Is Your Denomination Unintentionally Drifting or Intentionally Shifting?

WorldviewchangesLook at your denomination and at those around you, and you will notice a lot of drifting and shifting. Drifting is generally unintentional and shifting is generally intentional. Just look at the denominations who have held regular national/international assemblies this year and you will see various patterns of drifting and shifting.

My consulting work is with a lot of denominations across the theological and ecclesiological spectrum so I regularly observe the drifting and shifting. At times it is more difficult to observe the patterns of transition and change in your own denominational family with any objectivity. My denominational family is Baptist. One denomination within that family--Cooperative Baptist Fellowship--observes it 25th anniversary this year. Like many newer denominations which have emerged in the past four decades, they are still trying to figure out who they are, and who is in and who is out.

They began by generically calling themselves "Moderate Baptists". In recent times an increasing number of CBF participants refer to themselves as "Progressive Baptists". Which are they? Are they one or the other? Are they both? Is that possible? What is the difference?

This week I posted some questions for anyone related to CBF to answer. Keep reading and discover my questions and what some people are saying in response.

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Insight 180: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Following God’s Purpose

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLR“When you start following God’s purpose, God will start making ways.” [Queen and Davis, Hopeful Imagination, 2014] Congregations desiring to transform follow God’s purpose first, last, and all along the way. They surrender their purpose to God’s purpose. They move along a continuum from success to significance toward the goal of surrender to God’s purpose.

As they progress along this continuum they are bolstered by the reality that God is making a way for their transformation to take place. They have self-awareness that it was not by their effort, but by their willing dependence on our God who transforms.

Insight 179: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Being Deep Rather Than Shallow

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLRCongregations seeking to transform move beyond shallow spiritual and social relationships to deep relationships. In praying they do not engage in shallow prayers that speak in general about their praise for God, one another, with ignorance of the hopes and hurts of their congregation and their community context.

They encourage people to share deep and personal prayer concerns so that real life hopes and hurts of specific people can be addressed in various prayerful ways. Shallow congregations do not trust one another with their real life issues. They believe that hoarding their hopes and hurts is superior to sharing them.

Insight 178: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Being Intentional and Not Drifting

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLRCongregations seeking to transform are moving forward with intentionality in the direction of God’s leadership for them as a congregation. Congregations wishing they could transform are drifting without a clear sense of intentionality. They are reactive to circumstances, often defending what is happening, and wishing that things were like they were in the past.

It is important for congregations to be decisive and purposeful. They need to know who they are under God, what they value and believe, and where they are headed. They then must align their actions to live into the call of God upon their congregation.

Insight 177: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Proactively Inviting New People Into Leadership

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLRCongregations seeking to transform proactively invite new people into leadership. Congregations who want to maintain fail to invite new people into leadership or suggest it is too hard.

One layperson indicated the following about his congregation:  “I was away from church leadership for a decade. When I re-engaged I discovered that 80% of the leaders were the same as ten years before. We do not do a good job of bringing new people into leadership.”

They like their way of doing leadership and do not understand they may have to adjust their leadership culture to successfully include newer, younger leaders.

Insight 176: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Balancing Leadership and Ownership in Decision-Making

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLRCongregations seeking to transform have worked out appropriate ways to balance decisions made by leaders and ownership felt by members and others connected with congregations. Often heard in every situation of life is that what is needed is leaders who lead. Does that necessarily mean that leaders make all the decisions? No.

It does mean an empowering system of leadership, decision-making, ownership, and action have been worked out. Often in a congregational transformation situation more direct decisions need to be made by “top” leaders. This should not come to the exclusion of creating great ownership so there is appropriate followership.

Samuel Tolbert Elected President of the North American Baptist Fellowship

Samuel-tolbert 03

In addition to the election of a new General Secretary to replace me as I move forwarad to a new focus, the North American Baptist Fellowship has also elected an outstanding new President

Rev. Samuel C. Tolbert Jr., president of the National Baptist Convention of America, International, Inc. was elected on Monday, June 22nd to serve as the president of the North American Baptist Fellowship of the Baptist World Alliance. In this position Tolbert will not only be seen as a leader among Baptists throughout North America, but he will be recognized by, have influence on, and be a mentor to Baptist leaders throughout the world.

Tolbert will begin his two-year term of service during the Baptist World Alliance Annual Gathering in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada the first week of July. He will be officially presented to the North American Baptist Fellowship by David Emmanuel Goatley of Lott Carey who was chairperson of the search committee.

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Insight 175: Become a FaithSoaring Church By an Appropriate Focus on Food

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLRWhile it might sound strange, the appropriate use of food can be an important part of transforming congregations. Here are some thoughts: 1. The providing of food at various occasions is a “speed bump” that gets people to slow down and interact.

2. It allows for the building of relationships if an intentional pattern of interaction is part of the gathering that involves people connecting with new or different people. 3. It symbolizes sharing and the giving of gifts that shows genuine concern for the well-being of others. 4. It can be a ministry that brings satisfaction to the giver.

Insight 174: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Proactively Including All Generations in Leadership

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLRCongregations seeking to transform know that to the extent they have multiple generations within their congregation they must proactively include all generations in congregational leadership. The tendency is for “like” to attract “like”. This means older, long-term leaders ask the people they know to join them in leadership.

It is not just a matter of asking--particularly younger generations--but also modifying the way leadership in the congregations operates. Younger generations want leadership that is responsive, agile, quick, effective, and sees the need of younger generations as well as older generations. They want full respect and acknowledgement of issues important to them.

Elijah Brown Elected General Secretary of the North American Baptist Fellowship

Elijah Brown, General Secretary-Elect

The North American Baptist Fellowship Elects George Bullard's Successor this Week as George Moves into a Four-Year Legacy Season of His Ministry

Dr. Elijah M. Brown, executive vice president of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, was elected General Secretary of the North American Baptist Fellowship on Monday, June 20th during a called meeting of the executive committee. NABF is one of the six regions of the world related to the Baptist World Alliance. It has 30 member organizations, and the total membership of the churches in the member denominations is approximately 15 million.

Brown will begin his role October 1st. He is replacing George Bullard who has served as General Secretary since August 1, 2009. Bullard is concluding his service on his seventh anniversary to focus on a four-year Legacy Season project of teaching, coaching, and writing regarding congregations and denominations.

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