Saturday, February 18, 2012

Values For Growing Churches

Values For Growing Churches

A few years ago I was helping the Reformed Churches of America in the New York Area along with my dear friend Dr. Robert Bast. He had asked me to visit one of the oldest churches in America and consult with the pastor and Board. 
Arriving at the church I met the pastor and asked him about the church and what God was up to. He shared he had been there for 3 years and during that time over 60 new believers had become part of the church. This old church which had been in decline for many years was now experiencing new life.

That was the good news. As he continued to share he said that these new people rather than being a source of joy was causing a tremendous amount of tension in the church particularly among the older members.
I had seen this problem before as new people tend to be more oriented to the future older members to the past, one valuing what the church could be the other valuing what had always been.
In my meeting with the Consistory (the official governing Board)it was my hope to convince them to rejoice in what God was doing and show them how these new members were an asset and would provide a wonderful bridge to seeing their community transformed.
The meeting however was a hostile one as the Board members really wanted the new pastor to go (He was the advocate for the new members) and they complained that these new people didn't respect the building like they did and were different than them and the list of complaints went on. In reality they expressed that they would prefer these new people leave so church could go back to the way it had been
After their complaints had continued for a while I asked a question; "But aren't you glad more than 60 people who were headed to hell are now part of your church and going to heaven?" They could not bring themselves to celebrate that for which heaven threw a party.
Reflecting on this experience in my hotel that night I came to 2 conclusions
  1. I appreciated the love the pastor had for lost people and everything he had done to bring the words of hope to a community desperately in need of the gospel.
  2. I realized the existing church members valued their comfort and tradition and the value of reaching lost persons was at best something that had been, it was not something that was currently seen as important.
I was sharing this story with my friend Bill Mackey. He observed to me that the many programs his denomination had made available they only worked for about 10% of the churches. The problem wasn't that the other churches had tried them and failed they hadn't even tried them. He wondered if this value and others about evangelism had eroded. 
My friend Donald McGavran had observed that there is more indifference to the gospel in the church than there is in the world.
Bill then asked me if there was a way for us to test and measure evangelistic values to see if a clue could be found as to why some churches grow while others in a ripe field ready to harvest seem to flounder. This report which follows is a summary of the study which I developed and conducted with the help of his staff. Their names and their role in making this study so useful are included in a credit section at the end of this post.


RobertOrr, President, Growth Associates


Whydo some churches grow and others not grow? This is the question and dilemmathat has faced church growth and evangelism consultants for years. On thesurface, simply looking at the programs and analyzing the statistics did notprovide a sufficient answer to the problem. Answering the “what” growingchurches do differently has failed to provide the help needed to turn aroundthe nearly 80% of churches that are in plateau or decline.

Itwas my conviction that the answer lay much deeper. Could it be that the corevalues that are held is what controls the outcomes.  From a study of the scripture I became convinced that theunswerving purpose of God “the redemption of lost humankind” is the compellingvision from the heart of God that should motivate and propel the church inministry. In many of us that clear message does not find its way into ourhearts. Our hearts, to use the parable are not receptive to this seed ofvision. Instead we adopt and pursue something other than the vision  of the redemptive gospel.

Thevision our church or we holds grows out of our deeply held values. We then act,give, and program based on that vision. The results then are a direct outcomeof these values. For the redemptive vision of God’s grace to find its way intoour hearts our values need to compatible to it. If not, the stony ground thisseed falls into will not allow it to bear fruit.

Afteran extended conversation with Dr. Bill Mackey about this concept it was agreedthat a research project to study what values were held by growing churches andhow strongly they were held would be undertaken.

Theresearch project had 5 distinct phases.

