Church Involvement

Creating a Culture of Involvement in Every Church – 2018 Church Involvement Conference January 19 & 20

Category: Consultation

Why Do I Need a Personal Mission Statement?

MS5Why Do I Need a Personal Mission Statement?

Over the past fifty years we have learned the importance of mission and vision statements for businesses, factories, schools and other organizations.   ebay, Coke, Disney, Starback, Apple and other big name companies all have mission statements.  It’s not unusual to see an organization’s mission statement on its produce or an ad.   Such folks want the public to know just how serious they are about their product or service.  Hospitals and doctors proudly display their mission statements.

The Lord’s church is about 50 years behind in doing this even though I am seeing more and more churches have mission statements.  Individual Christians rarely if ever consider such a thing.   To most of us it sounds unscriptural or too corporate or totally useless.   However, I want to challenge such thinking.

There is an old adage that still applies to the church and individual Christians:

Aim at nothing and you will hit it with amazing accuracy.   If we don’t have any life goals or goals as a congregation, we will probably accomplish something by sheer accident.   If we have goals, we will accomplish much more of what the Lord wants us to accomplish for His glory.

If not, we may fail in accomplishing God’s will for our individual lives.

Why Do I Need to Do This?

Because Jesus had personal mission statements such as Luke 19:10; John 10:10 and Matthew 20:28.   Jesus lived a hectic life but He never forgot why He was here.   By the way, He accomplished every goal He came to fulfill.

Apostles had mission statements. Paul knew that he was sent to the Gentiles and Peter knew he was sent to the Jews to preach the gospel.   Paul also said, “for me to live is Christ” and Peter said, “we ought to obey God rather than men.”

The Church has been given a mission statement – We have been told to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).   The church is the means by which the world will come to know of God’s redeeming grace and wisdom (Ephesians 3:9-11). By the way, most of the time it appears that the church has forgotten these mission statements.   Why is that, I wonder.

A personal mission statement will keep you focused.   We are pulled into dozens of different directions every day.   Our lives are full of distractions.   A personal mission statement, when written and heeded will keep us focused on God’s purpose for our lives.

A personal mission statement will give you a strong personal purpose for living. Most Christians have no clue about God’s specific purpose for their lives. They don’t know anything about their spiritual gifts, passions and other blessings with which God has endowed them.   Most people, including most Christians, just go through life with no particular goals in mind.   We are all here for His purpose.

A personal mission statement will help you re-evaluate from time to time.   A mission statement is like a North Star for serious life travelers.   For us unorganized folks it helps us get back to where we need to be in life.

You are more likely to accomplish what the Lord wants you to accomplish. I am one of the few naïve people that believes that every Christian has a general purpose for living (to glorify the Lord) and to serve Him (and mankind) in some specific way (based upon how God has designed him/her specifically).   Life is fuller and richer when it is lived in this manner.

How Do I Go About Coming Up with a Personal Mission Statement?

You will need to discover your spiritual gifts, your passions, your personality trait, your life skills, education and life experiences and possibly some other helpful things about yourself.   This priceless information will help you form your personal mission statement.   Below is an example of how this is done:

I, John Doe, wish to honor and glorify my Creator (the general reason I am alive) by feeding (an example of a thing passion: cooking) the homeless (an example of a people passion) in my spare time using my gift of compassion (an example of a spiritual gift). I will befriend them and tell them of the saving grace of Jesus (my specific goals or purpose). My greatest hope is that they will obey the gospel and live a fuller life and have eternal life (my vision).

Travis Irwin

travisirwin@att.net

Core Values & Your Church

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Core Values & Your Church

The first thing most church members or leaders are going to ask is, “What is a core value and what does it have to do with church?”   

