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Why Churches Close
By: Author Unknown
There are a number of reasons why a church may decline and confront the prospect of ministry death. Some of the causes are outside the congregation’s control. Others are a direct result of what the people are doing (or not doing) within the church.
Listed are reasons why churches close. The wise leader will recognize where his congregation is and prevent the loss of a church.
- Loss of population base within the community. A significant factor confronting many churches located in isolated rural areas is the decline within the community at large. As the children become adults, there are not enough economic bases to support them. As the population of the community decreases so do the opportunities for the church outreach and growth. New people, having no ties to the community, may travel to a larger metropolitan area to attend a church that has multiple programs.
- Demographic change within a community. Demographic changes alter the cultural setting of the community. Churches that do not adapt to these changes can find it difficult to minister to the new cultural setting. Because small churches tend to be homogeneous, they are often the last to change when transitions occur in the demographic setting. Unwilling to change, they soon become isolated from the mainstream of the community.
- Changes in society. There are several changes within society that have significantly impacted the small church and contributed to the decline of some congregations. In the past, the church was a social center of not only the people who attended, but also the whole community. People came to church to see their neighbors and friends. No longer is the church this social center; instead people have multiple social centers, which draw them away from the church. Consequently the church no longer has the influence within the community it once had. The downside of this is that people no longer attend church for social interaction, making it more difficult to attract new people. Another factor has been the mobility of people. People will drive past many churches to attend the church of their choice. No longer is there the true “community church” where everyone in the community attends because it is the only church available. Now, because distance is no longer an issue, people have multiple choices of which church to attend. A third change in society is consumerism. Previously people attended a church because of their loyalty to the congregation and community. Even if the church was not “ministering to their needs” they remained because of their sense of duty. Now people hop from church to church depending on their particular needs and availability of programs within the church to minister to those needs.
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Knowing some answers to this question can not only keep a church from losing some great people, but will also bring a church into revival as the back door is closed to a large degree.
It’s kind of like money. It’s not how much you make, it’s how much you save. Some count their new converts by the hundreds, but few of these converts are still in the church a year later.
People leave the church because of boring sermons. Some people can tell when a preacher is shooting from the hip or preaching to the choir. “Study to show yourself approved.” You are not going to keep some people unless your messages are getting into their heart and mind. They have come to hear a Word from God. Get one from the Lord for yourself and then give it to the congregation.
People leave the church because they feel the ministry does not care about them. Greet them, shake their hands, phone them, write them a letter, smile at them, visit them when they are sick, send them a card when you can’t. Let them know you care. One kind word spoken at the right moment in a person’s life can cause them to be devoted to you for the rest of their life.
People leave the church because they have no relationships there. Develop ways for new converts to develop relationships within the church. Small Groups are a great place for new people to gain those necessary relationships.[ read more...]
Dr. James Naismith was born in 1861 in Ramsay Township, Ontario, Canada. Naismith’s parents died of typhoid when he was only 9-years-old leaving him to live with his strict religious grandmother and uncle.
In 1883, Naismith entered McGill University in Quebec. Initially, he stayed away from sports until friends suggested he join football rugby and lacrosse to stay fit. He graduated top 10 in his class earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and Hebrew. Naismith won scholarships in theology and continued to participate in sports, much to the dismay of his professors. They particularly didn’t like lacrosse due to its aggressive nature. Yet Naismith held to his belief that a person could play sports and have a good spiritual life.
After obtaining his diploma and becoming an ordained minister, Naismith departed for Massachusetts and joined the YMCA in the summer of 1890. While teaching youth physical education, he discovered that football, baseball, and track and field were great in the summer months, but there was nothing in the winter months to keep the young boys busy and off the streets at night.[ read more...]
As a youngster in the church I recall a phrase that my parents and grandparents used to say on occasion. The phrase was, "God's Word will not return void." I knew it was Scripture, but it was one of those that I hadn't read in a long, long time. Recently, while reading in the book of Isaiah, I came across this phrase again. It really hit me hard and spoke to me. I encourage you to read Isaiah the 55th chapter, I guarantee it will encourage and uplift you.
The verses that really hit me are;
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
It seems whenever I struggle or face a tough trial there are very few places I can find refuge and strength. Often a close friend or mentor can help. Sometimes it is my spouse or my kids. Just being around family is therapeutic to the soul. However, there is one thing that never fails me, and that is the Word of God. God's Word never ceases to amaze me. It truly is a book of life.
In this chapter, God said, "His Word will never to Him void." That simply means, It will never return empty handed or in vain. Most of us understand that everything in the Word of God is profitable. However, I draw your attention to the words, "goeth forth". The Word that doesn't return void is the Word that 'goeth forth'. The Word that is profitable is the Word that is 'spoken' out of our mouth.
