Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Gilbert Thurston and Chad Chute pastor a Churches of God, General Conference congregation in Harrisburg PA that meets in a Regal Theater. TV advertising is one of their tools:

Monday, September 16, 2013


by Steve Dunn

Many churches like to proclaim that they are a friendly church. They emblazon the phrase  across their advertising–both print and web. They are proud of the fact that they now how to smile when people come in, maybe even shake hands during that moment of friendship in worship. It’s what they like to brag about when talking to others about their church–especially people from other churches who are comparing notes. The belief that they are friendly is often something very necessary for them to feel good about themselves and their church.

The unfortunate thing is that it often more a wish than a truth.  It is often a self-deception that shields us from thinking about visitors who show up or new people looking for a way to belong; or a rationalization for not making a great investment in actually connected with new people and visitors.  Smile, shake hands, and then go back to the group in the church you always connect with, and go about your usual Sunday morning business with a clear conscience but no significant connection with that person who is seeking something from the church.

I’ve actually yet to meet a church that says officially, “We really don’t care if you’re here or not, but whatever you do, don’t ask to do anything that disturbs our carefully constructed comfort.”  And yet that is the reality that visitors or new people encounter in far too many church situations.

For a church to truly reach new people for Christ, it must shift to asking “our we a welcoming church?”

1. A welcoming church invests significant time beginning on Sunday morning with getting to know those visitors or newcomers.  Inviting them to tell you about them instead or feeling the need to have equal time in the conversation.

2. A welcoming church has people whose gifts are hospitality and who are positioned to do so. These people do not have nine different jobs on a Sunday morning.

3. A welcoming church carries on its activity into the week, through visits and contacts and acts of kindness. It does not wait for someone to return or make a request before doing anything else.

4. A welcoming church does not make it the pastor’s job to do follow-up with visitors.  He’s the one paid to do it and the newcomers know that.  They are much more impressed by lay people who take the time to make the follow-up contact.

5. A welcoming church takes responsibility to help new people feel welcome and a part.

6. A welcoming church takes new people to lunch as their guests on Sunday.

7. A welcoming church learns the names of new people and introduces the new people to others.

8. A welcoming church has a plan to help new people find their place in the church family.

9. A welcoming church does not ask visitors to stand or wear name tags.  People don’t like to be put on display.

10. A welcoming church explains itself to people who are attempting to connect–especially in worship, be sure that you periodically discuss why you do things as you do and ask, how safe or included would this make a person feel who is trying to find a place in the church.

11. A welcoming church asks new people, do you feel welcome here? and then learns from and deals honestly with the answers.

(C) 2013 by Stephen L Dunn
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Sunday, August 11, 2013



Part 2 of a Series
Schools have become the center of most communities, often supplanting the position a key church once else. This acutally makes them now a prime mission field for churches who seek to build bridges of truth and grace,.  The key here is to surrender any idea of controlling the school or asking the school to serve your mission.  The key is to seek to influence a school by showing it how the church can help the school accomplish its mission.
The primary goal of most schools is to provide a quality education by giving kids academic knowledge and lifeskills necessary to function as useful members of the society. What that involves varies from community to community and is often dependent upon three things:(1) the graduation requirements of state departments of higher education (2) the constraints of budgets available from the taxation system (3) the socio-economic needs of the community they serve.
Many school superintendants or principals will tell you that there are many competing groups trying to control that agenda.  As such, school administrators have an instinctive reaction against anyone who wants to use the schools for their purposes--whether it by the federal government, taxpayer groups, political parties, or special interests (in which category they often place churches).
It is not without accident that Jesus taught us that true leadership comes through humility and self-sacrifice.  These are the two key ingredients in servanthood.
You demonstrate a servant's heart when you pay attention to the "little people" (i.e., the support staff) and offer to help them.  One church gained inroads because their youth staff visiting school lunch rooms helped the kitchen bus the tables.
You demonstrate a servant's heart when you help the school do the community research it must have to make its reports and justify its proposals for funding.
You demonstrate a servant's heart when you ask that principal, "What's one job around here that you have trouble getting people to do?" and then you go do it.
You demonstrate a servant's heart whenyou give your Christmas offering to support the "family emergency fund" that most office of student services must have to meet lower income needs.
You demonstrate a servant's heart when you don't feel the need to brag about what you do for the school on your websites.  You let the school do the bragging about you.
(C) 2013 by Stephen Dunn
Reprint permission: You have permission to reprint for your ministry or repost as long as you do not alter the post and give credit to its author. An email note from you would be appreciated by the author and a link back to this blog is always appreciated.

