In this second of two posts reviewing "Blow Ups Or Grow Ups: Strategic Issues For Turnaround Churches" In the first post I reviewed three strategies Hunter identified as the most common approaches settled pastors use to implement turnaround strategies in their churches.
In this post I'd like to briefly describe Hunter's view of how church health relates to Great Commission effectiveness. Hunter's research indicates (although he does not cite published work at this point) inidicates that the two are bound together in a causal relationship.
[T]he biblical, spiritual health of a church is the key for Great Commission effectiveness. It is the heart and soul of a turnaround church.
Presuppose with me that in many basic areas, unproductive churches have experienced a significant drift from the New Testament culture. This represents a major roadblock that diminishes what God wants to accomplish through the local church.
Any interim pastor that has ever served a plateaued, declining or dying church back to health can provide plenty of anecdotal information in support of these statements. We know from personal experience what happens when you try to lead a congregation back to New Testament ways of being "the church."
Smart or Healthy?
Hunter offers an important insight that brushes up against the distinction between change and transformation, a topic I've written about before. Borrowing some terminology from Patrick Lencioni, Hunter notes the difference between being smart and being healthy.
- Being smart is about change: it focuses on implementing more effective congregational and leadership behaviors. This is where most church consultants focus and their ministry does provide genuine help to the church.
- Being healthy is about transformation: it focuses on - in Hunter's words - "a redevelopment of culture."
Healthy Church Culture
Hunter identifies five distinguishing characteristics that emerge as a church moves into a healthier culture.
- Minimal Politics - biblical church governance, low control/high accountability, leading from God's will, biblical correction process and a service orientation.
- Minimal Confusion - clear philosophy of ministry, well-articulated Great Commission focus, abundant communication.
- High Morale - celebrates victories, honors God, frequent testimonies, joyful worship.
- High Productivity - all metrics filter through a "kingdom lens", clearly defined mission field, an environment of discipleship multiplication, focus on outreach by "taking the church to people" instead of taking people to church.
- Low Turnover of Leaders - Leaders are discipled rather than elected, people discipled in ministry leadership, sets the high bar of divine calling to service, biblical exercise of spiritual gifts in ministry, discipleship fostered at every level.
This article needs to be in your files whether you are a settled pastor facing a turnaround situation or an interim pastor called to help a troubled transition to effective ministry. You can download a .PDF copy for $5; a good investment.