Congregational Champions Retreats Update

Columbia House, April 2016Do you know about the Congregational Champions Retreats George and Betty Bullard are hosting during the Fall of 2016? If not, go to or Download Congregational Champions Retreats Invitation, May 2016--a PowerPoint presentation. [Here is an earlier PowerPoint version if you cannot open the first one: Download Congregational-champions-retreats-invitation-may-2016.]

Why these retreats? To provide a forum for a small group of people to have in-depth dialogue with George surrounding issues of congregational vitality and vibrancy. He desires to pass along his long view of what helps congregations become FaithSoaring so others can take what he has learned to the next dimension of congregational effectiveness. This is based on his 40+ years of functioning as a third-party provider to congregations as a consultant and coach.

A total of seven retreats have now been planned. Five will take place in George and Betty's home in Columbia, SC. Two are "special retreats" that have been planned on remote sites at the invitation of two denominational groups. 

The seven retreats can accommodate 50 people. More than three dozen have already registered. Around a dozen seats are still available for the retreats August 29-September 1, September 27-29, and October 25-27. 

Check out the web site and/or the PowerPoint. Then let George know of any questions you may have. His e-mail is or call 803.622.0923.

Congregational Vision Raises the Expectations of Disciples

Raising ExpectationsExpectations of Christian disciples always goes along with fulfillment of congregational vision. Few, if any, congregations who have low expectations of Christian disciples related to their congregation are likely to become captivated by God’s vision for their future ministry, and to live prophetically into that vision.

Congregational vision calls upon Christian disciples to engage, to be proactive, to be intentional, and to be faithful, effective, and innovative in the fulfillment of God’s vision for their congregation. It does not call on Christian disciples to be unengaged, passive, random, and to lack faithfulness, effectiveness, and innovation. Yet, that is the path chosen by many congregational participants; perhaps even a majority.

Raising the expectations of Christian disciples is best if it comes as a result of God pulling them forward as opposed to leadership within the congregation seeking to push them forward. Disciples who are pushed do not usually give their full heart, soul, mind, and strength to the effort. That is why seeing the acquiring of and the living into vision as a spiritual process that matures and motivates disciples is so important.

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Insight 147: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Recognizing the Shaping of God

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLR“God doesn’t work in a vacuum. The events and circumstances that have brought you to this moment have shaped you along the way--your identity as a church, your sense of mission and self-understanding.” [Queen and Davis.  Hopeful Imagination, 2014]

Congregations desiring to transform recognize the presence and power of God within their congregation and in everything they do. They recognize that God is working through multiple people in the congregation and not just the lead or solo pastor. They see the hand of God in how they were crafted as individuals, and a fellowship of Christians and those seeking Christ.

Insight 146: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Having a Spiritual Purpose for Everything

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLRCongregations desiring to transform cannot waste opportunities to demonstrate or speak to the spiritual aspects of every event or process it sponsors. They must be intentional and purposeful about everything they do. Church is not just about being busy. It is about pointing people to a Christ-centered faith-based lifestyle.

While the manner in which the spiritual aspects are stated or implied may at times be subtle rather than confrontational, it should be obvious. Congregational leaders need to pray and think through how with each event or process the unconditional love of God might be made manifest in word and deed.

Newcomers Who Connect with Congregations Need to Own the Vision

Newcomers-picMany congregations have policies, or bylaws, that require people to be connected with their congregation for a certain amount of time before they are eligible to hold various positions. My own church of membership, as an example, requires a person to be a member for at least one year before they qualify for certain leadership positions.

These policies are simultaneously good news and bad news. They are good news in terms of asking people to get to know the church before they try to lead the church, and for the existing leaders of the active congregation to get to know them before placing them in a leadership position.

In some settings such policies do not work well. For example, congregations in a highly transient area, such as a military base area, may not get very faithful and highly committed Christians into leadership positions until right before they get transferred. Tenure policies must be customized to the contextual situation.

One very important area of congregations where there should be no tenure requirement is in connecting newcomers with the vision congregations are seeking to fulfill. Vision ought to be obvious to newcomers from the first time they connect with congregations. During their first worship service, or small group, or from information provided to them as a guest they should be presented with the vision and even have it interpreted to them.

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Insight 145: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Accepting Outside Intervention

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLRCongregations get to a point that outside intervention is necessary for them to transform. They are out of leadership--at least leadership that has a vision of the future rather than the past. They are out of ideas--at least ideas that are empowering of the future. In some cases they are also out of money.

It could be that one of their greatest assets is their facilities. But they suffer from the false idea that their facilities belong to them rather than God. Release from this dilemma comes only by giving authority over to an outside entity who can compel transformation.

Can Baptists Achieve Synergistic Missional Collaboration in Philadelphia?

Philadelphia[This post first appeared on Baptist News Global. Click HERE to read it on the web site.]

I write today to advocate for Baptists active in ministry in the megalopolitan area of Philadelphia to commit to synergistic missional collaboration. Let me begin with a definition.

Collaboration is a synergy of efforts — missional in this case — that increases the effectiveness and excellence of various areas of Christian ministry. It seeks higher ground where only God can take us rather than common ground where our human efforts alone take us. The overarching goal of synergistic missional collaboration is to work in close partnership for greater ministry outcomes, impacts, capacity building and sustainability.

Can this be achieved by Baptists denominational groups in Philadelphia? Let’s look at the Baptist landscape there.

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Insight 144: Become a FaithSoaring Churches By Realizing Who You Are and What Your Context Empowers

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLROne huge barrier to congregational transformation is for congregations to live in a fantasy world. They do not understand who they are and how the demographics of their context will empower their congregational potential. They want to be like congregations they see on in the Internet, on television, in books, or through speakers. They have a friends and family who are members of highly successful congregations and they think they can be like them.

Perhaps they can. Often they cannot. Clearly defining who they are and what their potential might be is a great beginning point for congregational transformation.

Insight 143: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Prayer for God's Guidance

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLR“Pray that God would guide you to see what he is doing and desires to be doing in you and in your church.” “God doesn’t work in a vacuum. The events and circumstances that have brought you to this moment have shaped you along the way--your identity as a church, your sense of mission and self-understanding.” [Queen and Davis.  Hopeful Imagination, 2014]

Never cease praying for the guidance of the Triune God in the life and ministry of your congregation. Transforming congregations are always looking for the new thing God is in the process of doing in their midst.

Insight 142: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Recognizing God's Timing

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLR“Openness to change doesn’t just happen. It emerges out of trust--trust of God and of one another.” [Queen and Davis. Hopeful Imagination, 2014.]

Too few congregations have a deep sense of trust in the presence of God’s Holy Spirit. They say with their mouth the Holy Spirit is trustworthy. Their actions indicate otherwise. They act like it is necessary to take the reins of control from the Holy Spirit and reimage their congregation in their image rather than trusting the Holy Spirit to reimage their congregation in God’s image. Transforming congregations trust God’s Holy Spirit and are open to change.

Insight 141: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Leading Congregations to New Understandings

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLR“Leading change is not just doing something different. Moses did not only lead his people out of Egypt, but he also led them to a new understanding of who they were and of what was possible.” [Queen and Davis. Hopeful Imagination, 2014]

Out of a new sense of identity--who they are under God--congregations can move forward to new understandings about their ministry. It does not necessarily involve them going to a new physical place, but it may. It could begin by them going to a different culture for missional engagement and thus gaining new understandings about God’s unconditional love.