Vol. 9, No. 2 March/April 2013
Also in this issue:
- Ten Ways God Uses You to Regenerate the Movement
- Join us for an Immersion Experience
- Experience SEND Weekends
- Healthy Churches Thrive!
- Special Focus Consultations
- Coffee Hour with the Church Doctor
PURPOSE: To connect with those who have an active relationship with Church Doctor Ministries as peers in ministry, clients, and partners in prayer and support.
The Church Doctor Report provides a quick read of strategic and influential information. This information is free to share as long as the source is respected: The Church Doctor Report, www.churchdoctor.org.
Healthy Churches Thrive! is a registered trademark.
Kent Hunter co-leads Church Doctor Ministries, a team of Great Commission servants dedicated to help churches return to biblical and effective disciple-making. He is the architect of Healthy Churches Thrive! and the author of Regeneration: A Spiritual Pilgrimage.
Visit our website!
To fill the earth, God gave the command to "be fruitful and multiply." To fill heaven, Jesus gave essentially the same command, using different words: "Go and make disciples...."
Ten ways God uses you to regenerate the movement
- Pray for revival, a movement of God. Prayer does not manipulate God to bring revival. God is not manipulated. However, God honors prayer. Every revival is preceded by a movement of prayer.
- Work and pray for an "awakening" in your church. This is a wake-up call that redirects Christians from a focus on "church stuff" to a focus on God's will - what God wants - with reckless abandon.
- Offload 30- 40% of the nice programs that sap your energy, but do not spiritually impact lives.
- Focus on spiritual formation and relational discipling.
- Make it a priority to model one-on-one relational discipleship as you pour your life into, and share your spiritual journey with, another person - so they may "catch" your spiritual infection.
- Balance content teaching with experiential, hands-on faith involvement.
- Shift from primary emphasis on "doing" activities to the spiritual centerpiece of "becoming." Do less, go deeper, and recognize that it's not about what you do, but about who you are and who you become.
- Change the agenda from getting ministry done to increasing the spiritual, missional health of your church, one person at a time.
- Commit to the long transformational process of restoring the culture of your church to the values, beliefs, attitudes, priorities, and worldviews that reflect the culture of the New Testament church.
- Organically grow the disciple-making culture of your church, one person at a time, as each one is ready and open - by the power of the Holy Spirit. Like yeast in dough, let God grow the movement gently, at His pace. Never treat a believer as a second-class Christian or force mission thinking on those who are not yet ready. Hold them gracefully in love and prayer, in the Spirit of Jesus.
Join Us for an Immersion Experience
"Another incredible experience ... important in my ongoing transformation and the life of the church I'm a part of!"
"The emersion component of this movement is critical. One has to be here in Sheffield to 'catch it'."
"I am going home with a heart ready to do God's work and seek revival."
Visit Sheffield, England
Experience SEND Weekends
Join us in Kendallville, Indiana, to live SEND North America for a weekend: encounter God, discover your purpose, and experience 21st
century mission. Weekends will be held Friday, June 21 (6:30pm) to Sunday, June 23 (12:30pm) and Friday, August 2 (6:30pm) to Sunday, August 4 (12:30pm). Weekends will include teaching, training, worship, mission, and ministry. While SEND is targeted to young adults (age 18 to 29), the weekend experiences are open to everyone. You'll also learn more about the 2013/2014 SEND Season. We're planning the weekends as you read this, so full details will soon be available. Visit Visit our website!
or call 1.800.626.8515 (U.S.), 00-1-260-281-2452 (international) or contact Josh Humberger (firstname.lastname@example.org
) to learn more.
Healthy Churches Thrive!®
"This isn't a program with a beginning and an end ... This is a movement, a dynamic call to rediscover the power of being a follower of Christ."
Visit Healthy Churches Thrive!
Special Focus Consultation
Is your church merely coping with a particular problem? Are you faced with an opportunity you're not sure how to meet? Objective, experienced, personal attention may be just what you need. Call the Church Doctor!
"Our church is fairly large. We had the Church Doctor for three days. We gained hundreds of insights. Our staff got excited. Our board is enthused. The Doctor gave us some ideas that will greatly increase the effectiveness of our church. One idea saved us thousands of dollars."
Senior Pastor, Omaha, Nebraska
Coffee-Hour with a Doctor
Stay tuned for ongoing monthly sit-downs in Toledo and Fort Wayne with Church Doctor Ministries. Have a new idea for ministry? Encountering a difficulty for which you'd like objective advice from an expert in church dynamics? Watch for specfic times and places in these cities for two-hour sessions. Get advice, share a triumph, tell your stories with Church Doctor Ministries.
