Ready to transform
    December 1 2010 by Thomas Crane, BSC Communications

    If someone had nothing to go on except conversations overheard among pastors at Southern Baptist Convention meetings he might conclude that a successful church scorecard includes how well the church is doing on “nickels, noses, and seating capacity.”

    While nothing is wrong with “bodies, budgets and buildings,” the latest research from LifeWay Christian Resources suggests that the three Bs are not the most effective means of measuring a church’s impact on its community and the world for the Kingdom of Christ.

    Instead, the research results — which serve as the basis for the book Transformational Church — offer a new approach. “If we are not really making and producing disciples, then the church is not really being the church and is not fulfilling the Great Commission,” said Rick Hughes, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) senior consultant for discipleship.

    Hughes and Russ Conley, BSC senior consultant for leadership development, led a “Transformational Church” break out session Nov. 9 during the BSC annual meeting.

    BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

    Rick Hughes stresses the importance of making disciples during a breakout session at the Baptist State Convention Nov. 9.

    Rather than taking shots at the state of many local churches, Transformational Church identifies the positive elements noted in 250 vibrant and effective churches.

    A robust research project consisting of more than 7,000 churches led to interviews with churches among the top 10 percent in categories such as baptismal growth, overall church growth, and ratio of worship attendance to those participating in small group or Sunday School.

    Conley walked attendees through the seven points of emphasis noted in the book by authors Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer.

    The first focuses on a missionary mentality when church members love lost people more than their idea of how church should be done.

    Church members must study and understand their local community and meet people where they are in order to introduce them to Christ. Transformational churches think like missionaries and do what it takes to reach their community.

    A vibrant leadership is a must if the church is going to shift from a “mission” program to the entire church being engaged in missions. Leaders must also shift the focus from the three Bs to the mission of the Kingdom of God.

    Transformational churches are also marked by relational intentionality. People, and not programs, are the focus of the church.

    Relationships become the substance of the church’s culture. The cross should be the only stumbling block to an outsider. Conley said this sort of thinking requires the church to begin to think outward instead of inward.

    Prayerful dependence is the fourth emphasis of a transformational church. This does not necessarily mean a prayer ministry, but rather prayer itself. Church members must pray for the expansion of God’s Kingdom and should not focus all their prayer efforts on other church members.

    “The prayers of the people in church will reveal what the church values most,” Conley said.

    Transformational churches are focused on making disciples — not catering to consumers.

    A worship service is not to be reduced to a focus on style. Conley said God is the reason believers come together to worship and so they must come with a sense of anticipation, knowing man is not the center of worship.

    Community also plays an essential role in the life of the transformational church. People need to be connected into “life on life” relationships with other believers. Once involved in the community of the church an emphasis is placed on their growth, their service and their being sent out on mission. True discipleship never takes place apart from community.

    Finally, the transformational church emphasizes the mission of the church. Evangelism is a natural part of life and so people should not be taught to rely on “canned evangelism” or formal evangelism training.

    Transformation churches are not as concerned about coddling immature believers as they are with engaging, winning and discipling the lost.
    12/1/2010 4:44:00 AM by Thomas Crane, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

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