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Video Transcript: 

Mike Jackson

Morning everyone, glad you’re able to join us, thank you for giving us your time today, we realize that we just don’t wanna use your time, we don’t wanna waste it by any means. We want it to be an investment in the kingdom of God and we’re grateful that you’ve joined us. I’m excited about what you’re gonna be a part of today, “Reaching the Summit,” is an outstanding opportunity to learn how to reverse and correct the decline and just the things in church life that we need to give attention to, and have some realization about what’s going on. Indeed, these are very challenging times and on top of that to add to these challenges with COVID-19, we’ve had storms the last two Sundays here in Alabama, so it’s an interesting day and time to do ministry. And because we have been ordered to stay at home and we’ve not been able to meet for five to six weeks now, it’s created some challenges for us that we’ve never ever encountered before. So I hope today as you listen to George Yates, he will be able to share some insights with you that he will be able to encourage your heart and be able to help you in the midst of what you’re trying to do in giving leadership to your church. For those of you who don’t know, I’m Mike Jackson I serve as director of the office of leader care and church health. It is my honor to be able to introduce to you a couple of my colleagues. First of all, Ken Allen serves with me as an associate in our office. And Ken’s focus is on church health with church revitalization as well as working with bi-vocational ministries. And you’ll be hearing from Ken a little later today and he’s going to be the one that’s going to help facilitate your questions. George will share a little bit more about how you can offer those questions and how you can share those with us. So he will help you today facilitate that. And I’m glad to have Ken on board here, state board of missions, he’s been with us since last September. Hand in hand with Ken, we’ve got George Yates who’s on a contract basis with us, and George works in the area of church health and church revitalization as well and George is an author, he’s a speaker, he has been on the church staff, he’s been in the local association, and now we have the privilege of having you here with us as he works hand in hand with Ken and myself trying to help our churches in this area of church health and church revitalization. I truly am excited for the journey you’re gonna be on today. I do believe with all my heart that, “Reaching the Summit,” is a great opportunity, the resources that you will learn about today, the materials that you will be exposed to will greatly enable and assist you in your journey as shepherd, as pastor leader of the local congregation to help them to become the church that God wants them to be. Again we here at the State Board of Missions want you to know we’re praying for you in these challenging times, we have been doing that on weekly broadcasts, and I wanna encourage you to join us tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock for about 20 minutes of prayer, that will be led by our executive director Dr. Rick Lance, and there’ll be others that will be praying specific focused times and instances of prayer, so join us for that. It’s always a great encouragement to my heart as we’re into about week five of that. As well as know that we as your state missionaries are making phone calls to pastors across the state and we’re seeking to encourage them and wanna do our very best in that regard. So if there’s any way we can be of help to you we wanna do that. Again, thank you for investing your time today, if you’ve got questions, George is gonna explain how you can ask those, Ken’s gonna be facilitating getting those answered, but we’re just grateful that you allowed us today to take time to be a part of your life and to encourage you and hopefully share with you some very much needed and very beneficial information. Without having much else to say, let me take a moment to lead us in prayer, praying for George, praying for you and praying for this time we invest together. Let’s pray together. Father it is with great joy that I be able to enter into Your presence knowing that this is the day You’ve made and rejoice, and are glad in it. Father, thank You for these who have joined us by this webinar. I pray that You would bless their lives and bless their ministries, take care of them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Do the same for their families and for their church families. Lord I pray for our presenter today that You would be with George, I thank You for him, for his friendship, for his service to the kingdom of God, and I just pray today that You would give him clarity of thought, give him the ability to carefully and succinctly to communicate what messages that he wants to share today in, “Reaching the Summit,” materials. Father I pray that this resource will be an encouragement to our pastors to church leaders, to church members as they’re on the journey to trying to make their churches as healthy and as vital as possible. Lord we love You, thank You for loving us and thank You for everything that You have done for us, but most of all, thank You for our salvation that free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. It’s in His powerful, wonderful name I pray, amen. God bless you, enjoy the morning, and George thank you for your investment in Alabama Baptist. Ken thank you for doing what you’re doing, and I look forward to listening in and being a part of this event today. God bless you.

