Your address will show here +12 34 56 78
Leadership
Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Warren Bird and Ryan Hartwig and discuss their new book on collaborative church leadership.  I think you’ll enjoy this quick, fun video interview. So… why should you read this book when Amazon.com lists 38,927 books on “church leadership”?  That’s my first question… and Warren Bird’s answer might surprise you! keep reading
1

The New York Times has just published a piece looking at trends in the U. S. church.  It’s an interesting read: DALLAS — The mural painted on the side of a building in the Deep Ellum warehouse district here is intentionally vague, simply showing a faceless man in a suit holding an umbrella over the words “Life in Deep Ellum.” Inside there are the trappings of a revitalization project, including an art gallery, a yoga studio and a business incubator, sharing the building with a coffee shop and a performance space.
But it is, in fact, a church. Life in Deep Ellum is part of a wave of experimentation around the country by evangelicals to reinvent “church” in an increasingly secular culture, and it comes as the megachurch boom of recent decades, with stadium seating for huge crowds, Jumbotrons and smoke machines, faces strong headwinds. A national decline in church attendance, the struggling economy and the challenges of marketing to millennials have all led to the need for new approaches. “It’s unsettling for a movement that’s lasted 2,000 years to now find that, ‘Oh, some of the things we always assumed would connect with the community aren’t connecting with everyone in the community in the way they used to,’ ” said Warren Bird, the director of research for the Leadership Network, a firm that tracks church trends. According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who are not affiliated with any religion is on the rise, including a third of Americans under 30. Even so, nearly 80 percent of unaffiliated Americans say they believe in God, and close to half say they pray at least once a month. The “spiritual but not religious” category is an important audience that evangelical leaders hope to reach in a culture that many believers call “post-Christian.” So they arrange meetings in movie theaters, schools, warehouses and downtown entertainment districts. They house exercise studios and coffee shops to draw more traffic. Many have even cast aside the words “church” and “church service” in favor of terms like “spiritual communities” and “gatherings,” with services that do not stick to any script. // Read more here…
Todd Subscribe to me on YouTube
   
1

New research from Leadership Network… this is just being released from Warren Bird and my colleagues at Leadership Network: Despite the current economic landscape, 73% of all churches surveyed expect to meet budget this year(“this year” being 2012 calendar year or current fiscal year). This response was to the question: “How do you respond to this statement? ‘Our church will meet its budget for this year.’ (whether calendar or fiscal year)” Participating churches ranged in size from less than 50 to over 40,000 people in weekly worship attendance. The larger the church, the more likely they are to say they will meet budget. More than half of the churches surveyed use a Jan-Dec calendar year for their fiscal year, but as church size increases, so does the likelihood that the fiscal year does not follow the calendar year. This optimism is particularly encouraging when you compare the outlook to the responses to the question, “Overall, how has the economic slowdown that began in 2008 impacted your church? This is just part of the story.  Read more here right now… How is YOUR church doing?  Are you on-track to meet or excede your budget this year? And how’s next year looking financially? Leave your comment/insight below… Todd
0

