LEADERSHIP FOR BRIDGEBUILDING CHURCHES

25 06 2015

church1_editedIn cooperation with the School of Evangelism, Bridgebuilders is planning two “graduate seminars” that build on what we have been learning these past five years. Each school will have two 2 ½-3 hour sessions on either consecutive Thursday evenings or Saturday mornings. The overall topic is: Leadership for Healthy, Outreaching, Disciplemaking Churches.

Individual topics will include: The Stewardship of Leadership, Helping the Church to Mature to Match Its Mission, Managing Change and Resolving Conflict, Measuring Your Health and Fruitfulness.

If you would be willing to host, or if you have interest in participating in such a training experience, please contact Dr.Steve Dunn at 717-471-3018 or sdunnpastor@gmail.com





CLUELESS OR WILLFULLY IGNORANT?

11 06 2015

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BY STEVE DUNN

I am often astounded when talking to church people who don’t seem to have a clue about the people living in the community around their facility. If they “see” people at all, it is to recognize the persons who are most like them and be reassured – or to see the ones unlike them and to move on down the road as quickly as possible. John Stott’s challenge for all churches to exegete their culture proves difficult because in their blindness, these people rarely see enough to gather the facts about the true nature of their community.

Bill Hybels is famous for his statement, “You have never locked eyes on someone for whom Christ has not died.”  But what motivation is that if our eyes are constantly averted from our neighbor and their condition.

I am reminded of the great premise of the American judicial system that “ignorance is no excuse.”  But in a higher court, one that we all face one day, the same premise holds true.  We read in Matthew 25:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Isn’t it time we opened our eyes?

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TIRED OF HERDING CATS?

28 10 2014

Getting a church to take on an outward-focus is tough. William Tenny-Brittian gives some powerful advice-STEVE

 

BY WILLIAM TENNY-BRITTIAN

Tired of Herding Cats?

Herding Cats

You probably hear it as often as I do. “Trying to get them organized is like herding cats.” Whether it’s being applied to the stewardship committee, the congregational council, or the local minister’s alliance, it’s an apt simile whenever you come across a pack of individuals who are more interested in getting what they want than they are getting where they need to go.

This is never more true than when working with a local congregations. Recently I spent thirty minutes coaching a pastor and board chair in the fine art of conflict resolution and herd-culling (it’s pretty clear there will be no conflict reconciliation in this congregation). The issue facing the congregation is that multiple groups (cats) want to “lead” the church in different directions. And the biggest problem is that there has been no clearly defined, unifying mission or vision. And without a unifying mission and vision, every cat has their own idea about why the church exists and what it’s trying to accomplish.

The church wouldn’t be in this fix if it had started with a compelling, God-given mission and an awe-inspiring vision. So take a lesson: if you’re tired of herding cats, get a bigger, more tasty, succulent mouse.
If you’re tired of herding cats, get a bigger mouse. – Bill Tenny-Brittian

Too many churches reflect a misguided mission mindset that puts member care above all else – and especially above the only Jesus-mandated reason a church exists: to make disciples.

And too many churches have adopted an uninspiring vision that’s either too safe or one that’s so heavenly minded it’s no earthly good.

Jim Collins suggested every organization needs a BHAG – a big, hairy, audacious goal. Your congregation needs a BHAG … a reason to move as one in a single direction. If it doesn’t then competing missions and visions and good ideas and some not-so-good ideas will fragment your church and at best you’ll have cats to herd. At worst you’ll have a cat fight.

So, if herding cats isn’t your primary calling, then:

Read the Gospels until Jesus makes it clear to you exactly why he created the church
And then hit your knees and stay there until you’ve caught God’s vision for your congregation.

Get a Mouse Worth Chasing

Set a mouse like that loose in your congregation and your cats will chase it ’til the cows come home. 😉
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HOW NOT TO BE A MISSIONARY

20 05 2014

The Bridgebuilders Principleis based on the premise of the mission field outside your front door. That means we must think like missionaries and learn to exegete the culture–understand how think, what they value, what is their perceived need. This video from Todd Engstrom gives some powerful teaching on this issue.





IS YOUR WEBSITE ATTRACTIONAL OR MISSIONAL AND WHY IT MATTERS

24 06 2013

Social-Network-Marketing-BusinessThis is precisely what we teach in Bridgebuilders course INTERNET EVANGELISM AND SOCIAL NETWORKING TOOLS

From PLANTING CHURCHES

Attractional vs. Missional. It’s all the buzz. But have you applied the thinking to your website?

An attractional website:

Is a destination on the web.
It is static and doesn’t change much.
It is difficult to foster relationship and communication.
It looks good and gives all the critical information about the church in one place.

A missional website:

Is dispersed widely across the internet and found in many different places (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Community Forums, Blogs, Google Ads, etc.)
Everyone can play and interact with the content pushed online. It is social by nature.
It can be found in the online communities where everyday people interact on the web.
It is often discovered because of relevant content and social interaction rather than directly sought out.
The critical information about the church can be difficult to find.

Just as church models are evolving, so is the internet. Ten years ago church website were largely static pages on the internet. They were little more than an online brochure, a destination to learn more about the church. Sites were build to be attractive. The site’s ease of use and look communicated something about the church. It still does today. The internet at this point was a popularity contest. Every link to the site was like as vote for best church website. To get found online, you simply had to be the most popular.

