significant shift for mainline churches
At a recent
conference (UCC) discussing confirmation programs, the presenter said that it
was time to think differently. After evaluating long term results from valiant efforts,
he said, "We have spent years training people to be good church people and have
launched many good programs, but it is time to focus primarily on making
disciples." We say "AMEN!" to that.
We are very good at
measuring income and attendance, but we have been reluctant to measure other
things, such as whether people are maturing in their relationship with Christ. Do
they know how to pray? Do they take initiative in reading the Bible themselves?
Do they have a desire to share their faith story? Do they behave any
differently because they belong to Christ? Do they have a heart to serve in some
way? Do they know their spiritual gifts? This is more than just a "return
to basics." It is a return to the central call of Christ.
Too often churches think of "renewal" in terms of trying to do things better,
finding a magic-bullet program, or just getting some inspiration from someone.
Those aren't bad things, but if there is not an evaluation of whether we're
actually accomplishing the central call of the church and aligning efforts to accomplish it, most renewal efforts will fall flat.
1. Keep a journal of God moments from your day--moments in your daily lives in which you saw or experienced God's touch.
2. Teach your leaders to keep similar journals.
3. Have your leaders begin sharing God moments before meetings or gatherings.
4. When planning your programs for fall, ask the question about what will deepen people's relationship with Christ and avoid asking what will be popular.