December 15, 2017

Riffs/CEC: The Antidote to the Coming Evangelical Collapse- Church Planting

UPDATE: What matters more? Being recognized by the ECUSA or the Anglican Church in Africa?

The Falls Church has a new daughter congregation and is starting more: A story of church planting in the new Anglican communion in Virginia.

This story of a commitment to church planting among the newly freed Anglicans in Virginia makes me very, very happy. This is the antidote to the coming evangelical collapse: church planting and a lot of it.

Listen my confessional, Reformed, Lutheran, Anglican, etc brothers and sister: this is what must happen. Church planting that plants churches that plant churches. It will revitalize your church. It will put your priorities right. It will make the process of discipleship and Christian education come into sharp focus. It will keep your leaders from becoming ecclesiastical vegetables. It’s a very good thing. Do it.

What really excites me here is how this is the influence of Keller’s work at Redeemer Church on the newly liberated Anglicans. Do you have any idea what it is like to talk church planting in many mainline and older denominations? I’ve observed it up close and I’ve heard it over and over. When the “we own it all” denominations are given a choice to plant a new church or prop up an older one, they seem to have almost no idea why it is the better thing to act like Christians and plant the new church.

The diversion of leaders, resources and energy to existing churches is only wise when those churches are committed to sending and sustaining. If they want to “soak” up those resources, it’s an installment on a doomed future.

New churches will attract new people. Young churches will have young people. Future oriented churches will have a future. Missional churches will create missional leaders. This isn’t advanced math.

There’s a theory behind church planting. It rejects the idea of trying to fill up existing churches before building new ones. Old churches are often “closed clubs” that don’t attract new residents or young people or “the lost,” says the Rev. Johnny Kurcina, an assistant pastor of The Falls Church. Besides, population increase far exceeds church growth in America. This is especially true in cities.

As an Episcopal Church rector, Mr. Yates began thinking about planting churches 20 years ago. But the bishop of Virginia “wouldn’t allow us to discuss it,” he says, fearing that new Episcopal churches would lure people from older ones. In 2001, he was allowed to plant a church, but only a county away in a distant exurb.

So God bless the Falls Church. May they plant 20 and every plant start 20 more. How great this is for Anglicanism. Ask the AMiA!

Comments

  1. I’ve never understood the thinking behind planting new churches. It just seems like getting a new couch just because the old one is old. Implied in that is when the new one grows old, we’ll discard that as well. Newness is the “hook” that “makes things happen”.

    I wonder if one could make the jump from whatever drives newness as goodness to the general societal marginalization of our elders.

  2. Bob:

    “Implied”…..”discard…”

    Uh….the New Testament church is a church planting movement. It crosses cultures and plants churches. Big churches start little ones. Old starts new. It’s how we reach the future and the nations.

    Or maybe it’s a bad idea 🙂

    peace

    ms

  3. New churches will attract new people. Young churches will have young people. Future oriented churches will have a future. Missional churches will create missional leaders. This isn’t advanced math.

    That’s so very true. The devastating flip side is when churches stop pushing the gospel out, they inevitably end up back on their heels fighting defensively and only looking inward. Stagnation and the slow decline soon follow. The Anglican church I’m at tried to plant another church several years ago but it never got off the ground (in part due to diocesan resistance to it) and the whole church feels like it’s hit pause since then. (Stagnation, but not decline yet.) A small cadre of us youngins are currently preparing to help start up new small groups within the church. I hope to see that grow into full on church planting within the next few years. I see a lot of opportunities in the neighbourhoods around us.

    Bob: This isn’t a zero-sum game. Planting new churches doesn’t swallow the old ones who do it; it energizes those old churches.

  4. ProdigalSarah says:

    Old churches are often “closed clubs”

    A pretty good description of the church I currently attend.

  5. The Guy from Knoxville says:

    Michael,

    Along these lines of church planting – you mentioned in a previous post or two that you would go AMiA if there was any ministry opportunity. Can you expound on that? Ever thought (you probably have)of starting (planting) one in your area or another area?

