31 10 2012

Persons from eight central Pennsylvania churches attended a recent Bridgebuilders Seminar in Camp Hill

Kelly Hall is a member of the Newville PA Church of God who attended a recent Bridgebuilders Seminar. This is what he shared with Steve a few weeks later.

Just a few comments on our outreach in our Couple’s Ministry Class.

We have had some great discussion in our couple’s class the past two weeks. Within that time we have decided to select 3 star’s off a Christmas tree at our local grocery store. The star has names of children in our area that are in financial need. We are able to provide a gift box with their needed requests and we are also open to include our own special gifts.

We have made contact in our local high school guidance’s office. We are being provided with name(s) of families in our area that have special needs. They will give us permission to contact them and help with their needs and this will allow visits from our class. At this time, there is at least two families that we should be able to connect with.

We are also purchasing children bibles to distribute in the community for random visits.

This has been something heavy on my heart …… to do more in our couple’s class. We have helped within our church but your seminar has motivated me to move outside our church walls. Thank you for the inspiration.




8 10 2012

This post was written by Robert Schnase and is an excellent checklist of DNA of fruitful congregations. -steve

The purpose of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. But how do we do that? The most visible way God knits people into the community of Christ and draws people into the relationship with God is through congregations that fulfill the ministry of Christ in the world. Fruitful congregations repeat and improve on these five basic practices: Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-Taking Mission and Service and Extravagant Generosity.

The practices are basic and fundamental. But it’s the adjectives that make these words come alive, because they stretch us and cause us to ask ourselves, “How are we doing in practicing these qualities of ministry in our congregation? How might we do better?”

These are practices—they’re not qualities that some churches have and some don’t. They’re not phases that, once we get them done, we can move on to something else. These are practices that we have to learn and improve upon constantly. These are the activities that are so critical to the mission of the church that failure to perform them in an exemplary way leads to congregational decline and deterioration.

Here’s a look at the five practices used in fruitful congregations.

Radical Hospitality
(Romans 12:9-21)
Congregations offer the invitation and embrace of Jesus Christ, the gracious welcome that creates genuine belonging that brings people together in the Christian community. Churches characterized by Radical Hospitality are not just friendly and courteous. Instead, they exhibit restlessness because they realize so many people do not have a relationship to a faith community. They sense a calling and responsibility to pray and work to invite others and to help them feel welcome and supported in their faith journeys. Congregations surprise newcomers with a glimpse of the unmerited gracious love of God that they see in Christ. Our Radical Hospitality goes to the extremes, and we do it joyfully, not superficially, because we know our invitation is the invitation of Christ.

Passionate Worship
(John 4:21-24)
In Passionate Worship, people are honest before God and one another, and they are open to God’s presence and will for their lives. People so eagerly desire such worship that they will reorder their lives to attend. Passionate worship motivates pastors not only to improve their preaching but also to learn continually how to enhance content and technique for effective worship. Worship is something alive that requires continuing care, cultivation, and effort to keep it fresh. Pastors should willingly review and evaluate their own work and invite feedback. The motivation for enhancing the quality of worship is not only about deepening our own faith but also about allowing God to use us and our congregations to offer hope, life, and love to others. Worship is God’s gift and task, a sacred trust that requires our utmost and highest

Intentional Faith Development
(1 Corinthians 9:19-24)
Transformation comes through learning in community. Congregational leaders that practice Intentional Faith Development carefully consider the full life cycle of members and look for ways the church forms faith at every age. They look for gaps, opportunities, and unmet needs to round out their ministries and ask how they can do better. They train laypeople to lead small groups, teach Bible studies, and coordinate support groups. They realize the power of special topics and interests to attract unchurched people, and they advertise and invite beyond the walls of the church. They form affiliation groups such as grief or divorce recovery, substance abuse, parenting, and more. They explore new ways of forming learning communities–blogs, chat rooms, e-mail Bible studies, and downloadable materials. These pastors also participate in forms of community with other pastors or laypersons to help deepen their own relationship with God

Risk-Taking Mission and Service
(Matthew 25:14-30)
This involves work that stretches people, causing them to do something for the good of others that they would never have considered doing if it were not for their relationship with Christ and their desire to serve Him. These churches not only solicit and encourage ordinary service to support the work of the congregation, but they also consciously seek to motivate people to more extraordinary service. They lift examples in preaching and teaching. Risk-Taking Missions and Service is also part of the formation of children and youth. All youth and children ministries include teaching and experiential components that stretch compassion outward beyond the walls of the church. Faith mapped in childhood provides pathways that shape lifelong commitments. These churches collaborate with other churches, other denominations, civic organizations, social agencies, and non-profit groups. They actively invite and welcome newcomers, visitors, and the unchurched to help them in making a difference in the lives of others. As congregations move beyond their comfort zones and follow Christ into more adventurous encounters with people, God’s Spirit changes them, changes others, and changes churches.



