Effective Church Planning [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Lyle E. Schaller
eBook Category: Spiritual/Religion
eBook Description: Lyle E. Schaller offers seven basic factors for translating important new concepts from the behavioral sciences into terms that can be used for effectively solving church problems.
Is guilt a means of motivation in your church? How does the appearance of the meeting place affect the type or quality of worship a church has? Specific and relatively common issues such as these, which face nearly every church of every denomination at one point or another, are discussed, as well as budgeting, worship, evangelism, expansion of facilities, tenure, fellowship, and motivation. Schaller includes a chapter on "Symptoms or Problems?" and uses four case studies to illustrate how easy it is to focus on symptoms rather than on basic underlying causes.
Lyle Schaller believes that armed with a realistic diagnosis, almost everyone has the potential to be a problem-solver and respond creatively and innovatively. His method of problem-solving encourages us not to dwell on past mistakes or regrets, but to plan with the future in mind.
eBook Publisher: United Methodist Publishing House
Fictionwise Release Date: April 2002
Introduction "Tonight marks the end of your first year here, and tomorrow will be the first day of your second year as our pastor," observed Bill Kirkland as he and Mrs. Kirkland entertained the pastor and his wife at dinner one evening. "What are your reflections on this first year?"
"To be honest with you, I guess it's a mixed bag," replied the thirty-eight-year-old minister, who was completing the first year of his third pastorate. "Part of it may be a result of the fact that this is a much larger congregation than I've ever served before. On the plus side, despite my failure to get people to move down and sit in those front pews, I enjoy preaching to larger crowds than I ever have before, and I'm highly impressed with the dedication of many of the leaders here such as you and Emily. I also appreciate having a full-time secretary for the first time. Most of all, I guess I feel good about most of the members' willingness to consider new ideas and to try new ministries. I also believe this church has the potential for substantial growth. There are a lot of unchurched people out there that we could and should be reaching with the Gospel.
"On the other side of the ledger, I am dismayed at the almost complete inactivity of nearly a fourth of our members, the part-time religion of another larger percentage of the people, including some of the Board members who rarely attend Board meetings. I also feel frustrated by the presence of two or three cliques where the primary allegiance of the members seems to be to their class or group, rather than to Jesus Christ and the church.
"When I was contemplating coming here, I was attracted by the opportunity I thought I saw to work with small groups, but I haven't had much time to do that yet, and the results haven't been very impressive thus far. Two or three of our adult classes are far more attached to the room they meet in than to the goal of learning more about their faith. Despite everything I've tried, I'm still depressed by the lack of joy among some of our church school teachers. I believe they should get more joy out of teaching. Perhaps my biggest problem thus far is the attitude of three or four men on the trustees and the finance committee who are so opposed to innovation. That may be because they want a strong leader, and I see myself more as an enabler.
"Finally, one of the reasons I was interested in coming here was that this is a university town, and I thought a part of my time would be spent as a minister to students. I've discovered, however, that is a far different and more difficult ministry than I had expected."
This book is directed at the issues this frustrated pastor has raised in the conversation with one of his members. If we look more carefully at his comments, it becomes apparent that his reflections are focused primarily on symptoms rather than on the basic issues. In one sense that is the basic theme of this volume. Why does it happen that way? What are the underlying factors that have a low visibility but a high impact on the dynamics of the life of the parish? What are the institutional factors that often are neglected, but frequently are very influential in determining the course of ecclesiastical events?
The basic assumption on which this book is based is that nearly all people have a far greater capability than they believe they have to resolve problems and to respo d creatively to complex issues if they have an accurate diagnosis of the nature of the situation. Frequently the basic cause of frustration is not in the problem itself, but rather in the attempt to respond to clichés and symptoms rather than to the central issue.
The pedagogical style, to use an ominous term, used in presenting the material in this volume is to encourage reflection on specific and relatively common questions. The expectation is that when the reader's experiences and reflections are combined with the printed word, this will produce new understandings about what is happening and why it is happening that way.
