SHARING FAITH & This can fix churchgoers ‘total lack of confidence’ in speaking about faith: #Waypoint5, #Waypoint6 & #Waypoint7 …

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Growing in faith for most is a journey. And, the important parts of that journey may be when a person begins to perceive the uniqueness and expectations of Jesus’ Good News.

Customarily it is His followers (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, 2 Peter 3:9, Luke 8:39) who should be prepared to share His Good News with their friends, as Peter reminds us:

Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. 1 Peter 3:15-18

To help His followers understand each elements of faith, I dedicated three chapters in my book Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey.

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Spiritual Waypoints [104KB]

Those chapters can be accessed and read online here: https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2018/05/02/spritual-waypoints-how-to-help-people-at-waypoints-10-9-8-7-spiritual-transformation/

Or download the chapter here (and be sure to support the publisher and the author by purchasing a copy if you enjoy it): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints 10, 9, 8 & 7

Below is an article that reminds us that being able to clearly and helpfully share our faith is critical.

Anglicans churchgoers have ‘total lack of confidence’ in speaking about faith

Christian Today staff writer

… The report from the Church’s Evangelism Task Group and Evangelism and Discipleship Team highlights research showing that while 70 per cent of churchgoers could think of someone they could invite to church, between 85 and 90 per cent of these said they had no intention of doing so.

‘The problem was not the worshipper’s local church but the main issue the research highlighted was a total lack of confidence in talking about faith at all and with anyone,’ the report says.

However, it says, ‘small behavioural changes’ from the 1 million Anglican churchgoers could make a huge difference.

‘If one additional person in 50 from our regular attenders invited someone to a church event and subsequently they started attending it would totally reverse our present decline. Nationally the church would grow by 16,000 people per year, offsetting the current net loss of 14,000,’ the report argues.

It commends the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ prayer initiative and calls for the development of a ‘culture of invitation’ across dioceses with a view to encouraging churchgoers to invite people to events. It also calls for 1,000 new evangelists to be engaged by 2025, saying: ‘we believe having more evangelists in dioceses and local churches encourages more of the million to do their part in witnessing confidently in their lives’.

Read more at … https://www.christiantoday.com/article/anglicans-churchgoers-have-total-lack-of-confidence-in-speaking-about-faith/131645.htm

WORSHIP SERVICES & How Many Worship Services Should You Offer & When?

by Bob Whitesel, 2/4/15.

Often when considering a multiplication strategy, leaders wonder how many worship services a church should attempt.  Most leaders understand the strategic advantages of offering as many celebration options and styles as feasible.

But how many is too many, and how many are too few?  6 Answers…

The question of type, time, and format of worship celebrations is a very delicate issue.  And, without a complete understanding of each reader’s scenario I would be remiss to state here definitively. But, I can give you some general guidelines.

1.  Have your services on the weekends if at all possible.  These always prove to be better attended (for all generations: builder to organic) than weeknights.  And, in my personal survey of client congregations:

  • Saturday evenings only have 20% of the attendance you can expect on Sunday mornings.
  • 10:30 am on Sunday seems to be the optimum time (for my clients at least) to draw people in.
  • Therefore, try to have as many services at 10:30 am on Sunday.  This might therefore mean multiple venues, sites, etc. for maximum connection with non-churchgoers.

2.  Do not let an occasional teenage service suffice for your adding an emerging/organic church worship celebration.  Emerging/organic ministries are more college-level and 30-something in target and draw.  Keep high school and college-aged gatherings separate from one another.
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3.  Analyze your community (I show how to do this in my book “A House Divided,” and to even a greater extent in “CURE for the Common Church”).  It is from your community that you will find unreached age and/or people groups and thus whom the worship celebration should be reaching out to.

