Bill Campbell

Thoughts of Life and Ministry

LIVING OUR LEGACY

As a result of my life I wish to eventually leave a legacy. Leave something behind me that will make a lasting difference. My intention is to not take everything with me to the grave. Bury my blessings. Silence everything on which I’ve based my life.

Allow me though to share a concern I have right now. This concern is church related. About the church and its future. The church in relationship to my children and grandchildren. The church in relationship to your children and grandchildren.

In several different instances of my church health ministry I have encountered some discouraging remarks. They go something like this: “Bill our church is dying. We no longer have young folks. They’ve left us. Moved on somewhere else. As a result, our church is one of the last of a dying breed. Once our few members die, this building will be locked up and become part of the past.”

Several times I’ve been the listener to such open acknowledgments. I wish I could tell you that I’ve received these words without them having much effect on me. But I haven’t. For tears have welled up in my eyes. I’ve become intensely heartbroken. Depressed. Overwrought. Unable to believe what I’m hearing.

These church bodies began one day long ago with the highest intentions. The highest purposes. Motives. They were focused on ministering spiritual things to their families as well as reaching their communities. But the fire is gone. The hot passion is missing. They no longer are driven outward toward those around them. Instead, they are keeping the folks among them happy and pleased. They have become dried-up spectacles of a once exciting day of ardor and zeal for the Lord.

What has happened?

  • There is no longer a heart remaining for continuing what once began in great earnest. It’s now about  maintaining what’s left. What’s available. What these folks have to work with.
  • There is no interest in perpetuating what was once so important. With having a vibrant church body of believers. Leaving a legacy. They do not see the church as an ongoing relay race, in which they pass the faith on to those who will follow them. Instead, everything is about to be taken with them to the grave.
  • There is no sensitivity about the Lord’s final commission of “making disciples.” Passing the faith on to others. They now have the only disciples the church will most likely ever have. It’s no longer about others, it’s all about us. JUST US!!
  • There is no awareness of the impact and influence God meant for these congregations to continue making. They’ve pulled up the tent stakes so to speak, and are ready to close down business. Their prayers are for their own. Prayers for the salvation and transformation of persons around them is non-existent.
  • There is an established attitude that the church now exists for them. Them alone. Their own little crew. Even the sermons and lessons and activities are meant to be about them. What they want. What they believe is necessary.
  • There’s a great bit of lamentation being heard these days about what’s going on in our country. The loss of biblical morality and precious spiritual values. Everyone is tuned-in to the latest disheartening media news. But they’re not equally tuned-in to the current demise of the church.

Allow me to raise a question in closing for doing some further intense praying and soul-searching: IS IT POSSIBLE THE CONDITION OF OUR COUNTRY AND WORLD IS THE RESULT OF A PASSIONLESS  CHURCH IN THESE DARK DAYS??

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June 26, 2013 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Preaching, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Service, Spirituality | Leave a comment

EMBRACING CHANGE

As we age we grow more to dislike change. In fact, we seek to avoid it. Work around it, over it, or through a run for your life attitude away from it.

We think doing things differently is to much of a challenge. Exacts to many demands. Makes for discomfort. Thus, don’t rock the boat. Don’t mess with my comfort zone.

With all the foregoing said, Christianity was born in the matrix of change. Of becoming different. Something unlike what we were before. Moving from one state of existence into another. For the call to the biblical teaching on repentance engaged us in serious change. Extreme change.

Yet, once we changed, this experience was not intended to be a dead-end road. We’ve changed, now we believe that the expectation to change is behind us. No longer necessary. As a result, there’s a tendency to revert back into the same old person we once were.

But get this: Change didn’t end once we were converted to Christ. Change continues. It goes on throughout our lifetime. Unless you change you become stuck. Frozen. Paralyzed. Caught in a state in which you cannot proceed. Furthermore, when you do not change, you fail to experience growth in your walk as a Christ follower.

Allow me to cross over from individual Christian experience to church life. Here’s what I’ve observed: The church often falls into the same non-changing rut as that of the Christ follower. We become caught in the confusing maze of doing things repetitively. Over and over. In the way we’ve always done them.

