Bill Campbell

Thoughts of Life and Ministry

AVOIDING THE NUISANCE OF NEGATIVITY

The failure of congregations to progress and move forward are numerous. Manifold. It would require numerous pages to describe the various reasons for congregational decline.

One major reason why congregations often fall into decline though stems from a most subtle and overlooked factor: abnormal negativity being in operation within a church fellowship. While negativity can emerge in any size fellowship, it will often occur in smaller congregations. With congregations that are more passive in their culture than they are active in ministry.

Certain members will begin to find fault with something that’s been said or not said; that’s been done or left undone. The supposed fault will be exaggerated. Blown out of proportion. Talked about to a point of exasperation. And like cancer it will grow like a rolling snow ball among a certain group who have been apprised of the supposed fault. The fault will then eventually be raised to a most unnecessary and highly elevated status.

Congregations fail to understand that such activities are highly dismantling. It damages a church on the inside. It nonetheless damages a church and its image among those on the outside. A church with negativity comes to inherit a reputation and image of being a fighting and feuding fellowship. People soon choose to avoid any connection with a church that’s like this. If I could portray its evil in the most effective way possible, I would refer to it as one of the, “sins of highly defective congregations.”

Problems like this need to be highlighted. Brought into the daylight. Exposed. But problems need solutions. Ways, that is, to avoid such a serious pitfall in congregational life. How may the evil of negativity be overcome?

  • By persons asking themselves, “am I part of the problem of negativity? In other words, have I fallen into this evil and subtle trap with others?”
  • By understanding that negativity is part of the devil’s strategy for disrupting a congregation’s unity.
  • By eliminating yourself from the circle of influencers who major in negativity.
  • By understanding that you are hurting the health and well-being of your congregation by being a  participant in negative messaging.
  • By recognizing and understanding that abnormal engagement in negativity is one of the “sins of highly defective churches.”
  • By acknowledging negativity as a growing problem in your life, and making a departure from it, along with asking for God’s forgiveness, as you seek a renewed pathway.
  • By planting positive seeds rather than negative seeds in the life of your congregation, as you develop a positive attitude with the use of your lips and life.

Negativity, I’m discovering, can easily become a lifestyle. A response to everything experienced. An ever developing attitude.  It can be initiated much easier than it can be eliminated. Only as we look to God for direction through Scripture and prayer, and come to see its evil in operation, are we able to make a departure from its evil ways.

I like the following words from an anonymous source: “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can’t go anywhere until you change it.”

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September 17, 2013 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Relationships, Service, Spirituality, The Devil, The Tongue | Leave a comment

Overcoming The Holy Huddle

With few exceptions congregations enjoy informing me that they are a friendly fellowship. And I must add here that they are friendly with me about highlighting their friendliness. They even go so far as to engage in bragging about being friendly. Yet, their friendliness is really all about the crowd with whom they’ve become familiar. They enjoy their private activities, like being together often, and eventually evolve into the assumption that friendliness isn’t a quality that’s lacking among them.

What’s amazing to these inside folks, however, is when they learn the feelings of those who enter their church for the first time from the outside.  These individuals see and experience a totally different picture than what the insiders experience. In place of friendliness they are aware of what I wish to designate as the operation of a “holy huddle.” This “holy huddle” group seldom ever breaks the huddle long enough to welcome newcomers who walk inside one of their congregations services. That is, those who are outside the normal crowd that the insiders are used to seeing.

Another thing that often happens in established congregations is small interest groups. They do form. And they enjoy being together. In fact, they stay together. Hang together. They enjoy doing things in which common interests pervade. They erect their own programs, establish marginal mindsets, and structure comfortable zones in which they seek to maintain and control their turf. But an outsider, even a member of the same congregation, cannot join their elitist group. They won’t let them. And anyone who endeavors to crack into their group will be ignored. They will even go so far as to try and exclude those who attempt to challenge their “holy huddle.”

