mission and vision and somewhat clear on strategy but this is the piece I could use the most help on. Thank you Carey. Thank you for always sharing. You just covered chapter of my book for me. Great Essay. What is most interesting and telling, is this compulsion to bring other people into your delusional fantasy world.
The poor deluded Christians never stop trying to effect change with their incantations…er, I mean prayers. Right on. Obviously in some small communities there are churches under I was very involved in many activities and in leadership roles at our church. In the past two years I have witnessed much of what you recommend in this article executed at our church.
Some of this shift also has to do with my perception of your general approach, which I suspect has been utilized nearly point-for-point at our church. This formula can be seen as very cynical and corporate-like numbers crunching. Furthermore, some may become disenfranchised not just with their current church, but with organized religion as a whole, which is where I feel I am now.
And those numbers represent real people on a journey together, and who experience ups and downs. Just one perspective. I actually lives through these principles and led a church through change. Many stayed with it throughout. Many more people are in a relationship with Jesus because of it.
This is not a cynical ploy to manipulate people. He wants some solid scripture to back it up. A member church, among dozens of other member churches in a community of less than 4, is NOT a dying church. The article sounds more like someone from Hollywood trying to make his MBA degree look good than someone from a religious seminary. Not one single aspect of the article was Biblically based or even supported. I may well be wrong…but please show us the scripture proving that America has been doing its rural and suburban churches wrong all these years. Every time churches listen to this non-Bibically based nonsense, they celebrate their 14 new big screen TVs while another food and medicine distribution program bites the dust.
So many communities are suffering because a new wave of young ministers are isolating themselves from these ecumenical groups and trying to duplicate or compete with programs that already exist in the small community 20 churches fighting over members in a town with only 3, people in it. I do recall Christ teaching the early disciples of his church how to witness, share, and spread the news the news to be spread is pretty well covered in the New Testament.
Your reply is well-thought out and I enjoyed reading it. The advice is for churches that do have a problem or soon will, and they know it. I agree with the thesis of the article itself, and I think Carey only has the best intentions with the article. In hindsight however, I realized most of my Amens were more about practical, business, and political matters than spiritual and theological ones.
My Amens were mostly wishful thinking that humans and their communities would be easier to manage into my personal world view. What drew my tangent is the way those with questions or warnings for organizational experts are handled. Well…if someone misinterprets, or finds a hole…plug it with solid scripture! Fault finders in and outside of a church do have a purpose. That form of comment fielding deflecting back to the commenter and taking a self defense stance made me re-read the article a number of times, searching for what ever it was that seemed to bothering GenXer.
I do understand that pastors do not have the time and stamina to dig through their Bible and convince every single nay-sayer in person. Much of Urban Canada would be considered the same. It fits where he is, it fits where I am, it fits where many of his readers are. I do not think Carey is targeting communities of 10, people with 50 churches of people like you see in many areas of the South East US.
This is not about killing various small churches to build one big one. It is about organizing ourselves in a way so that we do not hinder the expansion of the gospel. We know this, or at least we should. Disciples are being made. People are being saved. Lives are being transformed. God is being glorified. Greetings to you in mighty name above all other names Jesus Christ. Im very much happy to write to since i have went through your website and have seen great work on which you are doing by the grace of God to spread the true gospel.
Am pastor Wilfred Kerosi from East Africa Kenya of Ribate fellowship christian church with 63 members ,55 Children whereby 34 among the children are poor orphans under my care. I hereby request for affiliation to partner with you in spreading the true gospel of which you are doing as the say that ; go to all nation and preach the gospel to every creature on earth.
Hey Carey, as a lay person volunteering at a church, why do you think there is so much push back against being strategic or changing structure based on comments on this post? Hello Carey, My question is a little different. When dealing with volunteers and paid worker in the church, is it a good idea to give them equal treatments? We are in the process of ordaining some faithful volunteers and someone brings a suggestion that one of the paid workers should also be ordained.