  1. 1.A preliminary study was undertaken to articulate the core values held bygrowing churches. Using my 30 plus years of consulting experience plusreviewing thousands of pages of Church Growth literature 22 values werediscovered.  Four questions werethen written for each value to test whether the value was held and howstrongly. A survey instrument was then designed to measure how strongly thesevalues were held. The research team at the convention office formulated thequestions into a usable tele-form. 
  2. The survey instrument was sent to 329 churches in the convention. Within 3months 145 Churches had responded for an approximately 45% response rate. Whilethis percentage of response was lower than we hoped it was almost twice as highas is seen in published academic studies. Each church surveyed 8 leaders and 8non-leaders.  The surveys werecoded to let us know what church they came from and whether the respondent wasa leader or non-leader. In total 1588 individuals completed the survey.
  3. Focus groups were conducted in 24 of the selected churches over a 2-monthperiod. In each of these churches two groups, one of leaders, the other, non-leaderswas interviewed for approximately 90 minutes. These focus groups were designedto listen to groups of lay people talk about their church and about evangelism.In total 46 groups were conducted with more than 425 people participating. Atthe end of the week the consultants met to debrief our experience. Asignificant number of the tapes were transcribed so we could further reflectand examine the findings.
  4. Two focus groups were conducted a month later to examine the leadershiptendencies of pastors in high and low conversion growth churches. The firstgroup was of pastors in the study who came from low conversion growth churches.The second was of pastors of high conversion growth churches who were baptismleaders in their size categories
  5. An analysis of both the survey and the focus groups is prepared (this document)for presentation at the annual Evangelism Convention.

Assumptions Behind ThisStudy:

Aswe began this project we had very little prior research and no books written onthe subject. As such, we had to make certain assumptions. It was the functionof the research to see if these assumptions were true or not.

1.The 22 values in the survey are not intended to be an exhaustive list of everyvalue held by every growing church.

2.The only true way to test a value is to examine individual and corporatebehavior.

3.Growing churches will hold more of the values, and hold them more strongly thanwill plateaued or declining churches.

4.Values can be changed. When they are, the difference will be seen in outcomes.

5.Since there was no published data about value strengths in growing churches wewere open to whatever is found.

What Values Were Tested

Eachof the following 22 values were included in the test. The values themselveswere not mentioned but four questions related to each value were included onthe test. (See attached document). The values themselves were not mentioned andthe questions were arranged in a random order to alleviate people identifying apattern

  1.  Webelieve lost people matter to God and therefore ought to matter to us.
  2.  Webelieve that as co- laborers with God fervent prayer for the harvest is             essential.
  3. Webelieve what we are as well as what we say is critical to effective evangelismso we affirm that followers of Christ should manifest authenticity andintegrity in their lives.
  4. Webelieve that the creation of new units (classes) is essential to the reachingof             newpeople.
  5. Webelieve that having growth goals and evaluating our performance  againstthose goals honors God by keeping us focused and inspiring excellence.
  6. Webelieve that investing dollars in growth activities is an evidence of our             commitmentto evangelism.
  7. Webelieve the public worship service should not only edify the believer but alsobe a   placefor the unchurched to come and be evangelized.
  8. Webelieve people are more important than programs and attendance of the             unchurchedatthe activities of the church is a good way to measure their             evangelisticeffectiveness.
  9. Webelieve that starting new churches in our community is essential for effectiveoutreach.
  10.  Webelieve that relationships are the primary bridge for the spread of the gospel.
  11. Webelieve the primary mission of the church is to respond to the Great             Commission.
  12.  Webelieve every believer in Christ needs to be trained and equipped for             evangelism.
  13.  Webelieve the church should be culturally relevant while remaining doctrinallypure.
  14. Webelieve evangelism is a process and the church should provide appropriate             opportunitiesfor people on their journey to faith.
  15. Webelieve that because the worship experience is the first exposure most             unchurchedhave with our church we must view what happens from their             perspective.
  16. Webelieve that diversification of our ministry is essential to evangelistic            effectiveness.
  17. Webelieve our facilities have the power to either attract or repel the unchurched.
  18. Webelieve that evangelism needs to be a priority item on the regular             deacons/Churchboard meeting.
  19. Webelieve investing in the continuing education of our leadership is essentialto sharpeningour evangelistic effectiveness.
  20. Webelieve priority should be given in budget and space/time considerationsto thoseactivities, which hold the greatest evangelistic potential.
  21. Webelieve that the best days for our church are still ahead.
  22. Webelieve that loving relationships should permeate all aspects of church life.

 What did we learn:

1.There was a satirically significant difference between high conversion growthchurches and low conversion growth church on 14 of the 22 values. These arenumbers 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22. It would seem thatany church desiring greater conversion growth would do well to examine thesevalues and using every means possible build them into the life of thechurch. 

