March 31, 2006

Chuck Russell Interview, part 3

Here's the final installment of my interview with Chuck Russell about his background and his decision to come to Resurrection. See part 2 here.

Clif: What made you decide to move from the national, general agency level down to the local church level?

Chuck: My heart has always been with the local church. Just ask my colleagues here at UMCOM. They got sick of hearing me say over and over that it’s ALL about what goes on at the local church. One of my mentors, Gregg Taylor at the University of Arkansas Wesley Foundation, used to always say you can influence people from far off but you can only impact them from up close. The local church is the Father's instrument in bringing about his kingdom rule on earth. It has been that way since a converted persecutor rambled around the Roman Empire setting up house churches.

Clif: What will be your title and role on staff at Resurrection?

Chuck: My title will be Internet Communications Director, and being that it is a new position my role will gradually evolve. Primarily I will be responsible for the Internet-based communications that the church as a whole and individual ministries use to live out their mission to make disciples. In a church with so many talented people, that will mean a lot of consulting, strategic planning, project management, volunteer recruitment, training and equipping. I see the web and Internet technologies as servants of the ministry of the church, so the goal is to really understand the needs and values of ministry leaders and help them bring technology to bear on those areas.

Clif: What are your priorities in this new position?

1. Getting to know the church in depth – its people, its programs, its heartbeat.
2. Establish an internal consultancy that has a well developed process for meeting ministry area needs.
3. Recruiting and equipping a volunteer team.
4. Establishing standards and guidelines for forward facing websites.
5. Learning to work in a cubicle. (Yep I had a really cool office with a view of downtown Nashville.)

Clif: What excites you most about the opportunity to be on the staff at Resurrection?

Chuck: The ability to work with such smart, talented people who are absolutely on mission. What I admire most about the church as a whole and particularly its executive leadership, is how focused they are on their core values. They know when to say yes and when to say no to something, and its always related to the question of whether or not it can get us further toward making disciples of Jesus Christ.

March 30, 2006

Chuck Russell Interview, part 2

Here's more of my interview with Chuck Russell about his background and his decision to come to Resurrection. See part 1 here.

Clif: What have you learned from your time on staff at UMCOM? What do you feel are your greatest accomplishments there?

Chuck: My first real learning is that there are people at General Agencies that really do want to help and that are great at what they do. I had grown up pretty much divorced from the national church and really felt like it didn’t have much to offer. What I found is that while sometimes the national church is out of touch with the local church, sometimes the problem really is just that people don’t know how much assistance they could get just by picking up the phone and making a call.

As far as accomplishments, we have helped thousands of churches get started on the web through resources and products, and we trained close to 4,000 local church leaders in the use of the Internet for ministry. We worked with numerous annual conferences to help improve their web presence, and of course working with Resurrection and other innovative churches has been exciting as well. I also had the opportunity to lead seminars at some great national events like the Large Church Leadership Institute, The Healthy Church Initiative, and more. Finally I had the opportunity to work with Matt Carlisle on the redesign of UMC.ORG which will launch sometime later this year.

Clif: Now, tell the story of how you became involved in the web team at Resurrection and what your involvement has been.

Chuck: Long story short - you called me up one day just to talk about what the national church was doing regarding the web because you were in the process of re-working the website. We talked for a good long time and I eventually referred you to the folks working with the Web Empowered Church. (Or maybe you already new about them, but I reinforced that you should talk to them. Its hard to remember now.) WEC was working with TYPO3, a content management system I stumbled on several months earlier, and I thought that it fit exactly with what Resurrection was trying to do. From that point of contact we began to communicate regularly, having discussions about strategy and direction, and as the site went live I was brought in to train and equip the staff on the use of TYPO3. I’ve been back to train on a couple of occasions and worked for a week with Peter Metz - the Director of Communications - doing consulting for each of the ministry areas. I’ve felt like an adjunct staff member for a while.

Look for the final installment of this interview tomorrow.

