Newsletter Update – July 15, 2010

July 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Newsletter

Under The Elmtree

In This Issue:

* Metrics in Ministry-What do you measure?

* Leadership Questions

* Leadership Wisdom from Proverbs

* Leadership and Integrity

* Pastor’s Forums USA 2011

* Options for Pastors & Churches

* Orthodoxy – What is It? Who Decides?

* Call to Intercession for Church in America

* In the Next Issue – What Is Worldliness?

Metrics in Ministry – What do you Measure?

Principle – What an organization measures shapes the values and culture of that organization.

What does the evangelical church in America value?

How do most Pastors get a significant increase in compensation?

How are speakers selected for most conferences and denominational gatherings?

How are churches evaluated, which ones are deemed the most effective?

What criteria is applied to most evangelism activities?

What does the text of Scripture require us to apply as a measure of effectiveness?

The answer to the first five questions is simple – NUMBERS! Pastor’s ‘feel’ called to a larger (ie. bigger) church. They have more people so they offer a greater compensation package. Speakers are chosen because they have more people in seats on a regular basis. Churches are deemed effective if they have an ever growing number of people ‘on the membership list’.

Evangelism has been prostituted and is in many instances a veritable scalp hunting expedition. The goal has become to elicit an ‘expression of faith’ even though that expression may be wholly without any sense of sin as an affront to a holy God. When you return to the group you must report ‘conversions’ lest you be seen as an abject failure in your evangelistic efforts. The huge chasm between membership and active participants in any given assembly is exhibit “A” as to the theological bankruptcy of this mentality. The evangelical church rewards numbers pure and simple. More is better, biggest is best. By the way, the word ‘evangelism’ is never used in the text of Scripture. Redeemed people should be like an atresian well – – the true gospel flows out of their daily existence to all who will hear. Evangelism is simply the first phase of making disciples. Conversion is the beginning of a walk of faith, not the end. These concepts should never be separated. Viewing these two endeavors as separate entities may be traced back to Charles G. Finney and his establishment of what came to be called “the anxious seat”.
“The Spirit of the Lord was evidently poured out on the congregation; and at the close of the sermon, I did what I do not know I had ever done before, called upon any who would give their heart to God, to come forward and take the front seat.” (C.G. Finney, Autobiography, Fleming H. Revell, 1876, p. 116.)
The Scripture requires that we make Disciples (Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:45-49).

The title of this article is a question – ‘What do you measure?’ The following is a list of items that by observation I find churches focused on and that serve as their metric for determining ministry effectiveness (sic).

1. Attendance at Sunday School and Worship services.

2. Offerings – the size of the offering determines the level of effective ministry.

3. Activities – The greater the number of ministry activities, the more effective that ministry must be. In fact, wearing people out with activities that do not transform is detrimental not beneficial. Also, most ministry venues once initiated will never be terminated. They continue decades after they have long since lost any signigifcant value. They consume finances and facilities while delivering little or no appreciable return. These activities weigh down ministry like a millstone and often prevent what is needed from being incorporated into ministry. On some occasions they become the territory of ‘turf wars’ that destroy the very fabric of ministry.

One of the most frequently expressed frustrations by the people in the pew is that they do not know what is expected of them and therefore have no idea what specific path to follow to become a maturing disciple. They know the expectation but not the sequence of steps to take to reach that destination. What metric features must be inherent in ministry to accurately determine that disciples who exhibit the character and likeness of Christ are being produced with integrity as measured and validated by the text of Scripture?

Definition of Terms – Each assembly should have a definition of terms. Disciple. Transformation. Accountability. Clear expectations for each phase of discipleship.

Discipleship Phases – Define character and conduct based on the text of Scripture for each phase of maturity. This enables a a believer to monitor their progress and celebrate the growth in grace that God is producing in their life.

Accountability – This word has significant negative baggage in our politically correct culture. Most think of punishment when they hear the word. In fact, the definition we apply is “each one helping the other keep the commitments they have made to God on the basis of loving relationships.” That is hardly punishment. Harvard University recently completed (2010) a longitudinal study and concluded that the very best means of accountability is three people (cf. Eccl. 4:12 – – a cord of three strands is not easily broken). Each disciple has two accountability partners. They walk alongside the disciple. They hold them accountable; correcting when that is necessary and most of all celebrating with the disciple the Transformation that God is producing as they yield to “all that Jesus has commanded”.

Purpose – This is in fact the ‘first principle’ required if all of the above is to be accomplished. Most churches, like most hospitals, departmnet stores, etc. have signs plastered on the walls telling us what their purpose is. Most of the time that is just rhetoric. (Try to get service form your cell phone company if you don’t believe me). Purpose must be the governing or controlling dynamic in ministry. Every church has the same purpose – make disciples. That purpose must be shaped by the clear postulates of Scripture as the fruit of accurate and precise exegesis. There will be diversity in the process because every church is a distinct entity, but, the objective is crystal clear. Disciples expressing the image of Christ. His people are radiant in expressing His character and likeness.

There is little room for denial. The Evangelical Church in America has a metric based on numbers pure and simple. Activity rather than objective measurable transformation is the focus. We may well find our gracious God will send sweeping Reformation & Renewal when we as His people repent of our carnality and embrace genuine transformation as measured by the Word of God. Hear the words of my friend Jeremiah. He wrote millenium ago but describes our current plight.

the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes? (Jer. 5:31, ESV)

(The Leadership Development Process of IgniteUS provides the ministry dynamics and processes addressed in this article. I will be happy to discuss this with any of my readers. Please call 803 776 5282 or contact me at info@igniteus.net) Tom Fillinger.
Leadership Questions – Quesitons for Leaders from Kouzes & Posner, The Leadership Challenge, p. 392.

