11 WAYS TO MAKE CHRISTMAS YOUR BEST OUTREACH OF THE YEAR

10 12 2017

Cary Nieuwhof is one of the favorite bloggers of those who work Bridgebuilders Ministries.  This is an extremely helpful post for this time of year. – STEVE

Christmas

Any idea what the best outreach opportunity of the year at your church might be?

You might think it’s an event you do, or perhaps it’s Easter. But whether Christmas has historically been your best opportunity to reach unchurched people or not, I believe it could be.

You may think it’s far too early to start thinking about Christmas, but think again. Whenever I’ve shared these ideas about Christmas, people say “Hey, I wish you’d talked about this earlier.” So we are.

In addition to this post, Jeff Henderson and I are doing a free live training outlining how to turn Christmas into your best outreach opportunity of the year.  Jeff takes all his learning from Gwinnett Church (#ForGwinnett)  and I take mine from Connexus Church and hand them to you.

The training is on replay for a limited time leading up to Christmas 2017, and you can watch it here.

So why can Christmas become your very best outreach event of the year?

It Only Happens Once A Year These Days

As our culture becomes more and more post-Christian, we’re seeing far fewer times when the holidays of the church and the holidays of culture sync. I remember about a decade ago hearing a Toronto DJ refer to Easter as “the first long weekend of summer” (in Canada Good Friday is a holiday and schools still take Easter Monday off…a relic from Colonial days). Good Friday and Easter were completely lost on him. It was simply time off.

Christmas is completely different.

Our culture still loves Christmas. Sure, the motives are commercial. But Christmas is the only time of year when you’ll hear malls belt out explicitly Christian songs like Charles Wesley’s “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing:”

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel

If you follow a lot of Christians on social media leading up to Christmas, you probably have noticed how many people lament over the culture’s disregard of Christ.

Well, you can see the obstacle. Or you can see the opportunity. I choose to see the opportunity. There are so many connection points with our culture you’ll miss if you only see the glass as half empty.

This is no time for the church to be more cynical than the world, which still remembers something is different at Christmas, even if they’re not exactly sure what it is.

Stop complaining about the world. Reach it instead.

As the general population thinks less about the Christian faith, Christmas provides a unique opportunity to reach people who no longer ordinarily attend church.

READ MORE – A WHOLE LOT MORE





24 05 2014

Thank you Justin Meier for sharing this video from the VERGE NETWORK

Check them out





WHAT WORSHIP STYLE ATTRACTS THE MILLENIALS?

6 04 2014

Thom Rainer has again turned out a pertinent and perceptive reflection on the church and its  ministries. -STEVE

theGettysBY THOM RAINER

My son, Jess Rainer, and I recently spoke in Texas on the topic of the Millennials, America’s largest generation of nearly 79 million persons. Because we co-authored a book entitled The Millennials, we have had the opportunity to speak on the subject on many occasions.

We reminded this audience in Dallas of the birth dates of this generation, 1980 to 2000, and then proceeded to share our research. We had commissioned LifeWay Research to survey 1,200 of the older Millennials; the researchers did an outstanding job. We have thus been able to share incredible amounts of data and insights from these young adults.
The Question about Worship Style

As in most of our speaking settings, we allow a portion of our presentation to be a time of questions and answers. And inevitably someone will ask us about the worship style preferences of the Millennials.

Typically the context of the question emanates from a background of nearly three decades of “worship wars.” In other words, on what “side” are the Millennials? Traditional? Contemporary? Or somewhere on the nebulous spectrum of blended styles?

And though Jess and I did not originally ask those questions in our research, we have sufficient anecdotal evidence to respond. And our response is usually received with some surprise. The direct answer is “none of the above.”
The Three Things That Matter Most

You see, most Millennials don’t think in the old worship war paradigm. In that regard, “style” of worship is not their primary focus. Instead they seek worship services and music that have three major elements.

They desire the music to have rich content. They desire to sing those songs that reflect deep biblical and theological truths. It is no accident that the hymnody of Keith and Kristyn Getty has taken the Millennials by storm. Their music reflects those deep and rich theological truths.
The Millennials desire authenticity in a worship service. They can sense when congregants and worship leaders are going through the motions. And they will reject such perfunctory attitudes altogether.
This large generation does want a quality worship service. But that quality is a reflection of the authenticity noted above, and adequate preparation of the worship leaders both spiritually and in time of preparation. In that sense, quality worship services are possible for churches of all sizes.

The Churches They Are Attending

Millennial Christians, and a good number of seekers among their generation, are gravitating to churches where the teaching and preaching is given a high priority. They are attracted to churches whose focus is not only on the members, but on the community and the world. Inwardly focused congregations will not see many Millennials in their churches.

And you will hear Millennials speak less and less about worship style. Their focus is on theologically rich music, authenticity, and quality that reflects adequate preparation in time and prayer.

But they will walk away from congregations that are still fighting about style of music, hymnals or screen projections, or choirs or praise teams. Those are not essential issues to Millennials, and they don’t desire to waste their time hearing Christians fight about such matters.

