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Life Planning

Posted by Dr. Ray on 15 Apr 2015 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

4 Life domains
Survival
Success
Surrender
Significance

DEEP AND WIDE

Posted by Dr. Ray on 01 Apr 2014 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Deep and Wide – Creating Church unchurched people love to attend

By Andy Stanley, Pastor North Point Community Church

SUMMARY OF PASTOR STANLEY’S BOOK

Church = Ekklesia = “gathering”  of people, not a building, but a purposeful gathering of people, “called out ones.” – a congregation.

Purposeful questions for churches:

  1. Are we making a measurable difference in our community or simply conducting services?
  2. Are we allocating resources as if Jesus is the hope of the world or are the squeaky wheels of church culture driving our budgeting decisions?

What is the purpose of the church?

“Be a church full of grace and truth.”

Acts 15:23-28

The early church had two conditions to become part of the church fellowship.

  1. Abstain from food sacrificed to idols
  2. Abstain from immorality

Our mission is to “make disciples.”

  1. Practical Teaching

Jesus taught for life change.

Jesus taught for a response.  Here’s what to do next.

Preach practical sermons

  • What do you want them to know?
  • What do you want them to do?
  • What can we do to create next steps?
  • Grow people of faith.
  1. Practice disciplines
    1. Daily devotional life – our private devotional life is connected to our faith.
    2. Practice Christian stewardship.  Encourage new people to start by giving a percentage of their income on a regular basis.  Many will not start at giving a tithe of ten percent..  Give people time to prepare to give their offering.
  1. Personal Ministry – Hebrews 10:24-25

Encourage nonbelievers to get involved in a small group.  The majority of new volunteers come out of small groups.

  1. Providential Relationships
    1. Community groups of 12 or less people are encouraged to stay together for 2 years to build relationships.
    2. New member classes of 12 adults are started on a regular and after the class members are encouraged to continue in a small group.
  1. Pivotal Circumstances – ways to high light ministries
    1. Baptism – Video testimonies are given by baptismal candidates.  Videos are edited as needed for time flow
    2. Two to One mentoring – engaged couples are paired up with married couples.
    3. Small groups are closed for singles and couples
    4. Children’s ministry group leaders stay with their students as they move from one age to another age.

Three Essential Ingredients for Church Growth

  1. Is the Setting Appealing

Learn to look at your facility, ministry programs, and worship services as a 1st time guest.

The Pastor’s message begins in the parking lot.  Put greeters in the parking lot.

How can we make our church ministries irresistible?

  1. First Impressions

Church grounds, building and rooms all send a message.

An uncomfortable setting makes people uncomfortable.

We want people to believe that what we are doing here is important.

To appeal to guests organize the church, no clutter.  Disorganized is unappealing.

  1. Is The Worship Service Presentation Appealing (Engaging)
    1. Secure attention
    2. Rethink your approach
    3. Present helpful messages: marriage, money, parenting, generosity, greed, sexual purity, forgiveness, decision making.
    4. Is the message helpful?
    5. Does it offer a new or helpful perspective?
    6. Does it provide handles, applications, and next steps?
    7. Is the content age and stage of life specific?
    8. The weekend worship service defines the church.
    9. The worship team is the most important team in the church.
    10. Define your wins and purpose.
    11. What are our wins for worship?
      1. i.     An attender brings an unchurched person to worship.
      2. ii.     The unchurched attends a 2nd time.

Plan worship with 1st time guests in mind.

Long term win –life change and transformation

Is our current worship template designed to produce the results that  bring wins?

How are we doing in guiding people from the parking lot to the message?

Make the worship compelling to skeptics.

Establish common ground with listeners.

Leverage common experiences and emotions.

Jesus engaged his audience with common emotions.

Luke 15 – Sheep, Coins, Father & Son

Worship Flow =

Engage

Involve

Challenge

Engage = Pre-service, opener, welcome (What needs to be on the screen to make first time guests comfortable)

We will be here for about an hour – put newcomers at ease of length of service

Opener- occasional song, something funny, video,

Involve = Singing, Baptism, Special, (Baptism 2 times a month)

Music sets – 2 or 3 songs

Video taped testimony – stories of life change

Offering

Challenge = Series Message, Closer (Next Steps)

1)   Does my approach to preach facilitate my desire to see unchurched people attend, come back, and then come back with a friend?

2)   If not, am I willing to change my approach?

3)   Present God’s Word so it is helpful and compelling.

4)   Motivate People to get into God’s Word.

5)   Focus on one text – present truth that emerges from the text

6)   Let new comers know you are happy they are present.  Make statements so they know they are welcome.

7)   Begin with the audience in mind.

8)   What questions does this text being to mind?

9)   What tensions does the text involved?

10)             What mysteries does this text solve?

11)             What does the text address?

12)             Pick one passage and stick with it.

13)             Give permission for people not to believe or obey.

14)             Avoid saying, “The Bible says”,  the Bible is more than a book.  Quote authors not “the Bible.”

Church web site – video of what to expect at church, nursery, children, youth, adults

Change Strategy

Have a clear, dynamic vision.  Shared vision is key to change.

What needs to be changed?

What could be?

What should be?

Are we willing to pursue something different?

Vision statement – 1 or 2 sentences

The church model should support the mission of the church.

Too often churches love their models more than their mission.

“When a church fails to distinguish between it’s current model and the mission to which it has been called and mistakenly fossilizes around its model, that church sets itself up for decline.”

Mission -> Vision> model> Programming

Mission – nonnegotiable imperatives – Making Disciples

Vision – Create church unbelievers love to attend.

Model – the framework a church chooses or creates to advance its specific vision.  For Andy Stanley – Small Group Model

Programming – facilitate a specific model

Look at each ministry program and ask:  “What is the best way to  ___________________?

What is the best way to assimilate adults into small groups?

What is the best way to train group leaders?

What is the best way to assimilate children and teenagers into groups?

What is the best way to introduce newcomers to group life?

What is the best way to introduce seekers and returners to group life?

What is the best way to involve people in doing what God has gifted them to do?  Romans 12:6-8

Stay the Course

  1. Do we have a transferable mission or vision statement
    1. Do our people know why we exist?
    2. How do we measure success?
    3. What have we fallen in love with that’s not as effective as it used to be?
    4. What do we need to stop doing or change?
    5. Where are we manufacturing energy?
      1. What is no longer working or attractive?
      2. What is not being attended?
      3. What do we measure?
      4. What do we celebrate?
      5. If the church ceased to exist would the community miss us?
      6. How do people in our community view our church?

Turnaround Churches

Posted by Dr. Ray on 17 Jan 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

TURNAROUND CHURCHES
Great Commission Research Network
Findings Report by Dr. Ray Ellis
November 10-11,2011
Biola University
La Mirada, CA

The Need for Turning Around Churches in the USA

• George Barna estimates two-thirds of the US population are non-Christians (190 Million)
• David Olson in The American Church in Crisis says, “Less than 20 % of the population attends church on any given weekend.”
• Olson also notes that church attendance in the West is only 15% or below.
• If the trend continues the percentage of the US population attending church in 2050 will be 10.5 percent.
• About 85% of the churches in America are plateaued or declining in attendance.
• Established churches over 40 years old are leading the way in decline.
• David Olson notes that based on current trends, church closures will nearly equal the number of church plants between 2005 and 2020. “Approximately 55,000 churches will close between 2005 and 2020, while 60,000 new churches will open, producing a net gain of 4,500 churches. However, to keep pace with population growth, a new gain of 48,000 churches will be needed.”

Dan Eymann pastor of North Mountain Church located Phoenix, Arizona developed a survey for
pastors and church leaders. They were asked their views on the decline and changes needed to turn around churches.

