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The Importance of Your Worldview to Church Growth
By: Bill Easum

One of the most important facts to know is our worldview affects much of the effectiveness of our ministry.

About a third of my consulting/coaching ministry is in churches where there is a sizeable older adult population. Often, these churches are growing their contemporary service, while their traditional service is dying off, as the adults born before 1945 are no longer able to attend worship. When the pastors of these churches attempt to implement modern ways to reach people, the older adults fail to understand why the measures are important and often resist.

In analyzing these churches and having conversations with the older adult leaders, I've realized that many of them have a great heart toward reaching the unchurched and growing the Kingdom, but they do not fully understand how the changing dynamics of our world affect the way a church goes about ministry today. Let me give you some examples of what I'm referring to.

The Sanctuary Is Where Worship Happens
Many older adults think that worship should take place only in the sanctuary. To them, it is sacred space. They do not understand that in today's world there is no such thing as sacred and secular space. It is now considered to be all sacred. So, contemporary worship will do just as well or better in the fellowship hall as it will in the sanctuary, but many older adult have trouble believing this.

Contemporary worship isn't concerned about where it takes place. It often works better in a fellowship hall than a sanctuary because it is a more relaxed environment in which you can allow food and drinks without worry about damaging the sanctuary. I know. Many of your older adults don't understand why food and drink is so important to worship. Food and drink is essential to the new worldview and as such is a natural part of today's worship. But, keep in mind I'm not talking about changing the Gospel.

Being Frugal Is Better Than Being Strategic
Many older adults either lived through or were children of parents who lived through either the Great Depression or WWII, both of which caused great austerity throughout the country. So, when it comes to spending money, many older adults are rather tight fisted, and rightly so.  However, when they bring their personal finances into their decisions about running the church, they cause a huge problem. They want to pinch pennies rather than being strategic with their money. Most often they want a debt-free church. And, if their church has a debt, they try to pay it off ASAP, even if it means hamstringing the growth of the church.

The Importance of Staffing
Many older laity do not understand why more staff is needed today than in the past. But, more staff is needed today than in the past because the world we live in today is far more complicated and fragmented than the world of 1950. In the 1950s, the nuclear family of mom, dad and the kids came to church. Today, there is a vast area of different types of families.

In the 1950s, the church had very little competition for the lives of children and youth. Today, the church finds itself competing with a variety of things that pull children and youth away from the church. In the 1950s, the Judeo-Christian value system was reinforced in the home, the schools, and the church. Today, only the church reinforces the Judeo-Christian value system.  Drugs and gangs were not widespread in the 1950s. Today, people are more mobile and most often do not have an extended family nearby to help in times of crises.

But, the real kicker today is that people no longer come to church on their own today, and, when they do show up at church, they are blank slates, which means it takes more staff and time to disciple them. In other words, it is far more difficult today to minister to people and equip them for a life that follows Jesus Christ than it was in the 1950s.

The Nursery Is Just Another Room
Many older laity do not understand that the nursery is now one of the most important rooms in the church. They do not see the importance of having the nursery staffed with paid staff instead of volunteers like it was done in their parents' day. They don't understand that young adults will spend all of their money on the nursery and let the rest of the house wait. And, they don't understand the importance of having the nursery open anytime the church is open and close to the sanctuary.

The nursery is the most important room in the church. This is because: (1) parents today are having fewer children; (2) parents are waiting longer to have children; (3) parents have a lot of guilt about leaving their children attended by other people for so many hours of the week; (4) non-custodial parents have been known to kidnap their children; (5) children are accustomed to having quality care at daycare centers during the week.

Young adults will often check out the nursery before looking at anything else. With a quick glance, they can tell if the church values small people, and whether the church is prepared to take care of their child. If the verdict is negative, the church will probably never hear from the young adults. They will simply move down the street and keep looking for a church that is ready to meet their needs.

Today, unchurched parents expect the church to provide free babysitting anytime the church wants them to attend something.  At the moment, you have an unpaid wonderful, committed adult who takes responsibility for the nursery every Sunday and that is wonderful. But, when the time comes for this saint to no longer feel able to provide this free service, you must begin to pay someone to be in regular attendance in the nursery. Every parent who drops their child off at daycare or preschool expects the same adult to be there every day when dropping off their child.

Our Worldview Affects Our Actions
Lay leaders would do well to read the first chapter of my book, Ministry in Hard Times, to see the difference between the worldview they were born into and the worldview they are called to lead in today. They were born into what I call a National Park worldview, and we now live in what I call a Jungle worldview.

You can quickly see the difference in those two metaphors. One is a safe, seldom-changing world with lots of rules, the other is a dangerous, ever-changing world with only one rule: those who can adapt the quickest will survive.

So, you see that our worldview does affect our ministry. How about yours? Which worldview rules the house?

Bill Easum is president of 21st Century Strategies, Inc. a full service church consulting group since 1987 whose mission is to equip Christian for global impact, www.churchconsultations.com.

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