Saturday, August 18, 2007

How To Fix Your Church

The headline read: Once Thriving Church Closing Its Doors. The newspaper article stated: "At its peak, [the church] had more than 600 members. On one Sunday, 45 new members joined...The large education wing was bustling with children. Now it stands empty. 'There are no youths in our church,' [one member] said. 'The youngest members are in their 50s, and most are in their 70s and 80s. People got older and didn't come any more.'" A trustee of the church was quoted as saying: "The theatre churches are taking over. People like to be entertained."

I wish they had called me-- I think I could have helped them out. I've been watching this church thing for a while and I think I've figured out how to prevent situations like this.

The trustee is on the right track. People don't want to come to church; they "want to be entertained." That's where you have to start. You've got to change things up a bit. Make it more fun...and for gosh sakes, don't make it sound like CHURCH! Here's a list of things (in no particular order-and certainly not a complete list) you need to change in your church if you don't want to end up like this congregation.

  • DON'T use the terms "church" or "congregation." DO use terms such as "community" or "gathering"; they sound less formal.
  • DO NOT refer to the unsaved as "sinners." Nothing bruises an individual's psyche like making them feel inferior. DO refer to them as "non-believers" or "unchurhed" (hereafter UPs).
  • Ditch the "churchy looking building. See that pointy thing on the top of the church in the picture. That's a steeple--it's means "church." "Formal church." Formal church = bad. Meet in a movie theatre, old warehouse or even better an old brewery...EVEN BETTER, an existing brewery or pub! Unchurched people love that kind of thing.
  • Pack up the hymnals! Hymns are a big turn-off for the UPs. They don't know how to sing A Mighty Fortress is Our God, and they could care less about a "bulwark." Also get rid of the organ and piano and replace them with a keyboard, couple of guitars, a bass, and at least three backup singers (aka the "worship team"). A horn section is also a nice addition. Music should "rock the house."
  • DON'T refer to the preacher as the "senior pastor." DO refer to him as the "lead pastor." Also, refer to any additional pastors as the "leadership team." (Associate Minister is a no-no.) AND the Music Minister should be refered to as: Pastor of Christian Arts, Worship, and Drama.
  • DO NOT refer to others in the church as "Brother So-And-SO" or "Sister So-And-So." "DUDE!" works for everybody.
  • Encourage your pastor to use edgy language from the pulpit. He should say things like: "I think the Bible is a f***ing scary book (pardon my French, but that's the only way I know how to convey how strongly I feel about this)!" OR "That really s**ks!" Use of the words he** and da** should not be discouraged. This makes your pastor, er uh, lead pastor sound more down to earth to the UPs.
  • DO NOT refer to sermons as "sermons." DO refer to them as "talks" or "lessons."
  • Encourage your lead pastor to blog and post comments like: "My wife IS hot and ALWAYS WILL BE and I think its biblical to brag about it (Song of Solomon) and if that makes you mad I'm sorry your's (or you) is (are) ugly!" (Just in case you think I made this one up, click here.) This makes him sound really funny and again, down to earth--AND should cause you to wish your wife was as hot as his...although "hot" is in the eye of the beholder, but I digress.
  • Change the name of your church to something like "The Hill" or "The Orchard" or"Potters House", get the idea. Never use the word "church" in the name of your community.

Of utmost importance, a church that wants to avoid the demise of the aforementioned church should put their lead pastor through an "extreme makeover." UPs are NOT comfortable with coats and ties or anything else that resembles formality. Below is an example of what you can do to make your pastor look more relevant to the UPs.

The picture on the left is a typical Senior Pastor (not the pastor of the church in the article). The picture on the right has been altered to make the pastor more appealing to the UPs. Get rid of the jacket and tie and opt for the open sport shirt. (A gift certificate to the local tanning salon would be a nice touch.) "Rob Bell" style glasses say: "Hey dude! Welcome to our community. The worship band is off the hook this morning!" (I know this to be true because one of my sons has glasses like this, and he's "off the hook", too. He's not a pastor, though.) Your pastor should either shave his head OR go with the rockabilly look. Either one works. A goatee or "soul patch" finishes off the look.

So there you have it. If your church is on the brink of collapse or needs a little shot in the arm, implement some or ALL of the suggestions here---you're sure to pack the house. And someday you'll be able to say: "We're the fastest growing church in [fill in your town or city here]!" Glad I could help.


Neil said...

You know what is sad? Many people could read your post on not realize it is satire!

Good points. I've watched even doctrinally sound churches slowly scale their names back - Northwest Baptist Church ==> Northwest Church ==> Northwest.

What are we hiding? We are a one-hit wonder, so to speak. All we have is Jesus. How about mentioning him? Why the bait-and-switch?

