Wishing all the clergy, council leaders and staff we worked with in 2018 a very merry Christmas
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Medford, WI has been sharing the Good News of Jesus for over 100 years. Today they find themselves in pastoral transition and the accompanying challenges of engaging people, focusing mission and enjoying a solid financial reality.
This fall, leaders chose the endeavor of evidence-based discernment to inform the decisions ahead. 130 people took the CAT (Church Assessment Tool) and this week Mustard Seed was at St Paul’s to present the data and interpret it for leaders.
Like many small town WI churches, resources are declining and anxiety is building. But St. Paul’s now has evidence and insight to being building a realistic plan for renewal. Awareness of its culture, strengths, growth areas and priorities, leaders have become equipped in new ways thanks to evidence-based discernment.
Tonight we’re with the leaders of Mt. Zion Lutheran Church, Hudson, WI. They’re in pastoral transition after their pastor was selected to be part of the judicatory staff. This sudden change has had a significant impact on the congregation.
The leaders of Mt. Zion chose to engage with MSC and use the CAT (Church Assessment Tool) in addition to the Transition and Critical Abilities modules to get a read on what needs to happen in this interim period. What they’re learning is that there are key goals to be defined and achieved before a new pastor is called.
Evidence-based discernment has value for churches in pastoral transition and the CAT offers the best way to give everyone a voice in equal measure.
Mustard Seed spent an evening last week with the fine leaders of Christ Lutheran Church, Somerset, WI. This congregation is a step ahead of an upcoming pastoral transition. They’ve now gained organizational intelligence by taking the Church Assessment Tool this fall. The evidence-based discernment they have in hand now will inform, guide and expedite some important steps ahead prior to calling a new pastor.
Mustard Seed provides the highly-respected tools of Holy Cow! Consulting which are proven to work. Every member of the congregation is invited and all voices are heard in equal measure via the CAT.
Before your church makes its next big decision (capital campaign, building expansion, planning process or calling a pastor) Mustard Seed can provide the best in guidance and insight.
The importance of discernment is rising in our society and for our churches. We know better than ever that people often do not see issues clearly and are easily misled by many voices.
When your church chooses evidence-based discernment there is provided a way to distinguish the primary from the secondary, the essential from the indifferent, and the permanent from the transient. And, yes, it means distinguishing between the good and the better, and even between the better and the best.
Churches that gain evidence for discernment are better positioned to make better decisions, based on the voices of all constituents. But not only a collection of voices, evidence-based discernment can uncover the deeper realities of a church, such as theological perspective, flexibility, satisfaction and energy levels.
Discernment serves as a catalyst for congregational development. Knowing the evidence and tying it to keen understanding through services of a trained interpreter, can make all the difference when attempting change or improving climate.
Mustard Seed uses the highly-respected Church Assessment Tool (provided by Holy Cow! Consulting) to assist church leaders in evidence-based discernment.
Contact us today to learn more.
Many leaders of churches I work with today express a priority to reach new people, and make changes necessary to attract families with children and youth. So, how does a church regain vitality in order to attract new people, especially at a time when so many traditional congregations are declining?
One small church I encountered, does the basics well (worship, education, fellowship, managing conflict and engaging people’s gifts). Through an evidence based discernment process using the CAT (Church Assessment Tool) the data shows a culture (the “operating system”) prepared to share itself with newcomers.
In addition, in this “operating system” of this church:
- Hospitality is a genuine strength and not just something that they pay lip service to. There is warmth and authenticity. The long time members are eager to welcome and to share leadership. This church continually draws new people. No one feels like an outsider. Each month this church hosts a meal for the community, and nearly 150 people show up and are embraced. Vacation Bible School aims to serve the community and the monthly meal are feeder systems to reach new people and make an impact in the community.
- They together deal well with conflict, handling issues with grace and care for one another. Leaders don’t back down about important issues, but they don’t do things that damage their mission and vitality as a congregation.
Granted, it is hard for a congregation to reach new generations, especially once it loses all its younger folks. But I know that when leaders have the courage to make major changes and live deeply into the mission, churches can rebuild. It is happening in some churches now.
If you’re ready to explore possibilities for your church, contact MSC to arrange a consultation.
My book is available in Kindle format. Take it on vacation with you this summer.
Churches today are facing challenges that few leaders feel well-prepared to address. Determining people’s perspective is necesssary in developing effective plans for addressing the challenges.
The process of Evidence-based discernment via an Assessment Tool is the most effective leadership method to gather people’s perspectives. Churches benefit from use of a respected, tested and benchmarked assessment like Holy Cow! Consulting “Church Assessment Tool.”
1 Everyone is given a voice, in equal measure.
2 Assessment provides data on overall health and vitality of the church.
3 Priorities are identified which may help groups move toward the mission together.
4 Leaders are provided evidence and in-depth insight from all members in order to make better decisions, with more confidence.
5 Critical issues are identified so they can be wisely addressed.
6 Leaders gain insight about church culture and how it impacts everything
7 A definable plan for improvements is provided based on the evidence.
When taking the Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT) provided by Holy Cow! Consulting, we measure how satisfied members are in the congregation. It centers on the feeling of belonging and lack of discord. It is important to understand why we look at this to measure the vitality of congregations.
The word “satisfaction” or “satisfy” gets mixed reviews in the Bible. The Psalms speak of satisfaction as a way that God connects to people. In Psalm 90:14, the writer entreats “Satisfy us in the morning with your loving kindness that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” Psalms 145:16 expands this thought to include other creatures: “You open your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”
In our work with churches and evidence in the database, we know that satisfaction factors are unique to each church. Overall satisfaction, when measured by congregation-wide involvement with the CAT, tells us what aspects of the church, pastor’s work and ministries contribute to the level. Churches with high satisfaction and energy are transformation and generally filled with members who have clarity about a mission that transcends them and draws them into a life where the Gospel is plausible and compelling…and satisfying.
(drawn from HolyCowConsultingblog.com)