by Daniel L. Sonnenberg, Wilmington, NC
Following is my outline of the main points of the last section of the book Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger where they describe the steps to becoming a simple church.
A. Design a simple process (CLARITY)
- Design a simple ministry process for your church on paper – do not build your process (first) around any existing ministries.
- Study about discipleship in the Bible and narrow your definition down to a few key points. Disciples at our church are: ________________, _______________, ______________, and ___________________. The fewer the points the better.
- Place them in sequential order to identify HOW people progress through spiritual transformation. Place them according to different levels of commitment. The first step should be the first level of commitment.
- Describe your definition of discipleship in process terms. Fill in the blanks to the following statement: People become mature disciples at our church by _______________, __________________, ________________, ___________.
B. Place your key programs along the process (MOVEMENT)
- Choose one churchwide program for each phase of your simple process.
- Be sure each program in the procsess is designed to meet that specific aspect of discipleship effectively
- The first program is the entry point in your process.
- The following programs should require greater levels of commitment.
- Fill in the blanks: _______________ (program), ________________(program), ___________(program), ______________(program).
C. Unite all ministries around the process (ALIGNMENT)
- Align each ministry around the same process. Each age-specific ministry uses the same words to describe the process.
- The more you involve the leaders of the ministries to design the process, the easier it will be to unite them around it.
D. Begin to eliminate things outside the process (FOCUS)
- Change is REALLY felt here
- Some people will struggle with abandoning other programs to focus solely on the ministry process God has given your church.
- Consistently discuss the simple process
- Eliminate programs and events that do not fit. They are a distraction and prohibit your church from enjoying the benefits of a simple church.
The first step is Clarity. Clarity involves defining, illustrating, measuring, discussing and increasing understanding of THE PROCESS. Following is an outline of the chapter on clarity.
CLARITY: starting with a ministry BLUEPRINT
A. Define the process
- Decide what kind of disciple you wish to produce
- Describe your purpose in sequential order
- Decide how each weekly program is part of the process
B. Illustrate the process – choose/design a visual illustration for the process with creative people
- Your illustration should reflect your process
- Your illustration should show progression
- Your illustration should help simplify
C. Measure the process – what gets measured/evaluated gets done
- Learn to view your numbers horizontally, not vertically
- Measure attendance at each (age)level/stage in your process
D. Discuss the process – keep the conversation going about the process, talk with the leadership of the church consistently about the process
- View everything through the lens of the simple process
- Bring up the process in meetings
- Test the leaders on it
- Brainstorm new ways to communicate it
E. Increase Understanding of the process – when people understand the process, they are able to embrace it personally; when the understand the process, they are also able to bring others through it
- Articulate the process corporately – speak about it to the church as a whole
- Share the process interpersonally – speak about it with other people at meals, meetings, etc
- Live the process personally – you must be in a small group, you must be in a ministry group, you must share the good news personally
Example of the simple process of discipleship and corresponding programs:
- Love God – worship services
- Love people – small groups
- Serve the world – ministry groups
- Share the news – personal evangelism
Josh Reich’s summary of the highlights of Breaking the Missional Code by Ed Stetzer.
Establishing a missional church means that you plant a church that’s part of the culture you’re seeking to reach.
Missional is the posture – the way in church we approach people in culture – but incarnational describes what’s actually happening.
We apply the pragmatic test to the work of a theologian. Does his theology motivate men to go into all the world and make disciples? Does it so undergird them that they, thus motivated, succeed in this primary purpose? Theology must stand the test of being known by its fruit.
In Acts 17, the apostle Paul did four things in his effort to be culturally relevant: (1) He understood the Athenians’ position on reality, (2) He understood the Athenians underlying spiritual interest, (3) He looked for positive points within their worldview, and (4) He encouraged them to find true fulfillment in Christ.
Mission is the mother of theology.
Culturally appropriate evangelism answers the actual questions being asked by a given culture rather than those questions the church believes the culture should ask.
Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, says that “Sunday morning is for communicating, not couseling. In fact – and to some this may sound unspiritual – I don’t think you can actually build a church on people who need counseling. When your church has grown and you have more resources, then those people can come back and be helped by the ministry you’ve built.”
