No, they won’t come to YOUR church…

In Real TimeIn his book You Lost Me, David Kinnaman talks about the research he has done at Barna Research about the numbers of young adults who are leaving the church or, never finding it in the first place.  A lot of what he has written we can verify from our Kairos ministry, a young adult worship service we started over 8 years ago. There is greater detail of how Kairos happened in my book, In Real Time.

Pastors of other churches will call me and ask me how we reach young adults in our setting.

As I tell them some of the things we have done, they will inevitably respond by saying something like, “Well, we just can’t get young people to come to our church.”

For the Church to Grow

Jeff Cornwall, Jack C. Massey Chair in Entrepreneurship, Director Center for Entrepreneurship and Professor of Marketing at Belmont University, wrote an article in the February 13 edition of The Tennessean entitled, “As Business Grows, Entrepreneur’s Role Must Shift.”

As a new business grows, Cornwall points out: the role of the entrepreneur has to change from doing the business to running the business. This transition is notoriously dicey and the failure to negotiate this transition has kept more than one good idea from being marketed successfully.

We are familiar with the story. An inventor designs a new widget and begins a new business. The business grows quickly to the point where employees have to be hired and procedures delegated–in short, the entrepreneur has to go from designer and implementer to the manager. If the entrepreneur can’t make this transition, the business fails as fast as fast as it was growing.

I was reminded of a conversation I had with a friend of mine who pastors another church. He was sharing his frustration that his church, for some reason, could never take the next step. They would grow so big and then, fall back to their previous numbers.  As we talked, the roadblock became obvious.  He, as pastor, had a capacity problem. He had developed the skills and systems to handle a church of a certain size, but hadn’t made the necessary changes in his own ministry to allow the church to grow to the next level.

As congregations grow, pastors have to expand their capacities. If the pastor can’t or won’t grow, neither will the church.

Church growth experts recognize churches face natural barriers to growth.  From 100 to 200 in attendance is a more difficult transition than most people realize. Other barriers are 200-400, 400-800 and from 800-1,000.  Each growth spurt means the congregation will have to adjust to the new demands of running a larger church.

And the pastor has to adjust as well. As the church gets larger, the pastor simply can’t keep doing everything like he did in the past. How do you decide what you do and don’t do?

The first question is “What are you best at?”  While there are some things no pastor can delegate, a lot of things can be handed off.  As a pastor, you get to choose what you keep. So, what do you do best?  Preaching… teaching… pastoral care?  Whatever your gifts, be sure they are prioritized in your time and resource allocation.

The next question is obvious as well. “What are you not good at?” or, “What do you not enjoy?” While every job has “rent-paying” responsibilities, a lot of ministry administration and implementation can be delegated through either effective staff hires or the establishment of lay teams to make better use of the spiritual gifts in the congregation.

No organization out runs its leader. This is especially true of the church.  The church will develop growth capacities only as fast as the pastor does.

What’s Not There

Several years ago, a well-known pastor was caught in an affair.  His ministry and family all paid an extremely high price.  He was a friend and mentor to me.  He could preach, he was writing books—he had everything… or so we thought.

After his public fall, one question haunted me, “What’s not there that I think is there?”

That’s the question I found myself asking again as I heard of Whitney Houston’s death.  “What’s not there that I think is there?”

Whenever I heard her sing, I would think “I would give anything to sing like that!”  Has anyone ever sung the National Anthem like Ms. Houston did?  From now on, everyone who sings it will be judged by her standard.  How many millions of albums did she sell? Her voice was amazing.

Sure, I knew about her rocky marriage—how could I not?  She and Bobby Brown were front page news.  I heard about her drug use and hard partying… but that voice.  We think that if we had that kind of talent and fame, we would never have to worry again.

Obviously, that’s not the case.

The untimely deaths of Whitney Houston or Janis Joplin or James Dean or Kurt Cobain or Michael Jackson remind us that happiness really can’t be bought.  Most of us keep thinking that if we could be somewhere else or be somebody else, then we would finally be happy.

But that’s not true. Whatever we think is there, simply isn’t there.  Fame is indeed fleeting and happiness is but a mist that vaporizes quickly in the heat of real life.

We need something more. We need what Christ promised… a peace the world can’t take away and a joy that is based in Him.  Everything else is… how does the old hymn say it? Everything else is sinking sand.

Our Anti-Love World

Ok, let me get this straight. According to USA Today, Valentine’s Day is one of the most active days for websites that encourage and help facilitate extra-marital affairs.

What?

Yep, that’s right.

The article says if your spouse is disappointed with your Valentine’s Day effort, it may be the final straw that sends them looking for excitement and love in someone else.

One of the founders of a website that caters to “discreet” encounters for married people says Valentine’s Day is one of their busiest days of the year.

Are you kidding me?

This is how upside down our world is.