I received an email this morning that got me thinking; Have Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches become an endangered species?
If you ask IFB pastors or congregants why their church is not growing, you will get an assortment of answers but most times it will be something like “Because we refuse to water down our message” or “we are not liberal enough” etc.
Recent studies show that the average member of an IFB church is a baby boomer, either poor or middle class, high-school education, married, no children living at home, attend church at least once a week, pray regularly, etc. etc.
So there are many reasons for slow/no growth but one item really stands out to me. If a congregation is mostly older adults, then recruiting young families is hard. Folks are set in their ways, many don’t want a bunch of kids running around, health issue are prominent and workers are few. Evangelism take a backseat to missions. It’s much easier to write a check (particularly when you are an empty nester with no bills) than it is to go door knocking. And I like what John Piper says about the difference between the two.
Evangelism is speaking to anyone anywhere the gospel. You don’t have to succeed at it. Evangelism is happening even if somebody is not getting saved. But you need to say it.
So saying the gospel to anyone is evangelism. It could your mother or your father. It could be a Christian, but usually we think of it as somebody who is not a Christian.
Missions is doing that by crossing a culture. It usually involves learning a language, learning new cultural things where there is no church in which people are doing evangelism of those in that culture. They don’t have any access to the gospel.
And herein lies the problem. Most think of other cultures as being “over there.” Some other country. Send a check, send a person, what ever is necessary to get the word out. Unfortunately, they ignore one culture that scares them, and that is the young ‘technilogical’ culture in their community.
This is the culture that the growing churches are reaching. They use technology to reach those who have a 10-15 minute attention span, who do everything on their smart-phones, live on Facebook, tweet incessantly, are visually acclimated (think powerpoint, videos, sermon bumpers, etc.) In fact, one study claims that 49% of all tithing transactions are made by phone/electronically.
So how do we get church growth? Here are some suggestions for 2017:
1. Pray more. Zechariah 4:6(KJV)
Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
2. Get more intentional about evangelism. 1 Corinthians 9:22(KJV)
To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
3. Do the hard work needed to reach your community Acts 1:8 Acts 1:8(KJV)
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
4. Learn and get in touch with contemporary culture. I Chronicles 12:32(KJV)
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do;
5. Be open to change. Isa 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you. Just hit the comment button below.