George Yates

Thanks Mike, appreciate that. Thank you all for joining us, I know we have some others that will be joining in a few minutes as well. Want you to enjoy this, but learn from this, hopefully God has used this in many different states across our nation, and so want to share it with you again today. We’ve shared it in Alabama, we had plans to do a tour taking this around the state of Alabama in April and May, but with the coronavirus, of course that’s all been knocked out so we decided to do it through this format today. “Reaching the Summit,” is the title of a book that I wrote in 2012, I think is when it came out. It’s avoiding and reversing decline in the church. Just saw a couple of videos last week that an association in Georgia has put out that they had churches I worked, spent some nine churches went through this with me over a two year period and five one year and four the next, and just had some great successes, some great things, and they’re still talking about it so they did videos, not because I asked them too, but because the director of missions wanted people to hear what had happened in those churches. So hopefully you see the screen down, and I’m gonna click forward, and we’re gonna jump right into this material. Again if you have any questions, please use the Q&A box and Ken will be monitoring that and we’ll either jump in or we’ll save some time in a few minutes to answer some of those questions. We want to identify, all right it did not advance. Let’s see if I can get it to, there we go. We’re told that in North America today that up to 80%, some believe it’s even higher. 80% of our churches are plateaued or declining. 80%. Now when the CDC issues a pandemic or an epidemic, it takes less than 2% of the population to ever be infected and so we’re way beyond epidemic proportions in the church today with 80% of our churches plateaued or declining. And one of the things I want to talk about today is how, you know how we get there, what to do we do with that, how do we get away from there, but I’m gonna spend the first maybe 45 minutes here, just talking about the five phases of decline that you will see in the church, if we don’t stop and correct those at the progressing of decline. And so one of the first things that we never think about is attrition. When you lose a family or you lose one or two of your senior adults in death, you’re in decline until you replace those plus one. And I believe every church will face up to 10% of attrition every year. That means if you’re running a hundred people, you’re gonna lose 10, you can count on losing up to 10 people every year, just by attrition. Just people, one family of four moving away, two of your senior adults leaving, maybe one or two of your high school seniors going off to college and never coming back. And maybe one or two just dropping out. That’s part of the attrition and until you replace that 10 plus one, you’re still in decline. And so we don’t think about that as decline, but we are and often times even going to conferences or workshops and things in person, we’ll get together, we’ll ask our buddies and our friends, “Hey, how’s it going?” And we say, “Oh, okay. “It’s going about the same as usual. “We’re status quo.” And those are telling us that we’re not growing, but we don’t even realize that we’ve actually lost because of the attrition factor that we’ve talked about and mentioned there. People often ask me what do I think. Why are the churches in North America declining so rapidly? Why do we have so many of our churches in decline? And in the book I give several different reasons or give a couple different reasons for it, but I also say if I had to take it to one, this is the one I would take it to. Jesus’ own words. He said in Revelation chapter two, verse four, “Yet I hold this against you, “you have lost your first love.” Now we don’t like to think about that in our church. Some of you may have, when you read that, you may say, “Well that may be every other church “that’s on here, but it’s not my church.” So we really have to think about that. Jesus said, “Yet I hold this against you, “you have lost your first love.” Now what we don’t like that statement said about our church, but we really need to consider that factor. What would Jesus say if he was coming to you right now and then also we need to think about what’s the prescription because I believe Jesus gave us the prescription in the very next verse, though we don’t remember that one as well. In verse five it says, “Remember the height from which “you have fallen! “Repent and do the things you did at first.” “Remember the heights from which you have fallen.” What is He saying? What did you used to do? What have you known when you were at your highest numbers, when you were doing the greatest work for the kingdom, what was different about that than it is today? Then He says, “Repent and do the things you did at first.” Now He’s not talking about going back and doing big tent revivals, right? Of course not. God could use those if He still wanted to, but He’s not using those today because they don’t reach the people. He says, “Repent and do the things you did at first.” Repent, return to that love, that excitement that you had. Why do you think it is that new Christians share the Gospel more than someone who’s been in church for a multiple of years? “Repent and do the things that you did at first.” Return to that love, that love of Jesus. That love that creates that desire within you to go out and to share. To share with others what God has done and is doing in your life. I want to look at five phases. Now when I went to write this material, I wasn’t trying to write a book. It turned out to be this book and other material on top of that afterwards, but also I just wasn’t trying to find okay, what are five things. What have I seen in my, at that time, about 17, 18 years of doing this type of work, both on church staff and denominational staff, and working with churches, what have I seen that would help me help other churches. And I came up with five different phases that a church will fall through as they’re going through decline. It just keeps steady, steady slowing. Sometimes it’s faster than steady and I came up with five and I thought, “God is that what it is?” “Show me if I’m over thinking this, “if I’m under thinking this, if there’s more.” And I thought we’ll I’ll go to George Bullard’s life line. Life line of the church. I’ve used that for years, George Bullard’s been doing this a lot longer than I have. And so I went there and he has on the left side, or right side when you’re looking at it I guess, on the right side of the bell curve, of the life cycle of the church, he has five different phases or five different stages that churches will fall through. The fifth one being death. And then I turned to Jim Collins, who writes similar material for the corporate world. If you’ve ever read, “Good to Great,” that’s Jim Collins. He does some great work in this same field for the corporate world. And one of his follow up books was, “How the Mighty Fall,” and in that book he has five different stages of decline that any organization, business, store, company, any organization will fall through if they don’t stop those. So I just turned to God and I said, “Thank you God, “that’s confirmation, I will follow this and go with it.” So that’s what we use. The phase one, the first phase is phase one and this is loss of vision, is what I call it. Now in this phase it’s the most subtle of all phases and the reason that it is so subtle is that it is attrition. It starts with attrition. It starts with well we had a family move away and we had a couple people that, our senior adults that died. And so we don’t think about that. We go into, we think about you know, we talk to other people and we say you know “How’s it going?” “Well, you know we baptized three last year,” and that’s great. Any time we stir the waters of baptism, opening up God’s kingdom to more people, that is fantastic. But what we forget to say is we baptized three, but we lost a family of four who moved away and we had two senior adults pass away and we had one of our senior in high school went away to college. And so that’s seven, and so we’re still at a negative four. See it’s that subtle. We don’t think about it, but it’s the most subtle of all phases for those reasons, and others. Because it’s so subtle, it usually goes unnoticed by church members and church leaders alike. And we have a lack of expectations on our members. It’s been said that the optimist club has more expectations on it’s members than the church does today. I was sitting in the office of a pastor several years ago and I just mentioned, “Pastor we need to try to find a way “to get your, what I call fringe members involved.” Now fringe members are those people who come in at the very, right as the service starts and they sit on the ends of the aisles. They can’t sit in the back because there’s senior adults already have those, but they sit on the ends of the pews and then they’re the first ones out except for your visitors and they never get involved. And so I said, we need to find a way to get your, these members engaged and involved. And he threw his hands up and he said, “No, if we do that, “we’ll run ’em off.” And I said, “Pastor, if you don’t do that, “you will run ’em off.” You see when someone new comes to your church, within 30 days, within one month, within 30 days, they must have developed or start developing, at least one new relationship. I’m trying to think of an adjective to go with it. They must have one fostering relationship, one growing relationship, one genuine relationship, not just someone greeting them every week, but someone starting a relationship. They must have that within 30 days of their first visit to your church. The second thing they must do, within 90 days they need to have some kind of area of responsibility. Now I’ve had people, even deacons stand up in church and say, “You mean we’re supposed to give them something “to do, we don’t know who they are.” And I say, “Yes, you’re supposed “to give them something to do.” Within 90 days they need to have an area of responsibility. And so one of those, you’re not gonna let ’em preach, you’re not gonna let ’em teach, ’til you know who they are, but does it take a salvation experience, knowing that someone has been baptized by immersion, before they can hand a bulletin to someone else? Does it take that salvation experience before someone can open the door and smile at another person? See there are things that we can allow them to do, to get involved in the church that would draw them in to God’s kingdom and we get to know them so they can take on more responsibility, or higher responsibility. Man, there are some churches, I would much rather have the greeters, their guests to be the greeters because I’ve been in some churches, and perhaps you have too, where the grumpiest people in church are the ones at the front door. I always make sure that the people that sign up for greeters, those who open the door, hand out bulletins, that they know how to turn the ends of their lips up. That they know how to smile. But we need expectations on our members and if we don’t put those expectations, help them to develop new relationships, helping to within 30 days a new relationship, within 90 days they need an area of responsibility. If we don’t do those two things within 180 days, or six months, they will be gone. And I can tell you how many times I’ve heard people say things like, “Whatever happened to Bob and Mary Jane? “We thought they were gonna be great workers. “They must not have been as committed “as we thought they were.” You see we put the blame back on them for the reason that they’re not there today. We never stop to think, “Did we give them an opportunity “to really get involved, to be a part of our church.” And so we need to have expectations on our members and when we don’t interact with these and stop to try to stop this loss of vision and this thing here, to put more expectations, and to help to understand what decline really is, we’re gonna slip into phase two. And phase two is lack of purpose. Phase one was loss of vision. Phase two is lack of purpose. These are all chapters in the book, by the way, that I believe you’re gonna get a free copy of for registering today and the book is, “Reaching the Summit,” and you’ll be able to see that and get a copy of that and read these, but you can take notes as you want, but phase two is lack of purpose. In phase two, your decline begins to affect the ministry of the church. And the two main reasons are these, attendance is dropping off, membership is declining, and we have lessening financial support. Now this lessening financial support, this is the one that usually catches the pastor’s attention. We don’t have as much money. What are we gonna cut? What are we gonna look at? How are we gonna keep maintaining our support and doing the ministries that we believe God’s called us to do? But phase two, and we’re gonna see some churches in phase one, some churches in phase two, real quickly because of the coronavirus thing that we’re in. Perhaps you’re seeing lessening financial support right now. I’ve been encouraged by some of the reports we’ve heard through Alabama, where their giving has gone up and there’s some things, some documents that are coming out in a seminar or a webinar that they’ll be hosting next week that next Thursday, where you’ll be able to see some of those and get some ideas on some of those. Also in phase two what happens is, we settle for good. Folks, I like to tell people that perhaps you’ve been misled your entire life because God did not create you for good. God created you for greatness and the more we settle for good, the more we please Satan and not God. You see when we settle for good, Satan knows we will never strive for the greatness that God created us for. Folks when we come out of this coronavirus, this COVID-19 and we get back to meeting together, don’t settle for good. It’s gonna be a very crippling aptitude for us to accept and we can’t do that. When we come out of this just, oh we’re back together man this is so good, and we’re gonna settle for that. Don’t settle for good, start thinking now how you can strive and help your church, and your church members to each strive for the greatness that God created you for. In phase two ministries do begin to suffer for those same two reasons that we mentioned up front, less people to do the work, to carry out the ministry, and lessening financial support. We need to start thinking today, what can we do? Our, some of our members have lost their jobs, they’re not gonna have those jobs as soon as they come back. They’ve had to put things on hold, so now they’ve gotta take care of those things. We may not have the monies coming in. Not only your members, your community has lost jobs through this COVID-19 and it’s gonna take awhile for the economy to strengthen back up, so what can we do to help? How can we be the church to help us from falling through phase two. And then in phase two, another thing that we see in churches, you’ll see this is not just about COVID-19, this is anytime, in any lifespan of a church, but there’s a thing called unchecked control and this is where people who are not the elected leaders necessarily of the church, or the paid leaders of the church have certain control in the church. The way a vote goes on certain topics, the way a committee operates, and the longer we let that go unchecked, the deeper in decline it will throw your church, and so those things have to be confronted. We talk about that in the book and how to help to do that, and we try to help put strategies in place to help do that in a Godly way. When we don’t, what happens is we will slip into phase three. And phase three is denial of reality is what I call it. Denial of reality. In this phase, evidence of decline becomes obvious. We’ve lost 25% of our attendance, so 33%, a third of our attendance we’ve lost. What do you think would happen if Home Depot lost 33% of its customers overnight? They probably wouldn’t lose them overnight, would they? But if they lost 33% of their customers, what do you think would happen? I can say from having been in the corporate world, before it ever got to 33, heads would start to roll. Changes would be made. You see in the church, we just keep explaining it away. It’s because of something else. The excuses that we hear for declining in the church usually have to do with outside forces. It’s the economy. The economy’s bad, people don’t come to church. When the economy is good, people don’t come to church. So when do they come to church? It’s kind of like the weather, right? You hear people say, “Oh the weather is just terrible. “People aren’t coming to church because of the weather.” And then when it’s good weather, what happens? “Oh well they’re out at the lake, “they’re on the golf course. “It’s just too good of weather, people don’t come to church “in good weather.” They don’t come in bad weather and they don’t come in bad weather, when do they come? We’re explaining away, we’re using excuses and so what we want to do is find the evidence, we see the evidence, we need to shoulder the responsibility which is one of the principles in the book, “Reaching the Summit,” is to shoulder the responsibility. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been there, how long the church has been in decline, it’s your watch now if you’re there. What am I supposed to be doing, how am I supposed to be helping to lead, or to lead the church to be the church God wants it to be. Accept that responsibility, but we want to stay and your church members want to stay in denial often. In this phase, we have a tendency to discount or explain away that negative data. Those things that I’ve just mentioned, but also things like, “Well it’s that big church “that moved in in our community. “That big church is taking all of our people away.” Do you have any control over that big church? No, you don’t. Do you have any control over the weather? No, nor the economy. In fact if you do have control over the weather, get with me after this ’cause we can make some money. We have a tendency to discount or explain away the negative data. “Oh it’s because of this.” It’s always because of outside data, but then as we fall through decline, what we see happening is then we start turning on each other. “Well it’s that family that was here, “it’s that pastor that was here 10 years ago, “it’s that group that left, it’s that, that, that, that.” Somebody else, it’s never about us. We never take on what is our responsibility for. In this phase we attempt to explain away the obvious. We pass the blame. Folks, we gotta stop passing the blame and start shouldering the responsibility. We change the way we count. Now, in the book, “Transformational Church,” Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer wrote about, you know changing some of our counting practices, but they were not talking about deceitful changing or hiding our count. Some churches, here’s an example I’ve seen in a couple different states, where it was very similar, both of these churches, the Anglo church, the mother church, mainly Anglo, white, Caucasian allowed another congregation, in both these instances, a Hispanic congregation to use their facility on Sunday mornings. They were using a different part of the facility and the Anglo church began declining and this one church went from 100 down to 75, but the Hispanic church had grown to 50. And so what the church, Anglo church, what the mother church did is they said, “You know what we’re gonna do from now on, “because it looks like we don’t want people “to know we’re declining so we’re gonna add “their numbers to our numbers so now it looks like “we’re running 125.” They boosted their numbers by 125, but how many people were they reaching? Who were they really showing that they had grown? No one. And so we’ve gotta be careful of what we do. I have churches a lot of times telling me or asking, “What are you running?” And they’ll say, “Oh we don’t count “our worship services anymore.” When a church tells me that, they’ve pretty much told me “We’re in decline and don’t want to admit it.” Shoulder the responsibilities. If you’re gonna change anything the way you count, change the way you count by counting how many leaders you have, how many new converts you have? Those kinds of things. How many contacts, true evangelistic contacts have you had? Another thing that we see in phase three is people just think, leaders just think, “Man if we just get our people to do more, “to work harder. “They’re just not following, they’re not doing.” What are we doing? That’s where we’re turning on each other. That’s where those excuses start coming in inside the