Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Vision for a Church--Steps Not Programs

We now return to our regularly scheduled podcasts and the theme of my vision for a church.
Just a side note, as many of you know, I plan to leave the church I now serve as an associate pastor and either plant a church or yield myself to God to be His instrument to rebuild a small or dying church.
My vision for a church is based on a number of works such as the book by Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger "Simple Church" as well as Jim Collins' "Good to Great", Richard Reising's "Church Marketing 101", Erwin McManus' "The Barbarian Way" as well as various works and models set forth by Ed Stetzer, Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller and Matt Chandler.
To break it all down, the church will be focused solely on the Great Commission. Everything the church does MUST fit within a clear step toward reaching the unchurched and assisting them in their growth toward a predetermined, Biblically informed vision of what a disciple in the immediate context should look like.
The steps generally fall within Connection--Community--Contribution or Bridge--Brotherhood--Battle. Connection or Bridge focuses on the worship service. Rainer's research demonstrates that the majority of visitors to a congregation will decide to return or not based on the preaching and Reising has shown that if the preaching (as well as other components of the church such as childcare, parking, etc.) is exciting, conservative and relevant then your church will naturally grow by at least 15% without any assistance from marketing, special programs, etc.
The bridge between Connection-Community or Bridge-Brotherhood is a new member's class. Rainer & Geiger believe that the evidence for the need for a new member's class is overwhelming and I believe they are right. A new member's class focuses on the A-B-C's of the Christian faith and life set forth in very clear terms that even a 3rd grader could understand.
The community or brotherhood step involves small groups. I think North Point Church is right to offer a variety of small groups depending on the need but all focused on teaching Scripture and the basics of how to follow King Jesus into battle.
The next step is contribution or battle. The staff, small groups, etc. help each growing disciple, get to know their own strengths via tools like Myers-Briggs or whatever to help them find their particular spiritual gifts while constantly demanding that each member remember that evangelism is not a gift, it is a command.
The most important part of the church, perhaps, is that NOTHING is done unless it fits within this model. No fairs, special services or whatever. Everything is focused on growing disciples. The staff is rewarded not for the number of people they are ministering to but the number of people they are successfully passing on to the next level of discipleship.
I could go on and on about schedules, marketing, cool worship, cooler music, etc. BUT you get the point. I have no timeline. Don't know where this will take place and am fully aware that 80% of church plants fail. SO, prayers are greatly appreciated.
I'll begin posting on Romans and the Apostle Paul this week. God bless,