Ministry Leaders: Do You Recruit People for the Task or Reproduce Leaders for the Mission?

As leaders, we are in the business of replacing ourselves. It would be easy to make the case that if you are not preparing someone else to take your place and/or outpace your abilities, then you are not truly leading people. Often, the desire to stay in the position of leadership comes from a “command and control” attitude. It is the kind of leadership found in The Prince by Machiavelli. It is a leadership that enlists people into your work but never releases them for any other work.

I find one of the base differences to lie in our attitude. It is the difference between recruitment versus reproduction in leadership. So ask yourself this simple question:

Am I recruiting people to do tasks or am I reproducing leaders for the mission?

Within the church, I find too many places are simply recruiting people to fill positions, do tasks, or fill a void. It is even masked in spiritual language. “We need you to step up to this volunteer position.” “Can you fill in for the next few months until we find someone who will take it long term?” “The term of service is just three years.” At times, these are necessary statements to describe positions and give expectations. However, they should be ancillary issues to the real work of reproducing leaders. As with many things, it comes down to your priorities.

In his book Organic Leadership, Neil Cole wrote, “Recruitment is a practice in subtraction – taking people from one ministry to work in another. Reproducing leaders from the harvest and for the harvest is a practice of multiplication. The end results of these two methods are as far apart as the east is from the west.” Leaders must discipline themselves to choose reproduction over recruitment. Otherwise, you will simply steal back and forth from ministries within your church… and others.

Here are five contrasts to use in testing how you are doing in this arena:

  • Recruitment produces more followers. Reproduction produces more leaders.
  • Recruitment provides minimalistic orientation. Reproduction provides substantial training.
  • Recruitment is delegation ending in abandonment. Reproduction leads to commissioning.
  • Recruitment only transfers knowledge. Reproduction is part of a robust disciple making system.
  • Recruitment enlists members. Reproduction creates partners.

Recruitment is often a form of arrogance. It occurs when we back ourselves into the corner that “only I can lead the work” and “only I know how it should be done” and “only I can see where we need to go.” On a daily basis, test yourself to ensure that you are participating in the mission that is larger than yourself and has Christ as its King. When you keep a kingdom perspective, it will be easier to reproduce leaders rather than recruit followers.

Read more from Philip here.

If you would like to learn more about reproducing leaders, start a conversation with our team. We’re glad to offer our input. Your vision is at stake, so let’s talk.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Nation

Philip Nation

I serve as the pastor at First Baptist Church of Bradenton, Florida and frequently speak at churches and conferences. I earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, I was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, I’ve served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter. In 2016, I published Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out with Moody Publishers. I’ve coauthored two other books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. I was also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, I have written the small-group studies Storm Shelter: Psalms of God’s Embrace, Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Point the Way and Clear the Path to Effective Discipleship

I get asked all the time how we do discipleship at Elevation. Related to this question, I also get asked how we follow up with new believers.

Do we relentlessly call people until they’re in a small group?
Do we offer 57 Bible studies for people to grow in their faith?
Do we provide a yearlong systematic theology course for new believers?

We do have specific and practical things that we do. But when it comes down to it, our philosophy is pretty straightforward and simple:

  1. We point the way 
  2. We clear the path.

1) We point the way.
Ultimately, there’s nothing we can do to force people to grow in Christ. Nothing. So whether we offer a 26-option discipleship program or a 4-option one really doesn’t matter. If someone really doesn’t want to grow, they’re either going to say no 4 times or 26.

For that reason, we keep it pretty simple.

We give new believers material to help them grow in the initial stages of their faith and we call and encourage them to get plugged in. We constantly stress the importance of small groups. We faithfully proclaim the Word and encourage people to read it for themselves. In short, we point the way to what it looks like to have a relationship with Jesus for themselves.

If they decide not to walk that way, that’s their decision. And we’ve made the decision that we’re not going to chase all of them down if they don’t.

Some people might say to this: Is that what Jesus would do?

I don’t have to wrestle with that question because it’s exactly what Jesus did. Jesus didn’t hook his finger in people’s noses to make sure they were following him. When you read through the gospels, Jesus always cast His net extremely wide. Everyone was invited to follow. But He didn’t chase people down if they weren’t committed (as in the case of the rich young ruler).

The call was to follow Him. Not be dragged kicking and screaming behind Him.

All He did was point the way. To Himself.

 

2) We clear the path.
This is where our greatest responsibility comes into play. If we’ve pointed the way clearly and people are responding, it’s our job to make sure the path is clear for them when they decide to walk on it. There’s no room to drop the ball when it comes to people’s spiritual development. If they’re taking a step towards Christ, we’ve got to make sure that step lands unobstructed.

In other words, we’ve got to make sure our systems and processes are running at full speed. And running efficiently. If someone wants to get in a small group, we’ve got to follow up with them quickly. If someone needs counseling, we need to get them into it right away, and into the best counseling available.

