A “Sacrament” of Hospitality

the Good Samaritan

By Dr. Teresa Angle-Young

Many years ago, when I was in graduate school at Emory, I took a class called “Systematic Theology.” In the final exam, we were surprised to be asked this question:  If you were to propose a new sacrament for the church, what would it be and why?

I knew, in a second, what my answer would be.  Hospitality!

If I were to add a sacrament to the church doctrine, it would be the sacrament of hospitality.

There is a long tradition of hospitality in the Bible, beginning in Genesis and weaving throughout scripture.  In Genesis 18, Abraham and Sarah are blessed with a child after showing generous hospitality to three divine strangers.  Lot, too entertains these divine travelers and in turn, he and his family were offered the chance to flee from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. And there are many other examples in the Old Testament where strangers in the land are treated with the same hospitality with which one would treat a beloved friend or relative.

In the New Testament, one of the most moving examples of hospitality is Joseph, the man who is engaged to Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Joseph took a divine stranger – Jesus – into his home and raised him as his son.  That was an act of radical hospitality.

But I believe our best example of radical hospitality is Jesus.  Jesus taught about hospitality in his parables and practiced hospitality through his actions.  He even turned water into wine as his first miracle for a wedding host to be able to show hospitality to his guests. We have the parable of the prodigal son.  A man had two sons.  One of them decided to ask for his inheritance early and left the family farm to blow his money on the indulgences of the world.  The other son stayed behind and was a dutiful son, helping the father on the farm and being the model child.  When the prodigal son returned to the farm, expecting to be treated poorly by his family, the father threw a huge party welcoming him home. Jesus taught in the story that it didn’t matter whether or not the son deserved the father’s generosity and hospitality, rather that it was simply the right and loving thing to do to provide the hospitality anyway. In doing so, Jesus revealed a characteristic of God.

This thread of hospitality – irrespective of the status or standing of the guest or stranger – is woven throughout scripture.  So, what is hospitality?

Is hospitality making sure there are chocolates on the pillow and extra toothpaste in the bathroom when you have a guest?  Well, yes and no.  Throughout scripture we see examples of hospitality that include taking care of the physical needs of the guest, such as food and shelter, so it seems we are not to ignore those aspects of care, but particularly with Jesus, hospitality becomes something more, something beyond simple care.  Hospitality becomes healing.  Hospitality becomes life-giving.  Hospitality restores people to wholeness in a myriad of ways, sometimes physically, sometimes socially, sometimes emotionally, sometimes psychologically, and always spiritually.  Hospitality becomes a spiritual tool, and once it becomes a habit, once it is integrated into who we are, it transforms.

In scripture, the Greek word for hospitality is philoxenia (fil-ah-zeen-ee-a), which derives from philo, a word you might recognize from the name Philadelphia, which we know as the City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love, and xenia, which means stranger.  So, hospitality in the Bible means, “love of stranger.”  It does not just mean “niceness to stranger.”  It means genuine, selfless, extravagant, full out love of stranger.  When we look back at the Abraham and Sarah story, I think it’s important to note that when the three strangers showed up at Abraham’s tent, Abraham did not begrudgingly go out and find the skinniest calf to serve nor did he tell Sarah to pull out last year’s grain and fry up a cake.  He called for the finest of what he had and prepared a feast.  And so we are called, as the church, God’s representatives in the world, to offer hospitality with enthusiasm, offering up the best of what we have to those around us, not what we have leftover.

But hospitality is more than just sharing food and shelter with others.  In his book “Reaching Out: Three Movements of the Spiritual Life” mystic, monk, and distinguished professor at Notre Dame, Harvard, and Yale, Henri Nouwen, said that there are three critical movements in the Christian’s life.  The first involves moving from loneliness to solitude, and the focus is on us as we learn to dwell comfortably in solitude with Christ.  The second is the development of spiritual maturity to move from hostility to hospitality, and of course, the focus in on our relationships with others as we strive to become more like Christ.  That leads to the third spiritual movement, our movement toward God.  Without the first two movements, we cannot make the third move.  So Nouwen argues we must find peace within ourselves, make peace with others and move toward this idea of radical and selfless hospitality before we can truly experience a move toward God. The practice of hospitality brings us closer to God.

And it’s important to exercise this hospitality with whoever comes into our lives.  In other words, just as Abraham and Sarah offered hospitality to the three strangers without quizzing them about their worth and position, and just as Jesus offered love and hospitality to those in the community others would deem as unworthy, we are called to offer our hospitality to those who are before us, whoever they may be.