    Just a thought – I’ve emailed the AMiA pastor in Knoxville about starting or at least checking into starting one in the east Knox county area where I live. Seems all the new churches, of any kind, start in the west and northwest areas of Knoxville where there is a higher education level of the population, highest population numbers and where most of the money, old and new, is currently. I know very well what that sounds like but, it is a fact of life here.

    Anyway, back to the question – what about pursuing that in your area or another? Again, just a thought.

    The Guy from Knoxville

  6. AmiA in Clay Co? Not a possibility.

    There is an AMiA mission in Corbin. A split off the ECUSA church there. Small collection of families. I can’t see it ever being a church. My AMiA friends tell me that there is some thought of a church planting missionary to work with that group and some potential in Williamsburg, Ky, etc.

    I could only go AMiA if I left my current position or the job altogether.

    peace

    ms

  7. The Guy from Knoxville says:

    My first thought was what is the problem? But then, I’m slow sometimes, I know it’s the area
    and the people amongst other things. Knoxville, while considered Appalachian, has some obvious things going for it and it’s, for lack of a better way to put it, a different kind or face of appalichia but appalichia never-the-less.

    We only have one AMiA church in town currently and one of the first places we visit after the time is done at our current church will be Apostles Anglican – something I’m looking forward to.

  8. My area of SE Ky is a church wipeout. Nothing left but declining Baptist churches, the dying remnants of a few mainlines and various holiness/pentecostal groups. Some of them are doing well. In Appalachian cities there are sometimes a regular menu of churches, but it’s still ECUSA, UMC, PCUSA. The remnants of mission work back when they did it.

  9. Planting churches is like having children — it is how you insure the species continues to lives. You will find very few, THRIVING and GROWING churches that are very old (thriving and growing is different than large). In fact, the fast growing church in America (Church of the Highlands, Atlanta) is only eight years old, and they are part of a church planting organization (Association of Related Churches).

    To plant a successful church one must be passionate about seeing people saved and making disciples, who will in turn be passionate about seeing people saved and making disciples, etc. Programs and ideas about “getting people to come to our church” is not the same as making disciples, especially if the existing church has no passion for reaching out beyond their four walls. Without a passion for reaching the lost and planting new works, an existing church can often find itself simply making disciples who are “twice as much a son of hell” (Matt. 23:15) as they are.

  10. Please don’t forget the influence of the Sidney Anglicans on the continuing Anglican movements around the globe.

    And in fact a very good introduction to, and explanation of, the rationale for church planting is this (free) presentation by Philip Jensen (Dean of Sidney Cathedral):

    http://www.proctrustmedia.co.uk/shop/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=583

    He points out that churches tend to age together, and without the some means of shaking things up they can become closed clubs over time, he also points out how in the long term it’s better to invest in creating multiple congregations with multiple gospel focused pastors, rather than building ‘big barn’ style church buildings.

  11. There’s a theory behind church planting. It rejects the idea of trying to fill up existing churches before building new ones. Old churches are often “closed clubs” that don’t attract new residents or young people or “the lost,”

    I’ve experienced the truth of this statement personally as a Ruling Elder of a dying Philadelphia congregation back in 2004. We attempted to revive and revitalize, but to no avail. When the congregation eventually dwindled to about 7 people we knew it was all over. A church planting congregation is now thriving at our old site. Hmmm…’nuff said.

    In His Service,
    J.R. Polk

  12. As one of them young church plant starting/going types. It’s a tough road to ho, it’s not easy, and it’s very very messy. We have had to gracefully let go some families that just don’t ‘get it’ that as agents of grace it means that we let the Holy Spirit do his job, and we do ours. The only reason a bouncer of a strip club and his girlfriend can feel comfortable even exploring faith, let alone entering a a ‘church’ service is because we litteraly kill ourselves with our hospitality. There is a false assumption out there that our soteriology demands we rush people through a sinners prayer. Give ’em some room to breath people and let the Spirit work, I promise it will have a longer lasting effect.

    I say all that because most established churches have this false idea that if you just educate the established Christians enough that evangelism will magically happen. Guess what? It doesn’t! If you give an overweight man an extra steak, he isn’t sharing it.

  13. Navy Chaplain says:

    David Brush, I appreciate your sentiment. May God bless you in all you do and continue to fill you with his grace.

