2: Spring Valley Baptist, Columbia, SC [Teach Bible Study, Go to Lunch with Class, Attend Deacons Meeting]. 6: FaithSoaring Churches Learning Community [ConfCall]. 9: SVBC [Deacon Ordination and Church Conference]. 10: SVBC [Stewardship]. 13: FSCLC [Webinar]. 16: SVBC [Teach Bible Study, Count Offering]. 16-19: Mennonite Brethren [Phoenix]. 20: FSCLC [ConfCall]. 23: SVBC [Teach Bible Study, Serve Lord's Supper]. 27-12/1: Thanksgiving with Family.
PRAY for the Ebola crisis. Keep in perspective that in spite of all the hype, the USA can handle the crisis in our land. Who most needs our prayers are the countries of West Africa--particularly Liberia. This disease is killing many people, disintegrating families, and severely disrupting the economic of Liberia. It will take many years to recover.
PRAY for Decatur First Baptist Church as it engages in a Spiritual Strategic Journey process. It has a great opportunity to transition and change in response to a dynamic contextual setting of downtown Decatur. Will they be up to challenge? Pray that it may be so!
PRAY for Shelby, NC, First Baptist Church as they craft their future story of ministry. May significant new vitality and vibrancy result from their efforts. They incremental decline has happen over many years, and they must take prophetic action to move forward.
PRAY for the work of the Baptist World Alliance led by Neville Callam, and its North American Baptist Fellowship that I lead, as we anticipate 2014 as a year that will significantly move forward our work among Baptists worldwide. Pray specifically for our NABF's 50th anniversary as celebrate the future of Baptist missional collaboration from the base of North America. The theme is FutureBaptists: A Collaborative Missional Movement.
The FaithSoaring Churches Learning Community has been launched by The Columbia Partnership to empower congregations of all sizes and shapes who are at least one generation old from their founding to develop patterns that allow for continual vitality and vibrancy. We call this FaithSoaring.
Overall Benefit: To be part of a movement of congregational leaders and congregational champions committed to the continual transformation of congregations throughout North America, and empowering them to soar with faith as they seek to reach their full Kingdom potential based on their discernment of God’s vision for them.
If you are ready to join now click HERE. The 12-month fee is $99.
Have you checked out the new blog called Words and Deeds by Norman Jameson? Not only is Norman and exception Christian journalist and communication consultant, he is also a generosity/stewardship consultant who helps congregations with Annual Giving and Capital Campaigns.
December 19th: Transform Congregations By Conducting Exit Interviews #365SSIFTC
Congregations seeking to transform conduct exit interviews with people leaving the congregation. This is not just about people who leave because they become dissatisfied. This is for people who leave for any reason. They may be moving to another community, city or state, or other reasons.
People who are leaving may be much freer to speak both about what is good and positive about the congregation and what was bad and negative about the congregation. Congregations need to hear both. Then congregations need to be responsible with that information. for ways to praise rather than ways to criticize.
Featured TCP Book for December 19th: Making Shifts Without Making Waves: A Coach Approach to Soulful Leadership
Edward Hammett and James Pierce are the authors of Making Shifts Without Making Waves: A Coach Approach to Soulful Leadership. Click HERE to view/purchase this book.
"In an age of storms created by fast-paced lives, an unpredictable economy, population diversity, family life, and church/denomination challenges, leaders and organizations are needing new skills and strategies to deal with these changes. Making Shifts without Making Waves addresses the fears and aimlessness many organizations and leaders face when dealing with transition and change."
Free TCP eBook December 19th Only! People and Factors Killing Your Congregation
To obtain for FREE People and Factors Killing Your Congregation by George Bullard click HERE.
"Typically I prefer to talk about the signs of health and strength in congregations. It is much more empowering and enjoyable. It is a better vehicle to help congregations move forward in the direction of their full kingdom potential. It quickly and easily gets them thinking about the future toward which God is pulling them. At the same time it is necessary to face the reality that there are people and factors killing congregations. These people and factors are not necessarily proactively trying to kill congregations. Often the actions of people and impact of factors are unintentional. At the same time they are very real."
The Internet is full of articles about why people are leaving church—or never attending church in the first place. Some are called “nones” and recently many people are using the term “dones” for those who are finished with church—at least for now.
A great deal of focus is on the generation known as Millennials. This fits the pattern that every few years church leaders, prognosticators, and the parents of young adults express the concern that the current generation of young adults are not as active in church as others think they ought to be.
My response—perhaps contribution—to this dialogue is that I wonder why people are NOT leaving church. Why do people stay in their church even when that church gives evidence it is not serving them well and proactively helping them connect with the Triune God?