2.Evangelism values tend to erode over time. This was apparent at three levels.Older churches scored lower than younger churches.(3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 14,16, 18, 20, 21.) Newer members scored higher than older members. (10, 12, 16,17, 19, 20, 21.) Newly or recently baptized members scored higher than thosewho had been baptized for many years (1, 4, 8, 9, 12, 16, 18, 20, 22.)
Itis clear that leaders cannot assume that core evangelistic values once in achurch will remain without constant work and attention.

3.In growing and high conversion growth churches the leaders and non-leadersscores on all values were close enough to be statistically insignificant.(There was a 95% confidence factor)

4.In non-growing, low conversion growth churches,  the leaders scored significantly lower than the non-leadersin 9 of the values. (2, 8, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16, 18, 19.) How leaders areselected and what is done to insure that evangelism values are present andmaintained in leadership will be a key ingredient in growth mindedcongregations. It is possible, although it was beyond the scope of this study,that one reason for decline might be leadership/congregation values that arenot in harmony. It is particularly noteworthy that in low conversion growthchurches non-leaders scored significantly higher than leaders in their viewabout the purpose of the local church (11)

5.Churches with a clear, dynamic, (reviewed in the past 5 years) missionstatement scored higher than churches with no or not recently reviewedstatement of mission. (4, 5, 9. 12. 13, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21.) It is not clear ifwriting the mission statement clarifies the value or if having the value meanswe desire to clarify our mission. All the study points out  is that churches having the missionstatement that lifts up evangelism seem to score significantly higher on thenoted values.

6.Churches with an intentional growth plan score higher than those without aplan.( 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22.) The samecomment as made above needs to be added here. Do values lead to growth planningor does growth planning build values. The answer from this consultant’sobservation is “yes”.

7.Smaller churches scored lower than larger churches on 11 values. (3, 4, 6, 9,12, 13, 15, 16, 19, 21,  22.) Itwould appear that survival and maintenance issues dominate the values andagenda of smaller churches. It would also be a possibility that pastoralleadership in larger congregations can do far more to shape the corporatevalues than can the pastoral leadership in smaller congregations. Pastors andleaders in small churches need to see the possibilities rather than theproblems and limitations. As the foundation principles of Church Growth haveproved; “any church can grow if it will; see the possibilities, pay the price,and apply the principles.

8.EKG churches scored significantly higher than New Century, Reconstruction,Heritage, and Founding churches on values 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15,18, 20, 21, 22. One explanation for the fact that younger churches tend to growfaster than older churches can be found in the differences in values. Valueclarification is a good starting point before any attempt at growth planningoccurs. There is a natural tendency, as the studies of “life cycle” have shown,that as a church gets older it loses site of its mission and the organizationdrifts towards maintenance and survival.

9.All 22 values were significantly different in one or more categories whencomparing high and low conversion growth churches. There was validationtherefore of the fact that these are 22 core values. The evidence would lead usto conclude that the more of these values that are held ,and the more stronglythey are held and acted on  thegreater the growth will be.

10.Growing churches hold more of the values and hold them more strongly than doplateaued and declining churches. From what is known about value clarificationwhen a value is strongly held competing and non productive behavior isvoluntarily eliminated. It is also important to note that growing churches didnot hold all 22 values strongly. It was clear however, that they did hold themajority of the values strongly.

11.Non-growing churches are not weak on all values. All the study pointed out isthat they hold fewer of the values and do not hold them as strongly. Leaders in such congregations willwant to strengthen the values that are present and use them as a basis tointegrate other values of growing churches into the congregational culture.

12.Do not assume that growth means strong evangelistic values are held. When thestudy looked at high conversion growth churches (growth came through first timeprofessions of faith) and compared them with growing churches (growth camebiologically or through letter of transfer) high conversion growth churchesheld more values and held some of these values more strongly. It is clearhowever that growing churches as a group has a stronger value base to build onthan plateaued or declining churches.

Focus Group Research

Sincefocus groups are by their very nature subjective (people are asked how theyfeel and what they believe to be true) their value in a research project suchas this is indispensable. The attitudes of lay people about their church andits evangelistic potential are an extremely important part of the mix. Sincethe survey instrument could not tell us everything we wanted to learn, thefocus groups were an invaluable component.

Totest the values about evangelism and hear people talk about it in anon-threatening atmosphere was for all the consultants working on the projectan extremely rewarding experience.

Therewas nothing in any of the focus groups that would invalidate or bring intoquestion any of the empirical results of the survey. In particular values 2, 3,5, 6, 7, 9,  11, 14, 15, 17, 18,and 21 were verbally validated as being present in the belief and practice ofgrowing and high conversion growth churches.