In human terms, core values are your personal priorities.   They influence how you think, make decisions, how you treat others and how you live. For example “honesty” is a core value that affects what you say and how you deal with others.   In the local church setting, core values define the local church and reveal what that congregation (as a whole) values.   These values determine a church’s purpose, her vision, decisions, plans, and ministries.   They are a church’s priorities.   Good or Biblical core values ‘run’ or ‘drive’ the church in a positive direction.  Self-centered core values stunt growth and create division and actually drive a church in a negative direction.  The idea of core values is taught in Matthew 6:19-21 (Where your treasure is that’s where your heart will be also–‘Irwin’ Translation) and Colossians 3:1-3 (Set your mind on things above….).

Core values are usually found within a church’s mission statement and vision statements.   All 3 (the mission statement, vision statements and core values) should (and usually do) relate consistently to one another.   They basically flesh out what the church is all about.

Some examples of church core values are:   truth, fellowship, worship, compassion, unity, love, acceptance, fruitfulness, holiness, prayer, excellence, integrity, discipleship and empowerment.   Sometimes core values are seen in people:  children, the lost, the poor, etc.  On one church website they listed 5 core values and each one was about young pe0ple; no other age group was mentioned.  This was very specific and it affected their worship, ministries and overall work of that church.  What core values do you think Jesus had?  Has?   What should YOUR core values be as a Christian?   Church leader?   Congregation?

At first glance, some folks might say, “Yes, these things are our values, so why we be so concerned about them?”

Every church has core values (written and unwritten, spoken and unspoken, known and unknown, intentional and unintentional).   Most churches do not have them written out.    Seldom does a church leadership share them with the church or prospective members.   You may hear some of the core values from time to time from the pulpit, in the announcements, in the prayers of the church, in sermons, in comments from the leaders or in a classroom. They can also be seen readily in a church’s budget. But they are not formally stated as such.  Do they need to be written?   Not necessarily so, but Biblical core values can benefit (when intentionally known, reviewed and lived out) the church in the following manners.   They can…

Keep a church focused on her local mission (we often get distracted from this).

Keep the church motivated in fulfilling the mission of the local church

Keep and encourage unity among her members

Keep the goals of the church clear in the minds of her members (we need reminding often of what we are all about).   At times, we need to be reminded of how we should be, think and live.   Core values, often repeated, educate as well as remind brethren who they are to be.

Biblical core values can create passion and excitement in the local church.   Much of what churches do is maintenance in nature. While maintenance is vital, missional core values create excitement in the local church.     Some congregations start a building program to create excitement. But such an endeavor is expensive and temporary at best.

They can inspire members to be more and do more

They can assist in making better decisions; whatever violates your core values receives a negative vote.   It’s that simple.

They help churches and individual members reach goals

They can prevent discouragement.

Biblical core values determine purpose and intention.

Core values should be determined by the leaders or by spiritually mature members of the church.

Some churches are not growing because ‘growing’ is not a core value.   Some churches tolerate immorality because ‘holiness’ is not a core value.   Some churches have personal comfort as a core value; they are more interested in being comfortable than reaching out to the lost (or stepping out of their comfort zones).

Note:  Core values can and should change simply because we are (to be) growing as individuals and as a collective group of believers.

I am NOT promoting human creeds.   I AM promoting church focus.   Too many churches have no real goals towards which to work.   Many congregations are on what I call “automatic pilot.”   They have sweet Christian members that go through the same motions and activities with little result.   As much as the Lord wants us to assemble, He also wants us to do so many other things that are just as important to the health and well-being of the local church.   Also, many church leaders assume that their members know what the Bible teaches about Christian living and values.  However these have to be taught again to every new Christian and every generation of children and adults.

God has mission statements for the local church and He wants the local church to envision what can be done specifically when we take Him at His Word and do what He says—-when we have His core values.

The church is only as strong as her core values, and her core values must be based upon the Word of God.

How may you learn what your church’s core values are?   We’ve already mentioned some ways a church’s core values are seen and acknowledged.   However, if you wish to know the core values of the church, you can simply ask the members.   Having done that, you will want to ask another question:   “based upon the Word of God and the local needs of the church and our community, what should be our core values?”     I think you will be pleasantly surprised and challenged.    The church leaders should ‘lead’ in the pursuit and discovery of Biblical core values for their congregation.

