5 Areas of Focus to Implement Change in Your Church

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Change is a challenge for many churches. It seems like nobody wants to change. Pastors and leaders, who come to recognize that the church is not as effective as it could or should be, try to introduce change. Unfortunately, some people rebel. Sometimes it gets ugly. Why?

For one thing, most people don’t like change. Mark Twain once said, “The only person who likes change is a baby with a wet diaper.” Yet, why is it so hard for Christians? Christians know more about change than anyone. We talk about repentance to forgiveness, death to life, mortal to immortal, from lost to found. We ought to be experts about change and it ought to come much easier.

Yet, do some people resist change in your church? Do you? Unfortunately we confuse the content of our faith (Jesus who is always the same) with the baggage of our religion: certain songs, instruments, programs, buildings, etc. What happens? We baptize the containers, the rituals, the methods, and call them Christian doctrine. But Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a commitment to biblical truth.

Focus on these issues:

  1. Ask yourself, “What is raw Christianity?” What is content and what is just packaging? Die for the content, not the packaging.
  2. Help people change incrementally—step-by-step. Help people take little bites, one at a time, which is the best way to eat the elephant.
  3. Understand that everyone has a different tolerance level for change. Early adopters change easily and often. Middle adopters take some time. Late adopters follow a “wait and see” or “show me” attitude. Never adopters…well, never change. There will always be casualties.
  4. Focus on what you would go to the wall for. Make sure that the things you would die for are the things Jesus would die for.
  5. What about those who are resisting change? Go easy on them. Pray for them. Ask God for help to understand change and accept it.

How have you effectively implemented change in your church? We welcome your comments below.

Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by emailTwitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.

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Where Is Your Mission Field?

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Where is your mission field?

Christians like to talk about God’s mission. We talk about the church’s mission, sometimes called “The Great Commission,” the big challenge Jesus gave to His followers to “go and make disciples.”

For many, the mission field has been far-away places. We train “missionaries” – those unusual people willing to go to strange places, eat different food, and live in an uncomfortable environment, speaking some other language. We love to support missionaries, and we should.

For many, the mission field was “over there” – somewhere else. This implied that “over here” is a Christian place. Today it is harder to accept that fantasy. “Here” has become a largely secular place. Actually, it has always been that way. Information technology has just sharpened our grip on reality.

When I first came as a pastor to northeastern Indiana, I received an interesting reaction from one of the prominent leaders. “Pastor,” he said, “you talk about outreach to the unchurched. I’ve been a member of this community all my life. I know the people around here. Most come from a churched home. A year later, after our church doubled in size, he realized his assumptions were not accurate. This man was a great Christian. Now he was becoming a great missionary. His worldview changed.

The mission field is over there, right here, and everywhere. Jesus declared this in a way that makes a lot of sense, once you unpack it. He said to His followers (including me and you, if you are a Christ-follower), “You will be my witnesses here in (1) Jerusalem, (2) Judea, (3) Samaria, and (3) to the ends of the earth.” You can read that: (1) in your own area; (2) in your region; among those of other cultures; and (3) all over the world.

You might think of your “Jerusalem” as so many square miles around where you live. This is where your knees begin to knock and your stomach gets queasy. You think I am going to suggest the unpleasant idea of knocking on doors, talking to strangers. Well, I’m not. That’s not the way the Christian Movement took off in the New Testament. Your “Jerusalem” mission field, the one closest and most receptive is not all the strangers in your area. It is the sum total of the non-practicing Christians in your social network. (Check the directory on your phone or your favorites list on the computer.) They are your friends, relatives, neighbors, fellow workers, and/or those you know at school. These are not strangers.

Who, among those in your social network, show no evidence of having a personal relationship with Jesus? They are your personal mission field. Now what? Your first move may not be to invite them to church. It is not likely that you should buy them a Bible, either. However, if you follow Jesus’ direction, you are to “witness.” You know what an eyewitness is: “I was there, it happened to me.” When someone in your social network gives you a sign that they are receptive, share your God-stories – what God has done in your life. A God-story is simple: “My husband was out of work. We prayed to God, and he got hired. We believe God answered our prayer.” No Bible passages, no pressure. Just tell your story. The mission field is your social network. That is not where it ends, but that is where you can begin.

How did you discover your personal mission field and what is it?  We welcome your comments below.

Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by emailTwitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.

Have the Church Doctor Report and more news from Church Doctor Ministries delivered direct to your email inbox by subscribing now.

