October 21, 2014

Joy in the Journey

It has been my pleasure, to have spent the week in Texas with a group of pastors who are asking

questions about church growth, church sustainability, and how not to kill a church. Our group was

composed of six United Methodist pastors, and six Lutheran pastors, all men except me. Our leader

was Bill Easum, a renowned church planter and author of many books on leadership, evangelism, and

staffing churches. Easum is highly regarded and his knowledge is vast when it comes to the questions of,

what makes churches grow in today’s culture. Easum is particularly interested in taking what the non-
denominational churches do well and teach it to the mainline churches. And while his phrase, “we need

to get butts in seats” send shivers down my spine and makes me want to run away, this is what most

mainline churches are seeking.

As a lead pastor of a church, maybe this is our goal to see how many people we can say were in

church on a Sunday morning. The crass verbiage used definitely caught my attention, and I almost zoned

out, and headed for the nearby beach, but I stayed. This “butts in seats” mentality seemed to have no

depth, no sustenance, no value, except to the numbers person. Finally, our coach gave us some usable

insights to the changed church culture. It used to be and probably is, for some people, a “duty” to go

to church. We felt guilty if we got up lazily on Sunday morning and skipped out on going to church.

Today, people are looking for a reason to go to church. If the church is not relevant and if the church

is not relational, people do not feel compelled to attend a worship service. Our culture has changed

from church being a PLACE, a symbol of stability, to a community where we can find RELATIONSHIP.

Connectivity to people and more importantly connectivity to God. Experiencing God’s presence is

replacing the traditional hearing about God.

People are craving authentic relationships. The qualities of an authentic relationship means, being

kind, grace- filled, supportive, loving, forgiving, and accepting (not just tolerant) in our relationships. If

our churches neglect to understand this, they will have trouble in the attendance department and the

back door will be wide open.

What is important to remember about authentic relationships, this is not the full responsibility of

the pastor, it is the full responsibility of God’s people, you and me. People watch the church, and we

have not set the perfect example of Jesus much of the time. The good news is that there are people

willing to engage in the culture of Christianity as it relates to our community today, and I am so excited

to be on the journey with you!