Church Growth: Hiring the Right Preacher, Part 2

churchgrowthl.jpgJust for fun, you know, I thought I’d take a look at the latest Abilene Christian College data on preacher salaries in the Churches of Christ. They gather data each year to help churches know what to pay and preachers know what to expect. It’s interesting stuff.

And the data tells us a lot about ourselves. It may be a step in overcoming some of our problems. Continue reading

Church Growth: Hiring the Right Preacher, Part 1

churchgrowthl.jpgLet me start by saying that I’m very, very happy with our preacher. This is a post for churches looking to hire a preacher — and for Christian college presidents — and for churches who already have an excellent preacher.

Point 1: Although the literature often omits this, it’s very likely true that the first requirement for church growth, especially for a large church, is a really good preacher.

Now, as an elder in the Churches of Christ, I’m not supposed to say this. After all, in our theology, a preacher is a hired hand, working under the oversight of the elders. And only elders and deacons get to be leaders. We therefore don’t like to talk about preachers as great leaders. They’re just supposed to be great speakers. Continue reading

Church Growth: Introduction

churchgrowthl.jpgI’ve been reading Beyond Megachurch Myths by Scott Thumma and Dave Travis. I was flipping through the channels, looking for something appropriately manly, like ESPN, and saw Thumma speaking on CPAN2 about his new book. He had a lot of interesting things to say, and so I got on Amazon and ordered the book. I’m still reading it.

The book is a study of “megachurches,” defined as Protestant congregations with typical attendance of over 2,000 people.

Now, my own church has attendance in the 600 to 700 range, so we are far from being a megachurch. But then, it’s not that hard to imagine us growing to that size. If we were to grow at a rate of 5% per year, it would only take 20 to 25 years to get there. Continue reading

Communion Meditation: God’s Great Banquet

Communion[This is in contemplation of Thanksgiving Day]

On Thanksgiving, we spend time with families and friends enjoying a great meal together. It’s a great time. For me — and I’m sure many others — it’s the best time of year.

I like it better than Christmas. There’s less of an agenda. I have a large family and it’s a huge undertaking, but it doesn’t require months of shopping and weeks of decorating. It’s just food and family and football.

The Lord’s Supper is symbolic of many things, but one symbol we sometimes overlook is God’s great banquet, prophesied by Isaiah– Continue reading

The New Perspective: The Theology of Community

newperspective.jpgOne of the most appealing aspects of N. T. Wright’s theology — at least, to me — is his emphasis on the doctrine of community.

“Community” is a fair translation of koinonia, the Greek word also translated as “fellowship,” “communion,” “sharing,” “contribution,” or “participation.”

“Church” translates ekklesia, which derives from the Greek root words for “called out,” but which really means “called together.” In each case where a group of people is called an ekklesia, they weren’t merely roused from their homes, they were called to be together for some purpose.

Wright says,

We have been so soaked in the individualism of modern Western culture that we feel threatened by the idea of our primary identity being that of the family we belong to—especially when the family in question is so large, stretching across space and time. The church isn’t simply a collection of isolated individuals, all following their own pathways of spiritual growth without much reference to one another. Continue reading

What’s Wrong With How We Do Church?: And So, In Conclusion …

reveal.jpgAfter 9 posts on the same topic, it’s time to draw some conclusions. But this will all have to be taken as very preliminary. After all, Willow Creek hasn’t finished their study of 500 additional churches.

Nonetheless, while I wouldn’t presume to know all that’s wrong with how we do church, I think we can put our finger on some serious problems typical of American evangelicalism.

Of course, many writers have written many, many books on how to do church better. Here, in response to Willow Creek’s “Reveal” study, we’re focusing just on the problems that trouble the most mature of the church’s members.

(And none of this is pointed particularly at Willow Creek. Rather, I’m speaking very generally. I don’t know all that much about how they do church.) Continue reading

An Excellent Series of Posts

jesushealing-thumb.jpgThis link will take you to the index for a long series of posts by Michael Kruse on economics and the mission of God. He very rightly endorses many of the views of N. T. Wright and Brian McLaren but also takes them (and others) to task for pushing an economically naive agenda.

This is not for everyone, but if you care for the poor and have an interest in economics, this is for you.