Conference equips church leaders for change
November 9 2001 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Conference equips church leaders for change | Friday, Nov 9, 2001
  • Keep it simple.
  • Emphasize long-term growth.
  • Focus on application. Zimmerman said he prefers to balance application with learning.
  • Remain flexible.
  • Practice good communication.
  • Establish a clear purpose.
  • Trust others for advice.
  • Be patient.

    "When God has called us to change, in the midst of change, He wants us to be more than a change agent, but to be a faithful one," he said.

    Sam Gore, a consultant for the BSC, said he is grateful for changes, including the medical advancements that enabled him to have successful quadruple bypass surgery in August. He led a seminar on "Surviving the Rapids of Change," based on Williams Bridges' book, "Managing Transitions."

    "One of the things we say we don't like, we are very much a part of," Gore said, referring to change.

    There can be no change without a transition, he said.

    "If you change the way people think, you'll change the way they behave," he said.

    Gore used a church changing its worship styles as an example of the transition process.

    Transition starts with an ending, Gore said. Many church leaders wrongly think change can happen much like flipping a switch, he said.

    "I learned the hard way, that's not the way it works," said Gore, who spent 18 years as a pastor and has worked as a consultant for churches for the past12 years.

    Church leaders can manage the endings by identifying who is losing what, accepting the reality and the importance of the loss, expecting over-reactions and expecting times of grief.

    "A person who understands the transitional process will expect over-reaction and not be offended by that," Gore said.

    Church leaders should give information about change over and over, "so people won't have the bad feeling of being uninformed," he said.

    "Don't assume they understand the announcement that was made last Sunday," he said.

    Gore said church leaders must treat the past with respect. "Let people take a piece of the past with them."

    One church that transitioned from traditional to contemporary worship has a monthly worship service using Broadman hymnals, he said. The heartfelt singing of hymns by older members inspires the young people in the church, he said.

    The second phase of transition is the "neutral zone" between the ending of the old way of doing things and the beginning of the new, Gore said.

    "Some folks call it no-man's land," he said. "I call it 'new man's land,' because God does some remarkable things in the neutral zone."

    Some people might try to "escape" the neutral zone, like the children of Israel who wanted to go back to Egypt while they were wandering in the wilderness, Gore said. This can cause churches to lose some members and maybe even some key leaders, he said.

    Gore said pastors who don't understand transitions and want to go straight to the start of something new might leave during this time.

    These pastors think "This must not be where God wants me or these people would be listening to me," Gore said. If the pastor leaves, everybody loses, he said.

    "If you abort, you'll lose a great opportunity," he said. "If the children of Israel had never entered the promised land, we might not be here today."

    The final phase of transitions is the beginning, but part of the ending and the neutral zone remain, Gore said.

    "We need to stay attached to our past in order to get to our future," he said. "If you try to cut it off, as so many churches do, that's where we see churches can get into some of the awfullest situations."

    The beginning can cause anxiety because it establishes once and for all that the ending was real, Gore said. The new way may represent a gamble, he said.

    "It may resonate with an old, aborted beginning," he said. "It may destroy what was pleasant during the neutral zone."

    Gore said the timing of beginnings is important. He said people need a purpose, a picture - a vision, a plan and to be a part.

    "They do not need to be left out," he said.

    Randy Outland, pastor of Spilman Memorial Baptist Church in Kinston, led a seminar on "Discipleship in Small Groups."

    He defined a small group as "an intentional, face-to-face gathering of 5-13 people, which meets on a regular basis for a particular purpose related to the members' spiritual journey."

    Outland said the purpose of the church is to make disciples. Disciplemaking is a process, not a program, he said.

    A pastor's job is to equip the church members for ministry, Outland said.

    "Sometimes we get it backwards," he said. "We think the pastor is a hired gun to do the work."

    All small groups should have nurture, worship, mission and community, Outland said.

    He said small groups that emphasize nurture may meet for Bible study. Groups that emphasize worship may meet for prayer. Groups emphasizing community may be support groups. Those emphasizing mission may be evangelistic or social-action groups.

    People have three relational needs, Outland said.

  • The need for unity is met by worship, which can be done in any size group.
  • The need for fellowship is representative of a desire to know each other. This can best be done in groups between 17 and 70 people.
  • The need for intimacy can be seen in spiritual growth. This is best done through small groups.

    "What happens in our churches, even in our small groups, we don't have intimacy," he said.

    Churches grow spiritually through small, intimate groups, Outland said. Churches grow numerically through fellowship groups, he said.

    "Sunday School is often not designed to reach people," Outland said. "Churches growing through Sunday School are designed to reach people."

    Churches should look at all their programs and determine their disciple-making function, he said.

  • Friday, Nov 9, 2001

    Conference equips church leaders for change

    By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor GREENVILLE - Leaders of N.C. Baptist churches heard a variety of ways to make their churches better at the "Equipping Today's Church" (ETC) event Nov. 3 at The Memorial Baptist Church. The Greenville ETC was the third such event sponsored by the Baptist State Convention (BSC) this fall. Others were held at Ridgecrest conference center and at the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Caswell.

    About 150 people attended the Greenville event, which offered training on ways to improve nearly every facet of church life.

    Seminars were held dealing with preschool, children, youth and adults. A number of classes dealing with general subjects such as deacon skills, church web pages, history and media centers were also offered.

    Several seminars focused on how to deal with change in the church.

    Steve Zimmerman, minister of education at First Baptist Church in High Point, said that whether people like it or not, they have to deal with change. He led a class called "Who Moved My Sunday School Cheese?"

    The seminar was based partly on the book "Who Moved My Cheese?" by Spencer Johnson. The book deals with changes in work and life.

    Zimmerman said Sunday School leaders need to "go back to the basics" during times of change, noting Sunday School classes can communicate biblical truth.

    "As much as your pastor preaches on Sunday morning, it doesn't flesh out biblical truths," Zimmerman said.

    Sunday School classes need "teachers," "reachers" and "ministers," he said.

    The teachers should focus on teaching without getting distracted by other things.

    A reacher is someone who will go and talk to a new person in the class.

    Ministers notice when a class member is absent and call to make sure everything is all right, Zimmerman said.

    The most important aspect of Sunday School is making sure that "God breathes" into the classes, he said.

    Zimmerman emphasized eight "new cheeses" - ways to be open to change, based on the book, "The Issachar Factor," by Glen Martin and Gary McIntosh.

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    11/9/2001 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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