The American Church Magazine - March 2014

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Dedicated to helping the church in America find their purpose, define their mission and reach their community. Vol. 3

March 2014

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Editorial Christian Digital Publishers Pastor Retreat Center is in the Works!

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No Longer Church As Usual ICU The Institutional Church

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No. 3

By Steve Hewitt

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Unplugged - Uncovered - Underestimated By Tim Kurtz

Article

Cover Story

Your Church Is Going To Die if... By Steve Hewitt

Editor-in-Chief

Church Trapped by Consumerism

Steve Hewitt - steve@ccmag.com

By Thom Schultz

Contributing Editors

Church For Men

Copy Editor

Three Little Ways to Welcome Men at Church By David Murrow

From Church Hoppers

When Churches Fail to See the NOTS

Thom Schultz Tim Kurtz David Murrow Gina Hewitt

Š Copyright 2014 by The American Church Magazine. All Rights Reserved Written materials submitted to The American Church Magazine become the property of The American Church Magazine upon receipt and may not necessarily be returned. The American Church Magazine reserves the right to make any changes to materials submitted for publication that are deemed necessary for editorial purposes. The content of this publication may not be copied in any way, shape or form without the express permission of The American Church Magazine. Views expressed in the articles and reviews printed within are not necessarily the views of the editor, publisher, or employees of Catholic Technology Magazine.

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Editorial Christian Digital Publishers Pastor Retreat Center is in the Works! Last month, I encouraged you to check Google for places that allow pastors to take an opportunity for retreat, without charging any money. Some of you reported that you found some and were excited about checking them out. One of the very reasons for my editorial last month was because I am preparing to make a special announcement. Christian Digital Publishers is in the beginning stages of establishing our own Pastor Retreat Center. Here is our dream. We want to move our company and residence out of Kansas City to some wooded area south of the city. There are several nice 10-acre plots that would be great. However, it has been our dream for many years to provide a place for pastors to come and have a chance to relax and revive. I travel all over this nation consulting with churches, but I only am called to do so by churches that are large, with multiple staff members, because they are the only churches that can afford to cover my travel and expenses. If we had a pastor retreat center, we could bring pastors to us! So, here is our plan. We are trying to purchase a 32-acre plot of land that is beautiful. It is only about 15 miles from the south part of Kansas City (Harrisonville MO), and most of that is highway. We plan to move our residence and offices to the first 10 acres, and then wish to build at least three cabins, each in a secluded setting, on the remaining acres. While the land is rustic, we want each cabin to be as nice as an Embassy Suites, with a king size bed, living room, small kitchen and a great bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub. We want pastors and their wives to be able to come down and spend a few days and nights with us. We want to invite them to join us for breakfast each morning, and even one evening meal if they wish. We will listen to their stories, hold their hands, cry with them when needed, and try to provide counsel and prayer. We want to send them back renewed and ready to continue their ministry.

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And, we want to do all of this free of charge to the Pastor. For now, Christian Digital Publishers will need to purchase the land. After we get established, we have a non-profit that will handle the ministry aspects of cost and maintenance for the ministry. We will provide each pastor with gift cards for the grocery store as well as gift cards to some local restaurants that are not too far away from the retreat center. We want this to be small (three cabins and maybe some RV pads) so we can provide some real personal ministry to those that come our way. The cost for the land is $105,000. Christian Digital Publishing, Inc., put in the first $35,000 which seems reasonable since we will be moving our home and office to the land. We have set up a GoFundMe account in the hopes that others will help us raise the rest of the funds quickly so we can purchase the whole plot. If you go to the site, you will see other Christian companies, many of them sponsors with our main publication Christian Computing Magazine; have donated to help us as well. For more information, or to make a donation of any amount, (seriously, anything from $5 to $10 or more will help us meet our goal), visit http://www. gofundme.com/7bmi28. Be sure to read the FAQ which might help answer some questions you might have! Together We Serve Him,