 





GUERILLA LOVIN’ BREAKFAST

9 01 2014

 

 

This is an awesome example of the Bridgebuilders Principle (“building redemptive relationships with the community”).  I thank George for permitting us to reprint this from his newsletter.  George is the pastor of Turning Point Church in Mechanicsburg PA.  – Steve

by George Spangler’

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  Jn 13: 34 – 35

 

Please Dont Do This

 

Recently, I became frustrated with the numerous stories of stingy Christians who made a point out of being overtly critical to the servers that waited on them.  Perhaps you saw the story of the Pastor who was offended that an 18% gratuity was added to his bill.  He crossed out the automated gratuity and wrote these words, “I give God 10% why do you get 18?”   On top of that I was frustrated with the stories and posts of how Christmas has become so commercialized.  I read an article about the number of people killed or seriously injured in Black Friday shopping related, crowd stampeding incidents.  My secular friends used these types of stories as rational to stay away from church altogether, and sometimes I can understand how they feel.

 

 

Turning Point Church

 

But these stories do not describe the Christ followers I know.  The people that I know who love Jesus are generous and loving and so I gave Turning Point Church a challenge.  I said, “These stories do not describe  the Christ followers I know, let’s get out there and intentionally love a server this Christmas season.  Let’s do our part to share the love of Jesus and be exceedingly generous in someones life.  I need nominations of hard work servers that are struggling to make ends meet.”

 

 We were led to a woman that we will call “Susan.”  Susan is a mother of four small children and is working hard to provide for them.  We called the restaurant she worked at and arranged with the owner to be seated in her section.  We told them what we were going to do and asked them to keep it a secret. She had no idea why we were there or why we requested her. We didn’t know her and she didn’t know us, but we were about to have a lot of fun getting to know each other.

 

 I  invited people to our “Guerilla Lover” breakfast.  That’s right!  Guerilla Love (jumping out from behind a tree, kind of guerilla, and showering her with love and kindness in the name of Jesus. )  I loved to lend you my Guerilla Lover book, just email me.

 

 I had two expectations of the participants:  1.) Come and eat breakfast with us at this diner on a Thursday morning, order whatever you want and 2.) leave at least a $20 tip.

 

 I found 11 people from Turning Point who were able to make the Thursday breakfast and who were willing to leave a generous tip. I was also blessed to reach out to one of our ministeriums which brought about the attendance of some awesome COG pastors like:  Dan Masshardt, Zack Wilt, Stefanie DiFrancesco, Charlie Zahora, and Dave Williams. Tracy Connor, who is planting VisionPointe Church in York, was also able to attend.

 

Participants at the Guerilla Love Breakfast

 

 After enjoying a breakfast together and spending time getting to know our server, we presented her with a Christmas Card signed by all of us and containing our tips.  I explained,  “We got together to celebrate Christmas and the joy that Jesus brings us.  That’s why we are eating together today. God has been so good to us and we want to celebrate it together and share it with you.  So we got you a Christmas Card too.”  She looked at me a little confused and said, “Thank you.” When she opened the card, she noticed it contained a wad, and I mean a wad of dough.  She was taken back and overcome with tears.  In the name of Jesus, we were able to bless this wonderful hardworking mom with a tip of $440. At the same time, we gave witness to the wonderful generosity of our awesome savior, who entered the world to give his life as a ransom for ours.

 

 I couldn’t think of more enjoyable way to spend that $20 than to eat with people I care about, celebrating the love of our amazing God, and giving generously to a stranger who God prepared in advance for us to meet.

 

 Here is what some of the others are saying:

 

  “It was fun.  Sure we all have our ups and downs but overall as we express Christ’s love and action to the world around us should’nt it be a blast?   I will never forget the expression on Susan’s face as she experienced that love for real.” -Tracy Connor

 

 

“It was fun to be there, but mostly it was fun to make an impact on one life that day.”

 

– Dan Masshardt

 

 “The following Sunday I told the story of our experience and I shared the story of the starfish.  With so many “starfish on the beach”  what difference did we really make?   We made a difference in Susan’s life.  It mattered to her.” – Stef Difrancesco

 

 

“There aren’t very many days and experiences that a person will never forget. This was one of them. Our server will always remember this and so will the 17 of us that participated. I shared this story with our church on Christmas Eve, as an example of what God’s church should look like in the world. If I leave a $20 tip, that’s not a big deal. But when a whole group of us each leaves a $20 tip, that is a big deal. Thanks for the opportunity!”

 

– Charlie Zahora

 

 

“It was probably the best part of Christmas break. Just for us as a group of pastors to be meeting the same time as your act of love so we could join in–that was a divine plan. Living out my faith in practical ways has always been my style so joining with you was a blessing. Thanks for inviting us. Also as a conference guy I typically hang around with pretty committed believers so I am always looking for opportunities to meet with people not yet a part of the faith community. So thanks for the opportunity to share God’s love in a very practical way.”– Dave Williams

 

 “It was the best part of my Christmas week. the opportunity to see Christ’s love in action was a real blessing.”

