Saturday, July 9, 2016


A number years ago Kennon Callahan wrote a superb book which was a formative piece of my vision for healthy churches building bridges through redemptive relationships with their larger community and the unchurched. The book was called Twelve Keys for the Effective Church. Callahan's 12 keys were:
.. Relational :
  1. Specific, concrete missional objectives
  2. Pastoral and lay visitation
  3. Corporate, dynamic worship
  4. Significant relational groups
  5. Strong leadership resources
  6. Streamlined structure and solid, participatory decision making
Functional :
  1. Several competent programs and activities
  2. Open accessibility
  3. High visibility
  4. Adequate parking, land, and landscaping
  5. Adequate space and facilities
  6. Solid financial resources.
Many of these remain quite valid today.  How would you measure up against these?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016



Please permit me some shameless self-promotion.  The work I have been called to do for God's Kingdom is being focused through the ministry I have organized called BRIDGEBUILDERS.

Our Mission

To help create churches that are healthy and fruitful, kingdom-focused, following the Holy Spirit to build redemptive relationships with people and communities to connect people with Jesus Christ and his mission.

How we do this …

·         By providing honest, biblically-based assessment of a church
·         Helping a church identify its unique mission and provide equipping for that mission
·         Coaching and consulting services for pastors and leaders
·         Helping design web sites and communication tools
·         Leading spiritual renewal events
Specialized training events

Part of the means for helping tell the story and grow this ministry is through the blogs I have developed.  More and more people ask how to connect and so I have developed a central blog called  This blog is the main way to contact regarding ministry assistance and it is also features key posts from the several ther blogs I write.  And of course, there is original content created just for this clearinghouse blog.

Please visit it.  GO NOW ...

Thursday, June 11, 2015



4 Myths About Using Technology in Church
The Church has used technology throughout history: papyrus, printing press, piano, organ, lighting, microphones, guitars, drums, and video projectors. And with the advent of the Internet, we have newer technologies like websites, social networking via Facebook, and texting on cell phones.

How do we steward technology well? We start by dispelling four common myths about using online technologies in the church.

1. "If you build it, they will come."
Not necessarily. The "it" could be a website, a blog, a discussion board, a podcast, a Twitter feed, or a Facebook fan page. Your digital presence will not automatically be viewed by lots of people just by its mere existence. People choose what they will pay attention to based on relevance (to their situation), value (that enhances their life), and trust (derived from the reputation of the content provider or a trusted friend who points them that way). Your online presence will need to be mentioned often using traditional media as well as word of mouth.

2. "It doesn't cost anything."
True, some online tools don't cost anything to use, but using technology can cost you is more than money. There's the recurring cost of energy to produce fresh and relevant content. There's also the time involved in connecting with your online community, engaging in conversations and responding to questions. There's the potential cost of even free online tools and Web apps that don't fit the orientation of your church and confuse your audience.

3. "Only the younger generation uses social networking."
One study reported that 64 percent of Twitter's and 61 percent of Facebook's users are age 35 or older. The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found that 38 percent of adults 65 and older are online. To better steward technology, you will want to meet people where they already connect online, and you will want to provide training for using online tools that best serve your existing community.

4. "Technology could replace real-life relationships."
Technology does not have to replace real-life relationships. You can use technology in a way that enriches real-life relationships, to stay connected between the church's face-to-face gatherings. Online tools do two things: expose and enable. Technology can expose a person's tendencies, whether that's isolation or addictiveness; technology can also enable a person to communicate with more people in more ways without being constrained by time and space.

By dispelling these myths, we can learn to better steward technology together, to share what's working, what didn't work, and discuss what we're thinking so we can make informed technology decisions in the future.

It's never too late to start incorporating technology as part of your church's ministry. But, the longer you wait, the more opportunities are lost in connecting with people whose lives are technology-infused.

D.J. Chuang is network developer at Worship Leader magazine, a web strategist for Leadership Network, and a former pastor. This article is condensed from Worship Leader. DJ will be speaking on "Stewarding Technology in the Service of Worship" at the National Worship Leader Pre-conference seminars (June in Albuquerque, New Mexico; July in Kansas City, Kansas; and October in Lancaster, Pennsylvania). For information click here. ( To read more from Worship Leader Magazine, or to subscribe click here (

Saturday, June 6, 2015


by Dr Steve Dunn

In our last issue we challenged you to rethink your church advertising.  Every church has a story to tell of what is up to in their church, and we need to get the story out into the community. Here are some suggestions.

1. Contact the News Director of your local television station. Ask them what kind of stories appeal to them and ways that you can alert them to a good story. (Clue: Human interest stories, unique forms of community service, “home town heroes” are high on their list.) Have the same conversation with the news director of the radio station and the features editor of the Newspaper.

