BRIDGEBUILDING CHURCHES CHANGE

13 10 2013

800px-Change1BY STEVE DUNN

Many churches subscribe the concept that they need to be building redemptive relationships with the unchurched in their community.  Whether it is out a church growth motivation – more people to carry out the church’s mission; or evangelistic passion–lost people matter to God, they make commitments and plans to build bridges out into the community to connect with those who are in the area of mission.

But there is a price to building such bridges.  It is a change in the church itself.  Not only will there be new people to deal with and new needs to be met; but churches will find that they must make some significant shifts in their culture and they way they do ministry if they are truly to reach people who up until now have note given them the time of day.

In our work with these churches, especially those who are  successful in truly reaching their unchurched neighbors, here are some of the changes that occur:

 Maintenance to Mission

Inward-focus to outward-focused

Gaining decisions to making disciples

Members of an organization to disciples of the Risen Lord

Attractional to incarnational

Safe to sacrificial servants

Clergy-focused to the Priesthood of All Believers

Tasks and Jobs to Spiritual Gifts

One day a week to 24/7

Going to church to being the church

Human led to Holy Spirit led

Is there anything on that list that troubles you?  Is there anything on that listen that might create conflict in your church?  The answer to the last question is, “EVERYTHING on the list.”

What are your thoughts on these changes?

This list comes from THE BRIDGBUILDERS PRINCIPLE by Stephen L Dunn (C) 2013





10 OLD WIVES’ TALE ABOUT CHURCH GROWTH

14 05 2013

From Outreach Magazine ….

BY BRIAN ORME

There’s a lot of discussion that goes on about church growth: what causes it; how to generate it; prepare for it; launch it; build it; cultivate it and even, to some degree, manufacture it. Many of the discussions are helpful, but there are a number of subtle beliefs that still creep up that aren’t healthy. In fact, they’re downright superstitious and, at times, dangerous to the church.

I’ve collected these myths over many conversations, coffees and lunches with church leaders and I’d like to share them with you.

 

10 Old Wives’ Tales About Church Growth

 

1. If You’re Not Growing, Something’s Wrong

 

If growth and a bigger crowd is “always” the result of obedience then some of the OT prophets will have some serious explaining to do.

 

Of course, if you’re not growing—or you’re declining—I think it is cause to evaluate what you’re doing, but it’s not a given that something is always “wrong.”

 

God could be doing something different—more Jeremiah and less Peter.

 

Also, while we’re at it, let’s stop using the Acts 2 passage as a normative prescription for every church today. It’s an amazing description of something special God was doing in history to launch his church, but it’s not a church growth manual. A casual reading of the NT will show churches of all different shapes and sizes, and never once is there a declarative statement that the church should be growing faster than it was—more obedience, yes; helping the poor, yes; staying true to the Gospel, yes; practicing the Lord’s Supper and baptism, yes.

 

2. The More You Grow, the Healthier You Are

 

We would love to believe this one. It certainly feels good to have a bigger crowd. There’s a built-in justification for ministry leaders when more people show up, I know. However, just because your church has more people attending doesn’t mean your church is completely healthy. In fact, it might be cause to closely evaluate the message the crowd is hearing.

 

Growth can be healthy, and it can be a very good thing—it’s just not an automatic four-stars for healthy spirituality. Large numbers are no more an indicator of health than great wealth is an automatic indicator of wisdom. You can be wealthy or impoverished and still be wise or a fool. The same goes for church growth. You can have a lot of people or a little and still be healthy/unhealthy. Health deals more with what’s going on below the surface. Growth tells us something’s going on, but whether it’s good or bad, that’s another issue.    READ MORE …





THE BRAIN AND SUCCESSFUL CHURCH CHANGE

15 11 2012

Charles Stone has an excellent blog on church leadership. I would urge you to go to it and consider subscribing if you are serious about being a Bridgebuilding Church.

Wise leaders carefully manage church change. Healthy church management includes not just the bird’s eye view (big picture implications) but also considers the individual view, what’s going on inside the individual church member or leader when you, as the leader, present change. Neuroscience offers helpful insight about unconscious processes that go on inside our brains when people face change. Consider these insights and suggestions the next time you plan change for your church.

People appreciate certainty and autonomy because the brain craves both. David Rock, one of the leader proponents of applying neuroscience to leadership (neuroleadership) suggests an acrostic called SCARF that represents five essential brain processes that influence motivation and change management. See my blog here that explains SCARF. The ‘c’ and the ‘a’ stand for certainty and autonomy. I’ve listed 5 insights below that relate these two components to change management.

