Roundup That Matters

Four Types of Sermons the Pastor Must Avoid — I’m always reading posts about preaching and ministry and this one hits close to home. I’m only guilty of one of the four. I wonder if Jody can go and read the four and figure out which one. I’m actually guilty of two of the four, but only one of them recently.

Kyle Field Redevelopment — This is exciting for Texas Aggies everywhere. The proposal is finally completed for the updates to Kyle Field. It will expand the stadium from the current 82,000 seating capacity to 102,000 seating capacity making it the largest stadium in the SEC.

kyle-field-day-shotNeedless to say, this is very exciting for me for four reasons. I love the fact that A&M will have a first-class stadium when it is completed. The stadium is currently top-notch as it is, but this will show the rest of the SEC how it is done, Texas style.

Secondly, I love architecture, especially stadiums that are throwing off the 1970s concrete-double-compatibility look. Places like the Astrodome and Cowboys Stadium were very functional and from an engineering standpoint, quite spectacular. But lets face it, they were hard on the eyes. This new stadium will be something worth looking at when it is done and 75 years from now.

Third, given the increase in capacity, I’m hoping I can afford the nose-bleed seats more often than I can now. And if I save up, maybe some decent seats once a year.

Fourth, I’m glad they are not tearing down Kyle Field and building a completely new stadium. This was talked about early on in the process and I just like the fact that tradition ruled the day and we will still have our team playing in the same field they have played upon for the last 100 or so years.

Autopsy of a Deceased Church  — Thom Rainier posts an autopsy of a church he tried to help in 2003, and that recently closed. I think many churches are going through such moments and need to look at these things to see how they can adjust their ministry goals and visions. Here are just a few of the problems he listed:

  1. The church refused to look like the community. The community began a transition toward a lower socioeconomic class thirty years ago, but the church members had no desire to reach the new residents. The congregation thus became an island of middle-class members in a sea of lower-class residents.
  2. The church had no community-focused ministries.  This part of the autopsy may seem to be stating the obvious, but I wanted to be certain. My friend affirmed my suspicions. There was no attempt to reach the community.
  3. Members became more focused on memorials. Do not hear my statement as a criticism of memorials. Indeed, I recently funded a memorial in memory of my late grandson. The memorials at the church were chairs, tables, rooms, and other places where a neat plaque could be placed. The point is that the memorials became an obsession at the church. More and more emphasis was placed on the past.
  4. The percentage of the budget for members’ needs kept increasing. At the church’s death, the percentage was over 98 percent.
  5. There were no evangelistic emphases. When a church loses its passion to reach the lost, the congregation begins to die.

I think the key to all of it is that churches become inward focused. They focus on what they use to be and what they want instead of focusing on Christ and what we should be today serving Him.

At the church I pastored in South Carolina, every time I suggested that we seek to do a ministry that was outward focused in reaching the community, the cynical reply was that they had already done that. That is a sign of an inward-focused church. The sad reality is that when they were doing such ministries, they were actually healthy in size. Once they took on the “been there, done that” attitude, they were done as a church. In hindsight, that church should have closed years ago, but pride and stubbornness has prevented them from doing the right thing and what so many others see they should have done.

You can read the rest of Thom’s autopsy here.

Can A Dying Church Find Life? — Thom Rainier, in view of his previous post, also follows up with six steps a church can take to avert the throes of death.

  1. A leader must rise and be willing to lead the church toward radical transformation regardless of the personal costs to him. That leader is typically a new pastor in the church, but it does not have to be.
  2. A significant group in the church must admit that they are desperate for help. The significance of the group could be their sheer size; for example, they could be a majority of active members. Or the significance could be the influence of those in the group rather than the number. This group must lead the church from denial to a painful awakening to reality.
  3. That same group must confess guilt. They failed to reach the community. They held on to the idolatry of yesterday. They were only comfortable with “our kind of people.” They saw the church to be a place where their needs were met and personal preferences catered.
  4. The group must have an utter, desperate, and prayerful dependence on God. They can no longer look at the way they’ve always done it as the path for the future. They must fall on their faces before God and seek His way and only His way.
  5. The church must be willing to storm the community with love. The church can’t assuage their guilt by having a food and clothes pantry where community residents come to them once a week. Members must go into the community, love the unlovable, reach out to the untouchable, and give sacrificially of time, money, and heart. The community must be amazed by these church members.
  6. The church must relinquish control. If the church reaches the community, the community will come to the church. They may be poorer. They may have different colors of skin. They may speak differently. They may have a radically different culture than members of the church. If the church is truly to reach the community, it must be joyfully willing to let the community have control of the church. This attitude is radically different than welcoming the outsiders to “our church.” It is an attitude that says it is now “your church.”

I would add another and that is that the “naysayers” in the congregation need to be gently dealt with. So many want to complain about leadership and pastors and so few want to deal with those grumblers. The grumblers can do more damage to a struggling church than most people realize.

SEC-ESPN Deal — Finally, the SEC reached a deal for an SEC Network with ESPN. This will take the best conference in the nation to a national level. Unlike the longhorn outlet, that only focused on the o-so-boring t.u. program, the SEC Network will focus on all the teams in the SEC, which makes it worth watching. This also means that all the teams will support the deal since they will all have coverage.

The t.u. deal is failing because it exalted that lousy program in Austin over all the other programs in the Big 12. In other words, for it to be successful, it would require people from other colleges to pay for the t-sip network. The only way that was going to happen was for the bullies in Austin to continue in their bullying fashion of fellow Big 12 members into buying the product. Fortunately the bullies didn’t have enough power to do so.

This is one of the many reasons A&M left the Big 12, along with Nebraska, Missouri, and Colorado. These teams got tired of paying homage to the egos in Austin, which had the attitude that the rest of the conference should just consider themselves lucky to be in the same conference with such an esteemed (read mediocre) program like t.u. May the longhorn network continue to die it’s slow death.

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