Hackelberg Named Young Adult Coordinator for SEND North America

KenzieHackelbergHeadMackenzie “Kenzie” Hackelberg of Fort Wayne, Indiana has been named young adult coordinator for SEND North America (SEND), a ministry initiative of Church Doctor Ministries. SEND is a hands-on leadership, mission, and ministry training experience for young adults, ages 18-29. SEND equips and sends young adults to make a difference in the world.

“We’re enthused to add Kenzie to the SEND team,” said Tracee Swank, leader of Church Doctor Ministries. “She brings a passion for involving young adults in local churches and has solid marketing credentials to help SEND grow,” Swank added.

In this role, Hackelberg will expand the SEND movement by identifying young adults with the gift of leadership to participate in the 10-month SEND experience. She will work with churches, pastors, Christian educational institutions, ministry leaders, and others to reach young adults who are seeking to act on God’s calling for their lives.

SEND graduates have gone on to become church planters, ministry staff team leaders, Christian teachers, camp counselors, missionaries, and marketplace leaders.

Hackelberg graduated from Adrian College in Michigan with a B.A. in Arts Management. She recently served as director of music and student ministries at First Christian Church in Traverse City, Michigan. She has held several positions in marketing, sales and customer service.

“One of life’s biggest questions is, what is my purpose in life?,” Hackelberg said. She continued,”I am so excited to be a part of the SEND team because SEND is all about answering that question, but with a twist! Instead SEND challenges young adults to ask and discover, what is my purpose in Christ? I am passionate about helping young adults like me deepen their faith, discover who God is calling them to be, and find out what it means to live life as a follower of Jesus!”

Anyone interested in knowing more about SEND is welcome to contact Hackelberg at kenzie@churchdoctor.org or 1-800-626-8515, or visit www.sendnorthamerica.com.

SEND North America Young Adults are 10 months away from becoming trained missionaries and helping you reach young adults in your church. Contact us to learn more.

Get updates from the young adults as they journey through this intensive discipleship experience. Support the SEND experience and sign up for SEND’s Email News.

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9 Steps to Implement the World’s Easiest Outreach Strategy

OutreachAPastor Bob has developed a 20-hour evangelism course to help members share their faith. They will learn an outline, several Bible passages, and practice how to deal with objections. For six weeks, Bob advertised the new program in the church bulletin, newsletters, and mentioned it from the pulpit. When the first night arrived, Pastor Bob was surprised—and a little discouraged—when seven people (out of 400 in worship) showed up. The seven people who responded probably have the gift of evangelist, and should be trained by Bob’s program. But the rest of the church is waiting to be trained in “relational witnessing.” They just don’t know it. Neither does Pastor Bob. Focus on these issues:

  1. Start cultivating your congregation to have outreach thinking. Ask your key leaders to read the book The Jesus Enterprise: How You Engage Culture to Reach the Unchurched.
  2. Continue the cultivation of the members of the church in a massive biblical worldview campaign like the 70 Days of Vision using the book Discover Your Windows: Lining Up With God’s Vision and the 70 Days of Vision Campaign Resource Kit.
  3. Meanwhile, at every meeting, gathering, Bible class, or function, take a few minutes and ask if members would like to share what God is doing in their lives.
  4. Using the socio-gram from The Jesus Enterprise, conduct cottage meetings (complete with refreshments) with about 20 members at a time.
  5. At the cottage meetings, teach the Great Commission mentality and share with them the number of people in your county who are self-declared non-Christians. (You can get this information from pennycole@churchdoctor.org.) Most people will be shocked to know what a large percentage of the population this is!
  6. Pass out the socio-grams at the cottage meetings and ask them to list the unchurched people they know who live within the reach of your church.
  7. Ask them to list people in these categories: (1) friends; (2) relatives; (3) neighbors; (4) people with whom they work; and (5) people with whom they go to school. These are the people with whom they already have relationships. (This process is explained in The Jesus Enterprise.) Make a contest out of this. Let each person guess how many unchurched people the members of your church will collectively name, when they are all totaled. Give a prize to the winner. (Dinner at your pastor’s expense at your favorite restaurant within 50 miles of the church worked for me.)
  8. Make copies of the socio-gram. Ask your members to display the original in a prominent place where they see it each day in the privacy of their homes. Ask them to simply pause and pray each day for each person, by name.
  9. With the church copy, add mailing or e-mail addresses of each. Send them an invitation every time your church does something special. (Exclude fund raisers.) Don’t mention who gave your church their names, but tell your members to pray as each batch of invitations goes out. You’ll be surprised how many of your members will: (1) begin to focus on outreach; (2) bring their network people to a special event; and (3) share their testimony when the time is right.

