By Rev. Alan Marr
The most stimulating book I have read in recent months is "CHURCH NEXT -
quantum changes in Christian ministry" by Eddie Gibbs and Ian Coffey.(IVP)
Here is my summary of the main points.
1. "We are all fishing in the same pond and the pond is getting smaller."
1.1. They draw a distinction between people who are "dechurched" and those
who are "unchurched."
1.2. The "dechurched" have had some connection with the church and are at
least vaguely familiar with the stories and concepts we use when we talk the
faith. They have probably gone to Sunday School as kids or had parents who
were keen churchgoers. They are probably no more than one generation away
from the church.
1.3. The "unchurched" have no connection with the church at all. They have
not grown up with the stories of Jesus and are not familiar with the terms
and concepts we use when we talk the faith. If they had a connection with
the church it is more than one generation away.
1.4. Most of our evangelistic impact is upon the "dechurched" people.
1.5. The way most of our churches try to be "relevant" is more likely to be
a "turnoff" to most "unchurched" people. They include a critique of the
"seeker sensitive" approach to evangelism which they believe is more
effective with "dechurched" people.
1.6. Many of our larger churches are growing more through connection with
"dechurched" people than "unchurched" people. A survey of larger
congregations in New Zealand also suggests that their growth is also at the
expense of smaller churches.
2. The number of "unchurched" people is growing.
2.1. They are not afraid of spirituality, in fact they are likely to welcome
2.2. They are suspicious of institutions and control.
2.3. In order to reach these people the church has tended to resort to
marketing techniques rather than genuine genuine missional thinking.
3. There is a need for new paradigms for ministry and mission.
3.1. Our current leaders have been trained to lead within a worldview that
is quickly passing away.
3.2. We need our churches to become "missional environments", open to
dialogue and able to live with ambiguity, permission giving, where
relationships and the flow of information are the most important assets.
3.3. They will be "plan - do" organizations, resembling a jazz band rather
than an orchestra with an emphasis upon improvisation rather than strategic
3.4. The future role of denominations will be to develop networks which will
encourage churches to engage cooperatively in mission.
by Rev. Alan Marr
(General Superintendent, Baptist Union of Victoria)
Reproduced with Alan's permission.