Monday, March 17, 2008

Chapter 3 & 4

Chapter 3- Structuring Your Church for Growth
Wow, an amazing continuance for us. They really took it up a notch in this chapter. So, we see that the Bil(l)'s understand of the biblical model of leadership for the church is a "Pastor Led" church. One of the sections says- "democracy is great for a nation, but not a church". They go on to say that "the vast majority of thriving churches today are Apostolic or Pastor Led". Now, if you know anything about Easum, he is not a big fan of denominations. However, if you look across the U.S. two of the largest denominations (Baptist, United Methodists) are congregational and a representative democracy. And contained in both are thriving, fast growing churches who have worked within their system to reach the lost for Christ. You could look at La Croix in Missouri, Church of the Resurrection in Kansas, and Granger in Indiana. All United Methodist, fast growing and on the cutting edge of reaching their communities. They main thing I see as a similarity between those churches is all of them have been started in the last 25 years. Grace was a church start in 1990 and stated off quite well, but then as we fell into decline we have tried to recapture our vision and message.
Another area they touch on is pastoral accoutability. I have come to know that pastoral accountability is primary to helping a church turnaround and grow. I have a core group of pastors I count on to help keep in in line and faithful to my calling. I also have two covenant groups that I am able to share my hopes, dreams, failures and struggles with on a montly basis. As we ponder the issues in this chapter I have a few questions I would like everyone to respond to in the next few days. They are:
1. If you were going to start a new ministry, program, event, etc. at Grace that would reach massive amounts of people, bringing new people to Christ, what would it be?
2. How do you feel about the role of ministry being shifted from the Pastor doing all the work, to the pastor leading and the laity "doing ministry"? Is that in line with the United Methodist Church?
3. What can you personally do for Grace to help us grow through reaching the lost for Christ?

Chapter 4- It's Time to Lead, Pastor!
"Equip the saints for the work of ministry" Ephesians 4:11-12
As you read this chapter, like me, you probably noticed the massive mistake Bil made as he moved his congregation across town at the cost of $100,000, lost 200 per weak for 6 weeks (add that up it's 1200 people) So they were worshipping 2500, dropped by 1200 to 1300 people. That is a lot of people still in worship and other pastors and leaders might not have recognized the mistake and just lived through it. Bil was able to admit a mistake, move them back and dare I say, keep his job. Wow. Humility and grace.
Another area that he begins to touch on is negativity in the church, otherwise known as the "naysayers". There are naysayers throughout the world, in church, work, schools, EVERYWHERE. They hold positions of power and many times can stop growth and bring things to a grinding halt! It is frustrating, but you notice how Bil deals with naysayers...listen carefully, evaluate their perspective and then if they can't buy into the ministry philosophy, mission and vision of the church, lovingly help them find a new church home because you and they will be much happier.
Alot to digest in these two chapters, but here are couple of more questions to start the discussion.
1. Please share (not in detail) a time you made a huge mistake at work. How did it resolve itself, and how did you move on?
2. Since we are all about focusing on the future of Grace, what can you say was the biggest win we have had in the last year, and what will be the biggest win in the next 5 years?
3. In the church, what do you spend most of your time doing? Worshipping, serving, leading...? What should you be spending your time doing?

Thank you for allowing me some time to gather my thoughts. Thank you to Steve and Phil for stepping in and leading and letting your pastor take some time to rest up for Holy Week.
Remember, this discussion is not a book review. We are trying to find points of connectivity with Bil and Bill's perspectives and churches. Alright, start sharing again folks and I pray that our discussion will be fruitful, lively and joyful. Happy Holy Week!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sorry, give me some time

Hey all...I was going to post the next set of chapters on Tuesday morning, but did not get a chance. Had a small problem on the way to work. Peace, Jeremy

Monday, March 3, 2008

Session 1- Intro, Chapters 1-2

Okay folks, what did you think about all of that? 11 to 20,000 growth in a relatively small town? Seven years from 4 to 4000? Bil and Bill asking if we are ready for a ride? If we buy into God's plan and God's vision for our church, it's like getting on a rollercoaster that never ends. There are twists and turns, ups and downs, but we are on the right path to fulfill God's vision. Wow. In the first two chapters they talk about two big things.
1. The difference between big and small is in the zeroes.
Here we see them begin to explain and discuss the growth that Bay Area has experienced these past few years. If you look closely, you notice they are not tied to particular worship times. They adjust to meet the needs of their community. Also, their church started as a dream. They wanted to reach thousands of people for Christ. They did not allow their lack of finances prevent them from reaching their community.

2. A Wild and Crazy God.
Fast growth in the church is Biblical...did you know that? Wow. Reaching hundreds and thousands of people for Christ in just a few short months. Big, huge and amazing growth is at the heart of Christianity. But for some reason, 80% of UM churches in Missouri did not grow last year. What is preventing many of our churches from growing? Things start happening when you PRAY BIG. What does it mean to pray big for your church? God has huge plans for His churches. Grace is one of those churches. Here are a few quesitons to start the discussion.

What was your first impression after ready Bay Area Fellowship's story?
What is keeping you from asking God to multiply Grace?
And the big one...are you allowing a lack of money to stand in the way of your BIG dream?

Alright, start posting your thoughts, ideas and dreams!