Mission Mid-Atlantic Annual Meeting

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We are excited to present this year’s annual meeting: Turn Around Churches. We will have a great time of fellowship and learning with like-minded believers. The meeting will be held May 1-2, 2015.

What does a church in need of turning around look like? What are some tools we can use to make the necessary changes? Have any other Churches experienced the challenges that my church is facing now? We will explore these questions and many more together as we look into God’s word together.

Click Here to Register

Contact Rebecca Tunstall at office@missionmid-atlantic.org if you have any questions.

A Note From Jim

According to Patheos.com, 4,000 churches close their doors every single year. There is less than half of the number of churches today than there were only 100 years ago. 3,500 people leave the church every single day.

Mission Mid-Atlantic is intimately aware of the state of the church in our region. As a result, the theme for our upcoming Annual Meeting in Lancaster on May 1,2 is the Turnaround Church.

We invite you to attend this year’s meeting as we give special attention to the current state of the church,and what we are trying to do to bring the Gospel to bear on the changes that need to be made.

In His easy grip,

Jim[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Re-thinking Mission

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches May 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

I recently visited a congregation that over the years had declined from 1,000 people in worship on a weekend to 100. However, the congregation is again flourishing in that there are now over 400 people present each weekend. In fact, many are becoming new disciples for Jesus Christ and the church is looking at becoming a multi-site congregation. What is most intriguing is that this is occurring in one of the most difficult regions of our nation to reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Obviously, God’s blessing is on this church. It is also clear that the pastor and many of his key staff members are leaders. However, there was another factor that came through loudly and clearly as I spoke to him.

This pastor and those on the staff I interacted with saw themselves as missionaries. They understood that the local body of believers does not exist primarily to serve the believers. Rather the Church is God’s missional arm to be leveraged to reach lost people. Therefore, it was important to learn and understand the micro-culture in which the church exists in order to develop strategies God might bless to communicate the Good News of life in Jesus Christ.

The pastor and the elders understood that all traditions must be placed on the altar of mission to be sacrificed if such traditions are hampering our Lord’s commission to His Church to go and make disciples. Some of those traditions are its structure, its budget, its name and other related issues that often hinder congregations from becoming truly missional. A number of key sacrifices have been made and the result is a growing church in an area where most churches do not grow.

The pastor believed God had called him to this most difficult mission field in our nation in order to make a difference. He and his staff members are not there to fulfill the traditional roles of pastor and pastoral staff caring for the demands of consumer believers. Rather they are developing leaders and leveraging the gifts of the Body to help the lost become new disciples of Jesus Christ.

We must remember that shepherds lead sheep, not for the sake of the sheep, but for the sake of the shepherd. The Church of Jesus Christ is the incarnate body of Christ today carrying out the same mission Jesus Christ carried out over 2,000 years ago. That mission is to seek and to save those who are lost. We are called to lead sheep to serve the Shepherd, not the sheep.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Disciple Making

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches January 2015 E-Newsletter

 

 

The Great Commission has only one command in it, which is “make disciples”. The Church of Jesus Christ is to be committed to making disciples. In fact most congregations, pastors, board members and congregants agree that this is what the Church of Jesus Christ needs to be doing. Yet in our nation most congregations are not doing well, in terms of either adding new disciples or seeing the disciples that make up the congregation grow and develop significantly. Therefore, if fulfilling this command would build the Church, as Jesus expects, what is the problem? I would like to suggest that too often we take a very narrow view of what Jesus meant, when he said, “make disciples.” I think disciple making involves three major areas of responsibility.

The First Major Responsibility

First congregations must regularly and consistently help people who are currently not disciples of Jesus Christ become disciples. This is perhaps the biggest failure in most congregations. Too often most of the congregation’s resources (time, money, energy, focus etc.) is spent on those who are already disciples rather than making it a priority to devise plans, strategies and tactics to mobilize the congregation to be about fishing for men and women. This is why the Church of Jesus Christ in our nation is not growing when compared to our population growth and why more and more congregations are dying.