My stand on the issue is that this may discourage the faithful volunteers, seeing that some are being paid and more so they are coded differently under the Fair Labor Act. Ummm, ordination and pay are two different areas of church decision-making. The administrators get paid per month as well as the worship pastor. This is what we can afford. Everyone else is a volunteer.
Four of the volunteers are being made deacons — two are being considered for the eldership. This is up to the discretion of the elders and church council. That is sad that someone getting paid by the church expects to hold an ordained role as well. Other than that…like I said, an accountant — or a tech guy or the janitor — you may pay them, but ordination should only be a serious thought by the eldership and the church council. They should not be two conflated categories.
But you probably already knew that. Many people in these churches ALSO have an MBA or higher…and have run businesses and organizations since long before the minister was born. That is where the pastor is supposed to have the upper hand when it comes to organizational strategy and leadership. It makes you look foolish and naive. I have been a full time pastor at two different churches over the past ten years. The first church I was at had an organizational structure much like you just described. The pastors were subject to a board and most any new ideas were placed on the table for discussion, and then simply tabled for months, sometimes years on end.
Some would say that this was wisdom the elder board was made up of men with more degrees than California in the summer, and most of them were at least 55 or older. We got very little accomplished and saw very few come to Christ because the status quo remained as such and the young pastors with less education and less wordly experience as you called it were told to simply wait.
The problem I have with your assertion is that it completely flies in the face of the New Testament church that I see in scripture. The disciples were young men who had been called by Jesus to be a part of his mission. They were mostly uneducated men who went out with the Spirit of God and started a movement with the Gospel that would change the world. So…are you multilingual?
If not…. Get out and meet Christians who speak the language and will assist you in ministering to them. Are you equipped and prepared to deal with this? They each set out into the world to minister to these different cultures in very unique ways. Get to know as many pastors in your area as you can! Communicate with your area ministers on a regular basis, and serve your community as a strategic group front. If you find a Hispanic family that needs a Christian ministry…. If there are no churches in the area that can minister in Spanish, then it makes rock solid sense to push your own to start building programs for them.
Set the example, show some success, gradually introduce the new culture to your old church and THEN start asking for more support. If there are already 3 churches in your county that are well equipped to minister in Spanish, then it makes the most sense to call one of those pastors and send the family to him. In short…. There are many different sizes and types of Church models for a reason.
Each one serves a purpose in an ever changing fabric of humanity. God wants it that way. Churches do change every single day as the balance and makeup of the population shifts. Stop asking old churches full of members who have already raised their kids to try to act like what they are NOT…a church full of 30 somethings raising kids. Understand your community, and use its currents to your advantage.
The sad truth is that the older people controlling out of balance churches generational balance eventually will pass on, and their homes will be sold to a younger generation and in many cases even a radically different CULTURE. At that point…. Take your time…because it took generations for them to build it all…. Instead of over-fighting it…look at the tools they have for very different, but equally important types of missions. You can drive yourself crazy trying to fight the Cycles of God…. You seem to be arguing for 1 for reasons that quite simply I disagree with vehemently and saying that the only other option is 2.
Our church is multi-generational and we have seen over two hundred people go from having nothing to do with God or church to responding to the Gospel and trusting in Christ for salvation and new life over the past 6 years For His glory, not ours. Why is this happening? Because our leadership made the decision to stop catering to comfort and challenge our people to get on board with the mission of the Church. Sadly, we lost quite a few people. We are called to go and make disciples. You said at the end that not every church is geared to be an evangelical power house…..
Again, not certain what you mean. Every church should foundationally be about the Gospel and making that Gospel known to as many as possible in their community. Just to play out an extreme: If every person in that community is reached which i would venture to say happens extremely rarely , then begin brainstorming other ways to reach even farther small church plant etc… , but never get off the boat of our mission.
