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Responding to the language of feelings being heard in the congregation [in the midst of difficult changes] by using the language of reasoning to explain the necessity of the intended changes does not address the feelings. It is not unlike the standard parody of the American who speaks more loudly and slowly after realizing that he is talking with someone who does not understand English. Somehow we come to the conclusion that if we simply clarify and emphasize what we are saying, the person will understand, despite the fact that we are speaking the wrong language.

Leading Change in the Congregation (The Alban Institute, 1998), P. 107

Preparing the Church for 587 B.C.

How do Turnaround Pastors lead God’s people in post-Christian America?

As the headlong slide toward the abyss accelerates, many will look to the past for guidance into the future. They will look to the distant past.

All the way back to 587 B.C.

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The prophetic voices of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel model what is needed today: how to prepare God’s people for life in a society sliding toward the brink.

In the centuries before Jerusalem’s destruction (in 587 B.C.) God warned his people time and again that he would abandon them to the consequences of their sins if they did not repent.

When God Abandons

Israel sustained it’s rebellion for centuries. But God remained patient, for a time. Forbearance ended when retributive justice befell Jerusalem in 587 B.C. He forsook them to the hands of the Babylonian invaders.

When God abandoned the nation, its way of life perished.

  • The walls of Jerusalem were torn down
  • The temple was burned
  • The Davidic dynasty was terminated
  • Leading citizens were enslaved
  • A way of life they had known for almost 1,000 years ended
  • Rhythms and rituals of worship burned with the temple
  • Peace and order disappeared when government and social structures fell

A way of life, a culture, a civilization perished when God abandoned those who abandoned him.

Stop Worrying about the Millennials

Christianity Today
January 6, 2015

Money Quote:

Since the days of the youth movement, church youth work has often lacked that element of Christian sobriety that alone might enable it to recognize that the spirit of youth is not the Holy Spirit and that the future of the church is not youth itself but rather the Lord Jesus Christ alone. It is the task of youth not to reshape the church, but rather to listen to the Word of God; it is the task of the church not to capture the youth, but to teach and proclaim the Word of God.

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Why Millennials Don’t Spell the End of Christian Civilization

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I was shocked – shocked I tell you! – to learn I was a “Protestant.”

But that’s what my mother told the intake nurse we were.

This startling discovery occurred when the local hospital granted my application for admission. They needed to know should they need to send for the proper chaplain if a sudden urge to pray for deliverance from a hospital food tray were to overtake me.

In 1963 we weren’t much of anything, religion-wise. But nonetheless they duly recorded my religious affiliation as “Protestant.”

Had that happened today I’d likely be one of the “Nones.”

That’s why I think a lot of Christian hand wringing about Millennials is overwrought. Technically the “Nones” and the “Millennials” are overlapping but not identical demographic cohorts. But, since day-to-day Christian literature treats both as pretty much the same, I’ll try to use the term Millennials for both groups. But my interest here centers on those folks who are old enough to drink but not yet old enough to have kids in High School.

Christian concern over both groups seems to boil down to two mistaken conclusions:

  1. They are hopelessly irreligious.
  2. They are hopelessly alien.

Both conclusions are just silly.

1. Millennials are not hopelessly irreligious

Backsliding

Bold Grace Ministries
January 8, 2015

Money quote:

The New Testament does not entertain the idea that backsliding is violating a rule that is intended to help us become mature disciples.

In fact, it teaches the exact opposite. True backsliding is the cure many churches urge for what they see as backsliding. Urging people to cultivate their sanctification by rules and regulations is the very definition of backsliding in the New Testament.

Genuine backsliding, in the New Testament sense, is a retrograde return to life lived by rules and regulations.

What’s the one thing we don’t teach new Christians?

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Churches by and large do a pretty good job of teaching new believers “the basics” of the Christian life. If you peek beneath the surface you’ll find that most of them establish new believers in a few basic spiritual disciplines.

  • Assurance
  • Baptism
  • Prayer
  • Bible reading
  • Walking in the Spirit
  • Witnessing

After all, pastors and churches want new members of God’s family to thrive spiritually, enjoy God’s blessing and to take part in their mission to bring others to faith in Jesus.

Right?

Then why don’t we do a better job of teaching folks how to capitalize on one of the most important spiritual inputs of all – the sermon? You know how to preach, right? So why teach them to listen to your preaching?

TEACH WHILE YOU PREACH

1 Reason To Kill Your Church’s Small Group Ministry

FishingNetSunsetSmall groups fail to fulfill the purpose for which churches create them.

Most churches set up small groups for one main purpose. They may toss a few secondary reasons, but the main reason churches have small groups is fulfill their duty to make disciples.

It doesn’t work.

To understand why not, think of how Jesus did it.[1]

If we acknowledge the conceit that small groups make disciples then we might look at them and think Jesus made disciples in this fashion:

  • Gathered a handful of believers.
  • Sat them in a circle on comfortable furniture.
  • Led off by sharing his problems hoping others would also “be authentic.”
  • After 30 minutes or so of “sharing” he had them open their Bibles.
  • He picked a couple of verses from the Old Testament and asked their thoughts and feelings about it.
  • If someone thought to bring a guitar they might sing a bit.
  • Closed with a few prayers for the cause du jure.
  • Adjourned the meeting so they could eat.

Is this the best way to make disciples?

I think not.

I do think we’re long past due for a sober reassessment and an honest admission that small groups probably[2] can’t do the most important job of all: making disciples.

This brings us to an important question, “how do we define or describe a disciple?” Until we’ve got this firmly in hand we can’t design a program or process to produce disciples. Neither can we test programs and processes to decide their utility in the disciple making process.

What is a disciple?

Extreme Wealth Is Bad for Everyone—Especially the Wealthy

The New Republic
January 2, 2015

WHAT IS CLEAR about rich people and their money — and becoming ever clearer — is how it changes them. Persuasive research suggests that the problem of wealth isn’t that selfish people get rich. The problem is caused by the wealth itself: It triggers a set of neurological phenomena causes them to be less likely to care about anyone but themselves or to experience the moral sentiments needed to be a decent citizen.

Or even a happy one.

10 Promises That Will Change Your Church in 2015

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This is it.

You’ve reached decision time.

You’ve got to decide whether 2015 will rehash everything that’s gone before. Or will it be different? Is it the year your church breaks out?

It can, but only if you promise to start doing things different.

Here are 10 promises you can make, Pastor, that will change your church in 2015.