Keith said...

Ain't it the truth! What's really sad is I didn't have to make any of this up! There are "gatherings" all over that have implemented some or all of the things I mentioned (probably not as tongue-in-cheek) and thought they were doing a great thing. Pretty sad.

When our family was looking for a new church, we attended one that was going through the transition from traditional to "contemporary" (unknonw to us; when I called the church office to inquire about the church, they claimed to be "reformed", verse-by-verse preaching, etc. They made NO mention of the changes being made). When the pastor got up to preach, he didn't even take a Bible with him to the pulpit--and there wasn't one already there, because I looked!

Cheatwoods said...

I assume you are being sarcastic.
I agree, some of it is reduculous, buuuuuuuuuuuuuut, I like my church with the bad, we dont have hymnals, but I Think we still are a good church!

Keith said...

It's not about the "physical" hymnal as much as it is about Christ-centered, God-honoring worship.

JoeMartino said...

What is a "UP?"

Keith said...

"DO refer to them as "non-believers" or "unchurhed" (hereafter UPs)." UPs = Unchurched People(s).

Dave Marriott said...

I laughed -- the article was funny. I'm wondering how often Joe skims this stuff...

Badger said...

Hilarious, but sadly, too true! Like Neil said, many folks will not get the satire and will take notes to implement these things in their church.

Are you sure you didn't just get these ideas from the latest outreach seminar? 8-)

mac said...

Very good.

One thing, though; I would have shaved the pastor's head on the left and given him a neat goatee with small glasses. Shaved heads are "kewl".

JoeMartino said...

I skim this stuff and your stuff with some regularity.


After seven years we recently left our church. We left because it began to exactly mirror your post (Type A-seeker sensitive Willow creek Assoc). That teaching style is challenged enough but it got worse, they started to veer further off course into Emergent/Emerging church theology (is there one?). The initial warning signs:#1- an elder floated about five f-bombs in casual conversation (weird) #2-then Rob Bells NOOMAS hit the jumbotrons- Anyhow- we decided to leave Laodicia and started attending Calvary Chapel.
Your post kinda frames this recent teaching from Ravi Zacharias Let My People Think ---The Search for Absolutes in a Pluralistic Society -
It seems to me that the "UP"-Church (=SS and EC) are embarrassed preaching the Gospel, hence the repackaging. Keith, your posts are entertaining and hilarious. The Kimball hair thing rocks. Is there is any way to have an animated Johhny Bravo –sing Mclarens new song “I am an atheist”-w/o being sued? :)

Keith said...

All for once...: Thanks for stopping by. I'm sorry to hear about your church experience. We left a church also--basically same reasons. I'll have to give the Zacharias article a read.

The Bad Christians Union said...

I can always appreciate satire, as this is the type of person that i am. What i cannot understand is the fact that just because your "Church" has a "preacher" that stands behind his almighty pulpit, wearing his suit and tie, and preaches his "sermon", shortly after singing some wonderfully uplifting songs from the 876 page hymnal (MY satire included), which is tucked nicely in the the back of each pew, is any better than one in which you are referring to in your article. What is wrong with upbeat music, and...God forbid...the "lead pastor" not wearing a suit?! Honestly, i grew up in a very conservative christian home. i attended very conservative churches with VERY conservative views, and i can remember as far back, as when I was 7 years old, that I hated it. Did I want entertained? Possibly. But I also wanted to believe that God was fun. That He liked to, or that it was okay to laugh during church, or to have a good time while worshipping. Today, i know that He with some other pretty big words like almighty, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, etc. But most Savior. And to think that I attend a very liberal church, but still believe that I, a lowly sinner was saved by my King, who died the most horrible of deaths...for me. WOW!

I get so tired of you guys (Christian Research Network, Slice of Laodicea, and the such) putting down people like Rob Bell, Erwin McManus, and the new evangelicals of today. They are not changing the bible in any way, rather, they are changing how people VIEW the bible, and its teachings, all the while using a very deep theological approach, but able to keep it just shallow enough for the intelligent to learn from, and the unintelligent to understand.

Lastly, if i remember right, most of Jesus' preaching was done outside the church. Oh yeah, and He was caught hanging out with some whores, drunkards, tax collectors, murderers, and some other people that people like yourself would probably feel is wrong to even associate with. I also don't remember hearing about Jesus wearing a suit and tie either. Seriously...give it up. There must be room for a new movement. Just like the classic reformation movement, there must be another. The old conservative ways are dying because they must. This is not just an American thing either. This is happening in small villages in Mexico, China, Japan, Russia, Haiti, and so on. The old ways must die so that the new can speak to a new generation, and this is where it starts.