What do you think a church is supposed to look and act like? Because I believe a church is a community of people tied together in the Gospel on mission to make that Gospel known to any and everyone. Make changes necessary to be a part of that mission. A dying church is simply that: dying. How is that a radical change that requires board approval and strong arming changes in congregational leadership?
I still maintain that just because a church has fewer than does NOT mean it is dieing. I know of quite a few that have NEVER had more than memebers, but have been going strong for nearly years. I can think of a pocket of about 12 of them in Texas that have put air bus hospitals in every international disaster zone with missionaries since Built dozens of home for people in need.
They simply do a different kind of outreach and mission……. Some of us are NOT cut out to witness face to face, and do far more damage than good when sharing our walks with Christ with others.
Prophets and Apostasy
Some of us are much better equipped to play supporting roles. Some of us are better at quietly providing Bibles, homes, and refuges for worship. Very long deflection and refusal to own a simple problem. I simply refuse to agree with you that a church should sit and get stagnant.
This will be my last response as it seems you have dug your feet pretty deep into your defense and it is not a good use of my time to continue the conversation. Every Christian is called to be a minister and an evangelist…. Not sure why you disagree with that either. I never disagreed to your PS. I just happen to believe that there are many missions and styles that contribute to that purpose.
A youth group 4 from a 50 member church can pass out 4, Bibles in Guatemala and not grow a single member back home. Some churches have big programs to help the elderly and infirmed, as well as the incarcerated. The goal is to foster and create opportunities for people to know about the Word of God and come to know Christ.
Pushing a church to grow past is not really superior to doing ecumenical missions that have a very high probability of helping different churches grow by 2. What I have thought over the years is a lack of strategic planning when it comes to hiring the next person. I believe it needs to be a generalist. Someone who can work in several areas at once. Back in the day the second position would be a youth pastor. The church would grow by another 75 people, but not enough to add a third staff member and continue to grow. It couls be just that simple as well.
Yours are all noteworthy and true Carey. Just throwing in another factor in my opinion. Blessings, Dave. Great question. I think it often has to do with the entire community the church serves. What are the demographics of the area? Some areas might be terribly undeserved in every respect, and any direction you go can lead to growth. Some areas might be very culturally segregated by race, economic class, etc. Is your intent to go with the flow, or do something different and less segregated?
I could go on hours with things to consider. When you realize the challenges and opportunities of the entire community, it can shine a light on the type of ministers and pastors to seek out and hire. What I mean is his people repenting of their sin, humbling themselves before him, and having him raise them up. It is grace from top to bottom. And when his people humble themselves, repent and seek the Lord, he blesses. Isaiah 58 is a great example of what I am talking about.
And yet, God tells them why he does not answer them, hear them, or acknowledge what they are doing. He says in v. But if they would repent of these things, this is what he promised he would do for them in v. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched place and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.
Now that is what the church needs! And that is what would cause the church to explode in America. And once he does, we will have to apply all this stuff just to minister to the multitudes who are being transformed by his grace! Dean…you are so right. The basis for all true growth in the Kingdom is reliance on God. With it, you have the foundation on which to apply the skill that often makes our effectiveness greater.
Thank you! Ephesians Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. We should be raising up other pastors to help with the work of the Lord. One main thing we should be doing is discipling, to many think the church is a one man show, the body is made up of many parts and each has its purpose.
So the alternative is to raise up other pastors to help with the ministry. Laypersons can be trained to do many other jobs, but there are limits. If these small churches raise up other pastors, which often they do, then these new pastors are called to serve other congregations, fulfilling the Great Commission. The church I currently attend has three pastors. All of them preach, though their qualifications can be labeled in ascending order. The second eldest one has several masters degrees. Many in the congregation consider him the best preacher though he has stepped aside to let the youngest pastor preach 3 Sundays a month.
These are the dynamics in the pulpit, not to mention the behind the scenes with church planning, decision making, and accountability and prayer partners. They also split their time meeting one-on-one with the different families in the church. They can do a lot and still have time to be with their families, which is a benefit to having responsible brothers right along side of them.
