28 10 2014

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



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. 😉


5 07 2014

Bridgebuilders Ministries is a firm advocate of a social networking presence by pastors in particular. This article first appeared on the CHRISTIAN POST’S blog ON-LINE MISSION.

8 Things Pastors SHOULD Do on Facebook

Facebook Pastor

We spent a couple of days earlier this week discussing 18 Ways Pastors Can Ruin their Reputation on Facebook. It stirred some emotion as a number of people vented about some of the misuses of Facebook they’ve seen pastors make. If you’re a pastor, I hope that hasn’t scared you away from Facebook, as it remains a great tool for connecting with people within your church and community.

Today we turn towards the positive and look at 8 things pastors should do on Facebook.

1. Listen. James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” Nothing could be more important on Facebook. Listen more than you speak. By listening you’ll get to know people better and learn what’s going on in their lives. You find out who is hurting, who is frustrated, who is thriving, who is gifted in ways you never realized.


2. Pray. James 5:16 tells us, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Whether your Facebook friends post good news or bad, a success or a failure, you can always pray for them. When you do, ask God for guidance as to how to respond if at all. He may prompt you with the words to type in a reply. He may prompt you to pick up the phone. Who knows what could happen.

3. Engage/comment. Of course, if all you do is listen and pray, you’re not going to have much impact on Facebook. In fact, nobody’s going to even know you’re there. Show you care about your Facebook friends by engaging with them. Comment on people’s updates. When other people comment on your updates, reply back to them. Respond promptly to messages and new friend requests.

4. Publicly encourage. One of the best ways you can engaged with people and show you care is to encourage them. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort either. Posting a comment on someone’s update with a simple “Congrats!” “That’s awesome!” or “I’m praying for you,” shows the person (and their Facebook friends) that you really are listening and you care.

5. Respond privately to sensitive issues. Facebook not only provides the means to respond publicly to your friends, but also privately. If someone posts an update alluding to a personal or sensitive issue – their relationship status changes, they’ve lost their job, they sound depressed – in addition to publicly encouraging them, you may want to want to send them a private message. Not only does it give you the opportunity to say something you might night want to say publicly, but by asking open-ended questions you invite them to open up more privately about what’s going on and how they’re really doing.

6. Be human. People are not connecting with you on Facebook so they can hear about God and church all the time. They want to relate to you as human being. Post about what’s happening in your life. Share photos and video of your family. Talk about your other interests and hobbies. Share links to articles you think are interesting.

7. Be authentic. People are also not connecting with you so they can see how perfect people live. Don’t just post the good stuff that’s going on in your life. It’s OK to express sadness, anger and frustration. In fact, it’s not just OK, it’s necessary. We are all frail and sinful. People need to understand that as a pastor you are not better than they are. You are just blessed to be forgiven and have the Holy Spirit at work in your life.

8. Initiate friend requests. Some people are afraid to initiate a friend request with a pastor. After you meet someone in the community or meet someone for the first time at church, initiate a friend request with them the next time you’re on Facebook. Remember Jesus hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors, so you should be hanging out on Facebook with people who are not Christians too.




16 11 2012


In our current round of Bridgebuilders Seminars and in presentations about the Bridgebuilders Principles, we have been sharing some disturbing news that goes to the heart of  renewing our passion for evangelism and making more and better disciples.

As a follow-up, I’d like to share some graphs that summarize the recent findings of the Pew Research Center.

Shawn Anderson in his blog living dangerously has some counsel for us based on these observations:

1. Realize that we are the seekers, not the religiously unaffiliated. Jesus told his followers to “go”. Instead of building a church building with the notion that “they will come” to us, we need to actively and intentionally go to our communities.

2. Target young people. The younger generations are the ones with the largest percentage of religiously unaffiliated. They will also dictate the future of the church. Therefore, we need to intentionally seek to develop relationships with them.

3. Communicate the love of Jesus. If we share the love of Jesus by serving others with no strings attached and by being transparent with them, it will show them that we are more concerned with their souls than money, rules and politics.


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.


13 10 2011

Bridgebuilders Seminar is a six-hour training seminar to help traditional churches reach their unchurched neighbors.  The Seminar was designed by Dr. Steve Dunn on behalf of the Commission on Evangelism of the Eastern Regional Conference of the Churches of God.

