Jan 312010

Question >> “do u know a place to get stats on how many churches close a day, month, year etc and the same on pastors and leaders leaving ministry?”

djchuang >> Good question. (And, in case you can’t tell, this question came in via a text message.)

The latest research on church attendance can be found in The American Church in CrisisThe American Church in Crisis by David T. Olson, with research based on data from 200,000+ churches. And, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, has analysis based on interviews with 35,000+ American adults.

Here’s some other statistics I found (so far):

Excerpted from this Christian Century 2008 article, Church-closing rate only one percent:

A new study finds that only 1 percent of U.S. religious congregations go out of existence each year, “which is among the lowest mortality rates ever observed for any type of organization,” according to an article to be published in the June issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Dave Olson’s research shows that in the 1990s about 3,200 churches closed each year–or 1.1 percent of U.S. Christian congregations. And, Olson added, “In the 2000s, it has been 3,700 a year.” [cf. graph]

American church statistics have reported [via Goodmanson]:

  • In America, 3500 – 4000 churches close their doors each year
  • Half of all churches last year did not add one new member through conversion growth
  • Churches lose an estimated 2,765,000 people each year to nominalism and secularism

The 3,500-4,000 U.S. churches annual closure count is also cited by Ed Stetzer in “Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age.”

Excerpted from The Condition of the Church in America, complied by Andy McAdams [via #mmi, 2005]:

  • 1,400 pastors in America leave the ministry monthly.
  • Only 15% of churches in the United States are growing and just 2.2% of those are growing by conversion growth.
  • 10,000 churches in America disappeared in a five-year period.

Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.” [Source: “Death by Ministry" (slides + audio) by Darrin Patrick @ The Journey. It was re-published on Mark Driscoll's blog -- no longer available.]

One blog post attributed these findings to Shiloh Place Ministries (shilohplace.org), which drew its information from Focus on the Family, Ministries Today, Charisma Magazine, TNT Ministries, and other respected groups:

  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America.
  • 7,000 churches close each year in America.

[update] additional statistics & commentary about the challenges of pastoring noted by Ken Sande via desperatepastor

Jan 302010

Thanks to Chris Hornsby of Next Generation Mentoring, I got a review copy of Mentor Like Jesus, by Regi Campbell with Richard Chancy.

This book lays out a very clear mentoring process to reproduce leaders of a particular type. Regi Campbell is an entrepreneural leader and knows how to get results in the marketplace. The book unpacks his value for being strategic with time, finding what works, and adapting principles from Jesus’ process of disciple-making, in order to invest in next generation leaders who have high potential to impact the world. I can see how this book will be very useful to develop mentoring programs for churches, especially with book royalties going towards funding this purpose.

What the author means by mentoring may not be what some people mean by mentoring. This excerpt contrasts the typical commonly-held meaning of mentoring, and what Regi means by mentoring:

Traditionally, the mentoring relationship is almost always initiated by the mentoree. He has something he wants… a felt need… for guidance, wisdom, advice, or help. Most often these conversations get started around job stuff. The younger man needs advice or access to the older man’s network of contacts. Sometimes it’s a crisis at home… a breech with a wife or child; and the less experienced person wants to confide in someone who’s “been there, done that.” …

Now, is this a type of mentoring? Yes. Is it what Jesus did? No. Jesus initiated the mentoring relationship with His disciples… [p.120]

I don’t know how many people have described what Jesus did with his disciples as mentoring. I have heard of many people who describe what Jesus did as disciple-making or discipling. Certainly what Jesus did with his disciples has changed the world forever. If the goal is to change the world through intentional formative relationships, the terminology doesn’t matter.

One reviewer of Mentor Like Jesus noted the confusion of terms:

It’s no secret that the word “mentor” is a loaded term and can mean something wildly different for people. Some may think of a mentor as someone who meets with them weekly to speak about their professional lives, others may imagine someone on more of an on-call basis who gets together a few times a year. What are healthy expectations in a mentoring relationship?

And that’s what it is. Get clear expectations on both parties, the mentor and mentoree — do you want mentoring in the traditional sense or mentoring in the disciple-making sense?

This is a great book to get everyone on the same page for mentoring as disciple-making, to have a reproducible process that you can “add water and stir” and run with it to pour into leaders who change the world.

