The Church Doctor® Report

Yeast: The Missing Ingredient

 VOL. 8 NO. 5 September/October 2012
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Kent Hunter describes himself as "a passionate, persistent, relentless student of biblical dynamics for local churches to impact Great Commission effectiveness." In other words, he loves the church and wants to help make disciples of Jesus Christ.

Featured Services 

Conflict Management Coaching


  • Take a self-reflective tool  
  • Connect with a ministry coach by phone
  • Learn that conflict is only "bad" when not managed
  • Learn your conflict style
  • Experience the value of conflict management
  • Cost - $250, including the assessment and initial coaching call
  • Contact Jon Zinnel; 800-626-8515


Healthy Churches Thrive!


This 24-month spiritual pilgrimage is a "game changer" for congregations serious about faithful, fruitful Kingdom work.  Not a program, this 24-month journey focuses on discipleship and spiritual formation.  It begins with those in the church who have "holy discontent" (loyal and committed church workers who are actively involved in the church).  They have a deep desire for their church to become more effective at reaching others for Jesus Christ. Those with "holy discontent" are moved by the Holy Spirit to begin a spiritual "awakening" (a wake-up call) in you church.  They become a "Vision Community" that pays for the pilgrimage by investing $20-$29.50 per month (depending on the size of the Vision Community), above and beyond their normal support for their church.  The Vision Community becomes a Learning Community.  They encourage others in the church to join the movement.  Without pressure, others are invited to grow in discipleship and spiritual formation. The "yeast" begins to work.


Jesus said that healthy trees produce healthy fruit.  The key to more fruit, at every level, is the health of the "tree" - the church.  The health of your church is a reflection of the spiritual health of your members.  If God is going to use your church for impactful mission, sooner or later, you will pause from the programs and focus on spiritual health.

Contact Joshua Henry; 800-626-8515.



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A fun-filled, action-packed, hands-on, equipping focus God uses to:


  • Help young adults, 18-29 find God's direction for life 
  • Equip Gen Y to find a cause greater than themselves 
  • Experience Jesus-style discipleship 
  • Grow in spiritual formation 
  • Participate in an out-of-country mission adventure


Young adults spend 12 to 16 years (or more) learning how to make a living. These 10 months are focused on how to experience life - "abundantly," as Jesus said.


The second training season is about to begin. It's not too late. Share this with the young adult you know. To a person, everyone who has experienced SEND agrees: "You'll be changed forever in the most positive way you could image." Let's work together  to train the next generation of Christian leaders.


Contact Josh Humberger; 800-626-8515.

Immersion Opportunities


Why expose people to fresh expressions of how God is moving in the 21st century? (1) It follows the approach of Jesus, who modeled "real-time" ministry with His disciples, and (2) a movement is more caught than taught. Know anyone who's been on a mission trip? They say it's a life-changing experience. You can't get it in a book, classroom, Bible class, movie, or hearing the story from a missionary. You have to feel, smell, touch it - engage! Church Doctor Ministries is committed to the New Testament practice of immersion: experiential learning, supported by focused coaching and processing, through continued briefing and debriefing. Our groups are intentionally small so we can specifically help you as your experience relates to your unique church. Three opportunities are being offered in the next nine months:


Immersion: Toledo, Ohio

October 4-8, 2012

Limit: 20 (status: a few openings are left)

Cost: $275


Experience the coming spiritual awakening in North America at one of the flashpoints of where God is moving.

  • Preparatory reading before the event.
  • Onsite briefing by Church Doctors at the beginning of the immersion experience.
  • Debriefing each day to help you process what God is doing.
  • Guidance to develop an Action Plan specific to your church.
  • Participate in "Love Toledo."
  • Witness accountability groups.
  • Experience "white-hot" worship.
  • Learn how to turn your church inside out.
  • Contact Joshua Henry; 800-626-8515.


UK Immersion

January 24-30, 2013 NEW

Limit: 20


Church Doctors will be your guides, teachers, interpreters, and coaches. They will provide onsite briefing, debriefing, and personal processing for your ministry, through every step of the way!


