Sunday, May 13, 2012


From Thom Rainer come these thoughts via Todd Rhoades ...

Thom Rainer had a great post today about ten signs of an inwardly obsessed church.  Here are some thoughts:

1.  Worship Wars.  Man, I remember trying to transition a traditional church to a contemporary one (at least worship style).  It really WAS a war.  And it’s still that way in many churches.  When you make changes in worship, you can expect casualties.  But if your church is STILL in the midst of a war over worship, it’s time to stop.  Chances are at this point, you’re fighting a war with your own people.  End that battle soon, or you’ll never reach out to who you’re really trying to reach.

2.  Prolonged minutia meetings.  Meetings are vision killers.  If you’re in a church that has endless meetings about everything, I can almost guarantee you’re in a church that gets nothing accomplished.

3.  Facility Focus.  I was a part of a church (that was like many, I’m sure) that focused on the property committee and the finance committee.  They ran the church.  Everything was based on facility and finance.  And little on outreach.  (Although we said we were using our finances to better our facility so we could reach people.  The truth is… that never happened).

4.  Program driven.  If your church is program driven, it’s a bloated mess.  Programs are great, but they also breed inward-focus in most cases.  Do yourself a favor and kill a program this week.

5.  Inwardly focused budget.  Look at your budget and divide it into two areas:  inreach and outreach. How much is allotted to keeping your people happy and content?

6.  Inordinate demands for pastoral care.  The key word there is demand.  Demanding things from your pastor or staff almost always connotes an inward focus.  And when all you do is meet demands, there is no time to reach out.

7.  Attitudes of Entitlement.  When people start feeling entitled to things your church offers, you can kiss outreach goodbye.  You’ll never be able to keep everyone happy.

8.  Great concern about change than the gospel.  If people are always griping about change, it takes your eye off the ball.  When you’re putting out ‘change’ fires, it will distract you from outreach.

9.  Anger and hostility.  When 1-8 are happening in your church, people are harsh, judgmental, angry and hostile.  That’s real inviting to the lost.  (Actually, it’s not).

10.  Evangelistic Apathy.  When we’re consumed so much with ourselves, our needs, our comfort, and our need to control, evangelism is the last thing we’re thinking about.

So… how many of these ten things are problems in your church?  And if you’ve solved any one of these… how did you do it?

Thursday, May 3, 2012


About a year ago we made a fundamental shift in the language of the congregation that I serve as Lead Pastor. We began speaking of disciples instead of members.  The latter tends to be an exclusive and organizational word.  And thanks to Mastercard and other marketers, membership has come to connote privileges rather than responsibilities.

Disciple on the other hand is a more organic term and it infers lifestyle and learning.  A disciple has not arrived, they continue to become as they learn to think, act and be like the One of whom they are a disciple.  It was in a Finance Commission meeting where we were discussing how to get members to give their fair share, to measure up to the expectations and needs of the Church.  Tithing, of course, was part of this conversation.  It was then when one of our older members said, "This is not a membership issue, it's a discipleship issue." He went on to note that members think in terms of what is necessary to be in good standing. Disciples give. It is who they are.
Profound, isn't it?
It's more than semantics.  It is a religious world view.
Now at the church we teach discipleship and form groups of people on mission with Jesus.  We have Membership Orientations to describe the formal needs of the organization.
We also use this definition of disciple.
This linguistic change is helping us make a cultural shift from membership to discipleship.  It is moving us beyond maintaining the organization to mobilizing for mission.
(C) 2012 by Stephen L Dunn
This was originally published on my blog IMMEASURABLY MORE  (Discipleship Version)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


One of the difficulties of becoming an outward-focused church is that you must both cast a new vision and create a new culture capable of living out that vision.  Many a church has been defeated in this process because the catalyzing leader leaves before his or her work is done.  Rick Howerton has an excellent article on this dynamic.-steve



Many of us tend to get itchy for new ministry challenges.

If you’re like me you’re a catalytic leader. That is, you were made by God to start something, pass it on to someone else, then move on to start something else. While this is an important responsibility, sometimes, those of us, no matter what our leadership style, may have a tendency to jump ship before God’s done with us in a particular setting.

I think there are at least five reasons to consider staying at the church you’re serving.

1. It takes time to accomplish a God-size vision.

Too many church leaders are called to a location with a vision in mind and leave before that vision has become a reality.
The vision is what drove them to their new position and they believed with all that was in them that they were to accomplish that vision for that church.

The problem… they jump ship before the vision has docked and the church they serve finds herself starting over with a new leader long before God’s expectations were completed.

2. You haven't mentored someone to pick up where you left off.

Great leaders are mentoring someone to take their place when they exit.
This assures the church that the ministry can continue on becoming all God meant her to be.

3. The grass really isn't greener when you shepherd different sheep.

Many church leaders leave a church because of a few difficult people.
There are some churches that have problem people and they are always going to make a staff member’s job hard, even painful. But for the most part, people are people and there will always be some in every setting that are going to be problematic.

Rather than leaving, it may be much wiser to learn to work with, around, or in spite of the few difficult people at the church you’re serving. You may just move to a new location to find there are a few problem people who are more problematic than the ones you just left.

4. A move will affect your family.

Too many pastors forget that their families are deeply affected with each move.

If God isn’t vividly calling you to a new location, just for the betterment of your spouse and children, stay put. They deserve it.

5. It takes time to realize the obstacles that stand in your way.

There are obstacles in any ministry situation. Those obstacles can’t be overcome until a ministry leader becomes aware of them. Some of those obstacles won’t even be on a minister’s radar screen for two to three years.

Taking off to another church starts the process of realizing these and removing them all over again.

Rick has one passion... To see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet.” He is presently the Global Small Group Environmentalist at NavPress Publishing. Rick has authored or co-authored multiple books, studies, and leader training resources including Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual, The Gospel and the Truth: Living the Message of Jesus, Small Group Life Ministry Manual: A New Approach to Small Groups, Redeeming the Tears: a Journey Through Grief and Loss, Small Group Life: Kingdom, Small Group Kickoff Retreat: Experiential Training for Small Group Leaders, and Great Beginnings: Your First Small Group Study. Rick’s varied ministry experiences as a collegiate pastor, small group pastor, teaching pastor, full-time trainer and church consultant, as well as having been a successful church planter gives him a perspective of church life that is all-encompassing and multi-dimensional. Rick is a highly sought after communicator and trainer speaking at or leading training in forty settings annually.