Posts tagged Church
Why is Church so Insanely Boring?
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Why is church so insanely boring?

Don’t sit there and pretend you don’t know what I am talking about. You know exactly what I am talking about. ;)


Church, as we know it today, is this tedious, uninteresting experience. Most people who attend do so hoping to heaven that there is a good sermon. And if the sermon is good you kind of forget how uninspiring, uneventful and repetitive everything else was.

Now of course, not every church is like this. Some of them are the opposite and it amazing! But I’m not talking about them today. I am talking about the boring ones, so stay with me.

Boring churches are all the same. You park your car, walk in, someone says hello and hands you a bulletin. You sit down. The people around you might say hello in one of those “I shouldn’t be talking” voices or they might not. Then someone gets up to the front and gives a welcome and announcements. Then we sing a hymn or two. Collect offering. Have a kids story. Sing another hymn. Maybe there is a special item (I still have no idea why we call solo performances “special items” so if someone could enlighten me, that would be great). Then the sermon time arrives. The pastor gets up to the front.

“Happy Sabbath!” he says, enthusiastically.

Two or three people respond out of sync. Everyone else stares on like they are in a trance.

The pastor looks out over the crowd and says it with a louder voice “HAPPY Sabbath!”

If he’s lucky, this particular church has been trained to respond super loud the second time and he can move on. But if they aren’t trained, he comes back with an awkward third:


At this point, you get a better response. Most likely because the people don’t want to be there all day. But come back the next week, and the same exact scenario repeats. Then next month and next year too by the way. It never seems to end.

Why is this the experience of so many of our churches? Why does the preacher have to act like an MC getting the crowd hyped before a concert? Why do the saints need to be hyped up to begin with? Some people think the problem is the church’s traditional style. If only they switched to a more contemporary style these problems would go away. But I have been to contemporary churches with the same exact problem. Style has nothing to do with it.

Instead, the answer, I believe, lies in a psychological concept known as “state”.

A state is essentially frame of mind. Think of when you are watching a thriller and you are “on the edge of your seat.” At that moment in the film, as the tension builds, you find yourself in an anxious “state.” Any sudden noise and you practically jump out of your seat. Or think of being at the beach with friends. It’s night time. There’s a bonfire, a guitar and marshmallows. Everyone is sitting back enjoying the care free evening, singing together and laughing. What state are you in? Relaxed. Composed. You feel free. (In fact your state may have changed ever so slightly just by reading and imagining that scene). Or how about a nice dinner with friends? You are eating some good food and having a laugh. Everyone’s state is happy, content. Then suddenly, a person none of you like and who wasn’t invited to the dinner walks up and says hello. All of a sudden previously happy people feel awkward. The state has changed.

There is nothing particularly weird or amazing about this. It’s how we are as humans. Our minds can move in and out of states. You can be depressed and a friend lifts your mood. They take you out of one state into another. This is what Solomon had in mind when he wrote, “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.” (Proverbs 12:25) In other words, an encouraging word can change a persons mental state. It can pull them up from a gloomy place into a cheerful place.

Now back to our question. Why is your church service so boring? It’s not because you sing Hymns instead of Hillsong. Its not because you are traditional or not entertaining enough. You don’t need more jokes, more high paced videos or a louder band. No. Your church is boring because from the moment you gather you collectively feed a boring state.

In other words, a boring church is boring because of state, not style. Style is not the issue. State is.

Let’s go back to our original scenario but change the state. Imagine getting to church and out in the parking lot are cheerful welcome signs. Maybe even cheerful parking attendant (if necessary). Then you walk in and are greeted by cheerful people who don’t simply hand out bulletins but they ask questions, they comment on your new hair due, your nice tie or ask where you are from and how they can make your guest experience as wonderful as possible (supposing you are a guest). At this moment, without changing anything else, you have already changed everything. Those who arrived are now going into Sabbath School and the church gathering in a cheerful state. Regardless of how they walked in, you have placed them into a mental state capable of spreading cheer to others.

Imagine walking into Sabbath School and you are greeted warmly. Someone even offers you their seat. The conversation is safe, warm and inspiring.

