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!!!!!!


Diane said...

1. New families are streaming into our community so fast that we can hardly build new schools fast enough. One of Grace's strengths is the quality of our children and youth programs. We should capitalize on that strength to attract new families. Good people are doing good things. Coach them and empower them in whatever way it takes to get to the next level.

Another possible strength to build upon would be a community wide missions project. Something that would offer many on-ramps to use members unique gifts and skills to help hurting people. (and some of those hurting people would be the one's doing the HELPING!)

2. It's not surprising that some of the most thriving churches are newer. It's much easier to develop a church culture than to change a culture. It takes a while to turn around the Titanic.

3. I strongly disagree with Easum on the role of pastor. His "Pastor as dictator of church vision" smacks in the face of reason. (and reason is important in the Weslian tradition of United Methodist) The structure of a church should balance accountability for the pastor (and all church leaders) and structures that allow ministry to happen quickly and effectively. You don't have to think very hard to come up with a lengthy list of pastors that have misused their authority. The most damaging argument against Easums assertion is that the Bible calls each of us to serve as God has gifted us. Not all Pastor's are gifted by God with the gift of leadership. (many are gifted administrators, teachers, shepherds etc) I prefer John Maxwell's theories of Pastorial Leadership.

PS- I'm honored to be a part of this discussion. I should let you know that I spent six years in church ministry as a paid lay leader (4 as a missions director and 2 as Christian Education director) I have also had the amazing opportunity to attend the week long Leadership Institute that brought together church leaders from across the country to discuss how to empower church members for ministry.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the comment about the pastor not making hospital calls but farming it out to a committee. Why wouldn't a pastor be concerned about the health of his congregation?
I like the idea (this is my interpretation of what was said) about putting postcards advertising a special event (The Living Last Supper for instance) in the bulletin and having them mailed out by members of the congregation. This makes direct mail more personal and has to be more effective than mass mailing.