Monday, March 31, 2014

Multiplying Church Cohorts

How do we minister as relevant, effective, life-giving churches in this drastically changing world of ours? This is the challenge of our times as a fellowship and congregations.

This year Kairos is organizing groups of churches into what we're calling multiplying church cohorts. For a year these churches will work together on some aspect of multiplication: increasing attendance, adding worship experiences, or starting multi-sites or new churches. By working on these multiplying projects as a group we get to learn from each other and share the resources, as well as becoming good friends together.

We'll be starting other cohorts as this year moves along. Your church may be ready to get into one of these. Let me know.

Discovery Lab this month at Camp Manatawny, PA

This week four couples and two single men will be engaging in the Kairos Discovery Lab, our premier church planter assessment process. This is often a life changing event. Please pray for both those people coming to investigate their possible future in church planting and the interview team as we seek to listen to God and give valuable insight to these people for their future and God's use in the his kingdom.

A New Christian Responds
Recently I received a letter from a man who is supporting a church planter because of the impact this planter has had on his life. Here's a short excerpt from that letter:

I was raised a Roman Catholic and attended French Catholic Schools. The French Catholic God was an Old Testament God with a long laundry list of "don'ts" enough to choke a mule. There was no love, compassion or tolerance. When I eventually made my own way into the world, I gave up Catholicism, and God entirely.

I met (the planter) at the gym we were frequenting at the time, and one thing led to another, I studied and was baptized. I experienced the most fantastic feeling as I emerged from the water. It was as though the weight of the entire world had been lifted from my shoulders, after a long life of sin. WOW.

Father of heaven and earth. You pursue your people for your name's sake. Thank you for letting us be involved in your mission of grace. Amen.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How Do We Share Faith in Post-Christian America?

Last week I was in Memphis working with a church leadership team on Natural Church Development and teaching an intensive course--21st Century Missional Strategies--at Harding School of Theology. It was a powerful week as both groups were discovering a change in paradigms for what they are about.

21st Century Missional Strategies is answering the question that titles this blog: How do we share faith in 21st century America? Here's the big revelation that came from my students:

We know we ought to share faith but we keep suppressing that impulse so it won't bother us.

Do you feel like that too? You know sharing faith should be part of your life but you just keep suppressing it and putting the thought out of your mind so you don't have to feel guilty?

Here are a couple of thoughts about this. First, this way of thinking is still guilt based. OK, Matthew 28:18-20 sits like a pretty big stone mountain out there that we can't ignore. Jesus does say get out in the world and make disciples of all nations, which, as I read the text, pretty well means EVERYBODY. But why the guilt? Why do we work from the assumption that sharing faith is so gruesome, so intimidating, that to do it is an onerous task and not a grace-filled joy? We've got some reorienting to do as God's people so that we actually experience and believe that Jesus is the good news he claims to be.

Second, why isn't sharing faith the grace-filled experience of joy it seems like it should be if Jesus is in fact good news? Two parts to this answer. First, if Jesus is the resurrected Lord he presented himself to be (Mark 16; 1 Cor. 15:3-11) that's a game changer! It changes everything we do. Paul puts it very succinctly, if Jesus was raised from the dead then we win and death loses. There's a new book, a small one of just a hundred pages, that's a great read on the implication of the resurrection: Raised? by Jonathan Dodson and Brad Watson. We need to wrestle with our doubts until we too become convicted believers.

And what makes sharing faith so difficult as well is that we do live in a post-Christian context where it's not acceptable nor politically correct to be a "proselytizer." That means it takes more than a bit of courage to open our mouths and make sort of confession of faith. In fact, experience demonstrates that when we meet someone new and don't let our faith out of the closet the next time it will be twice as hard and after our third meeting the only way that person will discover we're Jesus followers is by accident.

If you really want to explore sharing faith you need to order the workbook Sharing Faith. It's not a read, it's planned activity that course that could just possibly release in you the joy of sharing faith that you long to experience. God bless you in that direction.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Culture of Leadership Development

The U.S. military is one of the most prolific leader developing institutions in the world in part because each promotion provides a new set of skill competencies and increases the number of people being led. Early officer promotions are almost certain but the higher the rank the more stringent the promotion requirements.

Most of the time I've heard leader development in churches made as an announcement: Hey, we need some people to volunteer to teach, or lead a small group, or  be an usher, etc., etc.

What if we began to think of developing leaders in a more consistent, intentional manner? Could it be possible to provide, through increasing levels of responsibility and numbers of people, a pathway for leaders to follow that provided them personal development, experience, and a sense of confident growth?

