How many new church plants start to decline after they acquire a permanent building? I recently received this question in an email. Though I don't have the statistics, I do have stories. These are stories of churches that have slowly started their decline after completing building projects and others that have built and are still thriving today. But what has made the difference?
On my last sabbatical, I researched the early church. I studied the time from right after the resurrection of Jesus until the time of Constantine and wanted to see how they survived and thrived during a time when they were not the cultural norm and experienced intense persecution. I grew up in a Christian culture where Christianity was not only accepted but also encouraged by the culture. Getting to know the early church taught me many important lessons, some of which were hard to learn.
I have always been an avid collector of nativities, picking one up as a souvenir for each of my travels near and far. So, I was incredibly surprised to find that the reality of the nativity is hardly depicted in most of my little scenes.
With some insight from Kenneth Bailey's Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, I've learned a lot about Middle Eastern culture and how things would have actually happened in the Christmas story. Here are some of the things I've gleaned.
Some people think I have the “gift of hospitality,” but I assure you, I do not. I am not a hospitable person. I am an introvert. My home is a haven where I can recharge and get ready to be with people again the next day.
In time, I have learned that hospitality is not a gift but an act of obedience with great gospel benefits. For me, though, it's been a journey.
Sally Hinzie, UBA Church Consultant, is an avid reader and a practical thinker. She condenses selected books into a quick, easy to read set of “Book Notes” that offers you the opportunity to determine if this is a topic that you’d like to study further. This week's edition reviews Tony Maalouf's Arabs in the Shadow of Israel: The Unfolding of God’s Prophetic Plan for Ishmael’s Line.
I was in a meeting a couple of weeks ago with two churches wanting to share a building. The host church is almost 60 years old, and the church wanting to share their space was an immigrant congregation that is about 5 years old. It was a challenge to work out the details across cultural worldviews and language barriers.
UBA loves churches. Large or small, choir robes or tattoos, 10am Sunday School or Tuesday night small groups, the UBA team wants to help you be the best that you can be. So, our church consultant, Sally Hinzie, offers some helpful tips to those leading Bible study groups, no matter what that may look like.