Survey Results included the following:

Causes of Decline Changes for Turnaround

1. Inadequate pastoral leadership 1. Called a new pastor

2. Loss of vision 2. Renewal & recast vision

3. A changing community (demographic) 3. Targeted a new demographic

4. An aging congregation 4. Targeted a younger generation

5. Inward focus (lack of outreach) 5. Community outreach

6. Resistance to change 6. Contemporary worship

7. Power struggles (internal politics) 7. Confronted/removed divisiveness

8. Church split 8. Forgiveness and reconciliation

9. Inadequate facilities 9. Remodeled or new facilities

10. Spiritually unhealthy 10. Small groups

11. Low Morale 11. Positive atmosphere

Top three causes of decline according to the survey:

1. Inadequate Leadership
2. Low Vision
3. Low Morale

Top Three changes needed for turnaround:

1. New pastoral leadership
2. Renewed & recast vision
3. Positive & encouraging atmosphere

Gordon E. Penfold, pastor of First Baptist Church, Holyoke, Colorado, presented a paper focusing on the characteristics of turnaround pastors

He declared that two requirements are needed to develop turnaround churches; first a capable pastor and second, a willing congregation. Both elements must be present for turnaround to take place.

The Personality Profile (DiSC)

In 2009 Gordon Penfold gathered information from evangelical pastors in the Rocky Mountain States of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. His research used the DiSC to better understand turnaround pastors apart from non-turnaround pastors. The DiSC profile measures leadership characteristics: Dominance (D), Influence (i), Steadiness (S) and Conscientiousness ©).

Twenty-seven pastors completed the DiSC profile and one pastor participated in the survey but did not fill out a DiSC profile. Worship attendance in the churches ranged from 20 to 5,500.

Penfold used the baseline of a gain in worship of 2.5 % per year for a minimum of five years to qualify as a turnaround church. Twenty-one of the churches met the criteria for turnaround with a minimum of 2.5 % gain in worship for a least five years. Seven churches did not meet the average attendance gain of 2.5% for five years.

The DiSC Profile scores have a range of Low, Mid, and High.

Low-Range 1-3
Mid-Range 4
High-Range 5-7

DiSC Profile average scores for all pastors, Turnaround Pastors and Non-turnaround Pastors were as follows:

D I S C

Turnaround Pastors 4.7 4.4 3.2 3.9

Non Turnaround 2.6 2.1 5.1 6.6

Two strong differences were noted between turnaround pastors and non-turnaround pastors. Turnaround pastors were more heavily weighted toward the mid to high D and mid to high I range. Non-turnaround pastors scored in the high range in the S and C, while turn around pastors were low to mid-range in S and C.

Only one of the turnaround pastors had a low D and I score. Also one non-turnaround pastor had a high D and I score. God can use anyone to give leadership to a growing church, but the trend for turnaround pastors is a mid to high D and I scores on the DiSC profile.

Importance of Vision

Penfold gathered information from both pastors and lay leaders in the 28 congregations that participated in the survey. The outcomes of six questions revealed that Turnaround Pastors scored higher in responses to the six vision questions.

1. Pastors clearly communicated their vision for ministry to the church.

2. The Pastor’s vision for ministry was spiritually challenging.

3. The people in the church had a very clear picture in their minds for their vision for ministry.

4. The people in the church had a clear understanding of where they wanted to be in two, five and ten years.

5. Their vision was feasible.

6. The pastor communicated the vision with passion.

The Value of Mentors and Coaches

Penfold asked the 28 pastors in his study two questions. 1) “In the first five years of my ministry, I had someone whom I regarded as a mentor/coach.” 2) “I currently have someone who mentors or coaches me in ministry.”

Each questions was answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”

Thirteen of the Turnaround Pastors said they had a coach or mentor at the beginning of their ministry. Four Non-Turnaround Pastors said they had a coach or mentor at the beginning of their ministry.

Thirteen Turnaround Pastors said they currently had a coach or mentor. While only one Non-Turnaround pastor currently had a coach or mentor.

Summary

Penfold gave the following summary from his survey of the twenty-eight pastors. Turnaround pastors are:

• Pastors who most often score mid to high D and I on the DiSC profile
• Passionate, visionary pastors who are able to draw followers after them
• Pastors who, more often than not, have a mentor or a coach
• More innovational than traditional
• More energetic (an absolute essential for turnaround ministry)
• Pastors who are “young in ministry,” regardless of their biological age
• Better team players
• Better at delegating ministry responsibilities
• Better at training new leaders
• Focused and determined in ministry
• Pastors who embrace necessary change and are prepared to pay the price to lead change
• Pastor who have good conflict resolution skills
• Better than average communicators. This communication includes not only great preaching and teaching skills, but communicating vision and direction with passion.
• Pastors who passionately use their primary spiritual gifts and empower others to use their gifts

Suggested Course of Action

Penfold suggests the following suggestions for Overseers of pastors:

• Identify turnaround and potential turnaround pastors.
• Develop boot camps for Turnaround Pastors similar to boot camps that have been developed for church planters. Provide tools for turnaround to these pastors including at a minimum mentor/coaches, conflict reconciliation skills, envisioning skills, leadership development tools, and delegation skills.
• Place these pastors in strategic churches in urban, suburban and rural settings.
• In order to facilitate change, provide church assessment for strategic churches to establish “a sense of urgency.” Leading Change by John Kotter, is recommended reading for pastors interested in turnaround ministry.
• Begin to use Turnaround Pastors as coaches and mentors with pastors who have a good set of pastoral skills.
• Turnaround Pastors need to intentionally train pastoral interns so these interms will be imprinted with turnaround DNA for their future ministries.

Ten Lessons I Learned from Being a Turnaround Pastor
Jerry Rueb, Sr. Pastor Cornerstone Church, Long Beach, CA

1. God is the God of resurrection; He can raise the dead church back to life.
2. Everyone has a different story. A turn around pastor takes time to listen.
3. Picking at old wounds will make healing impossible.
4. Dead churches remain dead as long as everyone’s eyes are looking back to the point of failure.
5. Dead churches require new and compelling vision and new and renewed people who will buy in to give it new life and hope.
6. Dead churches need to see the vision embodied in the new leader.
7. Preaching sermons aimed at correcting problems will typically have negative results.
8. Some people will never get over past wrongs because being a victim gives them their identity.
9. Actively build trust because distrust of pastors and board members takes years of leadership integrity to overcome.
10. Preach the Lordship of Christ!

The Impact of Church Age & Size on Turnaround
By Gary L. McIntosh, Dir. of DMin. Program at Talbut Seminary

Dr. McIntosh says it normally takes some level of coercion, initiation, intervention, or mediation, to get a church moving. From his observations in working with congregations it takes two forces – one internal and the other external – working simultaneously to turn around a local church. The internal force is most often the pastor who desires to see a church reach a new level of vitality, while the external force is often a church consultant. The external consultant may be an independent contractor or a denominational leader from outside the client church. However, change mediated from inside and outside a church is a powerful force to initiate a turnaround.

When a church is less than fifteen or twenty years old, turnaround is reasonably easy to bring about since the basic culture remains pliable. However, by the time a church is over sixty-years old, the culture is deeply embedded, which takes more effort and time to change.

All things being equal, a small church may turn around in a relatively short space of time, but a larger church takes much more time.

The essential key to all turnarounds is the presence of a leader who not only knows the way to go, but more important has the courage to move forward. Sam Chand a consultant says, “Leaders only grow to the threshold of their pain.”

Turning Around Younger Smaller Churches

Turnaround begins as the church collectively wrestles with its strengths and weaknesses. For strategies Dr. McIntosh suggests using his book, Taking Your Church to the Next Level as a guide.

Turning Around Younger/Larger Churches

One key strategy for churches in this size and age category is to identify which sub-ministries are doing well and are in house models of where the leaders want the church to move in the future. Change toward the future is then empowered as people from these successful ministries are systematically promoted to positions of influence in the church.

