Sunday, July 31, 2011


Bridgebuilders Seminar is a six-hour training event created by Dr. Steve Dunn to help traditional churches reach their unchurched neighbors.  Part of the challenge of this effort is that it is often a cross-cultural experience for which traditional churches are ill-equipped by temperament, knowledge, and skills.  Even if they believe that they are called to reach the mission field that is outside their front door, they often see it as a matter of getting people in the door so that the church might survive. And too often they believe that simply re-packaging a bit what they do will make them attractive to people for whom church is simply irrelevant to their daily lives.

The Seminar breaks down into six sessions:
+"The Mission Field Outside Your Front Door"
+"What Every Missionary Needs to Know"
+ "Christ's Respectful Ambassador"
+ "Listening to the Holy Spirit and the Culture"
+ "Tools to Building Bridges"
+ "Getting Started as a Church (And as Individuals"

 The next two scheduled Bridgebuilders Seminars are in the Middle Atlantic Region.  They will be held at:

September 24, 2011
Newville Church of God
(near Carlisle PA)
9:00 am-3:30 EST
Host pastor: Rev. Wayne Good

October 29, 2011
Germantown Church of God
9:00 am-3:30 pm EST
Host pastor: Rev. Mark Hosler

Under a special agreement with the Commission on Evangelism of the Eastern Regional Conference of the Churches of God (which is sponsoring these two events) the cost is $15 per person or $50 flat fee for churches registering four or more.

To register go to the Commission's web site EVANGELISM PLUS and follow the Bridgebuilders link.

If you would like information about bringing these seminars to your church, region or adjudicatory, please contact Steve Dunn at (717-898-8144)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


An outward-focused church is a missional community. The church, as a body, is living on mission with Jesus.  But this is far more than a program, it is a lifestyle. And outward-focused churches are shaped by the Spirit to become a missional community made up of individuals living missionally.  This video poses some important questions to be asking and reflecting upon as your congregation takes on a missional focus.

Come Explore the More from Jeff D. Johnson on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


From The Leadership Network comes this great information from Rick Warren.

The 8 ‘ations’ of Innovation

Posted on 7/13/2011 by Sherry Surratt in the Learnings Blog
I recently heard a talk by Pastor Rick Warren at a TedX Conference. He challenged everyone in the room with his words, 'All leaders are learners. Never stop learning!'. He then went on to share 8 Questions he constantly asks himself (The 8 'ations' of Innovation) to keep creative thinking going:

1. Termination: What do we first need to stop, before we can have room for new ideas? Sometimes termination is the beginning of innovation.
2. Collaboration: How can we do what we are already doing faster and on a larger scale by incorporating a team?
3. Combination: What great ideas or programs do we already have that we could mix together to make something new?
4. Elimination: What part could we take out to make an idea or process simpler?
5. Reincarnation: What has died that we could resurrect in a new form?
6. Rejuvenation: How could we change the purpose or motivation for what we do to bring new energy and new life to an idea?
7. Illumination: How can we look at this idea in a new light, from a different angle?
8. Fascination: How can we make this idea more appealing and fun?
These are great questions to bring new life to stale thinking. Have you put any of these to work in a creative meeting or planning session? Which ones do you need to ask yourself today?
Is your team wresting with ways to innovate in a ministry area? Don't miss our Upcoming Fall Innovation Labs including Dream Centers, Internet Ministries, Campus Pastor Development for Multisite Churches, Externally Focused Small Groups and Church Mergers. Questions?
For more information, contact Sherry

Monday, July 25, 2011


by Stephen L. Dunn

There are too many stagnant and dying churches in America.  There are too many churches with little or no impact on the communities around them.  There are too many churches who cannot report even one new believer within the past year because of the efforts and influence of that congregation.  It is both a tragedy and a travesty.

"If you are leading a hospital and your mission is primarily designed around keeping you nurses happy, your patients are going to die." - John Pearson

The primary reason why these churches fail in their mission is that they have confused their mission.  Jesus said it very clearly to his disciples, "The son of man came not to be served but to serve." (Mark 10:45) John Pearson's comment is a perfect description of this problem.  They have been more concerned with their personal happiness than the lost and unchurched people that God has called them to serve.  They no longer serve the spiritually sick, they serve themselves.

Jesus had something to say about that, too.  "For the son of man came to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19.10)  The hospital is intended to bring healing to the patients, not just to give the nurses an enjoyable way to pass the time until they retire.  If the patients keep dying, they close the hospital and build a new one better suited to the task.

Many a church leader or pastor who has been captured by God's vision finds his greatest roadblock is the people he or she is called to lead.  Enormous pressure is placed upon those leaders to serve the church people first, if not exclusively.  Visit us in the hospital. Pray at our family events.  Be in your office so we can find you when we can't find the Sunday School curriculum.  Socialize with us.  Listen to all our troubles.  Schedule services (and design services) to meet our tastes.