God's Word doesn't help us if it stays on our bookshelves. God's Word doesn't accomplish what God wants it to if we don't speak it. I realize this article may be read by hundreds of preachers; however, I am not referring to preaching in this article. If the only spoken Word in our lives is the Word we preach, then we have miserably failed. Yes, we need to study, read, meditate, share and preach the Word. Yet, I am stating that we need to literally speak the Word out loud. We need to verbalize it over and over again. Not only from our pulpits, but over every situation in our own lives. If we can speak the Word to others, why can't we speak it unto ourselves? This is how our faith grows. This is how we make it through the fire.[ read more...]
Momentum is defined as “mass in motion.” All objects have mass; therefore, if an object of mass is moving, then it has momentum.
The amount of momentum an object has depends on two things:
1. The weight of the object that is moving.
2. The speed of the object that is moving.
In terms of an equation, the momentum of an object is equal to the mass of the object times the speed or velocity of the object.
Momentum can also be measured by its direction. This is called linear momentum because now it has direction as well as magnitude.
Momentum occurs when a force that is greater than the resistance to the object is applied.
Momentum is a conserved quantity, meaning that the total momentum of any closed system (one not affected by outside forces) cannot change. Here on Earth, gravity is the outside force that comes to mind for most of us. Gravity is the force that gives weight to objects and mass on Earth. The Earth's mass creates a gravitational pull on all objects near its surface. Anything on or near the surface of the Earth such as planes, trains, and automobiles, must use a force that is greater than gravity for them to begin to move, and to keep moving. Once they are moving, they have created their own momentum. In order to sustain this momentum, the forces that started that momentum must continue to operate, or momentum will decrease and eventually stop.
Momentum is a force more powerful than we realize and it greatly affects our lives. Yet, it’s not something that we consciously ponder or try to figure out.
As we address momentum in ministry, remember that it always takes an outside force for momentum to start, maintain, and to stop!
In these lessons, we will address and discuss the outside forces that constantly threaten the continuance of momentum in the Church.
The Force of Momentum
Momentum is a powerful force. Just as momentum works in the natural world, momentum works in our ministries and spiritual lives.
Yet, it is rarely talked about.
· The loss of momentum takes place in churches daily all around the world.
· This loss causes untold disappointment and frustration.
· A minister with great passion and vision will experience only so many disappointments and frustrations before they give in to discouragement, even doubting themselves and their calling.[ read more...]
There are many different ways to lead God's people.
- Visionary leader - These leaders have a crystal-clear picture of what they want to happen. They cast visions powerfully and possess indefatigable enthusiasm to pursue the mission.
- Directional leader - The directional leader can carefully assess the values, mission, strengths, weaknesses, resources, personnel, and openness to change of an organization - then point that organization in the right direction.
- Strategic leader - A strategic leader forms a game plan everyone can understand and is able to get various departments synchronized and focused toward the goal.
- Managing leader - These leaders possess the unique ability to establish mile markers on the road to the destination, then organize and monitor people, processes, systems, and resources for mission achievement.
- Motivational leader - These leaders possess insight into who needs a fresh challenge, additional training, public recognition, and an encouraging word or a day off.
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In this unpredictable and changing world, the one thing we can always control is the way we think. While we have little control over circumstances or the actions of others, we can control our reactions to them. And anyone can learn how to think more positively and operate with a better attitude, regardless of circumstances, temperament, or intellect. To begin thinking more positively and leading your people to do the same, follow these guidelines: Act like the person you wish to become. Cultivate a Consistent Positive Attitude.
To start thinking positively, begin by acting positively. Most of us wait until we feel like taking action, but that’s going about it backwards. Instead, by putting our desires into action, we can establish a habit of thinking positively – and this results in a positive attitude.
To reap a successful harvest, a farmer doesn’t plant seeds and then just expect them to grow on their own. He must continually water, weed, fertilize and nurture the growing plants if he wants them to reach maturity. Likewise, if we want a successful life, we need to spend time everyday nurturing our attitude. Focus on the positive and successful. Don’t feed the weeds.
In this unpredictable and changing world, the one thing we can always control is the way we think. While we have little control over circumstances or the actions of others, we can control our reactions to them. And anyone can learn how to think more positively and operate with a better attitude, regardless of circumstances, temperament, or intellect. To begin thinking more positively and leading your people to do the same, follow these guidelines:
Act like the person you wish to become.
Cultivate a Consistent Positive Attitude.
One of the keys to Effective Church Leadership is delegating work to others - no one can do everything for themselves. Learn to delegate aspects of your ministry properly, and you will have time to complete the most important needs of the church successfully.
The process of delegation consists of the decision to delegate, the briefing, and the followup. At each of these points, anticipate the potential problems.
The decision: Persuade yourself to delegate. You will not benefit if you lead the Church with the assumption that it takes longer to teach somebody else to do a job than to do it yourself. Delegation has its own rewards. Once somebody has learned a particular task, they will be able to do it in the future without repeated briefings. However, be sure to delegate each job to a person with the appropriate skills, experience and knowledge.
