Over the past couple of weeks we have had a couple of inquiries into what we are doing at the Living Stones Church. A few churches have heard about our church and either called or set up an appointment to discuss some of our successes.
First, let me say I’d pay big money for someone to study the health of churches in the Michiana area. So, if you are in school and need to do a research paper, I might personally fund your needs to discover what is going on. What I hear isn’t good. I can’t tell if it is just the limited interaction I have, or the truth of the state of churches in Michiana, but, especially in mainline denominations, the forecast is quite dire – aging congregations, shrinking numbers, scarce resources, and little hope for the future.
Out of that, a few congregations (one a Methodist church in Mishawaka the other a Lutheran church on the SE side of South Bend) inquired about how to turn things around and experience growth and success for their congregations. They wanted to know about our “I Love the South Side Campaign” and “our program to reach out to the neighborhood.”
- First, it isn’t a campaign or a program. It is who we are by DNA. Huge difference.
- What we are doing isn’t to increase our numbers. That can’t even be an expectation. What we do is because we think Jesus would do it, whether anyone ever “joins” our church or not.
- What we are doing is based on a clear call from God. God has called us to this. We have no other choice (I don’t want that to sound negative, it is our pleasure to follow God’s calling). It isn’t because we’re avoiding death.
- What God has called the Living Stones Church to is different than what God is calling any other church to. Ask Him what he wants you to do, don’t copy what we are doing. It won’t work for you.
- We don’t have it all figured out either. We’ve had some success, but the moment we stop following God’s lead, it will come to an end.
- If the very core and heart of the church isn’t outward-focused, no program or campaign will change that.
- The movement from being an inward-focused church to an outward-focused church committed to the community and neighborhood is very costly. We lost half our church in 2003. If you can’t afford that cost, don’t dabble in the possibilities.
- If you don’t have a united leadership, you will be crushed under the weight of sadness and discouragement.
- Every church has a life cycle. Sometimes it is in the best interest of the Kingdom of God for a church to come to an end. This is especially true for a church who has lost the heart of Jesus for its community.
- There is a reason why you have no young people and children in a church. A slick marketing campaign might get them to show up, but it will prove futile to a second opportunity.
- If God isn’t in it, or He hasn’t called you to it, does it really matter?