Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Kem Meyer is on the staff of 80 year old Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana. This church has a powerful reputation for innovation in its outward focus. In response to people who believe the church does need to bother with the social media, Kem wrote this in his blog:
"In an effort to tangibly demonstrate to my church the magnitude of the people around us who don’t have any connection to church, I developed a billboard campaign that shows a head shot image of an expressionless middle aged man along with the

"THE QUESTION: Nobody is ever going to search for our church Twitter account so they can follow it. Why would they? And since only a few of our people even know what Twitter is, our church membership certainly isn’t going to follow it. So why then should I spend any time at all working on it?

In an effort to tangibly demonstrate to my church the magnitude of the people around us who don’t have any connection to church, I developed a billboard campaign that shows a head shot image of an expressionless middle aged man along with the simple question:
simple question:

Where can I find hope?

Below the question, this appears: Text GOD to 25827.

This single billboard, located at the second busiest intersection in the city, went up on Jan. 27, 2010. As of noon today there have been 1,214 specific cell numbers gathered from this effort that are not registered within our own database already. This tells me that nearly 25 new people a day, who are nameless to us, are taking the time to stop and send a text message to find out the answer to that question. This billboard is less than a mile from our church.

No effort in the history of this 80 year old church has garnered that number of potential candidates for salvation.

MY ANSWER TO THE QUESTION: There is a lost and suffering society all around us without hope. A high percentage of them actually use Twitter and Facebook. Since I know they don’t have an interest following our church, I’m going to follow them instead. Using the search tools, I’m going to purposely follow anyone and everyone who posts anything on Twitter within 10 miles of our zip code. I’m going to do this with the prayer that some of them will in turn follow us. And even further that some of the people who follow the people we follow will want to follow us (confusing I know…draw a picture if you need to).

In all honesty, much of what is posted on the twitter accounts I’m now following is very objectionable. I want to lead old school believers to an understanding that not only is it okay for the church to do this, we’re supposed to. What I know to be true is the best way to fill your own cup is to fill someone else’s. Since I know these people are not going to come to me, I’m going to go to them."

For more of this post go to:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Gilbert Thurston is a church planter for the Eastern Regional Conference of the Churches of God. In October he is bringing a new church to Harrisburg called This video is on their website and suggests some things that traditional churches really need to wrestle with in their are to have a true outward focus that impacts the unchurched and the dechurched. I'd be interest in your feedback.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Leadership Lessons learned from Dancing Guy. Read transcript at Original video at

This is a little off the wall, but my good friend Rich Thornton from Friendship Community Church (CGGC) in Dover PA recommends it as a great discussion starter for people who need to start thinking outside the box.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I have been in the ministry formally since 1971 when I started as a youth pastor. It's a little humbling but that means I have been serving in leadership as pastor or church staff member 39 years. During that time I have served a denominational staff position, and served as pastor or ministry staff in seven different churches. Two of the last three have been longer term - one for 14 years in a large midwestern city and most recently for nine years here at Landisville.

Besides leading different churches, a lot has changed in my professional life. The picture on the right was how I looked as I occupied that pulpit in the Midwest (when I was in my 30s and early 40s). The picture on the right is how I am dressed most Sundays now (as I start my 60th year of life.)

In last decades of the 20th century, pastors with multiple staffs were called Senior Pastors (modeled from corporate cultures and top-down authority structures.) Increasingly we are finding that younger adults are not impressed by those power titles and a bit turned off the emphasis on hierarchy. Now, in order to connect with emerging generations, I am called the Lead Pastor

When I started in ministry the pastor functioned more as a priest or chaplain to the people. In many ways he was the hireling who did the work of the church on behalf of the church. Then pastoring evolved into an emphasis on administration and management, with many pastors being seen as CEOs. Their focus was on building a structure to do ministry that coordinated mission statements, organizational structures and programs to make sure the church was carrying out its ministry. Increasingly pastors are encouraged to step away from such day to day supervision and control, to focus on casting the vision of the church and working with the Spirit to create a culture that embodies the DNA of Christ. Equipping people for ministry by teaching them core values, keeping their focus on what God is doing, and helping them discover and use their gifts in a way that serves God.