Whatever approach your church uses to pull the maximum God-given potential out of people, it really doesn’t matter. Whether you take people through a five-year development plan. Or you just put them into small groups and let the growth happen more organically. Your responsibility is ultimately the same either way:

1) Point the way to Jesus clearly.
2) Clear the path to Him effectively.

Let’s commit to doing both with excellence so we can see our people become all that God has designed for them.

Read more from Steven here.


Would you like to learn more about effective discipleshp? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steven Furtick

Steven Furtick

Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church. He and his wife, Holly, founded Elevation in 2006 with seven other families. Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the New York Times Best Selling author of Crash the Chatterbox, Greater, and Sun Stand Still. Pastor Steven and Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Can You Handle the Truth? 3 Reasons Your Guests Aren’t Returning

All pastors know the feeling. A new couple visits on a Sunday morning. Maybe they just moved to the area and they are looking for a church, or a friend invited them, or they decided to give church a try. They seem really sharp, exactly the demographic you are trying to reach. You have a great conversation in the lobby. They promise to be back next week, but they’re not. They never come back.

Another family comes three weeks in a row. Each weekend you see them in the lobby after church and it seems like they are really connecting. They miss the fourth week, but they’re back on the fifth. And then they never come back.

What happened? Why didn’t these families connect? Why do so many people flow through your church without sticking? You’ve read the books, been to the conferences and tried everything you can think of, but the back door of your church is always wide open. What is going on?

While I haven’t been to your church, or if I have let’s pretend I haven’t, I have visited scores of church across the country and I know why many people don’t stick. Sometimes the music is really bad or the preaching is really boring or the children’s ministry is really awful, but there are other, less obvious, reasons people don’t return:

1. Your church is a Members Only club

I can hear your reaction from here, “Not us! We work very hard to be inclusive. We go out of our way to welcome visitors; we even invite them to a monthly reception to show them how welcome they are. Swing and a miss on this one, cheesy boy.” (I don’t know why you are calling me “cheesy boy”, but I could use a nice slab of sharp cheddar about now)

Actually the more you think you’re not a members only club the more likely you are. Guests are just that, guests. They are welcome to watch and even participate, but they are not a part of the club. Walking into the church is like walking around in a foreign country. There are signs with clever labels like “Treasure Cove”, “Warehouse” and “Waves” that mean absolutely nothing to the outsider. Your announcements are laced with insider language about ministries and programs that everyone, wink-wink-nod-nod, already knows about. Sermons are filled with inside jokes and references to individuals that an outsider knows nothing about. You even have special shirts and name badges to clearly delineate who belongs and who does not.

The effort required to learn your language, understand your references and get to know your members is just too challenging for the new attender, so they don’t come back. You don’t mean to be a members only club, you just are.

2. Your church doesn’t care about details

The first time attender showed up a few minutes after your website said your services start because they wanted to sneak in the back, but when they arrived the band wasn’t even on stage. The auditorium was almost empty when they sat down, which made it easy for the pastor to find them. He explained that the congregation is notoriously late, but the service will start in a few minutes.

During service the guest noticed that the words were wrong on some of the slides, and there were several typos in the bulletin. On they way out to the car they noticed the pile of junk on a table in the corner, seemingly the same pile of junk that was there when they visited last Christmas. In the parking lot the overgrown flower beds seemed to emphasize the message, “We do the least we can.”

The new attender can’t help but wonder why the church leaders care so little about details. Maybe that’s the way they treat people as well? Its not really worth the effort to find out.

3. Your church is full

There may be room in the parking lot and the auditorium, but everything else is full. Your small groups are closed, but you have new ones starting the fall if the new attender wants to come back in a few weeks. Your ministry teams are full unless the new attender wants to wipe babies butts, in that case there’s an opening today. Your leader’s slate of relationships is full; they’ll meet with the new attender, but they reached their quota of friends a few months ago. There’s a place to park and a place to sit, but there’s really no place to belong.

This is confusing and a little embarrassing for the new attender. At least when hotels are full they put out a no vacancy sign; your church talks like they have plenty of room even though every available slot, or at least desirable slot, is full. Maybe they’d be better off sticking with meetup.com to find new connections, there’s always room there.

Have you ever visited a church and then didn’t go back? What are top two or three reasons you didn’t return?

Read more from Geoff here.


 

 

Want to know more about Guest Experiences in your church? Start a conversation with our team. We’re glad to offer our input. Your vision is at stake, so let’s talk.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Dennis — 05/22/16 9:22 am

Church is to bring in the lost, to save souls. If you're a believer and come to a church to seek what it can do for you, instead of what you can do for the church, then your in it to be served and not to serve. It's not about you and what you want, it's about the Kingdom and glorifying God. Do your part to help not to run because you don't feel good about the church. True Christians seek God in Spirit and in Truth, all others are seeking a savior and need help getting to there destiny. Help to do the vision, not criticise others for not doing it the way you want. We are one body with different parts moving towards the same purpose. Salvation!!

