Organic Church vs. Church that is Organic

By Dr. Stephen Crosby

It’s About the Life, not the Form

There is no  spiritual significance inherent in moving a meeting out of a sanctuary into a living room. The question to be asked is not related to how we meet (form), but how we live life together in Christ (substance) and the values we embrace. Whenever love wanes, efficiently administered corporation ethics subtly and subversively displace family (kingdom) values.pic 1

The only way a family grows is by giving itself away. A family remains a family by giving away life. A family is bonded in covenantal love, but love lets children grow, and through tears of love, releases them to “increase” the family by “scattering.” In a sense, the individual family decreases, the greater family increases. A family cannot experience increase by clinging to what it has.

Children grow up, leave, most often marry, and new life  is often the result. The gene pool is diversified for the overall health and well-being of the greater family.   A family that never releases its members–a family that never allows the introduction of diverse DNA into the family–will soon cease to be a family, or become a pocket of isolated genetic defectives. A family that is obsessed about the purity of its own image, is headed for trouble. Introduction of diversity, is key to genetic health. You have to be willing to allow one’s own image to seem to be lost,  to see it again in modified reflections (family resemblance) of one’s self in new life, that you have no direct control over. Seed must be sown to reproduce. We are the seed, not our money. We are sown in death, raised in newness of life, to bear a family image and likeness.

On the other hand, a corporation sustains itself by insulating its assets from risk. It has no life to give away. Because a corporation does not have life and does not operate on love, it requires structure, order, and rules to maintain its identity. When love is absent or diminished, systems become a necessity to maintain group order and to perpetuate the group. A corporation grows/survives by protecting itself, assuring that it experiences no decrease. A corporation grows through accumulation of resources, not the scattering of them. A corporation can only experience increase by clinging to what it has, and trying to acquire more.

The kingdom of God is a family, not a corporation. If we gather in a living room with a corporate mindset, Jesus’ kingdom will have  experienced no increase. We will delude ourselves into thinking we are involved in something spiritually significant simply because of our spatial geography at the moment.

Jesus’ family grows by scattering–the giving away of resources because we are animated by the power of love, and love’s compulsion is to scatter. Love compels us to release resources: time, money, people, gifts. We gather to love, nurture, and disciple for the sole purpose of seeing the greater family increase through the scattering/release of resources, not the maintenance of our singular group, through the accumulation of resources and the aggrandizement of individual egos and reputations.

It makes no difference if we gather in a living room or a sanctuary if the values of “asset protection,” the perpetuation of pet doctrines, gift addictions, the ego need of teachers/preachers for a weekly audience, and a misdirected sense of purity are present, we will become nothing other than an isolated pocket of spiritual defectives.

A greater change has to take place than the location of our posteriors during a meeting. A deep purging and realignment of our values must take place, lest we fool ourselves by just running a “mom and pop” religious shop instead of a Fortune 500 version of the same religious machine.

Copyright 2015,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact

To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

21 Paradigms to Move Towards in Western Churches

We all realise that western churches need to mature and change, but what are some of the most important areas we need to address? The following list is a collection of biblical principles that must be addressed in order for the church pic 2western church to move forward. Some of the themes are repeated in slightly different contexts.

1. Acknowledging the calling of every believer (1 Cor 12:14)

The most dominant theme in the western church is that people no longer wish to be spectators and see the drawbacks. Many churches have dysfunctional leadership models that fail to recognise the calling of every believer.

2. Addressing issues and taking risks (Acts 6:1-7; 2 Tim 1:7; Eph 4:15)

Often leadership teams know what they need to change, but are afraid to try anything different, or upset anyone. Examples include: moving location, starting a second service, removing people from leadership, changing the service format or planting a new church.

 3. Increased understanding of pastoral and leadership roles (Acts 20:28; Eph 4:12; 1 Pet 5:2)

The senior pastor doesn’t have to be the most gifted leader and he certainly isn’t the only one with a pastoral gift in a congregation. The entire congregation are responsible for the outcomes of the church. Leaders are “facilitators” not owners or the most knowledgeable.

 4. Ministry based upon gifting rather than proving ones faithfulness (Rom 12:4-8; 1 Pet 4:10)

In traditional leadership models, the pastor receives the vision, and the congregation faithfully serves. As a result, we have thousands of Christians serving outside of their gifting. Equip people in the use of their gifts, doing what they love, and you will notice a big difference.

5. Sending capacity rather than seating capacity (Mk 3:14; 6:7; Acts 15:22; 1 Cor 4:17)

Traditional models measure the success of a congregation or a leader by how big the building is, or how many members there are. Discipleship models measure the maturity of congregations by the capacity to send. Students become teachers who train others.

6. Valuing the input of every person (Eph 4:16; 1 Cor 14:26; 1 Pet 4:10)

We are all Priests ,Sons and Kings. It is Gods church and the people are the church . It is not the pastors church so providing mechanisms to allow people input and influence is crucial in leading a church. One business in Latin America provides a monthly forum for employees to share and discuss ideas for future products. The company has a turnover of more than 100 million dollars, all generated through ideas provided by their employees in open forums.

