Leadership: Evangelism

evangelismI should start with this confession: I don’t know much of anything about evangelism. I’m not good at it. I know people who are pretty good at it. And I’ve asked, them how they do it, and they give, what I’m sure are very good answers. But it doesn’t sink in to me.

I mean, they say things like, “It’s just about how much you love Jesus!” which, I’m sure, to them, makes perfect sense. To me, though, well, I think I love Jesus quite a lot, and yet my evangelism efforts are still pretty pitiful.

Part of the problem for me is that I live in a world where my contacts and friends are largely all committed to Jesus and a church. And I’m an introvert — which is true of most men and all bloggers.

And this is going to be true of most elders. In most churches, the elders are deeply spiritual men, beloved by their congregations, who have extensive connections within the church — meaning they aren’t connected outside the church — making them dreadful evangelists. It’s true. The same qualities that make them great elders make them lousy evangelists.

And therefore they feel guilty and inadequate to lead the church in an evangelistic effort — meaning that the church has no evangelistic effort to speak of. And every single time someone brings it up, someone else says, “Well, it all starts with the elders.” And the elders change the subject to something they’re good at, like Bible class curriculum or the budget or hospital visitation — anything but evangelism.

Now, I actually have served with some elders who were great teachers of the Bible to new converts — which their wives had brought to them for study. Their wives were high extroverts and easily met new people and invited them to spend time in Bible study with their husbands — and it worked. But these are rare cases.

So if you’re an elder and an a lousy evangelist, and your wife isn’t a great evangelist either, what can you do? I don’t know. Really. But I’m going to offer some suggestions —

  • First, to me, the elders are responsible for creating a culture of evangelism. That means that evangelism gets talked about from the pulpit and in the classrooms and in the bulletin — whatever works in your church to keep the members aware of its importance.
    • Don’t beat people over the head with it. Don’t impose guilt. Just lovingly and gently keep it on the front burner so that the church never gets complacent.
  • When you measure church growth, distinguish conversions from transfers. Most growing churches grow by getting more than their fair share of transfers into town. Or by stealing members from other churches. These aren’t bad things but they aren’t evangelism and they don’t grow the Kingdom. Measure.
  • Build evangelism into the prayer life of the church. Don’t pray for “growth” or “visitors.” Pray for the lost to be saved. When you have someone lead prayer, ask them to remember the lost. Pray for the lost like you care. God really has been known to answer prayers.
  • Celebrate conversions! Develop a ritual. Applaud. Shout and whistle. Do something that says this is a really, really big deal. Don’t sing “Oh Happy Day” so slowly visitors wonder who died.

  • Talk about the evangelistic opportunities presented by whatever you have going on.  If you’re buying school supplies for an impoverished school, suggest that your members invite a friend to shop with them. That means asking for supplies to be donated rather than money — so your members find themselves serving Jesus at Wal-Mart, where their service can be seen. And where they can go with a friend.
    • In other words, create opportunities for your members to spend time serving Jesus together with friends who may not be Christians or may need to re-energize their commitment to Jesus.
    • When the young men decide to form a church-league softball team, suggest that 1/3 of the team ought to consist of unchurched friends. They don’t have to know how to hold a Bible study to invite a guy to play ball — and surely hanging around with Christians will help bring him to Jesus.
  • In short, don’t beat on people or guilt them. Just show them how they can slightly change how they live so that they meet unchurched people and include them in their walk with Jesus.
  • Ask the leaders of churches with effective evangelism ministries how they do it. Often, their ideas won’t transplant into your church because of a different community culture or leadership talents. But ask. Over time, you’ll accumulate dozens of ideas, and one just might fit what you need today. Equip yourself.
  • Steal from the best. For example, Matt Dabbs has posted an evangelistic program that he’s had some success with. Download it. Study it. Adapt it to your setting.
Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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80 Responses to Leadership: Evangelism

  1. Eddie says:

    I’m not an elder, but I am an introvert. I’m so glad you are bringing this topic up. It provides some comfort to know that I’m not the only one in this boat. I have often felt bad for not doing a better job of reaching the lost. I remind myself that we all have different abilities and jobs to do within the kingdom, but we all are responsible for evangelizing to the extent that we can.

  2. Doug says:

    As I wrote under the “Simple Church: Blocking and Tackling”, the key to effective personal evangelism is finding some way to place yourself amongst the Unchurched. That’s where the white fields are located. The key for Church Leaders is to identify and plan programs that place their Church members among the unchurched. I know that is easier to say than to do but when a person takes up the task for eldership, it should be accepted that they are committing themselves to that task. Anyone can hire/fire preachers and keep the services going and the church doors open. Finding ways to get your church members to rub elbows with the unchurched… now that’s a job worthy of a good elder. Can it be done? Absolutely! I go to church in Florida that has been successful in doing this and the results have been amazing. Attendance?– Up! Finances? — up! Morale— Up! But… they don’t worship in the 1950’s mold of worship. They did worship in the 1950’s mold and they were stagnate… they changed and became dynamic. I fear the Church of Christ would rather stagnate than change??

  3. Dwight says:

    One thing the assembly or local church is great at doing is talk the talk, but walking is another matter. Over the many congregations I have visited and been in association with there is a great push from the pulpit to get the members to send out cards and flyers and push for evangelism through the church…meaning get them to church and then let the message convert them or so the preacher can get in touch with them.
    This is a lousy way of doing things as it is inefficient and doesn’t allow for individual saint growth.
    The lessons of the assembly should be used to convert, but to exhort and edify, after all that is why the assembly is there. Heb.10:25
    But the saints should also be encouraged and equipped to go out into the world and teach others…evangelize, but pushing people out of the assembly to do things isn’t usually where the elders or preachers often want to go.
    Elders shouldn’t be the key, but rather a cog in helping move the other cogs (saints) along and sometimes they should acts as examples. It is strange to think that elders might not be extroverts, when their job demands it of them in the assembly to some extent.

  4. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Doug wrote,

    But… they don’t worship in the 1950’s mold of worship. They did worship in the 1950’s mold and they were stagnate… they changed and became dynamic.

    What did they change? What were the steps necessary to move from stagnant to dynamic? — because I’d really like to know how they did that.

  5. Doug says:

    For one thing, the order of worship is varied. it’s not 2 songs, prayer, one song, offering, one song, communion, one song, sermon, invitation song and go home song every single Sunday. Worship is different about every Sunday and it changes to meet the focus of worship for that particular Sunday. For another thing, worship is treated as a whole entity and it is done very, very well. Dress of the worshippers is unimportant and some people wear suits and dresses and other are in short and flip-flops. The preacher usually wears blue jeans and a untucked in shirt and his sermon is very conversational with applications to todays concerns and situations. The people themselves vary and are of many races and colors. Audio/Video is used effectively and it is used a lot with good effect. And, of course, they have a very, very good praise band/team that leads the singing of many of the latest contemporary Christian songs. They aren’t afraid to sing the same song 3 Sundays in a row so the congregation can learn it well and get into the singing of it. And yeah, baptisms (and there are a lot of them) are greeted with shouts and clapping. The organization of everything is planned in great detail and everything is well planned and fits together. The time spent in worship passes very fast… it seems too fast sometimes. I never see anyone looking at their watch. But the key to all the growth is the constant stream of unchurched people who come through the doors. For a Church of 1200 congregants, last year they had about 100 baptisms and attendance increased by 200 people. I expect that this years attendance will increase to 1400-1500 people.

  6. Doug says:

    I tried to convey the spirit of what I feel when I go to worship at the church I attempted to describe. I think I failed. Let me just say that there is a joyous spirit that can be felt from the moment that one walks into this church. It starts in the Lobby where people congregate to talk and drink coffee and eat a cookie and builds during the hour or so of worship. People are happy and glad to be together in this church. The minister usually sends out emails or tweets after the worship hour to reinforce what was experienced that day and sometimes that shows that this is not a church without challenges. The congregants have their share of the usual issues that all of us experience but this is a place where one can feel safe and hopeful. They are not afraid to try something new. I think I may have failed again but maybe the readers can ask themselves if this describes their church.