  14. “Uh….the New Testament church is a church planting movement. It crosses cultures and plants churches. Big churches start little ones. New start old. It’s how we reach the future and the nations.”

    New start old? Is that phrasing intentional? If it is, I’m intrigued.

    If you meant, old start new. I’m not.

  15. You’re not. Corrected.

  16. I attend a large, dynamic, happy church of about 3,000 regular attendees. (I won’t go into the doctrinal distinctives except to say we’re aligned with the “Together for the Gospel” crowd.) My six children have spent the last fifteen years here and have LOVED it. Despite their DELIGHT in the church they grew up in, almost all of them are eager to get involved in a church plant.

    I’d say that’s more proof that there is something very positive about church planting. None of my young adult children (ages 18-28) are unhappy with where we are. But all of them have that “pioneering spirit” that makes them long to follow Paul and go where the Gospel hasn’t been preached…

  17. Okay.

  18. Two questions for everyone?

    AS far as AMiA goes, a group I have looked at, been inspired by, and am sincerely praying for. What is the process, if any, for a minister moving his credentials? For example, I am a baptist minister. Well educated in a field with a Masters degree, but no theology degree. I consider myself to be just as versed and well trained as most seminary trained ministers my age I have met, but would my abilities to serve be limited if a move was made to the AMiA b/c of my lack of formal theological training? I can’t afford to go back to school again? Do they have training that is non-traditional?

    Second, I am considering a mission start that will hopefully turn into a full church plant. The felt need is that there is not a single theologically conservative baptist church in our area that worships with a liturgical format. I know several folks who have expressed a desire for such and feel that it could be a great way to reach both believers and non-believers alike? Any opinions?

    Also, if you want to see what I have in mind, and if you dont’ mind me directing folks there Imonk, you can see the order of service I designed at my blogspot. I would love to get some feedback and I didn’t want to take up space here.

    Thanks,
    Austin

  19. Interesting what you are saying here and what is happening in the AMIA. Murphy just released that the AMIA has averaged a new plant every three weeks. Not really braggable in my view, but it’s at least something considering that AMIA has only 140ish churches.

    I have a friend who is planting an AMIA church in Boise, and he has been very supported in the mission. Hopefully all happens like you suggest instead of replicating what is already happening in the larger mainline churches.

  20. Austin,

    I don’t know the answer. Most AMiA pastors would know the answer. Go to the AMiA site and find one near you.

    peace

    ms

  21. Too bad. It was a beautiful statement. New start old. New life plants a very old story where it has been long forgotten.

  22. Michael,

    Interesting article, but at least in my experience, new churches don’t bring in nonbelievers and increase the number of Christians in any substantial number. And quite often those “converts” are simply young adults who are reconnecting with the faith their parents taught them, or they are Christians trading one understanding of the faith for another.

    Time and again what I’ve seen happen is that these church plants either attract Christians who want to get in on the ground floor of the New Thing that God is going; or they attract Christians who have been shot, wounded, and left for dead by other churches they have attended.

    None of those is necessarily a bad group to bring into a church plant, but to use Jesus’ metaphor of harvest fields, it looks more like redistributing the crops that already have been harvested than it does gathering up the crops that are ripe and ready to be picked.

  23. I understand the concept of planting new churches where there is a shortage. But here in North Georgia, there is certainly no shortage of SBC churches, and some of them are prospering. Unfortunately, my church is one of the small dying ones. We don’t want to die, but we can’t find the antidote to whatever is poisoning us. We have a young, dynamic pastor. We have Wednesday night programs for area unchurched children. We have some variety of music styles in worship. We’ve welcomed folks from a variety of ethnic and socioeconomic groups. But we’re still dying.

    Maybe what we should do is “go out of business,” change our name from Pleasant Grove B.C. to Friendly Feelings Family Center, and replant ourselves!

  24. And quite often those “converts” are simply young adults who are reconnecting with the faith their parents taught them.

    The alternative is usually that they never reconnect with faith.

  25. Lane,

    I too live in North Georgia and the area is heavily covered with not only SBC but Independant Baptist of all stripes.

    But I still think that church starts are a good alternative. I’ve seen too many established churches that regardless of what they do they can only maintain growth for a while then they relapse.

