Orland Park Christian Reformed Church in Orland Park, Illinois, was built in 1970. Over the years, pastors have experienced several physical barriers that inhibited the worship experience. In the sanctuary, there was a disconnect between the pastor and the congregation because of the positioning of the existing worship platform, which was too high and not wheelchair accessible.
In Europe, there are Gothic Cathedrals that draw visitors from all over the world. There’s one in Spain that took 400 years to build. (You thought your building campaign was long!) But, if you walk into that building today, it’s a museum. Additionally, the U.S. is filled with grandiose churches that seat 500, but only average 12 attendees on a Sunday. Churches that were once vital, powerful places that would make a difference in the community are closing. They were the hub of the immigrants, the places where the gospel was preached, where people were married, buried and baptized. Now they’re demolished or repurposed into condos. As a pastor in Chicago, I started to wonder, should we just abandon these buildings? Something struck my heart as I began to read scripture: What if these stained-glass window cathedrals were filled with young people attending these older churches? What if we were able to take what people sacrificed to build for the Gospel and now redeem these buildings for God?
Discover the impact Millennials' values, allegiances, and assumptions will have on your church.
Sometimes, churches fall into a trap of thinking that building generosity for community impact simply means building something external like a community center or a coffee shop in order to inspire people to give more to the church. According to Julie Bullock, Senior Generosity Strategist at Generis, cultivating true generosity, actually has less to do with what people are giving to and more about what people are giving from.
Kids play a significant role in helping parents select which church they'll attend. If children enjoy the teaching and activities offered at a particular church, this can have a strong influence on a mom and dad’s decision about that church. Along with considering how well their kids acclimate to a church, parents look for a lot of features when it comes to selecting the right church home.
Churches once held a place of influence at the center of our communities. In the past, many hospitals, colleges, and social services were launched out of a vision to obey Jesus’ admonition to give to the poor, clothe the naked, care for orphans, and visit the imprisoned. Churches were viewed as an anchor in our communities, and they literally were given a central place in the town square.
The first person I ever heard talk about culture was Erwin McManus, pastor of Mosiac Church in Southern California. Erwin describes culture as spontaneous and repeated patterns of behavior. Brian Zehr, Co-founder and Leadership Architect at Intentional Impact, teaches that there are three things that make up culture: values, narrative, and behavior.
Before a person ever steps foot in your brick and mortar church for the first time, they likely will have visited your church website to see what you’re all about. Are you communicating who you are and what they can expect in a way that’s clear and inviting so that they’ll want to learn more? Are your overall church communications helping you reach more people and engage your congregation? Or do your communications reveal some underlying problems that may need attention?
If you’ve got children and teens in your church, you likely have their mothers to thank for bringing them. In Households of Faith, a study produced in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries, data finds that mothers—more often than fathers, or any other category of frequent participants in households—are seen as the confidants, providers of support, and drivers of faith formation. They’re also the ones most likely to take the kids to church (79%) and teach kids about the Bible (66%), God’s forgiveness (66%), and religious traditions (72%).
Much has been written about the difficulty churches have in finding great staff members, particularly for leadership positions. Among other factors, the job market is strong and Baby Boomers are retiring at a pace faster than new talent is entering the workforce. While Aspen Group is not a church, we can certainly relate to the struggle to find great employees.
Healthy churches are led by leaders who are intentional about coaching up and leading others on their team. But how do pastors do this well? In Tom Verducci’s classic book, The Cubs Way, he chronicles the team’s owner Tom Ricketts’s acquisition of Theo Epstein to head all baseball operations, the subsequent construction of the team, and manager Joe Maddon’s leadership style, which he calls his “13 Core Principles Of Managing.”