The Second Major Responsibility

Congregations need to help those who are disciples develop and mature in order that they might be sold out to doing whatever it is that our Lord demands. This means helping current disciples develop in knowledge (knowing God’s will), in character (becoming like Jesus Christ), in service (giving away to the point of sacrifice) and in sharing with the lost the Good News of the Gospel (evangelism). Most congregations focus on knowledge, knowledge and more knowledge as the primary way to develop disciples. However, there is little focus on helping current disciples become sold out in terms of their lives, as evidenced by the lack of responsible financial stewardship, lack off of sacrificial service, putting family over God (especially children), the inability to control the tongue and the lack of sharing the Good News of the Gospel with others, just to name a few examples.

The Third Major Responsibility

Congregations have the responsibility to help those who comprise the congregation become reproducing Christians. God’s enterprise to reach the world and make disciples is based upon the assumption that the Church will be a reproducing body. Christians who do not reproduce must understand that they are highly underdeveloped disciples of Jesus Christ.

The good news is that there are congregations in our nation that are taking seriously the command of our Lord to, “make disciples.” The tragedy is that these congregations are in the minority. The other tragedy is that many congregations call themselves disciple making when in reality they are not.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Why Are You Here?

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches December 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

One of the most frustrating experiences for me is to walk into a store knowing what I want to purchase, finding it and being ready to pay for it, only to find the sales staff more engaged in talking to each other than waiting on me as a customer. I want to scream, “Don’t you know why you are here?” I might add that I find this equally frustrating when I see other customers having the same experience. Perhaps they are looking for a special item, cannot find what they want or simply are new to the store. And when they are left alone because sales people are more involved with each other than with the customer, it speaks poorly of the sales people’s training and understanding of their purpose.  

I believe the Church of Jesus Christ and each part of that Church, including local congregations, has two customers (assuming a business metaphor). Its primary customers are the people who do not yet know Jesus Christ. The secondary customers are those people who are already part of the Body of Jesus Christ through faith in Jesus’ work in their behalf. However, I find that many congregations spend the bulk of their resources (time, money, energy etc.) on those who already know Jesus Christ, rather than focusing on those who still need to meet Jesus Christ.

The result is that many congregations act like the sales staff in a business where they are more preoccupied with those who run the business than the customer the business was designed to serve. Jesus told us that he would build his church so the “Gates of Hell” would not prevail. The church is designed to depopulate the zip code of the Evil One. Yet we in the church spend most of our time focusing on ourselves rather than on the primary customer our Lord intended the Church to reach.

As we focus this time of year on the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are reminded that Jesus modeled for us, the way he wants us to act with those who do not know him. In the mystery of Godliness, Jesus never left the Father. But in the incarnation, Jesus left heaven and his position there to come to seek and to save those who are lost. His focus, during his time on earth, was to spend a significant amount of time with those who did not know him. And in the process he did not count his position in heaven, as God, as something to preclude his time to come and provide redemption. Jesus functioned like a well trained staff person, who understands that the business is always about the customer, not the staff that run it. He came to serve others, not himself.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Liked or Respected

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches November 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

Pastors are people and, like most people, they like to be liked. Few people enjoy telling others “no” and in some way disappointing them. In fact people who do not care whether others like them and enjoy being negative are people I want to avoid. Yet one of the major characteristics of leaders is that leaders do the right things because doing the right things is simply the right thing to do. That often means not meeting the expectations and agendas of certain people. However those leaders who do the right things well, may not always be liked but they are usually respected.

I recently did two congregational consultations on consecutive weekends. Being liked was a high value for both pastors. However, for one pastor being liked was more important than being respected. Therefore he was not open to doing the right things. For the other pastor, he recognized that for the congregation to achieve its mission, he would have to make some decisions that would make him unpopular with certain people in the congregation. Since he believed he should do the right things, he determined that respect needed to be a higher value for him, than likeability.

