Category Archives: Ministry Coaching

hospice church…DNR.

decaying church

Guessing the title of this blog may have caught your attention.  Being up front, this blog has nothing to do with churches at hospice sites…I know, sorry.  However, I do want to stimulate some thought about about what these terms represent and how they may apply to the church.

Over the past few years I have had some dear loved ones (grandparents specifically) pass away, but before they met Jesus they went to a place called “hospice”.  Hospice, if not familiar with it, is basically a service/ place offered for those who are dying that nothing more can really be done.  In essence, the individual is to weak, to sick, to old, etc. to sustain any type of cure.  The potential cure would kill the patient.  As a pastor, when you hear the words, “hospice has been contacted”, you know that there is nothing else to be done.

Another medical term usually combined with the above described condition is DNRDO NOT RESUSCITATE.  

DO NOT REVIVE or BRING BACK TO LIFE

This secondary label is given to patients not out of cruelty or lack of concern, but out of the understanding that nothing else can be done and by reviving, loved ones are only delaying the inevitable while dragging out suffering.

In a very sad, but very real sense, this describes the current state of many churches in North America.  Churches that at one time were alive, active, purposeful, loving…but through a turn of events, age, sickness, unhealthy lives… have entered into a “hospice” state.

Here is a stark truth…some churches need to die with a DNR being placed on them, as they are actually working against the reason why they exist.

BUT THERE IS HOPE…

Different than people (as we will all die as a result of the curse of sin)…

CHURCHES DON’T HAVE TO DIE!!!

If churches that find themselves with death knocking at the door will Repent, Be Faithful, Be Obedient, Be Prayerful and Be Lead by the Spirit there is hope for the future.

If there is one thing we know about God, it is His ability to take dead, lifeless people and bring them to life!  I believe He can do that with many churches as well.

Current Church Landscape…

As you may have seen by recent polls/ stats the established evangelical church (facilities) in North America is on the decline and has actually been doing so for quite sometime.  Even with current trends in church planting (new church starts),  the number of church closures is higher than that of starts.  (see following article for stats: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html).  To some this is greatly discouraging, but to others there is a sense of opportunity to reach more w/ the gospel.

2013 resembles more of the spiritual landscape of the early CHURCH than ever before.

Here lies the bigger, more important question for churches that fall into this “hospice” category…

Will those churches (maybe your church) have REVIVE (revival) after it’s name OR will it have DNR?

How we understand what the church is and why it exists will determine the future.

BACK to the NUMBERS…

So what does all this mean?  Below are few questions/ thoughts I think we should ponder on.

1.)  What is the church?

The word church is highly misused and misunderstood in todays’ society from it’s original intent.  The church is made up of believers in Jesus Christ.  It is not an address, location, or building.  A church can consist of handful of believers to thousands that gather together.  However, the church is often represented by a building (church building) because that is where believers meet…no believers there, no church, just a building.  The church is a living, alive spiritual organism.  The church was established, is sustained, and is lead by Jesus (God Himself).  The church is referenced as the “bride” of Christ, indicating His deep interest and love for her.

2.)  Why does the church exist?

The church exist for the glory of God.  The church exist to worship God.  One of the primary ways in which the church accomplishes this purpose is by making disciples (followers of Jesus).  John Piper in his book, Let the Nations Be Glad, discusses how the church makes disciples through missions, however missions is not the purpose of church, WORSHIP is.

“Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more”

The church exist to worship and glorify God.

3.)  Why are we just now noticing the decline?

Osterich in the sand…

There are many different answers to this question, with fingers being pointed at many different sources/ people.  Here are a few that I think could be on that long, long list:

–  Leaders & members chose to see what we wanted

–  Admittance of decline is to admit something deeper is wrong

–  Pride/ Arrogance

–  Self sufficiency

–  Money is running out or already ran out

4.)  Is God’s plan failing?

You may struggle even asking this question and that is OK, but I know many that are wondering…

NO…I repeat, NO…God is NOT failing and neither is His plan.  God is self sustained and is self sufficient.  He does not need us to accomplish His plan, however He chooses to use us by the redemptive power of His Spirit.  That is the amazing, beautiful thing about the church!!!  I believe that God desires for His church to reach North America and the world at large with the gospel and to do so effectively.  God has not called us to a failing mission!!!  He is redeeming people every day, bring the dead to life!!!

So what if you are not seeing that happen in your life or in your church?  The answers to these few questions may give you some insight.  I constantly ask these questions to myself.:

–  Why do you exist?

