Monday, June 28, 2010


“The business of the church is to make more and better disciples.” – Bob Logan Beyond Church Growth

The church is a supernatural organism with a missionary purpose. Jesus makes that very clear in his instructions to his disciples recorded in Matthew 28, “… go and make disciples of all nations.” We are commissioned by God and given the authority of God to make disciples of people everywhere at all times and in all circumstances. And how is a disciple made? By introducing people to the Risen Christ and inviting them to enter into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus and becoming a part of His servant community in the world.

Church growth advocates often see the ministry of the church in marketing terms. “We need to be gaining and retaining members.” Churches of a mission from God think in terms of evangelism and discipleship.

Disciples are members of the Church, the Body of Christ. Members, however, are not necessarily disciples. Actually, you cannot be a member of the Church (including its local manifestation, a congregation) without being a disciples. Only a Christian can be a member of the Church of God.

The purpose of the church is to make more disciples. Church growth and church membership drives are often about getting more of the existing disciples into a local congregation. Whenever that is the primary reason for a church’s invitation and recruitment you sow the seeds of disobedience to the Great Commission. The purpose of the Church is to make more disciples, to add new people to the Kingdom of God and to His church. To add new disciples.

Gaining is about evangelism. You cannot be faithful to your calling as the Church if you do not concentrate on evangelism. Gaining is not about quality programs well packaged and properly advertised. Gaining is not about recruiting more people to do the work of the Church and to pay its bills. Gaining is about making new disciples for Jesus Christ. Programs, advertising, invitational campaigns are tools of evangelism – important tools. But unless they are drawing people into committed relationships with Jesus Christ we have not carried out the biblical mandate for gaining.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Earlier this year Lifeway Research conducted a telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors to find out how churches have fared economically through the end of 2009. We did not put a lot of fanfare in the release a few weeks ago, but thought churches preparing for Fall fiscal year starts may be looking for facts to inform their plans.The results of this survey were not formally released to the media, but I have decided that you, my blog readers, are more important than a press release-- so, here is a blog exclusive!

We did this survey at the beginning of 2010 to look back at 2009. Although the majority of pastors continued to see the impact of the economy on their church as somewhat negative, giving in Protestant churches in the US has remained steady despite a tough economy, with 72% of Protestant churches finishing 2009 with offerings at or above 2008 levels. Almost two-thirds of Protestant churches finished 2009 at or above their budget.

For more on this article go to: ed stetzer Note also that we have added Ed to our blogroll on the home page

Monday, June 14, 2010


Kem Kemmeyer from Granger Community Church shared three questions in today's post on Less Clutter, Less Noise.

Quotes I’m resonating with…
  • When I invite people to church, I’m asking them to give up what they value doing most on Sunday (or Saturday, or Wednesday) so they can experience what I value.
  • The gospel is more than an informational transaction. It is a relational interaction which leads to transformation.
  • If you want to have a large impact be committed to the small things.
Thom and Sam Rainer in their book Essential Church report that people (especially young adults) drop out of church because it is not essential to their lives. Perhaps the answer to question one is found in a self-assessment. Is the Church and its worship gatherings essential to me, or just the best of options? What makes it essential?

Question 2: An informational transaction, i..e, I give you the details of the Gospel and now you believe is less and less effective as we move from the Modern to the Postmodern Era and beyond. Relationships are the key to introducing and validating truth for people today. It is as we live out the gospel in our relationships with pre-Christians (which includes sharing the information of the gospel) that people are really introduced to Christ and find themselves giving their lives to Him.

Question 3: Smaller things done with excellence out of the motive of bringing life-transformation are far more effective than big programs which never make a personal level connection, or big ideas that keep us too busy to do anything well.