What gives me the courage to continue in the face of uncertainty and adversity?

How will I handle disappointments, mistakes and setbacks?

How solid is my relationship with my constituents?

What keeps me from giving up?

Leadership Wisdom from Proverbs – Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray (Prov. 10:17, ESV).

Leadership & Integrity – A leader with integrity has one self, at home and at work, with family and with colleagues. Leaders without integrity are putting on an act.

Pastor’s Forums 2011
1. Piedmont SC – September 13 – Mt. Moriah Bapt.
2. Columbia SC – September 26 – Biblical Literacy SouthEast Community
3. Baltimore MD – October 3 – BCMD North
4. Baltimore MD – October 3 – BCMD South
5. Shillington PA – October 4 – Berks Bible Church
6. St. Augustine Beach FL – October 25 – River Oaks Com. Church

Pending 2011
1. Fayetville NC – IABC
2. Harrisonburg VA – James Madison Univ.

IgniteUS Options for Pastors & Churches
Research based on calendar 2010 shows that 95% of the churches in America ARE NOT making disciples. This is the one command in the Great Commission Food for thought! Read Heb. 13:7 & 13:17. IgniteUS provides equipping, resources and a metric to measure this critical dimension of ministry in the local church. Only 1 in 10 pastors is prepared to lead the Transformation Process without an outside voice to guide them – we come alongside and take this Journey with you. An outside voice makes a tremendous difference (Jn. 4:44). Our Effectiveness Rating is 91%. Call us!

1. 36 month Leadership Development Process transacted in 5 Phases. We provide the tools, equipping and coaching so that the Pastor becomes a Leader with biblical courage and excellence and the church becomes Healthy & Effective in making disciples fully formed in the Image of Christ (Col. 1:28-29). Reformation & Renewal!

2. 15 month Individual Leadership Development Process for those Pastors who want to become more effective Leaders. This is essentially the first three phases of the process.

3. 6 month process for churches that are essentially healthy and free of conflict and the usual control issues. The Leadership Team meets for a full day once a month for six months. This process maximizes Leadership and Intentional Disciplemaking.

I am continually amazed as I present our Leadership Development Process around the country. Many in positions of Leadership are either unable or unwilling to admit the serious deficiencies that exist in the ‘status quo’ approach most have to ministry. It is no longer possible to deny reality – – the church is in precipitous decline. It takes humility, courage, sacrifice and tenacity to engage genuine Transformation. But, the results are far more rewarding than the risks or sacrifices required. I urge you to begin TODAY Pastor.
Contact us for details. info@igniteus.net 803 776 5282

Orthodoxy – What is It? Who Decides? Why Does it Matter?

Our speaker is Dr. George Guthrie, Union University. The Doctrine is Bibliology, with a focus on Biblical Literacy. Dr. Guthrie has done extensive work in this area. The date for the next Forum is Monday, September 26, 2011. Knowing what God has revealed and how to properly apply that Revelation to life so that the results are genuine Transformation in God’s people is crucial. Plan to join us for this very important and timely Forum. You will be challenged and equipped to lead and serve with effectiveness. Go to www.readthebibleforlife.org and www.biblemesh.com for some helpful resources in knowing what God’s word says and how to apply Truth to life.

Here are some statistics on Biblical Literacy that make abundantly clear why we are hosting this Forum on this Topic:

* Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels.

* Many professing Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples.

* 60 percent of Americans cannot name even five of the Ten Commandments.

* 82 percent of Americans believe “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse.

* 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.

* A survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife.

* A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that Billy Graham preached the Sermon on the Mount.

* Six out of ten Americans reject the existence of Satan.

* Four out of ten Americans believe that when Jesus Christ was on earth He committed sins.

* Five out of ten believe that anyone who is generally good or does enough good things for others during their life will earn a place in Heaven.

* Four out of ten believe that the Bible, the Koran and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truths.

* Seven out of ten born again Christians said they do not believe in moral absolutes.

* Only one out of ten Christians base their moral decision-making on the principles taught in the Bible.

* 54 percent believe truth can be discovered only through logic, human reasoning and personal experience.

In general, Biblical illiteracy is a growing trend and church discipleship is ineffective. There is a one to one correlation factor with biblical literacy and discipleship.

The focus of Dr. Guthrie’s presentation on September 26 is as follows:

What is Biblical Literacy?
Biblical Literacy – The Current State of Affairs
Full-orbed Biblical Literacy Training in the Church

Future speakers and topics are Dr. Fred Zaspel, author of The Theology of B. B. Warfield, The Doctrine of Christology which was Warfield’s favorite biblical study. Dr. George Zemek, Dean of Expositors Seminary for the Doctrine of Soteriology.

PRAYER – All efforts to see Reformation and Renewal come to the American Church are doomed to failure without earnest intercession (Acts 4:23-31). In the face of seeming hopelessness, God’s people should – can – do pray (Luke 18:1 – 8). Jesus asks a probing questions in v. 8 – – when I return, will I find this kind of faith on the earth?

Read my BLOG – – www.thetextsays.blogspot.com. Also on the Home Page www.igniteus.net – A Monday Morning BLOG. New post every Monday morning. This weeks entry – Church as Life in Community. Comments welcome!

Home Page – Click on this link to go to our Home Page: http://www.igniteUS.net/ Click on the text line under the Feature Video that says “See what others are saying” for some recent testimonials.

IUS Update This Update is sent to you on the 1st and 15th of each month. Please send comments or questions to us at info@igniteUS.net. Or, you may go to our BLOG on the home page of our Web Site. THANKS!

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