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Tag: Jimbo Stewart

What is Working Genius and How Does it Work for You?

Over the past eighteen months, our church has been revising and rewriting the church bylaws.  This has been an arduous, complicated process that took much longer than anyone expected.  The team that took on the project was coed and economically and generationally diverse. We expected to have disparate opinions and different ways of looking at many of the same issues.  We expected to have different strengths and weaknesses as we worked through this important project.

But there was one thing we didn’t expect– some of us felt excited during the same phases that left others feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. For several of us, the project’s initial phase was the most exciting– we loved asking questions and defining what needed to happen.  The possibility of creating a new document for our church that would be used for years to come was so inspiring! The lack of structure and organization during this time felt time-consuming and unproductive for others.  Likewise, some of us felt energized toward the end of the project as we saw all of the hard work come together, and we began to encourage our church about some new directions and ideas.  Others were ready to move on to the next project and wished we could move quicker to the next thing.

Did these differences mean that our team was unsuccessful?  Not at all. These differences are necessary and beneficial!  On a recent episode of the Replant Bootcamp podcast, Jimbo and Bob walked listeners through a new tool called “Working Genius” by Patrick Lencioni.  Though the premise may sound similar to other personality tests and quizzes, the “genius” behind Working Genius is finding out where your team’s skills lie and which parts of a project line up with those specific gifts.

six types of working genius

The Good News: We’re All Geniuses!

One of the best aspects of Working Genius?  We are all geniuses!  It’s true– we all have an area of uniquely talented gifting.  We are more fulfilled and happier when we can work within what we are naturally good at.  In addition to seeing what our skills and gifts say about us, we can also find out where we fit within our team and project phases.  

The Six Types of Working Genius

According to Lencioni, the six types of Working Genius are:

  • The genius of wonder: The natural gift of pondering the greater potential and opportunity in any situation.  People gifted in this area love asking questions and feel creative in ambiguity.
  • The genius of invention: The natural gift of creating original and novel ideas and solutions. People gifted with this genius find joy in taking the challenges and generating solutions. They enjoy innovating from scratch and love a blank whiteboard piece of paper with which they can brainstorm.
  • The genius of discernment: The natural gift of intuitively and instinctively evaluating ideas and situations.  People gifted in this area are good curators of what’s going on around them and can recognize patterns. They know how to connect the dots and give people good feedback across a broad range of topics.
  • The genius of galvanizing: The natural gift of rallying, inspiring, and organizing others to take action.  People with this genius love to get things moving. They’re great at pushing people out of their comfort zones, inspiring them to get started, and moving them in the right direction.
  • The genius of enablement: The natural gift of providing encouragement and assistance for an idea or project.  This genius is people-oriented– they want to help realize a vision and provide the support needed to move.
  • The genius of tenacity: The natural gift of pushing projects or tasks to completion to achieve results. People gifted in this genius are task-oriented.  They love to take things across the finish line, and they ensure that a project is going to have the impact it’s supposed to have.

Project Stages

Every project has a workflow structure that follows a specific pattern.  The initial stage, where we are asking questions and answering with possible solutions, is called “ideation.”  This is the stage where people with the workplace geniuses of Wonder or Invention will feel energized, focused, and most productive.

In the next stage, we have answered our questions and have decided on a possible course of action.  But we are still getting ready for the next step.  We need people whose workplace genius is Discernment or Galvanizing to help us move into activation.  They will help us create “buy-in” for the ideas and ensure we move in the right direction.  The people with these geniuses will be excited to engage others in the work and cooperate with every team member.

Finally, after we ask and answer all the questions, cohesively move toward solutions, and ensure we are heading in the right direction, we are ready for the final stage of the project: Implementation.  In this stage, people with the working genius of Enablement or Tenacity will find joy in checking off boxes, encouraging others in their work, and getting the project to completion.

The Bad News: We’re Not Always Geniuses!

A name tag that reads "Hello I am a Genius"

Lencioni states that each person has two geniuses that fit them well– these strengths allow them to feel the most joy while at work on a project. Each person also has two Working Competencies.  These are the areas where we can perform the work, and we may even find satisfaction in it.  While we might be somewhat gifted in these areas, they do not bring us joy.  We also have two areas that are working frustrations.  These areas bring us– you guessed it– frustration.  These are the areas where we just really don’t enjoy this aspect of a project.  

Unfortunately, we are not always able to avoid those Working Frustrations.  As Replant Pastors, we are often called to work on a project from start to finish, regardless of which stage of the project brings us joy. So, how do we work within those moments of frustration without getting… frustrated?

Finding Einstein

A picture of Albert Einstein

There is this temptation, especially as a Replant Pastor with limited resources and limited people, to believe that you have to do it all.  Everything rests on you.  Each project is for you to accomplish from start to finish, whether rewriting bylaws or redoing the children’s classrooms.

