Category Archives: Northshore Baptist Associations
With over 70-80% of churches plateaued and declining, church revitalization must be a major topic of conversation for church leaders and strategists. In the last two posts (Diagnosis and Refocuse & Re-Energize), I’ve shared our developing strategy with the Northshore Baptist Association.
So how do we Restructure or Re-Start?
If a church is diagnosed with needing restructuring or restarting, there are really only two next steps:
Step #1: Decision. The congregation must decide if large internal changes are possible or is it time to close the doors & allow something new to be born. All living things are born, they live, & they die. No New Testament Church still exists today. But even if a church continues it must die to its current way of thinking, so that a new vision can develop. Living things experience death as they age & mature & adapt to changing environments. Every growing church has had to die to various ideas, paradigms, and programs in order to grow. A final death that doesn’t lead to growth as the church exists may happen when we are unable to continue to adapt & grow through challenges faced.
- Can we afford the large internal changes that are needed?
- Do we have the resources, energy, & determination to dream a new dream for our community?
- From where we are, can we adapt to the changes of our current environment?
Step #2: Death. Once the decision to die has been made there are two options:
1) Adaption by Re-Structuring. Deciding to adapt/re-structure & grow means dying to the current model of ministry & mission. Scenarios for adaptation:
- Reverting to Mission Status & submitting to the authority of another congregation that can assist in dreaming a new dream.
- If resources are available, working with the local association to develop a plan to Assess, Align, & Advance the mission of the church.
2) Closure to Re-Start. Deciding to close/re-start means laying to rest the current church so that a brand new ministry can be started in its place. Scenarios for closure:
- Formally decide to close the church, giving the assets & liabilities to the local association so that a new church can be planted or ministry developed.
- Formally decide to close the church, giving the assets & liabilities to another local church with ties to the local community.
Next week I’ll share some of our local success stories and lessons learned.
When a church is stagnant or declining in size, diagnosis is that refocusing and re-energizing is needed. How do we refocus & re-energize? Three steps to revitalization: Assessment, Alignment, Advancement.
Step #1: ASSESSMENT.
- Discover needs of community and potential new ministries.
- Assess Leadership capability and needs.
- Identify Church Systems in need of restoration. Nelson Searcy of Church Leader Insights identifies Eight Systems of a Healthy Church:
- The Weekend Service System,
- The Outreach/Evangelism System,
- The Assimilation System,
- The Small Groups System,
- The Ministry Mobilization System,
- The Stewardship System,
- The Leadership Development System,
- The Strategy Planning System
- Research legal documents and history. History and legal documents need to be researched in order to identify potential threats to growth.
Step #2: ALIGNMENT.
- Recover Faith Factors. In Chapter Three of the book Comeback Churches, Ed Stetzer identifies three faith factors that are essential to church revitalization: 1) A renewed belief in Jesus Christ and the Mission of the Church, 2) A renewed attitude for servanthood, 3) Strategic Prayer Efforts.
- Discover/Recover the unique, God given Mission, Vision, Values. The revi team should participate in Church Planter Basic Training & take advantage of coaching networks & suggested reading lists to help discover a vision for the community.
- Make necessary identity changes. Name? Signs? Location? What identity changes may be necessary to birth new vision & energy in the church?
- Restore needed Church Systems for life and health. See above comment about Church Systems. What systems will need new energy & attention going forward?
Step #3: ADVANCEMENT.
- Vision Renewal Launch Service. Plan for a Vision Renewal Celebration as the church moves into a period of advancement and growth.
- Plant, water, and bring in the harvest. The church should experience some growth as systems are slowly restored and outreach, assimilation, small groups move people to Christ and spiritual maturity.
- Multiply disciples, leaders, and ministries. A new generation of leaders will begin to emerge that will carry the Church into the future.
- Partner in Acts 1:8 Missions. The Church will be capable of taking on missions endeavors beyond its Jerusalem and potentially assist other churches with revitalization/renewal.
Download the paper, Steps to Revitalization.
With over 70-80% of churches plateaued and declining, church revitalization must be a major topic of conversation for church leaders and strategists. In the next few posts, I’ll share the strategy we are working on with the Northshore Baptist Association. Everyone working on revitalization should be indebted to Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson for their great book Comeback Churches. One of my top gleanings from the book is the diagnostic tool for assessing a congregations needs:
This image gets even those most entrenched in the attitude “we’re fine the way we are” thinking about the need to change. Great tool to help churches diagnose their need for revitalization.
The next question is – How? How do we refocus? re-energize? Restructure? Restart?