Inall there were 15 learning’s from the focus groups. While they are presented ina contrast format it should not be assumed that every declining is church weakin all 15 learning’s. The
 learning’s of the focus groups should, and could, beused to look at what was observed and heard to strengthen the spiritual lifeand evangelistic efforts of the local church.

 It would be my recommendation that eachof the 15 learning’s be looked at carefully. One idea might be to put yourchurch on a continuum from very weak (resembling the declining church),  to very strong (resembling the growingchurch.

Thesefindings are consistent with the impressions of this consultant and the tapesof the groups thus far transcribed. It is by its nature descriptive of what weheard rather than prescriptive.

1. TheRole of Prayer
Ingrowing churches there was a consistent mention about prayer and its role inpersonal and church growth. With no prompting in the questioning the membersspoke openly and passionately about prayer. Experiencing God wasoften mentioned as a catalyst that helped people come to grips with prayer intheir life.
Indeclining churches the subject of prayer was not mentioned. Even when theconsultants probed it was clear that prayer did not play as significant a rolein the life of the individuals or the church as it did in growing churches.

Dr John Thannickal
Loves and values the Gospel's proclamation
Founder of Nava Jeva Ashram
2. How Evangelism is Seen
Ingrowing churches evangelism is seen as a personal responsibility that eachmember is expected to take seriously. Evangelism is described primarily inrelational terms. It is seen as the overflow of the current work of God inmembers lives. There is a strong passion for and desire to be involved inevangelism.
Evangelismin declining churches is seen in institutional terms. There is a feeling thatif more people would do visitation or if we would have Revivals like we usedto, more persons would be saved. Evangelism was perceived primarily inprogrammatic terms.
Anadditional observation, which we noticed in some but not all of the decliningchurches was to put the responsibility for conversion growth clearly on thepastors shoulders. In one situation where the pastor was present this was theway evangelism was seen and neither the pastor nor the people saw anydifficulty with that view. This clergy-centrisic view was accepted as naturaland normal and it did not appear there were attempts being made to correct it.Both parties accepted the status quo without question.

3. Friendliness andInclusion
 All churches in the groups sawthemselves as friendly. When the subject is explored however it is clear that“Koinonitis” is a disease found in the declining church. The friendliness isstrong and intentional to other members but passive to outsiders. For examplestatements like “we’re a friendly church and visitors who come would be morethan welcome” on examination reflect that only those who are extremelyextroverted and have the ability to appreciate the history of the church andhave the skills to break into a closed group will find themselves welcome.Another indication of this “Koinonitis” was the inability of the church to seeits own exclusionary practices and attitudes. Barriers that were easilyobservable to the consultants were not seen by the members.
Ingrowing churches there is are consciousness that new comers need help to breakinto a new group and intentional strategies have been developed to help thenewcomers experience the friendliness of the church. For example in one churcha long-term member is assigned to be with each new individual or family fromthe time they first arrive on the church campus. The responsibilities included;welcoming, answering questions, introducing them to members, and sitting withthem in Sunday School and / or Worship etc.

4. Their View of TheirCommunity
Inthe declining churches the perception of the community is that it is eitheralready churched or the people have already made up their minds they don’t wantto become Christians or attend Church. The evangelistic potential was thereforeseen as limited. This response is what church growth calls a “non growthexcuse”. It is an unwillingness to see the non-growth of the church assomething we should take responsibility for and affixing the blame for theproblem on external factors.
Inthe growing churches the perception was that there are many people yet to bereached and the fact that they are not reached says more about how negligent wehave been than it does about unchurched peoples receptivity. Growing churches see their unchurchedfriends and their communities as receptive. They provide evangelistic trainingand appropriate programming to assist their members in evangelism.
Itwas interesting to note that not all growing churches were in good locations orin growing communities. The converse was also true. Plateaued and decliningchurches often had good locations in a growing community. It was clear that thevalues you hold determine your perspective.

