I am always a bit sceptical of studies or statistics like these because I don’t think they actually prove or decide anything, but they are useful as a catalyst for us to question our values and practices.
“There are millions of people in smaller congregations across the country who live with a feeling that they are failures because their church isn’t as big as the megaplex congregation down the street. This is sad and should not be the case.”
“A global survey conducted by Christian Schwartz found that smaller churches consistently scored higher than large churches in seven out of eight qualitative characteristics of a healthy church. A more recent study of churches in America, conducted by Ed Stetzer and Life Way Ministries, revealed that churches of two hundred or less are four times more likely to plant a daughter church than churches of one thousand or more. The research seems to even indicate that the pattern continues—the smaller the size of the church the more fertile they are in planting churches.”
Cole also raises some good questions concerning the wisest use of our financial resources here (admittedly in an American context)
Ed Stetzer’s, Lifeway Group just released some new research on church goers and sharing their faith. I would imagine that statistically the results are probably fairly similar in Cape Town.
- 75% of churchgoers say they feel comfortable in their ability to effectively communicate the gospel
- 80% of churchgoers agree they have a personal responsibility to share their faith
- 39% of churchgoers they have shared their faith one or more times over the last six months.
- Nearly half (48%) of church attendees have not invited an unchurched person to attend a church service or some other program at their church in the past six months
BIG QUESTION: Given these statistics does it not raise the question that perhaps we are doing something wrong when it comes to church? If the aim is to make disciples, surely we need to question if our church structures are actually achieving our goal?
I am rather taken up with the concept of story at the moment.
So I rather liked this…
I also enjoyed the use of art in telling the story.
Although I confess the pictures of Jesus with light emanating from his head always freak me out a bit…
The word missional – some love it, some hate it – has launched a thousand ministries, blogs and new church plants. It has also spawned and mutated into a thousand differing strains of various orthodoxy. And then for many I speak with – it is a word they may have heard but are not sure what to make of it. So what do I mean when I speak of “missional”? Might I suggest a 3-fold missional paradigm:
Missional in theology: this is the most critical aspect and the one which grounds and gives shape to all others. It is not primarily I who am missional, it is God. The Bible is the story of a missional God who acts and speaks in order to save and redeem a people for Himself – this act is foreshadowed in the nation of Israel, fulfilled in Christ, continued in the church and one day will be consummated when Jesus returns.
The Bible is the story of God redeeming and restoring a world and a people in rebellion against Him. To become a Christian is be caught up into this Story of God who is making all things new through the Cross of Christ. Being a Christian is intrinsically missional because the story of our God is a missional story of rebellion, rescue and renewal. Becoming a Christian is not simply a ticket to heaven when I die, it is more than that. It is now being caught up in the Story of God – a story that is all about God’s great plan of restoration and renewal.
Missional in identity: as a result we find our identity in being caught up in this story. We are exiles in this land, citizens of another Kingdom. We live here as representatives of the great King. We believe that in Christ’s birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension and sending of the Holy Spirit the Kingdom of God has broken into our world, now in part and secretly – one day in all it’s fullness and splendour (Mark 4)
We live now as those who are caught up in the life of that Kingdom. Our primary identity is no longer defined by our cultural markers of language, race, wealth or status. We live now as a member of God’s people – citizens of that great Kingdom (1 Peter 2:9-12). Living now as a sign, foretaste and instrument of that great Kingdom (1 Peter 2:12; 3:15-16). We have been redeemed in order to become a part of God’s new people, who are a witness (in word and life) to the glory of our great King. Our identity is an outflow of our theology and by virtue of who God is and what he is doing in the world, that identity is profoundly missional.
Missional in lifestyle: At it’s base definition missional means “thinking like missionaries”. We approach our lifestyle asking questions like: Where should I live? What job should I do? How much money should I earn? How much should I work? What should I do with my time? Who should I spend my time with? Where do I shop? Where do I have my hair cut? Where do I drink coffee? We approach our lifestyle not exclusively as consumers but as missionaries. As our identity is an outflow of our theology so our lifestyle is an expression of our identity.
I once heard Tim Chester outline 2 differing approaches to the lifestyle. Many Christian approach life like this 1) what lifestyle do I want? 2) what job do I need to support that lifestyle; 3) where do I live that is convenient for that lifestyle and that job; 4) where is a church ministry close to where I live?
Tim suggests rather we invert that process 1) what ministry is God calling me to? what church is doing that/will help me do that?; (note: your vocation may be your ministry – i.e. social worker, doctor, artist etc) 2) where must I live to enable me to do that ministry/ be a part of that community; 3) what job do I need to support this; 4) what lifestyle will that afford me.