Pastor, here is some truth: You can’t do it all.  If you thought you could, you would quickly discover that road leads to exhaustion, discouragement, and burnout.  (See last week’s podcast episode and blog for some tips to avoid burnout.)  You need other people.  You specifically need other people who aren’t just like you.  You need other geniuses in the room!

I can tell you from experience it isn’t easy to work with someone with a different genius.  If you have the genius of Wonder, you’re going to frustrate someone with the genius of Tenacity.  While you’re asking all the questions, they’ll just want to push forward to the part where they can start doing something.  If you have the genius of Invention, you may feel unsupported by someone with the genius of Discernment who doesn’t think your idea is a perfect one.

But we must recognize that those differences, however frustrating they may be, allow us to work better. Romans 12:3-8 reminds us that God, in His grace, gives us different gifts– but just as important, it reminds us that we aren’t to think more highly of ourselves because of our specific gifts.  We cannot envy someone else’s unique gifts or judge their gifts as somehow less than ours.

I recently attended a symphony concert with my daughter.  As we listened to the incredible music, I never thought, “Man, I wish this was just 150 trumpets all doing the same thing.” As much as I might love to hear the trumpet, the music was beautiful because every instrument was playing its part at the perfect time and volume.  The trumpet player wasn’t jealous of the violinist because it took both of them to create the symphonic sound.  Likewise, the trumpet player didn’t look down on the harpist because a trumpet couldn’t make that sound, which was necessary for the piece. 

Find the other Einsteins in your congregation with a genius that is different than yours– and then work with them on projects to make sure you’re all playing your part cohesively and beautifully for the Gospel.

If you want to take the Working Genius test or purchase it for your team, you can find more information here: https://www.workinggenius.com/about. And if you’re interested in other resources for team building and team strategies, check out our podcast episodes on Leadership Judo by searching the term or by looking at Les McKeown’s work on Predictable Success.

EP 225 FUNDING MINISTRY PT. 1

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EP 225 FUNDING MINISTRY PT. 1
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Hey there Bootcampers, we are tackling an important issue in this EP-funding your ministry. There are a lot of opinions on funding and we break down some basics. In future EPs we’ll take the opportunity to dig a little deeper into some of the ins and outs of making ministry possible financially.

Let’s start with the basics: Funding Ministry

  1. Single source – one church pays your salary

The elders who are good leaders are to be considered worthy of double honor,[b] especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says: Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,[c] and, “The worker is worthy of his wages.”  1 Timothy 5:16-18

  1. Missions and ministry support

“And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel when I left Macedonia, no church entered into a partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases your credit. I have received full payment and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” (Phil 4:15-18)

  1. Self-Funded – You work a job, if married your spouse may work a job to be able to do ministry
  • How many Pastors are bivocational? 60-80%? Our best guess
  • Today it is estimated that 60-65% of Southern Baptist churches are served by bivocational pastors.  Founders Blog
  • Though we don’t have precise data, we estimate that there are over one million bi-vocational pastors and church staff in North America alone. Rainer – Church Answers
  • Bivocational – two jobs as a necessity to support your role as pastor not to burden the church
  • CoVocatioal – intentionally choosing to engage in a dual vocational role 

“And he [Paul] found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.” (Acts 18:2-3)

“Or is it only Barnabas and me who have no right to refrain from working for a living?… If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ… What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.” (1 Cor 9:6, 11-12, 18)

Here’s a great quote from a fantastic article by Dr. Geoff Chang:

Spurgeon: The most practicable remedy is to find volunteer laborers who will not need maintenance from the people. This admirable remedy is already largely used, but not so largely as it might be. We have among us numbers of brethren engaged in handicrafts and professions who are endowed with gifts at least sufficient for the gathering of moderate congregations, and some of them display ability equal if not superior to the average of stipendiary pastors. It is an exceedingly great gain to the community when these brethren addict themselves to the ministry of the saints.

Are you serving as a bi-vocational or co-vocational pastor? We’d love to hear from you!

 

Get the web help you need from our great friends at One Eighty Digital, they’ve got the expertise to get your church’s social media and web presence heading in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

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EP 224 EIGHT QUESTIONS FOR 2024

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EP 224 EIGHT QUESTIONS FOR 2024
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Happy 2024 Bootcamp crew!  Welcome to the beginning of the new year, we’re praying for you!  Check out this list of 8 critical questions you can ask as you plan for the coming year. We’d love to hear from you!  Drop us a line, send us some feedback and submit your own questions!

