What is Attractive?

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches April 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

Fourteen months ago a declining congregation of less than one hundred people went through a church consultation. One key result was that the congregation needed to become much more involved with their community. Taking this advice to heart the people reached out to an elementary school with whom, they had a relationship, though not an overly positive one. A large grocery chain was offering coupons to help students purchase computers and note pads for school work. When a customer purchased a requisite amount of groceries they received coupons. The church body collected over a thousand of these coupons. The church then displayed them in a booklet and took the coupons to the local school and gave them to the principle, telling her they were for the school. This gift led to a continual connection of ministry that currently exists between the school and the church. Recently the church, in a Sunday service, honored the school, the faculty and the children. Their attendance that day almost doubled and the church is now seen as a place of service and love by those leading the school. By the way, in the last twelve months the congregation has grown by fifteen percent, some of which is conversion growth.

One way for small churches, often with limited resources, to begin to change their momentum and see growth, is to reach out in small but meaningful ways, to serve local communities.  Recently I heard of a church that in one year has doubled in attendance from twenty to forty people, during the Eater season, distributing five hundred boxes of cookies to their little town. They want the people to know they care for them. Another pastor in a congregation of less than seventy people has led the church people to reach out to their local school. It is making a difference in both the church’s sphere of influence and in growth. The pastor said the change for him came when he realized he had not been called to be the pastor to his church but to the community.

 Small churches often find it hard to attract people to visit their campus. They usually do not have the human or financial resources to create ministries and programs that cause people to want to attend. However, these congregations are not helpless. It begins with a vision of how God wants to use them to serve those who are not yet there. They can start by serving in physical and tangible ways. God then opens doors to help them serve in spiritual ways ministering to those apart from God through Jesus Christ, by helping lost become brand new disciples.

There is one other factor. Each story I’ve shared is occurring in congregations that do not see these outreach services as one time events but ones to be practiced continually. They also recognize that there must be strategies to move from the initial acts of service to next steps that help lost people meet their greatest need which is connection to their Savior Jesus Christ.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Problem is Never Just the Problem

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches March 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

I recognize that any model of governance will work if the people doing the governing understand and practice the beliefs that they are in positions of responsibility to accomplish an agreed upon mission and to do all they can to help those being governed to serve well in accomplishing the mission. I also recognize the opposite is true, that no matter how good the model of governance might be, it still depends on the character of those doing the governing. Ultimately it gets down to character and integrity, and in congregational contexts, the Biblical and theological acumen of those governing.

The model proposed by John Kaiser in his book, Winning on Purpose is to date the best model I know to try and achieve Kingdom effectiveness in a fallen world. It hopefully provides the best checks and balances between the concepts of responsibility, accountability and authority. If implemented well, it enables capable leaders to lead the community in the achievement of God’s mission for the Church and create an exciting motivating vision for the congregation to live out in service to the Lord of the Church. However, the model still assumes that those governing are people of high character and integrity.

Pastors and board chairs must understand that having the best model is not enough, since the model is only as good as the people that function within the model. It still demands leadership skills.

For example, pastors need to understand the small problems and conflicts usually do not go away by ignoring them. Most minor conflicts are like leavened bread. The problems rise and get bigger over time, usually when people are not looking. Also, many of the conflicts in either board or staff relationships are coming from people that are experiencing frustration arising from unpleasant situations in their homes or places of employment. The problem is never just the problem. Many congregational conflicts are like onions that reflect various levels of unrest, often in multiple life experiences. Therefore good leaders realize that any governance model will be thwarted in its intent if problems are not handled well (in a variety of wise ways) while they are still relatively small ones.

Passive aggressive behavior is never to be tolerated, even if the issues are small in nature. In fact it is better to deal with such behavior when the issue is minor and emotions are not engaged at a high level. Also, if such behavior is practiced when the issue is not a large one, it will be practiced with even greater art, when the issue is much more significant.

Good leaders understand that accountability is not just related to goals.  Accountability must be practiced in dealing with the day to day implementation of normal governing functions. We must all be called to accountability for our actions when our actions threaten the conduct of governance, no matter how small or large the issue might be.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Cultural Architects

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches February 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

In accomplishing their mission, congregations interact with three cultures. They are our national culture, the congregation’s local culture and the individual culture of each congregation. However congregations also deal with three other cultures in how they are organized to accomplish their mission. The first is the organizational culture itself, the professional culture of the pastor and the leaders and finally the geographical culture related to the location in which the congregation exists.