The requirements for doing funerals vary widely from state to state. In some states, literally anybody can officiate a wedding. The link did not work. What is the book? Sorry Gary. The link still works on my end. Gary…thanks for the Tim Keller reference. I had heard about it but never read it. So good!
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How would prayer not fix all these things? Violence in the streets rough. If that were true, I could probably, by faith, have Lamentations and Numbers memorized! A lot of people want to be a servant to the Most High God. I get the feeling a lot of the time Paul and the other Apostles looked like fools to their followers. Always having to take the low road and look weak. I never thought before I became a Christian that credibility with the world was earned with a flogging stick or actual chains.
Not fuzzy diamond lined bracelets but actual chains. Good stuff. I especially resonate with empowering volunteers. Hi Carey, thanks so much for this article. I definitely agree with your first 4 points so much! It was a bit disheartening to learn over the years that no matter the suggestions or desires from the congregation and even the volunteer experience and leadership some had, they were not used or else it was too late like 5 years later for something to come forth from it. BOTH are needed. I flip-flop between wanting to go to a church that is a smaller community both on Sunday and every other day of the week, to a large church that I can disappear in and not volunteer ever again.
For 5, we had the opposite problem, which is why I felt the need to pull away. And as someone mentioned below, I definitely miss the salvation message being preached. Although small, do you think these churches still need it in some way? Thanks for this Alyssa…I appreciate your perceptive and empathize with your frustration. As to the Gospel message. I enjoyed your article. The you for sharing it.
I would like to add, though, that some of this could be attributed to resource constraints, both financial, and lack of skills and knowledge. What if we turned this problem around and looked at it from a different angle? Could we shift this paradigm? I think a lot people who attend church want a small, intimate feel. Maybe , or is just right for their needs. Could we look at this in a different way? What if churches grew by adding many small congregations? Is that what the denominations are doing today?
To understand this we would need to see data from the denominations to really know what is happening out. Also, what if growth from the inside was more important than growth on the outside? Are attendance numbers really the ultimate measure of success? Are spiritual needs being met? Are people growing in a relationship or in a religion? Does this change as more people fill the church building? My dilemma is simply this. Truly healthy things grow, and the thrust of the mission of the church is outward. As a result, growing past should seem inevitable.
At least from where I sit. Hope that clarifies a bit. Thanks again! I agree that reproduction should be an outcome but maybe we need to keep an open mind that a specific number in one congregation may not be the critical measure of success. We need to embrace other growth measures and not exclude individual growth. What are the members doing and how are the impacting lives of those around them? Is bigger really better in this situation? I agree. Demographics must also be a consideration.
We live in a small town with a very high number of churches per capita. We strive to make a difference in the community, even if those people we serve do not ever attend our church. Great thoughts here, especially in terms of strategy and scaling. A healthy organism grows and a healthy church, in theory, should grow.
But how do we measure growth in terms of discipleship, impact on the community, depth of relationships, and etc. I am convinced strong organizational leadership will lead to numerical growth, i. Willow Creek was very strong organizationally, hence. Also, I do wonder why Jesus did not create an organization of weekly attendance in the Gospels although he did have organizing principles, i. I am honestly searching and asking hard questions, not trying to be negative or critical. I think discipleship can be measured in different ways. Bottom line, I think our understanding of discipleship is broken.
The biggest question for me is whether people look more like Christ or less like Christ years into their journey. If they look more like Christ growing in faith, knowledge, love and wisdom then your discipleship strategy is probably working. The church in Corinth makes Willow look mature, and yet the church in Corinth was a church God loved, God used and God called to keep growing. Hope this helps! Carey, I have not read your book. I only hope that, unlike your article and 8 reasons, it has some references to the main reasons that churches reach a cap. As old fashioned as it may seem today, I believe that the issue is really a lack of kingdom-growth motivation.