5. Time orientation
Decliningchurches have a tendency to see the best days of the church in the past. Theyhave very little excitement about the church’s future. This backwards view isone of the contributing factors towards a demoralized self-image that personshave about the Church. In fact many members state that if it weren’t forloyalty to the building, the long-term friendships, or family ties, they wouldgo somewhere else. When the consultants asked “Where will the church be in 5years?” a common answer was “Dead”. The backwards orientation tends to removehope from the members lives and replaces it with fatalism, defeatism, despair,and resignation. It was particularly disheartening to the consultants to seethis perspective among pastors and leaders.
Growingchurches see the best days of the church as now and in the future. They areexcited about what the church is and what it will become. They have a greatdeal of hope for the church and its future. In spite of the fact that they haveproblems they are seen as solvable. Optimism dominates.

6. Energy Level
Ingrowing churches the energy level is high. Church is fun. Laughter is present.Church is a delight rather than drudgery. People look forward with anticipationto their participation with the people of the church and involvement in theministry of the church. This energy leads to high levels of commitment to thechurches mission and ministry.
Indeclining churches people are more somber. Church is more of a duty and anobligation. Complaints are made about the number of people who do notparticipate. The energy that is present is put into maintenance and survivalbehavior.

7. Music
Inboth declining and growing churches the issue of music was raised. Both groupsprimarily because the majority of the participants were both long term churchedand tended to be from the silent generation (born prior to 1946)  showed resistance to contemporarymusic. In the declining churches however it was a “sacred cow” that was notopen for discussion. In growing churches they understood the need for a morecontemporary style and were seeking to implement some changes. There wereadmissions that it was causing some tensions.
Fromexit interviews with unchurched visitors it is very clear that music is acritical factor in their “liking” or “not liking” the church. It would appearthat this issue will need to be addressed particularly for those churchesintent upon reaching the disenfranchised “baby boomers” and “baby buster”generations.

My friend Dr. David Cho
God used him to build and lead the
largest church in the world. Last year 117,000
souls came to know the Lord
8. The Role Expectationsupon the Pastor
Ingrowing churches they perceived their pastor as an initiating equipping leaderwhose primary task was to lead the church in accomplishing its God ordainedmission/vision. They saw the pastor as a servant of God whose primaryresponsibilities were to train, equip and lead.
Indeclining churches the pastor is seen as our servant whose responsibilitiesinclude preaching wonderful sermons, and looking after the church membersthrough visitation and counseling. The pastor was seen as a doer rather than anequipper. In declining churches the pastor struggles with what it means to leadand how to affect it in context.

9. Willingness to Change
Indeclining churches keeping tradition alive is a critical value. These churchessee change as too great a price. Even when the change would produce growth thestatus quo is maintained. Some churches have made a conscious decision to notchange knowing the price they will pay is further decline. There is a greaterfear of change than of decline or even death.
Growingchurches understand growth demands change. This is a price that must be paid.Innovation and innovators are valued. Risking new things for the sake of growthis encouraged.
Growingchurches are innovative. While they still fight the battles with tradition,evangelism’s priority gives them the courage to try the new and different.

10. Role of the Laity
Indeclining churches the primary involvement that is expected is to show up atthe services and give generously. It was a point of pride in one church thatwhile attendance had gone down the giving had gone up. It is a documented facthowever, that it not uncommon to find higher per capita giving in decliningchurches than in growing churches. Declining churches are far more passive interms of involvement than growing churches. Many times they substitute generousgiving for work. Complaints are made about how few people have arole/responsibility.
Ingrowing churches attendance at services is desired but the members also see itas an important part of their discipleship to have a ministry role or task thatthey are engaged in. In the growing churches the members view themselves asministers and responsible for their churches future. It was interesting to notethat in the growing churches the issue of money was not raised. theconversations indicated that there was a level of faith present that God wouldprovide if we were doing his will.

11. Goals.
Whenthe question was asked about goals declining churches were silent but from thediscussion it was clear that survival was the most important goal.
My wife and I with a wonderful pastor and his wife
who at risk to their own health have taken
the gospel into a leper colony
Growingchurches were able to either articulate goals they were seeking to accomplishor stated they were in a plan to develop them. They could also recount goalsthat had been accomplished in the past year.

12. Spiritual Growth
Indeclining churches spiritual growth is described most often as an increase inBible knowledge. The consultants did not hear the stories of what God has beendoing in individual lives. This is not to say God has been absent it is simplythe observation that there is less consciousness about His activity.
Ingrowing churches spiritual growth is described in terms of life transformationthat has occurred through the work of the Holy Spirit and the commitment themembers have made to apply the Word of God as it was taught. Testimonies wereshared without prompting about God’s current work of grace and of changes thathad occurred.

