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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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When Should A Pastor Retire? (via Thom Rainer)

Turns out the answer wasn’t 53. Or even 54.
All Thom Rainer gave me was these ten diagnostic questions:

  1. Are you physically and emotionally able to continue to lead at a high level? If not, you probably should retire.
  2. Are you still highly motivated in your place of leadership? If you don’t wake up each morning excited about your ministry, you might consider stepping down.
  3. Are you a continuous learner? Are you reading, listening to others, attending conferences, learning new technologies, and staying current in key areas?
  4. Are you hanging on primarily for financial reasons? If that is your dominant reason for staying, you are doing your church or ministry a disservice by staying.
  5. Do you have a clear and compelling vision for your ministry’s future? If not, you may be coasting and ready to retire.
  6. Is the church’s health deteriorating under your leadership? It’s not always the fault of the pastor, but you need to ask if new leadership could bring new life.
  7. Does the word “change” cause you to feel threatened or angry? If you are not happy with the way the current generation is leading churches, you may be too change resistant to lead your own church.
  8. Do you empower others regularly? If you are not taking time to equip others to do the work of ministry and to become leaders, it could be an indicator you are coasting.
  9. Is your family supportive of you staying in your current ministry position? Your spouse or children may really know what’s best for you and the church, and it may be retirement.
  10. Do you find yourself longing for the good old days? If so, you might be living in the past, ineffective in the present, and unable to lead toward the future. It might be time to step down.

source


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Six Distinctives Of A Resuscitated Church (via Thom Rainer)

The king of numbered lists, Thom Rainer produces six distinctives of churches that experience resuscitation.
I like them because these are distinctives that any healthy church must have, and if any church neglects or forsakes them they would run into decline.
Rainer writes:

Is church resuscitation common? No.
Is church resuscitation possible? Yes.
In God’s power, yes.

And these are the ways God usually does so.

  1. A prolonged period of prayer.
  2. A covenant to forsake self.
  3. A willingness to kill sacred cows.
  4. A commitment to see through the eyes of the outsider
  5. An agreement to connect and invite.
  6. A decision to move beyond the negative naysayers.

Read more commentary on these points here.

Number 4, A commitment to see through the eyes of the outsider. is large in our minds at MGPC presently.
Raiiner comments: “As the members continue to forsake self, they begin to ask how the church is viewed from the perspective of the outsider. They may actually engage a person to visit their church and share their experience. It is amazing to see how this process transforms facilities, worship, greeters’ ministry, and children’s ministries, to name a few.”


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Seven Reasons Churches Are Too Busy (via Thom Rainer)

These seven points from Thom Rainer about why churches can be too busy are worth considering (or reconsidering) as one year is about to lead into another.

  1. Many church leaders fail to ask the “why” questions when starting a new ministry.
    Why are we starting this ministry? Why should we continue it long-term? Why are we asking people to be involved? When a church has no clear and compelling purpose for a new ministry, it becomes just another activity.
  2. Churches often have no process or plans to eliminate ministries.
    Thus ministries continue even if they are no longer effective or needed. They become analogous to the clutter we often have in our homes.
  3. Some ministries are started just to please people.
    Sometimes church leaders take the path of least resistance and allow new ministries to be added just because one or a few church members wanted them. The ministry may not be the best for the church, but church leaders are often reticent to say no.
  4. Some ministries have become sacred cows.
    Their impact on the church is negligible. Very few people are involved. But any mention of eliminating them is met with stiff resistance.
  5. Ministries in many churches operate in a silo.
    So the student ministry has its own plans. Adult small group ministry has its own calendar without regard for the church as a whole. And the missions ministry makes extensive plans, but does not ask how they tie in with the rest of the church. So the couple who has teenage children wants to be involved in all three areas, but the calendars and activities conflict with one another.
  6. Some church leaders have a philosophy of always saying “yes” because they desire to see all people unleashed to do ministry.
    Such a philosophy is admirable in its motives. But it can devolve into confusion and chaos as countless and disconnected ministries are added to the church’s activities.
  7. Most churches have no process to evaluate ministries each year.
    When ministries continue with no evaluation to their effectiveness, they are likely to be on the church calendar well past the rapture. One of the roles of church leaders is to evaluate ministries every year. There should be some criteria to determine if their continued existence is good stewardship.