church. Folks it’s not about working harder. It may be about working smarter, it may be about working more towards the great commission, making sure that what we’re doing is fulfilling the great commission and not satisfying our own desires, but we’ve got to get back to reality and stop denying reality. If we don’t, we’ll slip into phase four. And phase four I call grasping for survival. In this stage, we realize a staggering change is necessary and so we suddenly switched to survival mode. We start doing things just to survive. What are we gonna do to survive? We’ll cut this, cut this, do this, don’t do that, here we do this. We start treating symptoms and not causes. We just are hiding the pain and in the book and in every conference, I always share this story, it’s a personal story. It’s about my wife. She had back problems. We were living in Georgia, serving on staff at a church in Georgia and she had four bad discs in her back. We don’t know what caused it, we never saw, never had any one particular thing that said wow, whatever she was doing that day, it hurt. She went to chiropractors. There were two young Christian men chiropractors that she had been going to. And so she went to them through this and they brought her back to a reasonable level of life. I mean it was like nothing was wrong with her and she had about three years of good living, healthy living. And then, in the meantime God had moved us to California, we were living in California, serving on associational staff. And it came back and we started driving from where we lived in Gilroy, California, a 30 minute drive up to San Jose, and while we were doing that, we’d go up every six to eight weeks. They first tried treating her with therapies, none of those worked. Physical therapy, things, none of those worked. So then they went to injections. And the first injection they gave her was the same thing they would give a woman when she’s giving childbirth and it’s just, it doesn’t do anything to help in childbirth. The only thing it does is hide the pain. And it worked, for about six weeks, then it wore off, we went back, they gave her another one. It’s called an epidural. They gave her another epidural. It didn’t work. So we went back about four or five weeks later, they gave her a different injection. This one’s gonna close the door on the pain. We went back another six or eight weeks, and we kept doing that for two years. Some of them worked, some of them didn’t. One of them was gonna hide the pain, one was gonna block the pain, one was gonna close the door or the gate on the pain, but nothing was curing or doing anything to cure. So finally I asked the doctor, “Doctor, “when are we gonna stop treating the symptoms “and start treating the cause?” She had four bad discs in her back. And he said, “Oh no, that’s not what we do here. “We’re here to help you hide the pain. “To maintain the pain. “We’re here to help you maintain the pain.” My wife said, “I don’t want to maintain the pain, “I want to get rid of the pain.” But we continued on for about another six or eight weeks and finally she said, “You know what, “I’ll have the surgery.” We had avoided having surgery because we’d seen too many people with that many discs that had recurring surgeries. So we she said, “You know I’ll take it, I’ll do the surgery, “I’ve gotta have relief.” And he said, he had been treating her for over two years, he said, “Oh, we won’t do surgery “on you, you’re not bad enough yet.” That’s when I realized, that’s what an HMO is for. Health Maintenance Organization was truly for to help you maintain where you’re at, not to get you better. We asked for a second opinion, we had to stay within our insurance, so we found a doctor, another surgeon in Oakland, California. We drove up to Oakland, went to him, only met with him one time, but he had seen all of her records, knew her, and would tell me, he said, “We won’t do surgery on you “because you’re too far gone.” Same organization, completely opposite ends of the pole. Two different surgeons, two different answers, completely opposite of each other. But I agreed with this one, this surgeon once he explained it to us. He said, “What we have found is when we do, “when you have one bad disc and we do surgery on you, “you have a 50% chance that you’ll never “have to have another surgery.” So what he in essence is saying, is you’ve got a 50% chance that you are going to have more surgeries. And then he said, “With every additional disc, “that percentage cuts in half.” So she had a 93% chance that she was going to have more surgeries. She only had a 7% chance that she would never have to have more surgeries, after this one. So we said, “We gotta go pray about this.” We had a friend call us and said, from our church who said, “Hey can we come over tonight?” That was not unusual. They would come to our house, we would go to theirs. They came over, he’s from India, and he said, “I had the exact same thing you had. “I had two bad discs. Ten years ago, I had surgery in my country “and I’ve never had a minutes pain since.” He went home, got on his computer, Pam got on ours, I don’t know who, which one of them found it. One of them found a surgeon right in the bay area, northeast of San Francisco, in Freemont, California, who would do that exact same surgery. We met with him, he followed through, we followed through, she, Pam contacted some of his patients. They said the same thing that our friend said. “Never had a minutes problem since.” We set up the surgery, he did it as outpatient surgery. Now we’re talking major back surgery. He did it as outpatient surgery and he did two discs on Tuesday April the 19th, and the other two discs on April the 21st. So on Tuesday and Thursday. I just realized the date today. It’s the 21st. After he did the first two discs, the next day we stayed in a hotel there in Freemont and the next day I saw my wife’s face without pain for the very first time in two years. He did the next two discs the next day. My wife has never had one minutes problem since. So today, haven’t even thought about this, so it may be a good thing we’re doing this today, we celebrate 16 years pain free, cured, healed, of her back problems. Now I share that story every time I do this because I want people to understand, what happened is we found a doctor who was willing to treat the cause and not the symptoms. In church, we spend most of our time trying to treat symptoms. You see, a drop in attendance is not a cause, it’s a symptom. Lack of financial resources, is not a cause, it’s a symptom. We’ve got to get away from treating symptoms, get back to what the true cause is, and start treating the cause. In phase four, churches begin grasping. It’s titled grasping for survival, that’s what they do. They grasp for what’s the next best thing. Pastors go away to a conference, they come back, and they want to reinvent everything and do it exactly what they heard at that conference because this is the best thing that’s ever been out there. There’s nothing else better than this going on right now. And then six months later they go to another conference, they come back and say, “Man, we gotta stop all that, “we gotta do this.” I’ve known pastors who have lost their ministry, not only their church, lost their ministry because of this grasping. Also what happens here is we hear of something that worked for this other church, a church in Birmingham, let’s try it here. Or a church it worked in Atlanta, let’s try it here. Or a church that’s running 5,000, we’re running 50, let’s do what they did. Have you ever noticed that a copy is never as good as the original? See we don’t need to copy something that some other church is doing. Find out what the principle behind those things are and use those principles. Copy, never copy models, always capture the principle. That’s a huge principle in this book, don’t copy models, capture principles. Don’t do it just because you heard it or it sounds good. I’ve done one thing, I’m not gonna share that story today, but I did one thing in one church, a church I was serving on staff in Ohio. It was fantastic, we had 13 guests come to it, the first one we did. We did these things quarterly. We, I’ve written about it, you can read it on my blog site, but out of that 13 guests that came, six months later we wanted to see how many, what our return on investment, you might say was. We had 26 people had joined the church, out of that 13. 200%. Even when we stopped it and I stopped it after a couple of years. When we stopped it, we were still doing, we weren’t doing that good, but we were still doing 50%. That’s great numbers for evangelism. I have never tried to do that same event anywhere else, that I’ve been. I’ve never recommended it to another church to do. I’ve shared with them how to do it, what to do, but I always said, warned them, don’t copy models, capture principles. I have used those same principles, the spiritual principles underlying to match the gift mix of the church I was serving in and then we would try to use something similar. Something like that. It may not be anything, look anything like what I used in the church in Ohio. We gotta stop grasping, just grasping for what it is that might work, reaching out here and grasping and grabbing. What is it that we truly have that we can use and we can do. The other thing that I see in phase four is a series of injurious decisions. Now when you’re making good decisions, great decisions, God oriented decisions, they will help raise you from decline and we show you how to do that through the, “Reaching the Summit,” process. But in the same manner, decisions that you make that are not the best, may seem good at the time, but they can drive you further and further into decline. I was asked to work with a church on an interim basis a few years ago, and I worked there after about two months, I put a team together as I normally do. I was working with this team. And after about two months I said, “You know, “let me show you something that I’ve seen “and you all tell me if I’m right or wrong.” What I’ve seen is you’ve made this decision about a year, little over a year ago and you made that decision because of a decision that you made two and half years ago. And you made that decision because of one that you had made three years ago. And I took about five decisions, five things that they had done in that church that had really kept just driving, every time they made a different decision, it was driving farther and farther into decline. And I said, “You’ve been making bad decisions “for five years.” And one lady who had been there for over 20 years on that team, looked at me, and she said, “Oh no, you’re wrong, that is not true. “We’ve not been making bad decisions for five years.” And so I thought, “Okay, now we gotta go back through this, “explain it again, why I said this, “and how I’ve seen it.” But before I could go on, before I could say anything, she continued. She said, she said, “Oh no, you’re wrong, “we’ve not been making bad decisions for five years, “we’ve been making bad decisions for over 20 years.” She realized it once I started her on that trail, help her see that trail, she was able to say oh no it didn’t start there, and she was able to take the committee back, her team back even farther to show them that. We’ve gotta learn to make the right decisions and we do that, we help you with that and we have, we’ve trained coaches in Alabama, who can come in and do this. I’m not the only that does it. I can’t do very many churches at one time. We come in once a month and work with a pastor and teams. And to do that, I’ll explain a little bit about that in a few minutes, but what we do is we come in with the right types of questions because most churches, as in most organizations, and most conversations, we’re asking the wrong questions. And so I’ve spent 40 years, or more, learning how to ask questions, how to ask the right, I’m a student of the question and I want to help people to understand how to ask the right types of questions, so that you’re not making these injurious decisions, but you’re making quality, God centered decisions to help drive you forward. Now I believe that most churches, that fall into any one of those four phases can be turned around. They can make that turn around and start going. I believe every church, no matter where you find yourself on this scale, I believe every church has exactly what you need to make the turn around. When we come out of this coronavirus stuff and get back to meeting, you’re gonna see some of these symptoms. In phase one and two as I mentioned earlier, but also phase three, that denial. We’re gonna want to deny, “Well it’s because we’ve just not overcome “the coronavirus thing.” You know what, we’re gonna be able to walk in churches 10 years from now and some of them are gonna say, “We just never were able to, it was that coronavirus thing “that did it to us and we’ve not been able “to overcome that.” God’s church has overcome obstacles like this, and greater than this, over 200, 2,000 years. We can overcome this. It’s not gonna take us 10 years. We’re just gonna have to learn to do things differently. And I believe that churches can, but there is still one, one last phase. And I call this one relinquishment of ministry. Excuse me. In this phase, phase five, relinquishment of ministry, the church no longer has people or financial resources to maintain the facilities, much less to even carry out the ministry. To be a outward focused ministry to the community. So the best thing that we can do, in this situation, is to pray for that property and the assets to be used to glorify God. Now, there have been some estimates put out there, I think it’s too early actually to put a number, percentage on it, but I do believe that because of what’s going on right now that we will probably see more churches close. We’re gonna see churches close whether it does or not. We see churches close every year, but the best thing we can do is pray for that property and the assets be used to glorify God. In the book, I give one or two different references, church’s stories there, I want to share one with you now. In, when was it? 2002, I was serving on staff at a church in Georgia, Marietta, Georgia and I was asked to go out to California with two other gentlemen and do some consulting work with an association out there. And when we went out there, we spent about five days just consulting with 14 different churches. And two of those churches, one is similar, but one of those churches myself and one of the other gentlemen, we were both freed up that day so we both went in the afternoon to meet with members of the church. This church had 10 people in it. The youngest person was, I believe was 58 at the time. The second youngest person was 71 or 72, so everyone was 72 and above. And so they were able to meet during the day, so we went Thursday afternoon, met with them. Four of them came in on walkers that day and we were sharing with them, talking with them, they identified themselves as they’re almost on that, we use that bell curve and, of the lifecycle of the church, and they knew that they were close to death. And they asked us if we could send, if we had churches back east in Georgia, who would come out and do vacation Bible school for them. They said, “If you would just do that, “we could get back on our feet.” And we said, “Yes, we can do that. “We’ve got churches more than willing “to come out here and do vacation Bible schools, “but let us ask you a couple questions first. “If we send a church out here, “they come out and they do vacation Bible school, “and they reach a lot of families, “they reach children for you, “and some of those children and those families “start coming back, who’s gonna get down on the floor “and play with those preschoolers next Sunday?” See some eyes started opening as we asked that question. “Who’s gonna go out and visit all of these “other families that they’ve reached for you? “You’ve only got four people that drive “and they only drive in daylight hours.” They understood, but they still wanted it. Excuse me. What we did is we left it at that. We came back, we tried to help them to understand they needed more than just a one week, somebody come in intervention. 10 months later, my wife and I are living in California, in that same association. God moved us out there and we’re working with churches, I worked with that church for about, well for several years. I was out there for seven years. That church, one thing I didn’t tell you about that church is it had an interim pastor who had been their interim pastor for over seven years. That’s an oxymoron. Seven year interim. He went on to be their interim for another almost six years while I was there, until his health failed him. He as 81 or 82 years old and one of the key ladies in the church called me, she said, “George, we’re down to about seven, “pastor’s had to retire, “can you help us find speakers on Sunday?” So I went over and spoke with, preached for ’em a couple times, got other people to do it, and we did that for every week. Now in the meantime during that six years I was out there, we had a pastor come to our office, a Hispanic pastor who said, “I’ve started a church “in my living room, we’ve outgrown it, “and we need property. “Some place where we can meet, “can you help us find a place?” He happened to be in that same community so we put the two together. The mother church had allowed them to meet in their gym. They were growing. In fact they had joint services a couple weeks during that time, after the pastor retired, where I contacted and we set him up to preach for them. And finally this lady called me and she said after about four months of doing that. She said, “George,” she said, “We can’t continue on “like this. “There’s only about five of us, four of us left.” And so she went onto tell me what they were gonna do. They had one last joint service, had that Hispanic pastor preach to both congregations, and at the end of the service, this lady walked up to the pulpit with the pastor, the Hispanic pastor standing there, handed him the keys, a set of keys to the church, and symbolically said, “Here, the property is yours now. “You all continue God’s work.” That is such blessing to me to hear that. We need more of that going on. We need to understand that we don’t want to lose, it’s hard to lose property. California, it’s extremely hard and it’s moving this way because it’s hard to get property. If you lose a church property and want to start a new church in that area, it’s hard to get property and it’s gonna be even harder and harder because municipalities, governments are not wanting to collect all that tax money. And so what we need to do is pray for those churches that are ready to close, that they can move forward allowing the property and the assets be used to glorify God. That’s the five phases of decline that every church will face unless we stop it at some point down through there and I really encourage you to use a coach, use someone from the outside. Because they come in with the, they don’t have a bias. Every person in your church including you the pastor, has a bias. And they come in without a bias, they come in and can broach things that you, as a pastor, can’t even broach, and can get results. But they come in trained and qualified, not trying to say here’s steps one, two, three, and four, but to help you to uncover. That’s what we do as coaches, we come in to help you uncover what God has given you. That’s the only thing you have control over. You don’t have control over the economy, or the weather, or that big church down the street, or restrictions on the church. You don’t have control over that, but what you do have control over is what God has given you in membership of your church. What is in the pews when you’re able to get back? What is in the seats of your church when you’re able to get back there? Who is online with you that are your members? That’s what you have control over. Guys, God’s control, but that’s what we need to work with and so what we come in to do is to help you understand what that is in your particular context. We don’t tell you, we just ask questions and let you all discover and we’ll guide that conversation to the right discovery to help you move forward. And I want to be able to help more churches in Alabama, and I also work with other conventions, but right now not as strongly as I am in Alabama. I spend a lot of my time there intentionally because I believe in what the state board of missions is doing there and want to be a part of that, helping them to do this, I want to do that. I’m gonna take a break here. We’re gonna to, Ken if you can get back on, we’ll see what kind of questions, we have a question there, Q&A and I’ll see if I can answer that. Let me flip to that screen. What do we have, Ken?