Eight questions to ask as you plan your projects and priorities for 2024

  1. Have we prayed about this? 
  2. Is this a really big decision? (See our previous episode on weighing big decisions)
  3. Is this just something I want or is it something that is good for the church? Are you alone in this idea, or have you run it by others? (See our previous episode about formal and informal permission) – notes below
  4. Is this the right time to be making this change? Do I have the leadership capital for this change?
  5. How does this project or priority help our church grow in love, unity, or maturity? 
  6. Are our priorities and projects focused more on God’s people and purpose or programs?
  7. Is the issue at hand a biblical command or a missional context issue? (Think front seat of the car [identity] or back seat of the car [infrastructure] – see our previous episode on spiritual and organizational church health)
  8. Does everything on our list of priorities, projects, and programs have a current value and purpose or are we just re-doing things because that is how we have done them before? 

You might have questions about your website, check out what our good friends at One Eighty Digital can do to get you up and running.  They have the know how and expertise to get you up and running and connecting with your community.

 

 

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EP 222 – MERRY CHRISTMAS BOOTCAMPERS

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EP 222 - MERRY CHRISTMAS BOOTCAMPERS
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Hey there Bootcampers!  We know this week has you busy wrapping up all sorts of things as you get ready for those Christmas Eve services and family gatherings. In this short EP the guys reminisce about some good ole 80s Contemporary Christian Music, share a few laughs and listen to Bob lament about his old BMW.

We pray that thru all the days ahead you feel the joy of the Lord, knowing that God sent his son, Jesus, to redeem and restore us into a right relationship with him.

Merry Christmas from the Bootcamp!

 

 

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EP 221 – SHARING THE PULPIT

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EP 221 - SHARING THE PULPIT
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Hey Bootcampers, thanks for joining us this week! Today after Jimbo recounts his misadventures with “hot chicken” the guys get down to the serious business of speaking about an important leadership move, sharing the Pulpit.  Do you share preaching responsibilities in your church?  How would you start? What is the benefit?  Listen in and follow along and be encouraged to take steps to add to your preaching team.

 

Why should you share the pulpit? 

    • Gives your congregation a diverse diet of preachers
    • It is an avenue for raising up, empowering, and sending out new leaders
    • Helps keep you in a humble posture
    • Creates space for personal renewal

Gives your congregation a diverse diet of preachers

    • Sometimes it can be helpful to hear from different but unified perspectives or styles 

Avenue for raising up, empowering, and sending out new leaders

    • Move toward decentralized leadership 
    • There is a shortage of pastors right now – there is no better place to raise them up than in local churches – normative-sized local churches
    • There is no better way to help raise up preachers than to let them preach 
    • It is a blessing to see others thrive in their God-given gifts and passions 

Helps keep you in a humble posture

    • Makes sure Jesus is the main hero
    • Sets the church up better for your eventual exit via death, retirement, or resignation. Every pastor is an interim pastor

Creates space for personal renewal

    • As wonderful as the opportunity and blessing to preach are it can become burdensome (6 weeks seems to be a consistent pattern from people I have talked with)
    • It can be very refreshing and encouraging to sit under preaching
    • It frees you up to spend more energy on other pastoral tasks instead of prep

Get the help you need Bootcamper with your digital presence. Our good friends over at One Eighty Digital can get you up and running in the right way. Contact them today and let them know you are a listener.

 

 

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EP 220 SHARED LEADERSHIP

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EP 220 SHARED LEADERSHIP
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We hope you are well Bootcampers! Jimbo has been released from his quarantine and Bob is feeling a little under the weather, but do not fear loyal Bootcamper we held forth and produced another EP for you that is an important listen.

Leadership is often lonely and challenging, that’s why it is vitally important to learn how to share the burdens and blessings of leading the local church. In this EP we remind ourselves of Ezra and Nehemiah and how they each played an important role in leading God’s people.

Ezra is a pastor/priest who seeks to get others to take the Bible seriously, and live faithfully. Nehemiah is essentially a visionary who sees the need for the rebuilding of the ancient walls of Jerusalem.  Tim Mackie 

This restoration required, first of all, the rebuilding of the temple and the reinstitution of ceremonial worship. The two accomplished a lot, both had frustrations with those they led, some success and some failure – a real story of the reality of leadership.

Leaders, keep this in mind:

God uses Pastors and Civic Leaders

Both are needed for Kingdom work

Both are valued by God 

Each has an important task, a divine gift set, and a specific calling

Working together for Kingdom purposes

  1. Value each other’s gifting, call
  2. Collaborate and Compliment rather than compete
  3. Lead and follow – the best leaders are also great followers
  4. Recognize that absolute success is often measured in many cycles of victory and setbacks
  5. Keep the big picture in mind – Your God-given assignment is faithfully fulfilling the assignment God has given, success is being faithful.

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Navigating Consensus Decision-Making: Identifying Challenges and Opportunities

In a recent episode of the Replant Bootcamp podcast, Bob and Jimbo walked us through what it looks like to weigh big decisions.  In that episode (and accompanying blog linked here), we discussed seven steps we can take when making difficult decisions as a replant pastor or leader.  These decisions can be made unilaterally, allowing the pastor to think through his choice and move forward. But many decisions require more than just the pastor thinking through them– they require a consensus of thought from many different voices and viewpoints.  

