Earlier this week, I was listening to a very insightful episode of the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast. In the episode, Nieuwhof spoke to Rich Birch, author of “Unreasonable Churches: 10 Churches Who Zagged When Others Zigged and Saw More Impact Because of It.”
There were many nuggets from their conversation that stuck out to me, but the most memorable one was that 94% of churches aren’t growing as quickly as the communities they’re in. For example, if your city or section of your city is growing by 6% per year, but the collective local churches are only growing by 2%, then sure, you’re growing but you’re also shrinking. In a world so full of information, I think many of us who care about the mission of the local church have been blind to the increasing dilution of our reach.
The conversation of the podcast went on to remind me of the following verse from Proverbs. It’s a verse we almost always assume is about money, but I believe it’s a worthwhile verse for any situation that leads to heavy assumption.
Proverbs 23-24A – Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; (ESV)
The lesson from the verse spells out that if we don’t pay attention to details, we may be in for a rude awaking. I believe that is the case right now for many of us in the local church. Things went so well for us in the 20th century American church that we are currently and completely in shock about the condition of the 21st century American church.
Birch gave several good pieces of advice though that can help us remain diligent and effective at reaching people—especially new people—in our cities.
Don’t Make Excuses
Don’t focus on the negative. Focus on the positive and pray for wisdom on how to implement God’s mission in a engaging way for the people in your community.
Rally People to the Mission
Thriving churches ask people to go above and beyond. Help your people understand what that means.
Think Outside the Box
Be creative. It’s okay to be experimental, innovative, and maybe even a bit unreasonable.