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.


©Copyright ©IgniteUS, Inc. This file is the sole property of IgniteUS, Inc. It may be copied by securing written permission from IgniteUS, Inc. ( All copies of this data file must contain the above copyright  notice. This data file may not be copied in part, edited, revised, copied for resale or incorporated in any commercial publications, recordings, broadcasts, performances, displays or other products offered for sale, without written permission. Requests for permission should be made to via email or, IgniteUS, Inc., PO Box 865, Cullman AL, 35056-0865 via land mail.

Where’s Waldo

May 29, 2015 by  
Filed under Church

When churches call a Pastor they;

1.  Appoint a ‘Pulpit Committee’ – largely people who have had no training or equipping for this task

2.  Collect hundreds of Resume’s

3.  Spend endless hours trying to discern the right man-like a pin the tail on the donkey routine

There is a better way. Call us at 803 413 3509. We have a proven and effective process that has received a 94% Effectiveness Rating from churches that have used this process. My SKYPE sign on is iuscullman if you would like to talk face to face. You will be very pleased you investigated this process.

Deacon Ministry Research Project

May 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Church

Research Profile

Deacons – Servants or Governing Board?


Date Survey Completed:


Church Name:


Denominational Affiliation:


Church Location:






Zip Code:




Email Address:


Name of Person Completing this Profile:




Date Church Founded:


Number of Members:


Average Sunday AM Attendance:


Elders:  _____ Y    _____ N


Number Serving:


Deacons:  _____ Y    _____ N


Number Serving:




Do the Elder(s) meet the biblical criteria for this office as found in 1Timothy 3 and Titus 1?  ___Y    ___ N


Do the Deacons meet the biblical criteria for this office as found in Acts 6; 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1? ___ Y  ___ N


Does the church have an Intentional Strategic Biblical Leadership Selection Process _____ Y   _____  N


Does the church have an Intentional Strategic Biblical Leadership Development Process _____ Y  _____ N




How does the Constitution/By-Laws describe the role of Elder(s)? (Copy & Paste this statement here)



How does the Constitution/By-Laws describe the role of Deacons? (Copy & Paste this statement here)



Please provide the description of the responsibilities and the function of the Deacons. Also, please include the relationship of the Deacons to the Pastor(s)/Elder(s) and to the congregation at large.



Please include action or ministry initiatives they have recently acted upon or implemented.




Please offer any comments you may choose that add clarity to this research. THANK YOU for your contribution. All those who participate will receive a compilation of the results of this Survey.



Treating The Whole Body 05/03/10

May 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Church

Good to talk with you this morning and to find you are still upright. That is good!!
I am writing because I am compelled by two specific issues. One, the Scripture. Two, my Covenant as a Church Consultant. In that order of priority. Let me explain.
Our Second Son is a Surgeon. If you went to him with cancer in your left leg and he said, “Well, we won’t bother that left leg, but, I will sure address the rest of your body. We will tune it up and you will be good as new, except of course for that cancer in your left leg.” You would immediately call the AMA and report this guy as a quack! Why do I craft such a bizarre story?
Because this is precisely how the majority of pastors and churches approach Reformation and Renewal. In our conversation you said you have considered working on the Leaders in your assembly (using a friend from XXXXXX). No question – that is absolutely necessary. I affirm that observation. But, if you simply address this aspect of the life of that body and ignore the cancer that is raging in the other parts, you are still GOING TO DIE!!!
Bringing a church to a posture of Healthy & Effective is not possible unless ALL parts of the Body are submitted to careful examination, repentance and restoration – bringing them into harmony with the profile that the text of Scripture provides. The church is a Theological entity and the ONLY remedy for her ills is Theological – – applied comprehensively. Since 1984  I have witnessed multitudes (100’s) of Pastors attempt what you propose. Every single one of them went down in flames – – EVERY ONE. I plead with you. DO NOT DO THAT!  You MUST address the entire body; Strategically, Intentionally and in an Integrated fashion. No part escapes the probing eye of the Head of that Body. Not one part! That my brother is Applied or Integrated Theology.
Back to my two compelling issues. I believe you already know my perspective on the Scripture. God’s revelation of Himself is Revealed, Absolute, Authoritative, Propositional, Transcendent, Incarnate and Transforming. His Word is forever settled in heaven. We are not at liberty to modify that Word nor are we at liberty to apply what I call the Dear Abby Approach to Applied Theology – – I pick the parts I like and ignore the rest.
I am attaching a copy of the Code of Ethics that I am bound by as a Consultant with the Society for Church Consulting. This is self-explanatory. I would be remiss if I did not send you this message.
I will give you a few days to chew on this and then call to review. My desire is to see you as a Pastor and the church you serve flourish with Health & Effectiveness. For that to transpire you must grapple with the profile I am presenting and convince me that I am mistaken. Praying for you. Be encouraged. Read 2 Chron. 15. Asa found COURAGE to do what needed to be done and he did it. You can too.
In Grace,

Tom Fillinger, CEO
IgniteUS, Inc.
1540 Elmtree
Columbia SC 29209
803 776 5282

Speaking TRUTH in Love

October 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Church

Anyone who engages theological discourse in any Public Forum has been excoriated, abused or just plain trashed. Who perpetrates this abuse? The minions of Satan? The atheist that abound? The ‘lunatic fringe’? None of the above.

