Since moving to Phoenix to plant One Church, I’ve been exposed to more conservative evangelical megachurch theology than I have been in other locations. One of the many influences on conservative evangelical megachurch theology is the fundamentalist tradition.
I’ve met quite a few thoughtful Christians of all ages who are searching for a church different from the one they grew up in. Some of them either grew up in a fundamentalist tradition or arrived in a fundamentalist church as an adult.
For some, Christ first became real to them as an adult in a fundamentalist church, which makes it more difficult for them to consider that their fundamentalist pastor may not have been accurate in all of his claims.
Of course, it is probably the social pressure found in fundamentalism that creates the most difficulty for persons questioning fundamentalist teachings. If they question or leave, they will be ostracized by their friends and mentors and viewed with suspicion, or worse yet… as a liberal.:)
In my experience, fundamentalist churches have two central claims that make it difficult for their members (or even ex-members) to consider any view of the Christian faith other than fundamentalism:
- “We teach the Bible, while other churches just teach the traditions of men.”
- “The Bible is clear on every subject it addresses, so our church has the one correct teaching.”
I’ll post more in the next few days…
Our second sermon series after launching weekly worship at One Church was entitled ?S: Questions and Doubts About Faith. You can listen to the sermon series here.
On our first two Sundays, I collected questions from the congregation with the instructions, “If you could ask God one question, what would it be?”
Then every week I gave a sermon addressing one of the top five most asked questions. The sermon titles were:
- What is the Bible and How Do I Interpret It?
- How Can I Believe that God Exists, and How Does God’s Existence Affect My Life?
- Can Those Who Have Never Heard the Name of Jesus or Those of Other Religions or No Religion Be Saved?
- What Does the Bible Really Teach about Heaven and Hell?
- Why Does God Allow Suffering, Especially the Suffering of Children?
During the course of the series, we lost approximately ten attendees (under 10% of our congregation). We gained, however, enough new attendees during the series that One Church has grown slightly.
Therefore, every attendee we lost was replaced by someone new.
Incidentally, we have lost approximately eight attendees simply because one of our One Groups (small groups) is studying a book authored by Rob Bell.
I learned not to fear addressing controversial topics. Some people will leave because a certain book was not banned from the church.
However, for every person who leaves, someone else looking for a church that is a safe place to express their questions and doubts will arrive and stay.
Eleven months ago, my wife, son and I relocated to Chandler, AZ to lead a nondenominational, parachute drop church plant.
One Church launched weekly worship services yesterday with 118 in attendance, 96 adults and 22 kids! (This photo was taken at the very beginning of the service before 3 more rows of people showed up.)
Our strategy has been to grow through word of mouth and social media, in addition to 30 grand opening signs placed around the city and our A-frame directional signs placed Saturday mornings. We tried targeted and saturation mail with a very low return. I will probably not use mail anymore in this area (direct mail worked well for me in Columbus, OH, however).
Leading up to the launch, we held six monthly preview services and a Christmas Eve service. In the first preview service last October, the total attendance was 43. In last months preview service, the total attendance was 73. So, we grew from 43 to 118 in six months.
We’ll see what the second week attendance is next Sunday. Let the emotional roller coaster begin!:)
The owner of a portable church equipment company told me recently that he is seeing a sharp decline in church planting.
He said that 80% of his clients are now megachurches starting multisite campuses.
Do you agree?
Is church planting (where the congregation starts from scratch) declining in North America?
One Church and our partners devoted 30 days to prayer and fasting in December. We prayed that God would draw people to One Church who need our mission and values, and we prayed that One Church will be faithful to our call.
During the 30 days, we also asked One Church partners around the country to give to our $30in30 Campaign ($30,000 in 30 days).
We’re extremely thankful that at the final amount raised in December for our $30in30 campaign is just over $27,000! However, some donors gave early this month, bringing the total amount to exactly $30,000! The funds raised will be used to cover the publicity expenses to launch weekly One Church worship services on March 10.
Great days lie ahead!
Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support!
You can still help us meet our $30in30 goal ($30,000 in 30 days). We have less than $4,000 to go!
As long as your donation is postmarked by December 31, 2013, you will be able deduct your gift from your 2012 taxes. Or you can give conveniently online here.
Thank you for helping One Church to share the Gospel with our mission field!
Launch Prayer and Fasting Video Blog 6 from One Church on Vimeo.
You can give your year-end, 100% tax-deductible gift to the One Church $30in30 Campaign in two ways:
1. Conveniently online at onechurch.com/giving
2. Or, mail your check for any amount payable to “One Church” to One Church, PO Box 12036, Chandler, AZ 85248.
All donations will go toward the publicity expenses to launch to weekly worship. Thank you.
Prayer and Fasting Video Blog 5</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/onechurchaz”>One
Church</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>