Sean — 09/21/15 7:55 am

The main reason i don't return is because the preacher didn't prepare, or maybe he just isn't a good preacher. Sometimes it's because they are too fluffy with their beliefs, "God aint mad at you" and every body is tip toeing through the tulips.

John Crossman — 01/25/15 7:24 am

The main reason why I believe someone does not come back is a lack of follow up by the church. It is odd to me but the majority of the time that we have visited a church, there has been no follow up. Even more concerning, we have never seen a pastor follow up. My advice to churches is to have a pastor follow up with every visitor and then Shepard them based on their need which could include helping to connect them to another church.

Paul — 01/09/15 12:02 pm

#3 seems to be quite common around me. They don't have room for me to get involved in anything, but they sure manage to send out multiple requests for my money every month.

Martha Roberts — 01/03/15 7:32 am

It seems like everyone's standards are pretty high. I would think that if people are going to give a church only one try to come up to their standards, they may never find a church home. I remember several years ago we had two or three groups of new people who complained that we did not sing the hymns that they were used to. So we added some of the hymns they suggested, but they left anyway. Maybe new people could try appreciating what they find when they go o a new church, instead of setting their standards so high that few churches can meet them. I have not had reason to look for a new church for many years, although I visit other churches on occasion. Maybe that new church that doesn't measure up to your standards has something different and special to offer that will enrich your lives. And what is awful music? I think that my church has terrific music, but if someone new comes and doesn't like it, then it becomes awful music. I guess I feel that instead of looking for the perfect church, people might go with the attitude that they will become part of the community and offer something to the life of the church. It's a two-way proposition.

Shay Wallace — 04/07/14 12:59 pm

It seems this was written awhile ago but I would like to respond. Mr. Surratt makes great points. Points that should be taken seriously by all churches. I just do not think these points are the main reason people are not coming back to churches. Who knows the exact reason why anyone does not come back unless they tell you, but I can say with certainty the reasons I do not return are usually the same. 1. Love, tolerance, and acceptance. (unbelievers, baby Christians) Church members seem to want their guests or potential members to behave a certain way. They want them to conform to the system that is already in place. In some ways this is understandable. In other ways, it is isolating to the guest. They want to feel loved and accepted the way they are. They want to be told everything is ok no matter their past. They want to be given time to work out their immediate more pressing issues without having to worry about what to wear and how to talk (church speak). 2. Love, tolerance, and acceptance (believers, unchurched) Many times, these people are looking for what fits their already preconceived ideas of what "good churches" are. These preconceived notions are difficult to overcome and some of them were addressed in Mr. Surratt's article. But I can tell you that a truly loving, a truly tolerant, and a truly accepting church can overcome most of these things. You may never be able to overcome a taste in music, or a theological difference, but most everything else can be healed with Love. 3. People can see the business aspect of the church. I see it almost immediately when I walk into certain churches for the first time. I think people understand that a church has many aspects of itself that are business oriented. I just believe they dont want to experience these aspects when they visit. How many churches are so focused on growth, in numbers of bodies, that they forget the growth of the heart? The American church is now fully Americanized. Its a show and a numbers game. People come to church, especially new comers, CRAVING to fill a void in their life. If you are offering the same thing they can get in the real world, how are you any different? There are plenty of other reasons people do not return and many may not be avoidable. However, the church as a whole needs to reevaluate the arena in which they are playing. The simplicity of the Gospel is good enough to fulfill the hearts of the unbelievers and restore the prodigal's to a relationship with Christ. Love thy neighbor as thyself and love thy God with all your heart.

Dave Alan — 04/07/14 8:19 am

"You even have special shirts and name badges to clearly delineate who belongs and who does not." Now a short while back I was told by some of you growth gurus that we needed name tags and same colored polos so people would know who to ask directions or other info from. Which is it?