March 29, 2006


Follow up on what Chuck just said, Church Marketing Sucks hits us where it hurts!

Aging Clergy: Where are the 30 year olds

A United Methodist News Service article posted today tells us that the number of clergy under 35 has drastically declined in the last 20 years. Down from around 3,219 in 1985 it now stands at...Get this....850. Wierd thing is I think I know all 850 of them and they all were at Asbury with me....ok so a few went to Duke but thats another story.

So what went wrong. Well I have one particular bone to pick, and then I want to hear what others think. Campus Ministry is what went wrong. In the 50's and 60's our church had thriving, large campus ministries. Hundreds of people were involved on all of our secular and liberal arts colleges, now look around at some of our largest campuses and you will do well to find anyone who even knows what a Wesley Foundation is. There are exceptions....Texas Tech-my alma matter, The University of Georgia, Southern Methodist University, The University of Arkansas, Texas A&M, among a handful of others. But for the most part Methodism on campus is basically dead. I know of one campus that has close to 30,000 students and only about 30 at the ministry. Actually I know of a lot in that situation.

Who's fault is many people to count, but during the same time Methodists abandoned the campus, organizations like Campus Crusade, Intervarsity, BSM, and RUF invaded. As their influence grew they began producing young leaders who started ministries like Passion (which brought 20,000 college students to Nashville this summer), and became pastors and leaders of some of the most innovative and influential churches in North America. We dropped the ball big time.

The Wesley Foundation I grew up in spiritually, was passionately focused on making disciples of Jesus Christ. For this reason thousands of students were discipled, and more than 120 people went into full time ministry during a 20 year period. My point is for a denomination that started on the campus of Oxford, we've really messed this up, and because of it our future is in jeopardy.

Chuck Russell is coming!

I'm really excited today to get to announce to our Appian Way readers that Chuck Russell, our fellow Appian Way blogger, is coming to work on staff with Brian, Leo, and me at Church of the Resurrection. In his job as Internet Resource Consultant for United Methodist Communications (UMCOM), Chuck has been part of our web team for almost two years. But now he's moving from Nashville to Kansas City and will be full time on our staff. Woo hoo!

I interviewed Chuck about his background and his decision to come to Resurrection. Here are my questions and his answers.

Clif: First, tell us a little about yourself - where you're from, your family, your wife's family, your pets, etc.

Chuck: I am originally from Abernathy, Texas just outside of Lubbock and my Mom and Dad still live there. My wife, Amy, is from Kansas City and her family lives in Parkville, Missouri (in the Kansas City area). We have one cat named Nilly who is already in Kansas City – she wanted to make the move up early to get adjusted. No kids yet but we will be working on that!!

Clif: Briefly, give us your testimony. How did you come to Christ? When and how were you called into ministry?

Chuck: I am a lifelong Methodist but I became a Christian during college at Texas Tech University. I was involved in an amazing Wesley Foundation (United Methodist Campus Ministry) and basically was converted by the love and Grace of Christ as represented in the people I came into contact with there. I was also deeply influenced by my reading of John Wesley's sermons and writings. I am radically Wesleyan and could spend hours talking about why Wesley's basic theological position is exactly the right direction for reaching this culture. My calling into ministry came first at Texas Tech where I knew I would be living my life for Christian service. God lead me through an amazing seminary experience at Asbury Theological Seminary that is basically indescribable. It’s also where I met my wife.

Clif: What have you been doing since you graduated from seminary?

Chuck: After graduating I worked in Lexington, Kentucky while my wife finished seminary. Yep two Masters of Divinity in the same house … that’s a lot of divinity! Anyway I was working with a corporate technology training company there, teaching everything from database applications to Internet technologies. After Amy graduated I was fortunate to find a job that combined my interest in technology and my heart for ministry at United Methodist Communications. UMCOM is one of the national agencies funded by apportionment dollars given by local churches. Its focus is on the communications strategy for the denomination and equipping local churches to effectively use technology. My job was focused on training and equipping churches across the denomination in the use of Internet technologies. I also worked with annual conferences and larger churches in a consultative role.

