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. 


If the mainline church is going to revitalize its urban churches we need to look at new ways of reaching out to the communities around our dying churches.  We first need to get over the phobia of evangelism, it is scriptural and a mark of being a disciple.  Servant evangelism seems to be a non threatening way to develop this discipline.