Turning Around Older/Larger Churches

Bringing about a turnaround in an older church normally takes five to fifteen years as leaders gradually introduce change into the static system. A pastor wishing to bring about change will need to build a new coalition – lead staff, board, and leadership team – comprised of global thinkers (people who think widely about ministry). The practice of new pastors bringing along staff members from another church is one way to begin rebuilding a new coalition.

Turning Around Older/Smaller Churches

Turnaround in Older/Smaller churches takes place when a crisis is identified or created by some leader, usually the pastor. Pointing to the crisis of survival, the pastor convinces the remaining church members that “something has got to change.”

Turnaround in older/smaller churches only takes place when people are willing to make the hard decisions, which allows them to leave a legacy for their future.

Helping More Guests Get Involved In church

Posted by Dr. Ray on 24 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

“Helping more guests get involved in church”

Acts 2:41-47

The early church was a dynamic church committed to making more and better disciples. The supreme task of the early church was convert growth, bringing people to Jesus, loving, equipping and sending them out to make more and better disciples.

As a local congregation the more effective job we do with “people flow” and “assimilation of guests” the greater the increase will be to the Kingdom of God and getting more guests involved in our congregations.

As a church consultant my task is to hold up a mirror to a congregation and help the church see how healthy and strong the congregation is or how sick and weak the church is. We know that healthy churches grow better than sick churches.

We need to ask ourselves as a congregation, “Are we being faithful to the harvest?” “Are we endeavoring to carry out the Great Commission?” Matthew 28:19-20

Prior to Pentecost the disciples spent ten days earnestly seeking God’s blessing and guidance.in obedience to the command of Jesus.

• It may cost you people who just want to play church and stay inwardly focused.
• It may require making changes to your worship to better connect to non-believers.
• Trust God to help you make more and better disciples and actively involve them in your local congregation.

From time to time we need to do a spiritual checkup. We need to refocus. Ask them,–“What is our main business?” Sometimes just minor adjustments and changes are needed, while other times major changes need to be made.

1. To help more guests get involved in your church be willing to make changes where needed.

Churches that refuse to change in a changing culture eventually decline and die.

Change is usually costly. The first church I served as pastor after graduating from Asbury Theological Seminary was Kansas City First Church, in Kansas City, Kansas. When I arrived the church was averaging 50 in worship. During my first year I did my best to reach our community. We had limited parking for 20 cars off street with no parking in front of the church and a few parking places on a side street. I asked Lyle Northrup the Director of Evangelism at that time to come to Kansas City and preach and give us guidance as we planned for the future. He surveyed our situation and challenged us to put the church property up for sale and relocate.

After much prayer and consideration we started looking for property and found 3.5 acres for sale ten miles west of tour current location. We ended up relocating and began to grow with young families and after two years were averaging 102 in morning worship with many new converts.

We should ask, “Who are we trying to please?” Is our focus on insiders or outsiders? It takes time to make positive changes to become friendlier to new comers.

When a church refuses to change it loses opportunities to reach people. We want our church to make changes to become a hospital and nursery with new birth rather than holding to nostalgia and becoming a funeral home with more funerals than weddings.

From time to time it’s helpful to have someone from the outside visit your church on Sunday and view various ministries from a newcomer’s view. We had someone do that in San Jose, CA and a number of positive changes were made following their objective assessment looking at the church ministry programs and facilities from a first time guest’s experience.

Our goal is to change without compromise. If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.” Romans 12:2 calls for transforming change.

The early church in Acts is our model for change and growth.
-We can’t grow the church.
-Only Jesus can grow the church.

Fast Company magazine noted that 90% of heart patients who are told to change their lifestyle habits or die choose death over change.

Remember change takes time in long established churches. (I was at the Willow Vale Church in San Jose, CA for six years before we changed out pews for cushioned chairs) The church was started in downtown San Jose in 1885. I became lead pastor in 1998 It took 5 years to grow from an average of 70 to 152 average in morning worship. Our greatest outreach came through the Christian School that we started. We went from no children in the congregation to a growing, energetic group of children and youth.

Wait for God’s timing before making positive changes.

Studies show the top ten areas needing improvement and change:

1.Prayer
2.Children’s Ministry
3.Evangelism
4.Youth Ministry
5.Leadership
6.Missions
7.Assimilation of new people
8.Sunday School and Small Groups
9.Worship
10.Organizational Structure

2. To help more guests get involved in your congregation become relevant to culture

If your congregation only knows English, how relevant is a worship service only in Spanish that does not have interpretation? Though truth is spoken you can’t get the full impact without understanding the language.

How well equipped is our church to welcome people from the parking lot to the sanctuary/auditorium? Our calling is to communicate God’s truth in the language of our culture to both believers and skeptics who are searching for meaning to life.. By seeking God’s wisdom we can be relevant without compromising.

Jesus was culturally relevant

Jesus communicated God’s truth and delivered it in the language of His culture.

Jesus left His comfort zone. He left heaven and came to earth.

Jesus dressed like the culture dictated. He dressed in a way that was relevant to the people He was trying to communicate.

Paul was culturally relevant. 2 Cor. 5:18-20 tells us that Paul was committed to communicating to the culture he was involved with whether in Athens or in Rome.

We are held accountable to be relevant to our culture and faithfully declare God’s good news. (Ezekiel 3:18-19)

3. Welcome first time guests with a planned process. Our goal should be to treat first time guests with respect.

• How do we care for first time guests?
• Greeters’ should be handpicked for their friendliness and smile.___
• Use parking lot attendants/greeters.
• Try to have first time guests greeted 4 or 5 times before entering the sanctuary/auditorium.
• If possible have the church nursery on the same level as the worship center.
• Make your children’s ministry inviting and interesting.
• Use a “Welcome Center” with a person attending the center with information for guests.
• Be sure your ushers are friendly and have a pleasant smile.
• Have a coffee bar available before and after the worship service.
• You have seven minutes to make a good impression on first time guests. Young mothers are especially concerned about the nursery and security for their children.
• Ask everyone to fill out a connection card so newcomers will feel comfortable in participating.
• When the sanctuary is crowded it’s helpful to have a sending and receiving usher to help people be seated in available seats.
• Have small group leaders alert to invite guests to visit their small group.
• Ministry Staff should mingle with the crowd before and after the worship time. Church ministry staff observes the ten-minute rule before and after all worship services and significant events.
• Follow up first time guests with a phone call from the pastor Sunday afternoon.
• Send a welcome letter from the church prayer team or church office.
• Follow-up with a home visit and give a gift from the church and invitation to join a small group.
• Send a hand written letter from the Lead Pastor within two days of the visit.. When averaging more than 8 to 10 first time guests a week recruit lay leaders to help write letters of welcome.
• Use a simple commitment card to help people give their name, address and e-mail. The best time to collect the cards is during the offering at the end of the worship service.
• You have two or three months to help new people connect and make meaningful relationships with at least 7 people before they feel at home and part of the church community.

To build momentum pastors invest in building leaders and teams. Everything does rise or fall on leadership. Without investing in team building the church tends to stall out and decline.

To have a growing church the church board and church leaders need to allow the Lead Pastor and staff to give leadership. One person can’t change anything, but one person can serve as a catalyst for starting a transition. As pastor you can take courage and be a catalyst to start the Wave. Start with a few, keep going and build teams to join in the Wave of change.

4. To help more guests get involved in church have exciting worship.
5.
A pastor noticed a little boy standing in the foyer of the church. The boy was staring at a plaque. The pastor walked up to the boy and put his arm around him, and said, “Good morning, young man.”

“Good morning, Pastor.” The boy was still focused on the plaque with little flags. “Pastor what is that plaque?” “Well, son, it’s a memorial to all young men and women who died in the service.” Soberly, they stood together staring at the large plaque.