By that I mean there is no reason for a church that is sold-out to the Great Commission to ever suffer from plateau syndrome! We have the keys to the kingdom and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to witness to those around us and the whole world about the Lord Jesus and His salvation. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
The true Church is the body of Christ which carries on the goal of Christ…to seek and to save that which was lost, namely the souls of men. A simple testament to the Christ-likeness of any church fellowship is: how many members does it take to produce one convert? Pretty scary for most churches! Many of these observations are true in larger churches, too: I am the interim pastor of a church with 1,, which is less than it was ten years ago. Many people here are involved with congregational care, yet I still believe it is important for some of my time to be available for pastoral counseling and homes and hospital visitation.
It is one way I feel the spiritual pulse, and it grounds me when I have to make difficult or unpopular decisions. I am a Congregationalist and I believe the Holy Spirit is revealed through group process, and can be diminished by hierarchical structures of authority. They all have value; some lack intention. Might I add the following: Marketing. This is assuming the church is rock solid, sermons are inspiring and Christ-centered. The congregation old old and dying off and I find this alarming.
There is acknowledgement that the younger generations are passing us by yet the leaders will only allow a pittance ea. The result is a church that is dying not through lack of Christ, but through age and mortality. I pay very little attention to marketing possibly because I currently live check to check how well does church marketing work? In my view, great marketing helps a great idea or product spread, and it makes a bad product fail faster David Ogilvy. I cannot imagine any non-believer motivated to check out any of the churches I hear advertised on the radio.
I suspect the only effective advertising for a church is word of mouth coupled with the community seeing the church working in the community. I suspect advertising to the wider non-believer community would be more successful for events such as Christmas Carols, Easter or ministries like Alpha which help them more with questions they are asking rather then a church program. It is alarming to me the lack of Christians who do not see money changing in the Temple. Evangelicalism has become idolatrous. Look at the mega churches!
When did our ruler for success start to pattern the world? I started reading this article and God spoke Ezekiel chapter 8 to me—idolatry in the temple. The great commission is not God. They talk about the Word of God, about prophecy, and they salt their soothing messages with a lot of Scripture.
But there is a falseness in what they preach. They are not preaching the Cross or holiness and separation. They make no demands on their followers. They seldom speak of sin and judgment.
They abhor the very mention of suffering and pain. By that notion, the early church would have had to be shut down. It grew by in a single day. The Holy Spirit moved. The early church also had dysfunction stemming from any number of issues we still have today. Structure is all over the scriptures…Exodus 18, Acts And if you study the universe, God is a God of math, order and meaning.
Big churches loose site on the sheep and relationship. Big churches cannot disciple as God intended. Big churches are more about to the business affairs of the building and not the burdened affairs of the body. When God saved the multitude, it was to show His power to the community that He is God.
Today things have not changed. Man still wants what he wants when it comes to the business in the man made temple called church that God does not dwell nor has any part in. Sin will have to come to a head before His return. It would be in our best interest to go to the streets to seek the lost, help them grow in the faith of our Savior and to be ready Spiritually at all times. This is better done without the interference of religion. In fact spreading the gospel and discipling sheep will be better achieved without idolatrist mindsets.
Its up to the faithful to GO and obey. What we see in churches today that have gone the way of the world with their ministries and church growth movement ploys, I believe is the great falling away from the gospel and faith in Christ to lead His church. God is in the business of reaching His people and leading His people home by His Spirit, not seeing how many come to a church building. God is way bigger than mans ideas to do anything of material substance. This is where the Focus is lost. Thank you for this article. I read the book you recommended about breaking the two hundred barrier back when I was a youth pastor anticipating moving to the lead pastor role.
Now that I have just begun as a senior pastor I am re reading this article and I am convinced you hit the nail on the head. Thank you again. I wish every church leader read it! A great book and one to keep on your shelf and close at hand! Great article by the way. Let God take care of the growth, our churches have enough to do learning how to love people as God loves them. Love the sentiment behind this Jim, but even the early church had to reorganize to respond to growth Acts 6.
