Phil Miglioratti Interviewed Jim Tomberlin for a Reimagine.Network Leadership Lab
Veteran Pastor, Author, Church Strategy Specialist, founder of MultiSite Solutions. Consultant with @UnstuckGroup
- #Reimagine ... how to adapt to a post-Christian culture
- #Rebirth ... to stuck, and
- #Revitalization ... to struggling churches
- #Re-Invent ... your church and break away
- #Rethink ... like missionaries
PHIL: Jim, you have a distinct perspective on the Church.
You've pastored varied sized congregations and coached mega/multi-site churches through difficult struggles and with great success. What is your perspective of the state of the evangelical Church: strengths, weaknesses, obstacles, transformations? (using a revised version of the SWOT assessment form).
What are your observations, joys, fears...
- The rise of a church multiplication movement through church planting with an emphasis on making disciples that make disciples.
- The continued expansion of the multisite movement that is not slowing down and has become the norm for healthy, growing churches.
- The explosion of church mergers that are offering rebirth and revitalization to stuck and struggling churches while helping strong churches grow and expand
- The innovation of cutting-edge churches around digital church strategies and marketing.
- The increase of churches that are embracing racial and intergenerational diversity, biblical justice and empowerment of women.
- The recognition and addressing of sexual and emotional abuse in the church.
- The politicized nature of the Church.
- The dominance of Christian Nationalism in evangelical churches.
- The inability of the majority of churches to adapt to a post-Christian culture.
- The decline and near absence of evangelism.
- The pervasive sexual and emotional abuse in the church.
- Obstacles that resist change
- 20th century church methodology and scorecards
- Political polarization
- Inherent racism, sexism and misogyny in the church.
- Transformational action steps that are vital to 21st century culture
- Thinking like missionaries in a post-Christian nation
- Rising above partisan politics
- Unapologetic but culturally-relevant biblical teaching
- Pro-active evangelism of the good news of Jesus
- Embracing and affirming biblical values that are pro-life from the womb-to-the-tomb that includes embracing racial diversity, addressing social injustice, affirming equality for women, and compassion & mercy for the poor and immigrants.
PHIL: Agree/Disagree… Pastors and church leadership from smaller congregations should learn from the way mega/multi-site leaders think and innovate rather than copying their programs or pursuing their style of ministry.
JIM: Church leaders of all church sizes should learn from church leaders of all church sizes. All mega & muItisite churches were once small churches. We should look beyond successful methods and discover the universal principle behind the method that could work in my context. Who is making more followers of Jesus and their communities better, safer and healthier places to live? The best churches to learn from are not based on size or wealth, but on health and effectiveness of reaching unchurched people and transforming their communities for good.
PHIL: Differentiate between a tactical plan and strategic thinking...and explain how they work together.
JIM: Strategic thinking is figuring out what we want to accomplish—the vision. The tactical plan is how we will accomplish the vision—the implementation. Strategic thinking is getting the big picture from the 50,000 foot level. Tactical plans are the implementation of the strategic vision on the ground. President Kennedy demonstrated strategic thinking in 1961 when he cast a national vision to send and return a man to the moon by the end of the decade. The tactical plan to accomplish this was developed and implemented by NASA.
PHIL: How do you coach leaders on building a church that connects and communicates to a rapidly changing culture which does not always affirm biblical truths or values?
JIM: Think like missionaries in a foreign (post-Christian) culture. Stop trying to “retake” America or make America Christian through political means. Make followers of Jesus who will change the culture. Change a life, change a family. Change a family, change a neighborhood. Change a neighborhood, change a city. Change a city, change a nation. Change a nation, change the world!
PHIL: Creative leaders begin with questions that prompt review and revision so that they end up with insightful/transformational answers. Coach us with a question in each of these areas that would prompt a Spirit-led, Scripture-fed pursuit of how to rethink ministry.
- Worship settings: Is your worship style engaging believers in a way that outsiders can relate to?
- Discipleship objectives: Does your church have a clear discipleship pathway—steps to following Jesus?
- Leadership styles: Is your leadership style collaborative and empowering or top-down and authoritarian?
- Fellowship experiences: Are your gatherings insider-focused and exclusive, or outsider-friendly and inclusive?
- Evangelism training: Is your evangelism confrontational or conversational?
- Compassion/Justice values: Do you have a pro-life womb-to-the-tomb mindset?
- Prayer practices: How are you developing prayer practices into the lives of your congregation?
PHIL: What can we learn from mega/multi-site leaders on impactful communication?
JIM: The value of clarity. The more clarity of mission (why we exist), vision (what success looks like if we accomplish our mission), strategy (how will we accomplish our mission-vision), values (the priorities that shape our church culture and guide us in accomplishing our mission-vision) and discipleship pathway (the steps that help people follow Jesus) the more effective the church.
PHIL: Final words from a coach to a church leader...
JIM: Now is an extraordinary opportunity to reap a great spiritual harvest with unprecedented permission to re-invent your church and break away from the old, tired, ineffective methods of the 20th century and political distractions of the 21st century. Seize the opportunity, focus on the Gospel and think like missionaries in a foreign culture.
PHIL: Jim, write out a prayer for leaders who are ready to have their approach to ministry "transformed by the renewing of their mind." (Romans 12:2) “
JIM: Lord, raise up church leaders today who will be like the “men of Issachar who understood the times and knew what to do.” 1 Chronicles 12:32
BONUS: TheUnstuck Way
- JIM TOMBERLIN: (above)
Phil--thank you for inviting me to express my hopes and concerns about the status of the Church in America. As a pastor, author and consultant who has served the Church for 40+years I am encouraged but also concerned about the state of the American Church. I am grateful for your bridge-building efforts with church leaders in Chicagoland. [Jim Tomberlin]
Jim we share both the joy of the Body of Christ but also a concern. IMHO, our confidence in the inerrancy of our Scriptures bleeds over into our doctrinal interpretations and our well-intentioned applications. We are too comfortable in our (mostly) homogeneous churches-small groups-ministries; our mind-set/perspective is seldom stretched or challenged in a biblical way. Rather than seeking a Spirit-led, Scripture-fed review-to-renew, we demonize our opponents and weaponize our often simplistic talking points. We need to reimagine revival itself. | May God catch the attention of those who read your insights. [Phil Miglioratti]
Good advice for growing a church.
But for growing THE CHURCH, I’d start with John 12:47, being Evanlogically mindful of Ezekiel 3:27 and Matthew 10:12-14.
This approach may have more secular appeal than Evanmotional Bible thumping.