Monday, August 27, 2007

Fascinated with Technology

I'm really showing my geek side today. I'm so amazed with the versatility of XMLand RSS feeds. I finally figured out how to have web pages show the titles - and sometimes the descriptions of different feeds or blogs.

I think this is going to come in very handy for my own email newsletter and other email newsletters that I'm working on. It provides current data without having to change a page. I love that!

Oh well, enough blabbering about RSS.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Numbers...

3000 people brought into the kingdom in one day.
1 godly deacon lying dead near the feet of Saul
185,000 dead Assyrians
4 men lowering their friend through the roof
12 legions of angels at the Lord's disposal
12 apostles turned the world upside down
70 x 7 We should forgive
5000 men fed with
5 loaves and 2 fishes
3 old rusty nails
2 widow's mites
1 way to reconciliation with God

What does it mean to say "It's all about the numbers?" I was reading Steven Furtick's blog on this subject and it really made me think. It really is about the numbers, but I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Let me see if I can express what's been going through my mind. Usually when I hear the phrase it's all about the numbers it's coming from the mouth of one of two kinds of people:
Group 1 - Ambitious people who desire to see great change in their community and who are defending their "success" to group #2. They promote "All about the numbers" as a very good and important indicator of God's blessing.

Group 2 - People who desire to see change in their community who are defending their "failure" to group #1. They use "All about the numbers" with a negative connotation to point out that there is more to godly success than a large crowd, a big budget, and a lot of baptisms.
Numbers can be very helpful. They help us evaluate and understand. Sometimes they cause us to give glory to God. Sometimes they tempt us to glory in ourselves. Sometimes God called for a count. Sometimes Satan did.
1 Chronicles 21:1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.
Should we be more concerned about how many "show up" or how many "grow up?"

The problem with numbers is that the big church can feel their methods are justified because of large numbers. "We must be doing the right thing, we have lots of attendance, lots of money, lots of staff, lots of blog hits, lots of listeners to our podcast" and so on.

But all to often the same intense focus with numbers exists in the small church. "We must be doing the wrong things, we're not growing in size, the budget is sinking, we're struggling to get by."

In such a market driven world numbers are everywhere. Businesses, Politicians, School Testing, Athletes, you name it, are all judged by numbers. It is no wonder that the way we look at the local church is no different. I get frustrated with the numbers. I'm frustrated that our own local church doesn't see more decisions, more changed lives, more giving, etc... I'm also frustrated that sometimes I let numbers dictate my "mood" at the church service. I'm frustrated that sometimes I'm so shallow that I look for the riches of the Pharisees and miss the generous sacrifices of the widow.

People Matter because Numbers matter? No. Numbers matter, because people matter.

Lord, let me be excited about numbers that bring You glory and forgive me when I seek praise or add guilt because of my own pride in numbers.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Reaching the Unchurched

I was grateful to be able to visit one of my friends who is starting a new work in Illinois. I was very excited to see what they were doing. Their atmosphere is very casual, but also extremely welcoming. The music was good and the invitation was not a traditional come forward type of invitation, but it was moving and called for committment.

I think some of these things may very well help them reach those that other churches are not connecting with. This church is already doing well and I expect great things of them in the months to come.

I was checking out the blog of Steven Furtick http://www.stevenfurtick.com/ and he had some pretty interesting things to say about growth. I guess one of the interesting things that I find as I listen to some of the church planters is that even though they are doing things in a different way they are still preaching the Bible. They are still putting Christ at the center. Perry Noble is even preaching a whole series on Hell. (He saw 110 people come to Christ after the first sermon by the way) I guess what I am saying is that all of the naysayers and critics (of which I am sometimes the latter) are concerned that with new methodologies the message will change. But what I am seeing is the message is still the same for most of the guys that I am following.

There are exceptions and some of them make me very angry. But for the most part the heart of these churches is the heartbeat of God. They desire to see lives changed by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that God will help them reach their goals and their desires.