Then you go to the main service. The announcements, song service, tithe and offerings - all of it is done in a spirit of praise. The person who announces the songs smiles. They share a Bible promise from the week that spoke to them. They offer a short word of encouragement.

All of these small, simple changes - smiling, warmth, energy - create a state of mind in people. But have someone get up to the front with a sombre spirit and drag their feet through “we… will… now sing the hymn… number 323… please stand” and the state changes again. And if that’s what people have gotten in the parking lot, in the foyer, in the Sabbath School and all throughout the worship gathering then that’s also what they are going to give.

Your church is not boring because of its style. Its boring because of its state.

And by the time the pastor gets up and says “Happy Sabbath” no body responds because everyone is in a state of boredom. Now some people think this is normal because they are conservative and sombre and they think this is the way its meant to be. But spare me the hoopla. God didn’t invite us to gather together for that. And the reason why the preacher has to force some excitement out of the crowd is because they are BORED. Their minds are in a state of boredom. They are not inspired to be there. They are not excited to be there.

And its got nothing to do with your style. Its got everything to do with your state. Change your state, starting with the parking lot all the way through every aspect of the church gathering, and you will have a room full of people who are inspired to be there every week, month and year.

Now of course, creating a positive state at your church is not something that can be forced - not unless you want to end up with a bunch of phoney people pretending to be all cheery when they cant stand each other. There are other things that need to be addressed for a change of state to be an authentic step and not a gimmick. As a church leader, you need to identify those in your context as they aren’t all the same. But once you do, make sure you include a step in which you address the states that are nurtured at your gatherings and create a change of state from the parking lot all the way to the altar.

Because if your church is insanely boring, chances are its got nothing to do with its style and everything to do with its state. If you change that state, your church gathering will gradually become the most inspiring experience of your week.

How to Become a RELEVANT Church
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What does it mean to be a Relevant church?

Is it all about having an edgy building, slick graphics on all your designs, a pastor in skinny jeans with tattoos and a cool band? Or does Relevance go way deeper than all of this?

Is "Relevance" reserved only for big, wealthy churches? Or it possible for a small Adventist church with outdated facilities and limited budget to become a Relevant church? If so, then how? What is the secret?

These are the questions we tackle in this months Pomopastor Podcast interview with pastor Ben Tavao, a leader and practitioner in the pursuit of relevance for Adventist churches..

Listen below!

3 Ways Adventist Churches Fail Parents
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Are you a parent?

If so, I dedicate this weeks blog to you. Because I too am a parent, and I have to admit - it's not easy.

But let me start with a quick illustration to set the foundation for what I will say next. When I was in Army basic training I noticed something interesting. The training itself wasn't actually that hard. I had been a wrestler in high school and when it came to physical training, I found that ten times harder. And yet, basic training remains one of the most difficult things I ever did. The reason is simple: sleep deprivation. Somehow, everything gets 20 times harder when you are sleep deprived. Tasks that you would normally be able to do with relative ease, become nearly impossible.

But basic training isn't the hardest thing I have ever done. Parenting is. Because now you can add emotional deprivation to your sleep deprivation and suddenly, the simplest tasks become overwhelming. As Emily Morrice noted in her article, "Moms with Hands Full Need the Church"

With young children, everything is more difficult. 
— Emily Morrice

That includes church. If something as simple as leaving the house or getting inside the car becomes ridiculously difficult with kids, can you imagine going to church? If you are a parent, you don't need to. You already know - its insane.

But here's the thing - even though life is difficult with kids there are ways to make things easier. There are all kinds of tools and resources to alleviate some of the stress. Nowadays, there are even barber shops designed just for kids with airplanes and fire engines for them to sit in during their hair-cut. It's genius! But in my estimation, when it comes to making worship meaningful for the family, the local Adventist church is generally way behind. Here are 3 ways in which we fail our families and what we can do better.

1. Stares and Comparisons

There is nothing worse for a parent than a kid throwing a tantrum in church. Oh wait, yes there is something worse. A kid throwing a tantrum in church with everyone staring and no one offering to help. Yep. That's definitely worse. And it happens all the time.