Saturday, August 10, 2013



Part 1 of a Series
There was a time when the church was the center of the community.  That position has long ago been supplanted by the community's schools.  As our society has become more secularized, as youth sports have grown, and through a variety of other factors, schools have come to definer of community rhythms and the schedules of countless households--even those without children.
Many churches have come to recognize that those same schools are a vital part of the mission field outside their front door.  Although such courtesies as "dark nights" in the school schedule to protect the church's priorities have been swallowed up the burgeoning demands of the schools, churches are wise to shun the attitude that sees the school as an adversary.  We need to see schools as a vital venue for building redemptive relationships with the larger community beyond the church's walls.

The church should begin by prayerfully examining the question: "How can we be the best church for community's schools?"  But do not assume you know the answer? Schools ultimately need the life transforming presence of Jesus Christ, but first a church must respond to the school's felt needs

Here are some simple steps to getting started.

Prayerfully ask God to identify the school He wants your church to build a redemptive relationship with.

Learn all you can about the school so that you have a sense of their needs and assess if you have the resources to help them.

Have the pastor make an appointment with the principal.
  Be sure to schedule it at the principal's convenience.  Simply explain that your church wants to provide some volunteer assistance for his or her school. Ask him, "What is something that we could help you with to relieve some of the work load of himself or his staff, or to help the school save some money, or to achieve something the school needs but currently lacks the time, manpower and resources to accomplish?"

Do NOT ask him to do something for you.  There will come a time when it will be appropriate to ask the school's support or participation, but that tends to come in at later point when you have earned that right.

Offer to fund items for this.   
If he has something, and most will--tell him you will see what you can do to meet his request--and do so quickly (not hastily).  Report back to him promptly.
Next post: The Key to Working with the School: A Servant's Heart and Attitude
(C) 2013 by Stephen L Dunn 
Reprint permission: You have permission to reprint for your ministry or repost as long as you do not alter the post and give credit to its author. An email note from you would be appreciated by the author and a link back to this blog is always appreciated.

Friday, July 12, 2013


 An excellent post from Cary Nieuwhof

Almost every church I know says they want to reach unchurched people. But few are actually doing it. Part of the problem stems from the fact that many churches don’t really understand unchurched people (here’s a post on 15 characteristics of today’s unchurched person). And part of the problem is that our model of church is designed to reach and help churched people, not unchurched people.

 Churches haven’t embraced change deeply enough. So you can say you want to reach people all day long. You can teach about it every week. But if you haven’t designed your church around ministering to people who don’t go to church, you might as well be preaching that you want to lose weight while eating a triple cheeseburger. Your model simply doesn’t match your mission. So how do you know that your church is actually ready to reach unchurched people?

 Here are 9 signs your church is ready to embrace unchurched people:

 1. Your main services engage teenagers. I’ve talked with many church leaders who want to reach unchurched people who can’t understand why unchurched people don’t like their church. They would be stumped until I asked them one last question: do the teens in your church love your services and want to invite their friends? As soon as I asked that question, the leader’s expression would inevitably change. He or she would look down at the floor and say ‘no’. Here’s what I believe: if teens find your main services (yes, the ones you run on Sunday mornings) boring, irrelevant, and disengaging, so will unchurched people. As a rule, if you can design services that engage teenagers, you’ve designed a church service that engages unchurched people.

