Baptist News Global Writes: Downtown Churches See Strength in Missionally Minded Disciples

Soup KitchenBaptist News Global has published a follow-up article to our FaithSoaring Churches Learning Community's Thursday Dialogue from April 28th on "Serving Where We Live in Old Town Alexandria" featuring the ministry of Downtown Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA.

Click HERE to read the article and also see about the ministry of First Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC and Hampton Baptist Church in Hampton, VA.

“Downtown or urban churches are the places to be if you love people and diversity,” George Bullard, a church leadership coach and president of the South Carolina-based Columbia Partnership, told BNG in an email. “Often there are multiple cultures to encounter, and you never run out of people with whom to connect.”

Insight 126: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Encouraging People to Express Their Spiritual Gifts

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLRCongregations needing to transform may have fallen into a pattern where they are not proactively freeing and empowering people to express their spiritual gifts. People are asked to fill slots of responsibility rather than move in areas where they have the greatest gifts, skills, and preferences.

Many congregations--even smaller membership congregations--have people with untapped gifts, skills, and preferences. At times they have become passive in their actions because the people who like to be in control never ask them to step forward. Empowering people to work in the spiritual and strategic journey of congregations is a great step forward.

Insight 125: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Balancing Management and Ministry

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLRA bad habit for congregations is to allow the time and energy spent on management activities to grow incrementally over time, and to allow time and energy spent on ministry activities to diminish over time. This happens naturally in many congregations and does not have to be an intentional strategy.

This creates a situation that blocks efforts to transform congregations. The increasing size of management creates complicated procedures to make new decisions and change the direction of the congregation. The decreasing size of ministry activities means there may not be enough new energy and effort to move the congregation outward.

Book Review. Be Mean About the Vision

Be Mean About the VisionjpgGood “One-Liners” on Vision. Not the Guidebook Your Congregation Needs.

Click HERE to see book.

I was very glad to see this book on vision by Shawn Lovejoy with the Foreword by my friend Ed Stetzer. I have been working on congregational vision for 40 years, so I am always glad to pick up another book on this subject. Thank you, Shawn, for sharing your passion.

The book has a lot of “one-liners” worth quoting and remembering. One example is on page 20: “Don’t rip off someone else’s vision. God has something better--much more authentic--that’s meant just for you.”

That is probably where my deep affection for the book ends. I now have some “compassionate” challenges for the book.

Continue reading "Book Review. Be Mean About the Vision" »

Insight 124: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Encouraging People to Observe Sabbath

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLRAs people change their Sunday/weekend attendance patterns at worship experiences, it is easy to push harder on people to be in attendance as a sign of loyalty to the congregation. In one sense that is a good indicator. In another sense we must remember it is about an ever deepening relationship with God.

What do congregations do who seek to transform and see a decreasing average attendance as one indicator of decline? Perhaps one positive approach is to back off of the guilt statements about attendance, and urge people to observe a Sabbath in the pattern of their week.

Book Review. The Silk Roads--A New History of the World

The Silk RoadsA Different--Even Refreshing--World Perspective

Click HERE is see book.

I engaged this book through Audible and listened to it as I traveled. It was an intriguing book. It was interesting to see world history from a different perspective--standing in a different place. In this case it was from the perspective of Central Asia and the Middle East. It confirmed some things I had felt for many years about this area of the world as a unique geographic “epitome district”.

It reaffirmed how much war during the civilization of the world has been “e”-driven=economics and ego. It is sad to think about how much war has been the dominant theme of civilization. The secondary theme has been religion, and a preoccupation with place and obedience to various warring religions--be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or otherwise.

Continue reading "Book Review. The Silk Roads--A New History of the World" »

Insight 123: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Having Active Empowering Management Documents

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLRCongregations are often in danger of being over managed and under led. This is particularly the case when considering the formal documents of the church. Where congregational polity exists these may be a constitution or charter, bylaws, and operational manual. In connectional traditions this may include region, national, and international documents of church organizations.

These documents should provide guidance that affirms the agility needed by congregations in an ever-changing world. They should exist in form and implementation that empowers congregations as centered sets rather than controls congregations as boxed sets. Congregations seeking to transform need great freedom to act.

Insight 122: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Redefining Our Kind of People

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLRCongregations needing to transform have too narrowly defined “our kind of people”. They have defined them around one of more of the following characteristics: race, ethnicity, socioeconomics, education, residential location, theological position, denominational affiliation, past to present relationship with the congregation, and other characteristics. Such definitions of “our kind of people” often lead to a declining congregation if it is located in a diverse context.

Congregations needing to transform need to define “our kind of people” as those to whom God is sending them that either they already have or can develop the capacity to have a genuine Christ-centered connection.

Insight 121: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Empowering Women in Ministry

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLRMany more congregations could transform if they would fully empower women in ministry leadership. Women add a quality to ministry leadership that enhances the ability of congregations to transform. Women have gifts, skills, and preferences needed within congregations.

Denying the full expression of women in ministry leadership limits the capacities of congregations. When there is a glass ceiling that denies certain roles of leadership to women, congregations actually create a liability for themselves rather than fully expressing a natural strength already available to them.

What is the next step your congregation needs to take to further unleash this valuable resource?

Now I'm Confused About Restrooms in Churches

Restrooms, Sorry No PublicAs I come alongside congregations and help them assess their situation, discern God’s future for them, rethink their staffing patterns, and evaluate the adequacy of their facilities, I have some key factors or measurements I hope to see.

Regarding their facilities, one key factor is that they have all four types of restrooms.

In virtually all congregations--unless they send me away from the building to a location of one or more outhouses--I find at least two types of restrooms. There is one for females and one for males. Many congregations now have three types of restrooms. There is one for females, one for males, and one for toddlers. Generally, the toddlers’ restroom is located in the preschool area.

A minority of congregations now have a fourth type of restroom. These are generally called family restrooms. Multiple demographics of people use these. They include, but are not limited to, parents needing to manage multiple children as they use the restroom or change a diaper, parents with a child of a different gender they do not want to take into their restroom, people using adult diapers who want privacy, people in a wheelchair where another person assists them in using the restroom, and others I could name.

With all of this we now have the debate about transgender persons and which restroom they use. This is not just a political debate. Christians cannot just talk about what societal systems ought to do. They must also face this issue in their own church facilities. To fail to do so is a copout.

Continue reading "Now I'm Confused About Restrooms in Churches" »

Insight 120: Become a FaithSoaring Church By Exegeting Your Community Context

FaithSoaring Churches 100CLRCongregations who desire to transform often need to exegete their community context. They once knew what characterized it. Now they do not. They have lost touch. Their community context is no longer framed by the same set of rules they knew years--even decades--ago.

Statistics and maps describing their community context will only take them so far. In-depth sociological, ethnographic, and other types of research may increase their knowledge about their community context. However, these will not increase their experience with their community context. They must immerse themselves in their context. They must engage in a contextual baptism by immersion.