Through this unchanging posture, some tragic things happen to a congregation.

  • We do things the same way in church week after week. Seldom is there any change from the format that has come to define us.
  • We like our established style. So much so, any attempt to move things in a different direction is a “no no.” You try to touch the established pattern and you’ve moved into non-sacred territory.
  • We believe to change is a compromise. Drifting from the truth. Running away from sacred territory. Choosing the world’s way over the Lord’s way.
  • We fail to realize we’ve established a religious world of our own. One that’s disconnected from Christ and His original concerns. We’ve then morphed into speaking our own “Christianeze language.” The language of the tribe. The language of those on the inside. Those who are familiar with the rituals, language and practices.
  • We then lose a connection with the community around us. We are doing our thing. Enjoying our tribal meetings. But those around us have no idea what we’re doing. In fact, they’ve long ago quit paying any attention to us. What’s worse, we’ve adopted the attitude: “It’s our way, friends, or the highway!!”
  • We need to focus more on those outside. On those around us. More toward them and less on ourselves. If we don’t, reaching them is only a private dream, and it will never be actually experienced.

Does this sound like your church? The fellowship in which you find yourself? Are you comfortable with being a private tribal church body like I’ve described? I’m not. And I pray that you aren’t either. In fact, I’m wondering if you are willing to make the giant leap today by way of embracing change. If so, you’ll be surprised how much you and your church will become a powerful magnet in your community.

June 22, 2013 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Spirituality | Leave a comment

RESTORING A MIS-DIRECTED CHURCH

Biblical congregations are designed to grow in number and commitment. They are healthy when they do grow. They are unhealthy when they do not grow. Church leaders will generally acknowledge they want their church to grow. They want their congregation to advance. To progress. But the greater majority of traditional congregations still remain in the condition of being either plateaued or declining.

So why? Why are so many congregations demonstrating unhealthy traits? By going backwards? Drifting? Becoming lifeless? Is it because of the preacher or preachers they have? The area in which they’re located? The adverse times in which we live? The age of the membership, because they lack younger folks? Is it because of insufficient monetary resources? Or, is there another reason that can be offered?

The issue of non-growth, I believe, is not related to any of the foregoing areas. Rather, non-growth falls back primarily onto the lap of the congregation itself. Let me share some reasons why, I believe, congregations are personally responsible for their own reversal.

  • It’s because they are unwilling to change the way they do church. Congregations get into an operational comfort zone, passively choose to remain in their past functional molds, and eventually emerge into believing this is the way church has always been done. Thus, it needs to remain the same way it was. Thus: “DON’T MESS WITH THE ESTABLISHED PATTERN!!”
  •  It’s because they have leaders and members who barricade attempts to move out of whatever it is they’ve become. Any attempt at changing what exists will cause a nucleus of persons to “kick up their heels!!” They will stir up church contention. Fall back on the need to follow their procedures and by-laws. Threaten to leave. Fire their preacher. Encourage the change agitators to leave the church. The big push is: “TO KEEP THINGS AS THEY ARE!! IF THINGS AREN’T BROKE, DON’T TRY AND FIX THEM!!”
  • It’s because they believe the church exists first and foremost to suit their own tastes and wants. Why not? They started it. Sacrificed to pay for it. Are presently paying to keep its doors open. Thus, it’s our baby. Those outside the church have no “say so” with how this church will operate. In short, “IT BELONGS TO US!! DON’T ROCK THE BOAT!!”
  • It’s because they suffer from a lack of sensitivity for the needs of a lost and hurting community and world. A congregations Divine mission and mandate is always to the world, not to itself. Its purpose was never meant to be primarily about itself. Here’s what’s happened: Selfishness has replaced service. Me and us have replaced others. Comfort has replaced change. Tradition has sidestepped transformation. Even procedure has uprooted prayer.

The church is called to a life of outreach and others. The mis-directed church needs to be restored. Will it begin with YOU??

June 14, 2013 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Relationships, Service, Spirituality | Leave a comment