Building His Church . . . Not Mine

At a recent church planting conference, I heard a most challenging presentations made by a new friend, Alan Hirsch.  Alan is the founding Director of Forge Mission Training Network, noted author and an incredibly strategic thinker in the area of missiology and the impacting church.

Alan began by “layering” several concepts to illustrate the effectiveness of the church’s impact on the world.   Introducing the first concept, a “cultural matrix” crafted by the late Dr. Ralph Winters , Hirsch reworked Dr. Winters original evangelism scales (E1 to E3) to illustrate that maximum missional impact (M0) occurs when there the least amount of cultural differences are evident and the mission of the church is presented in a culturally familiar venue and format.  As one moves to the right of the scale (M1 to M4), the more cultural barriers within a community, the more difficult it is to establish a missional presence.

The second “layer” summarized a study completed in Australia and identifying people’s “feelings” toward God, Jesus Christ, spirituality and the church.  The “feeling scale” was positive, neutral or negative.  The “feeling” toward God, Jesus Christ and spirituality were all very positive.  The attitude toward the church was very negative.  Hirsch’s analysis was framed in a marketing perspective . . . we have a great product, but a lacking delivery system.

Alan was right . . . and it was ringing true in my head and heart . . . as it was with others in the audience.  Heads were shaking in agreement and thousands of church planters were looking at each other stunned at the reality that the church has not been able to deliver our God and His Son, Jesus to the world.

Many were questioning the church’s effectiveness . . . and, this was the third “layer” that Hirsch introduced.  Simply stated, the best we, as a church are doing is reaching 40% to 50% percent of the Read More

Why Men Hate Going To Church

Christianity is the only world religion with a chronic shortage of men.

Why Men Hate Going To Church by David Murrow addressed some new thoughts and critical issues regarding impacting men through a local church.  Murrow retells stories and uses a number of examples to illustrate that worship, terminology, “look and feel”, and ministry opportunities tend to be created and operated from an effeminate perspective.

Murrow, a television writer and producer, asks and effectively answers the question: “What is it about modern Christianity that is driving men away?” Just 35% of American men say they attend church weekly, he reports, and women make up more than 60% of the typical congregation on a given Sunday.

Murrow contends that the church: caters to women, children and the elderly by creating a safe, predictable environment. This alienates anyone fond of risk taking, including young men and women, but men are affected most.

He suggests the five top reasons why men hate going to church:

  1. Men believe that church-going is not acceptable manly behavior. It’s for women, weirdos and wimps. This is why even church-going men hide their faith from their friends and associates. They are not ashamed of Christ; they are ashamed of being perceived as unmanly.
  2. Men feel like church is a waste of their time. The ROI (Return on Investment) just isn’t there.
  3. Christian culture has slowly feminized over time, driving masculine men out.
  4. In the church power flows to men who are verbal, sensitive, musical or studious (i.e. pastors and music leaders). If a man lacks these gifts, he may feel like he has nothing to offer.
  5. There are more women than men who are verbal, sensitive, musical or studious. Therefore, we find more women in church. It’s a simple numbers game.

In order to reach men, Murrow suggests churches must: Read More

Loyal Followers

“How blessed is every one of the Lord’s loyal followers, each one who keeps His commands.” (Ps 128:1)

The psalmist reminds us of the beneficial blessings of loyalty to Him.  God’s blessing is seen in our work (vs 2), our family (vs 3-4), our community (vs 5), and in our legacy (vs 6). All because we are loyal and obedient in following God.

Too often, we exchange following God for favor with of others; obedience for opportunities; or being loyal for being liked.

The blessings are amazing for each and every one of the Lord’s faithful and loyal followers.

Follow.  Keep.  Be blessed.

Is Your Wall Crumbling? (part 2)

I’m sure you have heard the illustration of “climbing” the ladder of success . . . and then the subsequent thought that the ladder might be leaning against the wrong wall.

During these challenging economic times, many have not only found that their ladder was leaning against the wrong wall . . . but in fact the wall is crumbling.  Continue with Part 2 of “Is Your Wall Crumbling?”

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Is Your Wall Crumbling? part 1

I’m sure you have heard the illustration of “climbing” the ladder of success . . . and then the subsequent thought that the ladder might be leaning against the wrong wall.

During these challenging economic times, many have not only found that their ladder was leaning against the wrong wall . . . but in fact the wall is crumbling.

Several years ago, we purchased an extra car . . . a fun car.  It’s the kind of car we would drive on a Sunday afternoon, with the sun shining and the top down . . . on a long road . . . with curves or not . . . it didn’t matter.  Recently, I came to realization that it was time to sell the car.  It really wasn’t that I wanted to sell the car . . . I needed to sell it.

For some, it may be the need to sell assets or valuables, to cut expenses, to cancel vacations, or to eliminate the “pleasures” in lieu of the necessities.

If you are in business for yourself or an entrepreneur, it is probably extremely challenging and difficult.  Banks are not open to new ideas, lines of credit are drying up, personnel budgets need to be reduced and even the best clients have slowed down their orders for your products or services.

Service and support business are slow.  Real estate has lost value.  Prices are going up.  Equity, retirement accounts and financial portfolios have been drastically reduced.

Is your ladder against a crumbling wall?  We’re there.

I bet your prayer life has gotten stronger and faith is ever challenged.  Lottery tickets probably even look good.

So, how do you hang on?  How do you do life?  How do you survive?

Here are some thoughts . . . Read More

Notes To The Future

I have always enjoyed writing notes to people.

When I was young, writing was an easy way to communicate my thoughts and heart. I would find myself spending time writing to friends, family and to God. I still have journals from my high school days where I had poured my heart out to God.

I used to have small spiral notebooks with a cardboard cover. They weren’t very attractive or costly, but what was inside had great value to me. I remember when I first found one of those books with just blank pages . . . I thought this would be my first published book. What excitement that I could write my own thoughts on blank pages in a bound book!

Shortly after our first daughter was born, I was humbled and scared with the thought of being a father. I was so unprepared. I knew there was so much that I had to learn . . . and then trying to communicate these truths, lessons and principles to my daughter . . . what a daunting task.  As our family grew to four daughters, the task became more impossible.

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