The worship band played chill music as participants walked in , and Debi Nixon welcomed everyone.
The worship band led us in several contemporary worship songs, followed by a video bumper introducing the conference.
Adam Hamilton gave the morning session address, “Leadership Essentials.”
Adam stated that he hopes we hear a clear call to help revitalize other churches, not just our own, and have a vision for raising up a new generation of leaders.
Adam quickly told the story of starting COR with no people, no land, no money. The conference then paid his salary for one year, and he used his second year’s salary to pay for direct mail.
Dream of buildng a Christian community where thinking nonreligious and nominally religious people are becoming committed Christians.
There were 18 new churches meeting in every school in the area, so COR had to begin meeting in a funeral home chapel (Adam tells this story in greater detail in his book Leading Beyond the Walls).
You must believe that your church really matters. COR had 90 people for the first month after launch.
1. Lifecycles of organizations
The UMC has been in decline since 1964, and at the current rate of decline, the church has 53 years left until it no longer exists in America. Lovett Weems speaks of the coming “death tsunami” in mainline churches.
Ezekiel 37- Is it possible that over 30,000 UMC churches can be resurrected?
Young adults are checking out of church more often than in the past. Adam prays 5 times a day for a church that will speak to his 20-something daughters.
Charles Handy growth curve
COR is at pinnacle of their growth and has had to launch new growth curves (internet campus, multi-site campuses) to continue growing. Your church will experience some decline as you begin a new growth curve and will then grow again.
Aadam showed a video testimony from Resuurection Blue Springs, a new campus of COR that was formerly its own congregation. Blue Springs doubled in size in one year after COR took over.
In most communities in America, over 50% of the popluation is not part of any church.
Help other churches. “Bear one another’s burdens.”
Adam told the story of a resurrected church in New Jersey, Oasis UMC, that doubled in soze to over 100 in two years.
15% UMC congregation are “highly vital”. 60% are declining.
Drivers of Vitality
- Effective pastoral leadership, good preaching, raising up lay leaders
- Worship that speaks to people in community
- Programs for children and youth
- Smallg roups for adults
- High percentage of laity in leadership
- Missional involvement outside the walls of the church
Effective leaders build relationships. People come to Christ because you care about them. They feel Christ’s presence in you. You must invest in people in personal relationships. (Adam’s “mugging” visits, high touch, if person’s not home, wrote a personal note and place it in the coffee mug. Adam remembered visitors name on second visit, and if Adam called them by name, they would join the church. Last year, servant teams showed u at midmight Christmas to deliver coffee mugs to Christmas Eve visitors)
Adam told another story about a resurrecting church in Alabama from 16 to 42 members.
2. Clarify the church’s misson (the “Why”)
3. Discern God’s Vision (the “Where”)
A clear compelling future, measurable (metrics) that stirs the hearts of people.
Adam’s next 20 year vision is 20,000 professions of faith, thousands in ministry, and renewing the UMC church after it bottoms out at 3-4 million members and grows again
Is there one thing that the congregation would say, “We’re all going to do this one thing in the next year, or 3 years, and we’re really excited about it.”
4. Leaders honestly face shortcomings and pursue excellence
No “good enough” mediocrity
Constantly ask, “How can we do better?”
Ex. Adam asks 3 people to read his sermon manuscript on Saturday and asks them to mark it up, give feedback, and improve his sermon.
Don’t crush people, give praise for 5 things done right and give constructive criticism in one area.
Anonymous 360 evaluation for every staff member, including the lead pastor, every year (echospan or survey monkey). Set goals based on these reviews. (This is vital) If you want the truth, make it anonymous. People will not be honest if they are known becuase they are afraid they will be treated differently or lose their jobs.
Adam shared another story of resurrection in Iowa, from 150-250 in worship 7 years later.
5. Meaningful, moving, well-led Worship
Worship is usually the front door
Adam speaks of the worship experience as a restaurant experienced by a first-time visitor.
Low vitality worship vs. high vitality worship
unclear, unthoughful sermon vs. Well-researched, thoughful, inspiring sermon
Mediocre music vs. Well-performed music led by people who are authentically worshiping
Understanding of worship elements assumed vs. Elements of worship explained clearly
New people ignored vs. New people welcomed and respected
Adam gave his two types of sermons from his book Unleashing the Word.
Every other sermon series at COR alternates between the two types.
Stanford marshmallow experiment ( A couple of years ago, I preached a sermon using this as the central image called “Drop the Marshmallow”)
Adam told another story of two churches in South Carolina. The female pastor grew the churches from 8 people to 60 people, a %750 increase.
Adam invited churches to measure ourselves in these 5 areas and discuss these with their church group later today.
Adam closed by addressing self-care for pastors.
After traveling and speaking too much this past year, Adam passed out on a flight from South Korea from sickness and exhaustion.
He welcomed Kirk Byron Jones, the author of Addicted to Hurry, as guest speaker for a few minutes. Luke 8:40-46. Jesus served and then withdrew and prayed.
Root your worth in God.
Serve at the sacred pace, the pace of Jesus, serving and then withdrawing and then serving again.
My persoal thoughts abotu self-care:
Stressed out does not equal working hard. Many pastors are stressed out, not because they worl hard, but because they are not equipped to lead.
A full schedule does not equal working smart. Many pastors feel the need to stay busy, but do not know how to lead with vision, strategy, and goals, so they do busy work or fall victim to the tyranny of the urgent.
I have found that pastors often err on one side or the other of the work/rest spectrum. Some are workaholics and do not rest, while others rest far too much and do not work enough.
The key is to work hard and work smart and also take strategic times of sabbath, rest. Do the right things and enoug of the right things, then rest, and then work again.