November 2006

What’s in your church’s DNA? 

DNA: The genetic code of a church that is displayed in the mission, vision and values of the church and lived out through its ministries and members.  

Every organization has communication patterns, behavior expectations, and language codes that determine the culture of the organization.  The urgency of its mission or compliance to the status quo is determined by the organization’s culture.  How members communicate with peers vs. leaders in the organization is determined by the organizational culture.  Congregations are no different.  Each congregation has DNA that allows them to be unique in the expression of their purpose, yet connected to the Body of Christ.  For the purpose of this blog I would like to suggest that DNA exists on two levels. The macro level is what connects the entire Body of Christ, and the micro level is the local churches expression of their God given purpose. For those congregations that exist within a denominational structure, a third level of denominational DNA certainly affects how they express their God given purpose.  Some congregations serve the poor, homeless and those marginalized by society, while ignoring the popular trends to build new buildings and engage in the latest technology. Some congregations are awesome at reaching seekers and unchurched people, while other churches are fantastic at discipling believers toward maturity. Some congregations reach into the community and provide meaningful services for residents and other congregations excel at ministry to care for their members.  

A healthy church is balanced in all of these areas.  Based on Matthew 5:3-16, every Christian church that holds the scripture as their primary source of inspiration should have some basic DNA which connects them to the vision and values of Jesus Christ.



3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

4 “Blessed are those who mourn,

for they shall be comforted.”

5 “Blessed are the meek,

for they shall inherit the earth.”

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they shall be satisfied.”

7 “Blessed are the merciful,

for they shall obtain mercy.”

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they shall see God.”

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they shall be called sons of God.”

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,

,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

11 “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”

12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored?

It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.”

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  

Doing a DNA Check

William T Chaney Jr
West Baltimore UMC

Called to Pastor and Lead with Excellence

Pastors can quickly become ineffective in their ministry if they are not clear about their gifts, skills, personality dimensions, strengths and weaknesses.  Congregations tend to believe that a pastor should be a great preacher, great comforter, great administrator, great with the youth and children, great with nurturing, great with teaching and just about anything else that goes on in the life of a congregation.  This expectation is unrealistic.  God has given each person unique gifts, passions and abilities.  Attempting to be great outside of that realm is frustrating to anyone in any profession.  How should we deal with these conflicting multiple expectations? 

  1. Take the time to prayerfully discern your call.  Not all ministry takes place in the office of pastor.  Being clear about your call will help to eliminate some of the frustration. Community capacity building and social justice ministries go hand in hand but you do not have to be a pastor to fulfill your call in this ministry.
  2. Be clear about the unique gifts and personality that you bring to a congregation.  Congregations go through cycles and a different ministry skill set is necessary for the congregation to thrive depending on the season.  New churches need pastors who are entrepreneurial and relational. Healthy churches need nurturing pastors with depth in identifying weak ministry systems and strengthening leaders to maintain their healthy behavior.  Revitalizing churches need visionary pastors willing to restructure, challenge and build relationships without taking the criticism personally. Older congregations need a pastor with chaplain qualities able to walk with people through quality of life and end of life issues. A pastor who is not clear about his or her ministry skill set will be frustrated trying to live in the wrong paradigm and this will also cause anxiety throughout the congregation.  The congregation will have unmet and unfulfilled needs while striving to live out their DNA that is active within the life cycle of the congregation.
  3. Work on your strengths and build ministry teams in the area where you are weak with people who are uniquely gifted with the passion to fulfill the demands of the ministry. Take your top three areas of strength and commit to excellence in these areas.  Simultaneously you must develop lay leaders to fill in the gaps of your weaknesses.  If there is not a clear understanding of team ministry within the congregation this will be difficult.  If team ministry is not inherent in the DNA of a congregation then if must be grafted into the DNA.
  4. Prioritize in private but plan in public.  Once you know the areas that you are going to focus on developing through prayer and consultation with your elders then you plan for the ministry shifts, changes, realignments and team deployments in consultation with your
    Vision Team or Leadership Council.

Being a results oriented pastor of excellence is contrary to most pastoral paradigms today.  Many congregations, especially in mainline denominations, want pastors to be great generalist but resist their pastor excelling in one area and empowering lay people to fill in the gaps. I think that this is contrary to the teaching found in Ephesians 4:10-13. 

10 And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, 11 filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher 12 to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, 13 until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.    The Message

Called to Pastor
Called to Lead
Called to Excellence

Pastor William T Chaney Jr

West Baltimore UMC

5130 Greenwich Ave
Baltimore, MD 21229


I want to encourage you to check out this CD Project.  I like it!!!  Worship leaders and pastors this is a great blending of musical excellence and theologically sound music. 

