Posted tagged ‘Questions’

Rural Resource – 20 Things That Might Be Killing Your Church

June 7, 2012

The Rural Ministry Blog’s Rural Resource is where I post a book review, article link, website link, video, or any other type of resource that I think would be of interest to the Rural Ministry community.

Today’s Rural Resource is an excellent article by George Bullard entitled 20 Things That Might Be Killing Your Church.  In this article George gives an interesting analogy comparing the life cycles of people with the life cycle of a church.  He then goes on to list 20 things that could easily either kill, or at least severely cripple, your church.

I must admit that as I was reading the article I kept asking myself “Is this true for my church?” I think this is a question that all of us must honestly and objectively ask ourselves. It’s easy to believe that everything at our church is just fine, but reality can be very different. After reading the article I sent a link to several of my church leaders and asked them if they saw any of the items listed at our church. One leader responded; “This was very good. Let me think about how it applies to us. But I do believe every church struggles with a number of these issues if they are honest.

Here’s a link to the article

20 Things That Might Be Killing Your Church

What are your thoughts on this article? Did anything in particular stand out to you? Can you think of anything else that should be on the list? Leave a comment below.

Disclaimer: The resources mentioned on the Rural Ministry Blog are things that I feel contain content relevant to the Rural Ministry community.  This does not necessarily mean that I fully embrace or support everything that the author embraces or supports.  For more information on this topic please read this Rural Ministry blog post – Eat the Meat and Spit Out the Bones

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What are you Communicating?

February 3, 2012

I once read a quote that said “everything you do communicates.”  While I don’t know if I agree that everything I do communicates, I do know that I communicate a lot through my words, my actions, my body language, and my appearance.  Not only does this apply to me personally, but also to my church.  My church communicates through everything from its cleanliness to its advertising, signage, and the friendliness of its people.

There was an incident that took place last year that really drives this point home.  I was traveling along an interstate highway and noticed a church that had several red, white, and blue painted buses parked in the parking lot. The thing that really grabbed my attention was a huge sign that read “Patriotic, Fundamentalist, King James” along with their service times.  I couldn’t help but sadly shake my head and say a quick prayer for this church.  Why?  Because of what that sign was communicating.  What do I mean by that statement?  Let’s take a closer look at the three phrases on the sign.

Patriotic – To many people, myself included, this is a very positive word.  I love my country, and feel very blessed to have been born in the good ol’ US of A.  But that’s just me.  What about foreigners?  Would they read the word “patriotic” and look at the red white and blue buses and feel like they would be welcome?  My guess would be no.

Fundamentalist – This is a word that can mean different things to different groups of people.  Within Christian circles it tends to mean something along the lines of “Independent Baptist.”  To the world it often carries a different meaning altogether.  When many hear the word “fundamentalist,” they think of the fanatics that blow up abortion clinics, or maybe those people we see on the news protesting at the funerals of soldiers and homosexuals.  This is not the kind of imagery we want attached to our churches.

King James – You and I both know that this statement simply means that this particular church uses the King James translation of the Bible.  While this has meaning to those of us already in the family of God, to the average non-Christian it would mean absolutely nothing.  I can just imagine them scratching their head and wondering “Who’s King James?”

It may sound like I’m blasting this church, but that is certainly not my intention.  I do not know anything about the church or their impact on the Kingdom.  What has me concerned is that their sign was obviously directed towards those who are already believers – specifically those believers who are patriotic, fundamentalist, and prefer the King James translation.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, my thoughts keep coming back to the lost.  There was nothing about that sign that would attract a non-believer, and plenty about it that would push them away.  We cannot lose sight of the primary mission of the church, which is the fulfillment of the Great Commission.  In pursuing this mission, we must never water down the message of the Gospel, but we do need to make sure we are communicating that message effectively.  Our churches should be places which attract the lost and in which the lost would feel welcome.

What message is your church communicating through its appearance, advertising, community presence, etc.? What things could we do to attract the lost without compromising our beliefs?  Leave a comment below.

Rural Resource – Simon Sinek: Start With Why

January 23, 2012

After a long hiatus the Rural Ministry Blog is back!

Each Monday on the Rural Ministry Blog I post a book review, article link, website link, video, or any other type of resource that I think would be of interest to the Rural Ministry community.

Today’s Rural Resource is a video that I recently discovered on TED.  In the video, speaker Simon Sinek draws a very interesting conclusion: people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.  Although this video is directed at the corporate world I think the parallels to the world of Rural Ministry are very obvious.

Here’s the link to the video:

Simon Sinek: Start With Why

When I first asked myself the question of why my church does what it does the obvious answer was, of course, to fulfill the great commission.  This should be the primary reason any church exists.  Even though that’s the ultimate goal and primary purpose, I’m not sure that telling people “we’re here to save your soul” is the most effective way of getting them interested in the things of God. I think we need to also communicate other reasons for why we do what we do.  Do we have a passion for our communities?  Do we have a burning desire to provide for the poor?  Do we get excited about building healthy families?  Whatever these other reasons are, we need to find ways to effectively communicate them to our communities.

What was your initial reaction to the video? How can we relate the ideas presented by Simon to our ministries?  Why does your church do what it does?  Leave a comment below.

2 Important Questions

April 26, 2011

I’ll never forget the Sunday in December of 2001 that I candidated at my church.  I had preached the morning service and then enjoyed a wonderful fellowship meal with them.  After the fellowship meal came the official interview. This was where the congregation could ask me any question they desired, and then they would hold the vote to see if they would call me as their pastor.  Almost the entire church showed up – about 10 people – and I must admit I was a little nervous.  I’ll always remember the first two questions I was asked.  Question number one: “Do you hunt?”  My response: “Yes, I love to hunt.”  Question number two was very similar: “Do you fish?”  I replied: “Yes, I love to fish.”  The man who asked the questions then stated, “Good, we may proceed!”

I’ve often laughed over the fact that these were the first two questions that I was asked.  Not my position on any deep theological, political, or social issues, but whether I liked to hunt and fish.  The more I think about those two questions the more I realize how important they were.  The man who asked the questions was not so much concerned about whether or not I hunted or fished, but whether I was one of them.  Would I fit in?  Would I accept them for who and what they are?

One of the key issues in rural ministry is that you will never effectively reach people if you do not meet them where they are.  Does this mean that you have to hunt and fish to be effective in rural ministry?  Certainly not.  But you must realize that things like hunting and fishing, or NASCAR, or high school football games, or whatever it is that the people in your community do, is very important to them.  If you put down what they love, you’ve essentially closed the door for any possible ministry opportunities.

I’ve seen way too many pastors spend almost all their time at the church or in their office and then wonder why they’re not reaching their communities.  Yes, office time is important – we have to spend time studying and preparing ourselves and our message for Sunday.  But at the same time we cannot lose sight of the people that God has sent us to minister to.  We have to leave the confines of our office and engage our people where they are.  Doing this will show them that you love them and that you care about the things they are interested in.  This will speak louder than any sermon you will ever preach.

What things have you done to fit in to the community?  Leave a comment below.