But I can also think of one other thing that's worse. Parents asking church leadership to think of ways to make the church experience easier only to be met with "Well, when I had little children we did it like this" or "My kids never acted like that". The message behind these comparisons is clear: "You are not as good a parent as I was because if you were you wouldn't be having any problems." But this is nonsense. Kids are different, some high energy and others low. And parents are different as well and have different stress limits. Comparing is a sure way of saying, "We don't really care about you."

The solution to this is a cultural shift and cultural shift only happens in conversation and relationship. Many of our churches lack in relationship (In Natural Church Development surveys, Adventists consistently score low in the "relationship" side of things) and this is the only real way to change culture. But this is a long journey. In the meantime, I encourage pastors to find ways of speaking possitivity into this space either through sermons, comments or a church email newsletter. I also encourage churches to create a space for parents to gather and worship together and to find an advocate for those parents who can develop ways of making life easier for them. This can be either an individual or a committee specifically assigned to that task (if the situation calls for it).

2. Substandard Parenting Rooms

I don't know how many Adventist churches I have been to with substandard parenting rooms. Whether they are way too small, under resourced, isolated from the main service or difficult to enter and exit with a pram the message these rooms communicate is "you aren't that important to us".

Churches, especially the older ones, need to prioritize a renovation budget and plan for their parents room and make it a space that nurtures the parents church experience rather than hinder it. If a renovation is out of the scope of reality, there are still other things that can be done. The bottom line is this: Most local SDA churches don't have a lot of budget invested in the children's department and yet, these are the ages where kids are already cementing their decisions for Christ. For example:

The current Barna study indicates that nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%)...
— Barna Research

In light of this, we need to invest way more in our kids ministry than we do anywhere else.

3. Lack of consideration

I don't know how many times my wife has said to me, "why do I even come to church?" The kids don't listen, act up the whole time, which means she cant listen, worship or do any church thing. She either ends up sitting in the substandard parenting room or takes the kids to the car and sits there until I'm done preaching. Grant it, part of the problem is she doesn't always have my help because I have to preach. But I have spoken to many other parents who tell me the same thing. Some go to Sabbath school, and then leave right after because, whats the point of even trying to go to the main service?

At this point some people pipe up with the old, "If you don't take them, how will they learn to sit in church and behave?" Let me tell you why I absolutely despise that argument: because its d.u.m.b. 

I have seen plenty of people come to church for the first time ever with their nine or ten year old kids, and the kids sit perfectly still. They had no practice or training whatsoever. But hey, they were so well behaved! Know why? Because they are old enough to sit still. This whole, "you need to drag your 3 year old into this horrendously boring experience every week and then get mad at them and tell them off for not doing something a 3 year old is not meant to do anyways so that they can learn to do it" is utter nonsense. The real problem is our church services are never designed with kids in mind. They are designed to meet the needs of adults who favor a verbal-logical learning style (ignoring other learning styles such as visual, aural, physical and social). As a result kids, as well as teens and youth, tend to get bored. But for me, the worst part is seeing young moms who are single and seeking God come to church and have to leave early because their kid threw a tantrum. So this isn't simply an inreach issue, its an outreach one as well.

My suggestion is, we need to develop worship gatherings that can speak to every learning style and make life easy for parents with kids. A church designed exclusively for the verbal-logical doesn't have room for kids. They are a nuisance because they are loud and don't sit still. But a church gathering designed to incorporate movement, visual art, social interaction and sounds is a good place to start. Alternatively, a children's church running alongside the main service can work as well. But my main point is this - make the incorporation of children in worship an active and intentional part of your worship planning. If you take that first basic step, you will find and develop solutions that work in your local context.

Comment Questions

What other ways can local Adventist churches make church more meaningful for parents of young children?


Top 3 Adventist Church Growth Myths
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Click here for video version.

Click here for audio version.

Do you want your church to grow?

I hope your answer to this question is a resounding "yes". Because if it isn't, seriously - what gives?

Of course, you may be skeptical about the church-growth movement with its "seeker-sensitive" approach and that's OK. You don't have to like that model. But you should still want your church to grow - not for the sake of measuring numbers like some corporate entity, but because God himself wants this. The apostle Peter makes this clear when he said, 

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
— 2Peter 3:9

God wants to save everyone! So should we.