Allow me to openly say here that nothing is more damaging and divisive to having a healthy congregation than that of the existence of a “holy huddle” mentality. It’s wrecking many congregations in this day. How do I know? I’ve witnessed it. Have even heard church visitors who are extremely unhappy with it.

I’ve described the problem. Tried to describe it vividly and genuinely. But it’s not good to present a problem and offer no corrective. No solution. How can congregations break the “holy huddle” practice?

  • By highlighting the problem. This practice often continues to raise its ugly head today because no positive efforts are ever put forward to identify and describe its evil presence. It becomes a vicious growing snowball as it continues rushing downhill.
  • By each member committing himself or herself to being a solution to this existing problem. This will happen as he or she rufuses to become a contributing member to this “holy huddle” mentality.
  • By the effort to prevent any marginalized or private group or groups from forming and creating divisive cells within the larger church body.
  • By a faithful teaching and preaching of the Scriptures that attempts to focus on the dangers of such groups forming and disrupting a congregations unity.
  • By faithfully loving all of God’s creation, everyone He’s created, regardless of their ages, appearances or backgrounds. The human body has various members, but these members must work together rather than work against each other. This important lesson needs to be continually learned within the body of Christ.

The next step involves YOU. Will YOU be a contributor to the “holy huddle” clan? Or, will YOU choose to be the problem solver by faithfully and responsibly huddling with all God’s people in God’s great work in YOUR larger community and world??

July 3, 2013 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Preaching, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Spiritual Gifts, Spirituality, The Devil | Leave a comment

LIVING OUR LEGACY

As a result of my life I wish to eventually leave a legacy. Leave something behind me that will make a lasting difference. My intention is to not take everything with me to the grave. Bury my blessings. Silence everything on which I’ve based my life.

Allow me though to share a concern I have right now. This concern is church related. About the church and its future. The church in relationship to my children and grandchildren. The church in relationship to your children and grandchildren.

In several different instances of my church health ministry I have encountered some discouraging remarks. They go something like this: “Bill our church is dying. We no longer have young folks. They’ve left us. Moved on somewhere else. As a result, our church is one of the last of a dying breed. Once our few members die, this building will be locked up and become part of the past.”

Several times I’ve been the listener to such open acknowledgments. I wish I could tell you that I’ve received these words without them having much effect on me. But I haven’t. For tears have welled up in my eyes. I’ve become intensely heartbroken. Depressed. Overwrought. Unable to believe what I’m hearing.

These church bodies began one day long ago with the highest intentions. The highest purposes. Motives. They were focused on ministering spiritual things to their families as well as reaching their communities. But the fire is gone. The hot passion is missing. They no longer are driven outward toward those around them. Instead, they are keeping the folks among them happy and pleased. They have become dried-up spectacles of a once exciting day of ardor and zeal for the Lord.

What has happened?

  • There is no longer a heart remaining for continuing what once began in great earnest. It’s now about  maintaining what’s left. What’s available. What these folks have to work with.
  • There is no interest in perpetuating what was once so important. With having a vibrant church body of believers. Leaving a legacy. They do not see the church as an ongoing relay race, in which they pass the faith on to those who will follow them. Instead, everything is about to be taken with them to the grave.
  • There is no sensitivity about the Lord’s final commission of “making disciples.” Passing the faith on to others. They now have the only disciples the church will most likely ever have. It’s no longer about others, it’s all about us. JUST US!!
  • There is no awareness of the impact and influence God meant for these congregations to continue making. They’ve pulled up the tent stakes so to speak, and are ready to close down business. Their prayers are for their own. Prayers for the salvation and transformation of persons around them is non-existent.
  • There is an established attitude that the church now exists for them. Them alone. Their own little crew. Even the sermons and lessons and activities are meant to be about them. What they want. What they believe is necessary.
  • There’s a great bit of lamentation being heard these days about what’s going on in our country. The loss of biblical morality and precious spiritual values. Everyone is tuned-in to the latest disheartening media news. But they’re not equally tuned-in to the current demise of the church.