Look for more of this interview in the next couple of days ...

March 27, 2006

Clif's Take on Barna's Revolution

In a comment on Brian's post, I said I would post separately on my conversation with my mom yesterday regarding George Barna's new book, Revolution.

First, let me get my book-review criticism out of the way so I can get to the real substance of what Barna is saying. In my view the book has two major flaws. First, it reads like a 6-page research report that was padded into a short book. There's a lot of repetition and fluff and almost no hard data. Second, it presents Barna's conclusions, but it doesn't give us the demographic and polling data upon which those conclusions are based. Barna seems to be saying, "I'm the most respected sociologist of American Protestantism. I know what I'm talking about, so you should simply trust my conclusions." It would be a lot easier for me to persuade others to Barna's point of view if I could cite some solid, credible research to back it up.

Now on to the substance ... My dad was a pastor for over 40 years until his death in 2001. During those long years of ministry my mom was a very supportive pastor's spouse. Now she is my wife's right-hand woman at Living Water Christian Church. (Her picture is at the bottom of this page.) She is a woman of deep Christian faith, having spent much of her adult life in ministry, scripture study, teaching, and prayer.

As we discussed Revolution, Mom repeated part of her own story about how in the early 1970s, when my dad had been a pastor for around 15 years, she became very disillusioned with my dad's congregation as well as the whole structure of traditional church. Although she always supported Dad and was deeply involved in the life of our congregation, she felt alienated from it.

At that time she got involved in two prayer groups made up of women from a number of different congregations in the community. These groups weren't in any way associated with or related to our family's congregation. They were completely separate. These groups became "church" for Mom in a way that our congregation couldn't be. In fact, if she didn't have those groups, she wonders if she would have been able to tolerate the dysfunction of our congregation. The spiritual nourishment she received from those groups sustained her and made it possible for her to support Dad in our congregation without going insane.

While Dad supported Mom's involvement in those groups, he continued to encourage her to see the value in a traditional congregation. He told her, "In ten years those prayer groups will be gone, but our congregation will still be here doing ministry, nurturing people in the faith, and making a difference in the community." And in fact Dad was right. Those prayer groups are long gone but that congregation is still alive today.

However, I wish Dad were here so I could ask him, "Does the longevity or future prospects of a community of faith have anything to do with whether or not that community could rightly be called a 'church'?" Somehow I doubt that it does. Living Water is a tender new church plant, whose future is still in doubt. Does that mean it isn't a church? Of course not.

So that brings us back to Revolution and Brian's concerns that the church is failing (as posted here, here, and here). The key to understanding Barna's point is in the definition of "church." The Bible is very clear that we aren't meant to follow Christ on our own. Everyone needs a community of faith to encourage them, rekindle the flame, and bring them into a fuller, deeper relationship with Jesus.

But what kind of community of faith qualifies as a "church?" Does it need a building, a pastor, staff, and weekly gatherings to be a church? Or is any community of faith a church, at least for the moment that community exists? Does a once-a-year Promise Keeper's event qualify as "church?" If not, why not? Barna's ideas are intriguing if for no other reason than that they get us thinking about this fundamental question. In my view, it's not whether Christians will be part of a church twenty years from now, it's what kind of church will they choose. And I'm at least open to the possibility that Barna's view on that will turn out to be correct. If so, it has huge strategic implications, which are outside the scope of this post.

And by the way, Brian, you're in good company when you're feeling that the church is failing. My mom felt the same way more than 20 years ago. Can you imagine being the pastor's spouse and feeling what you're feeling? That would be tough.

March 26, 2006

The New Revolution

I recently read a few chapters out of Barna's new book, Revolution. My initial reaction to reading that most individuals will just leave the church was, "Eh, I'm not so sure I see it that way." Since then, I've learned much more about myself and my church and I've moved more too, "Dude, Barna may be all over this."

