#COVMW Getting Ready for Chicago Snowpocalypse 2011 – and reflections on ECC Church Growth / Evangelism

the view from my hotel window

We’re gettin ready for the Powdergeddon 2011 but so far nothing yet. We’ll see tonite. Folks here are mixed about the seriousness of it… feh. Chicago can handle it. Besides, other than my wife and kids and my community in Houston, there is no other group of people I’d wanna be snowed in with. Throw in the mix an in-hotel pub, decent food, good company, good conversation, and I’m snug as a bug in a rug.

So Dave Olson, Exec Minister of Church Growth & Evangelism is sharing about statistics and trends of evangelical churches nationwide. This stuff is like fire; every time I hear it. Awesome stuff. Here are some bullet reflections:

  • The fastest growing percentages of churches are among:
    • +2000 (megachurches) – the largest (high quality)
    • 1 – 40 ppl – the smallest (high intimacy)
    • The smallest and the largest churches are growing the fastest
  • 100 – 300 range churches having the hardest time growing
    • The solution:
    • Increase your quality and increase your intimacy
    • The simplest way to revitalize a church is to make sure ppl under 40 are attending
  • The largest churches in the Cov are in CA and surprisingly, Oklahoma (http://Lifechurch.tv)
    • Largest viewing audience for lifechurch.tv is in India! 25,000 watching their services online
    • Fastest growing groups in America are: EV Free, Converge (formerly Baptist general conference) and the ECC (sister denom to the previous two)
  • 1990’s the Cov church experienced dramatic growth. Largely due to church plants and adoption congregations of a non-Anglo heritage.
    • The two most dramatically growing conferences: Pacific SW AND drumroll………….. MidSouth! (us!)
  • in 1927 – the first English-only ECC church was started in IL (a big change for this historically Swedish immigrant church) Korean-Am churches and @houstonharvest listen up!! In the 1940’s English was adopted as THE MAIN LANGUAGE of the Cov denom. This exhibits FLUIDITY / OPENNESS TO CHANGE / ADAPTABILITY – and yes – these are good things
    • Mono-ethnic ministry has the tendency to subtly diminish the powerful gospel – whether predominantly anglo, or korean, or whatever
    • “The forces of homogeneity is immense – partly seductive, partly coercive, partly the irresistable effect of affluence” – Brueggemann, Prophetic Imagination
    • What would it mean for us to live a life of embrace over exclusion? (Volf) to relate with churches that look not like we do?
    • To be the learner and not the dominant culture? (preferential option for the poor – Liberation Theology)
    • Our country is rapidly becoming postmodern, postChristian, and multiethnic. What worked in the past is not going to work anymore. This is not just a generational change, it is a socioethnic one.
    • Three solutions:
      • Churches need to recover the powerful Gospel, replacing the anemic Gospel many Evans rely on
      • 20% of American churches need to become intentionally multiethnic
      • Evangelicals need to deal honestly with corrosive effect of affluence
  • the historic definition of multiethnicity: the majority culture dips below 80% – the whole organism / organization is forced to change – for the better!

During these stats the South(ern Conferences) were asked to stand and I was proud to be one of the few to rep – holla – but not confederate flags here or anything. The South is the fastest growing conference but the Covenant presence in the South is still relatively small. I’m stoked to be where the action’s at, and hope to help coordinate more efforts in the south, like a pastor’s prayer gathering, or a missional hothouse or something. I guess it’s kinda nice to be a proud southerner now…

Published by Wayne Park

Asian-American clergyman thinking about issues of faith, place, race and culture-making in the vast city of Houston, TX

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