Consensus is defined as, “a general agreement, [or] to arrive at an agreement about a matter, thing, or initiative.”  And this process of collaborative consensus has real benefit when it comes to unity and support within the church, but it is not without challenges.  Thankfully, Bob and Jimbo are here to guide us.  Let’s dive into episode 216 and look at the challenges and correctives in consensus decision-making.

Obstacle One: 100% Agreement Might Be 100% Impossible

10 Ways To Keep Team Agreements Alive - Hanna Cooper

As I write this, Thanksgiving is two weeks away.  That means it’s time to send the annual “What does everyone want for Thanksgiving Dinner”  family group text.  You might think Turkey Day has a standard menu of Turkey, Dressing (or Stuffing, depending on your regional preference), cranberry sauce, etc.  And in most families, you’d be right.  But not in mine.

I have one kid who hates turkey.  He always requests a small ham.  I have another family member who doesn’t care for mashed potatoes but will eat sweet potatoes.  I have one child who despises green bean casserole and two who can finish the entire casserole dish themselves. I have one person who prefers pumpkin pie and one who prefers pecan.  One who wants corn casserole and one who wants macaroni and cheese. Only one person will eat cranberry sauce.

I am only feeding between 5 and 10 people any given Thanksgiving, but getting all 5 to 10 people to agree on a menu for that day is nearly impossible because everyone has their own preferences. If I wait for everyone to agree on a menu I run the risk of Christmas being here before we can eat.

Church decisions are often like this. One faction wants one thing, while another would prefer something else. If we wait for everyone to agree, we may never reach the place of decision.  

Our challenge is often in seeking 100% agreement in the outcome.  Instead, we need to look for 100% support for the outcome.

Bob Bumgarner, the Lead Missional Strategist for First Coast Churches in Jacksonville, Florida, sees it this way: Maybe we can’t get 100% of the people to agree on 100% of the decision, but can we have 100% of the people agree to 80% of the decision? In other words, can we all agree on the fundamentals so we can support the decision and stand by it without disunity and disharmony? Can we give up our preference for one stroke of the painting to allow for a decision that provides the best portrait?

Consensus decision-making requires us to acknowledge that we may not achieve a unanimous decision, but we can agree on the essentials enough to move forward. 

The First Opportunity Found in Consensus

When we go into a decision knowing 100% agreement might be 100% impossible, we might run the risk of feeling somewhat discouraged.  But there is an opportunity here in this obstacle.  While we can’t guarantee a unanimous decision, we can seek to love each person at the table in mutual submission and grace.  

Ephesians 5:21 states, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  I can push my personal preferences aside when I remember that it’s not about me. We must honor each other as we sit around a table and seek wise counsel. 

In any collaborative decision-making process, there will be opportunities for discussion and perhaps even debate.  In those moments, it is crucial that we remind our people to truly listen to each other.  When we actively listen to someone else’s position, we aren’t looking for new ways to convince them toward our side.  We are instead serving them and honoring them by seeking to understand them better.  

Mutual submission allows each person to not only feel heard and validated, it also acknowledges a very powerful truth: We do not have all the answers.  Spoiler alert: We do not know everything! In hearing someone else’s opinion and truly listening for deeper understanding, we are humbly recognizing that we don’t know it all.

We may not be able to agree on everything, but we can all agree that honoring each person at the table is more important than anything.

Obstacle Two: Desperate Times Make for Desperate Decisions

Have you ever been in a meeting that just… wouldn’t… end…?  I was once in a staff meeting where 15 different staff members were all trying to decide on a solution to a very frustrating situation.  Every person had a valid opinion and every person felt that they were correct. No one seemed to know how to fix the problem.  After 3 hours of back-and-forth discussion, do you know what was finally decided?  Absolutely nothing.  The decision was tabled until the next month’s staff meeting.  

There was just one problem… That situation still needed a solution.  In desperation and frustration, management made a unilateral decision that angered everyone and threatened to induce a mass walkout.  

Their desperation to make a decision, ANY decision, led them to make one that really didn’t solve the problem and instead led to newer, far more serious, problems.  Churches can experience that desperation, too. In our rashness for ANY decision to be made, we can jump into the wrong one.  We can allow the conversation of our preferences, our desires, and our thoughts to become the standard for decision-making.

I know what you’re thinking… But Erin, you JUST SAID we needed to humbly listen to everyone! You’re right.  But there’s one more person we must listen to over everyone in the room: The Holy Spirit.  

If the only standard we use for decision-making is our own flawed human logic, we are bound to fall into desperate decisions that aren’t Kingdom-minded.

The Second Opportunity Found in Consensus

The best decisions we can make are those that honor God: His Word, His Work, and His Way. Our logic, preferences, and opinions all take a back seat to the wisdom that is only found in the Holy Spirit.   

