Vision Moves Your Church in these Four Ways

Vision is overrated. Too many leaders put too much weight on their vision and not enough on other important matters of leadership. Culture, discipline, accountability, and creativity are just as important as vision.

That being said, leadership does not happen without vision. Vision is meant to inspire, engage, and capture the heart. In the church, vision statements are common, but not enough of them move the congregation to action.

How do you know when vision is working? When it’s moving your church from what is stated by the leader to what is accepted among the people. What is accepted will become the culture and then move the people in the direction of vision. What does this movement look like? There are four important ways vision moves your church.

  1. From inward to outward. Vision works when the movement of the church shifts from inward to outward. Priorities change from personal preferences to selfless action. For example, through the vision of one of our local mission partners to serve the homeless, I’ve experienced my own shift away from being selfish with my time. Now I find joy in giving that time to them.
  2. From joyless to joyful. Another shift occurs with the tone of the congregation. A church embracing vision will do so with joy. Hopefulness replaces hopelessness. Care replaces apathy. Boldness replaces fear.
  3. From infrequent to frequentAttendance frequency is one of the biggest reasons churches experience a numerical decline. When a congregation embraces vision, the people start showing up more often and with more fervor. An increase in attendance frequency helps a church with giving, volunteering, communication, unity, and just about everything else.
  4. From comfort to sacrifice. A shift from comfort to sacrifice is perhaps the most important movement for shaping the culture. When a church is willing to sacrifice for the vision, most everything else will fall into place. Comfortable people don’t move. Sacrificial people are always looking for opportunities to do more for Jesus.

These four movements are important ways in which vision changes the direction of a congregation. Good vision will move outward with joy. Good vision will cause people to be more sacrificial with increasing frequency.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church. He is also the president of Rainer Research, and he is the co-founder/co-owner of Rainer Publishing. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. Sam is author of the book, Obstacles in the Established Church, and the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is an editorial advisor/contributor at Church Executive magazine. He has also served as a consulting editor at Outreach magazine. He has written over 150 articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a procurement consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Deal with Leaders Who Question Change

Most people don’t like change. Most leaders want to challenge the status quo. Leadership is, in part, the process of helping people see the need for change, embrace the vision for change, and then implement the change.

Getting mad at people who question change does not help the process of change. Those who are truly malicious are typically small in number. When people have questions about change, it does not necessarily mean that they are questioning your leadership. It’s likely they just have questions. In fact, the only leaders who go unquestioned are despots.

Particularly in the church, there is built-in institutional resistance to change. Almost every church has this inherent resistance, especially established churches. The body may spend decades building something—a program, a worship space, or a culture. Shifting direction on a decade’s work is jarring, even if it’s the right thing. The church is often the place people cling to the familiar. The world is changing rapidly, after all. At least the church offers some solace from what feels like a whirlwind of change.

When a church leader introduces bold change, a strong reaction should be expected. Some will complain it’s too much too soon. Others will complain it’s too little too late. Others won’t care. And a few will champion the change.

Bold change almost always raises questions from people. Getting mad at people who raise the questions does nothing to help move them through the process of change. Yet a leader’s visceral reaction to these questions is often anger. I’ll admit I’m guilty! And it’s wrong, a leadership flaw, arguably sinful in many cases.

So what can you do in the moment when questions fly your way? How can a church leader quell the knee-jerk anger to questions about change?

  • Listen. Seriously, just listen. Don’t talk. Don’t say anything. Don’t explain yourself. Don’t get defensive. Let people speak to you about the change. Many times people just need the opportunity to hear themselves speak and to know you heard them.
  • Learn. Your posture and your tone can speak more loudly than your actual words. When introducing bold change, take the posture of a learner. Let’s assume you’ll make a big announcement from the podium about a large change initiative. Make a resolution to be a learner the moment you walk off the stage. And the way you’ll learn is by listening to questions about the change.
  • Smile. Remember school pictures? I never liked them. I often didn’t smile, and the low quality of the pictures reflected the intensity of my scowl. The quality of your change initiative will be directly correlated to the amount of encouragement you give people. If you think more explanations, more spreadsheets, or more structure will get people moving, then think again. Forcing people through change without encouragement signals that the change is for your benefit, not their benefit. You’ve got to love the people who are affected by the change through the change. When questions come . . . smile. Encourage. Love.