 2. People who attend your church actually know unchurched people. Many Christians say they want to reach unchurched people, but they don’t actually know any unchurched people well enough to invite them. One of the reasons we run almost no church programs at Connexus where I serve (other than small groups and few other steps toward discipleship) is that we want our families to get to know unchurched people. We want them to play community sports, get involved at their kids school and have time for dinner parties and more. You can’t do that if you’re at church 6 nights a week. We don’t do many ministries because our people are our ministry.

 3. Your attenders are prepared to be non-judgmental. Unchurched people do not come ‘pre-converted’. They will have lifestyle issues that might take years to change (and let’s be honest, don’t you?). Cleaning up your behaviour is not a pre-condition for salvation, at least not in Christianity. What God has done for us in Jesus saves us; not what we have done for God. Is your congregation really ready to love unchurched people, not just judge them? (I wrote about why Christians should let non-Christians off the moral hook here.) One of Jesus’ genius approaches was to love people into life change. If your people can do that, you’re ready to reach unchurched people
 4. You’re good with questions. This one’s still hard for me. I like to think that every question has an answer. I think one of the reasons unchurched people flee churches is they feel shut down when every question they ask has a snappy or even quick answer. They will find answers, but you need to give them time. Embracing the questions of unchurched people is a form of embracing them.

 5. You’re honest about your struggles. Unchurched people get suspicious when church leaders and Christians want to appear to have it ‘all together’. Let’s face it, you don’t. And they know it. When you are honest about your struggles, it draws unchurched people closer. I make it a point to tell unchurched people all the time that our church isn’t perfect, that we will probably let them down, but that one of the marks of a Christian community is that we can deal with our problems face to face and honestly, and that I hope we will be able to work it through. There is a strange attraction in that.

 6. You have easy, obvious, strategic and helpful steps for new people. I am still such a fan of thinking steps, not programs (Here’s an older but awesome (free) Andy Stanley podcast of all Seven Practices of Effective Ministry). One sure sign that you are ready to handle an influx of unchurched people is that your church has a clear, easily accessible path way to move someone from their first visit right through to integration with existing Christians in small groups or other core ministries. Most churches simply have randomly assembled programs that lead nowhere in particular.

 7. You’ve dumped all assumptions. It’s so easy to assume that unchurched people ‘must know’ at least the basics of the Christian faith. Lose that thinking. How much do you (really ) know about Hinduism or Taoism? That’s about how much many unchurched people (really) know about Christianity. Don’t fight it. Embrace it. Make it easy for everyone to access what you are talking about whenever you are talking about it.

 8. Your ‘outreach’ isn’t just a program. Many Christians think having a ‘service’ for unchurched people or a program designed for unchurched people is enough. It’s not. When you behave like reaching unchurched people can be done through a program or an alternate service, you’re building a giant brick wall for unchurched people to walk into. You might as well tell them “This program is for you, but our church is for us. Sorry.”

 9. You are flexible and adaptable. In the future, you will not ‘arrive’. I think the approach to unchurched people and the strategy behind the mission of the church needs to be flexible and adaptable. Don’t design a ‘now we are done’ model to reaching unchurched people. You might never be done. Churches that are adaptable and flexible in their strategy (not in their mission or vision) will have the best chance of continually reaching unchurched people. “How quickly can your church change?” will become a defining characteristic of  future churches. (If you want to read more about change, I wrote Leading Change Without Losing It last year. Additionally, John Kotter’s Leading Change is a must-read classic.) Those are 9 signs I see that your church is ready to reach unchurched people. What do you see?

Thursday, June 27, 2013


In the First Century the spread of the Gospel was facilitated by the Roman Roads.  In the 21st century, the Internet has taken this role.  This is an excellent article from PLANTING CHURCHES.

Attractional vs. Missional. It’s all the buzz. But have you applied the thinking to your website?

An attractional website:
Is a destination on the web.
It is static and doesn’t change much.
It is difficult to foster relationship and communication.
It looks good and gives all the critical information about the church in one place.

