What is it You Do? Six Ideas to Maintain Your Church’s Focus

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Mick and Tricia politely shook hands with the friendly greeters as they walked into the sanctuary to find a seat for worship. After a few minutes of gathering their thoughts, these first-time visitors began to look through the wad of papers that were a part of the worship bulletin, handed to them at the door. Mick pulled out what was identified as “this month’s calendar of activities.” As he looked at the fine print in every box across the page, he was amazed to see such a busy church. He noticed activities that ranged from Bible study to Judo classes. As a person investigating the claims of Christianity for the first time, it left him with a challenging question: “What does this church feel is really important?” Noticing that the calendar shows activities all over the map, he wondered, “As a Christian church, what is it you do? What might be most important?”

Most churches do too much. They lack focus and therefore have no ministry alignment. They are like an army marching in different directions or a basketball team running in different directions. Not very powerful. Not very effective.

Focus on these issues:

  1. A clear Mission Statement describes what you do.
  2. When you describe what you do, it immediately articulates what it is you don’t do. This provides focus and helps your church from becoming a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none.”
  3. Focus is important for people who Jesus calls “the light of the world.” Unfocused light is nice, warm, and helps you see. Focused light, called a laser beam, has power to penetrate. This is missional alignment. It is missing in many churches.
  4. Focused ministry (ministry alignment) provides power for a church to be missional and penetrate the culture around it.
  5. When you know your purpose, and it has become part of the culture of your church, you know when to say “no.” This keeps your church from spending energy and resources on those areas that are not part of God’s mission (or your church’s unique mission), but are just nice things to do.
  6. Whose job is it to guard the boundaries of the mission? It is a key responsibility for the leader—the pastor.

Mick and Tricia are more likely to be attracted to a church that is clear about its mission. The information overload they got from the monthly calendar represents a church whose activities are an inch deep and a mile wide. Growing churches are churches that do a few things well. Most of all, what they do, they do on purpose. That purpose is related to their clear mission. All their ministries are tied together toward a clarity of direction. Those churches are making an impact in their communities.

How does your church communicate and guard its mission? 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.

 

We Live in a World of Choices: 5 Ideas for Churches to Adapt

What mental roadblocks do these pastors have in common?

  • choicesPastor Bob has been working for a long time, developing a campaign that teaches about the church in the Book of Acts. He has been promoting it and wants everyone to attend. The class will be on Sundays, during the Sunday school hour.
  • Rev. Caldwell is challenged by the church board, which has been discussing a second worship service with an alternative style. His argument is that the church would lack unity in a second service, particularly one with a different style. It just wouldn’t feel like family anymore.
  • Mary is minister at Hope United Methodist Church. She has a strong commitment to assimilation and incorporation into the church. She is committed to strong discipleship, the Word of God, and a high integrity level for membership. To join Hope United Methodist Church, everyone must participate in a 10-week class, held on Monday evenings.
  • Dr. Barry has resisted the outreach team’s frequent suggestions to add a Thursday night service for those who travel to their lake cottages on weekends. Barry’s concern is that the church should not cave in to the culture.

The problem with these pastors is they have never been to a food court, a Wal-Mart, a shopping mall, or a three-ring circus. Perhaps they have never “surfed” the Web. We live in a culture of many choices. Like it or not, good or bad, that is reality.

Focus on these issues:

  1. Some people in this busy culture have breakfast with their family during the Sunday school hour. It is important ministry time. Offer a series of classes, repeated several times during the week.
  2. Listen to your radio—at least 10 different channels. Discover that various people “dance to the beat of different drums.” To offer worship in different styles is to target groups for Christ. Same content, different packaging. Have you considered a country music worship service yet?
  3. A 10-week membership class on Monday nights is great. Twice a year, offer the same class in a 10-hour retreat setting. Choose a weekend getaway at a resort hotel and advertise it far in advance.
  4. Some people work on weekends—in increasing numbers—in this secular society. A church without a weeknight service ignores firefighters, nurses, and those who work in the retail, entertainment, travel, and lodging industries.
  5. With pressures on families, why would weekends together at a cottage be non-Christian? Provide the Thursday night service.

Whether it’s the way you’ve always done it or not, recognize we live in a world of choices. Accept that or lose people who may want to grow in Christ but do not fit into your one-size-fits-all mentality. Are you challenged by all the extra work this generates? Learn to video record everything and multiply yourself—even the preaching.

How does your church adapt to our current world of choices? 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.

Ministry Opportunities – Be a Part of Something Special – Join Our Team!

Want to be a part of something special? Want to serve God and the local church in a unique way? Not sure how to use your gifts and skills to help advance the work of the local church? Ever prayed for God to use you in a special way to reach people and change their lives? Perhaps serving on the Church Doctor Ministries team is the answer to these questions and your prayer!

Our ministry is expanding and we are being stretched to meet the demands of all that God is calling us to. We are also casting a big, God sized vision to help more churches in 2015. We are going to need to expand our team in order to do this. We’re looking for new team members to join our team – But if you’re just looking for a job, extra income, or a place to hang out before you get your real job – this isn’t for you.OSU team 2014

As the leader of Church Doctor Ministries I am looking for people who are called to serve the local church, willing to commit long term to be a part of the team, and people who are critical thinkers with the focus and discipline to help us achieve the ministry goals and mission we believe God has given to us. .