You’ll never please everyone. How many times have I heard that? How many times have I said that to others? You know upfront that change initiatives can be tough, that people will resist change. Getting mad at followers ensures only one thing: failure. I’ve never heard a leader mention how unjustified anger inspired people to embrace a change initiative. So listen. Learn. Smile. And perhaps the change initiative might just go a little more smoothly.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church. He is also the president of Rainer Research, and he is the co-founder/co-owner of Rainer Publishing. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. Sam is author of the book, Obstacles in the Established Church, and the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is an editorial advisor/contributor at Church Executive magazine. He has also served as a consulting editor at Outreach magazine. He has written over 150 articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a procurement consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Three Foundations for Church Revitalization

“Some churches just need to die.” I’ve heard some variation of this quote several times. It’s false. Certain congregations may indeed die but not because they need to die. If God can save any person, then He can save any church. I believe any church, no matter how far gone, has the potential to be saved.

Many established churches are in need of revitalization. There are degrees of revitalization, of course. In some cases, revitalization is needed in parts of the church while other areas remain healthy. Other churches could use a complete overhaul.

Regardless of the amount of work required, whether it’s one ministry area or the entire congregation, there are three must-haves of every church revitalization. These three must-haves apply to churches of any size or denominational background. Most churches will require more work beyond these three items, but the vast majority of revitalizations will include them.

  1. Proper expectations. Congregants must have a realistic view of the future. The glory days may not return, at least in the way people remember them. Poor attitudes often arise when unrealistic expectations are present. One of the main responsibilities of those leading the revitalization effort is to align the expectations of the church with a realistic objective for the next five years
  2. Outward focus. A stationary church is a disobedient church. No church can be revitalized without reclaiming an outward focus. An inward focus almost always produces disunity. An outward focus always produces unity. All successful church revitalizations involve an intentional, ongoing effort to reach and minister to those beyond the physical walls of the facility. In almost every case, the outward focus begins with the lead pastor. Evangelistic churches have evangelistic pastors.
  3. Relational skills. Church revitalization often fails because the pastor has poor relational skills. The converse is true as well. Successful revitalization is often led by a church leader with good relational skills. Poor relational skills are driven by either an unwillingness to be held accountable or a lack of self-awareness, or both. A pastor lacking in relational skills will not foster the culture necessary for revitalization.

There are three must-haves of every church revitalization: proper expectations, outward focus, and relational skills. Without them, revitalization efforts will likely fizzle.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church. He is also the president of Rainer Research, and he is the co-founder/co-owner of Rainer Publishing. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. Sam is author of the book, Obstacles in the Established Church, and the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is an editorial advisor/contributor at Church Executive magazine. He has also served as a consulting editor at Outreach magazine. He has written over 150 articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a procurement consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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COMMENTS

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Carter Kerns — 07/31/18 10:22 am

I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

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Five Benefits of a Standing Meeting

You can sit during these meetings if you like. Standing meetings are different than stand-up meetings. A standing meeting is one that repeats in a regular pattern and is an obligation for people to attend.

I have a standing meeting every Monday at 4:00 p.m. with my worship pastor. We discuss the previous Sunday’s services and also the upcoming Sunday services. On occasion, we’ll use the time slot to create worship strategies or examine something new.

Our church staff also meets regularly—every Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. for staff chapel. Then the ministry team meets from 9:30 a.m. until noon. The agenda is standing as well. For the most part, the same items are discussed every week. Our congregation has a monthly standing meeting for leaders on Sunday afternoons. All leaders, teams, and committees meet at the same time.

We’ve all been trapped in a blackhole meeting where time seems to stop and everything descends into nothingness. I’m guilty of leading such meetings, chasing rabbits and taking too long to land the plane. If done well, standing meetings can be of great benefit to church staff without wasting everyone’s time.

Standing meetings create a culture of candid communication. When everyone meets weekly and is expected to contribute, you give people permission to speak freely. When meetings are rarely called, they can feel formal, and some staff will be less inclined to talk.

Standing meetings prevent ministry silos. When staff communicate regularly and with a rhythm, fewer silos form. The team actually starts to function as a team when regular pathways of communication open. In fact, if your staff does not have standing meetings, then starting them will often reveal how bad your ministry silos are.

Standing meetings keep church staff focused on top priorities. These meetings act as weekly reminders of what is most important. Without them, good staff will create their own priorities. Without them, lazy staff find it much easier to hide.

Standing meetings spotlight items that need weekly attention. Some things need to be discussed every week or every month. Our team discusses worship services, guests, hospital and care updates, the next thirty days of events, and other items every Tuesday.