So did Moses Exodus 18 , and clearly Jesus was concerned with organization and impact, dividing his many disciples into groups of 70, 12, 3 and 1. Be bold with that truth, Jim. When Jesus started preaching a hard Gospel to swallow many of his disciples deserted him. I am so sick of hearing about strategies, programs and anointed worship leaders.
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Where is the worship of God? An absolutely fantastic post, Carey. The fact is, commas are not inspired, but were added over a thousand years later, along with chapters and verses. He went to the tomb. Also, crucifixion is very cruel and it normally takes several days to die and so the thief did not die that day which is why they broke his legs. When they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Thus on Sunday, Jesus had not yet ascended to Paradise. Paradise is in heaven where God and the tree of life are.
Jesus would not contradict Himself or the rest of the Bible. Select for more detailed information on what happens when you die. Hell-fire is an event and not a place. The Bible writers believed that the wicked would be raised at the second resurrection, also known as the resurrection to damnation, which occurs years after the resurrection to life at the second coming. They believed that the wicked would receive their judgment and then be destroyed by hellfire. Many Christians today believe that this Hell Fire will last forever and that the wicked will be eternally tormented in pain and anguish, but this is not what the early believers knew to be the case.
There have been some misunderstood verses which have led people to this conclusion, so the only way to determine the correct meaning is to check all the relevant verses and line up the fence posts. If only the true followers live forever then this means that wicked will perish. The logical conclusion then is that the everlasting fire is not actually fire that is burning forever, but rather fire which consumes with everlasting consequences. It can also be called unquenched fire, which means it will be allowed to burn until it is all burnt out.
There are over 50 other places in the Bible where it uses the word forever, but the event mentioned has finished. For example the Bible describes the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah as eternal fire. It had eternal consequences as the cities were forever destroyed and the fire was not extinguished or quenched by anyone.
This fire was allowed to burn until it had consumed everything away and then it went out. The duration of their suffering will depend on their sentence. They will be either consumed quickly with little pain, or else have to suffer longer for more severe sins. The Bible clearly shows that they will not live forever burning in Hell, because we are told that they will be as ashes under our feet. Many Christians think that Satan will be thrown into eternally burning hell fire and life forever and ever, but the Bible shows that he too will be consumed and will be no more.
All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more. Yet another fence post to line up is this. Our awesome and loving God who abounds in mercy is not going to torture and torment the wicked forever and ever in the agony of an eternally burning Hell. He will deal justly with them and they will perish for their sins. For the Wages of Sin is death not eternal life in torment. The ideas of a devil in a red suit with a pitchfork in the fiery bowels of the earth who will torment people for all time, again stemmed out of some ancient pagan myths, and not from the Holy Word of God.
Also logically, if the devil where to live forever tormenting the wicked in hell, what sort of punishment would that be for him? He would enjoy seeing the wicked suffer. The early Church understood that the wicked would perish, and so shall the remnant Church also be given this understanding. This is a very difficult subject so for more detailed information on this very hot topic, select the truth about Hades and hell fire.
See the Sabbath day or God's Sabbath Truth for detailed information. The following is also excellent reading on how the Sabbath was changed to Sunday through paganism and the Papal Church. When quoting the genealogy of Jesus, Luke cited the names of all of the forefathers of Jesus, going all the way back to Adam. Luke This uninterrupted genealogy represents approximately years, allowing for the average age of each generation.
We also know that Jesus and the early Church believed in the six day creation of the world, and God put in place the seventh day Sabbath as an eternal reminder of this. It is safe to say then that no one in the early Church had any trouble in believing that their world was about years old. No one doubted the ability of our awesome creator God to create our world in six days. Scientists are at a loss to explain away the many co-dependent relationships in nature, such as the Vanilla orchid, which is germinated by a specific bee that instinctively removes a little cap from within the inside of the flower to allow germination.