    Older churches just sometimes seem to have a reputation or an ingrained culture that they can not move past.

    Austin

  26. In one large SBC church that I know, a business meeting featured the church treasurer- a lifetime old line member- saying “You new people think this is your church. Well it’s not. It’s ours.”

    He said what a lot of people think but wouldn’t say. That’s why you need new churches.

  27. Been involved in a couple of attempted resurrections of older dying congregations, and have friends involved in several more. I have never seen it work. I’ve read of some that have worked, but they were so severely revamped and re-tooled, that they were in effect new church plants in the same location. They also involved at some point either intentionally or unintntionally running off or severly marginalizing the original members of the congregation.

    Planting new churches seems to be an easier and often more honorable endeavor.

  28. Church starts in rural areas are very very hard.

    As you guys know, patterns in rural areas follow “tribal” lines, i.e. family loyalty.

    New churches that succeed in rural area have to do two things:

    1) Take major risks/make major investments to reach younger people who aren’t in church but want to be.

    2) Find ways to raise their profile in a unique positive way the community.

  29. For what it’s worth, knowing full well the blessed Fr Matthews of the Liturgical Gangsta’s is AMiA, as an evangelical member of TEC in a notoriously liberal diocese, I must admit that I sympathize completely with the desire to “leave.” And I would never complain when and where the Gospel is preached.

    But 40+ continuing Anglican groups are proof that eventually 40 more will pop up. If it’s not women’s ordination, it’s the 1662 BCP, or it’s anglo-catholic vs reformed vs arminian evangelical etc…

    We need revivals of churches already extant, and not schism.

    All that to say, absolute best of luck to any and all church planter, continuing Anglicans most heartily included!

  30. From experience I learned there are too many additives in an existing establishment. The finest doctrine can become distasteful if cultural values are added and preached as God’s word. It seems these extra biblical additions are unavoidable,as well meaning people make the gospel into a religion so perhaps the best way to house clean is to get a new house.
    I started out trying to lead a church in revival, and watched it die, a new work springing from the old roots vibrant and alive! There are no internal power struggles, no accepted way things must be done, no voices saying, “we can’t do that”.
    I know it will not last forever, but maybe it shouldn’t. Death is part of life in God’s plan. Putting old structures on life support seems futile. We never needed funding to get started, but I am mystified why the SBC does not put their money where their press is and fund church plants in a serious way. 4 or 5 hundred a month is not funding, it is teasing.

  31. I just came across your blog because of the very well stated and widely distributed “Coming Evangelical Collapse” blogs. But I’m quite surprised to read that church planing is the “antidote.” I agree with much you write about the need for church plants, but in my view they are hardly the solution. How do church plants, over the long term, actually resolve the concerns you raise about evangelicalism?

    I think, at best, some church plants may better adapt to new church paradigms the coming collapse will necessitate. Some church plant leaders will more comfortably adapt, but many church plants simply bring younger versions of the same counter-productive institutional behaviors established churches suffer from. This is why most church plants close after only a few years. In many, perhaps most cases, it just takes a very few years for those behaviors to rule the day, then they become closed clubs too. The reason so many people (even some posted here) can’t figure out why their church is dying is because of these behaviors that continue on and are embedded in church culture.

    This is not to say I am opposed to church plants, I am supportive. Its only to say they are a long way from the answer. When churches focus their concerns on the things Jesus is concerned about, they will adapt to any cultural changes. The problem is so many Christians don’t have a clue what Jesus is concerned about.

    Enjoying the blog…

    SCF

  32. Michael, the blog is great, and I also enjoy the podcast. I thought the original post was great and why are people afraid of Christine Wicker? If there ever was a case of constructive criticism, it is her work. I understand all the criticism you are receiving, but what I wonder is this: Do people in the evangelical camp think things are going to keep going (until the end?) the way they are? Don’t they see that change is inevitable? Of course, change to their present way of doing things is seen by them as judgment or failure, not just the natural course of things.