 7. Allowing God to work supernaturally (Acts 2:43)

If we look at the parts of the world where the church is growing; healings, miracles and supernatural signs are very common. Western churches often have very predictable service structures with no expectation for the Holy Spirit to work supernaturally.

8. Daily contact instead of just weekly (Heb 3:13; Acts 2:46; 5:42)

The biggest impact of small groups is the opportunity for daily contact with other believers. In the early church, relationships were established on a daily basis. Prayer, fellowship, and eating together kept the disciples encouraged in the midst of persecution.

9. Personal transformation rather than membership (Rom 12:2; Gal 5:22-24)

Research has shown that Churches around the world are full of people that may be committed to attend a church service, but during the week their lifestyle is no different to that of their friends. There should be a clear distinction between Christians and Non-believers.

10. Complementary gifts rather than competitive agendas (1 Cor 1:12,13; 3:3-5)

Competition is based on feelings of insecurity. When Pastors acknowledge their own strengths, stop comparing themselves with others, and look for ways to complement one another, we will see amazing breakthroughs.

11. Values-based networks rather than just denominational (Acts 18:2,3,18)

For many years Christians have attended events based on common interests and values. One of the best known examples is the Sydney Hillsong Conference that attracts more than 30,000 Christians from every major Church denomination.

12. Interaction rather than monologue (Acts 17:2; 19:8)

Traditional teaching models have the expert at the front of the classroom with learners remaining silent. Coaching, mentoring, serving and discipleship models encourage interactive learning that increases retention. No question is off limits.

13. A focus on homes and not just church buildings (Acts 5:42; 20:20; Rom 16:5)

Many western churches have been slow to acknowledge the impact that small groups can have. Building community, hospitality, and loving relationships were central themes in the New Testament church.

14. Apostolic teams working alongside pastoral models (Eph 4:11,12; Acts 13:1)

Pastoral gifts were never intended to work in isolation from the other gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist and teacher. Although we have seen great progress in recent years, do we need to increase understanding of the role of the apostle and not confusing a teacher or a pastor with an Apostle?

15. Balance between organisation and divine inspiration

For greater fruitfulness in leadership meetings, community outreaches, or any gathering of believers, churches may want to embrace the spontaneous leading of the Holy Spirit while continuing to develop structure and organisation. Many churches think they must choose between the two.

16. Ministry partnerships rather than individual vision (1 Cor 12:12)

Not everyone has the ability to initiate a project, but when people with the same interests come together, everyone can use their unique gift and get involved. Empowering leaders gather together people with common interests.

17. Multiplication not just addition (2 Tim 2:2, Jn 12:24; Mt 13:23; Tit 1:5; Acts 14:23)

The fruit of an apple tree is not just more apples, but more apple trees. The New Testament Church multiplied as elders were ordained in every city, not only by the Apostle Paul, but by his spiritual sons Timothy and Titus.

18. Raising up spiritual sons (1 Tim 1:2; Tit 1:4; 1 Pet 5:13; 1 Cor 4:15-17; Gal 4:19)

Paul told the Corinthian church that they had 10000 instructors in Christ, but not many fathers. Timothy, Titus, and Marcus, were three of Paul’s sons in the faith. If you are a senior leader, do you invest time into the younger generation?

19. Magnetic disciples rather than just attracting people to programs (1 Thess 1:6-8; Col 1:9)

Churches love to attract people through various programs and events. Programs are great if they are fruitful, but we need more emphasis on discipleship that encourages people to live an authentic ‘Christian lifestyle’. Christians should be a magnetic influence in their community.

20. Prayer as a lifestyle rather than just an event (Acts 1:14; 6:4; 16:13)

Prayer networks and combined prayer rallies are all very good, but they often delegate prayer to intercessors. In the New Testament church, prayer played a much bigger part of the Christian lifestyle than we currently see in our western churches.

21. Empowering leadership rather than controlling leadership (Eph 4:11,12; 1 Pet 5:2,3)

Empowering leaders will help believers grow in maturity, equip them for service, and then celebrate as they are released into ministry roles. They send people out to bless the body of Christ, rather than just attracting and holding onto people.

Is there anything you would add to this list? Anything you would change? Let us know.

To review the studies and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to consider – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

Peter Sewell has over 25 years of ministry experience, training church leadership teams, business and government leaders, and community groups. He is a passionate supporter of the local church and served as an associate pastor for 15 years. During this time he was involved in planting new churches, and coordinating cell groups, pastoral care, and discipleship. He has qualifications in biblical studies, business, counselling, coaching, and adult education, and is currently involved in training future leaders across Europe.

Copyright 2015 Peter Sewell Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact

Planting Churches or Making Disciples? by Steve Crosby

We are delighted  that we have permission  from Steve Crosby, an author from the excellent site to post an illuminating article on apostolic discipling versus church planting.

Have you ever made a passing comment that you thought was benign, but it ended up causing a hostile reaction? I had that joy recently. I made what I thought was a mild and self-evident comment on a social media site (my first mistake!). It met with that special spiritual gift of the Christian social media world: vitriol and venom!