Dave Travis is Chief Executive Officer and Chief Encouragement Officer of Leadership Network. He is the co-author of Beyond the Box: Innovative Churches that Work and Beyond Megachurch Myths: What We Can Learn from America’s Largest Churches. He has appeared on NBC Nightly News and CNN, and in other numerous articles in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and other major news outlets. This interview explores his latest publication What’s Next? A Look Over the Next Hill for Innovative Churches and Their Leaders (2012 Edition) Tell us the gist of What’s Next? The idea is to trace the outlines of the recent past and attempt to discern the contours of the future. For more than 15 years, Leadership Network has studied the world around us, especially trends for churches. We’ve done our own research, as well as reviewing the best work of others, to better understand our cultural climate. Overall, how do you view what’s ahead for church ministry? For thoughtful and well-prepared leaders, there will never be a shortage of fresh opportunity. Our vision is to help them preach, teach, disciple, and baptize more people who, in turn, will go out themselves in exponentially increasing numbers to be salt and light in a dark and thirsty time. Dave Travis answers why he wrote What’s Next? in this video.
  Why focus on the need for “innovative churches”? When the world changes, innovation becomes necessary. Innovation, in turn, changes the world. We don’t pursue innovation for its own sake. Its value is in creating a higher level of performance. Our focus is not on every new idea, but on those few that transform the shape of future ministry. We value innovative entrepreneurs because they are game-changers. They create movements of ideas and actions that galvanize those around them. When the forest begins to seem too thick, they are the ones who invent new tools for path-clearing. These innovators work within their own cultural milieu, making the gospel come to life within the specifics of how local people live and think. You list several developments we’ll be seeing more of. One involves “second- and third-tier” cities. Conventional wisdom called for us to look for large, innovative churches in the biggest cities and their suburbs. This has changed in the last decade or so. Expansive church campuses are cropping up in all types of locales. A few could be classified as rural or even as villages; we see them predominantly in towns, exurbs, and resort/retirement havens. We look at “these old bones” – our cities – and wonder if they can live again. They can, particularly with churches smartly built to reach younger seekers. But the greatest movement and opportunity will continue to be in circles that extend from those cities. Dave talks about the big idea of What’s Next?
  What’s next, economically, for innovative churches? We’ve seen a trend toward churches establishing annual budgets that are at 80% to 90% of the previous year’s income. Overages are then reserved as “opportunity funds” for strategic purposes throughout the year. With the recession driving prices down, greater opportunities present themselves in the areas of land, buildings, or mission opportunities—a classic example of turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones. Other churches and leaders have been wise enough to take a greater role in helping church attendees reduce their personal debt. In your section on authenticators, you reference social capital bundling. What does that mean, especially for the church? As churches carry out various practical ministries that improve their communities, in our view these ministries become the “authenticators” of the church locally. The church has credibility not because of the pastor’s communication abilities, but because the members act for the good of the surrounding area. Younger people in particular are no longer won over by just Christian apologetics or social programming. They believe the church is validated by how it collectively lives out its core beliefs. That’s not the case for every new church visitor, of course, but social capital is a strong ingredient in the recipe of churches that are reaching people currently. Dave tells leaders why they should read What’s Next?
  Some people wrongly think Leadership Network works only with megachurches. We champion all sorts of innovation. An example would be innovative church planting. It seemed like a radical move a decade ago when Leadership Network formed a core group of churches that would each aggressively train, support, and launch at least four new churches per year. But the trend only accelerated. Nearly every large church is now involved in planting new fellowships at some level. Churches are engaged in startups, either from their own church programs, or from a network program composed of two or more partners. As a result, this past decade has been a time of exponential growth in terms of new churches. In fact, we documented a few years ago in the book Viral Churches by Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird that church starts were now exceeding closures—a significant trend reversal. Is ethnic diversity in churches on the rise? Younger generations have come of age with diversity as an expected condition. They see no reason why the church would not “look like America,” as they see it. Thus racial and ethnic diversity become another authenticator of a genuine church. If they look around and see a homogeneous congregation, they tend to discount the effectiveness of the church experience. Since 2000, our surveys have pointed to larger churches having a fairly high degree of racial diversity, as compared to smaller churches. If you are a large, growing, innovative church in a diverse community, your participants, staff and leadership need to reflect that reality—or risk being discounted by younger generations. Dave explains the most challenging concept in What’s Next?
  Where will most staff come from in the future? Most likely a combination of places, as always. But one of the key development arenas will be structured internship and residency programs, targeting younger generations who come forward to ask for practical training. How is Leadership Network best helping churches these days? Part of our mission is to help our clients move from ideas to implementation to impact. We do this through our Leadership Community and InnovationLab processes, where ideas are refined into implementation plans, and progress is then measured. At Leadership Network, we identify innovative, entrepreneurial churches to engage with our core processes. Last year alone, we held 55 small gatherings of leaders, with 6 to 12 or more churches represented at each gathering. We are also the “diffusers of innovation,” as Everett Rogers in Diffusion of Innovations would say. We share with others in multiple ways what those teams are learning, so new ideas can be adapted to other places and other local contexts. Dave tells leaders which chapter they should read in What’s Next? if they only have time to read one.
  Your under-$10 purchase price for What’s Next? won’t cover the cost to gather all this knowledge. How is Leadership Network funded? While our clients pay fees for various processes and services, we are primarily funded by visionary and generous donors. Our initial launch came on U.S. soil in 1984, but we now serve client churches in Canada and Europe, and we plan to expand even further. Our “elite” processes are limited to selected clients, but we’re always eager to build new relationships and to find out how to serve new friends—helping them move from ideas to implementation to impact. What’s Next? is available in paperback or Kindle editions. Order 10 or more copies and get free shipping! This interview was based largely on quotes from just a few of the 64 pages of What’s Next? To read the full publication, designed to be read in just under an hour, go to What’s Next? for both the print and Kindle editions. To dialog with the author, write dave.travis@leadnet.org. To learn more about ways to engage with Leadership Network sign up for the free e-newsletter Advance atwww.leadnet.org/advance or explore our program offerings at www.leadnet.org/programs. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Warren Bird, Ph.D., research director at Leadership Network, is a former pastor and seminary professor, and is author or co-author of 24 books for ministry leaders, the most recent one with Jim Tomberlin: Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work. Some of Warren’s recent online reports include “The Heartbeat of Rising Influence Churches,” “Pastors Who Are Shaping the Future” and “A New Decade of Megachurches.” Follow him on Twitter @warrenbird
1

