Ready to transform
Thomas Crane, BSC Communications
December 01, 2010

Ready to transform

Ready to transform
Thomas Crane, BSC Communications
December 01, 2010

If someone had nothing to go

on except conversations overheard among pastors at Southern Baptist Convention

meetings he might conclude that a successful church scorecard includes how well

the church is doing on “nickels, noses, and seating capacity.”

While nothing is wrong with “bodies,

budgets and buildings,” the latest research from LifeWay Christian Resources

suggests that the three Bs are not the most effective means of measuring a

church’s impact on its community and the world for the Kingdom of Christ.

Instead, the research

results — which serve as the basis for the book Transformational Church — offer

a new approach. “If we are not really making and producing disciples, then the

church is not really being the church and is not fulfilling the Great

Commission,” said Rick Hughes, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC)

senior consultant for discipleship.

Hughes and Russ Conley, BSC

senior consultant for leadership development, led a “Transformational Church”

break out session Nov. 9 during the BSC annual meeting.

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

Rick Hughes stresses the importance of making disciples during a breakout session at the Baptist State Convention Nov. 9.

Rather than taking shots at

the state of many local churches, Transformational Church identifies the

positive elements noted in 250 vibrant and effective churches.

A robust research project

consisting of more than 7,000 churches led to interviews with churches among

the top 10 percent in categories such as baptismal growth, overall church

growth, and ratio of worship attendance to those participating in small group

or Sunday School.

Conley walked attendees

through the seven points of emphasis noted in the book by authors Thom Rainer

and Ed Stetzer.

The first focuses on a

missionary mentality when church members love lost people more than their idea

of how church should be done.

Church members must study

and understand their local community and meet people where they are in order to

introduce them to Christ. Transformational churches think like missionaries and

do what it takes to reach their community.

A vibrant leadership is a

must if the church is going to shift from a “mission” program to the entire church

being engaged in missions. Leaders must also shift the focus from the three Bs

to the mission of the Kingdom of God.

Transformational churches

are also marked by relational intentionality. People, and not programs, are the

focus of the church.

Relationships become the

substance of the church’s culture. The cross should be the only stumbling block

to an outsider. Conley said this sort of thinking requires the church to begin

to think outward instead of inward.

Prayerful dependence is the

fourth emphasis of a transformational church. This does not necessarily mean a

prayer ministry, but rather prayer itself. Church members must pray for the

expansion of God’s Kingdom and should not focus all their prayer efforts on

other church members.

“The prayers of the people

in church will reveal what the church values most,” Conley said.

Transformational churches

are focused on making disciples — not catering to consumers.

A worship service is not to

be reduced to a focus on style. Conley said God is the reason believers come

together to worship and so they must come with a sense of anticipation, knowing

man is not the center of worship.

Community also plays an

essential role in the life of the transformational church. People need to be

connected into “life on life” relationships with other believers. Once involved

in the community of the church an emphasis is placed on their growth, their

service and their being sent out on mission. True discipleship never takes

place apart from community.

Finally, the transformational

church emphasizes the mission of the church. Evangelism is a natural part of

life and so people should not be taught to rely on “canned evangelism” or

formal evangelism training.

Transformation churches are

not as concerned about coddling immature believers as they are with engaging,

winning and discipling the lost.