Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Growing Effective Churches: What can we do to help our church?

By Rev. Dennis Otto, Director of Congregational Development

We hear that question often from church leaders who are deeply concerned about their congregations and communities. Churches often look to a program or maybe even a pastoral change as what will “fix” them. Based on what we have seen in our efforts to help churches transform, let me make one simple suggestion that can go in two possible directions.

Begin by building leaders. Commit to helping the leaders of the church grow. There are two directions to consider. First, and it must be first, create opportunities for the spiritual growth of leaders. There are two books that would be excellent for a council to use to enable spiritual growth: “Five Practices of Fruitful Living” by Robert Schnase, and “Foundations” by Phil Maynard. Either book would be great tools in helping the leaders of a church develop deeper and stronger spiritual disciplines. Consider meeting weekly for a season, or meet monthly, but alternate between business and study/small group from month to month. Schnase’s book is widely available (Amazon et. al.) and Maynard’s book has more limited distribution, so contact us at

Second, offer training on the techniques and current best practices of churches that are effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ who transform the world. “Equipping God’s People” (Module I or II or both) would be a great way to get started. There are lay people in every area of the conference who have already completed this, and some who have led the course. This would be an excellent way to get started in building leaders.

There isn’t a magic wand out there for creating churches that make disciples, but most often it begins with leaders. If you have other questions or want to explore this further, email the above address or

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