Ten Growth Principles for Healthy Churches, Part 4

In my previous blog I listed 10 so let’s continue to examine two more with number five and six.

5. Healthy Churches reach more than one or two generations. Many of these churches are reaching four or even five! This means they know how to minister to all ages, in particular families with children and students. They also involve and keep senior adults.

Preachers today have a unique challenge. They preach to multiple generations. People are living longer therefore we have three, four and sometimes five generations at church at the same time. Preaching that connects to all these different age groups is a Sunday by Sunday effort.

Healthy churches desire to reach all kinds of people and all age groups. Our senior adults have enormous wisdom to share with the younger ones. Don’t over categorize any age group from all the demographic/psycho babble studies.

God can and will use all ages to grow His church!

As a pastor I had a young man in my church who had a Christian rock band who wanted to play on Sunday morning. We were fairly contemporary in our music but not on the edge. I decided to let them lead the music on a Sunday morning and they were on the edge and I almost fell over the edge. As I sat there before getting up to preach I thought, “I am going to get nailed on this by some senior adults.”

They finished singing and I preached. That morning two senior adult ladies, one helping the other down the aisle joined! When I asked them why they joined on that Sunday, one replied, “We want to be a part of a church that is reaching young people!” Don’t short sell our senior adults but cultivate their skill, heart, and spiritual gifts.

6. Healthy Churches take risks to reach people. They have no problem conducting funerals and burying something (idea, method, ministry) if it dies! Many churches do not try anything new because they are afraid of failure or are totally against change. Accept the fact that some new ideas will flounder and some will be very effective. It is ok to say, “Church, we are going to try this new idea and evaluate it in four months.” You never know until you try.

Rick Warren says, “if the horse is dead, dismount.” Many churches tend to ride dead horses into the sunset. It is very hard to kill a long standing program or method in a church. However, if something is not fulfilling its purpose then evaluation and maybe termination is needed.

Un-healthy churches are not good at stopping something that is not working therefore they never start anything new because of all the energies spent keeping the dead horses saddled as they push them along in the sand.

Here are three ideas for starting something new…

Do a test run. Try out a new schedule for three months and evaluate its effectiveness, use a different method of conducting your outreach for a designated period of time and evaluate. As they say, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” but if it is, do something new! If it fails you have just learned how not to do it so you are ready to try something else.

Two…Think seasonally not yearly. The summer is different from the Fall in terms of people’s schedule and this should be reflected in our programming and ministries. January is a different month than August in terms of school and schedules so know the flow of your members discretionary time. Sometimes different ministries need a short break in order to be refreshed and be able to start again with enthusiasm.

Ask your people for their ideas! Some of the best new ideas come from asking our members about some of their creative thoughts. This also helps with ownership for starting new things. I have pulled together leaders in what I called a “think tank” to glean new ideas.

Keep the Son in Your Eyes,

Mike James

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