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How Churches Become Too Busy And Less Effective (via Thom Rainer)

Thom Rainer attempts to describe how churches can become focussed on their activities to the detriment of mission and ministry.
He has eight points.

  1. Activities became synonymous with ministry.
  2. Programs and ministries are added regularly, but few or none are ever deleted.
  3. Programs and ministries become sacred cows.
  4. The alignment question is not asked on the front end.
  5. Silo behavior among the different ministries of the church.
  6. Lack of an evaluation process.
  7. Ministry becomes facility-centered.
  8. Lack of courageous leadership.

You can read his background comments on the points here.


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A View That Banishes Distractions From Worship (via Barry York)

A brief article by Barry York at Gentle Reformation on a neglected aspect of ministry, the call to worship.
The basic idea is that rather than telling people not be distracted, you show them the One who will capture their attention.

From the article:

The great leveling ground as people come to worship is the cross. Even in the Old Testament, the first object worshipers saw as they entered into the courtyard of the temple was the altar. We are all sinners in need of the grace and forgiveness of Christ. God’s people need to hear as they come before him that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Hence, we are called to die to self, to suffer for the gospel, and to be holy like Christ. When Jesus is put before us as the only one we are to be like, the effect is to both humble hearts and seek his cleansing. Comparative thoughts then melt away in the warmth of his presence and grace.

Read the whole post here.


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Making Church Communications More Efficient (via Jonathan Howe)

Jonathan Howe writes about communication strategy for church, the necessity of effective communication, and how more is not always the same thing as better:

I would suggest that instead of being concerned with simply communicating more, churches should be focused on communicating more efficiently and effectively. These four steps will help your church determine what efficient communications look like in your context.

  1. Determine what works best for your people. There’s no one-size-fits all communications plan for any church. Different churches need different methods of communication. If you listen to your congregants, ask for their input, and pay attention to what seems to resonate with them, you can determine what you should stop doing, keep doing, or start doing.
  2. Don’t be afraid to try new methods. Unsure if your congregation would respond to an email newsletter? Try sending one per month for a few months and see what the response is. Find champions for new technology in the church to help you spread the word about the benefits of different communications methods.
  3. Be persistent, but not stubborn or wasteful. Give a new communication initiative a few months before throwing it out. But don’t be afraid to kill something if it doesn’t take, even if you like it, or if you want people to like it. Don’t stick with a communication method just for your own benefit or pleasure. If it isn’t working, don’t continue to waste time and energy on ineffective communications.
  4. Use tools that foster efficiency. Software—both online and computer-based—is widely available for communications. You have templates in Mailchimp, design templates for Canva, and social media auto-schedulers like Buffer and Hootsuite, dedicated social media apps for on-the-go posting. Use tools that work for your workflow and messages. Finding the right tool, or even a better one, can make a huge difference in the efficient use of your time and your message’s effectiveness.

Red the whole post here.


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Devoted To Prayer (via Edmund Clowney)

A significant aspect of Jesus’ character and identity was the fruit of prayer.
Those who follow him grow their character and identity the same way.
From Edmund Clowney at Ligonier:

They devoted themselves to prayer because they had devoted themselves to the Lord Jesus. They wanted to reflect Him, and they desired to serve Him. His resurrection and ascension lifted their praise to the Father’s throne. Luke gives us a taste of their prayer when Peter and John were released after they healed a lame beggar: ” ‘Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus’ ” (Acts 4:29–30). They persevered in prayer because they knew that God heard them. They knew that God’s sovereign will had been accomplished at the Cross. Their prayer, like Peter’s preaching, had been transformed by their understanding of the Cross.

Read the whole post here.


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Six Characteristics Of A Simplifier (via Lisa Bodell)

David Murray read a book called Why Simple Wins: Escape the Complexity Trap and Get to Work That Matters by Lisa Bodell.
It’s a business book, but churches, along with any group find that the longer we go on the more complex we can get.
The challenge is to keep trying to simplify everything.

Murray’s post reflects on lessons learned, and he provides this excerpt:

Six Characteristics of a Simplifier
After challenging her readers with a range of questions that reveal whether we are complicators or simplifiers, Bodell provided six characteristics of a simplifier:
1. Courage: You are not afraid to challenge the status quo. You are comfortable with change and the unknown. You call people out who are being needlessly complex.
2. Minimalist Sensibility: You know the value of less. You seek to eliminate tasks or barriers that hold you back from doing more valuable work. You approach everything you do by asking, “Is this the simplest way to do this and still reach our goal?”
3. Results Orientation: Simplicity isn’t just about cutting costs for you. You do it because you want to get things done. You like clear outcomes and accountability.
4. Focus: You don’t give up. You stick with an effort that will help you reach your goals despite resistance. You see pushback as a way to get information and make your case stronger. You don’t let business as usual get in the way of simplifying things over the long term.
5. Personal Engagement: You “walk the walk.” You actively seek ways to simplify and you do it, while empowering others to do the same.
6. Decisiveness: You like to move things forward quickly. You don’t let a consensus-driven culture slow things down unnecessarily.


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How To Stop Defending What Isn’t Working (via Leadership Freak)

New people bring all sorts of observations and questions about things that don’t work and we’ve gotten used to.
Dan Rockwell counters the waste of energy in defending what isn’t working.

Stop defending what isn’t working:
#1. New eyes see and state the obvious.

  1. Gradual development is less effective when you’re stuck.
  2. Bluntness creates tipping points.
  3. A new voice turns the lights on by saying the same things in new ways.

#2. New voices intensify the gravity of the moment.
Business as usual goes out the door when a new person enters the conversation. A little discomfort is a good thing, especially when you’re stuck.

#3. New perspectives reveal what’s important to you.
We lose sight of our values after grinding away for a long time. Reconnect with what you really want by noticing how you judge new perspectives.

#4. New people bring new feedback. What’s working? What’s not serving you well?

#5. New participants often lead to aha-moments. You end up saying, “I never thought of that.”

“A new person at the table is one way to address the issue of defending what isn’t working.”

Read the whole post at Leadership Freak.

I wonder when a new voice will come along?