So how do we do that?  I think we must do what the author of our scripture passage today tells us to do: Love each other as if your life depended on it. Hospitality means opening yourself up and becoming vulnerable, making space for someone that you might not ordinarily allow into your life.  Hospitality means looking past those things that separate us from each other, like dress, and speech, and possessions, and race, politics, and social standing, and seeing others the way Christ sees them, as beloved members of the family of God. Adopting an attitude of hospitality means putting aside your agenda and schedule to listen to the other person, to pay attention to their needs, and to respond to them in a genuine way.

Hospitality is more than a beautiful table or a comfortable bed or a hot cup of soup or a contribution to the food pantry.  Hospitality is making space in your life and in your heart for another person, whether a stranger, a spouse, a child, or a friend, and giving them your time and your attention without resentment – cheerfully, as 1st Peter reminds us.  Hospitality is making the table bigger to accommodate the stranger, and letting yourself be open to the idea that you might, like Abraham and Joseph, be entertaining a divine guest.  Hospitality is the realization in the very depths of your soul that everything we have is a gift from God, and that by sharing what we have, whether meager or abundant, is to be an instrument of God’s grace and mercy in the world.

 

Supporting Women in Ministry

Stephanie-York-Arnold

 

This page was created to support all clergy. All Clergy! Not just male clergy!

No one should be surprised that we support women in ministry–at all levels of ministry.  This has been our stance from the beginning of our organization. We have frequently posted about our support for clergywomen. Our coaching team is made up of male and female clergy. We are all part of churches and denominations that affirm and celebrate female clergy.

Recently, we posted a beautiful and courageous article about clergywomen by a clergywoman. In response to that post, many hurtful and hostile comments were made about women in ministry. That is unacceptable!

This page was created to challenge, support and equip those seeking to do ministry.  Our Facebook page will not be a forum for those seeking to challenge the right of a woman to do ministry. It is intended to be a safe place for all clergy who are seeking to be transformational leaders.   

In the future, comments that are unsupportive of women in ministry will be hidden or deleted, and those continuing to make such comments may be banned from the page.

We understand that some of you come from traditions that do not believe as we do.  We respect your right to differ.  If you have differing opinions, you are free to share those opinions elsewhere, but not on this page.  If you feel that CcNet is not a page you can support, we understand.  We hope you will stay, but if you choose to leave, the peace of Christ be with you!

If you wish to learn more about the Biblical and theological justification for our support of clergywomen, we encourage you to take the time to read this link from Dr. Craig Keener, professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary: https://www.seedbed.com/was-paul-for-or-against-women-in-ministry/

Here is another from Dr. Ben Witherington: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2015/06/02/why-arguments-against-women-in-ministry-arent-biblical/?fbclid=IwAR3ROXa3PhzeuaWk96tHwNthBITs2pFCV2twae0ykNJfIB9tEC6wdccSC_4

If you wish to know more about the abuse clergywomen often experience, check out this video: https://www.episcopalcafe.com/a-short-film-on-the-experiences-of-clergywomen-hertruth-women-in-ministry-break-their-silence/

Or look at the link we shared yesterday: https://leannefriesen.com/2019/02/13/when-youre-a-woman-pastor-and-youre-over-it-already/?fbclid=IwAR3BPT9ye4C7r7TiWvaXwe8nzTtTeGKS9aZP5c6umTd11HOKQYad1p8quzQ

We cannot monitor this page 24/7, but if posts are made that are abusive or unsupportive, we will notice, and we will take the appropriate action.

Thank you!

 

 

Pastor-To-Pastor: Let Me Pray For You

Travel Bear

Guest Post by Rev. John Carosiello, a pastor who wants to pray for you!

Deuteronomy 31:6

Being a Pastor can be tough…REALLY tough.

Picture it! The church seems to be thriving; the staff is unified with a shared mission and vision; things seem to be going great! Then, your phone rings. The call is from a border-line irate church member letting you know that the worship music was way too loud this past Sunday, and they are tired of having to deal with it, so they are going to go elsewhere. This is not the first time you’ve received a call like this, and you know that it will not be the last. The irony is that you had another member come up to you after service and complain that the worship was too quiet.  Yep, being a pastor can be tough!

Most church members have little to no knowledge about what it’s like to be a pastor, a pastor’s spouse, or a pastor’s kid – instead, they usually romanticize the private life of a pastor. 

