Friday, February 25, 2011


This is a follow-up to yesterday's WILL MANCINI POST. Go to his sight for more and for some great resources and consulting.

3 Strategic Alternatives to Shutting Down a Low Performing Ministry 

Is it time to close a program in your church? Many leaders will tell you, “When the horse is dead, dismount.” But this classic advice rolls of the tongue  much easier than it plays in real life.
As a leader in ministry you have no doubt faced ministries that just ought to go. Like sour milk, they live past their shelf-life. But for various reasons, you just can’t do it. Maybe there is still a group of precious saints being served by the program. Or maybe the decision-making culture of the church just requires more time to process.

The question becomes, “What are the strategic alternatives, to cutting a ministry altogether?” There are three I recommend regularly.
#1 Combine the ministry with something that is working well
Combining ministries is like creating an internal merger. Look for the similarities to something that is working. Talk to the leaders about leveraging the momentum of one with the other. Seek the win-win with diligence and you might be surprised. If the merge works, then you have cut the duplicate work of promotion, communication and  leadership training for two initiatives into one.
#2 “Contributize” the ministry
Before you make fun of my poetic license with the word “contributize” listen up! Think of a ministry that is only trickling with effectiveness as an opportunity to redirect that trickle into a more effective stream. In other words, turn the program into a contributory for a more strategy ministry. For example, what do you do with that monthly men’s prayer breakfast that’s been dwindling in attendance for the last 3 years. Rather than shutting it down, ask the leader to integrate a promotion for immediate and urgent opportunities for service in the last 10 minutes of the morning.
#3 Cage the ministry
Caging is close to just cutting the ministry, but with one big difference. You essentially make the ministry “dead to the world” with regard to promotions, communication, staff-time allocation and new funding, while allowing the ministry to exist. Think of it as a strategic way to allow a ministry to die with grace. Sure you may have some hard discussions or even some battles to fight. But its easier to fight for not publicly promoting a ministry  than it is to shut it down.

In the end, the predicament of change-resistance is not a programming issue or a people issue, it’s a vision issue. Use these three strategies to solve the clarity problems of yesterday. But walk into the future with a clear vision that will keep people emotionally connected to your direction and values, not your programs.


Thursday, February 24, 2011


From the archives of THE CLARITY EVANGELIST, a site that has often helped me in my own leadership.

March 17th, 2010

6 Signs that Your Church is Stuck in “Walmart Thinking”

It happens every week. I talk to church leaders who think the answer to reaching more people with the gospel and growing more people toward Christ-like maturity  is adding more ministry stuff.  You name it: more staff, more programs, more events, more buildings, more, more, more. I call it “Walmart thinking” because the basic strategy is to put more stuff on the shelf in hoping to attract more people. 

The good news is that when the “7-day-a-week-church” strategy that worked in the 80s rolls around again, your church will be ready!

Here are the six signs that your church is suffering from this “more is more” deception:
#1 The church is stuck thinking that more programs translates to more life change
#2 The church is deceived by the myth that people want more choices
#3  The church inadvertently thinks that time at church equals spiritual maturity
#4 The church can’t say no to their peoples’ ideas even when the ideas are ineffective
#5 The church allows immature, knowledge-centered spirituality to dictate program offerings
#6 The church contains more religious consumers than growing followers of Jesus

Never forget the cardinal rule of being the church on mission: Programs don’t attract people, people attract people. Most likely your church doesn’t need more things to do. It needs a few things it must do, defined by a clear, simple strategy. This post is adapted from page 150 of Church Unique.

Monday, February 21, 2011


by Michael Lukaszewski

Why is it that new people aren’t showing up to your church?

Your church wants to reach people, spread the Gospel, and to grow. So, why is it that new people aren’t showing up to your church like you hope and pray? Here are six possible reasons:

1. Your church isn’t for them. I know you think everyone is welcome at your church, but your service, environment and people communicate otherwise. Saying that you’re welcoming doesn’t mean that you’re welcoming.

2. You don’t expect guests. You’re greeters and ushers are helpful, but they are not prepped and on the look out for new people. You’re not ready to receive guests, because deep down inside, you don’t expect them.

3. You don’t acknowledge guests. When new people show up, they aren’t welcomed. In your preaching, you reference Bible stories assuming everyone knows what you are talking about. In discussing church business, you act like new people aren’t in the room.

4. You don’t advertise. There’s a reason that Coca-Cola and McDonalds advertise – even though they have billions of customers. There are strategic things you can do to get new people to come to church but, right now, you’re not doing any of them.

5. They haven’t been invited. Personal invitations are the #1 way new people end up at church, but you’re not challenging (or equipping!) your people to invite.

6. You’re not talking about what they care about. You’re talking about Bible stuff, church stuff, and Christian stuff, not the things that people struggle with in their daily lives. Maybe you’ve let the fear of “watering down the Gospel” keep you from talking practically, but not talking about what people want to know about is a sure fire way to keep people away.

Which one of those areas rings true for you? What would you add to this list?

Michael Lukaszewski Michael is the Lead Pastor of Oak Leaf Church in Cartersville, Georgia. In 2005, he stepped out to start a brand new church in Cartersville. At its grand opening service, there were about 280 people that showed up. In 13 months, the church had grown to 900 people.

More from Michael Lukaszewski or visit Michael at

Sunday, February 20, 2011


"The Gospel and Social Media"

"It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it." - Isaiah 55:11, New Living Translation

I can remember back in the 1980's when personal computers began to be a tool embraced by local pastors engaged in the practice of ministry. Up until then, I tended to focus on communicating from a traditional pulpit or some formal teaching venue. I had already begun writing, being published in our denominational magazines, with my IBM Selectric as my tool of choice. The former required people to be sufficiently attracted to me or to the topic to make the effort to come into my sanctuary or classroom to hear what I had to share. The latter depended on a magazine and the aggressiveness of the circulation department to get my message out to those who needed to hear it. (Given the editing and publication process, this was rarely current or timely.)