As leaders in the room where it happens, we have a unique opportunity to guide our people toward listening for the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  When we remember to rely on God’s timing and God’s provision, we are less likely to jump into desperate decision-making that leaves Him behind.  

When we encourage our members to pray for upcoming decisions, we are reminding them to look for God’s leadership and not just ours.  When we guide our members to search the Scriptures for verses specific to the topic, we are reinforcing our mutual belief that God’s Word is alive and active, even for our “modern-day” decisions.  When we shepherd our members to wait for God’s timing, we are motivating them to remember that He is faithful even in the waiting.

We are strengthened as a community when we remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit’s voice should be the strongest in the room.

Obstacle Three: “I Never Liked It From the Start”

Hindsight bias: the knew-it-all-along phenomenon - Ness Labs

You know the expression, “Hindsight is 20/20?” I know a woman whose hindsight is not only crystal clear, but she will also be happy to remind you that her foresight was, too.  “I was never on board,” she boasts. “I knew this was a bad idea from the beginning.” The problem is, she never says anything in the beginning!  It’s only after a decision has been made and then found to be less than ideal that she finds this voice.  

You might imagine that consensus decision-making would discourage this because there is ample opportunity to speak up and collaborate on decisions.  But instead, sometimes the opposite is true.  In a consensus where everyone is part of the process, there is a challenge for everyone to not only agree with the decision but support it, as well.  

As we said in the first obstacle, we may not all agree on the entirety, but we hope to agree enough on the fundamentals to come to a decision.  But even if we don’t agree with it all, we MUST support it all.  It is imperative that every person involved in a decision-making process leaves the room ready to champion the final option.

We must remember that those of us making decisions will occasionally make a decision that doesn’t turn out exactly how we imagined.  In that moment, we must be able to acknowledge the reasons why and move forward without finger-pointing and murmuring against each other.  The full support of each person in the consensus is necessary for unity and accountability.

The Third Opportunity In Consensus

In Galatians 5, Paul reminds the Galatians to live ”by the Spirit.” He tells them that the works of the flesh are evident.  The first few refer to sexual impurities, but then he mentions, “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, [and] envy.”  Paul’s reminder is fitting for us, as well, as we think through collaborative decisions. When we walk in the flesh, we are prone to backbiting and dissension.  We allow rivalries to build up and bitterness toward our fellow members to grow roots in our hearts.  We make decisions not out of a spirit of love, but out of pettiness and jealousy.

But when we are led by the Spirit, Paul writes, we bear the fruit of the Spirit, namely, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Imagine being in a room where decisions were made in that kind of generosity of Spirit.  Imagine collaborating with fellow Christians who all listened to each other with those fruits evident in their interactions.  

Now imagine that the decision didn’t work out for some reason, and imagine seeing those same people respond to each other with grace and mercy, the fruit of the Spirit on display as they support each other and encourage each other.

Consensus decision-making can be challenging, but when we meet those challenges with biblical community, we honor God and testify to His Spirit in us.  We see our members grow in grace, love, and unity with each other, and that overflow informs our decision-making process.  We make better decisions with better support and we see a transformation as we do so.

The Local Association and the Local Pastor: Make it A Dynamic Duo

 

Batman and Robin

This past summer, my husband and I were on a mission trip to California.  We were speaking with a replant pastor there and were telling him how surprised we were that their local association listed churches for sale on their website.  We were heartbroken that these churches weren’t being replanted or revitalized.  Instead, the association was selling them for commercial property to the highest bidder.  “That doesn’t surprise me,” he said.  “We have spent the past five years trying to help with replanting and planting churches in this area, but the association hasn’t done anything.  They haven’t invested time, money, or resources.  It seems like the association doesn’t care.” 

We were stunned.

But as we talked about this at the base camp that night, we realized that we had heard those same sentiments over 15 years ago from a different pastor in a completely different context.  We started our ministry journey in 2007, and at that time, we asked the youth pastor at the church we served in what the local association did to assist pastors in the area.  “I couldn’t tell you,” he said.  “I’m not even sure who leads it. We haven’t heard from them since the last pastor left several years ago.” Again, we were stunned.  

These are extreme examples and are not the norm for most associations and pastors.  The vast majority of local associations have leaders who are working alongside the churches in their area and are committed to replanting and revitalizing dying churches.  But for some of our replant pastors, this extreme is the unfortunate, heartbreaking context in which they find themselves. How can we create a partnership that thrives and flourishes? What separates the associations and pastors who have an amazing partnership and those who, unfortunately, don’t?

This week on the podcast, JimBo and Bob discussed how associational leaders can be partners in the gritty and glorious work of replanting dying churches.  They identified the “Seven C’s” of church renewal for local AMS leaders (Associational Mission Strategist, formerly DOM, Director of Missions) and their pastors to navigate the complex oceans of church health.  

