The EPA Conference will welcome Thom and Joani Schultz, co-authors of the provocative book Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore: And How 4 Acts of Love Will Make Your Church Irresistible, as keynote presenters at its 2015 conference-wide evangelism event on Saturday, March 21, at New Hanover UMC.
The annual, full-day gathering follows two years of well-attended Faith Sharing events that featured the Rev. Eddie Fox, who retired recently as Director of the World Methodist Evangelism Institute.
Thom and Joani Schultz have spent their lives serving the church and challenging the status quo. They create and publish innovative ministry resources through their 39-year-old company, Group Publishing, and oversee Group Cares, a nonprofit organization that’s helped nearly 400,000 people serve others around the world.
They have written and published numerous popular books for church leaders, including Why No One Learns Much of Anything in Church and How to Fix It and other volumes on creative youth and adult ministries. Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore, was selected by the editors of Leadership Journal, a publication of Christianity Today, as one of 2013’s Best Books for Church Leaders.
The Schultzes also developed Lifetree Café, a growing national ministry that seeks to attract the “unreached with the love of Christ in a fresh, new way.” Lifetree Café offers a time and place where people gather in a coffeehouse setting to hear inspiring stories and engage in conversation on a different topic every week. It is one response to alarming findings of drastic, increasing church membership losses and church closures to which the authors try to offer solutions in their book.
The Schultzes cite three typical responses by church leaders for membership losses: denial and paralysis, which often hasten decline, and change which can spur turnaround hopes.
“Some actually see the problem, own it, and step forward to fix it,” writes Thom. “They embrace change, even though it often makes them uncomfortable. Rather than desperately trying to defend the past, they tend to look forward. The successful change agents are not changing God’s message, but they’re exploring different methods to spread the message, to be more effective stewards with the gifts God has given.”
The co-authors recommend four congregational “acts of love” to reverse the current downward trends in American church attendance: Radical Hospitality; Fearless Conversation; Genuine Humility; and Divine Anticipation.
Read more about their diagnosis and prescription for church decline at http://holysoup.com/2014/05/14/3-reactions-to-church-decline, or see other writings on Thom’s blog at http://holysoup.com.
John Coleman, EPA Conference Communications Director