Finally in a voice barely audible and trembling with fear, the boy asked, “Which service, Pastor, the morning or evening service?”

How adequate is your worship planning.

Do extra planning to make your worship service exciting and celebrative.
When we plan our worship service, whom are we planning for? Is our primary passion connecting with lost people?

In your preaching and teaching:

• Where are we taking people?’
• Are you relevant?
• Are you real?
• What will be remembered?
• How do you prepare your closing?
• Is your music relevant to first time guests?– Reach the younger generation.
• Presentation is important.– We are living in a visual generation.
• People learn through stories.
• Passion is essential. – Are we passionate about what we believe?
• Method of relating to people must be clear. Communicate with people not at people.
• Speak in the language of your day.
• A ministry, or message is not relevant unless it is helpful or meaningful in real life. It must address or meet a need that people are facing.

Pastor Dan Kimball at Vintage Faith Church, prepared his 2011 preaching schedule by sending an e-mail to his congregation asking for their suggestions on preaching themes for the year. From the e-mail feed-back Dan Kimball developed his preaching for the year. www.vintagechurch.org

Why are people inviting their friends to church?

Our goal should be to have creative, fresh and innovative worship services so we are open to listening to the voice of God. People become tired of predictable worship services. We need to experience God in fresh ways.

How adequate is our worship planning? Churches that have an exciting worship experience plan with the entire worship team. There needs to be close coordination between the Lead Pastor and Worship Leader. Keep the worship service flowing with smooth transitions. From time to time videotape the worship service and watch the tape to evaluate and make future changes.

Brad Powell, pastor of NorthRidge Church, in Plymouth, Michigan, writes in his book, Change Your Church for Good, about making changes at the NorthRidge Church. Brad says positive change took several years and the loss of several families. www.northridgechurch.com

Local congregations need to look at their ministry priority and ask, “What is our primary mission?”

People are what matter to God. In some churches the building is more important than people. The focus is upon “No.”

“No Food allowed! No Drinks Allowed!”

NorthRidge Church invites people to bring drinks into the auditorium for services – cup holders on seats facilitate having drinks. New people have commented they appreciate casual dress and being able to sip on a latte or cappuccino while being told about God. Cleaning spilled drinks is a small price to pay in order to show hurting or seeking people that they matter to God.

Brad Powell states that “When you listen to outsiders it forces you to change the way you do church.”

God intended the church to be about relationships, not about religion. The Bible declares: “Now this is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

For a practical resource to help your church connect with first time guests see the book Beyond The First Visit – The Complete Guide to Connecting Guests To Your Church, by Dr. Gary McIntosh.
www.churchgrowthnetwork.com

5. To help more guests get involved in church put a high value on small groups

Because people in our society have become so disconnected from one another, there is an even greater inner need to be connected. That disconnection has highlighted the need for community. Many in our ministry area welcome becoming part of a small group. Growing larger churches break their members down into smaller groups. The purpose of small groups is not to grow a church, but to grow the person.

Where do you find young adults on Sunday morning? You’ll find them in small groups at books stores or Starbucks. They are just hanging out, talking to one another, experiencing community and seeking intimacy.

Gallup surveyed Americans and found that 70% said the local church was not meeting their needs. Six common responses in the survey stating their needs were:

1.To believe life is meaningful and has purpose.
2.To have a sense of community and deeper relationships.
3.To be appreciated and respected.
4.To be listened to and heard.
5.To grow in faith.
6.To receive practical help in developing a mature faith.

Lifeway Research surveyed over 900 young adults age 20 to 30 and found the following responses:

63% said, “If a church presented truth to me in an understandable way that relates to my life now, I would attend.”

58%, stted, “If people at church cared about me as a person, I would be more likely to attend.”
A greeter at the church welcomed a newcomer. The greeter said, “I don’t know you, and gave her a big hug. The newcomer went to her seat with tears in her eyes. It was the first hug she had had in a year.

46% said “I would be willing to join a small group of people to learn more about the Bible and Jesus.”

A high percentage of young adults are not concerned about their eternal destiny.

46% said “Christians get on their nerves.”

Young adults desire to become part of a community. Starbucks sells more than coffee. Starbucks sells community.

Small groups provide the best Velcro for newcomers.

The value of small groups can be stated as follows:

1Churches grow larger as they grow smaller groups.
2Ministry development happens in small groups.
3Individuals find support in small groups.
4Members of small groups are encouraged to witness.

All small groups at North Coast Church in San Diego County, CA are based on the Pastor’s Sermons. www.northcoastchurch.com

Pastor Larry Osborne, lead pastor at North Coast Church, gives practical advice in his book, Sticky Church, on the following questions:

How do you get high participation in the group?
How do you find leaders?
How do you train and keep leaders?
What does a typical group look like?
What do you do about child care?
Who writes the questions?

Pastor Scotty Priest church planted The Journey Church in Denver, CO in 2005. Journey Church has developed an excellent small group system that gives small group leaders coaching from the church’s web site. Resources for small group leaders can be found on the church’s website. www.onthejourney.tv,

How do you put people into groups? A good resource, Fusion – turning First time Guests into Fully-engaged Members of the Church, Pages 75 and following also gives answers to the above questions. www.nyjourney.com

More people are involved in small groups at The Journey Church in New York than attend their week-end services.

Churches should focus on factors that are limiting growth and not on church growth.

Healthy churches honor Christ and do things right in Jesus’ name to reach out to people, serving them to the best of the church’s abilities.

Evaluate what ministries are tanking and the ones that are growing. Don’t keep propping up the ministries that are slowing fading away and are growing weaker. Then you should assist the ministry program to die with dignity.

If you hear several people talking about a new ministry to meet a need then give your permission to start the ministry with those who have a passion to become involved.

Listen to the needs in your community and determine which ones your church is best equipped to meet.

Connecting With Community Skeptics

Posted by Dr. Ray on 12 Sep 2011 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

“Connecting with Community Skeptics”

  1. 1. Passion For Lost People Helps You Connect with Community Skeptics

John 4:35 – Jesus said, “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest?’ I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”

Jesus looked at people with passion.  Jesus is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance.

Zechariah 4:6 – The prophet Zechariah declares:“Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit.” Growing a healthy church is the work of the Holy Spirit in partnership with the people of God who have a passion for souls.

I agree with the authors of Marketing for Congregations by Norman Shawchuck, Philip Kotler, and Bruce Wrenn: “The best marketing plan in the world cannot compensate for spiritual lethargy or confusion, so that none are able to listen in the silent closets of the heart where God awaits to communicate with us. Nor can a marketing plan counterbalance a lack of vision.”

I would add, a marketing plan does not compensate for a lack of passion and love for people who are not yet members of the Family of God.

Tim Chester and Steve Timmis in their recent book, Total Church, A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community, have a good word to say about passion: “Attendance at meetings, involvement in evangelism, an ability to handle the Bible, starting new initiatives, a reputation for being sound or radical, all of these, in and of themselves, indicate nothing unless they are a heart response to the deep, passionate love of God and emerge out of a deep, passionate love for God.” P. 204

At the heart of all effective leaders is passion.

When John Bishop gave leadership to starting the Living Hope Church in Vancouver, WA seven years ago, he described their situation. “We had no plan, no money, no backing, no building, and no equipment.  We didn’t even own a stapler.  We had just one thing, the most important thing: our unquenchable passion to reach human beings made in the image of God, with the good news of God’s love.  P. 15  In his book, Dangerous Churchhe tells how God blessed their ministry with many non Christians and skeptics coming to faith in the Lord.  www.livinghopechurch.com

It’s okay to look at what other churches are doing.  We learn from their best practices in ministry.  The greatest need is for us to listen to God.  What does God want as our paramount mission?  The church in Acts is our main model.  The primary focus of the early church was on nonbelievers in the community.  Our fundamental mission is reaching people for Jesus.  We are to use all means to bring people to Jesus and see their lives transformed for eternity.