What Does Success Look Like?

The very first “C” is the most important.  Without it, everything else lacks clear direction.  Our first “C” is this: Correctly define success.

What does a “successful” church look like?  If your association is celebrating accomplishments and applauding “success,” what metric are they using?  Pastors and AMS leaders alike may be tempted to base success on numerical attendance.  But consider these statistics:

  • A “normative” size church is a church with less than 199 gathered in worship.
  • 91% of all SBC churches have less than 200 gathered in worship on any given Sunday, and 79% have less than 100.
  • Out of all the churches in the SBC today, less than 90 report an attendance of over 2,000.

Mark Clifton defines success at a church this way: A culture of making disciples that make disciples that in turn make the community noticeably better.  

When we base success on the number of attendees on Sunday morning, we are like the couple who goes on a long road trip without deciding who is navigating: We may get somewhere eventually, but we’re going to miss opportunities along the way and we may end up with some hurt feelings before we get there. 

If we aren’t correctly identifying what success looks like, we will miss the opportunity to celebrate God’s faithfulness in churches that are making disciples and positively impacting their communities.  We will look at the church running large numbers and assume that God is doing great work there but will fail to look at the small church that has increased their giving to missions and has built a discipleship program from scratch.

If we fail to define success correctly, we also run the risk of alienating our partnering churches by making them feel insignificant. Our churches will feel overlooked and unappreciated, and their pastors will feel unsupported and alone, a recipe for burnout and frustration.

An Association of Collaboration

Mario and Luigi from the Super Mario Bros franchise

Our next three “Cs” all work together, and that’s fitting because they call us to… All work together!

As an AMS, the networking capabilities are practically built-in.  An AMS has access to one thing many pastors don’t have… Other pastors! Too often, pastors forget that we are all in this glorious calling together.  We get consumed with a spirit of competition between churches.  But the church down the street is not our competition– they are our colaborers in Christ!

While Southern Baptist churches are autonomous and make their own decisions, AMSs have the unique opportunity to encourage pastors to shift from a competitive mindset to a collaborative one by implementing three words: Cooperation, cohorts, and callings.

An AMS can connect a church with resources to one that is lacking them.  AMSs should be continually looking for opportunities to foster relationships between churches, not just pastors.  Is there a church with an exceptional Children’s Ministry? Parter their team with one that is just starting to grow their kid’s area.  Is there a church where discipleship is taking off and people are growing in their faith?  Pair someone from that church to teach the pathway to the church that is implementing a program.

When churches cooperate together, the church up the street stops being an enemy of growth and starts being a friend in health. When resources are shared between churches, each church learns to trust and rely on the other, resulting in a much easier transition if one begins to decline and needs to look at an adoption or fostering process.  One area where this is happening successfully is the Lexington Baptist Association in South Carolina, led by Johnny Rumbaugh.  Johnny has worked with many churches in his association and others by offering a collaborative process by using transitional pastors.  You can hear more about his work on this episode of the Replant Bootcamp podcast.)

Cohorts are another great way for AMSs to facilitate collaboration between churches.  We often use the phrase, “Don’t pastor alone.” This phrase is a key component for First Coast Churches, an association of churches in Jacksonville, Florida where the partnership between pastors and the association is strong and vibrant.  We don’t use this phrase because we want every church to have multiple pastors on staff.  We use it because when the storms of life hit, and they will, you NEED other pastors.  

Cohorts are small groups in which pastors can get together in a safe environment to talk about their struggles, their burdens, and to celebrate their “wins” together.  As an AMS, facilitating those discussions and providing a space for them can make all the difference for pastors who are struggling and on the verge of quitting.  You can engineer a bridge that brings pastors together when the waters get deep.

Another way AMSs can help create a collaboration of pastors is to “call out the called,” by assisting churches to create residency programs.  Small churches are a great place for men who have been called to the ministry to begin serving in that capacity.  Not only are you preparing them for ministry in a normative church, but the church itself benefits by having someone share the work.

AMSs can build a pipeline of pastors who are willing and ready to train others, hopefully with a variety of different gifts. As JimBo stated on the podcast, exposure to pastors and leaders with different gifts allows you to expand your learning and your experience. By building a residency program that utilizes multiple churches and multiple pastors, the association has now not only bridged a gap between pastors but has also given young men the opportunity to serve and to lead in the local church, especially by using these young men for pulpit supply. In Charlotte, North Carolina, Bob Lowman, at the Metrolina Baptist Association has worked alongside pastors in his area to form the City Residency Project to train and equip pastors who are called into ministry. Bob says, “We’re better together. The more we can come together and make this kind of effort, the more I believe we’ll see multiplication happen instead of addition.”

An Association of Comfort

There are going to be times when an AMS will need to provide comfort to a church in their area.  Consulting and crisis intervention are the next two “Cs.”  When an AMS learns that a church in their area is struggling, he can often provide a powerful resource to help… He can provide himself! 

