Category Archives: Ministry

We are Approaching a Critical Moment in Churches of Christ

There is a confluence of factors steamrolling toward us that I think we are largely asleep to in Churches of Christ. What happens next is anyone’s guess but I think we can plan and adjust in a way that makes sense.

What are those factors and what kind of change is it leading toward?

Upcoming ministers – The last time I checked, enrollment in our Christians colleges for typical ministry/Bible degrees is down. Recruitment has become difficult for some of our Church of Christ Universities. There are fewer people wanting to do traditional ministry than in years past. It also seems to me that college age people are more drawn to non-profits and missions than they are to congregational ministry. Maybe they smell something those of us entrenched in our systems have a hard time smelling? More on that in a moment.

Change in culture and values – What are our young people smelling that we may not be smelling? Some say it is just lack of commitment. I don’t believe that. This is a zealous bunch. They have grown up in church and haven’t liked what they have seen on the leadership level. They have seen unhealthiness all around: poor leadership styles, poor minister-elder-congregation relationships, etc.

They also don’t like how the money is spent. The typical church spends most of its budget on staff and facility. The rest goes to various ministries. It seems upside down.

Before we blame one generation (which we shouldn’t do anyway) their parents weren’t big on encouraging them to go into full time ministry. Their parents were complaining about the worship service and the preaching on the way home while encouraging their kids to be doctors and lawyers.

The state of our churches – Churches are mostly in decline even as the population around them grows. That also means budgets are flat to down as people give more per person to make up the difference or can’t give enough to make up the difference so the contribution is dropping in many churches on an annual basis.

A Challenging combination – The weaknesses of our flawed paradigm have caught up with us and we are about to reach the point of no return to the way things were. That isn’t bad. That can actually be good. This all leads us to a crunch point where churches cannot afford to hire someone because they are shrinking and the pool of people to hire is also shrinking. The demands of needing a professional degree has also increased the competitive cost of people who can fill these positions, which makes the crunch to afford someone even harder on congregations

What can we do to address this while we still have the resources to do something about it?

I don’t claim to have an answer for this. Here is what I would like to see us do. Go back to the priesthood of all believers by expecting everyone to ministry. That means we need to spend less time educating on random pet classes and sermons and devote time to equipping our members to be ministers. We also need to cut down on overhead. This could be a move to house churches. This could be merging churches. This could mean downsizing facilities. More of our money needs to be going to help people not brick and mortar.

I would like to develop a multi-year curriculum that would train our volunteers to take up much of the ministry of the church. This could help the congregation wean off their reliance on professional ministers and take on the work of ministry themselves. Talk about a first century move! This would take some time to develop but I think if we start soon we can meet this need before things get even more challenging. We could do apprentice work and encourage more people to get graduate level theological training as that will still be needed.

I am just dreaming here a bit and sharing something that has been on my heart for a while but may be time to start working on soon. I would love to hear your input, from your experience!

What Keeps You Going?

My answer to this question has been developing and changing my whole life. When I was a kid, the excitement of learning kept me going. I was and still am to a large degree inquisitive. There was always more to learn and that drove me to seek out answers to all kinds of questions. InContinue Reading

The ISTJ Minister – Assessing How Our Personality Affects Our Ministry

I love the Myers-Briggs type inventory. It seems like the Enneagram is all the rage these days but I still haven’t moved on from the good ole trusty MBTI. This is partly because of the insights it brings out and it is also due to the fact that it was developed at one of myContinue Reading

“Those Were the Days” – What Does the Future Hold for Churches of Christ?

Nostalgia is the first step in church life toward congregational death. “Nostalgia is an exile mentality. Fulfillment is contingent on the ‘once upon a time’ remembrances of yesterday. ‘I remember when’ stories become commonplace in organizations during nostalgic days. The golden days are remembered fondly. From an organizational perspective, nostalgia signals the beginning of aContinue Reading

Do What You Can…Some is Better Than None

So many things go undone because we don’t do what we can. When we think we can’t or just don’t want to take the whole thing on by ourselves we freeze up and don’t do the little bit we actually can do. A bunch of little “tries” add up to a much greater sum thanContinue Reading

Crossing i’s and dotting t’s

Meticulous but misdirected. This happens far too often in leadership. We get myopically focused on the wrong things and what appears to be a concern for doing it right misses the point entirely. If you are determined to dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s you better make sure you aren’t getting itContinue Reading

Identify The Hats Only You Can Wear

There are too many distractions in life. It is so easy to shift our time and energy to things that we don’t need to be engaged in. Often the things that get neglected are the things that only we can do. One of the things I ask myself from time to time when considering tacklingContinue Reading

Has Studying Replaced Doing? Our Evangelism Problem

I have a shelf full of books on evangelism but that doesn’t make me evangelistic. We have a problem if we have read more books on evangelism than the number of people we have studied with. I am convinced that you don’t have to be an expert or know the latest (fill in the blank)Continue Reading

Your Heart is Only Functioning at 50% – Bad news or Good news?

That is bad news in a doctor’s appointment but for many churches, if half the members were involved in ministry it would be a miracle. The church is a body and bodies are made to work. They are made to move and function in an integrated and self-dependent way. Bodies are autonomous to others bodesContinue Reading

Wineskins Church of Christ Ministers’ Health Survey Results

Here are all four posts summarizing the findings from the Church of Christ Ministers’ Health Survey. These results look at physical, mental, ministerial, relational and spiritual health of our ministers. Please pass this along to ministers and elders you know. The results had some bright spots but also some places we need to shore up.Continue Reading

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