If we can help you in defining your core values or assist you writing out a mission statement and vision statements, please let us know.

Travis Irwin, Athens, TN

travisirwin@att.net

 

Recommendations from Brethren

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Recommendations

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

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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.

 

5 Insights from Teaching Spiritual Gift Development

 

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5 Insights Gained from Teaching

Spiritual Gift Development

There is an old (and true) saying about teachers: they learn more than their students. Simply put: in the process of studying for any class, the well-prepared teacher has to dig deep and do lots of study.   He/she seldom gets to share everything he/she has learned in his/her study.   These same teachers are challenged to change previous held views.  We call this growth.

In the process of preparing for and teaching our spiritual gift development classes, I’ve learned many new things, changed my thinking on some things and have many newly discovered insights that will hopefully motivate you to re-evaluate what you’ve always believed about spiritual gifts and encourage you to start developing the gifts within your congregation.

INSIGHT #1

The definitions of the gifts speak loudly of their importance and purpose.   Teaching is serious business as is pastoring.   Exhortation is a strong usage of biblical principles used in private and public and is greatly needed in the church today.   Prophetic utterances would stop most churches in their tracks.  Each non-miraculous gift meets real needs in and out of the church.   These definitions are ‘heavy’ terms and call for great responsibility. All of this tells me that God is serious about these gifts and He wants them to be used (lovingly) in every church.   This is NOT a matter that is to be taken lightly or be overlooked by church leadership.   I am thoroughly convinced that most churches remain weak and/or small because members and their gifts have not be developed as God originally ordained.   Christians and churches struggle because they are not empowered by these gifts.

INSIGHT #2

Discovering, developing and deploying (using) these gifts should be a part of the maturation process for every member of the church. There is a lot of immaturity in the body of Christ (e.g. our lack of involvement, our lack of love for the lost, our self-centeredness, the division among us, the worldliness in the body, anxiety, bigotry, poor stewardship, covetousness, etc.).  I am convinced that one of our most promising means of maturing Christians is assisting them in discovering how the Lord has uniquely designed them, helping them develop their gifts and then putting them to work.    Mature Christians are serving Christians.

INSIGHT #3

Using gifts requires courage.   We live in a culture that says, “Live and let live” or “I’m OK, You’re OK.”   The fact of the matter is that none of us are OK; we are all sinners in the need of God’s grace.  When we appeal to living lives that have been touched by the grace of God or need to be touched by the grace of God (cf. Titus 2:11-14) we are required to courageously confront folks in and out of the body of Christ.   Most of the gifts involve communicating truth to others—whether in or out of the church.   Even though we follow the instruction to speak the truth in love, many folks are easily offended by such.   When you use your gift (e.g. teaching, prophecy, exhortation, evangelism), you have to be brave.   In the areas of the gifts of giving, compassion and service, courage is required because you are called to serve the disenfranchised or you are called to give to controversial ministries.   In the areas of leadership, and pastoring, you are called, many times, to make unpopular decisions and plans that upset folks.  Using one’s gifts calls for great courage and strength.  As such, we become more dependent upon the Lord for wisdom and strength to serve well.

INSIGHT #4

The church (in general) does not manifest these gifts at all or when they are manifested, they aren’t manifested fully or well.   The churches of Christ, generally, do not believe in present-day spiritual gifts in any shape, form or fashion*.   The result is obvious:  the church suffers greatly and the lost remain lost. We seldom if ever see or hear of true full-blown exhortation.   We seldom hear a prophetic admonition; in fact, it is highly discouraged unless it comes from a pulpit minister or an eldership.   Exhortation has been reduced to saying “Good morning, how are you?” Pastoring is done, in many congregations, exclusively by the preacher.  Any administrative/leadership is seldom recognized or appreciated.   Many churches continue to aim at nothing and hit it with great accuracy.