This natural outreach through relationship networks represents the potential size of your church in the future. It also represents the world’s easiest outreach strategy.

How do you conduct outreach through your relationship networks? We welcome your comments below.

Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by emailTwitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.

Have the Church Doctor Report and more news from Church Doctor Ministries delivered direct to your email inbox by subscribing now.

Movement

Help write my new book and provide me feedback on this article. Please comment at the end after reading this article! - Kent

Kent R. HunterFifty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. led a Civil Rights Movement. The tipping point of that movement was the march on Washington August 28, 1963.

This movement had some similarities for what Jesus had in mind. The Christian movement is engineered for people to be transformationally changed, and collectively, change the world; one person at a time, one community at a time, one nation at a time—to the ends of the earth.

The Civil Rights Movement had several elements that the Christian movement would do well to recapture: (1) it was organized as a movement. The church today has become institutionalized, program oriented, safe, risk averse, building bound, competitive, isolated, inward, content indulged. (2) Martin Luther King, Jr. focused on values: what is important, appropriate attitudes, foundational beliefs (“all men are created equal”), priorities (what are non-negotiable issues that must come first), and worldviews—how we understand the world and how the world works or should work. Today, the church is focused on the color of the carpet, budgets, vacation bible school volunteers, Sunday school material, a great sound system for the worship team. These are important, but they are not the focus. They are means to an end not the consuming “end issues.” (3) King gathered a unified cohesive group, across denominations, races, regions, political parties. He focused on the cause and gathered people who agreed to disagree on other issues because the cause was non-negotiably important. The church is sectarian, isolated, and postured in turfism for the most part. (4) Martin Luther King, Jr. was a visionary. He cast a vision: “I have a dream,” he said. The church has some visionaries. The divisive posture of unhealthy Christianity, however, allows misguided critics to undermine rather than support visionaries. There is a spirit of competition rather than cooperation. There are “shooting stars” anxious to occupy center stage, riding on the next latest greatest fad. (5) King recaptured the Master’s dream: one nation under God, people endowed with rights by their Creator. We have lost connection, live in a fog of identity, not driven by the mission for which Jesus died.

Help write my new book and provide me feedback on this article. Please comment below! - Kent

 

9 Ideas to Release God’s Resources in Your Church

Resources“Whatever happened to those spiritual gifts surveys we completed about a year ago?” asked George. Twelve months earlier, the entire congregation was asked to complete the surveys along with a time and talent sheet. The project was led by Mary, the congregation’s Christian Education Director. However, like most churches, the information was never translated to a useable format for retrieval.

Would it help your church run more smoothly to get more people involved? Wrong question! A better approach, from the biblical perspective, is this: what is your church doing to help people find fulfillment by discovering their place in the Kingdom where God has uniquely created them to serve? It’s not about maintaining the institution. It’s about helping people find a ministry that provides fulfillment—producing fruit that is eternally significant.

 Focus on these issues:

  1. Many large corporations have an HR person. That stands for Human Resources. For your church, find the “GR” person—God’s resources!
  2. Distribute surveys, take the information, but don’t stop there!
  3. Determine what gifts, talents, and interests connect with various ministries in your church and your community. Develop a database that ties gifts and talents with ministries.
  4. Turn your focus from maintaining the institution to helping people find divine fulfillment.
  5. Focus on John 15 where Jesus points out that we are to produce much fruit, the kind that is eternal. Jesus adds, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” This is fulfillment!
  6. This person-centered approach should be consistent. If you find someone who has a passion, vision, and the gifts for a ministry your church doesn’t have, make it your responsibility to either create that ministry or help them find a church where they can exercise the uniqueness God has given to them.
  7. Teach and preach that finding your niche in God’s servant-Kingdom work is tied directly to fulfillment. Fulfillment is about giving not getting.
  8. An increasing number of people retire every year. Help them understand that retirement, from the Christian perspective, is “refirement”—redirecting where God has called them to serve.
  9. Recognize that when people are in their right niche, they don’t need motivation or schedules to make them show up.

Most large corporations wouldn’t operate without an HR person. Your church should consider this important ministry: the GR person. Even in the smaller congregation, a part-time volunteer can help people find their niche. Celebrate God’s plan for your church—release God resources for fulfillment within each person. The result? It ultimately achieves just what most churches need: the deployed resources to help make ministry happen.

How does your church release God resources for fulfillment within each person? We welcome your comments below.

Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by emailTwitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.

Have the Church Doctor Report and more news from Church Doctor Ministries delivered direct to your email inbox by subscribing now.