The more I study churches, and especially those who seem to struggle continuously, I find they tend to do the same outdated fads over and over, hoping that, if the timing is right and they put enough effort into it, that someday it will bring the breakthrough results that the church growth books talk about.

Often, those churches are hindered old habits. I am convinced that the fortunes of mostwould be changed by the consistent application of small actions carefully applied. It is the principle taught by the sculptor Michaelangelo used when carving masterpieces out of blocks of marble: he said he created great statues by chipped away anything that didn’t look like a man. And so we identify the habits that hinder greatness, and chip away at them.

I’ve found the best way to break a habit is to replace it with a competing activity. Smokers who needed something in their mouth replaced the cigarettes with gum or lollypops. One friend of mine, who had a radio show to pray on the air, took his smoking habit as a spiritual problem and replaced every desire to light up with a prayer for lost souls. One jailhouse prisoner successfully replaced his fits of anger with prayer for his antagonist.

What I am suggesting is that we identify those habits in our churches that prevent their growth, and that we replace those activities with habits that create healthy congregations. Together, you and I will be successful when those failing churches are restored as a fully functioning lighthouse of the Gospel, and create active disciples of even the most uninformed and intransigent members.

Don’t expect this to be another memoir of how to have a better church by “doing this program” or copying that method. You already know that too many of those examples happened because of the work of the Spirit working through a team of laymen, sometimes in spite of the pastor’s best efforts. Some of those books have good points, others are more a waste of time, because if your circumstances aren’t the same or if the methods are not culturally relevant, transplanting the ideas to your situation will be difficult.

Rather, this book includes ideas and methods from a variety of sources, including anthropology, marketing, organizational theory and military planning. It includes some of the best ideas of some of the best students of the modern church, coupled with sociological and organizational models for shaping those interpretations for individual congregations., but restatement of a. The goal of this book is to “reframe” the best ideas and methods for today’s world, to inform leaders how to remove barriers that keep small churches struggling.

Some of the churches I studied for this work have made the change from dying church to living congregation. Others are still stuck with dysfunctional practices. Even so, there are common denominators and reliable indicators in each. This book seeks to identify those commonalities and underlying philosophies of community and organizational behavior that maintain vibrancy. It will describe conditions and strategies common to high functioning organizations, and help the reader evaluate those conditions where a few focused changes will create the intended results.

You may not agree with everything I say, but I am confident there is truth in these pages. What the traditional church is doing is no longer attracting the numbers that used to attend. My prayer is that in these pages you will come to understand what to do about it, and together we can rescue the failing churches.

Chap 1 –>

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