13. Values.
Thecore values of the declining churches were rooted in tradition I.E. “We’vealways done it this way.” The church was described in traditional programmaticterms.
Ingrowing churches the values were rooted in a Biblical understanding of ourmission. New ways of expressing that vision had been created. New programs ofoutreach had been initiated.
Thedifference could be described as the vision/mission base remains a constant ingrowing churches  while the programchanges as needed. In declining churches the program is the constant and themission is sacrificed sometimes unconsciously and drifts towards survival andmaintenance behavior.

14. Bridge Events
Growingchurches understand that there are steps to take between the unchurched stateand becoming a Christian and active member of the church. They are intentionalabout offering special events, Sunday School socials, and a host of other entryevents to help the unchurched be exposed to the people and program of thechurch. They recognize that the unchurched will need multiple exposures to themessage and these entry events are vital.
Indeclining churches there is the expectation that the unchurched will feel ascomfortable in church as we do. There is the expectation the unchurched cancome straight into worship or Sunday School with a high level of comfort. Theassumption made is; “if we enjoy it and are comfortable with it the unchurchedshould as well.”
Bothgroups spoke of the usefulness of VBS in touching the unchurched. It was clearhowever the growing churches did far more to follow up the contacts made.

15. Reason for Staying
 In growing churches the ministryprograms, the personal growth, the friendships, the love and appreciation forthe pastor are the most often stated reasons for continued involvement andattendance.
Indeclining churches the loyalty to tradition, long term establishedrelationships, history,  andunwillingness to abandon a sinking ship are the most often stated reasons forstaying.

Pastoral Focus Groups

Startingwith a list of churches in the convention who had been leaders in baptisms intheir respective size categories a focus group was conducted with thesepastors. It was fascinating to note that although their leadership stylesdiffered, their congregational cultures diverse, their churches size and agesspread, there were commonalties that any pastor seeking to lead hiscongregation to growth will want to emulate.

1. Prayer
Thepastors were asked about, and discussed with us their personal prayer life.While the majority confessed to needing, and wanting, to pray more two lessonsemerged. The first was the pastors of growing churches personal prayer life wasmore regular and for a greater amount of time. The second was that from a lowof 15% up to 35% of that personal prayer time was spent praying for the lost orfor the growth of the church.  Wecall this “harvest oriented prayer”. There was a certain level of awe as thepastors recounted how wonderful it is to minister in a place where the blessingof God is real and obvious.

2. Agenda
Thepastors of growing churches recognized the natural drift of a church tonon-evangelistic activities. Keeping evangelism in the pulpit, in the boardsand committees, in the budget etc. was seen as a personal responsibility.

3. Example
Thepastors of the high baptism churches recognized the role their example plays inevangelism. It takes a variety of forms. Examples include; the use ofillustrations about personal witness experiences in their preaching andteaching, regular participation in outreach visitation, and taking members withthem on evangelistic calls.

4. Integration
Thepastors admitted it was sometimes a struggle to get the diverse organizationsin the church to think evangelistically. Yet in the planning, training, andleadership development they worked extremely hard to keep each branch of thechurch thinking outreach.

5. Inclusion
Pastorsof growing churches are conscious of the tremendous need to assimilatenewcomers. Systems for welcoming visitors, ways to involve them in SundaySchool or other small groups, new member sponsors were just a few ideasmentioned.

6. Worship
Thepastors of growing churches understand the role the public worship serviceplays in evangelism. When we asked what activity brings the most new people tothe church, Worship was the answer. From their personal preparation to theoverall quality of the experience the service is looked at from the perspectiveof the non churched. Our findings were consistent with Thom Rainer in that mostgrowing churches are not “Seeker Driven” but “Seeker Sensitive.”

7. Leadership
Pastorsof high conversion growth churches recognized the importance of leadershipdevelopment. Whether it was at a lay or a staff level each could identify a fewpersons that they were giving quality time in leadership development to.

8. Language
Thepastors of growing churches “bragged” about their churches and people. Youcould sense they genuinely did love their church and did love their people.This affirming language has been found not only in this study but others to bea trademark of pastors in growing churches. These pastors had learned to “buildup” not “beat up”.

