||Staff Escapes by the skin of their teeth!
Recently our ministerial staff journeyed to Florence's attraction, The Escape Room. The purpose of this trip was to celebrate escaping a room and hopefully drawing some parallels of our escape from sin and death through Christ Jesus. There was one major difference between the two situations - our experience in the room was a game, no real tragedy if we didn't make it, eventually they would have opened the doors so we could get out. However, according to the Word if it were not for Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection, we would never escape the eternal pain, agony, and punishment of Hell. Good news is given to us in Romans 6 where Paul writes the following:
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus
. (Romans 6:5-11, NIV)
Did you catch the paradox? In order to escape death, we must die. We must turn over everything we are to Christ. Good news, the Holy Spirit leads us in this and makes us a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). During this month and Easter season, remember the cross and let that be where you died. Remember the resurrection and know that you have been given new life in Christ. Now, look forward to His returning and His voice calling you home! You have escaped sin and death, go ahead and celebrate! Happy Easter; Praise the Lord!
10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders Are Attending Church Less Often
I recently came across an article by Carey Nieuwhof that highlighted a growing trend at churches.
The issue? Even committed church attenders are attending church less often.
Sure, the trend has been happening for years (gone are the days when people attended 50 out of 52 Sundays), but the issue is reaching a tipping point in the church today. The author highlights the following.
"This trend isn't going away...in fact (as the podcasts will show) it's accelerating,
It impacts almost every church regardless of size, denomination, or even location.
It probably marks a seismic shift in how the church will do ministry in the future.
Of course, church attendance is never the goal. But attendance is a sign of something deeper that every church leader is going to have to wrestle with over the next few years.
The first key to addressing what's happening is to understand what's happening.
So...why are even committed attenders attending less often? There are at least 10 reasons that
1. Greater Affluence
Money gives people options.
If your church is at all engaging the middle class, the upper middle class, or a suburban demographic, an interesting trend is developing. The middle class is shrinking, but as this New York Times report shows, it's shrinking (in part) because more of the middle class is becoming upper class. Both US and Canadian personal disposable incomes are at all time highs.
There are simply more affluent people than there were decades ago, which may in part explain why so many "average" people indulge their obsessions with granite counter tops, designer homes, and decent cars, even without being mega-wealthy.
Naturally, this leaves a huge theological void about ministry too and with the poor, but it helps explain what's actually happening in the suburbs and increasingly with the re-urbanization of many cities as the affluent move back downtown. Please...I'm not arguing things should be this way. I'm simply showing that this seems to be what's happening.
And again...people with money have options. Technology options. Travel options. Options for their kids. And, arguably, that affluence may be one of the factors moving them further away from a committed engagement to the mission of the local church. It's perhaps fuelling some of the reasons outlined below.
2. Higher Focus On Kids' Activities
A growing number of kids are playing sports. And a growing number of kids are playing on teams that require travel.
Many of those sports happen on weekends. And affluent parents are choosing sports over church.
It's as simple as that.
3. More Travel
More and more families of various ages travel for leisure, even if it's just out of town to go camping or to a friend's place for the weekend or a weekend at the lake.
And when people are out of town, they tend to not be in church.
4. Blended And Single Parent Families
Fortunately, more and more blended families and single parent families are finding a home in church.
So how does this translate into attendance patterns?
Church leaders need to remember that when custody is shared in a family situation, 'perfect' attendance for a kid or teen might be 26 Sundays a year.
5. Online Options
Churches are also launching online campuses that bring the entire service to you on your phone, tablet, or TV.
There are pros and cons to online church and there's no doubt that churches with a strong online presence have seen it impact physical attendance.
But whether or not your church has online options doesn't make the issue go away.
Anyone who attends your church has free access to any online ministry of any church.
Online church is here to stay, whether you participate or not.
6. The Cultural Disappearance Of Guilt
Forty years ago a church member would feel guilty about not being in church on a Sunday.
The number of people who feel guilty about not being in church on Sunday shrinks daily.
It's not unusual to regularly meet people all the time who haven't been in months but LOVE their church.
If you're relying on guilt as a motivator, you need a new strategy. (Well, honestly, you've always needed a new strategy...)
7. Self-Directed Spirituality
People are looking less to churches and leaders to help them grow spiritually, and more to other options.
We live in a era in which no parent makes a visit to a doctor's office without having first googled the symptoms of a child's illness and a recommended course of treatment. Just ask any family physician. It drives them nuts. (Google, doctors will tell you, is not a complete replacement for medical school.)
Similarly, when was the last time you bought a car without completely researching it online?
In an age where we have access to everything, more and more people are self-directing their spirituality...for better or for worse.
Similarly, another characteristic of the post-modern mind is a declining trust of and reliance on institutions.
The church in many people's minds is seen as an institution.
8. Failure To See A Direct Benefit
People always make time for the things they value most. If they're not making time for church, that tells you something.
Even among people who say they love the church and who say they love your church, if declining attendance is an issue, chances are it's because they don't see a direct benefit. They don't see the value in being there week after week.
That could be because there isn't much value (gut check). Or it could be because there is value that they simply don't see.
Either way, failure to see a direct benefit always results in declining engagement.
9. Valuing Attendance Over Engagement
When someone merely attends church, the likelihood of showing up regularly or even engaging their faith decreases over time.
At most churches, you will find the most engaged people--people who serve, give, invite and who are in a community group--are also the most frequent attenders.
More and more leaders are finding they value engagement over attendance.
Ironically, if you value attendance over engagement, you will see declining attendance.
10. A Massive Culture Shift
All of these trends witness to something deeper. Our culture is shifting. Seismically.