December 18th: Transform Congregations By Focusing on Connecting People #365SSIFTC
Congregations seeking to transform are less concerned about people becoming members. They are more concerned about having different connecting points with people. How people are connected with a congregation speaks to activity. It is about doing. Having people as members of a congregation speaks to their relationship. It is about being.
While both are important, there is something about being that speaks to a person being in neutral or having completion. There is something about doing that speaks to activity, progress, even disciplemaking.
Would your congregation rather have people as members to show growth, or connected to show kingdom progress?
Featured TCP Book for December 18th: Leading Congregations through Crisis
Greg Hunt is the author of Leading Congregations through Crisis. Click HERE to /purchase this book.
"On July 12, 2009, 23 youth and adult sponsors from First Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., were involved in a tragic bus accident, leaving two dead and others seriously injured. Rev. Gregory Hunt suddenly found himself leading a congregation in crisis. From that grueling experience, Hunt has crafted a book pastors need to read even as they hope they'll never use it. Putting Christ and mission at the book's center, Hunt examines what happens when crisis strikes and how pastors and congregations can prepare for future crises. Ten different types of crises - ranging from violence to natural disasters to internal congregational strife - provide insight into how pastors can lead congregations through harrowing times into a healthy future."
FREE TCP eBook December 18th Only! Living Into the Potential of Your Congregation
To obtain for FREE Living Into the Potential of Your Congregation by George Bullard click HERE.
"The reality is that what you are going to discover in this eBook is that no congregation truly reaches its full Kingdom potential. In a certain sense this is a positive, spiritual Catch-22. If you appear to be reaching your full Kingdom potential, then often God has dimensions of ministry service for you that you have never experienced, but for which you are now prepared because of the journey on which you’ve been traveling. God raises the bar of expectation just as you were about to grasp it. "
In the United States some people are prejudiced against African-Americans. Some against Anglo-Americans. Some against Hispanic-Americans. Some against Asian-Americans. Some against Native-Americans.
Some people are prejudiced against immigrants, whether legal or illegal. They fail to acknowledge that most all of us have immigrant roots and our heritage is from somewhere else. Yet our ancestors were generally welcomed when they came to America.
Some people are prejudiced against Jews. Some against Catholics. Some against Protestants. Some against Muslims. Others do not organize their prejudice around the names of various faiths. They are prejudiced against liberals, or fundamentalists, or moderates, or progressives, or those who are passionate about sharing their faith — whatever their faith may be.
Transform Congregations By Addressing the Situation of Chreasters: Congregations seeking to transform are aware of and address the situation of Chreasters. These are people who attend church at Christmas, Easter, and perhaps one or two other times per year. They are the underchurched. They may have once been much more active but something in their lives or their relationship with their church changed that practically dechurched them.
Congregations seek to provide a quality experience at Christmas and Easter that is presented in a positive and inviting way. They also provide fresh entry points for Chreasters to reactivate in the congregation, and a soft but sincere response to their presence.
Featured TCP Book for Today! Going Global: A Congregation's Introduction to Mission Beyond Our Borders: Authors are Gary Nelson, Gordon King, and Terry Smith. Click HERE to view/purchase this book.
"The ways to be effective in global missions have changed. The authors believe that content and values must undergird the North American local church's approach to global mission. It is not enough to "do something." It is in fact possible to do all of the right things in all of the wrong ways, with negative results. It is also possible that mission "over there" can have as much -- or more -- on the church at home. This book discusses common principles and practices that inform and energize local churches as they enter the global ministry arena. This book will assist church leadership as they look for resources to help them balance the agenda of short-term versus long-term mission, fund-raising, and the tension between evangelism and compassionate social ministry."
FREE TCP eBook Today Only! Healthy Church Budget Empower Missional MInistry:To download this eBook click HERE.
"Without an intentional plan to empower missional ministry churches unintentionally empower their institutional side and their fixed costs. Eventually their crowd out their soft costs that support Disciplemaking and Missional Engagement, and these are underfunded."
Transform Congregations By Keep Moving Forward:Congregations seeking to transform are willing to keep moving forward in spite of the obstacles they encounter. They are prepared spiritually and emotionally for the unexpected. They are not discouraged by setbacks. They see each new challenge as an opportunity to learn something that will help them in the next phase of their ministry.
When leaders risk and try something challenging--even prophetic--and it does not work, they are not criticized but praised for their efforts. Together the leaders and perhaps even the whole congregation seek discernment from God as to what they need to learn from their current efforts.
"Many congregations are unprepared for explosive crises. They are especially unprepared for theological and moral crises. Both of these crisis categories often cause emotional reactions from congregational leaders.
Leaders, who otherwise express great spiritual wisdom, move from acting out of typical stress to acting out of distress when controversial theological and moral issues become the primary agenda in their family, congregation, denomination, work place, and nation. "
Featured TCP Book for Today! Travis Collins is the the author of For Ministers About to Start...Or About to Give Up. Click HERE to view/purchase this book.
