Sunday, December 26, 2010


There was a time when the churches were the center of the community. Except for the rarest of situations, the school has supplanted the church as that center.  The school, between families with kids in school and those who pay taxes to support it to people who follow their sports teams, has a profound shaping effect upon the community.  Recognizing this reality, my congregation has been prompted by the Holy Spirit to include this statement in our vision as a church in mission.

"We believe God wants us to partner with our schools in every way to influence children and youth for Jesus Christ."

To fullfill this our church has created a youth center with two days drop-in center programs for Middle Schools and High School.  We have made our church available as the practice site for the Junior Cheerleaders. Persons from our church volunteer in the schools building relationships and providing needed services to help the school.  We now provide leadership for an on campus student Bible study.  We sponsor two Good News Clubs at the nearest elementary schools. We are careful to be respectful to the boundaries necessary in schools to avoid church and state conflicts, the we make no secret that we do what we do because God wants us to be the best church for our community. We hope people will be open to our help spiritually as they recognize the need.

Recently I attended a meeting of our local ministerium and the Vice President for Student Services of our local school, the Hempfield School District.The schools need tutoring volunteers, parent advocacy and education programs, clearing houses for needy families physical concerns.  We are actively engaged in helping netwrok to meet those needs.  We are now helping sponsor a dialogue between the schools' leadership and the religious leadership of the community of how the churches can assist with basic human services that would normally cost schools budget monies in these fiscally stressed times.  Our Christmas offering was for the school's Good Neighbor Fund, which the Office of Student Services used to help families who financial emergencies cannot be met in other ways.

One of the thoughts that came to my mind is that our church could help the school disseminate important information to the community and to help us do our planning in a way that we could make good use of the resource that is the school. Also to avoid unnecessary conflicts when our parents are pulled one way and the church wants to pull them our way.  We have now added the website for the school district to the links section of our church web site and to our church blog. You can see these by going to our web site CHURCH OF GOD OF LANDISVILLE or to our blog BEING THE BEST CHURCH FOR THE COMMUNITY.
Trust me, the school officials were delighted at our offer.

Schools are understandably concerned when churches simply try to get into the schools to advance the goals of the church, especially when churches seem unconcerned with the perceived needs of the schools.  But we believe that churches who seem themselves as partners with the schools can benefit the entire community and remind the community that the work of Jesus is not a threat, but an enhancement.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

From Igniter Media comes this imaginative description of how Joseph and Mary would have shared the story of the Nativity had a social network existed in their day.

Monday, December 13, 2010


6 Turn offs for church visitors posted by Cliff from The Gospel

ChurchSync Doesn't Turn Visitor's Off
ChurchSync Doesn't Turn Visitor's Off

Many churches go to great lengths in order to welcome church visitors. I’m sure that we all want people to feel comfortable when they attend our churches. Even though we often mean well, we have a tendency to turn off or turn away some people with our actions.

Visitors are asked to stand up and make a speech.Research has shown that most people do not like to stand up and talk in front of groups, especially when this is a group of people they don’t know.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before: “Will all visitors please stand.”

Talking in front of the whole church may seem very common to most of us. However, this is a completely new concept for someone who is unchurched.

2. No one welcomes them at the door.
In my opinion, people that don’t normally attend church expect church people to be friendly. Church visitors should at least be met with a “good morning” or “hello” and a smile. I don’t think that is too much to ask. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.

In many churches, it is not uncommon for a visitor to walk in and take their seat without ever being greeted.

3. They get placed in a “bad” seat.
We all know that there are certain people that we would rather not sit next to in church. Most of the time it is because these people talk too much during service.

Attention ushers! Let’s try to do a better job at making sure that visitors and guests do not sit next to these people. It is hard for any visitor to enjoy the service if the person next to them is constantly talking.

4. No child care
More and more churches have special accommodations for children. This is a huge factor when people are selecting a new church to attend.

5. Nobody talks to them after church
I’ve seen this plenty of times. A visitor sits through an entire service and leaves at the end without anyone saying anything to them. Your church may be a wonderful and supportive family, but people will never know it if nobody greets them after church.

6. Follow-up caller is pushy
Many churches have visitors fill out information cards. A day or two after the service a member of the church calls to follow-up with the visitor.

Instead of being friendly and pleasant, some people treat this like a sales call. They try to close a deal for Jesus and hard sell a person into making a return visit to the church.

We can offer all of the free coffee and gift packets we want. Nothing can substitute positive or negative human interaction. When people visit your church, it is important to give them the most positive and pleasant experience possible.

What do you think? Have you encountered any turn off when you visited another church?

Sunday, November 28, 2010


In 2000 Bill Easum articulated these key questions for churches seeking to be missional, outward-focused, evangelistic at the commencement of the 21st century. Here are OUTWARD FOCUSED CHURCH we would be interested in your answers. We'll be sure they get forwarded to Bill.

In 2000 I prepared a presentation for the Society for Church Growth in which I asked what I considered at the time to be some of the key questions of our time.  In looking back over these questions I find they are still the key questions with which Western Christianity is wrestling. You be the Judge if they are.
  • What is it about my relationship with Jesus my neighbor and the world can’t live without experiencing?
  • How do I share my faith without coming off like a bigot?
  • What will Christianity look like when it truly understands that North America is a mission field?
  • What is the difference in being missional and doing evangelism?
  • What is the difference in a being pastor and being a cross-cultural missionary?
  • What does it mean to live in a world where one’s spirituality is more important than one’s credentials?
  • Can we imagine doing evangelism that is not carried out within the context of conquest?
  • How do leaders lead without control?
  • What will authority look like in an out-of-control, anti-institutional, non-religious world?
  • What will Christianity look like when it’s no longer defined by books?
  •  How do we transition from handing out data that informs to offering an experience that transforms?
  • How will we help people grow their spirituality instead of just learning more about the Bible?  
  • What will Christianity look like when the church is missional and not institutional?
  • How will we “be” the church instead of “go” to church?
 So how are you dealing with these questions? Or are you?
Bill Easum

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Brian Mosely of Irving Bible Church and his leadership team have created a "Vision Frame" to guide their church. Will Mancini recently shared this as a part of the Right Now Conference in Dallas.  The values contained within this frame are a helpful reminder to any church doing serious, outward-focused ministry.

Mission: What are we doing?
To help people trade in the pursuit of the American Dream for a world that desperately needs Christ
Values: Why are we doing it?
  • We love … THE church. In our neighborhoods, at the office and around the world the mission of the church matters.

  • We love … authentic stories.
Real-life stories have the power to inspire and validate what God is doing.

  • We love … immediate action.
Christianity is a verb.  To wait is a sin.

