I am in a seminar with Ken Callahan and we’re talking about growing and advancing the strengths of the mission of your church. Here are some notes that I think are helpful:

When we are looking at a church, how do we improve our mission? Do we look for the weaknesses or the strengths? Where do we start. Most people would say we start with our weaknesses. This is the wrong approach.

The usual approach we take to advance our strengths is:

  • Preoccupation with weaknesses
  • Compulsion toward perfectionism
  • Misunderstanding of un-churched people
  • Neglect some of the characteristics of a strong healthy church

If this is your approach, what you have is the Natural Church Development approach. This approach, in a round about way, uses these four principles. Of course, the NCD folks don’t say they this is their approach, but if you study their stuff, this is really what their approach looks says.

In the NCD approach, the analogy is a barrel. Find the lowest point in the barrel and plug it. This analogy is wrong. A congregation is a group of people, not a barrel. Engineering analogies don’t apply.

If we concentrate and run to our weaknesses we will get clobbered. You run the plays to your strengths and you will win. Much like a football team. If are weak on one side, you don’t run all your plays that direction. You run your plays to your strong side and you have a better chance of being successful.

Instead, we need to

  • Concentrate on our strengths. Find what we are good at and advance these strengths even further.
  • Be okay with things not being perfect, feel free to be good at just a few things. Its not possible to be perfect at all things. Let go of your need to be perfect.
  • Un-churched people do not primarily want to be consumers. Un-churched people long for, look for and want to participate where they can share compassion, community and hope. Its not that they want only to receive it and they only want programs and activities. They want to share, not merely consume. They learn to consume as we teach them that church is about consuming.
  • When we take the approach above, there is no understanding of people being generous givers. There is no focus on finance or giving or a focus on helpful space and facilities.

Ken illustrates this by saying, if you concentrate on weaknesses with an alcoholic person you will never help them recover. They will simply not get better. They will focus on the fact that they are failures.

All these thoughts are Ken’s not mine. Good, helpful stuff here.