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Is a “Club Culture” Killing Your Church?

by Craig Cable


Let’s face it. We like hanging out with people who remind us of ourselves. We gravitate toward people who look like us, think as we do, and have the same interests. While that’s understandable when choosing an inner circle of friends, it’s not necessarily the best choice for a healthy, thriving, and sustaining organization. For an organization to survive the test of time, it must be continually renewed with fresh faces, fresh thinking, and fresh enthusiasm.

You don’t have to look very far to see stale and stagnant organizations nearing the end of their lifecycles. Although they’ve done a great deal of good, fraternal organizations such as the Elks, Moose, and Lions clubs are quickly becoming extinct because they haven’t attracted younger and more diverse members. Sadly, many churches across the U.S. are declining and dying for the same reasons.

What used to be a comfortable clubhouse where members enjoyed amenities created for their benefit has now become a dusty museum of antiquated relics that’s slowly fading into irrelevance.

So how can you change the “club culture” that may be stifling your church’s growth? From the inside out.

In their new book, Church Refugees, sociologists Josh Packard and Ashleigh Hope share findings from their research on the millions of Americans who have walked away from church. One significant discovery is that these people long for conversation. They crave opportunities to engage in dialogue, to ask questions, and to be heard; unfortunately, all they’ve found in church is lecture.

If we in the church knew, without a doubt, that our method of delivering our message was having a negative and eternal impact on tens of millions of people, would we do anything different? Would we intentionally create opportunities to engage these people in the conversations they crave? What if, through these conversations, we could make God’s message of love, grace, and salvation relevant and real to a culture seeking authenticity?

Group saw an opportunity to ply its expertise in creating memorable and transformational experiences that foster a culture of conversation by overhauling the way Sunday school and small groups are led. The result is Fearless Conversation for adult Sunday school. This resource was born from the need to attract younger audiences by delivering experiences that are grounded in biblical truth but in a format that meets these people’s desire for conversation.

Churches using Fearless Conversation are not only seeing new people joining groups, but they’re also seeing existing group members grow in deeper relationships with one another. For the first time, people are really getting to know one another because they’re talking about things that matter to them. And these deeper relationships are spilling out into the rest of the church. Congregations are finally becoming real with each other, creating a safe place where people can be genuine and authentic.

Don’t believe me? I challenge you to try Fearless Conversation for six weeks in your Sunday school. See if it doesn’t revitalize your class and create deeper, more meaningful dialogue.  If you don’t find the results that many other churches have found, return it to Group and get your money back. You can always go back to what you were doing before.

If you want your church, Sunday school, or small group to thrive, to be filled with new people and new energy, keep moving forward and exploring new things. That way you can experience all that God has in store for your church today, tomorrow, and long into the future.

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Is a “Club Culture” Killing Your Church?

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