Standing meetings help with camaraderie and morale. I realize some people become more annoying the more you are with them. However, in most cases, when you are around people often, you tend to care more about them. Standing meetings can become great times of building and inspiring the team. If you lead these meetings, use the time predominantly for encouragement and only occasionally for admonishment.

These meetings don’t have to be long. They don’t have to be all-staff all the time. Some individual ministries may want standing meetings between them, such as students and children, or worship and technology, or assimilation and first impressions. If done well, standing meetings become beneficial and not boring.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church. He is also the president of Rainer Research, and he is the co-founder/co-owner of Rainer Publishing. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. Sam is author of the book, Obstacles in the Established Church, and the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is an editorial advisor/contributor at Church Executive magazine. He has also served as a consulting editor at Outreach magazine. He has written over 150 articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a procurement consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

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The Dangerous Moment When Attendance Drops but Giving Stays Strong

I’ve noticed a recent trend among churches. The evidence is more anecdotal, but I have no doubt the phenomenon is occurring on a national scale. While more than half of all churches are in some form of attendance decline, a segment of these declining churches experiences either stability in giving or an increase in giving at the same time people are leaving.

This phenomenon is even more amazing when considering general giving trends. Overall, charitable giving is on the rise in the United States, but churches are receiving a smaller portion. In 1987, religious organizations received 53% of all charitable donations. In 2014, religious organizations received only 32% of all charitable giving, a 30-year dramatic downward slide.

What’s happening in churches where giving remains strong while attendance drops?

The economy is good (for now). The latest bull market run is the longest in our nation’s history, though significant December declines gave everyone pause. We’ll see if it continues. Regardless, our nation’s economy is doing well, which benefits giving at churches. Some churches have committed members who are giving more even as their churches decline in attendance. But should the bears overtake the bulls in the markets, fewer churches will experience the phenomenon of increased giving during a season of decreased worship attendance.

Established churches can have older, institutional givers. The giving phenomenon is occurring at established churches with long-term members who are in the older generation of loyal, institutional givers. I have these givers in my church, and they are a key part of our financial stability. Even the ones that can no longer attend regularly make sure to mail their tithe every week. They don’t attend because of health, but they still give.

Attendance frequency is decreasing at the same time digital giving is increasing. The most common reason why worship attendance declines is attendance frequency. People who once came to church almost every week are now attending every other week. In fact, a weekly average attendance of 500 will become a weekly average attendance of 250 when people attend every other week as opposed to every week. Your church feels like it is half the size even though people are still coming (just not as much)!

At the same time, digital giving enables people to give even when they are gone. Some people who give through the offering plate do not make it up when they miss a Sunday (although I’m thankful for those who do!). However, those who have automatic deductions through digital giving typically do not miss a week of giving even when they miss a week of attendance—giving every week but not attending every week, same as those who are homebound but for different reasons.

Here is what it looks like in the real world. I recently helped a church that has experienced a ten percent decline in attendance over the last several years but saw giving go up by almost twenty percent during the same timeframe. Where you can tell the most is in the per capita giving metric, which measures the amount each attendee gives each week. Their per capita giving over the last few years has risen sharply.

 

Weekly Per Capita Giving

2013

    $32.70

2014

    $37.50

2015

    $38.20

2016

    $38.49

2017

    $42.12

2018

    $45.25

On the surface, the above figure looks good. The numbers are going up! But scratch the surface and you’ll find it’s more a problem for the church than anything else. Strong giving is masking the underlying issue of an inward focus. Obviously, this trend comes with many other dangers, like how a church can become complacent since the money is there even when the people are not. I’ll have to explore these dangers in a future post. I realize a lot of churches would love to have a year in which giving goes up, but it’s not always a sign of a healthy church.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church. He is also the president of Rainer Research, and he is the co-founder/co-owner of Rainer Publishing. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. Sam is author of the book, Obstacles in the Established Church, and the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is an editorial advisor/contributor at Church Executive magazine. He has also served as a consulting editor at Outreach magazine. He has written over 150 articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a procurement consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

These Kinds of Slow Growth are Actually Healthier

Every church has a pace built into the culture of its people. Some churches move more slowly. Some move more quickly. While most established churches likely need to pick up the pace, a slow pace does not necessarily mean the church is complacent.

Complacent churches are self-satisfied and are unwilling to address problems. Unfortunately, far too many churches are complacent. But don’t confuse complacency with a slow pace. Some congregations are willing to move forward; it just takes them a little longer. A few factors may influence the slow pace of a church.