  • Teaching on the elements of the rapid expansion of Christianity in a country where secularization had reached its peak - a massive turnaround for many churches.
  • Experience the amazing ministry of Andy Hawthorne as we visit his ministry to hard-core youth in the inner city of Manchester, UK. You'll experience some out-of-the-box approaches that will inspire you.
  • Discover the Church Multiplication/Church Planting Movement that is sweeping Europe and is cited as one of the key factors in the reverse of declining Christianity, for the first time in 100 years, in some of the major cities in England.
  • Learn about the explosion of Christian contemporary music in England as a model for what happens next in North America.
  • Experience the surprising strategy for reaching, discipling, and equipping young adults and university students.
  • Participate in a modeled accountability group and missional community.
  • Experience what we call "engaging worship/preaching" - a style of worship that is more easily caught than taught.
  • Participate in "Love Sheffield." You will join Christians as they "invade" the community with acts of kindness.
  • A personal contact with staff - an exhilarating experience reserved for very few.
  • Now accepting inquiries. Contact Joshua Henry; 800-626-8515.



June 2013 UK Immersion Experience

June 5-13, 2013

Limit: 20


Reserve your space for this experience that will significantly transform your approach to ministry -guaranteed by 124 previous travelers from the US and Canada. This movement of God is coming to North America. Your experience now will help prepare you and your church for this exciting renewal. On acceptance, you will:


  • Read several resources prior to departure, to help you prepare.
  • Participate in briefing sessions, after arriving in England.
  • Receive personal input from the leaders of one of the largest university outreach ministries in Europe.
  • Participate in "Love Sheffield."
  • Experience "white- hot" worship.
  • Receive onsite debriefing every day, with interpretation and translation of approaches for North American ministry.
  • Learn the language of this movement.
  • Attend a conference with international speakers and receive excellent teaching.
  • Join members of the church as they reach out to their community in a very unique way.
  • Be exposed to clusters (missional communities) that meet around a common objective.
  • Contact Joshua Henry; 800-626-8515.
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Sam is a sharp pastor.  He's got good personal skills, is a great preacher, excellent teacher, and knows how to lead.  He's well-read and keeps up with the latest news on what works for churches.  He even remembers some of the Greek he learned at seminary.  He leads a great staff.  Tina, the associate, compliments Sam's gifts.  They make an excellent pastoral team.  Sam is an energetic, hard worker.  His colleagues from area churches respect him.  He is a cutting-edge innovator.  He's brought many programs to his church and implements them enthusiastically.  He's on top of the church finances, administration, and planning.  He can cast vision and inspires many who have become motivated for ministry. 


Yet, Sam knows - deep down - his church is under-achieving.  He wonders: "If the church closed, would the community even notice?"  His church has grown somewhat.  But most of the "growth" is from Christians migrating from other congregations.  Sam wonders why the spiritual growth of those in his church seems stalled.  He reflects on the numerous programs he has enthusiastically embraced and wonders, "Why is my church under-performing?  We're not changing the world like the New Testament Church.  What is missing?"


Jesus, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees

In Matthew 16, Jesus is wrapped up again with the relentless torment from the religious leaders.  They want signs and wonders this time, as "proof" Jesus is legitimate.  Their attitude is a smokescreen of their threatened condition.  Jesus sees right through it and warns His disciples to "watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees."


In this context, Jesus and the Twelve had just set out for the other side of the lake.  The disciples forgot to bring bread.  Jesus, then, spoke about "yeast," and they thought he was referring to dinner - or the lack of it.


Jesus knew they misunderstood and reminded them that being without bread was no big deal.  After all, they had seen Him feed thousands with a few loaves and a couple of fish - with leftovers.  Jesus centered their attention: bread is not the problem.  They got it when He repeated: "The problem is yeast: Pharisee-Sadducee yeast."


What is that all about?  "Yeast" includes the teaching of the Pharisees, for sure.  However, their teaching was a visible form of something much greater.  Something hidden; not so obvious.  This is also a major issue in a church like Sam's.

Back to Bread


Think about bread.  Not the unleavened kind, but the leavened kind.  When you bake bread, you put yeast in it.  It is strange stuff, yeast.  It doesn't look like much.  You mix it in the dough and it basically disappears.  And then you let the dough set.  What yeast does takes time.  It's slow.  It's not visible.  It's quiet.  It's hidden.  You come back and look at the dough and...surprise!  It looks totally different!  The flour, water, salt,  other ingredients didn't change.  But the whole thing changed, dramatically.