As we look at the life of Jesus Christ we see a person who was often loved by many people. However we also recognize that the implementation of his mission took precedence over wanting to be admired and adored. He also made enemies, confounded his friends and in some cases strongly rebuked those who gave him admiration because fulfilling their wishes and expectations would have hindered his mission.
As I reflect on the early years of my pastoral ministry I now understand that being liked was often more important to me than being respected. And as a result I did not make certain decisions that I knew would be unpopular, did not confront behaviors, even if they were clearly sinful and did not employ some strategies that would have achieved God’s mission for the church. We often talk of people who, though they know what to do, cannot “pull the trigger” and make the tough decisions. Often the reason for such action is a great desire to be liked.

The tragedy is that pastors that are often deeply loved, accomplish little in terms of the mission Jesus gives his church and are seen as people who need to be cared for and protected, so they are not hurt. They are often treated more as a favorite grandchild, or even a victim, more than being given respect as a leader. And the overall ministry suffers because multiple agendas are allowed to be pursued rather than our Lord’s agenda for His Church.

Respected pastors may not be universally loved, but they are usually respected for standing up for that which is right regardless of circumstances. So too is our Lord Jesus Christ.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Busy Does Not Equal Productive

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches October 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

I do not think I have ever met a pastor that when asked said that she/he was not busy in ministry. I do not think I have ever shared when asked about my use of time that I have not said that I have not been busy in ministry. Being busy in ministry is almost as much an absolute for evangelical pastors as believing in the Deity of Jesus Christ. Yet as we look at The Church of Jesus Christ it is obvious that a busy clergy does not produce great results when it comes to congregational health and growth. Assuming that a lack of busyness is not the answer to such poor results, we must then determine the problem of such a low correlation between effectiveness and effort. I would suggest that rather than talking about busyness we should be focusing on production. After all our Lord did talk about fruitfulness, which is an evaluation of production. In other words, if all pastors are busy, then we must determine what generates more production for the time invested. 

Evaluating ministry more on production then time served means starting with a clear sense of mission or purpose. The clearer the purpose the easier it is to determine whether production has been or not been achieved. For example, if my purpose for an afternoon is to rest and relax, I can determine as evening approaches whether such has or has not occurred.

A clear mission then leads to strategies and tactics. We all know that any purpose is best served well if the appropriate strategies and tactics are determined and implemented. So a relaxing afternoon for many might include the elimination of all sources of interruption. It would also probably entail a change of environment, particularly the environment in which I regularly work.

Once the strategies and tactics are selected I must then establish criteria to determine if the strategies and tactics are implemented well and produce the intended results that fit the purpose being achieved. So the criteria for a relaxing and restful afternoon might be the re-creation of my mental and emotional state along with renewed physical energy that results in more motivation to achieve results when I enter back into my normal responsibilities.

Therefore busy pastors that seldom see the production they desire need to evaluate their overall approach to ministry. First is there a clear mission for their role and for the personal achievement of their role? If such is not the case, they need to establish such a mission. The clearer and more specific that mission is the better the chance they will succeed in fulfilling it.

Second, these pastors then need to examine the strategies and tactics they employ throughout the week to determine two things. The first determination is the wisdom of employing such strategies and tactics. The second determination is how consistently and effectively the strategies and tactics are implemented.

Finally, pastors then must set goals to determine whether the results achieved are good or need improvement. These results need to be viewed over an extended period of time (three to six months). As many sports or musical coaches say, the goal is to get a little better every time we play or practice.

We are all busy (at least we all say we are). We are not all productive. Our goal hopefully is to improve the correlation between busyness and production.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

3 Keys of Management

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches September 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

One of my favorite quotes from Peter Drucker is, “The purpose of management is to make the church more church-like than to make the church more business-like.”   We must remember that administration is a spiritual gift not a skill developed during the Industrial Revolution.  Managing congregations properly, regardless of their size, is key to achieving the mission God calls all congregations to pursue.

