What keeps you up at night? This question causes one to thinks of words like fear, worry and doubt. All words that have meet there match in the Bible (Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 6:34 and James 1:6). I have worked to integrate these teaching into my life, along with others to address issues of fear, worry and doubt. Yet, I must confess, I do have a bad habit of getting so involved in a project, some research, or deep thought that sleep eludes me. If you have a similar habit this post is not for you. In Carey Niuwhof's post entitled, 5 Reasons People Have Stopped Attending Your Church (Especially Millennials) he reacts to some research recently released from the Barna Group on declining church attendance. While I will not quote the entire post to you I do want to quote each of the five reasons and Carey Niuwhol's antidote.
1. The church is irrelevant, the leaders are hypocritical and the leaders have experienced too much moral failure. - Antidote is a church culture of integrity and grace. 2. God is missing in the church. - Antidote is a clear understanding of Christian maturity and experiencing God. 3. Legitimate doubt is prohibited. - Antidote is to do a better job of handling the tension that comes with questions. 4. They're not learning about God. - Antidote is clarity. Use everyday language, have a clear point and be clear about what you want to happen when people leave. 5. They're not finding community. - Antidote is if we loved the way Jesus loved, people would line up out the door.
Great blog post and some serious challenges to come to grips with. Let's look at this list from what we are trying to do with Sunday School/Biblical Community Groups at FBCRR. Our plan revolves around four emphasis's: a) Family Ministry, b) Small Group Bible Study, c) Outreach and d) Care. My thoughtful question is "Are we seeking to apply the antidotes and grow as a faith community that fulfills the Great Commission in Round Rock, TX?"
1. Antidote of leadership with integrity and grace. This is one of the reasons that we place such a heavy emphasis on apprenticing new leaders. We have an awesome group of Bible Study Leaders and apprenticing new leaders with our current gracious leaders with integrity is so important to our increased relevancy. 2. Antidote of providing a clear understanding of Christian maturity and experience with God. Attendance is important, but discipleship is the goal. Jesus called disciples, spent three years with them and charged them to go and do more than he had done. Our goal of fully staffed groups with a leadership multiplication strategy is not about pumping up the numbers, it is about moving people toward maturity. Coaches were once young players. 3. Antidote of a better job of handling the tension that comes with questions. I know the questions can be quite hard. Three things to remember. See Antidote #1 on grace and integrity. Second, avoid the "pat" and "trite" answers to questions to avoid criticism or avoid personnel Biblical research. Third, be honest if you don't know and offer to find out or to research an answer together. This is what our best teacher do. See Antidote #2. 4. Antidote of clarity. Skip the Bible speak. I know it is harder to frame Biblical truths, concepts and principles in everyday terms. Clarity takes work. Know your learners. Our best teachers come prepared to make a point and give real life assignments. See antidote #2 5. Antidote of love like Jesus loved. I agree with Nieuwhof, "Nobody should be able to out-community the local church." This is why we have placed such an emphasis upon outreach and care groups. Community is a small group that knows each other, fellowships together, ministers to each other and reaches out to include others.
I think we are on track to supply the needed antidotes in Round Rock and the communities that boarder us. Two questions remain? How fast can we replicate leaders and fast can we become a church of care groups? The answer is easy. As fast as we want and are willing to be available to experience Christ and grow to be a mature follower.
What keeps me up at night? Discipleship.... Both being one and encouraging others. I am excited to server with a group of Sunday School/Biblical Community Leaders that model and encourage discipleship.