Of all the various observations that Crandall makes in Turnaround and Beyond: A Hopeful Future for the Small Membership Church about vision casting, effective leadership and managing conflict, there were a few items that really stuck out for me in terms of what successful turnaround and transformational churches have.[Read more…] about 2 Attitudes for Small Church Transformation
One of the blogs I read (Fierce Grace) decided to do something entirely different on a Sunday morning.
Cancel the service.
Serve the neighborhood.
I’ve spent the last month talking with pastors around the US about church transformation. A few pastors are in really difficult situations (read more at: Leaving Egypt and Not Liking it).
From those discussions, it seems that a common meaning of church transformation is
Church transformation is to move a church that is stuck or in serious decline,
and lead them into a new vision of what God has for them.
Thus launching a new life cycle of growth.
Ed Stetzer calls them Comeback Churches.
Ron Crandall calls them TurnAround Churches.
I’ve seen other various titles, like Boomerang church, Redevelopment, Revitalization.
Seems the common word now is Transformational.
Moving from Attractional to Missional
A common thread shared by these pastors is their labor at moving congregations to shift
- from an exclusive focus on attractional methodology tweaks
- to becoming more missional and engaging their community.
It’s a journey in process, and some have moved further along than others.
What is attractional ministry?
Attractional ministry is focused on
- quality programs,
- excellent hospitality, and
- marketing to get people in the door.
This was sometimes called a “magnetic” church. It still is very valuable as a model that supports the work of evangelism of the local church.
Attractional ministry is based on the idea that if you do enough marketing, you can get more foot traffic in your door.
Your hospitality will help the newcomers “stick” and your church will grow.
It’s a variant of “if you build it they will come.”
As I’ve looked at
- Evangelism Committee reports (What is the purpose of an Evangelism Committee?),
- church information forms,
- and mission studies,
a lot of churches still think that making small process adjustments to their parking lot, greeting process, or welcoming will help them reach out to the neighborhood.
What is missional?
I’m not giving a full definition of missional.
In this context, a Missional focus however moves to help the church re-engage its neighborhood.
Some pastors are in island churches, meaning their church is mostly commuters who used to live in that neighborhood.
The culture around the church has changed (demographically, socio-economically), but the church has not adjusted accordingly, thus being a cultural island.
Missional helps the church get out of hoping people will visit them to actively engaging the needs and people of the community, and in the process both demonstrating and sharing the faith in Jesus as Lord.
Many of the pastors I spoke with this past month are trying to move congregations in this direction.
What can we do to survive?
Thus began a conversation ten years ago with a dying church in a transitional neighborhood that wanted to re-engage the community.
The church invited me to do some Evangelism Consulting with them about launching a new worship service.
The average age of church members was 60, and they wanted more young people.
They were in survival mode and needed something new to get new people.
Is a new worship service the way to Re-Engage?
The pastor wanted a new worship service.
The congregational elders didn’t.
The leadership was divided.
I needed to help them see beyond that debate and led them into a brainstorming process.
How they re-engaged
Out of that brainstorming process they decided to do a block party.
A block party was one of many ideas they tossed out in the brainstorming session.
The leadership team was energized to carry it out.
Church members got excited about the block party and began praying.
Members hung door hangers around the neighborhood.
Members invited the local community to come.
Pastor helped with the momentum building. (See How Pastors Lead Congregational Evangelism #4).
They had food, games, inflatables, and so on.
It was a big event that spurred some new invitations and energy.
How the Block Party Re-engaged the Church
As a result of that block party 10 years ago (and its continued annual repeats) this church has discerned the neighborhood needs.
They have re-engaged the community.
They have launched several new ministries to reconnect with the neighbors:
- Preschool (now with an annual budget larger than the church’s).
- Meals on Wheels.
- Neighborhood Watch
- And other ministries.
This church has become much more missional in it’s mindset and has lots of new vitality and energy to serve.
As a result, they’ve focused less on the attractional elements and more on the missional elements to help them re-connect with the neighborhood.
Here is the next step:
Now they are being more intentional about actively sharing their faith along with serving the area.
This is where more intentional evangelism training will come into play.
The church needs to engage with actions, but also be able to explain how they are different than the rotary club.
Let me ask you this?
What outreach did your church do that helped you re-engage the neighborhood?
What were some fruits that developed out of that connection?
When I lived in the suburbs of Richmond VA I experienced the lack of a sense of community in our neighborhood.
We had all bought nice houses, but with the exception of one family, we didn’t know any of the neighbors.
What a contrast to our former subdivision where we knew everyone on the cul-de-sac, and had regular time with them all.
Over the course of 5 years there, we prayed with many of them, and several eventually came to faith in Christ and got connected with a church. [Read more…] about 10 Ideas to Personally Reach Out To Your Neighborhood
Here are some links that I have found while doing some research on the Missional Church:
- Planting Missional Churches –The Biblical Basis Of Church Planting
- Planting Missional Churches – The Basics Of Church Planting
- Planting Missional Churches – Re-Developing A Missional Mindset For North America
- Free Resources for Planting Missional Churches (There are so many cool resources here).
- Planting Missional Churches: Planting a Church that’s Biblically Sound & Reaching People in Culture
Authors writing on the subject:
- Alan Hirsch
- Reggie Neal
- Ed Stetzer
- Scott McKnight
- Dan Kimball
References: (Thanks to David Allis for this list).
I’ve not yet had the time to link these to amazon book, but you can order these by title from Amazon
Michael Frost, Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture. (July 2006)
Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21 Century Church. (November 2003)
Darrell Guder (Editor), Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America. (1998)
Ed Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches. (2006)
Ed Stetzer and David Putman, Breaking the Missional Code. (2006) **
Reggie McNeal, The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church. (2003)
Craig Van Gelder, The Essence of the Church: A Community Created by the Spirit. (2000)
Milfred Minatrea, Shaped By God’s Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches. (2004)
Lois Barrett (Editor), Treasure in Clay Jars: Patterns in Missional Faithfulness. (2004)
George R. Hunsberger (Editor), Craig Van Gelder (Editor), The Church Between Gospel and Culture: The Emerging Mission in North America. (1996)
Alan Roxburgh, Fred Romanuk, The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World. (2006)