2. An attractive and well-maintained web site is one of the best ways. But here’s the big rule. Design your web site with the unchurched in mind. Another big one: Keep the information current and always take down the things that are in the past.

3. Set up a Facebook Page. Have multiple administrators so that you can post a status more frequently. (Minimum: 5 posts per week.) Use it as an informative tool or one of encouragement. Leave your hard-sell evangelism off this media. Contain linkbacks to website as new items are added. Pictures are great. Promote the Facebook page in your bulletin, etc.

4. Random Acts of Kindness are always a great way connect with the community.

Friday, June 5, 2015


Thirty years ago, a pastor named Frank Tillapaugh wrote a powerful and compelling book called Unleashing the Church. It was subtitled “Getting the People Out of the Fortress and Into Ministry.”  He was one of the first to address the issue of churches that had become more organizational than the organic Body of Christ.  Tillapaugh saw the church as seeking to live behind fortress-like walls that kept protected from the world and its problems, that attempted to give Christians a safe place to stay out of the battle.
Tillapaugh also recognized that the leaders of these “fortresses” were more concerned with maintenance than mission.  In fact, their “preservation” or “maintaining” mindset insured the church having an inward focus, by seeing that as the focus as something to be preserved and protected.  Their whole modus operandii was to preserve and protect by controlling as much as possible, eliminating any risk, resistng any change.

Yet when the Holy Spirit leads the church, He calls and sends.  The Spirit unleashes God’s power and sends the Church out into the world.  For the Holy Spirit empowers a mission that reflects the Great Commission.  “Go and make” were Jesus words.

This is why a church that seeks to impact our world and to help be transformed by working of God–must give up that old maintenance mentality that builds fortresses rather than launching  out to reach people who needs Jesus/

 A maintenance leader builds fortresses.
 A missional leader takes the church out to fulfill the Great Commssion.
In our world today the church MUST have missional leaders.

 © 2015 by Stephen L Dunn
Permission is given to reprint this post as long as it is not included in material that is for sale, that it is reproduced in its entirety including the copyright notice, and that a link is provided to this blog.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


As a “traveling evangelist” I’ve had the privilege of preaching in churches from coast to coast. And, until I have the microphone on over my ear, most people have no clue that I’ll be the preacher that day, so most treat me like a first time visitor. Over the course of many years of visiting churches I have had great experiences as a guest along with some not-so-great ones.

And, lately, my trips to new churches have accelerated in my own city. I hate to use the term “church shopping” but that’s what we’ve been doing as a family for the last several months. The church we’ve been attending as a family for several years is a great one but it’s a 35 minute drive away. So my wife and I decided in September to start looking for a home church in the Arvada area. All the churches we have visited so far have been pretty good.

As a result of my visits to churches over the last several years and, with my family, over the last few months, I did notice some things about how first time visitors must feel when they walk into a brand new church.

Speaking as a visitor, here are some suggestions I would give to pastors when it comes to creating a context that is just the right amount of welcoming.

1. Equip your parking lot team to wave us in with a smile.
The last church we visited was a true blessing. Although it was their very first service as a church they seemed like old pros. The silver-haired parking attendant in the orange vest waved our car in, pointed to the space where we should park and chatted it up with me and my family when we got out of the car. From square one we felt welcome.

2. Have people greet us at the door and offer to answer our questions.
It takes more than just smiling faces and handshakes. Walking into a new church with kids hanging on both arms can feel overwhelming. We don’t know where the kids go, where the bathrooms are or even where the church auditorium is. In most of these churches I felt a bit like cattle, meandering toward the right meadow, instead of gently being shepherded by the greeters to our proper destination.

A question like, “May I answer any questions for you?” could go a long way to making a wide-eyed family feel welcomed.

3. Put up dummy-proof signs that are easy to read and understand.
Just this last month I was preaching at a church in Houston I had never been to before. From the time I pulled in I knew exactly where I should park. The signs were big, clear and designed for first time visitors.

Visiting a church creates a certain amount of tension, a low level angst if you will. Good signs, both inside and outside the church, help alleviate that a bit. The last thing you want to do visiting a new church is to screw it up by parking in the wrong space or walking in the wrong door or whatever.

4. Don’t point us out in the service.
Speaking of angst, when it comes to welcoming the visitors, my wife and I could feel the blood draining from our faces when we thought the announcement givers at these various churches were going to have us stand and recognize us as visitors (thank the Lord none of them ever did!) I don’t know whose idea it was to have visitors stand in a service to be “welcomed” in the first place but, whoever you are, it was a bad idea. We don’t want to be pointed out. We don’t want to wear a special colored name tag. We just want to check your church out and talk to friendly people along the way who make us feel welcome.