The ten most frequent traits of impactful, emerging postmodern churches are: (1) Being unashamedly spiritual, (2) Promoting incarnational ministry, (3) Engaging in service, (4) Valuing experiential praise, (5) Preaching narrative expository messages, (6) Appreciating and participating in ancient patterns, (7) Visualizing worship, (8) Connecting with technology, (9) Living community, and (10) Leading by transparency and team.
For worship to promote evangelism, Sally Morgenthaler says it must include four elements: “nearness – an awareness of the presence of God; knowledge – worship that is centered on who Christ is; vulnerability – worship that involves opening up to God; and interaction – participating in the worship of God.”
George Gallup found that 70% of Americans say that the church is not meeting their needs. When asked what these needs were, there were six responses: (1) To believe life is meaningful and has purpose, (2) To have a sense of community and deeper relationships, (3) To be appreciated and respected, (4) To be listened to and heard, (5) To grow in faith, and (6) To receive practical help in developing a mature faith.
Church growth expert Win Arn lists 8 characteristics of an “incorporated member”: (1) New members should be able to list at least 7 new friends they have made in the church, (2) New members should be able to identify their spiritual gifts, (3) New members should be involved in at least one (preferably several) roles/tasks/ministries in the church, appropriate to their spiritual gifts, (4) New members should be actively involved in a small fellowship group, (5) New members should demonstrate a regular financial commitment to the church, (6) New members should personally understand and identify church goals, (7) New members should attend worship gatherings regularly, and (8) New members should identify unchurched friends and relatives and take specific steps to help them toward responsible church membership.
This appears to be a group that organizes work/service projects in the Wilmington area for those who would like to volunteer for four hours at a time.
Quotes from Tim Keller’s article on churches moving into cities…
“The people are moving into the cities faster than the church is,” Keller emphasized. “If you love what God loves then you will love the cities. If you want to go where the people are you’ve got to go into the cities.”
But churches that want to go into the cities need to be contextualized in order to be effective, he said. Just like how urban China is different than China and urban America is different than America, an urban church is different than a church in the countryside.
An urban church, which has people from many cultures, is required to be extremely patient about accusations of cultural insensitivity and should expect to be accused of such. Pastors of urban churches need to accept that they can never fully solve complaints of cultural insensitivity, but that they can learn from criticisms. Churches in cities also need to show people how their faith relates to their work because jobs are a much bigger part of urban dwellers’ life, Keller said.
“I had only known how to disciple people by bringing them out of the work world and into my church world,” the New York pastor shared. “But if you are in an urban church you can’t do that. You have to help people apply their faith to their work.”
Urban churches also need to expect disorganization and changes; be intensely evangelistic but at the same time famous for its concern for justice; be committed to the arts; and cooperate with other denominations and faith, he said.
Read the entire article…
Tim Keller: Churches Worldwide Need to Move into Cities Christianpost.com
On partnering with city organizations and other churches
Rick Bezet: I don’t know anybody doing a Dream Center who’s going it alone. You find out what’s working, what the Lord is already blessing and you go and work with it, instead of inventing a whole new concept. It gives you instant credibility. Who am I to show up and try to figure out what the needs are when there are already people who know?
If you can find someone who’s already reaching and serving that community and that you like and agree with, you’re way down the road. That’s what we were able to do. We purchased this huge historic building for $150,000 that would be worth a few million dollars anywhere else. It’s also right next to Arkansas Baptist College. The president is a friend, and they need that place for their arts department. So he told me that if we’ll purchase the building for $150,000, they’ll put $500,000 worth of renovation into it and use it for two hours a week! It’s a win-win.
Chris Hodges: We even took our church’s name off; it’s The Birmingham Dream Center. We’ve partnered with the University of Alabama Birmingham. All of the medical students serve at the Dream Center as part of their training.
“Christians should care about ALL suffering, especially eternal suffering in hell.”
Click here to see video of John Piper speaking on evangelism and social justice at the recent Lausanne Conference on Evangelism.
A list of ideas from the March/April 2010 issue…
- Reaching 20-somethings
- Do the church’s leaders exhibit the fruit of the Spirit?
- Is there a concern for justice and compassion in your community and world?
