Critical Mass – HAve You Passed This Point?

June 13, 2015 by  
Filed under Church

Critical Mass:


Critical Mass is the sum of those issues related to genuine transformation in the life of a local church.


The Number #1 issue for the Pastor/Leadership is creating a sense of urgency to accomplish the level and character of change necessary to thrive not merely ‘survive’. Unless they take strategic and focused action, they probably will not.  If this mentality of “we shall not be moved” prevails they will ‘go the way of all flesh’.  Simply stated the mantra congregations cling to is:


“That may be true for other assemblies but it is most certainly not true of ours.”


First, the purpose of the church, every church, is to “Make Disciples.” To accomplish that there must be a clear and well formulated definition – what is a disciple?


Second, there must be an intentional Strategy and process to make disciples. Parking your car in a stable will not cause it to suddenly turn into a horse. “Going” to church will not suddenly cause people to become fully formed obedient disciples of Jesus Christ.


Third, there must be an objective measurement process to determine growth, maturity in Christ. You must measure spiritual growth by a standard other than the usual subjective “Pastor I sure enjoyed that message.” Howard Hendricks referred to that as the “glorification of the worm” ceremony that takes place in the foyer after each Sunday morning service. In reality, nothing changes in peoples lives and they are not fully formed disciples of Jesus Christ. (Barna recently produced statistics that reflect in Baptist life only 44% of those who attend regularly are affected in any way by their participation in “church”. This by the way is the poorest % among all denominations evaluated). There must be ACCOUNTABILITY in this process for everyone, myself included. None of us went to our teachers and requested additional testing when we were in school. Neither will we seek all that is needed for Transformation if we are left to ourselves to accomplish this. We need “Life in Community”, mutual inter-dependence upon the LORD and one another.


The following items constitute critical issues in attempting this Transformation.


1. This is a  Process not an event.


2. 47% of the people in a congregation are opposed to change, any change. 17% of the people in a congregation want “peace at any price – they cannot function in the midst of any conflict. They form an alliance with those opposed to change. This results in a 64% “opposition force” that must be overcome if systematic, measurable positive transformation is going to take place.


3. If this level of transformation could be accomplished without an “outside voice”, you would already have made the transition. You need the counsel and mentoring of an experienced “Change Agent’ to guide you through these turbulent and challenging waters. (Barna says that only 1 in 8 pastors is in his terminology a “habitual leader” as compared to a “situational leader”. IUS sees this number as 1 in 10).


There is one other utterly CRUCIAL dimension of this entire scheme. Most churches wait until AFTER they have passed the point of no return to attempt correction. Cf. Numbers 14:39-45. The nation had listened to the voice of the ten rather than the two. Joshua & Caleb urged the nation to enter the land God was giving them. The ten led a rebellion, seeking to stone Moses. In the passage cited they engage in pseudo repentance, repentance that is motivated merely by self preservation rather than a desire to honor and glorify the God who had rescued them from bondage in Egypt. After they have lost all semblance of effectiveness, lost many of their people and lost the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, then and only then will they attempt recovery and marvel when God is not with them. Read the entire context of Numbers 13 & 14. Notice that God brought a plague upon those so called leaders for their willful disobedience to His clear direction. He does not take lightly the disobedience of leaders. Reflect on where you should be where you are. You may indeed have time to act if you do it NOW!


Focus Issues Constituting Critical Mass:


           1.  Human Resource – (people)


                      Generally a local assembly needs 20-25 wholly dedicated people to complete essential tasks – AWANA, Sunday School, Small Group Leadership, etc.

The profile of the people who remain is more important than the simple number of people. If those who remain have a genuine passion to see

Transformation accomplished it may well become a reality.

A posture of surrender and absolute dependence on the LORD is essential.


           2.  Fiscal Resource – (finances)


                      Key factor in this arena is the prospects for stability; 3-5 year outlook.

Cf. Luke 14:28-30

Develop a Funding Plan for ministry that eliminates EVERYTHING that is not essential for funding the Transformation process (there are ALWAYS  items that can be eliminated- we provide guidelines for this process)


           3.  Physical Plant – (capital improvements)


                      Complete a top to bottom assessment of the entire campus. Are there any major systems that may fail (Heating, Air Conditioning, Roofs, etc).

What needs to be accomplished to get the facility into the 21st century? Sound System, Child Care & Nursery Facilities, etc.

What may be accomplished immediately with a minimum of $$ cost to enhance your profile in the eyes of guests.

           4.  Purpose – (80% +  Transformation)


                      Real progress is possible when 80% + of the congregation are willing to embrace the new initiatives and direction. They do not need to be “cheerleaders” but progress is not likely if there are people actively producing resistance. Once the direction and purpose has been established, there needs to be a gracious but firm termination of such resistance. The key factor in this is the question – – “Do you have any credible exegetical support for the positions you are taking?” I have NEVER found anyone who had any other than “We don’t like what is going on’ as their response. Move on!


           5.  Healthy Relationships – (No Schisms)


There must be a brutally honest review in EVERYONES life. Are there any unresolved broken relationships in their lives? This includes with their nuclear family, other Christians, neighbors, etc. When we come clean with God on this issue, His blessings flow freely. Refusal to engage this matter usually produces a dark cloud of frustration over the entire process.


Pastor & other leaders must lead in this matter. They must MODEL (1 Cor. 4:16-17) what they expect the congregation to embrace.


The Bad News – This process is brutal, emotionally, mentally and spiritually exhausting. The cost in personal energy and focus is immense. Weigh this carefully before saying “I Do”!


The Good News – According to Leading Turnaround Churches (p. 13).


Is there really hope for me?


Yes, if you are fully committed to seeing positive change take place in the church you pastor and are willing to pay the price.


Yes, is you are convinced God has placed you in the church where you are, for the sake of winning the lost, building the saints, equipping the workers, and multiplying leaders who make disciples who make disciples.


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