DEMOGRAPHIC CHURCH & How a Church Changed to Match Its Neighborhood

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “In my book ‘Cure for the Common Church’ I advocate growing more ‘geographic churches,’ i.e. churches whose ethnicity changes to mirror the community’s ethnic changes. I’ve witnessed this at Kentwood Community Church (MI) lead by colleagues Wayne Schmidt and now Kyle Ray. Read this article by my friend Warren Bird for another helpful example of how to grow a ‘geographic church’. Then check out my book with Mark DeYmaz for even more examples.”

By Warren Bird, LeadNet, 8/2/15.

Patrick Kelley has a dream—what he calls his “delusion of grandeur” for churches—that one day, ethnic diversity will be the norm in American congregations, and that Senior Pastor Patrick Kelleyfollowers of Christ will erase what Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “most segregated hour in Christian America.”

“It’s been 50 years since Dr. King said that,” says Patrick, senior pastor of River Pointe Church in the Houston area. “It’s still just the beginning, but I think we’re living in this post-segregation age where people aren’t just looking for the black church, the white church, or the Hispanic church. I think they’re looking for an effective church where they meet Christ and get help for their spiritual needs.”

PHOTO AT LEFT: Patrick started asking if he is “too white” in an ad campaign for River Pointe Church — and it’s working. The church continues to grow more and become more diverse. See also this .

Patrick is seeing his dream come true at River Pointe, a multisite church of 5,000 people located in one of the most ethnically diverse counties (Fort Bend County, TX) in the United States.

But River Pointe is in the small minority of U.S. churches—only 8%—that are considered multiethnic (although the larger the attendance, the moremultiethnic it is likely to be, according to research by Michael Emerson). While most churches in America are comprised of 80% of people being from one race, only 68% of River Pointe is white, and the rest is a multiethnic mix.

“People have said that our county is what America will look like in 50 years—or less,” says Patrick. “The church is going to have to figure out how to reach a population that looks like that. And it’s not just predominantly white churches that need this transition.”

Diversity Wasn’t the Goal

Patrick certainly didn’t start out to build one of the most ethnically diverse churches in the country when he moved to Houston 18 years ago—and he wouldn’t suggest that any church make that its goal.

“This community is integrated–no black section, white section or Latino section,” he says. “Yet there was not a church that was multiracial, including ours. I didn’t come to start a racially diverse church, but that’s the neighborhood we need to reach. If we can’t do it here in this country, I’m just not sure it can be done.

“It’s not a goal of River Pointe to be diverse, but to help all people groups find a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. We have to figure out how to be all things to all men in order to win some.”

Patrick admits it had to start with him. It started innocently enough, with the Kelley children developing friendships with kids of varied ethnicities. “It’s funny how kids don’t see color, isn’t it? I looked at my own life and realized, all my friends are lily white,” Patrick says. “That had to change.”

Read more at …

INNOVATION & How Robert H Schuller Shaped Your Ministry #WarrenBird

By Warren Bird, LeadNet, 7/27/15.

SCHULLER4.jpgRobert H. Schuller, left, during the celebration service for the installation of his son Robert A. Schuller (with wife Donna next to him) as senior pastor at Crystal Cathedral in 2006.

“Possibility thinker” and pioneering pastor Robert H. Schuller died April 2, 2015, at age 88. Bold, creative, charismatic and controversial, his life and legacy drew immediate major coverage in both the mainstream press and evangelical stalwarts like Christianity Today.

What most people don’t realize is how much Schuller influenced today’s church, not just the megachurch movement, but churches of all sizes and styles. Few congregations today offer church services in drive-in theaters, where Schuller started, nor do many build architectural wonders like Schuller’s inspirational Crystal Cathedral, yet Schuller’s impact is significant and widespread. As Leadership journal pointed out back in 1997, Schuller was the first in the modern era to:

• Call his denominational church a “community church,” since he felt most seekers didn’t understand or relate to a denominational label.

• Rename a sermon as a “message.”

• Use a nontraditional setting for church worship—in his case, a drive-in theater, followed by a drive-in church.

• Conduct door-to-door research, asking, “Why don’t you go to church?” and “What do you want in a church?” (which Schuller describes in his book, Your Church Has Real Possibilities).

• Use marketing strategies to reach nonchurched people (he did so about the time George Barna was born).

• Train pastors in leadership (Institute for Successful Church Leadership, 1969, later named the Robert H. Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership).

• Televise a weekly church service, the “Hour of Power,” starting in 1970 and not missing a week for decades, a program which conducted many format experiments such as interviews with high-visibility guests…

Reed more at …

CHURCH ATTENDANCE & Quotes from “American Religion: Contemporary Trends” by Mark Chaves

(Compiled by Warren Bird from American Religion: Contemporary Trends by Mark Chaves, Princeton University Press.)

Relevant points:

– The U.S. ranks as one of the most pious and religious of any Western countries (p. 1-2)

– For most of the past 300 years, 35%-40% of the population has participated in church with some degree of regularity (p2)

– Despite what people SAY about weekly attendance, the true weekly rate is closer to 25% (p 45). If we use lesser frequencies, more than 60% of American adults have attended a service at a religious congregation in the last year (p 55).

– While it’s debatable whether the attendance is going down or remaining level, the data is unambiguous that overall church attendance is attendance not increasing (p 47). More specifically, religious service attendance declined in the several decades leading up to 1990 and seems to have been essentially stable thereafter (p 49).

– However, the percent who say they “never” attend church has risen steadily over the last 30 years as people shift from infrequent attendance to nonattendance (pp 46, 48).

– Finally, the Protestant portion of the U.S. population is in decline, due to the rise in “nones” (no religious preference), decline of mainline denominations, and rise in the percent of recent immigrants claiming a religion other than Christian (pp 17-24). The Protestant makeup was 62% in the early 1970s to just over 50% today (p 24). If that trend continues, we will soon be a Protestant-minority country.

Read more at …;product_redirect=1;Ntt=146850;item_code=WW;Ntk=keywords;event=ESRCP

ATTENDANCE & How to Count Attendance in Multisite or Multicampus models

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Warren Bird is a friend, but also one of the most accurate number-crunchers (i.e. tacticians) regarding church growth. Here he suggests how and when multiple campuses, multiple venues and/or multiple sites are counted as part of the same church.”

“…Multisite churches are counted as part of one congregation (1) if they are all under the same leader and governance, (2) adhere to the same doctrine, (3) identify together under a similar name or association, and (4) share finances at some level.”

Read more at … (you can also download here his very reliable list of the largest churches in the world).