Allow me to raise a question in closing for doing some further intense praying and soul-searching: IS IT POSSIBLE THE CONDITION OF OUR COUNTRY AND WORLD IS THE RESULT OF A PASSIONLESS  CHURCH IN THESE DARK DAYS??

June 26, 2013 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Preaching, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Service, Spirituality | Leave a comment

EMBRACING CHANGE

As we age we grow more to dislike change. In fact, we seek to avoid it. Work around it, over it, or through a run for your life attitude away from it.

We think doing things differently is to much of a challenge. Exacts to many demands. Makes for discomfort. Thus, don’t rock the boat. Don’t mess with my comfort zone.

With all the foregoing said, Christianity was born in the matrix of change. Of becoming different. Something unlike what we were before. Moving from one state of existence into another. For the call to the biblical teaching on repentance engaged us in serious change. Extreme change.

Yet, once we changed, this experience was not intended to be a dead-end road. We’ve changed, now we believe that the expectation to change is behind us. No longer necessary. As a result, there’s a tendency to revert back into the same old person we once were.

But get this: Change didn’t end once we were converted to Christ. Change continues. It goes on throughout our lifetime. Unless you change you become stuck. Frozen. Paralyzed. Caught in a state in which you cannot proceed. Furthermore, when you do not change, you fail to experience growth in your walk as a Christ follower.

Allow me to cross over from individual Christian experience to church life. Here’s what I’ve observed: The church often falls into the same non-changing rut as that of the Christ follower. We become caught in the confusing maze of doing things repetitively. Over and over. In the way we’ve always done them.

Through this unchanging posture, some tragic things happen to a congregation.

  • We do things the same way in church week after week. Seldom is there any change from the format that has come to define us.
  • We like our established style. So much so, any attempt to move things in a different direction is a “no no.” You try to touch the established pattern and you’ve moved into non-sacred territory.
  • We believe to change is a compromise. Drifting from the truth. Running away from sacred territory. Choosing the world’s way over the Lord’s way.
  • We fail to realize we’ve established a religious world of our own. One that’s disconnected from Christ and His original concerns. We’ve then morphed into speaking our own “Christianeze language.” The language of the tribe. The language of those on the inside. Those who are familiar with the rituals, language and practices.
  • We then lose a connection with the community around us. We are doing our thing. Enjoying our tribal meetings. But those around us have no idea what we’re doing. In fact, they’ve long ago quit paying any attention to us. What’s worse, we’ve adopted the attitude: “It’s our way, friends, or the highway!!”
  • We need to focus more on those outside. On those around us. More toward them and less on ourselves. If we don’t, reaching them is only a private dream, and it will never be actually experienced.

Does this sound like your church? The fellowship in which you find yourself? Are you comfortable with being a private tribal church body like I’ve described? I’m not. And I pray that you aren’t either. In fact, I’m wondering if you are willing to make the giant leap today by way of embracing change. If so, you’ll be surprised how much you and your church will become a powerful magnet in your community.

June 22, 2013 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Spirituality | Leave a comment

RESTORING A MIS-DIRECTED CHURCH

Biblical congregations are designed to grow in number and commitment. They are healthy when they do grow. They are unhealthy when they do not grow. Church leaders will generally acknowledge they want their church to grow. They want their congregation to advance. To progress. But the greater majority of traditional congregations still remain in the condition of being either plateaued or declining.

So why? Why are so many congregations demonstrating unhealthy traits? By going backwards? Drifting? Becoming lifeless? Is it because of the preacher or preachers they have? The area in which they’re located? The adverse times in which we live? The age of the membership, because they lack younger folks? Is it because of insufficient monetary resources? Or, is there another reason that can be offered?

The issue of non-growth, I believe, is not related to any of the foregoing areas. Rather, non-growth falls back primarily onto the lap of the congregation itself. Let me share some reasons why, I believe, congregations are personally responsible for their own reversal.