The organizational culture relates to how people within the congregation interact with each other. One example might be how problems are handled. In a few congregations they are dealt with in an open manner in which the problems are stated and the solutions focus on issues not personalities. In other situations (too often reflecting majority of congregations) problems are dealt with in a passive-aggressive manner. Some congregations function from a guilt perspective while others handle things with a sense of grace. In other cases congregations may have a scarcity mentality in regards to resources while others come from an abundance perspective. Wise pastors, who lead well, know they must understand the culture of the congregation first, before determining how to deal with problems in ways that reflect Biblical behavior while producing unity around the mission and vision.

The professional culture relates to how the pastor views the pastoral role and how the congregation and its leaders view the role of the pastor. The first question that must be determined is for whom does the pastor ultimately work? The right answer to that question is that the pastor works primarily for the chief shepherd not the sheep. However, many congregations do not believe this as demonstrated by the day to day expectations they have for their pastor. Another issue is the pastor’s primary responsibility. Is the primary responsibility to provide care for the sheep or to lead the sheep, even when such leadership requires “tough love”. Another key question relating to the pastor’s role is the growth of the congregation. Is the major criterion of evaluation the spiritual growth of the believers who already are part of the congregation or is the criterion evangelistic growth that generates a growing body of new believers that are now growing spiritually?

The third culture that must be dealt with is the culture of the community and the impact the community’s beliefs and values have on the congregation. Recently I was in a larger congregation in a small isolated community. The congregation had gone into a “bunker” mentality about reaching out since everyone saw the community declining. I pointed out to them that there would be over 5,000 people, just like them, living in the community five years from now. There would also be thousands more who were not like them, still living there in the future as well. Wise pastors help congregations embrace Biblical thinking and the resulting behaviors whether the values and beliefs of the surrounding community support such thinking or oppose it.

Wise pastors that are effective are ultimately cultural architects. They help congregations embrace the mission by first helping them understand the internal cultures. These pastors then lead congregations to leverage the various cultures in which they find themselves to accomplish the mission.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Hearts of Disciples

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Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Catalyst/Coach

Taken from Growing Healthy Churches January 2014 E-Newsletter

 

 

 

 

We in GHC (Growing Healthy Churches) believe pastors should know what people give. If the pastor is the Spiritual leader of the congregation, as most congregations I work with would attest, than the pastor needs to be aware of one of the most spiritual acts a believer performs which is how that believer honors and obeys God with their finances. According to Jesus Christ a person reveals their heart and its commitment to Jesus by how the resources God uses to bless an individual or family are handled.

Many pastors use James 2:1-4 as an excuse for not knowing. Such pastors say they do not want to be biased by showing favoritism based upon what a person gives. I find that this excuse does not fit the passage, reflects such a low level of spiritual maturity on the part of pastors that is embarrassing, and it is not consistent with other pastoral judgments and behaviors.

First the passage is talking about providing people status based upon their apparent overall wealth or poverty, not on the amount an individual gives to God. In fact good giving is based not on the amount given but on the percentage given based upon the total resources a person possesses. Jesus honored the widow and her giving, not based upon the amount, but upon the fact that she gave all she had. Therefore, wealthy people who give large amounts that are only a trifle of their income are not good givers. Whereas, people with less resources who give a significant part of their income (which may be much less then gifts given by wealthy people) are, in God’s eyes, good givers. Wise pastors do not look at the amount given alone, but whether the gift reflects true sacrifice or just financial inconvenience.

Second, I find most pastors make judgments about members of their congregations that are legitimate, and do not make God’s gracious blessings of individuals, whether it be money, spiritual gifts, physical appearance, talents, personality, IQ etc. as a basis for giving a person favored status in the congregation. Pastors are looking for disciples who model discipline, faithfulness, dedication, mentoring, reproduction, commitment, responsibility etc. as those things that enable a person to be given the privilege of service (status) in a congregation. If such is true in these areas, why is giving different? It is not. Most pastors I know, if found guilty of discrimination, it is for reverse discrimination to assuage cultural guilt.

All leaders are expected to make judgments about disciples. We are to judge behaviors. If we cannot judge behaviors we cannot honor those who the Bible says to honor and we cannot exercise church discipline. We are to judge words. If we cannot judge words then we cannot distinguish between true and false teaching. We are not to judge motives and we are not to discriminate (a form of judgment) based on status which comes from how God dispenses or does not dispense his grace.

Giving is a behavior that requires discipline and reflects ones growth or lack there of as a disciple. Therefore pastors need to know what people in the congregation give.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]