Steve Hewitt steve@cdpublishers.com

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Cover Story

Your Church Is Going To Die If… By Steve Hewitt

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ast week I was visiting with an old friend who owns a company that provides products and services to churches. They have been around for a couple of decades and we were discussing how things have changed in the church. He made a comment that rang true for me, but one that no one wants to talk about. He stated that they are losing five times more churches as customers, than they did just five years ago, simply because the churches they serve were closing their doors. You can see the decline of the number of churches in America all around if you simply open your eyes. On one of the reality TV shows on NatGeo, Church Rescue, one of the church hoppers warns the pastor of a declining church, “The bank that holds your mortgage has foreclosed on 60 other churches already.” So, will YOUR church die? It is predicted that over half of the churches in America in 2010 will close their doors within the next eight to ten years. Here are some reasons your church WILL die. First, if your church is near a mega-church. I have seen several different definitions of a megachurch, and I hold to the definition that they run 2,000 or more on a given weekend. They might The American Church Magazine®

have become a mega-church for a several reasons. They probably have a very dynamic speaker for their preacher. They might have been in a great location before the housing crises, and neighborhoods grew up fast around them. They were probably well funded. They were “new” and able to be more flexible in offering new programs than the established churches around them. So, they were the first to invite people to bring their coffee into the worship service, move to contemporary music, and adapt to the use of videos in the sermon. Most were non-denominational, or operated “outside the box” of what traditional churches offered, so they were able to use new programs and curriculum not specified by a specific denomina-

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They’re “spiritual but not religious.” They’re eager to talk about God, but done sitting through sermons. Want to reach young adults? Start a conversation. They’re looking to participate, not to be an audience. So let them ask hard questions. Grapple with tough stuff. Discover how God is reaching out to them. And Lifetree Café is all about conversation. Relaxing around tables, Lifetree participants hear inspiring stories, tell their own stories…and draw closer to God and each other. On college campuses, at coffee shops, and even in churches, life-changing conversations are underway. When you’re ready to connect, connect with us. We’ll help you provide tested, ready-to-go, hour-long guided conversations that let young adults experience God in a fresh, new way. Call 877-476-8703 or visit Discover.LifetreeCafe.com to learn more. “ D o i n g l i f e . D o i n g g o o d .”

Lifetree Café is now available in Canada!

Discover.LifetreeCafe.com Copyright © 2013 Group Publishing, Inc.

*Projected 2025 church attendance from George Barna’s Revolution

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tion. And, as a result of their growth, they have money to market, and on Sundays can provide a great “show”. (I don’t mean this in a negative way; I love great music, lights, sound and a stirring engaging sermon… a great show!) If there is a mega-church near you, and your church is already in decline and has an older membership, you will probably die. America is about competition and we live in a capitalistic society that loves a winner and equates success with God’s blessing. But here is the good news! Everything must die. Great churches in the past have died. Continuing to survive doesn’t say anything about the accomplishments of a church’s past. Nor does decline say anything about a church’s present ministry. Sometimes it is time to pass the torch. And there is nothing wrong with continuing your ministry to a declining congregation. Many of those attending churches that will die in ten years are where they are at now because they don’t like “a good show” and prefer to worship in a way, and in a place that makes them feel closer to God. This is their right. Second, your church will die if your church is insane. Let me explain. I am sure you have heard the saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If your church insists on staying the same, sticking with doing things the way you have always done things, and your church is in decline… it will die. This isn’t to say your church SHOULD die. There is hope for small churches with elderly congregations. They can change. They can make the commitment to do what it takes to reach out to their community, to younger adults, and reach them for Christ and bring them into the The American Church Magazine®