One of the deep and enduring challenges of pastoral leadership is for the pastor to be open to be a new kind of pastor as the needs of the ministry change, and helping churches understand that fruitfulness requires such change.

Friday, March 19, 2010


A while back I posted an article "The Executive Team." It was an attempt to put into language that some of your church leadership for whom "business think" is their default mode to begin to see how leadership in a spiritual organism functions. In discussing this with those in leadership who see a possible danger in using such terms, we reframed his somewhat differently.

In most churches the Lead Pastor is the ranking officer or as we sometimes say, "First among equals." This does not mean the Lead Pastor is the only leader that counts. It means because of the office he has been given and the gifts he has been given, he serves as the point man on the church's mission and in communicating its God-given vision. It is an "office" that carries with it a natural positional authority that is enhanced by relationship authority.

In my own church, however, there are three other officers who have a similar positional authority that is enhanced by relational authority. They are the Council President (i.e., the church lay leader of the church), the Chairperson of the Elders (who leads those persons particularly responsible for the spiritual health and faithfulness of the congregation), and the Chairperson of the Strategic Advisory Team (the group that helps us formulate a unified mission and ministry plan that keeps us true to our vision, and to help all groups evaluate their effectiveness.)

They are a form of "top" leadership which means they are the first to model Servant Leadership.
From their position, they have many groups or leaders answerable to them. From their relationships, they model both the servanthood and Spirit-guided team work necessary to be faithful and fruitful as a church.

We are now treating them as a LEADERSHIP HUB into which ideas, issues, concerns, dreams, problems and opportunities are channeled. Then in their regular dialogue they seek what part of the church structure is best suited to respond to this concern. It is a way for people throughout the church to know where first to take their thoughts and the ones that people can know will be accountable to see that these concerns are addressed or these dreams are fostered.

We are calling the places they are assigned to as THE SPIRITUAL INCUBATORS. In our next post we will attempt to describe that in a helpful way.

It's a new concept that is evolving with us as a church in our desire to be effective stewards of the Great Vision our Great God has given a Great Church. We'll keep you posted.


21 Questions I’ve Been Asking (Myself) Lately

Click on the link and you can see the original website by Timmy Brister from which this article comes.

Several of you will find these questions familiar, but their familiarity does not minimize the piercing factor for this pastor. I wanted to put them out there in case others might find them helpful.

1. If our church would cease to exist in our city, would it be noticed and missed?

2. If all the pastors were tragically killed in a car accident, would the church’s ministry cease or fall apart?

3. If the only possible means of connecting with unbelievers were through the missionary living of our church members, how much would we grow? (I ask this because the early church did not have signs, websites, ads, marketing, etc.)

4. What are the subcultures within the church? Do they attract or detract from the centrality of the gospel and mission of the church?

5. Is our church known more for what we are not/against than what we are/for?

6. What are we allowing to be our measuring stick of church health? (attendance vs. discipleship; seating capacity vs. sending capacity; gospel growth, training on mission, etc.)

7. Are the priorities of our church in line with the priorities of Christ’s kingdom?

8. If our members had 60 seconds to explain to an unbeliever what our church is like, what would you want them to say? How many do you think are saying that?

9. If the invisible kingdom of God became visible in our city, what would that look like?

10. In what ways have we acted or planned in unbelief instead of faith?

11. As a pastor, is my time spent more in fixing people’s problems or helping people progress in faith through training/equipping them for ministry?

12. Are the people we are reaching more religious or pagan?

13. What can we learn about our evangelism practices by the kind of people are being reached with the gospel?

14. What will it take to reach those in our city who are far from God and have no access to the gospel?

15. What percentage of our growth is conversion growth (vs. transfer growth)?

16. How many people know and are discharging their spiritual gifts in active service and building up of the body of Christ?

