I like Social Media. I really do. Over the course of a day I can keep up with huge numbers of people in the time it would take to complete a single phone call. I also like the fact that people read my stuff and listen to my sermons while I am doing other things. In the course of a morning walk with my dad and breakfast before work, I can share the Gospel with hundreds of people around the world while I am eating a chicken biscuit. This is crazy cool.
I like to ask all kinds of questions on line because I am interested in what people think but I don’t ever respond to the questions of others when things start getting heated. Partially because I think such responses add far more heat than light but mainly because I often have nothing nice to say and my mom told me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. So, rather than respond individually to a hundred articles that I think are off base (some not even in the ballpark and others not even in a state containing a ballpark), I am going to toss them all into a blender, add some ice and pour out an ecclesiastical frappe.
Here are seven things pastors seem to hope are true (that just aren’t true):
- Churches turn around on their own Turn around’s happen when strategic leadership meets Holy Spirit power. It does not happen accidentally. Improved worship service quality, fervent prayer and a strategic plan to create growth engines are great places to start.
- Committees should set the vision of a congregation God calls leaders, not committees.
- Guilt, duty and obligation are effective motivation tools If they ever were effective, they are no longer.
- Believing the right stuff makes a church vital Lots of dying churches have perfectly orthodox beliefs and are for all the right things and against all the wrong things. You have to offer a lot more than that…
- Music style has nothing to do with reaching new people Seriously?
- High church liturgy, well dressed parishioners and organ music are about to make a major comeback Not going to happen no matter how badly we may wish it.
- It is the community’s fault your church is dying This is like a restaurant that is about to go out of business blaming the community for their lack of culinary sophistication. It really doesn’t matter how good you think your food is if no one wants to eat it.
Over the years we have made many changes at Christ Church. Some have been painful. Others have been risky but each has been implemented to better connect people to Jesus Christ. We believe the greatest risk a church can take in 2014 is hoping that 1958 is going to suddenly return. Norman Rockwell’s America is gone. You may have liked that America better too but it simply doesn’t matter. We have to reach this world for Jesus today.
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop, A Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church is the Senior Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois.