Inside Group: Revitalizing the Church
group magazine: January-February, 2000
We’re concerned about the church. We’re passionate about the church. And we’re both worried and hopeful about its future.
Here at Group Publishing, our focus is the local church. All of our magazines, resource books, curriculum, Web sites, and events are dedicated to helping church leaders change lives.
Over the past 25 years of our ministry, we’ve noticed a number of trends that cause us concern. Nationally, we’ve observed flat or declining church attendance. The church’s influence on society seems to be dissipating.
And within our churches, how are we doing? Is our impact on our own people growing or waning? Are our people providing more salt and light than a generation ago? Are our church members becoming biblically illiterate?
The world around us is experiencing stunning change. And that change is coming more rapidly than at any time in history. In past times, the church could casually watch the world change with little worry of responding with corresponding change. Societal evolution moved at a slow enough pace that the church could feel comfortable delivering ministry in the same ways as years gone by. That was then. This is now. The speed of change, the lightning speed of global communications, the profound impact of technologies such as the Internet, and the tumultuous mutation of values have presented the church with an entirely new environment in which to work.
Global change is racing so rapidly that some are predicting the church is facing precarious danger within the next few years.
GOD’S URGENT CALL
e believe in the ministry of the local church. We’re passionate about seeing this ministry revitalized to become a powerful influence not only on church members, but on society as a whole. We don’t believe God has given up on the church. God’s still moving. Our staff is highly motivated to discern where God’s going with his church. And we’re working urgently to stay in step with his direction.
“Urgent” is a word we use a lot here. We don’t believe we can sit still. We’ve installed a rotating red emergency beacon to remind our staff of the urgency of the moment. We even recently transported our leaders to a local hospital emergency room to immerse them in an environment where stalling is deadly.
It’s abundantly clear to us that continuing to conduct church ministry in the ways of yesteryear is, quite simply, life-threatening. Eternally life-threatening. The times and the situation call for bold change. Tweaking won’t do.
Jesus wasn’t a tweaker. He, too, faced a religious landscape in need of dramatic change. He didn’t tweak it. He introduced remarkable change—a whole new paradigm of ministry. He was willing to risk, to unsettle the status quo, even with great personal peril.
Our work is taking us to the frontiers of ministry. We’re ferreting out pioneering churches that use new forms of ministry and bring dramatically effective results. We’re testing new ideas in churches like yours. We’re bundling effective solutions into resources and services that will help you transform lives.
A REAL BREAKTHROUGH
ne of our current projects is FaithWeaver. This collection of resources breaks new ground for today’s generations. FaithWeaver incorporates Bible learning for all ages, through children’s church; midweek programming; and at-home, faith-growth tools. Each week all ages in all programs focus on the same Bible story. In this way, the story and its principles weave into everyone’s life.
FaithWeaver uses the distinctively REAL approach to ministry.
Relational. People today are starving for authentic relationships. All the advances of cold technology have left people hungering for more person-to-person interaction. That’s why every FaithWeaver component promotes plenty of member-to-member faith talk. This is a marked departure from the old church habit of one-way communication from teachers, preachers, and leaders.
Experiential. Studies show that today’s learners learn very little from passively listening to authority figures. Their learning accelerates and their lives are transformed when they actively participate in the lesson. FaithWeaver resources involve everyone in multisensory Bible experiences. There are no dry lectures or banal worksheets; rather, learners actually experience the Bible story.
Applicable. FaithWeaver’s goal isn’t to merely transfer facts, but to transform lives, so every resource directs learners to specific, weekly life-application. Families visit the always-changing FaithWeaver Web site to find creative, new applications for the weekly themes.
Learner-based. Our research shows that the church has lost some effectiveness due to tenacious clinging to we’ve-always-done-it-that-way practices. FaithWeaver has been developed from the ground up with a what’s-best-for-the-learner orientation. We constantly ask, “How will the learners in each age level learn best? What approach will best help them retain and apply what they learned? What will delight them and cause them to bring their friends to church?”
Churches using the FaithWeaver system report real breakthroughs in their ministry. God’s at work in new ways for a new generation.
How’s your church re-inventing itself in this new millennium? We’d like to hear from you, and perhaps share your story with other churches that are looking for fresh winds of revitalization.