A revolution has occurred in the world of communication and "publication." It has been generated by the Internet. Now blogs, web sites, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts facilitate the spread of your message in ways unimaginable.

I have 545 friends on my Facebook account, each of which has an average of at least 200 friends. I publish eight blogs that are syndicated by a Facebook tool called Networked Blogs. Each time I publish, those posts appear on my profile page and arrive via news feed to my "friends." If you do the math of the numbers earlier in this paragraph, you will know that there is a potential of 109,000 readers for any of those things that I publish. That does not count those who subscribe to those blogs via Blogger or Wordpress, or who capture an RSS feed. A number of those blogs have links on my church web site and my local conference's web site and that gives access to other people who might be visiting those sites. Several of my blogs receive between 50-100 visits per day.

Then there are the search engines for Word Press and Google, who send people to my blogs - particularly my general blog published on both Word Press and Blogger called Life Matters.

I am now being encouraged to add a Twitter link to several of these blogs.
On any given Sunday I preach to between 175-225 people. In the classes I lead, there are maybe another 15-20 (not all weekly). The potential for the Gospel remains somewhat static in these traditional contexts, but with the advent of these internet and social media tools--the potential multiplies and multiplies and multiplies.

Why wouldn't we embrace the technology? It's a no-brainer.

I originally posted this February 10, 2011 on DEEPER EVANGELISM, the blog for the School of Evangelism for the Eastern Region Conference of the Churches of God.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Why does the church Exist?

The Church is God’s great idea. It is a place where people can discover a new life living a new way. The people of the early church were “the called out ones”, “disciples”, and followers of the “Way”. In the early church there was an atmosphere which included a sense of awe, togetherness, unselfishness, unity, power, community, and a strong sense of mission. The resulting fruit?… The Lord added to the church day by day those being saved…and the church found favor with all the people.

Our mission and focus is all important. It defines why we exist and why we are here. Emil Bruner in his book God’s Forgetful Pilgrims, Recalling the Church To Its Reason For Being states,’The Church exists by mission as fire exists by burning. Terry Virgo, leader of New Frontiers Ministry in the U.K. once said, ‘When we lose sight of the great commission we lose sight of our great prophetic purpose in life.Both statements are extremely important. When any church focuses upon any thing less than the Great Commission as it’s primary purpose for existence it will eventually loose it’s purposeful mission. That church will quickly forget why it is blessed in the first place. 

Many people need to recover their sense of mission. Disillusioned Charismatics in particular, who were seeking the great dream of a painless, prosperous Christianity have realized the dream was merely a vapor without substance. In their pursuit to find fulfillment through the accumulation of things, and seeking to become successful they have become inward and blessing focused.
God wants to get the attention of the church. His purpose… that the church might seek Him and discover His passion for our dismembered world. 

It is interesting to view church movements from a distance. While some seek Him for personal blessing, others seek Him for the lost. They are mission/value-driven. Some of the fastest-growing churches in the USA are in this category. They are doing all they can to reach everyone they can. They are focused upon the main thing. Everything else follows. 

For example Pastor Rick Warren… with the 15,000 member Saddleback Church… author of the 1,000,000 best seller The Purpose Driven Church… He encourages leaders to recapture their purpose, by defining their mission…A church committed to the great commandment and to the great commission will grow a great church

80% of his church growth is by first-time believers. As one man stated, “We cannot continue to be a traditional church and expect non-believers to want to be a part of it. They won’t. They don’t want our religion. They want to experience the reality of life-changing answers for life’s problems and the God of that reality.”

The questions Warren asks in his book provoke thought…What drives your church? What is it’s purpose in life? What is it’s mission? Does your church have a sense of mission? Or is it a church adrift?

Sometimes getting back to our foundations defines our business. As Christians and church leaders we need to continually ask ourselves, what business are we in? and how is business? Sometimes it is facing the hard questions. We need to discover our present reality in order to move forward.
One year during a losing season Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi gathered the team together and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” This is getting back to basics. I think our great Coach would like to gather His team together, point to our world and say, ‘Church this is your mission.’ It really does matter where you focus your aim. It will set the course of your life.
Where are you aiming? Inward or outward? What is your purpose? Why do you exist?

From the archives of Steve Bowen's blog NEXT WAVE.  Click to read entire article.

Friday, February 18, 2011


From Granger Community Church in Indiana

Church Redefined from Granger Community on Vimeo.


From Dave Workman, the new senior pastor at the Vineyard Community Church, Cincinnati OH:

If the critical job of the "Big C Church" is to make disciples, we decided we better define (or redefine) what a disciple is. At Vineyard Community Church, we boiled it down to: a surrendered and transformed person who loves God and others. The "surrender" part is what we do, the "transform" piece is what God does, and the "love God and others"…well, that�s the fruit of an outward-focused life. And as you might guess, having an outward-focus is a key ingredient of our DNA.

Friday, February 11, 2011


An outward-focused church is a church living in expectation that God's resurrection power will be demonstrated as they live on mission for Jesus out in the community. An outward-focused church never dwells on the bad news that pervades the present, but on the good news of the Kingdom.  An outward-focused church is an Easter people and "Hallelujah!" is their song.

Many years ago I heard Tony Campolo share a message that he has often repeated in many settings.  It's a message that should remind us of the tremendous power of the Spirit that is at work in and through us.  Every once in a while, we just need to be reminded.