But here is where things get weird. Regardless of how Adventists relate to "church growth" there seems to be a set of myths that accompany us when it comes to this topic. So in today's post, I want to talk about the top 3 I encounter in the many conversations I have on this topic.

Myth #1: God doesn't care about quantity, he cares about quality. 

The idea behind this myth is that God isn't interested in numbers joining the church but in true disciples who are walking with him. While this is true, the main problem with this statement is that it posits an "either-or" mentality. The truth is, God is interested in numbers as well! In fact, as we saw above he wants to save everyone. And the Bible uses growth language repeatedly to reflect this:

  • Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (Acts 2:41)
  • The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47)
  • But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. (Acts 4:4)
  • After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. (Revelation 7:9)

Of course, God doesn't care about numbers in the sense that a corporate marketing department does. He cares for each of us personally. We are not metrics to him, but family. However, there is a sense in which he cares about the growth of the church and celebrates it. So here is the truth: God cares about both quantity and quality. So should we.

Myth #2: My church can't grow because its too traditional.

This myth is often accompanied by a series of other myths such as:

  • We need a contemporary church service or we wont grow
  • The people in this church are too conservative. Until they change the church will stay stuck.
  • If only we could modernize our music and service style, the church would grow.
  • Our youth are leaving because they find the service boring. We need to make it more hip.

You get the point. And here is the problem with this myth. First of all, after reviewing lots of different surveys conducted by Barna Research and Natural Church Development I have found zero correlation between contemporary music and church growth. Youth retention studies have also found that the issue of music doesn't even make it to the top ten reasons why youth leave or stay. Seriously, you don't need a contemporary church service to grow. There is no conclusive evidence to demonstrate that (and this is coming from a guy who loves contemporary worship).

The other problem with this myth is that it creates a practically unsolvable problem. Unless we can somehow convince every single Adventist on the planet that they need to be contemporary then we simply wont grow. If we tried that approach, the church would be locked in ideological warfare for the next 100 years. Seriously, the worship wars of the 90's are so over. Contemporary worship is nice, but it's not a hill worth dying on. You can grow your church without it.

I am currently pastoring two traditional churches. While the work there has only just begun both churches are showing signs of revival and growth. And we haven't changed a thing about their traditional culture. Instead, we have focused on what really matters: peoples lives. So here is the truth: When you focus on developing a positive and inspiring culture that impacts the lives of people, your church will awaken and grow.

Myth #3: All we have to do is be faithful to the truth and God will take care of the growth.

Yes and no. Yes. We have to be faithful to the truth. But no, God will not magically grow the church just because we are being faithful to the truth. I don't know how many Adventist churches I have been to with this mentality and rather than growing they are dwindling. 

The fact is, God gave the administration of the church over to human-kind. He blesses it, leads it, guides it and empowers it. Without him at the helm, we can do nothing. But when it comes to administering our resources and reaching the lost - he gave that task to us. We are the ones that have to plan, devise methods, develop strategies and put in the hard yard to get the work done. Yes, be faithful to the truth. But do more than that. Develop a simple and effective plan for how you are going to reach your community and get to work. Here is the truth: God is not going to administrate the church for you, that's your job. Your church clerk is not going to receive an email from heaven with a detailed community outreach plan for your church. You have to do it. And if you don't, get ready to age and die.

These are the top 3 Adventist church growth myths I have encountered. What myths have you encountered? Share them in the comments below.

12 Ideas for Reviving Your Local Adventist Church
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One of the most common complaints I run into from Adventists who want to see their local church do amazing things is this: "No one cares."

In other words, optimizing the local church is exhausting because they are the only ones who are pursuing this goal. Everyone else is content to just sit there and do nothing (best case scenario) or constantly get in the way of progress (worst case scenario). Over time, these passionate Adventists burn out and give up. It's just way too hard.

But allow me to give you a bit of perspective. Before I do I have a question. If you lived to be 80 years old, how many weeks of life do you think you have left? Think about it. Say the number out loud. Or write it down.