Planting Churches is it really scriptural?

My crime? I suggested that “church planting” is not inherently the same as making disciples. The irrational nature of some of the responses indicates to me that some strong vested interests were kicking in. Normally this level of hostility only occurs when an individual’s identity is wrapped up in “ministry,” one’s belief systems, or the individual’s access to money is threatened by the comment. Perhaps the nerve I hit . . . needed to be hit.

The phrase “church planting” is never used in the New Testament. Jesus never said: “Build/plant a church for Me.” He said to make disciples, seek the kingdom, and He will build the church. The scriptures exhort us to build up one another individually through agape and charis exchange, but never tell us to build an entity, “a local church.” Paul planted the gospel seed in souls. Others watered that seed. That seed birthed disciples. Those disciples in a given geography gathered together in that locality, and a local church was born.

There are those who think this is just semantic fussing over synonymous terms: the exercise of theologians with too much time on their hands, right up there with the number of angels that can be accommodated on a head of a pin. I disagree.

Advocating for the use of biblical terminology should not be so controversial, unless in so doing, one’s efforts for Christ are perceived as disvalued. Dead men can’t be offended.  Perhaps our efforts for Him are not as free of a personal agenda and the need for self-validation as we might wish. Those who ask potentially embarrassing and self-reflective questions requiring personal change among the consensus orthodoxy(1) of establishment religion, are normally not welcome. I understand the human dynamics of it all.

However, for the moment, let’s concede the point. Let’s say the terms are synonymous. The values andmethods embodied in one’s understanding of “church planting=disciple making” make all the difference.

My premise is that there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of “planted churches” that neither make disciples, nor seek the kingdom. Whatever may be “planted” often bears little resemblance to what Paul believed or did. What follows are some of the reasons why I believe apostolic disciple making(2) and modern church planting are not synonymous in their value systems. This is not necessarily a comprehensive list, and not listed in any priority.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Jesus’ kingdom goes forth in and through us by sharing and experiencing life together in a community.

Modern Church Planting

  • Is built around inviting people to our church and meetings. It isn’t the same as inviting them into our hearts and lives. The former costs us nothing, the latter will cost us everything.

 Apostolic Disciple Making

  • The churches were not Paul’s. He did not have absolute authority over them. You do not end up rejected, alone, unsupported, and in jail, if you have absolute authority over the churches you “plant.”

Modern Church Planting

  • Leaders often require inordinate, and absolute submission to themselves.

 Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Paul was content to establish local elders after only three years of “training,” and to leave them without his future involvement, knowing that so doing would result in negative dynamics in the congregation. (3)

Modern Church Planting

  • Modern church planters micromanage church affairs. They would never think of leaving a local church in the charge of converts from paganism, with only three years of training, and no other oversight from “senior leaders.” Many “church planters” require years and years of “loyalty” to themselves from  individuals, and that they be mandatory tithers, before consideration as a local elder.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Birth disciples relationally.

Modern Church Planting

  • Establish churches organizationally and administratively.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Loving well and living well together in Christ, in community, and loving and serving others is the practical expression of existence.

Modern Church Planting

  • The sermon and the music/praise service in the “meetings” are the practical expression of identity and existence. How well we live together matters little. The only things that matter are: “Is the sermon revelatory/inspiring and is the worship anointed?”

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Includes the normative expression of supernatural gifts and manifestations.

Modern Church Planting

  • In some climates the supernatural element is often dispensationally deleted, or viewed as a vestigial nonessential. Our “church plants” are little more than eternal classrooms keeping people in dependent infancy upon information acquisition, or endless counseling/therapy sessions.
  • In other climates the manifestation of the supernatural is worshipped, faked, or counterfeited.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Emphasizes the increase of the name and kingdom of Jesus in a geographic community.

Modern Church Planting

  • Much modern church planting is not about Jesus’ kingdom interests in a community, but perpetuation of a private brand identity (denomination, group, association); franchising a spiritual brand, rather than increasing His kingdom.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Personal financial support is not mandated. Paul did not mandate personal financial support from churches he was in relation with. Economics flows from love, not obligation.

Modern Church Planting

  • It is frequently all about the money. Teachings about a mandatory tithe and other mandatory financial schemes abound. Money dictates decisions.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Allows the Holy Spirit to cross-pollinate His own. Paul allowed unhindered access of all the Eph. 4 ministry gifts in congregations, cross-pollination in diversity, without his express permission in advance.

Modern Church Planting

  • Local church planters have a death-grip control on congregational access, based on “protecting the flock,” when it is often about assuring an income stream for themselves.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Requires loyalty to Jesus.

Modern Church Planting

  • Leaders require loyalty to themselves personally, and to the organizational identity pic

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Paul led by relationship, influence, and spiritual authority.

Modern Church Planting

  • Many modern leaders lead by position, rank, and carnal authoritarianism.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Births relational disciples within an apostolic framework of understanding

Modern Church Planting

  • Modern “church plants” are done with only a pastor-teacher framework of understanding.  The apostolic and prophetic graces are not understood, nor expressed, and often denied.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Paul’s ministry centered around the Person of Jesus Christ, not “his ministry.”

