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Transformational church helps association forward
Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications
July 05, 2011
5 MIN READ TIME

Transformational church helps association forward

Transformational church helps association forward
Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications
July 05, 2011

If numbers told the whole story the projected outlook

wouldn’t be very good for Transylvania Baptist Association.

Eighty percent of churches in the association are plateaued

or declining, according to Associational Missionary Chuck Campbell.

With the help of a new concept called Transformational

Church, the future is looking much brighter for this association.

Campbell is helping churches in the association take the

results from LifeWay Christian Resources’ latest study and apply them to a

process of transformation.

“Becoming more missionary-minded is what Transformational

Church is all about,” Campbell said. This process has helped churches in his

association, “quickly see how they can re-cast the vision.”

As a church health consultant Campbell is familiar with

working alongside churches. Transformational Church is different than any other

approach he has tried.

He said it gives churches a “look in the rearview mirror”

and helps them understand where they will end up if the direction doesn’t

change.

Churches in Transylvania are looking for answers, and

through this process, are asking hard questions, capitalizing on strengths and

moving forward in their efforts to make disciples.

What is Transformational Church?

Last year Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian

Resources, and Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research and LifeWay’s

missiologist in residence, co-authored the book Transformational Church.

The book is based on LifeWay’s research study to discover

the characteristics of churches that are truly seeing lives changed by the

power of the gospel.

The study included a survey of more than 7,000 pastors and

hundreds of on-site interviews. The research pointed to these seven elements

that are present when a church is making disciples and seeing life

transformation:

  • missionary mindset
  • prayerful dependence
  • relational intentionality
  • vibrant leadership
  • worship
  • community
  • mission

Transformational Church is about moving from a scorecard of

“bodies, budget and buildings” to one of discipleship and spiritual maturity.

Rainer and Stetzer write that, “a Transformational Church is not simply a ‘good

church’ or a church that does good things. Neither is it necessarily a big

church that offers excellent programming, preaching, and worship. A

Transformational Church focuses on the gospel’s ability to change people.”

An assessment tool is available to help measure the health

of churches and to explore strengths and weaknesses. A DVD discussion guide is

also available as a supplemental resource to the book.

Chuck Campbell

Does it make a difference?

Most churches in Transylvania have experienced success

throughout the years.

Yet, people change and communities change, and what worked

in the past doesn’t always work in the future.

Campbell has seen churches become more aware of the

community around them and the people in the community who do not know Jesus as

their personal Savior. Sometimes a church doesn’t even know who lives around

them.

Transformational Church can be a true wake up call for

churches; a reminder that if church priorities are not Kingdom priorities, the

church may eventually cease to exist.

“Transformational Church is not a plug and play. It goes

beyond a process to a lifestyle,” Campbell said. “This is how we do life; it’s

not how we do church.”

Transformational Church has proven effective in Transylvania

in large part because the change comes from within.

“It helps leaders birth action priorities, and then they

gain ownership of them,” Campbell said. “I’m not saying this is what you need;

they are saying this is what we need.

“Ultimately, I am just the coach and turn the process over

to them.”

Ownership also comes when church leaders seriously consider

results from the assessment and begin to make changes based on the facts and

not on how things have been in the past.

Too often churches rely on things done in the past without

ever considering who lives in the community today and what approach will be

most effective today.

Campbell encourages pastors to walk leaders through the DVD

series and to give a copy of the book to every deacon.

He said healthy churches also have much to gain through

Transformational Church.

One of the greatest benefits for churches is a discovery

retreat. Church leaders meet with a coach, like Campbell, and walk through the

assessment results and begin developing action priorities that point toward

change.

Although change is coming in Transylvania, it’s not instant

success. “It’s not an overnight turnaround,” Campbell said. “Be patient, be in

there for the long haul. Every church is different in how fast it will go

through the process.”

Campbell said change is coming because churches are

realizing they have been measuring their own fruitfulness, but never the

fruitfulness of the people they disciple. “You know you’ve made a disciple when

the one you are discipling is fruitful,” he said.

Where to start?

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) wants

to help churches interested in Transformational Church. Through a partnership

with LifeWay, Congregational Services staff members have been trained as

Transformational Church consultants and are available to work with North

Carolina Baptist churches at no charge to the church. Although churches may

choose to work directly with LifeWay, there is a charge for church consultation

through LifeWay.

“Our staff is available to walk with you through every step

of the process as you begin the journey of becoming a Transformational Church,”

said Lynn Sasser, executive leader for congregational services. “We are here to

help you introduce the process to church leaders, facilitate a discovery

retreat, provide accountability and consulting, and help prepare your church

members for the journey.”

Sasser said he is praying that churches across the state

will embrace a new scorecard that focuses on disciple-making and transformed

lives.

Visit www.ncbaptist.org/transformationalchurch.com.

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