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?