Much of our lack of spiritual and numerical growth is a result of our ignorance of or a lack of instruction in a practical application of the whole counsel of God in this area.

INSIGHT #5

Relationships and biblical submission are paramount.   Many of our church relationships at best are surface/shallow relationships.     However, exhortation, pastoring, leading, prophecy and teaching can only be done in true in-depth koinonia/fellowship.   I am personally convinced that many fall away simply because we do not practice biblical fellowship and we do not use our gifts to get people saved and keep them saved (by maturing them into true servants).    Our priority (in many local churches) could be summed up by the following: assembling on time, getting started on time and finishing on time. Fellowship and relationships are seldom if ever addressed.   In depth training and teaching are neglected.   Ephesians 5:21 takes on a whole new meaning when we study how to develop our gifts and use them for His purpose.

What if we developed and used non-miraculous gifts as they were designed?   All gifts are designed to edify or strength the church.   Hopefully, the faithfulness and involvement of the membership will rise in number.   People who use their gifts grow and mature and serve.     Those not growing are challenged by those who manifest their gifts.

We are in the soul saving and soul developing business.   Our goal is to get people into Christ and get them to Heaven.   This is not an easy ‘anybody can do it’ effort.   It takes dedication, commitment and serious effort including constant training, and following God’s plan.

My new book Maxing Out Your Spiritual Gifts will hopefully be available at the Church Involvement Conference in January, 2017.

*Recommended reading:  Doug Hamilton of Sunset Institute Press has a newer book entitled Spiritual Giftedness.   On pages 39-56 Doug discusses why the gifts of Romans 12 are non-miraculous gifts (he would refer to these as passionate endowments).   The point?   Christians still have gifts today–at least some gifts–and as such, they should be taken seriously.   We can show that we take them seriously by discovering them, developing them and deploying them in every member of the church.

Travis Irwin

March 21, 2016

Cross Overs in Full Time Ministry

crossovercaddy2We’ve heard of cross overs in the music industry.  We are also familiar with people who cross over in the business world, the sports world and the acting world.   And, of course, we know of crossovers in the automotive world.
When it comes to full time ministry staff in the Lord’s church, a similar thing is occurring more and more often. Pulpit men become associates, youth ministers become pulpit men, and some youth guys become worship leaders.  And, now I am seeing more and more men cross over from one type of ministry to involvement. A few years ago I worked with a young man who just returned home from mission work. I don’t know all the details, but the elders of his supporting church decided to make him their involvement minister.  More recently good friend of mine from Ohio has completed eighteen years as a youth minister in the same congregation and he is now transitioning to involvement. One other friend, has been preaching for the same church for over 35 years and he is now crossing over to involvement.
I’ve been blessed to invest in these men as they make their transition. For those of you who may be considering crossing over or possibly you are a group of elders thinking of making this offer to one of your staff, please allow me to share some observations and make a suggestion:
Involvement Ministers are Few and Far Between
Involvement ministers (IM) do exist—there just aren’t many of us. Most churches of Christ have a full time pulpit man and many of them also have a youth minister. If you were to do a search of all the churches looking for full time ministry staff, a good 60% of churches are looking for pulpit ministers and another 40% are looking for youth ministers.
The nature and number of church staff are usually determined by specific congregational needs or perceived needs. Every church needs someone to deliver weekly lessons from the pulpit and most churches see the need for someone to relate to and lead the youth. Seldom do you see any type of staff ministers beyond these two. We are also seeing an increase in the area of child education in many larger churches. Some are hiring staff to do professional counseling, or to work with senior saints, etc.
I am happy to say that more and more elderships see the need for involvement ministers. I am blessed to work with an eldership who saw this need several years ago.    Training and teaching our church members to serve should be paramount because our Lord came to serve and He left us to serve in His name.   One of the most obvious measures of a Christian’s spiritual growth and maturity is service. It is a mark of a true disciple of Jesus.
Job Descriptions for Involvement Ministers Can be Tricky
One brother (that is crossing over) told me that he will be able to write his own job description. That’s pretty convenient, and I think pretty rare.
I’ve seen job descriptions for involvement ministers that would have been challenging even to the Lord (when he lived in the flesh). Some have too many demands and expectations. They sound like they want the IM to do everything.  In some cases, the leadership wants the IM to ‘take up the slack’ or do things that may be too mundane for the pulpit or youth ministers.
In my estimation an IM should be hired to get all the members of his church to serve in some capacity. This will bless the church and the community.
A job description must be meaningful and realistic. Part of an IM’s job description should include his assisting members in discovering how God has designed them for service, to help them develop their gifts and put them to work.
If an eldership hires a man to continue to maintain what has already been put into place, then I don’t think they really need such a guy. Most IM’s are motivated to take church members to different levels of service.  They are highly motivated folks who want the church to grow numerically and spiritually.
Prospective Involvement Ministers Need Training
What kind? Once again, this all depends upon the job description. Other factors are the training and ministry experience the new IM already has. I had 39 years of pulpit experience when I became an IM. I had the speaking ability, the Bible knowledge, the teaching skills, the counseling skills and the organizational skills associated with preaching. IM work is similar but different; it requires another set of skills that our Christian schools and preacher schools do not offer.
It is my opinion that these should be taught and learned over a period of time.
I hope to continue to train men individually for this type of ministry. I also hope to train others through the “Church Involvement Conference.”    May I be of service to you if you are in the process of (or maybe you’re thinking of) crossing over to involvement?   Are you an eldership in need of such services?