One of the hardest parts of church revitalization and replanting is that churches don’t often realize they’re sick until they’re dying.  Churches need to have someone who can help them accurately diagnose their condition and get them the right treatment.  When an AMS learns that a pastor is leaving his church, the AMS can offer consulting to that church on their pastor search committee, asking them good questions to help them get a clear picture of their health. Not every church will accept this help, but for those who do, the advice and expertise of their local AMS can be invaluable!

Some churches in an association will face a crisis (or many crises)– in those difficult times, having an AMS who can help them walk through their next steps is critical.  The AMS can provide comfort to the church AND the pastor as they navigate exhausting and complicated situations.  The role of the AMS and the association is one of encouragement and reassurance that God has not forgotten them.

two men shaking hands

Celebrating a Beautiful Partnership

I began by telling two stories of unsuccessful and discouraging partnerships between local associations and the pastors they led.  Those stories are heartbreaking because everyone in them is discouraged and is missing out on a “match made in Heaven.”

I don’t mean that lightly– truly the partnership between an AMS and a pastor can be God-ordained and God-sent.  I have seen it to be true in my own life. When we went through our biggest struggle in ministry– one that had us questioning the very call to pastoring and made us feel like quitting– it was our friends and partners in ministry who pulled us back from the ledge.  Our friends were fellow pastors we met through cohorts and collaborations that were created within our local association.  The partnership we had with the local AMS reminded us that we had a network of relationships that supported us and kept us from walking away.  And in that time, our replant truly began to flourish.  If we had walked away we would have missed out on something incredible.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 states, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

If you are an AMS, you likely have stories of great success where you have seen churches brought back to health through all of the efforts mentioned above.  When you have those stories, celebrate them!  Talk about cohorts that are developing leaders from leaders.  Talk about the pastoral pipeline that offered a struggling church new hope with a new pastor.  Bring pastors to your annual meeting to speak on a panel about the value of collaboration.  Have church members talk about the growth they experienced from joining another church in ministry.  These success stories are your testimony to the work that God is doing in and through your association and you!  As a ground-level partner in church health, your local knowledge and expertise are often the key to ensuring we all navigate these “Seven Cs” of church revitalization even in the most turbulent waters!

Resources:

One of the best resources for AMS leaders regarding replanting, renewal, and church health is the Annual AMS Lab in Atlanta.  This event will be held February 19th and 20th in Atlanta, Georgia.  We will update you with the speakers and registration as it opens!

We also have the Partnership Profile Tool and the Associational Replanting Guide as tools that you can use to assist you as you partner with replant churches in your area.  

And as always, the Replant Team is here to assist you! Leave us a comment and let us know how we can help you in this gritty and glorious work!

EP 211 – YEAR THREE-STAYING THE COURSE

Replant Bootcamp
Replant Bootcamp
EP 211 - YEAR THREE-STAYING THE COURSE
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Greetings Bootcampers! Bob has settled the annual bet, donning the LSU pajama top once again as his Hogs lost to Jimbo’s Tigers. After the football banter the boys get down to discussing the reality that year three in a church renewal can be challenging and difficult making you want to leave.  We break down some ways to look at the challenges and the years and we encourage you to preach, pray, love and stay.

Here are the highlights:

Yr 1 – Who are they, and who am I? 

  • Pastoral visits
  • Self-Awareness and Growth

Yr 2 – I think this is going to be hard

  • Conflict-this isn’t what we want it to be
  • Stop changing everything

Yr 3 – I think I made a big mistake?

  • the dip and double dip (attendance and finances)
  • self doubt and spiritual warfare

Yr 4 – Okay let’s make this work……and get to work

  • Develop a plan and work the plan
  • Love and laugh
  • Cry and grieve
  • Execute plans not people

Yr 5 – 7 head down, celebrate victories, learn from mistakes, Pastor and love the church you have….

  • I see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train or Jesus calling me home.
  • People choosing to be part of your church because they found it and like it
  • walking in the confidence of the Lord, he’s got you and this.

Here are some other podcasts which are worth a listen.

Drop us a line and let us know how your doing.  And, connect with our sponsor at One Eighty Digital, they can get you through the clutter of cultural noise and connect you with your community in social media and web presence.

 

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Transforming your Ministry: The Power of Congregational Education

Pastor, are you exhausted from trying to craft three or more sermons per week?  Are you overwhelmed with preaching on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights?  What if I told you there is a way to simplify your life while also providing your congregation with multiple spiritual benefits?  The answer is not more sermons, it’s more congregational education.

As a pastor, your time is at a premium. You are busy– I probably don’t need to tell you that!  But imagine if you could align your Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday nights in a way that allowed you to spend less time preparing sermons and more time engaging with the Word. Instead of three separate sermons, you could focus your energy on the theological application your church needs.

