[ Evangelism ]
The #ReimagineFORUM Coaching Session with Kevin Harney + Walt Bennett
Kevin Harney, Co-founder & Visionary Leader Organic Outreach International, Inc.
Walt Bennett, President & CEO Organic Outreach International, Inc.
● Why is it important for Christian leaders to begin a journey of rethinking ministry?
Walt ===>; Nothing in this world stays the same forever. The problem this presents is that we typically set things in motion and then let them continue on in the same way until something breaks. The breaking point comes when the world around us has changed so much that the things we set in place not only don’t produce positive results anymore, they end up producing negative results. The Gospel never changes, but the people and culture so desperately in need of it do change. The ways they interact and engage change. If we are not continuing to study new ways to reach the lost and trying new things, we cannot effectively carry out the mission we have been entrusted with. This has never been so apparent as it has become in the midst of COVID-19. Tom Kelley, best-selling author and a leader with the global innovation and design company IDEO makes this observation: “Churches that lead the way into the future will be filled with anthropologists. We need to go into our community and see what people are really doing.” We need to follow Tom’s advice...and then adapt our ways of doing ministry to line up with what we learn.
● Why will a "reimagine-journey" be difficult and potentially dangerous to the status quo?
Kevin ===> It will be difficult because most people prefer the easy route and path of least resistance.
Change is painful and presses us into the unknown...but that is where God calls us to go. It will be dangerous to the status quo because it will, by definition, destroy it. That is what change does to stagnant systems and processes. The biggest challenge is that the very times we need to consider new pathways and approaches are the very time most people are resistant. The good news is, difficult and dangerous are exactly what Jesus calls His people to embrace.
We live in an extraordinary world: Globalization (and a global pandemic). Immigration. #BlackLivesMatter. Gender reclassification. Marriage Redefined.. #MeToo. The rise of White Supremacy. Terrorism. Unpredictable Weather. The impact of the Industrial Revolution gives way to the Technological Age. . . . This a time of epic change that requires the Church to rethink how we apply biblical truth to the traditions-programs-models-systems that format everything we do.
•Agree/Disagree and explain your choice
Walt ===> I agree AND disagree. We have always lived in an extraordinary world full of epic changes with social and political dynamics shifting constantly. I think the difference now is that with communications technology, you can’t go a minute without it being right in your face. As intimated in my previous comment on the importance of rethinking ministry, we should ALWAYS be rethinking how we apply biblical truths to the current context of the world. The problem the Church faces right now is that we haven’t been evolving as the world around us has changed - and the current environment has made clear how far out of sync we have become. It’s like tectonic plates adjacent to one another - with pressure pushing one in a direction while the other stays the same. Eventually something happens that results in a seismic shift that is absolutely destructive.
● What does it actually mean to "reimagine?" Please unpack the word as you understand it and the components of a reimagining process.
Walt ===> We can only reimagine if we completely put aside our current way of thinking. We have to begin asking questions that we previously thought we had the answers to. As we start with this clean-slate approach, it allows us to see possible approaches that were obscured by our prior ways of thinking or of doing things. Through this process, there may well be elements from our prior thinking that prove to still be valid exactly as they currently exist, or perhaps with a bit of tweaking. That’s great! But there will also be elements from our prior thinking that absolutely no longer belong. Often these are sacred cows that are held onto because of the emotion or sentiment of individuals who have invested significantly in them over time -financially and/or emotionally. Stripping everything away and reimagining from the ground up can help recognize those for what they are and can help navigating the potential minefield of emotional attachments. A critical part of this process is recognizing the things we currently do because they are truly biblical vs. the things we do because they are tradition. We need to be prepared to scrap tradition in favor of effectiveness and impact.
● What roadblocks or resistance, barriers and boundaries, inhibit or prevent leaders from
pursuing a discerning assessment when they commence a journey to reimagine ministry?
Kevin ===> As the Organic Outreach International team has worked with leaders around the globe, we have identified a number of consistent barriers to change and new ways of doing things. The ministry of OOI is one that calls leaders and churches to think in new ways, try new things, and innovate new pathways for the sake of the gospel. Here are some common barriers:
❖ Denominational and structural “rules, regulations, and traditions.”
❖ Fear of change, new things, or members getting upset by change.
❖ Lead Pastors who are overworked (or afraid of hard work)..these are similar but distinct.
❖ Financial concerns or limitations...we can’t afford new ways of doing things.
❖ Worry that change in process or program will lead to a compromise of theological orthodoxy.
❖ Ministry schedules that are so full of doing things or maintaining things that there seems to be no margin to dream and look at new ways of doing things.
● Where do I begin? Where do you recommend a leader looks first to ensure they commence a truly Spirit-led, Scripture-fed journey?
Kevin ===> Take time for Spirit-seeking prayer. Make room for deep reflection and conversation. Weigh each idea against Scripture. Most of all, begin with the leaders of the church. If the lead pastor is not on board, there is little chance things will progress. Then, invite the staff and board into the journey. Finally, draw the whole congregation in.
● How does your ministry help Christian leaders equip those they serve to begin the reimagine-journey?
○ Cohort groups
○ One primary tool we offer to help Christian leaders propel their church, denomination, or movement toward effective evangelism is Organic Outreach Cohorts. We have discovered that church and movement leaders who use the church transformation approach taught in Organic Outreach for Churches, Infusing Evangelistic Passion into your Congregation often desire and need ongoing support, resources, and encouragement. Our two-year cohort process provides twenty monthly videoconference experiences (90-minutes each) with five to seven like-minded leaders. Each of these gatherings includes learning, accountability, inspiration and planning. There are separate cohorts for Lead Pastors and Outreach Influence Team (OIT) Leaders. We also provide additional connection and learning through ongoing online discussion-board collaboration between monthly meetings.
○ For those who prefer one-on-one mentoring, we offer monthly coaching sessions that include learning, accountability, inspiration, planning, and help in designing a customized outreach plan for their church, denomination, or movement.
○ We offer live on-site training, as well as access to our library of on demand teaching videos.
○ The Organic Outreach trilogy of books provides a strategy for church leaders and lay people who wish to infuse evangelistic passion into every aspect of their personal and church’s life.
○ OrganicOutreach.org email@example.com
● Additional coaching insights to share? Questions we must pursue?
Kevin ===> ❖ How do you develop leaders who develop leaders ?
❖ How do you develop next generation leaders who are younger but theologically orthodox?
❖ How do we help leaders and churches stay focused on the call of Jesus and not get side tracked with the rapidly changing news cycle and social media demands?
❖ How do we navigate preaching and lifting up Jesus and staying true to Scripture in a culture that is ready to cancel anyone or anything that does not align with the cultural orthodoxy?
● Please write a prayer that sets us onto a reimagining journey . . .
Walt ===> Heavenly Father awaken us! Help us to fully embrace your call to be in the world and yet not of the world. Give us the wisdom to seek your wisdom first. Help us to be better students of the world so that we may be more effective stewards and deliverers of your truth. Give us the strength and endurance required to be constantly evolving so we may be ever relevant.
Kevin ===> God of new things, You call us to sing a new song, to go to new places, to dream new dreams, and to do this while staying true to the unchanging truth of the gospel. Help us dream with you while staying true to you. Fill us with fresh new ways to share the truth of the one who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen!
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