In April of 2011, our Association did an exhaustive study of our region which covers from Holden to Slidell, along Interstate 12 in Southeast Louisiana. You can see the full reports here, and my comments here and here. This month, I compared our 2010 church health numbers with the 2012 stats for churches. Here’s a few big takeaways:
- Stats taken from each zip code where there is a Northshore Baptist church showed only a slight uptick of .4% in population growth (from 343,794 to 345,225).
- Baptisms continued to slide in Northshore churches, down 11% to 812. Down 25% from 1990′s all time high of 1,077. Ten Northshore Baptist churches reported zero baptisms. Seventeen more reported five or less.
- Sunday School/Bible Study attendance increased 2%. 6,786 attended a Bible Study on any given weekend which is equal to 2% of the population.
- Worship attendance increased 1% to 11,312 individuals attending a worship service in a Northshore Baptist Church on any given weekend. That still equals to only 3.3% of the population.
- Receipts increased by 10% while missions giving decreased 15%. Possibly caused by belt tightening going on due to the poor economy over the last few years. Also, the “Institutional Internalization” noted as a national trend by Dr. Randy Stone in 2011, as churches “preserve their institution rather than pursue the mission.”
Download the Statistical Summaries of the Northshore PROBE Two Years Later for yourself:
- Entire Northshore - NSBA Probe – 2012
- Tangi-Livingston Area - NSBA Probe:Tangi-Livingston – 2012
- West St. Tammany - NSBA Probe:WST – 2012
- East St. Tammany - NSBA Probe:EST – 2012
How do we move forward? In 2011, we outlined four keys and they are still true and still our focus.
A breakout church is defined by Thom Rainer in his book by that title as a church that reaches at least one person for Christ every two weeks or 26 persons per year, has a conversion ratio of 20:1 or 1 conversion for every 20 members per year, has tenured and consistent leadership, and the church makes a clear and positive impact on its community. The momentum of growing churches breaking out will help us catch up with population growth and move past a season of decline.
Healthier and Riskier Church Planting
Healthier church planting means church planting that is led by churches with a heart to multiply and reproduce themselves for the sake of kingdom expansion. So, what’s needed for healthier church planting is healthy mother churches with a heart to reproduce. As Bob Roberts says in his great book The Multiplying Church, “The future of faith in America (and anywhere in the world, for that matter) is not tied to planting more churches, but in raising up of mother congregations of every tribe, tongue, denomination, and network that are reproducing… The hope is in pregnant mother churches.”
Riskier church planting would be multiplication that targets hard to reach areas and unchurched pockets of our population. Missiologist Alan Hirsch suggests that current church models are reaching out to smaller and smaller segment of the population, with possibly as much as 60% of America untargeted by our evangelistic and outreach efforts. Our probe identified multi-housing residents as one potential segment that is underserved. Others may be those in their early 20’s with very little understanding of religion in any form. We need some church plants that go beyond planting a worship service that looks similar to others in the community, but will ask the question “Where is the church not?” and go there with the gospel. We need some church plants that have different scorecards and different expectations, but will faithfully deliver the message of Christ to unchurched people.
Partners in Revitalization
Church revitalization is needed to turn momentum around for congregations that are not effectively reaching their communities. Churches are needed who are willing to adopt or sponsor or merge with existing congregations for the glory of God. And churches are needed who are willing to admit there in need of coming under the wing of a benevolent parent church or work with a church wanting to help then in a revitalization effort.
A Discipleship Revolution
Call it revival, lay renewal, or awakening, what we need is a revolution of discipleship that will lead Northshore Christians to multiply themselves spreading the Gospel like a sneeze to their neighbors, classmates, coworkers, and beyond. In his book Church 3.0, Neil Cole observes, “we have lowered the bar of what it means to be a Christian, such that simply showing up to the weekly one-hour event with some regularity and a checkbook is all it takes.” We must refocus on making disciples who will reproduce themselves by telling others, inviting others, and discipling others.
“Don’t just invite people to a meeting, invite them into your life” – Small Group Training Notes from @RickHowerton
Great day of learning yesterday with Rick Howerton. Rick was gracious to give a day to leaders in the Greater New Orleans area. On the Northshore, we found that only about 4% of the population attends an evangelical Bible Study of any kind. Small Group leaders are needed to shepherd people to maturity in Christ.
Here’s a few big takeaways from his talks.
- A small group is four to twelve people doing the Christian life deeply together, REALLY. It’s more than just a class. They are more than just friends. They are fellow disciples.
- Churches can choose to run programs or grow people. Small groups is the best way to grow people.
- The goal of church is not to get people to stick, but to make disciples that make disciples.
- The goal of small groups is to make disciples that makes disciples. Not just to help people become good friends, but to move them to maturity in Christ.
- Don’t just invite people to a meeting, invite them into your life.