A missional website:
Is dispersed widely across the internet and found in many different places (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Community Forums, Blogs, Google Ads, etc.)
Everyone can play and interact with the content pushed online. It is social by nature.
It can be found in the online communities where everyday people interact on the web.
It is often discovered because of relevant content and social interaction rather than directly sought out.

The critical information about the church can be difficult to find.
Just as church models are evolving, so is the internet. Ten years ago church website were largely static pages on the internet. They were little more than an online brochure, a destination to learn more about the church. Sites were build to be attractive. The site’s ease of use and look communicated something about the church. It still does today. The internet at this point was a popularity contest. Every link to the site was like as vote for best church website. To get found online, you simply had to be the most popular.

But the internet has changed. It is now largely about social and content. A church’s web presence cannot only be in one static place. A common phrase in missional circles is “The Church has left the building.” Applied to web presence, “The Church has left it’s domain.” To be relevant today, church websites have to be missional. They have to go where the people are. This is why it is critical to have an interactive presence in social media.

Interactive is the key. You can’t just hop on Facebook and start shouting out church announcements. Put your megaphone done and have a conversation. This can’t be accomplished with just the church staff. You have to get the entire congregation involved and help them be evangelists on the web. Open their eyes to how their online communication can be seeded with the gospel. If you just make announcements, you’ll be annoying. Stop it.

It used to be that links to your site were the key metric in the popularity contest on the web. Now content is king. Google will evaluate everything on the web tied to your church. All of your website, podcasts, blogs, social media outlets, white papers, webinars, etc are evaluated. The more Google can see that your content is relevant (measured by sharing, re-posting, liking, etc.), the more you will show up in search results.

Here are a few tips to start moving from attractional to missional with your website:
Distribute lots of content. You already create lots of content (sermons, small group lessons, parenting classes, etc.) With a couple of tweaks this content can be easily transformed into blog posts, podcasts, white papers and more. Move all of your content online.

Pick a couple of social media outlets and do them well. You can’t jump into every online community. Pick a few (Twitter, Instagram, YouTube) and get social.

Model for your congregation how to interact online with the gospel in mind. Spread seeds of hope and love in your communication and don’t just point back to your website; point to Jesus. People are raw online, be equally raw and transparent about the hope we have in Jesus.

Bridgebuilders Ministries which is the umbrella for Bridgebuilders Seminars (How to Help Your Church Reach Its Unchurched Neighbors) offers an excellent course "Internet Evangelism and Social Networking Tools" that teaches the above concept.  Contact them at www.ercbuilders@erccog.org or by emailing sdunnpastor@gmail.com.

Friday, June 21, 2013

From  www.freshministryideas.com  Bill Reichart from Christian Medical Dental Association out of Atlanta

These are the four moves into mission:

Move out (into missional engagement).
Move in (burrowing down into the culture).
Move alongside (friendships and relational networks).
Move from (challenging the dehumanizing and sinful aspects of our culture)

Friday, May 17, 2013


from Internet Toolbox for Churches comes this great reminder....
by dave hakes

Guiding Principles For Social Media in the Church
What should the church do with social media?
The Catholic Church in Australia has addressed this question with a list of social media protocols for its churches.
But what about your church? Do you have protocols for your social media ministry?
Here are a few good and bad examples of social media protocols for your church.

Start and end with people

The main point to remember in all communication is the person on the other side.
The church holds a high value of every human being and this should be apparent in all of its interaction in social media.
Pastors, church staff and volunteers need to keep this principle in mind. You are not writing your own personal responses with your own viewpoints, but representing the church and its positions…and its goal of reaching people with a message.
Expressing true care for people in your posts and responses makes the church unique and even attractive to the social media world.

Make your church visible

Always associate yourself with your church when posting. Your profile must make this clear.
Social media networks allow you to choose what kind of group you are. Pick the religious organization section and mention the church you represent.
This helps people find your church when they are looking for it and tells people where they can look for more information.