Pastor and Church Leaders Control the Climate for Outreach

Church growth research reveals that 70% or more of evangelical churches are on a plateau or in decline.

If your church is on a plateau or decline, how do you become refocused on outreach?  Here are some suggestions:

*   Do a reality check. How has the church done during the past five years in attendance, conversions, baptisms and adding new ministries?  If the trend continues, where will we be in the next five years?

*   Make Matthew 9:37-38 your focus in prayer.  Do a community prayer walk and pray at the porch for people in the community and discover what the real needs are.

*   Become a home missionary and look at your ministry area as a mission field.  How would a missionary approach the people in our ministry area?

Preachers in the early days of Methodism referred to themselves as missionaries more than pastors.

The pastor of Vintage Church in Santa Rosa, CA. grew up on the mission field.  When he became pastor of Vintage Church in Santa Rosa he looked at his ministry area as a missionary.  His goal was to be friendly to non-Christians young adults.  The pastor led the church in developing a casual contemporary worship experience.  The church pews were moved out and theatre style seats were moved into the worship center.  The worship music appealed to young adults.  The coffee bar was open during the worship service.  Every month they had a different theme with the stage set up highlighting the theme for the month.

*   Encourage your congregation to care more about reaching people for Christ than their own preferences.  I Corinthians 9:19-23

  • Show your community you care for their needs:  do acts of kindness showing God’s love.
  • At Cornerstone FMC we have handed out free bottles of water at shopping centers and given away free donuts out at police stations and firemen at their stations.  Several times a year we give away food and clothes on designated Saturdays.  We have a food pantry we keep stocked to give out sacks of food when people come by the church looking for food.

To connect with community skeptics:

2. Pastors and Church Leaders Model Outreach

*     The goal of pastor and church leaders is to make as many friends outside the church as inside the church.

*   The pastor of a growing healthy church will spend more time in the surrounding community than he or she does in the church office and other meetings in the church building.  #  Salvation luncheons with men at work at Cisco Systems, Apple, National Semiconductor, Oracle, Nassau and Ames Research Center, etc.

*   Leaders make certain there are more ministries to those outside the church than inside.

A thousand church attendees were asked, “Why does the church exist?”  89 % said the church existed  “to take care of my family’s and my spiritual needs.”  11 % said the purpose of the church is “to win the world for Jesus Christ.”

The church’s mission – keep the main thing the main thing.

For the past Easter Festival (2011) at Cornerstone FMC in St. Petersburg we had 18 people involved in the planning and 48 giving leadership for the event held on the Saturday before Easter from 10:00 AM to 1:30 PM.  We advertised in the community and put a banner up on the church lawn – Everything Free — Clothes, Food, including smoked turkey, Fun, Games, Clowns, Face painting, Puppets, haircuts (4 professionals giving haircuts), snow cones, bouncing box 20 X 20 feet), show dogs, balancing acts, Easter Egg coloring, Easter Egg hunts by age grouping, K 9 dog demonstration and health tests.

Nearly 500 people participated in the Easter Festival.  128 families signed cards with their names and addresses.  Many showed up for the Easter Services on Sunday.

*   Pray for skeptics and people searching for truth and meaning to life.  Have all church leaders list 3 people on 3 X 5 cards who are not currently following Christ. People on their cards might include their friends, relatives, associates, or neighbors.  Encourage all church leaders to ask Jesus to help them build bridges to the three people on their list and look for opportunities to share acts of kindness and share the good news of the Gospel.

*   Focus your prayer on life change and transformation.

*   Celebrate new life and transformation more than anything else.  Give public reports of people who experience new life in Christ and transformation.

*   Develop partnerships with groups meeting community and world needs. (Dream Team in St. Petersburg, providing food for homeless, and Center for Women’s Ministries in Pinellas Park offering free counseling for women in distress or being abused.

*   Take the leadership for community service ventures.  Empower the congregation to discover and service the community needs.

*   Use your church facility to serve the community.  Your church may have one of  the larger places  for the community to have public meetings.

*  Make true hospitality a high priority ministry of the church.

Allow God to work in spontaneous evangelism.

Living Hope Church had the practice of waiting for ten people who were ready for baptism before having a baptism service.  Pastor John Bishop decided to allow people to respond to the invitation to receive Christ and be baptized with the group being baptized.  They discovered that many more people responded to the invitation and were baptized that same day.  They provided clothes for people to change into when they responded.

*   Develop outreach ministries designed to reach people who have given up on the church.

Jesus said, “Look on the fields they are ripe unto harvest. John 4:35 – What is our response, “So what?” or “Who cares?” The farmer who planted the seed has great concern. He looks at his field with passion.  He had planted the seed and is expecting an abundant harvest.

Are we planting and sowing seed? Are we planning on a harvest?

When Jesus said, “Look on the fields,” the word “Look” carries with it an intense passion and desperate desire to make a difference in the lives of people far from God.  We all need that “look” of vision to see the harvest.

The right vision attracts commitment and energizes people.

The right vision creates meaning in workers’ lives.

The right vision establishes a standard of excellence.

The right vision bridges the present and future.

Be committed to prayer and fasting and coaching your congregation toward health and implement outreach ministries because you are not satisfied with little or no harvests.

Preparing for harvest whether harvesting wheat or adding to the Kingdom of God is hard work. It takes a lot of preparation to have a great wheat harvest of 40-50 bushels per acre take lots of preparation. First you plow the fields, then disc and harrow the ground. At the right time you drill and plant the grain. You wait for adequate snow, rain and sunshine.

Then at the right time, not too early or too late, you start the combine and harvest the wheat. You spend long days in the field. You use the latest equipment available to harvest the grain before it rains or hails and ruins the crop.

Jesus said, “Look on the fields, they are ripe unto harvest.” The “look” is a look of passion.

A church planter can drive through a city and see great potential for Kingdom growth. He knows that where there is little vision people perish. People of vision and faith are not problem minded, they’re opportunity minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems.

As leaders God is calling us to have the “look” of passion as we plan to go to the next level in our churches.

Louzes and Posner in Leadership Challenge write: “Leaders are pioneers. They are people who venture into unexplored territory. They guide us to new and often unfamiliar destinations. People who take the lead are the foot soldiers in the campaigns for change. The unique reason for having leaders – their differentiating function, is move us forward. Leaders get us going.

3. Focus on Reaching Out In Love to Skeptics

Luke 15:1-24

Jesus told three stories about a shepherd that lost one sheep, a woman that lost one of her coins, and a dad who lost his son to rebellion.

When the church is working right, it is the hope of the world.

How is your church growing? “If you can explain what is going on then God didn’t do it.”   (Warren Wiersbe)

Use all means to connect with people outside the fellowship of your church:

practice social network evangelism.  Use your FRAN network and media networks, Facebook, text messages, email, Twitter, Linkin, and Youtube.  Young adults can best be reached through I-pads, laptops, cell phones and texting.  During 2010 there were 6.1 trillion text messages in America.  There are currently over 800 million using Facebook.

Provide answers to questions people are asking about:  finances, family, children, making sense of life, and stress.

Address life concerns of pre-Christians and Christians.

Determine to lead as if your church is to go to the next level.  What do we need to stop doing and start doing to make a greater impact for the Kingdom of God?

Ask for explosive growth and prepare for it to happen.  When was the last time you prayed for God to help your congregation double in size to better reach out in love to your community.  Step out in faith and prepare your parking space, your Christian Ed and worship space. Preach as if your attendance at worship has more non-Christians than Christians.

Bring in lots of people from outside the church.  Luke 14:23, Galatians 6:7.