The average church member may imagine you go home on Sunday, sit around the dinner table, say grace, and then discuss deep theological truths as a family over lunch. What they do not know is that your youngest son was just diagnosed with autism while your oldest son is failing most of his classes in Middle School. They do not know that your spouse just had to go on anti-depressants again because of how alone and hopeless they have been feeling lately. They do not see you sitting two blocks away from the church in your car hours before the service on a Sunday morning, having it out with God, wondering if it’s all even worth it.

Is it any wonder that most pastors quit the ministry within their first five years?[1] Should it surprise us to see that the suicide rate is so high among clergy?[2]

Fortunately, we are not alone, at least we don’t have to be. There are pastors all over the world who are experiencing the same things we are, who are feeling the same things we are, who are struggling with the same things we are, so why don’t we reach out? Why do we choose to be alone together instead of together?

Ministry tends to teach us that vulnerability is a dangerous thing, but what if we opened up to other pastors who are just as much in need of encouragement as we are ourselves? Need a pastor friend to love you and pray for your family? Please e-mail me: JohnC@citg.org  I would like to encourage you, not judge you…lift you up, not tear you down…empathize with you and maybe even share some of my struggles.

Being a pastor can be incredibly lonely, and none of us were made to go it alone, and the good news is: We are Not Alone! I look forward to hearing from you!

 

[1] Dave Earley and Ben Gutiérrez, Ministry Is (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2014).

[2]  Shauna H. Springer, “Suicide Risk Among Pastors and Clergy Members,” Psychology Today, 2018, , accessed February 06, 2019, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/free-range-psychology/201808/suicide-risk-among-pastors-and-clergy-members.


	

The Challenge of Making Disciples: Four Findings

Diverse Business Group

Dr. Heather Heinzman Lear is the director of evangelism at Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church.

In her research for her doctor of ministry degree, she focused her research to determine what congregational practices are necessary to help churches fulfil the denominational mission statement: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

She worked with six congregations of various ages, sizes, and geographic locations to determine if there are consistent trends across United Methodist churches in the United States.

She writes:

The lack of a holistic understanding and practice of evangelism was evidenced in the following four findings:

The overwhelming majority of the participants were unable to articulate why Jesus is important in their lives and how offering Christ to another person would benefit their life.

The majority of congregations did not create intentional space for people to practice sharing their faith or foster an environment of authenticity where members felt they could be vulnerable and express struggles. 

The majority of participants could not differentiate good works done by the church from those of a civic organization or non-Christian. 

The majority of participants indicated that their congregations were not known in their community and that mission opportunities were developed based on member preferences instead of community needs.

Wow!

What are your thoughts about her findings? How do they match your experience, your context or your denomination if it is different from the UMC?

Heather concludes: “We can no longer assume that people who attend church on Sunday have been formed in the faith without creating intentional faith practices and education for all ages and stages of faith. Five of the six churches in my study did not create intentional space for people to share their faith and ask deep, theological questions. They also did not encourage or actively seek to place people in small groups for discipleship and accountability. Finally, congregations need help understanding that their purpose in making disciples is for the transformation of the world.”

What does this suggest to you about what is needed in your personal ministry? What does this suggest to you about what is needed to help you equip others in the ministry of evangelism? What steps can you take this week to begin addressing these four significant findings?

Source: Making Disciples, Obstacles and Opportunities in Urban Congregations. You can find the article here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/irom.12123

Men of Character

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By Chris Holmes, guest contributor

In the transition from boyhood to manhood, something deep within our nature shifts -it is gripping, definitely tied to our sexuality, and feels innately wild. This enigmatic hormonal assertiveness wells up and finds healthy expression in intense passion and sexual desire. This drive is divinely created and should be celebrated.

Unrestrained predatory behavior is not organic to manhood or inherent in male character. Abuse, violence, unwanted aggression and sexual assault are grotesque distortions of the healthy male drive and cannot be blamed on hormones or “boys just being boys”. This abhorrent conduct is more often rooted in a distorted sense of male privilege or a misogynist view of women, neither of which are of divine creation.

We men clearly have work to do in reinforcing healthy expressions of manhood and repelling social norms that justify or support abusive male behavior. We must unequivocally state that the line between healthy sexual expression and predatory abuse is not only a clear line, but a wide one, and is not crossed by men of character, no matter how powerful they are or how upstanding they may otherwise seem.

Longing for Better Balance

man with the blindfold walking

By Teresa Angle-Young

In a recent coaching session with a pastor, he said, “I simply cannot hear God’s voice anymore.”