Ken Allen

Yeah, Brandon Fomby from, I believe he’s the student minister at First Tallassee, he’s asked, “How or should a church balance “their own assimilation process “with the command to make disciples?” So balancing their own assimilation process with the command to make disciples. I think you were referring earlier, George, to how when people are coming in, giving them that position in the church and then also alongside of giving them that position, how do you make disciples of them as a part of that process of assimilating them into the body.

George Yates

Okay, thank you Ken, thanks for helping me understand what the question was there and for the question. Brandon, thank you for the question and Ken, or Mike if y’all have any thoughts too, you can still throw those out there. What we find is, is people’s nature to want to get more involved once they get involved. As Thom Rainer’s research has shown over the years, that someone, if you only, if they only attend church when they first come, then five years from now it’s 80 some percent chance that they’re not gonna be there, but if you get them involved in a Sunday school class, say, get them involved in a small group or Sunday school, there’s an 80 some percent chance that they will be there in five years. And so, just give them something to do. Find something for them to do. I’ve got a story of a pastor in Florida who, it’s not my story, I got it from somebody else, but who created a position. One of his neighbors lost a child, a two-year-old child, and he and his wife started ministering to that person, and after a few weeks, the neighbor came to him and said, “Pastor, we’re so grateful “for how you’ve loved on us, how you’ve helped us “through this terrible, terrible time “of losing our child.” And the pastor said, “No, that’s not what we did it for.” But the neighbor insisted so the pastor said, “You know what, there is. “I teach a Sunday school class on Sunday morning “and I need someone to help me. “It’d really be helpful if someone “would come down and set up chairs for that class.” And that man started going down on Sunday morning and setting up chairs for the pastor’s Sunday school class. Pastor said after about six weeks, that man started staying for this class and then he brought his wife and she started staying. And then they started, after about two or three months, they started staying for church. You see this progression here. He said after a while, he said they joined the church, he baptized them, they were saved, and members of the church. He said and then a little bit later that man came to him, said, “Pastor,” said, “please don’t take this wrong, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, “I’ll set the chairs up as long as you want me to, “but I really believe God wants me to do more “than just set chairs up.” And the pastor said it just, “I just kind of wiped my brow “and said shoo, thank you. “I’m getting tired of going down on Saturday night “and taking those chairs down “so you have something to do on Sunday morning.” You see the pastor, just think outside the box if you have to, think outside the box. Find ways to help people get involved in small ways. That will help them foster more relationships so that they can grow in their relationship with Christ and grow into true disciples of Christ. Michael, you or Ken have anything, go ahead.

Ken Allen

Yeah and I know that Brandon is part of the grassroots disciple-making network in our state and think that when we, when we see assimilating people into the body, it is both and. It is getting them involved in church life as well as that one on one aspect of disciple-making that’s part of that process as well. Whether it’s organic or whether it’s part of that church’s vision and mission. It’s both and. ‘Cause I know George, you had that great way of saying people need to be involved very quickly in the life, the 30, what 30.

George Yates

30 days of relationship, area of responsibility within 90 days or they will be gone in 180.

Ken Allen

Yes, that’s a great way to see it. So all of that is discipleship. Having that relationship within 30, whether it’s a discipling relationship or some kind of small group relationship. In 90 days having something to do within the body. It’s all a part of the glue that gets them in, and going, and growing, they see that they’re a part of the whole, so yes it’s a balance, absolutely. Thank you for that question. Another question from Tammy, “How do you motivate people to want to grow? “So many in my church…” So there’s the basic question is how do you motivate people to grow that, in her church it may be a struggle, so I think that’s what she’s asking.

George Yates

I think many, many of the people on today would have to nod their head in agreement and say that’s true in many churches, in most of our churches. It doesn’t seem like a lot of people want to serve or want to get in there, but one of the things we’ll talk a little bit about it later in the broadcast here, but people will serve out of their passion. We’ve gotta help people to find out what their passion is. We got some things on our website, that the ALSBOM website, that has the passion surveys, help people to understand their passion. I can teach you, show you how I’ve done it in actually in a Sunday morning worship service. How it works, there’s some ideas in the book, shows you how to get people to, how to get more of the congregation engaged that way. We implemented one in a church I was in in Georgia and after I did some research and we had 95% of our people involved, engaged, involved in something in the church by doing a progression of things that we did. So people will serve out of their passion, is the best way that I’ve found to get people to serve. That’s the reason I’m answering it that way. We understand that when we’re saved, God gives us spiritual gifts, but I believe also at that very moment God gives us a particular passion to help certain groups, people groups, certain types of people, certain age, whatever that is, there’s certain things that we have passions for, that we can serve. Some people have a passion for working with preschoolers or infants, and so if we said you know we’re gonna go to daycare, we’re gonna offer to change diapers. My wife is one that would volunteer and say, “I’ll go, I’m ready to go change diapers.” I’m gonna say, “You know what, I think I’ve found “something else I need to do over here on that day.” Me and changing diapers don’t get along. We just don’t do that, but there’s other things that I love the outdoors, I love anything outdoors, as Mike and Ken can tell you. And so I would volunteer for a cookout, or a wild game dinner, or starting a hunt club. We all have passions that we can use for Jesus Christ. We have to not just think of what’s inside the church. How can we help people to use their passion to reach the community for Christ and a lot of that is gonna be things that we do inside the church, but until we move outside the church, are we truly fulfilling the great commission? So my number one thing is always is passion, help people understand what their passion is and then teach them how to use that passion. How to incorporate that passion in ministry.

Ken Allen

Let me quickly answer a question. This is being recorded, so it will be available later on, so wanted to make sure someone that asked that question’s aware of it Scott. I think that’s about it. I appreciate the question of motivating people to grow. You can lead a horse to water. And I think to me one of the things that are critical is models and when people can see a model in their church that this person is growing, this is what a growing believer looks like, or even bringing people in with testimonies. Anything like that, to me is, could be seeds for further opportunity to grow. I remember years ago, even Mike remembers the lay renewals that happened. Boy, seeing other lay people that are growing, who love the Lord, and it’s obvious they’re so passionate about God and loving Him, and growing, and they weren’t that way before, now they are. That just speaks to the church as a whole. Hey, ooh I may be missing something in my life. What’s wrong in my life that I’m not as passionate about the Lord as they are?

George Yates

Okay, good and I agree. And discipleship, perhaps is fits the descriptor that is more caught that taught. And discipleship I believe is contagious. In churches where I’ve served, or I’ve helped, or I’ve watched that grow, it usually starts with a small group and then it grows out from that. And so, you know when we look at discipleship, it’s a slow process, but it’s a process. It’s not an overnight or a quick fix, there’s no such thing as a silver bullet, but what can we do? How do we assimilate people into discipleship and then keep them growing as disciples. And a lot of times, that’s where churches, they may get that initial, they use somebody’s material or get some process to get started, but then after a year or so it just kind of fades away instead of continuing to grow. Mike, do you have any comments on that? I saw you nod your head a while ago. Didn’t know.

Mike Jackson

Yeah, I affirm what both of you have said in regards to that. I think the crux of the matter gets back to believers returning to their first love as you quoted in the very beginning of our session. As well as some of those may not have encountered Him in that love relationship to begin with. And I’m not judgmental, I’m not trying to you know, do anything, but just remind us that if you have been saved, you want to grow, and you want to share, and you want to develop what God’s given you. I do deacon training and one of the things I do in that deacon training is I encourage deacons when it comes to becoming a Bible based deacon, is that they have a calling and that calling is wrapped up into God’s purpose for their lives. What on earth are they here for? And I know that’s Rick Warren stuff, but it’s good stuff to remind us why are we here? What do we exist for? And then our calling and our purpose will lead us hopefully those things that we’re passionate about into ministry and I affirm what you guys have said and I do believe that it all revolves around falling back in love with Jesus Christ.