Ask key leaders in your church, “Do you ever share the good news with nonChristians or invite them to church?  If the answer is “No.”  Ask, “What do we have to change in our church for you feel free to do that?”

Non-growing congregations want to reach:

·People like us…

  • ·People who behave like us…
  • ·Religious people…
  • ·People who share our politics…
  • ·People who support the traditional church…
  • ·People with good ethics…

#  My experience at a FMC in Wichita, KS – Summer Intern while a student at ATS.  Double in a Sunday Promotion – special rock collection as a gift to all attenders — SS averaging 150 – that Sunday there were 200 in attendance.  I don’t know of one person praying to receive Christ as a result of all our time and effort put into the contest.

Five Principles will guide you in reaching Skeptics in your community

Learn to think like an unbeliever.  Spend as much time in your community as you do in the church office.  Ask questions and listen.

  1. Focus on the felt-needs of the non Christian.  Understand their needs for love, their emotional needs, their need for acceptance and inner peace.
  2. Let your field determine your approach.  Use all means to save some.  I Corinthians 9:19-23
  • Let the needs of the non-Christian determine your programs.
  • Let their hang-ups determine your strategy
  • Let their culture determine your style
  1. Be willing to minister outside your comfort zone.  Churches that refuse to change, die.
  2. Appeal to as many people as you can.

Jesus illustrated how we are to reach out in love to skeptics in our community.  In his relationship to the woman at the well in Sycar in Samaria we have an effective model in witnessing.

  • Jesus began where she was, rather than where he wanted her to be.  Jesus began with the woman’s ancestry, her domestic history, her struggles, questions and issues.
  • Jesus engaged in the ministry of conversation.
  • In the conversation, every word Jesus used was within her recognition, vocabulary; he spoke her language.
  • Jesus treated her with respect.
  • Jesus listened, responded, and related to the Samaritan woman with understanding

Growing churches relate to the culture.  They communicate in the language and style of the culture.  The listen to non-Christians and learn to communicate the good news of God’s love and forgiveness.

We engage the culture by identifying and meeting felt needs of people in our ministry area, genuinely caring for others, building relationships, bridging and communicating the gospel in a relevant way.

I like the definition of evangelism that states:  “Evangelism is simply taking the initiative to share the good news of Jesus and leaving the results with God.”

To be relevant to our culture we need to start thinking in new ways.  This is 2011 and not 1960.  We need to ask:

*   Why are we doing this?

*   Are we still doing that?

*   Is that the best way to use our resources?

*   Is there a better way to do this?

As a congregation we need to ask: “What can we do that nobody else is doing?”

Here are five questions the congregation can discuss to evaluate how passionate the church is about reaching non-Christians..

1. Do we want to know them.  Jesus did not worry about the customs of his day.  He took the initiative to talk to a woman.

2. Are we willing to go where the unchurched are?

3. Are we willing to spend time with them?  When Jesus saw the people were receptive he stayed with them two days.

4. Do we want secular and outside-the-establishment people in our churches?

5. Are we willing for our church to become their church too?

The majority of Americans have no Christian heritage.  Today we must plow, seed, and water the fields before we can expect a harvest.

What was the last big dream you had?  Was it big enough for only God to accomplish?  If not, what will it take for you to dream bigger?

Let’s start connecting with more of our community skeptics by:

Renewing our passion for lost people who are confused and searching for

meaning in life.

Have our leadership to create a climate for outreach in our local

congregation.

Model outreach by taking the initiative and engaging skeptics in

`conversation and telling the good news of Jesus

Eight Lessons of Leadership

Posted by Dr. Ray on 30 Dec 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Here are Nelson Mandela’s eight lessons of leadership with some comments by Doug Lawrence, a Church Consultant.  As I read through them recently I was reminded that these are truths that work well for world leaders, and also pretty well for church leaders.

1. Courage is not the absence of fear—it is inspiring others to move beyond it. Having worked with many leaders over the years, I’ve always been exceedingly aware that there are really only two kinds—those who appear to have everything in control and, and those who actually spend very little time controlling anything, because they’re too busy moving people forward by example.

2. Lead from the front—but don’t leave your base behind. One leader I know (inspired by Steve Jobs) always tells his students to, “Connect the dots, but don’t forget any of the dots that are behind you—they are just as important as the ones that are in front of you.” How many leaders do you know who focus all their attention on the future and completely forget about what got them to where they are. This is one of the most dangerous mistakes that a leader can make, and I have been both guilty of it, and the victim of it. You too! Admit it!

3. Lead from the back—and let others believe they are in front. Humility is at the core of good leadership. People are usually willing to follow someone who they believe has their back—someone more interested in them, than in themselves. I love the affirmation model. You can never affirm enough, and, no, you won’t spoil people by saying you think they’re wonderful! The more you are the affirmer, the more the affirmed will take the initiative and move the initiative forward. If this doesn’t work—move them on to someplace else—but, please, not to my church.

4. Know your enemy—and learn about his favorite sport. Remember the old saying, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing?” Well, the truth is that a little knowledge can be an exceptionally helpful thing. Here’s a short list of stuff you might want to know in order to undermine potentially negative relationships:

—What’s your enemies favorite sport and how much do you know about that activity that might break up conversational deadlock. Mandela didn’t like Rugby, but he knew all about it because South African elitists and political enemies all seemed to love the game.

—Do you remember your enemy’s kids names? Hey, “You love my kids, I love you!”

—What does your enemy take in their coffee? Sure, it’s a bribe, but you shouldn’t be above it!

5. Keep your friends close—and your rivals even closer. I’m opposed to this kind of thinking, but have utilized it most of my life. If you don’t want to get run over by a big, honkin’ SUV, run next to it—not in front of it!

6. Appearances matter—and remember to smile. Why is it that some leaders don’t think the rules apply to them? Well, in addition to blatant narcissism, leaders sometimes forget that they were given leadership, they didn’t just wake up having it one day. Earn respect by showing respect! Remember, it was others who placed you in charge. Dress and carry yourself as though you appreciate that fact.

7. Nothing is black or white. So, if things are really shades of gray, and you spend a lot of time there, does that mean you’re not a Christian? No, God gave us shades of gray so we would have real choices to make. He’s not a cosmic school teacher or traffic cop who is ready to slap our hand if we make a mistake. He came to earth because he expected us to make mistakes. Own those, and let the rest of it go.

8. Quitting is leading too. Would you be offended if I quoted Kenny Rogers here? You absolutely need to know when to “fold ‘em!” Here are some responses to leave conflicting projects. They might also tick people off, so be careful!

BULDING BRIDGES AS A COACH/CONSULTANT

Posted by Dr. Ray on 30 Sep 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

EZEKIEL 22:30 “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land.  I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.”

When we work with churches as a coach or consultant we are charged to stand in the gap of unrighteousness and lethargy.  Our task is to be a bridge builder for the church to find gaps where the church is not carrying out the Great Commission and encourage the congregation to prayerfully seek new initiatives to be faithful to the harvest.

Colossians 4:5-6 “Be wise in the way you act toward outsider; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

As Church Consultants we coach congregations to take initiatives in developing effective ministries to reach pre-Christians.

As a Consultant and coach we help  the church take a  reality check and realize where the church will be in the next 5 to 10 years if current trends in the church continue.

We help the congregation move from subjective views to objective facts.

We help the congregation move from slow change to rapid change.  Ask what if? Questions.

We help the congregation catch a new vision of hope for the future.

Our goal is to build multiple-bridges to non-Christians in our ministry area.  We look at the local churches context.  We consider their weaknesses and strengths and target individuals and families the church can best minister to and meet their needs.

If we are working with a church that has been declining for the pat several years our task is to help the congregation diagnose what ministries and programs they have ministering to those already involved in the church family and what ministries and programs are focusing on those who are not yet part of the church fellowship.