  7. Monty says:

    Jay said,

    “Part of the problem for me is that I live in a world where my contacts and friends are largely all committed to Jesus and a church. And I’m an introvert — which is true of most men and all bloggers.”

    That is the same response I hear when I talk to other members about sharing the gospel. All of their friends attend a church. I think that is, in general, a true statement, us birds(Christians) tend to flock together whether we attend together or not. However, don’t statistics tell us a different story?For example even if half of our town or city in the Bible belt attended church regularly somewhere, at least periodically, that would leave the other half of our towns and cities as possible “prospects.” I seriously doubt that 50% of any town is church affiliated, maybe I’m wrong. But even if we take the 50% figure that means that when we go out to eat or go to Walmart or Ingles or to our kids school functions that 1 out of 2 people aren’t church affiliated. As David Powers used to say in regards to lost prospects- “the woods is full of them.” “We can’t turn in any direction and not see people who need to be taught the gospel.”

    What we obviously need is something to bridge the gap relationally. Some place where our life intersects with their lives without it being a sales pitch/one shot/hand them a track approach.

    I gave some thought to the particular dynamics in my small, typical southern/conservative(but changing to being more open minded)congregation of the CofC(in a small town)and this is what I found. Looking back the past dozen years, or so, God has brought us(in one way or another) around 44 people(moved to our town and placed membership or were taught and baptized-not including children baptized)Of those 44 people only 2 had no ties either with the CofoC or with family in our church(About 5% of those who have come our way in the past 12 years). Sadly(although it’s possible they are attending some place else) the 2 with no family or relational ties no longer attend here.

    I suspect what is true in our small congregation is true of most small to perhaps medium size groups. In a group of say 200 there would be perhaps 10 members who had no previous family or friendships ties there. In other words God dropped them in our laps, so-to-speak. Of the 44 new members or adherents 24 had previous CofC ties(55%) and 18 of the 44 had family ties to us(40%).

    I believe that those numbers may vary to a slight degree from one( small-mid size)congregation to another but will generally hold true. Our congregations are predominantly
    comprised of family and transfers from other congregations(swelling or new to the city) About 5% of our groups are comprised of the guy(or gal) “off the street.”

    Even in the height of the Cross Roads/Boston movement many of their baptisms were re-baptisms of adults raised in the CofC and raised in other denominations.

    Where is the church that is converting the lost without any previous ties relationally to the church?

    It would seem to me that learning to build new relationships with the unconverted is the key. But who has time to work on new relationships? Admittedly that is a heard thing to do as you say for introverts. Then that leaves us with the lost in our families. We all know of family members who need Jesus, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be receptive. This kind takes “much prayer.”

  8. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Doug,

    Just trying to learn how good churches manage to do the worship assembly well. Some follow up questions —

    * Do you have a traditional invitation and opportunity to “come forward”? How is that handled?

    * Do you do anything outside the traditional pattern for communion?

    * How are announcements handled?

    * I assume worship is non-instrumental. Does praise team stand before church or sit?

    * Do you provide the congregation with just the words or is the sheet music projected or passed out?

    * Do you know how the assembly is planned? Staff? Is there a “director” in charge Sunday morning who makes sure things go as planned? Is there a committee that plans all this?

    * Is there a communion meditation? By staff?

    I realize there are many good ways to conduct an assembly, and there’s much more to it that the mechanics I’m asking about, but I try to learn from the best.

  9. Dwight says:

    We need to get away from the concept of “church affiliated” which basically means that someone is affiliated with a religious system and they might or might not be part of our religious affiliation.
    We need to move towards Christ affiliated and then pull others into working on those not affiliated with Christ. While there are some who are “Christ” affiliated, they might be rather system affiliated.
    It becomes a losing battle in trying to move people from one system to another if Christ isn’t the goal and the Bible the source.

  10. Dwight says:

    Some of the best setups I have heard about are assemblies in homes. It is loosely structured and personal and needs and actions are addressed in real time and not based on a schedule.
    Doug, I would be interested as well.
    I wish we could get rid of the “invitation” concept. Either the invitation is always open or it is not. IT was based on the 1800’s reformers who thought that everyone was wrong and needed to come forward and confess sins and be baptized into the right system or belief. They are very inefficient when you look at actual results and detract from the lesson that was just taught, plus it makes it seem as though the assembly is made up of the lost and not the saved. The saints were supposed to assemble (Heb.10:25), we need to teach each other how to grow, not spend time on re-converting ourselves.

  11. Doug says:

    Jay,

    I think I misled you… The church I am speaking of is the Church I attend in the winter and it is an Independent Christian Church. I attend a CofC the rest of the year and it is traditional, traditional, traditional. Unfortunately it is traditional in the sense that we are losing most young people after they go to college and have even lost several younger deacons. I assume you have heard of the Church of the Highland… they went there.

    Never-the-less, I will answer your questions.

    * Do you have a traditional invitation and opportunity to “come forward”? How is that handled?

    There is a traditional invitation but there are persons (staff and non-staff) stationed off to the side to greet anyone who comes forward. The other worshippers go ahead and leave after the invitation song and benediction. There is also a “Connecting Room” where people can go after the service to talk to someone. Baptisms are handled either privately or at the a later service.

    * Do you do anything outside the traditional pattern for communion?

    Sometimes… Video’s are used sometime and also personal testimony. The whole thing is planned so it fits into the general theme of that Sunday’s worship.

    * How are announcements handled?

    There is a extensive bulletin printed handout. But sometimes if it is something unusual, like a packing party to prepare a large (talking semi truck load) of food for Haiti, a staff person does a special announcement at the very beginning of the service. Once again, this church is very tech savvy and you can use your phone to scan one of those funny looking code thingies to get information and even that days sermon notes.

    * I assume worship is non-instrumental. Does praise team stand before church or sit?

    Nope… definitely an instrumental worship team… Drums, Electric basses and Guitars. Is that a problem? Ha! The worship leader is a paid staff member and a minister in his own right. One thing I noticed is that the whole worship team (Staff and volunteers) always meets off to the side of the stage for prayer before worship begins.

    * Do you provide the congregation with just the words or is the sheet music projected or passed out?

    With Contemporary Christian music you just need words. People like me can improvise harmony but everyone else just sings the melody or as close to the melody as they can get. Most Contemporary songs are pretty simple and easy to learn.

    * Do you know how the assembly is planned? Staff? Is there a “director” in charge Sunday morning who makes sure things go as planned? Is there a committee that plans all this?

    I don’t have great insight into how the process works but it is obvious that everything is completely thought out. I think the staff, and they do have a pretty large staff does a lot of thinking and planning about their “assembly”.. The musicians are led by the Worship leader and he is on staff so he is their connection.

    * Is there a communion meditation? By staff?

    There is usually some meditation or lead in to communion. It takes different forms (remember… things are different most every Sunday). It might be a staff member or it might be a non-staff member or it might be a video or a video of a church member made somewhere off campus. But, here’s the thing, these kind of videos are as professionally made as the professional video’s that are used. Everything is very well done and executed.

  12. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Doug,

    Thanks. So many of us have never seen worship done anyway but the traditional way — or traditional Baptist or traditional Methodist — that we need to be told what fits with today’s culture.