Dan — 03/06/14 10:21 am

Personally I think that a major part of the problem, and this becoming more transparent today, is this assumption and assertion that church is about emotionalism. Why make the assumption in this article that a church has a "band"? Some churches still embrace a certain level of reverence and respect -- they attempt to make church something different, something more transcendent than day to day car radio, night club, social media environment. First church is NOT just an emotional time where people come together like-mindedly and feel good about themselves. You see, our culture is so lost and so desperate for something that the people will fill that emptiness with anything that gives them a high, even if its only temporary. Is that what church is meant to be? Is it a drug, given in the name of God? Come together, have some coffee and rolls and sing songs that temporarily fill a void? I don't think so. Second, what church should be offering is the Word of God! The main focus in worship is the teaching - the faith - the confession - the meditation - the prayer - the day-to-day LIFE of God's people sort of summed up in an hour and a half. I mean if God's children are supposed to be running around with their hands in the air all day long singing "breathe" I guess it's one thing...but what are they learning from that? No. In church people must learn to repent, to believe in Christ as their salvation, to delve into the Word of God, to learn humility, to learn to be passive-receiving from God His gifts rather than thinking they must do something or sing louder or raise their hands higher to get them. They must learn about sin, and the effect of sin in their lives, so that they can truly rejoice and thank God for the wonderful gifts of salvation, grace, eternal life, and forgiveness of sins in a LIFELONG way and not as an emotional high. Church must be something different, something that goes BEYOND the culture and thus has the ability to reach INTO culture to get to the lost. Church must display the transcendence and the holiness of God, but it must also show the closeness and the intimacy of the Father shared in Christ. What church has become today is a business-show. It's not church but it's entertainment. It's like drinking the milk where God wants to get us to solid food. Yeah we don't want to become stagnant and hypocritical by following a bunch of rituals for rituals' sake, but we also don't want to abandon the ritual of the church in order to try to look like the culture around us. I like a lot of praise music, but sometimes I think it's an infiltration of culture and worldliness into the church (rather than the Church changing and leading culture). Thus when I choose praise music (or any music) for church, it must first and foremost TEACH THE FAITH, not just make people jump up and down, cry, and become emotional robots. While I agree with the premise of this article, I do NOT agree with the assumptions or the assertions. There are times when an organ and a hymn is far FAR better than a band where the musicians wear jeans and dress like they just came from a night club. I believe we should show some air of reverence when we are in the presence of God and when we are teaching the faith corporately.

Greg Balzer — 01/18/14 11:58 am

Certainly timeliness, cleanliness, and true hospitality are important, but for me these are not the decisive factors in finding a church home. These factors are frosting on the cake, and can be improved over time. What I want to find in a church is a pastor and membership focused upon loving God, and loving their neighbors (and visitors) as themselves. A church with a high view of God, a low view of man. A church truly transformed by God's spirit. Born from above and giving the credit to God. A church like this cannot help but grow.

Bob Cleveland — 01/09/14 12:33 pm

Ask yourself why the people who DO come back, do so. It'll probably have less to do with parking or seating or timing, than it does with something going on that draws them back.

Robert Huckleberry — 12/23/13 8:26 am

We visit many churches in the past due to our occupations, but now, settling down, I never thought we would have a problem of "finding a church home". First, it was apparent We simply have nothing in common, except, of course Jesus. I thought that would be enough. But, I was wrong. The cliques are strong and the singing/music is aweful. We tried for months to make it work, but when my wife started crying on the way to service, I caught myself saying "it isn't about the worship" its about plugging into the Body of Christ...it dawned on me, we had to go somewhere else. The second place we visited and left was also due to cliques, poor proper exegesis of Scripture and they had no idea of ther mission to their community. It was a pep-rally sermon format with poor music, no discipleship and no room. The last place where we are currently attending has reduced us to Sunday morning only (SMO as they call it) due to the Bible studies being monopolized by a leader who approaches Scripture using propositions because they "think" or "feel" it should be so...again, no formal exegesis. I feel terible for even commenting like this, but, you asked. We've stopped looking elsewhere, and resigned ourselves to sit in the back and wait for openings.

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Growing Your Groups, Part 1: 5 Ways to Connect with Disconnected People

One of the higher priorities for the church in recent years has become assimilation, and rightful so. The days are gone when people would find the nearest church and commit immediately—more people are secular and are not looking to jump in to a church and more Christians are cautious in their involvement. If people visit your church, however, they are probably looking to connect in some way, regarless of their spiritual condition. If they don’t, they won’t be around long.

So, this article is intended to help you find ways to connect with people who visit your church but are not connected in community. In a later article, I will deal with connect (via groups) with people in your community.

Simply put, you need to find opportunities to connect with disconnected people that attend the church gathering. People need to be assimilated into the church fairly quickly. It has been said that if people do not get plugged into some meaningful community within six months of their attending a church, they almost always drop out. In some cases, that may look more like six weeks.

On the other hand, if they are successfully connected (or “assimilated”), they are probably going to stick. This opens up doors for evangelism, discipleship and spiritual growth for not only with those people and their family, but also their extended family and friends.

Connect with the Disconnected People

People come to a church gathering and they will typically visit anonymously to check things out. They are often looking for a connection to God that comes through worship, prayer, the sermon and communion. They are also looking for a connection to people; otherwise they would stay at home and watch an Internet church. If they connect with God at the gathering but don’t connect with people, they may miss an opportunity for their spiritual growth, health (or in some cases, spiritual birth).

Let’s look at five ways a church body can connect with the disconnected.

1. Take Advantage of the Three-Minute Rule

The three-minute rule begins when the final prayer is said or song is sung. This is not the time to talk to your best friends. During those first three minutes, two things are going to happen: people who are familiar are going to talk to each other and people who don’t know anyone are going to leave quickly. This is where it’s crucial. If you take the time in those first three minutes to talk to the people who aren’t connected, you will have time afterward to talk to your friends who are more likely to stick around. You need to see those first three minutes after a church gathering as a time-sensitive corporate fishing pool for Group prospects. You have three critical minutes to look immediately around for people who are not connected in the body. Be friendly to them, ask them if they are in a group, and invite them if they are not connected to one.

