The Quality-Quantity Quandry January 28, 2009Posted by Dan R. Dick in Church Leadership, Congregational Life, Religion in the U.S..
Tags: Christian discipleship, Church Leadership, mega-church
It’s always nice to connect with your readers. Here’s an excerpt from an email I got in response to “The Path of Least Resistance Is Paved With Good Intentions,”
You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. I am lead pastor of an 11,000 member church, and we’re as healthy as any church in existence. You’re ignorant, you’re biased, and you’re wrong. Mega-churches are the future of Christianity… More people hear the gospel through our ministry than any other ten local churches combined.
Obviously, no matter how many time and how many ways I say that the size of the church is not the issue, it generally comes across that I am “against” the mega-church. The point I try to make — based on my own limited experience of a few hundred 8,000+ member churches — is that very few are phenomenally effective, many do excellent work, the vast majority struggle and are only nominally effective at making disciples, and a handful are a total mess. In essence, they are just like every other size-segment in organized religion — a few stellar successes, many moderately effective, many struggling, and a few failing.
The Path of Least Resistance Is Paved With Good Intentions January 26, 2009Posted by Dan R. Dick in Congregational Life, Religion in the U.S..
Tags: Christian discipleship, mega-church
In 1995 I had the privilege of meeting Peter Drucker, and he graciously gave me two hours of his valuable time. We talked about “the church,” and covered dozens of topics. One of the topics was the then relatively new “mega-church” and I remember well what Drucker had to say: “It will be around for a good long time.” When I asked him why, he said simply, “Because it’s easier than a traditional church.” As an expert on non-profits, Drucker realized that the more church resembles a business, the more specialized the roles of leadership, and the more focus on growth and numbers, the more attractive the church. In many mega-churches, the primary role of the “senior” pastor is to preach and present a public face for the congregation. Drucker observed that “the mega-church is the perfect church for the United States.”
Some people think that I don’t like the mega-church (or even large churches, for that matter). This is a misconception. What I like are faithful, effective, spiritually-focused, churches of all sizes that maintain a balance of inward and outward service and represent with integrity the reputation of Jesus Christ. Churches that sell out Christian values for cultural values, churches more interested in getting members than making disciples, and churches more enamored with popularity than performance — regardless of size — are the churches I’m not so happy with.
What We’re Not Is As Important As What We Are January 22, 2009Posted by Dan R. Dick in Congregational Life, Religion in the U.S., Spiritual Trends.
Tags: church, hypocrisy, Spiritual seekers
Go to any Christian bookstore and you can find thousands of books promising to turn your church around (whatever that means). These books primarily focus on programs and activities that attract new people to the church, or give leadership ‘secrets’ that guarantee success. (“We did it! You can do it, too!) We look to the leaders of congregations that are growing numerically to find out what we’re not doing as well. This narrowly misses the point. What we’re not doing is less important than who we’re not.
Amazing Day January 21, 2009Posted by Dan R. Dick in Uncategorized.
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It was both inspiring and exciting to witness the inauguration of President Barack Obama. America is generally portrayed as a land of opportunity that deeply values diversity and the intrinsic rights and goodness of all people. I am proud to live in a country where such articulated values bear such glorious fruit. Yes, it has taken too long, and no, it does not erase a history of inequality and injustice. But, oh what a wondrous moment in time. By God’s grace, all things indeed are possible, and in time we may come to see as ordinary and normal such a momentous event. For today, we can bask in the glow of an enormous leap forward as a nation, and celebrate together a day that many thought might never come.
Building the Kingdom One Hypocrite At A Time January 14, 2009Posted by Dan R. Dick in Congregational Life, Seeker spirituality.
Tags: church, hypocrisy, Spiritual seekers
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Here is an exerpt from an email I received recently:
I have given up on the church totally. I can be a much better Christian on my own without the constant disappointment of a group of people who claim one thing then do another. I need a church to help me be a better person, not to teach me how to be a total hypocrite. Most churches preach love then judge and condemn people, or they pray for the poor but spend all their money on themselves. That’s why I have given up on the church.
This is not an isolated or rare opinion of the church. In my six-year study of Christians outside the traditional church, almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents cited the hypocrisy and/or inconsistency of word and action as the primary reason they avoid “church.”
By Popular Demand! January 13, 2009Posted by Dan R. Dick in Uncategorized.
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I want to thank all of you (over 100 so far) who have asked me to continue blogging even though I lost my job with the General Board of Discipleship in Nashville. I figured my blog would simply fade into the shifting sands of history, but I have received an almost constant flow of emails and calls asking me to continue on my own.
Okay, you asked for it. I will continue my Monday/Thursday posting schedule to examine trends, practices, popular misconceptions, disturbingly weird issues, and cultural shifts that affect the Christian church in the U.S. — specifically The United Methodist Church.
So, spread the word: I’m back and glad to be here.
Dan R. Dick