When explorers took the plant overseas, it always died off, as no other insect knew how to germinate it. Evolutionists cannot explain away how this flower could have existed for hundreds or thousands of years, until this particular bee worked out what it must do. It would have died off in one generation. God in His wisdom created this flower and this bee to coexist. The Bible writers and the early Church believed in the seven day literal creation and the young age of the earth, and so too will the remnant Church believe in the infallibility of the Word of God.
The early Church believed that Jesus was our only mediator and our High Priest who intercedes for us in the heavenly temple. The remnant people will accept that Jesus is the only one who can mediate for them. The early Church understood that only Jesus could forgive our sins, as He is the son of God.
Today some portions of the Christian Church have appointed earthly men as priests and teach that they have the power to forgive sins, and that God will go along with them, whether they choose to forgive or not to forgive. When Jesus purported that He could forgive sins, the Jewish leaders not knowing that He really was the son of God, and therefore did have the authority to do so said that Jesus was committing blasphemy. The early Church held strictly to the Ten Commandments and had nothing whatsoever to do with idols or idol worship.
Unfortunately there are certain areas within the Christian Church today who teach that it is okay to bow before and pray to statues calling them the representations of saints. The foot of the statue of St Peter has been kissed off and replaced six times. What many people do not know is that the statue of Peter in Rome is older than Peter himself. It was formerly the statue of the pagan god Jupiter from an old pagan temple, which was renamed to St. Peter and moved to Rome. The true remnant will abhor idol worship and have nothing at all to do with it.
Baptism by immersion. The early Church followed the example of Jesus by getting baptised by full immersion in water. They understood that this act was their public display to show that they had repented of their sins and accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. It was only undertaken by people who had made a personal choice. There were never any instances of infant baptism or sprinkling in the Bible. The remnant Church will base their understanding of the act of baptism on the scriptures, and will personally choose to go through the waters of baptism by immersion to symbolise their death to the old life, having their sins washed away and the rebirth into the new life with Christ and His Holy Spirit as their guide.
The early Church acknowledged God's ownership of this world and everything in it by faithfully returning tithes and giving offerings for the proclamation of His gospel and the support and growth of His Church. At the very birth of the Church many members actually sold everything they had and pooled their money to fund the spreading of the gospel. Marriage was divinely established by God in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in a loving relationship.
The early Church held fast to the belief that a marriage commitment was to God as well as their spouse, and was to be between two people with the common faith. Jesus taught that the person who divorces a spouse, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery. We can expect the remnant Church therefore to be comprised of people who have not remarried for unjust causes, as well as those who are single and have remained celibate, and those who have just married once and been faithful to their marriage vows.
It is unfortunate that the institution of marriage among many Christians has failed to be viewed with the same significance that God gave it when He instituted it. Many have been swayed by the views of the world, where swapping partners is common practice, and the question of adultery is considered insignificant. The remnant Church will diligently study this book, and the other prophetic books of the Bible, and will seek to share their understanding of these prophecies with the world, to encourage them to return to the pure faith of our early forefathers.
The prophet Daniel gave us a year prophecy that spanned up to the year , depicting start of the end times. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. This prophecy was in two parts. The first was seventy weeks prophetically years and then the remaining years. The seventy week prophecy is a Messianic prophecy pointing to the coming of Jesus Christ. The timeline begins in BC with the decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild the temple.
Ezra informs us that the decree went out in the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes, so history can also confirm the accuracy of the year where this prophecy begins. Symbolic prophecy uses the following rule. The seventy week prophecy is split into three sections, Seven weeks 49 years, which is the time taken to rebuild the temple , 62 weeks years till the Messiah would come.
This takes us to the year A. The gospel message was still preached exclusively to only the Jews, but at the end of this period, Stephen gave his final speech to the Jewish leaders telling them that Jesus was the Messiah predicted by the scriptures, but they stopped their ears, and officially rejected Jesus Christ, then they stoned Stephen. From this time on the gospel was taken to the Gentiles.