  • It’s because they are unwilling to change the way they do church. Congregations get into an operational comfort zone, passively choose to remain in their past functional molds, and eventually emerge into believing this is the way church has always been done. Thus, it needs to remain the same way it was. Thus: “DON’T MESS WITH THE ESTABLISHED PATTERN!!”
  •  It’s because they have leaders and members who barricade attempts to move out of whatever it is they’ve become. Any attempt at changing what exists will cause a nucleus of persons to “kick up their heels!!” They will stir up church contention. Fall back on the need to follow their procedures and by-laws. Threaten to leave. Fire their preacher. Encourage the change agitators to leave the church. The big push is: “TO KEEP THINGS AS THEY ARE!! IF THINGS AREN’T BROKE, DON’T TRY AND FIX THEM!!”
  • It’s because they believe the church exists first and foremost to suit their own tastes and wants. Why not? They started it. Sacrificed to pay for it. Are presently paying to keep its doors open. Thus, it’s our baby. Those outside the church have no “say so” with how this church will operate. In short, “IT BELONGS TO US!! DON’T ROCK THE BOAT!!”
  • It’s because they suffer from a lack of sensitivity for the needs of a lost and hurting community and world. A congregations Divine mission and mandate is always to the world, not to itself. Its purpose was never meant to be primarily about itself. Here’s what’s happened: Selfishness has replaced service. Me and us have replaced others. Comfort has replaced change. Tradition has sidestepped transformation. Even procedure has uprooted prayer.

The church is called to a life of outreach and others. The mis-directed church needs to be restored. Will it begin with YOU??

June 14, 2013 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Relationships, Service, Spirituality | Leave a comment

LIVING IN THE PRESSURE COOKER OF PROBLEMS

Problems. Difficulties. They are all around us, aren’t they? Constantly. On a daily basis. They never stop. Never end. Never have a deadend point. One problem ceases only for a new problem to raise its head. Problems simply refuse to sleep.

In the face of life’s problems we all want to find a utopia. A way out. A problem free existence. A life without difficulties. A life no longer tied to tough decisions; a life liberated from numerous u-turns; a life without troubling conflicts and unending hassles; a life that makes no demands and is without financial anxiety and instability.

Let’s face it. You have one of two possible choices. The first choice is to deny your problems and seek to avoid them. The other choice is to view them in a totally different fashion. How? By perceiving them as opportunities in disguise. That is, they can be approached as obvious obstacles, but difficulties that are  ready to be courageously faced, openly addressed, and then surmounted.

One thing is certain: problems are unavoidable. There’s no way around them. Like the sun, they have their times to rise up. Then, they bear down on you. There’s no utopia for being able to separate yourself from them. Being able to gain a release from their vicious assault. As long as you are alive problems will visit you. Without warning. Often. They will be a part of your day. They will refuse to leave the stage.

What is true for persons is also true of congregations. For life isn’t free of problems for congregations either. How do I know this? Through theory? Conjecture? No, because the  problems are not simply some kind of mind excursion on my part. Rather, I’ve learned that congregations have problems from having spent time in a congregation’s pulpit and in its pew. Also, through serving as a listening consultant or coach. Some problems I’ve encountered seem legitimate. Other problems appear to be nothing more than childish or selfish.

Now to the big question. The all important question: Why are there church problems? Why do they exist?

  • Because congregations are composed of imperfect people serving a perfect God.
  • Because congregations lose sight of their primary reason or reasons for existence.
  • Because people allow their selfish agendas to get in the way of God’s agenda.
  • Because congregations rely more on themselves than they do on God.
  • Because a congregations decisions are often based more on the decisions of church leaders than they are on the basis of prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
  • Because congregations have allowed themselves to become satisfied to live with their problems than they are with solving them.
  • Because congregations are, more often than not, guilty of tying the hands of their leadership from making needed congregational changes and improvements.
  • Because congregations are much more market and success driven than they are God driven.
  • Because congregations are caught up in the divisive effort to cast blame on others in place of sharing the blame among themselves.
  • Because congregations are frequently unwilling to go through periodic visits by a church health physician, who can give them a more objective understanding of how to be  effective amidst their current difficulties.