Looking for recommendations?

Following are two both from men crossing over:

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

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, Richland Road Church of Christ in Marion, Ohio
If I can be of service to you as a cross over minister or to you as an eldership, please contact me at travisirwin@att.net or 423 920 3060. Travis Irwin

3 Ways to Assess Members for Service

coach43 Ways to Assess Members

At first glance, the word “assess” sounds devious and dangerous.   Other words could be used: evaluate, appraise, rate or measure.   But those are weird also.

When I use the word “assess” I use it in this manner:   to assess a member of the church is to assess them by looking at their spiritual gifts, their personality trait, their passions, their past ministry experience and other things.   The goal of an assessment (of these things) is to help the church member see how God has designed him/her for service and to assist him/her in getting involved in a church ministry or ministries that best fit him/her.   With that definition in mind, the word “assess” takes on a most positive meaning and purpose.

3 Ways to Do Member Assessments                                      

Yes, there at least 3 different ways to do assessments with members.   A church needs to be very careful which one they choose; it could mean the difference between sweet success  and bitter failure.

Self-Assessment

Simply put, self-assessment is the church member attempting to interpret his/her inventory findings.   Having attempted to do this, he/she must next attempt to discover what ministry or ministries that best fit his/her inventory findings.   The problem with this way of assessing is that most members don’t have the special training to know about gifts, passions, etc. and how to interpret them plus many members do not know much about the ministries of the local church (their purpose and related details).   I am not saying (all) members cannot assess themselves; I am saying that in most cases, most church members are not acquainted with any of these things and are thus unable to properly handle all this new information.   With the self-assessment, there is no guidance from wiser, more informed folks.

There is also no incentive to fill out the inventories in a timely manner and there is no one to follow up to see if the inventories have been done and ministries have been chosen (unless someone has been assigned).   Too much responsibility is placed upon the individual church member for this to work well.     Yes, there will always be a handful of members who are disciplined enough to do it this way.   However, in all (kind) honesty, most members are not disciplined enough to do all these things on their own.