9. Commitment
Ingrowing churches it is clear that the pastors view this place as where theywill spend the rest of their ministry even if it’s another 30 years. While theyrecognize God may lead and call elsewhere they are not looking to move. Theyare not seeking greener pastures.

10. Growing
Thepastors of the high conversion growth churches talked much about their personalgrowth. The most obvious was the sense of what God was doing in each of theirlives. Beyond that however they mentioned attending seminars, listening totapes, networking with peers, being mentored by another pastor, reading growthand leadership materials,  as allcontributing to their growth. They perceived the need to grow spiritually,personally, relationally, and professionally.

11. Values
Wegave to each of the pastors the list of the 22 values. After having reviewedthem, they concurred that they indeed held these values and although they ortheir churches were not perfect in every respect it was to these values theyaspired.
Ourlistening to these pastors also gave us the impression that the personal valuesand philosophy of ministry that drove these pastors was at its coreevangelistic.

12. Results Orientation
Thesign of a fisherman is not did the “nets get wet” but were any fish caught. Thepastors interviewed counted people. One pastor keeps an attendance/ growthchart in his office for constant reference. Comments such as “If weweren’t  seeing people saved I’dleave the ministry” reflect the passion for results particularly evangelisticresults.

13. Pursuit of Excellence
Just“getting by” or just “good enough” is not the motto of these pastors. They haverecognized that when we fail to pursue excellence we are on a path tomediocrity. Regular evaluations are part and parcel of their work. They haverecognized that in a media oriented society that has many choices,  quality is not an option but arequirement.

14. Training
Recognizingthat most Christians are somewhat insecure and feel ill equipped in sharingtheir faith, training in evangelism was offered. CWT, Master Life, LifestyleEvangelism Seminars, one on one mentoring were a few things mentioned. We notedthat in the declining churches little and most often no training had beenoffered in the past two year. A study by Church Growth Inc. showed that a ratioof people trained in evangelism in growing churches was 1:4. This means thatone out of four persons in the adult church population had participated in anEvangelism Training event in the past two years.
 On a personal note it has been myprivilege to get to know many of the leaders on the Evangelism Growth Team.They have many wonderful training options that are worth pursuing. Any churchdesiring to increase its conversion growth rate will find this kind of traininga good place to start.

How Do We Get Our Values

1. They are chosen
Thevalues we ultimately hold and act on are ours by choice. We cannot be coerced,or forced to hold values that we do not want to hold. Our values must be chosenfreely. We also must clearly see the alternatives in our choice of values forit is a choice not only to believe and act in a certain way but also a choiceof what not to believe and how not toact.

2. They are confessed
Thevalues we hold cannot be held in silence or in private. The values we hold wemust be willing to publicly affirm. When the scriptures state “With the heartman believes, but with themouth confession is made to salvation” it isteaching us that a test of our belief is the willingness to speak it out andhave it examined publicly.
Thisconfession solidifies the value and subjects it to the scrutiny of others. Whenwe retreat from the choice of value at the point of confession either the valuewas wrong or we did not make a quality choice.
Partof the public confession of a value means we are willing to pay the pricedemanded by that value. For a church this may mean, reorganizing budget orschedule, incurring the anger or losing members who are in disagreement, theloss of power as a move to what is right from who is right occurs are just afew of the prices that come to mind. Jesus himself said that to follow him wemust “count the cost”.

3. They are acted on
Oncea value has passed through the first two tests of choice and confession it thenmust pass the test of behavior. Only when we act can we be sure what values wehold. As the scripture teaches; “Out of the heart proceeds......” or again “Donot call me “Lord Lord” if you are unwilling to do what I say”.
Toact on a value means three things.
First, we must do it consistently. All of usslip and fall in moments of weakness but that  should not be our pattern. To act on the value constantlymeans to do it day in and day out, when I feel like it and when I don’t feellike it. We do it because it’s the right thing to do.
Second, we must integrate it into our life view.People test values and often after the testing reject them. When a value isheld it becomes part of who we are.
Third, we must eliminate competing andcontradictory values. To live a life of integrity and effectiveness the heartcannot be divided. To accept a value means the choices have been made toeliminate the beliefs and behaviors that are inconsistent with the new value.

