Research Materials

bible.jpgI’ve added a page with a list of Bible research materials I like to use. I was organizing my Favorites and thought I should share my discoveries.

The information available for free is amazing. Now, if I could just find a decent contemporary online commentary …

On Elder Accountability

shepherd2 I stumbled across an article by Dub Orr, a retired elder for the 11th and Willis Church of Christ, that I just have to share. But first, a little background.

Whether the topic is church growth or church survival, in the Churches of Christ, the elders make or break a congregation. We often say that it’s the most important job in the world, and I think that’s right — but we don’t treat it that way.

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Church Growth: Details and the Devil

churchgrowthL Josh Hunt recently sent out a newsletter pointing out how the little things often make a huge difference in church growth. Now, the big things are big for a reason, but even if you get the big things right, the little things can kill you.

Here’s his list of little things many churches need to work on —

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Church Growth: Serving the Community

churchgrowthl.jpgHere’s a fascinating statistic from chapter 5 of Beyond Megachurch Myths — 21% of megachurch members volunteer weekly in community service. Ten percent of megachurches have over half their members active in community service on a weekly basis!

Wow!

Plainly, challenging our members to actually serve the community — people are who not part of the church — does not hurt church growth. In fact, if anything, it helps grow the church. Continue reading

Church Growth: An Equipping Ministry

churchgrowthl.jpgOne of the most difficult tasks of any leader is training additional leaders. After all, leaders are busy, and taking the time to train someone else is not immediately productive. It takes time — often years — for the person being equipped to be as well equipped as the leader doing the training.

And yet, Thumma and Travis find that a willingness to train others is an essential characteristic of pastors of megachurches —

These leaders grant great responsibility to associate pastors within their church. They provide training, mentoring, and resources to get the job done. They spend significant time with staff pastors and key volunteers. Our experience with many pastors of smaller churches is that they tend to do the opposite and spend little time training and nurturing staff and key volunteers. … We feel that 25 percent [of the pastor’s time] is a minimum for this type of activity. Many pastors of smaller churches spread themselves too thin and endeavor to do too much of the frontline ministry themselves instead of equipping others.

The authors point out that even in a church so small that it has only one minister on payroll, the minister can multiply his effectiveness by training volunteer members, especially retired members with substantial time to invest in the church.

This is an extremely important point. No church has enough ministers. No church has a surplus of men and women with leadership training. But many churches have ministers and volunteers who are woefully under-utilized because they lack opportunities and training. Continue reading

Church Growth: Interview with Rick McKinley

bluelikejazz.jpgRick McKinley is the pastor of Imago Dei, the Portland, Oregon church Don Miller writes about in Blue Like Jazz. This link will take you to an interview of him by Christianity Today.

Good reading. It’ll challenge your conceptions about how to do church!

http://www.christianitytoday.com/leaders/newsletter/2007/cln71224.html.

Church Growth: Having a Story

churchgrowthl.jpgThumma and Travis review the various styles of megachurches, concluding that they fall into four categories, each with a different “what matters most”:

* Old Line/Program Based: Maintaining the witness in the present location. An evolutionary approach to change. Stewards for the next generation of worshipers in this place.

* Seeker: Reaching those that are seeking God. Making church a place that can reach the unchurched.

* Charismatic/Pastor Focused: Getting people in to experience the worship of God through the anointing on the pastor and worship leader. Reaching out to the community through empowered worship.

* New Wave/Re-envisioned: Proclaiming Jesus to their targeted constituency. Influencing and reaching culture in creative ways.

After considering these various approaches to doing church, the authors conclude,

Without debating the technical aspects of vision, mission, and values, let us state that we feel it is important for the leadership to create an essential story of the church. The essential story is the bridge that new attendees can use to become connected with the church. This essential story should be simple enough to be understood and communicated by everyone in the church. This story will be aspirational and inspirational enough for believers to connect with at a heart level and for many unbelievers to identify with enough to want to “check it out.” … This story is not a restatement of doctrine, but rather is a statement reflecting a unique vision for a church in its context and setting. It alludes to what important work God is calling the congregation to do at this particular moment.

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