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church. However, it takes a different mindset and a very large commitment. And, these two normally don’t start without a real burden for those inside the church for those outside the church. Max Strother, church consultant, once shared with me that when he met with an older congregation, he would ask them what they wanted more than anything. IF they replied that they wanted to see their grandchildren come back to church, he had hope. He would explain how we send missionaries into new countries. We teach them to learn the language, wear the clothing of the people of the land, learn their culture and eat their food. Then we send them into the foreign land. Their message will be better received because they have shown that they were willing to “become” one with the community. The same is true here in America. He explains to the elderly congregation that if they want to reach young people, their grandchildren, they need to become missionaries. They need to be willing to change their how they dress, eat, and what they do in order to relate to younger people. Churches that are able to do this CAN survive and begin to grow again. However, it starts with a real burden that the present congregation has to have, in order to reach the next generation. Third, your church will die if you don’t realize the changes in our society relating to communication. We are in what I call the “Personal Communication” age. People are not as interested in listening to an “expert”. They are not reading newspapers or watching network news, instead they value the input and information from individuals that they see as peers. Every institution I can think of has seen major decline since the 1970’s including the PTA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Masonic Lodges, Shriners, Jaycees, as well as the church. Most of these organizations, as well as most churches, have simply tried to do what they have done in the past without realizing society has changed. There is a reason texting is more popular than emails, and there is a reason social media has become more important for most than traditional methods of communication and connection. People want two things. The want to meet and communicate on equal ground, and they want to be included in the conversation. Many churches have tried to bring the pulpit, and the position of pastor, down to a more equal ground by removing the robes and even the suit and tie. Pastors have decreased the size of their The American Church Magazine®

pulpits and have tried to be more available to their congregations. These are important first steps. But pastors need to realize that if they want to reach the unchurched, they need to find ways to include people in the conversation. I LOVE Thom Schultz’s book “Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore: And How 4 Acts of Love Will Make Your Church Irresistible”. I know the first part of the title bothers many pastors and church leaders, but concentrate on the last part of the title. Thom gives churches great advice on how to increase connection and communication within a church. But be warned, it will involve change. However, some changes are not so bad. For example, I talked with an old friend Jim Shaver, who pastor’s a church in north central Missouri. His church has an aging congregation. Yet, to increase the opportunity for people to be “involved in the conversation”, they switched the time of their worship service and their Sunday School. This means that they have worship first, and then have Sunday School. For most of the adults, this means they stay in the same part of the building where they just finished worship, and are now given the chance to ask questions, make comments or share their own experiences as it relates to the sermon they just heard. This is an example of a GREAT idea. One of the biggest complaints of the non-churched is that when they come to church they are asked to sit and listen to a sermon, and then are instructed to leave without having the opportunity to ask questions, make a comment or share. With this one little change, a great opportunity for personal communication is possible, involving members and visitors in the subject of the message they just heard! Your church may die. Churches every day close their doors for the last time. Around every megachurch you can find churches in decline. It is the evolution of churches in America. If you are a pastor or church staff member of a declining church stay the course, keep the faith, and equip the saints. Minister where God has placed you and do your best. Remember, we aren’t serving the judges of this world, but our heavenly Father. He knows where He has placed us, and He is expecting you to do the best you can, where you can, when you can.

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No Longer Church As Usual

ICU The Institutional Church Unplugged - Uncovered - Underestimated By Tim Kurtz

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he Intensive Care Unit in any hospital is where the most critical care necessary to sustain life takes place. Patients in the ICU are usually lingering between life and death. Very often, they are sedated to the point that they are completely oblivious to their surroundings. Their life is being sustained by a plethora of artificial means. The doctors and medical personnel monitor the patient, and work around the clock in an attempt to keep them alive.

The church is often referred to as a hospital. It is supposed to be a place where those who are broken and damaged can go and be healed. But what happens when the hospital itself is fighting for survival? Gradually, the level of patient care becomes motivated by the needs of the hospital. If the hospital is attempting to sustain its own life, I would like to suggest that, its patient care and lifesupport systems (as elaborate as they may be) have become more self-serving than patient healing. The American Church Magazine®

Those who worship in church, as we most commonly know it, did not label themselves as the institutional church. Maybe some have referred to the ‘institution of the church’ to describe its long history. However, the moniker ‘institutional church’ seems to have been popularized by those who have left it in search of other forms of worship. I have read many statements, articles, and blogs from those who attempt to expose all of the ‘evils’ of the Institutional Church. Within those groups there is,