He said this with a combination of fatigue, exasperation, fear and anger.

After an hour of deeply listening to him, what I heard was a life too full – full of meetings, commitments, and stress – a life overextended. Surely there was no time to stop and listen deeply to God. There was no time to listen deeply to his congregation. There was no time to listen deeply to the wisdom of scripture. And it was showing in a diminished quality to his sermons.

Most clergy have big hearts, full of compassion, and have a tendency to want to be all to all, usually at the expense of their personal lives, their health, and their own needs and desires, and often at the expense of being able to listen to God. While Jesus does call us to give selflessly, even Jesus took time away from the demands of ministry to take care of himself, to pray, to dine with friends, to form and nurture relationships, and to rest. He took time to listen deeply, to those around him and to God.

Why do we feel we can do more than Jesus?

One of the biggest challenges of ministry is knowing when to shut off the phone, to turn off the computer, and to simply rest and enjoy life. In order to provide care for others, we must care for ourselves. And in order to be an effective preacher, we must create boundaries to protect both our “down” time as well as our sermon preparation time.

Here are a few suggestions. Not everyone will work for you, and some will not even apply to you. Boundaries are not the same for everyone, so consider these and pick the ones that you want to try.

  • Schedule one hour on your calendar at the beginning of the week to simply read your sermon text, pray over the text, and reflect on the text. Do not take calls or allow interruptions during this time.
  • Observe a weekly sabbath. I know. I know. It is hard. But it’s also a commandment, and there is a good reason for that. Just do it.
  • Look at your entire work week and try to map out where you spend your time. For example, there are 168 hours in a week. A clergy colleague suggests that you sleep/rest 1/3 of the time (56 hours), work 1/3 of the time (56 hours), and spend the other 1/3 (56 hours) in recreation, hobbies and other non-work-related pursuits. Most clergy spend far more than 56 hours a week in ministry, at the expense of either sleep or family, friends, pets, fun, relaxation, hobbies, sabbath, etc.
  • Read a lot of non-religious writing. You’ll be shocked at how many sermon illustrations you’ll suddenly see.
  • Go to movies, watch the news, and read blogs on the Internet. Listen to music. Read poetry. Read fiction. Eavesdrop on conversations! People watch! Stay up on current affairs. Again, it’s sermon illustration fodder…
  • Eat the best, most nutritious food you can afford, and drink a lot of water. Not only will your body thank you, but your vocal chords will too. Cut out sugar-laden soft drinks.
  • Exercise. Take a walk. Get your body moving in some way every couple of hours for at least 10 minutes or so. If you have physical limitations, consult your doctor and do what you are able to do. If nothing else, move to a different location and give yourself a few minutes just to drink in a new view or get some fresh air.

By creating boundaries you also have the opportunity to create balance, and in that balance, you’ll have time to listen, deeply, to the voice of God.

Is your life in balance?

Click here to download a free life-work assessment tool.  church-coaching-solutions.lpages.co/work-life-balance-tool/

And, if you’d like to work with a coach who can help with your work-life balance, you can apply for a coach at http://www.clergycoachingnetwork.com/apply-now

Exemplary Leaders Possess Grit

Dr. Harry Durbin, Clergy Coaching NetworkAdobeStock_190590443.jpeg

As we have learned from our mentors, adaptive leadership skills set great leaders apart and when practiced with passion allow us to achieve a level of excellence that is needed and desired.

Angela Duckworth, in her groundbreaking book GRIT, makes a case for one of the essential components of such a skill set. Her conclusion is that effort and hard work “count twice.” When we approach our lives with grittiness, we can deliver on achievement. A person may not be a genius or possess the highest level of natural gifts, but if she or he is gritty, works hard and is committed to achievement good things happen.

I am a Memphian, and we have a professional NBA team nicknamed the Grizzlies. For many years, they have made the playoffs and on occasion taken down teams with much more natural talent. Their achievements fit their mantra, “Grit and Grind.” I do not know all that is intended by that phrase, but it certainly meant that their effort and passion could exceed that of other teams and enable them to win when not expected. To give stronger effort, to practice more diligently, and to outhustle your opponent will yield the right stuff.

In the practice of life and ministry, there are so many implications for this principle that we will simply call grit.

We can establish a culture of grit in our homes and workplaces. In the middle of Duckworth’s book, she quotes a section from a JPMorgan Chase manual, titled HOW WE DO BUSINESS.