Modern Church Planting

  • Often centered around the senior leader, his/her personality and gift; celebrityism.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Is based on the operational reality of death and resurrection, His increase and our decrease. Paul was willing to lose his association to the local churches. They could readily disassociate from him.

Modern Church Planting

  • Pastors/leaders treat churches as if they belonged to them like a commodity: “my church,” “my congregation,” etc. Ministry is done by “gift exercise, administration, and control” rather than death and resurrection. Leaders are unwilling to lose it all, until the Holy Spirit loses it for them, often through much personal pain, and pain in those who have associated with the “leader” rather than Jesus.

 Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Paul gave his life and resources for the churches, though he was loved the less for it.

Modern Church Planting

  • Members of the congregation are expected to give their lives (time, talent, and finances) to fulfill the leader’s “vision;” honor is an entitlement of spiritual position rather than merited through service.

 Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Apostolic churches have a diverse expression of spiritual gift manifestation.

Modern Church Planting

  • Modern churches are overwhelmingly dominated by a singular individual, with a singular gift: the pastor-teacher. All other gifts are sublimated to that gift, if functioning at all beyond a sporadic and token level.

 Apostolic Disciple Making

  • The goal is the increase of the life of Christ in the earth, through discipleship, regardless if it results in local congregation increase; increase through scattering, release, and liberty.

Modern Church Planting

  • The goal is in the numeric and financial increase of the local congregation; increase through gathering, corral, and control.

Apostolic Disciple Making

  • Emphasizes transformation into the image of Jesus through discipleship

Modern Church Planting

  • Emphasizes “salvations.”(4)

So, what should we make of this? The good news is, the depth and breadth of God’s great redemptive plan is enough to sanctify and  bless any effort done in faith, for Him. He can, and will, bless any mess offered to Him in relational faith. If methodological perfections were required, we would all have no hope.

On the other hand, we should not presume upon His great grace and redemption to normalize error and continue practices which misrepresent His purposes in the earth, and which harm the people of God.


  1. The accepted norms of belief in practice in any group or association; present reality is “fine,” and sanctioned by God.
  2. Apostolic Disciple Making: my term for the process of making disciples with the same values and methods used by the apostles, primarily, Paul. It is not meant as a limiting term as something only apostles are qualified to do. Every believer should be “apostolic” in the disciple-making mandate.
  3. Paul was in Ephesus for about three years. He raised up elders, left them, never saw them again, knowing that “wolves” would enter the congregation and some of the very elders he was talking to would regress into self-aggrandizing ambition. See Acts 20. I once heard a well-known apostolic level “father” teach that unless someone is a “tither” who has proved his loyalty for at least twenty years, he should not be considered a candidate to be an elder.
  4. George Barna has documented that fewer than one in ten pastors believe transformation into the image of Christ has any bearing on the spiritual health of a congregation, believing instead that how many people attend, and how many programs are offered indicate spiritual health. More than four out of five pastors never mention issues of transformation in their congregations, preferring to emphasize “salvation.”

Copyright 2012 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.


We are pleased to say the Church Excellence Framework includes the concepts listed under Apostolic Disciplemaking. We are convinced getting a deeper understanding of  disciplemaking is  one of the fundamental issues in restoring our nation back to Christ.  By raising up genuine disciples who want to honour God, know God and know how to multiply their lives  then we contend our society will be a different place.


The actual framework is now on the site for download at no charge as we have private funding

To review the studies and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to consider – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

7 Reasons Why 5 Fold Ministries Are Viewed With Suspicion

One of the things that we promote in the Church Excellence Framework is the importance of exercising every gift in the body of Christ. In the New Testament, it was common for ministers to travel and share their gift with different churches in order to encourage and build the body of Christ. Today we see a wide variety of travelling ministers including: Evangelists, Teachers, Apostles, Pastors, Prophets, Musicians, Singers, and Drama teams.

These ministers travel long distances from one meeting to the next, often sleeping in a different bed every night and living out of a suitcase. If anyone in the body of Christ deserves honour, then certainly travelling ministers would be at the top of the list.  If you have served in leadership for any length of time, it’s very likely you have experienced both blessing and Man-with-suitcase-webdisappointment from itinerant ministers. To be fair, if we evaluate everyone equally, travelling ministers create no more or less problems than anyone else. In fact they are more often a blessing, so why are they often viewed with suspicion?

As someone who has served as an associate pastor, and also ministered in churches around the world, I share a few thoughts from my experiences. I purposely address pastors, because in most traditional church structures, they are the ones who approve of visiting ministers.

Here are some of the reasons why pastors view travelling ministers with suspicion.

