Ideas for Impact
What kinds of churches can we become?
I was reading a new book this month that talks about how churches can bring about a major change and how that is a different approach from small incremental changes.
Major changes take a lot of work, a lot of people involved in making decisions, a longer time frame that may take years and sometimes a big financial commitment. Changes like adding new staff, new buildings, additional worship services and new programs are major changes that take skilled leadership.
Incremental changes are often seen as not very important, but I think there are many small changes that ministries can make that will have a huge impact.
I was listening to Thom Rainer's and Ed Stetzer's recent blogs where they interviewed Daniel Im about his new book, No Silver Bullets (5 Small Shifts That Will Transform Your Ministry)
Here are a few shifts in strategy that he suggests churches make:
1. Changing our definition from Destination to Direction. Churches often say that discipleship means being obedient and growing over a period of time, but we might give the impression it means learning some information or completing a class 101, 201, etc. He reminds us that disciples cannot be mass-produced and that listening to information does not automatically mean we will retain it and apply it.
2. Shifting Our Focus from Output to Input. He said that there is a correlation between helping people do certain things and the outcome it often produces in their life. For example, when we intentionally help people to become self-feeders, to read the Bible consistently for themselves, God uses that in their life and produces changes in their life. I think one way to apply that is to help our teachers concentrate on helping their class read the Bible for themselves each week, not just attend a class and listen to someone else tell what they read.
3. Shift from Being a Sage to Being a Guide. We often teach the way someone taught us, we imitate the model that was given to us. Instead, he encourages churches to teach the way people learn most effectively, which is this: we learn best on-the-job - when we read it, when we do it, when we explain it, when we discuss it. So in addition to lecture, teachers would do well to be more of a guide and help us to do what we want to learn.
4. Shift from Form to Function. The size of the group can be important, but we should make sure that we care about and be intentional about the function of the group.
5. Shift from Maturity to Missionary. Sometimes we might give the impression that the goal of discipleship ends with me - my maturity, my knowledge, my relationship with God. But we have to model for church members that the purpose of helping them grow is so that they can serve others, love others, disciple others, and help others have a personal relationship with Christ.
We are starting a new pastor study group and we will read the book Mistakes Leaders Make, by Dave Kraft.
1. Allowing ministry to replace Jesus
2. Allowing comparing to replace contentment
3. Allowing pride to replace humility
4. Allowing pleasing people to replace pleasing God
5. Allowing busyness to replace visioning
6. Allowing financial frugality to replace fearless faith
7. Allowing artificial harmony to replace difficult conflict
8. Allowing perennially hurting people to replace potential hungry leaders
9. Allowing information to replace transformation
10. Allowing control to replace trust
Pray for us as we try to become the best leaders that we can be. Come join us if your schedule allows.
Recently in 2018, our Association helped with four teacher training sessions at one of our local churches. About 30 teachers attended the training. The information we talked about was not new - if you read a book about best teaching practices, the information would be very familiar.
What was different was that, in our training sessions, we allowed time to practice what we were recommending they do when they return to the classrooms where they teach.
Looking back on the last two years of working with our Association Missions Interns.
1. They were relational - they formed encouraging relationships with one another and enjoyed a little bit of competition and especially humor.
2. They were eager to learn and critique what they were learning - "does this fit with reality and with my experience?"
3. When they felt that their opinion was valued, they were willing to share and evaluate.
4. They were willing to study and teach what they were learning to others.
5. They memorized scripture and rose to the challenge.
6. They read a book about leadership and analyzed each chapter for application.
7. When there was an opportunity to serve, they jumped in to unfamiliar circumstances.
8. They read a Bible chapter and wrote discussion questions for a small group study.
9. They showed compassion for those who needed help.
10. They gave a weekend to volunteer for Disciple Now.
11. They went on mission trips and they lived a missional lifestyle.
12. They shared their salvation testimony and other stories of what they learned.
13. They welcomed a variety of commitments - school, work, church, friends, sports.
14. They expressed gratitude for a year of doing life together.
15. They did not see themselves becoming full-time workers at a church but they did see themselves as full-time Christians with a desire to serve others and be used by God