LEVEL 5 & An Overview of @EdStetzer ‘s Steps to a Level 5 Church #Exponential

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 4/26/16.

The following in an overview of my colleague Ed Stetzer’s keynote at Exponential 16.  He sees the need for churches to visualize moving beyond reproducing to multiplying congregations.  Parallel to Jim Collins’ insights on Level 5 Leadership (which is more collaborative and visionary, see Helen Lee’s interview with Collins), Stetzer sees Level 5 churches as developing out of six practices:

  1. Remind people we evangelize because we were evangelized.
  2. Teach people how normal evangelism should be.
  3. Utilize different approaches.
  4. Celebrate and share the stories of members who have met Christ.
  5. Make sure the leaders are cheerleaders for evangelism.
  6. Teach the gospel well and consistently.

These are churches that attain 50% conversion growth.  More more details see Ed Stetzer and Daniel Im’s book Multiplication Today, Movements Tomorrow: Practices, Barriers, and an Ecosystem (Nashville: LifeWay, 2016).

I came to the same conclusion in “Cure for the Common Church” seeing the “4th cure” as “N.E.W.” or a “Focus on Conversion” (you can download the chapter here).  In healthy churches the average congregant knows how to share their faith and steps to salvation with their friends and acquaintances.  I suggest healthy churches yearly have a 5-week sermon series on the “Four Spiritual Laws” with a fifth Sunday for a call to commitment.

Below is how I explained this in an article for Church Revitalizer Magazine, Oct. – Nov. 2015, pp. 44-45.  Read the entire article here.

Focus 4: NEW. By this I mean cultivating an environment in your church where people’s lives are changed into new lives. There’s an excitement in a church when people expect to be changed there. Today when people need to a changed from an abusive life, addiction, depraved habits and/or self-centeredness they usually go to a psychologist, self-help group or read a self-help book. All of these are helpful tools. But I believe the most helpful and God-ordained tool is the Church. The Church is the place in a community where people should know that you go if you need to be changed. This is because there is supernatural power to change people whenever two or three are gathered in His name (Matt. 18:20).

Tool 4 to focus on NEW: Everyone learns a GOSPEL presentation. Every attendee should be equipped with a tool to share the Good News. The Four Spiritual Laws, The Four Steps to Peace with God, The Romans Road or another plan of salvation are the most important tool with which you can equip each congregant. Attendees should be trained in their youth, in their Sunday schools and during a yearly preaching series. Then they will be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, (1 Peter 3:15). A good tool to encourage this is a five-week sermon series every year, where each week focuses on one of The Four Spiritual Laws or The Four Steps to Peace with God. Then on the fifth week extend a call to meet Christ. If a yearly part of your preaching calendar, this sermon series can equip, reinforce and remind congregants how to share the wonderful opportunity and blessing of a new life in Christ.

ASSESSMENT & Measurement: So What’s The Difference? Everything!

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/16/15.

An interview in “Christianity Today” with management researcher Jim Collins started me thinking about how some things cannot be measured, but they can be assessed.  I often direct my students to this article to help them create assessable evaluations for their final papers,

Jim Collins said that a problem today with non-profits is, “…being unclear about your goals.… Your goals don’t have to be quantifiable, but they do have to be describable. Some leaders try to insist, ‘The only acceptable goals are measurable,’ but that’s actually an undisciplined statement. Lots of goals—beauty, quality, life change, love—are worthy but not quantifiable. But you do have to be able to tell if you’re making progress. For a church, a goal might be: Young people bring other young people here unprompted. Do they talk about the church with their friends? You may not be able to measure that, but you can assess it.”

I think Collins is on to something here.

He is saying that while some things like “growth in maturity” (Acts 2:42) are not measurable, they can to be “assessed” or “described.”  Measurement means we can put a precise number to something.  I think we all agree that no one, except God, can put a precise measurement on a person’s “level of spiritual maturity.”

But, I think we would all agree that we can “assess” or “describe” progress of “growth of maturity” if a church is increasingly more passionate about “the apostles’ teaching (bible-study) and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42).

Thus, “assessing” growth in maturity is exactly what we are trying to do by measuring the growth in percentages of the congregation involved in Bible-focused groups.  This measurement I call the Composite Maturation Number (A House Divided, p. 209), and it is an “assessment” of the goal of growing a church in maturity.  Thus, we are not measuring precisely “growth in maturity,” but we are assessing progress toward it.

I hope you see that what we are using are “assessments” of unmeasurable goals of maturity, unity and favor.  But, these assessments can, as Jim Collins says, “tell if you’re making progress.”

My hope is that through such assessments all of you are increasingly aware if “you’re making progress.”

NOTE: In the following books I have created and updated church measurement tools that measure four types of church growth, following Luke’s pattern in Acts 2:42-47.  For more info see these chapters or “search” for keywords such as “maturation” in this wiki.

Cure for the Common Church, (Wesleyan Publishing House), chapter “Chapter 6: How Does a Church Grow Learners,” pp. 101-123.
> ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church (Abingdon Press), “Chapter 8: Measure 4 Types of Church Growth,” pp. 139-159.
> Growth By Accident, Death By Planning (Abingdon Press), “Chapter 7: Missteps with Evaluation,” pp. 97-108/
> A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps In Your Church (Abingdon Press), “Chaper 10: Evaluate Your Success,” pp. 202-221.

HUBRIS & 10 Ways to Recognize Our Arrogance #ChuckLawless

by Chuck Lawless, 6/14/14

I’m writing this post for me as much as for anyone. In the past months, I’ve re-read Jim Collins’ How the Mighty Fall and Tim Irwin’s Derailed. Both of these gripping studies review the process of decline in leaders and organizations, especially in leaders who perhaps once thought themselves invincible.

These studies challenge me because I know I’m prideful. I also know that “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18, HCSB). With me, use these potential markers of arrogance to avoid such a fall.

Marker #1: You believe few people are as smart as you are.

Marker #2: Your first reaction to negative is to be defensive or to cast blame on others.

Marker #3: Titles matter to you.

Marker #4: You assume your organization cannot fail.

Marker #5: Not knowing “insider information” bothers you.

Marker #6: You are disconnected from your team members.

Marker #7: Spiritual disciplines are secondary, if not non-existent, in your life.

Marker #8: No one has permission to speak truth into your life.

Marker #9: Other people see you as arrogant.

Marker #10: This post bothers you . . . or doesn’t bother you.

My own arrogance haunts me as I write these words. Please pray for me.