Don't change anything that is precious to us ... even if it is not meaningful to authentic discipleship.

I sat in a workshop once led by Kenneth Haugk, founder of the Stephen Ministry.  It was called "The Alligator Seminar-How to Deal With Antagonists in the Church."  He noted that when you have someone who totally resists vision and core values and insists things happen their way, you need to call a "come to Jesus" meeting. And at that meeting you tell them, "come to Jesus or leave."

A whole lot of churches need to come to Jesus. And when you come to Jesus you will hear him say, "The church exists to give itself away."  Jesus is not concerned with our comfort or entertainment.  He is deeply concerned about our obedience, being the Body of Christ doing the work of Christ.

Too many churches have forgotten that.  Too many church leaders to keep a job help perpetuate that.

We now live in one of the most vital mission fields in the world -- the United States.  We once again need to become missionaries and get out to the community and help them find the healing of Jesus Christ.

The church does not exist for itself. It exists for Jesus and to do the work of Jesus.  And just as the son of Man gave away his life so that we might find ours ... it is time for us to do the same.

(C) 2011 by Stephen L. Dunn

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Sunday, July 24, 2011


From Steven Furtick, writing on Church Leaders.Com  comes this excellent analysis of shared vision. - Steve

There’s a crucial question every ministry leader must answer when it comes to their vision. When do you know the vision has become ingrained in the culture of your church and not just in your own dreams?
It’s not enough to have a vision, even a compelling one. It’s not enough to be able to communicate your vision well. And it definitely isn’t enough to be passionate about your vision. Of course, you’re going to be passionate about your vision. It’s your vision.

What you really want is for the vision to stick. To infiltrate and permeate every area of your church. To be so ingrained in your culture that people speak the vision and do the vision without even thinking about it.

But how do you know when that has happened?
Two indicators stick out to me. Here’s the first:

1) When the best ideas are not your own.

When the vision has become ingrained in your culture, great ideas should be flowing from all directions. The pastor shouldn’t be the chief idea officer, but the chief vision officer. His responsibility is to make sure that the ideas are fitting into the vision. Not generate all of the ideas for the vision.

If all of the best ideas are coming from the pastor, it’s a sign the vision hasn’t truly been owned by the people. It’s only being served. In other words, for your staff and volunteers, it’s still your vision. And since it’s your vision, you should be the one coming up with the best ideas for it. And then they’ll support you by making them happen. As Christine Caine would say, they see themselves as servants of your vision rather than as stewards of a vision that has become their own.

The vision isn’t going very far this way. I don’t care if you’re Steve Jobs; you don’t have enough great ideas in you to keep it going.

The solution: regularly demand people to bring their own ideas to the table. Set the expectation that fresh ideas for how to carry out the vision aren’t welcomed, they’re expected. Remind the people you’re leading that the vision isn’t just yours. It’s everyone’s. And everyone can and should contribute.
When they do, reward and recognize them in front of everyone. Make them the standard.
And then don’t be surprised when great ideas start flowing from people other than you.

2) Leaders have been raised up who can communicate the vision better in ways more suited to their personality and area of responsibility.

If you’re the only person who can communicate the vision, you’re in trouble. If your staff has to get you to every event to cast vision, there’s a problem. It’s an indication not of how great of a vision caster you are, but of how much your staff has yet to own and appropriate the vision to their own unique contexts.

I remember the first time I heard the original version of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan. I didn’t like it. Not because it wasn’t good, but because I had already heard it played by Guns N’ Roses. And I thought their version was way better.

That’s what you want from the people you lead. You want people who can take your vision and make it better and communicate it more effectively in their own ministry setting. Who can take it and find fresh angles to approach it from that you never would have thought of yourself.

You know the vision has become ingrained when you don’t have to be there in person to ingrain it. Your leaders have so internalized it that when they’re there, it’s as if you’re there. And it’s even better.
The solution: Regularly force your people to articulate the vision in the context of their specific area of responsibilities. To you. To the staff. And to the people they oversee. The more they do, the more they’ll understand it, own it, and spread it. And the more your people will love and believe in the vision, not just the chief vision caster. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011


1) An Inwardly-Focused Church Makes Converts Not Disciples

Matt Chandler made this point during his Ultimate Authority series.  A world full of converts is like a little kid sitting in his daddy’s truck holding the wheel and making engine noises as the he sits idle in the driveway.  An inwardly-focused church is concerned more with the numbers of those saved by the existence of that very church (i.e. look how fantastic we are).  What if the church announced the number of new disciples alongside the number of salvations?  Would there still be a feeling of celebration in the room?  Don’t get me wrong, I recognize that there is a need for celebration when people are welcomed into the Kingdom – my point is that Jesus commands us to mobilize, evangelize and teach.

