For many church leaders, summer is the time of preparing for the new church year—leadership retreats, planning and evaluation.
Let me raise some hard questions for assessing your church's faithfulness in fulfilling the biblical mandate for the body of Christ. Measuring what matters is essential if we are to stay in line with the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
- How many disciples have each of your staff and lay leadership core nurtured this past year? (This alone would resolve most churches' leadership crises.)
- How many new believers has your church reached through each activity over the past year? (Not new members from some other church, but new believers from the unchurched world.)
- How many new non-threatening, comfortable entry points have you created to attract, assimilate or disciple new believers and new members?
- How much time, energy and money do you spend on reaching out versus the amount you spend on reaching in? (Remember: Pastoral care of the saints is not the primary purpose of the New Testament church.)
- What changes has your congregation implemented to meet the needs of your changing community (outside the church walls)?
- How many new leaders have your Sunday School classes, choirs, WMU and men's groups produced over the past year?
Asking the hard questions and keeping the church focused on the biblical mandate is a primary spiritual leadership role of the deacon body, in cooperation with the pastor and staff.
How much time do you spend wrestling with and praying about these hard questions in your regular deacons meetings?
Should you need additional guidance and additional questions, you might want to look at any of my three books which deal with these issues in greater detail.
Making the Church Work: Converting the Church for the 21st Century helps a church assess strengths and weaknesses in light of shifting cultural trends.
The Gathered and Scattered Church: Equipping Believers for the 21st Century presents many illustrations of how the gathered church can move outside the walls of the church as you mobilize laypeople for ministry in the church and as the church in the world.
Reframing Spiritual Formation: Discipleship in an Unchurched Culture overviews how to attract, assimilate, disciple and deploy those spiritually thirsty persons in the unchurched world. How can you build bridges instead of barriers to the unchurched person?
Eddie Hammett is leadership/discipleship consultant for Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and adjunct professor at Gardner Webb Divinity School.
Online Deacon Ministry Forum
If you would like to be involved in an online forum designed to resource and network deacons and churches seeking to strengthen deacon ministry in light of 21st century cultural shifts, send an e-mail to DeaconMinistry21stCentury@yahoogroups.com and join the dialogue, raise questions and share resources you've found helpful.