- On expectations and commitment: If you continually lower the bar, it will accomplish nothing in someones life.
- On Multiplying Groups: Start each group with the vision and expectation that it will multiply. Have an apprentice leader from the beginning that is there to multiply the group. The group that doesn’t multiply in 24 months, never will.
- When groups don’t want to multiply: Teach them that the mission of God is more important than the desires of individuals. Ask, “What if the first group of 12 would have chosen to just stay together?”
- On reproducing leaders: People don’t do what they’ve been told to do, they do what they see someone they trust doing.
- On keys to small group leadership: Stay connected with God, Confess all known sin, Be filled with the Holy Spirit on a Daily Basis, Prioritize your daily devotional life, Depend on God more than techniques.
- The best person to cast vision for small groups is the Sr. Pastor. The Sr. Pastor should be leading or attending a group.
Looking forward to learning more from Rick in the future. He blogs daily HERE. Great daily dose of solid Small Group thinking. Also, his latest book is A Different Kind of Tribe, published through NavPress.
Looking forward to having Rick Howerton from NavPress with us on the Northshore this coming Monday, April 15th. Two opportunities for free training from Rick on Monday:
- 9am-12noon @ New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Leavell Center.
- 6:30-8:30pm @ FBC Mandeville. Register Here. Childcare available for kids under four.
Invite your small group leaders.
AND his book New Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic is FREE today and tomorrow at the Kindle Store.
Get more info about Rick’s ministry at his blog.
Love what one Northshore church is doing to get their small groups On Mission For Others. FBC Mandeville is having each of their Life Groups choose a “NEAR Mission Project” to engage in together. They’ve started a blog to communicate local opportunities for mission. Check it out: http://fbcmandeville.blogspot.com/.
Imagine the possibilities for your Small Groups or Sunday School classes…
Maddie & Grady Jenkins lived in their Madisonville home for 50 of their 58 married years. Isaac’s surge sent over two feet of water into the house and they’ve been displaced since that time. Several of our churches have been working on this project with the goal of getting them back in by Christmas. Here’s a list of things still to be done in case you, your church, or your personal network could help with this project over the next few weeks:
- Painting! Next week we’ll be ready for paint. The house will be open all week if anyone would like to volunteer some time.
- Floors! We are in need of someone to sand & refinish the floors. Anyone know how, enjoy, know someone, etc.?
- Trim & Doors! The trim will need to be painted white then installed. It will be ready to paint next week.
- Furniture still needed: Refrigerator. 36×68 inch.
We have at least three more elderly homeowners in Madisonville still to be done. Let me know if you’re up for a spring mission trip to SE Louisiana to help with one of these projects.
Challenging test given by our Director of Missions Lonnie Wascom this morning at our Leadership Team Meeting.
1. Do you have a desire to pray? Flesh………………………….. Spirit
2. Do you have the humility to serve? Arrogant……………………….. Servant
3. Do you have the courage to change? Rigid……………………….Flexible
4. Do you have a willingness to build a team? Lone Ranger………………………. Team Player
5. Do you have the discernment to prioritize? Minors……………………….. Majors
6. Do you have the perseverance to earn respect? Questionable……………………….. Credible
7. Do you have the capacity to dream? Complacency………………………. Vision-Driven
A 2006 survey of churches found that “nearly 95% of the churches’ ministries were for the members alone. Indeed, many churches had no ministries for those outside the congregation” (found in Tom Rainer article 7 Deadly Sins of Dying Churches). Well today it seems a growing number of churches are looking outside the walls as they strategize for ministry & missions opportunities. And immediately outside the walls to the local community, not just overseas. Seeing this trend in our area, the Northshore Baptist Association recently sponsored a Faith in Action Roundtable to collaborate with churches who are doing hands on ministry projects off campus. Here is the Handouts from that meeting which includes thoughts on why we should, how to get started, and a lot of tips & tricks & helpful forms that a church can use in planning ministry opps.
Lots of reason to look outward:
- Increasing needs & decreasing government funds for the needy.
- More lanes needed for people to serve through the church.
- Increasing number of people who are out of the pool of current church outreach methods. Higher % of churches fishing for the same 40% of the people.
Looking forward to future Roundtable’s & Collaboration with Outward Focused churches.
And here’s a few other individual forms that are useful for planning projects:
- Work Site Info Form-English
- Work Site Info Form-Spanish
- Res Safety Awareness Form- English 2010
- Res Safety Awareness Form-Spanish 2010
- Access Ramp Material List
- Blank Material List
- Example Paint List
- Roofing Material List
Special thanks to Seth Green, a World Changers Construction Coordinator, for his help with our Roundtable.