  13. Doug says:

    Jay, I’m glad to talk about this. I worked for nearly 25 years with a small Independent Christian Church in Huntsville. It never thrived and It is now a Hispanic Ministry. Once I relocated from Huntsville, there were no Independent Christian Churches within 50 Miles so I started going to a CofC. It seems the restoration movement in Alabama is mostly the CofC anyway. I have never had an opportunity to be around a Church like this one in Florida. I actually get a bit depressed when I have to leave it. It seems headed toward Mega-Church status if the leadership can keep it on track. I actually went to the minister about 5 years ago when it had about a year on the current growth spurt and asked him how it had all gotten started. He said that he really didn’t know but that they had converted some unchurched people and things just seemed take off after that. I think that’s the key and something that both the CofC and the Independent Christian Church leaders need to work on. Find a way to place love into your peoples heart for the unchurched and find a way to get the two groups of people together and talking. If that happens, you’ll see things happen that you didn’t think possible. I didn’t get the idea that this was a thought out plan for this Church I have been describing… they seem to have just lucked into it. The real question is how do you get this to occur by intention. I do think the Independent Christian Church is doing this better than the CofC as there are more Mega-Churches in it than in the CofC. I am very impressed by some of the young Independent Christian Church ministers I have had the chance to hear lately. They are quality people. I have also had the chance to hear some young CofC ministers the last couple of years and they were pretty good too. They seemed to want to do Church differently than their older counterparts. The question is: WIll their Elders let them? You might want to go to a service at a Highlands Church just to experience what is going on… I understand the Highlands group that started about a year or so ago in Huntsville started up with over 1000 people and is way above that now. I suspect they are doing many of the same things as this Church I have been describing is doing.

  14. Dwight says:

    When we were in another city on vacation I tried to get my wife to go to a different type congregation, a church in a home, but to no avail. It seems we are largely uncomfortable with things that make us uncomfortable.
    The coC congregation I attend has had its ups and downs, but we have grown, not of course by conversions, but by others moving in to the area or coming from other coC congregations. The growth seems to be related to not the preaching, but the mix of people themselves and then maybe the preaching that doesn’t offend to push people away and tows the coC line.

  15. Doug says:

    Here’s one example of where most of the CofC’s that I have attended do not do worship well. The song leader has a pretty nice voice but it is more of a bass voice than a tenor voice so when the melody goes up to a E or perhaps a F, he starts off the song 3 notes below where it should be started. This results in 2 things: 1) The singers who have a sense of where the notes for their parts should be located have a hard time finding their part and, 2) The poor Basses who should have a low G in their part are now faced with singing a low D. Now most of the basses in the CofC cannot sing a low D, especially with any volume, so they wind up just growling around. Here’s the point… the music suffers. If the song leader can’t sing the song in its’ correct key, he needs to find a different song. This is just an example of doing Worship well. The song leader thinks it doesn’t make any difference, but it does.

  16. Dwight says:

    I think sometimes we place too much emphasis on production value as it relates to how we hear it. God wants us to worship “in spirit and in truth”, but notice he doesn’t mention anything about how good it sounds or looks or feels. We want everything highly polished and smooth, but God just wants us and our hearts to express his Godliness.
    Doing worship well isn’t ever argued for in the scriptures, but rather doing worship is. I doubt Paul and Silas in prison were contemplating notes and structure and pitch and everything we get caught up in. If these things have to be in place to worship, then we are missing something.
    Now good singing sounds good and I am not against it, but it is not the platform for singing, a desire of God is. I try to not use the song book as much as possible and sing from memory, thus I may veer from the printed notes, but not from the message.
    Interestingly I ran across a site where they congregation only sings the psalms from the scriptures. How they do it, I don’t know, but one thing is sure is that the psalm structure doesn’t lend itself to being “smooth” in its form and is highly open to interpretation in sound.

  17. Dustin says:

    Dwight,

    Here are a couple of videos on chanting the psalms:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnP8qDQjyLQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzKXuUlEEVc

    It’s a very ancient practice and much easier in Hebrew. There are several ways to sing the psalms and plenty of resources from the Catholic and Anglican traditions.

    As you pointed out, perfect music and singing are not exactly the point. They can’t help a church stay together. The former Mars Hill church had the best contemporary worship band, best graphic artists, a vibrant lead pastor, and the best production teams as well as one of the biggest congregations in the country but fell apart because of terrible leadership. What makes a church strong is much more than slick production. It definitely will draw a crowd for several years but in the end it is not enough.

    The words of Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche communities, ring true about what makes a strong church:

    “One of the great difficulties of community life is that we sometimes force people to be what they are not: we stick an ideal image on them to which they are obliged to conform. We then expect too much of them and are quick to judge or to label. If they don’t manage to live up to this image or ideal, then they become afraid they won’t be loved or that they will disappoint others. So they feel obliged to hide behind a mask. Sometimes they succeed in living up to the image; they are able to follow all the rules of the community. Superficially this may give them a feeling of being perfect, but this is an illusion.

    In any case, community is not about perfect people. It is about people who are bonded to each other, each of whom is a mixture of good and bad, darkness and light, love and hate. And community is the only earth in which each can grow without fear toward the liberation of the forces of love which are hidden in them. But there can be growth only if we recognize the potential, and this will never unfold if we prevent people from discovering and accepting themselves as they are, with their gifts and their wounds. They have the right to be rotters, to have their own dark places, and corners of envy and even hatred in their hearts. These jealousies and insecurities are part of our wounded nature. That is our reality.”

  18. Monty says:

    “They have the right to be rotters, to have their own dark places, and corners of envy and even hatred in their hearts. ”

    They have the right(if you call it that)at the start of their faith walk to start from there but not to continue on in those things. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5: 3,” But fornication, and all uncleanness, or coveteousness, let it not be named once among you,as becometh saints. And there are other such passages that speak to getting rid of sin. Do we ever become perfect? No. We are imperfect and have to continually fight against that which wars against our souls(the flesh) but to say to a brother or sister you have the right to harbor hate? It’s OK to have a dark place? I don’t think that is Pauline language. Sounds more like 21st century mumbo-jumbo.

  19. Dustin says:

    Monty,

    The title of his essay is “Reality.” To deny reality is a big problem of the Western evangelicals. The mumbo-jumbo in the Bible is Psalms. We ignore the fact that the majority of the Psalms are laments. Richard Beck deals with this today in his post on Winter Christianity and uses a quote from Walter Brueggemann that sums up the denial of modern Western evangelical thought:

    “We have thought that acknowledgement of negativity was somehow an act of unfaith.”

    To ask people to put away their hurts, hates, anxieties, depressions, etc. when they are not ready is asking something that is not found in the bible. Is that the end goal? No, and Vanier is not saying that is the end goal.

  20. Mark says:

    Philippians 4:11 (KJV) “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

    This verse was taken out of context to mean do not ever complain and If you have problems, don’t discuss them and don’t bother crying out to God. Hence, neither the psalms of lament nor the Lamentations were to be read.

    As for the invitation concept, the door to God is always open. I agree that the invitation at the end of the sermon caused a lot of problems because sermons had to find fault with people to give them something for which they needed to repent and made the sermon not Jesus and his teachings. Tragically, the gospel rarely made it into the sermon. Frequent reconverting (through sermons) was needed when some felt the people were “straying” from cofC doctrine.

  21. Monty says:

    Colossians 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice and slander and filthy language from your lips.”

    As I stated, these should be, and I stress should, be the instructions for baby Christians or immature Christians. Not that we ever reach perfection but obviously Paul expects and instructs them(us) to put those things behind them. Never does he give them the freedom to hold onto or warmly embrace them until such a time as they are OK with giving them up which is sort of what I hear you saying. I’m not denying we all struggle to some degree or other with sin no matter where we are in Christ, and thank God for grace but it’s not something to embrace IMO. Confess yes, just accept, no.

  22. Doug says:

    Dwight said “I doubt Paul and Silas in prison were contemplating notes and structure and pitch and everything we get caught up in. If these things have to be in place to worship, then we are missing something.” If you ignore doing worship music well, you are missing the boat as far a evangelism is concerned”. Remember, this topic was about Evangelism and reaching the unchurched? If you finally get some unchurched people into your “assembly” (CofC P.C.-ness?) and they experience lousy music, you probably have seen the last of them. If they experience good music that touches them personally and then actually hear a sermon that they can relate to, there’s a chance they will come back. Especially if there’s someway that they can figure out how to get into the church community. My goodness, other churches are doing exactly this and are bursting at the seams with the unchurched. I wonder how many Churches of Christ have over 1500 people in attendance on a Sunday morning. There’s some deep problem with the Church of Christ if the Independent Christian church can show many mega-churches and the Churches of Christ can not.

  23. Monty says:

    I recently visited my daughter, who is off at college at a “brotherhood school.” She attends(as do many CofC raised kids who attend college there), a “community” type church(one of several in the area). While my wife and I were there we went to church with her(she was eager to have us come with her) and it was a good service. Like any place it was easy to pick at the things that you didn’t like(like sitting in a darkened room with the spotlights on the band) or weren’t as comfortable with and just as easy to see the things they did well. Speaking of the music, they had a first rate band who played contemporary praise music about as well as you could possibly hope for. The music itself was outstanding, and it wasn’t overtly loud, however,the congregational singing was almost inaudible-poor acoustics and the they had the same problem I have experienced in other “band type” worship assemblies is the congregational singing experience is going to be lacking, at least from someone who has a background of a Capella songs sung well.

    A Capella done badly is about the same as a band done badly. Now for those who perhaps have never really experienced a Capella done well and have been reared attending rock concerts then the band thing in church is going to be great for them. They have nothing to compare it to. I didn’t come from a church background growing up. I was a child of the 70’s and I have been to most of the classic rock groups of that days concerts. The first time I heard A Capella done well it sent chills racing down my spine, without the drugs. I had never heard anything like it, that wasn’t amped up. It was beyond description. Even today, in my home church, which is very small, we have great acoustics and when we have good song leading the singing is pretty special for a small group. Most visitors comment well on our singing. It’s been my experience you can either listen to the music or be a participant in singing the songs, but a lot of loud music or moderately loud music and poor acoustics and not being able to hear yourself sing leads me to feel more like I’m a spectator watching the performers perform.

  24. Doug says:

    When I first started spending winters in Florida, we first visited several small Churches of Christ. Their a capella singing was so terrible that my wife and I could not bear going to any of them. A church is asking a lot from visitors to withstand awful singing. They are asking even more to ask unchurched visitors to accept such singing. Why should they do this when there are many churches nearby with good music? Bad acoustics need to be fixed. The church we attend in winter time had very bad acoustics initially but they had acoustic panels installed and now, the acoustics are okay. Small things like this matter. You want your church to do church well… don’t you.

  25. Terry says:

    I see my life’s purpose in these words of Jesus: “Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home” (Luke 16:9, NLT).

    My goal is to make friends who will last forever. It means enjoying life with them, encouraging them, helping them, praying for them, “liking” their posts on social media, inviting them to church, and sharing my faith with them. Evangelism is not really a project; it’s more of a lifestyle of making and keeping friends.When approached with that mindset, it’s not as intimidating. Who doesn’t want good friends who will last forever?

  26. Monty says:

    Terry,

    Yep!

  27. Doug says:

    There are 2 viewpoints on Evangelism. You have expressed your view of what personal evangelism looks like. I’m guessing that your view of Corporate Evangelism for the entire church is a composite of all the members of your church doing their own personal evangelism. But, another viewpoint is that the Church itself through its’ leadership take action to facilitate bringing “new” unchurched friends to it’s membership. I think that’s a valid expression of evangelism too and that’s is what other Churches are doing with success… some of them with outstanding success. I would argue that the Church of Christ is more in line with your thinking and based on the statistics that have been posted on this blog, that form of evangelism is not working well for them. It may have worked at one time but that time is now past and the Church of Christ is contracting and becoming more and more religiously irrelevant.

  28. Monty says:

    Independent Christian Churches are not growing as a whole, they are losing adherents. They have some mega-churches that are doing well, but other than that they are in the same boat as CofC.

  29. Mark says:

    The community churches are the group that are getting the people now.

  30. Doug says:

    Monty, the last statistics I saw for the Independent Christian Church were, at least, considerably better than the Church of Christ statistics. I think if I recall correctly, that they were holding there own and at least not dwindling.They do have a lot more churches that show attendance that places them in the mega-church category and a large part of their growth comes from mega-churches. Besides, what are you arguing for? If mega-churches are the way to go, why not combine some churches to fashion a mega-Church and grow from there? All there is to lose is some old church history and most of it probably isn’t worth remembering anyway. The community churches do not intrinsically have a better message than either the Church of Christ or the Independent Christian Church. What they do offer is some excitement while praising God. I guess excitement while going to church is too much to hope for?

  31. Doug says:

    Incidentally, if interested, the Christian Standard website lists the largest Christian Churches annually. Just do a search on “mega-church”. The 2014 listing showed 64 churches with attendance over 2000 and 70 additional churches with attendance over 1000 and many additional churches with attendance over 250. The largest churches were in Arizona and Kentucky with attendance over 20,000. I don’t know how these were compiled or if the list is anywhere near complete.

  32. Mark says:

    “The community churches do not intrinsically have a better message than either the Church of Christ or the Independent Christian Church. What they do offer is some excitement while praising God.”

    Doug, I think better (younger, more diverse) leadership in the community churches helps them. it is also how you present the message that can make a difference.

  33. Dwight says:

    Evangelism is about getting to the people and not bringing the people in…from the Biblical perspective. If we are trying to get the lost into the assembly, we best convert them first to Christ.

    I too have been to some churches that have atrocious singing, but then again they were largely made up of older people and/or people that didn’t know how to sing and yet they sang..they sang to God. I cannot discount that and it doesn’t discourage me, even though it hurts my ears.
    What happens, and I find this in many places, is that people go visit an assembly that they can’t gel with because they don’t seem friendly or that they aren’t active enough or the singing is bad, and then they leave. The problem is that they hadn’t tried to change anything and/or they didn’t wait until they were able to get others in to where they could change those things. So the congregation continues down the same road because people don’t stay to build it up. Church then becomes self-service and self-gratification. Now I admit it is hard to get edified in a place where people don’t edify, but it is a two way street as well.

  34. Monty says:

    My limited experience visiting my daughter’s churches(Community) is a church with less structure in worship forms and that has a band with electrified instruments and guys(who perhaps many older folks would think need a hair cut and to not where jeans), is way cooler than a group of gray hairs in suits, singing songs A Capella from the 1920’s and who look at you funny if you like really get into the worship and say Amen and raise your hands. There seems to be a certain anonymity where they can meet with their friends there and not really be held accountable(talking college age and mid-20’s not married).Other than that. It’s singing, preaching, praying, and Lord’s Supper at the front afterwards if you choose. Definitely a younger crowd though.

  35. Mark says:

    Monty, I would bet that there is no fear of the sermon running off visitors and guests to that church either. It is hard for a church to grow when people are scared to invite others out of fear the sermon.

  36. Dwight says:

    If we go out to the lost and teach them…there should be no sermon and no fear so as to run them off. It is impossible for the kingdom of God to grow when people aren’t being converted to Christ, especially when they are being invited to assembly to where the saints are trying to edify each other. We must get over being scared to share with others the greatest message ever told and providing others with what they need.
    Monty, I think assembly is about the saints doing exactly what your daughter’s community church is doing…bonding in Christ through Christ and not bonding over rules and regulations. We often sing ” A Common Love”, but practice “A Common Law”.

  37. Doug says:

    Dwight, I am not sure what you mean when you say “If we are trying to get the lost into the assembly, we best convert them first to Christ.” If you are saying that folks need to be Christians before they can come to Church, that doesn’t make sense to me. Getting people who aren’t going to church into the Church seems like a pretty good evangelism concept to me. This may cause some issues as they may be used to living non-Christian lives but these issues can be addressed. If they never enter the church, they will not have a chance to learn and have such issues addressed. I know the Church I attend in Florida had to address marriage with quite a few couples who were coming to that church and were converted but were just living together after being converted. They addressed this head-on and even arranged to give free weddings complete with a wedding cake to any couple who decided to be married. This might be unconventional but the needs of the people should always be addressed first. To me, getting unconverted people into the church is absolutely a valid evangelistic tool and should be something the church leaders need to work into their strategic plans (that assumes the leadership has strategic plans).