  33. I too am new to your blog, having found it after reading your excellent article in the Christian Science Monitor.

    My thoughts on church planting are mixed. Coming from the Pacific Northwest there is certainly a great need for more churches, especially those with a real desire to reach people. I agree many of the positive attributes you bring out regarding new churches. However I fear that we are playing into, if not adding to, the consumerist, gotta-have-it-my-way mentality of American pop-Christianity. Each generation feels it MUST have “church” in a way that tickles them. The baby boomers hated the way their parents did church, so they started there own churches. People my age (I’m 33) want something a little different, so we plant our own churches. I have several friends planting churches and without fail they are made up of people the SAME age as them. Is every church plant doomed to “run it’s course” with a particular age segment and then close it’s doors. This can’t be what Jesus had in mind. \

  34. Church plants are not an automatic cure, but most of the things we need to do are done easier in church plants:

    -Get the local church focused on missions, evangelism and Kingdom work
    -Focus leaders on work that matters
    -maximize financial stewardship
    -Rethink the mission and the methods
    -Get serious about discipleship
    -Involve young people in the church, not in a special program

    As to the criticism that new churches can cater to consumerism, you’re right. Of course, existing churches are the entrenched purveyors of consumerism, etc. So take your pick. Get existing churches to turn around or get newer churches to do the right thing.

    I hate to sound negative, but if an existing church isn’t going to support cross cultural ministry and church planting, then they either need to be a strong kingdom work where they are or make plans to give their building to a new church doing the work.

    I know many of you are holding out in traditional churches and doing your best. So have I, and I don’t discount it, but I’ve been hearing “church renewal and revitalization” for almost 40 years. It doesn’t happen. We need church plants and planting churches.

    peace
    ms

  35. imonk – “it doesn’t happen?”

    Tell that to the Church of England and charismatic Catholics!

  36. Richard Hershberger says:

    “[N]ewly liberated Anglicans”? They were being held prisoner before? Of course not. They were members of the Episcopal Church, then chose to leave it. It’s a free country, and they could have done this any time. They could have even joined existing bodies which had earlier split from the Episcopal Church. The Reformed Episcopal Church has been around since 1873.

    The ugly subtext here is that the real issue is filthy lucre. Who gets real estate? In the Episcopal Church title to the real property of individual parishes is held by the diocese. If some members choose to leave, that is their business. If they take the key to the door with them, that is a different matter. But that key was never used to keep them in. Talk of their being “freed” is risible.

  37. “Freed” was a hyperbolic witticism. I should know better than to strain the interpretative skills of the readership.

    Having seen the same policy at the PCUSA, I can only say there’s no way I could find a policy more deplorable, but I understand the thinking of the denominations involved.

    What can one say about a situation where a church like Falls Church and a minister like Yates has to leave the denomination to preserve their integrity? I’m regularly speechless at what the TEC has managed to pull off at precisely the time that so many evangelicals would look at her with interest.

  38. On that iMonk, we agree.

  39. Bejkuy,

    It seems like you have a problem with the idea of changing “the way we do things” when the make up of the church changes, which is one of the very reasons that churches are dying.

    The is certainly consumerism going on with church shoppers, but I have seen way more of what amounts to little more than preferences being given as the only option/cookie cutter style church. The reason people often leave is because the church was never theirs. It belonged to a select few who will offer you to embrace their way of doing things as the only way or show you the door.

    What makes a church vibrant is when people see themselves as the church and feel ownership of the goings ons that often get confused with being the church.

    At least with some church plants, there is a chance that you matter enough to be considered, listened to, and such.

  40. Imonk and George C,

    I agree with much of what you have to say. I am in favor of church planting. I believe it’s a wonderful thing and I agree with imonk in the list of things that it can accomplish. However, I troubled with the target audience approach. Are you ok with a church with no meaningful age diversity?
    As a youth minister I see this over and over again. The youth pastor (or youth) complain about the service (music, preaching style, people, whatever.), so a special service is planned JUST for them, during the time when the “old folks” are doing there thing. The teenager does this for a few years and builds virtually zero meaningful relationships with people of different ages within the church. He is taught (not intentionally) that it’s all about him. Everything about his church experience is catered to him and people just like him. He graduates from high school, and unless the college ministy captures his whims he has lost all connection to the church that raised him. He has no mature adults (except those he knew in the youth group) to speak into his life. He is left to wander. This story has been repeated a million times. Hopefully some upstart will reel him in.

    This seems to be the mindset that rules the day- and I don’t like it.

