Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Seasoned Believers are Disgruntled

Over 11,000 church members were asked to fill out a questionairre about attendance and their spiritual attitudes. Here is what the researchers discovered. I was shocked by the results. Most everyone I tell is stunned. How do you feel about it? (Click graph for an enlarged view.)

It was bound to happen. (1. Chart of Unmet Expectations; Leaders who thought believers would grow spiritually just by sitting in church and giving money. 2. Growth and involvement correlation.3. Stages of Maturity)

The churches that grew through marketing, entertainment and pizazz have hit the wall. Here is the wall:

Those members who have known and served God in the big churches the longest and most fervently are dropping out.

The guys from Willow Creek did a survey. It was shocking to them. People are unhappy with the same old three ring circuses that titillated them as young believers. They want something more substantial now that they have lived for a couple of decades with God as a guide. The authors of the book that describes the survey and its results, Reveal, are embarrassingly honest about their former lack of knowledge of how people grow spiritually and how badly they missed the mark in fostering discipleship.

I have been shocked by the pedagogical ignorance of Christian leaders for a long time. I am an educator and counselor by training and have known for forty years that people learn best by a combination of Theory and Practice. Lectures, especially for adults, are terrible training venues.

Despite this knowledge, almost all "leadership seminars" stress new and exciting ways to deliver a lecture. How can we delude ourselves so greatly year after year? How can brilliant men and women be shocked at the fact that the most mature of their flocks are dissatisfied?

Can they recover? I am not sure if the current crop of leaders can change from their obsession with lectures, entertainment and infor-mericals called church for young people. Will they be able to reach out to Seasoned Believers? These folks have served up skim milk for so long because it sells to youth. There is a strong bias against older believers who demand more meat. (Or at least a little mush.)

Anyone who really thought that discipleship and spiritual growth could be facilitated by sermons to large groups of passive people is in deep trouble. Many are probably still clinging to skim or 1% milk served up with some cool new talks and new videos.

Can we do a better job? I do not know. However, our new Launch of a ministry to the people in stages 3 and 4 will minister to a large group of people. (Some people estimate that there are over 50 million Seasoned Believers in the USA alone with millions more in Europe.) Seasoned Saints are normally ignored except when it comes to financial support and serving on committees.

Our first Seasoned Believer Gathering is planned for October 13 at Winton Woods Golf Course Conference Center. Contact me if you are interested. In being with grown ups with adult discussions. Are you interested in Finishing Well?

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