Growing Healthy Churches conference challenges churches to be more obedient to God
On February 9-10, more than 100 North Alabama clergy and laity gathered at the Brandon Ministry Center in Florence for the Growing Healthy Congregations conference sponsored by the Northwest District. The featured speaker was Dr. Paul Borden, author of the books Hit the Bullseye and a new book Direct Hit. Dr. Borden is Executive Minister of Growing Healthy Churches (formerly American Baptist Churches of the West), which is an association of American Baptist Churches in Northern California and Northern Nevada. Since the mid 1990s, this association went from only 36 of its 200+ congregations experiencing growth to now more than 170 growing congregations. They have now stated a new vision of a double portion which is to not only have growing existing congregations but to plant 300 new growing congregations by the year 2012.
You can read the full article here.
If you look at the picture on the front row, I am next to the woman in the pinkish orange blouse, I have on a brown long sleeve tee-shirt. Yep that's me with the short brown hair cut.
Highlights: During the two-day conference Dr. Borden shared stories and insights of how he has seen and helped declining local churches become vital, growing, disciple-making congregations. Growth indicates health; no growth indicates no health. He also explained one challenge for local congregations is shown in a recent Barna survey. It revealed that 91% of church members said they believed local congregations exist to serve them. Dr. Borden shared how this inward focused, as opposed to an outward, community focus, is part of the disobedience of many congregations. Borden explained how it was important for pastors and staffs to learn to exercise leadership behaviors such as passion, courage and flexibility. He also said it is important for leaders to keep growing and resource themselves and be resourced in their growth.He emphasized that the pastors and staffs role, as described in Ephesians 4, is to equip the saints for ministry. This means staff should help lay people discover and use their gifts and passions in the ministry of the church rather than doing all the ministry of the church. Borden also explained to pastors that is their job to establish the mission and vision of the congregations. And then not only cast the vision, but create a sense of urgency to energize people to jump on board and work toward that vision.
One thing I would like to do is go to the Hit the Bullseye Conference'07, here is the brochure for it. One of the reasons I want to go, is that it has workshops for women in ministry and dealing with change in your congregation, and the unique problems women can have. Plus you get to see and meet with the congregations that have changed. Anybody else interested? I think I'll ask for some financial help to go.
Our district has begun what they are calling Healthy Church Initiative based on Borden's work and Natural Church Development. I was able to get ST. John to agree to be part of this initiative. It hasn't started yet, but when it does, I'll be posting about how it goes.