Church Assessment

This means of assessment is a step up from self-assessment but it too, has its issues.   Church assessment is when members fill out the inventories and turn them into someone who been assigned that responsibility.   That (other) person then decides when a member is needed for a ministry.   In other words, the member who filled out the inventories may or may not be used in any ministry in the church.   This is counter-productive and it is not the original purpose of doing the inventories.   In many cases, this priceless information (that the member has willingly provided) will end up on a data base or in a file drawer never to see the light of day.   If a member does the inventories and if a member chooses to work in a ministry or ministries, that member should be put to work immediately.   This is how ministry grows.   Church assessment puts too much responsibility upon the person collecting the information; he/she decides who gets to serve and who doesn’t–and when—if ever.    This method could be modified to be more effective, however, the following is really the way to go.

Coach Assessment

This, I believe is the best approach.     What is it?   When we do I Serve U programs, we will train a limited number of members to become coaches.   The coaches guide members through the process of discovering new things about themselves (e.g. spiritual gifts, passions, etc.).   Coaches interpret the findings of the inventories, give definitions, ask questions, make suggestions and basically assist the member in finding church ministry that best fits him/her.   The coach then fills out a form about the member (that he/she has interviewed) and gives it to the appropriate deacons and ministry leaders (these are the folks in whose ministry/ministries the ‘coached’ member would be serving). This means of assessment truly empowers the church member to be what God designed him/her to be/do. The coaches may also take on the responsibility to ‘follow up’ to make sure the member is serving, that the deacon did put the member to work, and to continue to encourage the member and to make recommendations.

Above all else that could be said for coach assessing, the best thing that can be said is this:   it invests in people.   It is a form of mentoring that creates new relationships that will bless the church for now and eternity.    Our greatest asset is the church membership (the people that have been entrusted to us) and our greatest responsibility to them is helping them grow in their relationships with the Lord and each other.   Coaching is worth it because people are worth it.   They are worth the time, the prayer, the energy, the effort and yes, the money.

Questions?   The Bible says to do all things decently and in order.   This is what we attempt to do with the I Serve U program.   Our goal is to do more than just put members in ministry; it is to grow the church numerically and spiritually.   If we can serve you, please contact us.

Travis Irwin, involvement minister

Athens, TN           travisirwin@att.net

www.churchinvolvement.com             423 920 3060

“I Serve U” Leadership Retreat

LaVergneChurchofChristleadershipretreatRecently, I had the privilege of meeting with the elders, deacons and pulpit minister of LaVergne Church of Christ.   Every year these leaders plan a year in advance and review the previous year.   This year they looked at the “I Serve U” inventories.  They were attentive, enthused, involved and very positive.  Our “Break Out” sessions were energetic and there were lots of serious thoughts and some laughter.  There was never a dull moment.   They discovered how God designed them as individuals and as the church’s leadership.    They are very excited about sharing what they have learned with the rest of the church in LaVergne to see how God has designed the church for service.   Following is a note from their pulpit minister:

“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

If your church leadership is interested in having one of these retreats, please contact me at travisirwin@att.net or 423 920 3060.   You will be enlightened, you will get excited and you will, most importantly, praise the Lord for the marvelous way He has designed His church.

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10 Questions that Could Change Your Church for the Better

Following are ten questions that when answered could change your congregation Q1for the better

1.  When was your congregation established?    The answer will tell you where your church is in its growth cycle.

2.  How many elders do you presently have?    What is their primary or most important responsibility?

3.   How many deacons do you presently have?   What is their primary or most important responsibility as deacons?

4.  How many ministries do you presently have?    What is the ultimate goal of all of them?    In other words, towards what goal are they working?

