SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION & Statistics on the Decline in Conversions in Churches.

by Aaron Earls, LifeWay, Christianity Today, 3/6/19.

…Church conversions

The lack of growth in worship attendance in most churches is matched by a lack of new commitments to Christ last year.

Fifty-four percent of pastors say fewer than 10 people indicated a new commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior in 2018, including 8 percent who had none.

In some ways, however, those numbers mask deeper evangelistic issues. When evaluating churches based on the number of conversions per 100 attendees, 67 percent had fewer than 10 per 100 people attending their church. Around a third (35%) had fewer than five new commitments for every 100 people attending their worship services.

Forty-six percent of smaller churches (fewer than 50 in worship services) say they had 10 conversions or more for every 100 in attendance, while only 18 percent of churches 250 and above meet that benchmark.

While there are no major differences between evangelical and mainline churches in terms of new converts, denominational differences do exist.

A majority of Pentecostal pastors (57%) say they saw 10 or more new commitments to Christ in their church last year per 100 attendees. The next closest denominations are Lutherans (39%), Holiness (38%), and Baptists (35%).

A quarter of Methodist (25%) and Presbyterian or Reformed pastors (23%) say they had 10 or more new commitments to Jesus in 2018 per 100 attendees. Half of Methodist pastors (50%) had fewer than five new commitments last year.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/march/lifeway-research-church-growth-attendance-size.html

Tomorrow join me @Mosiax pre-conference at #ExponentialEast @churchplanting & prep by reading article on “Multicultural Leadership” by @BobWhitesel in #BiblicalLeaderMagazine via @biblicalleader https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/understanding-graffiti-leadership

https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/understanding-graffiti-leadership

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Honored Biblical Leadership Magazine published @BobWhitesel article: “7 weaknesses / strengths when going to church in virtual reality” via @BiblicalLeader

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CULTURE OF OUTRAGE & 1 in 3 Americans suffered severe online harassment in 2018 according to Anti-Defamation League & Pew Research.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: My friend Ed Stetzer has called the era in which we live, the age of outrage. And few would disagree with his assessment.

Here is a Bible principle that tells us Christians how to respond. And, after the verse is an excerpt from an article reminding us how bad online harassment has become.

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“It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.” 1 Peter 2:15 NLT

“1 in 3 Americans Suffered Severe Online Harassment in 2018.” by Alyssa Foot, Wired Magazine, 2/15/19.

…Despite concerted efforts by tech giants to cut back on abhorrent behavior on their platforms, a new survey finds that severe forms of online hate and harassment, including stalking and physical threats, may be on the rise. According to the survey, released Wednesday by the Anti-Defamation League, more than one third of Americans reported experiencing some type of severe online hate or harassment in 2018. A similar Pew Research Center reportfound that 18 percent of Americans said they were targeted with severe online harassment in 2017. For young people, the numbers are even worse, with about half of 18- to 29-year-olds saying they experienced some kind of severe harassment online in 2018.

…When the researchers ran the numbers again, focusing only on daily users of each platform, they found that the gaming network Twitch topped the list, with 47 percent of its daily users reporting some type of harassment, followed by Reddit, Facebook, and the chat app Discord. Last year, Twitch updated its community guidelines so that any hateful behavior would result in an “immediate, indefinite suspension.” This applied to activity that took place off of Twitch as well, but some users have reported ineffective enforcement of these rules.

Read more at … https://www.wired.com/story/severe-online-harassment-2018-adl-survey/

GUESTS & Ideas for churches based upon the #Disney “5 Principles of Hospitality” explained by former #Disney executive to #GreatCommissionResearchNetwork #GCRN18

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by Rich Taylor, former head of Disney Entertainment speaking to the Great Commission Research Network, Oct. 18, 2018 (commentary in italics by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D.)

Disney has 5-rules of hospitality.

 

 