Read the whole post here.


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Twenty Five Silly Things Church Members Fight Over (via Thom Rainer)

Trigger Warning: There’s a fair chance you’ve been through something like these if you’re a pastor or church member.
Thom Rainer harvests responses from a Twitter survey about church conflicts caused by silly things.
The comment thread is providing more examples.
If you read it and are thinking “These don’t sound so bad compared to where I am now”, get help.

A few examples:
A 45-minute heated argument over the type of filing cabinet to purchase: black or brown; 2, 3, or 4 drawers
Two different churches reported fights over the type of coffee. In one of the churches, they moved from Folgers to a stronger Starbucks brand. In the other church, they simply moved to a stronger blend. Members left the church in the latter example
A disagreement over using the term “potluck” instead of “pot blessing”
Some church members left the church because one church member hid the vacuum cleaner from them. It resulted in a major fight and split

Read the rest here.


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Nine Elements Of Guest Friendly Church Bulletins (via Thom Rainer)

It’s been a while since I posted a Thom Rainer numbered list.
This one is helpful.
Our weekly sheet is overdue for a redesign.
There’s a brief explanation for each of these at Rainer’s site, but I included all of point seven because it was interesting to me as being different from what I see in the vast majority of bulletins.

  1. Worship times.
  2. Physical address of church.
  3. Website and social media links.
  4. Email, and telephone contact.
  5. Prayer request contact.
  6. Sermon notes.
  7. Major events. Never clutter a bulletin with a multitude of events and regularly scheduled activities. Most of the time, the event should be an event for everyone, and should be considered of major value to the congregation.
  8. Vision or mission statement.
  9. Order of service.

From Thom Rainer.


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Seven Reasons Some Church Members Don’t Want Their Churches To Grow (via Thom Rainer)

Master list producer Thom Rainer provides seven reasons some church members don’t want their churches to grow.
It’s important to know that people who love Jesus as Lord and Saviour and who want others to be saved can fall into these patterns.
They need to be sensitively identified and addressed from the perspective of finding satisfaction in Jesus and the growth of the Kingdom.

From the post:

Obedience to the Great Commission often results in growth in the church. But growth in the church is not always received well by some members. Some of these members have an attitude that the church is there to serve them and to cater to their needs. Healthy church members understand they are to be giving and sacrificial members of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12).
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  1. Loss of familiarity. When a church is growing, it becomes a different church over time. The difference is not necessarily good or bad, but it’s not the same as it was in earlier years. Some church members grieve when they see their churches change. They miss “the good old days.”
  2. Loss of memories. I recently heard a poignant story from a lady whose church was demolishing the old worship center to build a new one to accommodate growth. She and her husband were married in the old worship center. She understandably grieved at the loss of that physical reminder of their wedding.
  3. Loss of comfort. Growth can mean that the closest parking spots are no longer available. Growth can mean that the traffic flow in the parking lot is more difficult. Church members can feel that their creature comforts are compromised by growth.
  4. Loss of power. New people in a church can mean that power bases are diluted. The growth can result in new influencers in the church. Some of the longer-tenured influencers may not like that.
  5. Loss of perceived intimacy. It’s a common response: “I used to know everyone in this church. I just don’t feel as close to members as I once did.” Indeed, growth can mean that all the members may not know each other as they did when the church was smaller.
  6. Loss of worship style. New members and attendees might have different worship style preferences. They often influence church leaders to make changes. Existing members may resent these changes. They might also start worship wars.
  7. Loss of worship time. Growth in the church may necessitate adding worship services or changing times of worship services. Some members may be frustrated that they have lost “their” worship time.