- Are you involving emerging generations in key, influential leadership roles in the church?
- Do people in the church see themselves as “missionaries” in their daily lives focusing on relationships rather than on events?
- Small groups focus on how they can help care for and produce more healthy disciples who are on mission
- Adult education focuses on how its classes can help equip and train disciples to be on mission in their world, etc
- Do our leaders teach doctrines and truth – with humility?
- Does our church’s decision-making process revolve around mission and evangelism?
- Health clinic – free or affordable health care to uninsured or underinsured
- “when people see what we’re doing they want to get involved with their time and money”
- free physicals for local athletes, sliding-scale fee schedule for uninsured patients
- Driving patients to and from appointments
- Dental care
- Vision care
- Small groups committed to long term service
- Work mentally challenged individuals in assisted-living home
- Raking leaves for elderly
- Cleaning up neighborhoods
- Faith in Action Sunday – cancel services and perform community service projects
- Home repairs and yard work for seniors
- Build Habitat for Humanity homes
- Help with group home for kids
- Collect donated items for crisis pregnancy or hurricane victims
- Learn about global poverty thru QuestforCompassion.org
- Aid for the native American community
- Supplies – donate blankets, meat, firewood, candles
- Services – pedicures, haircuts, doctor house calls
- Employment – opened soup kitchen to provide employment
- Survey local leaders – mayor, police chief, community leaders re needs of community
- Affordable, enriching children’s programs – after school art program
- Providing gaming systems such as Wii, Playstation 3, etc for youth
- Disaster relief for those who can’t go:
- Organize a hands-on relief project people can do togehter and send donations the area in need
- Find people in your area with ties to those in the affected area and ask what they need
- Distribute seed money in increments of $5, $10 or more and challenge people to use the seed money to raise money for disaster relief
- continue on pg 105
See more ideas at OutreachMagazine.com
A list of ideas from the July/August 2010 Issue: Small Church America…
- Survey the community to discover what people are struggling with
- CommunityVision of America
- Home foreclosure alternatives
- Homework help for youth
- Shut down Sunday worship to go out and help in the community
- Neighborhood beautification
- Caring for the sick
- Home makeovers for poor families
- Car repair for single mothers and the elderly
- Fast from fast food and donate the money saved to a local food bank
- Group for persons with mood disorders (depression, bipolar), open to public
- Connect with people within 10 miles of the church using Twitter
- Firewood for the needy in winter
- Kids drama/musical productions with casting open to public
- Kids carnival
- Archery and devotions through national Centershot Ministries
- Sports through national ministry Upward Sports
- Build wheelchair ramps for elderly – may be grants available thru AARP, states, etc
- Food pantry for elderly – may be grants available
- Clothing closet for elderly
- Digging wells, clean drinking water overseas thru Living Water International
- TYPES OF SMALL CHURCHES
- Traditional small churches – resilient, nimble, sustainable, little or no debts, strong member loyalty, deep roots in community
- Marketplace churches (“third place”) – churches that operate coffee shops, consignment stores, art galleries, pubs, etc during business hours, and gather for worship on the weekends
- Lifestyle churches – focus on a subculture in society such as bikers, surfers, cowboys, race drivers and pit crews, skateboarders, hip-hop lovers, etc.
- Ethnic churches – focus on first generation U.S. immigrants
- Multiethnic churches – focus on American-born ethnic groups of various kinds in order to bring them together
- New church starts – new church start has no old guard saying, “We’ve never done it that way before,” easy to replicate because began recently and small
- Intentionally small churches – also called house, simple or organic churches, highly flexible, led by lay people, committed to fellowship, can meet anywhere
- continue on pg 73
See more ideas at OutreachMagazine.com
In reading some articles in a recent Outreach magazine (May/June 2010), I found a few interesting quotes and ideas about reaching men in today’s culture.
Kenny Luck says, “In the mind of the average man, the church is where you go to learn how to be nice…but nice won’t cut it.” “There’s a reason a young boy puts on a Spiderman or Batman costume. He wants to grow up to be good – and dangerous.” “I look at every man like a box of dynamite. It’s not a question of whether a guy has power or not; it’s a question of what kind of influence he will leave.” “The most fundamental dream of a man’s life – to be someone great doing great things…”
Ministry to men must 1) attract, 2) transform and 3) unleash a man with a powerful mission in the world.