The first and longest chapter is an effort to identify and analyze one of the most widely neglected factors in working with people. Many of the techniques, methods, and procedures that are used to facilitate the dynamics of small groups are counterproductive when used with large groups. One result is that normal human beings do not want to sit in the front pews when a large group of people gather for corporate worship. This is one of many distinctions between the nature of small groups and the dynamics of large groups that are identified in the first chapter.
The attachment of human beings to places and to the relationships with other persons has been overlooked by those persons who tend to take a professional, "logical," rational, unemotional, and functional view of the world. Why this perspective tends to be self-defeating is examined in the second chapter. This difference in perspective is also one of the major components of the widely discussed lay-clergy gap.
One of the reasons many people respond to any new idea with the exclamation, "We could never do that here!" is that this reaction is a natural product of the allocative approach to planning. The choice of the planning model to be used has a tremendous impact on the nature of the recommendations that emerge from any planning effort. That widely neglected fact of life is the central theme of the third chapter, which suggests alternative planning models for more creative results.
The natural human tendency to focus on symptoms, rather than to diagnose the basic underlying issues, is the theme of the brief fourth chapter. While this emphasis on diagnosis is a central theme of the entire book, this chapter illustrates the point with four very common examples from congregational experiences.
The unnecessarily unhappy and joyless Sunday school teacher is the subject of the fifth chapter. This chapter also suggests (a) why any single-factor analysis of a problem frequently is incomplete, (b) how the diagnosis may be very complex in what appear to be simple problems, (c) why the basic distinction between visual and verbal communication is an increasingly important subject in church planning, and (d) a few constructive responses to the problem.
Many congregations excel in motivating people by guilt. The sixth chapter identifies several of the more widely used methods for doing this and for creating low morale. It also offers suggestions on alternatives and healthier methods for motivating people.
For many years the enabler style of pastoral leadership has been held up to seminarians and to ministers as the ideal approach. After years of parish experience with the concept, the time has arrived to examine why this may be an impossible challenge for the overwhelming majority of pastors. That is the theme of the seventh, and what may turn out to be the most controversial chapter in this volume.
Another perspective for understanding the purpose of this volume is to reflect on a little-used term, biotic potential. The dictionary defines this as the capacity for a population to increase in number under optimum environmental conditions. Many congregations today are making church growth their number one goal. To facilitate the attainment of this goal it helps to look at the organizational content and to identify the factors which (a) encourage the attraction, reception, and assimilation of new members and (b) inhibit the capability of that congregation for growth. In an earlier volume (Assimilating New Members, Abingdon, 1978), I wrote to the first half of that two-part formula. The focus in this volume is on identifying and analyzing some of the neglected institutional environmental factors in a congregation that tend to inhibit the personal and spiritual growth of the members and block the numerical growth of the congregation. Using small group procedures in working with large groups of people, ignoring the importance of place in people's lives, using an allocative planning approach, treating symptoms rather than working on problems, neglecting the basic causes of the unhappiness of lay volunteers, using guilt to motivate people, and unintentionally creating low morale -- these are some of the counterproductive behavior patterns that inhibit the life, ministry, and outreach of a congregation. All these, and other similar factors are discussed in this volume. What are the factors influencing the biotic potential of your congregation?
Every book has many authors, and this one is no exception to that generalization. I am indebted to many lay leaders, pastors, students, and friends for their insights and suggestions. The limitations of space and memory make it impossible to list them all by name. There are, however, two persons who deserve a special word of thanks. In a casual conversation in Toronto, Bill Lord of The United Church of Canada planted the seed that grew into the first chapter. My friend David first made me aware of the concept of biotic potential.
Finally, this volume is dedicated to two friends, who by both word and deed place preaching where it belongs on the priority scale, at the very top.
Copyright © 1979 by Abingdon Press