2. Make Sure Group Leaders are Visible and Available

People who are not connected will often slip out as quickly as possible—sometimes even before the service is over. (It is not surprising that they don’t excitedly anticipate the offering and closing benediction.)

Key group leaders should move to the exit areas to connect with the disconnected right after the sermon or the end of the message. The people who are the most disconnected will exit before they have to speak to anyone. They may not be ready to connect, but you can at the least, be a friendly face on their way out. If they return, you will have a greater opportunity to connect them to a group when they are ready.

3. Know Where the Groups meet and have a Groups Concierge in a Prime Location.

As a group leader trying to connect with newer people, know what groups may work best for the person you are trying to connect. If the visiting family lives 15 miles east of the church gathering, asking them to attend a group that meets 15 miles west would not seem very wise—you shouldn’t expect them to drive 60 miles round-trip every week for a group meeting.

Try to connect them with a group that meets fairly close to their home. If you are not sure, walk over to the group’s counter with them and help them to find one that best suits them. You can offer your assistance based on their demographic or their interests as well as your knowledge of the leaders. The goal is connecting them to a group that best serves their needs, not that best serves your needs. Have a groups table with a volunteer staffer ready to help them find a place.

4. Invite them to a Basic Newcomer’s Class or Informal Gathering.

Connect with people by inviting them to a basic newcomers’ gathering. This could be a class that highlights the foundations of your church or it could be an informal gathering that helps them find their next steps for assimilating into the church. Design this as an opportunity for them to connect with other people: group leaders, key leaders and pastors. The goal of this newcomers’ gathering is to connect them with the mission and vision of the church, with other people, and with a group.

5. Follow-Up

Here is where we go “old school.” Many churches have abandoned some basic follow-up of visitors to their church gatherings. Below are some follow-up things we do.

  • Visitors receive a phone call on Sunday night from a volunteer who thanks them for visiting.
  • The church mails out a typed letter on Monday that includes information about small groups.
  • As the lead pastor, I send visitors a hand-written note on Thursday. It is brief but personal saying something like: “Thank you for being our guest this Sunday at Grace Church. We hope you were challenged and encouraged. Please let us know if you have any questions or if we can be of service in any way. God bless, Ed Stetzer.”
  • An optional follow-up is really old school. We stop by their house with a baked good on the Saturday after they visited. This works better in some parts of the country than it does in others.
  • Finally, we provide the names and contact information of those people who attend the newcomer’s gathering to the group leaders. We want the group leaders to connect them to a group as soon as possible.

Conclusion

We want to move disconnected people who are sitting in rows toward becoming connected people who are sitting in circles. If we do that quickly, they’re almost certain to stay and become connected into the life of our church. If they’re not yet a believer, they will hear the gospel in the context of having some friends around them, and that is the ultimate goal. We want them in the Kingdom, not just in the building. It starts with a simple connection.

Later this month, Eric Geiger and I will release a book called Transformational Groups.Groups are at the core of the mission of the church, and in our book we set out to help churches evaluate and improve their small groups.

You can learn more about the book and preorder your copy here.

Read more from Ed here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Does Your Outside Space Reflect Your Inside Ministry?

These two pictures tell the tale of two shopping malls…

BR-VR011914

The mall at the top is pretty much just like the mall I grew up going to. At this mall you park as close to the entrance as you can, then go inside to find the store you are looking for and maybe stroll up and down the covered atrium. All of your favorite stores are facing and found inside. This particular mall has an Apple Store, but you have to know that ahead of time.

The shopping mall on the bottom is reflective of the new breed of malls that cropped up. In fact, they are not even called shopping malls anymore – they are “Lifestyle Centers.” The major difference here is that you park near the store you are going to, and maybe stroll up and down an outdoor promenade. All of the stores are facing outside. This mall has a PF Changs, it’s easily seen from the street.

Which of these two malls would you rather visit?

Which shopping experience is more engaging as you pass?

Does exterior presence (and life) really matter if the content is the same inside?

Actually, these two photos are of the same shopping mall in Akron, OH. Three to four years ago the mall developer added the exterior-focused retail stores to the front. In my estimation, as an attempt to draw more shoppers and respond to our experienced-based culture. Developers know this: people respond to the experience that appears to be more pleasant.

Many churches are more like the “other side” of the mall, a great experience inside, hidden by the lack of life outside.

What if the church turned the ministries inside out?

How could an engaging worship experience be seen from the street, if not literally?

Could an incredible Kid’s Ministry be known in the community, before anyone steps through the door?

What kind of movement and life can churches present, maybe even just by moving the greeting time outside?

What can you do THIS Sunday to bring the inside-out at your church? 