–  Does how you live your life support your answer?

–  Why does your church exist?

–  Does how your church function (what it does, not what it says), support why it supposedly exists?

–  Are unbelievers being reached with the gospel through the efforts of your church? (in specific measurable ways)

–  Do I really on my strength and methods more than my obedience, humbleness, and admittance that I can do nothing apart from Christ?

–  Do I trust God to fulfill His plan?

5.)  Why are so many churches failing?

Wow…loaded question (can hear the ammo being loaded).  Short and sweet, churches often die because they elevate something above the glory of God and their primary function…to make disciples.  What churches choose to elevate, causing their demise is a long list, but here might be a few:

* members over those needing to be reached

* methods/ models.  (Andy Stanley explains this element well in his recent book, Deep and Wide, by saying that churches often value their “methods over the mission”.)  People like “how” they do church over “why”.

* control.  People like to control (or at least think so) that which is God’s

* people’s opinion over God’s guidance outlined in Scripture

6.)  The cons to churches closing…

Before I lay out a few thoughts here, let me preface this section by saying I understand some churches close because of uncontrollable circumstances (the main business leaves town, churches move to different facilities, etc), but for our discussions sake I am referencing those places that didn’t have to die.

When a church closes it’s doors it is a sad day.  A place once filled with worship, life change, intentionality ceases to exist.  Vacant churches are reminders and discouragement for many believers.  Rotting churches are fuel for those that are antagonistic towards Christianity and the gospel.  These empty shells are a harsh reminder of the reality that when God’s people waiver from Him and His heart they cease to be a light house in a community.  Closed churches were poor representations of Christ.

7.)  The pros to churches closing…

When unhealthy churches close vacant real estate is opened for healthy churches to start at that location.  Also, when a church closes it’s doors an incorrect representation of what the church should be is removed, actually being better for a community.  That’s right, you read correctly…a church that does not function as Jesus intended it to can actually be more a detriment/ harm to it’s surrounding neighbors than a help.  In addition, when a church closes an opportunity for “church mergers” exist.  A church merger is when a healthy purposeful church absorbs a dying church under it’s structure and leadership…the one ceases to exist while the other expands it’s ministries/ reach.

Wrap it up…

Some of what I have said, may sound harsh, hard to swallow, and even mean…but it’s reality.  Churches through out the ages have come and gone, many of which disappearing because they forgot why they existed and ultimately because they left their “first love” (Revelation, Ephesus).

What we have to answer by our visions, our models, our systems and our actions is whether we will be churches that have titles/ labels after our names saying:

HOSPICE CHURCH, DNR

OR

REVIVED CHURCH, FOR THE GLORY OF GOD.


Master Plan…

Architect 3

I recently went on vacation w/ my family to what is often referenced as the most happy/magical place on earth…you guessed it Disney World (guess it depends on how you define happy…I consider a trip to the dentist maybe more pleasurable… well, maybe it’s not that bad 🙂 …).  Time w/ the family is always a blessing, but “fast pace, expensive, hot, exhausting, etc”  I think would categorize that place better for me…

However, with all my personal thoughts/ preferences aside there is one thing that is undeniable about a visit to Disney…it SCREAMS “vision” and “master plan”.  I put those terms together because they are dependent on one another and I believe that if you have  the first, you must have the later in order to accomplish it.

To have vision is to see something/ someone the way it/ they could be before it is actual reality.  

A master plan is the process/ steps/ system(s) that enable the vision to be accomplished.

Master plans are not accomplished all at once or in a short period of time.  If they were, then the vision obviously would not be very grand.  They are implemented in incremental steps and each step builds upon the previous moving in the direction of accomplishing the vision.  They are also not able to be accomplished with only a few individuals.  The number of people required in order to accomplish a vision is also an indicator of how large it is.

In addition, master plans are adaptable and should be changed when needs warrant them.

What many of us fail to see however, is that a “vision” is usually built upon previous visions that were not original to us, our generation, or our personal drives.  The current vision that we hold has been built upon some else’s.  This requires humbleness to accept, but also an understanding and embracement of responsibility.

While personal visions are good and I encourage all of us to have them, there is a grander vision I want us to recognize.  As a believer in Christ, God has given us the “ultimate vision, encapsulated within the “Great Commandment” and the “Great Commission”, which is embodied in Christ, original to God, which He is.

The gospel drives, directs, and gives us the “grand vision”, which leads us to love God and love people in order that they may also believe in Christ.