The deal with the religious leaders is this:  it wasn't just about what the Pharisees and the Sadducees said.  They said what they said because of deeper, hidden, not-so-obvious reasons.  The disciples didn't get it.  But Jesus did!  He understood.  It really wasn't about what the religious leaders said.  Their attack on Jesus, from all angles, was the result of who they were and what they had become.


There's a word for this.  It represents a complex, interwoven, recipe of ingredients.  Each ingredient is intertwined.  This is not simple, and that's why the approach to development - for the disciples (and for Sam's church) - is not a quick-fix program.  This is more like the complex helix structure of DNA.  This yeast is called "culture."


Culture is the recipe of ingredients that produces the unique and wonderful result of Christianity.  It has an outstanding flavor when it is mixed right.  It flavors the world.  In fact, Jesus called Christians "salt" because they're supposed to flavor the world and help preserve people in the face of destructive temptation and sin.  This isn't just an ingredient - the culture.  It's leaven.  It leavens the whole loaf.  Like yeast, it raises the level of the ingredients to new heights - the stature of Christ, who Himself is the bread of the world.


Jesus, as He disciples the Twelve, is launching a new culture.  It's sometimes called a New Covenant or New Testament.  It includes a new environment, called the New Testament Church: a new approach to spiritual community.  It's so new, so different, that Jesus said it had to have a new container.  "New wine needs new wine skins" (Luke 5:38); that's how different this new culture is.


Five Ingredients

The more I work with church people, and the more I study the New Testament, I am increasingly convinced there are five ingredients that collectively make up the yeast of the New Covenant. Collectively, they could be called New Testament Culture.


Beliefs. The yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees had a belief system that was constantly in conflict with what Jesus taught and did. They got hung up on the Sabbath rules, for example. Jesus set them straight about rescue mission: "Which one of you, if your ox fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn't pull it out?" (Luke 14:5.) 


Values. These are what you consider important. Even Peter was challenged.   Jesus said it was important to go to Jerusalem and get killed (Matthew 16:21). Peter said, "No way," and Jesus put him in his place. He also taught the value of sacrifice, and ultimately, the result of forgiveness that was going to take place through His own death. It was a value -important - that Jesus go to Jerusalem no matter how strange it seemed to the disciples.


Attitudes. The Apostle Paul challenges Christ followers - who always face the danger of drift in posture to God and others. "Consider others more important than yourself" (Philippians 2:4).  The religious leaders were more focused on their own political agenda.


Priorities. This is what you will always do first. Jesus said to the disciples, "You have a saying, four more months and the harvest. I tell you, look at the crops. They are ripe and ready" (John 4:35). This brings focus and reflects a sense of urgency.


Worldviews. A worldview is the way you understand the world and the way the world works. The disciples thought they knew all about leadership. They were surrounded by Roman Empire hierarchy. That gave them a worldview about leadership. The religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees and Sadducees, were institutionally organized, as well. But Jesus said, "You are not like those religious leaders. If you want to be truly great, you must become a servant" (Matthew 20:26). 


These cultural elements - ingredients - overlap, of course. But, collectively, they represent the yeast. Remember Sam? He wondered about the impact of his church and all those programs. Like many churches, the people in his congregation have been so overly exposed to secular culture (beliefs, values, attitudes, priorities, worldviews), their Christian culture - the yeast - has experienced significant drift. Does this affect the behavior of those in Sam's church? You bet it does!


While Sam led programs that focus on what Christians do, he did not focus as much on the yeast: who people are and what they become.  Yes, he preaches and teaches well.  But personal, relational discipleship and spiritual formation are not a large focus of his ministry.  



Like many other churches, Sam's church has been practicing a form of ecclesiastic works-righteousness.  This is a condition in which we believe - deep down - saving the world (mission) is not what Christ does, but what the institutional church does.  We believe we have to do more.  It is counter-intuitive to focus on spiritual formation and discipleship and believe that Christ in us as active Christians will grow the Kingdom and change the world.  This represents major yeast drift.


Smart and Healthy


The Scripture gives ample evidence that developing spiritually healthy people is the key to explosive expansion of the Kingdom.  It may not be sexy or measurable like programs. But it is a biblical reality.


I appreciate the book The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni.  I recommend you read it.  It is about organizational health, which is Lencioni's expertise.  It's written for business organizations, but what he says is easily translated to the church.  He explains that most business leaders focus on what he calls "smart."  That is what I call the program side of a church.  Lencioni makes a great case that "healthy" is the real strength of great companies.  The parallels to the church are amazing!


