church growth

10) Fascinating Interview with the Author of "Myth of the Dying Church"

Glenn T. Stanton is the author of the new book, “The Myth of the Dying Church: How Christianity Is Actually Thriving in America and the World.” He asks, “Is Christianity declining, even dying across North America, as the media and many pundits would have us believe?” He also wonders whether, “Globally, is it losing out to other religions, and especially not holding its own against Islam?” Stanton, a professional researcher at Focus on the Family, digs into the research concerning spirituality in America, and globally, revealing the hope and truth about the vitality and future of the church. Hear the author firsthand in an interview by Missio Nexus at…

 

missionexus.org/ai-the-myth-of-the-dying-church-stanton/#myaccount

 

(Note: This content is reserved for Missio Nexus members… but wouldn’t you want to join anyway? : ) )

 

14) The Last Bit: I’ve Just Spent the Last Week with an Ethiopian…

…and — wow — talk about a heart on fire. He and I did this in 2018 as well, except, in 2018, we spent two full weeks together on the road. We’re talking every minute of every day for two full weeks. This year, it was “just one week” — but even in one week, every minute of every day… it tends to help you get to know someone. This guy is an enigma. On the one hand, he’s smart, articulate, and visionary. On the other hand, he’s relational-to-the-max, old-fashioned, and super-humble. This guy is super humble and sometimes fiercely independent, while, in other moments, he makes it clear he truly feels he has so much to learn. What is it about the Ethiopian mind, the Ethiopian culture, and the Ethiopian spirit that is causing them to thrive in the midst of chaos. Back home, their country is sometimes topsy-turvy with tribes that are rebelling, border checkpoints galore, and extreme weather conditions that would challenge the best of us. Yet… in the midst of all of this, Christianity has flourished. Check out this current article in Christianity Today, for example.

 

www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/july-august/ethiopia-missions.html

 

Imagine living in a land which was 3% Christian in 1970 and now maybe 25% in 2019. (The article implies 20% but all our insider sources are saying 1 out of every 4 is an evangelical.) The Prime Minister, for example, told his people — “let me be the nation’s pastor.” He’s an evangelical too.

 

So it should come as no surprise that my Ethiopian buddy has teamed up with our org to send six new teams in the past 12 months. They’re still in language learning, but they’ve already launched 20 new groups and they’re already seeing responses to Christ. And they engage people every day now in meaningful spiritual conversations. One of the Ethiopian team members was captured by a somewhat-dangerous Islamic group as a teenager. While being threatened with death, she refused to deny her faith. Now, as an adult, she’s back working among Muslims again in spite of it all.

 

Let’s take a lesson from Ethiopia. That treasurer got it right from the beginning (Acts 8). Let’s go back to the basics, trust in God, and follow the examples of our new-found friends who want to step up to the plate and finish the Great Commission. They want to take their places on mission teams around the world in the most dangerous lands. When I asked my buddy if he could find 18 new recruits for us, he looked back at me with strength, dignity, and intentionality: “We can find you 1000 Ethiopians who will lay down their lives for the sake of the Gospel.”

 

Now, I believe him.

 

Let’s join them in the Greatest Cause ever. May God give us strength.

 

14) The Last Bit: Wondering About Church Growth in the USA?

If so, this new study from Exponential by LifeWay Research might shed some light on your quest. Reported just last month (March 6, 2019), the study points out that “three in 5 (61 percent) pastors say their churches faced a decline in worship attendance or growth of 5 percent or less in the last three years.” In fact, “fifty-four percent of pastors say fewer than 10 people indicated a new commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior in 2018, including 8 percent who had none.” Interestingly, LifeWay found a bit of a tipping point. “Less than a quarter (23 percent) of churches with an average worship attendance of fewer than 50 say they are growing, while most churches with 250 or more in attendance (59 percent) are growing.” By the way, most Protestant churches have fewer than 100 people attending services each Sunday (57 percent), including 21 percent who average fewer than 50. Around 1 in 10 churches (11 percent) average 250 or more for their worship services.

 

We feel that many people will seize on the negative parts of this study. They’ll hear that ” three in 5 (61 percent) pastors say their churches faced a decline in worship attendance” and miss out on the news that 39 percent say their congregation has grown by at least 6 percent since the first quarter of 2016. While the media would like for us to believe that the USA has left Christ to follow secularism, reality tells us otherwise. Church growth is still happening. We just need to work at it and rally for it a bit harder. See the full report at…

 

lifewayresearch.com/2019/03/06/small-struggling-congregations-fill-u-s-church-landscape/

 

What surprised you most about this study? Can you spot any encouraging perspectives, or is it mostly dim news for you?

 

(Thanks to Justin for pointing us to this study originally.)

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