“I Started a Church Today!” Response: Are you sure?

Church Planting 01“I started a church today!” exclaimed Samuel Powers our congregation multiplication director as he returned to the office from a successful field visit with the potential sponsor of a new congregation.

I responded as the missions division leader, “No, you didn’t. You simply had the first meeting with a potential sponsor.”

“Yeah, but they agreed to start the church. I am putting it up on the board as number 23 this year,” Samuel said as he grinned at me as we both knew what was going on here.

Samuel liked to count new congregations as successes from the first discussion about launching the congregation. I insisted we talk about the seven phases of launching and developing a new congregation, of which the fourth phase was when we formally counted them as a new sustaining congregation.

Consider the full life of a congregation. What happens when a congregation first experiences the waning of its initial empowering vision from God that launched it into a life of worship, discipleship, fellowship, and mission. At some point when vision wanes, it decides it is time to re-envision, revitalize, renew, reinvent, or resurrect the congregation.

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Congregations Must Play at the Top of Their Game in the March Madness

Duke and March MadnessI am writing this as March Madness—better known as the NCAA Division 1 College Men’s Basketball Tournament gets underway. Although as an Atlantic Coast Conference fan I expected the first day of the basketball season both Duke University and the University of North Carolina would be in the tournament, that did not mean they failed to engage in readiness to be in the tournament.

At least for Duke it was an up and down season. Even their legendary coach—Mike Krzyzewski—was out of commission for four weeks with back surgery, and various other injuries and even bad behavior by a player or two threatened that they would miss the tournament, it was still a reliable prediction that they would be in tournament.

With all their challenges, by the end of the season they were playing at their very best. It took more than 30 games for them to get ready for the tournament. They could not just short hoops around Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC for six months and get ready for the tournament. They had to practice hard, play hard, and anticipate the next game as soon as a game ended.

Congregations are too often not like that. They want to play around being a congregation, doing whatever comes naturally to them, and then at a certain point when the pain is too great declare they need help, a silver bullet, a newly drafted pastor, or some other magic to transform. They want to do this without a highly-disciplined season of readiness.

Ten Qualities Found in Congregations Who Appeal to Millennials


Download Bullard 10 Qualities in Congs Who Appeal to Millennials 03.15.17

Frank Powell wrote an article posted to www.Faithit.com entitled 10 Things You Won’t Find in a Church That Attracts Millennials. It is subtitled What differentiates a church culture that attracts Millennials from one that repels them?” Read his blog and learn about him at http://frankpowell.me/.

This is a really big issue for thousands of congregations. I took Frank’s ten points which are written in the negative, and turned them around as positive issues for congregations to address to become appealing to Millennials. I urge you to read Frank’s work in addition to reading my spin on them. I placed them in my own spiritual and strategic framework.

Here we go. These are the ten qualities in congregations that appeal to Millennials. Read and ponder each one of these. Then rate your congregation on each one using a scale of one to ten. One means your congregation is nothing like this. Ten means you congregation is exactly like this. Numbers two to nine can be used to say how little or how much your congregation is like this. Be honest about where along the scale your congregation is today.

Here is the inventory of 10 qualities: Download Bullard 10 Qualities in Congs Who Appeal to Millennials 03.15.17

Worship and Observations at Park Street Church in Boston, MA

ParkStreet Church 01Today I had the privilege of attending worship and making other observations about the historic Park Street Church in Boston, MA. If a little background on this congregation would be of help to you, here is a statement on their website about their beginning:

In a time of increasing apostasy from the gospel and rising Unitarianism in New England, a small group of devoted Christians, primarily from Old South Church, formed a “Religious Improvement Society” in 1804 to hold weekly prayer meetings and lectures. Though they faced opposition from all sides, the group continued to meet for six years, founding Park Street Church in February of 1809. This small group acted in faith that God would use their efforts to accomplish no small task. And he did. By April of 1809, our location in the center of town was chosen to serve as a beacon of the hope we have in Christ. By 1810, the small congregation had grown and raised over $100,000 to complete the construction of our current meetinghouse.

On their worship folder and website along with their name they have these three words: Evangelical. Congregational. International. In support of the international characteristics, the pastor indicated today that they have people from 60 national connected with the congregation.

Park Street has many things to offer, except for a parking lot. You cannot park at Park Street. Well, that is not exactly true. The parking meters on the street are not enforced on Sundays, and they do have an arrangement with an underground parking lot a block away that if your get your ticket validated at the church, you park at a reduced rate. That is, if you enter the parking building and turn to the left rather than the right. There are two underground parking lots that use the same entrance. Like a UPS delivery truck driver, I always turn to the right unless I have no other choice.

Keep reading to see my observations about this congregation. If you have questions about what I saw, leave a comment, or send me an email to BullardJournal@gmail.com. 

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Nearsighted Vision in Congregations 003

The build-it-and-they-will-come is a shortsighted vision. What would be a farsighted vision?

Fred Lane said in response: "Reverse the paradigm. Go to people outside the church and get involved with them first. Enlarge the number of people that are likely to choose to come to your church. Build when your church is big enough to require more space."

Dwight Stinnett said in response: "Did anyone ask if a new building was the priority for young families with children? Did anyone look at their neighborhood and see what needs might be there???"

Karen Fraser Moore said in response: "Look around the community. Where do young families with children gather in groups? Go there! What services can you provide these families? Age appropriate activities for their children? Give aways?"

What is your response?