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Staybrite

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PostSubject: Struggling Church   Sat Aug 25, 2007 2:37 pm

I just found out that our small church is not doing well at all. I realized that our attendance has been down (but just a little). I had attributed that to a new “start-up” church that recently began in our town, and I felt sure that we would recover.

But it appears that we have slowly been losing official members as well. In addition it appears that our “giving” has dropped considerably. It seems our church is about 3 months behind in our rent (I was very surprised to find out about that). If something doesn’t happen (soon) it appears that our poor little Church will have to disband.

Please pray for us, and our Pastor Brent (he is taking it rather hard).

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Sun Aug 26, 2007 9:39 pm

Staybrite wrote:
If something doesn’t happen (soon) it appears that our poor little Church will have to disband.
scratch
I don't think that's a good choice of words. You'll just meet somewhere else. Are you boldly preaching God's Word? Are you doing God's work in your neighborhood? People don't like being challenged so maybe that's why they're leaving. Have you been submitting and crying out to God to do mighty works?

I apologizing for being blunt, but if you're in God's will there's nothing to really worry about. Just like individuals, churches go through trials, too, and I got a feeling of despair rather than hope from your post.

The other church I attend is a start-up (2 months old) and our avg attendance is less than 10 I bet, but we're excited. We've got a heart to reach the neighborhood to which God has called us.

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Mon Aug 27, 2007 12:18 pm

topshot rhit wrote:

I don't think that's a good choice of words. You'll just meet somewhere else. Are you boldly preaching God's Word? Are you doing God's work in your neighborhood? People don't like being challenged so maybe that's why they're leaving. Have you been submitting and crying out to God to do mighty works?

I apologizing for being blunt, but if you're in God's will there's nothing to really worry about. Just like individuals, churches go through trials, too, and I got a feeling of despair rather than hope from your post.

Well, I didn't mean to project a feeling of despair, but now that I re-read what I posted I certainly see it there. I think part of that feeling may be because the membership has not been kept apprised of our situation (we were just told in a letter this week). We finally had a meeting last night. The impression we have been given is that if we need to leave our building, that our Pastor will need to find a new job/church and in general we will no longer meet as a congregation.

I have thought that our church (as a body of believers) may have been growing sick for sometime. We do not pray together often enough. Our "seeker friendly" environment has held the members back from actively worshipping during the worship through music. We do some community outreach that is effective (but only about 2 or 3 events a year), but it seems we are hard pressed to get the whole body involved in any of it. Since I perform in the band, I sit in the back of the congregation, and I notice that many people do not even appear to pay attention during the service. It just seems like most of us are “going through the motions”.

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Mon Aug 27, 2007 12:21 pm

[quote="topshot rhit"]
Staybrite wrote:

I apologizing for being blunt, but if you're in God's will there's nothing to really worry about.

Oh yes, and BTW no need to apologize to me brother. I have come to appreciate (and often expect) your "blutness" especially when it comes to matters of faith in Christ.

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Mon Aug 27, 2007 5:54 pm

Quote :
The impression we
have been given is that if we need to leave our building, that our
Pastor will need to find a new job/church and in general we will no
longer meet as a congregation.



Maybe, but this is a choice that your pastor is making, not necessarily
how it has to be. I'm not so keen on the concept of a strong division
between the "clergy" and the "laity" that we see at most churches.
While there is nothing wrong with having paid staff positions at a
church, it's not the only way to go, either. My former boss has been a
pastor for 30 years and has never drawn a salary.



If you pastor does decide that he must move on, are there three or four
church leaders who could share the teaching responsibilities? You could
meet in someone's home or garage and still keep the core group of
committed parishoners together. It might even have the effect of
strengthening your church because the pew warmers would go elsewhere.
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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Mon Aug 27, 2007 9:56 pm

I agree with TT. Honestly, the impression I now have from what you wrote is Pastor Brent has lost his first love.

Not having the whole body involved in many of the ministries is very common. Every church has a large % of pew warmers I think. I'd love to see one that doesn't.

