Better way of saying this?

As stated in a previous post my church community is heading off on a five year vision.  One of the specific goals is to see an advancement in new lives.  By new lives, we mean, “Having 60% of our attendees who have been Christians for over 20 years (down from 80%).”

This statement continues to be confusing.

Any suggestions in saying it clearer?



~ by Dave Smith on July 11, 2008.

11 Responses to “Better way of saying this?”

  1. I mentioned it to my wife and we thought it seems like you’re stating it backwards. Why couldn’t you say, “Having 40% of our attendees who have been Christians less than 20 years (up from 20%).”

    Going “up” also sounds more optimistic. 🙂

    Or maybe this, make it more direct: “Only 20% of our attendees have been Christians for less then 20 years. We want that number at 40%”.

    The other way is in the dreaded “passive voice” and sounds like it was designed in a committee.

  2. Whoops, that first comment was from Jonathan Penn.

  3. hmmm…prolly sounds like it was designed by a committee because it was. : )

    i like your suggestion jon.

  4. Actually this part of the vision was developed by one of our 4th grade Sunday School classes, so hence the confusion!

    In reality the need to want to have “newer Christians” was a result of whenever we received congregational input we usually stated where “current state” prior to talking about “future state.” That current state would incorporate our “reveal study”, showing a high percentage of mature believers. That always seesmed to rattle our people and direct some of their “dream statements” to this issue. (

    How we came out saying it though has been confusing.

    This revision helps. If there are any others for ths one, please share.

  5. Dave –

    I don’t understand your explanation above.

    If a working definition of vision is…”a compelling description of an ideal and shared future”…

    I just don’t see a general statement about church demographics getting anyone excited about the future.

    So in 5 years…59% of our attendees have been believers for 19 years or less…(YAWN).

    Is this a VISION STATEMENT or just a metric about our demographics?

    The statement seems to inidcate that it’s acceptable to grow from “church hoppers” so as long as they have been Christians less than 20 years.

    As I said in your earlier entry, if this is about “new lives”, I think it should be about “new believers”…it’s exiciting, dangerous, and our church programs (e.g. VBS, Nursery, Arena, et. al.) would benefit from a more outward focus.

    Don’t mean to take you to task on this, but without somekind of outward focus, this statement has all the excitement of a wet noodle.

  6. Yea, the actual segment of the vision statement is “new lives”

    The percentage statement is more of a corporate goal. Not sure how exciting you can get with a corporate goal.

    It definitely comes down to HOW we say this…which in my opinion has to be said in various ways through various mediums.

    So, what you are currently saying is with the vision statement, “new believers” would sound more exciting than “new lives?”

    Good pushback!

  7. Yes…if that is indeed what you mean. But I don’t read the first statement that way.

    Not trying to be caustic at all, but I just don’t see why that metric really matters.

    If we are doing our job of reaching the lost and adding new believers, then of what consequence is the average “christian age” for our church?

    The statement’s focus is on the latter when it should be on the former.

    Perhaps there is some key information that I’m missing, but from what I understand and IMHO, the idea of managing toward an ideal average “christian age” is about as uninspiring and unproductive as it gets.

    I don’t know how you would measure outreach efforts, but let’s say you added X number of new believers each year, and X equals “a lot” 🙂 And, at the same time, our average age is 10, 15, 20 years…tell me, who’s counting?

    Again, perhaps there is some key information I’m missing into the mindset of the committe – but the focus just seems off.

  8. Good poitn Anthony and now I see your issue.

    Really well said.

    Part of the background is that with the results of the Reveal study showing an “old Christian age,” (already stated)…. and our new members surveys showing that much of our growth is really from other churches. We are wanting to do a better job at growing through “evangelism” and not just “stealing from other churches.”

    So, through various initiatives we want to change this trend and the only way we can verify a transformation is through some sort of percentage.

    In light of hearing that…does it bring any more clarity? Is there a better way of saying it?

    Like what you are saying here and feel it is leading towards a healthy change in saying this for us.


  9. How was the 20 year figure arrived at? That seems to be a high cut off point if the intention is to measure the number of new Christians in the congregation.

  10. Partially this was how it was broken down in the Reveal study and the marker they created showing concern.

    There has to be a better way of saying this.

    Come on Anthony! You are almost there!

  11. I’m thinking about it Dave…really. I’ll shoot you an email after the weekend.

    I’m glad to hear that there is a recognition of “stealing from other churches”…and we can do a better job of growing through evangelism.

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