What God decides, God provides.
Discover Your Windows
What We Can Learn from the Centers for Disease Control
Kelly sat at her desk, a little slumped in her chair. A pastor of a mid-size congregation, she looked fatigued.
"I'm worn out by all the busyness at this church," she said. "We are an active church, but we resemble a gerbil running on a wheel - moving fast, going nowhere." She diagnosed it well!
Kelly's church is a well-oiled machine of positive activity. However, in her own words, her church has little kingdom impact. "Our profile," she sighed, "is like most churches in this community - moving fast, going nowhere." She continued, "We are plateaued, or slowly declining. And ... as a congregation, we are aging."
Kelly's church does many things well. You could say they do things right. But they are not doing the right things. Her church, like many, should offload at least 30% of the activities and refocus.
Do the Math
The genius of Jesus is this: He did not develop an institution. True to the biblical posture of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Jesus launched a new (covenant) movement.
To fill the earth, God gave the command to "be fruitful and multiply." To fill heaven, Jesus gave essentially the same command, using different words: "Go, make disciples...." In this way, Jesus maintained the Father's consistent approach: multiplication.
Everywhere you look, God is about multiplication. For example, let's say you plant a kernel of corn. If the environment is healthy, the kernel will grow a stalk, with one, two, and occasionally, three, ears of corn. Each ear has around 250 kernels, minimum. With an average of two ears, the ratio of multiplication is at least 1 to 500.
This multiplication dimension is why trees provide countless seeds, fish lay dozens of eggs, and rabbits proliferate like, well, rabbits. It is also why Jesus did what seems to the modern mind to be incomprehensible. To launch the greatest movement in the history of the planet, He invested much of his ministry into 12 guys. He taught the multitudes, fed the crowds, healed many, but poured himself into the few He called disciples.
It is counterintuitive that Jesus invested in 12 uneducated guys. Few, today, would call that a good plan. However, the ratio was 1 to 12. One failed, so that made it 1 to 11. That one was replaced by Saul, then called Paul, and the ratio changed back to 1 to 12. But the math of multiplication became the genius of spiritual compound-interest type growth. It was a slow start. Yet it became the greatest movement with the most impact in all of history. There is no rival movement anywhere close, measured by any standards.
The Art of Inoculation
Christianity is - or is supposed to be - a Jesus epidemic. In Atlanta, Georgia, there is an agency called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They are focused on preventing and stopping epidemics. This is what they have learned:
- Occasionally, some people catch the flu.
- It is a virus, and it has the potential to multiply to others. This is called "going viral."
- If it gets caught by large numbers of people, it can become an epidemic.
- You don't catch the flu by reading a book about the flu, or attending a class about "how to get the flu," or by listening to a speech about the flu.
- You catch the flu by getting up close and personal with someone who has it.
The CDC has learned that when there is a flu outbreak, the key to stopping it is to quarantine those who have it. They make sure those infected don't mingle with others who have not yet been infected. Sometimes, the CDC encourages people to move into an institution, like a hospital. The objective is to carefully separate those who are infected with the virus so they can't give it to others. This effectively insulates those who carry the virus from the rest of the world. It works!
Before a suspected outbreak of the flu, they give people a small dose of the flu with a shot. This builds up antibodies. It inoculates people from getting the flu. If they are around someone who has the flu, generally, they don't catch it. Their body essentially says, "Been there, done that." They have built up resistance; they don't get the flu; and, if enough have been inoculated, the virus can't go viral. The folks at the Centers for Disease Control know how to stop a movement ... of disease.
It seems many churches have learned the art of inoculation. This guts the Christian movement, and the growth of Christianity stalls. Somehow, the church has drifted from multiplication to addition.
This is how Christians have blocked the growth of Christianity. Many well-meaning parents have inoculated their kids. They have signed them up for Vacation Bible School, dropped them off to Sunday school, forced them to get through Confirmation, or required them to attend a Christian school. However, the parents didn't practice Christianity themselves. So their children were taught Christianity but they never caught it - in the viral sense. How many children are confirmed and vanish from the church? How many former Catholics say they left the church because they had "enough of religion from those nuns" at the Catholic school? A little shot of force-fed Christianity has inoculated many, unfortunately, for life. For some, they learned just enough to make sure they inoculate the next generation - their offspring, as they perpetuate the tradition.
Many churches have successfully buried the movement aspects of Christianity and turned the faith into an institutional program. Remember Kelly's church? It's a hub of activity. There are programs for everything: religious instruction for children, Bible classes for the adults. Many are reading the Book, attending the classes, but fail to get the Holy Infection.