17. How many people do I know (and more importantly know me) on a first name basis in my community and city who do not attend our church?

18. Am I using people to get ministry done, or am I using ministry to get people “done”?

19. Is the vision we are casting forth honoring both God’s heart for the lost (builder) and God’s passion for a pure church (perfecter)?

20. If money and space were not an issue, what is one thing we ought to dream for God to do in our midst where it is impossible for anyone to get the credit except for the omnipotent hand of God?

21. If being a church planting church is comprised of disciple-making disciples, then how are we doing?

Got any other questions that you could add? Please pass them along!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I came across this video on a blog dedicated to important questions being asked of missional churches. Although a traditional church in many ways, Coral Ridge Presbyterian has embraced many missional concepts and clearly exhibits an outward focus. This is video expresses on the key ideas of an effective missional theology.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Note from Steve: I author several blogs. One is called LIFE MATTERS and can be accessed at

Recently one of the readers of that blog who also reads this one suggested I cross post - to give some insight into the quality that needs to considered as you communicate to the world, but also the grace in which you must operate.

I hate TYPOS. I was just reading the header on this blog and found a small typo. I wonder how long it has been there. Any typo that makes it into print has existed too long.

Typos mar your image. They are a literary smudge on your life's script. You can be seen as a genius or even a savior, but a typo causes people to entertain the thought that you are not thoughtful. That you are careless. I imagine Jesus was glad that he didn't have to print a bulletin or publish a blog. There are no typos in an oral presentation. (As I originally typed that sentence, it read "They are no types ..."

I have learned that to proofread your own work doesn't eliminate typos. Your mind "sees" what you intended to say, not its incorrect spelling. And spell check is not a help if the word resembles another word that means something else. (Is that a typo of meaning?) Secretaries who make typos on the boss's stuff make people think the boss is not supervising properly.

The list of the little "hells" that a typo unleashes goes on.

Yet a typo can also actually be the reflection of someone who thinks deeply and creatively. My wife says my typos come because my mind moves faster than my keyboard. I am far down the track in an idea and don't see the typo that has occurred in the aftermath. (I like that explanation.)

Typos are types typed on a keyboard that rise up and embarrass us. But typos may not be so much a reflection of our haste or carelessness as it is a reflection of our humanity. Hopefully people will measure us by the fruit, not our typos.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


We continue to be challenged with the implications of the technological revolution in the area of communication and social media. Still I am sure there are people who say, "What's the big deal?"
So here's something to add to the dialogue.


I subscribe on Facebook to This video speaks to the essential element of grace in being a welcoming church. Click the link and reflect.


Saturday, March 13, 2010


To engage people in culture we must remember that holiness is separation from sin, not separation from sinners. - Ed Stetzer

In 2002 my congregation at Landisville began a series of "Thinking Forward Meetings." The Elders had invited the entire congregation to seek the mind of Christ for the future direction of the church. 71 persons attended 13 of these small group gatherings to share how they had seen God at work leading the church and what they believed we needed to deal with in order to be faithful to God.

In one meeting, 82 year old Bernie McFarland (a life long member of the church) announced, "If this church died tomorrow, no one would really notice. They think of us as the rich church on the hill (a reference to our magnificent stained glass windows), but we have no real impact on this community."

From that statement and similar confirming statements, my congregation set out on a journey to be a church that impacted its community for Christ in life-changing ways. Borrowing a model from Robert Lewis in The Church of Irresistible Influence we set out to build bridges to the community in prayerful hope that our interaction and relationships as the church with the community out in the community would draw people into the Body of Christ.

We also worked on understanding and embodying our core values so that when people connected with the Church they'd meet the real Jesus living in and through us. That meant we had to mature and grow as disciples who each day reflected the character of Christ--trusting the Spirit of God to make us influencers for God in the world without fear that the world would influence us.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Increasingly the traditional church is learning what has been an open secret in youth ministry for decades. Worship is evangelism. When seekers come into a gathering where people are transparent and passionate to worship God, there is an electricity present that captures their attention and begins to open their hearts and minds to Him.

