ChuckWarnock.com

Confessions of a Small Church Pastor

NOC09 blog tour stops here Thursday


I’m leading the Small Church Idea Forum at the National Outreach Convention 2009 in San Diego, CA on November 4-7, 2009.  The NOC09 blog tour is stopping by today to leave some questions in the comment section.  Click on the tiny number beside the “quote balloon” to the right of the title of this post to see comments and add your own.  I’ll re-post the questions and my answers here for Friday so feedreaders will pick them up.

The important thing is for you to start making your plans to attend NOC09, one of the best and most practical conferences you’ll ever attend.  Plus, San Diego is always beautiful, and in November it is gorgeous.  See you at NOC09 in November!

Here’s a montage of last year’s NOC — it really is a great conference!

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Categories: leadership, Missional Church, outreach, Resources

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6 replies

  1. Chuck, we are looking forward to having you at NOC in November – and thanks for setting up today’s discussions.
    To start with, Chuck, what would you say to a leader whose small church is creatively and consistently serving its community but isn’t really seeing attendance growth or Kingdom impact—people aren’t meeting Jesus? What they’re doing seems missional, but it’s not bearing any real fruit.

  2. I’m looking forward to being at NOC09 and leading the small church idea forum. Thanks for stopping by here today to discuss outreach.

    Your question is a very good one, and really reflects what has happened in our church and community. We have been involved in several transformative projects in our community — starting a Boys and Girls Club, leading the effort to build a community center, starting a community music school, just to name a few. But our church attendance has not realized a direct boost from any of these projects. We do have one family regularly attending, and I believe that they will come to Christ soon and we rejoice in that.

    There are many reasons for our slow numerical increase in both attendance and new converts, so our involvement in these community changing ministries is not the only factor.

    Even with the slow direct benefit we have seen, we would still have undertaken those projects. I believe that the good news comes in many forms, and there are times when social systems need to be redeemed, too.

    Our community continues to struggle with racial reconciliation. All of the projects I mentioned above include both white and minority participants by design. Prior to the construction of the community center our town had a dilapidated “rec center” for the African-American community that was unsafe and unused. The new 16,000-square-foot community center is open to all and the balance of users reflects a truer picture of the diversity of our town.

    Because of our leadership, our church was asked last year to host the annual Martin Luther King Celebration — a first-time honor for a white congregation. The program leader for that day made the comment that “people notice what you’ve done.” I took that as validation of our involvement in the community to redeem a social system that needed transformation.

    I think it is interesting that Jesus fed people, healed people, raised the dead, and cared for real life needs as part of his ministry, not as an after-thought or option. That’s what we’re trying to do here in Chatham.

  3. You certainly do have the right focus as a church. It is so often the case that the “fruit” of our efforts comes in God’s timing, not ours.
    Chuck, have you ever had to balance striving to be the right kind of church that is both spiritually vibrant and passionate about reaching people with the Gospel without placing an improper (or appropriate) emphasis on size? If so, how did you approach that balancing act? If not, do you have any suggestions?

  4. Years ago it was pretty typical for churches to have high attendance days, or other promotions that were measured by numbers. I led many of those ‘numbers-driven’ events myself, and most were very successful in achieving their goals.

    I believe now, however, that many unchurched people are resistant to the idea of being just a ‘number’ to their neighborhood church. My own church members are resistant to setting purely numerical goals for an event outcome.

    So we’re trying to craft a personal, word-of-mouth approach to outreach. I talked with a pastor yesterday who said they wanted to create a “culture of invitation” and I like that phrase.

    I don’t believe that a church can be really dynamic spiritually if it is not interested in reaching out to others. But, outreach has to be for the benefit of those we are reaching, not just for the numerical increase of a church. People are very suspicious of being used by companies and organizations now, and churches can find a biblical balance between ministry vision and personal connection.

  5. As a pastor of a small church in a rural area I struggle with being a staff of one and trying to keep up with everything that needs to happen in areas of ministry. I am challenged by our supersonic culture, people’s high expectations of church and the ever increasing depth of issues that people are facing everyday.

    My questions are what’s a small church pastor to do?

    How can I (as a staff of one) meet people’s and ministry expectations?

    How can I equip myself with the tools that will help me deal with issues that people in the church are facing

  6. Steve, thanks, and I understand your situation because I’m a solo pastor myself. I am a staff of one, with a parttime sec, and parttime choir director.

    Someone wisely said that good leaders learn to fail expectations at the rate people can stand it. Which is to say that no leaders will please everyone all the time. But, I feel your conflict.

    I read a lot of leadership books, some more helpful than others. I am also trying to let leaders emerge within our congregation to take on tasks that they can do. I’m trying not to be so involved in every decision, every meeting, and so on.

    But, we still have to “pay the rent” on basic expectations and assumptions. My members assume that I visit them when they are sick, in the hospital, have special needs, or just to chat. I try to do that without fail, especially hospital and crisis visits.

    I also keep a regular weekly routine (as much as possible): in the office mornings, out for visits of all types in the afternoons. That’s what I do, and still I have well-meaning members remind me that “so-and-so” needs a visit, or call, or some attention. I try to get to those as quickly as possible because I realize there are at least two people who now expect me to respond — the one who told me and the one they told me about.

    The other thing I do is limit other activities. I resigned from two civic boards this year, just because I don’t have time. My family, church, and personal time take precedence over the next tier of activities.

    So, that’s what I do, but I still have the same inner struggle you express — I never feel it’s enough, but it’s the best I can do right now. Oh, I do take Fri and Sat off, but most weeks I’m doing something on one or both days. But that seems to go with the territory.

    What have you found helpful in your own setting?
    -Chuck

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