“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” 2 Timothy 1:13-14
Some days it feels as if everyone is telling me that the church is dying. Blog posts, articles, and books all have one theme: the church is dying and it’s not coming back. Everywhere I go, someone demonstrates with lots of facts, experiences, and example that the church is out of fashion, out of sync, out of shape. It’s simply out. And of course, some of the blogs, books, and articles are correct—the church isn’t coming back, or at least the church as we once knew. The church of 1970 is truly gone.
But then, I sit at my desk in the pastor’s office and I hear outside my door the enthused voices of church members as they go about the business of being church. I watch the pews fill up (at the last minute) on a Sunday morning. I see the small horde of children as they crowd together for children’s sermon. I explain to a single mom in need who has come to the church for help, that yes, our church will be glad to help her. And I wonder, what is dying? Not the church. Not this church.
I really believe that each individual church can grow—that the church does not have to decline until there is nothing left but a handful of people holding it all together on a shoe string. But it will take a leadership dedicated to the health and well being of church, a clergy trained and skilled in leading.
I want a full church. It is as simple as that. Some of my reasons for wanting a full church are a bit selfish, I will admit. For example, I find that church is a lot more fun with a lot more people. I want people in the pews, heading up social justice, participating in mission, taking communion, raising their voices in song. Why? Because a crowd is way more energizing, inspiring, and moving than a paltry few. Yes, I know that Jesus said “where two or three are gathered” but let’s not forget, he’s the one who fed the 5000. Two or three are nice, but 150 is awesome.
I am committed to growing a church because I really believe it can happen and anyone can do it—it takes leadership though and many of our pastors are not into the kind of proactive leadership growth demands. Today’s church needs to compete in this world to overcome the powerful voices that say the church is no longer relevant.
And so I wrote Jump Start This Church. I co-wrote it with a friend and church member, Peter Dennis. Peter is a successful salesperson and sales trainer. Together, we took his principles of selling and my love of church, and put them together in this book. It combines experiences of a minister and a lay leader who have faced the challenges of “sales”head on; sometimes successfully and sometimes learning from the lesson of failure.
Jump Start This Church is about leading a church into an active responsiveness to its community and in doing so, reaping the rewards of church growth. No church is capable of being all things to all people at all times and in all circumstances. Every generation challenges the church to remain relevant. Every change that impacts a neighborhood asks church leaders to reflect on the way they respond to their new neighbors. Peter and I share our stories and in the process, try to provide opportunities to reflect on growing one’s church as a pastor or lay leader.
Grow your church. It’s worth all the effort.
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