October 2008


Why Should Churches Plant Churches?
By Phil Longmire

·        Young Churches have the potential to bring many new people to our faith

·        Our church to population ratio is declining. This is based on the US census

·        America is still one of the greatest mission fields in the world

·        Because We Are Losing a Generation

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This is a good article by Phil.  I have not written much about new church plants lately but I believe that church multiplication is more important than membership multiplicaiton. Changing the established mainline church DNA will be a challenge.  The change will include celebrating new churches, intentionally seeding new churches with discipled tithing members, supportting new ministries financially and training senior pastors to encourage and nurture new church pastors. 

The Battle of the Church Signs

THis is hillarious with a lesson about communication

This morning my friend Bill Tenny – Brittian wrote an article The High Cost of Transformation.  I agree with most of the article.  Many pastors who start transformation are not there to finish the process.  Bill answered the question of why transformation is so difficult and the costs that it often has on the pastor. I immediately began to work on a possible solution of how to complete the process with integrity without sacrificing the pastor who initiates the transformation. 

 

Here is my response.  I invite others to share their persepctives. In order for a pastor to initiate, sustain and complete the process of transformation there needs to be a transfusion of leadership.  This happens in two stages.  One there must be a challenge to the current leaders to increase their spiritual maturity. (I am using Fowlers Stages of Faith as the standard.) And there must be an infusion of new leaders.  Through evangelism outside of the church and searching for hidden leadership potential within the congregation the transformation pastor will need to infuse the new leaders within the established leadership structure and move quickly to establish the right people in the right ministry positions who all have the committed to growing in their spiritual maturity.

 

WARNING – This approach will be incredibly intimidating to the established old guard.  The pastor’s commitment is no longer to maintain the status quo and yield to the long time official and unofficial influencers but intentionally changing the leadership personnel so that there will be eventually be a spiritual revival throughout the entire congregation.  The people who are not committed to spiritual formation will be those who fight back the most. For this reason the most important spiritual discipline and the focus of the first small group needs to be prayer and spiritual warfare. 

 

Transformation is difficult but not impossible

I have been approached by several people who are concerned about the church taking on characteristics of the popular culture. This concerns me because a congregation that is not in touch with the culture and the times are missing some pretty significant opportunities to introduce people who do not have an experience with God to the One who transforms lives through grace.

 

As disciple making pastors we are challenged to help people with a secular worldview see the world through the eyes of God.  Taking the events of history, events of today and the prospects of the future and walking future believers through the process of experiencing spiritual disciplines, teaching them how to engage the scriptures and how to embrace the people that they meet on a daily basis as God’s people who can be transformed because God loves them and wants to be in a vital, interactive relationship with them if they are willing to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. 

 

When a church is out of touch with the culture they are focused on membership through worship rituals rather than worship that introduces people to the presence of God. 

 

When a church is out of touch with the culture they are focused on committees that report the past rather than ministry teams that are focused on how to fulfill the mission, accomplish the vision and maintain integrity in the scriptural values that guide our faith.

 

When a church is out of touch with the culture they can not respond to the current events of the times.  They are unable to recognize the deep impact of the financial crisis stress.   The church misses the wave of people searching for significance because the jobs that gave them a sense of significance are now gone.  Churches out of touch are not able to respond to the rising suicide rate among the society, and the increasing oppressive conditions that the poor in the projects, trailer parks and working poor are enduring.

 

When a church is out of touch they are unable to respond to the growing diversity of the nation and the globalization of the world’s social economy, financial economy and global cultural influence.

 

When a church is out of touch they are unaware of the growing numbers of families that have invited their grandparents to live with them because they do not have the finances to afford a retirement facility.  They are unaware of the vast numbers of people who are struggling with hidden addictions and wear the masks of “I’m ok with the world so don’t bother me right now.”

 

Disciple making churches can not afford to be out of touch with the culture and be effective in connecting people to the risen Christ.  Disciple making churches engage their congregation and also move beyond the church walls to provide ministry to people who have needs in their community. 

 

The challenge is to make disciple making central to the life of the church rather than another program or a side show to the “real ministry that we have always done.”  I enjoy coaching and consulting but I realize that churches that are beginning to adopt disciple making as their central ministry must transform the structure and the culture of the church to be effective. 

Excellence in in disciple making ministry is intentional.  Having a clear big picture of the ministry expectations allows the team members to attend to the various details.  The clearer the expectations the better team members can focus on attending to mission critical tasks and execute synchronized ministry.

 

Evangelism ministry team needs to have assurance that the hospitality team is ready to receive visitors, the facilities team will have clear signage, that the worship team will be ready to lead people into the presence of God and that the follow up team will visit and call the visitor.   This is one example of synchronized ministry. 

 

Each ministry team focuses on the details of their ministry that produce a support system for the other ministries to operate with excellence.  Every congregation needs a plan in order to accomplish synchronized ministry.  This plan should include

  • A system to attract, minister to and connect visitors to the ministry
  • A system to communicate the mission, vision and bedrock values of the church
  • A system of leadership training and spiritual formation for the leadership team

 

 Team leaders need to communicate to their team members about the several things

  • How effective we have or have not been as a team
  • Possible pitfalls to avoid as a ministry
  • Clear articulation of what excellence looks like in our ministry
  • The value of individual ministry gifts and they function effectively to compliment the ministry gifts of other team members

By Susan Passi-Klaus*
Oct. 2, 2008 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)

What if church wasn’t just a place where people spend an hour on Sundays? What if there wasn’t just one door into the church but 10,000?

And what if we began thinking about “church” as a verb instead of a noun?

The United Methodist Church is going to pose those questions and others when it rolls out a new media campaign in 2009 aimed at getting people to “Rethink Church.” The awareness campaign’s launch will coincide with World Malaria Day, April 25.

“In the next few years, we will seek to encourage a global spiritual dialogue,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, top staff executive of United Methodist Communications. “It will ask us to rethink church. We will ask, ‘What if church were a verb and not a noun?’”

Hollon and his staff presented the “Rethink Church” awareness campaign to the agency’s commission during a Sept. 25-27 meeting in Nashville. The Commission on Communication oversees United Methodist Communications, which is directing the campaign.

“What we’re going to try and get across is the idea that ‘church’ doesn’t just happen on Sundays, and ‘church’ isn’t just a building,” said Kerry Graham, president of Nashville-based Bohan Advertising/Marketing, which developed the “Rethink Church” campaign.

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This challenges self serving mission statements that some churches have adopted. The question is are we building communities of faith to transform the world or are we building social religious institutions? If we are building communities of faith we have to learn that it is a place of dwelling not visitation.

Oakland Church in Charles Town WV is engaged in innovative community based ministry.