We are not talking about worship as a perfunctory act of obedience, all about form and language. We are talking about that humbling of one's heart, that unashamed and unscripted abandonment of oneself to the transforming power of God. "Let love be genuine" is the command of scripture. When worship is a genuine expression of a heartfelt love for Jesus Christ, it illumines the dark places of our world with the awesome, supernatural light of the world. No one has to explain God or even defend Him. Worship reveals His presence.

Christian preachers are learning to communicate to emerging generations in effective ways. And churches are learning to worship in ways that communicate meaning and invite new people to enter into the flow of worship. Creative tools and worship arts create an atmosphere for worship that helps engage people of many personalities and passions as participants.

But in the end, worship that is genuine -- in Spirit and in Truth -- is what lifts up Christ and draws all people -- old and young, modern and postmodern, traditional and contemporary, raised in the church or one who will be the first generation of their family to find faith -- and ultimately (to quote Dan Kimball) to be the bridge to the Bridge that reconciles people to God.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Dan Masshardt from the Commission on Evangelism of the Eastern Region Conference of the Churches of God shares this from his blog CHOOSE TODAY

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


The Outward Focused Church understands that it is called influence its world. We tend to think of influence as a political act. Influence that is a result of living with Jesus' DNA is an act of love for our neighbor and faithfulness to God. The description of Christian influence is found in Jesus' declaration in Matthew 5:18ff. "You are the salt of the earth ... you are the light of the world."

Intentional ministry is intended to be an influential ministry. A missional church in focusing on living according to its mission asks the question, "How will our actions lift up Christ before this community?" Such churches know that to misrepresent Christ is an act of disobedience to God with perhaps tragic consequences because it might influence people to embrace a false understanding of Jesus. Or if the non-Christian has a sense of what Jesus truly is like, our behavior in Jesus' name may influence them to reject Christ, or at the very least cause them to want to have no part with His Bride, the Church.

An inward-focused church often has little influence because its has little contact with or relevance for the community that surrounds it. That is more a tragedy than anything. And if the people surrounding that church see that the church is basically occupying space in the neighborhood and little else, they can easily (and perhaps appropriately) say that the church does not care. And that influences them to seek love from some other source than Christ.

Influence, therefore,requires involvement--on a daily and basic level. The church, to truly be influential intentionally builds (what Bill Hybels calls) redemptive relationships--relationships intended to assist God in His work of salvation and life transformation.

Influence is not throwing your weight around in the public square, it representing the name and the aim of Jesus to a world that has grown skeptical and suspicious about the value of God in their community.

(c) 2010 by Stephen L Dunn

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Outward-focused churches are dreaming churches. Not wandering daydreams or mere wishful thinking. Dreams that comes from the mind of God into the hearts of His people. Yet dreams themselves are not enough. Mark Batterson shares a formula that is helpful in explaining this.

Doing – Dreaming = Waste of Energy
Dreaming – Doing = Disobedience
Dreaming + Doing = Exponential Kingdom Impact

The key here is first to dream God-sized dreams. That means dreams that transform lives and worlds. It also means dreams that cannot possibly be realized by mere human planning and power. Dreams that drive us to an utter dependence upon God and result in people saying not, "What a great church," but saying "What a great God!"

The second is to understand that although God's resurrection power is the force by which we achieve those dreams, we cannot sit idly back and merely let it happen. God has given each church gifts and passions and abilities for the exact purpose of using those things to bring that dream to fulfillment. We must be preparing to dream and to do in order to have the Kingdom Impact God intends.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Good planning and timely decision-making are essential to a church seeking to be faithful to God's leading. Sometimes mission drift occurs because it gets bogged down in the inertia of church governance. Who is responsible for what? How do you get action on an idea that has implications for multiple ministry teams? How do you be certain that your mission is working out of your vision from God and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit?