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usually subtle and, at times, overt negative connotation associated with the term ‘institutional church’. If you have read my book, No Longer Church As Usual, you know that I am not opposed to the large corporate gatherings of believers. I love the church and I state, emphatically, that I am not at war against the institutional church. I refuse to denigrate those who worship in institutional church systems. They love the Lord as much as I do. The Lord saved me in an institutional church setting and I suspect the same applies to the great majority of you reading this article. Yes, there are problems that need to be addressed, but there are just as many problems within the organic, house, and simple churches, too. As long as people are involved in any form of church – there will be problems. I believe that the large corporate gathering, commonly known as the institutional church, is one component of the tri-part nature of the church. It is incomplete without the organic house to house gathering of believers, combined with the ‘equipping of the saints’ by ascension gift ministers. The large corporate gathering without the latter two components is like trying to ride a tricycle with only one wheel. This month, I want to take a look at the Institutional Church. I want to look at it on three levels as being Unplugged, Uncovered, and, most of all, Underestimated. The Institutional Church Unplugged I have one of those cable company bundles. My telephone, internet, and television cable are all interconnected. Occasionally, there is a problem and I need to contact customer support. It is amazing that many times I am instructed to disconnect my system from its power source – wait a few moments – and then reconnect it. What is more amazing is that this simple procedure often corrects the problem. What is powering the institutional church? Most would declare their power is from the Lord Jesus Christ. Others would say they are powered by the Holy Spirit. And still others will cite the Word of God as their power. May I suggest that although Jesus Christ is in their messages, the Holy Spirit is recognized, and the Word of God is used, that none of these are the source of their power? Most are using alternative power sources to stay alive. What are these alternative sources? Churches are creating more and more programs and events to attract The American Church Magazine®

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new members. More time is spent entertaining than evangelizing. Space will not allow me to write of the many quirky things being done to fill the pews. The only source of power should be the preaching of Jesus Christ alone (Romans 1:16; 1Corinthians 15:1-6). Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). If people are not being saved, equipped and set free, it may be a reflection of what we are preaching. Yes, I am an advocate of the house, simple, and organic church. But even my prayer is that I preach Christ, His death, His burial, and His resurrection more than I preach ‘it’ – a church methodology. The Institutional Church Uncovered There are times that what you see on the surface does not reflect what lies underneath a thing. Very few churches would openly say that their primary goal is to survive. It would appear disingenuous for them to admit that everything they do is framed to insure they remain in existence. A few years ago I sat in a board meeting of a mega-church as they grappled with advertising

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strategies. They were intending to release a series of television ads designed to reach various segments of their immediate area. The thing that stood out to me was a comment made by one of the associate pastors. “After all,” he said, “the real issue is to get more butts in the pews!” It soon became clear to me, that to them ‘more butts in the pews’ equated to ‘more dollars in the coffers’. It was a graphic illustration of survival. Throughout the meeting, there was little or no discussion of the impact of the gospel in the lives of men and women. Although this example was a poignant one for me, I suspect that many churches are having similar discussions behind closed doors. The pressure to meet the weekly, monthly, or annual budgets is intense. Salaries, mortgages, and operating expenses must be met. Churches silently compete with each other, each one trying to find their niche to out-perform the church down the street. On the surface, we boast about the number of souls saved and the number of baptisms we had. Underneath, we are calculating the financial gain new people will produce. The danger in all this is that often the gospel is in jeopardy of being compromised. These institutional churches are in a Catch-22 position. They walk a tightrope of not offending existing members, while at the same time being provocative enough to attract new comers. They want to appear relevant without being religious. It creates the danger of turning a blind eye to the infractions of big tithers. Sanctification is, at times, sacrificed on the altar of survival. This has unwittingly created a culture where those who attend our churches have very little desire to do more than come and be entertained. “Going into all the world and making disciples” has become the task of professional clergy rather than the body of Christ as a whole. The Institutional Church Underestimated Even if you agree with what I have written, we must never lose sight of the power of the institutional church system. It is a system so ingrained into our religious psyche that the very thought of changing it creates a sense of fear. For those of us who are pursuing organic, simple, or house church, we often find it difficult to use language that expresses our current paradigm. It seems as though everything we say evokes images of familThe American Church Magazine®

