Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Seven Traits of Breakout Churches

I want to share this article by Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources: 
I have been a student of American churches for thirty years. That statement really means two things: I’m old, and I’m a slow learner.
In those thirty years, one of my most fascinating learning ventures has been the discovery of breakout churches. Simply defined, a breakout church is a congregation that has experienced at least five years of decline followed by at least five years of growth. While numerical growth is not the inerrant barometer for church health, we researchers must use numerical gauges for much of our objective data.
The Common Factor
As my research team began sorting and analyzing the data of some 50,000 churches, we found a common factor in many of the breakout churches: the breakout took place when the church got a new pastor. While that finding is helpful from a research perspective, it’s not very helpful to many churches. And it’s certainly not helpful to the pastors of struggling churches.
So our research took a new twist. We only looked at churches that experienced breakoutswithout changing pastors. I was encouraged by our findings. (emphasis mine)
The Seven Traits  . . . click here for the rest of the article by Thom Rainer.
I have recently been trained at LifeWay headquarters as a Transformational Church Consultant which is based upon this research and a study of the church at Antioch (the apostle Paul's home church).  I believe that existing churches are about to breakout as never before.  God is stirring His church.  It is beginning with His pastors and is spreading through His church.  
The stories about breakout churches could very well be the story yet to be told of your church.  I would count it a privilege to encourage, assess, guide, consult and coach your church through the process.  This is the reason ReFocused Ministry exists.  
Are you ready to get off the carousel of churchianity and breakout and become the exciting transformational agent God has designed His church to be?  The transformation of the existing church is the single greatest opportunity for the advancement of the Gospel in America today.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Listening to Comprehend

I was recently challenged by Amgen CEO, Kevin Sharer to be a better listener.  I really needed what he had to say.  Listening does not come easily to a type-A personality like me.

Good listeners listen to comprehend . . . not to correct . . . not to contradict . . . not to park until your chance to talk.  We often make assumptions about where the speaker is going and what he or she “might be trying to say.”  We then jump ahead and begin to draw conclusions before the speaker has concluded. 

After you understand what has been said (which may include some clarifying questions), there is ample time to agree, disagree, question, criticize or disregard.  Our listening bandwidth increases greatly as we focus on comprehension.  If we believe that every communication has a takeaway, we are more likely to find that takeaway if we are focused on comprehending what is being said.

Listening to comprehend does several things.  First, it shows high respect for the person talking.  Secondly, it quiets all the distractions that normally occur when we are focused on guarding our opinion or getting our point across.  Finally, it allows for a safe environment for the exchange of ideas and enhances the power of synergy.  Synergy is defined as two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtainable. 

In this day of information overload, bottom-line agendas and short attention spans, listening is becoming a lost art.  I have made becoming a good listener a goal.  For me it is not an easy goal, but it is an important goal.  What do you think?