The first responsibility of management is to align all the congregation does behind the mission.  It is amazing the number of congregations that have mission statements that are not achieved, in large measure due to the lack of alignment.  People are not aligned to serve with effectiveness and ministries are not aligned to achieve the mission and vision.

The second key issue of management is getting the right people in the right ministry positions.  Obviously the smaller the congregation the more difficult a task this is, since the pool of people from which one recruits is not large.  However, this lack of personnel is addressed as the leader recruits, trains and develops people to serve.  While such actions are often described as leadership responsibilities, yet such actions also reflect good management skills.  If a congregation never gets the right people in the right positions it will not be healthy, grow and achieve its mission.  Good managers are always on the lookout for key people and they are always training in order to help people succeed in the tasks they are assigned.

A third key issue of good management is establishing ways to achieve accountability.  No mission is ever achieved where there is no accountability.  Accountability assumes that people clearly understand the roles they are given, are provided with adequate authority to carry out the roles well and know that certain expectations must be met.  Therefore good managers are clear about roles, ensure people are given the freedom and resources to achieve expectations and provide any training that is required to help those serving be effective.

Good managers also understand systems.  They know how to align servants to achieve effectiveness within a system and how to coordinate systems to be both efficient and effective.  Missions are achieved with greater effectiveness when the various ministries of the congregation are integrated and not isolated from each other.

The bottom line of management is service and good managers are great servants.  They serve first, their master and His mission for His Church.  They serve the people they manage in order to help them achieve both individually and collectively the mission.  And they serve the system in order to produce highly effective integration so the congregation functions at its maximum best.

When managers serve as described here, Drucker’s quote takes on even greater significance and congregations become shining lights in their respective communities.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Restructure

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches August 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

All organizational structures are only as good as the people who are a part of their make-up. We have all seen times when democracy has worked well and when it has worked poorly. The same is true for more authoritarian designs as well. Structure in churches is no different. Working with a variety of denominations demonstrates that each one’s polity has its merits and each has its drawbacks. Yet it is amazing that when denominations or congregations are in trouble (in decline, on a plateau or filled with conflict) people think that changing the structure is the best way to deal with the situation. However, such is not the case. 

Whenever we work with a congregation that is facing difficulty we first deal with the mission and the vision. If people cannot agree on the same organizational purpose and the same goal, structure is irrelevant. Once the issues of purpose and achievement are settled, then it is often necessary to deal with structure. After all the purpose for structure is to help any organization achieve its mission and vision in the most efficient and effective ways possible.

Too often when congregations work on structure they focus on one of the traditional ways denominations have said structure should be formed. These forms are usually referred to as polity. Yet all of the polities are based on exegetical and theological assumptions derived from Biblical passages, often influenced by the historical times in which the polities were developed.

Since the Bible does not lay out a picture of an overall polity for The Church it might be better to think of structures in relation to overarching key issues. The first is governance. This issue forces us to wrestle with authority. As one thinks through authority one is then forced to wrestle with both responsibility and accountability. The governance issue also leads one to determine who makes the final decisions and how they are made.

After dealing with governance, people need to think of the differences and similarities between leadership as a behavior and the role of those in leadership positions (which are often identified with authority). The two do not always go together, either in theory or practice.

One other issue that must be considered by congregations is the difference between position (the role one has in the organization) and gifting, particularly as it relates to both leadership and authority.

The goal is to then develop a structure that both fits what the Bible is clear about in its teachings and the effective implementation of the mission and vision. Always remembering that any organization is only as good as the people who lead and have authority.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Unsung Heroes

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches July 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

In most congregations, regardless of size, there are one, two or three key lay leaders that carry an inordinate amount of influence. They carry this influence for a variety of reasons, some good and some not so good. In most cases they have served the church with varying degrees of consistent commitment for a number of years. In other cases it may be their wisdom, their influence in the community that is carried over into the church or even their real or perceived generosity. As congregations grow or decline, it is often a direct result of their influence and how it is felt throughout the life of the church. These people may be in leadership positions but not necessarily.  

