5 Questions You Should Ask Your Church

5 Questions You Should Ask Your Church

Oct 26, 2017

John J. Pethtel Director Church Development & Pastoral Services Here are 5 questions leaders can ask if their church stops growing: One of the best things any leader can do when he is in a tough spot is to stop making assumptions and start asking questions. Our assumptions got us to where we are, but they won’t necessarily get us where we need to go. 1. What is our mission? Often a church that has stopped growing has lost the urgency behind its mission. This is doubly sad in the case of a church because our mission is actually Christ’s mission…it’s the spread of the Gospel into the world for which Jesus died. Leaders and congregations that are effective in accomplishing their mission are consumed by their mission.   2. Are we focused on unchurched people or on ourselves? The gravitational pull of any church is toward insiders, not outsiders. Left unattended, your church will become a place where the preferences of the members trump passion for the mission. There are two primary ways to address this drift: 1. In every decision, focus on who you want to reach, not who you want to keep. 2. Commit to losing yourself for the sake of finding others.   3. Has our strategy or approach become dated? While the mission of the church is eternal, strategy should shift from generation to generation. The challenge in long term leadership is that the changes that you introduced may have been novel and effective when you introduced them…but it’s not 1995 anymore…or 2005 for that matter. How do you tell if your strategy is dated? When it stops being effective. 4. Are we on top of the constant change in our culture? While you’re studying your strategy, you might also want to study culture. It’s changing, radically and quickly. We now live in a post-Christian, post-modern world. That’s true in Canada. It’s increasingly true in the United States. In my experience, many of us in church leadership don’t really grasp the enormity of the change going on around us.   5. When was the last time I personally invited someone to church? The reality is many Christians, for a...

25 Things I’ve Learned from Church Planting

25 Things I’ve Learned from Church Planting

Oct 26, 2017

      Reprinted from Christine Hoover who is a church planting wife and a mom to three boys. She also writes on her blog, Grace Covers Me (www.gracecoversme.com). In 2008, God called my husband, Kyle, and me to plant a church in Charlottesville, Virginia. Though we had eight years of ministry experience under our belts at an established church, we didn’t yet know all that we didn’t know. We had much to learn and, more importantly, God had much sifting and pruning to do in our hearts. God has shown me that, more than anything, He wants my heart. He wants a tender, moldable heart willing to obey more than He wants any obligatory service I can give Him. As I write in my book, The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart (Moody, 2013), I’ve learned a thing or two in this crazy adventure called church planting — and I trust I’ll learn more as we move forward. Here are 25 things I’ve discovered so far. 1. Hospitality is essential. 2. Church planting teaches two things more than any other: that God is faithful and that we must learn how to depend on that faithful God. 3. Programs matter a lot to some people, especially families with small children. It takes special families who can grasp the vision of church planting to invest in a church plant on the ground level. 4. On the other hand, some people love the early stages of church planting but become uncomfortable when the church grows to a size where they can no longer know everyone. 5. Church planting happens one relationship at a time. 6. Sometimes church planting feels like you’re pretending to be a church. And then one day (after backbreaking work and lots of prayer) you realize God has built an honest-to-goodness church right before your eyes. 7. You cannot church plant apart from the support and encouragement of others. 8. The Word is living and active. When we let God speak through His Word, He changes people. Every church plant must gather earnestly around the Word and the Christ to which it points. 9. The church plant often takes on...

En la teoría, ¿cómo funciona el discipulado?

  El discipulado funciona esencialmente mediante la instrucción y la imitación. El discipulado funciona mejor a través del amor. A medida que instruimos con amor a creyentes más jóvenes en el camino de la piedad y de una vida encomiable, ellos crecerán en su semejanza a Cristo imitando nuestra vida y doctrina (cf. 1 Ti. 4:16). Instrucción: La Biblia llama a los pastores y a los padres a instruir a aquellos que han sido puestos a su cargo (Pr.; Gá. 6:6; Ef. 6:4; 1 Ts. 4:8; 1 Ti. 1:18, 6:3; 2 Ti. 2:25; 4:2). También llama a todos los creyentes a instruirse los unos a los otros (Ro. 15:14). Imitación: Los cristianos son imitadores, primero de Dios, después los unos de los otros. Crecemos en la gracia de Dios escuchando e imitando. Considera los siguientes pasajes: ● “Sed imitadores de mí, así como yo de Cristo” (1 Co. 11:1). ● “Acordaos de vuestros pastores, que os hablaron la palabra de Dios; considerad cuál haya sido el resultado de su conducta, e imitad su fe” (He. 13:7). ● “Lo que aprendisteis y recibisteis y oísteis y visteis en mí, esto haced; y el Dios de paz estará con vosotros” (Fil. 4:9). ● “Pero tú has seguido mi doctrina, conducta, propósito, fe, longanimidad, amor, paciencia, persecuciones, padecimientos” (2 Ti. 3:10). ● “Amado, no imites lo malo, sino lo bueno” (3 Jn. 11). Amor: Las personas imitarán tu vida incluso cuando no las ames. Pero un líder que lidera con amor presenta la mejor imagen de Cristo, y las personas te seguirán mejor cuando las ames. Amistad: En un sentido, discipular es simplemente amistad, pero una amistad dirigida hacia Cristo. ¿Qué hacen los amigos? Se imitan el uno al otro. En el discipulado, nos hacemos amigos de otros para crecer en semejanza a Cristo y para ayudarles a crecer en semejanza a Cristo. ¿Cómo ser un discípulo? (i) Escucha y mira cómo cristianos de más edad trabajan, descansan, forman una familia, tratan los conflictos, evangelizan a sus vecinos, perseveran en las pruebas, sirven en la iglesia o luchan contra el pecado. (ii) ¡Imítalos! (De...

