Church Involvement

Creating a Culture of Involvement in Every Church

Month: April 2016

A Biblical Alternative to “Success”

fruitpic1A Biblical Alternative to “Success”

When it comes to ministry outcome, many times we are most concerned with being “successful.”   We ask, “Was this event a success?”   May I suggest an alternative:  “fruitfulness.”  This appears, to me, to be more Biblical.     Take a moment and do refresher readings of John 15:1-11 and Galatians 5:22-26.   By the way, there are over 300 passages in the Bible on fruit bearing.

What are the obvious benefits to this way of thinking?

  1.  God gets the glory; this is the way it should always be.
  2.  We show our authenticity as His disciples to a lost and cynical world.
  3.  We honestly acknowledge that we can’t bear fruit without Jesus; this is both humbling and challenging.   We are totally dependent upon Him, not ourselves or our human resources and efforts.
  4.  We cannot fail.   If it is Jesus working in us and through us, failure is impossible. When we depend upon Him, the final result is always HIS, not ours.
  5.  The emphasis is not numbers or human effort, but Jesus. This is exciting because church members get to see how Jesus can work in and through them.   This creates deeper faith and more enthusiasm for doing His work.
  6.  It is my personal opinion that there will be less burnout and stress when we approach ministry in this manner.   Success, in its human definition, is impossible to achieve and as a result causes stress.   Bearing fruit comes easier because the Lord is in control and because He doesn’t expect the impossible from us. He simply expects us to do what we have been divinely designed to do.

What does fruit look like?   Changed attitudes: people no longer worry; they pray instead.   People no longer hold grudges; they forgive.   People are no longer bigoted; they are accepting and loving.   People no longer just sit in a pew; they sing, they participate, they get involved in the life of the church, they love the brethren and get to know them. Members no longer are dependent upon the professionals; they depend upon the Lord. Members no longer expect the church to grow; members contribute to the growth and welfare of the church. These are all (good) fruits (see Galatians 5:22-26),

The point is simple: our goal in ministry should always be fruitfulness.  We must first approach the Lord with our goals and ask His blessing and wisdom. We need to decide what fruit He wants for us to bear before we execute our plans, and as we make our plans.  And, then, after the ministry event, we need to evaluate by asking, “what good fruit was born?” “How did the Lord work through us?” “What did He want us to learn?”

We are less likely to burn out, be discouraged, dread the next project, and feel stressed with this emphasis.   This is a mindset (paradigm) issue. The church needs to get out of the “success” business and into the fruit-bearing business. The solution to our lack of involvement in the church is to raise up a generation of church members who are first and foremost disciples of Christ.   Jesus said one of the identifying marks of a disciple is bearing much good fruit.

Bearing fruit may not be as ‘colorful’ as being ‘successful.’   But it is God-pleasing and it brings Him the glory He rightfully deserves.   And, more than that, we never fail when we bear fruit.

Travis Irwin

Our 2014 “Down on the Farm” congregational focus emphasized the four ways we bear fruit for the Lord.  We had 100% participation.

I have a 13 lesson book entitled “God’s Field.” It is a study of fruit bearing in the Bible and how the Lord’s church is called to bear fruit.   I often tell church leaders: if we could get a whole generation thinking Biblically about this, we’d never ever have another problem with spiritual and numerical growth, and we’d always have enough folks involved in ministry.


Recommendations from Brethren



A recommendation on consulting on transitioning from youth work to involvement ministry:

After spending almost 25 years in Youth Ministry, I believe it was time for the next chapter in my life. Our congregation was ready to move in the direction of Involvement Minister and call people to service for the Lord’s kingdom. I was able to spend a weekend with Travis Irwin in Athens, Tennessee and pick his brain on ideas about Involvement. This time was very valuable in helping me formulate a plan of action and I gained many tools to help us launch into this new ministry.

I would recommend Travis to any church and its leadership, because of his passion to see people in the kingdom of God serving and using their talents.

God’s blessing,

Matt Dahm, Marion, OH

Richland Road Church of Christ

Recomended stamp

Recomended stamp

Another recommendation on consulting on transitioning from pulpit work to involvement:

Travis Irwin has been in touch with me, Tim Lavender, ever since I made plans to step down from the pulpit and begin easing into involvement ministry. This transition has gone smooth, but now without many questions to be answered as to what involvement ministry is all about. I have been a pulpit preacher for the same church for 37 years and so I know everyone here, but deciding what to do in my new roll has been challenging. I spent a day with Travis and he really helped me to think about the possibilities. Travis is energetic, passionate, and very down to earth on his approach to involvement. He has more than a few great ideas that I had never even thought about such as a “Fruit of the Spirit tree,” church -shirts, a big membership picture cut up into a puzzle to show how we connect and work together, posters, banners, newsletters, etc. His leadership class covers what really is practical and helpful in getting your team working on involving all members. I highly recommend his program and approach. He will help you in any way that he can.

