reimagine church (3)

Guest Post ~ #Reimagine Deconstructing

Guest Post ~ #Reimagine Deconstructing

Taking it Down to the Studs (Mike Glenn)

SEP 17, 2023

By Mike Glenn

One of the things my tribe – Southern Baptists– do well is disaster relief. Whenever a river overflows its banks or a hurricane makes landfall, these volunteers show up in their yellow hats and trucks and begin to help rebuild what the storm has taken away. I thought about these disaster relief volunteers as I watched the news the other night. There were stories about hurricanes coming ashore in Florida and a horrific fire in Maui. There were floods in the northeast and another hurricane hovering off the eastern coast. 

With all of these disasters, I wondered how they would decide where to go first. Is there a ranking system for natural disasters?

Have you ever worked in a disaster area? When you show up, you and your team are overwhelmed by the power of nature and the devastation left behind. Houses are leveled. Power lines are down. Trees have been blown around like sticks. You can’t believe the power of the wind and rain. 

Second, no one knows where to start. For a long time, it seems that the team is just moving trash and debris from one pile to the other. The debris is pushed in stacks blocking roads and alleys. The first objective is to just find a way to get to the places you need to work. 

Don’t you wish we had a disaster relief team for organized religion and denominations in North America? We have certainly had our share of storms and disasters over these past few years. Prominent ministers admitting to affairs, sexual and spiritual abuse, and countless financial mismanagement revelations. These and other smaller, unknown, but just as damaging issues are the reasons many people don’t go to church anymore. 

I know a lot of these people. There have been too many disappointments and broken hearts for them to continue being part of the local church. This is why I wish we had a disaster relief team for churches and denominations in America. I wish I could make a call and buses of volunteers would roll into town and carry off the debris, begin repairs, and care for those who were caught in the storm. 

And in most places, we need to take damaged structures down to the studs. Whenever a disaster relief team comes into town, they begin to tear down damaged structures and for the ones that can be salvaged, they are taken down to their supporting structures. Houses shredded by the angry weather are torn down so they can be rebuilt. Anything that is damaged has to go: sheetrock, shingles, window frames, doors, and piles of soggy plywood are all thrown into garbage bins and hauled off. 

What would it mean if the organized religion in the United States was taken down to the studs? I think about 80% of what we do in our churches can be hauled to the dumpster. I’m convinced that we spend a lot of money on programs, events, and other gatherings that make absolutely no difference in our churches or the lives of our members. What makes me so sure of this? Covid. When the pandemic quarantine forced many of us to close our churches, most of what we did was never missed by our members. I got calls from people wanting to know when they could come back to worship and others wanting to know when they could get together with our small groups. They didn’t call about anything else. 

I think a lot of us would benefit from taking our religious life back to the studs. What are those things that are essential and necessary to our expression of faith? What practices actually help us deepen our faith and become more like Christ?

Worship is the first requirement. Everything else results from our worship. What we worship, and who we worship influences every other decision we make. Another word for “glory” is “weight.” Weight, of course, means mass and mass means gravity. In His glory, God is the only being with a gravitational mass strong enough to hold the aspects of our lives in their proper orbit. When we place anything or anyone else in the center of our lives, our lives spin out of control. Worship is the habitual practice of placing God in the center of our lives. 

Groups are the second requirement. We need a place to work out what it means for us to be a follower of Christ. We need support and encouragement. We need practical advice on how to actually live out the great teachings of forgiveness, grace, and mercy. While these are beautiful concepts, they are difficult to live out. Most of us need a little help putting these concepts into real-life practice. Groups are God’s way of recreating broken families. All of us need a family. In the hard times, it’s family that gets you through. 

We need some kind of mission. We need someplace where we deal with our broken world and in the power of the Risen Christ, bring hope to the hopeless and healing to the wounded and hurting. Our mission work doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to bring the light of Christ to a dark part of the world. 

Maybe if we made our faith walk a little more simple, we all would benefit. This would give us more time to actually BE the church instead of just GOING to church all of the time. Our lives are complicated enough, our churches don’t need to be.

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GUEST-POST: Dying Churches Successfully Revitalized

Small churches are using strategies to alter their mission and successfully relaunch.

  * MinistryWatch

More Protestant church congregations close than open in a year in America. According to Lifeway Research, in 2019, 4,500 churches closed their doors while only 3,000 new churches were started.


Photo by Carolina Jacomin / Unsplash / Creative Commons


As they face closure, some churches are turning to a strategy found in the 2018 book, “Dying to Restart” by Greg Wiens and Dan Turner, not just to survive, but thrive.

