Wednesday, November 23, 2011


From Will Mancini. some brief but important evaluation questions:

5 Indicators that Your Church’s Average Age Might Have Increased Without You Realizing

#1  The senior pastor has been there for over 10 years and is still preaching over 90% of the time. (No team presence)

#2  You could not tell the difference between the worship (music, praise, liturgy) last Sunday and a video of worship 5 years ago.

#3  There are no leaders under age 40 among the top twelve leaders.

#4  There is no one under age 40 participating in the worship planning, programming or leadership.

#5  A majority of the top leaders still laugh about the fact they don’t do social media.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Mark Batterson has an excellent article that speaks to a principle we are using in our Bridgebuilder Seminars.  I'd be interested in your feedback. - Steve

The cross must be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am claiming that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble, because that is where He died and that is what he died about and that is where churchmen ought to be and what churchmen should be about.

- George McLeod
A few years ago I had a Starbucks moment. I was studying for a sermon at a Starbucks on Capitol Hill, and I usually tune out the mood music, but one line of lyrics slipped through my reticular activating system. I’d never heard the song before and I didn’t know who the artist was. And maybe I just had too much caffeine in my system, but the juxtaposition of words struck me:

There’s a church on the periphery, Lady of our Epiphany.

And I had a thought as I sipped my vanilla latte: as long as the church stays on the periphery, our culture will never experience an epiphany.

Over the last few decades, the church has been pushed further and further onto the periphery of culture. Or in many instances, the church has retreated to the comfortable confines of its Christian subculture. So we are inside our churches looking out, but we really find ourselves on the outside looking in. God is calling the church out of the church and back into the middle of the marketplace.

I realize that I pastor one church in one small corner of the kingdom. And I don’t want to project my passions onto others. But if we are going to influence the spiritual tide in America, the church needs to stop retreating and start redeeming. The church needs to stop criticizing and start creating. The church needs to stop seeking shelter and start competing for the truth.

Paul didn’t boycott the Aeropagus.1 He didn’t stand outside in a picket line arguing against idolatry. Paul marched into the marketplace of ideas and went toe-to-toe with the most brilliant minds in ancient Athens competing for the truth. Staying on the periphery is one thing the Apostle Paul could never be accused of.


There was a time, just a few centuries ago, when nautical maps of Europe had legends that included the location of churches on land. Church steeples doubled as navigational tools for ship captains. Churches were typically built on choice real estate in the center of town or atop the highest hill. And in some places, there were ordinances against building anything taller than the church steeple so it would occupy the place closest to heaven.2 Nothing was more visible on the pre-modern skyline than church steeples. And in a sense, church steeples symbolized the place of the church in culture. There was a day, in the not too distant past, when church was the center of culture. Church was the place to go. Church was the thing to do. Nothing was more visible than the church steeple. Nothing was more audible than the church bells. And it might be a slight exaggeration, but all the pre-modern church had to do was raise a steeple and ring a bell.

Is it safe to say that things have changed?

The church no longer enjoys a cultural monopoly! We are the minority in post-Christian America. And the significance of that is this: we can’t afford to do church the way it’s always been done. Our incarnational tactics must change.

Don’t get me wrong: the message is sacred. But methods are not. And the moment we anoint our methods as sacred, we stop creating the future and start repeating the past. We stop doing ministry out of imagination and start doing ministry out of memory. And if we think that raising the steeple or ringing the bells will get the job done; the church in America will end up right where the Israelites found themselves in Judges 2:10:
After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.
According to George Barna, 61% of twenty-somethings who grew up going to church stop going to church at some point during their twenties. They become dechurched. They still feel connected to God in some form or fashion, but there is a disconnect with organized religion and the institutional church. And for one reason or another, they are checking out of the church at an alarming rate.

I love the church. I believe in the church. And I’ve poured ten years of blood, sweat, and tears into the church I have the privilege of pastoring — National Community Church in Washington, DC. But the church needs to change! And change always starts with some honest self-reflection.

Some people hear statistics like the one just cited — 61% of twentysomethings that grew up in church leave the church — and they wonder what’s wrong with this generation. I think that’s the wrong reaction. I can’t help but wonder what’s wrong with the church.

In the words of Pogo: we have seen the enemy and he is us. 

Continue reading at this article