Advent Church Attendance Pattern: Up, Down, About the Same?

Advent Candles

Answer three questions anonymously about this issue:  Advent Attendance Survey

Recently a pastor asked me if I am observing any changes in attendance in regular worship services and special worship experiences during Advent and Christmas. It seems to him that in the past few years attendance in going down during Advent instead of going up.

He--like me--recalls that often worship attendance during Advent experiences a crescendo in leading up to very large crowds--comparatively speaking--on Christmas Eve. However, he says he is experiencing the opposite in recent years. He wants to know what I am observing.

I admit I have not thought about that point recently. But, as I think about it, I have perceptions of congregations having less in attendance for their special worship experiences--not including Christmas Eve>

What are you observing? I would love to hear your answers and comments.


Learn in Three Days a Process to Transform Your Congregation

3.daysIt does not matter what “RE” word works for you—revitalize, renew, re-envision, reinvent, redevelop restart, replant, resurrect—there is a three-day “retreat” you ought to attend.

It is called a Congregational Champions Retreat. (For more information go to www.CongregtionalChampions.info.)

It is for senior or solo pastors, church staff persons, key lay leaders, denominational staff leaders, consultants, coaches, stewardship and capital campaign consultants, college and seminary professor who teach church growth and church leadership, and a host of other categories of people.

These retreats are led by George Bullard who has engaged in research, consulting, coaching, writing, speaking, and training on congregational transformation for more than 40 years. He wants to share with you what he has learned will work, will not work, and a process to achieve it.

His work with congregations includes thousands. His advising of denominational organizations about congregational transformation includes hundreds. His training of consultants and coaches over the past five decades also numbers in the thousands.

George likes to do this in small groups. Over the past 13 months he has led 13 retreats involving 130 people. Now he is announcing a new round of retreats for the fall of 2017. All these “retreats” will be held at the Columbia Metro Baptist Association office in Columbia, South Carolina.

The “retreats” start at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and end at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday. The dates for this winter/spring are,

  • Tuesday to Thursday, February 6-8. 2018
  • Wednesday to Friday, April 18-20, 2018
  • Friday to Sunday, April 27-29, 2018
  • Monday to Wednesday, May 21-23, 2018

For more information go to www.CongregationalChampions.info. Or call George directly at 803.622.0923 or e-mail him at GeorgeBullard@ColumbiaMetro.org, and he would be glad to answer your questions.

To register go to CC Retreat Registration

Can you really learn how to transform your congregation in three days? Absolutely you can learn the process and receive handouts you can use with your congregation. Then, you and George will work together to assess what additional process assistance you need or want following the retreat.


The Dinner Church Handbook (A Book Review)

The Dinner Church HandbookI just finished reading The Dinner Church Handbook: A Step-by-Step Recipe for Reaching Neighborhoods. As an organic, missional approach to creating a neighborhood experience where gospel conversations can take place, the concept of the book rates a 5 star. As a book that fulfills what is promised in its title it rates a 3 star.

The Dinner Church as an evangelizing and congregationalizing strategy takes the concept of house church into the community and refocuses it as a neighborhood church. It is highly relational which fits the generations “Y” and “Z”. Since any movement of Christianity tends to long-term have an upwardly socioeconomic mobility trend, it a good to have a significant focus on lower income households—although the concept is not solely for these households. 

The metaphor of the Lord’s Supper/Last Supper and the early church pattern is powerful and worthy of the dinner church motif. Making dinner churches/neighborhood congregations focus on all of us sinners—some redeemed and some not yet redeemed—is a solid idea of getting beyond the captivity of the intra-church culture. 

Continue reading "The Dinner Church Handbook (A Book Review)" »


Theological Education vs. Ministry Preparation?

Minister PreparingShould seminaries engage in theological education or ministry preparation? Of course the initial answer should be "both."

But, Let's go deeper.
 
Should seminaries primarily focus on theological education with minimal practical, real-time ministry preparation? Or, should seminaries primarily focus on ministry preparation with just enough theological reflection to be sure they are not producing heretics?
 
On a scale of one to ten, with one representing the position that seminaries should engage only in theological education and let students get ministry preparation on their own, and ten representing the position that seminaries should engage only in ministry preparation and let students be theologically grounded elsewhere, where along this scale should seminaries focus?
 
Why? Explain your answer.
 
Beyond this straightforward dichotomy are additional questions. Should seminaries provide theological indoctrination that fits the generally focused perspective of the seminary faculty? Should seminaries teach a style of ministry their perspective says is the generally accepted—perhaps even the only accepted—pathway to a successful ministry career? In other words, should seminaries seek to produce graduates in their image, or graduates in the image of God for engaging in with the unique set of spiritual gifts, life skills, and personality preferences each person possesses?
 
Perhaps the reality of these last three questions is to watch the graduates of seminaries that faculty and administration point to as examples of their best graduates, or those who they invite back to speak or teach, or alumni who they honor with some recognition, or those who they continually recommend for ministry placement throughout the ministry career of the graduate. This may say more than anything else where the seminary is along this continuum of theological education vs. ministry preparation.
 
What is your story about seminary? To what extent did you receive a theological education? To what extent did you receive ministry preparation?

Common Sense Security for Houses of Worship

Church Security

This is a repost from the summer of 2015 that is still relevant today and points to a resource that is still active!

In light of the mass murders this week at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC many congregations will think about, perhaps rush to deal with, security issues for their congregation. In the midst of their response congregations need to seek some common sense about security.

I recommend congregation download the Download Guide to Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship  published by FEMA. It is a helpful comprehensive, common sense piece.

Here is the FEMA site: https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/33007

I also recommend congregations contact their insurance provider. Many have developed or have recommended material and guidebooks for houses of worship. 

Be wise. Be loving. Be inviting. Be careful. Be safe. Be Christian.