Attraction can take many forms, but they must resemble masculine culture. Some examples of attraction events include: sporting events such as hunting, fishing, rock climbing, kayaking, martial arts, shooting clay pigeons, blowing things up, iron man and other competetive events, worship services that resemble the masculine rituals of a football game, etc.
Transformation can take place through teaching that communicates to men includes images like the “Lion of Judah engaged in the great spiritual battle of the cosmos”… “sermons based on men in the Bible who were risk takers, giant killers, ark builders, and roof breakers,” the “work of Christ who channeled the power of the universe through the cross of sacrifice for the redemption of others.” It can also take place through graduated small groups with deepening levels of intimacy and transparency.
Finally, men must be unleashed in ministries that make a real difference in the world.
Rev. Dr. Ken Priddy shared the results of a recent United Methodist study at Presbytery. Read more from Ken Priddy at http://kenpriddy.blogspot.com/.
Common factors in successful churches among United Methodists:
1. Small groups and programs for youth, children and adults
2. Active lay leaders
3. Inspirational pastors with lengthy pastorates
4. Mix of traditional and contemporary services
Notes from a recent meeting with Mike Ashcraft, pastor of Port City Community Church in Wilmington, NC. Not direct quotes, but a summary of our conversation about church planting.
1. The vision for founding of PC3: a church for people who are not sure about God
2. Must have a clear VISION
- everything flows from that
- say only things that are true
- be clear on your mission
- ask yourself, “what do you want to happen to those people?”
- ask, “whose mission is it? is it everyone’s or just the pastor’s?”
- know who you are
- when you reach a barrier: ask, “what’s really happening here?”
3. A great church is known by the IMPACT it has on the community
- is it mobilizing people into ministry?
- staff should not be doing something a volunteer could be doing
- move from maintenance to mission
- not just volunteering but owning the ministry
- ask how you can leverage your influence for greater impact
Notes from YouTube video of Michael Frost at a recent Presbytery meeting.
Theme: “MISSION” should be the organizing priniciple of the church
- mission means “to be sent” – a movement outwards
- not something added on
- all other things should fall under mission – including worship, fellowship, discipleship, etc
1. We must see GOD differently as missio dei, the missioning God
- not, “come up to Zion,” that is, expecting people to come to him on their own
- rather, an incarnational God who moves into people’s lives, a missionary God
- God is going after people – in search of man
- God is in Babylon too
- the Father sends the Son and they send the Holy Spirit, the three send us (Jn 17), missio dei = the missioning God
- filled with the Spirit = sent into the world
- temple of God is our bodies
- Jesus shattered traditional views of Sabbath, etc; we must shatter traditional views of “church”
2. We must see CHURCH differently as participatio Christi, participating with what Jesus is doing in the world
- the gathering of the sent ones
- ecclesia – to go forth, called out ones
- ecclesia in the ancient near east (ANE) was a meeting by the city gates of the elders who solved ethical dilemnas, etc of the people of the village
- ADDING VALUE to the village
- a gift to the community
- like salt and light
- adding beauty, peace, goodness, wisdom, etc
- WOULD YOUR CHURCH BE MISSED IF IT WERE GONE FROM THE COMMUNITY? WOULD ANYONE GRIEVE (besides the members themselves)?
- add value to your neighborhood
- open the doors of your church to your neighborhood
- art gallery in the sanctuary
- musical groups
- neighborhood groups
- ask WHOM CAN WE SERVE? TO WHOM CAN WE GO?
- ecclesia – go as the sent ones
3. We must see the WORLD differently as imago dei, the image of God
- not how wonderful it is “in here,” and how icky it is “out there”
- the world is not so icky, the church is not so wonderful
- there are wheat and weeds inside and outside the church
- imago dei, everyone bears the image of God
- as they say on the program CSI, “every single point of contact leaves a trace”
- God leaves a trace on every soul
- all one wheat field
- every person reflects the image of God; we must tease it out of them
- Willa Cather’s Death Comes to the Missionary – “finding the treasure buried in the hearts of people”
4. When will you go? When do we leave? What are you wating for?
Notes from Rev. Ken Priddy’s summary of Reggie McNeal’s presentation from his book Missional Renaissance at the summer General Assembly.