I didn't really agree that Revolutionaries would find spiritual fulfillment outside the church institution. While my wife and I left our church, we didn't find any suitable replacement and we stopped going for a short while. We felt something missing, and we went back, so worshiping in a church is important to us right?

My wife, which I've mentioned I consider a poster-child for the post-modern view, gave a response to my question, "Can you be spiritually fulfilled outside the church?" "Um, yeah!," in a tone such as, "Well Yeah, duh!" As though that was a stupid question, and why didn't I realize that? She is not required be in a sanctuary to worship the Lord, or even step inside a church building to feel spiritually fulfilled. Well, Barna 1, Slezak 0. Hmm.

Next I began relating Barna's statements with my recent struggle with being a part of our church. Unfortunately, I found my view of our church was shared by many other young adults. Most of the young adults of our church have left to find other places to worship. I haven't talked to any of those that have left, but I wonder where they're going, or if they're going at all.

As for me, I feel like I've come full circle. The more I give it thought and prayer, the closer I come to giving up on our church and finding a church that reaches those in their early 40s and younger. The average mainline church is too inflexible, too set in its way to go through the trouble of trying to reach us. We have a couple of churches with emergent or ancient / future services which I would like to try out, but we don't have a good selection in this area of the Midwest I'm in. If I can't find one, Barna 2 Slezak 0?

Now I think Barna's got it right. The postmodern world view, along with the current state of the church is a great formula for my age of people leaving the church completely. The church is not fulfilling our needs, and in a world of rapid change and numerous choices, we'll keep looking until we find it. And if we find that outside the church, why do we need church?

March 22, 2006


It seems many bloggers are commenting on the recent story in Time Magazine about teens and how they use multiple media at one time. For example, Andrew Careaga wonders, "Are kids too connected? Are we?" And Kathy Sierra says all this multitasking degrades performance at every level.

I've previously mentioned that I've noticed this media multitasking in my own teenage daughter. Actually, I do it myself a fair amount. IM, e-mail, phone calls, and conversations in the office with co-workers are all happening at the same time when I'm at work. Am I really as bad at multitasking as Kathy says? As a parent, should I be stopping my daughter from doing this?

March 21, 2006

An AJAX future

In the next few years the Web will be dominated by AJAX applications. That's been my opinion for a while since I began to understand the explosive power this set of technologies would unleash on the wired world. Now comes Bill G. himself saying the same thing. Why is AJAX so important? It radically improves the user experience by overcoming the stateless nature of the web. Gone are the days of constant frustrating screen refreshes every time you make a change to a piece of data. For example my wife and I, in preparation for moving to Kansas City are looking for a house. One only need explore the difference between the Prudential Web Site and the Reece Nichols Website to understand the radical shift that is coming. What it takes me 20 minutes to do on RN, I can do in about 5 on the AJAX enabled Prudential site. So a word of warning to the web weaving masses, fail to embrace AJAX at your own peril, it will rule the Web.

March 20, 2006

The MySpace conversation continues ...

Shane Raynor at Wesley Blog republished on Wesley Daily my most recent post about MySpace, "If you're not on MySpace, you don't exist." Gavin Richardson then added a lengthy comment at Wesley Daily as well as a post on his own blog.

I'd like to comment on something Gavin said:

"our churches" don't get invovled in this because of the quick percepetion of pedophiles, perversion/sexuality, vulger language, & secular-ness of the community. churches would rather say, 'don't go there' or 'your not allowed' than to say, "this is a glimpse of our society and we should be ministering amongst this world and not just watching idly."

I love the idea of MySpace, Xanga, blogs, etc. because they could give us a way to get involved in the world beyond the walls of the church, which is one of our guiding principles at Resurrection. My questions are aimed at understanding if anyone is already having measurable success with this idea. From what I'm able to determine anecdotally, this is still very early-stage experimenting without much in the way of measurable results (yet).

Gavin, keep up your pioneering work and keep us updated on your progress. I need some good stories of life change to get people at Resurrection excited about this.

