The North American Church is in decline and there are plenty of conferences offering their latest & greatest pitch to stop the church’s decline.
Each year we’re invited to hear “celebrity” pastors share God’s plan for the church and how we ought to adopt it and be large and successful like them. Frankly, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a venue to really address how and why churches grow. Many pastors & church leaders make their annual pilgrimage to Saddleback, Willowcreek, North Point, Fellowship, New Birth, Greater St. Steven FGBC, The Potter’s House, etc. and come away excited and delusional with unrealistic expectations. Ed Stetzer of Lifeway calls it ministry pornography. According to Ed Stetzer:
“Ministry pornography is an unrealistic expectation of an experience you’re never going to have which distracts you from the real thing.”
God used these churches and their pastors for a specific time and in a specific place. Unfortunately, that experience is rarely duplicated. If you were to take the aforementioned churches and transplant them in other areas, the results would be drastically different. Can you imagine Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, or Andy Stanley leading an inner-city urban church? Or, can you see Bishop T.D. Jakes screaming “Get Ready…Get Ready…Get, Get, Ready” at Saddleback or North Point Church? Simply put, God rarely does the same thing twice.
May I Offer You A Few Suggestions to break your addiction to ministry porn:
- Confess your addiction to ministry pornography & repent!
- Do not attend any conferences for one year
- Get alone with your Bible, pen, & paper and discover God’s purpose for the church (read Matt. 22-37-40; 28:19-20, The Book of Acts)
- Get a demographic breakdown of your community (US Census Bureau or your local Chamber of Commerce).
- After discovering the purpose of the church, write down how your church plans to reach that community (this is the hard part). Make sure it’s less than a paragraph because people don’t like to read long statements.
- Preach/teach a series on God’s vision for the church and how you plan to fulfill it.
- Reorganize your church’s leaders, staff, volunteers, and structure (in that order)
- Evaluate & tweak your plan/strategy
So, what’s your next step? I’d love to hear it!
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