1. No accountability.

One of the first things that pastors want to know is whether the travelling minister has some form of accountability. Everyone needs a church they call home, and every travelling minister needs a person or group that he or she is accountable to. Pastors feel much more at ease, knowing that a travelling minister believes in the local church, values those in authority, and is not operating independently. The New Testament church gives us a great model to follow. Paul, Peter, John, and Philip the evangelist, all had close relationships with the church in Jerusalem. Throughout the book of Acts, they were sent out and regularly returned to Jerusalem (Acts 8). When travelling ministers have the support and accountability of a home church, they are much more likely to be trusted to minister in other churches.

 2. Submission to church leadership

One of the biggest concerns that pastors have is whether the travelling minister has a submissive attitude. One of the most common issues this relates to is time constraints. Some of the factors that influence a church’s time schedule are: multiple services, rented halls, public transport, children and family considerations. Visiting ministers need to be aware of these time restrictions and stay within the schedule they are given. There is no excuse for going over time. Ministers often use phases such as “I’m lead by God and not by the clock”. That may be true, but we are all to be clothed in humility with a servant attitude (1 Peter 5:5; Phil 2). When you are up on stage, you should not be asking for more time. If the pastoral team permits you to go overtime, that’s fine, but they should initiate it. Submission relates to any request that the pastor clearly informs you about prior to, or during, or even after a meeting.

3. A lack of relationship.

Pastors are often concerned that visiting ministers will say something controversial and create problems in the church. When a Pastor doesn’t know a visiting minister, he will tend to focus on what can go wrong. A cautionary attitude isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because Jesus taught us that a good shepherd cares for his sheep. In order to build trust, itinerant ministers need to invest time in developing authentic relationships. Books, DVD’s, newsletters and downloadable podcasts, are all great ways to share your ministry gift, but nothing can replace heart to heart sharing, in person or over the phone.

4. Unrealistic demands.

George Clooney made headlines a few years ago when he demanded a hot tub, custom beach house, and private basketball court for his use during the filming of the movie ‘Gravity’. Perhaps Clooney is worth it, and no producer would ever refuse his demands, but ministry should set a different standard. Of course dietary requirements and accommodation are important, but when an evangelist or other travelling minister starts behaving like George Clooney, there are serious problems.

Another concern that pastors have, is that the visiting minister will ‘milk’ the congregation. Visiting ministries are very passionate about what they do, and they can be guilty of placing unreasonable demands on people to give financially. Not every minister wants to manipulate people for money, quite often it’s the opposite. Some travelling ministers make it a rule to never publicly ask for financial support. It’s my opinion that the pastor should take responsibility, and decide on an appropriate gift amount, or take up a public offering on behalf of the visiting minister.

5. A lack of fruit from past ministry.

Is it worth the time, organisation, and cost? A lot of effort goes into organising a visiting minister, and pastors want to be sure that their church will benefit from their investment. Jesus said that we would be able to discern people by their fruit. That fruit will vary between ministry gifts, but if a minister continually leaves a legacy of controversy, it’s fair to say they need to be avoided. Visiting ministers should be able to confidently give the phone contacts of the last three churches they ministered in. They should be confident that they have left every church with some form of positive fruit.

6. Poor organisation and communication

When a church is organising the visit of a travelling minister, they often need to book accommodation, print advertising, hire venues, and a hundred other minor details. Pastors become frustrated when they don’t receive replies to emails, they fail to reach the person via phone, or they need to follow up conversations with a dozen reminder messages. If you are a travelling minister and lack organisational skills, or your schedule is beyond your organisational ability, please find someone with the right skills to take over the administration role for you. Churches might benefit from your ministry gift, but they might also get a headache from your disorganisation.

7. Lack of integrity in promoting self

Spamming 1000 pastors with your promotional flyer, exaggerating the reports of a previous meeting, or giving yourself a title to sound important, are all things that will destroy your credibility as a travelling minister. Self proclaimed titles such as Bishop, Prophet, need to be based upon your current role. Pastors are looking for fruit and not fruit-loops. I don’t mean to dishonour those who are using titles in a correct way, but these days anyone can buy a doctorate degree online without ever picking up a textbook.

Travelling ministers can also be guilty of name dropping (saying that they know someone famous), or have even been caught lying about preaching at a large church that everyone knows. If you are in ministry, have integrity and don’t exaggerate your qualifications, abilities or any testimonies. If people are truly encouraged by your gift, you won’t need to exaggerate.

Is there any other advice you would like to give to travelling ministers? Please let us know. Our aim is to promote the healthy use of ministry gifts so that churches are encouraged. The worse case scenario is that a church is hurt by a visiting minister and they close the door to all similar ministry gifts. The next blog article will continue this theme, and look at a different perspective, addressing some of the negative attitudes that Churches need to change in relation to travelling ministries.



To review the studies and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to consider – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.


Peter Sewell has over 25 years of ministry experience, training church leadership teams, business and government leaders, and community groups. He is a passionate supporter of the local church and served as an associate pastor for 15 years. During this time he was involved in planting new churches, and coordinating cell groups, pastoral care, and discipleship. He has qualifications in biblical studies, business, counselling, coaching, and adult education, and is currently involved in training future leaders across Europe.

