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Five Marks of Turnaround Churches

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Great article from my friend Kevin Wilson. I would agree with these points. Would you add anything? What are your experiences and observations?

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location for worshipWith north of 80 percent of churches plateaued or declining, it’s no surprise I’m consistently asked what I see in “turnaround churches.” I’m curious as to whether readers are surprised by any of the five marks I see in turnaround churches.

The pastor supports the turnaround effort.

I’ve watched pastors both succeed and fail at initiating congregational turnaround arounds. What I’ve never seen is a church turnaround when the pastor didn’t support the effort. Pastors understand there is a price to pay in participating in a turnaround. They must publicly and privately support congregational changes. Sometimes they must personally invest in ministries that do not fit their strengths. Pastoral leadership in a turnaround is not easy, but is necessary.

The congregation launches new ministries in the local community.

When a church loves its neighborhood, great things can happen. Most turnaround churches today start by serving in their community. Maybe members regularly volunteer…

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Start New to Reach New

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“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:22, NIV)

Have you heard the definition of insanity? … It’s keeping doing the same things you’ve always done, and expecting different results than you’ve always gotten. That’s insane! And yet, so often churches keep trying to use the same programs and structures and then wonder why they can’t reach people of a different demographic than they’re accustomed to reaching.   Even Jesus addressed this with His disciples when He said not to pour new wine into old wineskins – it’s destructive to both the wineskins and the wine! No, if you want to gather new wine, you need new wineskins.

It’s wonderful that we in the church have a heart for those who are on the “outside.” We long to reach them with the Gospel of Jesus, and bring them into the fold. We know that there is so much love, goodness, hope and peace for them in the Body of Christ – if they could only experience it! And yet, often when first contact is made, the church comes across as cold, uncaring, and disinterested in the lost person themselves. We seem to the unchurched only to be concerned with filling our seats, paying our bills, and keeping our buildings and programs going. It’s all about us. Sometimes that’s an unfair assessment, but sometimes it is true – if we’re honest with ourselves. New wine comes into contact with old wineskins, and the new wine is lost.

What’s the solution? One thing is for sure – however we reach new people, we must not ever sacrifice the life-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ! Because if we do, then there’s no point in reaching them at all. No, the only thing that we truly have to offer the lost, hurting and marginalized is Jesus Christ. That presents a problem and a challenge for us:

The problem: The Name of Jesus is a stumbling block. Jesus warned us that the world will reject Him. And it is sad, but true, that many people will reject Jesus. However we cannot allow that to discourage us. We must recognize that as we carry out our God-given mission of being a “lighthouse to the community and the world” that some people will prefer the dark. Jesus said that this will happen. And that leads us to …

The challenge: We are each very comfortable with our own favorite Gospel “images.” Maybe for you, the idea of being forgiven the debt of your sin is very consoling. Or perhaps being freed from the penalty of hell causes you to cling to Jesus. And yet, there are many who aren’t looking for someone to pay their debt or suffer their penalty because they haven’t yet come to grips with the severity and consequence of their sin. It wasn’t that long ago that our culture almost universally accepted the idea of sin and hell. Today, however, fewer and fewer do. It is no longer a cultural norm. So our challenge is to keep the same gospel of Jesus, but to express it in a way that the lost and hurting receive His grace and goodness. How do we do that?

I believe we do this by sharing the age-old Gospel in new ways … new wineskins to gather new wine! But this means that we are going to have to do some things differently – if we don’t, we’d be insane to expect to reach new people, right? So what will we do differently? That’s where you come in – in fact we all do. We must continually ask ourselves if what we are doing will communicate the Gospel with a new generation? If it won’t then we have to get uncomfortable. The “problem” expressed above, means that we’ll have to be uncomfortable sometimes if people reject us because they reject Jesus. That’s ok, Jesus was uncomfortable on the cross – we will need to get uncomfortable at times to share in His work. The “challenge” above means that we will need to get uncomfortable at times when we do things in new ways in the hopes of reaching new people. But, with these possibilities for rejection and discomfort, what, then will cause us to get out of our comfort zones for the sake of others? Only one thing will – love. “For Christ’s love compels us!” (2 Cor. 5:14). Because we are convinced that the world needs Jesus, and that we no longer live our lives for our own comfort, but for the sake of those for whom Jesus died (2 Cor. 5:15), we are moved.

In what new ways is Christ’s love compelling you to move? What new things might you do to reach new people? What might we do at Redeemer? Start the conversation… and then start something new to reach someone new!

Proclaiming Christ with you,

Pastor Augie

National Day of Prayer

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2010 Day of Prayer Banner

Did you realize that a Federal judge is trying to declare the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional?  I was quoted in an article in today’s Arizona Republic about this issue.  Click here to read that article.  Let me know what you think!  Because to me it’s simple – The whole reason the amendment granting “Freedom of Religion” is in the Constitution is because our founding fathers EXPECTED us to pray!  By allowing (even encouraging) prayer, the government isn’t telling you HOW to pray, or even that you MUST pray.  In fact, I feel very strongly that this is exactly the KIND of Freedom that our Constitution protects and therefore needs to be encouraged and safeguarded.

The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through our history, including President Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in 1863. In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declared an annual, national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May. Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day.

The theme for this year’s Day of Prayer is “Prayer for Such a Time as This” and is based on the verse from Nahum 1:7 which states: “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.”  Clearly this is a time where we as a nation need to be seeking the strength and wisdom of the Lord.

On the day of prayer (and every day), it’s suggested that you pray for:

  1. Federal Government
  2. State Government
  3. Local Government
  4. Military
  5. Media
  6. Business
  7. Education
  8. Church
  9. Family

You can click here for an online prayer guide to help you pray for these areas!

I hope that you’re planning on praying this Thursday for our government, elected officials, civil servants, teachers and all those who hold positions of leadership in our great nation!  It’s a good time to EXERCISE your freedom … AND at the same time invite God’s Power, Protection and Provision into our families, community and nation – it’s win-win!

May God bless you as you pray, and May God Bless America!

PA