Imagine the AAA Widget Company. AAA Widget was started 80 years ago by an energetic team of entrepreneurs. They had a vision and they executed the vision for 50 years with excellence. The problem today is that they haven’t added a new customer in the last 30 years. The only way to add customers is to be a qualified salesperson and the only way to become one of those is four years of intense study. Salespeople spend 60-80 hours a week doing everything but getting new clients or selling widgets. The salespeople are aging and burned out. Each branch only has one salesperson and 100 other employees who are working hard to keep things how they are. How long are they going to make it?
If we just do the HOW without the WHY we won’t get anywhere. We can make all kinds of adjustments to the engine but if we don’t correctly diagnose the problem, we may be working on the transmission when what we have is an electrical problem.
Albert Einstein once said insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
If we keep going the way we are going we will keep going the way we are going. It is true for a road trip. It is true for church life. How many people were baptized in your church last year? Are you happy with that number? If you are, keep doing what you are doing. If not, consider something needs to change.
Something has to give. Often we get fearful of making changes because we know that requires change and we are typically a change averse people. We have in our DNA a suspicion of change and “innovation.” But we shouldn’t. Innovation is all around us, even on Sunday and that’s okay because not all change is bad. Church now isn’t exactly how it was 50 or 100 or 200 or 2000 years ago and that’s okay because things do change. Can we acknowledge that? If we can’t acknowledge that, there isn’t really much we can do. We will be stuck in 1950.
I said in the Stan Granberg podcast that there is a difference between going to a museum and going to a triathlon. The museum is all about preservation and protection. The triathlon is about activity, energy, motion and achieving the goal.
Here is the big point I want to make, a constructive point not a deconstructive one – Here is why we aren’t growing – we are aging out, we aren’t reaching our kids, and we aren’t reaching new people. Maybe, maybe we aren’t reaching new people because we care about other things more than we do the lost.
We aren’t reaching them because we don’t make disciples, even of our own children. We don’t make disciples because we opted for evangelism and coversion instead (evangelism – study the Bible through a set of propositions and closed ended questions & conversion – change of mind rather than change of life). Then we made the group of people qualified to evangelize limited (the professionals).
We can say it is lack of energy or poor worship or whatever else but if we aren’t even trying to reach new people how do we even know that?
So we limit our actions from training disciples and disciple makers to evangelism (mind-change rather than life-change) and we limit who can do those actions to the trained.
See the problem?
This is why we are in decline.
Too often we want to focus on the HOW without getting into the WHY. How do we fix it? Any fix that doesn’t consider the why will be superficial.
Why are we shrinking? Because we are aging out without growing on the other end.
This appears to be a math problem but it isn’t. It is a spiritual problem.
If you would like to know the exact numbers you can get some of them here