The seventy week prophecy was cut out of the day prophecy, so the day prophecy has the same starting date of B. This prophecy began in B. Daniel , 9 This is also when we would expect to see the birth of the remnant Church. Many amazing things happened around the year This was when Christians all over the world began to take notice of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation.
These prophecies began to be opened up to their understanding, but not fully. Thousands of people from all denominations all over the world turned their eyes and hearts to God and prepared themselves for the imminent return of Christ. However, Christ did not return and they soon realized that the prophecy spoke of the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary and not the Earthly Sanctuary.
This was a terrible bitter disappointment as they realized that they had misunderstood one small but crucial part of the prophecy. Some were so disillusioned that they left their Churches. Others though went back to diligently searching the scriptures and the prophecies, and gradually more light was given to them. The man initially responsible for understanding this day Prophecy was William Miller who was an Adventist which is a term that applies to anyone who believes in the Second Advent of Christ.
He was an Adventist like all the others, but was not a Seventh-day Adventist. This historical event that involved Christians from all denominations was on such a grand World Wide scale, and was so significant, that we find Jesus describes this event in Bible Prophecy in Revelation chapter And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make your belly bitter , but it shall be in your mouth sweet as honey.
What is this little book described in Revelation chapter 10? To make special mention that the book is open implies that at some stage the book was closed or sealed. Where do we find a book like this? There are at least ten reasons we can give that prove this book is none other than the book of Daniel. They are as follows;. Through much research, we found that as a result of this World wide event, a Church did emerge that does meet this criterion. Several years later as a result of their continued careful search, God revealed the importance of returning to the faith of the early Church.
He revealed to them through the testimony of Jesus Spirit of Prophecy the significance of keeping all of His Commandments and basing their whole doctrine on the Word alone. It was discovered by many of them that an apostate Church had changed one of the Ten Commandments of God and that this Commandment was kept by the early Church and so they as the true remnant should be also. It was noted that Paul and the early Church kept the Commandment from the following scriptures. There was no scripture found that spoke of a change to this Commandment and Jesus said that not even a stroke of the pen will pass from the law till heaven and earth pass.
The Bible makes it clear that the true Church will hold fast to the scriptures and the law of God, and that Churches who do not do this are deceived. There were also many false religions which developed around this time, which promoted extra-biblical and non-biblical teachings. So as God was giving light to some of His people and birthing a remnant Church, Satan was hard at work deceiving as many as he could to lead them away from the truth of the Word of God.
Jesus reinforced this. I have not come to do that. Instead, I have come to give full meaning to what is written. Heaven and earth will disappear before the smallest letter disappears from the Law. Not even the smallest stroke of a pen will disappear from the Law until everything is completed. And do not teach others to break them. If you do, you will be called the least important person in the kingdom of heaven.
Instead, practice and teach these commands. Then you will be called important in the kingdom of heaven. To determine who is the remnant Church and whether it be one or more denominations, you will need to find a Church who have people displaying the following attributes. They must:. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
The Remnant Church Is it one Church or many groups? Who is the remnant Church? Which Christian Church is the right one? What is a remnant? Is this remnant Church many groups? The birth of the Christian Church. Will the remnant Church be persecuted? What is the Testimony of Jesus? What other doctrines will the remnant follow?
Luke This uninterrupted genealogy represents approximately years, allowing for the average age of each generation. When will the remnant Church arise? What happened in ? They are as follows; The book is mentioned as being little. Daniel is only comprised of 12 chapters. The book of Daniel was to be sealed until the time of the end, Daniel , 9.
This is the only book spoken of as being sealed in the Bible. Since the book of Daniel is sealed until the time of the end, it would be reasonable to expect that at the time of the events surrounding the time of the end, the opening of this book would be mentioned. There is no account of the book of Daniel being opened unless this verse in Revelation is accepted.
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