Podcast search engines

Here are a couple of search engines specifically for podcasts, MP3s, and videos:

A few quick searches suggested to me that they aren't yet finding a lot of what's out there, including sermon feeds from Resurrection and Living Water. When will this multi-media search start to work well enough to be useful?

Hat tip: Web Evangelism Bulletin link to article on Search Engine Watch

March 18, 2006

If you're not on myspace, you don't exist

Cathy Sierra posts here regarding MySpace and why her daughter finds it so compelling relative to other social networking sites. She thinks it's because MySpace is continually updated with new functionality through rapid software development and lightning release cycles.

However, something she quotes her daughter as saying suggests a different reason: "If you're not on myspace, you don't exist." To me, that indicates her daughter is there because MySpace is the cool, hip, happening place to be right now.

Our discussion continues about how to use social networking in ministry. In particular, see the comments to my post, Scott Reese on MySpace & Paul. It seems that churches are in the earliest stages of exploring this new technology and social phenomenon. So far no one has hit upon a truly effective strategy that they can teach the rest of us.

I'm just old enough that I don't get a lot of this. How is MySpace fundamentally different from the online forums we've had for years? We were grappling with this same question months ago and I still haven't heard a convincing answer. Personally, in the church world I haven't seen forums be nearly as successful as blogs. What am I missing?

March 17, 2006

The Church and Central Intellegence

So ive been reading a lot about the crm struggles issue that many churches are having, here are some things I believe are worth thinking about. The question to ask is what metrics do church leaders want to monitor in order to make good decisions. This is the whole world of business analytics applied to the church. Before we can begin to shape an open source CRM like sugar or vtiger (A branch of sugar) into a church management intellegence system, we have to begin to nail down just what we want to measure, in other wise begin with the end in mind.

So what do you think should be measured, attendance of course, participation in small groups, giving perhaps, but what else. This is part of the difficulty of managing a church....the things that realy matter in the church are things like spiritual maturity, faithfullness to God, quality of prayer life, etc. Those are hard to measure statistically.

However for the things we can measure, what I would call measures of church health, we should have Dashboards of quickly readable information available to decision makers. This is discussed in a newsweek article I recently read. Im interested in people reading it and responding.

March 16, 2006

The Great Cop-Out

One of my new goals is to keep up a trend of posting here on the end of the week. Last Friday I really wanted to write, but couldn't pull it off. Last time I said I'd talk about Revolution, Barna's recent book, but instead I'm going to stick with writing about my trials in church life.

After my Church is Failing, Part II post, Clif read it, and was quickly compelled to strike up the conversation with me. (We talk of philosophical subjects and church life a lot.) The short version was he felt a significant portion of my perspective was due to stage in life and generation gap. I'm sure those things are a factor, how can they not be, but I was not willing to give up as much as he was driving at. This writing itself could be dismissed as such, as that's the age old cycle of growth - but doing so is a cop-out, and here is why.

I will not dismiss this as life stage so easily because I've heard that excuse used for the past fifteen years, and I'm sure I'll hear it for the next fifteen. If everything is attributed to just being a stage in my life that I need to somehow grow past and get over, I can be getting away with a lot more than I have been thus far. :) I believe this more to be a difference between post-modern and modern world views. Here's is a quick example of the difficulty between post-modern to modern communication:

What a post-modern says: "I like this church. The people here are nice, and I like coming here. I don't feel very connected with God when I worship here though. When I feel filled with worship, it is through high energy music that I connect with."

What a modern seems to hear: "I like this church. The people here are nice, and I like coming here. You don't do a good job reaching me during worship. You really need to change the service to have music that I like."

This seems to me an intrinsic communication gap. So do you read the above and dismiss it as differences between how generations worship, or do you read it and see an opportunity to reach those with a post-modern world view? Dismissing it as generation gap is a cop-out because that answer is essentially, "This is the way we do church, or you could go somewhere else." That's … not the church I've read about. What young people from the post-modern world view are saying is "What you do works for you, but it just doesn't work for me." All the while most churches are struggling to reach post-modern people.