Filter your content

The last thing your church wants is a bad reputation resulting from of a bad social interaction online.
Unfortunately, schools have even had to ban faculty Facebook use because of inappropriate material being posted.
Consider having one or two people monitor all of your public posts on your website or Facebook Page. This isn’t a trust issue. It doesn’t mean you don’t trust your pastor, church staff or volunteers.
Instead, see it as another set of eyes to keep everyone accountable. It is also a way of protecting the pastor, volunteers and the church itself.

Bring people into the picture

Pictures and video are excellent tools for interaction with other people online. But the type of pictures posted should always reflect your church’s message.
Obviously, house party pictures, vacation pictures and cute-things-your-child-did pictures are not likely to help spread a message and thus do not belong on your church’s Facebook page.
Use pictures and videos that draw people into your church’s stories and show what your church is all about. Feature pictures from internal and community events at or sponsored by your church, ideally with lots of smiling faces and people enjoying each other’s company.

Don’t leave relationships digital

The goal of social media is to get people involved face to face with your church.
Twitter campaigns, Facebook stories and blogs are all efficient means of creating relationships. But they can easily become ends instead of means.
Don’t make “getting followers” your goal. That’s social media for social media’s sake.
Instead, get those followers to come to church, to an event or to some other function. Try to reach people with your message.
Use social media for what it is, a tool to reach and engage real people.

Don’t throw out the rules

Social media is a tool any church can use, but using it without rules can be dangerous. Using it with the proper rules can effectively spread your church’s message.
Don’t be afraid of social media, use it to your church’s advantage.

What about your church?

Does your church have guidelines for using social media? Do you have anything to add to these suggestions? Let’s talk about it!
© 2012, Internet Toolbox for Churches. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


From Ministry Best Practices comes some great counsel.

Volunteers are the life blood of any church or ministry. Without those who generously give of their time, talents and energy - nothing would be able to be accomplished by the church (humanly speaking of course). Here are some volunteer no-no's and pitfalls to avoid when working and communicating with volunteers.

1. Never ask a volunteer to help “YOU.”
  • Ask them to help the church, or help in a classroom. Don’t make it a personal favor to you. Personal favors won't stand up over the test of time.
  • The focus shouldn't be about YOU.
2. Never thank a volunteer for helping “YOU.”
  • Remind them of your overall vision and purpose when saying Thank You.
  • For example, "Thank you for helping us reach all these kids this morning. You’ve been a great help to all of us!” vs. “Thanks for helping me out. I don’t know what I would have done without you!”
  • And... the church name should be prominently displayed on any thank you correspondence. Make it about the Church or organization, not me!
3. Don’t ask the same volunteer to do the same thing over and over.
  • Don’t abuse the willingness of one person to ALWAYS help when needed. Mix it up! Don't go to the same "well" all the time.
  • You want to avoid not giving others in the church the opportunity and privilege to serve.
4. Never show any displeasure with church leadership to Volunteers.
  • Teach the Power of Buy-In! Representing our leader’s choices as our very own. This shows our volunteers that we are a strong team, and are working together for a common goal.
  • Even if it is someone else’s fault, make it our fault (this is where the power of the Gospel comes in - we can own fault when we know that we are SECURE in Christ). If everyone would do this, then rumors and displeasure with leadership would be stopped early and often!
5. Never ask "How did it go today?"
  • “How did it go today, or this morning?” is an unhelpful question. The question is too vague, and you are certain to get merely a one word answer, "fine".
  • Ask questions that are directed toward the specific outcomes you and your volunteers are working toward. When you do this, it will give you and your volunteers a real and concrete sense of how they are doing, and it will provoke with them a real discussion of issues or concerns that perhaps need to be addressed.