  • We love … hard work.
God is glorified when we use our God-given passions and skills with excellence.

  • We love … our families.
There will always be more work to do, but not at the expense of family and friends. 
Strategy: How are we doing it?
  1. Inspiring Leaders
  2. Transforming Small Groups
  3. Coaching Individuals
Mission Measure: When are we successful?
The mission is accomplished when a trader is activated. A Trader is a new kind of missionary, not defined by geography but by the resolve to:
  • Choose Daily
  • Hate Injustice
  • Work as Worship
  • Act Swiftly

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


From Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research comes these perspectives on the Millenials and what influences them.

Through that study we gain some insight into how this generation perceives influences in their lives. For example, when looking for information or advice about two-thirds of American "Millennials" prefer to talk with a variety of people who have personal experience rather than one individual considered to be an "expert."

According to the study it turns out that the greatest influences in the lives of Millennials are parents, friends and extended family. "The vast majority (88 percent) say their parent or parents remain a positive influence on their lives, including 51 percent who call them a strongly positive influence."

65 percent of Millennials identify themselves as Christian, 14 percent as atheist or agnostic, 14 percent list no religious preference, and 8 percent claim other religions. Professing Christians, consistent church attenders, and those committed to some form of religion are more likely than others to say their parents are still a strong and positive influence.
  • Thirty-eight percent of Millennials say their religious beliefs have no influence on their lives.
  • Thirty-two percent indicate their beliefs have a strongly positive influence.
  • Fifty percent say a church or house of worship has no influence on their lives. Twenty-two percent indicate a church has a strongly positive influence.
  • 18 percent of all Millennials indicate they get a lot of guidance or advice from sacred texts such as the Bible, Torah or Koran, while another 24 percent get some. The most common answer (37 percent) is none at all.
Read more ....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


These were posted today by the website The Missional Challenge
 check out the link for the other 20
The Missional Challenge 
Top 20 
Church Planting Books
  1. Six-Word Lessons to Discover Missional Living  (2010)
          by David DeVries
    Although I wrote this book for every believer to understand how to align with Jesus' mission, it's particularly helpful for church planters and church planting teams. Each lesson is bite-sized and leads to necessary actions for starting new churches.
    (And I'm not ashamed to list it first for many reasons)

  2. The Externally Focused Church  (2004)
          by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson
    This is an excellent book for shifting focus from the internal needs of members to the external needs of those in the harvest. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
    Read my amazon review here

  3. Cultivating a Life for God (1999)
          by Neil Cole
    Neil's simple idea of Life Transformation Groups provide a great way to start the process of making disciples who make disciples.
    Read my amazon review here

  4. The Shaping of Things to Come (2003)
          by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch
    This is a great introduction to a missional incarnational approach to spirituality.

  5. The Tangible Kingdom (2008)
          by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay
    A very practical understanding from first-hand experience of living in authentic missional community

Sunday, November 7, 2010


This is an excellent blog for pastors of kingdom focused churches.  Here is a sample. It is especially good on self-care and leadership assessments.  Check it out. - Steve

 How Church Leaders can Mobilize their Churches for Community Ministry

Some of the kids in Operation Helping Hands
It’s exciting to see many churches embracing community and missional ministry more than ever. When I grew up, I can’t remember being challenged to go out into my community to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the poor and under-resourced. Perhaps that’s why it took me so long to personally ‘get it.’
The church where I now serve really ‘gets it.’ We are a church with a weekly attendance around 1,200 and after an intentional effort the last four years to become more missional, we’ve seen this fruit.
  • last year we gave more money to missional causes than we ever gave in a year’s time
  • 1500 participated in some way in local missional efforts, many multiple times
  • 100 went on a short-term missions project overseas
  • we just completed our annual Helping Hands project in the community and nearly 500 people from four different churches served
We even coined a term that has helped capture the spirit of our church: serving the Least, the Last, and the Lost.
So, what have we learned and what are some principles to keep in mind if you want your church to become more missional?
  1. Find a champion. One of our pastors had a vision 10 years ago for us to become more missional. He has persisted for those 10 years.
  2. Build missional ministry into your annual church objectives.
  3. Keep the vision before the church often. Repeat it in messages. Encourage small groups to do missional projects together. Celebrate victories and tell lots of stories.
  4. Offer multiple, small steps for your church. Stay persistent and don’t look for just one big thing to comprise the extent of your community ministry, although a big event can catalyze your church.
  5. Develop partners. Find local city our community agencies that need help and offer to help them. We’ve worked with over a dozen city agencies, the local United Way,  the city of Aurora, IL and several other churches.
"Volunteer of the Year" Award
Persistence will pay off. This year our church actually won the community “Volunteer of the Year” award from the local United Way.  We didn’t apply for it in any way. Rather, the committee that makes those choices had seen our extensive work in the community and made the decision.
So, as you lead your church, consider how to be Jesus’ hands and feet in the community.
Some great resources:
For more Ministry Help and Resources for Pastors, visit Pastor Stone’s main site.

This is an excellent blog for pastors of kingdom focused churches.  Here is a sample. It is especially good on self-care and leadership assessments.  Check it out. - Steve

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


A number of the churches in my denominational family have begun looking at the thoughts of Neil Cole in their journey towards an outward focus for the sake of the Kingdom. Here is an excellent clip from the Verge 2010 Conference.

Neil Cole: Church As A Living System [VERGE 2010 Main Session] from Verge Network on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Many of us were blessed last week to a part of Catalyst East and/or Catalyst One-Day in Lynchburg VA.  Andy Stanley shared many thoughts, but here are two that I'd like to reflect upon with you.

 One of the reasons churches see in decline is because they love their model more than the unchurched and unsaved-Andy Stanley 

Outward-focused churches are churches that look outward towards the people who are not yet a part of the church and the Kingdom.  It is not so much a strategy as a calling fueled by a passion.  Lost people matter to God and therefore to them because they are God's people--His instrument for reaching the lost. Andy also said, "Your ministry is perfectly designed to achieve the results you are currently getting."  

Can I get an "Ouch!" here?

Churches develop models to achieve the mission they are given from God.  But too often our models become more important than our mission.  Models make us comfortable, protecting us from the chaos that develops in ministry.  God keeps pushing us out of those comfort zones because He knows that our models can easily stop listening to the needs of the communities we are trying to reach -- and to Him.

If your model has grown predictable, somewhat inflexible ... and you have been using for a long time unchanged except for an occasional tweaking, it may have already taken over.

