Monday, September 26, 2011


 by Stephen L. Dunn

The outward-focused church is not simply about community outreach and community impact.  It is about life transformation and inviting people into the kingdom of God.  "Making disciples" is still the purpose of an outward-focused church---not simply growing a church but growing a community of faith.  And the target of this ministry is people previously unchurched, people without meaningful Christian roots.

Two words that describe the desired vision outcomes of this effort are connection and commitment.  People need two connections - first connection to Jesus Christ, and then connection to the church where they are
nurtured, equipped, and assisted in becoming part of the community on mission for Jesus.  The tie to Christ and the tie to the body make an unassailable knot that helps the individual live life to full and the church to accomplish the immeasurably more that Christ promises.

There are levels of connection in any church.  In the Church of God of Landisville we recognize five levels. They are tied to involvement in worship, which is often the initial entry or connection point for unchurched people and the church.

        LEADERSHIP CORE = These are the most strongly connected and clearly committed persons – they go the furthest mile by taking leadership responsibility for some ministry of the church.

         CORE = These are persons who worship on a regular basis, are connected to a small group or ministry, have an identifiable ministry in the church or in the community on behalf of the church. They are engaged at least once a year in some kind of training or discipleship learning group.

          CONGREGATION = These are persons who worship at least once per month or are connected on a regular basis with a  Sunday School class, small group or ministry team. They are occasionally involved in one of our ministries.

         COMMUNITY = These are persons who are connected to the church basically by worshiping with us several times a year, occasionally being involved in a program or ministry event, and generally identify us as their church.

          SHUT-INS = These are members of our church who can no longer be a part of active ministry or involvement in worship because they are now living in nursing homes or for health reasons largely confined to home.

      The goal of CONNECTION is to bring people into the body and then help them progress more deeply into that body until they can b identified as the CORE or LEADERSHIP CORE of the church.  If churches are prepared to do so, a strategy can be developed to work with the Spirit to accomplish this task.

In the next post we will talk about MEASURING THE CONNECTION and first steps in the process of intentionally connecting people with the Church.

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Sunday, September 4, 2011


Kevin Harney is an author on outward-focused churches that I have come to appreciate dearly. He is especially articulate on the essential role of evangelism, which is my passion. I use his excellent book Organic Outreach for Churches in a course I teach called "Developing a Strategy of Evangelism in the Local Church."  Recently an adaptation of his material was posted in Church Leaders.Com  which I am reposting here. - Steve

How to Measure the Evangelistic Heartbeat of Your Church

How to Measure the Evangelistic Heartbeat of Your Church
When God looks at the spiritual heart monitor of your church, what pattern does He see?
When God looks at his bride, the church, he longs for her to have a healthy heartbeat. He wants our hearts to beat with his love for the lost, and he longs for evangelistic passion to flow through our veins. The Maker of heaven and earth wants to see each and every church alive with love for the lost and engaged in reaching out with the message and grace of Jesus in natural, organic ways.

God wants to draw people into our fellowship with the assurance that they will be embraced by grace and introduced to the Savior, Jesus. But this can happen only when the people in our church are deeply in love with God.

When we are, our heartbeat is strong. When we do not love God, it is difficult for us to love others. As God looks at the spiritual monitor that registers the evangelistic heartbeat of a church, he sees one of several different patterns. What do you think God sees when he looks at your church?


Some churches have a loud, high drone and a flatline on their heart monitor. There is no love for God, nor is there a relentless love for the lost. These churches are closed off to visitors, their community, and the world. They don’t reach out or train their members to share Jesus’ love.

Prayer for their community is nonexistent. There was a heartbeat at some time in the distant past, but today the church is flatlining.

If this describes your church, don’t lose hope! We believe in a God who can raise the dead. Heaven is watching your church’s heart monitor, and the Spirit of God is always ready to send a pulse of heavenly energy into your congregation’s heart to bring it back to life. God is ready to return your church to her first love, Jesus Christ. And the Holy Spirit is ready to move your church from apathy to passion.


Sometimes when a doctor checks for a pulse, he’ll say, “I have a pulse, but it’s weak.” There is still life in the body, but action needs to be taken quickly to sustain it.

Many churches have a pulse and there is life, but it’s faint. There is love for God and for people, but it is waning.

If this is a picture of your church, be honest and admit it. You might have a map on a wall somewhere with several pins showing where you send money to support missionaries. You might do an event or two each year that “spiritual seekers” are welcome to attend. You might even try to be friendly if a guest or visitor happens to wander into your church on a Sunday morning.

But honestly, your passion for outreach is gone.

Your church lacks a desperate love for God that will drive you into the world with his good news. You are nice to people who visit your church, but you don’t go out of your way to reach those who are far from God. You send money overseas, but you don’t engage the mission field right next door.

If this describes your congregation, you too need to fall in love with God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—all over again. Yes, you still care. You love God, and you love people. But it is time to rehabilitate your congregation’s heart.

You might need to do some spiritual exercise and fortify your heart to make it beat strongly again. The heart is a muscle, and if you use it, it becomes stronger.

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