The West Side Church of God in Wichita, Kansas, decided to adopt the strategies in the book.

On March 12, the congregation gathered for its final service. Its attendance had dropped to only 45 people, about one-third the number it had in the early 2000s when Pastor Forest Cornwell arrived.

According to the Faith Communities Today study in 2020, half of all churches in the country have less than 65 people worshiping in services each week.

Cornwell recognized that West Side Church of God was facing closure. “If we keep going like we’re going as a church, we are going to die,” Cornwell told The Wichita Eagle. “That might drag out five or 10 years, but we’re not accomplishing anything the way we are going now.”

Instead, the church’s board relinquished control and will be replaced by pastors and leaders of other churches that are growing. They have agreed to sit on West Side’s board for two to three years and help them succeed in relaunching.

West Side will close for several months and then re-open with a new name and an operational makeover. During those months, the members will attend weekly workshops to learn about changes that need to be made. The church building will be fixed up, painted, and new sound equipment installed.

Church member and music director Tracie Nice has been at West Side for 55 years. She supports the relaunch. “We’re excited, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it will be real, real difficult too,” she said. “We know in our hearts it’s the right thing.”

Eleven other churches have followed the relaunch advice in “Dying to Restart.” Co-author Dan Turner said they’ve been successful with an average growth of about 3 ½ times what it was prior to closing.

In 2004, Turner himself was a pastor who led a small church of only 32 in Washington, D.C. After a year of doing everything he knew to grow the church, nothing changed.

Turner followed advice he learned online from another pastor, and the church relaunched in 2006 as Northwest Community Church. A larger church agreed to help finance outreach efforts, like sending postcards about the relaunch to the community.

In Turner’s opinion, the relaunch effort was successful. Each year the church has grown steadily to a present membership of over 200.

Heritage Free Will Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia, had dwindled to an attendance of only 15 members before deciding to relaunch according to the Dying to Restart principles.

Its pastor, Chris Davenport, thought the church had lost its focus. It had a rigid dress code and didn’t care about spiritually lost people, he said.

It sold its building and relaunched in an elementary school in March 2020 as Bridge Church. It has seen an increase in attendance to 175.

Davenport credits Dying to Restart with helping refocus the church on its mission: “[T]his is God’s church, and we need to do whatever we can to get people to know Jesus.”

Turner agrees with Davenport. He believes churches often die because they become insular and lose focus on the greater mission of sharing the Gospel and discipling people.

He doesn’t believe small churches need to grow into large churches in order to survive, adding that relaunch efforts will not look the same for every church.

Turner’s usual consultation fee for helping churches relaunch is $2,200. However, he said he waives the fee for churches who can’t afford it.

The Southern Baptist Convention is also supporting church replants through its North American Mission Board. In 2020, NAMB helped fund 50 replants.

LA City Baptist Church was a successful replant. The small historic Hispanic congregation had dwindled to 12 when Pastor Min Lee arrived in 2018. In 2022, it had grown to about 50.

Lee said replanting is slow and steady work that begins with building trust with older congregation members and moves to changing the church’s approach to ministry.

If not handled correctly, the replanting process can have perils.

In 2020, older church members at Vineyard United Methodist Church felt discarded when their church was restarted.

Mark Hallock, author of “Replant Roadmap” encourages pastors to gain support from existing church members.

“This is not a takeover situation,” he said. “This is a situation where we’re coming in and loving those who are there and inviting them to be part of something together that God could do moving forward.” 

Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, gardening, and coaching high school extemporaneous speaking and debate.

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GUEST POST ~ Culture and Why It Matters

GUEST POST ~ Culture and Why It Matters

The One Thing That Changes Everything

Bill Zipp 

I love Kmart. But not for the low, low prices or the blue light specials. I love Kmart because wherever I travel in the United States, I can find a dead plant there.

Let me explain…

As a speaker, I’m often asked to address the topic of organizational culture. I begin my speech by putting a dead plant in front of the audience and asking the group what this plant needs. We generate a list—water, air, nutrients, re-planting, pruning—and discuss the ways in which this list parallels the corporate context.

There’s one problem with that ingenious idea, however. Where do you find a dead plant on demand? The solution: Kmart. They’ve never failed to deliver. There’s always a good supply of dead plants on their shelves from which to choose.

When I take my dead plant to the check-out line to pay for it, I ask the attendant if he or she could discount it for me because the plant is, obviously, quite dead. A conversation like this ensues:

“I’m sorry, sir. I’m not allowed to do that.”

