Thursday, October 29, 2009

Excellent Congregations

Excellent Protestant Congregations, by Paul Wilkes, identified the following 26 common traits among the "excellent" protestant congregations.

  1. A vibrancy about living a Christian on the creative and holy edge of the New Testament...being a Christian is not a leisure activity but an adventure.
  2. Entrepreneurial...risk-takers, self-starters, use what works and put aside that which does not.
  3. Draws philosophically, rather than geographically or denominationally, by the spirit of a living and present God.
  4. Reach beyond their comfort zone...not afraid of being uncomfortable and ask tough questions of themselves.
  5. Regularly evaluate themselves...for effectiveness.
  6. Have a clear, yet changing, sense of mission...a vision of where they want to be and willingness to redirect energies to be effective in their community and people’s lives.
  7. Willingness to break up and reassemble...put aside old structures and coalitions when necessary to move forward.
  8. Unafraid of being vulnerable and making mistakes.
  9. Laity are integral in leadership...competence and a desire to serve, the ability to learn, the humility to admit mistakes and the courage to continue despite setbacks are more important prerequisites for leadership than formal training and ordination.
  10. Preach and practice forgiveness and acceptance.
  11. Relationship evangelism...personal contact is the key...most new people come to the church through word of mouth...friend, co-worker and neighbor.
  12. See themselves as a unique community...not as a franchise of their denomination or even Christianity.
  13. In transforming the culture, hold government, agencies and institutions accountable...see their work as not only serving their constituency but also transforming the world around them.
  14. Believe in partnerships with other churches, agencies and interest groups.
  15. Offer an ascent to God, a relationship...provide the tools and support to forge a real, living and enduring relationship with God.
  16. Traditional without being traditionalist...their tradition is a beginning, a springboard, not a wall, not a barrier.
  17. The Bible is at their core.
  18. Innovative about different spiritual approaches.
  19. Tailor liturgies and programs to various constituencies...reject one-size-fits-all approach.
  20. Powerful, life-situation preaching...pastors may be biblical scholars, but are everyday-life scholars even more.
  21. Pastors have been in place for years.
  22. Training, training, training...use local possibilities but will create their own if necessary...see church as a seminary...serve the needs of the church and their area.
  23. Bring new members to full membership and participation...just joining is not enough.
  24. Call leaders, don’t fill slots...deliberate about leadership and claim untapped talent for the Lord.
  25. Break out of their walls and into the world...have no walls, property lines...are in the marketplace, civic meetings, the boardroom and around the water cooler.
  26. Utilize media well...aware that glitz is not substance...know there is no substitute for real substance and individual care.