George Yates

Thank you Mike, thank you Ken for doing that. You can reverse decline in your church. The question becomes, do you want to get well? We can say we want to get well, but the question comes, do we really want to get well? This book was ready to go to print, it had already been through all of the pre phases that you go through with the editing, and proofing, and everything else . It was within weeks of going and I sent it to a friend of mine in California, Mike Stewart, and I asked Mike if he would just read it, give me his thought on it. I said it’s too late to get anything in the book, but would you just tell me. I got back with him a couple of weeks later, he said, “George,” he said, “I can’t pick “that manuscript up and read it. “Start reading and no matter where I read in that book, “where I start reading,” he said, “I always come back “to John chapter five.” And what he’s talking about is John chapter five, the first few verses where chapter in verse six, Jesus has walked up to the pool of Bethesda where all these people around, infirm people are sitting around it, laying around it, waiting to be healed, hoping to be able to be healed. And Jesus walks up to one man. Now we know He could have walked up, He could have, He didn’t even have to raise His hands, but He could have raised His hands and said, “You’re all healed, be healed, go home.” But He didn’t do that, he walked up to one man. He walked up to this man and He asked one question, and it’s a very simple, straight forward question in my mind. He said, “Do you want to get well?” Do you remember what the man’s answer was in verse seven. He says, “I can’t, I don’t have anyone to help me. “By the time I get to the pool, somebody else “has gotten in and has been healed.” What’s he doing? He’s making excuses. He’s doing the same thing that we do in church today. Do you want to get well? Now if somebody comes to me, if I’ve got a cough, if I’ve got a cold, or if I’ve got cancer, well whatever I’ve got, if somebody comes up to me, “Do you want to get well?” I’m gonna say, “Yes.” But this man started making excuses. He never answered Jesus’ question. When Mike told me that, I just hit the ground. I mean I just hit, I said, “Man, I wish I would have sent “this to you earlier because that’s how I would have ended “every chapter in the book.” Do you want to get well? I called him back two days later and I said, “Mike, would you write the forward to this book.” And he did. I said, “I want you to write what you told me the other day “about John chapter five.” And so he did, so when you get your copy of the book, that’s the forward, read that, it’s powerful. We’ve had one state convention that called us, just because of that forward they changed the way they operate with churches, the way they deal with churches, just because of what was in that first forward. So what you’ve got to do is you gotta ask yourself first, as pastors and leaders of the church, do we really want to get well? Do I want to get well? Does our church want to get well? And then you have to ask your church that. Do you want to get well? Let’s face it, there’s some churches that are satisfied with where they’re at. They don’t want to. As we come out of this COVID-19 thing, shutdown, it’s gonna be difficult because what people are gonna want to do, they think that to get well is to get back to what they were in February, or what they were in 2019. That’s not gonna be getting well folks. Things are gonna change, things are gonna be different when we come back. You’re gonna see things that we’re coming out with, Mike Jackson I think next week, help them to start dealing with these things. Help them prepare for what’s ahead. I will be involved with some of them in May, but I’ve got other commitments next week. Do you want to get well? What are those steps? What’s it gonna take because we all need to understand that as we move out of this phase that we’re in, this stage that we’re in, whatever you want to call it with COVID-19, ’til we move back into what I will say will be a new normal for them. So do you want to get well? I believe every church can reverse decline in the church. The question becomes, do you want to get well? What we studied so far and looked at so far is the first five chapters of, “Reaching the Summit,” the book. The rest of this time, I want to share a little bit about some of the following chapters. And the very first one which is chapter six in the book is called, “Filling positions with the right people.” I think this is huge, this is key. I put this even before we examined why your church is where it’s at today, which is chapter seven, but first it’s filling people with, filling positions with the right people. Jim Collins liked to say, “You’ve gotta “get the right people, not only on the bus, “you gotta get the right people in the right seats “on the bus.” And I like to take that and move that even more forward by saying you don’t want a blind person in your driver’s seat before you take off driving, right? You don’t. You’ve got to get the right people in the right seats. How do we do that? Well that alone is about a three year process, but we want to help you walk through, find out what’s the best way for you to initiate that so that in starting now as much as you can, the years every time you recruit someone, every time you look at someone, every time you look an open position, you get the exact right person to help your position, your church to move forward. We’ve got to get the who before the what. In the church, we get the what before the who. We don’t care about the who in most cases, we’re just looking for the what. But we’ve gotta get the who before the what. How do we do that? Well we were talking about that in the book and as a coach, our coaches come in and try to help you get the who before the what. Even when I’m working with teams, what we call reaching the summit teams, revitalization teams, vision teams, or whatever, talking about this point. Get the who before the what. We’ll talk about it, we’ll explain it, we share more and then someone in the group will say, I’ll say, “What are your first two steps?” And somebody said, “Well we need to get job descriptions.” Comes up a lot, we gotta get job descriptions. And I always ask this question, is a job description a who or a what? It’s a what. You see you gotta get the who before the what. If you get the right who, you get the right person in that position, they will write the perfect job description for you. You don’t have to go out looking for a job description and try to write what you want. They will put, you get the right person in there, they will get that. So get the who before the what. Too often we just want the what. Now I’ll talk about that in just a minute. You want people of capacity. You want that person who is capable of doing it, who can do it, who will do it. You know the, in the, I served in the corporate world for years and I’ve been in the ministry for almost 30 years now, 26 years or something. And in full time ministry. And in the corporate world and in the religious world too, we see this same thing, people of capacity. Here’s a question that’s asked in both those realms, corporate and religious world. If you want to get something done, who do you give it to? And I can guarantee you, over half of you said the busiest person. Because that’s true. If you want to get something done, something emergency or something comes up, it’s gotta get done right away, who do you give it to? You give it to the busiest person in your office because that’s the person of capacity. You understand that person is gonna get the job done. That’s the person who may stay until one o’clock in the morning to get it done, even though they’ve gotta be back in at seven o’clock the next morning. That’s people of capacity. We’ve gotta find those people of capacity. Also, in filling positions with the right people, we gotta learn to lead instead of manage. I’ve never heard anyone in ministry, say that they went into ministry to manage. Have you? Think about it. I went into ministry so I could manage people. I went into ministry so I could manage programs. I went into the ministry so I could manage . I’ve never heard anyone say that, but I have heard people say I want to go into ministry so I could lead people to faith in Jesus Christ. I went into ministry so I could lead people to be disciples of Jesus Christ. See, there is a difference between lead and manage. In leadership, there is some managing, but it should be minimal. When you look up those two words, you look up the word lead in the dictionary or the thesaurus, you’ll see words like guiding, bringing along. When you look up the word manage, you see the word control. Now would you rather be controlled, or guided. We’re all the same. All the people in your church are exactly the same. They don’t want to be controlled, they want to be guided. Let’s get back to leading, to guiding people into the right thing. When we do that we’ll get the right people in the right positions of ministry. The way we recruit, and I just wrote about this, in today’s blog that came out, about the way we recruit volunteers. In the church today, , excuse me, most recruiting, and I usually ask this question in seminars and conferences, most recruiting is done where? In the hallway on Sunday morning, isn’t it? We stand outside the bathroom, waiting for someone to come out so we can pounce on ’em and say, “Man, we gotta have someone do this, would you do it?” And all we’re looking for is a yes. The first person that says yes, we’re done, we’re off running to the next, filling the next position we want. And then we never go back and check on that person, we never give ’em training, we don’t give ’em adequate training, we don’t give ’em the right resources, what they need, we expect them to know it and we don’t check on ’em for 20 years, ’cause we’re afraid they’ll quit and we’ll have to stand in front of the bathroom again. We’ve gotta find a better way of recruiting and there is one in the book, chapter six, it lives, it’s just a four step, I think four maybe six step process, but every step involves prayer. Folks, everything that we’re talking about today involves prayer. This whole process, like anything else, if you want it done, if you want it done right, you want God in it, you must start it with prayer, bathe it in prayer, all the way through, and one of the things that we do with teams, is every month ask how are you keeping this in front of the church and how’s your church praying for this process. So we’ve gotta do a better job at recruiting people if we want the right people in the right position, in all positions. And passion is one of those that we talked about, the question came up a while ago, passion. How do we help people find their passion? There’s a survey, the book gives you some of the things, I can give you more later, but there’s ways to help people find out, what is their true passion, what are they passionate about and how can they use that passion to serve God? I had somebody one time come to me ’cause the way we had done it, this is that church in Georgia, so we ended up having 95%. And he came to me and he said, “Do you mean I can serve God by running “that camera upstairs?” And I said, “Yes, you can.” Another lady, I love sharing this story. Another lady came running to me across the parking lot, in a dress, in heels, she had just been saved about six weeks, I had baptized her, and she comes running across the parking lot after the service. I was afraid she was gonna fall, the way she was running in heels. She’s a janitor for a school system. Not highly educated, but a great custodian, janitor. And she came across, running across the parking lot, took me by the arms and she’s yelling my name as she’s coming across. She grabbed me by the arms and she said, “George,” she said, “I’ve never,” called me Pastor George, “Pastor George, I’ve never realized “I could serve God by cleaning toilets. “I never thought about it that way,” but that’s what she saw. Man, the material that we had used to send out, what is your passion, how do you find your passion, how can you serve God? That’s what she wanted to do. She could serve God, she couldn’t preach, she couldn’t teach Sunday school, she couldn’t do any of those things, but she could clean toilets. We had the cleanest toilets around for a long time in that church, while she was there. They help people find their passion. Learn how to recruit. Recruit, people will serve if we recruit them in a proper way, let them pray about it, help them to pray about it, give them the right training, and then let them come to that understanding their passion matches what they’re being recruited for. Another thing here is one of the best indicators to find how do you fill the right position, the right person, is past performance. Because past performance is the best indicator of future expectations. How have they done in the past in a similar position? I had a pastor that I was coaching that had this come up and he had just formed new greeter teams and he had three different teams. They were going to rotate and I said, “Well, who’s gonna lead that? “Who’s gonna make the phone calls?” He said, “I need to find a person to make the phone calls.” “Who’s gonna do that?” He said right now he was doing it and he knew that was the wrong answer, and he said, “I’ve gotta find somebody.” So we started talking about it and he had one lady in particular, and he said, “She’s coming, she would do it.” I said, “So why haven’t you given it to her?” He said, “Because she’s come to me in the past, “and she said she would do something, “and she’s good for about two or three months, “and then she drops off.” I had to give him credit, he understood that past performance is the best indicator of future expectations. And so I first led him to, we found out he could best use this young lady, and then we went back and we started with asking questions to find out how he could find the right person, and we found that right person for him, and I know she did that for at least three, three to four years. So past performance is the best indicator. That’s chapter six. We gotta start there. You’re not gonna get that turned around overnight, but the homework assignment coming out of that one is always, what are your next two steps? Two steps that you can put into place in the next 90 days to help make sure that your moving towards filling positions with the right people. That’s how this process works. You do the homework, you’re the ones doing it, we don’t come in and tell you, well do this because we’ve seen it work somewhere else so this is a model we want you to use. Don’t copy models, capture principles and then move forward with it. The second step in the book is a hard hitting one, it’s called, “A vigorous face to face summit with reality.” Where is your truly, where are you truly at as a church. Not where you think you’re at, not the glorious part that you want to admit, but what’s the downside, what’s the reality of your situation? Now here, we’re gonna look at historical errors and data of the church. We’re gonna look at your ACP, your annual church profile. But we’re gonna do more than that, we’re gonna interview people, but we’re also gonna do more, so what we do in this is to look at behavior patterns with the team as they read through the book. Every person has their own behavior patterns, well so does churches. Every church has its own trends. The way your church votes in business meetings is a trend. If you don’t believe me, one night when you can’t sleep take your business meeting notes home, minutes home, read them out of boredom, you’ll find the trends in the way your church votes. Character traits, just like every person has their own character traits, every church has separate