Share with me your thoughts on Kem's questions.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I have a very insightful man in my church at Landisville, Pete Payne, who more than a year ago became a part of our strategic planning process. At the time we were suffering greatly from mission drift, and too many of our people were not involved in a significant way in carrying out the vision. Pete, a retired marketing exec from Armstrong World Industries, was a firm advocate in strengthening internal communication and fostering internal dialogue between church members and leaders. He suggested I start an in-house blog for those purposes. Being a passionate and prolific blogger, it was a no-brainer for me. We launched in the spring of 2009, Thinking Out Loud About Landisville.

Recently we changed the blog to add a dimension of leadership training, as well as leadership dialogue. And to reinforce the idea that the Holy Spirit leads the Church of God of Landisville (not Pastor Steve or the Elders or a Council), we added the dimension of ideas God was using within our core leadership to help identify "what it is God is doing" so we, as a church, "can go do it with Him."

Thus, we started a successor blog called Holy Spirit Incubator. If you would like to observe (and maybe even contribute) to how one church goes about being an outward-focused church, I would invite you to check out this blog. A link is on OUTWARD FOCUSED's home page or you can click on to INCUBATOR.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


I have a new blog available to readers of THE OUTWARD FOCUSED CHURCH. Called Bridges to the Bridge, it takes its title from a statement made by Dan Kimball (author of They Like Jesus But Not the Church) based on the well-known Bridge Model created by the Navigators. "We Need to Be Bridges to the Bridge."

Bridges to the Bridge is a blog about evangelism and discipleship. It is for all persons interested in building redemptive relationships (a phrase popularized by Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg) so that we might introduce people to Jesus Christ.

It's new. Just seven posts since May. No subscribers yet; but for those who would like thoughtful articles about evangelism, news about new tools and developments, or to dialogue about what many of us consider to be the most important function of the Church; I would invite you to join us at this page. A link on the OUTWARD FOCUSED home page can get you there. Or you can click directly here at BRIDGES

For those familiar with the School of Evangelism that I direct (and teach in) for the Eastern Regional Conference of the Churches of God, this blog will contain posts of lectures and original textbook material we are creating.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Will Mancini in CLARITY EVANGELIST shares a powerful idea.
He calls them THINKHOLES.

A thinkhole represents the quicksand-like dynamic where vibrant thinking gets sucked beneath the surface to suffocate and disappear from view. I often imagine that Indian Jones-like scene where every second matters in escaping the devouring quicksand. Use the chart below as evaluation tool with your team (A rating scale is in the first column.) If you haven’t yet, consider grabbing a copy of Church Unique. Follow the link above and consider purchasing what appears to be an excellent book I am adding to my library.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Found this great video from an Australian pastor on the Missional Outreach Network. An important reminder about the purpose of worship.

Find more videos like this on Missional Outreach Network

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Recently at the Church of God of Landisville we changed my title from Senior Pastor to Lead Pastor. We made this change because we believe God has given us a new vision as a congregation which required us to do ministry in a new way. That meant my role was changing and to clearly communicate that I now have a new position title. The name, however, Lead Pastor was chosen because it matched our emerging philosophy of ministry. This is what we have shared with the congregation. - Steve

A Senior Pastor is a whole lot like the guy in this cartoon. He’s kind of the head of everything or the hub of ministry. He’s the “ranking officer of the church.” (That’s actually the job description in our church constitution.) In practice he becomes the Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Operating Office combined into one office. In that context He is the one who speaks for God and he’s the “one” responsible for the church’s success. The Senior Pastor has primary authority and that authority is positional, i.e., it’s tied to his office. Even if the Senior Pastor believes the Holy Spirit is the leader of the church, the congregation tends to think that job is the Senior Pastor’s. Thus everyone believes the Senior Pastor needs to be a part of what they do or else it’s not as important (or they measure the importance of what is done by whether or not the Senior Pastor blesses it and gives his time to it.)

It’s a killer job description; but it also promotes an inappropriate understanding of church leadership and the nature of the church in the 2st century. It is a model that suited well the hierarchical values of the Church in another era. It is a model that could easily be translated by people working in human organizations and the business world.

