defining "effectively reaching" wrong?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by nodak, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. nodak

    nodak
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    We participate in a regional cowboy church made up of folks from many different church styles: liturgical, traditional, contemporary, western, charismatic, and non churched Christians.

    I also participate in several online discussions.

    A question that has come up lately in a couple of the discussions is this:

    There are many folks telling us how to effectively reach this group or that group. I'm not talking style of worship here, although most of these gurus have a pet style--some favor contemporary, others think it should always be traditional, some favor niche market approach, some don't.

    Whichever "formula" you follow you really can get more kiesters in the pew and dollars in the plate or members on the roll. Usually that is defined as "effectively reaching" your target demographic.

    But more and more, I am hearing folks asking if we really are reaching them? Are there fewer divorces? Less substance abuse? Fewer abortions? Less tomcatting around? More honesty? Are these we are reaching experiencing changed lives, or just layering "Christianity" on top of everything else going on their lives? If we really are "effectively reaching" our target groups, wouldn't there be changed lives?

    What is your reaction? Is your church seeing lives changes or just members added to the roll? As a current country song has it, are they washed in the blood or just in the water? If you see the changed lives, what are you doing differently than what the gurus are telling us?

    So how do you define "effectively reaching"?
     
  2. rdwhite

    rdwhite
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    In my view, effectively reaching means the congregation is being truly discipled and is growing spiritually; Irregardless of what formula or program you use. Paul uses physical development and growth to illustrate spiritual development and growth. The problem with many churches is that, spiritual speaking, the pews are filled with Christians who cannot feed themselves and have to have their diapers changed. A spiritually mature Christian should not only be able to feed themselves, but also prepare their own meals, and they should certainly be able to clean up after themselves. Changing diapers and hand feeding is ok for babies, for newborn Christians. But if they have been saved for 5 years and they still need to be changed and fed, something is wrong with their development. Not to be mean or cruel, but many American Christians are just plain spiritually retarded.

    An effective church will experience spiritual growth and development no matter what formula or program they determine to use.
     
    #2 rdwhite, Aug 18, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2009
  3. nodak

    nodak
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    I agree totally.

    So what would you tell a church that is trying to move from producing those stillborn or retarded Christians to producing maturing ones?
     
  4. rdwhite

    rdwhite
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    It boils down to Crock pot vs. Microwave approach (pardon the culinary allusion).

    Our society is impatient and that is seen not only in churches but on the mission field. Many people have become focused on results and statistics, charts and graphs, and the praise of men rather than the praise of God. There are no quick fixes or instant result programs or formulas. Our society praises instant results and ignores tenacity and longevity.

    Our churches are plagued by pastors who never stay more than two to five years at any church, they don't stay long enough to become effective. Many are hirelings using smaller churches as stepping stones to fluff their resume, always trying to get that big church, big salary, big benefits package. As a result, churches do not want to get behind and follow the leadership of a man who will be gone in two to five years. So they are hesitant to make any changes and try new things. Even if his intentions were to stay, the man becomes frustrated and begins looking for another church after a couple of years. It becomes a vicious cycle and the root cause is pastors and churches expecting microwave results. As a result, the people do not grow and develop the way they should.

    The solution is long term commitments. I have read studies that show it takes five to seven years before a congregation truly accepts a man as pastor and begins to follow his leadership. With average tenures being two to three years, it is no wonder our churches are in this spiritual condition.

    Time, it takes time and commitment, it takes patience and endurance, it takes time. Time to invest in people and to disciple them and train them and love them and cry with them and rejoice with them.

    Additionally, I find that many of the available materials are lacking in real substance. Mass marketing and profit margins have become more important than biblical substance and many companies are more interested in what will sell than in what will grow the church. Solid Bible teaching and Bible preaching is necessary for spiritual growth and sadly those are lacking in many churches, and is also a contributing factor. All of the above coupled with the "last days" factor fairly well explains the spiritual condition of our churches today.

    In summary:
    Stop expecting instant results and quick fixes
    Pastors need to stop church jumping
    Congregations need to follow the pastors' spiritual leadership
    Return to solid Bible preaching and teaching.
    Pray, Pray, Pray, Pray

    m2c
     
  5. nodak

    nodak
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    Thanks for replying!
     
  6. rdwhite

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    I expected others would have chimed in on this subject, but I suppose political and theological arguments are more interesting that practical discussions about the spiritual condition of churches.
     
  7. gb93433

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    Most parents would see themselves as successful if they had babies who matured and were capable of living as responsible adults.
     
  8. JohnDeereFan

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    First of all, I have serious issues with things like "Cowboy Church". I won't derail the thread with all of that, but I just want you to know going in where I'm coming from.

    Second, "success" is not defined by membership or money or baptisms or Sunday School attendance, even how many people are being saved, but by how faithful the church, the church body, and the church leadership are to the word of God.
     
  9. nodak

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    JohnDeereFan--I totally agree with your definition of a successful church.

    Just curious--why are you against cowboy church? Bear in mind here it isn't in competition with the local churches, but an outreach of them aimed at transient lifestyle cowboys. That is, rodeo people during the circuit, and working cowboys that are not in the regular settled employ of one ranch. It is modeled very much along the same lines as used to be commonly done among migrant farm workers. We also do a service at one of the local lakes for campers travelling through our area. Or did you think I meant a "niche market" type of church?
     

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