"Denomination" and "momentum" are two words that don't often go in the same sentence. That's why I think that St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, CA is a church to watch. Under the[...]
If you've heard me speak over the last year, you've heard me talk about real church growth. There's a bright line between Jesus' path of kingdom-growth and the rut so many of our churches muddle along in. I call the status quo the "functional Great Commission": "Go and make worship attenders, baptizing them in the name of small groups and teaching them to volunteer a few hours a month." None of us felt called into ministry because the treadmill of "Program Church" fired us up, but this is where thousands and thousands of church leaders find themselves.
You're going to hear me expand on this theme a whole lot more over the next year. But today I'm pumped to share with you a FREE resource (for a limited time) that applies the principles of real church growth to church communication, especially what churches publish on their websites and social media feeds.
The book is called From "Show Up" to "Grow Up": How to Make Top Content That Makes Real Disciples, by my friend Cory Hartman of Fulcrum Content. Cory starts with an observation that is simple and indisputable: the vast majority of outbound church communication is intended to get people to show up to something. It either says, "Here's something to show up to," or, "Here is the thing that you should have shown up to; don't miss it next time."
Cory then pivots to two more indisputable observations. First, people aren't showing up nearly as often as they used to. (He insightfully connects this to other trends in society where people aren't "showing up.") Second, Jesus never commanded his followers to get people to show up as the core of his disciple-making model. The way I'd put it is that standard-issue church communication fits with faking disciples, but it doesn't help us make disciples.
Cory's book is about how to produce outbound content that works with disciple-making and real church growth instead of working against them. But before I tell you more about that, I want to tell you more about Cory himself.
The presupposition that showing up makes a person into a disciple is backwards. Rather, being a disciple makes a person show up.
In my book Clarity Spiral, I teach four life-long practices that are essential for us to get increasing clarity on the unique calling God has for each one of us. I call one of them "risk to go," and no one demonstrates it better than Cory.
Cory served as a pastor for 13 years. Then in 2018 he obeyed the Lord's leading to walk away from local church ministry with nothing to walk into. (That's faith—especially with four children!) Within weeks God connected the dots for Cory to launch Fulcrum Content, a company that uses the written word to extend leaders' reach and equip churches for disciple-making.
Soon after, I was privileged to become one of Fulcrum's clients and gain Cory as a dear friend. I cannot overstate Cory's gifts as a collaborative writer. He has injected joy back into the task of writing for me, he's ratcheted up the quality of my work, and he's expanded my thinking on my own ideas in ways I never would have imagined. My blog over the last several months bears witness to his talent, but I'm especially excited for you to see our books in the pipeline for the next few years (first off, Younique: Designing the Life God Dreamed for You, coming in January 2020).
People make disciples who make disciples, but programs make disciples who make programs.
God's call on my life is to make a life of more meaningful progress more accessible to every believer; I mostly do this by making tools that help believers and churches gain clarity. If I am a toolmaker, Cory is a tool-perfecter. He has a rare ability to take an idea or a model and make it comprehensive to apply to every possible situation and every kind of person. I've also seen him take multiple models that get at the truth from different angles and integrate them into a single, simple whole. This is one of the things I love the most about From "Show Up" to "Grow Up."
For example, have you ever said something like "Jesus is the answer to all your problems"? Cory has cataloged every problem, and he's fashioned them into a tool to help you pinpoint the burning needs of the people you're communicating Jesus to.
Maybe your preaching is influenced by Rick Warren's felt-needs approach. Or maybe you take after Matt Chandler's gospel-expository approach. Cory says that those two communication priorities are actually one strategy, and he demonstrates how to build your messages by a holistic, integrated method.
I trust you've seen the gospel described as a four-step story of creation, fall, redemption, and new creation. You may also have heard Tim Keller describe the gospel as the third way between moralism and relativism. In a single, simple table, Cory ties both of those models of the gospel together and explains each by the other with such breathtaking simplicity that you feel like you should have seen it before.
Perhaps the most powerful preaching in any era provides a solution to people's felt needs that is deeply gospel-shaped, not "gospel-slapped."
The payoff of Cory's analysis and toolbox is a blueprint of what he calls a "neotract": a concise, gospel-shaped, needs-focused online article for believers to share with their unsaved friends that launches spiritual conversations and develops rapport between unbelievers and your church.
This book will upgrade your disciple-making this year, your website this month, and your preaching this week. There's a free sample of From "Show Up" to "Grow Up" available at Fulcrum Content's website. You can get the full book on Amazon, including a FREE Kindle download from Tuesday, July 16 through Friday, July 19 (paperback available soon).
I want to conclude with ten of my favorite quotes from Cory's book:
- "The current sociocultural shift that inhibits people from showing up isn't creating a weakness in how we do church so much as exposing a weakness that was already there."
- "Not once in the Gospels did Jesus instruct his apostles, 'As the Father sent me, I am sending you into all the earth . . . to get people to show up. Whatever you do, guys, make sure you do that.'"
- "The presupposition that showing up makes a person into a disciple is backwards. Rather, being a disciple makes a person show up."
- "People make disciples who make disciples, but programs make disciples who make programs."
- "The crowd is there. We don't have to go get them. We're already living among them."
- "Twenty-first-century church communication must give church members something to talk about outside the church with their microcrowds."
- "The gospel isn't just something we can look at; it's something we can use to look at everything else."
- "During Billy Graham's career, he communicated his message to the most people most frequently through a syndicated newspaper column."
- "We have mountains of books and movies that depict the faithful lover who makes the main character's life complete. Where did the human race come up with the idea of this person we've never met?"
- "Perhaps the most powerful preaching in any era provides a solution to people's felt needs that is deeply gospel-shaped, not 'gospel-slapped.'"