For many of the people in our congregations, there is a belief that because they have listened to countless sermons in their lives, they are theologically educated.  However, if individuals engage with theology solely through sermons, their spiritual growth might be constrained.  Sermons, by nature, are limited.  There is a time limit (the average attention span is not everlasting), and there is a limit to how much wisdom we can impart through monologue (lecture-style teaching) versus dialogue (discussion-based learning).

In this week’s podcast, Bob and Jimbo discussed the numerous benefits of congregational theological education and how to implement theological training among your congregation.

The Benefits of Congregational Education

two men studying their bible together

Congregational education is not just about aligning your workload to be more effective. There are multiple benefits for your congregation, as well.  

  • A deeper faith: Theological education deepens our understanding of our faith, equipping us to navigate the complexities of life and engage in meaningful dialogue with others.  
  • A more unified faith: Biblical unity is inherently theological.  When a congregation studies theology together, they experience greater unity because they share a common understanding of their faith.  
  • A more mature faith: As your congregation studies the Word, they grow in understanding of it.  They become better disciple-makers and better leaders.
  • An empowered faith: A well-educated congregation is mission-oriented.  They understand the need for evangelism and they engage in their faith in a new way.
  • A transformed faith: When members learn to actively engage with God’s word instead of just passively reading it, the Word comes alive to them.  It stops being words on a page and becomes a lamp unto their feet, and like honey to their mouth. (Psalm 119)

How Do I Provide Congregational Education?

multiple people around a table with their bibles open for study

OK, I hear you saying it– you understand the benefits of congregational education, and you recognize the need for it… But how do you provide it without being overwhelmed with a new task on your already long to-do list? By aligning it with your Discipleship program, Sunday morning sermon, and your leadership pathways. 

At our church, our discipleship pathway encompasses Sunday morning worship, small group bible study, one-on-one discipleship, and leadership development. This is not radical or new, nor was it our invention.  It’s simply aligning all congregational education under one umbrella. As our members grow in their faith, they move into deeper theological understanding, culminating in making new leaders who are equipped to be sent out to assist other churches.  We do this by providing multiple educational resources.

At your church, in your setting, this may look different than it does at ours.  There is no one-size-fits-all approach to educating your members.  For you, it can look like any of the following:

  • Structured Biblical Training: Offer training on each book of the Bible.  Provide the context, intended audience, and theme of each book, from Genesis to Revelation.  Encourage the members to read the book together, and to discuss specific verses in small groups or discipleship relationships.
  • Collaborative Biblical Training: Utilize the resources you have within your local association.  When you go to conferences, bring some lay members with you.  Connect with other churches and use guest speakers to conduct workshops that would provide theological education for all members.
  • Online Biblical Training:  The Replant Hub from NAMB has countless resources on apologetics, evangelism, replanting and revitalization, and biblical education. Utilizing these online resources for your small groups to study might allow you to recognize possible conflicts before they arise. Right Now Media provides tools for your church as well, from the smallest members to the more “seasoned.”
  • Engage with Other Faiths: Explore other religions and their beliefs.  We did a Sunday Night study on other religions that included their backgrounds and beliefs, but also allowed us to educate our members on apologetics and how to share their faith with people of that religious affiliation.
  • Dissect the Creeds and Confessions of Our Faith: If your church is Southern Baptist, dig into the Baptist Faith and Message and help them understand why we believe what we believe. If your church is of a different denomination, look at your creeds and go through those step by step with your members.
  • Daily or Weekly Prompted Self-Study: Utilize your church’s app or email and have members sign up to receive a daily or weekly prompt that gives them a chapter or verse to study on their own and to write down their thoughts.  Use this as a starting point for small group or discipleship discussions.

Recommended Resources for Beginning Congregational Education

an open bible with a blue highlighter for studying and making notes

No Silver Bullets by Daniel Im: This book underscores the importance of studying, not just reading, God’s word. It reveals how in-depth Bible study can be the most impactful spiritual discipline, positively affecting all other aspects of faith.

99 Essential Doctrines: A comprehensive resource to explore the core doctrines of Christianity.

The NAMB Replant Resouce Hub: This site has many blogs, podcasts, and books for replanters to “dig in” with their congregations.  Incorporating your church into the vision builds unity and is a hallmark of leading change effectively.

When we teach our congregations to truly study the Word, and not just read the Word, we engage them in Bible Study with us.  You can preach a sermon series on Sunday morning that aligns with the Scripture you want to study on Sunday Night, then allow the small groups to dig even deeper on Wednesday night.  You can break down the Word in each space, allowing for discussion and engagement with the Scripture that fosters a greater understanding of it.

We know it can be difficult to plan ahead when you can only see what is required in front of you. However, being intentional about your church’s educational growth is a way to help deepen their faith for the future stability of your church’s discipleship plan.