Tim Lavender, Smyrna Church of Chris, Smyrna , TN

recommend1A recent leadership retreat that I led:

“First, thanks so much for your excellent contribution to our retreat. It went even better than I expected it would…I’ll be very glad to endorse and promote your workshop in every way I can. May God continue to bless all aspects of your ministry to him! Thanks, again, and God bless!”

Joshua Pappas, Pulpit minister, LaVergne (TN) Church of Christ

All the evaluations of this retreat were positive.   It is evident that I did not lecture; what we did was to involve everyone present in a comfortable manner.   These good folks were enthused and shared willingly.   It was a great weekend.   The purpose of the retreat was to train the leaders on how to get members involved in ministry using our “I Serve U” inventory/materials.

Most recently, a recommendation from our IM Training and our 2nd annual Church Involvement Conference:

From having attended this year’s conference I can say it was a rich, rewarding experience, an opportunity to learn how to develop or improve church ministry and share experiences in this ministry. Travis is passionate in leading the involvement ministry at the Athens congregation, and is a gifted teacher on the subject. I highly recommend the conference as well as the instructional session.
John Bean Pine Valley Church of Christ, Wilmington, NC


Untapped Resources

untapped1When younger I was always hearing about all the untapped resources we Americans had.   Even fifty years later the petroleum industry is still telling us of untapped oil in shale.   We are now learning more about new sources of energy which come (free) from the sun, the wind and yes, the waves.   We are beginning to tap into these resources and the potential is unlimited.

When I think of the Lord’s church, I think of the many untapped resources we have.   Why do they remain untapped?   There are several resources that are not fully utilized.   Why don’t we use them?   Which ones?   I can think of at least 3:

The Lord.    We often quote Philippians 4:13 and I think that is great.   But what about Ephesians 3:20-21?   Do we really believe those verses or do we like to just quote them because they sound good?  The Lord is our power source for doing the impossible.    Are we tapping into His power through prayer (cf. Eph.6:18).    Too often we talk about Him and then we don’t ‘tap’ into Him.

The Gospel.    Romans 1:16.   The gospel is God’s dynamic.   It transforms the worst of the worst.   It changes people, communities, churches and nations.     We need to draw on its power every day from morning to noon to evening and then again the next day.    We need to ‘tap’ into it by studying it, teaching it, preaching it, defending it and living it 24/7.

The People.    Romans 12:3 says that we ought not think too highly of ourselves.  Simply put, we need to look realistically at ourselves.   What is a realistic view of the people who make up the body of Christ? Briefly, the Bible says we were created in God’s image but we fell into sin.  However, we are saved sinners by the grace of God.   But there is more—much more.  We are indwelled by God’s Spirit.   Also, we are God’s workmanship to do good works and we are empowered to do such because we are gifted.   How so? We have non-miraculous gifts (Rom.12:4-8; 1 Pet.4:10; Eph.4:11), we are gifted with life experiences and skills and the grace of God.    And in most churches (with which I am familiar) these gifts, and the people who possess them, are not ‘tapped.’   Idle gifts are useless.  Untapped gifts are useless.   They are seldom used fully for the glory of God, the good of the church and the good of the community in which the church resides.

Is it laziness or ignorance that allows these great resources to go untapped?   Before I die I want to encourage every church to tap into the gift resources that are presently within them—and put them to work (exercise them).    Surely, the Lord has greater plans for His kingdom. Every member of the local church should be serving in some manner in the local church ‘tapping’ fully into the resources the Lord has provided him/her.

Travis Irwin,  Athens, TN







Your Congregation is NOT an Accident

Broken_egg_orangeYour Congregation is NOT an Accident

The congregation with which you worship and lead is not an accident. Of course, not! God had His Son’s church in mind before the foundations of the earth. However, I am also convinced that the Lord’s church (her organization, her worship, her mission, her membership, her ministries, etc.) are also by Divine design. I also believe that your congregation does not exist (in its locale) by accident. God designed your church membership for ministry; ministry that strengthens the local church and ministers to the needs of the community in which she assembles, lives and worships. I believe your congregation has a general mission and a specific mission. I also believe all your members have general and specific missions.

Below are the contents of a free book that outlines the reasons I believe that your local congregation exists by God’s design.  You can receive a free copy of this book by contacting me at


Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Priceless information


Developing your gifts

Your Congregational & Personal Mission Statements


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