Tag Archive - class

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18 Churchy Things the Class of 2018 Won’t Get

Around this time of year, the mainstream media and Internet meme-machines like to remind us how old we are by telling us all of the things this year’s high school graduates won’t remember because, well, they weren’t even born yet.

That list is usually all pop culture, technology and political references. But what about church? I bet we can make a good list.

In church leadership, we have a looooong memory. And for some reason, we expect the new wine to clothe itself with old wineskins to learn and accept every moment of our history as part of their own personal story.

This spring’s high school graduates were born in the year 2000. Here are some churchy things for which they have little to no context for…

  1. “Shout to the Lord”
    That was 1994, folks.
  2. When Worship Bands Were Edgy
    Carey Nieuwhof wrote about this very well in his article “The Impending Death of Cool Church.”
  3. Billy Graham Crusades 
    His last was in 2005. They were five years old.
  4. Televangelists Committing Fraud and Conspiracy
    More on why that should influence how your church talks about money in Tony Morgan’s article “It’s Not the ‘80s Anymore.”
  5. Giving Cash at Church
    The Unstuck Group’s intern this semester specifically mentioned “offering plates of all varieties… the strangest ones I’ve seen were velvet bags with wooden handles. Very retro.” Tony also said his church doesn’t take an offering in services anymore. And there are no “giving boxes” either.
  6. Why “See You at the Pole” Is a Thing
    Prayer at school is not a part of their collective consciousness.
  7. “I Can Only Imagine”
    Aka Contemporary Christian Music as an influential genre.
  8. Overhead Transparencies for Song Lyrics / Reading Songs from a Hymnal
    They have no idea why older people in your church don’t like projectors and screens.
  9. I Kissed Dating Goodbye
    But, that doesn’t mean they are dating—at least not in real life. (Ask a few teenage girls when was the last time a boy actually asked them out. You’ll get some eye-rolling.)
  10. Multisite as a New Thing
    In late 2005, there were already more than 1,500 multisite churches in the United States.
  11. The Charismatic Movement / The Word “Charismatic” Used in Spiritual Context
    Whether you’re for it or against it, they don’t understand why.
  12. WWJD Bracelets
    Ah, the ‘90s.
  13. Drama Teams
    Aka video clips without the magic of editing.
  14. Church Directories
    If you still have one of these, let me guess the average age of the people listed.
  15. Wearing Your Sunday Best
    See #2. It’s been mostly acceptable to wear jeans to work, and church, since before they were born.
  16. CD Recordings of the Sermon
    Where would they even play a CD? If it’s not digital, they aren’t listening to it.
  17. Tent Revival Meetings
    Similarly to Billy Graham Crusades, without the historical context, these make no strategic sense. Why would you set up a tent beside your building and have service every night? An 18-year-old probably won’t even bother to ask why. They’ll just chock it up to weird religious stuff.
  18. What You Mean by “Traditional” or “Contemporary” Services Style
    “Contemporary” isn’t a thing. The 1990s started almost 30 years ago. If you’re trying to reach Gen Z and Millennials, and you think you have a “contemporary” service that will reach them, there’s a good chance you’re trying to connect with them using a style that emerged before they were born. The literal definition of contemporary is “belonging to or occurring in the present.” Oh, that we would own that definition. The Holy Spirit belongs to and occurs in the present, just as much as he did when the past was the present. As for “traditional” services, I can’t say it any better than Amy Anderson, The Unstuck Group’s Director of Consulting, recently did: If you have a service you’re calling “traditional,” it’s probably not reaching new people for Christ.

Bonus, Unchurchy List

These things make all of the real lists, but churches still ignore these facts. This year’s college graduates don’t remember…

    1. Life Before Mobile
      The iPhone came out when they were 7 years old. We can’t close our eyes and pretend like we can still connect with them without a native mobile strategy.
    2. Having to Call Anywhere for Information
      You need a digital destination for any action you want them to take.
    3. Life Before Everyone Shared Their Whole Lives on Social Media 
      They were 4 years old when MySpace was a hit, and the social media landscape exploded as they grew up. If you’re just tacking on Facebook to your real evangelism and discipleship strategy, you’re going to miss them.
    4. Not Being Able to Google It
      Specifically when it comes to preaching, if you make claims about Jesus, God, the Bible, etc. that they don’t understand, they’re going to Google it. Be prepared for that.
    5. Not Being Able to Connect with You
      They expect to be able to follow you on Instagram or Twitter. They expect to be able to figure you out a bit by how you present yourself online, not just what you say on the platform.

I challenge you to invite some high school grads to join you and your staff for a conversation about what you’re doing that they don’t understand. Let’s not be so hyper-focused on reaching Millennials that we wake up one day realizing we’ve already lost Gen Z.

A big thank you to Tiffany Deluccia for the guest post! Tiffany is Director of Marketing & Communications at The Unstuck Group. She graduated from Clemson University, and before joining The Unstuck Team, worked in public relations with major national retail brands, nonprofits and churches on content creation, strategic planning, communication consulting, social media and media relations. She also founded and writes for WastingPerfume.com, a devotional blog for young women.


Posted in Leadership

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Leadership can’t be Taught in a Classroom

I’ve never worked with a church that said they didn’t need more leaders. No, many churches, even healthy growing churches I’ve worked with mention two big hurdles that they feel are holding them back from accomplishing the vision God has given them; leaders and money. In fact I’ve been surprised to hear in recent conversations the amount of churches searching for an off the shelf solution that they can plug and play in their church in a hope that they will develop more leaders.

There is probably more accessible, solid leadership content available to the church leaders today than ever before. But even with the wealth of legitimately excellent leadership content available at their fingertips, it doesn’t seem like churches are producing any more leaders than they have before. One reason that is the case is that churches continue to buy into a couple of fundamental flaws when it comes to thinking about leadership development.