    I am dreadfully aware that we’re not getting the job done, but am not so sure that a massive church planting effort will stem the tide.

  41. The Youth specialty service and the new church plant are totally different matters. “Target audience:” If I used that term let me retract it. Every church plant has a target- people. Some church plants do intentionally plan to speak the cultural language of a more defined group. That can be missiologically acceptable if its not carried to unBiblical lengths. (No one would plant the same church in Appalachia they would in Manhattan.) But just “giving the kids what they want” is the opposite of missional thinking. It’s just more bad evangelical youth ministry.

    BTW- most targeted church grow up and become safely multi-generational. It’s only a big deal if it’s a slavish adherence. And multiple services for multiple groups is a problem and ought to be avoided unless there’s clear reason for it. Multiple services in multiple venues using multiple gifts can be good stewardship.

  42. Imonk,

    I’d love to hear how you would go about getting young folks involved in church other than in a youth group. I know how it is done in the rural revivlalistic churches I grew up in. It was nothing to hear young folks testify, lead singing, etc. etc.

    But what would that look like in a more liturgical setting? Readers ?

    Thanks,
    Austin

  43. I think I disagree on this. Growth should come from within. What is wrong with many churches is they are focused on attracting new members and drawing attention to themselves, which is what church plants necessarily have to do, that they ignore the needs of their members.

    Churches should refocus on delivering the Word (and Sacrament) to their members in a scriptural fashion. Focus on the members, and the members should want to (but maybe won’t, everybody sins) bring in new folks. If they outgrow their building, a daughter church is formed, fully functioning. In an area where scripturally faithful churches are needed, church plant away. But focus on the members. In Acts, churches met behind closed doors and kept nonmembers out. Members did not go out in the community and draw attention to themselves in an irreverent fashion or advertise circus-like worship to get attention. When I think church plant, that’s what I think of.

  44. brother imonk,

    “BTW- most targeted church grow up and become safely multi-generational.”

    That’s not what I’m seeing out here on in the Northwest. Churches grow- older. Few and I mean few churches are able to retain their children. The trend I see is the children of the pioneering generation thinking they need to reinvent the wheel and start something new or drop out completely. I used the illustration from youth ministry to illustrate what I see happening in the larger church setting (at least here in the Portland/Seattle area. Hardly anyone I know attends the same church they grew up in, even when they live close to it. You’ve got to ask the question, why? I’m not blaming the young people for this. I’m blaming the culture of the church-more influenced by culture than I care to admit.
    (don’t trust anyone over 30?)
    Seriously-when did we start to see MASSIVE splits in the generations within the church? Didn’t I here something in college about the church being 30 years behind the culture?

    Maybe I’m too idealistic, but my desire is that (if we live in the same town-which we don’t) I would worship with my parents, grandparents, and children.

    Mars Hill (Seattle) opened up a sattelite campus in Olympia (about 1 1/2 hour drive from their main campus) where they rent a local movie theate and and show the messages that Mark preaches. They had about 300 people on their breakout day. The place was full, and I mean full of people from our community who “were” connected to another church. Mars Hill is the new big thing. Now I love Mark Driscoll and seriously appreciate their ministry. I am proud to call him a brother in Christ and have attented his church a few times when I could get away.

    Nevertheless let me make a prediction. In about 20 years, thechildren of Mars Hill will abandon their churh and start or join something new and fresh and leave Mars Hill to be the next has been church that begins it’s slow descent into oblivion. Unless we confront the greater issue of church culture that has to reinvent the wheel every 10 years to be relevant-we will replay this sad song over and over again.

    Footnote- I am not trying to bash church planting. I love it- I personally support 2 new start ups. I just felt I needed to bring out a few points.

  45. Ky Boy but not now says:

    “In one large SBC church that I know, a business meeting featured the church treasurer- a lifetime old line member- saying “You new people think this is your church. Well it’s not. It’s ours.””

