Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Church With Purpose

I know it sounds strange to say it, but churches lose their mission and purpose just like individuals do. We forget why we are the church and what the church was created to do. As a DS, I saw many good churches in the sense that they were made up of good people, really good people. No doubt about it, most of the churches that I saw were made up of good people. Even those churches that were dying were made up of good people.

Now, as a District Superintendent, I did see some mean people as well. In some churches, not Bethel, of course, there were mean Christians. Sometimes a whole congregation of good people would allow one or two aggressive and mean-spirited people to control the whole church. The good people would not make good decisions; they would often do whatever it took to keep things peaceful. And, that meant doing what those few controllers wanted them to do.

Generally, though, churches are made up of good people, really good people. They live their lives as Christians. They are moral.(Sinners, too, of course) They mean well. Even declining churches are made up of really good people.

One church, with which I dealt as a District Superintendent, told me that they sent station (that is, they became a one-church charge served by their own pastor) so they could grow. They went station twenty years ago. I said to them that in the last twenty years they had in fact lost members during that time. They said to me: "Are you saying that we don't want to grow?" I said: "Every church that wants to grow will grow."

That means that churches that want to grow will do the things that will make it possible for them to grow. They will change.

Now, I would remind us that our mission statement at a church says that our purpose is to make disciples of Jesus Christ by inviting persons to discipleship, growing disciples through worship and study, and sending disciples out to share God's love with the world."

A couple of years ago we started a process called Natural Church Development. And, we went through a process to discern what we needed to work on as a church. NCD says that healthy church have eight basic factors. We measured ourselves with a survey and we found that our minimum factor is Need-Oriented Evangelism. We visited Sunday School classes and got responses as to why this was our lowest factor. We too those reasons and designed some steps which we have completed up to forming an Evangelism Team which will lead us in that area and keep evangelism before us as a church.

If you want to explore NCD go to this Website: We haven't forgotten about it. We will move forward with it this fall in an effort to hear God's call to grow and change where we need to.

Are you with me?
Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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