Church leaders who fail to recognize this will not be able to change rapidly enough to respond to the shifts that are happening.
Change is unkind to the unprepared, so prepare.
Pray for our church and church leadership as we seek to reach our culture and lost world for Christ.
Under His grace,
Well, of course, like music ministers and worship leaders around the world, Easter is on my mind today. That's because, as I write this, Resurrection Sunday is just four days away. It is truly a magnificent celebration for any Christ-follower, not to mention those of us who are church musicians.
I have such fond memories of Easter Sundays from my childhood. Beautiful spring weather (although, in Missouri, this was definitely not guaranteed); dyeing, hiding, and hunting eggs; gorging on chocolate-marshmallow bunnies; and--lest you think I had no spiritual awareness as a child-church.
I loved the songs we sang on Easter Sunday morning and, particularly, "Low In The Grave He Lay" composed by a Baptist pastor named Robert Lowry in the late 19th century. You know, the one that goes: "Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o'er His foes!" That hymn, with its sad, slow verses contrasted against the big, dramatic flourish of the chorus, really got my blood pumping. I think it's because all those farmers and good ole' country folks standing all around me really got into the dynamics of it. They could barely be heard on the low parts that spoke about the death of Christ; but then, suddenly, at the chorus, they would belt out the familiar refrain with gusto, as if they were going to start marching up and down the aisles at any minute. I can still hear those sincere, untrained, beautiful voices. That hymn is one of my favorite musical memories from my early childhood.
As a bigger kid, I remember the excitement in the air the day our little country church started using the "new" Baptist hymnal, the 1975 edition! It contained the Bill and Gloria Gaither-penned song, "Because He Lives," which our congregation began singing pretty much every single Sunday. (I'm not kidding.) It became our new Easter favorite, but it wasn't until many years later that I would read the Gaithers' testimony of how that song came to be. Bill and Gloria were going through some difficult times, and found out that they were expecting their third child. Gloria tells of turning on the evening news, already anxious about the pregnancy, and seeing footage of race wars and an escalating drug epidemic. Nearly paralyzed by fear, she began to pray, voicing to God her worries for the future of her children. Within minutes, God flooded her spirit with pervasive calmness, and she wrote the lyrics: "This child can face uncertain days because He lives ...because He lives I can face tomorrow...all fear is gone."
A few years ago, a current songwriter of some of our most popular modern worship tunes, wanted to breathe new life into this Gaither hymn that had meant so much to him through the years. Matt Maher approached the Gaithers and asked for permission to use some of their lyrics. They were, of course, thrilled that the words the Lord had given Gloria so many years ago would reach a new generation of believers who need the same reminder, and readily consented. And so, a new "Because He Lives" was born. The old and new come together beautifully in a chorus that proclaims, "Amen, Amen! I'm alive, I'm alive because He lives. Amen, Amen! Let my song join the one that never ends: Because He lives, I can face tomorrow; Because He lives, every fear is gone. I know he holds my life, my future in His hands."
And this is how worship music changes through the years. But the works of Robert Lowry, Bill and Gloria Gaither, and Matt Maher have this in common: a deep devotion to our glorious, risen Lord and a desire to make Him known. Because HE lives, His anthems will continue to be composed with passion and sung with gusto. I look forward to hearing and singing the songs still to come!
Because He lives,
We are going on a mission trip to New Orleans, June 17-23 this year. This trip is open to youth 9th grade and above and parents. Cost is $280 dollars per person. Here is the website:
Mission Trip to New Orleans
9th Grade & Up
Summer will be here before you know it, so if you plan on going to camp, you need to sign up soon! This year we will be attending Student Life in the Smokies! Looking forward to a great week as we get fed spiritually through studying the Word together and also enjoying fellowship with one another.
Cost: $275 regular
$250 if you sign up before April 1
Where: Sevierville, TN (Smokies)
When: July 23-27
Sign up in the lobby of Worship Center or online.
Miles for Missions
Saturday, April 21, 2018
Begins at 7:00 PM
Open at 6:00 PM
5K - $20 (before April 21 $25 after April 11)
1 mile - $15 (before April 21 $20 after April 11)
Singles Beach Retreat:
Summerhouse Condos in Orange Beach
$375 per person
Contact Belinda Green for more information.
Sign up has begun. $100 deposit due at sign up.
Single Parent Family Beach Retreat:
Summerhouse Condos in Orange Beach
More details soon. Contact Belinda Green if interested.
Guatemala Mission Trip
This trip is sponsored by the Singles Ministry, but you do not have to be single to go. Contact Belinda Green or Charlotte Cramer for more information.
Family Life Ministry
During the month of April and May Blue Coast Burrito is giving a percentage of sales to our children that are going to Centri Kid camp. Now here is the catch, you must save your receipt and place it in the box downstairs marked "Blue Coast." Thank you for all you do for our children at Woodmont.
55 and Older Join Us For These Upcoming Events...
We will tour the historic village called Fiddlers Grove. We will have lunch on site and then have shopping time at The Mill. Cost is $20 which includes lunch.
Pay Him Green or Joyce for your reservation.
|Hannah & Chris Anderson, Baptism
Woodmont Baptist Church's MISSION STATEMENT is:
"To do the Lord's will through prayer, worship, discipleship, service, missions
and evangelism - In His name, by His spirit and for His glory."
Bro. Chad Hess
Rev. Steve Thompson
, Assoc. Pastor/Min. of Ed/Admin.
Rev. Kevin Reese,
Singles and Families Minister
Becky Daughtery & Loretta Young
Personal Ministries Director
Communications Secretary/Education Secretary
Lauren Hodges, King's Kids Director
Ministry Quick Links