So my question still waits for an answer. Your worship doesn't work for me, should I just go find someplace that does? In many places in life it's easy to dismiss differences of opinion citing generation gap, but I do not feel you can do that in the church. One of the things the church should be is a place where people can go to have a closer relationship with God and worship Him. Many would agree that the church should be that place for young and old. Very few would agree to change the church to be able to do just that.

So how do you include both the young and the old and not change the church? What if we didn't want to change the way your church is done, we just wanted church to include our needs too? How would you do that?

March 14, 2006

Sting of loss

From my wife, Laura:
I received word that my best friend, Kay Roberts, passed from this life to the next at 1:30 this morning. The breast cancer she had battled for two years had invaded other parts of her body, and her last days were spent at home, surrounded by loved ones. I have spent the last four days taking my place beside her for many hours, whispering prayers, singing hymns and even reminding her of funny moments we have shared over the last 14 years. She has been a constant presence in my life almost every day for those 14 years, and I have not even begun to grieve her loss.

Yet I know that our goodbye is only temporary, and that she is with One who loves her even more than I do. Please remember all those who are feeling the sting of her loss - her husband Richard and her children Isabella, Micah and Juliana, her mother Zoe and step-father Don, and her brother Ken, as well as many other friends and family.

Thank you for your prayers for me. My body is beyond exhaustion, yet there is still much to be done to help support her family. I will rely heavily upon the strength of God to get me through the days and weeks ahead.

March 11, 2006

Microsoft CRM 3.0

I went to the Microsoft CRM 3.0 launch event here in Kansas City on Thursday morning. I wanted to see what had been done with the product since I last saw it demoed (version 1.0 in Sept. 2003). I was pretty sure before I went that it wouldn't work as a church management system (ChMS), but I figured it was a good use of my time to go find out for certain.

The strength of Microsoft CRM is native integration with Outlook and a full Internet Explorer client (like Outlook Web Access). If you have a "Microsoft shop", their CRM fully leverages your investment in the Microsoft platform. It now has a cool dashboard view with graphs of key metrics and drill-down capability. Custom reports can be built in SQL Reporting Services. It's now much more customizable than before.

So, could it be used as a ChMS? In a word, no. The core functionality of tracking people, households, and family relationships it can do at least as well if not better than any ChMS out there. The problem is all the functionality we expect in a ChMS that it doesn't have - things like online event registration, check-in, attendance, volunteer management, and so on. So the VAR that invited me to the event, NetStandard, asked me if we could build a connector to integrate Shelby with CRM. Of course, the answer to that is yes, but would it make strategic sense? I know what I really want.

March 08, 2006


My wife's best friend is Kay. Kay is 44 years old with three kids and an active faith. She has recurrent breast cancer that is now spreading all over her body. Sadly, it appears that the end is near, at least from a medical standpoint.

Laura (my wife, who is a church-planting pastor) visited Kay yesterday and wrote this e-mail to a number of her friends:

Many of you have been praying for Kay and have asked for updates. Most of you know that the breast cancer has now spread to her lungs and stomach, and possibly other places we don't know about. I got to see her today for the first time in 10 days due to a cold I have had. During that time, her new doctor has prescribed all kinds of pain medication in the hopes that her body could finally get some rest and maybe feel like eating a little more. The doctor has also started her on hormone therapy to help fight the cancer.

The difference between the Kay I saw 10 days and today is dramatic. The pain medication keeps her in a near-constant state of "doped" to the point that she is unable to have any kind of conversation at all. Her body looks very emaciated, and in the hour I was there today, it was a battle for her mother to get her to take three sips of Coke. And the hormones are making her agitated and irritable. When I walked in and saw her, it seemed to me like the end of her life is near - although I cannot say if that means days, weeks or months. Of course, our God can even now reverse the cancer and the damage it has done, but I think God is preparing to welcome her home soon.