“Have a fierce resolve in everything you do. Demonstrate determination, resiliency, and tenacity. Do not let temporary setbacks become permanent excuses. And finally, use mistakes and problems as opportunities to get better and not reasons to quit.”

Persevering will take you to good places and create the right results. It is summed up well by Brene Brown when she offers a snapshot of her book RISING STRONG.

“Fall. Get Up. Try again.”

Remember the woman in Scripture who persisted in prayer. She had grit. Remember the coach who required you to shoot a hundred free throws every day after practice. He taught you grit. Where are the spaces and places in your life that a renewed grittiness might make a huge difference?

We All Need “A Quiet Place”

A QUIET PLACE

Rick Kirchoff

A few weeks ago my wife and I went to see the movie, “A Quiet Place.”  If you’ve not heard about the film, it’s one of this year’s top-grossing films, earning just under $185 million over the last month.

Without giving away too much of the plot, it is the story of a family that must live in complete silence to avoid being attacked by a vicious alien with super-sensitive hearing. Silence, in the film’s post-apocalyptic world, saves lives.

I was reading a blog post about the film by David Chatham.  In the post, David asks us to consider how we can use silence to our advantage. He offered “three times when silence is golden.”  So, when is silence golden for a preacher or Christian leader?

1st — When you have nothing to say

It’s OK not to have an opinion on a popular/trending issue. Chatham says that we need to fight the urge to conjure up something just to be a part of the conversation. He invites us to resist the temptation, and be contemplative rather than risk being seen as exploitative or ignorant.

2nd — When someone else is more qualified to speak

Providing the insight of experts can add value and communicate that we care enough about our audience to bring them relevant content.

3rd — When it’s time to listen

Over and over we’ve all been reminded to listen twice as much as we speak. This is especially true for Christian leaders as we face the challenges of ministry.

This 3rd point brought to mind the powerful message in Psalm 4:4-5: “When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it in your beds and be silent.  Offer right sacrifices and put your trust in the Lord.”

Ruth Haley Barton writes, “There are times when the most heroic thing a leader can do is to remain in that private place with God for as long as it takes to keep from sinning.  In silence, we consciously trust ourselves to God rather than following our human impulses to fix, control or put people in the r place.”

This is not to suggest that we never speak.  Certainly, we are to courageously speak justice and compassion and hope.

But she cautions, “The more we are called upon to use our words the more distressing things are, the more that active leadership is required of us, the more silence we need. The greater the call for decisive action, the more we must be sure that we have waited long enough to receive clear direction.”

In another place she tells of how a wise, spiritual director once said to her, “Ruth, you are like a jar of river water all shaken up.  You need to sit still long enough so that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.” Be still!  Let things settle!  Take the time to quiet and calm your soul.

We all need A Quiet Place, a space to be with God and God alone, where we take the time to quiet and calm our soul and where we listen twice as much as we speak.

Where is your Quiet Place?

Strategic Planning or Herding Cats

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The Reverend Dr. Teresa Angle-Young, Church Coaching Solutions

If strategic planning with your church feels like “herding cats” then listen up!

Clergy from around the country share with me that strategic planning can be one of their most frustrating processes, for the following reasons:

  • Getting leadership and/or staff to agree on strategy can feel like herding cats. As one pastor shared, “If we have 12 people in the room, that means there are 24 opinions on every issue.”
  • The strategic planning process results in too many ideas and priorities, so that the church tries to do too much and spreads itself thin.
  • After the leadership ratifies the strategy, the church doesn’t have the bandwidth to execute it, and so the strategy sits on shelf.

Strategy doesn’t have to be stressful. You can get your leadership aligned and in agreement about your church’s strategy. You can set up accountability structures so that your team implements the strategic plan. And you can do all of this while building your church’s capacity to be stewards of your mission and vision.

To begin:

  • Answer the most important strategic questions to set your church up for realization of its mission;
  • Choose only the right number of priorities required for success; and
  • Put in place accountability and a structure to make sure that your strategy actually gets implemented.

Let’s break those down a bit.

One: Answer the “big” strategic planning questions. The big questions include: Who is our mission field and how can we better serve them? What do we do best and how can we build on that edge? How can we prepare our church to seize opportunities? What are potential scenarios that we need to consider for the future, and how will we prepare for them?

Unfortunately, many churches debate these issues with academic discussions and confusing jargon. They are like philosophers trying to decide how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. At the same time, some churches come up with brilliant answers to these questions, but can’t quite take them to the point of clear initiatives that get done.

The big strategic planning questions are worthless if they don’t result in a few clear, compelling strategic initiatives to strengthen the church.