Kairos is working with a number of churches to create leader development pathways. Here's the general model:



Across the bottom are personal leader development stages. Any person can move through all five of these stages at whatever level of leadership of which they are capable.
Emerging: these are people who are developing a self-identity as leaders. They move in and out of leadership roles as they explore the fit of being a leader.
Developing: these people view themselves as leaders and they are developing their leadership skills in small groups, Bible classes, and performing entry level leadership tasks. They are learning what is required of leaders and developing basic leadership skills.
Recognized: these people have gained enough skill and experience so that others, those they lead and those who lead them, recognize their leadership abilities and give them ongoing leader responsibilities.
Experienced: these people have become effective leaders in their roles and have a well developed set of leadership behaviors, skills, and experience.
Mature: these people lead confidently and capably at their level of leadership.
Up the side are four levels of leadership. Levels are based on both the capacity and capability of leadership with which any given person is gifted.
Doing: technically this is not a leadership level because a person may be doing a task yet not leading other people. This level sets below the heavy line which distinguishes between personal leadership and leading others.
Directing: this is where the leader begins leading others, providing them the direction they need to accomplish the doing tasks.
Planning: leadership becomes more complex at this level as the leader now leads not just people who are doing, but other leaders. At this stage a leader is involved in higher function planning and organizing that requires more complex leader ability.
Generating: leaders at this stage now work in abstract areas of creative thought. They are able to bring solutions to organizational problems. They create new ministries, activities, and events that do not yet exist but that will propel the organization forward. Leaders at this level may also create entirely new organizations.



This simple pathway provides a way to visualize how leaders can be developed.





Wednesday, January 29, 2014

3 Growth Challenges to become a Multi-Site Church


Multi-site churches, that is one church meeting in multiple locations, are a growing trend across America. Ed Stetzer’s
research has identified over 5,000 multi-site churches in America. In our fellowship of Churches of Christ there are not many multisite churches. Oak Hills in San Antonio, The Hills in Fort Worth, The Branch and Highland Oaks in Dallas are examples of churches with heritage in Churches of Christ that have become multisite.

Over the past year Kairos has worked with a small number of larger churches in our fellowship whose leaders are exploring the option of becoming multisite. In 2013 we invited Geoff Surratt to conduct a multisite workshop and this year we are working with several churches in a multiplying church network where we can plan and pursue multiplying activities together.

This month some of these churches met together to envision what multiplying projects would look like and engage in some vision development. As we worked together 3 critical growth challenges emerged that churches in our fellowship of Churches of Christ will face when moving to a multisite expression:

Multisite Challenge #1: Family Identity
Our heritage works from a nuclear family identity, that is, we all expect to see everyone when we gather together for worship. If your church has ever tried to go to multiple services you’ve experienced the lament, “But we won’t ever see everybody.” It’s this expectation that in our family we all gather around the dinner table together that makes multiple services so difficult. It’s also the first critical challenge for multisite. We find it hard to envision “one church in multiple locations.”

To address this challenge we need to change our identity from nuclear family to extended family. An extended family still loves one another and cherishes those times when we can get together, but we don’t expect to see everyone at every meal. Pushing this analogy a bit further, we need to see ourselves as uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces rather than brothers and sisters. We understand the emotional challenge of this change when, as in the congregation in which I grew up, one of their identifying songs says, “You’ll notice we say brother and sister ‘round here.”

Multisite Challenge #2: Expanding Geography
Distance and number of sites has a multiplying impact, not an additive one. A surprising insight gained by early adopting multisite churches is they thought having one administrative system across multiple sites would give them an economy of scale. Paid staff could manage volunteers at multiple sites, multiplying both themselves and their impact. What they found was the distance and number of sites actually multiplied the complexity needed to manage and maintain the site ministries. Multisite churches are matrix organizations. It takes well-defined connections, communication patterns, and reporting to manage a multisite. Planning and decisions must be communicated up and down the reporting line. There is no central water cooler in a multisite church around which news, emotions, and relationships are naturally shared and developed. Intentionality becomes critical.

Multisite Challenge #3: Intentional Leader Development
How do you deliberately identify, train, and deploy leaders from within your church? Even with my association with many congregations across our country I could not come up with one good example of a church that had a systematic process to develop their leaders for the multiple leadership roles that exist in a church. Most churches tend to look for who has developed leadership skills in their vocations that are usable in the church context and hope that they can translate the use those skills well in the church setting. Successful multisite churches have well defined pathways for leader development for volunteers and paid staff.

Changing from a congregation with one worship service to one church with multiple congregations in multiple locations requires meeting these three challenges as major steps in their evolution as a church body. The process won’t be for every church. For those whom God has prepared and is calling for this journey their promises to be a lot of work with the potential for rich, kingdom rewards.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Do you live in a post-Christian city?