Quote :
Our "seeker friendly" environment has held the members back from actively worshipping during the worship through music.
While I'm not a fan at all of seeker churches as there's not much meat given, this statement puzzles me. Maybe I'm reading this wrong. I thought P&W music was central to a seeker church so they'd be more welcome to worship, yet you say they are being held back. ???

I'd be calling for mass prayer and fasting to seek the Lord's face and letting the Spirit go to work.

What you're seeing isn't very uncommon though. Many churches are losing members. The road is narrow....

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Tue Aug 28, 2007 7:37 pm

Thanks for the advice guys.
Still not sure where we will end up as a church.

The main problem with our Pastor not being paid is that he doesn't really have any job skills, so it would be very difficult (or impossible) for him to be bi-vocational.

And yes the whole P&W music thing is a little crazy. We have been told to sit quietly in our seats for the last five years, so as not to scare any newcomers with our vigorous praise. Now the congregation just sits there stone-faced and bored, while the band plays. It has never seemed like worship to me.

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Tue Aug 28, 2007 10:41 pm

Staybrite wrote:
We have been told to sit quietly in our seats for the last five years, so as not to scare any newcomers with our vigorous praise.
Oh, my. I sure hope you jest, but fear you don't. That is utter lunacy. Your pastor came up with this??? Where in the Bible could that remotely be supported? Hello?! McFly! You've got a lot more patience than I do to have stayed there 5 years. It's time to chart a new course for this sinking ship or get in the lifeboat.

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Tue Sep 04, 2007 8:54 am

How in the world did I miss this thread???

If your church wishes to live, then it will. Just stand firm in the Truth of the word, allow the Spirit to guide you, and worship the Father like you've never done before! Even if your pastor steps down, you can find another. Even if the bulk of the congregation has left, you can still rebuild if you are willing to do MORE outreach.

I know where you're at, though, Gary. My church is the same. We had nearly 100 people when Holly & I first came to our church. We're down to about 35 regulars. We've had people get mad and leave, people who just weren't all that pleased with our meeting facilities (we meet in trailers, not a brick building!), some people left over the pastor having been married/divorced before he was called to preach, etc. We've even dropped in the youth group from around 17 regulars down to 8-9. Some people have left for good reasons (taking a new ministry position), and others have left for petty reasons.

But, I am going to worship God and preach/teach the truth. If I offend, I will work on my delivery style. But, I will not back down from the truth. Neither will our pastor. Our church does need a lot of encouragement, and we need to get off our lazy buttocks and start reaching out to people around us. Without meaningful worship (ours is rather dead, too!) and effective outreach, a church will die. Both yours and ours seem to have that in common. But, we can be the voice that challenges folks to change. We can pray for a move of God to revitalize our church as we seek His vision for us and as we repent of our sins.

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Tue Sep 04, 2007 9:21 am

I think your church needs stones where your church can build on.
That's very important now.
support your pastor now your church is going through tough times.
Pray to ask what God's will is in this.
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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:59 pm

Thanks for all the input guys.
Still not sure where our church will end up, but we are praying.
Also our pastor has taken steps to remedy the lack luster worship during music, I just hope it isn't too late.

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Wed Sep 05, 2007 2:22 am

How many go to your church, staybrite?

Fundy

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Wed Sep 05, 2007 9:15 am

alldatndensum wrote:
we meet in trailers
Only in Tennessee. geek



Just pulling your leg, Chris. The church is the people, not the structure they meet in.

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Wed Sep 05, 2007 3:32 pm

Fundy wrote:
How many go to your church, staybrite?

Fundy

At our peak we had around 75 members, and around 120-150 regularly attending service (both members & non).

Now it looks like we are down to less then 40 members, and our attendance numbers are in the range of 40-70 max.

Topshot wrote:
Just pulling your leg, Chris. The church is the people, not the structure they meet in.

Good thing, because we meet in a school gymnasium.
geek

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Wed Sep 05, 2007 3:55 pm

Quote :
Just pulling your leg, Chris. The church is the people, not the structure they meet in.


This I know very well. But we've had people leave over their dissatisfaction of us not being able to build after several years. But, you've got to have the financial ability to break ground on a permanent structure.