    Two examples from my family. My grandfather was one of the founders of the church I grew up in. (SBC). 1919 I think. There’s a stone with 7 or 8 names and a date carved in it. Anyway, in 1967 when he was 82 our church building burned. In many ways it was a blessing as we were overcrowded and were doing youth in 4 or 5 houses on adjacent lots we had bought. My dad was asked to head up the building committee and at the end of it all we moved a mile away to a larger lot, built up a new modern facility, and did it on budget and paid it off in 3 or 4 years. (If you are wondering the debt was in bonds sold to the membership.) During this time my grandfather would chew my dad out every month or so about how the youngsters were ruining the church with all their terrible decisions. My dad was 42 at the time and running the production of a nuclear fuel facility.

    A few years later in said new building we were told a story on him. A visiting couple had found a seat in the pews. My grandfather showed up and politely but firmly pointed out they were in his seat. They said there was plenty of other seats but eventually gave up their seat to him. I wonder if they came back.

    The church survived his and other’s antics but I wonder if this couple ever came back.

    After reading a lot of the other posts here and looking back on my own experiences growing up and as an adult I see a trend. A some point in time many dieing churches have a generation that fails to turn over the leadership to the next generation.

  46. Ky Boy but not now says:

    “I’d love to hear how you would go about getting young folks involved in church other than in a youth group. I know how it is done in the rural revivlalistic churches I grew up in. It was nothing to hear young folks testify, lead singing, etc. etc.

    But what would that look like in a more liturgical setting? Readers ? ”

    It’s a problem. After WWII (in my opinion) in the US we’ve been on a constant path to never ending youth. Government, Oprah, schools, the culture, and even conservative churches all want to let the youth enjoy their youth. But they are blind to the issue of how do they become functional adults. There isn’t a switch under a flap of skin you switch after high school graduation that makes them act grown up. And when I raise the issue I ether get blank stares or “that’s a really good point” but with no action.

    How to deal with it? Involve them with “adult” things through out their childhood. As they age up give them more and more responsibility. And it’s hard as most adults these days don’t understand (at least not when it’s really personal) how to let kids try and fail.(Of course if you’re smart you let them fail in ways that they don’t kill someone.) One of the biggest issues with my wife is this one. She’d rather not have our kids learn to drive until they are 18 and out of school. To which I say, so you want them to learn when he’s NOT under the supervision and authority of an adult?

    My dad was driving 18′ flat bed trucks hauling logs when he was 12. I was learned to drive off road when I was 14. We need to stop this endless childhood notion. Of course it doesn’t help when 30 somethings have playing Halo as their major hobby.

    And I have major arguments with some of my evangelical friends over this.

  47. Ky Boy but not now says:

    To tie my previous posts into church planting. I agree with iMonk. Many big churches turn into a cult of personality even when they are spreading the Gospel and reaching new members. When the personality is gone many will fall away. If you keep spreading these members out they can keep the “family” going.

    To plan successful churches requires younger members. They are the ones meeting new folks at PTA meetings and sporting events with their kids. And to be honest most of us old farts are fairly stuck in or circle of friends and are less likely to be able to “spread the word”. But a plant is usually better off if it does include a range of ages go give a reasonable mix of wisdom, experience, and youth. (Youth here means 20s and 30s.)

    And you can’t do the above without having turned the kids and teens into responsible adults. If you’ve grown them up to be adult kids, they really can’t do a plant. And now we’re back to the original issue.

  48. Ky boy,

    I suspect (hope) that if there were a new parish plant near me, with younger people and a priest that was eager to reach out to all people. I would jump ship in a nano-second. I do fall into the same age group as you, but moving to stay employed I haven’t had the chance to get into a circle of friends at church. Looking from the outside, even after 2+ years is hard.

  49. Willow Creek is a grown up youth group. Seems to be aging just fine.

    Ask someone who planted 20 years ago if your view is correct all the time.

  50. Ky boy but not now says:

    “Willow Creek is a grown up youth group. Seems to be aging just fine.
    Ask someone who planted 20 years ago if your view is correct all the time.”

    If you’re referring to me, there are always exceptions. But I was talking trends in terms of how we grow up youth.

    Some kids do great playing until 18 then figuring it out. Many do not. Especially those who were never taught about money and life. When the spigot turns off at 18 or 21 or whatever many belly flop. And a non trivial never recover. I know a 60+ year old still sponging off dad because he never grew up. But again single data points are not a trend. But this is a trend I’ve seen broadly.