Transformational church helps association forward
    July 5 2011 by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications

    If numbers told the whole story the projected outlook wouldn’t be very good for Transylvania Baptist Association.

    Eighty percent of churches in the association are plateaued or declining, according to Associational Missionary Chuck Campbell.

    With the help of a new concept called Transformational Church, the future is looking much brighter for this association.

    Campbell is helping churches in the association take the results from LifeWay Christian Resources’ latest study and apply them to a process of transformation.

    “Becoming more missionary-minded is what Transformational Church is all about,” Campbell said. This process has helped churches in his association, “quickly see how they can re-cast the vision.”

    As a church health consultant Campbell is familiar with working alongside churches. Transformational Church is different than any other approach he has tried.

    He said it gives churches a “look in the rearview mirror” and helps them understand where they will end up if the direction doesn’t change. 

    Churches in Transylvania are looking for answers, and through this process, are asking hard questions, capitalizing on strengths and moving forward in their efforts to make disciples.  

    What is Transformational Church?
    Last year Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, and Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research and LifeWay’s missiologist in residence, co-authored the book Transformational Church. The book is based on LifeWay’s research study to discover the characteristics of churches that are truly seeing lives changed by the power of the gospel.

    The study included a survey of more than 7,000 pastors and hundreds of on-site interviews. The research pointed to these seven elements that are present when a church is making disciples and seeing life transformation:
    • missionary mindset
    • prayerful dependence
    • relational intentionality
    • vibrant leadership
    • worship
    • community
    • mission
    Transformational Church is about moving from a scorecard of “bodies, budget and buildings” to one of discipleship and spiritual maturity. Rainer and Stetzer write that, “a Transformational Church is not simply a ‘good church’ or a church that does good things. Neither is it necessarily a big church that offers excellent programming, preaching, and worship. A Transformational Church focuses on the gospel’s ability to change people.”

    An assessment tool is available to help measure the health of churches and to explore strengths and weaknesses. A DVD discussion guide is also available as a supplemental resource to the book. 

    Chuck Campbell

    Does it make a difference?

    Most churches in Transylvania have experienced success throughout the years.

    Yet, people change and communities change, and what worked in the past doesn’t always work in the future.

    Campbell has seen churches become more aware of the community around them and the people in the community who do not know Jesus as their personal Savior. Sometimes a church doesn’t even know who lives around them.

    Transformational Church can be a true wake up call for churches; a reminder that if church priorities are not Kingdom priorities, the church may eventually cease to exist.

    “Transformational Church is not a plug and play. It goes beyond a process to a lifestyle,” Campbell said. “This is how we do life; it’s not how we do church.”

    Transformational Church has proven effective in Transylvania in large part because the change comes from within.

    “It helps leaders birth action priorities, and then they gain ownership of them,” Campbell said. “I’m not saying this is what you need; they are saying this is what we need.

    “Ultimately, I am just the coach and turn the process over to them.”

    Ownership also comes when church leaders seriously consider results from the assessment and begin to make changes based on the facts and not on how things have been in the past.

    Too often churches rely on things done in the past without ever considering who lives in the community today and what approach will be most effective today.

    Campbell encourages pastors to walk leaders through the DVD series and to give a copy of the book to every deacon.

    He said healthy churches also have much to gain through Transformational Church.

    One of the greatest benefits for churches is a discovery retreat. Church leaders meet with a coach, like Campbell, and walk through the assessment results and begin developing action priorities that point toward change.  

    Although change is coming in Transylvania, it’s not instant success. “It’s not an overnight turnaround,” Campbell said. “Be patient, be in there for the long haul. Every church is different in how fast it will go through the process.”

    Campbell said change is coming because churches are realizing they have been measuring their own fruitfulness, but never the fruitfulness of the people they disciple. “You know you’ve made a disciple when the one you are discipling is fruitful,” he said.  

    Where to start?
    The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) wants to help churches interested in Transformational Church. Through a partnership with LifeWay, Congregational Services staff members have been trained as Transformational Church consultants and are available to work with North Carolina Baptist churches at no charge to the church. Although churches may choose to work directly with LifeWay, there is a charge for church consultation through LifeWay.    

    “Our staff is available to walk with you through every step of the process as you begin the journey of becoming a Transformational Church,” said Lynn Sasser, executive leader for congregational services. “We are here to help you introduce the process to church leaders, facilitate a discovery retreat, provide accountability and consulting, and help prepare your church members for the journey.”

    Sasser said he is praying that churches across the state will embrace a new scorecard that focuses on disciple-making and transformed lives.


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    7/5/2011 11:07:00 AM by Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

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