Monday, October 1, 2012

Transformational church

Last week I had the privilege of attending a Transformational Church Summit on the beautiful campus of Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Kentucky.  The principle speakers were Thom Rainer and Dan Garland from LifeWay and Rusty Ellison, pastor of Walnut Street Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.  Several other individuals led workshops as well.  All I can is WOW!  It was a dynamic two days filled with encouragement, hope, and tools that can help almost any church transform.

Thom Rainer explained the research that went into their book Transformational Church: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations.  As they researched churches that are being transformed they found some common characteristics.  Although there are more than three such characteristics three primary factors include the church having a missionary mentality, relational intentionality, and a prayerful dependence.  In a workshop Dan Garland taught us how to use a Transformational Church Assessment that measures the worship, the sense of community, the level of vibrant leadership, the relational intentionality, the missionary mindset, the prayer dependence, and the sense of mission that exists in the church.  This assessment provides insights into the strengths of the church and areas that can be improved.  Rusty Ellison explained how their church is currently involved in that assessment and how it is impacting their church.

For quite a while we have been told that 80 percent of the churches in America are plateaued or declining.  Many of our churches recognize that things are not right with their churches and claim to want to make changes, but how many of them are actually doing anything intentional to change anything?  I know of very few.  Here is an assessment tool that can help a church identify areas in its life and ministry that need to be examined, and there are people who can assist with that examination and the changes that need for transformation to occur.  If the leadership of a church did nothing more than study the book mentioned above and begin to implement some of the suggestions transformation could at least begin.

As excited as I felt when I left the summit I was also deeply concerned because I really wonder how many churches will actually use this tool now that it's available.  Perhaps I am getting a little cynical, but many of the churches I know will prefer to wring their hands complaining about how bad things are in their church to actually doing something about it.  They won't take this assessment and implement any of the recommendations that would come from it.  They won't call the hundreds of judicatory and denominational leaders who are eager to help their churches that are serious about transformation.  They won't call the hundreds of church consultants and coaches that are available to come alongside them and help develop a plan of action to transform their church.  They won't even read the book I listed and attempt to implement even one suggestion in it.   It's much easier to remember the good old days and hope that somehow, someway, sometime they will be able to recapture it.

Take a look at your church.  Look at the people there now and look back at all those who have been a part of your church.  How has God used your church over the years to impact and change people's lives?  How has He blessed your church in the past?  Do you believe He has done all that just to be done with your church now?  I don't, so if your church is one of the approximately 100 churches that closes their doors every week it won't be His fault. 

Your church is much like people.  It doesn't matter how much of a reprobate they may be, God can still transform their lives if they will allow Him to.  It doesn't matter where your church is today, God can transform it into a ministry center that changes people's lives if you will allow Him to.  Make this a matter of prayer this week.  Get this book, read it, and listen for what God might say to you as you read.  Your church can be transformed.

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