Ed Stetzer on 5 things the church needs to focus on

Ed Stetzer on 5 things the church needs to focus on

Outreach magazine recently celebrated its 10th year in publication, and as part of that Ed Stetzer wrote about five things we need to face as a church in the next ten years:

1. A clear understanding of the gospel.

Too many have assumed it, but we need to teach it. The gospel is not you do, it’s Jesus did. People don’t need to be taught to turn over a new leaf– they need to receive and live out a new life. That new life is from Jesus’ death on the cross, for our sin and in our place. Don’t build a message that would still be true if Jesus had not died on the cross.

2. A stronger focus on discipleship.

God shapes congregations through the shaping of individual members’ lives. But this doesn’t just happen by accident or as a by-product– God grows us as we are in a position to receive that growth. This can only happen through intentional awareness and leadership on the part of both leaders and church members. In our Transformational Discipleship project, the largest statistical study of its kind, we found that discipleship was both lacking and simple– we just needed to remind people to live out who God has made us in Christ.

3. A greater passion for mission.

We need to stand up against the clergification in the modern-day church– the tendency to look at those who are professional ministers and say that they are the ones who are called to the mission, while the people in the pews are merely consumers of religious goods and services. We need to see all of God’s people engaged in God’s mission, from their respective neighborhoods all the way to the nations. We stand at a key moment, and part of the answer is to engage more of God’s people in mission.

4. Evangelism in the age of the Nones.

We are now increasingly facing what I have called a post-seeker context. This does not mean that seekers no longer exist. The Spirit is always at work in the hearts of people. But churches that once focused their energies and efforts toward targeting seekers are finding it more difficult to appeal to a constituency with little to no religious memory. Churches will have to find new ways to lead their people to reach out to their neighbors– not just attractional evangelism, but incarnational evangelism as well– being, doing, and telling good news where we live and work.

5. New thinking in developing best practices.

God often uses tools for his ends– think of bus ministry in the 70s or radio ministry in the 50s. That’s still true today. As believers, we can and must be good stewards of our ministry and utilize tools wisely–like multisite churches, viral church planting, and finding new ways to serve those who are hurting and in need.

Click here to read the full article.

How Do You Measure Discipleship?

Tape measure

Geoff Surratt has written a great blog post on A Tool to Measure Discipleship, which is well worth chewing over:

How do we measure discipleship? It is relatively easy to measure church attendance, giving, or small group participation, but how do we measure church members becoming more like Christ? The Willow Creek Reveal Study pointed out that church activity doesn’t necessarily lead to fully devoted follower of Christ, but are there activities we can measure to help our congregation grow?
I think there are six vital areas that point to a growing disciple:
  • Serving in a local church. Church attendance without service does not grow me as a disciple. To grow I have to serve generously with my time, talent and treasure.
  • Praying consistently. This is so obvious that it seems to get overlooked. A growing disciple follows Jesus’ pattern of consistent, heartfelt prayer.
  • Reading the Bible daily. Separate studies by the Willow Creek Association and Lifeway on discipleship came to the same conclusion; the single biggest factor in growing as a disciple is reading the Bible every day. It’s the magic pill of discipleship.
  • Engaging in biblical community. Discipleship throughout the Bible is always in context of community. Being in a small group does not guarantee discipleship, but not being in biblical community prevents it.
  • Actively involved in missional outreach. Biblical disciples engage in Kingdom transformation in their home, their community and their world.
  • Developing other disciples. Jesus final command was very clear, Go make disciples. Every growing disciple of Christ develops other disciples.
I’d like to suggest the following tool to help determine the temperature of discipleship in your congregation (and in your own life). I have used the acronym SPREAD to make the six areas easier to remember. Your church attenders may need some additional information to understand how you define each area in your context.
Create a simple survey with the following questions. Give the survey and a pen to everyone who attends one weekend, and take time during the service to fill out the survey out together.
As a growing disciple of Jesus I (circle all that apply)
  • Serve my local church generously with my time, talent and resources
  • Pray consistently
  • Read my Bible almost every day
  • Engage regularly in a biblical community (small group)
  • Actively participate in missional outreach
  • Develop other disciples
The first time you take the survey serves as a baseline for discipleship. Use the results to celebrate where the congregation is strong and to focus on helping them grow in areas where they are weak. Choose one area that seems to be weak across the board and focus for the next quarter on growing in that area as a church. Retake the survey every three months for a year to measure progress.
Be sure to let me know if you use this tool and how I can make it more effective.