"Sometimes we cannot give to the people in need just because we spend too much in something we don't need."- Andy Stanley

This can refer to financial resources, people's time and spiritual gifts.  Does our model help us achieve both faithful to and fruitfulness in our mission, or does the model sap off strength from the primary task of reaching our community and reconciling people to God?

The first statement calls us to evaluate our heart. The second to evaluate our effectiveness. Both are well worth the prayerful effort regularly.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Recently at a Catalyst One-Day at Lynchburg VA, Craig Groeschel talked about our assumptions as leaders. How often do we find ourselves saying, "Our people won.t ..." (you fill in the blank).  Craig challenged us to look at this assumption in a different light by saying "Our church won't .... because I haven't led them to do that yet." Instead of being short-circuited or side-tracked by these assumptions, maybe we just need to ask God to help us lead them in the right direction.

What do you need to lead your people to begin doing for the Kingdom?

Monday, October 18, 2010


David Souther writes for the Evangelism Net He shares some excellent evaluation questions. I have added this site to our blogroll.-Steve

I have lived the majority of my life in the middle of the “Bible Belt,” with a church literally on every corner. Yet despite the large number of churches, why is it that most have little or no apparent influence in their communities? Some of these churches are ones that have departed from sound doctrine and the sufficiency and primacy of Scripture; however, there are also many evangelical, Bible believing churches that fall into this category.

One of the major factors is the mindset of the church leaders and members. By nature, people gravitate toward others who have things in common with them. This happens a lot in churches. We tend to open up more with people who are like us, people with whom we feel “safe.”

I am convinced this is why most churches (if they grow at all) grow by transfer. They attract people who are already accustomed to the church culture and “know the drill” regarding how it works. The idea of growing by conversion is something they endorse, but rarely, if ever, experience.

If you look at it from the perspective of those who don’t attend church, you can see why. Many non-believers think that Christians are judgmental, unhappy, controlling people who just happen to meet together once or twice a week. While it is unfair to generalize, some or all of that perception is true in many cases. Knowing that, why on earth would a non-believer ever want to attend a place like that?

Here are some questions for you or your church to consider:

1.  Do you try to put the cart before the horse? I know it is a cliché, but it is true nonetheless. Sometimes we try to impose our standards of right or wrong on people who visit our church before we share the gospel with them. We expect visitors to adopt our values even before they are born again. People may get the impression that if you don’t drink, don’t smoke, and show up once a week in the same pew, you are OK and fit right in. What a frightening principle in light of the radical, life changing message of grace.
2. Do you have your priorities straight? Sometimes, churches or even entire denominations are more known for what they are against rather than what they are for. Anytime a church gets a reputation of being against (or even for) something over and above the preeminence of Jesus Christ, there is a major PR problem that may be based on deeper problems. Nothing, absolutely nothing, should cloud the church’s message of the gospel of Jesus Christ or have priority over it.
3. Do you discriminate? I could go on and on about this, but will be brief. When people visit your church, be careful not to gravitate to those who look or act like those who already attend your church. The church’s call is to reach everyone, not just those who look like they fit in with the churches self-imposed culture.
4. Are you proactive in the community? Does your church have a “if we schedule it, will they come” mentality? In other words, what is your church doing to meet people where they are in the community? Jesus did not just hang around the synagogues and temple waiting for people to come to Him. He pursued people on their turf.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Recently, in an effort to gain more information about church Facebook use, OurChurch.Com conducted an extensive survey.

Most respondents indicated they don’t think their church is doing a particularly good job with Facebook. While those results could be perceived as negative, a closer look reveals some big opportunities for those churches willing to embrace the world’s largest social network.

1. Communicate More – Clearly people would like to see their church do more on Facebook.
2. Ministry Pages – A second opportunity for churches is for individual ministries to engage with people through Facebook pages.
3. Facilitate Connections – A third opportunity for churches is to help their people connect with one another.
4. Evangelism – A fourth opportunity for churches is to encourage and train their people to develop relationships with those who are not Christians and show God’s grace and love to them.
5. Facebook Ads – A fifth opportunity for churches is to use Facebook ads to reach out to people in their community.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Colin Powell is one of the most respected leaders in the last twenty years. He has provided quality leadership in a plethora of situations. The following video outlines his leadership rules/values. Although not specifically tied to spiritual matters, I believe most of these to be consistent with the values of leadership found in scripture. Use this as a reflective check-up on your leadership practices. - Steve

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Steve Sjogren recently published this article on his website SERVANT EVANGELISM. It is great explanation for what churches in smaller towns can do to develop an outward focused vision. - Steve Dunn

I was recently in the New England area of the U.S. I have been pondering lately the unique aspects of doing ministry in smaller population areas like that. There are many aspects of doing outreach that are universal - as we step out to serve others we are going to find that people are pretty much the same everywhere. At the same time, there are unique features present when we are aiming at people in these areas. What do we need to keep in mind as we reach out in to rural people?

There are six basic questions we must be answer well before we are able to deeply connect with smaller communities. These are the pressing questions we will be asked when we approach the small town audience.

"Are you here to stay?" People will ask if you are doing something that is just going to be a "ship passing in the night" or if you are going to commit yourself to this area. You will be dinged effectiveness points if you come across as someone who is doing things in order to just connect initially but not at a deeper level. It is important that you connect with people in a way that is going to be perceived as lasting and deep versus light and passing. We tell our community we are here to stay partly by the atmosphere we create when we are doing outreaches. Each time you go out to do SE you have the opportunity to tell people "We are planning on living the rest of our lives in this town. We love this place!" We communicate this message in a variety of ways. At a practical level, put on your "friendly face" and you will do well at connecting with the small town audience.

"Do you love me or are you just trying to build your church through me?" If people think you are trying to use them as building blocks of your church they are less likely to warm up to you. You will be evaluated by how you connect with others. Most people who live in smaller towns feel a sense of pride about what they have accomplished in making a living for themselves in that context. There is a sense of accomplishment in these people you won't find among urban dwellers. If you honor that sense of smaller town USA you will come across as a friend, an ally in the fight for meaning.

"How do you treat people?" In the smaller town context the way we connect with people will be under the microscope more than when we are in a larger context. The good news about doing servant evangelism in a smaller context is that people will take more notice to the way you connect with your city. That is, there is the possibility that you will make an even more enduring impact upon people than if you were merely connecting with people in a larger city. In big cities we are doing virtual stranger-to-stranger outreach. In small towns we are connecting with people who likely consider themselves friends or at least acquaintances.

"How do you see the future?" People who live in smaller communities see the future in a unique way. It is common that they view what will take place in the future through the lens of staying put in the current community. That is different than the way people in larger communities see things. Since they have typically lived in the larger context all their lives the notion of city or town size as a flexible factor in evaluating moves. Most who live in a smaller community have committed themselves to the notion that they will persevere in staying in a smaller setting. When we are doing outreach in these settings it is important that we convey that we are going to be here for the duration. Those in smaller communities will plainly ask what we plan to do if we grow as a congregation. The fear is that growth will compromise the quality of the church. If we do grow as a church it is important that we convey that are going to continue to hold strongly to the value of putting people first. We don't plan to change.

"How do you relate to money?" Money is viewed a bit differently in smaller contexts. Servant evangelism is all about doing things for free. This important concept will have even more impact in smaller towns than in bigger cities. People are generally impressed with the notion of serving for free. When we serve for free in small towns we have the opportunity to literally amaze people.
When doing servant evangelism we sometimes are approached by people who attempt to pay us for our gift or services. We generally make it a point that we never accept these attempts at giving back to us. We are going to be approached more often in smaller towns by people who wish to give to us when we serve. I recommend you have a standard response to those who are flabbergasted at our project. It is good to spin people a bit with our projects. It isn't good to leave them overly frustrated. One possible response to those who are blown away is to recommend they give to one of the children's sponsorship programs that are typically seen on TV on Sunday evenings.

"Are there projects that work especially well smaller settings?" Yes, there are projects that work well in a smaller context. In general, anything that can impart the value of the individual will help get you better mileage. Doing give away projects is a hit no matter where you are located, but this approach seems to work better in larger cities. In a smaller context it is important that we convey to people that we are in the business of serving. Projects that allow us to connect with the value of the individual will make a bigger impression.
Some projects that connect well include:

* free carwashes(I would stay away from the dollar carwash in a small town setting - that is a bit over the top and might come across with too much pizzazz),windshield washingis an amazing project that can touch a lot of people in a relatively short time
* restroom cleaning teams(stick to gas stations, restaurants and fast food joints and other public venues)
* feeding parking meters(make sure you are able to actually feed parking meters - you may need to attach a quarter to your outreach card and place that next to the drivers handle)
* shoveling snow
* giving away deicer to residents(provide a one gallon plastic milk container that is cut away - then return to fill the salt or deicer every couple of weeks)
* window washingat homes and businesses.

The best is yet to come! God is on the move in small settings. If you live in a rural setting you might find that you have special blessings resting upon your outreach efforts. There are unique challenges that accompany a focused outreach in a smaller context. It is not impossible to be effective in this setting. My advice to you is to take heart. It is encouraging to learn the ropes and then to reach out with effectiveness. In some ways it is easier to reach out to a smaller town. Once you have paid your dues, so to speak, you will find it is in fact easier to reach out in this context versus a larger city. You will find it is possible to create an atmosphere that will grow to envelop your entire town. In a smaller setting it is possible to set attainable outreach goals that will see you touch every person in town more than once. Ultimately the name of the game in outreach is your ability to connect with many in a repeated fashion.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Alan Hirsch has some important thoughts about the dynamics of discipleship and the absolute necessity of churches in engaging in disciple-making.  I couldn't have said it better myself.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


One of the resource links that I find particularly helpful is Will Mancini's The Clarity Evangelist.  (Check out his link on our ...........

He recently posted this helpful tool for preparing for the arrival of visitors at your church - a form of outward focus when people come in through the door.

When a first time guest drives onto your campus, they will decide within 11 minutes whether or not they are coming back. Yes, the decision is made before your guests experience  worship and the content of the sermon- the two elements that demand most, if not all, of our time and attention in preparation.
What would it look like if you extended the same level of intention to the 11 minutes prior to walking in the sanctuary or worship center? Maybe the better question is “What would it feel like for your guests?” 
It’s hard to overstate the wow factor a church body creates by serve generously through a system of hospitality. For the last 10 years I have observed and analyzed over 200 churches while conducting a “secret worshipper” experience.  It is a service at Auxano we call the “Guest Perspective Evaluation.” One of my greatest thrills in ministry is tasting the variety of size, location, and spiritual heritage of these churches. But the most important observation is that any church can take small steps to make a dramatic difference in welcoming guests.
This post is the first time I have shared any of our tools or learnings. And the first place to start is to imagine seven checkpoints for your guest. Think of the checkpoints as “gates” or even “hurdles” that any first time guest must navigate to get from their comfy family room to your worship service. With every gate comes a simple question: Has the church removed the inherent difficulty of navigating the gate for the first time?
More specifically I look for every opportunity to make each gate  simple, easy and obvious to navigate.  Any particular difficulties created by your location or facility should be viewed as hospitality opportunities. By providing a great solution to an obvious barrier, you enhance the wow-factor of the hospitality.
#1 Before Departure: Are directions and service times immediately accessible to guests  from your church website, phone recording and yellow pages?
#2 Travel to Location: Do guests know where to turn into your church location?
#3 Parking Lot: Do guests know where to park?
#4 Building Entrance: Do guests know which door to enter?
#5 Children’s Ministry: Do guests know where to take their kids?
#6 Welcome Center: Do guest know where to go for more information?
#7 Worship: Do guests know which door to enter?

Saturday, October 2, 2010


This post comes to us from ChurchNet USA

Why Pastors Should Blog

As a spiritual leader you are always seeking ways to get your message out to the world. As you probably know, social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) is taking over our world. Millions and millions of people are connecting through social media for their church marketing efforts and investing hours of their day utilizing it. Included in social media is blogging, which has steadily grown in popularity year after year and has been around well before Facebook was even born. (a website that tracks blogs) reported that there are over 175,000 new blogs per day worldwide. They also stated that the total amount of blogs have doubled every six months for the last three years.

So what does this mean for you as a pastor? Well, it should mean that you should have a blog. Even though you may think yours will get lost in the billions of blogs, there are many reasons why a blog can be beneficial to your ministry’s church marketing and church outreach.

Blogs can connect you with your congregation

Chances are many of the people in your congregation are reading and/or writing some of those blogs that are spread across the internet. If they are not reading your blog, they are reading someone’s. As a pastor you may not have the time to get to speak to every individual in your congregation every Sunday. Blogs are a great way for church outreach, allowing you to keep people updated on your life and have discussions on new church projects. It can also be a platform for you to be honest about your current desires for yourself and your church and explain new projects or initiatives that you plan to roll out. Finally, you can even blog about the scriptures you are studying and the preparations that you are making for your sermon. This may even get your congregation thinking about your subject matter before they come into church on Sunday!

