Thursday, April 3, 2008

Seven Megatrends In Church Health

I've been busy the last few days and have been slow getting my next blog entry posted. So, here it is. It's another "trends" article that identifies some real time shifts that we all need to be alert to lest we get caught off guard and miss some leadership moments in the days ahead.

The title of the article is Church Planting, Leadership, Health And Evangelism Highlight Four-Day Summit. I have posted the full article below because I couldn't find a good web link for you. It's basically a news article by Polly House about a meeting that took place in December. It contains seven bullet points of a report given by Thom Rainer, President of LifeWay Christian Resources. You can form your own opinions and applications to his observations for you and your ministry context. The list of seven begs for lengthy discussion with your ministry friends and associates.

Until next time...share the journey and enjoy the ride!

Pat


Church Planting, Leadership, Health And Evangelism Highlight Four-Day Summit
Written by Polly House

NASHVILLE, Tenn., 12/11/07 -- Planting healthy churches with strong leaders and an outward vision was the dream discussed during the 2007 SBC State Convention Summit.

Leaders of LifeWay Christian Resources, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and state Baptist conventions facilitated four days of meetings here to help shape such an endeavor. Leaders from the 41 state Baptist conventions that relate to LifeWay and NAMB took an active role in the event.


Understanding and working within the disciplines of church planting, church leadership, church health and evangelism are undeniably important for those involved in work with local churches, according to Bill Henry, director of network partnerships at LifeWay.

"The meetings’ purpose was to enhance partnerships between these disciplines that lead to lives of urgency, because we don’t have the luxury of waiting until later to help our churches succeed," said Henry.

Seminars on ministering cross culturally, speaking and thinking missionally, and using social media to reach people were offered during the first half of the summit. The second half, involving LifeWay and state convention leaders who relate to LifeWay, gave participants the opportunity to explore these topics in more detail.

Executive directors from the state Baptist conventions also heard closing challenges from LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer and NAMB President Geoff Hammond.

Rainer identified "Seven Megatrends in Church Health:"

1. The disappearance of the 18-24 year old in church. Rainer said LifeWay Research has well documented the dropout trends of this age group, and while the church has always seen a drop as young people transition from school to the workforce, "there are solutions emerging."

2. The growth in the multi-venue and multi-campus church. This trend is accelerating, Rainer noted.

3. The desire for deeper biblical doctrinal studies. "Those in our churches are asking for preaching with biblical depth in addition to life application," Rainer said. In an attempt to grow their numbers, "churches are trying to get by with shallow teaching," resulting in "shallow churches with shallow members."

4. The slowdown in the growth rate of megachurches. "Not a decrease in the number of megachurches," Rainer clarified, "but a slowing in the rate of growth."

5. The shortage of pastors. Some seminary graduates "don’t see themselves in rural, white collar, or traditional churches," Rainer noted. "Some states are already seeing a crisis" among traditional churches.

6. The increasing demand for processes. "Churches are asking for help to put resources together," Rainer noted. "Churches are saying: ‘Don’t just give us products, show how I disciple this young believer."

7. The resurgence of the "open group" in church. "Traditionally we’ve called it Sunday school," Rainer said, "but it may not always be called Sunday school today. Regardless of what it is called, there is a resurgence of the open group in church.

The summit ended with a meeting at LifeWay in which participants met in 14 affinity groups, including adult, black church, family ministry and Sunday school. During the regional (north, south, west, southeast and southwest) meetings, plans were made for 2008 regional meetings and work committee assignments were made. "We wanted to spend this time looking at what the different regions need and what do we want our next meeting to look like," Henry said.

Participants also had the opportunity to meet with John Kramp, LifeWay’s vice president of the church resources division, to get an overview of church resources and new LifeWay emphases and resources.

About Polly House

Polly House is LifeWay's corporate communications specialist and editor of
Facts & Trends. She came to LifeWay in 1999. Polly and her husband, Sam, live in Nashville, and are the parents of Tyler and Travis, both college students. They are members of Crievewood Baptist Church. Polly can be contacted at polly.house@lifeway.com.

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