“But the plant is dead,” I reply.

“It’s not our policy to discount dead plants. Then everyone would want them.”

“And that would be a problem?“

I’ve learned a lot over the years from dead plants about what it takes to build great organizational culture, but first, allow me to answer these two questions: What is culture and why does it matter?


Simply stated, culture is the combination of beliefs and behaviors any group of people embrace, from businesses to churches, families to nations. It’s the way people in these groups think and the way they act over time.

If a sports team believes it cannot win close games, its behavior reflects that belief when minutes turn to seconds on the clock. They stop playing with a sense of urgency and give up. In business, culture drives how we participate in meetings, how we treat our customers, and how we go about pursuing our goals and responding to the obstacles that arise related to them.

Culture is the undercurrent of all that goes on in your organization and the riptide that drowns any initiative that drifts into its flow. It’s the one thing that changes everything. Which makes building great organizational culture one of your top priorities as a leader.

The stark reality is this: you may have the best product at the best price. You may have the most brilliant strategy being executed by the most talented staff. You may have the latest cutting edge technology and the slickest social media presence, but if your culture is broken, all of that stuff—every bit of it—is dead on arrival.

Or in the words of Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast!”


Okay, here’s what I’ve learned about culture: Great organizational culture has three intersecting lines. The first of these lines is your company’s guiding principles, its core values. That line then intersects with the products and services you provide and the way you treat people. Let’s address each in turn.


The starting place for culture is with beliefs. That is, a common set of characteristics a company is committed to carrying out, no matter what. You may refer to these as core values, or, as I do here, as guiding principles.

Companies with great organizational culture have intentionally identified a handful of these qualities and defined them as a group. Often, this process begins with individuals in the organization identifying their own core values, explaining them to each other, and affirming the shared commitments that surface in the process.

Don’t, however, jump into this process lightly. It isn’t for the faint of heart.

“Coming up with strong values—and sticking to them—requires real guts. Indeed, an organization considering a values initiative must first come to terms with the fact that, when properly practiced, values inflict pain and demand constant vigilance,” warns the ever-insightful Patrick Lencioni in Harvard Business Review. “If you’re not willing to accept the pain real values incur, don’t bother going to the trouble of formulating a values statement. You’ll be better off without one.”


If you’ve ever participated in a core values exercise like the one described above (It was all the rage a few years ago.), your company may have assembled a list like this: communication, respect, integrity, excellence.

Don’t those words sound great?

Here’s the problem with the items on that list. They were the core values of Enron as stated in its annual report shortly before the company’s epic meltdown, one of the worst scandals ever to have rocked the business world. Ouch!

The challenge, then, in building culture is not coming up with the ideals we espouse but actually embodying those ideals in the demands of day-to-day life. Doing them /no matter what/.

This means having your guiding principles drive the quality of the products you bring to market and the integrity of the services that support those products. It may mean declining to offer certain services because they don’t align with your values or refusing to provide certain products, regardless of their profit margin.

In other words, the creation of a company culture that’s consistent with its convictions requires that your values inform every marketplace interaction—from advertising to sales, from accounting to operations—or they are, like Enron, empty words on the wall (or in a glossy annual report).


Culture begins by what we say we believe, our guiding principles, and it continues by acting on those beliefs with specific, repeated behaviors. First with our products and services, and next in our relationships with people.

Token phrases, such as, “People are our greatest asset,” cause instant eye-rolls and cynical skepticism. Not, however, within companies with great organizational culture. These firms have allowed their values to inform daily interactions with their employees, creating an environment of mutual trust and respect.

Granted, working with human beings is infinitely more difficult than bringing products and services to the market, but this is where culture becomes deeply embedded in a company. And while volumes have been written on the subject, I offer some simple advice. Be honest. Be human. Be both at the same time.

Being honest involves speaking with clarity and candor and avoiding the deceptive guise of minimization or exaggerated overstatements. Honesty without humanity, however, can be harsh and hurtful. So along with clarity and candor, provide kindness and compassion. In other words, be human. And while you’re at it, be humble.

For my faith friends, you’ll recognize this concept as becoming more like our Savior, who is ”full of grace and truth.” Again, not one or the other but both completely. A fullness of grace and truth has the potential to create the greatest culture your company has ever experienced.

If your organization were a plant, how healthy would that plant be? Would it be dying on a shelf at Kmart or thriving in a fertile garden?

The choice is yours as a leader. It’s a choice to pay attention to the one thing that changes everything, empowering your people to stay true to their guiding principles with all your products and services and all your relational interactions.


With thanks to

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