iar patterns and practices found in the institutional church system. What do you think of when you hear the word church? Do you think of a dedicated place of worship or a covenant gathering of believers doing the work of ministry? Do you think of where you go rather than who you are? Your view of the church determines whether or not you believe it needs to be changed. If you agree that there are problems that need to be addressed, then your view of the church will determine how you approach these issues. If you underestimate the power the institutional church system has on the mindset of most believers, it will be impossible to change it for the better. So what do we do? As radical as it may appear, I believe we need to do three things. First, we must not underestimate what the power of all we have learned in the past has on our minds today. Change is not easy. It requires effort and courage to admit that you may have been doing this ‘church thing’ wrong. Second, we must be honest with ourselves. We must uncover our motives for doing what we do. Does my need to keep our church alive supersede our mission to make disciples? In other words, are disciples equated to new members for our church rather than believers who are going to all the world? Finally, we need to unplug ourselves from artificial sources of power. Sometimes when you disconnect a computer from its power source, you receive a warning that indicates you may lose some of the items you have been working on. Maybe it’s time for the church to disconnect and lose some of its items in order to become more effective in the earth. If we depend on anything other than the Word of God, we will perpetuate the same system over and over again. I don’t claim to have all the answers. But I know this, that Jesus is still building His church – His way – in the 21st-century! I want to be a part of that glorious church that He is building! Website: www.ntcdonline.org Twitter: @timkurtz712

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Article

Church Trapped by Consumerism By Thom Schultz

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hurch shoppers. They’re derided as fickle, self-centered customers caught up in the toxic fever of consumerism. “People treat church and church programs like the mall,” said a church leader. “All they want is the latest shiny object and ‘what’s in it for me.’” As church memberships decline and more people slip out the back door to try the church across town, church leaders look for someone or something to blame. And there may be some truth to the charge that consumerism is contributing to sagging church commitment. But I suspect that the church itself has played right in to this sense of consumerism. If people are treating churches like stores in the mall, maybe it’s because churches are acting like stores in the mall. A consumer mindset is driven by a merchant mentality. And many of our churches have adopted the very consumeristic tactics they say they despise. CONSUMPTION The objective of the consumer is to receive. The American Church Magazine®

And most churches have designed their main product, the worship service, as a spectator event. The pew sitters come to receive. They passively listen to the well-rehearsed preachers and the professional musicians. It’s a scripted hour. Just like what consumers expect when they buy a ticket to a show. They pay the professionals to perform, while they receive. COMPETITION Merchants compete with one another. They boast about being the best in town. They don’t do any favors for the competition down the street. Increasingly, churches have adopted competitive postures, vying for the shrinking number of people who are browsing the commodities under the steeples.

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ACCOUNTING Consumer businesses measure their success by the numbers. And so do most churches. The bottom line that gets the prime attention is numerical– attendance, offerings, and square footage. TRANSACTION Merchants push to get you in the door. Make the sale. Close the deal. And many churches emulate the transactional model with altar calls, membership drives, and pledge campaigns. Staffers quietly refer to families as “giving units.” Though some may try to rationalize these methods, many churches unwittingly portray faith as a product to be pitched. But faith is not a consumer product. Faith is a relationship. Church leaders often describe our faith as a “personal relationship with Christ.” If that’s really true, perhaps it’s time to take seriously the essence of relationship. How does one pursue any good relationship? Is it a consumeristic shopping experience? Is it an academic exercise? The public might think so, based on how churches typically promote the faith. How does a relationship-oriented approach look different for the church? Rather than emphasizing a consumption model for worship, the relational church becomes more participatory, allowing for some dialog, conversation, and music that encourages congregational involvement. Congregants need to see that worship–and ministry–are everybody’s job. The paid professionals are there to empower and energize the people, not to perform for passive spectators. Relationships grow through two-way communication and shared involvement. Rather than seeding competition and comparisons, the relational church looks to cooperate with all who share our common desire to see people grow in relationship with the Lord. The public, weary of churches’ competitive spirits, find any open cooperation The American Church Magazine®

among Christians to be inspiring and attractive. It’s a display of the true Body of Christ. Relationships grow through a spirit of cooperation. Rather than calculating numbers, relational churches relate narratives. Rather than citing statistics, they tell stories. Rather than touting the number of butts in seats, they relate how God is moving in the lives of the members. Relationships grow through telling one another the extraordinary stories of our ordinary lives. Rather than pressing for quick transactions and arm-twisting, relational churches focus on the process of relationship-building. Good relationships (including relationships with Jesus) usually grow gradually, over time, through trust and patience and love. Sick of consumerism? Maybe it’s time to tone down the consumer-styled trappings of the contemporary church and reclaim the pursuit of a relationship with Christ–by acting like people pursuing a quality relationship.

