What can the former assitant director of the national Council of Churches tell you about growing your churches?

In 1973, Dean Kelley took a sabatical from the NCC to study the decline in member church attendance.  The resulting book, titled Why Conservative Churches are Growing, took the stance of an outsider looking in.  His question was “why were some churches growing and others contracting?”  He wondered if there were denominational differences, differences in practices, differences in form.  Or was there something more fundamentally different, something that was universal within Christendom that would apply to any church. 

What he found was that churches had become lax in teaching their core values.  In the push to be more ecumenical in action, churches had become less distinctive in doctrine.  They were forgetting who they were.

It is the principle that you only retain 70% of what you hear, and remember barely 10% after a week.  Without systematic study, parishoner were retaining less than half the Gospel stories.  As they taught their children, the half was halved, continuing through succeeding generations until barely a sliver remained of the original.  As Dorothy Bass describes it, they had lost the shared language and legacy, and had become more like the world than the church ideal, leading many to drop out.

What can you do?  Consider your congregation.  As your average member to find some minor prophet’s book or to explain it’s theme.  If they can’t recognize the story of Elijah’s battle with the prophets of Baal, or the handwriting on the wall, it’s time to begin again.

In my seminar on “Back to the Basics, ” I describe the various models for organizing, training, equipping your church for dramatic impact in your community.  I feel this topic is essential for creating vibrant churches.  It is useful for congregations or study groups of any size.  it will transform and amplify existing outreach efforts.

I have long felt a need to share more, be more, do more for the Kingdom.  I know God did not intend for us to flounder, wither and die.  This seminar begins the restoration process.

I’ve found that most in the church share my longing.  Seminars and programs souncded good, but the people are often unable to sustain the results.  It wasn’t for a lack of trying.  But like trying to run a race car on low-octane fuel, the efforts fall short of the goals. But when these fundamentals are added, people catch the why as well as the how and begin to take the actions that restore the church.