"Real ministry" is accomplished by the pastor and staff. Outreach is institutionalized into an evangelism committee that spends most of its energy in meetings deciding how the staff should promote the institutional church. A few newcomers do dribble into the church, and the community of believers often grows slowly by addition.
The movement Jesus launched occurs when those who have the Holy Infection get up close and personal with those who don't have the spiritual virus. When they do, others are infected. This non-institutional, highly relational plan for a Jesus epidemic has a name. It's called "making disciples."
The Master's plan is not restricted to the staff making disciples - infecting others. It is an infected multitude that infects others. The strategy is to equip the masses and release them to infect others. The environment is not the quarantined environment of the church building, but the crossroads of life. The target, also called the "mission field," is not geographic parameters, like "our town," or "a radius of 20 miles around our church," but the uninfected in the social networks of everyone in the church. This is Christianity in epidemic proportions. It is a movement.
You don't infect people by inviting them to a hospital to hear a lecture about the faith you hope they will catch. Instead, God uses you to infect others while you talk over coffee, as you tell your stories of how God has worked in your life - and how good and wonderful this holy infection really is.
Others don't often catch the Jesus epidemic just by reading the Book, any more than people catch the flu by reading about it. Yet, once they catch this awesome virus from you, they will want to read more about it and hear messages that will lead them further. They will want more!
Making disciples, through one-on-one relational multiplication can be a slow process at first, one that takes years. However, when others catch it - really catch it - they are infectious. They are contagious. They multiply the movement. It starts slowly, grows, and then explodes. This is the power of exponential spirituality.
Here is a little exercise in exponential spirituality, compared to growth by addition. Of course, numbers are not what Christianity is all about. They represent people, real people, for whom Christ died. They represent the kingdom potential of your church. In the table below, column A represents a church with 10 church members who are excited about outreach. They represent the staff, a few on the evangelism team, and a couple of others. Each of these 10 brings into the church two new Christians each year. These new Christians become church members but are not discipled to disciple others. This is growth by addition.
Column B represents a church with 10 church members who disciple one person who is a new Christian in the church, and who, as a disciple, disciples one other person each year.
| Column A Column B|
| ||# of members||# of new members||Cumulative||# of disciplers||# of disciples||Cumulative |
God has a "compound interest" to "seek and save the lost."
Rethinking the Christian Movement
We don't take our model from the Centers for Disease Control. We follow the God of the Bible, who is the God of today, the King of the universe and the Head of the Church. If Christianity is a movement, it is:
- A movement, not an institution
- A process, not a program
- A journey, not an event
- Messengers, not consumers
- Relationships, not an organization
- A community, not a building
- A lifestyle, not a compartmentalized activity
- A spiritual adventure, not a religion
- An experience, not an academic exercise
- Disciples, not graduates
- Missionaries, not members
- Ministers, not observers
- Contagious, not inoculated
- Infectious, not quarantined
- Transformed, not conformed
... Spiritually experiential
... A Jesus epidemic.
Commit yourself to action. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do for God today. Volunteer-now. Become more active-now. Share your faith-now. Take your kids to Sunday School-now. Read your Bible-now. Rekindle your prayer life-now. After all, it's harvest time-now!
"If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done."
Ecclesiastes 11:4 (LB)
What can you do for God right now? What can you plan on doing tomorrow?
An Apple a Day Devotion by Kent Hunter
Roland Allen, Missionary Methods: St. Paul's or Ours? GLH Publishing, 2011
Kent Hunter, Foundations for Church Growth: Biblical Basics for the Local Church, Church Growth Center, 1994
Kent Hunter, The Jesus Enterprise: Engaging Culture to Reach the Unchurched, Abingdon Press, 2004
Kent Hunter, Regeneration: A Spiritual Pilgrimage, Church Doctor Ministries, 2012
Darrow Miller, Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Cultures, YWAM Publishing, 2001
George Peters, A Biblical Theology of Missions, Moody Publishers, 1984
Ross Rohde, Viral Jesus: Rediscovering the Contagious Power of the Gospel, Passio, 2012
Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries, HarperSanFrancisco, 1997
Dallas Willard, The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus's Essential Teachings on Discipleship, HarperOne, 2006
N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, HarperOne, 2010
"Church growth -- outreach and evangelism -- is not an option for the church. It is part of her very nature as the bride of Christ.... Is this the purpose, the mission, of your church?
Six Faces of the Christian Church:
How to Light a Fire in a Lukewarm Church
Multiplying Hope Through Healthy Churches