  38. Larry Cheek says:

    I believe that there are only a few occasions in NT teaching where anyone was invited to an assembly (example) to hear Gospel teaching intended to convert an unbeliever. Anyone who relies upon the assembly to convert their friend will probably lose their friend and cause their soul to be lost. The assembly was never given the obligation or duty to convert sinners! Christians (the earthen pots of clay) have been given that responsibility. The assembly is where individuals become converted to rituals (you know the 5 acts, in the specific order) the very same thing that was prevalent in the rituals of the Temple. Most Christians today don’t even realize how deeply they are ingrained in the (works of rituals). What I am trying to show you is these rituals cover up Jesus. These rituals have no power to save, they just console the mind that we have fulfilled our duty to worship. When in most cases we did not worship at all, we just had a social gathering. You know, we just visited with friends and caught up on all of the news about those whom we do not have contact during the week, or since that last assembly we attended. Sure we may have heard a very powerful lesson, and may have agreed with the actions that may have been shown in the lesson, but that is not worship, it is worship when you actually live out the lesson. Most times that lesson will not need to be lived out within the assembly because most all of us are goody goody two shoes while there. It is out among others who are not our click that we need to be shining as a light in the darkness.
    I really do think that when Jesus comes back again we will find that he will not recognize the majority of men who think they are devout disciples.

  39. Larry Cheek says:

    I just noticed that it is 11:49 P.M. in Central time and my post posted as 12:49 A.M. I had never noticed that time sequence before, is it something about going off DST back to CT?

  40. Dwight says:

    Larry, That is the case. The assembly was never meant to covert sinners and it was never meant for sinners. Heb.10:25 has Paul talking to the saints and then telling them to not forsake the assembling together. All of the letters were written to the saints, not sinners. Sinners were considered outside the church or congregation of God. They were to be brought in or converted by those going out to them. There actually is never a case where sinners are invited in to an assembly. Now I Cor.14:24 does say, “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all.”, but this isn’t a call to try to get them in to an assembly, but rather it is an “IF” statement of someone “comes in”.
    Assemblies might show one how the saints are to behave towards one another to an outsider, but in regards to converting they are grossly inefficient. We expect a lost person to come in and be preached at for 30-45 minutes at a time and then get what they need. But they won’t get what they need until we ask them and spend time with them and that requires one-on-one. Most sermons are built on topics and not the story of Christ. The assembly should be for the building of the saints, not the conversion of sinners. We should, being built up, go to others. We largely preach salvation to the saved and then wonder why the lost aren’t being affected.

  41. Dwight says:

    Larry, I also believe you are right in the worship category. Many conservatives hate the Rom.12 version that says, “reasonable service of worship”, but even if you remove “of worship”, the “reasonable service” is referring back to being “a living sacrifice”. Sacrifices were service that were offerings of and in worship. Not all worship is service, but all service is worship, because we are bowing down before God in faith and obedience. Much of what we are to do in assembly is not geared towards “worship acts”, but rather towards service towards one another in the presence of God. Worship can be done and should be done at our homes and at work and in our life in general. We shouldn’t go to assembly to worship, we are worshippers who are to worship in our life and assembly is just a small part of our life in general, but then when we do get together with others we reflect our worshipfulness as well.
    I believe we shouldn’t end our sermons with an invitation, but rather with a show of hands of “who has done what was preached about” and ‘who will do what was preached about” and then we get together and talk about what we can do and then do it. We listen a lot, but listening is not what matters to God…applying it is what matters to God.

  42. Mark says:

    But Dwight, Applying the sermon to one’s life would require that the sermon have some component that is applicable to one’s daily life, e.g. the individual teachings of Jesus. It’s hard to apply yet another sermon on the cofC’s leadership structure to daily life.

  43. Dwight says:

    Mark, I don’t follow you.
    “All scripture is profitable for ….”, but not all sermons are profitable to cover all things because they are usually geared in one direction, either topical or covering one section of scripture. Sermons inside the assembly should be focused on those assembled or the saints. You don’t see Paul or Peter writing to the sinners or lost, but to the saints. But within the letters you find them telling the saints to go out and affect the lost.
    I would agree that the coC often majors on the minors and minors on the majors. How many sermons I have heard on “instrumental music” in worship in the assembly even when no one in the assembly is worshipping with instruments. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
    We have sermons on elders, even though we have elders. We have sermons on worship in assembly, even though we are worshipping in assembly. Most of the sermons are about validation of what we are already doing and thus de-validating everyone else. And then we preach to the lost who largely aren’t not in the attendance and then end with an invitation/song that no one responds to, since there are no lost in attendance. This is never more noticeable then on Wednesday night and we do the same thing over and over again. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. The sermons aren’t largely geared towards getting people acting in the outside world in worship and service, but they should be.

  44. Doug says:

    All I can say to both Larry and Dwight is “Wow!!”. I have yet to step into either a Independent Christian Church or a Church of Christ where your version of the “Assembly” was practiced. Do you all consider yourselves to be mainstream Church of Christ?

  45. Mark says:

    Dwight, to clarify, Yes, All scripture is profitable for something but it does not mean that a steady diet of sermons on IM will help anyone’s faith.

  46. Dwight says:

    Doug, I don’t think like the mainstream coC, even though I attend a conservative one and even within the conservative assemblies there has been a shift towards things like more HS interaction, grace, etc..
    Mark, I think that was my point, though it might not have come off that way. My thought on “not that there is anything wrong with that” was aimed at instrumental music and not at the preaching on it. That wasn’t clear. I don’t believe that preaching on things we aren’t doing and aren’t wrong are worthwhile missions. We need to preach and teach on things that we have problems with and things that lift us up in action and application in the real world.
    God Bless

  47. Larry Cheek says:

    Doug,
    Actually, as you make a comparison of these thoughts to the environment inside the assemblies of any church you are identifying that the church is not fulfilling the roll of teaching those inside the church to live like Christ. The assembly of the church has become safe haven for members to avoid the world. The message of Christ was to go into the world and teach of him. Churches do not do that, o but some do delegate and support selected individuals to teach the church doctrine to the world. Considering the volume of Christians that it takes to support an individual to perform that function. Proves how in inefficient the church is in doing work which Christ commissioned to a few to do. Jay has really brought out some sobering thoughts in many of our studies on this blog. For instance, history of the teachings in the church reveals that without the church teachings each week Christians meeting there would be lost and going to Hell. That Christians cannot be saved without being in attendance of one of these assemblies. We even looked at each other and determined that our dearest brothers and sisters who failed to come at every assembly were more than likely going to Hell also, of course we weren’t because we were always at every gathering many times even while sick enough to spread the sickness throughout the assembly. Then there were those times our bodies were so tired that the sermon was just some words that would not hold our attention, but we were there and counted among the saved. You see our rituals became our savior. Then came Jay, you cannot be lost by falling through one of those dark holes which we had devised as a salvation ritual, the only out of the relationship with Jesus (the church) was to turn your back on Jesus (not the church). For many of us the church which we were attending Christ would not have recognized as his Bride. It had been indoctrinated by another teacher than Jesus. What then hurts us most is the inability to influence the assembly of their condition. It is almost impossible to undue false teachings. It has been documented many times that the human will believe lies a lot quicker and longer than they will believe the truth.
    I really hope most of you have had better opportunities or progress in this area.

    P.S. Would anyone guess where the greatest resistance is. Of course it’s leadership, the very individuals who should be in the lead of Christ’s goals. But, instead their concentration is the assemblies goals. Aren’t the assemblies made up of mankind and his rituals?