4.  Try to offer as many options as you can, given your person power.  In “A House Divided” (Abingdon Press, 2000) I explain how to start a new service:

  • By getting a committed core of (a minimum) 50 individuals who will commit one year to this new celebration and then replace themselves.
  • If you are offering a modern service and it is 80% full, I would reduplicate that.  Or if you have the person power to reduplicate it (even though you are not 80% full) I would duplicate it to reach more people.
  • The more options you offer, proportionally more of the community you will attract to the Good News. 
  • However, if your modern service is less than 80% full and you have another generational or sub-cultural group in the area, you could start a new expression aimed at this new sub-cultural group.  In most communities today, a church should offer a traditional celebration, a modern celebration, and an organic/emergent celebration.  Then reduplicate these as needed.  Times for each should be ascertained from people of these age groups “outside” of the church.

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5.  Go slow.  As you will learn in my book “Staying Power” (Abingdon Press, 2002) or “Preparing for Change Reaction” (Abingdon Press, 2006, chapter 8) research indicates that if you move too fast with new ideas (such as launching a new worship celebration), then you will not get all of your reticent members on board.  Feeling left out, or at least circumvented, the reticent members will coalesce into a sub-group someday and you will have two factions.  So remember, though you are enthusiastic about offering more worship options after reading this chapter, go slow and get reticent members on board to ensure success.

6.  Finally, there is a very good book that goes into this and is one of your recommended readings for this course.  It is “How to Start a New Service” by Charles (Chip) Arn.  Professor Arn goes into great detail, and to ensure success if you are planning on starting a new celebration, you should get this book.  And, Chip Arn is also a faculty for our  Wesley Seminary at IWU M.Div. program, teaching for us full time as Professor of Christian Ministry and Outreach.

INNOVATION & How To REFOCUS a Ministry That Has Outlived Its Usefulness #ChurchCureBook

CURxE T = Tackle Needs by Refocusing or Creating Ministry Programs.

Article by Bob Whitesel, excerpted from CURE FOR THE COMMON CHURCH: God’s Plan to Restore Church Health (2012), pp. 42-56 (download the chapter below):

Cure T stands for “tackle needs by refocusing, creating or ending ministry” and the term “tackle” is fitting for this may require the most energy of the three cures in this chapter. As we saw earlier long histories and good fellowship often cause a church to focus on congregational needs in lieu of non-churchgoer needs. Thus, churchgoers often focus on ministries they enjoy doing even when these programs are no longer meeting the needs of non-churchgoers. As a result, Cure T is absolutely critical for church health. Therefore, be aware that three tactics will be needed:

  • Refocusing: Some of a church’s programs will need to be refocused to better meet the needs of non-churchgoers.
  • Creating: Some programs will need to be created to meet the needs of non-churchgoers.

Refocusing & Creating Ministries: The A-B-C-D Approach

The key to refocusing or creating ministry is to:

  1. Assemble both canvassers and ministry leaders.
  • The goal is to compile a master list of needs and draw connections to existing ministries or create new ministries that could meet those needs.
  • A convener (i.e. chairperson) should be selected. This will usually be a staff person or the leader of the canvassers. She or he will oversee the A-B-C-D steps.
  • Convene both canvassers and church ministry leaders as soon as possible after the canvassing. Some churches will conduct their canvass on Sunday or Saturday morning and then meet that afternoon. This can allow leaders to consider the results while the conversations are fresh in their minds
  1. Brainstorm a master list of needs.
  • When the canvassers convene after their canvass, everyone shares the needs jotted down.
  • From these lists they create a master list of needs (i.e. those that reoccur with the most frequency on the canvassers’ personal lists).
  • Combine similar needs into categories.
  • Column 2 of Figure 2.8 illustrates how a master list of needs might be categorized from the sample in Figure 2.7.
  1. Correlate needs to ministries the church offers or can start.
  • Just as you brainstormed a master list of categories, now it is time to brainstorm a list of ministries you can refocus or launch to meet needs in each category.
  • Put these ministry ideas in Column 3 of Figure 2.8.
  1. Distribute your list of refocused or created ministries (Figure 2.8) to church leaders.
  • Send this list to all department heads and ministry leaders.
  • Ask them to look over your suggestions in the right column of Figure 2.8 and add their own.
  • Ask them to report back in 30 days with their responses of how their ministry can be refocused to better meet community needs.
  • The report will be received by the staff person or convener who oversees the canvass.

