Ever reach to the back of the refrigerator and pull out the pickles or the yogurt? Past the expiration date? Too late. Done! Throw it away?
Now…what do you think might be the expiration date on your congregation? If nothing changes?
What about your denomination? Or your network of churches? Write down an expiration date there…if nothing changes.
Try this with a group of your leaders. Ask them the same two questions.
In the Netherlands, in the last 10 to 15 years, 7000 churches hit their expiration date. They went from 12,000 down to 5000. (Hirsch)
There’s an estimated 380,000 churches in the U.S. The average worship attendance is 80.
Missiologist Ralph Winter first introduced the concept of cultural distance to foreign missionaries some years ago. Cultural distance is made up of the barriers that prevent a meaningful communication of the Gospel. Language is the most obvious. Add to that history, values, ethnicity, world view, etc. Each barrier = more distance.
The more and more people in your community that are “culturally distanced” from your congregation, the more and more challenging it is to extend your congregation’s expiration date!
More and more churches find themselves on “islands” with fewer and fewer people…especially younger and younger people…in their communities culturally “close.”
The end result? Congregations tend to get older and older and smaller and smaller.
Most of the ministries and programs that demonstrated fruit in the past were created for a world filled with people in the M-0 and M-1 world around our churches. That’s why when congregations reach back to “do what we used to do” it doesn’t seem to do what it used to do.
Anybody want to guess how many millennials count themselves in your M-0 and M-1 world?
But it doesn’t need to be this way!
What if your congregation continued to do what you’re already doing but strategically used it as a launching pad for a group of pioneers to begin venturing out “together” to cross a barrier or two. PLI can help. It’s not quick. It’s not particularly easy. But a year or two from now when you start to see what results, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.
For the church to continue to wait for people that the apostle Paul described as spiritually dead and hostile to God to suddenly determine to begin searching for God in your church is not likely to be a successful strategy.
The church in the United States is in crisis. The choices you make today can help determine the landscape tomorrow!