Copyright 2015 Peter Sewell Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact


Maximizing Effective Disciplemaking in Churches

From CEO of Church Excellence Framework

We are pleased to announce the introduction of another blogger to our team who comes with extensive experience coaching pastors and working with church growth tools. He will be blogging shortly.

Part of the framework is to communicate good learning and development techniques so we see quality disciples being made. Without this we can be under the illusion that we are making disciples. This is a tragedy if good learning is not taking place.

To do that it is critical that ministry workers understand principles of adult learning. So we have listed some key points here.

church growth# Adults require a great deal of motivation   –they need to know why they need to learn something. This is so important to keep reinforcing in any learning intervention particularly how it links with the strategic plan.

#Adults have a strong self-concept-   adults learn they are responsible for their own learning. As such they resent others imposing their wills. We need to present the material in a way that respects and consults the learner. This may be done by: –

  1. Involving participants in the process of identifying needs and in the planning
  2. Encouraging the learning process to be more of a mutual responsibility where the trainers role is more of a facilitator and co-inquirer
  3. Helping the participants to manage their own learning and self-evaluate.

Adults come with lots of personal experience.   Adults often have a well-developed sense of values, attitudes and knowledge, which can make them less, open-minded. The implications for training are:

  • Relate new situations to past experiences
  • Respect past experiences as an active component in learning
  • Recognise prior learning and don’t ask them all to start in the same place.
  • Employ training methods that use the learners experience e.g., role plays, testimonies

Adults are under pressure- so they want to learn things that relate to their concerns or immediate issues.  By focusing on these concerns and restating the learning process in terms of these immediate needs, learners will be more open to receive training. This may require consultation with the congregation

 Retention of Information Presented

retentin of info

 The facts  speak loudly that we need to involve people in learning interventions and not just speak to them. If we do speak it has been shown that on average 20 mins is the maximum for retention.

If we do use speaking it is better to contain vital elements such as power points, application questions and some interaction. Talking heads can be a poor way to learn particularly if there are multiple sessions such as in a conference.

We know there is power in God’s word to transform but we also need to ask what percentages of our sermons are actually talking about scripture to quote this reason?

The standard lists some creative ways of engaging particularly in Sunday services. Here are some more: –

  • Youtube
  • Webinar software
  • Twitter or text message sent from congregation asking questions that pastor answers ( so can be filtered)
  • Q and A from Microphone
  • Ensuring themes to build on material
  • Books and handouts recommended on a theme to ensure the learning are reinforced for those interested.
  • Props
  • Banner at back of the stage to reinforce a theme
  • PowerPoint presentations with main points which are then reinforced at the end of the sermon
  • A handout with application questions to ponder through the week
  • Asking for a response for people to come forward after a message
  • Moving the worship so that it can be used as a reflection time for God to speak after the sermon.
  • Interspersing testimonies in between a message (a page on the website can collect testimonies on ongoing basis). Video testimonies can be powerful.
  • Panel discussions.
  • Sheet given to guest speakers as to the minimum requirements in terms of presentation( eg title, summary ,application, powerpoints, bible references)

  Action Learning Illustration

Action learning is a buzzword that is currently being used to demonstrate different ways a learning intervention can be presented to ensure quality learning.  The diagram below shows some elements. The more that are  incorporated ,the more dynamic the learning. TALKING HEADS are not a good style when it is overused. A lot of churches are now bringing in shorter 20 min sermons with other tools to incorporate learning.

Examples of how to empower others: –

  • Ask them what their passion, calling, gifting, past experienced are and help them move closer to this. An individual meeting can be offered to ascertain this and facilitate the use of their gifting. See checklist at Tools note 1, as a tool for use.
  • Provide resources, contacts and authority for them to act. Check how they are doing and if you can help overcome any obstacles .ie use coaching skills to empower them.
  • Be willing to trust and delegate and work through their learning issues. You were given a break when you were learning. Church is not meant to be a professional organisation but a learning organisation with a sovereign people so all are entitled to play a part and deserve to be trusted initially. With a good interview and management process any people not suited for a role can be directed to a more suitable position rather than excluded initially until they have proved themselves. This can be very demotivating to new people.
  • Check how much you aAction learningre not delegating in the name of protecting your people or not trusting. The world needs empowered Christians. Doing is the best way of learning.
  • Encourage them to serve as a way of engaging them. If they are not right for the role then be bold and find something more suitable but don’t let this be a reason to not empower them in the first place. We are all the priesthood of believers so have a right to have a part in a church.
  • Encourage those with authority not to ask permission on small items so small issues are not overburdening senior leaders.
  • Encourage people to give prophetic words to each other.
  • Find out what the person you are empowering is doing and coach them to find their own solution ( as opposed to offering unsolicited advice or assuming you know what  the problem is  without confirming it )

The framework contains lots of notes to help you implement the principles and draw on the vast expertise of many researchers and implementors. Do contact us for the full version. At the moment this initiative is funded by personal benefactors  so we are providing this at no cost.

New Diagnostic Tool to Assess the Health of your Church. Is your Church conducting any Church Health Exercises?