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Church For Men

Three Little Ways to Welcome Men at Church By David Murrow

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s I’ve written before, when it comes to reaching men, Christmas Eve services are the Super Bowl of the liturgical calendar. Literally millions of unchurched men make their way into our houses of worship on that hallowed evening. Many churches and pastors seem blissfully unaware of how to reach these men. They make little or no effort to make these skittish males feel included and welcomed. This Christmas Eve, I happened to attend two candlelight services. One church understood how to make men comfortable; the other did not. One church got the little things right; the other did not. So what were these little things? Here are three small things you can do any time of year to make men feel at home: 1. Don’t load a mans hands as enters the sancturary. Have you ever noticed how women pick things up and carry them around? Men usually don’t. This is because men are hunters – women are The American Church Magazine®

gatherers. Women love to scoop things up but men want their hands free in case they need to defend themselves or kill a wild animal. Church #1 didn’t understand this principle. The moment I entered the church I was met by greeters with cookies and cider. As I entered the sanctuary, ushers handed me a candle with a wax catcher, a bulletin and a candy cane. That’s WAY too much stuff for a man to handle. My wife, the gatherer, was happy to have her hands overflowing, but I was very uncomfortable. At church #2 the ushers handed out nothing. Bulletins and candles were already placed on each chair. Brilliant! Guys could walk into the sanctuary with hands free. Even the men who clutched cups of coffee still had one hand free just in case they needed to pick up a spear.

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2. Don’t just talk. Bring an object lesson in the pulpit. At church #1 the pastor did what pastors do – he talked for 30 minutes. It was a fine sermon, but hardly memorable. At church #2, the pastor spoke for about 5 minutes, and suddenly the entire room went black. He kept speaking from the darkness for two more minutes. Then he lit his candle and finished his sermon by the light of a single wick. He taught us the verse, “Those who have walked in darkness have seen a great light.” As he finished his sermon, he used his candle to ignite every candle in the room. It was a powerful illustration of how the Light of the World passes from one person to another. Here I sit in late January and I cannot tell you a word I heard at church #1. But I am able to recall the main point of the second sermon and share it with you a month later. In fact, I recently walked into a very dark space and that sermon leapt to mind. I stood in the darkness giving thanks for Jesus, the Light of the world. Pastors, this should be your goal – to give your hearers an object lesson so memorable they recall your preaching months or even years later.

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3. Don’t allow the band play after you dismiss. At church #1, as soon as the pastor dismissed us, the band struck up again and played at full volume. The loud music drove people out of the still-darkened sanctuary and into the parking lot. The church was virtually empty in 5 minutes. At church #2, the pastor gave a benediction and the band left the stage. The sound guy brought up the house lights and played a very soft collection of Christmas carols. People stood in the sanctuary and chatted for 20 minutes or more. Talk time at the end of the service is important – especially with men. Men are relationally starved. We get so little time to talk at church – why on earth would the band ruin that fellowship time by rocking out after the service is over? There – I’ve said my piece. So what are some other little things churches can do to be more welcoming to men? Comments are open below, or join the conversation on our Facebook page. To read more from David Murrow visit churchformen.com

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From Church Hoppers

When Churches Fail to See the NOTS

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oday, modern churches provide seminars, conferences, and training for other churches. The attendees try to implement the ideas into their besieged ministry and ultimately find another idea that fails. Failure comes when leaders are focused solely on their own symptoms and unable to address the systemic relationships of the church. When looking at systemic relationships, they are reflected from the leadership to the congregation then to the community.