5. Give the gospel clearly enough for us to understand and believe.
Okay, okay, I have already put my faith in Jesus (along with the rest of my family) but I listened to every service with the ears of a lost person. I asked myself, “If I were to come to this service as an unbeliever would I hear the gospel clearly enough to understand the gospel.” In most churches there were brief overviews of the gospel but I would say it was only in one church where the gospel was clearly and completely given in a way that unbelievers could easily understand and put their faith in Jesus. This doesn’t require an “altar call” but it does require a call from the altar for unbelievers to put their trust in Jesus based on his finished work on the cross for the salvation of their souls.

6. Have a check in system for kids that is hastle-free and quick.
Most of these churches we visited had a quick process for checking in our kids. Some were really quick. Others made us fill out semi-extensive information. Yes, I know this is a must for legal reasons but I would encourage children’s ministries to make it as quick and painless as possible for newcomers.

Think about it. If it’s your first time at a church you usually show up a few minutes before the service time is scheduled to start. But if it takes 10 minutes to check in your kids you will miss the opening of the service and risk feeling like you are interrupting. All this can make visitors feel uneasy.

7. Beware weird Christian things.
Over the years I’ve witnessed a lot of weird Christian happenings in churches across America. And, because I was new to most of these churches, I witnessed them from a visitor’s vantage point. I’ve seen leaping, leotard-clad, banner-waving dancers flood the aisles during worship. I literally had no idea what was taking place and could only imagine what an unbeliever would be thinking if it was their first time in church. More recently I watched a lady awkwardly jerk and move (dancing?) across the back of the auditorium during the service. The people around me tried to ignore her but it was hard for us, as visitors, to look away. In other churches I’ve heard incessant “ameners” who say “amen!” about anything and everything (even during announcements and at the parts of the sermon where a hearty amen doesn’t make sense!) I’ve heard church leaders close the service in prayer and go WAAAAAYYYYY long trying to impress the audience with their use of the old English language. Dost thou knowest what I meanest?

Beware of weird Christian things. I know we’re not of this earth but we need to make sure that we’re not doing things in our services to perpetuate stereotypes that make Christians look needlessly kookie.

8. Give visitors a pass on the offering plate.
The last church we went to asked the visitors NOT to give anything in the offering plate except a completed information card (name, address, phone number, e-mail, etc.) The pastor reassured the visitors that giving was for their regular attendees only. This gave us a pass when the offering went by. Another way some churches did this was by not passing the plate at all. Some had offering boxes at the exits that church members could put their gifts into on the way out of the service.

9. Don’t get too aggressive with the church follow up e-mails.
Okay, I know this can be a sensitive one because we definitely want to follow up with newcomers. But one church I visited literally was relentlessly sending me e-mails, almost daily! That’s way too much. Nobody wants spam from a church, either at their annual potluck or in their e-mail box.

10. Call us after, ask about our experience at the church and invite us back.
Not one time at all my church visits was I ever called and invited back personally. That seems weird to me. In every church we registered our kids and wrote down our names and phone numbers as first time visitors. But not one time were we called and followed up. A phone call is more personal than an e-mail. A simple phone call would go a long way in making me think about coming back a second time.

Hopefully these 10 things will help you create a more welcoming church environment for 1st time visitors.

Monday, November 3, 2014



Some churches start new ministries by purchasing a prepackaged program that has been used successfully.  Such an approach is fraught with challenges and difficulties.  Every ministry designed from scratch is created in a specific context.  That means in a particular ministry setting with very specific resources, dynamics, experience and mission.  Unless the next group using this ministry has a context that mirrors the first, there is no guarantee that it success in the first setting will be replicated in the next.

Far better in almost every case is a ministry designed from the beginning for a specific setting.  We often resist doing that, however, because we believe we lack the creativity and leadership necessary.  Better to borrow and tweak.

Most churches, however, can create a new ministry uniquely suited to its setting and capable by the Spirit’s empowerment to be fruitful.

There are some simple planning questions that can guide this creative process.

1. What is the purpose of the ministry you are attempting to create?  Be specific.

2. Who is the specific target (or beneficiary of this ministry)?  Name names of real people.

3. What kind of leadership gifts and passions will be needed to accomplish this?  Again, be specific.

4. What other resources will this require? Space, time, money, workers.

5. How will we know this ministry is successful? By what fruit will you measure it?

6. Is this the right time?

And, of course, all of this needs to be pervaded with prayer.

This post originally appeared in another of my blogs BEING THE BEST CHURCH FOR THE COMMUNITY.-May 2014