Read more from Bryan here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How 7 Arrows Are Creating a Unique Tool for Disciplemaking at The Church at Cherryvale

There is often a vast disconnect between the awareness of the need for disciple-making and practical tools that actually aid in this work. Three factors are essential: Scripture, relationships, and time. Discipleship happens when the life-changing truth of Scripture is infused into genuine relationships over an extended period of time.

Our desire was to create a simple, reproducible strategy that would facilitate this process. This led us to develop a simply strategy for small clusters (2-3 people) to meet together regularly and talk about the Scriptures and apply them to their lives.

The seven arrows of Bible reading were an attempt at developing a tool for proper hermeneutics to power these relationships. We did not want our people to simply talk about the Bible. We wanted them to understand the Bible and know how to apply it to their lives. Each cluster would read a predetermined passage of Scripture and discuss it using these seven arrows.

The goal was for the clusters to start by summarizing the main point of the passage as succinctly as possible, ideally in one sentence.

DMTool1

Next, the clusters sought to discern authorial intent for the passage by asking what it meant to its original audience. Since a text of Scripture can never mean what it never meant, it is necessary to begin by discerning what the text meant. Often this may require the clusters to consult other study tools or cross-reference other Biblical texts to arrive at the meaning of the text.

DMTool2

Thirdly, we asked what the text tells us about the nature and character of God and specifically His work through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

DMTool3

Fourthly, the text was analyzed to see what it tells us about humanity. Bryan Chappell refers to this as the “fallen condition focus” of the text. What does the text reveal about sin and mankind’s need for the gospel?

DMTool4

Then we moved the clusters to application. Since we had now rooted the clusters in the meaning of the text, they were now positioned to rightly apply it’s meaning to their lives.

DMTool5

From there we wanted our clusters to apply the Scripture to their relationships with others. Ideally, they would discuss how the text shaped both how they related to other believers and how they lived on mission in the world.

DMtool6

Finally, the clusters rooted their prayers in the Scriptures. Hopefully, the previous six arrows kindled the flames of passionate prayer in the lives of the clusters – both for their own sanctification and for their mission to the lost.

DMTool7

With these model, we touched on three important areas for discipleship:

  • Scripture – Disciple-making was rooted in a rightful understanding of Scripture and not in simply doing life together, unpacking another sermon, or dependance on classroom instruction.
  • Simplicity – Disciple-making was simple enough for everyone to get involved. All believers could take these principles, a Bible, and a relationship with a young Christian and get to work.
  • Stickiness – Disciple-making through understanding and applying Scripture was etched in the minds of our young church. They could use these same arrows to not only guide their cluster discussions, but also their personal Bible Study, small group leadership, and comprehension of sermons.

To further encourage and aid our people, we gave them bookmarks with the seven arrows on them. These arrows have proven to be a unique tool in our disciple-making toolbox that the Lord is using to call and build faithful and fruitful followers of Jesus.

Read more from Matt here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matthew Rogers

Matthew Rogers

Matt and his wife, Sarah, have two daughters, Corrie Noel and Avery Elizabeth, and one son, Hudson Emmett. Matt holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Furman University, a Master of Arts in Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and he is currently completing his PhD in Applied Theology from Southeastern. Sarah is a licensed school teacher, who now devotes all of her energy to raising their children. Contact: matt@tccherrydale.com

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Vibrant Community: The Secret DNA of Every Church

Brands like Apple, Zappos, and Southwest Airlines understand that the thing that makes an organization great is the vibrant and passionate community it creates. It doesn’t just happen. It is intentionally cultivated. Apple didn’t get lucky because one day people decided to wait for days to buy the new iPhone. Southwest’s founder, Herb Kellerher, realized that creating a vibrant culture is something his organization had to focus on every day.

The good news for church leaders is you have the opportunity to create the same type of vibrant culture these organizations have created, if not a stronger one. But as every church leader knows, it’s not that easy.

Vibrant community: The secret DNA of every church

A few weeks ago, Church Community Builder had the opportunity to host Aaron Fortner, an expert in city planning and community building, as part of our webinar series. During the webinar, Aaron explained the fundamental principles of vibrant communities and how churches can go about creating them

If you want to build the type of vibrant community in your church that creates a multiplying effect outside the walls, here are seven things you need to know:

  • Community is a verb. Most churches think of community as a noun. They think that just because they plug people into a small group, there’s community. However, community is a dynamic movement. It doesn’t just happen because your church builds a place for it. It takes intentionality to lead people into community through action.
  • Vibrant church communities connect people to people, not just to the church itself. When the church is ineffective, it is a crowd of people meeting together on a regular basis. When effective, it is a tribe of believers that is connected to a vision that is bigger than themselves.
  • Vibrant communities have a singular focus with widespread reach. The vision and goal of vibrant communities should always simple and easy to understand. At the same time, the focus needs to resonate with a lot of people in order for the community to grow.
  • If you want your church to become a vibrant community, you must be fiercely consistent and pleasantly surprising. Consistency builds trust in your community. Your members can believe that you’re going to do the things you say you’re going to do. At the same time, consistency can become boring. That’s why it’s equally important always look for ways to challenge the status quo and surprise your community.
  • If you don’t get your community strategy right, the things you’re doing won’t last. your community-building efforts should always invite people into something that’s bigger than themselves. That’s the end goal. If you don’t focus on that, the things you’re doing won’t last.

