Well…it’s that time of year again for my family. We work hard all year trying to make extra money so the kids can do this…
That’s Kandace at the Fine Arts Summer Academy (FASA) in Nashville, TN. She got to sing “in the circle” last year on the Grand Ole Opry Stage…
That was a surreal moment for this old Dad! I’m proud of that young lady. Whether she gets to do that again this year or not remains to be seen, but either way… I’m delighted Kandace is my girl. She’s going to be a rising senior this year and I’m stunned once again at how quickly time flies.
She’s a pretty cool photographer too…
Yep…I’m proud of that young lady, indeed.
So, I’ll be heading out to FASA on Thursday and be back at the end of next week. I’m looking forward to letting my brain rest. I’m tired. Being a pastor/elder is a blessed, but taxing vocation. Even a race horse needs a day or two in the pasture with a bucket of oats.
As I think about church, check this out.
- “I just don’t think about it.” – Many church members have contact with the unchurched every week, if not every day. They go to school with them, work with them, live beside them – and sometimes live with them. What church folks don’t do, though, is see the unchurched as “sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36), as spiritual beings in need of redemption and a church family.
- “I’m afraid I’ll be rejected.” – Nobody likes to be turned down, especially after taking the risk to invite somebody to church. It’s just easier to avoid that possibility by not inviting anyone at all (interestingly, church members could tell us times when others said “no,” but few could tell us of times when they were rudely or unkindly rejected).
- “The music isn’t that good.” – Some may argue the worship wars are over, but the battles seem to be ongoing. Our teams continue to hear refrains like, “it’s too loud,” “it’s too boring,” “we sing it over and over again,” and “nobody knows the songs.” Church members who themselves don’t enjoy the music don’t readily invite others to join them.
- “The preaching isn’t strong.” – This response was seemingly the most painful one to admit. Church members who love their pastors do not want to hurt them, but they spoke honestly to our consulting teams. When the preaching is poor, invitations to the unchurched decrease.
- “We’ve got too many church problems right now.” – Church members don’t always know all the issues facing a congregation, but they frequently recognize when something “just isn’t right.” They see the attendance decreasing, or they hear of internal conflict. Simply stated, they do not invite their friends onto a battleground.
- “Our church is already too crowded.” – This issue is particularly an American one, as Americans protect our personal space. We don’t like being cramped, even in church. Moreover, we don’t want to have to search for a parking space before entering that already crowded building. One way to avoid more crowding is to stop inviting anyone.
- “Nobody ever challenged me to invite anyone.” – This reason is related to the first one on this list. Some church members never think about inviting others because no one has challenged them to do so. This response is especially tragic if many unchurched would respond affirmatively to an invitation.
- “I don’t know how to start the conversation.” – Simply inviting somebody to church would seem easy, but that’s not the case for many church members. In a culture where discussing religion or politics is almost forbidden, even long-term Christians struggle with initiating an invitation to church.
- “It’s the Spirit’s job—not mine—to bring people to church.” – To be fair, we have heard this response primarily from congregations seeking to avoid any “man-centered” approach to evangelism. In their zeal to keep their focus on God, they walk cautiously when considering their role in evangelism – including simply inviting others to church.
- “It’s too far for people to come.” – We live in a mobile culture that promotes church attendance sometimes quite far from where we live. Our teams have learned, however, that church members who drive a long distance are less willing to invite others to drive that same distance.
I must say I believe our folks are inviting people to church. We are the largest church in the county and yet, there are still so many people to reach. The fields are white unto harvest. Let’s go out into the highways and hedges and bring them in…
Hey…do you want to see the largest Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches for 2014? Here ya go:
|RANK||CHURCH NAME||CITY||STATE||WEEKLY WORSHIP ATTENDANCE|
|1||NewSpring Community Church||Anderson||SC||27,158|
|2||Second Baptist Church||Houston||TX||26,022|
|3||Saddleback Valley Community Church||Lake Forest||CA||22,055|
|4||Woodlands Church||The Woodlands||TX||18,524|
|5||Prestonwood Baptist Church||Plano||TX||15,289|
|6||Thomas Road Baptist Church||Lynchburg||VA||13,500|
|7||Potential Church||Fort Lauderdale||FL||12,382|
|9||Sagebrush Community Church||Albuquerque||NM||10,105|
|10||The Village Church||Flower Mound||TX||10,030|
|11||Lake Pointe Church||Rockwall||TX||9,250|
|13||Higher Dimension Church||Houston||TX||9,000|
|13||The Fountain of Praise||Houston||TX||9,000|
|16||Christ Fellowship Baptist Church||Palmetto Bay||FL||8,197|
|17||Shepherd of the Hills||Porter Ranch||CA||8,002|
|18||Shadow Mountain Community Church||El Cajon||CA||7,667|
|19||Bay Area Fellowship||Corpus Christi||TX||7,600|
|20||Voices of Faith Ministries||Stone Mountain||GA||6,900|
|21||Long Hollow Baptist Church||Hendersonville||TN||6,867|
|23||Elizabeth Baptist Church||Atlanta||GA||6,800|
|24||Church by the Glades||Coral Springs||FL||6,712|
|25||Bellevue Baptist Church||Cordova||TN||6,671|
Those are some large churches and I’m sure they all do different things well. I must say that it’s easy to throw stones at mega-churches like these…but, I try not to do that. People throw a lot of stones at our church for being too big. Well, let me ask you a question? What did the church at Jerusalem say when 3,000 were added in one day at Pentecost to the 120 they had (as listed in Acts 1:15). That was the first mega-church. You can’t control the size of a church, and if you could…just hang out a sign and call it “Country Club Baptist.” God will do and accomplish what He wills. So, I don’t worry about the size of MPBC, it will be what God wants it to be. We’re certainly not going to start turning people away saying, “Sorry…we’re too big…maxed out…” That would be ludicrous.
Finally…Katy wrote a wonderful blog post about the church and the life of the church. Take a look…
The Life of the Church
Whose church do you think MPBC is to these young adults?
Their parents? Nope. It’s their church. Why? Because they belong and have a stake in the inner workings in the church. Even if it’s (for now) washing dishes on Wednesday nights after the meal. That’s a picture of what Katy was talking about… :)