Thursday, March 7, 2013



The move from being a traditional and inward-focused church to an outward focused one requires a culture shift. As this is played out in the first decades of the 21st century it is done so against the backdrop of the shift in our nation from a churched culture to what some have called a post-Christian one. In particular, within the church you find yourself moving from a membership culture to a discipleship one. In a recent church council training session, I spoke of it in this way:


Rethink who you are as a Christ-follower and as a leader

Don’t go to church - BE the Church

DISCIPLES not members

EXPECT something from God

REINVEST in ministry

ACT intergenerationally

ADVOCATE the Vision

GIVE to God first and give more

STOP pleasing people and please God

EMBRACE excellence and reject perfectionism

STOP saying me and proclaim we

(c) 2013 by Stephen L Dunn

Thursday, February 14, 2013

From Michael Hyatt comes some excellent advice for those leading outward-focused churches:

The One Thing You Must Do to Achieve Break-Through Results

I often meet people who are stuck in one area of their life or another. They want a break-through, but they can’t seem to get traction.
The One Thing You Must Do to Achieve Break-Through Results
Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/RainervonBrandis
Contrary to what they think, it’s not about having:
  • More money;
  • More time;
  • The right contacts; or
  • Better luck.
Instead, it almost always is about overcoming an invisible barrier that exists in their own head.

The barrier isn’t something external. It’s something internal—something they have created in their own mind.

Years ago, I heard a speaker talk about a research project conducted by a marine biologist. It seems he put a barracuda in a large tank. He then released smaller, bait fish into the same tank. As expected, the barracuda attacked and ate the smaller fish.

Then the researcher inserted a piece of glass into the tank, creating two separate chambers. He put the barracuda into one and new bait fish into the second. The barracuda immediately attacked.

This time, however, he hit the glass and bounced off. Undaunted, the barracuda kept repeating this behavior every few minutes. Meanwhile, the bait fish swam unharmed in the second chamber. Eventually, the barracuda gave up.

The biologist repeated this experiment several times over the next few days. Each time, the barracuda got less aggressive, until eventually he got tired of hitting the glass and stopped striking altogether.
Then the researcher removed the glass. The barracuda, now trained to believe a barrier existed between him and the bait fish, didn’t attack. The bait fish swam unassailed, wherever they wished.
Too often, we are like the barracuda. The barrier isn’t “out there.” It only exists inside our heads.
Think how many other barriers have turned out to be only mental obstacles:
  • The sound barrier. Pilots didn’t think it was possible to fly faster than 768 miles an hour (the speed of sound at sea level). Then Chuck Yeager officially broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947.
  • The four-minute mile. Runners didn’t think it was possible to run a mile in less than four minutes. Then, in 1954, Roger Bannister ran it in 3:59.4.
  • The two-hour marathon. Endurance athletes didn’t think it was possible to run a marathon in less than two hours. Now several athletes are on the verge of breaking Geoffrey Mutai’s world-record of 2:03.02.
The reason why most of us don’t accomplish more is because we set our goals inside our mental barriers, where it’s safe. (That’s why it’s called “the comfort zone.”)

But if you want to get unstuck and start getting traction again, you have to set your goals on the other side of the barrier. You don’t have to get crazy, but you do have to stretch yourself and push past the invisible barrier in your head.

This is the secret to achieving break-through results.

Monday, February 11, 2013



"The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost." - Jesus
"The experience that a transformation of all human life is given in the fact that "Jesus is there only for others." His "being there for others" is the experience of transcendence. It is only this "being there for others," maintained till death, that is the ground of his omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Faith is participation in this being of Jesus (incarnation, cross, resurrection)." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"Go into all the world and preach the Gospel ..." Jesus
"The church is the church only when it exists for others...The church must share in the secular problems of ordinary human life, not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling, what it means to live in Christ, to exist for others." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

One of the tragedies of the Church in our present age goes directly to its faithfulness and fruitfulness.  That is the tragedy of the Church's inward-focus.  Too many churches organize their life around taking care of one another--but the result is that they give only lip service to the needs of "others."

Too many churches possess a fortress mentality, intentionally creating barriers that keep the world from getting to close for their comfort.  That desire for comfort blunts the call to sacrificial servanthood that is at the heart of Christ's Great Commission.

