By. Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan

Jack SullivanJust caught Peter and Paul, of the famed freedom and justice singing trio Peter, Paul and Mary, on the Tavis Smiley show. Goodness, they were magnificent! It was quite good to hear them sing some of the folk songs of the Civil Rights movement while describing the climate surrounding their music and activism. They have a book out titled, “Peter, Paul and Mary: 50 Years in Life and Song”. As I heard their music and reflections, I became inspired by the fact that the sacred work of Civil Rights and freedom has always featured a multicultural, multifaith cast of bold, risk-taking, visionary people who had the audacity to sing their faith and convictions as they delivered truth to power. While our contemporary climate does reveal amazing levels of progress since the 1960s, the rivers and streams of everyday life continue to reveal toxic amounts of waste products such as hate, bigotry, violence, and discrimination of many forms that poison too many of our environments, physical, political and cultural. I am not altogether sure of the many songs we sing when we gather nowadays, but I sure think it is time for our music to recapture the passion and poetry of the songs of people like Peter, Paul and Mary, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and so many others who sang about freedom, justice and peace and therefore provided us with a soundtrack for social progress. During a contemporary era where large segments of society seem to congratulate themselves for not knowing or accepting the histories, values, and aspirations of people who differ from themselves, we need right brain inspiration that can liberate us from the prisons of our linear, individualism-colored world views so that we may actually see ourselves caring for our neighbors by acknowledging then dismantling walls and systems of nullification and selective privilege, by helping each other to succeed, and by learning each other’s story. Now is the time for music that teaches us, transforms us, and then transports us so that we may create earthly places where the long dictatorship of fear comes to an end, where a warm smile can melt glaciers of arrogance, and where people are willing to walk or roll hand-in-hand into a future punctuated by peace, with progress for everybody, and the trivialization of nobody. When we sing songs with these kinds of themes, we open ourselves to God’s still awesome ability to transform the world. I am ready to sing! How about you?

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Ministry Matters™ | Articles | The Reason for a ReStart.

 

According to one report, 188,000 orthodox churches in America today are in need of a reStart. The U.S. has 200,000 orthodox Christian churches, and 300,000 churches overall. What recent history has made very clear is that the mainline church in America is dying. Thom Rainer, in a U.S. study of 1,159 churches (2002), said that 94% of American churches are in decline. Recent church attendance records show that in America, real attendance numbers are not near 40% as previously reported, but a shocking 17.7% (2004). These numbers also report a trend for growth in small (less than 49) and large (over 2000) churches, while a sharp decline in medium-sized churches.

"If your church is not innovating, it is dying."

“Innovation is changing organizational systems to provide service or produce your product more effectively, efficiently or more profitably. When the organization is crystal clear about the new results that are expected, innovation thrives and eventually becomes a part of the DNA of the organization. The organization that constantly improves stretches, takes risks, and finds new ways of delivering excellence welcomes the changes that are involved with innovation.”

This was a journal entry during the time that I was in a class on creativity and organizational development.  I look at many of the mainline churches in America and realize that the concept of constant innovation is not embedded in their DNA.  Many of these congregations are declining and struggling to reach new people, grow disciples and maintain the active fellowship. They run programs and hold events but never address the systems in the church that produced the challenges that they are currently facing.

Designing intentional systems of faith sharing, stewardship, discipleship, and worship design are essential for a church to be relevant and vital in the 21st century.  Churches that are more concerned with having church in a way that appeases the wants and desires of church members rather than intentionally designing systems to reach the prodigal sons and daughters are voting to close their doors.

There are more prodigals outside the church than disciples who are in our churches.

(CBS) Stand back all bosses! A new breed of American worker is about attack everything you hold sacred: from giving orders, to your starched white shirt and tie. They are called, among other things, “millennials.” There are about 80 million of them, born between 1980 and 1995, and they’re rapidly taking over from the baby boomers who are now pushing 60.They were raised by doting parents who told them they are special, played in little leagues with no winners or losers, or all winners. They are laden with trophies just for participating and they think your business-as-usual ethic is for the birds. And if you persist in the belief you can, take your job and shove it.

As correspondent Morley Safer reports, corporate America is so unnerved by all this that companies like Merrill Lynch, Ernst & Young, Disney and scores of others are hiring consultants to teach them how to deal with this generation that only takes “yes” for an answer.

The workplace has become a psychological battlefield and the millennials have the upper hand, because they are tech savvy, with every gadget imaginable almost becoming an extension of their bodies. They multitask, talk, walk, listen and type, and text. And their priorities are simple: they come first.

This is a report from 60 Minutes on the Millennial Generation  It is especially informative for churches in revitalization.  As we pray and discern our target ministry population it pays to understand the cultural dynamics of the population.  Analog churches will be challenged to reach digital generation people.  Churches that are dedicated to print media without simultaneously developing their digital presence will be obsolete in less than 10 years.  Churches that are in revitalization should pay attention to the millennials and develop ministries that will introduce this generation to Jesus Christ in ways that are relevant to their life experience.