To see the Figures and read the rest of the chapter, download the chapter (not for public distribution) by clicking here:  BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CURE Chpt 2 HOW OUT

(And, if you enjoyed this chapter, please support the publisher and author by purchasing a copy. Thank you.)

INNOVATION & How To END a Ministry That Has Outlived Its Usefulness #ChurchCureBook

CURxE T = Tackle Needs by Ending Ministry Programs.

Article by Bob Whitesel, excerpted from CURE FOR THE COMMON CHURCH: God’s Plan to Restore Church Health (2012), pp. 42-56 (download the chapter below):

Ending Ministry: 3 Guidelines

As noted, some ministries may need to be ended. This is especially important when volunteers need to be redeployed into ministries that better meet the needs of non-churchgoers.

One example comes from a client church. This church had a group of ladies that meet Wednesday afternoons to knit quilts, which they then sold to raise funds for missionaries. The missionaries were appreciative, but the efforts raised little funds. The ladies mostly enjoyed the fellowship and felt they were supporting outreach. A canvas of the community found that many of the two-wage residents needed after school child care. Armed with this information, the leader of the canvass asked the Wednesday knitting group to consider hosting a play and tutor time from 3-5:30 pm once a month (the time during which they typically knitted). Community residents and children so enjoyed these afternoons with their newly adopted “grandmas” (and the senior ladies enjoyed it, too) that this ministry soon replaced the weekly knitting circle.

Still, there are three criteria that must be met when ending ministry and redeploying volunteer skills.

  • Guideline 1: Redeploy People. Volunteers involved in a ministry that is ending must clearly see a redeployment for their skills and fellowship. The knitting circle became an afterschool team of surrogate “grandmas.” At first the knitting circle was hesitant, but once they saw that their skills and fellowship would be preserved, they relinquished one ministry to launch another.
  • Guideline 2: Move slowly. Most people will need time to process the end of their ministry as well as the value of diverting their skills. One of the key lessons of research into church change is that leaders often doom the change process by proceeding too quickly (i.e. not giving congregants enough time to grapple with the change).[i]
  • Guideline 3: ADD if you can’t subtract. If you can’t end it, leave it and add something else. Some people are so wrapped up in their ministry that they cannot envision ever doing anything else. While it might not be the most desirable tactic, if ending a ministry is causing too much division or grief it is best to leave the ministry and launch something new. Many a church leader has become bogged down trying to end something, when that energy might have been better spent launching something new.

Fill in Figure 2.9 to ensure you meet all three guidelines when ending a ministry.

FIGURE 2.9 CURE Ending a Ministry

Remember, ending ministry may be the most difficult and thorny task you undertake in growing a church O.U.T. But remember, if ending a ministry becomes too problematic, it is best to begin something new.

To see the Figures and read the rest of the chapter, download the chapter (not for public distribution) by clicking here:  BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CURE Chpt 2 HOW OUT

(And, if you enjoyed this chapter, please support the publisher and author by purchasing a copy. Thank you.)

[i] For more on why leaders must go slower than they wish when implementing change, see “Go Slowly, Build Consensus and Succeed” in Bob Whitesel, Preparing for Change Reaction: How To Introduce Change in Your Church (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2007), pp. 151-169 and Staying Power: Why People Leave the Church Over Change And What You Can Do About It (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002).

#FlintFirst

OUTWARD FOCUS & outwardly focused churches are often the healthiest on the inside

“The most outwardly focused churches are many times the healthiest on the inside. The people of the church must make a conscious decision to stop looking inwardly and begin to reach outwardly.”

Rainer III, Sam S. (2008-09-01). Essential Church (p. 26). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

TRANSFORMATION & Do you know God? #4SimpleSteps #GregLaurie

You were created to know God in a personal way—to have a relationship with Him, through His Son, Jesus Christ. How do you start a relationship with God?