- the church typically measures how many, how often, how much
- three recent missional shifts
- from internal focus to external focus
- from program development to people development
- from church based leadership to kingdom leadership
Read more from Ken Priddy at http://kenpriddy.blogspot.com/
Notes from Rev. Ken Priddy’s summary (fall Presbytery) of Dr. Richard Pratt’s (RTS Orlando, Thirdmill.org) addresses at General Assembly this past summer.
1. Main theme – your value is in your creation in image of God
- we have value bc we are made in image of God
- don’t have to compete with each other
- we are God’s “self-portrait” (Eph 2:10)
- God expressed himself by creating people
2. Missional application
- people have great value bc of image of God
- why isn’t the call getting out?
- bc we don’t value people “out there”
- bc we aren’t going/sent (Rom 10) to them, to let them hear
- we want the lost to come to us, but we must go to them
Read more from Ken Priddy at http://kenpriddy.blogspot.com/
It has been said that God is a missionary God. He has a mission (missio dei) in the world. He sent his Son into the world, the Father and the Son sent the Spirit into the world, and the same Trinitarian God sends his people into the world to announce the coming of the kingdom. Following are a few references in short (more to be added later). “Abram, go to the land that I will show you..” (Gen 12:1). Moses…sent out twelve men… (Num 13:3,17). Jesus sent out the twelve apostles… (Mat 10:5). The Lord chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them… (Luk 10:1). “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” (Joh 20:21). Jesus…told his disciples… “Go and make disciples…” (Mat 28:19).
I found this article on the Redeemer.com website re their recent shift to a more missional focus. Click the title above to see more articles from Pastor Tim Keller and Redeemer.
From “Come and See” To “Go and Share”
by Tim Keller
Redeemer has had twenty great years in which the flow of our ministry could be characterized by the phrase “Come and See.” Come and listen to the teaching and music. Come and be in all the great programs, led by talented staff.
Now, however, we are entering a new season, that, God-willing, will last much longer than 20 years. Our ministry will now be “Go and Share.” Redeemer is going to try to systematically impart what theological and ministry wisdom we have to our people and empower them so that, instead of only inviting people in to hear teaching, they will in the power of the Spirit go out into their neighborhoods to love and winsomely share the Biblical gospel themselves.
It means a culture of training such as we have never seen before at Redeemer. It means coming to grips with one of the most radical aspects of Biblical teaching, that every single believer is a prophet, a priest, and a king, not just a bringer and attendee. According to Jesus, “the least” Christian is endowed with the Spirit and is “greater than John the Baptist.” (Matt 11:9-11) It also means raising up a new generation of pastor-leaders. The vision is for a family of 8-12 sister churches-covering Manhattan—ministering in their communities.
In June we named four pastors, David Bisgrove, John Lin, Scott Sauls, and Leo Schuster, each to lead one of the four neighborhood-based congregations we are going to form in the west side, the east side, and the southern part of Manhattan. Each pastor will share the preaching with me in that congregation, and will supervise many of the staff who minister at that location. Each congregation will focus on serving and reaching a particular neighborhood and multiplying small groups, believers, and ministry in that place. (Members do not have to live in a particular congregation’s ministry area in order to worship and serve in it, but they have to embrace the church’s mission to that neighborhood.)
My role will be to continue preaching for the coming years as many weeks and as often as before, while serving as Senior Pastor of the whole network and mentor-coach of the pastors of the congregation. The team of pastors we will form will be the basis for close cooperation in the future years when these congregations will become churches in their own right who work together to serve the city.
On a personal note, Kathy and I are more enthused and committed to Redeemer’s ministry than ever. In many ways, Redeemer’s most fruitful ministry years are still ahead of us. Let’s thank God for putting us all in this great place and moment. You can begin to do this by being present for a special time of renewal, commitment, and celebration as we move ahead with our plans to become four congregations. We will be praying especially for the four pastors and also for ourselves. I hope to see you Wednesday night, September 22 for this special service of renewal and celebration.