The Story of United Methodist – Claymation Style

Notes from a speech at Umerging

  • Mainline church is in decline.
    -UM’s have dropped in worship attendance by 15% nationally.-Average age in 1940 was 30. Today the average age is 60.
    In 30 years, we’re going to have a real problem.
  • -But God isn’t done with the mainline.-Not many people want to be in an organization whose best years are behind them.
  • Why?
    -Demographics. Not having as many babies. Mainline first to embrace birth control. There is probably some truth in this.-John Cobb — The problem has to do with luke warmness. Loss of piety and spiritual intensity.-Farley — A missing presence is worship. To attend the typical Sunday morning service is to attend something odd. Lacking the mystery of God. “Not Holy, Holy, Holy” but “Nice, Nice, Nice.”People have a desire to experience the presence of God.-Kirk Hadaway — Churches need a religious message, a spiritual component to what they do. Social action is good, but too many churches aren’t rooted in spirituality.

  • Mainline isn’t really sure what our message is. Is faith the center of my life or just a nice idea.
  • Who and what are we?

I was not at the Umerging Colloquy and I know that this is just a few of the notes and not the entire conversation.  There is a lot of talk about what the mainline church is experiencing.  There is not a lot of conversation about how to move from being stuck and in decline.  I just re-read Sacred Cows Make Great Gourmet Burgers by Bill Easum and chapter 11 is a must read for any pastor who wants a model of how to move from being stuck.  The Complete Ministry Audit by Bill Easum is also excellent.  I am aware of the challenges and I would love to see more resources that help local congregations move forward.

Ready to Move Forward

William T Chaney Jr

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” 32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the

kingdom of
God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions Our privilege to love God comes with the responsibility to share this love with others. It sets up the paradigm that for every privilege there is a responsibility. As a Disciple of Jesus Christ we have privileges and responsibilities We have the privilege of praying and having one on one conversation with our heavenly FatherWe have the responsibility of praying for people who are hurting all over the world We have the privilege of fellowshipping with each other and We have the responsibility to seek out those who have been missing from our fellowship 

We have the privilege of studying the scriptures to give us guidance in our daily lives We have the responsibility to apply what we learn in order to reflect the life of Jesus  We have the privilege of worshipping togetherWe have the responsibility to give a 10th of our earnings to support the ministry We have the privilege of enjoying a personal relationship with Jesus ChristWe also have the responsibility to share our relationship through lifestyle, conversation and our interaction with others.  Our privilege to love God comes with the responsibility to share that love with others.  We are blessed to be a blessing.  vote_small.jpg  You have the privilege and responsibility to vote.  Balancing my privileges and handling my responsibilities William T Chaney Jr

But the fruit of the SPIRIT is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  Galatians 5:22, 23 

These are also the specific characteristic traits that should develop and be evident in a person who is growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  These characteristics are often contrary to the character traits that are popular and discussed as essential to be successful from a worldly context.  When we make the decision to live our lives as a disciple of Jesus Christ, we then have a responsibility to demonstrate behavior that reflects our commitment.  Often this is in contrast to the popular world views on achievement and success   

Exerting authority, out performing, controlling, dominating and gaining superiority of your sales force, management team, co-workers should not also mean that you cannot show the results of your relationship with Jesus Christ. Gaining wealth is not so that you can have the biggest boat or vacation in the most exotic places, but gaining wealth becomes a means to providing for the needs of those in poverty, the homeless, the physically challenged and for ministry. Your network of people becomes a conduit for you to connect people who need services and products not for personal gain but for the shear joy of empowering those around you. 

In corporate meetings I have often heard explicitly and implicitly, “Be focused and goal oriented at all costs.” Don’t worry about the other person’s perspective. No one can share your perspective but you, and that is what is most important.” and even “Go around your boss, he or she is just blocking your success.” 

Realigning our focus to produce the Fruit of the Spirit demands that we consciously acknowledge that we have been influenced by the clichés of a corporate culture that would have us believe it is all about me.  We must then reject that philosophy and begin to embrace the disciplines necessary to produce the Fruit of the Spirit.  

Charles Wesley calls these the Holy Tempers. These are the behaviors that are demonstrated when Love is at the center of our Christian Experience. God’s forgiving love, empowering love and active love in our lives demands a response which Wesley calls the Holy Tempers.  In his sermon on Christian Zeal Wesley states, 

 But of all holy tempers, and above all others, see that you be most zealous for love. Count all things loss in comparison of this – the love of God and all mankind. It is most sure, that if you give all your goods to feed the poor, yea, and your body to be burned, and have not humble, gentle, patient love, it profiteth you nothing. O let this be deep engraved upon your heart: “All is nothing without love!”The journey to embracing The Fruit of the Spirit is to passionately seek to Love God with all of our being and to share that love with others.  

Embracing the Fruit of the SpiritRev. William T Chaney Jr
West Baltimore UMC 


AWESOME!!!!!!! The reading of the biblical text that emerges out of the Black Church experience will be refreshing.

Pastor William T Chaney Jr
West Baltimore UMC