Blogs can connect you with the world

Most churches want to reach out to unbelievers or individuals who typically wouldn’t set foot into a church. A blog can be a great way for a pastor to communicate with the world about spiritual matters in a non-threatening or non–confrontational way. Maybe as a pastor you can discuss issues that have unbelievers confused about your faith. Not only may this create interest in spiritual matters but it will give you an opportunity to share and discuss your faith with individuals who would typically not walk into a church on a Sunday.

Well if blogging is something that interests you, here are a few tips for effectively connecting through blogs:

1. Set your blog as public blog.
Most blog programs allow you to set your blog as “Public” or “Private.” If you make it public, it means that search engines (i.e. Google, Yahoo) may look at your site and put it into their indexes. This means that people who are searching for topics may be pointed to your blog by a search engine, if you have written on these topics.

2. Write often and be patient

No matter what your purpose is behind blogging, a blog will only be effective if you are continue to write and discuss. Yes, it is a time commitment, but the time and effort put into it will be well worth it in the long run. Also, if you are looking for results via search engines, it doesn’t happen overnight so don’t let that discourage you…just keep blogging and build up your church marketing skills!

There are a ton of great programs that will set up a blog for you and best of all, they are free! Some examples include WordPress and Blogspot. They are pretty straightforward and will walk you through the set up. The set up and writing is probably a lot easier than you think and as mentioned earlier, will give you opportunities to connect with people in a creative and authentic way. So go out and start your church outreach through blogs!

Friday, October 1, 2010


Early in my D.Min. studies, this movie inspired many of us to become outward focused.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


This video is from Buckhead Church in Atlanta. - Andy Stanley, Lead Pastor

I am a chair from buckheadchurch on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Gary Rohrmayer has a helpful blog Your Journey  Gary works in cooperation with Chris Walker, who operates EVANGELISM COACH

Gary writes about "Creating a Culture of Generosity in the Church":

If you are going to grow a church significantly one of the skill you are going to need is to learn how to create and shape the culture of your organization.  When we speak about culture, we are referring to an organization's "values, beliefs, and behaviors. In general, it is concerned with beliefs and values on the basis of which people interpret experiences and behave, individually and in groups." (HT)  Building and shaping an organizations culture is not something that happens over night, it takes time, relentless focus, consistent practices and inspirational leadership.
So how does build a culture of generosity?
1. Pray for It!
Generosity is a spiritual issue.  It is natural to hold on to things!  It is supernatural to give away things. Generosity is a matter of the heart.  Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).  Paul in his letter to the Corinthian Church cites the true motivation for the overwhelming generosity of the believers in Macedonia, "And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will" (II Corinthians 8:5).  When the Lord truly has our hearts, then he has our possessions.  Asking our generous God to reign in the hearts of our people is the first act a leader needs to take in building a culture of generosity.
2. Model It!
Leaders set the pace of an organization. One of the nine prayers of a missional leader is "Father pour out a generous spirit in my life."  Generosity is a fruit of the spirit.  Paul lists kindness as one of the by-products of being in step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).  Like the word love (agape), kindness (chrestotes) is closely related to hesed in the Old Testament, which stands for God’s covenant love. Commenting on hesed, the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says, “loving-kindness — is not far from the fullness of the meaning of the word." (HT)  So loving-kindness is the practical out workings of love in our lives. Thus we have the biblical definition of generosity.  As a leader am I generous with my time, my words and my resources and how is my family, leaders and church witnessing that in my life?  Generous living leads to generous giving.
3. Teach It!
Teaching generosity principles is critical to the spiritual formation of an individual and for a church, yet we shy away from teaching these financial principles. Brian Kluth writes, "We need to teach people to be faithful givers, not because the budget says so, but because the Bible says so. Our focus needs to be to teach people to be faithful givers to God, not to the church budget. Our goal is that our people please God, not the church finance committee. Church budgets are spending plans, not the giving goal. It is the Scriptures (all 2,350 verses on finances, generosity, and material possessions) that will help people become faithful stewards and givers." (HT)  I would add to this that we help them to be better lovers of God and followers of Jesus.  Over 20 years ago, I did my first series on giving. I was afraid, timid and concerned that everyone was going to leave my church because I said that dreaded word in church: MONEY!  The surprising thing was that many people began to experience the liberating joy of knowing Jesus.  When I go back to my first church, many people comment on that sermon series and the impact it had on their lives.
4. Reinforce It!
Learning to say thank-you well is one of the ways for reinforcing position behavior. Expressing thanks is not optional for believers. Paul’s letters are filled with gratitude on many levels, even for financial support (Philippians 4:14-18). Your people deserve to have their generosity acknowledged for several reasons:
  • To know that you received their gift, especially for first time givers.
  • To know how their gift is being used, this is a vision casting opportunity.
  • To reinforce your relationship with them.
  • And finally, to reinforce the work of God in their lives. Generosity is a by-product of the work of God in people's hearts.
5. Celebrate It!
Vince Lombardi once said, “Teams do not go physically flat, they go mentally stale.”  Celebrations have a great way of keeping churches and organizations mentally alert. In Encouraging the Heart, James Kouzes & Barry Posner write, “Celebrations—public statements by their very nature—give expression to and reinforce commitment to key values. They visibly demonstrate that the organization is serious about adhering to its principles. So it is important to be clear about the statements you’re making.  What are you reinforcing? What are you saying is significant about this moment? Parties are fine, but celebrations are more than parties. They’re ceremonies and rituals that create meaning.  When planning a celebration, every leader should ask, ‘What meaning am I trying to create?’ Public ceremonies crystallize personal commitments, binding people together and letting them know they’re not alone.”
Someone once said, "You are what you celebrate!"
Reflective Questions:
  • How often do you pray for a spirit of generosity to fall upon the hearts of your people?
  • How are you and your leaders becoming models of generosity?
  • How is generosity being taught throughout the church?  In public worship services, affinity gatherings, small groups and one-on-one mentoring?
  • How are you specifically reinforcing vision, generosity principles and the generous acts of individuals with in your church?
  • How strategic are you in planning and creating the celebration of generosity with in your church?

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Sharon Hodde Miller
I came across this blog through Ed Stetzer. It is called SHE WORSHIPS and is by a friend of his, Sharon Hodde Miller. She has some important thoughts on women and the church that I believe are worth examining. An outward-focused church thinks outside the current box in theologically sound ways and I believe Sharon has framed this discussion very well. I've added her to my personal blog list.  Here is an excerpt of her thoughts. Above is a link to it. - Steve

Sharon writes:

  • 46.8% of the total U.S. Labor Force is composed of women. That equates to 59.2% of all women age 16 and over in the U.S., and the number is growing. (The U.S. Dept. of Labor)
  • Women-owned firms employ more people than all the Fortune 500 companies combined. (The National Association of Women Business Owners)
  • 70% of American families include a working mom. (
  • Since 1980 there has been a 40% increase in the number of women getting bachelor’s degrees, masters, and doctorates. (“The Changing Role of Women in the Workplace,” Sneha Kalyan, 2009)
  • In 2006-2007, the number of women attaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees was greater than that of men, and the number of women attaining doctorates was equal to that of men. It is projected that in 2018, women will continue to outnumber men in the achievement of advanced degrees, including doctorates. (National Center for Education Statistics)
These statistics provide us with a glimpse of the future church and the future of women’s ministries, especially in educational and economic centers. The question is, how will the church reach these women? How will the church welcome these women? How will the church use the education and skills that these women have gained in the secular workforce to build up the Body of Christ? How will women’s ministries meet their needs?

As the majority of women move in a completely new direction, churches will have to think creatively about utilizing their gifts and offering a high quality of teaching for women. While respecting every church’s view of women in leadership, we must also work toward a robust understanding of the Body of Christ in which all gifts are not only valued but implemented for the edification of the church. Depending on your church context that will play out in any number of ways. Perhaps women’s ministries will need to offer more theologically engaging teaching, thereby creating even more opportunities for women with the gifts of teaching and leading; if you’re a woman like Jenni with business and managerial skills, you might consider offering your experience to the church.

The changing face of the American woman has some short-comings, to be sure, but we can’t miss out on the fact that women are being equipped to serve the church in ways that they never were before. Let’s not miss that opportunity. And let us not underestimate the grave and long-term consequences of failing to evangelize these women strategically. As women, we need to have a missional mindset towards this growing generation of professional and highly educated women. Otherwise, we might end up with an equal yet opposite dilemma to the last decade–instead of missing men in the pews, we might be missing women.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Too many churches fail at becoming outward focused because they remain centered on a single pastor. George Escevedo gives us some valuable insight on why we must change this.


Sharon Hodde Miller shared these insights today on Ed Stezter's blog. Well worth your reflection.
Christians, Social Media and the Loss of Privacy

Before I really get started I want to be clear about two things. First, I willingly admit that I am a proponent of social media. I use Facebook to stay in touch with long-distance friends, and I'm an avid blogger. I am not here to promote social media asceticism.
Second, this post is not about Ed Stetzer. ;) Yes, Ed is the first person I ever met who "tweeted." And yes, he tweets in a manner that can only be described as "prolific." But my primary purpose is to consider how we use social media, not whether or not we should.

Bearing those two points in mind, I want to examine a particular "abuse" of tweeting/posting status updates. It is the practice of posting at (what I would consider to be) inappropriate times. No, I'm not trying to be the Emily Post of social media etiquette here to lecture you on the rudeness of tweeting during a meeting or meal. The kind of "inappropriate" I'm referring to is one that not only impacts the quality of Christian discipleship but the authenticity of our church leaders.

I began to notice this misuse of social networking when friends updated their statuses while on dates with their spouses, or even on their wedding nights. Such an anti-social by-product of social media is ironic, to say the least. Yet out of those habits emerged a more troubling one: Tweeting about deeply personal, intimate moments. Although I understand the desire to share one's life with community, Twitter has gradually become a window into private moments and experiences that, in the past, would have been reserved for God and family.

The consequences of this trend are two-fold. First is the increase of superficial engagements with flesh-and-blood people. When the world audience is always at your fingertips, you're never going to be totally with people. But the main consequence I want to focus on here, the one that has far-reaching ripple effects but is rarely discussed, is the loss of privacy and spiritual solitude.

This may seem like a strange critique given the rising emphasis on community over individualism, but we cannot forget the value of withdrawing from the public eye. In Scripture we learn that solitude can be a subversive act against the cultural and social pressures that come from constantly subjecting oneself to the opinions and judgments of others. Jesus and numerous prophets exemplify this for us. When they sought to have quiet, uninterrupted fellowship with God, they withdrew from the masses, even dwelling in the wilderness for extended periods of time.

From their example we are reminded that isolation and privacy are an important form of resistance against a culture that bombards us with ungodly ideals. Without a conscious break from the onslaught of worldly pressures--including the sinful enticements of serving an imperfect Christian community--there is no space to step back and question what is influencing us and how are we being shaped.

So while Twitter and Facebook are great communicative tools, we are naïve to ignore the temptations they present. Social media provides us with the option to live life on constant display, which has potential for both good and bad. While we do have the opportunity to be a kind of "city on a hill" in a new and different way, we must also be cognizant of the temptations that such visibility brings.

We need to consider the wisdom of tweeting private conversations or intimate moments with loved ones. While the motivation is often pure--namely to praise God or to honor the person we're with--this practice can result in a long-term lack of authenticity. There will develop in the back of your mind a constant audience, resulting in a constant need to perform, to always be "on." Church leaders, who are already visible and already struggle with this temptation, are in greatest risk of this temptation. When you are driven first and foremost by the audience awaiting your updates, you can lose touch with the God you're always tweeting about.

Is this a blanket statement against all forms of social media? Certainly not! Technology is a gift from God that can surely be used to edify believers. The question is whether we are controlling our use of social media, or is social media controlling us? Are we allowing Man-oriented expectations to invade our private moments, the moments when we used to be most ourselves? Are we placing ourselves in the public eye so often that we no longer discern the difference between genuine discipleship and performing for a watching world? If we are to maintain our spiritual authenticity, our intimacy with God, and a clear vision for leadership, these are questions to which we must give sober consideration.

Monday, September 20, 2010


This video came by way of the web site The Evangelism Coach

Sunday, September 19, 2010


From Will Mancini THE CLARITY EVANGELIST   see the blogroll

#1 Programs don’t attract people; people attract people (Aubrey Malphurs)
#2 Think steps not programs; strategy makes the next step simple, easy and obvious. (Andy Stanley)
#3 Strategy is a missional map, therefore communicate it visually (Church Unique)
#4 As a whole, cluttered and complex churches are not alive. (Thom Ranier) 
#5 Growing people grow people; consuming people consume programs. (Church Unique)
#6 Strategy as assimilation should not be confused with spiritual formation; one is about getting individuals into the body of Christ, the other is about getting the life of Christ into the individual.
#7 Strategy connects programs and events vertically with the mission and horizontally with one another. (adapted from Bill Donahue)
#8 The fewer specials you have the more you sell. (An executive chef  said this in an Auxano Vision Pathway, talking about church strategy.) 
#9 Churches need strategy because mission and values alone are not enough to remove competing pictures of the church’s future. (Church Unique)
#10 The two biggest reasons people don’t get more involved are 1) they don’t know how and 2) nobody invited them. (Auxano survey work)


Friday, September 10, 2010


Digital Evangelism Issues is a helpful website for talking about the media, especially the internet, impacts ministry. In a recent post they shared this video from RSA Associates that speaks to the importance of the visual in our communications.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Ragamuffin Soul is a thoughtful and sometimes provocative blog published by worship pastor, Carlos Whittaker. I got turned onto it by Brett Sarver, our missionary/church planter in Thailand.  Carlos published an interesting question this past week:

If Jesus walked into your church this Sunday morning…
I know, you think He is already there, we all do…
What would Jesus tell you He DID NOT LOVE about what was happening?
What would Jesus tell you He LOVED about what was happening?

As I publish this, he has had 38 comments. My favorite is:    

“I love what you have done with the place but if you need me I will be out in Ely Square.”
read “Ely Square” as the hungry, needy, lost, and homeless. 

Read more at:  COMMENTS

For the readers of THE OUTWARD FOCUSED CHURCH, I'd like to hear your thoughts on that question. - Steve

Thursday, August 26, 2010


There are a variety of reasons why a person visits a specific church.  For many people, it is because someone personally invited them.  Others may end up at a particular church because of the location.  Still others may choose a place of worship based on the size of the congregation or certain ministries that are offered.  Once inside the doors however, what is it that keeps them coming back for more?  

Doctrinal Integrity

Research among previously unchurched individuals revealed a surprising desire to know and understand doctrine.  Knowledge however, is not enough.  It is vital to them that the church they attend be uncompromising in its stand.  People need to know that the church stands for something.

The number one sin of a dying church is the dilution of doctrine.  In an attempt not to offend, the gospel is watered down and cardinal truths are compromised.  Ironically, this drives away the very people the church is desperate to attract.


The leaders whose churches are reaching the unchurched are passionate about preaching.  The pastor connects with the congregation to the extent that individuals feel the message has been tailor- made just for them.  The pastors of effective churches overwhelmingly listed preaching as their most exciting and challenging task.

It is important to understand that this passion, which is exhibited, is not a personality trait.  It can be found in both quiet leaders and gregarious leaders.  Passionate preaching is the result of being completely devoted to and excited about the work and ministry that God has called them to do.

The passion from the pulpit carries over into evangelism as well.  In many thriving churches the driving force behind obedience to the Great Commission is the passion that the senior pastor maintains for the lost.


Effective churches are relevant churches.  The pastor holds fast to the biblical integrity of his text, yet he does so with knowledge of the life situations in his congregation.  A church in a farming community will relate differently than a church in the inner city.  Churches must find ways to become relevant in their respective communities.

Some hear the word ‘relevant’ and think it somehow means that Scripture is being altered.  It is not necessary that tension exist between biblical integrity and relevancy.  There is nothing more relevant to a lost world than the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  The goal is simply to relate the unchanging gospel to the continually changing culture around us.

Whether the focus is visitors, current members or the young adults leaving the church at an alarming rate, there are things we can know about them all.  People today long for integrity.  They desire personal integrity and financial integrity.  This carries over into their church lives as well.  People want to be in a church that stands firm in its beliefs and displays doctrinal integrity.  They want to be in a place of passion.  They need to see a preacher that pours himself into his message because he knows the power of the gospel.  And they need to understand that the message of Christ is relevant to them no matter who they are or where they live.

Stand firm.  Be passionate.  Be relevant.  And they will come.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Many years ago I served churches that began raising their evangelistic temperature by servant evangelism - acts of kindness in Jesus name.  Steve Sjogren with the Vineyard Fellowship in Cincinnati was the pioneer.

Monday, August 23, 2010



This video on YouTube is from a broadcast called The Greatest Story Never Told and features research from Lifeway, an arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. Ed Stetzer adds his analysis. This post appeared on another of my blogs BRIDGES TO THE BRIDGE.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Today Friendship Community Church of God in Dover PA baptized three people. On the church's Video Channel they posted these stories. Read and rejoice.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I was running the race last week and found two disturbing things at work.  First, I was running on empty. Physically I was tired and mentally I was slowing down. But mostly I was reacting to the tyranny of the urgent that always seems to be present in the life of a church leader.  In that situation I was not running according to the plan, following the vision, but simply running to keep from falling further behind.

Second, I was running ahead of the Lord.  I had just passed through an intense period of the summer when I was trying to squeeze in work, vacation, extra duties brought on by other peoples' vacations, and seeking to be ready to go when everyone else finished their vacations and once again was ready to go.  I was working along my agenda but it had been quite a while since I took the time to ask God whether I was still operating from His agenda.

Both are dangerous situations if you believe as I do that it is God's Church and His Holy Spirit is the true leader of the Church.  I may have title of Lead Pastor and others may expect me to lead; but leading without being clearly connected to God is a formula for frustration and failure.Part of my dilemma was that I have just two weeks until most of us take that last summer break called Labor Day. Then I and the church hit the ground running in a new church ministry year. 

There's that word running again.  You can run a marathon or a sprint but the first step is critical.  If you misstep or make that first step without being sure where you are going, you can stumble or even fall.  The race (or at least that leg of it) can be lost in that first step.  Being sure of where that first step needs to go is a necessary part of a runner's strategy.

For a church leader, the everyday business of the Body can be a distraction. Reports to write, people to visit, emergencies to handle, schedules to meet, meetings to attend, conversations to be had, questions to answer - all of these can consume a lot of time and energy. They can also be interruptions of bigger things. And if you're like me, each interruption requires some regrouping, refocusing and then a restart.  The still small voice of the Lord is easily lost in all this.

So last week when I paused to catch my breath, the Lord whispered, "You need some alone time with me."
It was not convenient. It did not fit easily into my already full dayplanner. It required some planning; but tomorrow I am heading out to be "present with the Lord."  There are some people who this will inconvenience. There are some items of business I will need to play catch up on.  Someone else will have the handle emergencies.  And I will miss some of the joy and satisfaction of sharing fellowship with the Body.

But by being absent from the "Body" for a few days without the distraction, I can be "present" with the Lord by giving Him my undivided, unhurried, uninterrupted attention.  And I know from past experience that I will be more assured and empowered to run the race He has set before me. And Lead Pastor, to help the church I serve run their race with the same faithfulness and fruitfulness. - Steve Dunn, Church of God of Landisville

So when

Saturday, August 14, 2010


“Lost people matter to God.”

I still remember Bill Hybels utter that phrase back in the 1980′s, as I watched him on tape providing the scriptural and motivational foundation for doing the work of evangelism. Famously building upon the three parables found in Luke 15, Hybels reminded us that we should never consider anything more important than helping reconcile people to God. In the ensuing two decades I have heard many a pastor, from prominent podiums to small, almost unnoticed pulpits; echo Hybels’ words.