No congregation will ever be completely free of problems. For problems are part of the human arena. But we can nonetheless learn and be prepared to work more effectively through our problems as we courageously face them, and then work through them.

 

April 26, 2013 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Preaching, Relationships, Service, Spirituality | Leave a comment

THE KEY TO UNLOCKING YOUR CONGREGATION’S LATENT POWER

Congregations I encouter today are often troubled. Deeply concerned and burdened. Overwrought. They try many things. Work extra hard. Give of themselves. Yet, they soon agonize and lament about arriving nowhere wothwhile through their efforts.

“What’s our problem, Bill? What do we need to do differently? How can we leap over numerous dead-end roads in our ministry?”

These are questions that express a persistent mindset. They are posed more than one would be led to believe. In fact, I’m hearing these concerns, expressed through these kind of questions, more often than any other concerns. So, here is my response which I’ve chosen to address through questions of my own.

  • Could it be that your congregation’s ministry has evolved into being more about you and what you want, than it is about God and what He wants? Congregations, I’m discovering, frequently have established their own agendas for operation. These agendas end up pushing out God’s agenda.
  • How much time do you spend in prayer as church leaders and as a congregation? Do you spend more time talking, planning, doing, rationalizing and agonizing that you do praying?
  • What does prayer do? Anything at all? Mainly, it gets you focused more on God’s agenda and His will, and less on your own will and agenda. I’ve been to numerous congregational settings where there is, more often than not, an opening and closing prayer, but seldom ever an extended time for persons to simply seek God’s face and His will.
  • Can you imagine the unlimited power God is ready to unleash in lives and congregations when limitless time is spent with Him and not upon ourselves?
  • Are you aware of the latent power that’s available through prayer when it’s tapped into? James reminds His readers: ” … The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16 – NKJV). The Message renders the verse even more clearly: “The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” If this happens to one person think how much more power is unleashed when an entire congregation is constantly bathing its life and ministry in prayer.
  • Have you read any of the great testimonies given regarding prayer’s power. A. W. Tozer comes quickly to mind. He lacked academic credentials, and formal training. Yet, prayer took this simple man as he was, and shaped him into a fit vessel to deeply impact his generation as he preached, taught, wrote, and provided leadership. One comment he made repeatedly was the following one, “As a man prays, so is he.” May I also add here that, “as a church prays, so is it!” Prayer is the key to unlocking your congregation’s latent power.
  • Additionally, do you want to become an individual with God’s kingdom eyes, in place of being merely one with culturally influenced religious eyes? It can happen. Right where you are. And it will happen as you grow closer to Him through extended periods of time in earnest prayer, and as you seek His face and will for the direction of your church. Over time, prayer will not only turn your life around but prayer in your church will permeate every crack and crevice in its life, and will enable your church to become something you had never even dreamed it could become.

Prayer is the available key to unlocking everything that God wishes to do and accomplish through His church. Will you unlock this door, and walk through it with your congregation? As Mother Teresa has reminded us, “Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of himself.”

April 16, 2013 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Spiritual Gifts, Spirituality | Leave a comment

BECOMING A DIFFERENCE MAKING CONGREGATION

Over time congregations tend toward becoming lethargic and frozen stiff. In this condition they appear immovable. Unchangeable. They cannot seem to advance or progress. Too spiral out of their paralysis. Experience any real discernible sense of growth . Someone once told me they are best described as being, “sound asleep and frozen solid.”

The foregoing description could allow me to go on endlessly. Offer the reader tons of information and examples of the deadness of many of these congregations. And quite truthfully, many congregations are caught in the middle of this serious and discouraging dilemma.