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Wed Sep 05, 2007 7:12 pm

There's a church about an hour from here that purposely moved out of their building so they could be more like the NT church and drive home the point the church isn't the structure. I believe they meet in a hotel. There's one in town that's doing that but I think they are too new to build.

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Thu Sep 06, 2007 7:51 am

You have a liot of people that think that the church building itself is holy because it's "God house". I really don't believe that. I think that if we have a nice place to worship that we should take care of it just like we would our homes. But, God's Temple nowadays is the human heart. If we are believers, then He and Jesus have made their home IN us.

But, you still have people that have to have everthing their little way. If the pews are too hard, they'll leave. If you sing the wrong styles of songs, they'll leave. I don't see how some people ever find a church that they like.

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Thu Sep 06, 2007 7:55 am

It's sad people leave church because the pews are to hard.
Important in God's house the communication with the other believers in the congregation and to learn from the things in the service.
You go to church for God not for the nice building, the pews or other things.
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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Thu Sep 06, 2007 2:36 pm

avdb11 wrote:
You go to church for God not for the nice building, the pews or other things.

Well said, I completely agree.

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Fri Sep 07, 2007 2:29 pm

Here is the website of the church I mentioned above FWIW. I like the pastor's style (he does devotions I've been getting for several years) at least. I've thought of driving up there a few times to check them out.

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Tue Sep 11, 2007 8:02 pm

Well with regards to our church it looks as if things are getting even tougher.

One of the cornerstone families in our church has decided to leave. They claim that it has nothing to do with our current troubles, but they are not moving from their home. They just claim that God is leading them elsewhere (away from institutional type churches). Maybe it's true, who knows.

Also the school we meet at for service has decided to double our rent effective immediately.

We are ripe for a miracle.
Or possibly God is telling us we have served our purpose and it is time to pack it in.

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Wed Sep 12, 2007 7:45 am

I suppose now isn't the time to share this, but you know me so I will anyway. This was a devotional I got yesterday that seemed appropriate to your situation.



There are many ways in which we can worship the LORD. There are those moments when we praise Him with a heart of celebration and other moments when
we worship Him with a heart of contrition and brokenness. To always
worship God in contrition and brokenness may cause us to miss the joy
of celebrating His forgiveness and love. But, to always celebrate His
forgiveness and love may cause us to miss seeing the depth of our need
for repentance.

What I am about to say may not be well received, but you know me, I'm going
to preach the Truth! When is the last time your church was so moved by
God, that repentance broke out throughout the worship center? When is
the last time that your worship was so filled with the power and
presence of God, that celebration was replaced with deep conviction and
true repentance? This is not allowed in most churches today, because 1)
It is not trendy 2) It will disrupt the order of the service 3)
Repentance isn’t what people want to do when they come to worship.

This, to me, seems to be one of the greatest enemies facing the Church
today—COMFORT! It is uncomfortable to repent. It is uncomfortable to be
so touched by God that we are brought to a place of deep humility in
the worship service. It is uncomfortable when God moves and completely
messes up what's printed in the bulletin, that which we've worked so
hard on, trying to make the perfect uplifting worship service. Our
seeker sensitive approach to worship might be that which not only is
hindering true worship, but that which is hindering the lost world from
being saved.

"But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while
everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a
sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be
laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is
really among you!"(I Corinthians 14:24-25).

Here, Paul gives us a model and picture, even Biblical instructions about the
church and about a seeker. Paul does not tell us to soften or water
down the worship to make the unbeliever feel comfortable. Instead, he
suggests just the opposite. What will truly lead the unbeliever to say,
"God is really among you!" is to do that which brings conviction and
repentance—the uncomfortable!

In this Scripture, the unbeliever becomes convinced that he is a sinner.
The church doesn't try to woo the sinner in or comfort him by appearing
like the world. Instead, the church is prophesying, proclaiming the
Truth, which brings the lost one to realize he is a sinner. The
unbeliever is drawn to God not by being comfortable, but by being
uncomfortable! This is so contrary to the typical church of today. The
church is so bent on making everyone comfortable that so much is being
missed, so much is being tolerated that it is as if God is NOT really
among us!