Where you live makes a difference in your faith. Do you believe that? let's say you lived in Knoxville, TN. Most people you know are likely to believe the Bible is true, helpful, and a positive influence in their lives. But if you live in the northeast, say Burlington, VT, more than half of every adult you knew would be unchurched.

If you lived  in Jackson, MS chances are better than 50/50 that you not only worshiped this weekend, you also attended Sunday School. If you lived in Albany, NY, however,  59% of people who say they are Christians have not made a commitment to Jesus (from the BarnaGroup).

If you live and are a member of church somewhere in the southern portion of the US you probably feel faith is pretty strong, that most people you know are Christians, and that your church is doing pretty well. If you live in the northeast or the west coast you know it's not cool to talk about faith, most of your neighbors are not Christian believers, and you may be worried that your church won't be around many more years.

Where you lives makes a difference in how you experience faith. We could take these numbers and get depressed. Or, we can choose to be proactive. Is your church helping to expand the influence of Christian faith in our country? Do you share your faith with the people God has put around you?

Planting new churches is about influencing our country for God and sharing faith as individuals. If your church is not helping new churches begin, would you champion that cause to your leaders?

Stan Granberg, 360-609-6700


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Blessing: The Bible in 10

http://youtu.be/evd9kAJfiTc
Click photo to go to YouTube
Kevin Woods, church planter of Renovatus Church of Christ in Vancouver, WA, asked me to deliver the story of The Bible in 10 minutes. It was a wonderful experience for me to read and think through God's story to condense into something coherent yet full enough to draw novice and mature Christian again through the biblical text.

There is a Prezi to accompany the text, available at: http://goo.gl/ohPCoU.

During this Christmas season I pray this video provides you and yours a blessing and a reminder of God's faithful love to us all.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Stan Granberg
Kairos Church Planting


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A New Scorecard for Your Church Members


The idea of a church scorecard has been around a long time. Typically we church leaders count nickels and noses, but lately the talk of a new scorecard has grown. In Transformational Church: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer define a Transformational Church as one that “transforms people to look like Christ” (p. 33). Well of course that’s what we all want. The perplexing question is how do we get there?

There is a reinterpretation of our more traditional measures that is occurring that I think is quite healthy. Think of these changes as “moves.” Here are three big moves:

1.     Membership to Discipleship. A member may have relatively little expectations made of them, and what expectations are made are generally minimal. Discipleship, on the other hand, is the maximum oriented approach of Phil. 3:14, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
2.     Attendance to Activity. With attendance as the criterion the punch card approach is what’s active. People come to services to get their cards punched. Christian action is relegated to a few hours at the church building. With activity as the criterion the field of involvement as well as the time span becomes infinite. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord” (Col. 3:23).
3.    Giving to Generosity. When we work on giving we end up talking about an activity. Giving becomes a matter of counting. With generosity we are working on a lifestyle. “As for the rich in this present age, . . . They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share (1 Tim. 6:17-19).

Last week I asked a younger minister what a personal scorecard for church members might look like from his vantage point. His answers were simple and specific. As you read them think of how your church might use these as part of your year-end reviews and challenges to your people. What?! You don’t do such reviews? In my life I’ve never been part of a church that did. I think this kind of scorecard could make a huge impact. Let’s try it.

#1    Worship Experience: How have you engaged in your worship and experience of God?
·       We expect our people to be part of our community worship experiences 75% of Sundays.
·       Our goal is 100% of our people making community worship a life priority for themselves and their families.
#2    Relational Community: How have you developed your relationships with others in this body?
·       We expect our people to be part of a relationship building community.
·       Our goal is 100% of our people taking part in our relationship groups.
#3   Financial Generosity: How have you contributed to the mission and ministry of this church through your giving?
·       We expect our people to be generous givers, using a tithe as a keystone point.
·       Our goal is 50% of our people tithing.
#4    Body Service: What have you done to serve and add to our church body?
·       We expect our people to use their gifts and abilities to bless the life of our church.
·       Our goal is 75% of our people sharing their giftedness with our church.
#5    Community Service: What have you done to serve our community as a witness of Christ in the world?
·       We expect our people to do good in the world, not just in the name of Jesus, but to express the name Jesus with those whom they serve.
·       Our goal is 75% of our people sharing their faith as witnesses of Jesus to our community through word and deed.
#6    Personal Life: What spiritual disciplines have you practiced this year that have helped you grow in the life of faith?
·       We expect our people to grow in their abilities to be mature Christians, able to handle well the word of truth.
·       Our goal is 75% of our people are deliberately developing their spiritual lives in a planned, intentional way.