Monday, February 27, 2006

This and That

News from strange places:

THE head of the World Council of Churches has expressed concern about the spread of megachurches around the world, such as Hillsong in Sydney, saying they could lead to a Christianity that is "two miles long and one inch deep".
How bad does something have to be for the World Council of Churches to express concern about it? Over the years, the WCC has not been on the cutting edge of spiritual discernment in matters relating to the purity of the gospel.

Something to think about:
  • Churches under three years of age win an average of ten people to Christ per year for every one hundred church members.
  • Churches three to fifteen years of age win an average of five people to Christ per year for every one hundred church members.
  • Churches over fifteen years of age win an average of three people to Christ per year for every one hundred church members. (cited in Stetzer, Planting New Churches in a Post Modern Age, p. 6).
Why? As you might suspect, I have some thoughts ...

Perhaps new churches are "new" and therefore, something unchurched people are willing to try out rather than go to an old church where they think they won't fit in. Such people are hearing the gospel at a church, not because it is a different gospel, but because it is a different voice. Going into my eighth year pastoring a church that has just passed its 102nd anniversary, I have realized that many people in our community already know about us. So they don't come.

Perhaps new churches are freshly committed to their mission, whereas old churches have lost that vision in the hullaballoo of doing church.

Perhaps old churches have succumbed to the work of managing Christians, trying to keep people happy rather than keeping them focused on the fact that their happiness is not the goal of the church.

Perhaps old churches have established power structures that are threatened by growth, and the people are unwilling to endanger their power by bringing new people into the mix.

Any thoughts from you?

3 comments:

Pittsley said...

These are helpful thoughts. The tendency to become ingrown is deeply-rooted. Sometimes it seems like there is a certain unspoken number which is "satisfactory" in the minds of any given congregation (often having to do with the size of the building). Once the church reaches that number, evangelism tapers.

Brian Jones said...

That book by Stetzer is very, very good, no? I read it three years ago and still feel its impact.

In a similar vein, you should check out this article in the NY Times on Timothy Keller: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/26/nyregion/26evangelist.html?ei=5088&en=bd2c8ed6c62e68f5&ex=1298610000&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

I think the WCC has a different definition of "depth" than you or I. Theirs likely reflects Neo Orthodox assumptions, so I don't think the statement says too much.

Larry said...

I started Stetzer's book today. It is interesting so far. I have heard some good things about Stetzer on some issues so I am interested to see what he has to say.

I did see the article about Keller. I thought it was interesting.

And yes, I think the WCC has a different definition of depth, but I would think that their definition of shallow would be similar. Perhaps not.