As a result these churches lose their transcendence as there is no attempt to embody the love of Christ in the midst of a world where God is too often out of sight an out of mind.  There is no costly discipleship by which the church matures and validates the supernatural power of God.  There is no resurrection life because there has never been a death to the old "religious" ways that made them feel like good people, instead of being God's people.

The Church's true impact, authentic identity, and God-honoring purpose can only be found when it becomes a "church for others.":

(C) 2013 by Stephen L Dunn

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


A very good friend of mine, Chuck Frank, emailed me this segment of Bill Easum’s recent blog. It speaks exactly what Bridgebuilders is seeking to implant in churches. – STEVE


Everyone of who follows my stuff knows I am a great fan of the local church. It is fundamental to the growth of the Kingdom, along with other forms of being the Church. I have no trek with those who say the day of the local church is over.

 I can’t stand what the vast majority of mainline churches and many sideline churches have become. They set back a wait for people to show up like a spider that spins its web waits for an unsuspecting victim. I call this the Jerusalem effect and the build it and they will come effect. Oddly enough, this approach to evangelism worked when I started ministry over 50 years ago. Today, however very few unchurched people come to worship on their own.

 Interestingly enough a friend gave me a url to Mike Breen’s blog . It was right up my alley. I thought I would share a couple of his quotes with you…. “So let us be clear: missionaries are always better than mission projects. Leaders are more necessary then volunteers. And disciples are surely what we’re going for rather than mere converts.”

 I couldn’t agree more. I’ve always told churches that volunteers, missions committees, and programs are not the way to go. In our new book , Effective Staffing for the Vital Church, I talk about “backyard missionaries.” Everyone needs to be trained to be a missionary in their everyday life. Also disciples are needed not volunteers.

Here is another goodie.

 “There is a paradigm shift that needs to happen. We need to move from being a worshipping body that sometimes does mission to a missional body that gathers to celebrate and worship.”

 I have started telling leaders that it is not enough to have small groups that make disciples; now small groups need to the missionary arm of the church. Each small group needs a mission in the community.

 That leads to Breen’s last comment I want to highlight.

 “Missional communities are the training wheels that teach us how to ride the bike of oikos.” 

 Now this is brilliant. He’s talking about 20-30 people acting as an extended family taking the message to their communities. We need to focus on training Mom and Dad, Aunts and Uncles, etc. to help their extended families be those backyard missionaries we talk about.

What is your church doing to make backyard missionaries?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


 by Steve Dunn

People often criticize the church planting initiative of their denominations by saying, :"We have too many churches now that are in trouble and need help.  Why can't we concentrate on helping them grow again instead of investing so much time in creating new congregations?"  Unfortunately, such an attitude is often the front-edge of an inward-focused church more committed on maintaining the comfort of its existing members instead of making new disciples.  It is too often a maintenance or survival attitude instead of missional one.

It is a little bit like the same attitude that is expressed when so much of the church's emphasis, the leadership's time, and the pastoral focus is spent on reaching new people for Christ.  "We need to take care of the people will already have first before we try to get new people."  At heart it is an anti-evangelism attitude.

Both attitudes tend to reinforce an inward focus and a prioritizing of ministry that causes the church to have less and less impact on their community. "As long as we are satisfied that our needs are met" is the measure of faithfulness and fruitfulness.

When this is true--selfishness replaces servanthood as the character of the congregation.

And when that is true, Jesus goes in one direction and the church in another.

If you take the words of Jesus seriously, it is a no-brainer.  "Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it." - Luke 17:33

God does not bless a church that forsakes its first love--that makes evangelism/discipleship a competitor for its priorities instead its reason for being.

This means churches let go of what they often sinfully believe they need in order to pursue what God has called them to provide others.  The measure of their fruitfulness is not self-satisfication or preserving your comfort.  It is what they have given up or given away that is what God is looking for.

It means that churches begin to affirm that "lost people matter to God" and begin honestly asking, "what must we be prepared to give up in order to have the time and resources to help people outside the church become reconciled to God.

(C) 2013 by Stephen L. Dunn

Tuesday, January 29, 2013



Top Ten Ways You Can Draw Me To Your Church

You want me to come and stay at your church? Then...