character traits and we help you to identify those. I’ve had churches as they go, here how they identify trends or identify behavior patterns. They’re leading them in the wrong direction. Folks, if your behavior patterns, if your character traits, if your trends are not helping you to fulfill the great commission, you’re not doing God’s work. You’re spinning your wheels and wasting His resources. And so what are the behavior patterns in the church. We want to identify the good ones, and we want to identify those that are not so good, that may be pulling us down, pulling us away from God’s intended purpose for the church. Character traits, inclusion. This one can take on a lot of different traits, you might say, a lot of different angles. Inclusion is how do we include those people who are brand new, we need to get ’em an area of responsibility within 90 days. How do we make people feel once they join the church? How do we make sure we’re including them? How do we make sure we’re assimilating them into the discipleship process, as the question was raised earlier? We’re gonna help you to try to do that. Inclusion, means how do people feel when they first come to the church. See we don’t realize it, but often times we make people feel like they’re the outsider. We don’t intend to, but we’re so used to speaking to our buddies that we forget what it’s like to be new. We may say, “Hey man, you’re part of this group, “now you’re here, we’re glad you’re here, “hey you join right in,” then we turn to our buddies and say, “Man, what did you think about that ball game last night?” We forget what it’s like to be new. We forget they’re not part of us yet. Somebody’s been coming to the church, coming to our Sunday school class for several weeks, or maybe two or three months, and they finally join the church, and we drop ’em. So a lot of times in church, we’re good at courting people until they join and once they join we think, “Okay, now they know everything we do, “they’re part of us.” They don’t know everything we know. They’re not there yet. They need our help, they need us to walk them on, to guide them. Remember to lead, to guide them into true discipleship and growing discipleship within our congregation. And then we’re gonna look at core values. Now core values in the book, I didn’t give it any more attention than these others, but it’s turned out to be one of the greatest, biggest influences and helps that we can give churches. If churches actually know their core values or have core values, the way they’ve gotten them, most of ’em, is they’ve gone out to other churches. Gone out on the web in recent years and they’ve researched. Just typed in core, church core values and they pull ’em from those core values. Hey, I like this one from this church, it looks good. Oh, this one’s Biblical, let’s use this one and this one’s kind of a good thing, let’s just like, yeah that’s a good one. Whose core values are those? They’re not ours, we just stole ’em from somewhere else. We borrowed ’em, we didn’t steal ’em. We brought ’em in from somewhere else. So I’ve developed a way that you can help find, and this is not in the book, you’ll have to call us, we show you how on the website ALSBOM website, and it’s on my website, but you can call me and I’ll help lead you through how to do, how to find that what are the true core values of your church, ’cause your outward actions and the words that you speak, the things that you do, are all manifestations of your core values. Let me share something with your church. And I shared this with seminary presidents and denominational leaders all across the Southern Baptist realm. Evangelism is no longer a core value in Southern Baptist Churches. I paused intentionally on that one. Evangelism is no longer a core value in Southern Baptist churches, or in Southern Baptist life. You see, if it were, we wouldn’t have 80% of our churches in decline. Proof positive. And so I want to work with churches and we may spend two to three months working on core values in the church and I can help you do that. This process can help you do that. We also talk about community assessment. In many churches, well most churches that are declining are turning inward. That’s the reason they’re declining, they keep turning in, the farther in decline they go, the more inward they turn. It’s more about us. Now we think we’re doing things for the outside world, but we’re doing the inside. Why yes, we do some things we give to Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, we do Christmas shoe boxes, we do an Easter egg hunt, we do a harvest party, or trunk-or-treat, we’re really doing stuff, but we’re not really fulfilling the great commission and are we truly meeting the needs in our community, where our church is planted? The best way to do that is to get out in the community. You can’t do it from sitting inside the church, you’ve gotta get out in the community. I’ve created just a three question assessment. It’s on the ALSBOM website, that you can use in a number of settings. You can go door to door, we do it door to door, and I’ve not been in a community yet where I couldn’t do door to door. Yes there are some that have that marked on the front of their subdivision or whatever saying you can’t, no door to door solicitation here, but you can get, you can still do things door to door, you can still get in people’s homes. You can do it door to door, you can do it in the mayor’s office, in the police chief’s office, in the fire chief’s office, first responders’ office, you can do it in school offices, you can do it on parade routes, you can do it at your block parties, you can do it at community festivals, just set up a tent and ask these three questions. Same three questions, no matter how you’re doing it. First question is, and these are all worded specifically for a particular reason. First question is, in your opinion what are the two greatest needs in our community? They’re gonna tell you what those needs are. Now it’s worded that way specifically. Have you ever noticed people don’t like to be told anything, but everyone loves to give their opinion? They do. We all do. Well, in your opinion, what are the two greatest needs in our community? Then, the second question is, what could a church do to help meet those needs? And I don’t use the name of our church when I do that. Why? A couple of reasons. One, what if my church has a bad name in the community? One of the biggest reasons is what if that person is Catholic or Muslim and I say, “What could First Baptist “Church do to help meet those needs?” Well they’re gonna say, “I don’t want anything to do “with First Baptist Church, so I’ll close the door.” And they literally will close the door on you. So don’t do that. And then the third question is, how can we pray for you personally? And no matter where I’m at, mayor’s office, someone’s doorstep, or in the principal’s office at school, I’ll pray for ’em right there. And see when they answer that question and they give you something, that I can pray for them. I better pray for them, you better pray for them, when they give it to you. And then what I want to do is I want to go back, now what they’ve done, they’ve given me an open door to come back whether I get to or not. They’ve given me an open door to come back 30 days later and say, “Hey, last time I was here “you told me that you were having trouble “with your teenage son. “I’ve been praying for that, how’s that going?” See you’ve given, they’ve given you an open opportunity, to open the door for Gospel conversations. And so it’s just a three, when you go and do a community survey, don’t do 20 questions. I used to do five or six, perhaps you’ve done some of those before too, but I’ve done this and developed three questions what is to help find out what are the true needs in the community. We take that back and we find out what is the church good at. What are our strengths and how do they meet together. Another thing that we want to do, I always ask, is what about exit interviews. People who have left the church in recent months. Have you found out, talked to them why? Ask them why, do you know why they left? And I talk about that in the book. I won’t go into detail to how you can do that and find that. And the faith levels of the church. Faith levels of the people in the church are gonna be all over the place, but if your preaching is here and their faith levels are all right around here, there’s a huge disconnect and so that will help you to understand why you’re at exactly where you’re at. Those are some things that help us to determine that. And then as we go through from this point forward, chapter seven and afterwards, from this point forward every decision that we help lead you to make is based off what we find out in chapter seven, this vigorous face to face summit with reality. Chapter eight is understanding the necessity of the situation. I use Nehemiah, chapter one and parts of chapter two for this. Three points in this chapter. It says that Nehemiah realized there’s a call for further development. That’s what we have to do, we must realize there’s a call for further development. We know Nehemiah realized this because of his actions after the first three verses. We know that Nehemiah identified with the necessity of the situation. You see in the church most people identify, they can identify the situation, we’re declining. We don’t have as many people here, we don’t have as big of offerings, whatever, they can identify the situation, but very seldom to we identify with the necessity of the situation. We know Nehemiah identified with the necessity of the situation because it says in verse four, he says, “When I heard this,” heard about the condition of Jerusalem, he said, “When I heard this, I sat down and I wept, “and I fasted, and I prayed for five minutes.” No he says, “for days.” First he says, “I sat down.” I think what he’s saying here is he couldn’t stand up, his knees went weak and he had to sit down because of what he heard about the condition of Jerusalem. Then he says, “I wept,” and I like to ask the question, when was the last time you wept over the condition of your church? He says, “and I fasted, and I prayed for days.” He identified with, we know that because of the emotional state that took him. And then we know that he took individual responsibility. He wanted this, he went before the king, risk his own life, risk his own life to go down there to Jerusalem, spent some time away, took the individual responsibility and he looked at it from every angle. Here, this is neat folks. Look at, read that chapter, I think it’s chapter three. He says, “I spent three days walking around,” this is chapter two, “spent three days walking around “inside the city.” What was he doing for three whole days? He said, “I didn’t tell anybody why I was there.” He’s examining, he’s looking, he’s observing, he’s looking to see what’s going on, what’s happening here, and why is this situation the way it is? And then he goes, and spends the night, and he goes outside, and he goes all the way around, and he gets, I’ll just use the book a sec, he came out right here, I forget the names of the gates, but he came out like right here, came down around and got up here, and he said his animal couldn’t go any farther, so he went back, but he didn’t go back in, he went all the way around, and then went back. Now I know that if it’s in the Bible, it’s there for a reason. It’s not just filler, it’s not just history, there’s a reason that I need to know for my life. And what that’s showing me is that Nehemiah knew, he wanted to see this from every angle possible, three days walking around inside the city, and then he looked at it from every possible angle outside. He could’ve just went that first to where his horse first couldn’t get through anymore and said, “Okay, that’s enough, I’ve seen enough,” but he didn’t do that and he took individual responsibility, identified with the necessity of the situation first, and realized there was a call for further need. That’s what we need to do and that’s chapter eight. Pastors, that’s a good sermon too. Actually it was a sermon before it was a chapter in the book. The next chapter, the next thing I wanted to do, is I wanted to help churches find out what is that one best thing. I believe every church has one thing that you can do better than anyone else. Better than the government, better than that big church down the street, better than any civic group, better than a school system, there’s something that you can do. I don’t know what that one thing is, but I can help you narrow it down to it. And it’s something that God has given you that you can do better than anyone else. I read a book in 2000 and out of that book, I got this question, if there were no obstacles or barriers in front of you, what is the one thing that you would be doing for God? And I ask every team member on every team that I work with, I go around the room and ask every team member, what is that one thing, if no physical barriers, no age barriers, no financial barriers, restrictions, what is that one thing you’d be doing for God? I want to find out what that is, then I’ve learned to ask a second question. When they tell me what that is, I’ll ask and say, “Why aren’t you doing it?” Because if God is as big as we say He is, can He not remove every obstacle and every barrier? See a lot of it falls back on us, doesn’t it? But we can and we’ve got a thing, it’s not in the book, it’s in the book in pieces, but I put together a matrix. It’s called a strength matrix. It helps you to find out, using your church, pool them all together, and once we’re able to get back together, you pool them together, one night and I’ll show you how to do this. Actually it’s typed out on a form on the thing called the strength matrix on the ABSLOM website, it’s on a form you can download. And that is, helps you determine, how to find out what the strengths, what are we truly good at in the church. And then it’s in a, I should have printed one off so I could have it here for you, but it’s in a matrix quadrant, and the top left hand quadrant is what are our strengths, what are we really good at? And then there’s another box over here that says, what are the true needs in the community? Use that assessment to get out into your community and find out what are the true needs in our community. And so you list your strengths here, you list those here and then this, there’s another box down at the bottom of that sheet and that box says, where do those two meet? And then the last box in the other corner there, is what are we gonna do about it? What is our action? Here’s one church came to the conclusion, they said they had good cooks. Well there a Southern Baptist church, of course they’ve got good cooks. I’ve not been in one yet that didn’t. And so, you know, I say okay, but right now what they found out the only way they were using ’em for themselves, for their monthly fellowships, or quarterly fellowships, or things like that. And so they went to the school as one way that they wanted to find out what are the needs in the community and the school said, “We’ve got 75 children that live within a mile “of your church that have no food on the weekends.” Do you see where those two meet? Great cooks, a need for food, and so that’s where they met and what they’re doing is, were, this has been two years ago now, I don’t know if they’re still doing it or not, but they were feeding the families of 75 children every weekend. What is that one thing, their church is doing that now during this pandemic. Will they continue? How long will they continue? Depends on what the need is in the community. But you can find out what are the needs in the community. And so we take that question, if there were no obstacles or barriers in front of