The community may move at a slower pace. The church is simply reflecting the greater culture of the community. For example, rural communities tend to change less quickly. A church that moves too quickly in a slow-moving farming community may actually become less relevant.

A slow pace may point to stability, not entrenchment. It’s hard to move rapidly and also be stable. Slow-moving stability can be better for some church cultures. The downside of this pattern is it can create ruts of entrenchment, but it doesn’t have to be the case. When used strategically, stability can advance discipleship, sacrificial giving, and equipping—none of which point to complacency.

Leaders may guide the church methodically. Not every leader is designed to push forward with intensity. Not every church needs a hard-charging pastor full of ambition and ideas. Some church leaders plod thoughtfully, with intention and strategy. Plodding leaders are not complacent leaders.

The season of a church may necessitate a slower pace. When a church needs to heal, it almost always needs to slow down. A church may go through months, if not years, of a slower pace. This intentional slowdown may be the opposite of complacency. It could be the problem is the fast pace.

Passion is not always fast. Restoring an antique car takes time. It’s a painstaking process. The slowness of the restoration process is a sign of passion, not complacency or apathy. The same principle applies to the church. Pastors who revitalize churches may move slowly, but it’s an indicator of their passion and love for the church, not a mark of complacency.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming all slow-moving churches are complacent. In fact, many established churches require plodding leaders who are willing to take the time to revitalize them. These pastors are passionate, not complacent.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church. He is also the president of Rainer Research, and he is the co-founder/co-owner of Rainer Publishing. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. Sam is author of the book, Obstacles in the Established Church, and the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is an editorial advisor/contributor at Church Executive magazine. He has also served as a consulting editor at Outreach magazine. He has written over 150 articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a procurement consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Five Giving Trends in Today’s Church

Much about church giving is changing. Worship attendance, conversions, and baptisms are often the most scrutinized metrics, but giving trends are close behind. Below are five macro trends that are affecting most churches in the United States.

Trend 1: Millennials will have less giving potential than their parents. Unless an unexpected economic shift occurs, Millennials will continue to be poorer than their parents. Numerous reasons are the cause. Tuition at colleges has tripled since 1980, even after adjusting for inflation. Household income has risen four times more quickly with the older generations than with Millennials. The federal government now spends almost $7 on programs for seniors for every $1 spent per capita on programs for children. The young poor are getting poorer. The chart below demonstrates that poverty was largely among the older generation prior to the 1970s. Now poverty is largely among the younger generation. The Millennials will make less—perhaps much less—than previous generations, which means their giving capacity as a whole will be less.

Trend 2: Giving will be more concentrated at the largest churches. The biggest 10% of churches hold about 50% of all monies given to congregations, and this concentration is intensifying as more and more people are going to larger churches. In the future, larger churches will continue to garner more of the total resources given to churches. Many will bemoan, if not outright condemn, this trend. I understand the sentiment. However, I believe any church—large or small—can be a resource giant.

Trend 3: Independent funding mechanisms will increase in popularity. The ubiquity of the Internet creates a climate in which anyone can be connected to everyone. Smart phones make this connectivity mobile. Churches no longer need a denomination to create a system of connectivity for funding ministries and missions. Are there reasons a church should stay with a denomination for funding missions or other ministries? Yes, but needing a system of connectivity is no longer one of them.

The problem is many leaders within denominations have continued to champion “the system” of funding even though churches don’t need it any more. At the same time, denominational loyalties are in decline, which exacerbates the declines in giving to denominational work. Additionally, operating costs are increasing in local congregations—it’s more expensive to run a church than it used to be. The result of these factors converging is the rise of independent funding mechanisms. I can more easily support my friend serving in Rwanda than I can my denomination, and I have more of a personal connection to her anyway. I like her Facebook page, not my denomination’s Facebook page (actually, my denomination doesn’t even have one!). I get personal emails from her, not leaders in my denomination.

Trend 4: Giving patterns in churches are becoming less consistent. People are still giving, just not asconsistently to churches. In fact, churches are getting less of total charitable giving. Overall, charitable giving is on the rise in the United States, but churches are receiving a smaller portion. In 1987, religious organizations received 53% of all charitable donations. In 2014, religious organizations received only 32% of all charitable giving, a 30-year dramatic downward slide.

Trend 5: Digital giving is the future. Mobile devices now account for over half of all Internet traffic. Digital giving is the future. And to some degree, it’s a discipleship issue. The spiritual discipline of giving will become completely digital in the future. Gifts of pure gold became coinage. Coinage became paper money. Paper money became checks. Checks are already going digital, especially with younger generation. Digital giving tools help people with the spiritual discipline of giving.