7 10 2012

This is a repost from Justin Meier, church expansion specialist for the Churches of God, General Conference and pastor of my home church, First Church of God of Harrisburg PA.

Posted by Justin Meier on Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When people visit your church what do they think? Did you know your church has it’s own culture. Some examples of culture may be whether or not your church is friendly and welcoming. Another example of your culture is whether or not you start service on time. One last example could be whether you music is played well or not. All these are part of your church culture. Why is your church culture import? I just recently received an email from Pastor Bob Franquiz , a pastor who helps churches grow and this is what he says about church culture…

Miami Dolphins fans recently had their hoped dashed when Payton Manning decided to sign with the Denver Broncos rather the Dolphins.

It didn’t make any sense.


Payton Manning has a house in Miami.

He loves being in the city of Miami.

Yet, despite Miami offering just as much money as Denver, he chose the Broncos.

Why you ask?

Here’s the inside scoop…

It’s about culture.

Reporters said that the QB was taken back by the Dolphins’ front office culture and that was the #1 reason he went to another team.

What does this have to do with your church?


You can have great online and offline marketing pieces that attract lots of people to attend your church, but if your culture is uninviting to guests… then those people aren’t coming back.

No matter if you are utilizing marketing or not. Whatever your culture is at your church gathering determines a majority of the time whether or not a person will ever return. So if your church hasn’t been able to retain any of your visitors maybe it is a culture problem. Invite some people to come and be a critical eye of what is going on and see if you can change your culture.


5 10 2012

BRIDGEBUILDERS SEMINARS were originally designed to meet a specific need identified by the Commission on Evangelism of the Eastern Regional Conference of the Churches of God.  How do we help traditional churches reach their unchurched neighbors without fighting a culture war?  The Seminar has been developed by Dr. Steve Dunn.  The Seminar was first piloted at Landisville PA, Martinsburg PA and Enola PA.  The pilot identified a more proactive approach which disengaged from the culture war framework to teaching a traditional church to think of them as a missionary organism serving on the mission field which begin outside their front door.  Exegeting the culture and designing ministry that reaches those unchurched neighbors while learning to be Christ’s respectful ambassadors is the new thrust.  And a very clear evangelistic purpose–building bridges of truth and grace to the Bridge to Salvation–Jesus Christ.

Dr. Steve Dunn, Bridgebuilders creator, speaking at the recent sessions of the Great Lakes Conference in Findlay OH. Photo courtesy of Ed Rosenberry.

Beginning in 2011 – the ERC sponsored multi-church events introduce the Seminar to local churches.  In addition, one hour events focusing on what is now called “The Bridgebuilders Principle” were inaugurated.  Seminars have now been held at five sights in Pennsylvania and Maryland, all within the Churches of God and the Bridgebuilders Presentations have been made in four different settings in three of the regions of the Churches of God and to the Regional Directors and General Conference Officers.

The Bridgebuilders Seminars and the Bridgebuilders ministry are now entering a new stage, a stage aimed at serving the Kingdom of God beyond Pennsylvania and the Churches of God.  The ERC is preparing to publish a book by Dr. Dunn called The Bridgebuilders Principle,outlining the fundamental philosophy and vision of the churches being bridges to the Bridge.  It is hoped that this will be ready for release by December of this year. In addition, a workbook for missional groups in local churches is being developed for release in the spring of 2013.

Persons are being trained in the Eastern, Allegheny and Great Lakes Regions of the Churches of God to work alongside Dr. Dunn is presenting these seminars as requests develop across the country. By the end of December there will be five additional trainers available to serve local churches seeking to use the ministry of Bridgebuilders.

Upcoming events related to Bridgebuilders:

October 20, 2012 – ERC sponsored multi-church BridgeBuilders Seminar at Eberly’s Mill Church of God (Camp Hill PA)

October 21, 2012 – Bridgebuilders Seminar at Shippensburg PA First Church of God

October 23-24, 2012 – Bridgebuilders Seminar at The Gathering (CGGC event sponsored by the Commission on Renewal)   in Findlay OH

October 26-27, 2012 – Bridgebuilders Seminar at Western Regional Pastors and Leaders Conference (Branson MO)

January 3-4, 2013 – Bridgebuilders Seminar at Mt Pleasant Church of God (ARC) in Mt. Pleasant PA