We have the opportunity to challenge the church ministry staff and lay leadership to seek a renewal for a passion for souls a passion to save the lost.

One of the questions I ask the pastoral staff in one-on-one interviews is:  “Do you have the opportunity to share your faith with others?  If the answer is yes, “Tell me about the last person you shared the plan of salvation with?”

We constantly need to rekindle and renew our passion for lost people. We dare not lose our first love as we hunger and thirst after the newest church growth program out on the market.

I agree with the authors of Marketing for Congregations – Norman Shawchuck, Philip Kotler, and Bruce Wrenn: “The best marketing plan in the world cannot compensate for spiritual lethargy or confusion, so that none are able to listen in the silent closets of the heart where God awaits to communicate with us. Nor can a marketing plan counterbalance a lack of vision.”

I would add, a marketing plan can not compensate for a lack of passion and love for people who are not yet members of the Family of God.

The Apostle Paul reminds us: “If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn’t love others, I would only be making a meaningless noise like a loud gong, or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love, I would be no good to anybody. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.” I Cor. 13:1-3

If we are culturally relevant, but have not love, it profits us nothing. If we preach great sermons, but have not love, we are making noise like a loud gong. If we take mission trips and pay out tithe, but have not love, we are like clanging cymbals.

Take Initiative to Build Bridges

For many churches it Same O Same O year after year.  We talk about prayer and evangelism, but do little praying or outreach.  We need to take the initiative in building bridges to non-Christians.

  • We build bridges by accepting people as they are.
  • We are sensitive to the needs of non-believers.
  • We are to be ready for every opportunity God gives us to witness.
  • We see casual encounters as God encounters.
  • We initiate conversations like Jesus did in John 4:7

After we build a bridge we ask for a decision:  “Is there any reason why you shouldn’t accept Jesus at this time?”

The reason we want to come to training like this is to sharpen the sickle for a greater harvest.  We want to partner with Jesus in using all means to open the eyes of those who are spiritually blinded by Satan.

We want to lift the name of Jesus who will draw people to Himself.  John 12:32

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article that appeared this past summer with the title:

Article in the Wall Street Journal several weeks ago:

“Religious Words in Business – The key to Success and Intimidation”

  • “Using the name of God peppers a speech with authority.  It serves as a ‘closer and final word in the throes of debate.  It’s the lion’s roar in an impressionable jungle.’
  • The word angels or Angelic – imparts a sense of safety, freedom and good will, as do the words heaven, paradise, prayer and blessing.
  • Satan demonic, and hell, not surprisingly generate the reverse effect.
  • Revelation may be used to announce new technology. ‘iPod.s apps  are a revelation!’
  • Bible helps to identify a definitive document, such as an employee handbook.
  • An Exodus company is one born through a hostile spin-off.
  • The phrase cross to bear is effective in demanding job completion.
  • Solomonian is synonymous for wise decision-making.
  • To be Adanical is to be entrepreneurial.
  • To be Noahian is to be task oriented.

However the Wall Street Journal drew the line at one biblical word.  The paper strongly cautioned against its use in any business situation.  The word is JESUS. Apparently it is the corporate counterpart to fingernails on a chalkboard, a foghorn in the concert hall.  “For whatever reason.”  The Wall Street Journal argued, “Using Jesus name excites some and angers others.”  The writer concluded, “There’s something about that name.”

“At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Phil. 2:10

Why Churches Should Consider a Growth Consultation

Posted by Dr. Ray on 03 Mar 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Growth Planning Consultation

The Consulting Network FMCNA provides Growth Planning services to enable local congregations to have a trained church growth consultant make an on site visit to analyze and diagnose the total church program.  The planning process is designed to provide the pastor and church leaders with a clear picture of their present strengths and make recommendations for long range health and vitality.

Growth Planning Process

Local Church Preparation

Prior to the consultant’s visit to a church, a packet of materials will be sent for the church to complete and return at least two weeks before the visit.  These include: 1) A 10-year growth history, 2) a church background questionnaire, 3) a volunteer worker analysis profile, 4) community analysis information and 5 ) various staff worksheets and questionnaires, along with such other data-gathering instruments as may be deemed helpful in light of the church’s unique circumstances.

The consultant will use these instruments in preparation for the on site visit.

Interview with the Staff

The consultant will interview both paid and volunteer staff during the on site visit.  The consultant will discuss the preliminary materials completed by staff members and get information on the life and ministry of the local church, as well as dreams and aspirations for the future of the church.

Interview with Selected Church Leaders and Members

A cross section of the congregation involving 10 to 20 lay leaders and members meet with the consultant for a 90 minute dialogue on their perspective of the life and ministry of the local church.  The consultant may also meet with several other local church boards and committees, depending upon the size of the congregation.

Analysis of the Total Church Program

This analysis of the church, including activities and facilities, occurs throughout the visit in preparation for the consultant’s verbal report at the close of his/her time there.   While the analysis varies from church to church, depending on specific requirements of the situation, the following areas are typically examined for problem diagnosis and recommendations:

  1. Philosophy and style of ministry
  2. Program and personnel
  3. Congregation and community
  4. Priorities and finance
  5. Strengths and possibilities
  6. Critical issues and next steps

Verbal Report to the Congregation

This setting provides an opportunity for others in the congregation to hear the consultant’s initial observations and to give the consultant additional information or responses before he/she writes the final report.

Diagnostic Report and Recommendations

A full written report follows within four to six weeks of the on site visit by the consultant.  The report included the observations and reflections of the consultant and is used as a tool for the local church to develop a long range master plan.  Specific recommendations and alternatives are made for the church to take correcting in areas of weakness and maximize areas of strength.

Cost Description

The cost varies according to the size of the congregation, travel expense, and length of time spent at the church.

Questions answered by the “Growth Planning Consultation”

This personalized service is designed to provide a clear and helpful analysis of your church, with specific recommendations for taking future actions.  (It is not intended to give the process for implementing each suggestion, or to become your five year mater plan.)  It will present you with the necessary data for formulating and launching an effective master plan during a subsequent phase.

The Growth Planning Consultation Service is intended to answer the following basic questions concerning the health and vitality of your church

Who are we

What kind of church are we (location, region, culture, image, age, size, style, structure, etc.)?

What are our limitation and potential in light of our distinct identity?

Where have we come from?

What has been unique about our church (history, growth, people, programs)?

What have been our major milestones?

What is our Purpose?

What is our “philosophy of ministry?”

What are our actual (as well as stated) priorities?

What are our objectives for the future?

How well do we relate with our community?

How similar are our people to those we are attempting to reach?

What is our potential for reaching the various kinds of people living around us?

Which groups of persons are most receptive to the witness of our church?

What are the growth patterns of our church?

Are we growing too fast or too slow?

Are we in good health?

What kind of growth should we expect in the future?

How well are we staffed?

Do we have sufficient number of staff?

Do we have the right kind of staff?

What are the potential problems facing our staff?

What is the status of our present programs?

How effectively are we meeting the needs of our people?

Do we have too few or too many programs for our church’s size?

How well are our people equipped for ministry?

How many persons are not being cared for personally?

How adequate are our facilities?

What effect do they have upon our rate of growth?

Which facilities will need to be improved or expanded during the next five years?

How well are we doing financially?

How reasonable is our present level of indebtedness?

What limitations or potential do we have in regards to our present overall resources?

Fifteen Reasons for scheduling a growth planning consultation in your local church

  1. An evaluation by an outside consultant provides you with greater objectivity.
  2. The growth planning service provides you with a sufficient data base to carry our realistic long range planning and goal setting.
  3. You will receive an objective evaluation of your strengths and potential.
  4. You will be exposed to the latest state-of-the-art church growth principles.
  5. You will be able to develop “Church growth Eyes”;  you will see more and understand more of what is happening in your church.
  6. You will understand more dearly why God wants (and will bring) growth for His church.
  7. The growth planning process will provide a new awareness for many concerning their place in His church.
  8. You will understand more dearly your basic purpose and philosophy of ministry.
  9. You will be able to strengthen your staff relationships with each other and with your congregation.

