Saturday, April 9, 2011


From the archives of Chris Hunter  EvangelismCoach.Org

I’ve spent the last month talking with pastors around the US about church transformation.  A few pastors are in really difficult situations (read more at: Leaving Egypt and Not Liking it).
From those discussions, it seems that a common meaning of church transformation is
Church transformation is to move a church that is stuck or in serious decline,
and lead them into a new vision of what God has for them.
Thus launching a new life cycle of growth.
Ed Stetzer calls them Comeback Churches.  Ron Crandall calls them TurnAround Churches.
I’ve seen other various titles, like Boomerang church, Redevelopment, Revitalization.  Seems the common word now is Transformational.

Moving from Attractional to Missional

A common thread share by these pastors is their labor at moving congregations to shift
  • from an exclusive focus on attractional methodology tweaks
  • to becoming more missional and engaging their community.
They still seek to improve their attractional ministries (like hospitality and personal invitations to church) but now realize that churches have to be connected to the neighborhood.
It’s a journey in process, and some have moved further along than others.

What is attracional?

Attractional ministry focused on quality programs, excellent hospitality, and marketing to get people in the door.
This was sometimes called a “magnetic” church.  It still is very valuable as a model that supports the work of evangelism of the local church.
Attractional ministry is based on the idea that if you do enough marketing, you can get more foot traffic in your door.  Your hospitality will help the newcomers “stick” and your church will grow.
It’s a variant of “if you build it they will come.”
As I’ve looked at
a lot of churches still think that making small process adjustments to their parking lot, greeting process, or welcoming will help them reach out to the neighborhood.

What is missional?

I’m not giving a full definition of missional.  In this context, a Missional focus however moves to help the church re-engage its neighborhood.
Some pastors are in island churches, meaning their church is mostly commuters who used to live in that neighborhood.
The culture around the church has changed (demographically, socio-economically), but the church has not adjusted accordingly, thus being a cultural island.
Missional helps the church get out of hoping people will visit them to actively engaging the needs and people of the community, and in the process both demonstrating and sharing the faith in Jesus as Lord.
Many of the pastors I spoke with this past month are trying to move congregations in this direction.


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Sunday, April 3, 2011


 One of the most helpful researchers today in the world on ministry, especially on mobilizing the church in a more outward-focused ministry is Thom Rainer.  I subscribe to his blog by RSS feed.  As a pastor seeking to stay on the front lines of ministry, especially in our technologically savvy culture, I found this post exceptionally helpful.  For more of Thom Rainer

In a recent blog on Harvard Business Review, Jodi Glickman notes that young adults in the workplace are abandoning emails and moving toward social media as one of their primary modes of communication, Because social media is so, well, social, the lines are becoming increasingly blurred between business and personal matters.

As an older American of 55 years, I was a later adopter to the blogosphere and Facebook, but I was an earlier adopter to Twitter. I guess there was something appealing to me about communicating in 140 characters or less. Like Glickman notes in her blog, I have learned some key lessons from this relatively new social phenomenon.

The Lines Between Personal and Work Are Blurring
Because I tweet, blog, and post on Facebook, some aspects of my business life and personal life are known to thousands. I’ve seen the advantage of sharing comments about my life with others. Some enjoy my strange humor. Others pray for needs I share. And still others see a personal side to the ministry I lead that they would not see otherwise.

Negatively, I can’t take true getaway vacations or time off anymore. One critic found me on vacation recently via Twitter. My vacation, as a consequence, was not nearly as enjoyable as I had hoped. I know. I can disengage from all social media for a week or so and not be subject to its omnipresence. But it has become so much a part of my life that I find its absence to be disconcerting.

We really don’t get away from work when we leave our workplace. Likewise, because of social media, we typically bring our personal lives to work. Leaders can either bemoan this new reality or they can learn to lead within this context. But don’t expect the young adults in your organization to disengage from the social media when they come to work.

Relationships Are Always Important
If we leaders can learn one thing from the social media, it’s the importance of relationships. The leaders who try to operate from a non-relational grid are doomed to failure. Organizations that try to increase customers and clients without relational intentionality will not survive. Churches that seek to reach people with the gospel will struggle unless its members are developing relationships with others. On Twitter we have followers. On Facebook we have friends. In all aspects of social media, relationships are king.

By the way, the relational issue is important for the leader personally as well. Every leader needs a good and trusted friend. All leaders need someone with whom they can confide and vent. Lone Ranger leadership is fast becoming an oxymoron.

Collaboration is Critical
It is absolutely amazing how social media is literally changing the world. Every day we hear about governments toppling and dictators being deposed. The despotic leader can no longer control the flow of information, so his power is stripped and his position removed.

Great leaders today are learning that the solo voice no longer works. The power of the group is usurping the power of the individual. Social media is the collaboration of hearts and minds. Many have a voice. Many have been empowered. The wise leader knows that he or she does not have all the answers. Collaboration and teamwork are essential. Good listening skills have become a hallmark of great leadership.

Change or Die
I know someone who was told by his physician that he could change his lifestyle and live many more years. If he chose not to change, he probably would not survive any longer than two or three years. The choice was clear: change or die.

Many organizations and leaders are faced with the same choice: change or die. Sadly, many are choosing the latter. Rather than make needed changes, they would rather hang on just a little while longer and then die.
If the world of social media has taught us anything, it has taught us that change is coming at us with increasing frequency. We have the choice. We can complain and yearn for the mythical good old days. Or we can embrace the best of the change that is taking place. I, for one, am glad for the advent of social media. I choose to learn from it and make the best of it.

I have already learned some important lessons, but I know I have many to go. It will be fun and exciting to see what happens next.