Notice too, that the unbeliever was so moved by God that the secrets of his
heart was laid bare. The only thing to happen at that point was for the
unbeliever to "fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really
among you!"

This is what happened when Peter was preaching in Acts chapter 2:36-39
"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus,
whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to
Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the
name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your
children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God
will call."

This no-nonsense approach to proclaiming Jesus led to thousands coming to
know Christ in a single day! No gimmicks, no video clips from Hollywood
were shown to support the pastor's message! Just the power of God's
Word being proclaimed. If your preacher needs a drama to help convey
his message you need a new preacher because nothing is more dramatic
than God Almighty speaking through a man of God!

When we, as the Church, lift up the name of Jesus, Jesus will draw all men
unto Himself. But, when we lift up our worship service, planning it and
fashioning it merely to bring comfort and ease, enjoyment and humor,
the unbeliever will not fall down before God and worship Him. At best,
they will merely worship our worship.

Could it be that the motive behind the trendy worship is not to connect
people to Christ, but to connect people to a church? Could it be that
we are wanting to fill a church rather than have Christ fill hearts? I
think we need to hold up our trendy worship to the light of inspection
and see just what our true motive really is? Are we turning true God
seekers into church people, or authentic disciples of Christ?

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:08 am

I don't know that this will help any, but our little church has been here since '64 and has been through a roller coaster of attendance, struggles, finances, splits, etc. over the years.

As long as humans are involved, there will always be difficulty and low times... but because God is involved, there will always be growth (even if for 2 or 3 in attendance).
In the 70s and 80s attendance was between 50 to 200. Throughout the 90s it dropped as low as TEN people. Those were times of faith for the few involved, and God was the one who "multiplied the loaves and fish" (not quite to 5000). Today, over 10 years later, it's rather healthy and can pack in 150 on any Sunday.

These are times of faith for those left and for your pastor. Pray about M.O., pray about growth, outreach, etc. Focus on helping the community and you'll be shocked at how the Lord uses that. Our pastor will call us up and ask "hey there's a single mother who's gonna be kicked out of her home cuz her ex left the place such a mess with car parts and junk that they're gonna evict her if she don't clean it up, but she don't have the money... whadya say ?" And church members show up, spend the day cleaning and blessing. Next thing u know, people are showing up to church the next few sundays you never saw before.
Again, I don't know if this helps, but I figure it couldnt hurt to share that.
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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Wed Sep 12, 2007 2:19 pm

topshot rhit wrote:
Could it be that the motive behind the trendy worship is not to connect
people to Christ, but to connect people to a church? Could it be that
we are wanting to fill a church rather than have Christ fill hearts? I
think we need to hold up our trendy worship to the light of inspection
and see just what our true motive really is? Are we turning true God
seekers into church people, or authentic disciples of Christ?

I know it is our Pastor's goal to bring seekers to Christ and make them "contagioius Christians. Then the goal is turn those "contagious Christians" into authentic disciples of Christ (as he as said from day one). But it just isn't happening (me included). So I don't think it is the goal that is wrong, just the approach (and the attitude of the flock).

BTW I have read several devotionals, and was rather impressed by the way that one was written. Where did you get it from?

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PostSubject: Re: Struggling Church   Wed Sep 12, 2007 2:25 pm

apologetixfreak wrote:
Our pastor will call us up and ask "hey there's a single mother who's gonna be kicked out of her home cuz her ex left the place such a mess with car parts and junk that they're gonna evict her if she don't clean it up, but she don't have the money... whadya say ?" And church members show up, spend the day cleaning and blessing. Next thing u know, people are showing up to church the next few sundays you never saw before.
Again, I don't know if this helps, but I figure it couldnt hurt to share that.

I agree, I get involved a few times a year with local outreach stuff (sometimes just helping an old widower move or something like that), and it is very rewarding. But it seems we seldom see any church growth from outreach (not that growth should be an ultimate goal). There are also a few other factors working against us.... We are in Western Washington and most people do not believe in God or organized religion, and not because they haven't been shown the truth. Also for some reason our little town (population about 4,000) has a nearly 10 churches with three of those being start-up Churches in the last 5 years. That may not seem like a lot, but in our part of the state it is.

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