you, we turn that to the church and how is the church capable of doing things and we’ll show you more how to do it, but you can download that. It’s called the strength matrix, or maybe the strength matrix worksheet or something, but it’s really, and it’s got a description how to use that. You can call me or email me and I can help you, walk you through it as well. The next chapter is vision. Some people say, “You know I’m wondering “why you didn’t put this up front?” Pastors that have walked through this process with me have said, “You know I wondered “why we were waiting? “When are we gonna get to vision, “when are we gonna get to vision.” He said, “But I understand now, why.” And it’s not that I put it there, it’s God had me put it in this place. It’s chapter 10. We’ve gotta take care of some of these other things first, but my definition of vision is, it’s a compelling image of an achievable future. And I usually ask people in conferences or the team, the first time we get to this, I say well, “If church has a vision, “what one word in that definition is normally missing?” People usually say, “achievable.” I said, “No, that’s not it.” That may be true in some churches, but that’s not the word missing. The word missing is compelling. If a church has a vision, the pastor gets up and gives his annual vision sermon, or vision message, whatever, there’s nothing that compels people to get out of the pew and go do something. It’s not the pastor’s fault necessarily, there’s just nothing that says I want to get up. The pastor gives us this really great vision message and the church is sitting back going, “Great pastor, now go do it. “Tell us next year how it worked out for you.” But they’re not getting out of their pews to go do it. See, they must be compelling, so I’ve worked on, we talk about this and I’ve had denominational leaders say this is one of the best pieces they’ve ever seen written. And I’m not saying it because I wrote it, God gave that to me, but I’ve done something to help pastors in this and one of those videos that the, one of the Georgia churches put on talked about this and said that this is one of the greatest things and most pastors that read, comment on this, say this is one of the greatest things that comes out of, “Reaching the Summit.” Not because of the pastor himself, but what happens to the church. I use a three prong vision approach. First begins with prayer. The very first night we talk about this. The team has to start praying about it and they go to the church the next Sunday, have the church start praying for the vision of the church. And then I send the pastor away on a pastor’s retreat. They ought to give them time to schedule it. They schedule it at their convenience and this, I really talk to the pastors a lot about this, but I talk to the team too and if I get an opportunity to talk to the church, I let the church know, “Folks, pastors, “a lot of pastors don’t do these “because they have a fear of them.” And pastor that’s okay if you’re one of ’em, because I understand those fears. We all understand those fears. It’s a fear of what if God doesn’t speak to me? It’s a fear, what if I get it wrong? It’s a fear of what if they don’t follow me when I go back to tell ’em what God wanted? Read the Bible, read the men and women who received vision in the Bible and see if they didn’t experience some of those same fears. It starts with prayer. I sent a pastor away on retreat and I tell ’em, and I really am strict about this and strong with this, I just, it’s the pastor, the Bible, and God. And I want him to sit down, I want the church to pay for it, I want to send him away for a couple of days, now I also do put this caveat in and say, “Pastor, if your church people call me “and say did you say we were supposed “to send him away on a retreat?” “Yes.” “Did you say we were supposed to send him away to Hawaii?” “No.” I will not back you up that far, pastor, but you go away, you need to get away with just you, the Bible, and God and I give you a sheet that’s got like four questions on it that you are to photocopy and use it the five times, five to seven times. Then fine, I will let you pick ’em, I don’t pick ’em for you. I want you to pick five people in the Bible who received vision and you’re gonna study those while you’re away. And I give you a process and I really work with the pastor on how to work with that process to get that done. What takes place on that retreat? Pastors come back changed. I’ve had more pastors come back from this and say I’ve never had an experience like that and that folks, that’s not me. I’m not there with them, I didn’t give, I just told them how to do it, what to do, and had the church pray for ’em and I tell ’em I’m praying for ’em at the same time. I’ve had the team members say, “When he came back, “he was so overflowing with something “that it just overflowed to the team “and it overflowed past us to the church.” Forgot which side I had my microphone on. Excuse me. Before he goes away on his retreat, he must have a leader retreat planned out, now I call this the articulation retreat. And this is how you can take the team that we’re using, or he can take just leaders in the church and plan ahead. But he has to have another one day retreat planned for this leadership group and they are to articulate the vision. Now here’s what happens, the pastor goes away and I want him to go away, can’t do it at home, can’t do it at church, why? Because there’s too many distractions, I want it to be him and God, and the Bible. And then when you do this leader retreat, you don’t do it at your church either, you borrow another church or your association office, say, “Can we use your office on a Saturday, “or can we use one room in your church on a Saturday,” and do that. Bring in lunch, stay there, you’re gonna be there for about six hours. And the pastor comes back from his retreat and this has to be set up within two weeks of him coming back, so it has to be fresh. He comes back, he shares what happened on his retreat, what he found, and then the leaders, and the leaders that are in that second retreat, they then articulate what does this mean for the different groups in our church. Well how do we articulate this? Now what you have, if you take 10 to 12 people with you on that retreat, you now have not just the pastor coming back with the vision, you have 10 people or 12 people who have helped you build that vision, who have helped you articulate that vision and then you can take it back to the church and articulate it even farther by going to the Sunday school department, by going to each Sunday school class, by going to the deacons, by going to the women’s ministry, every ministry you have, say here’s the vision, what does that mean in your ministry circle. How will you all work to fulfill God’s vision that He’s given our pastor and leadership for this year? This is the number one thing that comes out of the, “Reaching the Summit,” process, once you work through the process, first you’ve worked out some of the other things, first you understand some things about your church before you get there. After this, we talk about moving the locomotive. Have you ever seen a steam engine train? Whether you’ve seen one in person, or in the movies, or on TV, you know that they don’t just take off like a bullet train. They don’t take off like some of our cars that can go zero to 60 in five seconds, it takes ’em miles and miles to build up cruising speed. They start off with just, someone’s putting coal or wood in the fire burner, that burner’s sending the heat to a tank of water, that’s heating up to boiling pressure, when it gets to the boiling point, it gets hot enough, then the engineer standing, sitting in that one compartment and he pulls on the lever, and when he pulls back on that lever, what happens is those wheels turn, but they just turn very slightly. They don’t turn very much at all, and then he’ll pull it a second time, and they’ll turn a little bit more, almost twice as much as the first time, but still that’s only about two inches maybe, and then he’ll pull it a third time and it goes a little bit more, almost double, and it keeps going ’til he gets a full revolution, and he keeps that steady on that handle that he’s pulling, putting that heat and that pressure to provide energy to those wheels, to turn those wheels. And one thing you’ll notice about those wheels, on a locomotive, they’re all turning in the same direction. Folks, in our church we’ve gotta get the wheels on the same track in many of our churches, before we can get ’em all turning in the same direction. You see, folks, those turning of those wheels. Each time he pulls on that handle, that’s just like you making a decision in your church. Success comes by making a series of good decisions, but making ’em one good decision at a time. And you build that second one off of the first one, and the third one off of the first two, and the fourth one the same way. That’s how you make a series of good decisions instead of the best decisions, instead of injurious decisions. Ken Collins says that, “Every good, solid decision “you make is fueling the locomotive “of your church,” fueling it forward, moving it forward and that’s what we want, that’s what we need to do, but we come through a process to get, before we get here. We can’t start this at chapter six. This is chapter 11. It’s how we get through there. And let’s move to chapter 12 real quick here, so I have some time for your questions and answers. I’m a Sunday school guy, I’m a small group Bible studies guy, whether it’s in Sunday mornings or where, to get those going, and I believe in that, and as I, this can be done. We can work on parts of this throughout the process, so it should be something that you’re doing continually in your church anyway, but I was trying to think, you know what can I write in eight to 12 pages, every chapter is just eight to 12 pages, I kept it brief intentionally. I’ve written a lot about it. Many other people have a lot of out there than I am, who have written about these, about small groups, open Bible studies, small groups, but I wanted to find out what is, you know what can I write about to help people get the point across here. And so I wrote about passion and strategy. You need a passion for Biblical equipping. Many churches have a routine, they don’t have a passion. They have Sunday morning at 9:30, or nine o’clock, or whenever. That’s not a passion, it’s just a routine. You need a passion for Biblical community. What is true Biblical community? Read the book of Acts. Find out what Biblical community, what we call koinonia, find out what Biblical community really is. Your Sunday school may meet on Sunday mornings at 9:30, but your Sunday school should be 24/7, that’s Biblical community. Living it together. Then you need a passion for growing people, that’s discipleship. You need a passion for prayer, again most of our prayers in church and Sunday school, and in church are routine. It’s one of the things I really talk about first, was we first talked about how to bathe this thing in prayer. Our passion, our prayer is no longer a passion in our churches often times, even in our worship services. Even in our worship services, prayer has become routine. They’re rote. I can go in, and any of the guys here at the state board, any leaders out there, you can go to a different church, go to a Southern Baptist church, and a lot of other churches too for that matter, but go to any church, any given Sunday, in any different state, and I travel to different states so I’m able to do this, and I hear the same prayer at the same point of the service in almost every church. Bless the gift, then the giver. When is that one offered? During the offering. Put a hedge of protection around us. Keep us until we meet again. What are we doing? We’re praying the same things we’ve heard prayed for years and years, ’cause it sounded good or it’s the right thing to pray at this time in the service. Folks, we’re praying from here and not from here. We need to get back to a passion for prayer and then we need a strategy for each of those. Strategy for Biblical equipping. That’s not just equipping the saints in the Sunday school classroom. You need a strategy for equipping your teachers. There’s not a job anywhere in the world that I’ve been able to find or anybody to tell me about where you don’t have ongoing training. There’s not a job anywhere where you may get your initial training, your initial material, you go to work, and you never have to train again. There’s always continual training. There’s better safety conditions, there’s safety training, there’s different technical ways to do things, there’s new operational features, there’s always training. Those are all temporal. They deal with the temporary. We’re dealing with the eternal, folks. We need continual Biblical equipping in our churches to train our leaders how to better equip the people who sit in front of ’em on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, Tuesday, or whenever. We need those strategies. We need a strategy for Biblical community. How do we help our Sunday school classes, our small groups, to become a true community, not just a group that meets together once a week? We need a strategy for discipleship. We need a strategy for helping our people to grow in prayer. If you’ll get those, put those down, if you get those up, set those up, you will see greater discipleship and greater great commission work being done through your church. The last chapter of the book is very brief and it’s called, “Stalwart and steadfast.” When you look up the word in the dictionary at the source, you see that stalwart means steady. Stalwart, not moved. Steadfast means we’re keeping that track, we’re keeping it on this pace. And in the book I write about Hudson Taylor, and Lottie Moon, and the Apostle Paul. And this passage from 2 Corinthians is in there, It says, “Five times I received from the Jews “40 lashes minus one. “Three times I was beaten with rods. “Once I was stoned. “Three times I was shipwrecked. “I have spent a night and a day in the depths of the sea.” Oops, I got ahead too much. Using the wrong button there. “On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, “dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, “dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, “dangers in the open country, dangers on the,” it’s blocked on mine, I couldn’t see it, “and dangers from among false brothers; “labor and hardship, many sleepless nights,” Paul says, “hunger and thirst, often without food, “without cold,” or, “cold, and lacking clothing.” And then he says, and I’m gonna paraphrase this, he says and on top of all this I have to put up with church people. Now that’s the George Yates version. He actually says, as you see there, “Not to mention other things, there is the daily “pressure on me: my care for all the churches.” Would you consider Paul to have been stalwart and steadfast? Certainly he was, probably more than any other person we’ve ever known or read about. Do you want to get well? Folks I believe that you can reverse the decline in your church if you answer that question and follow a process like, “Reaching the Summit.” I believe that if you’ll do these things, you too can reach the summit of your life and your ministry that God has purposed you for and put you here for. And I pray that you will follow through and do something with your church. Start with prayer yourself right now and then decide how you want to move forward. You can get ahold of Ken, or myself, or our offices there in Alabama. I’m in Kentucky, it’s the reason I say that. We’ll be glad to help you and work with you in any way we can. We’re gonna take some more questions and see what else we need to do to take care of here. Ken.