The Advantage makes a clear point. It reflects what Jesus called "yeasts." You can be "smart," like Sam. You can be skilled at all the program stuff. But you will never be effective in your mission. However, if you are "healthy," you will grow people who will, sooner or later, become "smart" - even if you aren't. Most churches, like most of the organizations Lencioni discusses, are working with only half the equation. They're experts at "smart" but have not done the work for "healthy." Ironically, Jesus focused almost entirely on "healthy." "Healthy," Lencioni says, trumps "smart" every time. Jesus said this a long time ago. We need to recapture this culture in our churches, because we have discovered that healthy churches thrive!

The Recipe for Health in Your Church  


Warning: Don't treat these as programs. They are to become characteristics of a new culture. (Read this four times or more, if necessary.)

  1. Change the way you make decisions: move to a biblical form of church government.
  2. Practice the New Testament corporate lifestyle of low control, but increase high accountability: live by Jesus' teaching in Ephesians 4:15: "speaking the truth in love."
  3. Train Christians to lead from the center of the Lord's will. This is for anyone who leads anything: parents, teachers, workers, church leaders, and staff.
  4. Operate in a lifestyle of discipling. Everyone, at all times, is discipling another Christian (besides their children). Everyone is a disciple and a discipler, simultaneously. Discipling is personal, relational, and experiential (hands-on), in addition to teaching.
  5. Church leaders move from doing ministry to equippers for ministry. Model this for each Christian, who works from a God-given role as apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, or teacher.
  6. Help every Christian discover, develop, and use their spiritual gifts. Use this biblical approach to guide Christians to their place in ministry.
  7. Do away with the secular approach called "volunteerism." Equip everyone through one-on-one discipling for every position, every ministry, every leadership role.
  8. Celebrate victories. Develop a congregational lifestyle of gathering regularly to share "what God is doing in your life." 
  9. Have fun! Promote joyful worship with a bias toward a high percentage of praise.
  10. Staff and church spend 50% of leadership effort on personal development (called "leading in"), focused on Christian calling (not a job). Accentuate spiritual formation and personal discipleship.
  11. Operate on a results-based approach, understood as Kingdom stewardship. Evaluate everything. Turn the church inside out: take church to people. Focus on outputs and outcomes.
  12. Clearly articulate your church's "personality" - what makes your church unique. Use this as a lens to say "yes" or "no" to everything. Clarify your mission and vision continually, forever. Over-communicate clear and biblical values, beliefs, attitudes, priorities, and worldviews.



Cladis, George. Leading the Team-Based Church: How Pastors and Church Staffs Can Grow Together into a Powerful Fellowship of Leaders. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1999.


Dever, Mark. What Is a Healthy Church? Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007.


Garner, Stephen Chapin and Jerry Thornell. Scattering Seeds: Cultivating Church Vitality. Herndon, VA: The Alban Institute, 2012.


Harney, Kevin G. and Bob Bouwer. U-Turn Church, The: New Direction for Health and Growth. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012.


Hunter, Kent R. Regeneration: A Spiritual Journey (available on Corunna, IN: Church Doctor Ministries, 2012.


____________. Future Is Now, The: How God is Moving in the 21st Century. Corunna, IN: Church Doctor Ministries, 2011.


____________. Your Church Has Personality: Find Your Focus-Maximize Your Mission. Corunna, IN: Church Growth Center, 1997.


Keller, Scott and Colin Price. Beyond Performance: How Great Organizations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Hoboken, NJ:Wiley, 2011.


Lencioni, Patrick. Advantage, The: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business.   San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2012.


Lofy, Chuck Dr., Mary Lofy, and John Lofy. Vitality: Igniting Your Organization’s SpiritMississauga ON, Canada: Axzo Press (Crisp Learning), 2003.


McDonald, Glenn. Disciple Making Church, The: From Dry Bones to Spiritual Vitality. Lima, OH: FaithWalk Publishing, 2007.


McIntosh, Gary L. There's Hope for Your Church: First Steps to Restoring Health and Growth. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012. 

Workshop Opportunities


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Leading From the Center of God's Will


I'm Special: Discover Your Spiritual Gifts


Discover Your Windows: Lining Up With God's Vision.


Contact Joshua Henry; 800-626-8515