  1. Realize that you are a sinner.

    No matter how good a life we try to live, we still fall miserably short of being a good person. That is because we are all sinners. The Bible says, “No one is good—not even one.” We cannot become who we are supposed to be without Jesus Christ.

  2. Recognize that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you.

    The Bible tells us that “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while were still sinners.” This is the Good News, that God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die in our place when we least deserved it.

  3. Repent of your sin.

    The Bible tells us, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.” The word repent means to change our direction in life. Instead of running from God, we can run toward Him.

  4. Receive Jesus Christ into your life.

    Becoming a Christian is not merely believing some creed or going to church. It is having Christ Himself take residence in your life and heart. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in . . .” If you would like to have a relationship with Christ, simply pray this prayer and mean it in your heart.

    “Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe You died for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank You for saving me. Amen.”

Read more at … http://www.harvest.org/knowgod/

SMALL GROUPS & 3 Ideas For Reaching Your Neighbors Through Them #ChurchCUREbook

by Ed Stetzer, 6/18/14

“Groups are the most likely place where people are going to learn to think outwardly and live externally focused lives. Once you have five to 10 families living intentionally in their neighborhoods, your group will evangelize and disciple people you thought could never be reached. A community on mission together can make a significant impact.

A transformational group is a group that connects with God, with members of the group, and with those who are disconnected—in the church and in our neighborhoods. It starts with disciples who are following Jesus in community…”

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2014/06/18/ed-stetzer-reaching-your-neighbors-through-groups/

CHURCH CURE 1 = GROW O.U.T.

Church Cure 1 = GROW O.U.T.

by Bob Whitesel, excerpted from “Cure for the Common Church,” Wesleyan Publishing House, 2011

Rx 1 for the Common Church = Grow O.U.T. In this cure, as well as in all of the cures in this book, the remedies spell out the name of the cure.

CURxE O: Observe whom you are equipped to reach

CURxE U: Understand the needs of those you are equipped to reach.

CURxE T: Tackle needs by refocusing, creating or ending ministry programs.

Read more about how to apply this “Cure for the Common Church” at http://bobwhitesel.com/c3/Cure_for_the_Common_Church.html

 

How Wesley’s “Method” Focused a Church Inward AND Outward

by Bob Whitesel, excerpted from “Cure for the Common Church,” Wesleyan Publishing House, 2011

The cure for the ingrown church is to keep a church focused both inward and outward. In fact, history indicates that churches that stay connected to outsiders often do a better job at inward ministry too. For example, an Anglican pastor named John Wesley was so ashamed and alarmed at the depravity of the people outside of his church, that he took his sermons outside the church walls and began ministries to better serve their spiritual and physical needs.[i] Balancing this emphasis upon people inside and outside the church required a rigorous structure his critics mockingly called: “Wesley’s Methods.” Soon his followers were know as “Methodists,” a term which endures to today and should remind us that we need a clear method if we are going to avoid focusing only on people inside the church. After 20+ years of consulting, I believe this method here lies in three organic remedies. These cures, if taken together, can foster a healthy balance between inward and outward focus.

Rx 1 for the Common Church = Grow O.U.T. In this cure, as well as in all of the cures in this book, the remedies spell out the name of the cure.

CURxE O: Observe whom you are equipped to reach

CURxE U: Understand the needs of those you are equipped to reach.

CURxE T: Tackle needs by refocusing, creating or ending ministry programs.

For more details, DOWNLOAD the O.U.T. Chapter Here (and if you like it, please consider supporting the publisher and author by buying a full copy): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CURE Chpt 2 HOW OUT.

For more information on this and other cures for the common church, see “Cure for the Common Church”, Wesleyan Publishing House, 2011 and you can read more about the book at … http://bobwhitesel.com/c3/Cure_for_the_Common_Church.html

Footnotes:

[i] Wesley urged discipleship via small groups which he called “class meetings” to help non-churchgoers grasp the basics of Christianity. These “class meetings” were a type of discipleship group, which we shall discuss in greater detail in the next chapter of “Cure for the Common Church.”