10. Show me Jesus

9. Smile

8. Serve me

7. Help me to get involved and connected

6. Look me in the eye

5. Ask my opinion

4. Be clear and anticipate my questions

3. Remember my name

2. Call me (without asking me for something)

1. Be yourself

All of these together boil down to one simple message: Show That You Care.

Friday, January 4, 2013


The last year has been a busy one for me as a person, a disciple of Jesus Christ, a pastor and teacher, and blogger.  A sabbatical, ending an eleven year pastorate, teaching for a seminary, and taking Bridgebuilders Seminars nationally have all reduced some of the time and energy that I have had for this ministry.

Lately I have found myself drawn to casting vision and providing coaching to churches that want to take on a kingdom-focus.  To borrow from Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanton "to become the best church for their community."  Not all of these churches have been ready to embrace a full-scaled outward-focus.  Many are traditional churches who sense the prompting of the Spirit and are beginning the process of renewal.

Renewal often precedes a new vision and a fresh empowerment.

I am introducing a new blog called BEING THE BEST CHURCH FOR THE COMMUNITY in hopes of fanning into flame the fires of renewal God is setting in these churches.  My first hope is that these churches will start becoming discipleship cultures rather than simply rehashed ecclesiastical organizations.

I invite you to follow this link to the new blog and see if you want to be a part.  This blog can also be accessed on Facebook through Networked Blogs.  VISIT THE BLOG

- Steve Dunn

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Mike Breen is the leader of a passionate and effective missional leadership ministry called 3DM.  A year ago I was privileged to attend one of his training sessions in Pawley's Island SC about building a discipleship culture.  The following was an excellent post from 2012 in his blog.

Are making mistakes part of your process?

One of the exercises we frequently have leaders do in our Learning Communities is to perform a SWOT analysis of their church community as it currently is. We have them identify where they are currently experiencing Breakthrough, Frustration, Battle and Failure.

It might not come as a galloping surprise that when it comes to owning failure, my culture observation is that Americans view it as a certain kind of kryptonite these days. Many of the leaders leave this area blank or put in a pretty tepid response to it like “We love people too much.” Clearly this is an admission of nothing. ;-)

But here is what I’d like to throw out there: If you haven’t had any big failures or mistakes happen lately in your ministry, one of two things is happening. Either you’re choosing not to risk anything and you’re playing it safe, or you’re not being honest with yourself.

I’m not sure I see a lot of wiggle room on that one.

The problem is that somewhere along the way, Americans surrendered a bit of their grounding identity. Remember, America is known around the world as The Great Experiment. And key to any experiment is an acknowledgment that this particular experiment could fail. This is the land of Edison and his thousands of failed light bulbs. Of Steve Jobs and his early flameout and removal from Apple…the company he himself had founded! Of Lebron James and one of the most epic meltdowns in all of NBA Finals history. Yet each of these men would go on to claim that the turning point was the failure itself. Woven into this culture is the belief that failure is but a stepping stone towards what is to come. Experience (and the failure and mistakes that go with it) is always the best teacher. It’s not failure for failure’s sake; it’s learning how to do new things well because we made mistakes along the way to that goal.

Yet I frequently see American pastors now playing it safe, or glossing over failure so as to look more successful. Along the way, that which is good in this culture (it’s ability to be entrepreneurial) clashed with a darker part of the culture: The desire to be approved of for being successful.

So when I look at the American church, I often see people who want to be successful so badly, they won’t do the things necessary to see real Kingdom breakthrough: Going to places that are unfamiliar, being weak so his power is made strong, where mistakes and failure is understood as part of any process worth having.

There are two things I think we must face. First, our often conflicting motivation of doing things so we’ll be seen as successful. Second, the things we won’t do, the chances or risks we won’t take, for fear of failure or mistakes.

In the Bible we find a set of books littered with the mistakes and failures of great women and men who became great because of what was shaped in them through the Holy Spirit in their mis-steps.
Why should we be any different?