Leadership isn’t Information

Leadership isn’t learned in a classroom, by reading books, or by sitting around drinking coffee or whatever your beverage of choice is and pontificating about leadership ideas and principles or worse, arm chair quarterbacking other leaders. Leadership is learned by leading. It’s something you simply can’t understand until you do it, you have to exercise that muscle to develop and strengthen it. The Bible teaches us that, “knowledge puffs up while love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). If information was the same thing as maturity then the most mature people walking around when Jesus was walking the Earth were the Pharisees. They knew more about the Scriptures than anyone and they ended up having Jesus crucified. Not very mature huh? Leadership is a lot like love. You can’t say you love someone and not act on it…it has to show up at some point. Or you don’t love them.

Leadership isn’t a Program

Leadership can’t be developed using an off the shelf curriculum or program that you plug and play at your church. You are the leadership development program at your church. Leaders don’t build followers they build leaders. Stop using leadership programs as a crutch and excuse because you don’t have time to do this. If you’re the leader then lead…and build other leaders.

Leadership Skills can be Acquired

Even if you don’t have a leadership gift you can develop, practice, and perfect leadership skills. You can acquire new skills…even leadership skills.

A Leadership Gift can be Developed

According to the Bible, leadership is actually a spiritual gift (Romans 12:6-8). A gift not given to everyone, and to those it is given to, it’s not given in equal measure. But that gift no matter how great or small can be developed and grown.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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Why Some Churches Win But Most Lose

Not every church is winning. In fact Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources has stated in his research that: “Eight out of ten of the approximately 400,000 churches in the United States are declining or have plateaued.”

There are a lot of reasons why 80% of churches in America aren’t winning and there’s no “silver bullet” fix. But there are a couple of things that winning churches consistently do that losing churches don’t.

1. They make Decisions based on Who they are trying to Reach Instead of Who they are trying to Keep

The primary filter for winning churches is “What can we do (short of sin) to reach people who are far from Jesus?” You may think that all these churches care about is evangelism and helping people meet Jesus (Is that so bad?), and that leads to the church being a mile wide and an inch deep. But surprisingly these churches are usually very sensitive to helping people who have recently said yes to following Jesus take their next steps in their spiritual journey with Him. If a church isn’t reaching new people then it’s already dying, it just hasn’t shown up yet.

2. They Embrace Change

Winning churches embrace change. They change their staff and organizational structure. They change their worship style. They change their strategies. They change what ministries they offer. They are incessantly tinkering to try and improve what they do to reach new people with the Gospel. They take big risks because they have a big God and they trust Him for big results. They are not afraid to try new things. They’re not afraid to fail.

3. They don’t just Shepherd People well they Lead People

While the staff at winning churches care deeply about people, they don’t view themselves as simply caretakers and they don’t view their role as simply taking care of people. They view themselves as leaders and feel a responsibility to lead people where Jesus wants them to go even if that means it’s going to be uncomfortable. After all, when was following Jesus ever comfortable?

4. They Help People take Steps not get into a Class

Most winning churches I’ve been around aren’t as interested in biblically educating people as they are challenging people to become obedient to the biblical knowledge they already have. They view discipleship as obedience not information. Winning churches have a clear plan to move people from guests to fully involved and people that say yes to Jesus to following Jesus. Their goal isn’t to simply get people into a class.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

1

Choosing the Right Small Group Model for your Church

When it comes to Small Group most churches jump from model to model. They get all fired up about the latest book they’ve read or conference they’ve gone to and change models so quickly that they end up confusing people. They don’t allow any one model to take root and produce fruit.

There are pros and cons to all of the models below, but the goal of all of this group stuff is to simply make disciples. If that’s happening, then choose the best model that fits the unique personality of your church.

A couple of weeks ago I shared a post that came out of a conversation I had with the consulting team at the Unstuck Group. We were talking about helping churches get unstuck when it comes to the disciple-making ministry at their church. In particular we were discussing Small Groups. In the conversation Chris Surratt who runs SmallGroup.com and serves as a Ministry Consultant with the Unstuck Group identified 6 different kinds of group models I wanted to share with you.

#1 Free Market Groups

In free market groups the old adage “birds of a feather, flock together” rules. Groups are built based on affinity. In this kind of group, the content isn’t as important as the relationship. Groups typically pick their own content. There are hiking groups, fishing groups, scrap-booking groups, surfing groups, you name the hobby and there can be a group built around it.

#2 Closed Groups

Closed groups are simply that, closed. They form and commit to meet together for 18-24 months and go through a particular curriculum together. They don’t add anyone new to that group once the group begin, hence the term “closed.” At the end of that time commitment they either re-up or intentionally break apart to start new groups.

#3 Sermon Based Groups

Sermon based groups reinforce the sermon that is preached each weekend at church. There is no curriculum needed, only discussion questions provided to the group leaders for further study of Gods’ Word and discussion about the sermon. Anybody can participate if they heard the sermon that weekend or listened online.

#4 Host Groups

Host groups are often campaign oriented. Similar to a “40 Days of…” campaign. The content is completely provided in a kit and all you have to do is host the group in your home, play the video for everyone to watch and facilitate a prescribed conversation. Often times in this kind of group the host doesn’t even need to be a Christian, they just need to host the group.

#5 Hub Groups

Hub groups are similar to free market groups except they’re built around key stage of life “hubs.” Ministries such as men’s, women’s, parents, singles, and marriage ministries would all fall into this category.

#6 On Campus Groups

On campus groups are groups that meet on the church campus on a weekly basis. The most common example of this is Sunday School Classes. On campus groups have a tendency to be more lecture format and content heavy in nature.

*What other kinds of groups have you seen or been a part of? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear about your experiences!


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation