At Least 10 Things Great Churches Are FOR

Is it just me, or has the Internet and social media seemingly been flooded lately by a whole lot of vocal people expressing just how many things they’re against?

There’s a culture war going on, and it isn’t just the right versus the left. Society seems divided into all kinds of tribes and micro-communities, but issue after issue keeps dividing those micro-communities further. It’s very easy to join the fray – to get drafted into a war we don’t really feel is ours, but in which our emotions have become entangled, as if every major trending topic will most certainly determine our fate if we don’t speak up.

The church has often, intentionally or not, been branded as a community of people who are angry and therefore are against everything not church-y. This is especially true when we so vocally voice our protests and gang up to boycott every business that doesn’t look conservative-Christian-friendly enough.

I’ve listened to too much lately. From all sides. Some opinions I agree with and others I don’t, but what I’ve concluded is ultimately this: If I’m going to be known or listened to, I want it to be because of what I’m FOR, not what I’m against.

Please don’t misunderstand. There are lots of things that Christ-followers should be ardently against. We should be passionately against slavery and human trafficking, genocide, persecution, and oppression. We should be against doctrinal error within the church when it confuses or obscures the true message of the gospel. And we should even be against sin, especially in our own lives. After all, where sin thrives, humanity doesn’t.

My fear, though, is that the church is often branded, fairly or not, as the people who are against people. The church is against gay people, liberals, addicts, and sinners of all kinds. We’re against Target or Starbucks or Hollywood. We’re against pregnant teenagers, rock bands, and anyone who is inked or pierced. I realize I’m feeding into some of the stereotypes about the church that certainly don’t apply to even a majority of Christians. But some of this brand has been earned.

When it comes to my own ministry, and the way I lead the church I love, I want to major on the things that we’re for. I want to put down the weapons of the sarcastic juke and judgmental stab and instead take up the tools that are constructive. I would rather have a ministry of building people up with truth than tearing them down with it. For example…

  • We’re for truth – absolute, eternal truth in a world of uncertainty.
  • We’re for love – showing love in practical, tangible ways in a self-serving world.
  • We’re for life – imparting life in a world dominated by death and tragedy.
  • We’re for human dignity – every person is a precious soul, and every soul matters deeply to God.
  • We’re for healing – offering physical, emotional, and spiritual healing for the broken in a broken world.
  • We’re for grace – the radical, Jesus-like kind that offends the religious and saves sinners.
  • We’re for community – life-giving relationships between people who bear each other’s burdens.
  • We’re for prayer – prayer that calls on an active and living God to move heaven and earth.
  • We’re for faith – the kind that moves mountains, that expects God’s best.
  • We’re for hope – that the King will return, rule, and reign in peace forever!

We’re for YOU! We’re for you because God created you, loves you, lived for you, died for you, rose for you, and draws you to himself in love no matter your background, no matter your sin, and no matter what your story looks like.

Two Good Reasons to Attend Church This Weekend

I recently told a friend, who happens to be agnostic, that he “shouldn’t” go to church. I know. That was dumb, right? I really didn’t mean that he should avoid attending church. Rather I meant that he, as a non-believer, wasn’t under any particular moral duty to attend church on the weekends.

Instead of feeling as if he should attend church, I wanted him to understand that he could attend. He could freely and he would be welcome. He would be loved. He would be accepted and treated like family. And… it might even be good for him. No, not a good thing for him to do… a good thing for him. See the difference? I don’t embrace moralistic therapeutic deism. I don’t think the weekend worship service is about making people better.

The worship service is all about magnifying the redemptive good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection for sinners and how he is the one and only saving King for all of eternity! But… I still think church can make life better for people, even when they don’t believe the core message of the gospel.

Why does this matter? It matters because of where our culture is in relationship to the church. There are two primary reasons people have traditionally attended weekend church services in our modern American culture. One, they feel a sense of loyalty to the institution. Just as my grandfather worked for Holley Carburetor for 33 years and used the same brand of shaving cream for decades, a whole generation tended to feel more loyal to certain institutions on the basis of principle.

Attending church was our duty. It pleased God (at least we thought it did). It pleased others. It gave us a good reputation. We went to support the church, to support the pastor, and even to support the denomination to which we were a part.

And two, people have attended church because of the power of the event. We’ve enjoyed the music, the message, and the mixing we get to do socially. It seems better than a concert, a movie, or a social event because it happens behind stained glass where we sing and preach about Jesus. But, at the core, we’ve often gone because going feels better than staying home.

Neither of these motivations are working very well anymore, and that’s probably okay. The culture is rapidly changing in regards to institutional loyalty. Consider the results of a recent Gallup poll which discovered, in general, that people have low confidence in institutions. Among the fourteen institutions included in the poll (see below), the church ranks third!! Pretty good, right?

But… we’re slipping. In a single decade, the confidence that the public generally places in the church has dropped by eleven percent. That’s big.

Screenshot 2016-06-13 14.19.59

I suggest we start exploring other potential motivations for attending worship services, and for inviting others along. Here would be my two suggestions.

First, for believers, maybe we should attend worship services because of what worship services really are – an assembly of God’s people for the purpose of praising King Jesus, showing love and practical service to each other, and hearing truth from the Bible that we can live out the rest of the week. That isn’t all, of course, but that’s core. To put it more simply… we who follow Jesus should attend… for Jesus, for others, and for ourselves.

When we do show up, we should sing, and pray, and preach, and love each other, and give and tithe, and leave on mission.

And the second reason, particularly for nonbelievers, is that the church is good for you. I’m not talking about the production quality. I’m talking about the fact that we serve a good God who inspired a good word and gave his good Son to give us his good grace and carry us into a good eternity! He gives us a good mission to change the world with the good, good news!

Our church services could have something compelling to offer to those who haven’t followed Jesus yet. Perhaps we could learn to worship in such a way that our worship becomes a witness to the mighty power of God. We could sing and preach and dialog in terms that make sense, that make the gospel understandable. We could apply the timeless truth of God’s inerrant word to the everyday problems that people are facing.

What would happen if the church was the one place on earth every nonbeliever could go to investigate what Christianity is all about and, once they arrived, they experienced such family-like acceptance and overwhelming grace and love that they couldn’t help but give Jesus another hearing next weekend? What if we demonstrated that the gospel changed us in ways that were observably distinctive from the non-believing culture at large?

If our ethics were shaped by our faith, if our attitudes were informed by the hopefulness and grace of the gospel, and if our tenacity about loving people no matter what, I think we’d have gatherings that were compelling to those who hadn’t yet come to understand the gospel.

I’m not arguing that we avoid anything that the Bible asserts as truth. Sometimes we will not be able to preserve friendly terms in our dialog with those who outright reject the good news, and that’s okay. That’s on Jesus. But I’m convinced that Jesus – the Way, the Truth, and the Life – was, as my friend Artie wrote, cravable! His love kept compelling people to believe and follow.

Let’s face it and get really, really real for a second. Plenty of church buildings with big signs exist in America. They know we’re in there on Sunday… But they’re doing other things. Why? You can stick with the narrative that everybody just hates the gospel if that makes you feel better, but what if our lack of love, truth, passion, and grace is actually the problem?

I serve a Jesus worth following! I’m part of a church worth attending! I read a Bible worth reading! And I want the whole world to know it. I want you to come to Grace Hills Church this Sunday (or another Jesus-centered, truth-teaching, life-giving church in your community) because I want you to experience life and community with God’s people, even if you aren’t one of us yet. And… I think it’ll be good for you.

YOU Can Make a Difference as WE Make a Difference Together

American Christians have been conditioned by our cultural surroundings in many ways, and none is more prominent than our shift from communal thinking to individual thinking. We love inspirational and motivational content that revolves around memyself, and I. That’s why we sell so many books about how I can be successful, how can get rich, and how I can be a better master of my own universe.

The Bible, on the other hand, speaks far more of we than of I. Two thousand years ago, Jesus gathered some ordinary misfits into a little community called the church. He trained them as his disciples, died for their sins, rose again and breathed life into them by sending his Holy Spirit. He commissioned them to go forth into every nation and share the gospel.

We usually interpret that commission individualistically. That’s why we have so many books and courses on how I can witness and share my faith. We think of evangelism as an individual enterprise and the church as merely an afterthought.

I even see a bothersome trend in church planting that encourages planters to hold off on planting a church and just “plant the gospel” and hope a church forms. So planters, without the benefit of a gathering community called the church, are winging it individually and getting discouraged after a year of waiting for fruit.

Bad News for Lone Rangers

The fact is, while God indeed chooses, uses, and blesses people in the fruitful telling of the gospel of Jesus, he does so when those individuals are in healthy community. There is no place in the body of Christ for an unattached part, or in the family of God for an estranged sibling.

Are there exceptions? Only in that God give some an apostolic, pioneering gift mix and sends them into the completely uncharted waters of the mission field, but historically these individuals have usually had a supportive church back home rooting and praying for them from a distance.

I think people want to hear about how significant their individual contributions to the world can be, but God calls us to carry out his assignments in groups, in communities called churches. In other words, YOU can make a difference in the world as WE make a difference in the world TOGETHER.

If you’re still waiting to become the rockstar at the top of your evangelical bubble, there are two things you need to know.

  1. You can’t do this by yourself.
  2. You shouldn’t do this for yourself.

It’s never been about you, or about me. It’s about him using us together to reach as many of them as we can before he comes back.

Good News for Eager Believers

This isn’t so much a word of correction as it is a word of encouragement. Have you ever felt helpless as to what to do for a hurting friend? What to say to a lost soul? How to serve an unfortunate person you meet? Here’s a plan: bring them to the community! The whole family can help!

We often miss out on the beauty of the church because we see the church as a place to show up, or an event to attend, or an institution that needs our allegiance and our money. But what if we really valued the church as a community of people on mission together to tell the good news of the cross and resurrection of Christ to the rest of the world?

On a practical level, this sometimes means inviting someone to the weekend worship gathering to observe what your faith is all about. When they do come, they see a body of people, witnessing together to the truth about God in Christ.

It may mean involving them in a small group in a home or a coffee shop. And when that happens, you’ll be involving them in an extension of the life of the local body of believers to which you belong.

It could even mean asking them to serve, in the trenches, alongside you and your church as you serve the community. There is a kinship found when we meet the needs of others together, and people who don’t yet know Jesus need to see our love-in-action.

You don’t have to do this alone. And you shouldn’t try. The church, with all of its faults and imperfections, is God’s chosen institution for telling the redemptive story of Jesus and drawing people into life in his Kingdom. We get to do this together, and we’re always better together!

The After Effects of a Spirit-filled Prayer

Does prayer make any difference? Absolutely! And prayer makes a difference because the living God, the Holy Spirit, lives inside the one praying. Further, when God’s people get together and pray as a community, amazing things happen!

I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of those before-and-after photos advertising the latest weight loss and fitness program. The Bible gives us a pretty neat before-and-after picture of the early church. Before the Holy Spirit empowered the church at Pentecost, the apostles are waiting, hiding, and hoping. And they’re praying.

Then Pentecost occurs. The fire falls. The Spirit empowers. And things begin to happen. Thousands are saved and added to the church. Miracles occur. Healing takes place. The impact is so tangible that the church leaders start getting in trouble for bringing attention to the crime of the unfair crucifixion of Jesus. Peter and John heal a crippled man at one of the Temple gates and it lands them in jail where they take a beating and are sternly warned not to speak any more in the name of Jesus.

Upon their release, instead of cowering away in fear, the Bible says this…

As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said. When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, ‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the LORD and against his Messiah.’ “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will. And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

Acts 4:23-35 NLT

So they ran back to the church and instead of figuring out a way to hide in the shadows, they pray. For boldness. Does it work? The Bible continues…

After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.

Note that key phrase. After this prayer

And six things happen. I believe these same six things happen when God’s people pray in concert together before God. When we cry out for boldness, for courage, for empowerment… When we refuse to cower in fear but instead courageously carry the gospel to our culture…

  1. People get filled with the Holy Spirit. (v. 31)
  2. The Word gets preached with boldness. (v. 31)
  3. The church remains unified on mission together. (v. 32)
  4. The world hears about the hope of the resurrection. (v. 33)
  5. God’s blessing and favor is upon his people. (v. 33)
  6. The community is changed by infectious generosity. (v. 34)

So, before we pray Spirit-filled prayers, we wait. We wonder. We remain in a holding pattern. We might want great things to happen. We may dream of all that could occur. But it’s after we pray Spirit-filled prayers that God gets involved and begins to work in miraculous ways.

When we’re sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit and allow him to guide our petitions to the Father, God delightfully responds with amazing answers.

To put it simply… no prayer, no power. And the reverse is true as well… more prayer, more power.

This is God’s economy. He has chosen to do certain things in response to prayer. Movements gain momentum and miracles occur when we follow God’s prescribed method of really getting things done. I’m a big believer in having healthy systems and well-planned strategies. I love order and organization. But all of our planning is just wishful thinking without the breath of God infusing us with his power.

Grace Hills: A Growing Church for a Growing Community

Grace Hills Lobby

I’m in awe of God because He is God and because of all that I know to be true about Him from Scripture. And I’m humbled to be a part of what he is doing in the world today. I just got to share this brief update about Grace Hills Church via Mission:World Magazine. Will you read it and rejoice with me?

Sometimes Northwest Arkansas feels very much like the center of the world, at least culturally. What was once small town America is now a cluster of cities collectively larger than Little Rock and consisting of dozens of ethnic groups and people from every major religious background. The region is also home to the world’s largest retail corporation and a new, American art museum that draws a half million visitors per year. Somewhere around 1,000 people move into the I-49 corridor every month. In other words, we couldn’t plant enough churches to keep up with the population explosion and cultural transformation happening around us. But we’re going to try.

In the four years that we’ve been planting Grace Hills, we’ve met close to 2,000 visitors and now average 250 in Sunday worship, having baptized close to 100 people. A dozen and a half small groups now scatter around the county each week. And we’ve also accomplished one of our biggest goals – we’re planting a daughter church in nearby Siloam Springs – Journey Church, led by Michael and Jennifer Smith and Cody Woodward. Additionally, we’ve sent The Sanders and Crabtree families to Papua New Guineau and we’ve partnered with missionaries John and Alisha Herring in Nixa, Missouri and Ely and Ana Brito-Semedo in Thailand.

The biggest celebration is that behind every number is a name; every name has a story; and every story matters to God. Join us in praying that God would keep sending more broken people our way in need of the redemptive hope of Jesus Christ!

Dear Grace Hills, We’re Making a Big, Bold Move

Grace Hills Church at Pinnacle Hills Promenade Malco TheaterComing to (another) theater near you… Grace Hills Church! We’re moving from the Rogers Malco Town Cinema over to the Malco at Pinnacle Hills Promenade!! And our big opening is January 25, 2015!!

Hey Grace Hills, we’re three years old! And during these three years, we’ve seen a lot of growth. We started with 30 people in an office and had about 70 when we got ready to launch six months later. We averaged 140 in worship attendance during our first year at the Rogers Malco Cinema and have now grown to an average of about 210 and had over 300 for this past Easter. Approximately 75 have gone “all in” through baptism and we have nine strong small groups going, with a need for several more. Those numbers help us to know where we are as a church, but they don’t even begin to represent all the stories of life change we’ve witnessed.

Dozens of people have given their lives to Jesus, marriages have been saved, addicts have found help and committed to recovery, and people have stepped up to serve others. We’ve sent and supported missionaries to Nixa, Missouri, Thailand, Papua New Guineau and have begun planting a daughter church in Siloam Springs. And we’ve enjoyed a beautiful partnership with Grace Hill Elementary school and have invested hundreds of volunteer hours in the community through We Love NWA initiatives. A couple of our kids ministry leaders are launching BE:KIDS and it’s gonna be big. A lot has happened!

Who We Are

At the core of who we are is a very simple mission:

We exist to gather a community of people who are coming to know Jesus and serving others for the glory of God.

That’s a mission statement that very simply represents the five purposes we believe Jesus founded the church to accomplish.

  • To gather people is evangelism. It’s how we grow larger.
  • To gather a community is fellowship. It’s how we grow warmer.
  • To gather a community of people who are coming to know Jesus is discipleship. It’s how we grow deeper.
  • Serving others is ministry. It’s how we grow broader.
  • And we do it all for the glory of God because everything we do is worship. It’s how we grow stronger.

To put it simply, we’re purpose driven church. Rather than being driven by programs, buildings, budgets, politics, or denominational agendas, we’re driven by a great commitment to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. It’s why I believe we’re growing into a great church.

What we do

We’ve always approached ministry in Northwest Arkansas in three ways, all modeled on the ministry approaches that Jesus took.

We invite people to come and see what we’re all about and what the gospel is all about. So we want to create the very best weekend gathering we possibly can, where things get real, where we focus on truth and grace, and where the gospel is always faithfully shared and connected to where we live life daily. (This is important. I’m coming back to this…)

We challenge people to come and die, which may sound odd if you’re unfamiliar with Jesus’ challenge to His disciples, but an “all in” commitment to Jesus means dying to self and coming alive to a whole new life in relationship with Jesus. It’s becoming like Him in every aspect of our character.

We send people to go and tell. Individually, as groups, and as a church, we’ll do anything to reach people far from God and multiply ourselves.

Where we do it

The “come and see” aspect of what we do – what we often call the gathering aspect – we’ve had the privilege of doing in a movie theater. Admittedly, that wasn’t the plan on day one when we started planting Grace Hills. But three months into our launch team gathering process, we decided to go for it and within a few months, it had opened my own eyes to a new way of thinking about where and how churches gather.

To put it simply, I’ve come to love the concept of a church that gathers right in the middle of the culture, in the marketplace, in what some refer to as the “third place.” Barriers are already broken down for guests, especially those who walk in knowing that they have hurts, habits, and hang-ups. We communicate strongly that we’re a church for the unchurched, the de-churched, and people who long for an environment that is shaped by radical grace.

Where we’ve been gathering is about to change.

I and the Grace Hills staff have spent many weeks praying, fasting, seeking God’s clear direction, and listening for His voice. This past week, we re-visited a spot we only briefly considered before. When the four of us met on the property, it was thirty minutes of confirmation. Here’s what stood out to us…

  • It’s a “third place” where people come to do life beyond home and work.
  • It’s right in the middle of all of Northwest Arkansas, so it’s highly visible.
  • It’s a familiar place to people and to families.
  • It’s an extremely kid-friendly place. There’s a “party room” for our nursery and a playground right out front.
  • It’s an extremely teen-friendly place.
  • It’s a clean, fresh place. The theater staff has done a great job keeping it in tip-top shape.
  • It opens the door to minister to more of Northwest Arkansas and to people and families with all kinds of stories.
  • It’s a theater, so it’s still casual, seeker-friendly, and community-oriented.
  • It’s totally US. Trust me…
  • It’s not permanent. It’s not “temporary” either. And with our vision of spreading and scattering all over the community as we grow, I’m not sure what “permanent” means for us anyway.

I’m excited!! Our staff is excited!! And I believe you’re going to be excited too!

The “Why” is what matters most

I remind myself of our core values constantly. As we move forward, we’re still going to believe the Bible completely, take big risks for a big God, do whatever it takes to reach the lost, make sure everybody belongs, be crazy about broken people, worship without holding back, walk with people on their journey to maturity, and bring out the best in people. And best of all, what’s next for us allows us to be fast, fluid, and flexible and to more firmly plant ourselves to multiply all over Northwest Arkansas!

Grace Hills, I love you, and I can’t WAIT to take this next leap with you!!! We’ll be meeting in our new space on Sunday, January 25th, 2015!!!

What to Do When Your Church Seems to Be Dying

Temple Baptist Church Sarnia New Roof

No church leader I know wants to see another church close its doors. We need every local church, now more than ever, if we’re going to fulfill the Great Commission as soon as possible. I’m a Baptist who still believes in the perpetuity of biblical, local New Testament churches until Jesus comes again. But each local church in history has tended to have its own life cycle. Some are revived and have a whole new life. Others disband and dissolve. And many churches limp along in mere survival mode for a couple of decades until their stalwart generation is gone and then close their doors.

Here’s a hard truth. Sometimes, churches need to die. Sometimes, churches need a miraculous healing and fresh breath of life. God is certainly in the miracle-working business and is alive and well on His throne, but under His sovereign reign, history proves that miracles aren’t always in order from His perspective.

If you think your church might be dying, here are some possible next moves.

Assess the situation.

And here’s the tough question you must ask to have a meaningful assessment: Will we, by fighting for our survival, consume resources such as money and energy that could be better invested in other ways for the growth of God’s Kingdom? And here’s the kicker. To turn things around, you won’t be able to do what you’ve been doing. Things will have to change radically and painfully, and very few churches survive the transition. You’ll have to let go of the reins and give up control. In other words, you’ll have to do the very thing human beings are most afraid to do for your church to have a chance at new life.