Ken Allen

I may have missed this earlier, but it has to do with toward the very end of the five phases. Ted asked, “What is some of the questions “that coaches can ask in order to uncover “some of the injurious decisions that churches, “maybe have made?” So I think the question is, what are some things that you can ask to begin to uncover those series of wrong decisions and let, so that the church can, or that group can see that they’ve made some bad choices or bad decisions. What can coaches ask, that can begin to uncover?

George Yates

That’s kind of a tough one. It’s not, but it is. It’s tough to give you any specifics because each church is different, each situation is different, and so to truly understand that, the best thing you can do, and in the coach training, we do, we talk about how to watch, read body language and how to watch people, but just listening, observing. That church I was talking about, they gave all of that. I didn’t have to ask the questions, ’cause they were giving all the answers. They were saying, “You know we did this and we…” They had called in a consultant, and had a consultant come in, and they told me about that consultant and I read that consultant’s report and I said, “Whoa, no wonder.” And then I traced that back. Well they called that consultant in because of this, and just kept going. So you learn to ask questions based on what you hear, what you observe. And a lot of times you can’t prepare that question in advance. You have to wait ’til you hear what they’re saying and then ask questions based on that.

Ken Allen

The idea of there are no silver bullets, and sometimes the church will make , based on that silver bullet and thinking that it’s going to be the all out answer. This pastor is gonna be our solution. This youth guy’s gonna be our solution. And so when they put kind of all their eggs into one basket, that’s one of those things that sometimes can happen that brings about that, so you’re looking for that and you’re wanting to get them to explore through questions, what did you have in mind when you made that decision, when you called that person, something along that line. George, help me out with that.

George Yates

Yes, yes absolutely and off of that too is what did you have in mind, well how did that work? There are three questions that you can use in situations, you know if we follow through with this what is the best case scenario that can happen? Question two is, what is the worst case scenario that can happen? And question three is, can we live with the results of question two? We know we can live with the results to question one, what are the best results. Can we, are we willing to live with that? And so what were those results? How did that happen? You know, what happened there? If it didn’t work out well, we’ve been declining since, we’ve gotta help them to realize that it was that decision that helped them, so the question we have to ask, has to be one that helps them to go back and say, “Okay, now I see,” without giving them the direct answer, we try to help them, ask them the question to help them say, “Okay, now I see if we had gone here, “instead of here, we would have been in a better position “and we probably wouldn’t have seen that decline.”

Ken Allen

George it might be a good idea too,  coaching, training, you talk about how important it is to have the right kinds of questions. And I know that we’re getting toward the end, but if maybe you could even take a minute just to say this is not a good question and this is a good question, just to give them an example of what a coach would ask in a particular situation in order to try and draw out from that group, let them discover what’s going on that has led them to that point. In other words, just that kind of a little bit of a coaching process briefly.

George Yates

Okay. I was looking around to see if I had a copy of the coaching book here in my office. I don’t, I don’t have one here on the shelf beside me, but in the coaching book, in the back of it, we’ve got a bunch of those questions. Right way to ask a question, wrong way to ask a question, that kind of thing, and how to re-form that to ask it. But a yes or no question is usually not a good question. It’s a closed ended question and a closed ended question usually just asks for rote memorization, it calls for static recall, something that’s there. What day of the week is today? It doesn’t matter if I’m in a room of five or of 5,000, if I ask what day of the week is today, as soon as someone says it’s Tuesday, everyone’s thinking shuts off. So what I want to do is learn to ask questions and I, like I said, have been studying this for 40 years, is to ask questions that help them to not go there, but to rather say you know what does Tuesday mean to you? Everyone will continue to think as long as I leave that question out there, no matter how many people respond. People keep replying to that and so the kind of questions you want to ask, and I saw Ken, I saw you turn around looking, so you may have pulled open a copy of the book, but the kind of question, yeah he’s got a copy of it there. The kind of question you want to ask, is questions that help drive people to deeper thought processes or deeper understanding. Ken, you may have a couple of the samples right there. Okay, it’s in the appendix, back there is where some of them are if you can look at those. But while he’s looking, let me just say that what you’re doing is you’re getting people to dig deeper than just static recall. They’re having to dig into their thought processes because what’ll happen is people will say, “I never thought about it that way,” or “Wow, we only thought of this, “when really we had this in front of us “and we were just thinking of that narrow track, “that in the box thinking,” that we’ve got to get ’em going further. Go ahead Ken.

Ken Allen

And I can see this as a future webinar especially, the current crisis, this would be great. But again, just understanding the simplicity of asking questions that, again as George would say, that kind of probes deeper level thinking. You know where do you see yourself in three years? What could you have done differently? In your opinion, what are the two greatest needs in our community? In your opinion, how could a church help meet the needs in our community? So things that draw people into thinking through and not just yes or no, or short answers, that have an ending to them immediately. Something that brings out more than just some kind of immediate solution. So good, good stuff as far as coaching, as well as discovering things in that local congregation that needs to, you know take that step forward.

George Yates

Right, right. I think it would be, Ken, a good webinar to do a bit later, do something on some of those questions. How to do questions. Our intention was to bring the coach training, the level one coach training, across the state some time in August or September. I’m not sure what’s gonna happen there of course, now with all of that. But we may do more of it on this webinar type format, so.

Ken Allen

Just to, as we are getting to close, the reason for the timing of this particular webinar is because Monday and Tuesday of this week, we had planned on doing a tour throughout the state, at least part of the state. And then we were gonna get another part, so this is the reason for the timing of this today as well. Again we’re continuing to do webinars. I just put something on my Facebook last night that we were asking about some topics that are needed during this time, we’ve had several to comment there. And so we’re gonna continue these webinars again, we will probably have more of a weekly webinar and then go to more of a biweekly later on, but in these particular days we’re trying to service, and to resource, and to answer questions, and if we don’t have the answer, to go to someone that would have the answer, again all, and there’s a lot of questions that are I think, about to be answered as the, all of our offices are kind of compiling information now that you’re gonna be able to see in the foreseeable future that Mike Jackson is putting together even this week. So good stuff that’s gonna come out through that document, and so I’m looking forward to even seeing that myself, and the help that that’s gonna be to the local church as well. It’s gonna be great.

George Yates

Thank you all for your, before you close out Ken. Thank everyone for your attending, being part of this. Also, for your chats. I haven’t gotten to look at that yet. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to look at the chat room after this closes, but please send us your comments or questions if you can do on the chat now or send it to our email addresses. They’re easy to find, it’s our first initial plus our last name @alsbom.org and we’ll be glad to try to answer everything that we can. let us know how helpful this was or if as Ken just said, if there’s any other topics that you would like us to broach. Maybe something came out of this like the questions. I’m happy to help people with questions. I haven’t done one of these and about spoke for two hours, in about seven weeks now, so that’s why my voice is about to give out I think today. Thank you Ken.

Ken Allen

Well thank you George and we appreciate your input, your years of wealth and knowledge, the books that you’ve written that we have access to. Again, please know that we’re here to resource you during this time, feel free to call me, to email me, we want to be of help to you. Certainly we’re doing Zoom now with churches. George and I will be doing that, very first of May to a church in Tuscaloosa, as they have started the process of coaching, so again we appreciate you participating today. Thank you for being a part of this, let us, let me now close us in prayer. Father, thank You again for the day. Thank You for Your goodness and kindness that You show to us. Thank You Father, for the local church and that You’ve placed Your hand on these local congregations throughout our state and You’ve done so with the purpose of them, of the great commission, and making disciples, baptizing, seeing people come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and their lives being transformed by the power of the Gospel. And so I pray for a fresh enthusiasm of Your Spirit, God across as these panel, both George sharing as well as those that have been participating in their local settings, that they’d see afresh their community. What You have for them to do, where You have planted them. And again, we thank You for loving us and for giving us all that we need to have abundant life and to be fruit bearing Christians. And so thank You, we praise You, in Jesus’ name, amen.

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