Help For Those On The Front Lines Of Ministry.

Past Updates

Feb 19, 2019
The New Book

If I were to tell you the title of this new work, you would most likely stop right there. You would not want to read such a book. In which case, why write it? Even more, why fear the title? The content is much more disturbing and perhaps threatening.

So a bit of a pre-Introduction is due.

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As I have alluded to above, my previous title to this book might be too offensive. In part, I agree with that assessment, so I am searching for another title which won’t offend so many so quickly. I am keeping the theme, the main point, which you will discover if you peruse this thread.

But here, I am trying to attract your attention to the desperate situation that confronts us, those of us who are still trying to call or help believers in Jesus to live more effective and productive lives. The mainline protestant denominations, the Roman catholic church, and even the once flourishing independent churches in the United States and Canada are in trouble. By almost every church consultant’s estimation, unless drastic measures are taken soon, the people who currently walk into our buildings will no longer do so. The problem is way more complex than a twerking of the way we do “church” will help. Like a run down slum building that only crack heads use, the entire enterprise is going to need razed, demolished and something new (but really not very new) will need to be erected in its place. I am not talking about a physical structure but a new way of looking at mission, purpose, values: in a nutshell, what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus, and what does it mean to meet with other followers? What will that look like? And how do we get from here to there?

Most people want to tweak the situation, fearful that too much change will drive many comfortable people (and their money) away. So many advise incremental change (think Normandy beach, June 6, 1944). I don’t recommend that approach. It won’t help much in 10 years to watch another 100,000 churches close.

I was taught in seminary the technique of pastoring circa 1978. Essentially it was something like this:
Good preaching will bring the people.
Good pastoral care will keep the people.
Good administration will keep the boat afloat.

That mean we would spend most of our time working on the weekly sermon. The adage was simple…one hour in the office for each minute in the pulpit. So a 30 min sermon would require 30 hours in the office. Good pastoral care meant caring for people, listening to them, visiting them in the hospital or nursing home, and making time for counseling (pre-marital counseling, marital counseling, individual counseling, family counseling). And then there were the endless meeting of the endless committees which kept the boat afloat.

The results were astounding in the 1950, the year most seminaries are preparing their students for even now. By 1980 many, if not most congregations, were in decline. Sure there are always exceptions, where the really gifted orator can say “Mesopotamia” and have people running to the alter to give their lives for Christ. And those people (both men and women) attracted large numbers of people, saw many lives changed, and had to build large buildings to contain the crowds. But something strange was happening. The overall number of people who viewed themselves as believers or followers of Jesus was decreasing. Attendance at worship services, once a weekly event, became a monthly or quarterly event.

A precipitous decline began and continues to this day.

I’ve heard tell that the largest movement of believers today are those who have left congregational life to save their faith. And it is no wonder. Someone once told me in 1999 that “most of the really healthy people have left the mainline congregations already”. That has been my experience since 1977. Every congregation I worked with had less than 20% of the people that I would call healthy. Less than 20% of the people did over 80% of the work. and the leadership in so many of the congregations were people who had no clue what they were doing or why? “We’ve always done it this way” was their reason for being.

With the situation so dire and the need for radical change so great, is their a chance God could be doing a new thing and that this new thing needs your involvement and passion? I think the answer to that question is YES. Unfortunately, it is a very old, disruptive, terrifying old way of following Jesus.

First, this will mean understanding the current situation and how we got that way (I promise I will do that briefly). Then correcting that situation with solid teaching from the New Testament (which was written by people who had tremendous influence with non-believing people of all heritages, in a very pluralistic work). Then implementing those teachings with a practical living out of our experiential faith in real life touching ways.

I hope that wets your appetite. I know along the way you might get frustrated (that’s Mennonite for really angry) and want to stop reading. That’s okay. email me and let me know.

I’ll be posting chapters here on this web site on a regular basis (www.jhpconsulitng.com) and you can email me at jeff@jhpconsulting.com.

I look forward to the dialogue.

Ah, yes, a title for this work….The Resurrected Church? What do you think? Oh ,you will have to read the entire work before you would know. Me too!

The old title? Next week....


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