The Lure of Decline
Guest Lecturers Rev. Karen Vannoy and Rev. Dr. John Flowers
Date: Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Location: Craig Chapel, Seminary Hall
Church after church faces eventual death while helplessly lamenting its fate. What perversity is at work that causes those who sincerely love the church to become obstacles to growth? Like the apostle Paul, churches don’t always do the things they want, but instead they do the very thing they hate. Why? While the theological answer is sin at work in us, the organizational answer may just be that members of dying churches unconsciously find a payoff in the church’s decline.
While individuals have a great variety of emotional needs, four needs are commonly brought to play in a variety of human communities: power, affirmation, intimacy and stability. The needs themselves are normal to the human experience, and it is not surprising and even desirable for congregants to look to the church to meet them in varying ways. The needs themselves provide a pathway for individuals to invest deeply in the community of faith and can be avenues of God’s grace. We will explore the healthy and unhealthy ways those needs can be met through the church, and how leaders can change a culture of decline into a healthy, adaptive culture of transformation.
Rev. Vannoy and Mr. Flowers will examine healthy and unhealthy ways human needs can be met through the church, and how leaders can change a culture of decline into a healthy, adaptive culture of transformation.
Karen Vannoy is a United Methodist pastor passionate about the future of the church in
North America. She has served as a District Superintendent in the Desert Southwest Annual Conference, and co pastor with Dr. John Flowers for over 20 years, primarily in urban church settings. She studied Family Systems with Edwin Friedman for 3 years and believes that the health of a church is the primary indicator of its potential for growth. She was recognized for her work in evangelism with the Southwest Texas conference of the United Methodist Church. Before entering the ordained ministry, she worked with other women, police departments and prosecutors to establish the first rape crisis centers in the State of Texas, and consulted with police departments and prosecutors around the country.
John Flowers loves ministry with the poor, watching “dry bones breathe,” teaching, mentoring, and coaching congregations. He was the 2005 graduate of the year award winner for St. Paul seminary who recognized his work in social justice. He thinks and acts outside of the box, and pushes boundaries.