 

– Zack Wilt

 

 

I am looking forward to next year’s Christmas Guerilla Love Breakfast, perhaps it will become a movement with multiple locations and multiple blessings.  Who knows?  Maybe we will eat together and perhaps be an answer to someone’s prayer for God to miraculously provide.

 

 Share the Joy,

 

 George Spangler





CREATIVE WAYS TO HELP PEOPLE GIVE TO THE MISSION

24 12 2013

dpt-thanksgiving-1by Steve Dunn

It is now well-established that people are most likely to give to vision. In other words, people invest it what they believe is both vital and is likely to do be done in a way that bears kingdom fruit.

If you think of this as merely fundraising, you lose a key opportunity to get people to take responsibility for ministry by investing themselves and not just give money to something. When an investment of time is connected to the check, an opportunity to build redemptive relationships is created. People move from mere philanthropy to participating in building bridges to the Bridge. You also create an opportunity to build community among those who are investing in the mission (or the part that they are being called to invest in)

1. Identify a ministry that is vital to the mission of your church.

2. Create a case statement for that ministry that talks first the importance of this ministry, then about the outcomes you are looking for, the strategy to accomplish.

3. Identify how someone can invest in this ministry–both financially in direct gifts–and how they can invest themselves in carrying out the ministry. The amount of time is not an issue, but even a small investment of time begins to help them develop a sense of ownership over it.

4. Provide well-conceived equipping for their personal involvement and coaching while the ministry is being carried out.

5. Evaluate, correct what is not working, celebrate what God is doing through them and the ministry.

6. Invite the giver to tell the story.

NOTE: THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN FANNING INTO FLAME (December 2 2013) This is a publication that Bridgebuilders does for the Allegheny Conference of the Churches of God, General Conference.  If you would like a sample of this and an idea of what Bridgebuilders Ministries might create for you and your ministry contact sdunnpastor@gmail.com





INCARNATIONAL

9 11 2013

This is the first in a series of articles sharing core aspects of the Bridgebuilders Principle which provides the foundation for both the Seminars and Bridgbuilders Ministries.  A book by this name is being prepared for publication in early 2014.

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BY STEVE DUNN

When churches think of reaching their unchurched neighbors, they often think of creating programs to attract people into their church buildings. Create the right program, make it attractive enough, and people will come into the church and find Jesus. Tony Campolo says. “The church puts up a sign, ‘Come one, come all.’ Jesus put up another sign. He said, ‘Go ye!” This is called the attractional model and it is meeting with decreasing success, especially in suburban and urban areas of the United States

The church needs to get out into the community where the unchurched live. It needs to build redemptive relationships with the unchurched. Those redemptive relationships build upon redemptive opportunities. Through those relationships people are led to Christ and brought into the church.

A redemptive relationship is a significant commitment by a Christian to a non-Christian where they share life together on many levels with a large amount of time spent together. Its purpose is for the Christian to speak into the life of the other as you

The church in the 21st century has come to realize that incarnation must be the model. For the authority of this claim, we only need to turn to the example of Jesus himself. “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” (John 1:14, The Message) The church outside its walls in action, the gospel lived out in the transformed lives of Christians who are living out in the world and building redemptive relationships with people who may be a long way from considering “coming to church.” Noting that Jesus Christ is the bridge from sinful humanity to a holy God, Dan Kimball says, “The church must be the bridge to the Bridge.” A bridge must be anchored on both sides of the distance to be bridged in order to actually help people “cross over.” (Robert Lewis)

Kevin Harney adds, “People need to hear about Jesus, but they also need to see him. As his ambassadors on earth, we are to reflect his love, show his heart, and incarnate his presence wherever God sends us.”

It is vital for us to understand that as the representatives of Jesus Christ out in the world, we must be the “real deal.” We must genuinely be persons transformed by God and following Christ. This is why two things must be true of us as the people of God, the Church. We must be people whose lives are rooted and grounded in the Grace of God ourselves. We are not good people doing a good thing for God. We are forgiven sinners, whose lives have been made new, by the unconditional love of God. In a world where “performance” is king and “measure up” is the command, a fallen and broken humanity hungers for “a taste of heavenly grace.”

(C) 2013 by Stephen L Dunn

excerpted from THE BRIDGEBUILDER PRINCIPLE (c) 2013 by Stephen L Dunn





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?





CHURCHES BUILDING BRIDGES – NEW CUMBERLAND

7 02 2013

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FROM CHARLIE ZAHORA and the New Cumberland PA Church of God:

We have a small team at our church called the CORE team, Community OutReach Events. We formed last year and have completed several outreach events. We began by adopting a “mission field” outside our church door, which is about 10 square blocks and 350 homes. In this area we hosted three “Meet Your Neighbor Barbeques”, gave every home a potted flower with an invitation to the barbeques, walked around giving away quarts of homemade chicken corn soup, hosted free summer lunches for school kids, done a few home repair projects for disabled folks, elderly & single mothers, picked up litter, done prayer walks, and a few other ministries. We’ve had lots of “touches” and have been content with our impact. Our intent is to GO into the local community and serve as missionaries. Thanks for any ideas.





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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