  1. People naturally assume the worst. Our brain is actually wired to pick up threats and negative possibilities around us more than the positive. 2/3 of our brain cells in the flight-fight part of our brain, the amygdala, are wired to pick up on the negative.
  2. People naturally fill in knowledge gaps with fear. Uncertainty about the future (and change) breeds this fear.
  3. Ambiguity creates more fear than measured risk. That is, the more people have to fill in the knowledge gaps, the greater the fear about and resistance to change. Measured risk, however, fills in some of those gaps and lessens anxiety.
  4. Undoing a wrong impression is harder than creating a good impression. It’s the old adage “you don’t have a second chance to make a good first impression.” That’s not just a quaint saying. Neuroscientists have shown it to be true.
  5. People understate their ability to ride out difficult future events. Uncertainty causes us to poorly forecast how well we can face difficulty. The term is “affective forecasting.” When you present change, people will initially assume that the church will come out worse than expected, although the opposite is often true.
  6. Emotions play a very important part in decision making. Just presenting the facts is seldom enough to move people forward.

So, in light of these insights, what are some positive steps you can take to most effectively manage church change?

  1. Build in small, short-term wins along the way. These wins will give a greater sense of certainty. Remember, people (and their brains) love certainty.
  2. Fill in the knowledge gaps with truth. In other words, communicate, communicate, communicate. Keep people in the loop about your progress with the change initiative.
  3. Provide a feedback loop. Give people in your church a real, tangible way they can give feedback to you about the process. Simply knowing they have that ability to communicate to you and that you are really listening will decrease their anxiety about the future.
  4. Within reason, provide people small ways they can choose about how the change will look. Although the leadership will have decided the big picture change, providing options and opportunity for people to hone what those changes within the big change will look like increases autonomy. Remember, people love autonomy.
  5. Fill in knowledge gaps with Faith. Preach and teach on faith. Keep verses like Hebrews 11.1 often before the people.

Heb. 11.1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (NLT)

What have you done that has helped smooth church change?


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SIX REASONS YOUNG CHRISTIANS LEAVE THE CHURCH

29 09 2011

One of the most effective means of evangelism is to reach young people while they are still young and part of the church.  Reconnecting with those who you have lost is one of the most important mission fields.  The Barna Group shares with the church some counsel for this:

Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church

no-churchMany parents and church leaders wonder how to most effectively cultivate durable faith in the lives of young people. A five-year project headed by Barna Group president David Kinnaman explores the opportunities and challenges of faith development among teens and young adults within a rapidly shifting culture. The findings of the research are included in a new book by Kinnaman titled, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Church.

The research project was comprised of eight national studies, including interviews with teenagers, young adults, parents, youth pastors, and senior pastors. The study of young adults focused on those who were regular churchgoers Christian church during their teen years and explored their reasons for disconnection from church life after age 15.

No single reason dominated the break-up between church and young adults. Instead, a variety of reasons emerged. Overall, the research uncovered six significant themes why nearly three out of every five young Christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15.

Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective.
A few of the defining characteristics of today’s teens and young adults are their unprecedented access to ideas and worldviews as well as their prodigious consumption of popular culture. As Christians, they express the desire for their faith in Christ to connect to the world they live in. However, much of their experience of Christianity feels stifling, fear-based and risk-averse. One-quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” (23% indicated this “completely” or “mostly” describes their experience). Other perceptions in this category include “church ignoring the problems of the real world” (22%) and “my church is too concerned that movies, music, and video games are harmful” (18%).

Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
A second reason that young people depart church as young adults is that something is lacking in their experience of church. One-third said “church is boring” (31%). One-quarter of these young adults said that “faith is not relevant to my career or interests” (24%) or that “the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough” (23%). Sadly, one-fifth of these young adults who attended a church as a teenager said that “God seems missing from my experience of church” (20%).

Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that “Christianity is anti-science” (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have “been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.” Furthermore, the research shows that many science-minded young Christians are struggling to find ways of staying faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries…

FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW TO CONTINUE READING >>>

The Barna Group – Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church





FACEBOOK AND YOUR CHURCH

17 10 2010

Recently, in an effort to gain more information about church Facebook use, OurChurch.Com conducted an extensive survey.

Most respondents indicated they don’t think their church is doing a particularly good job with Facebook. While those results could be perceived as negative, a closer look reveals some big opportunities for those churches willing to embrace the world’s largest social network.

  1. Communicate More – Clearly people would like to see their church do more on Facebook.
  2. Ministry Pages – A second opportunity for churches is for individual ministries to engage with people through Facebook pages.
  3. Facilitate Connections – A third opportunity for churches is to help their people connect with one another.
  4. Evangelism – A fourth opportunity for churches is to encourage and train their people to develop relationships with those who are not Christians and show God’s grace and love to them.
  5. Facebook Ads – A fifth opportunity for churches is to use Facebook ads to reach out to people in their community.