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The Post-Recession Ecclesiastical Economy (and what to do about it)

September 30, 2014

Four Ways to Make Kingdom Impact (Right Now!)

In post-recession America, a new trend has developed: September has turned into the fourth month of summer.  I am not sure of the reason, but for the vast majority of my ministry years, the Sunday after Labor Day was when attendance and offerings suddenly bounced back (in Super Ball fashion) from the summer.  On that Sunday, churches would suddenly get their second wind for the year and move in strength and courage toward Christmas.  That is how it used to be…  These days, there are four months of summer and attendance and offerings don’t even begin to rebound until October.  The end result is that instead of churches doing bold “Back to School” evangelism and planning great Christmas services, they are on spending freezes and trying to dig out of a financial hole.

Regardless of where you attend church, here are four things you can do right now to make Kingdom impact:

  1. Commit to being present for worship each week Declining worship trends don’t necessarily mean fewer people are attending church. They also indicate that people who do attend church, are attending less often.  Making a priority of weekly worship attendance has no down side and with churches today offering so many options as to worship days and times, it has never been easier.
  2. Invite, invite, invite I figure that about one in twenty invitations to worship results in an actual visit, so we have to think volume here. If every member of a 100 member church invites one new person to church each week, a total of 5,200 invitations would be extended each year.  Even with a 5% response rate, you will still have 260 people visit your church each year (not including drive-byes and drip in’s)!   Gospel math has exponential results!
  3. Make a substantial financial gift By making a substantial gift in October, you will enable your church to catch up from the new four month summer, set the next year’s ministry budget from the perspective of vision (and not of pressure) and put your back to school and Christmas ministries back on the map. A substantial gift is always appreciated but October gifts are incredibly strategic!
  4. Begin to pray daily for your church Not everyone can make a substantial financial gift but everyone can pray! Put the name of your church, your pastors and key staff on your refrigerator with a bright sticky note and say a prayer each time you see it.  Teach your children and grandchildren to remember your church in their prayers and set aside a special time to pray for your church each day.  Prayer is a game changer!

These are four practical ways to position your church for a harvest of souls this fall and in the years to come.  I assure you that they will go a long way in helping us do effective ministry in this post-recession ecclesiastical economy!

-Rev. Shane L. Bishop, A Distinguished Evangelist in the United Methodist Church, is the Senior Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois

Easter Congregation Shot

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