The briefing: Make sure that the person to whom you are delegating clearly understands the brief - what you want them to do and by when. Offer ongoing support and guidance.
The followup: During the course of the project, check the standard of work produced. Provide positive feedback, but beware of overdoing it - there is a narrow line between helpful supervision and debilitating interference.
Delegation does not mean handing over control of a project, but handing over responsibility for certain tasks. Encourage people to work using their own methods, providing they stick to the instructions you have given them. This allows you to utilize their specialized giftedness or to provide them with an opportunity to develop a new area of expertise. One of the common contentions arising out of delegation is conflict over responsibility, so it is vital to define exactly what the person is responsible for.
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In the nightstand next to my bedside is a plastic baggie. Folded neatly inside is a small remnant of what remains of a little red shirt. The shirt was an integral part of two events that changed my life profoundly. One event was by tragedy, and the other by the delivering power of the Holy Ghost. Before this article is completed I hope to use that little red shirt to answer the following question for you, “What do you do with the things that the Holy Ghost hasn’t fixed?”
I must begin by exposing my soul to you the reader. My life has been deeply imprinted by a number of personal tragedies, only several of which I will mention herein. At the age of 19 months I was admitted to the hospital after a lengthy illness. The night I was admitted I died. My father fell across my bed weeping and calling upon the name of the Lord. God heard His prayer and restored life into my body, but I remained curled up in a fetal position, dark circles under my eyes, and the eyes were rolled back so that only the white was showing. My hands and feet were drawn and curled up. I lost 8 ½ pounds of body weight in a little over five hours! The transformation was remarkable and horrendous. My mother went home to rest that night because she was expecting her next child, leaving my father at my bedside. My death and transformation occurred after her departure. She could not recognize me when she returned to the hospital after going home for only a few hours. She actually thought I was someone else’s baby!
I spent much of that night in a bathtub full of ice because of the extreme fever that was destroying my brain by the minute. The next morning I was taken into surgery where four surgeons operated on me. The report to my parents was not good. My appendix had ruptured 3-4 days prior to the surgery. They were dislocated which required more extensive cutting. My body cavity, stomach, and intestines were filled with gangrene. My intestines were completely blocked by a growth necessitating the removal of much of my intestines. Eventually they gave up and simply sewed me together. The surgeons told my parents there was nothing they could do to help me, and that it was best for me to die. Their diagnosis was that my brain was completely devastated, I was a vegetable, and I never would recover. Even if I did, my organs would not work and body functions could not happen properly. The Catholic hospital administered last rights to me. I would soon just be another statistic.[ read more...]
What makes people act the way they do when they get in a car.
If I bumped into you as we enter an elevator, I would politely say "excuse me" and that would be it. But if my car comes into your lane and "almost" touches yours, Look Out! How many times we read or see where someone was even beaten up or shot over road rage. Testifying before a House transportation subcommittee, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officials estimated that two-thirds of the 42,000 highway deaths last year were related to aggressive driving, which appears to have joined drunk driving as a perilous trait of American culture.
Otherwise seemingly, quite, reserved people who turn violent when someone cuts them off in traffic. I've done it and so have you. Nothing irritates me more than sitting at a 4 way stop and the person to my right doesn't know it's their turn to go. And so there we sit, waiting for the other person to go first. I wonder if some folks ever did read the driving manual.
I'm sure all of us at one time or another have been rewarded with that certain hand gesture by someone who felt we offended them in traffic. I've even had young girls offer that one now and then. (Maybe I'm just a bad driver.) How could someone give such an offending gesture to someone they don't even know?
Well, that's really what I want to talk about. I only reminded you about your road rage to make a point. The fact is, people experience road rage, because they don't know you. There is nothing personal about driving past someone on the road. Yours is only a very brief encounter. You will never see them again. They can say or do what they want to you and they will never have to face up to it. Your relationship has no value. And as a result, neither do you. Isn't that sad?! (I'll give you a little hint. If you need to get into a lane and no one will let you into it, simply roll the window down and give them a big smile and wave. Now they will let you in.) Try it.
As long as you are only another car on the road, you don't matter. But when you become a face and a person with a smile, well that's another story. They'll stop the traffic in their lane to let you in. I'll admit, I'm a horrible driver. Just ask my wife, she'll tell you. But even she knows that I can cut into any lane of traffic I want, because of a smile and a wave.
I wonder though how many of us have this same mentality even when we get out of our cars. Hmm, let's try a little test here. Let's say you are on vacation and a few hundred miles out, you stop to have dinner at a restaurant. You know, at one of those places where they cook everything in lard. What happens if the service or food is bad? Do you tip her any way? Well you don't have to do you?! After all, she doesn't even know you. Well, you might even be able to get off a couple of "complaints" to her since she won't see you in church this week.[ read more...]