Thursday, April 19, 2012


From Perry Noble comes these 15 measures for self-evaluation as a church that particularly apply to the call to be an outward-focused church. - STEVE

15 Signs Your Church Is in Trouble


1. When excuses are made about the way things are instead of embracing a willingness to roll up the sleeves and fix the problem.
2. When the church becomes content with merely receiving people that come rather than actually going out and finding them…in other words, they lose their passion for evangelism!
3. The focus of the church is to build a great church (complete with the pastor's picture…and his wife’s…on everything) and not the Kingdom of God.
4. The leadership begins to settle for the natural rather than rely on the supernatural.
5. The church begins to view success/failure in regards to how they are viewed in the church world rather than whether or not they are actually fulfilling the Great Commission!
6. The leaders within the church cease to be coachable.
7. There is a loss of a sense of urgency!  (Hell is no longer hot, sin is no longer wrong, and the cross is no longer important!)
8. Scripture isn’t central in every decision that is made!
9. The church is reactive rather than proactive.
10. The people in the church lose sight of the next generation and refuse to fund ministry simply because they don’t understand “those young people.”
11. The goal of the church is to simply maintain the way things are…to NOT rock the boat and/or upset anyone…especially the big givers!
12. The church is no longer willing to take steps of faith because “there is just too much to lose.”
13. The church simply does not care about the obvious and immediate needs that exist in the community.
14. The people learn how to depend on one man to minister to everyone rather than everyone embracing their role in the body, thus allowing the body to care for itself.
15. When the leaders/staff refuse to go the extra mile in leading and serving because of how “inconvenient” doing so would be.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I am part of the Missional Outreach Network which coordinated by the highly creative James Nored.  This week we received a new post from mission church plant John Richardson about an extraordinary experience in true outreach giving. - STEVE

Giving Away the Collection Plate

I don’t know that I could be called a naturally generous person.  Maybe kind, but not always generous.  However, over the years, there have been many people who have been extremely generous toward me.  One family heard that my wife and I had moved to a new city to plant a church and sent a $2500 check in the mail.  They hardly knew us.  They had no idea that we desperately needed help paying some major bills that at that time.

I think God has placed generous people in my path to wake me up to His generosity.  Over time, I’ve realized that God is the first, and most generous, giver.  Luke 6:35 even goes so far as to say that when we are generous toward even the “ungrateful and evil,” we will be known as children of the Most High.  In other words, radical generosity is the way of God.  He’s even generous toward His enemies (thankfully)!

A couple of years ago, our small church plant was desperately praying that God would show us how to best live sent among our neighbors.  We asked, “What can we do so that people will see You when they interact with us?”  Much to our surprise, we sensed that the answer from God was, “Become generous as I am generous.”  And as we prayed further, we realized that He wasn’t kidding.  He was prompting us to give away all of our tithes and offerings for an entire year.

From April, 2010 through April 2011, all of the tithes and offerings that were given to Traceway went to help the abused, neglected, sick, poor and unstable of our city.  These gifts from God went to keep a few families out of foreclosure after job losses.  Other gifts went to provide housing for abused mothers who escaped literally with their children and the clothes on their backs.  Some gifts went to pay medical bills and build handicap access ramps.  Others went toward providing a vehicle for a family and aiding in disaster relief after a devastating local tornado.

Regardless of where the funds went, each gift was an investment in our neighbors.  Each donation provided an open door for missional discipling and a built-in community that would love them.
To be completely honest, not all of the giving turned out the way we hoped.  Some of the recipients wanted a handout and nothing more.  One lady even got mad at us after the 1997 Toyota Camry that we donated to her was not everything she expected.  So, we learned first-hand that missional giving can be a mess.

But we also learned that God values our willingness to walk into the mess with Him.  After all, that’s what He does… day after day after day.  He joins each of us in our mess.  He loves us and generously gives us gifts that nudge us closer to Him.

So, maybe we – as the Body of Christ (His physical representatives today) – should learn to be better imitators of His generosity.  I can promise you that it won’t be easy; but, the Church (and our neighbors) desperately need this.

To read more of the stories of Traceway’s ReGifting Project and to dig in to the lessons they learned, check out Giving Away the Collection Plate from Tate Publishing.  To connect further with John, join him at!/RichardsonJohnD.