Susan Sparks was the guest resource person for our November 17th Thursday Dialogue of the FaithSoaring Churches Learning Community. [See at www.ConnectwithFSCLC.info] Her topic? Humor in the Pulpit. Susan's background includes service as a lawyer and a comedian before attending seminary and moving into church leadership. She is the senior pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City.
Congregations seeking to transform should consider the role of becoming a MultiChurch as they journey toward transformation. MultiChurch is a concept with many aspects nurtured by Travis Collins of Fresh Expressions US. One aspect is multiple birth generations.
Congregations are usually composed of people from multiple birth generations. Each birth generation has unique characteristics and approaches to worship, fellowship, spiritual formation, and missional engagement. Congregations seeking to transform develop capacities to address these approaches among up to three birth generations. Addressing more generations takes capacities not always present in every congregation, and can lead to unhealthy conflict if capacities are missing.
Any time you see a book with a Foreword by Bob Buford, founder of the Halftime Institute and Leadership Network, followed by a Preface by Ken Blanchard, co-author of The New One Minute Manger and Lead Like Jesus, you know you have a win-win book before you start reading it.
In the case of The Joy Model by Jeff Spadafora you have much more. This book is at minimum the personal story of Spadafora’s transformation at halftime in his life. His is the classic spiritual form of a Horatio Alger story that takes a person who is impoverished spiritually who becomes a growing, maturing follower of the Triune God.
Spadafora shares the ups and downs of becoming a joyful follower. He acknowledges it was not a straight line from the point where he turned his life towards God. It was a continual struggle between being and doing until he discovered the secret of joy.
Congregations seeking to transform are aware of a receptivity scale approach regarding how they speak to people about their faith development. [This receptivity scale was popularized by James Engel.] The implications are that if you are seeking to connect with the non-churched, you do not use churchy language about which they are clueless.
Beyond this is the idea that churched people who are culturally captive where they are as churched people and only know that language will have a very difficult time connecting with the non-churched. The non-churched will see their rhetoric as organized religion rather than a relationship to Jesus.
If you want to participate, send me an e-mail at BullardJournal@gmail.com.
For the first time in probably seven years, I am inspired to reconceptualize some of the concepts and patterns of the congregational life cycle. Do you want to help and add your ideas?
I have been working on and using the life cycle approach to discovering the launching point for the next phase of congregational life for the past 40 years.
In recent months, I have been working on how to use the concept of sabbatical and jubilee -- referring to the Old Testament thoughts around seven year and 50 year patterns. I have been teaching this in my fall Congregational Champions Retreats. [See information about this next round of retreats in 2017 at www.CongregationalChampions.info.]
Related to my final Congregational Champions retreat for the fall next week in Sarasota, FL with the national and regional revitalization staff of a denomination, they have asked me to look at how the life cycle speaks into new congregations and the habits and patterns they need to established during their first generation of life, as well as the implications for congregational redevelopment/transformation after their first generation of life.
I have some early ideas I would share with you if  you ask me to, and  if you commit to give me feedback on this work THIS WEEK! Any takers? Again, just ask me by sending an e-mail to BullardJournal@gmail.com.