Everything your church does, from discipleship to outreach, depends on the vitality of the community among your members. If you want a deeper look into how your church can create the type of vibrant community that your neighborhood or city notices, we’ve recorded the entire webinar here.

What is your church doing to create a vibrant community that transcends even the most popular brands?

Read more from Steve Caton here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Caton

Steve Caton

Steve Caton is part of the Leadership Team at Church Community Builder. He leverages a unique background in technology, fundraising and church leadership to help local churches decentralize their processes and equip their people to be disciple makers. Steve is a contributing author on a number of websites, including the Vision Room, ChurchTech Today, Innovate for Jesus and the popular Church Community Builder Blog. He also co-wrote the eBook “Getting Disciple Making Right”. While technology is what Steve does on a daily basis, impacting and influencing the local church is what really matters to him……as well as enjoying deep Colorado powder with his wife and two sons!

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Measuring the Process Determines True Movement

Preseason NFL games are boring to watch, even for serious fans. Seriously, Sportscenter on ESPN barely mentions preseason games. The anchors even poke fun at how little the games matter. The best players are not in the game at critical times.

It is basically a practice with real referees. It just seems that no one really cares who wins or loses.

No one cares because the games are not measured.

They do not count. And because the games are not counted in the season’s overall record, the games are not taken seriously.

You get the point. For people to take your ministry process seriously, it has to be measured. For people to internalize the simple how in your church, you have to evaluate it. The cliché is true: what gets evaluated, gets done.

Churches that measure their process prove its value. Measurement proves the process is more than a new fad or down-loadable strategy. Staff, volunteers, and members see the importance.

Measurement also helps leaders know if people are progressing through the process. Measurement tools should focus on moving people from one level of commitment to another. Holes are easily identified and remedied. If the church increases in attendance at their “love God” level, they expect to increase proportionally at their “love others” and “serve the world” levels.

Are you ready to measure? To measure your process effectively, you must think differently in two critical ways:

LEARN TO VIEW YOUR NUMBERS HORIZONTALLY AND NOT VERTICALLY.

Measuring your process requires you to view your attendance differently from most churches. Most church leaders would look at the total number of people in a particular program, such as the total number of adults in small groups. That is looking vertically. It is looking at programs to see if they are successful.

Viewing your numbers horizontally is different. Someone who views numbers horizontally would see that a certain percentage of adults moved from a worship service to small groups and then to ministry teams. The horizontal viewer would think of ways to move more people across a chart. Sideways. Horizontally. Got it?

MEASURE ATTENDANCE AT EACH LEVEL/STAGE IN YOUR PROCESS.

To evaluate your entire process, you must know how many people are plugged in at each level. Most churches tend to measure only worship attendance and small-group attendance. That makes sense if those are the only two programs in the process. However, it does not make sense if there are additional programs.

For example, some churches want to move people from worship service to small groups to ministry teams. For them to measure effectively, they have to know how many people are in ministry teams. If they did not know that, it would be impossible to see a clear picture of reality.

To get an accurate picture, you must measure attendance at each level. It gives you key knowledge for planning and praying. Without this knowledge, you are bound to make decisions based on incomplete information.

Adapted from Simple Church (B&H Publishing Group, 2006)

Read more from Eric here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

VRcurator — 08/15/14 10:35 am

That's a great question, David! At Auxano, we use a tool called the Vision Frame, and one side of that tool is Measures. We refer to Measures as "a set of attributes in an individual's life that define or reflect the accomplishment of a church's mission." In other words, a portrait of a disciple and definition of spiritual maturity. I'm sending you some additional materials. Also, take a look at another article on the Vision Room: http://visionroom.com/beyond-one-dimensional-scorecard-count-vertically-measure-horizontally/. Thanks for the comment!

David Bartosik — 08/15/14 10:14 am

It would seem attendance is a way to measure, but Id love to hear other effective measuring tools of church discipleship and spiritual development. Heathly things grow- numerically and....

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Are You Building a Ministry Without God?

I wonder how long I could be successful in ministry without God? I’ve been in vocational ministry for 31 years, and I seldom encounter a situation I haven’t seen before. I have a stockpile of sermons to pull from, and many other places where I can grab a complete sermon with a moments notice. I do strategy, staffing and structure in my sleep. My experience, connections and the internet give me all the tools I need to do ministry, and do it at a very high level. God is good, but often not all that necessary.