Two: Set a few clear priorities and an overall strategic theme. The most important outcome of the first part of the strategic planning process is to identify the most important priorities for the church. Starting with a long list of potential priorities, the leadership discusses the relative value of each, and hones in on only a few key priorities. This discussion can also lead to greater clarity about the big strategic planning questions, especially about what the church should do best. No church can be everything to everyone. What makes your church special?

Once a list of no more than three to five priorities is agreed upon, the team can come up with a strategic theme. This is a one-line statement that conveys the overall strategic push for the organization. Examples could include: “Pay off building debt!” “Expand to a second campus.” “Start a new student ministry.” “Increase membership by 20% in 18 months.”

During this phase, many churches settle for a long list of priorities. This has the benefit that nobody feels excluded or insulted. However, it makes it highly unlikely that the church will get anything done completely.

Three: Implement. The biggest complaint we hear about strategy is that it never seems to get executed. There are a few reasons why:

  • Neglecting to commit essential resources to the strategy, including capital, training, technology, and people.
  • Failing to take things off the plate of busy staff and volunteers, and instead just stacking more work on them.
  • Having lack of will to stop old initiatives that compete with the new, even when the old ministries are no longer fruitful.
  • Not setting clear roles, responsibilities, accountability, and rewards systems for volunteers.
  • Giving up after a few setbacks or initial resistance.

A sound strategy spends as much time on implementation planning as it does on the more glamorous work of answering the key strategic questions and setting priorities.

Which of the above areas is weakest in your church? Some churches are strong at asking the big picture questions, but fail to follow up. Some set too many priorities, and can’t say “no” to good ideas, despite limited resources. Others are strong at executing, but lack the vision to develop compelling strategic initiatives.

A strong and focused strategic process gives everyone in your church a common language for talking about strategy, so that everyone is included and can contribute. It draws on the knowledge and expertise of your leadership and members. And it’s laser focused on a few key initiatives.

To learn more, download a Strategic Assessment by clicking here.

 

Making Disciples in the Smaller Church

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I was recently reading an article that came from The Billy Graham Center, LifeWay Research, the Caskey Center for Church Excellence.  The article shared the findings of a study about growth in small churches (attendance up to 250).  1,500 small churches in 11 denominations were surveyed, and the study found that in growing small churches the pastor played a significant role in making new Christian disciples.

Here are some of the findings of this study:

1 — The pastor blocks out time for the purpose of sharing the gospel with non-Christians. If the pastor is to lead evangelism in the church, the pastor must first personally live out the evangelism call.  These pastors more often attends a classes or conferences to learn personal evangelism skills. If the pastor is a learner and stays inspired and growing in the area of evangelism, that pastor’s church will reach more people who commit to Christ and who stick. 

2 — The church regularly engages in ministry outside the church in order to share the gospel with the unreached people.  The churches that make new disciples and grow through conversion also tend to be the churches that are making a difference in their communities!

3 — The pastor more regularly receives feedback indicating a strength in communicating with unchurched people in the weekly worship services. This factor does not mean the services are for unchurched people, but only that pastors translate what is going on and what they are teaching for unchurched people so that they feel included.

4 — The pastor hears more regular reports that the people in the church are reaching out and sharing their faith. The church does not need superstar pastors who share their faith while everybody in the church cheers them on from the sidelines. The more important factor is that the people catch the contagion that the pastor models!

5 — A higher percentage of the church budget is given for evangelism and mission. These churches put their money where their mouth is… and it shows up in reaching unchurched people who commit to Christ and their church.

6 — The pastor more frequently asks people to commit after sharing the gospel. The ability and practice of “popping the question” and making an invitation predicts that more people will commit to Christ and more people will stick.

7 —  The pastor more often offers a class for new attenders. Whether that class is intentionally evangelistic, or more oriented on helping people better understand the church, having clearly deniniated next steps predicts people will come to Christ more often and grow in their discipleship.

8 —  These churches are places of invitation, hospitality, welcome, and involvement for the unchurched.  So, those who were previously unreached stick around, come to Christ and engage in a life of discipleship.

Questions for Reflection:

Pastors, what parts of this most resonated for you?

How are you personally engaged in Making Disicples for Jesus Christ?

What can you take away from this study to enhance your small church ministry?

 

by Rick Kirchoff, Clergy Coaching Network

The link to the article is here: http://lifewayresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Top-Ten-Factors-that-Influence-Growth-through-Evangelism-for-Small-Churches.pdf