Last weekend I was privileged to be a part of Houston 2010, a conference sponsored by Global Media Outreach. GMO is a division of Campus Crusade and specializes in internet evangelism (more on this in a later post). The conference was put together in 40 days to respond to an immediate and critical need in their ministry. They succeeded incredibly, in part because they had an executive team that used its best skills and clear lines of responsibility to respond to a leading of the Holy Spirit to conduct this event. Watching them at work, God gave me a sense of how an executive team might truly help a church produce God-class ministry.

The Executive Team would be composed of four persons:

THE CEO (or to use a popular term, Chief Cultural Architect) This is the Lead Pastor whose job is to be the vision-caster of the church and the chief teacher of its core values and identity as the Body of Christ.

THE COO or your council chairperson. This is the one who sees that a church board and its ministry teams are working in a coordinated manner. He or she also sees that the proper decision-making occurs in a timely manner that keeps the church "legal" constitutionally or structurally and with the denominational body and the state.

THE CPO or chief planning officer. This person heads a Strategic Advisory Team that works with Commissions and your church board to help evaluate ongoing ministry and develop a unified ministry that plan that keeps your church faithful and fruitful to its mission statement. Both this office and this team would have to be created in most churches.

THE CPI or Chief Prayer Igniter. In most churches this would be the chairperson of your elders. In my church the elders have the responsibility for spiritual oversight of the Body and to keep the church in tune with God as a spiritual organism in all of its efforts. Since prayer is the most critical element of any spiritual enterprise, this person sees that the church is at prayer for its decisions and its operations.

Together these persons work to see that ministry ideas and needs are assigned to the proper are to become the incubators out of which action is derived.


Saturday, March 6, 2010


What is the purpose of the Church?

From time to time an outward focused church needs to stop and ask that question. If not the church can subtly veer from its mission. It can slip from being missional to maintenance as we begin majoring in keeping doing what we have been doing lately.

The purpose question also requires a parallel one --- Whose church is it? As we invest our time, our energy, our resources in the ministry of the church we also subtly develop a mentality of "my church" or "our church" instead of this God's church. Even churches engaged in an outward focused mission can plant the seeds of failure to live out its purpose when it ceases to consciously and continuously see itself as God's church - the Body of Christ!

Friday, March 5, 2010


I have been doing a lot of prayerful reflection on leadership in the church--and the lessons I have learned. Sometimes those lessons have been learned through mistakes. Sometimes they have been learned through the insights of others accompanied by the Lord saying "Think outside your box and pay attention." Here is something that has become a firm conviction for me and was recently reinforced in reading the work of Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro in their book Culture Shift: Transforming Your Church From the Inside Out.

The first qualification is a spiritual one. Lewis and Cordeiro write: "... the cultural epicenter of a church is not a static code or rules, but life-on-life equipping that ultimately allows a person or a team you trust to apply biblical principles your your specific context." (SPECIFIC CONTEXT=THE PEOPLE GOD HAS GATHERED TOGETHER IN 2010 TO DO MINISTRY AS THE CHURCH OF GOD OF LANDISVILLE."

When we design a church's mission and ministry, we really cannot step away from a reality that impacts our ultimate frutifulness. The church is not an organization--it is a spiritual organism. It is the continuing body of Christ. Our DNA is Christ's DNA and our character should reflect Jesus Christ's values and our behavior should quite literally be defined as what Jesus would do as the Church of God of Landisville.

Being the people of a great God requires us, to use Lewis and Cordiero's words is to "incarnate not duplicate." We are not trying to reproduce successful programs that others have used in their specific settings. We are trying to incarnate (give life to) the mission God has called us uniquely to carry out as a congregation on the mission field that is Landsville in 2010.

This is what the first qualification of leadership is a spiritual one. In Acts, David is described in such a way that defines this qualification: "He’s a man whose heart beats to my heart, a man who will do what I tell him." The Message translation.

If this is not true of a church leader, then that leaders ideas, plans, and actions will not result in a church that truly honors God or that God blesses.