According to Facebook Analytics, the vast majority of Adventists engaging the conversation on church optimization are millennials. So lets go with someone 28 years old. If they lived to 80, that's another 52 years of life (even if they lived beyond 80, a persons influence usually starts to drop significantly by then). Now multiply those 52 years by 52 (the amount of weeks in a year) and you will arrive at 2,704. 

In other words, if you are 28 years old today, you only have 2,704 weeks of life left. Half of it is spent sleeping. 

Go back to your original answer. Was it anywhere near close? Maybe, maybe not. But here is the point. You don't have a lot of time. If you are older than 28, your have less weeks. And if you are younger, you don't have significantly more. In fact, a baby born today will only have about 4,000 weeks before they turn 80. Our life is, as the Bible says, "a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away" (James 4:14).

The question is, what will you do with that time? How will you invest your vapor of a life? Will you make a difference in God's kingdom? Or will you allow the negative attitudes of others to stop you from doing what you have been called to do?

I hope you choose the first option. However, here is where I need to introduce a challenge. When I joined the Army at 18 years of age, I quickly learned the following phrase: "Work smarter, not harder." Solomon the wise put it this way:

If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success.
— Ecclesiastes 10:10

Sadly, many church members and leaders I know who want to optimize their churches do not know how to work smart. They have a passion to see God's church grow into a relevant and world-changing movement and they go in, full steam, only to be met by opposition. So they tackle and blitzkrieg their way through. Sometimes they succeed. Most of the time they fail. All of the time, they burn out.

As church optimizers we need to learn how to work smart, not hard. We have to sharpen our axes so that cutting the tree down requires less strength. Below are 12 tips I have picked up along the way that have enabled me to make a difference in the churches I serve without burning out.

1. Find the Pain-Point

Here's the thing. Everyone has a pain point. Its human psychology. All of us have one. And the number one way to find support in a local church is to find the pain point of that local church. What is it that hurts so bad they are willing to do anything to fix or prevent it? You can tell a church "change or your youth will leave!" or "change or the church will die!" and they wont even bat an eye. So you assume these people just don't care. Not necessarily true. The problem is that "youth leaving" and "church dying" are your pain-points not theirs. Those are the things that motivate you to act. But they don't motivate them. So if you want support, you have to start with their pain-point, not yours.

How do you do this? You have to sit down with people and ask them the right questions. Listen to their stories. Ask them how they became Christians. Ask them how God has led them. And ask them what they fear the most for our church. That final question will give you an insight into their pain point. Then, after you have heard a few stories, craft your invitation to church optimization as a solution to their fears and pain-points. Not yours. 

2. Get an influencer on board

As you work to discover the pain-point in the church, identify who the main influencers are in that church as well. You don't need everyone on board. You just need the main influencers. If they buy into the church op. process, everyone else will follow. So make sure you get close to them and build strong relationships with them. Once they are on your side, the rest of the journey is super easy.

3. Become a sniper

Snipers are some of the deadliest and most feared combatants in the modern battlefield. They can take out an enemy a mile away without ever being spotted. The job of a sniper is simple, to take out one target at a time. They are never focused on more than one. They focus, shoot and then move on.

If you want to optimize your church you need to become as focused as a sniper. Dont try and do too many things at once. Develop a road map. Put your end-of-the-year goals down under December and then work your way backward. How will you achieve those goals? Every month of the year should have no more than 3 goals that will lead you toward your main goals at the end. Focus on those 3 goals month by month. Sort them out, and then move onto the next. Do not try and do too much at once. At times you will feel like progress is slow. But trust me, slow is good.

4. Ask them why

This one is easy. Try and have a conversation with everyone at your church. If it is a large church, aim for those most central to the movement of the church. If it is a small church, aim for everyone. Ask them this simple question, "Why does this church exist?" And write down their answers. Once you have visited everyone you will realize that 1) no one agrees on why, 2) if they do say the same answers they tend to be cliche and 3) most people will sit there for a while and think before answering which means they are basically making it up as they go. Make sure you record those answers. 

Once you have all the answers, present them to the church or leadership team. Show them how no one knows why the church is there. Create charts from them if you like (10% say this, 20 % say that) and stress that if we don't know why we exist, there is no way the lost people around us will know either. This will motivate the church to develop a clear and simple mission focus they can all unite on.