If, after close inspection, deep prayer and fasting, and the counsel of godly leaders your church comes to the conclusion that life must go on and revival must occur, brace yourself. What comes next is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. It’s why Ed Stetzer often says that “it’s easier to birth babies than to raise the dead.”

Know that God wants more than your faithfulness. He wants you to be fruitful as well.

This is the point at which many who are reading these words with a defensive posture will be proclaiming that all is needed for a church to thrive is faithfulness to sound doctrine and the preaching of the gospel. I believe these are foundational. I also know plenty of churches that are, as Vance Havner put it, “straight as a gun barrel doctrinally and just as empty spiritually.”

To be faithful requires our adherence to the Scriptures as God’s Word, to Jesus Christ as Savior and Head of the body, and to the Holy Spirit as our source of power. But fruitfulness also requires wisdom, teamwork, sweat and toil, and a methodology that fulfills the unchanging mission of the church.

Let go of your church as you’ve known it.

Everything has to be on the table. It’s possible, and even highly likely, that your church is being held back by some rather significant factors such as the leader, the building or location, the power structure, the worship style, poor communication and broken systems. Many churches are dying because they’ve hung onto seemingly harmless traditions that actually alienate them from those outside the faith by creating an impassible cultural wall.

Many churches are dying because they’ve handcuffed their spiritual leaders with an inverted structure. The sheep are controlling the shepherd and threaten to vote him out if he doesn’t tow the line. This is epidemic. And also common is the lone ranger leader who has all kinds of freedom and power but is too afraid to share the load of ministry by empowering other leaders.


Get help.

We want new church plants to be under the wing of a “mother” church until they’re on their feet. I think it’s pertinent that churches in “resuscitation” mode do the same. Seek out the help and oversight of a church that is thriving. Obviously you will want to seek the leadership of a church that is like-minded theologically, but it’s also vitally important to be able to recognize and appreciate the value and effectiveness of other methodologies. You need coaches, consultants, and mentors if you’re going to turn the ship around. Call them the triage team, if you will, and listen to their wisdom.

Start over. Completely.

It’s possible to keep the name of your church the same, stay in the same location, and keep the same leadership. But it’s also necessary to lay all of these on the altar if a new name, a new spot, and a new approach to ministry will more effectively reach your community.

There are absolutely success stories out there from which to learn. Pastor Jeremy Franklin turned it around at Oasis Church (formerly Grace Temple Baptist Church) in Arlington, Texas. Pastor Bruce Moore gave his church one year to live and shared with them the date of their final service if they chose to remain the same. Now, Christ Fellowship in Tampa is a thriving, evangelistically effective multi-cultural church in the heart of a metro area. Pastor Dom Ruso has led a formerly large church that had experienced significant decline to shift things and grow again at Temple Baptist Church in Sarnia, Ontario (hear Cary Nieuwhof interview with Dom about his experience transitioning a declining church via Cary’s Leadership Podcast).

And that painful cutting loose of our attachments and traditions and embracing of a whole new future is just the beginning. The hard work lies ahead. Therefore, if you can’t or won’t take radical action, then it’s time to do something altogether different, and it’s not as negative as it sounds at first.

Die. With dignity.

Imagine closing your church doors with heavy hearts, but high hopes for the future. It’s happening in pockets across the country as churches decide to release the kingdom assets they’re currently sitting on and invest in new works. Gather the leadership, chart a course for closing, dissolving assets, and re-distributing all assets to new church plants and missions agencies. Ideally, link up with the particular church plant that will be using the funds and host a joint-service with them near your final Sunday and make it a big celebration.

A grain of wheat seems to die when it falls to the ground, but it actually produces new, fresh life. And so can your church!

One of my mentors, Grady Higgs, often said he’d hate to be the church sitting on an enormous savings account when Jesus returns. Remember the big assessment question: Will we, by fighting for our survival, consume resources that could be better invested in other ways for the growth of God’s Kingdom? It could be that the greatest act of ministry in the history of your church is to unselfishly invest yourself back into the Kingdom by helping a new birth happen.

Pictured: Temple Baptist Church in Sarnia, Ontario – a healthy turn-around church.