The natural inference from that statement is that “Lost people ought to matter to God’s people.” In 39 years of ministry, I have no doubt that lost people matter to God; but I deeply question whether lost people matter to God’s people. Oh, on an intellectual level when we are trying to be theologically correct, we will all say that lost people matter to us. Our actions and our attitudes put the lie to such assertions.

1. Do we really believe that people are lost without Christ? Christian Smith has coined the phrase “moralistic, therapeutic deism” to describe what passes for the gospel in many churches today. The moralistic dimension affirms that people really can be right with God (and spend eternity with Him) if we are simply good enough. Goodness has been substituted for holiness and so we seem to believe most people who try hard enough will earn a passing score. Or we operate from some deep conviction that a loving God would never make us live with the consequences of choosing sin over His love. The Cross may make great jewelry but it is optional in terms of salvation.

2. We act as if the already persuaded are more important than the yet to be persuaded. Too many Christians and too many churches take care of themselves first, giving it the bulk of their time, their passion, their attention, their resources. Evangelism gets what’s left over. And Heaven forbid we step out of our ministry or worship comfort zones to make the Gospel accessible to those who do not yet know Jesus.

3. We celebrate birthdays but barely speak of New Birth. Maybe that’s because we have more birthdays than New Births. We make elaborate provisions to celebrate one more year on this planet but rarely make any provision for a person experiencing the first year of their eternal life on this planet. In fact, we grieve when someone forgets to give us a gift for another year of being “absent from the Lord”, but seem unperturbed when the gift of eternal life goes unclaimed.

Do you have a plan for building redemptive relationships with people so you might help them become reconciled to God? Or are you too busy with work, church programs, and personal trivial pursuits to give the lost a real priority? Does your church have a strategy for going and sharing the Good News with those who do not yet know Jesus? Or are you too busy with bake sales, class parties, prayer meetings, making the church’s trains run on time?

Lost people matter to God.

Lost people should matter to God’s people.

Would your priorities and actions reflect that?

Posted by Dr Steve Dunn, Lead Pastor at the Landisville Church of God and Chairperson of the Commission on Evangelism of the Eastern Regional Conference of the Churches of God.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I know that Rob Bell is a controversial person in some circles, but his description of the Gospel and the Church describes in a powerful, powerful way the motivation that compelled the earliest church to proclaim the Good News.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


James Nored recently wrote in the Missional Outreach discussions page of his MISSIONAL OUTREACH WEBSITE:

"Jesus said that his mission was to seek and save the lost, serve people, and share the good news of the kingdom of God. As he went about this mission, he healed people, fed people, and met many needs.

But when you look at how he treated the disciples, other than healing Peter's mother-in-law, it would appear that Jesus focused more on teaching them how to meet other people's needs than their own. In fact, his call was to "lay down their lives, take up their cross, and follow him." This call was to service and self-sacrifice and meeting the needs--of others.

In his book, Church Unique, author Will Mancini talks about the problem of having a church that is focused on meeting internal needs and expectations. Note the following:

"On the needs-based slippery slope, leaders are constantly trying to meet people's needs and expectations within the church. Whether the needs ring of religious consumerism or are legitimate concerns of life and death, the slippery slope works the same. With the leaders' cruise control set to "react," thoughtful leadership becomes unnecessary because there is always a persistent parade of needs to be answered. The vision of the church is reduced to making people happy. The reality is that such a church is probably missing out on fulfilling its unique calling and role in the community by trying to be all things to all members.Sliding down the needs-based slope is perhaps the most 'spiritual' way of avoiding the hard work of self-discovery."

His point is that being an internally focused, needs-based church puts leaders in a reactive mode that does not allow them to effectively discover and implement God's unqiue missional calling for their church in that context. Time and energy alone from dealing with needs and complaints leaves room for little else. I have witnessed this problem many times.

What are your thoughts on Mancini and Nored's observations?

Friday, August 6, 2010


Catalyst West 2010: Dallas Willard Part 1 from Catalyst on Vimeo.

Dallas Willard has had a powerful impact on many of us who are committed to outward-focused, kingdom churches.  His words are worth our reflection.  I welcome feedback. - Steve

Monday, July 26, 2010


Wayne Cordeiro and Robert Lewis. along with Warren Bird have written an excellent book called Culture Shift: Transforming Your Church from the Inside Out (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series). In it they speak of the pastor (or lead pastor) as the chief “cultural architect” of a church. The concept reminds me of several deep truths about the church, but particularly the church that seeks to be a “bridge to the Bridge (Jesus Christ).

1.Every church has a culture.

2. Our culture naturally shapes the way we live.

3. If we don’t shape our culture, our culture shapes us.

Most of the churches in existence today were born into a culture where the institutional church had a significant place at the table. There was a certain synchronicity between the values of the general American culture and the values of the church. The church had a fairly simple task to make disciples because the culture provided a certain amount of elemental support to the mission of the church.

Culture has a powerful shaping influence. Despite the presence of the church at the table, our culture has developed a strong consumer mindset rather than a servant one. A consumer mentality seeks first and foremost to meet the felt needs of the consumer.

Religious satisfaction (read, religion that meets my felt needs) was often the first order of business for most churches and most church people. That tended to give churches a strong inward focus, rather than an outward one because the incentive to meet the needs of the already persuaded often used up most of the resources, leaving little for persuading others to become reconciled to God. The prevailing culture (which was less and less influenced by the church) made most Christians at the end of the 20th century more consumers of religious services than servants of the mission of Christ.

Bridgebuilding requires first a culture that values bridgebuilding. That means a church must intentionally be structured around a mission to reach and reconcile lost people to God. It must be a culture that sees itself as missionary in nature and to intentionally imbed the values needed to be on a mission from God.

That begins with the pastor–the person responsible for equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry. That also means that the pastor must be committed to the missionary nature of the church. That, of course, means that the pastor must be intentional about helping shaping the lives under his care with the values of Christ.

Those values come the Word, from scripture. Part of the reason the church has been so often been shaped by the culture is that the values of the church were more religiously cultural than biblical. The cultural architect must first start with the blueprint of his Architect (the real Chief Cultural Architect) lest he try to design the unique expression that is his congregation that is disconnected from the power and blessing of God.

And the cultural arhitect must be sure that he is being shaped by his Arhitect. That means that the cultural architect (pastor) must himself first be led by the Spirit so he can do his part in shaping a culture (a church) that is led by the Spirit.

This article originally appeared on the blogsite BRIDGEBUILDERS