Three hours of tightly-packed resources for the local church could describe the exciting L.E.A.D. conference which was held yesterday in the Orange County Convention Center.
Starting at 1:30, Ed Stetzer led off the event. He is president of Lifeway Research and author of and contributor to several books, including 11 Innovations in the Local Church and Breaking the Missional Code. Stetzer was followed by Haydn Shaw, author of “Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Fall Apart.” The afternoon was rounded out with a presentation by Reggie Joiner, CEO of Orange Resources, one of the top two sponsors of GA2014.
In between speakers, special presentations were made, including the Distinguished Educator Awards (see article this issue) and a pitch by corporate sponsor, LOGOS.
Ed Stetzer spoke to the crowd of over 1,500 delegates on the subject of church revitalization. Saying many churches are “stuck and stagnant,” leading a congregation out of the quagmire is one of the toughest jobs a pastor can do.
“Church revitalization is far more difficult than church planting,” Stetzer, who is known as a church planter, stated. “It’s easier to birth a child than to resurrect the dead.”
Stetzer warned that change would not be easy.
“If you’re going to lead a church through revitalization, it means change and people are going to get mad at you,” he said. “You have to engage in faithful leadership for church revitalization to happen.”
Haydn Shaw wove humor into his presentation giving multiple illustrations of the way a population that is living longer brings a unique set of challenges. He pointed put that, for the first time, we have four generations in the workplace and five generations in the church.
“Gen Xer’s grew up with cell phones, while Millennials grew up with texting groups,” Shaw noted. “Generational differences is the biggest issue facing the church today…when we come to Jesus, we bring our generational issues.”
“We used to could wait until one generation died and we would adapt…now we have to make these changes intentionally.”
The day’s final speaker was Reggie Joiner, who spoke to the critical issues of how churches must adapt and change if they are to save and disciple today’s families. He compared family time – whatever the family composure – as being six days a week, with the church getting one hour of one day.
“What happens in the house has much more lasting impact than what occurs in the church,” Joiner pointed out. “We must leverage our ‘platforms,’ whether they be in the home or the church…no one has the potential to impact children more than parents in the home.”
Joiner then illustrated how many churches have the misguided perception of changing families rather than adapting to them. He presented numerous stats comparing the American church of today to the church of 30-40 years ago.
Holding up a photo of a “typical” family of two parents and two children, Joiner said, “Seventy-five percent of families at your church don’t look like ‘Little House on the Prairie…either you try to change the statistics or you meet these families where they are.”