“Healthy but not Faithful” Churches, and Extinct Carrier Pigeons

This post has two book recommendations: Unfreezing Moves, and Moving Off the Map: A Field Guide to Changing your Congregation. Both should be on your reading list if your a leader in your church. I’ve put links to them at Christianbooks.com at the end of this post….

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“Here’s a scary thought, Bill Easum the church guru and author of Unfreezing Moves, says that “churches can be healthy and growing BUT NOT FAITHFUL to CHRIST.” 

Of course it’s true… lots of movements grow, have capable leadership and happy giving members. Take the Al Quaida, for example. But being faithful to Jesus is another matter.

Unfortunately, many crummy churches use “at least we’re faithful” as an excuse for not also being healthy and growing. (Can a church be “unhealthy AND faithful?” I think not.)

Easum writes: By what standard do we measure the effectiveness of a church? Too many people want to measure effectiveness around church health. I don’t think church health is the way to measure. A better way to measure is around faithfulness. So the question becomes, “How do you measure the faithfulness of a church?”

I measure individual faithfulness by how focused a person is on reaching the lost. I think the full circle of spiritual maturity is attained when the individual weeps over his or her city as Jesus did Jerusalem. When our people begin asking, “What can we do to reach the lost?”, you can bet spiritual maturity is growing among them.

Reaching out to the lost isn’t a program or the responsibility of a committee – it is the absolute measure of congregational and individual faithfulness.

According to Easum’s book Unfreezing Moves, the first unfreezing move a church can make is to develop a solid biblical community of faith.  Then he lists four things that this biblical community must have:

  1. spiritual leaders
  2. trust
  3. absence of on-going conflict
  4. and a desire to connect with the outside world

Unfreezing Moves will challenge your definitions.

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Tom Bandy’s book “Moving Off the Map:  A Field Guide to Changing your Congregation,”  has some great stuff in it. This book is Bandy’s answers to the questions pastors frequently him about change, such as, “how do we get started with change?” 

His comparison of the church to how the carrier pigeon went extinct is funny and genius.  He actually goes over all the traits of carrier pigeon flocks that led to their demise as a species. He actually concludes that most pastors are “stool pigeons” (you have to see his definition to understand it). Sounds weird, but it’s really insightful.

I love his chapter titled The Collective They and Facing Church Addictions. This is dynamite stuff. The book has plenty of questions and checklists to measure your church’s situation.

To see a version of the Church Addiction test… go to http://www.strategicnetwork.org/index.php?loc=kb&view=v&id=7382&printerfriendly=Y&lang=


051770: Unfreezing Moves Following Jesus into the Mission Field Unfreezing Moves Following Jesus into the Mission FieldBy Bill Easum / Abingdon PressAt the dawn of the third millennium two kinds of churches fill the Western landscape: stuck and unstuck. Most Protestant congregations are stuck in the muck and mire of their institutions with little or no movement toward joining Jesus on the mission field. To these “Controllers,” faithfulness means supporting their church and keeping it open. For churches to be faithful to their God-given mission, they need Dreamers who are freed from their slavery to their institutions, freed to live for others on the mission field, and emancipated to function in a constantly changing world. The same can be said for denominations. This book focuses on how to place disciple – making at the core of a church’s identity. He describes four spheres of congregational culture, and he shows how the Dreams can thaw their congregation by using Nine Unfreezing Moves that will unstick any church.
7068002: Moving Off The Map Moving Off The MapBy Thomas Bandy / Abingdon PressIn this book Thomas Bandy provides the “big picture” of the five stages of congregational renewal and transformation. There is a set of questions to be answered, questions that pastors and church leaders frequently ask: “Where do we begin?” and “Exactly how do we go about change?” The purpose of this book is to answer those questions. Here are powerful processes and tools to help congregations identify their strengths, weaknesses, and addictions. These processes can help a congregation shift attitudes, deepen spiritual awareness, receive biblical visions, and shape ministries for the future.
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