BLOG from CEO of Church Excellence Framework

We are very excited to announce that we have put together a simple diagnostic tool to direct attention to a few key elements that have been shown to produce the greatest impact. This has come from collating the best practices from multiple studies. We think it offers a unique tool that is comprehensive in a way that is not offered by many others. It can beBUILDING A Church that is relevant for future generations backed up by actual research on actual churches and population studies. When we look at the questions it directs us to a few critical activities which are often not carried out by the bulk of churches.

So we ask the question-  are we directing our time to things that are not making the greatest impact?

Resources and time are often scare so it is crucial leaders really consider in detail their strategy and ask if it is based on best practice today or is it strategies that worked before but are not working today. Leaders can  often be the ones doing the implementation and so not direct much of their time to strategic planning. This is where it is key for many believers to be asking their church what church health activities they are doing. We all have a part to play to support hard working pastors who are often overwhelmed.

We must be constantly contextualising our operations to stay relevant. Many view church as so outdated – we can fight this by showing that we are aware of the latest research . We have also followed many patterns based on incorrect biblical premises for centuries. We sense God leading us to a new reformation of church where there is a greater role for the believer. If we work to mobilise the committed we are confident we can see a radical improvement in our impact.

In studying church operations it has come to my attention that many have mentors but not leadership coaches. To run an effective and healthy church we have to constantly be in touch with the current world. Leadership Coaches are trained  in extracting good strategies from their client that are relevant to where they are at. They can be crucial in helping a church  conduct  vital church health exercises. Constantly re-evaluating is critical to avoid stagnation and traditionalism.  The early church was constantly adapting and using people. We see that with the massive growth in Asian countries. They move fast, raise disciples fast and are not scared to promote. Jesus was not scared to use the average person and with belief built them into mighty leaders.

We have now collated  lots of research from well-respected and longstanding studies to draw up a diagnostic tool to assess the health of your church. Do pass this on to church board members, pastors and people concerned with strategy in your church. The more churches we can get looking at key strategies and not repeating things that don’t  work, the healthier our nation will be. Starting at rebuilding the temple is the first step .

Diagnostic Tool to assess the most effective place to start church health initiatives

  • Do you put good resources into children and youth work as this is where the greatest conversions come from?
  • Do you have a  clear outline of where you are going in the next few years?
    •  People want a community with real purpose where they can serve and grow.
  • Do you have transformation outcomes rather than attendance measures?church growth
  • Do you have a Church planting strategy as this has been shown in surveys to be where the most growth comes from?
  • Is your church missional in the sense that its existence is based around reaching those not currently in the church or is it needs based?
  • Have you considered organic church models and principles  as ones that represent the early church model more closely?
  • Do you know what the younger generation want ?
  • Do you support people’s calling and provide processes, not just give them a job in the church ?
  • Do you teach them how to share their faith in the marketplace not just invite friends to church?
  • Do you find out if you are meeting people’s needs in your church and what they say about how you are meeting the values of the church? Authenticity is massive now.
  • Do you delegate and empower people so they are engaged not just spectators?
  • Do you provide a clear pathway to growth?
  • Do you seek to have a balance of all major areas of church life and work on the weakest area as this will be where the fallout will occur? (see NCD material for backup)
  • Do you inspire a sense of Church ownership?
  • Do you provide a chance to serve those in need?
  • Do you encourage people to take responsibility for their own growth and not just rely on what church offers?
  • Do you encourage creativity in methods by using all talents and empower people to go out on their own?

Score 1 point if you meet the indicator fully, half if partially, and then add the score in total

You can then work on those areas that you were unable to tick after prioritizing them

If in doubt begin developing some good transformation outcomes of what you want to see in the lives of others and begin expressing your desire to see various areas grow. The more that can be given to others the greater the growth. The notes of the framework can explain examples and more of what to watch out for.


25 practical ways to bring Church Back to More Relevance

Blog from CEO of the Church Excellence Framework

Bringing the church back to more relevance

We are excited that many are now interested and sense God calling us back to a more biblical ecclesia definition of church and away from institutional Christianity which we believe has a lot of ways of operating that are not working and do not have the DNA of the bible .  The framework proposes some practical methods and principles to move us in that direction.

Here are a sample of some principles that are incorporated in the frameworkchurch growth