  48. Doug says:

    Larry, I think you and I agree on the failure of Church Leadership in pursuing Christ’s goals but maybe in different ways. I would like to see the Leadership more concerned about making the “assembly” fashion in a way that is attractive and meaningful to the unsaved. I do not see that as a Leadership goal at all in my church. We pay word service to saving the lost but practice an “assembly” that is designed to make them as uncomfortable as possible. If I have had any evangelistic success at all, it has been in spite of the Church, not aided by it. So it bothers me when some say the “Assembly” is only for the converted because I have witnessed it being a great help in both attracting and converting the unconverted. It really can function that way.

  49. Dwight says:

    Doug, I want you to go into the scripture and find me where at any time it is indicated that the assembly was for the lost or to function in any way as a way to reach the lost or to convert the lost. You won’t find it. It isn’t there.
    If this is what the assembly is for, then how do we edify each other while trying to convert others. We can’t.
    One of the interesting things is that the letters weren’t addressed to the leaders, but to the people, and it was meant for the people. Now parts of the letters talk about the elders, but briefly. Otherwise the saints, the church in the town, were to worship, convert, teach, etc.
    If the lost are uncomfortable in assembly, then they should be, as the assembly should be family and as it would be for a stranger to be surrounded by family members.
    We can’t appeal to them as if they are one of us, we have to appeal to them to become one of us.
    You even admit, “if I have had any evang. success it has been in spite of the church.”
    Arguably the assembly can’t convert, but we can.
    The problem I have is that using the method you like to employ we end up converting them to “the church” and all of things in the “church” or “church system”, but not Christ. The coC largely operates this way. You become indoctrinated in the church on the same level, and sometimes before, becoming indoctrinated in Christ.

  50. Doug says:

    Dwight, despite your profession that you “don’t think like the mainstream coC”, you still may be bogged down by the Regulative Principle of Worship and it’s related tentacles. You search the bible and can’t find the command, example or necessary inference for a practice and proceed to make that practice unacceptable. I am not bogged down by this Principle and if I see something working to bring the unsaved to salvation, I applaud it (pun intended… some would say applause isn’t found in any scripture so you can’t do it).

    I am not saying that the “assembly” is primarily for the non-Christian. But, I know from my own experience that it is possible to edify, worship and teach the believers and still make the non-believers feel accepted and find the joy of the Lord. It is possible to make them realize that we believers have something they do not have and to cause them to yearn for it. After all, all of us believers were once exactly where they are.

  51. Doug says:

    I may be confusing some by my references to my own experiences. If you go back to be beginning of this discussion, I told everyone that I attend 2 Churches, one is a traditional CofC and the other is an Independent Christian Church. The CofC “assembly” is not particularly attractive to non-believers while the Independent Christian Church “assembly” is. The CofC is a static, non-growing Church while the Independent Christian Church is a dynamic, fast growing Church. So…

  52. Dwight says:

    Doug, Actually if you would have talked to me two years ago I would have professed the application of the RPW, but now I don’t. I view worship as worship and not regulated by God, with the possible one exception of the Lord’s Supper. Otherwise I believe we are to be “free range worshippers”.
    The thing is that the scripture is pretty clear that the saved were added to the congregation and there was no movement to include the lost in the assembly. The pattern is that saved went to the lost and then converted them to Christ, then they assembled. Heb.10:25, I Cor.11, etc. The assembly was for the saints to come together to edify each other in Christ and through Christ.
    There is a gross inefficiency in trying to divide the assembly, of the saints and by the saints, into a time and place for the lost. The lost don’t get all they need and the saved don’t get all they need.

    And I would not argue that we should deny the lost access to the assembly, but rather that we should not make it a push or a goal to get them in to what the saints should be composing.
    The tradition of most “churches” is to get them in and then convert them, but this is not the goal of the assembly from scripture and it should be the goal of the saints to go to the lost and convert them. This has nothing to do with RPW. What we want to do is the least amount of work to get the most amount of what we think is happening, but in reality it isn’t happening. People go from one church to another and then we count them as converted. The numbers of the Kingdom don’t reflect what goes on in our assemblies at least in the coC

  53. Dwight says:

    I would gather, Doug, if you go back to the ICC and look at the actual “membership”, that you what you will see are members from other congregations that are making it grow. This isn’t real growth, but rather re-shuffeling of the saints. People are simply moving from one “church home” to another “church home” or association, one they feel more comfortable in or that meets there needs. We see our church growth as conversions, but this is rarely the case. Now in the conservative coC anybody who converts to the coC converts to Christ. It is reformist thinking in that all other groups or associations or forms are inherently lost and that only one way, the coC way, is the true and valid way. Now most coC would deny this on the face and yet this is taught through its many teachings. It is like saying, “we aren’t the only saved, but all others are lost”.

  54. Doug says:

    No cigar for that post, Dwight. If you would have looked at the mega-church statistics from the “Christian Standard” website like I suggested, you would have seen that the statistics include baptisms. The data is on the website for all the world to see. Just for information, the 2 largest churches I mentioned, one in Kentucky and the other in Arizona with both having weekly attendance in excess of 22,000 both reported over 2,000 baptisms for the year 2014. The 2015 numbers should be out pretty soon.

    Also the ICC that I go to in the winter time is smaller (1200 Weekly attendance) and they had around 100 baptisms last year.

    There may be some membership transfers but there is clearly a lot of converting going on in these churches too. I don’t know about your CofC but mine is not producing 15 baptisms a year and half of them are sons/daughters of members.

  55. Dwight says:

    If that is true, then they are doing something good. They must have some sort of outreach system or push among them. But as I have seen, primarily among the coC, many baptism are baptism from one religion, i.e. Baptist, to the coC. The book Muscle and Shovel is based on this concept.

    Even so, I believe, because the Bible reflects this, that the most effective way to convert people is to one-on-one talk to them and that the assembly is made and designed for the saints to edify each other and not for conversion of the lost.
    A question: what does the ICC focus on in assembly and do they end with an invitation/song. They must be doing something radically different than the coC or maybe it is doctrine. I believe coC don’t grow because they focus the people to the inside (in judgments and action), instead of pushing them to the outside (in acceptance and action).

  56. Mark says:

    Growth in the cofC has fallen off because they have a major problem with the gospel and do not focus on the teachings of Jesus. I can still hear preachers say in a loud voice “you must obey the gospel.” That was the only thing the gospel was used for. Why was the gospel omitted from most sermons? I don’t know. Why was the Bible not even read in the service? I was told that most people were bored while it was being read aloud and that there was no provision in the Bible for Bible readers in the service.

    In any cofC I ever attended, it was about Paul and his finding fault with churches and if Paul loved anyone, it was omitted.

  57. Monty says:

    Mark,

    I have no doubt about your sincerity, but I must of been blessed to not have been involved with CofC’s like that in the past. Are you speaking of what? The 1960-70’s maybe? or something more recent. I have no doubt that those churches still exist but what you stated seems pretty foreign to my experience, 1980-now,churches in cities of more than 90K people. What was your environment like?

  58. Mark says:

    Monty,
    This was late 1970s-late 90s, small southern towns. One congregation 50-90 members. the other 250. Comprised mainly of elderly people. The times I was in a bigger city and went to a “flagship” cofC things were a little better. Please define environment.

  59. Dwight says:

    Mark, I have been to many coC where the gospel is read and while it is often read in such as way as to point towards baptism, instead of baptism pointing towards Christ, it is read. But over the years I have heard many sermons on Joy and Thanksgiving, etc., at least more than I have heard in the past.
    I also have never been to a congregation that sounds like what you are describing and I have been to many (during the past 50 years). I live and have lived in Houston, Texas area.

  60. Mark says:

    There is a lot more to the gospel than just baptism. Was it read as one verse or in portions? I am glad all of you saw a different setup.

  61. Monty says:

    Mark,

    You covered it.

