I’ve been re-reading through Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson’s, Comeback Churches. Again, I’ve been alarmed by their descriptions of churches that get stuck in plateau and decline. Here’s a brief synopsis of what the authors refer to as the “Dirty Baker’s Dozen.” It’s a list of 13 different types of churches. Churches can exhibit one or any combination of these descriptions, but they do so to the detriment of their own mission to make disciples.
“The good has become the enemy of the best, and activity has choked out productivity.”
Voluntary Association Church
“It is a church of the people, by the people, but most importantly, for the people. Due to an overwhelming need to keep everyone happy, [this] church ends up bound, at the mercy of a rotating vocal minority, and ineffective.”
“Many churches . . . have good intentions, but do not act on those intentions to reach their community . . . . [They] do not embrace an intentional process for making disciples.”
“Us Four and No More” Church
“[These churches] have determined that if they get any larger, they will lose their sweet fellowship. They do not intentionally reject ‘new’ people, but their present relationships are so intimate that any new attendee of the church cannot break into the group.”
“We Can’t Compete” Church
“Like a family-owned store next to a new Wal-Mart, they have given up on making a difference . . . . They have bought into the idea that the unchurched are only interested in program-rich megachurches.”
“Decently and in Order” Church
“They run everything by the book; unfortunately, it’s not the Bible. As long as matters great and small meet the approval of various committees and are discussed in minute detail at business meetings, all is well.”
“Square Peg in a Round Hole” Church
“In this congregation, people are enlisted for leadership and service, not by their gifts or passion, but by other criteria. You might hear, ‘We’ve got to fill this position. Whose can you think of that we’ve not already talked to?’”
“Somehow these folks have preserved, not just the tenets of the faith, but the positions, practices, and appearances of years gone by . . . . They expect others to adapt and accept what they’ve grown comfortable with doing, and they give no thought at all to change.”
“The members take pride in their church. They’ve worked hard to get it and keep it in its present condition . . . . Everything operates smoothly until noisy youth or messy children come . . . . The new growth is suddenly viewed as a threat, leading to efforts to contain it and to prevent further disruptions or damage.”
“My Way or the Highway” Church
“A number of the members in this church know how things ought ot be, and are vocal—maybe even vociferous—in expressing it . . . . No matter the issue, these people won’t be satisfied unless it’s done their way.”
“The church hired its minister and expects the ‘chaplain’ to be busy about meeting needs and making the church grow . . . . The members identify the needs and the prospects and expect their pastor to respond.”
The “Company” Church
“This church is more focused on what is handed down from the denomination than how to reach its community.”
“Play it Safe” Church
“The church wants to protect what it has. As much money as possible is placed in a certificate of deposit. But no plan is made to use it to reach others for Christ.”
—From Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, Comeback Churches (Nashville: B & H Publishing, 2007), 19-23.
Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating.”
I came across this nice little treatment of prayer and busyness from Don Carson while I was prepping for some Wednesday night messages on prayer.
“It matters little whether you are the mother of active children who drain away your energy, an important executive in a major multinational corporation, a graduate student cramming for impending comprehensives, a plumber working overtime to put your children through college, or a pastor of a large church putting in ninety-hour weeks: at the end of the day, if you are too busy to pray, you are too busy. Cut something out.”
From D. A. Carson’s, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, p. 114.
“The turning-point of the battle between those who hold ‘the faith once delivered to the saints,’ and their opponents, lies in the true and real inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. This is the Thermopylae of Christendom. If we have in the Word of God no infallible standard of truth, we are at sea without a compass, and no danger from rough weather without can be equal to this loss within. ‘If the foundations be removed, what can the righteous do?’ and this is a foundation loss of the worst kind.”
—from Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s commendation of Louis Gaussen’s book, The Divine Inspiration of the Bible.
A.W. Tozer — many of you remember A. W. Tozer, who would have written numerous books back in the ‘30′s and ‘40′s, and perhaps early ‘50′s. In an extraordinary little book called Paths to Power, he writes that the early church was:
“…not an organization, merely an organization, but a walking incarnation of spiritual energy. The church began in power, moved in power, and moved just as long as the Lord gave power. When she no longer had power, she dug in for safety and sought to conserve her gains. But her blessings were like the manna. When they tried to keep it overnight, it bred worms and stank. It is the church that is willing to die to worldly standards that will know the power of Christ’s resurrection.”
This quote was a help to me as I preach through the book of Acts.
Judson was born yesterday, 3/19/14, at 5pm. He weighed 7 lb 9.5 oz and was 20 in long. Both he and Lauren are doing great.
Here’s a little video of Judson from early this morning.
His name is derived from three different sources.
- Judson — after the first Baptist foreign missionary from the United States, Adoniram Judson.
- Anthony — after Lauren’s Dad, Anthony McKinnon.
- Dubberly — Duh. That’s my last name :).
Reading page updated. Books reflect my final semester of coursework, some sermon prep materials I’m working with, and few personal guilty pleasures.