Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vacuum-Model Churches

It's the wave of the future, so install a new beater bar, and plug 'er in. What to do about your stubborn old church refusing to budge from the dark ages? Frustrated about your congregation that somehow thinks that the words of Charles Wesley or Fanny Crosby can even compare to Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Yes, Lord? (Oh, wait. That's an oldie now.) Or maybe your staid denomination just isn't getting with the program fast enough.

Well, now there is a solution to all these problems: The Vacuum Model of Church Development. Simply this.

1. If yours is an old, fuddy-duddy church and missional members want to make it relevant, you just build. You don't tell the aging members that after the new building is ready for move-in day that the words will be on the screen in front, the hymn books headed for the incinerator and they'll have to stand for 40 minutes of the service. heh No, you forge ahead with Contemporary 101 and let the geezers follow along or amble on out into the parking lot.
2. Here's where the vacuum part comes in. Old "stuck" churches, stuck in their ways, still want to grow. New megachurches want to grow. What to do? Vacuum! The megachurch swallows up the old church and both are happy.
To make it sound all right, you call it "revitalization." One church growth expert puts it this way: "Revitalization mergers also allow smaller struggling churches to have a new beginning by being adopted by a stronger vibrant church." See, the struggling church is the old people, hymn-besotted, "stuck" church and the stronger, vibrant one is the one with the sound system and lights and purchased sermon package. Everyone wants a new beginning!
3. Those stodgy, old denominations still love new growth. When offered a merger with a vibrant (multi-media drenched, multi-site, multi-plex) church they will jump at the chance because it means greater numbers. Then you don't have to worry about those pesky denominational headquarters calling the shots and nixing all your great plans for sexy services. As the same church growth expert says: "Denominations increasingly will take their lead from their growing churches rather than the other way around." No more having to bow to denominational bigwigs.
It's time to power on and vacuum up the old, the small, the obstinate.