Since most congregations in our nation are in decline or on a plateau in attendance these individuals play a key role in whether the congregations of which they are a part can experience systemic transformation. If these people, for what ever reason do not want it to happen, it usually does not, and if they do, transformation may happen with great success. Many times such people are labeled as church bosses, tribal chiefs, the God Father or God Mother etc. Most wise pastors soon learn who such people are because they carry influence with most of the congregation.

Although we often hear a number of bad things about such people, I have been more and more impressed with the number of key influential laity I have run across in conducting congregational consultations. In many cases I find that such people are often against change because they have seen it attempted so poorly for so long. They’ve watched pastors and denominations bring in program after program that while promising positive change, often failed. However, often such people really do want to see the lost saved, desire to see their congregation have influence in the community and do want to experience genuine health resulting in growth.

We must remember that many of these influencers have seen pastors, denominational leaders and other (so-called) experts come and go making a big to do with little of substance happening. However, if they do believe that the change is really about the Kingdom of God and it makes sense and has a track record of effectiveness they are often open to using their influence for Godly change. When such occurs, these are the people that enable change to not just be initiated but to continue steadfastly, when others get tired. Such laity is the pastor’s best asset in leading change. Often these are the unsung heroes of congregational transformation and the real people of faith God uses to accomplish great things.

Those with influence can do great damage, but when God gets a hold of their hearts they are the true women and men of faith today.

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Denominations

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches June 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

One major reason for the creation of denominations and church associations was that congregations realized they could often do more together then they could individually.  The sending of missionaries to foreign countries is often used as the best illustration of the benefit of churches grouping together.  I want to share another way in which church groupings are today allowing individual congregations to see the benefit of being in partnership with other churches.

As many congregations throughout the nation decline in attendance and money, while increasing in age, and as a result lose their ability to bring much if any influence for Jesus Christ in the communities in which they exist, a new phenomenon is occurring.  The few congregations that are growing are seeing as both a need and a responsibility the obligation to help those congregations that want to change, grow and become effective again.  These larger congregations are not interested in aiding and helping the congregations that do not want to change, which is wise.  However, if smaller congregations are willing to become intentional about making new disciples for Jesus Christ a number of larger congregations, often within individual denominations, are willing to offer assistance.

I know of several smaller congregations that are now led by boards made up of pastors and key lay leaders from larger congregations nearby.  Others are seeing staff and lay leaders from larger congregations taking up key leadership positions in these smaller churches.  Other churches are entering into partnerships with smaller denominations and taking solo pastors from the smaller congregations and adding them to their own church staff, while allowing that solo pastor to continue to serve her/his home congregation.  Finally, some are even taking on the smaller congregation as a campus of their church, which enables the larger church to be a multi-campus church while serving the smaller churches as though it was one of their own congregations.  In all of these cases the larger churches are offering the smaller congregations, coaching, mentoring, leadership, and key resources such as volunteers, expertise, leadership, people to attend services and in some cases even dollars.

The pastors and boards of larger congregations understand that the issue is the growth of the Kingdom of God.  Smaller congregations often have property, buildings, locations and even historical influence in communities that need again to be leveraged for God’s honor and glory.  These leaders realize it is not about each church doing its own thing and sinking or succeeding on its own.  Our nation is becoming more and more secular and as a result there are more and more people who need to be reached with the good news of the love of God in Jesus Christ.

As I am watching this phenomenon take place it again demonstrates that the Body of Christ is not about individual Christians or even individual congregations.  The Body of Christ is the living breathing army of saints that are on a mission to reach the lost for Jesus Christ.  We really can do more together then we can on our own.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]