Mark Riddle

Millions, Church Planting, and Math

What would you do with your next $60 million? My friend Mark Riddle, Founder of The Riddle Group and Redeeming Leadership, took out his pencil and paper and did a little math. After he put the pencil to it he wrote a letter and included all of this at LiquidThinking. I wonder what my statistically minded friends at Lifeway would think about Mark’s thought process in relationship to church planting movements.

Here is the teaser if you still have not gone over for a read,

The next time you raise 60 million dollars to reach more people consider the following idea:

What if you planted 600 churches, giving each church $100,000 over three years to spend however they want?  Think about the impact 600 churches would have on your city.

Seriously.  Take a moment to think about this.

But let’s be realistic.

Let’s say that even if you could find 600 leaders within your community who feel called to live the mission of God in this way, let’s also say in that 450 of the 600 church plants don’t make it and are no longer in existence before or at the 3 year mark.  At $100k per church that would be a $45 million loss over three years, but bear with me.

Let’s say that of the 150 churches who do continue after 3 years, that 140 of these churches only get to the average size church in your denomination: 75 people.

Seventy-five people doesn’t seem like much of a success does it?  But when there are 140 of them, with average attendance of 75 per church we’re looking at 10,500 people.

Wow. This feels like I’m being too generous.

So let’s just say that these 140 churches only reach 30 people weekly.  That’s 4,200 people.  Even with this seemingly low attendance, that’s a 3,200 person increase over the 1,000 persons gained from your last use of $60 million—and we’re not done yet.

Let’s also say that 9 of the remaining churches thrive. By thrive I mean they have an average attendance of 300 people. That’s an additional 2,700 people. Bringing our total to 6,900 additional people attending worship in these churches in the Tulsa area.  If we’re real lucky, maybe one of the 600 original churches really takes off in terms of attendance and gets to 800 people. That’s going to bring your total to 7,700 people compared to the 1,000 person increase that you have experienced.

After you read the piece, come back and share you thoughts on Mark’s off the cuff thinking.

Maybe We Are Stuck or, Godin, Block, and the SBC

Dave Miller cannot escape Calvinism no matter how hard he tries. He notes that less than 48 hours of deciding to steer clear of the subject he found himself posting about the recently formed advisory team on Calvinism. We are stuck.

I do know what Dave is talking about. Like many who visit SBC Voices and follow the comment threads it is hard not to notice that the dividing lines over Calvinism flare up no matter what the theme of a given post may be. Recently Dave asked if he could re-post one of my pieces in an attempt to change the subject. He wanted, needed, a break. After more than 170 comments, Dave got his wish. There were two comments that could have sent the thread into the never-ending debate over Calvinis, but commenters refrained.

I believe we are stuck. If you have ever been stuck, you know how terrible is the feeling. Read More

An Immigrant Reflects on Youth Culture

No, not that kind of immigrant. Len Sweet has used the immigrant/native relationship to describe cultural shifts. Even though some of us would be considered native to the United States, we may well be like immigrants in an “Information Age” were our skills hone in the “Industrial Age.” Or, if you consider Doug Pagitt’s descriptor for the current era, “The Inventive Age,” more of us may be immigrants than we may like to admit.

Youth Culture can hardly be considered monolithic since there are vast nuances among youth cultures spanning social spheres, economic considerations, and ethnic diversity. But, we may consider Youth Culture to categorically describe teenagers and common experiences related to the varied stages of adolescence.

Mark Riddle consults with churches as they consider their relationship to Youth Culture, youth cultures, and how they intersect with the Church/church. Our conversations over the past ten years have pointed up two things. First, there are some aspects of Youth Culture that are like the Preacher in Ecclesiastes notes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Second. there are some aspects of Youth Culture that are indeed new under the sun. Read More

(Not) Sponsors – Mark Riddle

MSPLSDT_Doubletree_Guest_Suites_Minneapolis_accom_suitesMy head hurt. My nose was running. It was cold. My first trip to Minneapolis was part of an innovative learning group hosted by my friend Spencer Burke. The hotel accommodations secured for the event were nice. I had plenty of room. It is at this event I first met Mark Riddle. He recently posted a gracious reflection on that chance meeting here.

Nine years later we have shared countless conversations, co-led a number of courses on Youth Ministry both offline at Biblical Theological Seminary and online through the same seminary. Mark is an author, former youth pastor, church planter, and consultant. He founded TheRiddleGroup. I have had the privilege of being one of his “pastor” consultants for three different consulting arrangements.

Mark believes ministry belongs to the church. He chides us to consider how “staff” facilitate, or serve with rather than for, God’s mission in the context of a local congregation. Many would agree but most of our systems thinking circumvents that goal. Mark has an uncanny and intuitive grasp of possible ways forward moving from what he refers to as a new model for ministry, not just youth ministry.

I would recommend Mark for any number of consulting matters for your local church interested in the missional turn and how to evaluate the systems at work in the life of your congregation.

Missional Youth Ministry, Biblical Seminary, Mark Riddle

Missional Youth Ministry? Could that be a nuance on the recent trend of hyphenated expressions of Christianity? Would this simply be another way to re-invigorate ministry to youth? Maybe it is nothing more than capitalizing on the most recent buzzword to stir interest? Not if you are thinking about the issues like Mark Riddle.

Biblical Theological Seminary is offering the course Missional Youth Ministry during the fall semester. It is an online course using the new Biblical LMS (Learning Management System). Mark Riddle will be the facilitator. His recently published book, Inside the Mind of Youth Pastors, serves as catalyst to reshaping the way we think about youth ministry as it relates to the church.

Mark contends there are two models used by churches when it comes to youth ministry. Either a church views youth ministry as something of a surrogate program for which they will hire a youth minister to do youth ministry “on behalf of the church”, or a church owns its youth ministry. “Owns” in the sense the church will hire a youth minister to do ministry with the church. The differences are important. Either a youth minister works for us or works with us.

The course would be good for pastors and church administrators as well as for youth pastors.

Click over and sign up for Missional Youth Ministry at Biblical Theological Seminary (PT 570A Missional Youth Ministry).