Thursday, November 29, 2012

Aged Graded Ministries Impacted by Low Birth Rate - USA Church Life 14-20 Years Out

Due to the economic recession and continuing recessions around the world, the US economic situation is such that birth rates have dropped to historic lows.  See here

Pew Research found birth rates have not been lower since the Great Depression:  As a result, certain church ministries may see long-term demographic shifts in numbers and / or volunteers. 

The youngest demographic group ministries will see the first wave of that change over the next ten years.  Childrens ministry across the country will be impacted by the decrease.  The drop in numbers would be seen across the country in Youth Ministries 14 years out or so. 
Likewise College Ministry after that would see smaller enrollments to go fishing in for Christ.

In the short term, looking at another trend, the Baby Boomer generation is retiring at fast pace.  This will have another impact on the size of Senior Ministries.  These age-graded ministries (that in itself is a big debate to touch on some time) will be drawing from smaller parts of the US population, no matter how successful, which will be noticeable to attenders and planners/leaders.  Still the somewhat Millenials will remain a large force in ministries for the time being.  The calling remains the same to reach each generation, but real shifts will be at play.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Landscape We Mill About in Is Changing

Thanksgiving comes and goes.  Early the next day is Black Friday.  Lately a reflection of our culture is unfolding in Black Friday video footage:  A video here records the sad picture of people (could be neighbors or anyone) essentially pushing, shoving and knocking each other out of the way at Walmart just to get a deal on a phone.  I'm just like anybody who likes to save 20 or 40 dollars, but honestly, this year, I skipped Black Friday just from weariness with consumerism.  I (maybe others) sense that its just not worth it some places.  Online shopping was not just an accident but an intention for me this year.  I wonder how civility can be restored in our country?  It seems the only real answer is a renewal of love of God and therefore neighbor.  As the love of God drops off, people love their own morality (a made up one, rather than derived/driven by God one).  Definitely worth praying for spiritual change.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How Do You View Life Transitions?

Contentment in Life Changes: A Spiritual Lesson.

I wanted to take a lunch time break to share a specific lesson from a church planter who was until recently with the North American Mission Board (referred to as NAMB by those close to it), myself.  North American Mission Board serves the cause of Christ by organizing and funding disaster relief work and also missions work.  I was on the missions work side of this, involved with them because of my call to plant a local church congregation.  NAMB also sponsors US military chaplains for its denomination in all branches.  I just thought I'd share that for most of us, since most Americans probably have not heard of it.  Church planters were typically sponsored for two years time, to help get a church going while the pre-launch phase is going on.  That is what we had, two years time.  Those two years of their support were valuable.  Of course, you might wish as we did that it was another six months or year, but you have to be grateful for the connection.  That is the point of this post, transitions are opportunities too, not just connections.

I'm aware that it was good for NAMB and us.  For NAMB it freed them up for their new mission given them by their trustees, which is quite different than the past.  Up to the time I was with NAMB, while planting a church congregation, the focus was across the United States of America and Canada.  They provided health insurance and small amounts of money so as to support the effort.  It was great to be with NAMB, not merely for their initial help (which in 2010-2011) was nice.  They also provide endorsement towards helping the church plant/planter.  This can help you to have others endorse the work (such as a local church association, a state convention of churches, a meeting place landowner/landlord, etc).  When no one knows you and you have a team that is 5-10% of what you hope to grow to, that is a big boost.  They also pray for you and provide some basic guidance on certain church starting topics.  There is some materials resourcing too.  For us, it freed us up to give the church congregation the chance to step up.  God has provided.  The church has grown immensely, and is a strong local congregation.  But when the transition happened, there was some room for worry, if one did not view it from a godly trust view.  Life is like this for all of us in Christ.  It may be your work, friends, or location.

So here's the question for youwhat do you do when transitions happen?  Do you get nervous, do you "freak out," or do you see God's hand in it?  Those times when you go from one place to another, from one company to another, from this to that are an opportunity to see that the Lord Jesus cares for you.  One of the lessons I've learned going from the 2010 to 2011 period, on to the new 2012 landscape is that God remains faithful to His people who place faith in Him.  I've also learned that he builds his church, by about 45% in 2012 alone for our fellowship. 

Think on these truths:  God is faithful.  He is doing things for His glory and your good.  He brings people for each step of your life, and removes them too (there is blessed subtraction as well as blessed addition, even if we do not always see it in advance).  Romans 8 relates to you as well.  God intends to work all things for good, even the challenging times.  You should take that lesson to heart.  This is but one more story of God's faithfulness, maybe it will encourage you.

I know God is working at the church family I'm with in his good plans.  Thank you NAMB for the time partnering with us in 2010 (pre-launch/pre-start/planning) - 2011 (start/kick off).