Church leadership has unrecognized emotional relationships with strong influence to the leader’s history, family of origin, plus successes and failures. Unknowingly the team operates with the seen and unseen factors that determine decisionmaking. Congregations have many other emotional systems that have a stronger influence. People are people and relationships are determined to be healthy and unhealthy within a congregation by the health of the leaders’ relationships solely because they are seen as the image of God. Then communities have an emotional system that churches seldom see or understand. The local community exists understanding the church is there but with little or no connection. Then someThe American Church Magazine®

thing may disrupt the norm such as weddings, funerals, or disasters, and these circumstances will drive people to the stability of the local church. Systems can be very confusing with multiple personalities and families that surround a ministry. So balancing a system can be a challenge but can be done by finding the ministry identity, definite purpose and understand the relationship dynamic. Keep in mind what church may NOT know may be the hindrance. First, the local church does NOT know her identity, “Who are you in the community”? In 1 Corinthians 12:12, ministers use this scripture to identify the universal church and its members but never consider it for the local churches in the

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community. Churches are not the same so why do we mimic other successful churches creating a great frustration in ministry. Ministers say, “Should we not try to learn from other churches that are reaching their community”? The answer is, “Yes”; but, learning and duplicating are two different words with entirely two different meanings. Learning is the way the organization operates in unity, in purpose, team mentality, passion for people, and love. Leaders are so result oriented that they try to create the end without creating the means. In Romans 12:4 “For just as we have many members (CHURCHES) in one body and all the members (CHURCHES) do not have the same function.” The question has to be asked to you as a reader, “Who are you in your community?” There are three ways to find out: 1) Ask your leadership: Who knows the least about who you are? 2) Ask your congregation by looking to see what type of people attend your church building. 3) Go to your community and ask them whom you are. Answers can be assessed and organized then churches will begin to understand their identity. Secondly, leading people to Christ is NOT the purpose of the local church it is the mission. Jesus Christ’s purpose was not this so why would it be the local church’s purpose? Webster tells us purpose is “something set up as an object or end to be attained.” Purpose is the vehicle to get us to our mission but many make the mission their purpose and it sets them up for failure. A true purpose must be built off the identity then the work is built through the DNA of the ministry. A purpose must be attainable and hit 99.9 percent of the time and in addition has everything to do with the church not anyone else. If the success is based on the actions of the community then it is not a purpose but a theoretical plan without measurable results. A purpose can measure actions with adjustments, additions or deletions because it is what the church is doing. A great example is if Sunday school is declining then the question may not be WHY but WHAT is the purpose of Sunday school. Sunday school in its origination was an outreach arm. But today, Sunday school is geared more toward discipleship and social interaction. A purpose must be based off what we do for the community that directly comes from the church’s identity. Many times churches create a purpose that has little to do with their target market or people group. They want to reach young families The American Church Magazine®

but never survey the community, then later find out the ratio of young families is less than five percent of the demographic. Knowing the community and the needs help the church to know what can be done. Purpose must be clear, precise and to the point. Lengthy purpose statements can be so complicated therefore a short to the point statement is something that the leadership can speak naturally and understand. Finally, church leaders do NOT recognize the systemic relationships of the church. Different people and perspectives make a church unique; but, when leaders fail to recognize the differences as an asset then failure creeps into the ministry. Every team member is a benefit to the team IF they have bought into the purpose. Leaders should never underestimate the team members who lead. In every situation listen to the team, stand with the team and always address difficult circumstances in private to protect the team. The team always should present a unified front no matter if there is disagreement. Every member has a place in the ministry IF they have bought into the purpose. Leaders sometimes struggle with different perspectives especially from the members. Every relationship in a church is looking for some type of structure so members can find their place. Never discourage or make it difficult for volunteers to serve but encourage and establish accountability. Every guest attends to find acceptance in the ministry, which brings a new relational dynamic to the group. If a church has older people and the churches purpose is to reach younger families older adults sometimes forget what children and youth can do to a facility. When leadership fail to see and understand these relational issues it can easily create division within the church. The Church Hoppers build balance in church and help churches overcome the NOTS. Our process is simply beginning with a method to ministry that is similar to a water hose approach instead of a water sprinkler approach. Ministries with health know who they are, know what to do and embrace the people that make the ministry grow. Contact: www.churchhoppers.org

March 2014

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