Freedom Sabbath

Freedom Sabbath

Sep 25, 2017

We had a special service in Ashaway this weekend. We celebrated the freedom to worship that we enjoy in America. We celebrated the heritage of our church and the role of our members (like Samuel Ward) in the American Revolution. We sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic, written by Samuel Ward’s great-granddaughter. We had hot dogs and enjoyed summer fellowship. Most importantly, we read Romans 6 and reflected on our Freedom in Christ. We are no longer slaves to sin which leads to destruction! We are now subject to God, our great and loving master, through the work of Jesus....

Soul Care

Soul Care

Jun 23, 2017

by John J. Pethtel Director of Church Development & Pastoral Services     Fifty SDB pastors and spouses gathered together in Alfred Station, NY, to fellowship and study with one another from April 25 to 27, 2017. The theme for the week was “Soul Care.” They learned about ways to better take care of themselves and their congregations when they are troubled or wearied. Speakers included John Pethtel, Nate Crandall, Darwin Steele, Steve Osborn, Tim Smothers, Rod Noel, and Owen Lynch. Area pastors were invited to join us on Wednesday when Brian Croft, founder of Practical Shepherding, put on a workshop discussing the pastor’s soul, family, ministry, and journey. There will be a Pastors Conference in 2018 and 2019 at dates and locations yet to be determined. If your pastor attended this year, ask him about his experience and make plans to help him attend next year. If your pastor was unable to attend this year, start making plans to help him attend next year. It is good for his soul! The 3rd annual MULTIPLY Church Development Conference (October 19-21, 2017) is open to all who desire to see renewal and revitalization in their church or desire to see new SDB churches in North America. This conference will be combining our own SDB learning cohort with the MULTIPLY Conference, put on by Frontline Church Planting in Colorado Springs, to learn from missional church leaders and each other during this extended weekend. Registration deadline is September 24, 2017, and the conference fee is $100. This fee includes registration, meals for Friday and Saturday, and lodging on a first come, first served basis. Transportation arrangements will be provided to the Colorado Springs airport (COS). For more information, visit seventhdaybaptist.org/MULTIPLY. PULSE The Church Revitalization Task Force (Carl Greene, JR Shick, Patti Wethington, and Frank Mazza) has been working diligently over the past year to provide an assessment process to use to help a church diagnose the state of its health. This process is currently being implemented in four pilot churches — but we are looking to include your church soon. When we assess our personal health, one of the key indicators is our pulse rate. Is it too...

The Day We Visited the Dying Church

The Day We Visited the Dying Church

Mar 23, 2017

by John J. Pethtel Director of Church Development & Pastoral Services It was about six or seven years ago. Our family sometimes visits other churches. We went to a service at a church that was very different than our church. Both of our children were under the age of ten. Our children were used to being the center of attention — with someone spending time caring for them, listening to them, and teaching them the Bible in a way that they could understand. The church we visited had been around for over 100 years. You could tell that at one time the church was very vibrant with many young families. By the time we visited, though, there were very few people our age. The facility was dated. The music was very traditional. The message was boring for my kids…and for me. As we were walking out of the church together after the service, my son, Xavier, tugged on my sleeve to get my attention. Then he quietly said what everyone else in the family was thinking, “Dad, this church is never going to grow.” The sad thing is my son was right. The church was dying. Rather than make some intentional changes to reach the next generations of families in the community, they were preserving the past. I am assuming it’s another example of people placing a higher value on personal preferences and comfort than on reaching people for Jesus. What’s encouraging to me is that I see many churches unwilling to go there. The churches who make the transition successfully share some common traits. • They value having an outward focus. It’s an intentional part of their ministry strategy. • They value a clearly defined discipleship process. With that, they acknowledge keeping people busy is not the goal. • They value strong, healthy leadership. That includes the pastor, lay leadership team and staff leadership team. • They value a bold, clear vision for the future. At the same time, they have a clear action plan to see that vision accomplished. • They value simple systems and structures. Complexity always stalls progress. If you want to preserve the past, try to create systems and structures where...