Friday, June 29, 2007

why do churches get smaller?

for many reasons...

moral failure of a senior leader
poor management
cultural irrelevance
spiritual irrelevance

one *distinct reason [often overlooked]
is that churches need to feel connected to themselves
and the people in them often don't

any living system must be in complete connection with itself
every part must be connected to the whole
and - by proxy - to all the other parts
in a life-giving
kind of way

and if those parts are not connected
the overall system will shrink down to a size wherein they can be connected

this means that if the structure that allows all of the cells in a fern to remain connected
breaks down
then the fern will die off/get smaller
until it is whole again from within

of course,
i know very little about cellular biology [and even less about ferns]
but i do know enough to understand the implications here for churches

if our people
are not connected meaningfully to one another
then our churches will continue to shrink down to a size
where they can feel connected

a church of 1000 disconnected people
will naturally shrink down into a church of 300 or 100 or 50
connected people
by virtue of the hidden intent of those same people
who inadvertantly distance themselves from newcomers
or withdraw from mere strangers at church
because they cannot cope with any more fragile or meaningless

if attendance and involvement are in any way
factors that we care about at all
then we must look to the health of our churches
and the connections of our people

people need other people to help them grow spiritually
to speak intelligently and with wisdom into their lives
to rebuke them when they're truant
to correct them when they're wrong
to encourage them when they're down
to cheer them on when they're winning

but these things don't ever happen in a weekend worship experience
they only happen in some other venue of connectedness

to be fair
the venue itself doesn't matter
whether that's old-school-sunday-school, cell groups, informal connections, or something else

all that matters is that people stay connected
for their individual health
for the health of the community
for the health of the church

intuitively all of our people know this
but we forget it
to our own peril

stay connected.

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