For example:
Let’sassume that after reading the scripture we become convinced that prayer andparticularly having a daily time of prayer is an important value. We choose itas something we desire to have in our lives. Let’s then assume that we take itto the next level and confess it to a friend, spouse, pastor, or mentor. It isnot challenged but affirmed as a right choice. At this point we would think thevalue is held. In reality the only way to see if the value is held would be toexamine the calendar over a 30-60 day period and see if prayer had become aconsistent, integrated part of our lives.

Six Things We can Do ToChange and Strengthen Values

1. Spiritual Foundation
Inthe context of the Church a “who is right” attitude can only lead to divisionand decline. Building upon the foundation of the Word of God and insuring thatthis is the grounding for our values will lead to a Biblically strongconvictional base for growth. Ultimately the Church exists for the glory of Godand to do the will and work of God. His directive to us is primary.

2. Leadership Example
Dr. Billy Kim,  Pastor and President of FEBC
Values taking the gospel to places considered unreachable
Thepastors of high conversion growth churches affirm what teachers in valueclarification affirm. An organization, will over time, adopt the values,behavior and personality of its leaders. Pastors first of all need to insurethey are committed to these values and then insurethe persons in leadershipthroughout the church are in agreement with them. Having deacons, Sunday Schoolleaders, and musicians etc. whose values are antithetical to the core Biblicalvalues is a prescription for division and discord.

3. Teach
Valuesmust be understood in the context of both the scripture and the congregationalvision. The church provides many avenues for this teaching to occur. Just aspeople can go from darkness to light through the preaching of the gospel we canpreach and teach values in any and every context where the church gathers.Examples include; a sermon series on values, an adult Sunday School course onvalues, deacons and board meetings, new members classes, a value seminar,women’s and men’s groups, monthly news letters, the weekly bulletin etc.

4. Experiences
Manytimes a person will only adopt a new value after having had a successfulexperience with it. For example; although we acknowledge that every Christianis to be a witness there are many Christians not living that value because theytried it once and had a negative experience. In structuring the church programsintegrate activities that allow people to have successful experiences. There isan invitation to the seeker from God himself “to come and taste and see thatthe Lord is good”.

5. Priority
Jesushimself said, “that where our treasure is, our heart is also.” Looking at thechurch calendar, the board agenda, the budget, lay deployment, the staff’s timeusage etc. are all indicators of the values held by an organization. The skillfound in growth minded leaders is to allocate resources to those activitiesthat will bring outcomes in harmony with the vision and values.

6. Affirmation
Manytimes in church life greater appreciation will be shown to someone who bringsfood for a social than for someone who labors to find and win the lost. Peoplein organizations gravitate to those activities, which seem to receiverecognition and appreciation. To individuals this recognition indicates what isimportant and valuable to the organization. Examining the roles and taskswithin the church to see which are easiest and most difficult to fill may giveyou a clue as to what values and behaviors are affirmed


Bill Mackey. For his leadership in this project andhis ongoing desire to help churches achieve their full evangelistic potential.
Glen Aikens. For his leadership of the research teamand help in crafting the survey instrument.
Alaire Posey. For taking the initial survey, rewritingthe questions to fit the culture of the churches, and finally for herwork in compiling in a professional manner the results.
Janet Clonts, LynetteMcDuffie. For all thehard work behind the scenes that has made the project work.
Lisa Jacobs, BeverlyLucado, Dorothy Ray. Forscanning the 1500 plus surveys into the computer.
Clyde Lowery, Jim Wright,Jeff Dial, Tracy Falkenberry, Jerry Burris. For your assistance in printing, mailing and othersupportive activities.
Ted Evans, Cathy House,Craig Roberts. For yourtechnical support
Richard Adams, ReggieMcNeal, Ezekiel Thomas, Kathy Wood. Foryour assistance and input in developing the survey instrument.
Al Bozard, Gary Farmer, JimHerron, Bill Hightower, Bobby Jackson, Keith Lancaster, David Lee, AlvinO’Shields, John Platt, Cliff Satterwhite, Henry Simmons, Jerry St. John. For the miles you drove, the focus groupsyou conducted, and your effort to help distill the results.
The 145 Churches and 1588members of those churches.For you willingness to participate in a project of this magnitude and the helpyour input will be to 1000’s of churches nationwide.

Endnote: The value test and scoring instrument is available from me and I can either send you the material to compile a report or you can send me the compiled results and I will write you a customized report outlining a plan of action to strengthen the evangelistic values. You can use the email address on this blog

No comments:

Post a Comment