Many pastors feel a shift occurring in their churches. Their intuitions tell them the future of church giving will be different. Perhaps your instinct leads you to believe giving patterns are changing in your church. Most likely, your instincts are correct. These five macro trends, in particular, are affecting many churches and will continue to do so in the future.

This post is an excerpt from a research article I wrote for Church Answers. It’s part of a premier coaching ministry with Thom Rainer.


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about giving in your church.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church. He is also the president of Rainer Research, and he is the co-founder/co-owner of Rainer Publishing. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. Sam is author of the book, Obstacles in the Established Church, and the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is an editorial advisor/contributor at Church Executive magazine. He has also served as a consulting editor at Outreach magazine. He has written over 150 articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a procurement consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

4 “Must-Haves” for Weekly Staff Meetings

I’m weird. I like meetings. They are an opportunity to interact with people. Being an extrovert, I enjoy the collaboration of teamwork.

Not all meetings are created equal. Church staff meetings can wander into theological briars and get stuck. Discussions about facility requests can circle on a roundabout like Clark Griswold in London. Some church staff probably think the “lead” in lead pastor needs to change to “tangent” (I’m guilty!).

There are several approaches to staff meetings. Most church staff meet weekly to discuss short-term, operational items in a standing meeting with a set time. My staff meets every Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. to work through weekly items. The agenda is largely the same every week. Other types of meetings include strategy meetings with key leaders—sometimes called whiteboard sessions—which are more open-ended and focused on long-term goals. One-on-one meetings often cover individual goals. Ad hoc meetings might draw in a special team to accomplish a unique task.

In this post, I’m referring to the weekly operational staff meetings with a repeating, or standing, agenda. I suggest including the following four agenda items every week.

  1. Prayer. Excluding prayer from ministry meetings is tantamount to driving a vehicle without ever replacing the oil. Eventually, you’re going to wear out. We ask the church to submit prayer requests weekly. We pray over all of them and sign a card sent to those requesting prayer. We want them to know we’ve prayed for them. We pray for each other. We pray for our community. We pray for the last. The first item on the agenda every week is prayer because it is the most important.
  2. Scripture for the upcoming week. Not every church meeting needs to begin with a devotion. But your weekly staff meeting should include a discussion about the Scripture for the upcoming Sunday. My goal is to have a sermon draft by our Tuesday meeting. I then share with the staff the direction of my sermon. I seek their input and use the feedback to reshape my messages. There is no need to have a separate devotional time; simply use Sunday’s text.
  3. Ministry stories from the previous week. You become what you celebrate. Every week, I encourage the staff to share ministry successes. Learning how God works in another person’s ministry area is an encouragement to everyone. It also helps us connect the dots between God’s work in the church. For example, a child accepting Christ may coincide with her grandmother’s decision to teach a Life Group and her father’s decision to join the worship team.
  4. Thank you cards to write. Every week I ask the staff if I can write a note to someone. I also encourage them to write notes to people in their ministry areas. A hand-written note sent through the snail mail is a rarity. They stand out. They make a statement. Check out this previous post I wrote on the power of hand-written notes.

We spend about 5 to 15 minutes in prayer, about 10 minutes discussing the upcoming text, about 5 to 10 minutes sharing ministry stories, and less than 5 minutes discussing thank you cards. Most weeks, these agenda items take about 30 minutes, which leaves an additional 30 minutes for other items. The time spent on these four agenda items is worth it every week.

> Read more from Sam.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church. He is also the president of Rainer Research, and he is the co-founder/co-owner of Rainer Publishing. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. Sam is author of the book, Obstacles in the Established Church, and the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is an editorial advisor/contributor at Church Executive magazine. He has also served as a consulting editor at Outreach magazine. He has written over 150 articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a procurement consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 Actions for Calling First Time Guests

Phone calls are an important connection point with church guests. Not all guests will give you their phone numbers. For those who do, here are some guidelines to consider.

What to Do When Calling Church Guests

Clearly identify yourself. Make sure you mention your name and the name of your church. It’s easy to forget this step!

Double-check the name of the person you are calling. I tend to make my phone calls in batches. After I’ve made several phone calls, I can lose track who I am calling. When I’m making several phone calls in a row, I’ll write the name of the person on a Post-It Note and have it right in front of me. For each call, I’ll use a fresh Post-It Note.