Part of the challenge of this effort is that it is often a cross-cultural experience for which traditional churches are ill-equipped by temperament, knowledge, and skills.  Even if they believe that they are called to reach the mission field that is outside their front door, they often see it as a matter of getting people in the door so that the church might survive. And too often they believe that simply re-packaging a bit what they do will make them attractive to people for whom church is simply irrelevant to their daily lives.

The Seminar breaks down into six sessions:
+”The Mission Field Outside Your Front Door”
+”What Every Missionary Needs to Know”
+ “Christ’s Respectful Ambassador”
+ “Listening to the Holy Spirit and the Culture”
+ “Tools to Building Bridges”
+ “Getting Started as a Church (And as Individuals)

Seminars begin at  9:00 am and conclude at 3:30.  Cost is $15 person or a flat $50 for churches registering four or more participants.  That price includes lunch and a workbook.

To date there have been three Bridgebuilders Seminars involving 20 churches more than 75 persons, plus two introductory seminars attended by 120 persons.

The remaining seminar offerings in 2011 are as follows:

Saturday, October 29, 2011
Germantown Church of God
16924 Raven Rock Road
Cascade MD
Host pastor is Mark Hosler.

Linglestown Church of God
5834 Linglestown Road
Harrisburg  PA
Host pastor is Barry Stahl.

You can register for Bridgebuilders by going to the BRIDGEBUILDERS SEMINARS Facebook Page or by going to ERC Evangelism’s website EVANGELISM PLUS  Or by calling 717-898-8144.

Posted by LIFE MATTERS at 6:08 PM 0 comments


26 03 2011

From Ed Stetzer comes these thoughts:

Here is my latest column from the Spring 2011 issue of Facts and Trends magazine, focusing on the younger unchurched:

Adlai Stevenson stated, “That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in another.” He did not have a particularly high view of the next generation, but he does challenge us to consider the radical changes in thinking that are sometimes seen between generations.
The reality is that generations do think differently and different views emerge – and it is worth our time to consider them. As George Orwell said, “Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it and wiser than the one that comes after it.”

This bothers some and challenges others. For me, my concern is not to rail against the next generation– I want to reach them.

In the book, “Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them,” I shared some of the findings from a survey conducted of 1,000 unchurched young adults about the issues of church and spirituality. The study revealed that the younger generation is more open to issues of spirituality than our conventional wisdom allows us to admit.

This generation is open to God and spirituality. When asked if they considered themselves to be spiritual, 73 percent of respondents age 20-29 answered affirmatively. They are interested in learning more about God or a higher supreme being. Eighty-two percent believe a person’s spirit continues to exist in some kind of afterlife. Seventy-seven percent believe in the idea of heaven and 60 percent believe in the idea of hell. Perhaps most surprising, 66 percent even believe that Jesus died and came back to life.

The Jesus that they believe in, however, is in some ways a Jesus of their own creation. Only 57 percent believe there is only one God, the God who exists in the Bible. Fifty-eight percent believe the God of the Bible is the same as the gods or spiritual beings of other religions. Though Hinduism ascribes to a million gods, Buddhism has no god, and Christianity has one God, a majority of young adults believe that all of these gods are the same.

While there are clearly negative implications to this pluralism, there are also great opportunities for the church. Sixty-three percent said they would attend a church that presented truth in an understandable way. We need to be proactive about sharing the gospel to this demographic in clear, understandable terms. Simultaneously, we should defy the “Chicken Little syndrome” that believes the church is about to crumble under the weight of pluralism.

It’s easy to look at some of the viewpoints of the younger unchurched and write them off. Rather than throwing up our hands in disgust, we need to extend a hand, exemplifying Christ and His gospel now more than ever. We need to enter into authentic relationship with a generation filled with brilliance and potential. We need to begin honest conversations with those who have honest questions.

You can read more about our research on the millennials here, and you can subscribe to Facts and Trends by emailing factsandtrends@lifeway.com.


23 08 2010

This video on YouTube is from a broadcast called The Greatest Story Never Told and features research from Lifeway, an arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. Ed Stetzer adds his analysis.