Home | News | Search |Site Map | Contact Us | Contribute
 A Report from the Director OCTOBER 5, 2011 

Update: Reaching More DisciplesReaching More Disciples

The first decade of the 21st century was one of highs and lows for U.S. congregations. In the wake of the tragedy of 9/11, many more people went to church for the next five Sundays or so. Then the numbers turned downward. If 9/11 and its aftermath shaped much of the external environment in the early years of the decade, an economic recession shaped much of the latter years.

Most churches now recognize that congregational life and practices in the current century will need to be more than incremental improvements on what worked in the past. Major cultural and generational shifts are occurring. In this new context, church leaders are more confident in their knowledge of the dying edges that are passing away than they are of the living edges in which God is moving in this new day.

The common 21st century challenge for churches across all sizes, regions, and traditions is to reach more people, younger people, and more diverse people. The people God has given us in the U.S. in the 21st century are more numerous, younger, and more diverse than in the past, while our churches overall continue to become smaller and older, as well as much less diverse than their communities.

The Lewis Center for Church Leadership is launching a new initiative to help church leaders address this challenge. Just as the Lewis Center’s focus on stewardship and finance has helped many church leaders better fund their ministries, the Center’s Reach New Disciples emphasis will offer more effective tools to congregations with a heart for connecting with those around them.

We look forward to our work with those who are able to attend our first Reach New Disciples half-day event on November 5. Others can take advantage of the event through purchasing the DVD/CD that will be available. The theme of this first conference is Connect with Your Neighbors. Churches, especially long-established congregations, often need to reengage their surrounding communities in ways similar to their early days of congregational life.

Churches grow as a result of relationships. Today many of those relationships will not begin when new people arrive to visit a church but rather when churches connect with others in the community. Some refer to this as a move away from an “attractional” model to a more “missional” orientation. In any case, social and cultural forces are not factors in nudging people toward church today as in the past. Churches need to learn new practices to fit a new context.

Lovett H. Weems, Jr.

Register for the Connect with Your Neighbors Conference

Connect with Your NeighborsTo help you meet the challenge of reaching new people, the Lewis Center presents the Connect with Your Neighbors Conference, part of our Reach New Disciples program, on Saturday, November 5, from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on the campus of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. Building on our continuing work in attracting new disciples, this half-day conference for laity and clergy features insightful presentations and practical workshops to help you roll up your sleeves and connect with new disciples. Learn more and register today.

Preorder the Connect with Your Neighbors DVD/CD Resource

Bring the best of the Connect with Your Neighbors Conference home to your church with videos of the presentations plus workshop PowerPoint presentations, introductory videos, outlines of key points, and more. This resource ships in early December. Learn more and preorder today.

Resources for Making Your Church More Accessible

Congregational Resource GuideFor reaching current members and new people, accessibility is critical. Congregational Resource Guide recently offered a succinct guide to resources for congregations. See "Are Your Accessible?" at http://congregationalresources.org/resources/are-you-accessible.

Update is a monthly report to subscribers of Leading Ideas
on the work of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership.
home | about us | programs | resources | events | research | contact us | contribute
© 2004-2011 Lewis Center for Church Leadership 4500 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016
Phone: 202-885-8757 | Fax: 202-885-8683 | Email: lewiscenter@wesleyseminary.edu
Lewis Center for Church Leadership