I Don’t Like to Admit It. . .

. . . but it’s true.

Ignoring reality and pulling the covers over my head will get me and churches in the South NO WHERE. . . fast.

imagesSo will thinking I know what will fix things because they worked in the 80’s and 90’s.

Churches in the Southern Baptist Convention are declining and dying.

The next generation of millennials are different.

Therefore, what has worked will not continue to work. If you keep doing what you’ve always done. . .

Tony Morgan has spent a lot of effort helping churches get ‘unstuck.’

He recently wrote this about preaching:

“Truth be told, I’m guessing most people have already forgotten whatever you preached about a few weeks ago. And, another group of people wasn’t even at the service where you addressed that critical topic. If there’s any lasting impact to a message or series, it’s because systems or disciplines have been implemented and embraced that lead to change. The next steps have to be obvious.

The problem is it’s a lot easier to preach a message or create a series than it is to shape systems that produce healthy changes in organizations and in people’s lives.”

I don’t like that.

There is a part of me that cries out, “HERESY!”

But there is another part that tells my heart how true his words are. . .

Morgan isn’t arguing that preaching is useless, or shouldn’t be done. . . he is arguing that healthy systems are crucial to the ongoing, overall health of a church. Too often we preachers spend a lot of time on hearty sermons and very little time on healthy systems.

Add to this something he wrote in another article. He made this very insightful and (I believe) critical  claim:

“Instead of blaming young adults for not engaging in our ministries, it’s about time we start taking some responsibility. Our strategies and systems are broken. The Gospel message doesn’t need to change, but the methods we use to reach people for Jesus has to reflect our current environment.”

That last sentence is one of the most important non-biblical sentences I have read in a long, long time: “The Gospel message doesn’t need to change, but the methods we use to reach people for Jesus has to reflect our current environment.” 


Rick Warren says that churches who do not want to grow are saying to the world, “you can go to hell.”

I don’t know of a church that would ever ACTUALLY say that. But could our refusal to think and plan and strategize and dream and arrange things ‘beyond the norm’ be a way of saying, “We would rather you go to hell than change”?

I don’t like thinking that sometimes just preaching may not work.

But I also don’t like the thought of my kids being adults in a churchless South.

Perhaps the revival that needs to happen in our churches is a renewed Spirit among ‘church’ people to do whatever it takes – and I mean whatever – to impact the next generation with the Gospel. Perhaps the Spirit of God is working in unbelieving Millennials. The question for the church is: “How would we know if He is?”

“The Gospel message doesn’t need to change, but the methods we use to reach people for Jesus has to reflect our current environment.” 


What do you think??? Any opinions out there?

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6 thoughts on “I Don’t Like to Admit It. . .

  1. Connie says:

    Read Jen Hatmaker’s latest blog — “And then the conference uninvited me to speak.” jenhatmaker.com You will immediately relate to her family full of international adoptions, but also she addresses head-on what you are saying today. You and Jen are giving THIS Stuffy Old Baptist a lot to ponder this morning.

  2. Ilene Harral says:

    Hi from Houston Matt, the growing (trending) churches seem to be the feel-good movements like those of Joel and Joyce. Joel’s name, not Jesus’, is on “his” church. People say he is nothing like his dad was. Followers of these big stars look sincere on TV. Do you think these preachers, including Rick, think they are apostles and we are followers? The Second Baptist leader here in Houston travels from one of his branches to another by helicopter. I once looked at Joel’s website and cringed for its slickness. Well, I have nothing against these preachers really and will always love good churches no matter the branding. I am tired of the pope right now though! Ha, Ilene

  3. Libby Kloap says:

    I am with you Bro Matt!!

  4. Vertis Mason says:

    I so agree this church has changed but it has been so slow. At one time we only had organ music I knew we needed to change that so I did a sneaky thing. I was on a committee to build the Two Fifty Two bldg. It was a great committee they let me do anything I wanted . I insisted on concrete floors exposed duct work. Red chairs. I made trips to churches that had recently done youth bldgs and I copied things they had done.

    At that time I knew the music had to change so I bought a drum set for that bldg with the idea that someday it might be brought to the sanctuary. Well Roger quit the church finally Wilson came and sure enough they started bringing the drums across the street. Well that was too much work so Wilson bought drums and all of the percussion for our church. You should have seen the orchestra in the beginning it was pathetic.

    I really think we are headed in the right direction but I agree that we have a long way to go.

    One of the big problems is that most “church people” use the church as their social life. We had a dinner party last night and I had an opportunity to share what I believe . I know two of the guys have no faith and the women only have a little understanding. It to me is truly amazing.

    A few years ago I was at our church in a meeting of women and we were asked how many of us had unsaved friends. I was the only one that put my hand up.

    Some of those folks are still my friends and are not saved yet but I haven’t given up.

    It is so hard for Baptist people to get out of their comfort zone.


  5. Richard McClendon says:

     You asked and I will always reply.  I know that church is for all of us, but on Wednesday nights, how many deacons do we have attending prayer meeting? They are leaders after the preacher.  Do you agree or not?



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