Ask how you can serve them. You should ask every guest if you can help them. People new to the community need help with local connections. People with life changes often have spiritual questions.

Ask if they have prayer requests. One of the best ways a church can serve a guest is through prayer. Always ask guests how you can pray for them.

Ask if they have any questions about the church. Some guests have questions. Most will not ask unless you prompt them. Encourage guests to ask questions. Through the pattern of questions people ask, you’ll learn something about your guests and your church.

Be kind, be brief, and call at a convenient time. Kindness and brevity are a must. Also, early morning calls and late evening calls are ill-advised.

What Not to Do When Calling Church Guests

Don’t wait to follow-up. Call within the week of a guest’s visit. A Sunday visitor should receive a phone call by Wednesday, Thursday at the latest.

Don’t ask personal questions. There is a time and place for questions like, “Where do you work?” A phone call with a first-time guest is not one of those occasions.

Don’t use pressure as a tactic. With church guests, you’re not closing a deal. Rather, you should look for avenues to serve them. Aggressiveness is unnecessary and will scare away most people.

Don’t attempt to tell jokes. It’s awkward. Not many people can land a good joke over the phone with someone they don’t know.

The phone call is one means of communication with church guests. You should also write a letter and send an email if you have the contact information. My church now asks for social media handles from our guests as well. Contact someone two or three times, spread out over a couple of weeks. With your phone calls, follow this list of things to do and not to do.

> Read more from Sam.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church. He is also the president of Rainer Research, and he is the co-founder/co-owner of Rainer Publishing. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. Sam is author of the book, Obstacles in the Established Church, and the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is an editorial advisor/contributor at Church Executive magazine. He has also served as a consulting editor at Outreach magazine. He has written over 150 articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a procurement consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Art of Balancing Ideology and Progress

Healthy churches have many points of tension. For example, churches grow by adding new believers. New believers are immature (and typically passionate), which means church programming must balance between immature congregants and mature congregants. Most every pastor has experienced the volley: Yes, deeper! No, too deep! This tension is like a taut tightrope; it tugs in both directions. You don’t want it slack. It’s the same with your church. Good church leaders are expert balancers.

One of the places with the most tension lies between ideology and progress. Ideology is a system of ideals. Every church should have a goal of maintaining ideals in programming, teaching, and preaching. Ideology works because of stability. But every church should also progress. Progress requires change, and change always brings a measure of instability. Ideology is fixed. Progress means movement. Ideology is narrow and limiting. Progress is broad and limitless.

Great churches balance the tension between ideology and progress. Great leaders uphold ideology and at the same time encourage progress. How might this balanced tension look within a church?

Contextualization. We contend for the faith. We contextualize the message. Christians have always had to balance being in the culture but not of the culture, communicating a timeless message in a way the culture understands. This balancing act is one of the most basic in the church. Get this one wrong, and you will fall into either liberalism or fundamentalism. You will be either too hot to culture or too cold to culture. You will either add to Scripture or take away from Scripture. Great churches contextualize (progress) without comprise (ideology).

Discernment. Proper contextualization is a derivative of discernment. Beyond the basic responsibility of contending and contextualizing is the ability to discern. You cannot lead a church without the capacity to discern negotiables from non-negotiables. While contextualization is more of a theological issue, discernment is more a leadership issue. You will end up clinging perilously to the high wire if you cannot answer this question: What’s a non-negotiable in my church? Leaders must be flexible with the negotiables and rigid with the non-negotiables.

Experimentation. The best churches balance failure with success. A church without failures is a church not taking risks. If you’ve never had an event flop, if you’ve never had a program start stale, then you are not leading well. Additionally, it probably means you are not allowing your team to take risks either, which is dangerously selfish. Why stand in the batter’s box if you never swing? People will quickly pick up on your fear of swinging, and they won’t stick around to watch dullness degrade into disobedience. Great churches experiment—they try things without a clear understanding of whether they will work or not. If all your experiments are failures, then you lack discernment. But if you never fail because of a lack of trying, then that’s not leadership—it’s neglect.

Every church should progress. Every church should cling to ideals. And healthy church leadership involves the process of balancing both ideology and progress.

> Read more from Sam.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church. He is also the president of Rainer Research, and he is the co-founder/co-owner of Rainer Publishing. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. Sam is author of the book, Obstacles in the Established Church, and the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is an editorial advisor/contributor at Church Executive magazine. He has also served as a consulting editor at Outreach magazine. He has written over 150 articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a procurement consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.