5. Ask them to grade themselves

Present the following quote to your church:

Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.”
— Ellen G White

Every Adventist loves this quote. Next, break the quote down into its verbs:

Reach (Evangelism) > Mingled (Fellowship) > Showed (Worship) > Ministered (Ministry) > Bade (Discipleship)

Ask the church to grade how they, as a local church, do in each of these areas using a scale of A to F. If they are honest you may end up with a pretty shocking grading scale. Ask them if this is OK. Once you are done, invite them to enter a season of prayer repenting before God for the way in which they have failed to fulfill his will for their church.

This step is not to be taken lightly and it is not to be treated as some gimmick. This is real, heart-wrenching stuff and only through the agency of the Holy Spirit can it be accomplished. So pray. A lot.

6. Get your ducks in a row

One of the worst things I have witnessed in church is when young people passionate about moving the church forward come up with an idea and present it to the board without having their ducks in a row. Church boards have a lot of stuff to handle, so if you are going to pitch an idea to them, it needs to be well thought through and ironed out.

Start by telling them how this idea will benefit God's kingdom. In other words, "What is in it for the Kingdom?" and make sure you get your main benefit across from the get go. Then, add a personal story that highlights why its important to you followed by a brief description of your project. The #1 thing you want to do when you describe your project is address their fears. For example, if your church is really scared of new trends that they fear will lead the youth astray, stress your commitment to the Bible and the values of your local church. Alleviate their fears and answer their questions before they ask. Finally, transition by addressing finances. How much will this cost? And how will the money be managed? This needs to be well thought through. End by confirming the value of your project and highlighting how it will positively benefit the local church.

Most board pitches I have seen start with a personal pain-point the board doesn't feel, and then proceeds to offer some solution that raises more questions than answers and ends by asking for money. This might work in some churches where the joy of seeing youth involved outweighs everything else, but it wont work in all of them. The sad part is people walk away feeling that the church doesn't support them, when in reality they simply made a proposal that caused more fear than hope. Whenever you pitch to the board, pitch hope.

7. Go with the flow

Remember that the SDA church has a structure for governance. The most powerful meeting at the church is the business meeting. So if you want to make a massive difference, make sure you have followed at least steps 1-5 above and then present your ideas at the business meeting. If you have gained the confidence of your church, you wont have any problems. Recall also that officers are elected via the selection committee which appoints the nominating committee which in turn nominates the new leaders. If you posture yourself as a leader, chances are you will be nominated for a leadership position. So go with the flow. 

8. Light a fire

The best way to light a fire in a local church is to start a small group. Find those passionate about church op. and gather together. Start a Friday night program or mid-week meeting and use it as an opportunity to read through a book or do some training on how to revive your local church. Be careful not to allow a negative spirit to dominate the group. Some complaining may be healthy as people get their disappointments off their chest, but quickly turn to solutions and the hope that we have in Jesus.

As you do this, the members of the group will light up and the fire will spread.

9. Create Memories

The key to intimacy in a church is the same as everywhere else: memories. You have to create memories. That's how people grow close together. So organize events, camps, leadership retreats etc. Have birth day parties for your older members, baby showers for the new moms etc. Making memories is the key to crafting an intimate church family.

10. Preach deep

If you have the opportunity to preach, go deep. Seriously, Adventists are a people of the book. It is in our DNA. Our tribe will never be compatible with the "motivation speech" or "positive thinking" approach to preaching. That stuff can be in your sermons. But make sure they are not the center. Adventism is about pursuing God's heart. And if you go deep, people will respect you.

11. Add, don't subtract

Never see your work as subtracting from what previous generations have done. See it as adding to their legacy. They have gotten us this far and its time we built on their foundation. You are not there to subtract. You are there to add.

12. Plant

All of the above tips will only work in a church that is relatively healthy. They may be dead or dying, but the people are still courteous and reasonable. This stuff wont work in a church hijacked by fanatical leadership and ideologies. If that is your case, check out episode two of the podcast here for some tips. If that doesn't help, you may want to consider moving on. If you have gathered a support group then explore the possibility of planting another church.

Whatever you do, don't give up. You only have about 2,000 weeks to work with. Make them count.