In my blog, I have referred many times to my days of church consultation, particularly those experiences where we sent one of our consultants to be a first-time guest in a church. He or she would return with a report of those experiences, and the report would eventually be consolidated with other information for the church.
I have nearly 300 of these “mystery guest” reports. Both Chuck Lawless and I have posted about them on my blog.
In the past, the mystery guests would grade the visit based on several criteria. Less than 20 percent of these reports were graded “B” (good visit) or higher.
Ever wonder why some small group ministries seem to steadily move to new levels of success and health while others start with a bang and go out with a whimper?
Here are five commitments that make the difference:
1. Connecting everyone to a small group is a top objective every year. By “everyone,” I mean everyone. And it’s not just 50 percent or 80 percent of the weekend adult attendance. I’m talking about 150 percent of the weekend adult attendance number! In addition, the commitment is to a small group (i.e., not a class or a Bible study that meets in rows). And it’s not about off-campus versus on-campus. It’s all about connecting to a group that includes the essential ingredients of life change. (See also "Essential Ingredients of Life Change" and "Design Your Group for Life Change.")
(This is the type of article some church people will find objectionable. I’m fully aware of that and am willing to run the risk of the flack from writing it. If it results in one congregation standing up to a member who has held the church in a stranglehold and run off preacher after preacher, if it puts just one bully out of business, it’ll be worth the flack. This is a far bigger problem than most people realize.)
No church bully thinks he’s one. He’s just (ahem) looking out for the interests of the church, since a) no one else seems to be willing to do it and b) even though it’s a difficult task, he has the courage to step up and do this difficult thing.
The final words of Malachi’s prophecy say the hearts of the fathers will turn to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. The church is at its best when we see that Scripture being lived out among the generations in our local congregations. It isn’t easy with a widening generation gap in a rapidly changing society. But it can happen when it’s modeled within church leadership.
As a youth pastor, I know I’m able to lead a younger generation toward God because of the people who paved the way for me, believed in me and gave me a chance despite my failures. I’ve been blessed to have a great relationship with my senior pastor, David T. Demola, who taught me the true meaning of ministry.
I love the community that has formed on my blog. There are several people who are regular commenters; they have become a part of my blog's family, and I feel like I know them.
Some of them come to the blog in affirmation of what I have written. I am always grateful for such encouragement. But some visitors disagree with me. I gladly post their comments for two reasons. First, I want to be fair to all who take time to read my blog. Second, I am wrong some of the time and I need to be corrected.
How This Story Began
Sometimes, however, people come to my blog hurting deeply. They need a place where they can be heard, and they need a place where they can share your pain without fear of retribution. That is why I allow them to comment in anonymity if they so desire. My only requirement is that they enter their legitimate email address in case we need to confirm that they're not hiding behind a fake address. But we will never publish email addresses.