Take a look at our recently updated Ministry Opportunities page and let me know if you feel God calling you to be a part of a special ministry team.

What About the Bunny? Seven Ideas to Engage the Culture

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Easter is coming soon. The church across town has an Easter egg hunt. Your leadership team is talking about how this diminishes the focus on the true meaning of Easter. The culture is taking over the church! Then the discussion turns to the Easter Bunny. Rabbits don’t lay eggs. What is that all about?

Your leadership team makes an emphatic statement: “We’re a church that’s not going to let the culture invade this church.” The leaders have totally missed the point. They are 180 degrees off in their thinking. They are defensive. They could learn a lesson from their Christian ancestors who took a posture of offense: to overcome culture.

Easter” is a word that comes from Eostre—the concept of fertility and new life. It is thought that Pagans in the northern hemisphere celebrated this festival, which is related to the phase of the moon in the spring (the time when new life is bursting forth). This explains why Easter is all over the March/April calendar from year-to-year.

Details aside, here is the point: Christians who understood the real meaning of new life and the Resurrection aggressively took over the secular celebration and poured biblical meaning into it. I don’t think anyone celebrates the Eostre Fertility Festival anymore. But billions celebrate Easter!

Focus on these issues:

  1. Instead of moping around about how culture is invading the church, go on the offense and creatively find ways you can invade this secular culture.
  2. How could your church or a group of churches in your area creatively invade the mouthpiece of this culture, the media, during “festival rituals?”
  3. What could you do, as a church, to reach people for Jesus during the Fourth of July celebration in the U.S.?
  4. What demonstration—outside the church—could you make, in your community, during Thanksgiving?
  5. How do you engage the rituals of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day?
  6. What does your church do to impact and care for men and women serving your country overseas—not just those from your church, but those from your community?
  7. In what way does your church honor your mayor, law enforcement, school teachers, public high school basketball team that just went to state?

In the spirit of your Christian ancestors, who were on fire for Christ and had a passion to reach lost people, get aggressive, creative, take the offense, and invade your culture. Abandon the fortress mentality.

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.

 

Pioneering Thought: To Complete the Work Left Unfinished

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:6, 7 KJV

John Rowlands

It was not common for Civil War soldiers to fight for both the North and the South, but it did happen. But, to fight for the South in the Army and the North in both the Army and the Navy, only one man achieved this.

British born John Rowlands was an illegitimate child who became an orphan at four. Subjected to physical abuse, at fifteen he ran away working on a ship bound for the United States. New Orleans was his embarkation. He was found by American, Henry Hope Stanley, who adopted the lad giving him his name. When John, now Henry’s father, left for Cuba on business, the last time they saw each other, his namesake encouraged him to hold fast to Christian principles and be “fearless in all manly things.”

When the American Civil War broke out Stanley found himself with the 6th Arkansas Regiment, CSA, at the battle of Shiloh in April 1862. Knocked down by a Union bullet, he discovered he was saved by his belt buckle. Captured on the field he was transported to Chicago’s Camp Douglas. Swearing allegiance to the USA, he joined the Union Army, but before he had an opportunity to fight he became sick with malaria and was discharged. In 1864 he joined the Union Navy serving on the USS North Carolina and Minnesota. He did such a marvelous job keeping the ship’s record that his writings were published and he became a roving reporter in the Wild West, writing about and becoming friends with Wild Bill Hickock, Generals Winfield Hancock and William T. Sherman.

James Gordon Bennett of the New York Herald hired Stanley as the paper’s special African correspondent. Henry Stanley covered the Abyssinian Expedition, and the war in Spain, before being commissioned in 1869 to find the English missionary-explorer David Livingstone, who had not been heard from for several years.

Henry Morton Stanley famously found Livingstone and spent considerable time with him but was unsuccessful in convincing him to leave Africa and return to England. Stanley dedicated his life to serving Africa by developing Christianity and civilization throughout its vast and unexplored interior.On April 18, 1874, Henry Morton Stanley was one of the pallbearers for the funeral of Dr. David Livingstone at Westminster Abbey. Stanley was given the foremost position on the right. Shortly after that the Daily Telegraph of London and the New York Herald united to fund an expedition to Central Africa under the leadership of Henry Stanley: “To complete the work left unfinished by the lamentable death of Dr. Livingstone; to solve, if possible, the remaining problems of the geography of Central Africa; and to investigate and report upon the haunts of the slave traders…”

In 1899, at the age of 58, Stanley was knighted by the Queen. He died May 10, 1904 at 63 years old. He was the most famous convert of Dr. David Livingstone, one of the greatest explorers of all time, and one of the most effective campaigners against the slave trade.

Prayer
Lord, you called me to follow you, to do your work, and to preach the Good News. Help me to accomplish this glorious task with utmost faithfulness and determination until my final breath.

Pioneering Thought
True pioneers never cease in their divine task of declaring with their words, their actions, their might and strength God’s love for the world and will, to their dying moment, be faithful enlisting disciples who will carry on after their departure. -Dennis L. Kutzner

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.

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

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