But the internet has changed. It is now largely about social and content. A church’s web presence cannot only be in one static place. A common phrase in missional circles is “The Church has left the building.” Applied to web presence, “The Church has left it’s domain.” To be relevant today, church websites have to be missional. They have to go where the people are. This is why it is critical to have an interactive presence in social media.

Interactive is the key. You can’t just hop on Facebook and start shouting out church announcements. Put your megaphone done and have a conversation. This can’t be accomplished with just the church staff. You have to get the entire congregation involved and help them be evangelists on the web. Open their eyes to how their online communication can be seeded with the gospel. If you just make announcements, you’ll be annoying. Stop it.

It used to be that links to your site were the key metric in the popularity contest on the web. Now content is king. Google will evaluate everything on the web tied to your church. All of your website, podcasts, blogs, social media outlets, white papers, webinars, etc are evaluated. The more Google can see that your content is relevant (measured by sharing, re-posting, liking, etc.), the more you will show up in search results.

Here are a few tips to start moving from attractional to missional with your website:

Distribute lots of content. You already create lots of content (sermons, small group lessons, parenting classes, etc.) With a couple of tweaks this content can be easily transformed into blog posts, podcasts, white papers and more. Move all of your content online.
Pick a couple of social media outlets and do them well. You can’t jump into every online community. Pick a few (Twitter, Instagram, YouTube) and get social.
Model for your congregation how to interact online with the gospel in mind. Spread seeds of hope and love in your communication and don’t just point back to your website; point to Jesus. People are raw online, be equally raw and transparent about the hope we have in Jesus.





A SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE WITNESS

8 03 2013

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BY STEVE DUNN

“Would you be willing to put a cross on your front line as a simple expression of witness?”

This is how an older lady in a Methodist Church in Harrisburg PA began  a quiet announcement in her church.  “People have all kinds  of signs on their front lawns for many purposes.  How about a simple cross that simply says ‘A Christian lives here.”

Ultimately 250 persons from her church living around the Linglestown area of the city had crosses on their front lawns.  Not garish.  No other messages–but the most powerful one.  “A Christian lives here.”

One day a lady knocked at the door of a house with this cross on the lawn.  “My car broke down, my cell phone doesn’t work, and I am lost,” she told the homeowner.  “I really didn’t known what to do, and then I saw your cross and thought, ‘Someone with  cross will surely help.”

What a wonderful serendipity of the Spirit!  What a wonderful witness!  What a wonderful way to say to a community in an inviting and non-threatening way, “A follower of Jesus lives here.”





BRIDGEBUILDING IDEAS

22 02 2013

page25_picture0_1345493656These are some ideas Bridgebuilder churches have used to begin developing a redemptive relationship with their communities.

Volunteering to help the cafeteria workers in the schools

This is a great one for building a rapport with the school and helping your people see that side of life

Taking a Vacation Bible School INTO a neighborhood

This helps people meet you—lets them see their children are safe with you—lets your people meet neighbors who may hide out in their houses otherwise

Offer A GOOD QUESTION Forum in a neighborhood coffee shop

This I can share in detail—but you create a middle space where people are invited to come, enjoy coffee and ask questions about the Bible, God, Christianity etc—where they will not be asked to join anything , agreed or commit to anything.

Throw a Baby Shower for an Unwed Mother

Walk the Neighbor Hood and Ask “How can we make this a better place to live for you?”Great starter for spiritual conversations)

Adopting a Food Bank and Offering Coaching in Food Preparation

Microwavable and easy-to-prepare food is not often present and people have to learn how to use the food they receive

Diaper Changing Stations at Community Festivals

Setting up a Prayer Station at a Community to Pray for Loved Ones in Afghanistan, etc.

Does your church have an idea they would share with us?





THE CHURCH ON MISSION WITH JESUS

12 02 2013

ON MISSIONby Steve Dunn

We are all familiar with the Great Commission-“Go and make disciples …” It was something we were taught from the earliest days that Churches of God were called into being.

Evangelism and making authentic disciples was at the heart of the movement John Winebrenner and others began in 1825 when the Holy Spirit told them the Church in America needed renewal and revival.

The Great Commission reminds us that the Church has always been intended to be a missionary movement, a group of people on mission with Jesus to bring the Good News of the Kingdom to the world.

It is an identity that has largely been lost as so many of our churches have slipped into a maintenance mentality–keeping a program going, a building function, and providing services those who are already disciples of Jesus Christ.

It is time again to become a missionary organization.

How do we do this?

It begins with prayer, prayer that God will give you eyes to see and for the mission field that begins right outside your front door.

This first step helps your church become receptive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Next you examine God’s Word, to become aware of the dynamics of the Great Commission to become Christ’s respectful ambassadors. Remember, you are not going out to fight a culture war, you are going out to share the Good News of the Kingdom by developing redemptive relationships with your un-churched neighbors. Suggested scriptures: 1 Peter 3.8-13, 2 Corinthians 5:14-21,Matthew 9:35-38.

Thirdly, start listening to the culture. What do people in the prevailing culture value? what do they struggle with? who do they respect? what are their dreams? And think locally as much as possible.

Then identify points of contact where you may be able to do an act of kindness in Jesus name, so you can begin to create opportunities to get connected with them and start building redemptive relationships with them. We call this BUILDING BRIDGES TO THE BRIDGE.

Make a simple plan, prepare for action – and then SIMPLY DO IT!





FRUITFUL CONGREGATIONS – FIVE PRACTICES

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.

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THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH

10 02 2011

“The Church exists for no other purpose but to draw men into Christ. . . If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other reason.”

— C.S. Lewis