Tragically it is often other professed believers who would also wish to be considered capable Christian Scholars. How sad. I address this topic with the motive and purpose of launching a MOVEMENT.

What will this require? Nothing more or less than ‘Life in Community’.

Accountability is – – each one helping the other keep the commitments they have made to GOD on the basis of loving relationships.

Believers have a commitment to the NEW COVENANT. That covenant contains a very explicit communication protocol. When I write something that violates this covenant, you, ALL of you, bring that to my attention with precision and a call to repentance. You cite the error (sin) that I am guilty of and call me to confess and repent. It is a violation of our union with Christ to merely shrug and say – – “Oh, that is just Tom”. Not acceptable. People who engage in ad-hominem attacks, shoddy scholarship and just plain ineptitude do so because the ‘body’ remains silent. This kind of abusive communication is the “Funny Uncle” in our living room. No more! Expose him and shine the light of Truth on his abominable abusive behavior.

Here are some characteristics I propose. These are the bare minimum that must shape acceptable communication that honors Christ and promotes open and honest consideration of the text of Scripture and the application of that text to life – Applied Theology.

1. Logical non-contradiction. (God is not schizophrenic and neither is His revelation of Himself).

2. Empirical Adequacy (exegetical substance/accuracy that supports the thesis I am promoting).

3. Existential Viability (what we are deliberating really matters in the real world).

4. Humility (if it is demonstrated that I am in error, I submit graciously to the Truth and modify my position to harmonize with Truth).

5. Civility (if we cannot agree on a position that is clearly preferable to others, we accept the impass and do not engage in immature and unkind exchanges).

6. Contact with the Principal (I address the issue with the primary participants, not through a circuitous collection of others to whom I disparage the other Principal in that exchange).

7. Collaborative Consultation (Both parties are receptive to the larger Christian Community and are willing to consider their contribution to the issue being deliberated).

8. Historic Orthodoxy (I acknowledge the historic perspective embraced through the centuries of church and draw effectively on the fruit of that history).

9. Exegesis not Polemics (Most exchanges are heavy on polemics and light on exegetical substance. The issue is ‘what does the text say?’).

I am praying earnestly that this profile becomes an operative and beneficial addition to understanding and applying Truth to life – – A MOVEMENT. Join this effort. Hold one another accountable. Remember Joshua & Caleb (Num. 14:36-38). They were true Leaders. The other ten were impostors. Together we can do this. God is honored by this endeavor and He will bring it to pass!

I close this post with the exhortation of Paul to Timothy. These words capture the heart of this process. If applied, Truth will reign supreme, God will be honored and we as His servants will benefit.

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:23-26; ESV).


Exegetical Fallacies, D. A. Carson

Integrative Theology, Gordon R. Lewis & Bruce A. Demarest

Remnant Theology

November 4, 2008 by  
Filed under Church

God has always had a remnant. My favorite biblical and historical portrait of this principle is found in Jeremiah 35. This is the account of the Recabites. God wanted a metaphor for fidelity with perseverance. He pointed Jeremiah to the Recabite family. His instructions were to invite them to a side room in the house of the LORD and serve them wine. He did and they didn’t! WHY??

“We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jonadab son of Recab gave us this command: ‘Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine. Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents. Then you will live a long time in the land where you are nomads.’

Read the chapter. Then re-read the closing paragraph. This is where I get Remnant Theology. The Recabites obeyed a seemingly innocuous command for several hundred years. They became the metaphor for fidelity to Jehovah. Their reward?

“Jonadab son of Recab will never fail to have a man to serve me.” Quite a heritage. ‘

Could it be that we ought to pray for this kind of zeal and joyful fidelity to God’s Truth in our day? I have three adult children and thirteen grandchildren. They all give evidence of honoring the LORD. Could there be a more precious or treasured heritage than that?

Be a Recabite!

In Grace,

Are we in another Babylonian Captivity?

September 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Church

This question is always on my mind. Has God taken His hand off of the evangelical church in America? Is there, as some claim, a sweeping revival coming? What objective credible evidence may be presented to substantiate this expectation? Not just ‘Cable TV hype’ , but genuine evidence of God’s presence and power among us. A honest researcher will be hard pressed to offer much of substance.

The following criteria represent a partial list of the spiritual dynamics that please our God. In light of this he MAY be disposed to once again “establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:17). That was Moses’ prayer, probably near the end of His life. We would all do well to pray this with passion on a daily basis.

