George Bullard, President, The Columbia Partnership, 332 Valley Springs Road, Columbia, SC 29223-6934, Voice: 803.622.0923, E-mail: GBullard@TheColumbiaPartnership.org, TCP Web Site: www.TheColumbiaPartnership.org, Blog: www.BullardJournal.org
PRAY for several regional denominational leaders I am coaching to increase their effectiveness of service to the congregational movements they lead. May they see success as the quality and depth of ministry of congregations as they seek to reach their full Kingdom potential.
PRAY for the Baptist Church of Beaufort [SC] as they begin living into their Future Story of ministry as they develop their Future Study Fulfillment Map. May significant new vitality and vibrancy result from their efforts.
PRAY for Park Street Baptist Church as they continue a year-long Spiritual Strategic Journey process to seek to transform as a congregation. They have made multiple attempts in the past 30 years to do this. Are they ready to do the things necessary to respond to the call of God on their congregation?
PRAY for the new vision of The Columbia Partnership that seek to empower the transformation of 2100 congregations per year by the end of 2017. Pray that we may be able to connect with an increasing number of congregations who desire to reach their full Kingdom potential.
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 2013 and 2014 as years 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.
In the midst of a region of the world where the impact of a churched culture is fading, many congregations in North America are stuck in an overly churched culture perspective. As a result these congregations become insulated, isolated, and inoculated from people who are preChristians, unchurched, underchurched, and dechurched.
These congregations did not mean for this to happen. It was not intentional. It just crept up on them over a number of years—even decades.
As of Friday, November 8, 2013 various Christian disaster response organizations were rushing to prepare their response to the Typhoon Haiyan hitting the Philippines. In some cases they were moving forward alone feeling they could respond best by using their own capacities and specialties.
Others were preparing to respond through a global coordination group who would channel their financial, material, and volunteer resources to places of identified need based on the capacity of their coordination group to manage their response.
A third set of disaster response organizations were preparing to respond in collaboration with various partners using a correlation approach where they identify whose efforts would go first, who would back them up, who would go where for the greatest impact, and where the gaps are that need to be filled.
Congregations need a hopeful learning season that will help them see the same things they have seen for many years in a different way. This gives them insight into what it will take to continually transform congregational life. Likely this is a God-inspired season that comes during a time they are open to the new things God is saying to them. This may come during a time of sabbatical or jubilee.
I am in a season of new learning as one who has sought to come alongside congregations for the past almost 40 years. At times in doing the same things over and over again a new insight comes to a Bible passage I have read many times, congregations I have observed with regularity, and learning presentations I have delivered hundreds of times.
One of those happened during a recent weekend as I prepared to teach a Bible study on Leviticus 25 that talks about sabbatical and jubilee. This scripture suggests the idea of a sabbath or sabbatical every seven years. The symbol of seven is foundational to the biblical story. One of many examples is the creation story which is presented as a story of seven with the seventh day being a day of rest.
Beyond the ability to be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall
buildings in a single bound, what else do congregations want from their next senior or solo pastor?
At the request of a ministry friend I looked at the profile of a congregation where he hopes to be considered as senior pastor. When reading congregational profiles it is important to understand the meaning behind the content. Or, at least the assumed meaning ought to call for some powerful questions to be asked by the pastoral candidate during the interview process.
Now that the USA government shutdown is over–at least for a while–let’s reflect on the lessons churches can learn from the shutdown about conflict. Many of these are lessons of what not to do. These lessons are also politically neutral. It does not matter what position you personally favored.
First, if you avoid for too long the conflicts in your church, and fail to engage the crucial issues, it gets to be really messy. If you do not proactively engage low intensity conflict when collaboration is a great engagement strategy, when it escalates it will soon move beyond your capacity to positively engage it. At that point, the best you can hope for is a short-term fix rather than a long-term solution.
A ministry friend recently posted a request on Facebook for the job descriptions for church committees. That is a very legitimate request. If a church is going to have committees, those committees need to have a clear understanding of their ministry focus.
Yet, why have committees in the first place? But, I digress.
The understanding of the ministry focus of committees needs to include three things; the third of which is the most important. First, they need a clear, simple concise statement of their ministry and the arenas where they have authority to act so they can appropriately focus. Second, they need a clear, simple concise statement of what is not their ministry and where they do not have authority to act so they can appropriately collaborate with others.
Third, and did I say this was the most important? They need a clear understanding of principles that should guide their work as a ministry of the congregation. Here are five principles for your consideration.
What does it look like when a congregation realizes it has facilities way too big compared to its attendance? It looks like wandering through the catacombs in Rome during the first century and stumbling across groups of Christians meeting for prayer and telling the stories of Jesus.
The first time I experienced this was 30 years ago when consulting with the congregation my parents attended during the four years before I was born. Its facilities were expanded during the heyday of the congregation of the 1940s and 1950s. When I encountered the congregation it was 75 percent smaller than during its prime.
I have seen many congregations like this during my almost 40 years of strategic leadership coaching. Lately it seems I am experiencing an increasing number of congregations where this is the case. In the past six months I experienced numerous congregations who could easily house three congregations simultaneously in their facilities.
Ouch! The question itself raises a variety of emotions; and not all good ones. I posted this question on Facebook to see what responses I would receive.
The origin of this question was somewhat different than how it was posed. It was actually a question raised by a pastor as he pondered his responsibility for creating an atmosphere and framework in which spiritual formation and missional engagement could take place.
He has been at his current church for around a decade. The congregation is facing a major decision that requires a perspective that demonstrates spiritual maturity about the decision. Yet, there appears to be a lack of spiritual maturity in the dialogue.
This has caused the pastor to wonder about his role and responsibility in generating spiritual maturity in the congregation. So the question: What is the responsibility of a pastor for setting an atmosphere and framework for spiritual formation and missional engagement? If the congregation individually and collectively is not growing spiritually, should they sue their pastor for malpractice?
By George Bullard, Ministry Colleague with The Columbia Partnership
Does it seem that many congregations are late adapters to some trends? It does to me. It appears congregations are just getting around to adapting to certain trends as the next trend is emerging. For example, organizing congregations according to teams rather than committees continues in its ascendancy, just as in the world at-large teams are fading in favor of communities.
It is a positive step that congregations are abandoning committees for teams. But what if congregations were to skip the team phase and embrace communities? Too radical? Perhaps so! Too cutting edge? Hardly!
Leadership communities and learning communities are the next wave of congregational leadership, governance, and missional engagement. Are you ready to empower the transition? Consider these seven differences between committees, teams, and communities as you think about making the transition:
I’m sure you have seen one or more of the various V8 vegetable juice commercials where people are talking about eating something delicious, like some comfort food, and then all of a sudden someone or they themselves knock their forehead with the palm of their hand and they say “I could have had a V8!”
That is exactly what ought to happen to congregations who experience unhealthy conflict that comes out sideways. Only their expression should be, “I could have learned how to handle conflict when it was healthy!”
In many cases there is no reason for congregations to experience unhealthy, destructive conflict when either they could see it coming a long way off, or it began as healthy conflict that got out of hand because the congregation did not know how to handle it. They could have engaged in conflict education to develop the skills or capacities to handle conflict. As part of this education they could learn when their need third party mediation so that their conflict does not become unhealthy and destructive.