Title: "I Refuse to Lead a Dieing Church" Author: Paul Nixon Publisher: The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland ISBN: 978-0-8298-1759-1 (softcover)
The two most important concepts Nixon has in his book are in chapter "Choosing Life Over Death" and "Choosing Frontier Over Fortress". The key information in "Choosing Life Over Death" are taken from pages 31 to 33.
"In stagnant and dying churches, the members usually turn inward and become a bit selfish in what they expect of the church; decisions are made based upon what is most convenient and comfortable for the church members rather than what is expedient in effectively serving the community people."
"Often the most helpful persons to partner with are inactive members…who have grown bored or frustrated with their church over the years and who may have turned their energy toward other good projects in the community…"
"I urge you to take names. Keep a list of the bright-eyed people, the people who are energized by the thought of their church living and thriving in ministry with a new set of people…"
"Grow this list of bright-eyed vision share holders—both inside the church membership and beyond it! Keep a roll. This roll is your real church roll…reframe your ministry toward this roll of living disciples…"
"The bright-eyed people form the green shoot poking its way to life from what appeared to be a dead tree. Growing this new shoot is your main task as a turnaround leader. This shoot, these people are the living church you are called by God to lead."
The key information in "Choosing Frontier Over Fortress" are taken from pages 88 to 89. The historical statistics that Nixon outlines in this chapter paints a very powerful picture.
- "From 1790 to 1830, the congregations that would become the United Methodist grew from 58,000 in 1790 to 501,000 in 1830."
- "They went from 1.5% to 5.1% of the US population."
- "These churches were so nimble that one third of the Methodist Episcopal congregations in 1830 had no building."
- "By 1840 the groups growth rate was slowing."
- "The correlation between the slow-down of the Methodist movement's expansion over the next century and the steady construction of larger more substantial buildings is nothing short of remarkable…there is definitely a correlation: the more building-oriented any church becomes, the more it will be tempted to take on the settle attitudes and habits of an institution, and to leave the free-spirited, frontier-oriented attitudes and practices that grew it to start with."
I would highly recommend this book to any Church Leader, lay or professional. It cuts through the common assumptions and misconceptions we all have when we consider how to turn a church around. It will eliminate the mistakes that are often made that waist time and resources and then create burn out.
How this Book Helped Us:
As the Church Chairman, I read this book when our church, Olathe Covenant, was going through a difficult transition period. Our attendance had been on a steady decline for over 5 years. For a three year period we had not a single couple or family under 40 years of age visit and stay. Our lead pastor accepted another call. Our youth director accepted another call. We were over $24,000 in debt. After reading this book and “Church Unique” by Will Mancini (click here for our review) the church Leadership Team decided to follow the guidelines and recommendations in these two books. We did this even if these guidelines ran contrary to those provided by our denominational conference leadership. As a result we chose to go with a non-traditional model of a video worship experience. From August to December of 2008 we used LifeChurch.tv Message videos in place of traditional pulpit supply. We did this for several reasons:
- This would make us “Unique” in our area which is a main point of Mancini’s book.
- The Messages from LifeChurch.tv were free so this saved on the cost of pulpit supply.
- The concept, worship experience and the content of the LifeChurch.tv Messages by Craig Groeschel were “X” & “Y” generation friendly.
When we had our Annual Meeting in December of 2008 the members voted to continue with this video worship experience. Subsequently, in February of 2009 the congregation voted, with only one dissenting vote, to become a LifeChurch.tv Network Church. Since then we have had seven families visit and three have remained and have become active in church ministries. In addition 6 singles have visited with one continuing to visit and another who has become a member of our Praise Team.
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