So why are we shifting from this concept to that of a Lead Pastor? Here are just a few reasons:

1. Effective leadership in the church comes more from relational authority than positional. People best follow a person who they trust not a person who has the power of position.

2. The church is a spiritual organism and the Holy Spirit is the Leader. The Holy Spirit works through the gifts of the Body and persons provide leadership to the rest of us when they faithfully exercise their gifts. That means that there are areas of a church’s ministry that are outside the pastor’s giftedness and when those areas must be at the forefront, people with those gifts must lead.

3. A church has many leaders all of whom are responsible for the faithfulness and fruitfulness of the church.

4. The pastor (i.e, the Senior Pastor) is chiefly responsible for vision-casting and equipping (see Ephesians 4). He is responsible to lead not manage. Management is often concerned with day-to-day effectiveness and maintaining the organization. Leadership is about the big picture and helping the church grow to the full potential of its calling from God. When the two are combined, the managing side wins because a whole lot of time is consumed being sure the group is operating efficiently and little time (or energy) is left for the Big Picture (Vision) and paying attention to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

5. The pastor is the chief spiritual officer of the church which means he must have time in the Word, in prayer, and focusing on helping the church understand and live from its core values as the Body of Christ. That is his work. It is the work of the church to do the work of the church.

6. Younger adults and unchurched people see Senior Pastor as a business or institutional concept with all of its baggage, not a spiritual one. They trust someone who leads, not orders. They relate to the heart of a pastor to commit themselves to his leadership and they want that heart to be connected to God’s heart.

7. A Lead Pastor has come to be synonymous with servanthood not rank. It is associated with humility not power. (If you don’t grasp that, read John 13).

These are the reasons why the Elders and the Church Council have approved a new title for their former “Senior” Pastor.

How that will be put into practice is the subject of our next blog posting.

Note to readers of OUTWARD FOCUSED CHURCH. You can read this post in its original and related posts at HOLY SPIRIT INCUBATOR.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


We often think of vision in terms of something we will accomplish when God provides the resources or sends us the right people or we finally develop the best strategy. In fact, many churches delay engaging in ministry because they focus on what they lack.

Did you ever stop to think that one of the ways of identifying your vision is to see what God already has in place in your church? If you look around you and begin assessing what God has already placed within your church, you may discover some amazing resources.

For example, God has given you many persons with the gift of helps (service) but few with the gift of teaching. That may be telling you that a high-powered Sunday School is not a part of your current vision but a very practical community service outreach might be the focal point of your particular mission as a congregation. Maybe you have almost no young people, but you have many mature older adults who are active and who have a passion to serve others. A youth ministry may not be your emphasis, but a senior center might be. Or you only have a couple of people with the energy and passion to reach young people, but you have a number of adults who are natural born mentors and are willing to spend time with kids helping them in their walk with God. This could mean that a discipleship focus rather than high energy programming may be the best form to deliver youth ministry.

As you step faithfully into the stream of ministry using the resources God has already provided, you may well find that He adds more.



1) Great models all have great clarity. The Soma model has a uniquely formed language that drives it’s culture. Two of the most common missing elements of vision (five questions of the Vision Frame) are modeled really well at Soma. The first is “when are we successful.” Soma articulates a four-fold missional life-mark as “Identity: Who we are.” The church is not successful based on attendance, buildings and cash, but on the development of identity. These are the kind of people, the kind of disciples, that the community produces.

  • Family
  • Missionaries
  • Servants
  • Learners

The other missing piece in many churches is strategy or “missional map.” How do we actually accomplish the mission on the broadest level? Soma has articulated a beautiful 6 component strategy that they call “Rhythms: How we live”

  • Story-formed
  • Listen
  • Celebrate
  • Bless
  • Eat
  • ReCreate

2) It is rare to see vision, thoughtfully integrated into communication.

Excerpts from Will Mancini's latest post which you find by clicking on the blogroll.