10.  You will be better able to find those who can be most readily reached by your congregation.

11.  The consultation will assist you in aligning your present resources (time, talent, treasure, facilities, etc.) with:

a. Your stated priorities

b. The undiscovered gifts of your congregation

c   The potential in your community

12. You will receive professional support and clarification for what you have been attempting to             communicate.

13.            The consultation will help you to discover bottlenecks that are restricting growth.

14.            You will be able to make practical application of church growth principles.

15.            The consultation will help you to clarify your present “people flow” (why people come, stay, leave,             or increase their involvement) strengths, and how to build upon these.

“Go Make Disciples”

Posted by Dr. Ray on 11 Feb 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

God’s Command – “Go Make Disciples”

Study by Dr. Ray Ellis

Matthew 28:16-20 – Jesus gives the command to make disciples and promises to give us His power and authority to carry out His command.

The primary focus of God’s Word is to make disciples. Disciples do not become part of the church community automatically. Disciples are not born; they are made.

Acts 1:8, 2:1-4 – We have the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to keep the “Go” in the gospel.

Acts 2:41-47 – Early church – Experienced exponential grow

• Devoted themselves to the apostles teaching
• Fellowship
• Prayer
• The Lord added to the church
Seven – Step Process – Acts 2:41-47
7.  v. 47 They grew in numbers daily
6.  v. 47 They reached their community
5.  v. 42-46 they continued in fellowship with the ch.
4.  42 They were instructed by the church
3.  v. 41 They were added to the church
2.  v. 41 They were baptized
1.  v. 41 The gladly received the Word

Growth in the early church
Acts 1:15, Acts 2:41-47, Acts 4:4 Acts 5:14

The Early Church was a Church on the Grow

Acts 6:7
Acts 9:31
Acts 16:5
Acts 21:20

Prayer preceded outreach in the early church.

Acts 13:1-3 – Church in Antioch
• Worshiped
• Fasted
• Prayed
• Sent Forth Missionaries

1. Prayer brought power and boldness to believers in the early church. Acts 2:42,47, 4:31,33

2. Through prayer the church sought God’s guidance in making decisions for leadership. Acts 1:24-26, 6:3-4

3. Sinners were convicted of sin and saved because Christians prayed. Acts 12:5, 7,8,23

4. Miracles were the result of prayer. Acts 3:6, 16:18

5. The early church was called to prayer through persecution.
Acts 3 – Lame man was healed – Peter and John were arrested –they were ordered to stop speaking about Jesus and his resurrection.
Acts 4:29-30 Christians prayed:
Effective prayer gets results – Acts 4:32
God answers prayer:
Earthquake –
A time of refreshing – Acts 3:19
They were given boldness to speak

The Holy spirit makes clear His vision and purpose for the local church.

Do we talk about prayer more than we pray? Luke 18:1 “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.’

A C T S is a helpful way to pray

Adoration – Lord you are wonderful – Psalms 46

Confession – Isaiah 59:2 – sin separates people from God – I John 1:9 is the answer

Thanksgiving – I Thess. 5:18 “In everything give thanks.”

Supplication – Pray for specific needs. Phil. 4:6

“When the church shuts itself up to the power of the prayer closet, and the solders of the Lord have received on their knees, power from on high: then the power of darkness will be shaken and souls delivered.” Andrew Murray, The Believer’s Prayer Life

STRATEGIC PLANNING – THE MISSING STEP – PASSION

Posted by Dr. Ray on 15 Jan 2010 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

STRATEGIC PLANNING – THE MISSING STEP – PASSION

By Dr. Ray Ellis

John 4:35 – Jesus said, “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest?’ I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”

Zechariah 4:6 – “Not by might, nor by power but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

As we plan for the future the organizational steps of strategic planning are helpful.

We need to study and know culture. We need to know church growth principles.

It is helpful to debate the homogeneous principle taught by Dr. Donald McGavran.

We should be committed to studying relevant and cutting edge methods and technology. Part of our strategy is finding out what the Holy Spirit is blessing and get in on it.

Often the missing step in strategic planning is PASSION. It is paramount that we don’t leave out the work of the Holy Spirit in our planning.

We constantly need to rekindle and renew our passion for lost people. We dare not lose our first love as we hunger and thirst after the newest church growth program out in the market place.

I agree with the authors of Marketing for Congregations by Norman Shawchuck, Philip Kotler, and Bruce Wrenn: “The best marketing plan in the world cannot compensate for spiritual lethargy or confusion, so that none are able to listen in the silent closets of the heart where God awaits to communicate with us. Nor can a marketing plan counterbalance a lack of vision.”

I would add, a marketing plan can not compensate for a lack of passion and love for people who are not yet members of the Family of God.

The Apostle Paul reminds us: “If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn’t love others, I would only be making a meaningless noise like a loud gong, or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love, I would be no good to anybody. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.” I Cor. 13:1-3

If we are culturally relevant, but have not love, it profits us nothing. If we preach great sermons, but have not love, we are making noise like a loud gong. If we take mission trips and pay out tithe, but have not love, we are like clanging cymbals.

Tim Chester and Steve Timmis in their recent book, Total Church, A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community have a good word to say about passion: “Attendance at meetings, involvement in evangelism, an ability to handle the Bible, starting new initiatives, a reputation for being sound or radical, all of these, in and of themselves, indicate nothing unless they are a heart response to the deep, passionate love of God and emerge out of a deep, passionate love for God.” P. 204

Jesus said, “Look on the fields they are ripe unto harvest. John 4:35 – What is our response, “So what?” or “Who cares?” The farmer who planted the seed has great concern. He looks at his field with passion.

Are we planting and sowing seed? Are we planning on a harvest? What is our vision in planting?

I saw a drawing of vision. One picture was a fisherman with a hole cut in the ice to catch a fish. The hole in the ice was about a foot wide. The other fisherman had cut a hole five feet wide. Who had the greater vision?

The right vision attracts commitment and energizes people.

The right vision creates meaning in workers’ lives.

The right vision establishes a standard of excellence.

The right vision bridges the present and future.

We are committed to prayer and fasting and coaching congregations toward health and implement outreach ministries because we are not satisfied with little or no harvests.

Preparing for harvest whether harvesting wheat or adding to the Kingdom of God is hard work. To have a great wheat harvest of 40-50 bushels per acre take lots of preparation. First you plow the fields, then disc and harrow the ground. At the right time you drill and plant the grain. You wait for adequate snow and rain and sunshine.

Then at the right time, not to early or to late, you start the combine and harvest the wheat. You spend long days in the field. You use the latest equipment available to harvest the grain before it rains or hails and ruins the crop.

Jesus said, “Look on the fields, they are ripe unto harvest.” The “look” is a look of passion.

A church planter can drive through a city and see great potential for Kingdom growth. He knows that where there is little vision people perish. People of vision and faith are not problem minded, they’re opportunity minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems.

As leaders God is calling us to have the “look” of passion as we plan to go to the next level in our churches.

Louzes and Posner in Leadership Challenge write: “Leaders are pioneers. They are people who venture into unexplored territory. They guide us to new and often unfamiliar destinations. People who take the lead are the foot soldiers in the campaigns for change. The unique reason for having leaders – their differentiating function, is move us forward. Leaders get us going someplace.”

As we lead our churches and conferences to the next level we are open to making changes to sharpen the sickle for a greater harvest.

As we develop our spiritual strategic plans and future mapping let’s not miss the step of passion.

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