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Archive for January, 2011

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Tragedy in Tucson

This month, our nation experienced the pain of a senseless shooting in Tucson. People were gathered to hear Congressional Rep. Giffords speak at a super market. Seventeen were shot and six died died. Since the shooting, many have been calling for more civility in politics. Do we really need to talk about putting our opponents on our target, in our cross hairs, in our gun sights? Isn’t there a more civil way to describe those whom we’re running or competing against? Not only have 17 people and families been directly affected by this action, but so has our whole nation.

I like what a newspaper story in West Hawaii said today:
The months to come will determine the lasting impact of those wounds, not only for the residents of Tucson but the country itself, which has spent a week reflecting on whether a divisive political atmosphere, angry rhetoric or loose gun laws might have intersected with a dangerously mentally ill young man in Tucson.

I also like the inspiration a cartoonist drew from the words of John Lennon:
Peace Cartoon

Let us be in prayer for those in Tucson, as well as for our nation, and its leaders.

Decline/Growth, Easter

Why Visitors Don’t Return to Your Church

I read a post today at evangelismcoach.org on why visitors may not come back. Here are the reasons:

1. Live out of town.
2. Theological differences.
3. Weekend off from their regular church.
4. Comparison shopping while making a decision.
5. Bad experience: lost in the building, embarrassed, not welcomed, childcare problems.
6. Didn’t like the worship experience (too long, too short, too weird).
7. Nothing sacred – no experience with God.
8. No one welcomed them – hospitality.

The first three reasons are really beyond your control. It’s good to welcome those church visitors and send them on their way with blessing.

For more information as to how they suggest you work at developing the other 5 within your control click here.

What other reasons, in addition to those listed above have you faced? What did you do about them? Or, should I ask, how do you need help in addressing them? With Easter coming in 3 months, it’s not too early to be thinking of these things.

I’d love to hear from you!

Jeff

Books / Readings, Change!?!, Community, Leadership, Missional, Understanding Context

Happy New Year or Happy Crisis Year?

I’m reading a book for my Doctor of Ministry program called, The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy by William Strauss and Neil Howe (Broadway Press, 1997). The authors of this book predict that we’re about to enter a time of extreme crisis, like the world last experienced in World War II. It does this by introducing us to the idea that history is cyclical, with four seasons of life within every 100 years or so. They trace this back to Roman times and call it the Roman Saeculum. Within each of the four seasons, a generation of people are born who experience through the same lenses, attitudes, or points of view.

The first season, or period of time is called the “High”. The major world crisis is over and the future is bright. This has been achieved by a united group of people working against the crisis. “Prophets” are born during the “High”. For our time, this is the Boomer generation.

This season last existed between 1946 and 1960. During this period, our nation rose to become a global super power and the middle class grew tremendously. Society was united, didn’t question authority and was very modernist.

The second season of the saeculum is a time of “Awakening”, or spiritual introspection. Here, it is more important to explore the inner world than the outer world. People start to defy institutions, leaders or culture which helped win victory during the Crisis. Nomads are born during this season and our represented by the Gen X.

The last “Awakening” occurred from 1964 to 1984. It began with campus riots, Viet Nam war protests and a rebellious counter-culture. (Remember the ‘hippies’?) It gave way to more violent crime, family break-ups, and many ‘movements’ which eroded the unity of our nation.

The next season is called a time of “Unraveling”. People have lost their unity. Personal satisfaction is high because, “it’s all about me.” There is great personal expression and personal fulfillment. All the flaws of institutions are exposed and not much gets accomplished by society as a whole. Hero’s are born during this season are are the Millennials in our life time.

The authors date the latest Unraveling from 1985 to perhaps 2005. Society continued to fracture and individualism grew. Mistrust of institutions continued to grow and leaders are constantly questioned and criticized rather than being respected.

The last season of the saeculum is call “Crisis”. This is often a time of world war or other type of major conflagration – everything is a mess. The generation born in this season are called “Artists”.

This book was written in 1997. But in the mid to latter part of this past decade the authors predict that the world will fall back into some type of major crisis. Though no major world war appears to be on the horizon, the world is definitely struggling through financial crises.

So, if we are entering a “Fourth Turning”, or time of “Crisis”, what are some of the implications for the church? How might this impact local congregations, denominations in this country, as well as the church globally?

One way is financial. Few churches have been holding their own financially or growing in resources over they last three years. They often mirror the financial conditions of the community. However, there are upsides to financial problems. They can cause a congregation to rethink its purpose and mission. Congregations who are more vision-driven may pause to seek and discern from God what it should be about during this financially-challenging time. This refocusing effort, if it is based upon the values of the members, can strengthen their commitment and faithfulness to achieve what their vision of God’s calling is.

One result of the “Unraveling” might be the reason why people lost their sense of unity in and responsibility to the denomination and instead see the flaws of the institution. Many congregations now prefer to give to local mission endeavors vs. sending their money away to the denominational headquarters.

For the established church to survive the Fourth Turning (or season of Crisis), locally, denominationally or globally, it will need to refocus its vision and be focused on how to meet the needs of those around it. Over the past thirty years, there has been a big shift from congregations existing to meet the needs members and supporting the denomination, to churches who are equipping members for ministry and sending them out locally to meet community needs. Today, people want to be a part of an organization that’s making a difference they can see. They desire to support change that helps the lives of others or improves their community. Thus larger bodies, denominations, or communions need to help the local congregation with resources which will help them achieve greater success in their local ministry efforts.

Has anyone else read or heard of this book? What are your thoughts for the season or time period we’re entering? How do you think it affects the church?