  • Returning the church to the original definition of Ecclesia that all people have authority and involvement, not just leaders
  • Church serving the people not the people serving the church vision
  • Moving to senior pastor as a facilitator rather than the person who must give permission before people are allowed to act in their area of passion.
  • Clarifying and serving the Calling of People vs Serving the Church vision, even if outside church activities
  • Priesthood of All Believers and Every Member Ministry ( 1 Peter 2: 9) to allow less pressure on paid  pastors
  • Bringing back the  Five Fold Ministry (Eph 5) ensuring tha tevery church has apostolic oversight, their is a role for the evangelist  and teachers are not the senior pastors responsible for a lot of admin that is not their gifting.
  • Increasing understanding of the heavenly court systems and unseen realities of heaven that have been hidden from traditional church teaching
  • More effective methods of  Empowering Establishing and Equipping of the Saints going beyond small groups and sermons.
  • Moving from  “Connecting to a Church” to Measures of Transformation
  • Moving away from Attraction Model to Discipling Model – Platforms for Community Engagement not Concert Attendance
  • Moving towards measuring “Numbers of disciples effectively equipped and able to reach out ” versus “Numbers attending Church”
  • Changing the staffing structure from appointing ministry roles to appointing by critical Functions such as HR and Communications, Head of Spiritual Operations, Head of Evangelism. Avoiding pastors seeking to do numerous tasks not in alignment with their gifting
  • Principle that Quality Relationships result in engagement more than  content so reducing heavy listening content and more netweaving.
  • Allowing Debate and Questioning as a key tool for Learning
  • Encouraging greater unity with other Christian denominations and Christian organizations by seeing more products advertised and working with other churches and city council.
  • Allowing people to share  prophesy in services and minister to others as a regular event
  • Encouraging  Trust and Believing the Best in Others particularly new people moving from ” we need to get to know you” philoshosy which slows down disciplemaking and breeds resentment.
  • Moving from Teaching to Learning with emphasis on outcomes such as growth of believer not input such as how many in small groups
  • Multiplication and one-on-one Disciple-making (2 Tim 2:2) not just group discipling
  • Encouraging more Church Transparency and Lives that Invite Feedback and Development
  • Moving  from “Shouting on the Mountaintop” ie  preaching in a church mainly full of believers  to “Immersing in thflowcharte Culture”
  •  Encouraging lots of resources to be given to people even if from different parts of the Body of Christ
  •  Honouring People, evaluating how people are loved  and treated fairly “All men will know you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:34)
  •  Encouraging Creativity in Spiritual formation and Cross fertilization of Ideas
  •  Interactive Action Learning that supports developing a genuine relationship with God
  • Going to Non-believers in their situation and Walking with Them (Missional Community) rather than inviting people to our environment
  • Supporting Christians in the Marketplace (Being Salt and Light)
  • Returning the church to the original definition of Ecclesia that all people have authority and involvement not just leaders
  • Bringing the charismatic, contemplative, community care, evangelistic, mystic style churches into one church rather than churches specializing, on the basis that all elements are biblical and not to be excluded.

We have found a great resource on helping people understand more of the disciple making principles encouraged by the framework –

see here



This blog can be reproduced as long as we are notified.


If you agree with these principles can we ask that you send this to your pastor and talk to him about his response- also asking if they undertake any church health exercises. It is Gods Church and the peoples church,  not the pastors church remember. We have a right to discuss good biblical principles with our leaders and if they are good leaders they will be happy to discuss things without being defensive.

We would like to post on topics you are interested in so please do let us know  in the comments section below , what you want to know about and also we are interested in hearing from you on what you want to see in church that you are not currently.

Also we would appreciate you sharing our blog with others to help build a more relevant church that is reaching a greater number of people.

To see the actual framework for a limited time go to

Continue reading

12 profound ways to actively engage people in Church?

Diagram 4

Here is a small extract from the accompanying notes in the framework on one of the  indicators  – “evidence is sought that people are actively engaged with the body of Christ”.

Here are some ways to actively engage people so they will want to continue in their walk with God and stay in church:-

  • Feeling you are needed. We suggest a process here in the notes to engage people in a conversation so you get to know them and what God has laid on their hearts.
  • Your passions are taken seriously and you are helped to see some small progress. This need only be  in a few small areas to be really encouraging for someone.
  • Serving in a  community project run by people outside the church ie ( not your own), so you are mixing with the community. This done as a group with the church can be very engaging as you are serving with a purpose not just socialising.
  • Empowering  others to empower people.- we have coaching models to share in the pic
  • You know and believe in the vision values and goals (hence good communication of them)
  • Someone is loving you and encouraging you to be a part (This is where coaching can really help with connection outside of activities)
  • You have meaningful relationships that challenge you to grow (Can come from plenty of networking time in meetings, encouraging people to stay and not have excessive content meetings). This allows the power of netweaving to take place.
  • Churches encourage a culture of noticing the newer members and taking initiative to ask them how they may serve them or love them.
  • Being asked what you would like to see – this could be done via various methods such as a blog, forums with different categories of people, including new people, surveys, etc.
  • Being provided resources, encouragement, placing people above the needs of the building or organized  programme
  • Sermon key points could be placed on an e-newsletter with reminders.
  • A video sharing key learning points from the last sermon and the next sermon could be placed on Facebook, website or e-newsletter to spark interest and give them a reason to attend. Subjects posted in advance also do this. Commenting on how the spirit is speaking to us generally is very engaging.

By asking the people maybe in a survey whether they feel engaged with the church and if not some of the reasons , could dramatically help planning and maybe keep some of those who are risk of becoming dechurched or struggling with their faith.

Sign up for our blog to get more of the notes on building a relevant church at

Download a copy of the framework now on the website.

Will you Help US?

We really need people to share our blogs to get the message out as to how church needs to change to reach our generation.