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.