725 Fresh ideas for Church Growth from Tony Campolo draw from timeless communication principles

CONNECTING LIKE JESUS: Everybody wants to learn principles of church growth. Sociologist and popular teacher Tony Campolo’s new book with Mary Albert Darling is a toolbox of solid ideas for teaching, preaching and, most importantly, connecting authentically and compassionately with other people.Want church growth?
Everybody does.
Countless “church growth consultants” offer fix-it-quick schemes. But the real power for building stronger religious communities—whatever your faith may be—lies in ancient spiritual wisdom: personal connection, communication, praying together, compassionate care, teaching and preaching. That’s the news from the red-hot evangelical guru Tony Campolo.

Campolo is constantly crisscrossing the nation, teaching and preaching on a daily basis. He’s trying to fuel fresh hopes in audiences young and old that ordinary people can, indeed, make a difference in this troubled world. Campolo doesn’t present himself as a so-called “church growth expert.” He is a sociologist by profession and for many years taught at the university level, before he retired into full-time ministry. He’s 75, although he looks 55 and has the energy of a 35-year-old. These days he is rebranding himself as “The Positive Prophet of Red Letter Christianity.”

If you’re Christian (and we know that many of our readers are not), then you may have heard Campolo’s name mentioned in a sermon or church publication. But, you probably don’t know that he is formally trained in sociology. And, you’ve probably never heard of the new “Red Letter” movement, which we’ll tell you about in tomorrow’s Part 2 of this series.

Here are the basic facts you should know about this very influential writer, teacher and preacher: Campolo is smart. His research is rigorous. He understands the most powerful influences in American culture. So, when he hits bookstores this summer with “Connecting Like Jesus: Practices for Healing, Teaching, and Preaching,” you can be sure that he’s offering timely nuts-and-bolts advice to anyone who cares about congregations. It’s true that he and his co-author Mary Albert Darling both are evangelical Christians, but there are pragmatic lessons in this book, based on Campolo’s and Darling’s research, on which anyone can spur congregational growth.

Come back throughout the week! Tony Campolo and Mary Albert Darling both will speak for themselves in ReadTheSpirit interviews. To get a flavor for their book, today, here are some brief excerpts …

Quotes from Tony Campolo and Mary Albert Darling on
“Connecting Like Jesus” to Fuel Spirited Church Growth

Why DON’T Congregations Shine as Communities of Love? The answer lies in the painfully obvious fact that a peacable Kingdom is not yet a reality for those of us who claim to be the body of Christ. As much as we might crave and even strive for the harmonious relationships God intended for us, we still find ourselves in shallow, nit-picky, and even destructive relationships.

Credibility & Authenticity Are Essential Today. Jesus developed what Aristotle called ethos or what we generally think of as credibility, meaning that who he was—his entire character and being—was interwoven with his message and his ability to influence others. … Through seamlessly connecting his relationship with God and his knowledge of scripture to his dailiy life, Jesus dynamically connected with others.

Self-Awareness Is Key in This Process: Noticing how and why you think, feel, believe, talk, act and react the way you do opens the door to discovering your true self—an image bearer of God—so that you can treat others in soul-healing ways. Without this awareness, we can too easily get stuck in faulty, unhealthy relationships and never know why, much less know how to fix or even get out of them.

The Importance of Stories: The Bible is full of stories … Because God chooses to use stories as a primary means for connecting with us, we would do well to follow God’s lead and use stories to connect with one another. God created us to respond to stories, and that is why few speaking techniques engage an audience better than a good story. Stories not only catch and keep our attention but also create memorable, challenging and convincing visual images. A well-told story can powerfully connect with us emotionally, bypass our defenses, and find a clear path to our souls.

Unifying Communication & Spiritual Practice: Most of all, we hope that one day soon, each of us will find no need to talk about commmunication and spiritual practice as separate entities because all of our communication will have become a spiritual practice. When that day comes, we will be the kind of people God desires us to be: those who show the rest of the world what it means to be unified through our love for one another.

Care to read more about Tony Campolo, Church Growth
and “Connecting Like Jesus” with Mary Albert Darling?


BUY THE NEW BOOK: You can order “Connecting Like Jesus: Practices for Healing, Teaching, and Preaching” from Amazon now.

ENJOY OUR ENTIRE GREAT SUMMER READING AND VIEWING SERIES: (Our series so far: “Crown of Aleppo,” “Science Vs. Religion,” “Belief,” “Apparition,” “Burma VJ,” “Facets World Cup,” “Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth” “The Lonely Polygamist,” “Rise and Shine,” “Saints,” “Beaches of Agnes,” “Mystically Wired,” “Creative Aging,” “Twelve by Twelve” and “Eyewitness 4.”)

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