Ryan McLean : Slightly Unconventional

Theories On The New Church Model/Structure

The church is changing and people are crying out for something new. I believe something new will emerge from the ashes of the people burnt out by Pentecostalism (harsh but totally true…only people who don’t like Pentecostalism will build something new).

Here are some of my ponderings about some of the aspects I believe the new church (I am calling it “the social church” for lack of a better name) will have.

I share this because I believe I have SOME insight and SOME of the answers as to what is coming but I need other people to fill in the other pieces of the puzzle. I share my puzzle pieces in the hopes that someone can put them together with their puzzle pieces to form a full picture.

I won’t comment on some of the beliefs and doctrine the new social church may hold, I rather want to comment on the potential structure of what is coming.

Lean Business Model

Church as it currently stands requires a lot of resources to keep running. Building costs and staff probably forming the majority of its costs.

Churches require tithes and masses of volunteers to keep the doors open and to keep growing and reaching people. They are using a lot of resources (money and people).

The social church will work under a leaner business model. Little or no staff and little or no building overheads.

The social church will leverage technology and better structure to impact more people with less resources.

Specialising Entities (Not an all-in-one “church”)

I see the church currently performing 3 main services

In my opinion these 3 facets (along with others not listed) will separate.

Rather than ONE church providing everything single entities will rise up and serve just one need.

Worship leaders will come together and run a worship nights without preaching and without pastors who manage the connecting of the people.

Podcasts and small groups could easily teach people about the word of God without having a musical worship element.

So rather than ONE church doing everything there will be MULTIPLE entities who combined provide everything thing Christians (and soon to be christians) need.

Connecting People To People Not To “The Church”

For the entirety of history the best way to connect people to each other was to get them all in one place at the same time. This requires you to connect people to a “church”, get them to keep coming so then they can meet people and form friendships.

Social media and the internet has changed this.

Don’t hear me wrong online relationships CANNOT replace in person relationships. More and more we are seeing people using the internet to meet with like minded people IN PERSON.

So people still want to meet other people in person. That hasn’t change.

However, you no longer need a large group of people of all walks of life to meet in the same place in the hopes that like minded people will find each other.

This means that the role of the pastor will change from personally meeting with people and ensuring they keep coming “back to church” to analysing people (in person and online) and attempting to connecting them with people who are like them.

So rather than trying to get people to keep “coming back to church” we will instead work to connect people to each other. No church gathering or entity required. If we can get 2 guys who love World Of Warcraft and who also love God to meet each other for coffee on a Tuesday without attending a meeting they won’t enjoy…then all the better.

Offering Targets

Currently the church asks for tithes and offerings. 10% of what you earn plus whatever else you want to offer to God.

“Give it to us and trust us to distribute it.”

Many people no longer trust the church to do the right thing and the church entity is resource hungry by nature (we discussed this briefly in lean business model).

So rather than offerings of a potentially unlimited amount we will see the emergence of offering targets.

These will work much like kickstarter campaigns.

For example: “I need $5,000 to buy sound gear and hire a venue for a worship night”

Another example: “We need $300 to hire a venue for a Tuesday night to have a prayer gathering”

Anther example: “We need $1,000 to do a print run and pamphlet drop in our local area”

Another example: “We need $2,000 to create and deliver 100 hampers to needed families this Christmas”

Once the target is reach 1 of 3 things will likely happen:

1) No more donations will be accepted

2) Excessive donations will go straight to a cause determined by the entity (eg. World Vision).

3) Excessive donations will go towards next event or to making the event better

(Potentially) No Visible Leader

Recently an amazing thing happened.

Hong Kong protested. So they government shut down the internet to stop protestors communicating their cause.

Using just the local bluetooth in their phones (local range 10-20 metres) the masses of people were able to set up their own network where protestors could chat and communicate with each other.

There was no visible leader in the setup and running of this ad-hoc network, however there was undoubtably a leader or a team of people ultimately behind this.

However, the key is they were unseen. They didn’t need to be seen for the network to work. Individuals were communicating with each other which was the whole goal.

I don’t know how this will relate to the social church but I have a gut feeling that it will be less a mini-dictatorship (as churches currently are) top-down approach and more a hidden body facilitating peer to peer discussions.

More to come

This concludes my musings for now. As I learn more I will refine this post and add new aspect to it.

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The World Is Not Black and White

For many years I believed that most of the world was black and white. There was right, and there was wrong and not much in between.

