Random Observations From Sabbatical Leave

Recently my church gifted me with sabbatical leave time. As a part of my sabbatical, I chose to participate in The Gospel Coalition’s National World Missions and Teaching Conference and The Exponential Conference, billed as the “largest gathering of church planters on the planet”. I also chose to attend worship services in sixteen Southern Baptist churches across the southeast and did research on the worship and Sunday Bible study attendance patterns for the past twenty years in SBC churches.

My observations are as follows:

• Those of us in the latter days of our ministry have nothing to fear as we pass the mantle of leadership to the next generation. Both the TGC and Exponential Conferences were attended predominantly by members of Generation X and the Millennial Generation. I found these young Christian leaders to be passionate, committed, and determined to carry the Gospel around the world. Their methods were different in some cases but their message was unchanging.

• A number of our one campus, larger churches have shown little to no numerical growth over the past twenty years.

• The preaching in the churches that I visited was Biblically based and spirit-led.

• The music was uplifting and inspiring. Although extremely loud in the more contemporary churches.

• Media (video definition, set design, lighting, graphics, etc.) was of a much higher quality in the contemporary churches as compared to the more traditional churches.

• The contemporary churches were more positive in the wording of directives and instructions than the traditional churches. For example, I saw signs/video announcements in several churches stating, “Turn off all cellphones” while one church stated, “Please remember to turn your mobile device back on at the conclusion of the service.”

• The contemporary churches were much more intentional and professional about greeting and welcoming guests.

• Only one individual in the sixteen churches visited invited me to attend a Sunday School class (a disturbing fact that saddens me to this day).

Reposted from Bill Gambrell with permission.

   

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