  62. Monty says:

    When people hear the gospel and it’s preached the way it should be, then those who believe it want to be baptized. Like upon their new found belief. That’s what I see when I read Acts. We can define it in different terms to make it more palatable for hearers like Rick Atchely recently did when he told his congregation “if you haven’t been baptized, you need to be. Jesus was baptized….and so should you be.” But the Eunuch had Jesus “taught him” and he saw water as they traveled( I think he was looking for the first water he saw)and eagerly desired baptism. Where did he get the idea of being baptized if all he was taught was gospel? What did he believe baptism would do for him? Identify with the church at large? Be an outward sign of an inner feeling? First act of obedience? Or could he have possibly thought (because he was taught it by Phillip) that baptism, based upon believing on Jesus, has great spiritual significance tying in with salvation in Jesus name?

    Jesus said preach to all nations(good news) and baptize them. As night follows day, in the scripture, baptism follows right on the heals of teaching the lost how to be saved by believing in Jesus and therefor had to have been incorporated into the good news about Jesus message. I mean it wasn’t like a separate class for new believers. Can we get the cart before the horse? Sure, but why do so many seem to want to unbridle the cart from the horse? There is no “pure gospel” that leaves off “commanding them to be baptized” into the name of the one who died for them, regardless of the teacher’s feelings about the purpose of being baptized.

  63. Doug says:

    Okay Dwight, I am getting a bit frustrated with this topic because I first entered it discussing what and how a Independent Christian Church “Assembly” differed from the CofC “assembly”. I even answered a list of questions from Jay related to that. Did you read any of that?

    But really, the ICC “assembly” covers much of the same ground as a CofC “assembly”. There’s worship and praise, Communion, Giving, Prayer, and Teaching (the sermon), and an invitation to surrender ones life to Christ. It’s not the topics that make the difference but how the topics are accomplished that is different. I know in my church the teaching/sermon is typically about 20-25 minutes whereas in this one particular ICC I attend it is more like 35-40 minutes. But where I might lose concentration in the CofC, I am usually very focused on the sermon in the ICC. It’s the style of the preaching, the content of the sermon, the additional audio/video used with the sermon, etc. etc. The worship and praise is also quite different between the ICC and the CofC. I am not a big hand raiser during worship but whereas I never raise my hands to God at the CofC, I do occasionally raise them in the ICC but only when I feel that I just can’t keep them down any longer. You know, I feel like I am describing something to people who have no idea what I am talking about. You possibly have never experienced anything like I am talking about. You may have never felt that beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was in your midst. You may have never looked at your arm during worship and seen that every hair on it was standing up. But, I have.

  64. Dwight says:

    Then, Doug, why are you still going to the coC? If they are that much better.
    The only thing that keeps me where I am is my wife and father-in-law, but otherwise I would have moved on to a house church or something like that and might still, but our congregation also has some people that are more enlightened and the numbers are growing and I am trying to move in that direction with the people.
    Doug, I did read it, but my question was about outreach, not about if they worship or not. Now the style might be enough to keep them, but how do they get to them or do they just wait for them to come in and get them with the invitation and song? This was where I was going. What makes their conversion method different so that they do more of it than the coC.

  65. Doug says:

    The ICC presence in my physical location is very small. The nearest ICC congregation is over 50 miles away and it is very small. Then why don’t I start a ICC congregation, You ask? I have been there and done that but in a area where the restoration movement is historically CofC, this proved to be very problematic. I tried though, for almost 25 years.

    For me, weekly communion is very important. This alone narrows down a person’s church choices. Also, I am biblically conservative and unwilling to ignore or go against what is plainly written in God’s Word. More and more these days, this narrows down the church choices. It ultimately came down to this… the CofC was my only option. I realize that it’s sometimes an uncomfortable fit. I could have made it more comfortable by being quieter about what I perceive about the truth about the CofC what they expouse and I still try to do that. I have tried to see if some things could be made better… They cannot. A small group of Elders control everything and they will listen to me but never act. So, I occasionally participate in Jay’s blog and say what’s on my mind. I don’t anticipate making any difference but CofC members need to know what is possible and what the Church can really be, even if today they can never experience it. Maybe someday…?

    Incidentally, it appears that the average baptism percentage based on Church attendance in the ICC, based on the statistics in the “Christian Standard” is about 10%. Some churches are higher and some lower but roughly speaking, 10% seems about right. The 2 churches I mentioned a few posts back had 22,000 in attendance and over 2,000 baptisms. All of us on this blog might want to apply that metric to our own Church. In my church’s case, that would mean we should be producing about 35 baptisms. We are no where near that number. You might also want to divide the number of baptisms by the church’s yearly budget to see the cost of each baptisms. I know that is probably a bit inappropriate but remember the parable about the 10 talents? See what each baptism costs… maybe your church needs to start supporting a mission work that is producing results instead of having that 3-day revival? Or, having another class on evangelism. Just thinking…

  66. Dwight says:

    Doug, I think, in the coC, we have what are called “pew sitters”, in that we come in to worship and listen, but don’t apply this to the real world. They are Christians within the confines of the building. This is harsh, but reality. They expect the “church” to act, but not them. We almost make it a sin to not think of the assembly as the apex and nexus of our Christianity.
    And I am in a similar situation in that I think the coC is closer than many congregations, but having said that, they are also further away than many in things like judgments, worship, action, etc. I have within a couple of years departed from the coC mentally in many traditions and teachings, even though I love the people. And I have noticed the same in others.
    I might ask, how much did a baptism cost in Acts? What did they spend on baptisms and pulling people in? Zero.
    We can throw money at things, and we do all of the time in the form of flyers, ads, etc., but nothing beats throwing ourselves towards people.

  67. Mark says:

    Since there was no reading of the gospel in the officially sanctioned cofC order of worship, the sermon became the apex of the assembly. The communion was an afterthought. It has only been in the last decade that a communion meditation could be given even if it were used to bash the Methodists. Before that it was one prayer for each element (matzo, Welch’s, and offering). I attend a liturgical church now where the reading of the gospel and the communion are the highest points in the service.

  68. Doug says:

    Mark, if you don’t mind, what liturgical church do you attend? I was an Episcoplain for 12 years in between the ICC and the CofC. I quit it because of their inclusion of Homosexual bishops. I could not reconcile that and I could not support a church that held that position. But, despite a number of theological issues with the Episcopal church ( infant baptism, the priesthood, etc.) I think I fit in there about as well as I do in the CofC.

  69. Dwight says:

    And still the communion is probably far off from what was done in the early church as noted in scriptures where it was an actual meal at suppertime. It wasn’t about meditation, but about sharing and interacting, which is not seen except as it passes from one person to another in a row. My biggest problem is the resistance to do things better, because once you are the best, why change? And in fact change is seen as a bad thing, because you are moving from perfection in form and function.
    The argument of course is that they are the NT church as it was from the beginning and don’t recognize the influence and changes that happened between then and now during the restoration period.
    In regards to liturgy, this was largely created by the Catholic church and then refined by John Calvin. I would like to get away from it if possible. Who says we have to do the same thing the same way every time. In fact there was at time when one of our preachers had Parkinson’s disease and it was often uncertain whether he would be doing a sermon or not or if it would last five minutes or thirty. The people stepped up and filled in the gaps and it was never the same on a Wednesday or Sunday and we were orderly. Sometimes we just sang and sometimes the members would read and give their thoughts on the scriptures, etc. It was highly unorthodox, but it got each person involved and active.
    We often forget that the early saints met in homes and were often on the go due to persecution. They managed and the church grew still…much faster than it does today. We must empower the people to worship and act in the world and not just do things because it looks “right and proper” in assembly, but because it is scriptural and gets things done. We should not do the same things over and over again and expect different results.