2) An Inwardly-Focused Church Lives and Dies by Sunday

Are the majority of the church’s decisions heavily skewed towards Sunday?  If so the church might be more concerned with the production of the service than the promotion of the Gospel … and perhaps furthermore its own vision statement.  I don’t really find examples of any church within the Bible making reference to Sunday as “Go time.”  Perhaps I’m wrong on this point, but, a church that has allowed the Sunday services to consume the majority of financial & human resources is one that is structurally equivalent to a Nissan Pathfinder – top heavy.  And at some point we will begin to sacrifice the risk of mission for the logistics of production.

3) An Inwardly-Focused Church Offers Multiple Styles of Worship

This one is difficult, so bear with me for a moment.  Is our God traditional or contemporary, emergent or conservative, Catholic or Lutheran*?  In my opinion multiple worship styles communicate one thing very clearly, “We are not sure what kind of church we are but we want to appeal to a broad audience.” My issue here is not with specific styles of worship, it is with specific styles of worship under one roof.
In my opinion multiple worship services/styles are confusing and further promote an Enlightenment-era philosophy in which our personal comfort and preference supersedes the reality of the Great Commission and cross of Christ.  If you’ve got the resources and vision to do multiple styles of worship perhaps the strategy needs to be rethought?  For example, perhaps a new style of worship could be saturated in a church plant located closer to the demographic which responds to that certain style?
There are a lot of very large and rapidly-growing churches that produce multiple worship services and would probably argue well against this point.  Admittedly, and to the frustration of my wife, I tend to over-simplify some things as black or white.  Can we still be friends?
*As a side note, I do struggle with the obsession over denomination as it relates to our identity in Christ and our fixation on subjective righteousness, but that is for another article.

4) An Inwardly-Focused Church Hides It’s Checkbook

A church afraid to talk about money is denying people the chance to be challenged out of slavery and engage in worshipful generosity.  Likewise a church which conceals its own checkbook is denying the people confidence in the authority under which they have willingly agreed to be subjected.  An inwardly-focused church convicts its people with “Show me your checkbook and I’ll show you your heart…” but shy’s away from being subject to the same philosophy.
Do you know what your pastor makes? Do you know the percentage breakdown of where your dollar goes?  Does your church provide regular updates to the financial mission of the church and/or annual financial reports? Is giving communicated as a joyful acts of worship or a necessary means to keep the lights on?

5) An Inwardly-Focused Church Holds On Tight

Have you ever seen a little kid with all his stuffed animals playing on the floor? He seems peaceful and content … until another little kid comes and tries to play too.  What usually happens? The kid will put his arms around all the stuffed animals and say, “mine!”  That’s kind of how I picture a competitive church.  The popular idea of “closing the back door” deals with the challenge of keeping people in the church – their church – regardless of that person’s desire to sacrificially engage or parasitically consume.  This parallels my first point about making converts not disciples.  What if a local church’s vision was to kick the back-door wide open as people go out into the world?  To promote a culture which causes tension in those that constantly take from the church is to risk a roster of attendance for the sake of a congregation on mission.
Suddenly, we’re not concerned with what the 5 other churches are doing with their fall series.  We don’t have conversations that involve a phrase like “stealing our people.”  We don’t hold onto our people as though we are offended if they choose not to stay.  We create a healthy environment of people  committed to the local church’s vision.  It is a culture saturated with people who willingly lead the charge and stand in the gap.
I recently attended a church conference where the room was packed with pastors from all over the Phoenix area.  I later had conversations with some others that also attended and one thing we all recognized was the unspoken tension among local churches.  It was kind of like a bunch of gangs all wearing their colors but coming together for one purpose.  Our faith and mission bind us, but our pride creates boundaries that if crossed could result in territorial warfare.  It was both ironic and disturbing.  Any West Side Story fans out there?


This list is nowhere near exhaustive but my hope is that it begins a larger discussion within church leadership as we move forward with the Gospel, let the cross be our focus and the Great Commission to be our ultimate decision filter.  I am not isolated from the ideas above but instead include myself whole-heartedly as a prideful sinner in need of divine perspective and grace as often as a heartbeat.

For mote from Brian Kauffman and his blog SHRINK THE CHURCH go to ...

Monday, July 4, 2011


My postings on The Outward-Focused Church have slowed significantly.  Since returning from a week working in church camp I have been battling first allergies and now bronchitis.  This has necessitated my cutting back on work and choosing rest (when I wasn't hacking and coughing) over blogging.  I am improving with the bronchitis, but my energy level is still low.  I have just a few days before taking a mission team to Tsaile AZ to the Navajo Reservation.  For all intents and purposes I will not be able to renew posting to this blog until around July 19th.  I have been getting as many as 60 visits to this blog a day.  Until I return, please feel free to visit the archives.  Your prayers and understanding are greatly appreciated.