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