Our personal visions should be built upon the “grand vision”

Here is the tough question: Do we view “our vision” separate from God’s?

They are homogenous if we allow them to be…

What really is key for us that are leaders is how we will flesh out that “grand vision” into our specific spheres of influence and personal visions.

Back to Disney…

As I walked around Disney and thought of vision and master plans, I wondered… would Walt have envisioned all that Disney is now or did he set a vision in motion that could be handed off to another generation that would continue to be accomplished?   The master plan is constantly fluid while being fueled by the solidified clear vision.  I am sure that he envisioned some of the future, but no man can do that completely.

I ask myself, what do I “vision” in order to accomplish “THE vision”?  How will it be acheived?  Who will be needed to achieve it?

What is your vision for your life and what is the master plan in how it will be accomplished?  How does it accomplish the grander vision?  How we answer these questions will determine our course…


Gospel spoiler…???!!!

man-walking-away

Sitting in my office writing summer camp curriculum and decided to take a break…especially since God revealed something to me…which is always a good thing. As I write camp curriculum I always do so in six main sessions, but I don’t just write off the cuff. I organize and systematically present my content so it can be understood, followed along with, built upon, and relatable. There is a start, a middle, and an end. If I didn’t do this students would be confused, lost, not connecting and the list goes on. Yeah, there are some that might figure it out, but they would be the minority. Then I had this laid upon my thoughts…

HAVE I SPOILED THE GOSPEL BY HOW I TELL THE STORY?!

NOW…before you start chucking bricks and coming up w/ self motivated defense answers, hear me out. Obviously, our efforts can never take the place or the power of the Holy Spirit’s work in peoples lives. The Holy Spirit is a portion of the triune God and God is God alone. I am not. (check that one off the list) However, has God asked me to proclaim the Gospel?

UUMMMM???? YEAH…

Let me break it down this way. I want you to come up with a person, family member, friend, pastor that has articulated the Gospel or even scripture for that matter, that it stuck with you. Got it? Hold onto that for a sec.

Now I want you to think of someone…that tried to, but you don’t remember squat on what they said. Got it…well maybe not, HA…you get the idea.

What was so different between these two? You might answer things like, you weren’t paying attention to one of them (fault is yours), their breath was horrible (fault is theirs 🙂 ), or something along those lines. Again, we are not discounting the work of the Holy Spirit.

BUT I THINK THERE IS MORE TO IT…

Now, many of you will have heard, read, or thought it’s about “style” or “presentation” and I will not argue with either of those…again, not discounting Holy Spirit (keeping you chuckers at bay). Preparation and delivery are absolutely important, if not, why do we do them? We study, we practice, we attend seminars, we go to classes, we attend trainings, and the list goes on. By our mere actions we recognize the importance of these two things. Overlooked maybe…I think there is still one more area where many of us blow it when sharing the Gospel.

WE FAIL TO TELL THE STORY.

BUT I TOLD THEM ABOUT THE BIBLE…

BUT I TOLD THEM ABOUT MY CHURCH…

BUT I TOLD THEM ABOUT JESUS…

YES, YES, YES, THOSE ARE NEEDED, BUT…

DID YOU CONNECT THE DOTS OF THE STORY?

Imagine I sit down with you to read a book. (You are thinking…”am I interested in the subject matter?”) To be safe, let’s say the book is about something you love or maybe your life. I can tell the story because FIRST…I have a relationship with you and I know you. I know what you like. I know the big details and the small ones. I know the chapters that many don’t see.

Granted, there are some that just want to hear a good story and will listen, but most will not unless it is something they want to listen to.

Second…where did you start? Did you start with, “…and they lived happily ever after.” Did you start with the pinnacle moment in the book, not building up to it?

OR…maybe you started in the beginning, but then decided to skip a few chapters to speed things up.

Does your listener know who the characters are? Do they know what it’s about? Have you made it a “really good” story by your listeners seeing themselves in it?

Are they in need of rescue? Are they needing to rescue others?

Third…have you invited them to be a part of the adventure…writing new chapters in this amazing story?

Those of us who have placed faith in Christ have the grandest story to tell that has ever been told!!! The Script has already been provided for us, with our lives being a part of it!!! Will we read it, love it, live it, TELL it???!!!

HOW WE TELL “THE STORY” DETERMINES MUCH OF WHO WILL LISTEN

TO IT AND RECEIVE IT.

#gospelspoiler?


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