  70. Doug says:

    Dwight, how do you personally “throw yourself toward people?”. I am like most CofC members in that I associate and socialize pretty much with people who are converted already. I do find the unchurched and non-converted in Jail, Prison and Drug Rehab and that’s about the only way I come in contact with the unchurch and non-converted. While this is a very valid work, most of the people I meet in these places are from different locals than me and once we part, I don’t see them again. This work brings Jesus to people but not to my church. I believe church leadership can both create converts and growth for their church by getting the unchurched and non-converted into their church and converting them. They are the ones who will have non-converted friends and if they are truly converted, they will bring their friends to conversion. This works,,, I am witnessing it work in the ICC that I attend in the winter. I don’t see it happening in the CofC that I attend and I see little growth and few conversions there. It’s not because the members of the CofC are not interested in evangelism, it’s that they simply don’t know people to evangelize.

    As far as the cost of evangelism, I was just suggesting that if the church was spending money and not seeing a return on that money in the way of baptisms, then maybe they aren’t spending it wisely. I know we spend a lot of money on books and literature to study evangelism techniques but have no way of actually reaching people who need evangelizing. We spend money placing a advertisement in the newspaper that is exactly the same… week after week, and that seems to produce nothing. This makes no sense to me. Your technique of placing evangelism squarely on the back of the individual church member doesn’t seem to work either because the members still don’t know non-converted people. Maybe a shift in thinking is needed.

  71. John Grant says:

    The more folks need God the easier it is to teach them. Hospitals, orphans homes, old folks facilities, jails, prisons are just a few.

  72. Mark says:

    Doug, I go to a conservative Episcopal church that does not go along with the diocesan bishop and where all politics is left at the door. The focus is on religion and the Bible is held up as the word of God. Every congregation is different and not all go along with, but do pray for, the hierarchy.

  73. Larry Cheek says:

    Doug,
    You are surely a fortunate individual to be living in an area where almost no one in your community is not Christian. I would venture to say that the Christians in most areas of the world are very small percentage of the community. Of course the majority in the coC would have taught our members to be very careful not to be friends with or to associate with non-Christians, therefore many Christians(?) overlook their neighbors who are not Christians. I hope that you have not fallen into that type of relationship with your neighbors.

  74. Doug says:

    Larry, I am sure that not everyone in my community is a Christian. And, I did not say that. But before a Christian relationship can be established, some sort of relationship must already exist. I think evangelism starts with a personal relationship between a Christian and a Non-Christian. If that initial relationship doesn’t first exist, the probability of evangelizing a person is nil. That has certainly been true for me.

    What I said was most people in the CofC likely don’t have that initial relationship so that evangelism can follow. That’s been my experience. Maybe you have had success in cold calling but my experience with that produced absolutely no positive results. I think that the postings on this topic have now evolved into taking pot-shots at the latest posts and I don’t enjoy that so I think I have said all that I have to say on this subject.

    Mark, even though I had many theological issues with the Episcopal Church, I loved to worship using the Liturgy. I loved the readings of Psalms, Old Testament, New testament and Gospels every Sunday and I loved the reverence given to Communion. I loved singing songs that Saints over hundreds of years had sung before me and I loved singing the wonderful vowel sounds in Latin. Blessings to you…. good luck!

  75. Larry Cheek says:

    Doug,
    I am sorry if I misunderstood your post, but that was what I understood from, ” I am like most CofC members in that I associate and socialize pretty much with people who are converted already. I do find the unchurched and non-converted in Jail, Prison and Drug Rehab and that’s about the only way I come in contact with the unchurch and non-converted.” It did not seem to me that there were many unchurched in your community. But, now I understand that there are but you weren’t associating much with them, I can see that as it seem to me that was what we were taught in church. If you associate with them you will become like them, they are a bad influence on Christians.

  76. Doug says:

    Okay, one last post on this. It’s not what I was taught in Church that separates me from the un-church and non-converted, it’s my life style. I don’t party and I don’t socialize at bars and I just don’t find myself in contact with many non-converted people on a day-to-day basis. I realize that others may have a different day-to-day life style and come in contact with more unchurched folk but I don’t. I suspect that there are a lot of people who are like me in the CofC so if we are going to rub elbows with the unchurched, we have to make a special effort to do it. I do that by Jail ministry that is connected to the CofC and 2 other ministries that are not connected to the CofC. I would like to do more ministries that are CofC associated but they aren’t being provided by my Church. I think it’s the responsibility of the Church leadership to devise ways to put it’s members in touch with the unchurched. But, Church leadership is mainly concerned with what is happening inside the church building. They see keeping their job as being the maintaining of the Building, Sunday School, “Assembly” and seeing that the jobs related to keeping the inside programs of the church are staffed. I see the need for more leadership effort that is related toward evangelism toward the unchurched and unconverted. It’s a tough nut to crack, I’ll admit that. But some Churches have seemed to have cracked it and they are growing while the rest of the churches are marking time.

  77. Dwight says:

    Doug, That is exactly right, it was the church leadership that made the church grow in Acts 2 and Acts 8. and caused the Gospel to spread at an enormous rate..NOT.
    Sorry, that is sarcastic, but I couldn’t help it. Sorry again.
    What methods or “divised ways” by the assembly leaders could possibly place us in touch with the unchurched that we can’t do ourselves? Basically we are saying, “Cold calls don’t work on an individual basis (although the Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness would disagree) so let’s have the church leaders devise a way to mail impersonal flyers and have the lost come to a meeting…where we can cold call them there and then we can invite them into our homes to teach them or depend on them to learn while in assembly. We just add layers upon layers. It is called bureaucracy.
    All we’ve done is argue that just speaking to others about God is not enough and that going to our neighbors and inviting them for a bible study isn’t enough, so carpet bombing flyers will make the difference. The old adage applies, “people don’t care how much you know, until the know how much you care”, and going to them shows how much we care.
    I would agree that the elders are much overly concerned on physical things, but concerning them with organizing people with programs into doing things that the people can and should be doing without a program isn’t a great use of their oversight either. You don’t find the apostles forming programs on how to reach and convert others. They simply did it and showed others that it could be done. They were not consultants, but were working examples.
    One of the things that most coC lack is spirit…that is a get up and get out and tell others about Christ spirit and we don’t motivate that environment within our ranks. We are afraid to cheer. I would gather the ICC is more at ease in doing this.

  78. Doug says:

    Dwight, Putting a “Established 33 AD” sign in front of the Church Building doesn’t mean that the Circumstances and Environment of 33 AD exist… They don’t. It is up to the leaders of the Church to adapt to the Circumstances and Environment while staying true to scriptural teaching. Some Leaders are doing it and some are not… Some churches are growing and some are not… it’s that simple. A church has to have some recently converted people in it to continue to have access to non-converted people that can be converted. And, I would say that the leadership of the 33 AD church had a lot to do with it’s growth. You have to admit when your starting point is EVERYONE being non-converted then everyone knows a whole host of non-converted people.

    Unfortunately, the CofC has soiled its’ nest so badly in many localities, it will never be capable of appealing to many people that it might have otherwise reached. That is why some CofC’s are making changes and unfortunately, those changes have only brought more soiling in the manner of ugly public condemnation from the self-righteous keepers of the “true” CofC. Lord help us!

  79. Mark says:

    I have worked around people for years who were Muslim, liberal Christian, communist, Hindu, atheist, and everything else. I may be a minority but I do my best to show Christianity and her ethics and morals and help people out even when I got in trouble for doing so. Live in the big cities these days and you will be around every religion.

  80. Dwight says:

    Many in the coC runs a split level effort in trying to draw people in while rejecting them at the same time, especially those who call themselves Christians. It is strange when a coC preacher won’t offer to go to a small “liberal” coC congregation to preach, but wants them to come his congregation, as if the buildings make the difference. There are more lines in our heads, then there are in the scriptures.
    But placing any sign on the door doesn’t bring people to Christ. In fact if the sign turns people away, then we go to the people without a sign and then talk to them. We have to connect as people who are saved, not as coC or Baptist or Lutheran.

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