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September 21, 2006

Comments

Mark H

Great sequence of posts!

I think you'll find this interesting too:

http://chriselrod.typepad.com/chris_elrod_dot_com/2006/08/we_stopped_look.html

great way to turn the question around and put the focus where it should be. Then we can ask ourselves what can we be doing to help resonate be what God intends it to be (whatever that may look like.) To me numbers are irrelevant.

Rich

The Chris Elrod article was interesting, but I think that it almost goes to the opposite extreme in advocating almost exclusive outreach to the lost. In pushing for 70% unchurched attendance it almost sounds like the best thing their ushers can do is start slashing tires of regular attenders to make room for new people. :) And I think the phrase "illicit 'Kingdom trading'" can miss the point in some sense (indeed, most of those who attended Resonate would have otherwise attended one of Calvary's other services, but that hardly means that it is a competition - rather an effort to meet everyone's needs in an innovative way). If somebody leaves another church where they are not being discipled adequately in favor of Resonate, it is hardly a loss for the Kingdom of God, and it is hardly to the exclusion of the lost that we are also reaching out to. Not every church can meet the needs of every person - and it isn't just because of imperfect pastors. A church service is more than fluff designed to attract people to listen to a sermon - it is a complete act of worship in community, and not every person fits equally well into every community, in every worship setting, with every pastor as a spiritual leader, and with every style of teaching.

I agree for certain that numbers are not a good measure of mission, although in many practical ways they are important (there are many things you can do with a group of 10 that you simply can't do with a group of 1000 unless you chop them up, and obviously if weekly attendance stays at last week's levels we won't be in Heritage Hall for long...). And in many ways numbers do reflect whether resources are being well-used - it may be true that spending a billion dollars to save one soul is a worthwhile investment, but hopefully this would not be a typical experience. I'm sure every church would love to be able to hire full-time staff to lead groups of 10, but no church can afford this, so often numbers become necessary when deciding where volunteer leadership is a better choice. And even God looks at numbers in some sense which can be seen when Elisha said "Fear not; for they who are with us are more than they who are with them." Of course, this is also a big reason why we shouldn't take numbers as the final word - for ultimately it comes down to whether God is in what you're doing, or He isn't - if He is and your numbers look short it might just be that there is more to the situation than meets the eye.

Chris Elrod

Rich, nice points about my blog posting. I agree with what you are saying about church folks that left churches because they were not being discipled. For my posting however, I was speaking more specifically about our situation at Compass Point.

We planted in a small Southern town with almost a "Bible Belt" mentality. There are literally churches on every street corner. Yet churches are being planted here with no specific strategy for reaching the unchurched. They seem content with being the hot, new thing in town that attracts only "church hoppers". There have been sixteen new churches planted in the last four years from all kinds of denominational and non-denominational ties, yet the number of unchurched has never really changed. That is why Compass Point planted the way it did.

The problem is also that I speak at many regional church plant conferences each year. I see a frightening trend with churchs that plant with the sole purpose of "re-educating Christians". There's just no basis for that kind of planting in the Great Commission.

The danger I see with just counting totals is that it lacks spiritual accountability to deal with whether there is life-change taking place within the flock. Counting totals allows a church staff to ignore the fact that they might not be a very effective church when it comes to spiritual growth for their people. Getting large numbers into a building is easy if you have the unlimited finances for mass advertising and multi-media worship services. Yet, making disicples takes time, patience, constant re-evaluation and serious sole searching by the church leadership.

I realize that in a natural order of things a newly planted church will attract some people from other churches. Yet, I believe a church plant should be more about reaching the unchurched. There are already way more churches out there for "fat babies" who want constant feeding to attend. It's time to invest in churches that want to reach the people outside the four walls of the church.

Again Rich, only my opinion. Thanks again for the thought you put into your comments.

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