Please pray for her family - for her three kids (Isabella, Micah and Juliana), for her husband Richard and her mother and step-father Zoe and Don. And I covet your prayers for me, as well. Kay has been my best friend for 14 years, and hardly a day has gone by in that time when we haven't spoken on the phone. She is such a huge part of my life, and I will need God's help to fill the emptiness when she is gone. I know that our goodbye is only temporary, but it still hurts so much to have to say it.

Internet More Popular than TV

An article from England tells us that the internet has become the favorite pass-time of folks in Great Brittan surpassing television.

March 05, 2006

AOL, Goodmail, and Non-Profits

This announcement is interesting. It seems that the PR hit AOL took from "Charging" for certified email has given non-profits a small win. AOL says they will provide a way for IRS qualified non-profits to be whitelisted and delivered around their spam filters for free forever. I guess this could end up being a good thing if others adopt the standard---At least for non-profits. I worry though that they might take the rout of some of the software companies and specifically forbid religious organizations. Though I'm not typically much for they seemed to help on this one. Nothing like riling up a bunch of social networking, internet savy, political activists.

March 04, 2006

Scoble on ugly design

Robert Scoble posts today about websites that are "ugly" but still commercially successful. He calls this "anti-marketing design."
But, go deeper: we’re sick of committee-driven marketing. We don’t believe it. If we ever did. We’ve built a bulls**t filter that filters out well-designed things in a commercial context. We trust things more when they look like they were done for the love of it rather than the sheer commercial value of it.

That certainly contradicts studies I've seen that link credibility to appearance. The same content when presented more beautifully will be considered more authoritative. What's wrong with being beautiful and "real" at the same time?

March 03, 2006

Church IS Failing - Part II

In my previous post I expressed the concern of my wife and I about the worship service we attend. A service that has seen little growth over a year and is not nearly it's former self. Most of the younger crowd is missing. I'd say we met with just about everyone we should meet with, and expressed our concern for not being fulfilled in the worship service we attend. We've talked with the praise band director, the senior pastor, and the director of Foundational Ministries.

Our conclusion is that the church is not changing at the pace it needs to. Each individual we talked to has a different story. I'm not about to point fingers, and there are plenty of other circumstances you could attribute it to, but the cold hard fact is that change was needed more than a year ago - and here we are in the same situation today. It's no secret that the process of change has a greater lifespan within a church than outside of it, even in churches that are nimble. Our pastor, still newly appointed here nearly a year ago, has been extra careful with change. I understand not wanting to come off as dividing rather than a uniting - then again, how long do we continue to fail in face of not rocking the boat? In the life of a church, that can prove to be a while.

The questions that remain: Will as many people who needed the change still be around by the time change occurs? Will we still be there?

In talking with our pastor, he stated that he has implemented change in other churches quite successfully. He reminded us that change takes time. Sure, no problem. In fact, some of those changes took eight years to achieve. …. !?!?
[Insert another record scratch here]

Wow. In an age when technology allows information to flow at light speed and change to follow quickly behind, me thinks that churches need to learn how to change a bit quicker than that. I'm dumbfounded. I'm not suggesting that a change in worship style will take eight years to implement, but I'm not waiting around another one, all the time being unfulfilled in worshiping the Lord!

I will admit this is a localized problem. They're only losing the younger folks; attendance is strong among people in their 40s and higher. So even if a church like ours actually understands what is needed to survive into the future - can they do it fast enough? I'm not filled with hope at this point, and reading Barna's Revolution didn't help either. I'll talk about that next.

Brian Slezak

March 01, 2006

Blogs are postmodern wells

Mark Batterson: "For what it's worth, blogs are postmodern wells. I'm psyched about our blog groups that have launched this semester. Digital discipleship!" By "well" of course he means a place in the center of town where people gather and talk.

I'm hoping to learn something from this. If they are able to blaze the trail on the "blog groups" idea, I'll have a successful example of blog ministry to show ministry leaders at Resurrection. Go Mark! Go NCC!