The longer I live the more grey the world becomes. I can’t say I never judge but I definitely feel I respect people more, and respect people’s differences.

Sometimes what others consider “wrong” is actually the best outcome for a situation? We live in an imperfect world and in an imperfect world there are going to be many situations where there is no clear answer.

Our jobs as Christians and as people is to not try and decide what is black and what is white, but to make the most of the grey we have and maybe even take an opportunity to change the grey into yellow, or blue, or green…

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Is Church A Shotgun?

I am a firm believer in the “you don’t get to a new place by answering the questions you have, you get there by asking better questions”.

A shotgun “sprays” it’s bullets, a laser is much more direct.

Church “sprays” it’s message. I arrive at church on Sunday morning and look around at all sorts of people. 70 year old women, 40 year old dads, teenagers and kids. The only thing we have in common is faith and location.

Is it my fault that I don’t engage in conversation with that older woman and that I only speak to the 10-20 people I actually know in a church of 300-500?

Does church have to “spray” it’s message to everyone to attract a larger crowd?

Does the preaching have to apply to unbelievers, new Christians and those that have been Christians for 20 years?

What would happen if the church was laser focused and had a “target market”? We wouldn’t have as good music (the musicians would go elsewhere) but maybe we would have some intriguing conversations?

I hate being a critic and I am not trying to criticize church as it is today…but I want to know…is this the best way?

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Changing The Way We Do Church

Seth Godin’s book “Meatball Sundae” talks about the fact that business models only tend to succeed when they are organized around the marketing channels available.

With the introduction of the Internet, the growth of social media and the decline of TV advertising and mass media the marketing landscape is changing.

The church as it exists today (I believe) is organized around a previous form of getting the word out (marketing). We congregate as a big group as that was the only way to get lots of people to hear about the bible and to engage with other Christians.

The Internet has changed all that.

I can listen to preaching in my car (free podcasts) and I spend more time engaging with people online.

Most of the people at church I can’t hold a solid conversation with because we are so different. So I hang out with the “young couples with kids” group that we have created within the church and I check to see what they have put on instagram during the service.

What if you didn’t try to just incorporate social media into the current church but made the entire church a way to get people to engage in social media?

What if the point of a sermon was to get people online tweeting or commenting and adding their thoughts or asking their questions? How would you preach differently?

What if we spent less time focusing on the “Sunday service” and more time creating a place online for people to connect and communicate.

Online you could provide:
– Video lessons for new Christians
– A way for amateur musicians to share their music with Christians and for people to find new worship music
– A place for people to interact
– A directory of ways to serve the community

The Sunday sermon would then exist to give people a reason to interact, rather than to get a message across.

Because let’s face it, people might not create the best interactions without some common thing to discuss.

Brochures would include links to websites and QR codes. Preaching would include live questions or comments from Twitter. New talent would surface more easily as people are given an online podium to talk to people.

The church might even become more empowered.

This could be a crazy idea, but it might take me 1,000 crazy ideas before I get a good one…so I’m just trying to get as many ideas as possible.

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Getting A Congregation To Interact With Your Sermon

As I sit on my seat in church there are 3 flyers. One promoting what’s coming up, one for new people to get connect and one for tithing.

After every single sermon there is a call to respond…to become a Christian.

Joshua Kelsey spoke at our Church on Sunday. His sermon was funny and engaging about creating hope and joy but I walked away feeling I couldn’t do anything with the information. It all sounded good but there were no action points.

A quick Google search found a linked in profile and a blog that he hasn’t written on in 10 months.

I wanted to interact with him about his sermon, ask him how I can outwork it and ask him about his story (he is moving to Brooklyn to plant a church).

But my only option was to put my hand up to become a Christian (done that), tithe (do that), or “get connected” in the church (doing it). None of which have anything to do with what I just spent the last hour listening to.

But I can easily find and connect with people who just watched the latest episode of “The Walking Dead”.

Our message is more important than a TV show, but it seems my only option is to sit and listen to someone spray a sermon at me or talk to my friends about it.

What I would like:
A link on the church website dedicated to that sermon where I can read notes, ask questions and interact with the speaker and church members. Like a forum or a blog post with an option to comment.

Even an email to ask the preacher questions would be better than nothing.

People will forget 99% of what you preached to them about on Sunday. How much would they remember if you engaged them in the experience?

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