Confession of Sin – Personal & Corporate; agreeing with God. The text uses the word ‘homologeo’, viewing our thoughts, words and deeds exactly as God does (1John 1:9).
Repentance of Sin – Turning around; a distinct change of conduct, ceasing to sin and pursuing our life in Chirst, the expression of righteousness found only in Him.
Wholeheartedness – This would bring incredible transformation to the church in broad and sweeping terms (2 Chron. 15:10-15; Eph. 6:7).
Life in Community – Every true believer living in obedience to all of the one another commands of the NT. The world would take note of this and the church would be immersed in the presence and power of our God.

Psalm 137 records the agony of soul expressed by the Israelites who endured the 70 years of Babylon. They could not sing the songs of Zion while in a foreign land. Their captivity was geographical and national. The captivity of the church in the West is no less real. How can we sing the songs of triumph and genuine effectiveness while we languish in cultural captivity and spiritual impotence?

Until God in His Sovereign grace chooses to free us, IgniteUS pursues a remnant. That remnant is made up of those few leaders who seek His face. God has always had a remnant. He always will. He delights in showing Himself mighty by bringing victory out of what appears to be insurmountable odds against His people. (Judges 7).

Are you that leader?

Irenic Authoritarians – Integrity and Truth!

December 25, 2007 by  
Filed under Church


Several years ago, an evangelical spokesperson said, “It is time that evangelicals are known for what we are for, not, just what we are against.” A cogent and reasonable appeal.

Why was it necessary to make such an appeal? Because the usual approach to polemics in the evangelical world is ad hominem attacks. I may not have the best case, but I will surely make you wish you had never engaged the discussion when I am through trashing your person, character and maybe even your family! Sadly, none of what I have just written is unusual.

Knee Jerk Reaction

The tragic typical response on the part of many has been to abandon the clear and unambiguous declaration of the text of Scripture. We now must deal with such bewildering nonsense as ‘Open Theism’, ‘Post Modern Hermeneutics’, the ‘New Perspective on Paul’, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. **PLEASE NOTE** I addressed issues not personalities. Each of us must stand for and by the positions we articulate. However, in such dialogue all parties should appeal to the accurate exegesis of the text of Scripture. It is never wise, prudent or permissible to permit the dialogue to degenerate into personal attacks. Humor, satire, but not ridicule or attacks.

A Better Way

The following is a first draft attempt to restore sound exegesis and biblical authority to the ministry of the evangelical church. I welcome your dialgoue on this subject. Principles essential to this process are:

1. An uncompromised conviction that the Bible is God’s Word and is fully sufficient for faith and practice.

2. The Bible addresses either in precept or principle every aspect of life. We may draw clear direction for life and ministry by correctlyunderstanding God’s revelation.

3. The foundatin for all such dialogue must be the accurate exegesis of the text on the given subject.

4. The Holy Spirit intended one interpretation for each passage of Scripture.

5. The possible outcomes are:

a. you are correct and I am incorrect
b. I am correct and you are incorrect
c. both of us are incorrect
d. but it is not possible to arrive at differing interpretations and claim
that our exegesis is correct

6. The end of the matter must be Applied Theology.

God’s people when coming face to face with the declarations of Scritpure must surrender (Luke 9:23), be Transfromed (Rom. 12:2), and live as Salt & Light (Matt. 5:13-16)in an increasingly dark and decadent America. We must bring Life in Community to the fabric of the evangelical church through obeying the one another commands of the text. Jesus has given us the means. Do we have the courage as Pastor/Shepherds/Leaders to apply the text to life?

In Grace,

Less Than 10%!!

November 30, 2007 by  
Filed under Church

I am a Baptist by affiliation and conviction. One of the cardinal tenets of Baptist life is Regenerate Church Membership. We seek to do all that is possible to guide people on the path of eternal life. The crulest hoax perpetrated upon mankind is to deceive them about the real condition of their eternal soul.

The NAMB (North American Mission Board – SBC) did a study of persons who had been baptized in SBC life. They sought to determine where they were in their spiritual walk one year after their baptism. Less than 10% were still affiliated with the church and involved in any semblance of spiritual growth. I hope that offends and stuns you. It surely should.

What do you in terms of “Due Diligence” to baptize only those persons that show genuine evidence of conversion? What do you offer to other pastors that will help them in this matter?

Flu Shots & Innoculation

November 16, 2007 by  
Filed under Church

Today my wife & I complied with conventional wisdom. We received a flu shot. On the way to our appointment, we first “fueled up” at STARBUCKS. Supposedly we will not succumb to the flu this winter, at least not a version that will be deadly.

This makes me ask a disturbing and probing question. Have those who participate in the life of the church been inoculated? Do they have just enough relationship to make them a genuine disciple, a real follower of Christ – – but – – not a threat to become a wholly devoted passionate world changing, world shaking ???????

Seems to me that there is a very real and binding command that I must obey daily. It is a command to die (Luke 9:23). Further, that death is by crucifixion – – deny self, take up your cross daily. That is the petibulum, the cross member of that most cruel of deaths.

Then and only then am I ready to Follow. Just wondering.

What do you think?

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