Jan 282010

For followers of Jesus wanting a more transformational life, more people seem to be engaging in some kind of spiritual formation process. I’m finding a number of different programs and processes that are percolating in the evangelical world at large (though the concept has been around for Catholics for centuries.) Here’s a short list of ones that I’ve heard of, (mostly) in a chronological order of when I first heard of them:
candles (photo credit: ldcross)

It seems to me that a slightly increasing number of church & ministry leaders are going after these spiritual & heart matters to help people be more like Jesus. Well, some of them say it that way. Others might use different language and terms. Each probably have their own “spiritual growth” model.

In my own thinking (at the time of this writing) I think there is overlap between any of these categories: spiritual formation, spiritual direction, personal coaching, mentoring, discipleship, sanctification…

And somewhat like brands of clothing, people may be fiercely loyal to the genre of spiritual formation that’s been most transformative for them. It’s not the kind of thing that people go comparison shopping for, and let’s hope it doesn’t become commoditized that way.

And, to let my own bias show, it’s not really about the content or exercises of a spiritual formation program. It’s about one’s response to the Holy Spirit, and more telling, the person’s willingness to give permission for (a few trusted) others to speak into their lives.

Why I think this to be the case — it’s an idea from Fierce Conversations, “All conversations are with myself, and sometimes they involve other people.” So when a person goes through exercises, even if guided, it’s all too easy to reinforce one’s own perceptions. Until someone else can call out and speak to the matters of the heart, and the blind spots, transformation rarely happens to the degree that it could.

Jan 252010

Got to visit the Los Angeles Mission today, downtown right in the heart of “skid row.” This was undoubtedly a sobering experience, and I think it’s the kind of place I need to go more often to keep myself sober and generous towards others in obvious need.

As one of several social-services providers, I learned how Los Angeles Mission helps a homeless person holistically — by providing food and shelter to those who’d consider going through their restoration program, and by walking along side of each person for a year to equip them with work & life skills plus a spiritual foundation. I was particularly impressed by the quality of their approach to intentionally rehabilitate the desparate lives of so many.

I think Los Angeles Mission has so many great stories to share about what they’re doing, lives that’ve been changed, and how their staff and volunteers is giving hope and healing to so many every year. One way they do that is provide computer training in this amazing computer lab, designed by the likes of a NASA mission control room. I shot this video clip to show you how a well-designed facility can inspire good work :

Through the generosity of donors, Los Angeles Mission has been able to provide more than a soup kitchen or doromitories, though they do that. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to meet good people today who are doing meaningful work and treating people with dignity and care. And, they’ve also got this practical video, 5 Ways to Help the Homeless. Watch the video for what you should do when you see a panhandler who is asking for money. You can do something. But, don’t give cash.

[update] Homeless advocate Mark Horvath (of www.invisiblepeople.tv) has alerted me that the aforementioned video is offensive, so I’ve removed link to video. This opens the pressing question — how do you really help the homeless?

Jan 222010

I think there’s a smarter way to put older church buildings to good Kingdom use. Capital campaigns easily cost millions of dollars for churches that need to raise funds for new building facilities. Not easy to come by.

There’s another way to get facilities — renovate an older church building that’s gifted from an older declining congregation. (cf. Generosity from Generation to Generation)

I heard about a story of an older church gifting their building to a younger church, and I had to find out more. Watch this video interview with Isaac Park (@isaacpark) ::

What am amazing story in the heart of Durham, North Carolina! 95-year old Lakewood Baptist Church deeded its building to the younger Grace Mission Community Church and now cohabitate [sic] as 2 churches on 1 campus.

Granted, some older church buildings are located in a place where fewer people now live, so that real estate might not be useful for worship gatherings. I think those church buildings can still be generosity deeded over to a next generation of worshippers as good stewardship. Plus, a very tangible connection with the history of the saints upon whose shoulders we stand. Could be better outreach, too — Unchurched Prefer Cathedrals Over Contemporary Church Buildings.

Keeping it in the family (of God) sure beats cashing out a Christian church building to developers and turned into a luxury home or bookstore or or condos or event venue/ nightclub or apartments or into a Buddhist temple or mosque.

Jan 202010

There are 2 other ways to use Google Apps without having to move your email server. I think. I’ll use my domain name (djchuang.com) as the example:

(1) First, setup Google Apps with the domain name (djchuang.com), for a Google Apps Standard Edition. After verifying domain ownership, then you’ll be able to login to the Google Apps Control Panel. Under Dashboard > Service settings, you can click on the “Email” link, and click on “Disable service”.[cf]

Then, each person on the domain would register for a Google Apps username, at a URL like https://www.google.com/a/djchuang.com/ . And then, these Google Apps would be associated with djchuang.com, e.g.