  1. Anticipate – Look ahead to anticipate what will your guests need.
    • Walk the venue beforehand.
    • What will be the guests’ needs: childcare, restrooms, open seating?
  2. Arrival – What they experience on arrival.
    • What is the experience in the first five minutes?
  3. Great Experience – the Disney Experience.
    • What is the cumulative experience of the guest.
    • What will they feel after the first 15 minutes?  
    • What will they focus upon?
    • What will they remember?
    • Technology:
      • Don’t over-rely on technology. Be prepared for technology to fail and to have a Plan B.
      • Don’t rely on the latest technology, because the latests technology still has the bugs being worked out.  Adopt proven technology.  This would mean we should be “advanced incumbents” rather than “early adopters.” See this chart for a comparison.  
    • Selection:  Use people that are “naturally friendly” in Taylor’s terminology, which we might define as those with the “gift of hospitality.”
    • Training is another key.  Give them regular training at regular times for which they can plan.
  4. Departure – This is your last opportunity to make a guest feel great. When I went to theatre the other night, everyone welcomed us and said goodbye.  It was well done. But the valets were disinterested and unconcerned. What did I remember from the evening? The valets!
    • Have a departing gift, acknowledgment,
    • Have a banner that says “Thank you for visiting – we hope you encountered God.” of something like that that can be seen as they leave.
  5. Savor – If it has been a good experience they will savor the visit and the most important thing for Disney is that they will come back.
    • Visit growing churches to see what they are doing that is working.  You can’t do everything but you may be able to replicate something they are doing.
    • Follow up with them, right after they leave.  Send visitors an email that arrives on their way home.
    • Get feedback.
      • If they are a repeat visitor, ask them what you did well (and they will tell you what they enjoyed).
      • Have anonymous “ideas cards” that guests can fill out.

WILD CHURCH & What is it and where is it going? A look inside more #OrganicChurches

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Biblical Leadership Magazine, 7/6/18.

For over two decades I’ve been researching innovative new churches and helping church leaders understand if they are heretical, orthodox, mainstream and/or part of an emerging evangelical movement. My book “Inside the Organic Church” (Abingdon Press) looked at so-called emerging churches.

In this article, I’ll look at what is being called the “Wild Church.” These are people who gather among nature, often hosting church services in natural outdoor venues such as parks, forests, old barns, etc. And, they come in various denominational and theological persuasions. Some Wild Church worship services are hosted by liberal congregations and may embrace some aspects of nature worship. But others are more evangelical in theology, who see worshipping amid God’s creation an opportunity to behold his power and majesty. A simple Google search will turn up many more examples.

To learn about this phenomena, I urge the reader to not focus on just those examples that run counter to their own theological persuasion. Instead the unbiased reader may find the Wild Church an innovative opportunity to draw near to God. As King David would say, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1 NIV).

Check out my four principles for understanding the Wild Church, with takeaways and cautions.

A working definition: The wild church is a congregation that gathers among nature (i.e. in the wild) to appreciate what God has revealed through his creation.

Principle 1: Wild Churches come in many theological persuasions. Some are evangelical and view having church out among nature as a way to share God’s good news with nature enthusiasts such as hikers, campers and the outdoors type. Other Wild Churches embrace a liberal theology.

Take away: You don’t have to be of a certain theological persuasion to enjoy a Wild Church. Yes, there will be liberal churches that will worship in the wild. But evangelical congregations shouldn’t concede natural venues to their liberal brethern.

Caution: Being out among God’s nature can draw a person near to God as it did David. But be careful that when we are saturated in God’s creation we do not began to worship the creation rather than the Creator. Paul warned the Romans, “(some) exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.” (Romans 1:25 NIV).

Principle 2: Wild churches are a method of taking a message out to where people recreate, reflect and have needs. Going outside of the religious walls of the synagogue was a hallmark of Jesus’ ministry, for example He reached out to:

Take away: There are many biblically examples of Jesus reaching out to where people are doing business or recreating. Churches that are seeking to share the good news with non-churchgoers may find in the Wild Chruch a magnificent, natural venue in which to do so.

Caution: Sometimes the excitement of doing church in a new manner can make the method more the focus, than the message. Don’t get so excited about a change in venue that the venue becomes the focus of your time and energy. The message should always be central in expression and preparation.  And it should point people to the Creator Christ Jesus (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16).

Principle 3: Don’t judge or criticize because a congregation is doing something differently or because they are affiliated with a denomination you don’t support. I’ve found that many times churches resist newness because they enjoy the style of worship they already have. But, because you have found the style and venue of worship you enjoy, doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have other worship styles and venues where He intends His good news to travel.

Takeaway: Creating new styles of worship can be a way to reach people who enjoy different expressions of worship. As an avid hiker and surfer, I have found that talking to God amid His creation can help me reflect upon His power, His goodness and His love as seen in what He created for us.

Caution: Don’t try to create a Wild Church unless God has given you a call, a compassion and a camaraderie with those who care for and appreciate natural environs.  While most everyone can appreciate nature, there are those who find their spiritual peace when in natural milieus.  I am one such person, finding peace when mountain biking or surfing alone, with God as my companion.  If you are like me and feel His presence strongly in such places, maybe He is calling you to reach out to others who feel the same way … and introduce them to the Savior behind a marvelous creation.