"In For Ministers about to Start … or About to Give Up, Travis Collins lays bare the realities of church leadership while affirming the call to ministry. Stories of his many years of experience as a senior minister, a missionary, and a church consultant are laced with practical tips on treating burnout, wrestling with divisive matters, and recapturing the hope, the faith, and the joy in the call to vocational ministry."
How is taking a mountain hike like a congregation’s transformation journey? Not much unless . . .
Before you read too far let me admit this article took shape during a mountain hike with my family was in North Carolina over a holiday weekend. Here are some of the thoughts that emerged during the hike.
First, the journey is longer than you were told at the beginning. At the start, even people with a map and who have taken this hike before misjudge the time it will take and the distance it covers.
In like manner, the congregational transformation journey often takes longer than first predicted, and covers more distance than projected. This is a surprise and can lead some people wanting to turn back.
Rather than a Jerry Maguire demand of “show me the money,” denominations often find themselves asking “where has all the money gone?”
Depending on the denomination, funds to denominations began declining between 30 and 50 years ago. However, it took a while for it to show obvious impact on core programs and emphases.
Many denominations through much of the 20th century sought to promote a primary funding stream whereby churches would contribute a dollar amount or a percent of their undesignated tithes and offerings to the denomination. In denominations where churches are autonomous, this was typically voluntary. Yet, at the same time, a culture of commitment and loyalty was promoted. Faithful congregations were seen as those who gave a certain dollar amount according to their size or a certain percentage of their tithes and offerings.
Congregations in denominations with a connectional authority system generally had an assessment or allocation funding rate they were requested to meet. Meeting their annual assessment or allocation was regularly a challenge for congregations.
Some denominations still have a certain level of financial commitment that is expected of congregations. Whether they get it or not is a different issue. This primary funding stream was once a financial growth vehicle. Later these funding streams barely matched the rate of inflation. Now in many denominations these streams are a diminishing source of income.
Anyone who has experienced Tony Campolo in person probably has Tony Campolo stories. Not stories about him, but stories he tells that you retell. Yeah, me too.
Since I claim over two million airline miles during my life–a small amount compared to Tony–I like his story about networking on airplanes. I do not mean doing confrontational evangelism to a captive audience, but authentic conversations with the person in the seat next to you.
The way I remember Tony’s story is this. When he gets on an airplane and the person next to him says they are Jane or Joe and they sell widgets, and want to know who he is and what he does, he has one of two answers.
If he wants to talk he tells them he is a sociologist. That typically leads them to ask him questions they believe a sociologist could answer. But, if he does not want to talk because he wants to sleep, watch a movie, or read a book he tells them he is a BAPTIST EVANGELIST [speaking loud and in a commanding voice] and that typically shuts them up.
One night on a red eye flight from the west coast to the east coast knowing he needed to be alert to teach classes at Eastern University the next day, he sat down and the person next to him started pumping him with questions. Tony gave his BAPTIST EVANGELIST answer. The guy then explained his personal theology that everyone goes to heaven. Tony said, “That’s nice” and turned his head to the window to sleep.
As they were approaching Philadelphia Tony woke up, looked at his seat mate and said, “I’m sure glad the pilot does not share your theology about heaven.” “Whaddayamean,” his seat mate said. “Well,” replied Tony, “right now the pilot is getting instructions from the air traffic controller as to what speed, altitude, direction, and so forth he should travel to safely land at the airport. I can just see the pilot saying to the air traffic controller, ‘there are many ways into this airport’.”
“We need to get a new pastor who will bring us vision and get us moving in the right direction”, or something similar, is the number one statement I hear from lay leaders of congregations during the transition from one pastor to another.
The second most frequent statement from lay leaders refers to their current pastor. It goes something like this: “If we had a real pastor who had a vision for this congregation and would lead us to accomplish it, we could really be a great church.”
Among the most frequent statements I hear from pastors is, “These people will just not follow my vision. I need to move to another church where people are open and responsive to my vision.”
Or, another is, “I prayed and God gave me a vision for this church. I have tried and tried to cast this vision, but my congregation gives no evidence of hearing it.”
Still another is, “we hired this great Christian consulting group who promised they would help us develop a vision statement around which we could organize all that we do. The process was great and truly inspiring. The early results gave evidence of a true transformation of our congregation. But, a couple of years in it waned, and once again we are wandering in the wilderness.”
All of these statements miss the point of the three faces of congregational vision. They are confusing the source of vision, the casting of vision, and the ownership of vision. For congregations to truly be captivated by vision they must understand the faces of source, casting, and ownership. Not just one or the other. It is a synergy of all three that is essential, and it probably happens in the order presented here.