(2) The other way is to create a new Google Account with an “@djchuang.com” email address. On the page https://www.google.com/accounts/ , click on “Create an account now” on the right sidebar at bottom.

I’m not sure what the difference is between (1) and (2) above, since I can’t figure it out from the online help at Google Apps. Either of the options above will enable us to use Google Apps like calendar and docs, without affecting the current email setup at all.

Can anyone explain what the difference is between the two above ways for using Google Apps with a domain and without having to interrupt the domained email server? And, would the #1 setup above affect some of the email notifications that Google Apps sends out for doc sharing or calendar invites?

Aside: here’s 3 links to blog posts that give step-by-step instructions for hosting your email and using Google Apps with your domain: hanselman.com, smarterware.org, and htmlcenter.com — in other words, this is the normal way to use Google Apps.

Jan 182010

2010 is a brand new season for my work life. I am now working as a freelance consultant, aka independent contractor.
new season
In addition to being available for short-term projects, I’ve just started working with Worship Leader Magazine and its media group [cf. press release]; I will continue to work with Leadership Network, where I’d been joyfully employed for 3 years; and, I’ll stay involved with L2 Foundation, where I’ve served for 9 years.

Here’s an overview for what I’m available for hire ::

  1. strategist for web & social media
    multi-channel approach to effectively connect with your audience, using blog, twitter, facebook, podcast, videos, webinars, and more
  2. facilitator for collaboration & strategic planning
    developing tactics for maximizing opportunities & overcoming challenges
  3. training and speaking on topics specifically designed for your context, including: church, ministry, technology, and collaboration

I am located in Aliso Viejo, California, between Irvine and San Juan Capistrano. Let’s connect by phone or your preferred mode of communication, so we can discuss how I may be of service to you and/or your organization.
Continue reading »

Jan 162010

Matching funds will take your donations and double it! This means that for every $1 you donate via a special link or specific designation automatically becomes $2 to the organization you’re supporting! Think of it as 100% interest on the spot! [update] // I’m matching up to $1,000 of your online donation at razoo.com – no credit card transaction fee! //

As most of us are pitching in and donating to help with Haiti earthquake relief, you could choose to donate $100 to an organization, OR you could donate $100 through a link with a matching fund, and the organization will receive $200, with no extra effort on your part!

Here are links I’ve found that are receiving donations with a matching fund ::

You can also create your own fundraising campaign, via:

Continue reading »

Jan 062010

Question >> ” what do u think of this paid church coaching trend? is it biblical? Somewhere deep down, I just can’t imagine Paul turning to Timothy and saying I’ll help you for $250 per month? ”

djchuang >> coach and teamI am seeing a growing trend of people offering their services as a coach or mentor. There’s already been a growing trend of coaching professionals in the past decade (cf. Professional Coaches and Mentors Association, International Coach Federation, CoachInc.com, International Association of Coaching, MentorCoach), and now there are coaching programs specifically for the church & ministry world.

It can be said that just as you’d have a coach to help you perform as an athlete, or hiring a coach to improve your golf or tennis game, people can hire a coach for developing their leadership capacity. This is all acceptable in the sports world, in the business & non-profit organizational world (cf. executive coaching), in the personal development & self-improvement world (cf. life coaching), and yet the practice has raised some questions in the church & ministry world. (i.e. Ministry Coaching International, Leadership2Go: an online mentoring community, Partners in Church Consulting Coaching Network, Next Coaching Network, International M Network’s 7-Day Mentoring Immersion, Expo Coaching, Pastors Coaching Network, Celera Group, to name a few)

While there is some overlap between mentoring, coaching, spiritual formation, teaching & training, disciple-making, the distinction isn’t paid vs. unpaid. Right? I’ve personally benefitted greatly from all of these kinds of relationships, both paid and unpaid.

Should coaches & mentors be paid or not? Here’s what I think at this time: the Bible doesn’t forbids payment being involved in these relationships per se. Just as there are pastors who are paid and those who are unpaid, there are coaches who are paid and unpaid. So for me, this matter is one of freedom and personal conscience.

Personally, I think I’m at an age and stage of life where I may be called upon to be a coach or mentor to a few others. I’d love to do that for free, personally. However, not being financially independent, I do have to use a large portion of my time to earn wages to provide for myself and family. Where money fits in the equation is that if I were to be paid as a coach or mentor, then I would be able to commit more time and energy to it than if I volunteered as a mentor.

Would you pay for a coach or mentor? Why or why not? How do you decide when you would be an unpaid mentor to someone else, and when you’d charge money for being a coach / mentor?

[photo credit: jfre81]