Have a great night...I have some friends to meet with at a pub to have a Bible study, and invite some unknowing locals to join us.

Keith said...

"Bad Christians Union":
Now that you've appreciated the satire, go back and understand the meaning of the post. It's odd to me that people like yourself always decry the mentioning of attire or style of music, etc. YET, those are the very things you seek to change about church. You said you "hated it." Maybe that is/was a statement about the condition of your heart at the time.

I fail to find in Scripture where God is required to be "cool" or "fun." He is not your "homeboy"—He is as you stated "the Almighty, King of Kings, Lord of Lords" and He should be revered as such. Would you take such a cavalier attitude if you were invited to meet a national or world dignitary? I doubt it. You would put on your best clothes (doesn't have to be a suit, but it should be your best) and you would speak to them with reverence and respect…and least I hope you would.

"Keep it shallow" (your words). Jesus didn't feel like He had to keep it shallow; in fact, He said the Gospel was so simple a little child could understand it. It's not a matter of being intelligent or not—it's whether your heart has been regenerated to understand. (e.g. John 6:44; Matt 13:23)

Jesus teaching was indeed done "outside the church" – BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T EXIST at the time. Silly argument. Also, coats and ties hadn't been invented, yet. Another silly argument. It all goes back to attitude, which is addressed in the next paragraph.

Why must "the old conservative ways [die]?" By who's authority? Because you "hate it," it has to change? The point of my post was the arrogance you have exhibited—that YOU—the emerging church-- have a better way than what God has prescribed (ever heard of the "Regulative Principle?). God has given us the method; He hasn't revoked it. People are saved by the faithful preaching of His Word. Gimmicks, trendy methods, etc. are not capable of saving.

Your last sentence says volumes.

One thing I've noticed about a lot (not all) of your "kind" is that you love to post anonymous "hit and run" comments. Gutless wonders! Other than giving you my home address and phone number, you can know quite a bit about me on this blog, including my name. I'm not hiding. You, on the other hand, choose to hide behind a smart-aleck screen name with no link to a profile, etc. Maybe you were just too busy hanging out at Hooters (for Bible Study?) to put that information together.

I DID have a great night. I studied Malachi 3 and 4 and understood that God has spoken specifically as to how He is to be worshipped. The words "cool" and "fun" weren't in the Bible version I was studying.


If you are tired of Slice an CRN then take a nap- you're on your way to a great one :) I suppose you think these critics of the EC are hacks too:

David Wilkerson, D.A. Carson, Al Mohler, John MacArthur, Chuck Smith Sr., Millard Erickson, J.P Moreland, Doug Groothuis, John Piper, Chuck Colsen, Mike Horton, etal
You go then BCU-be like the Most High, go do your "shots" for Jesus.

Got some great bar sermon ideas 4U.
Jhn 7:7
Jhn 15:18
1Jo 3:13
1Jo 2:15

Alternatively, use any scripture that contains- and they shall know that I [am] the LORD

Pro 26:24 He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him;-
Hence known as the Brian Mclaren Reconstructionist verse

BCU- Got a new age worship song for ya

I love world
World loves me
We're a therapeutic family
With a great big hug
And a kiss from me to you
Won't you say you love me too?

friend_of_sinners said...

HAHA. Dude, I hope when you get your mansion in Heaven, Rob Bell is your next door neighbor! I hope he brings you an unnamed adult beverage as a welcome home gift and says "Dude! Your my neighbor?!?! That's Freakin' Awesome! Why dont you and I head on over to the gathering cloud and sing a new song to God?"

Haha... good stuff

Keith said...

Friend of Sinners: Did you say "hell" or "heaven?" 8^)> Man, that would be a NIGHTMARE...maybe more for him than me!


FOS-My heart rejoices that there are mansions and not duplexes (the message says "duplexes").

Anyhow, I envision Rob (in his bowling shirt) inviting me over for Ouija and hookah hits.
Thanks for the tip FOS -I'm going to get a TPO from the doctrine cops. :-)

Peanut Gallery said...

I can't believe people think this is satire. It is THE way to go, but not if you are only looking for image or growth. It is THE way to go to be all things to all people so that we may win some. It is stripping away all legalism and getting real. It is being authentic. I however, would remove the swear words you posted as that is no part of emergent that I would approve of, nor does it happen where I attend.

Get real people! It isn't sad, it is high time. You people who mock this style are in the modernized version of the little brown church on the hill, you just stayed in your time warp.

Keith said...

Peanut Gallery: If I thought you were serious, I'd respond, but since it's obvious your comments are satire as well, I'll just say "thanks" for stopping by.

Imani said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Keith said...

Nancy: thanks for stopping by. Glad you are enjoying the blog.