Leadership
Warren Bird writes: Nine out of ten congregations say they want to add more members. That’s one of the important findings of a research group I’m part of that conducted a huge survey known as FACT – for Faith Communities Today 2010 survey. But more than learning that churches want to grow, we found a bunch of factors strongly related to growth. Here’s the analysis of more than 7,000 local houses of worship compiled by C. Kirk Hadaway, Church Officer for Congregational Research, The Episcopal Church, and one of the leaders of the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership which sponsors the FACT series of research studies. What Correlates With Growth? Location is important. Congregations located in the downtown or central city neighborhoods of metropolitan areas were more likely to grow in recent years. Those in newer suburbs were also likely to grow. This is a significant change from a similar study completed in 2005 when the newer suburbs were more likely to be the location of growing congregations than central city neighborhoods. Congregations located in the South are also more likely to grow than those located in other parts of the country. New congregations are more likely to grow than are those with a longer history. The majority of new congregations started since 1992 have had significant increases in the number of active participants. This growth advantage does not last forever. “After 15 to 20 years the window of opportunity closes.” If a congregation has a significant percentage of ethnic minorities or is predominantly made up of an ethnic minority it is more likely to grow. Youth is a key factor. Congregations in which people over 50 make up 30 percent or less of the active participants are most likely to have growth. A clear sense of mission and purpose is “one of the strongest correlates of growth.” There is also a strong relationship between growth and the sense that the congregation is “spiritually vital and alive.” What other growth plates are there?  You can read more from Warren here at the Leadership Network website.  And you can follow Warren on Twitter @warrenbird. What have you seen as your biggest “Growth Edges”?
3

Trends
There is a secret inside many churches. According to researchers Scott Thumma and Warren Bird, most churches – mega-sized and small, black and white – are actually run by 20 percent of the congregation. The other 80 percent, they say, tend to act like spectators: they are minimally involved and attend infrequently or not at all. A National Congregation Survey shows the Southern Baptist Convention had a membership of 16,160,088 people in 2008, but a yearly attendance rate of 38 percent. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America had a membership of 4,542,868 in 2009, but the yearly attendance rated rested at 28 percent. Though many churches are struggling to boost attendance and participation, Thumma states, pastors and church leaders rarely address the issue. “So many pastors that I’ve talked to recognize the problem, don’t know what to do about it and then instead of trying to tackle it, they kind of put it aside,” described Thumma. Only 28 percent of pastors reported that spiritual growth was an important area of development in 2011 in the Barna poll. Even fewer pastors –19 percent – reported that engagement was an important area for development. Spiritual engagement, however, becomes more important the longer a congregant remains in the church, Thumma stresses. The top reason given for decreased participation in the last two years is faith has gotten weaker, according to a cited Parish Inventory Survey. Yet very few churches have programs for long-standing members, he says. “Once you’ve been at the church for five years, 10 years, 20 years, 40 years, there’s hardly any programs aimed at those groups to continually keep them engaged,” laments Thumma. The book recommends churches first correct this error by forming a listening team. The goal of the team is to conduct individual interviews with members to find out how they want and need to be nurtured spiritually. When authors Thumma and Bird employed this approach to write The Other 80 Percent, inactive congregants shared that issues such as no close friendship, and a lack of adult classes led to their decreased role in the church. Second, churches are urged to create a learning team to uncover the external social and cultural dynamics in their communities hampering members’ church involvement. The team may learn that a Sunday morning sports league is keeping church youth and their parents from service. The learning team can also discover new areas for ministry such as a food assistance program to reach a low-income community. via Churches’ Dilemma: 80 Percent of Flock Is Inactive, Christian News. THOUGHTS?  How’s this living out in YOUR church?  Seem representative? Todd
9

Trends
My friend Warren Bird at Leadership Network tells me that 2% of U.S. Protestant churches have been part of a merger in the last two years. Another 8% say they will probably merge in the next two years. That’s a lot of churches! Are you one of them? He’s eager to know your opinion about church mergers. Whatever your experience, we want to learn from you. Please take a look at this survey and give us your thoughts: http://tiny.cc/churchmergersurvey. Everyone who participates can get a free report from what we learn.
[facebook]
 
1

Leadership
My friends Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird have just released a new book called “A Multi-Site Church Road Trip”.  It is chock full of interesting information about multi-site church ministry.  Today, I’m part of the book’s blog tour, and I thought I’d do something a little different.  I have a free copy of the book that I’d like to give away to the person who can get the most answers right to the questions below. To enter the contest, just send me an email with your answers to trhoades@mondaymorninginsight.com.  I’ll pick a winner from the entries with the most correct answers. OK… here we go: 1.  What multi-site Hawaiian church currently has 18 services on 7 different campuses? 2.  Multi-site really isn’t a ‘new thing’ to this Naperville, IL church.  They currently have 9 campuses and 24 services in and around the Chicago area.  Name the church. 3.  While this Oklahoma church has 13 campuses, they also have a network of churches that partner with them, showing their weekly messages.  They also have a vibrant online campus presence.  Name this church and their senior pastor. 4.  On a typical Sunday, how many people attend a multi-site church in America?  200,000?  500,000?  1 million?  5 million? 5.  How many states currently have multi-site churches?  15?  27?  35?  47?  52? OK… send in your answers! And if you haven’t already picked up a copy of Multi-Site Church Road Trip… do so.  It’s a great read on what is happening in what the authors call the “New Normal” for churches in America. Todd
3