How about you? How long could your church function, and function well, without God? You have your sermons planned through Easter, your song lists loaded into Planning Center and your small group resources online. You have well-trained volunteers and the best staff money can buy. Your IT and weekend tech have redundancies built in to handle any contingency. The people who attend your church know that they will have a quality experience every weekend regardless what might happen behind the scenes. Certainly God is welcome at your church, but is he really necessary?

Israel created an elaborate and efficient church that ran very well without God. The priests and Levites excelled at their roles, the sacrificial system was geared to handle the crowds at Passover efficiently, and the Jewish people knew their needs were met with consistency and care. 400 years after God stepped away the Jews no longer missed him. They had created a church without God.

And then one weekend he showed up. He ignored their service run down, he tore up their resource table and he violated their policies and procedures. Every time he came to a service havoc ensued. Finally they had to either completely change the way they did church or kill God. They chose to kill God.

I am all for policies, procedures, strategy, training, planning and technology. If fact, except for policies and procedures, these are the things I love the most. And I am amazed to see how effectively churches use these tools to reach people far from God and lead them into biblical discipleship. What scares me, shakes me to my core, however is how easily we can substitute the tools of worship for genuine worship. How often we find ourselves worshipping the creation rather than the creator. How many weekends we leave church feeling satisfied because the music was good, the sermon was well received and the attendance was up without even considering if God was pleased.

How long has it been since I have been on my face before God, desperate to hear from him, knowing that I am absolutely toast without him? When was the last time I was so hungry to experience the power and presence of God that I could not eat, I could not sleep until I felt the supernatural touch of his Holy Spirit? When was the last time I was so overwhelmed by the responsibility of preaching the Word that I could barely breathe?

It is not all that hard to build a ministry without God. What a terrifying place to be.

Read more from Geoff here.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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COMMENTS

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David Good — 09/04/13 9:22 am

Great post Geoff and I couldn't agree more. I just had breakfast last week with a 92 year old man of God who has pastored all his life. He is disturbed by the plight of many of today's churches and how God is missing from much of what is called ministry today. It was great to be reminded by a great pioneer that "it's not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord." Thanks for sharing your insight.

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

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4 Ways That Missional Feet are Made Beautiful

I’ve written extensively about the missional nature of the church and the theological background that undergirds that nature. God is, by His nature, a sender. There are rich theological implications to that reality.

But, sometimes I want it simple.

I just want missional feet.

In the Bible we read about “beautiful feet” (Romans 10:15). My feet are not beautiful, I assure you, in their human form. However, they are made more beautiful when they move—they go on mission—and are missional feet.

Here are four ways missional feet are made beautiful.

1. Missional feet go to proclaim the gospel.

That’s the point of the verse above. The beautiful feet in Romans are beautiful because they belong to those who preach the gospel to a lost world. These are feet that carry the messengers to their destinations on mission with God. Missional can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but if it does not include Jesus mission (who came, he said, “to seek and save the lost,”) we are not missional as Jesus was (Luke 19:10).

2. Missional feet go to serve the hurting.

When Jesus announced his public ministry, he did so by speaking on the hurting and the marginalized (see Luke 4:18-19). Then, later, he says, “As the father has sent me, so send I you” (John 20:21). The Bible is filled with admonitions toward serving the hurting and missional feet are feet in motion to the hurting.

3. Missional feet go to love the “other.”

The Bible is filled with themes about welcoming the outsider and stranger (Leviticus 19:33-34). Not only does God desire for us to welcome the stranger, we are also called to go to and love them– to love others. This requires intentional movement towards those that we would not regularly cross paths with (John 4:3-42). This also means that we intentionally love others when we receive no immediate return (James 1:17).

4. Missional feet go to others– together.

Mission is intricately tied to community. Actually, much of what I’ve already mentioned is made possible as we go with others. The writer of Hebrews explains that we are to “provoke one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). The language says a lot, we need some provocation to missional activation. And, that takes others.

At the end of the day, missional means we join Jesus on mission.

We go to them– the lost, the hurting, and the others– and we do it in Christian community. In doing this we not only love the world, but encourage one another.

In the Gospel of John we see the most moving passage concerning a theology of feet (13:1-17). In the loving act of washing his disciples’ feet Jesus proves his love for them, signifying the washing away of sins through his death. Moreover, Jesus sets an example of humility and servanthood. Don’t miss the sheer power of this image. In a culture where people walked long distances on dusty roads in sandals, the washing of people’s feet was considered to be a task reserved for slaves. It wasn’t the most appetizing of tasks.

As I said earlier, I do not have naturally beautiful feet. However, in Christ they are made beautiful. And the beauty of cleansed feet are put on display as we go on mission with God together. There are people all around us who are weary and broken, people who have endured hard paths in life. Following our Savior, let us serve them and point to the only one who can give them pure cleansing and true rest.

So while we are here, wandering in our temporary dwelling, let us use our feet to bring glory to Jesus. We know that one day we will fall at His feet in awe-inspiring worship. In light of our destination, let’s bring others with us as we journey that way.

Let’s have missional feet.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.