5.    Do you have ministry leaders for any ministries (these are ministries that do not have deacons over them)?

6.      What passage of Scripture best describes the purpose or mission of your congregation?

7.    Does your congregation have a mission statement?     If you answered “Yes,” what is it?

8.   Does your mission statement affect your ministries in some way?   How?

9.  Do your ministries have their own mission or vision statements?

10.    What percentage of your congregation is involved in the ministries of your congregation?

The answers to these questions reveal a lot about your congregation:  its age may indicate if it has leveled off in growth or if it is declining.    How church leaders (elders and deacons) look at their position or role has a lot to do with the growth or decline of a congregation.  Some leaders believe their purpose is to maintain things.    Most church ministries are maintenance in nature and are internally focused (serve only the church membership and have no external purpose).   While every congregation must have maintenance/internally focused ministries, churches will not grow unless ministries have spiritual and numerical growth as part of their purpose. This requires having externally focused ministries (ministries that serve the non-churched in the community).   Churches that have no explicitly stated mission (usually) aim at nothing and hit it with amazing accuracy.    While the Lord has already given us at least two mission statements (cf. Matt.22:37-40; 28:19-20 et al), churches that grow have specific goals in how to fulfill these mission statements.   Making a statement of mission doesn’t necessarily make anything happen.

This is why these 10 questions can be helpful.   They can help someone like me direct church leaders into the direction they need to go.  However, when church leaders honestly answer these questions, they will come to know what positive changes need to be made to cause the church to grow numerically and spiritually.    On the other hand,  the answers may reveal that a congregation is healthier than some may have thought.

Travis Irwin, InMin

travisirwin@att.net

6 Areas of Assistance: How Inventories, Assessments & Coaching Can Help the Local Church

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6 Areas of Assistance

(1)  Preparing for Future Leaders

What men among you have the gifts of pastoring, leadership and exhortation?   Those with these gifts have the capacity of becoming great elders in the Lord’s church simply because of their giftedness.  If their gifts are developed and they are trained in the Biblical roles of leaders, they can become great leaders one day.   Every church should be developing future leaders today.    When future leaders discover their gifts and are coached, they are better prepared to lead.   The greatest benefactor is the local church wherein these men will be leading.

(2)  Improving the Present Leadership

Do any of your present leaders have the gift of pastoring?   Administration?   Teaching?   Evangelism?  Service? Are these gifts being used intentionally?   What are the pre-dominate personality traits of the leadership members?   Do the different personality traits complement or conflict with each other? What are the present passions of the leadership?   How are these affecting the mission of the local church?   The ultimate goal of discovering each of these is to improve communication and unity among the present leadership.

(3)  Growing the Church Numerically

How are your present ministries contributing to the numerical growth of your church?   When church members discover, develop and deploy their gifts, passions, and life skills, the church becomes more attractive to the lost and the church grows numerically.  When local needs are served, the community takes notice and becomes more receptive to your message.   When members use their gifts and energize their passions, they begin to reach out to the lost—and the church grows as a result.

(4)  Growing the Church Spiritually

Most Christians do not know what their spiritual gifts are.   When they discover their gifts and passions and put them to work, they grow spiritually.   When they are filled with the Spirit, they produce the fruit of the Spirit and they grow spiritually.   They become mature servants.    This, in my estimation, is helping Christians become complete in Christ.

(5)  Promotion of Unity

While some churches have doctrinal unity, few ever attain mission unity.  When members and leadership are shown how their gifts work in unison for common goals, there is unity.   Other benefits are an air of expectation and excitement in the church.

(6)  Other Applications

The information that assessments and inventories gain can help with pre-marital and marital counseling.     It can also help leadership when seeking new staff and it can be make the interview process more profitable.   We can also assist a church in discovering helpful information when new leaders are being considered or being installed.    With good information, church leaders are put into leadership assignments that ‘best fit’ them.

Equipping Members for Service

There is much being said and written about dying churches today.   I would suggest one reason may be a lack of involvement.   In most churches, the majority of members are not involved in the work of the church: they have no real investment or ownership in the local church. When every member is encouraged to serve, equipped to serve and empowered to serve, the retention rate will increase and members will become more like the disciples God designed them to be.

Trav

Request a questionnaire, that when answered, will enable me to better assist you in any or all of these areas.   Contact me at travisirwin@att.net

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