An important question needs to be raised at this point: What important steps need to be taken for a stagnant and unhealthy congregation to become a difference making church?

The foregoing question is a crucial one. Most vital. In response, I wish to offer a few suggestions for being able to emerge out of this crisis. Notice that I emphasized suggestions. Being suggestions they need to be mobilized into life and out of the realm of being mere suggestions. Simply stated, they need to become deliberate action steps, that move a congregation beyond the mental level to experienced reality.

Here are my suggestions for taking active steps that will help bring about a difference in congregations:

  • Initially a congregation needs to become discontented with being content. Where contentment reigns there can be no attempts made toward becoming a difference making congregation.
  • It is also necessary for a congregation to maintain the connection to the timeless message of Scripture without being tied to forever following time-worn methods. In short, a congregation needs to be willing to change or alter their existing methods.
  • A third step is to have a vision and mission in clear sight that your congregation practices in every aspect of its life and ministry. This vision and mission must always be highly visible and in operation. What is seen must be consistently practiced.
  • Having a team concept is also a necessary step. Utilize the abilities/gifts of the congregation. Christianity is never a solo flight. It is a movement that involves everyone.
  • Do not lose sight of the community. Their needs. Where are they hurting? What makes the community happy? How can we become a magnet to draw them? Bring them aboard? Give them a reason to live and a reason to die.
  • Make sure you endeavor to do some things differently. Refuse to get into a rut. Keep anticipation and breath taking experiences high.
  • Stay current with the times. Step into the 21st century. Avoid the thought ~~~> “We’ve never done it that way before.” If you continue doing things the same way you will get the same results.
  • View your pastor/minister leader as a coach. If no one is directing – leading – showing the way – a congregation becomes locked in neutral. You can go nowhere without an alert voice with a compass showing the way.
  • It’s also advisable to follow the dictum ~~~~> Lead – Follow – Or get out of the way!!” Could it be possible that you are standing in the way of your congregation’s progress?
  • When you attempt small or great things with God, you need to anticipate incredible results. For God’s involvement with you will bring incredible results, when the results are viewed from the human perspective.

God is waiting to do wonderful things through your congregation. Will you give Him the necessary space? If so, then get yourself in step with HIM who only majors in doing the impossible!!

April 12, 2013 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Spiritual Gifts, Spirituality | 1 Comment

DOING THE CONGREGATIONAL TURNAROUND

Being a turnaround congregation was my concern in the previous blog. I endeavored there to paint a word picture of the type of congregation that could be defined as a congregation being in need of turnaround.

But why was it necessary to spend considerable time focusing on the problem or problems? Because unless one sees a congregation’s problems clearly, it will be impossible to have the necessary information in place for knowing the positive steps that need to be taken by a plateaued or declining church body.

Becoming a turnaround congregation can be experienced, I suggest, through taking the following path:

  • By a congregation being able to see itself through the lens of the previous blog in which I endeavored to open a door through which a church body can see itself. Until this spark of seeing a church needing change is ignited, there can be no possible turnaround.
  • This turnaround process must begin at the congregational leadership level. This means that the minister or ministers, including the complete church leadership team, must catch a shared vision of the existing problem or problems needing to be resolved.
  • A considerable period of time needs to be spent by the leadership team in Scripture, identifying there the purposes of a congregation’s life and ministry. This process needs to be matched equally with prayer. The church leadership team needs to appeal to God in a continued and concentrated fashion to open their eyes to the important steps and actions they need to take.
  • Important reading resources should next be consulted that will help further highlight and inspire the leadership team to understand the many practical and important principles of a healthy and growth directed church. Two resource examples to consult are: Bob and Rusty Russell’s book, When God Builds A Church; and my own book, The Magnificent Church.
  • Identify two or three congregations that have achieved significant turnaround, as these become another important step. Congregations, that is, which have been on a plateau or have declined, and have reversed directions in a positive fashion. Being able to see a turnaround congregation functioning effectively, and drawing from their turnaround experiences, can become a rich resource from which to learn.
  • Secure the services of an outside church consultant/coach. Those inside are really too close to their problems. They need outside eyes to come inside and help them see what they are unable to clearly see. A consultant/coach needs to function with the spiritual body much like a medical doctor does with the human body. This means the church consultant/coach needs to have much experience and training to function as a spiritual physician.

The path suggested here for congregation’s in need of turnaround is not an armchair road to follow. Rather, it is the path many derailed congregations have followed to get themselves back on track.

Do you need get on track in your congregation? If so, the call is to begin, not tomorrow, but right now. You need to, “get off your donkey!!” Dismount from your current comfort zone, and get busy with what needs to begin immediately within your church.

April 6, 2013 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Shepherds, Spiritual Gifts, Spirituality | Leave a comment

A CALL FOR HEALTHY PREACHING

Healthy congregations are nurtured on healthy preaching. Always. Without exception. And just as healthy food on the table makes for healthy families, healthy preaching makes for spiritually healthy church families. Through my observation and study of congregations today I am thoroughly convinced this is true.

With the foregoing said, a congregation that’s dished out an unhealthy preaching diet, on a regular basis, will pay the price over time. A serious price. For its spiritual development and growth will definitely be blocked. Now the important question is: what are the important items that cause unhealthy preaching in congregations?

  • Unhealthy preaching is in operation when the preacher doles out a regular diet of topical preaching. This is preaching that’s dictated by the preacher rather than Scripture. So, which comes first is the major issue here? Is it Scripture or what the preacher thinks need to be shared? Scripture must always be the foundational and initial point of departure for the preacher in his preaching.
  • Unhealthy preaching is in operation when a preacher rides perpetual hobby horses. When he fails to let Scripture give direction he will predictably run off into many areas that become his own pet peeves. As a result, a congregation will not be fed a healthy spiritual diet.
  • Unhealthy preaching is in operation when the preacher is constantly negative in his pronouncements. For some reason, when a preacher strays off into topical hobby horse style preaching, he will move in negative directions. Without exception. While there are definitely times to offer “thou shalt nots,” to much of this negative strain can easily ignore the more important “you shall.”
  • Unhealthy preaching is in operation when a congregation is not exposed to “the whole counsel of God.” Variety is the key word here. There are sixty-six books in the Bible, not only two are three biblical books that are the preacher’s favorites.

Allow me to view preaching from the other side. What makes for healthy preaching? For preaching that makes a congregation a healthy fellowship?

  • Healthy preaching is in operation when the preacher is first and foremost in touch with the original biblical text. He sees clearly what the biblical text said after having studied it in its original context. The preacher should clearly understand: You cannot handle the biblical text with objectivity, and in a healthy fashion, if the Scriptures are subject to the preacher’s initial subjective interpretations.
  • Healthy preaching is in operation when the preacher is not only familiar with what the text said originally, but also with what the text is ultimately saying for his hearers today. In other words, making the responsible leap to bring the message the text offers for the needs of contemporary worshipers. Should this not happen the sermon will become a history lesson and will lack relevance and interest.
  • Healthy preaching is in operation when a preacher prepares well in advance of Sunday, or, whenever he’s scheduled to preach. Last minute preparation cannot prepare the preacher spiritually, or, with content that’s nutritional and helpful.
  • Healthy preaching must be bathed in study, prayer and careful reflection. When all three of the foregoing items become part of the sermon process, a preacher’s preaching will possess the necessary qualities that will make it ready for delivery.

My thoughts here have been brief. Furthermore, effective preaching will require many more items to consider. But these are the basic items for having healthy preaching in any congregations today.

 

 

February 9, 2013 Posted by | Celebration, Christ, Christian Life, Church, Church and Family, Church and Ministry, Church Growth, Church Health, Church Leadership, Church Unity, Coaching, Discipleship, God, Outreach, Prayer, Preaching, Relationships, Scripture, Spirituality | Leave a comment