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Dec 2, 2010

Thursday Is for Thinkers: Bruce and Heather Moore

Thanks to Trevin Wax for his November 18 post on the vision for a new curriculum from LifeWay.

Today I am glad to have Bruce and Heather Moore of Christ Fellowship Tampa to talk about church revitalization.

One Year to Live

Two months ago, we did the most radical thing we have ever done -- and our list of radical things includes one of us getting arrested in China, and giving up our personal Christmas money to pay the mortgage of someone whose own pride tried to harm our ministry. We don't label ourselves as thrill seekers or adrenaline junkies, but we do try, honestly try, to follow God's plan for our lives.

So when the pastor of a city church called to say he was going back to the mission field and asked if we would consider leaving our current ministry to help this dying church, it wasn't real inviting. We've been in ministry long enough to know that the way to move up in ministry is to actually move up. Going to a church with 100,000 square feet of space and a 1200 seat auditorium that declined to just over 100 in attendance is not the recipe for ministry success. Trust us--no one is knocking at our door to speak in seminary classes or headline the next trendy conference. Nor have there been many texts or Facebook messages to congratulate our decision. No doubt, there are some who think we have actually signed our ministry death certificate.

Except that God told us otherwise. He led us to take some extremely uncomfortable steps of faith. Our decision to say good-bye to a large salary with benefits to pastor a church that has one year to make it before the lights are turned off and the doors locked for good has left no area of our lives and ministry untouched.

In the few short weeks we've been at our church, we have realized that when death is imminent for an organization and particularly a church, staying focused is critical. One misstep, and a fragile church could come crashing down. That's why leadership lesson number one is to say no to all side deals. Side deals are those things that steal energy from the forward movement of winning people to Christ. The side deal has an agenda that goes in the opposite direction of the vision of God for the church. People will strike a deal with leadership, and off they go in another direction. Maybe a side deal is struck because leadership chooses to not take a stand or leadership doesn't want to offend anyone.

Side deals are struck in every church--even the healthiest of churches--but when left unchecked they actually compete with or fight against the growth of the church. For example, we recently assessed our children's ministry. We realized our preschool area was a revolving door of people in and out of the building. People came through the building to chat it up with those volunteering. Volunteers were distracted and the building left insecure. Anyone could walk in at any time for any reason. Knowing parents, particularly unchurched parents, are looking for security, we decided our preschoolers needed and deserved to be taught in a secure building. We put out the word that only parents of preschoolers and volunteers were allowed in the building.

This meant that a side deal that had been struck years before now had to be addressed. Even though the church has 100,000 square feet of space, someone years ago struck a side deal that the church coffee pot was to be placed in the preschool building. In order to give parents the security they expected, we decided the side deal could no longer be honored.

We did the unthinkable. We moved the coffee pot!

Lest you think that went well, let us reassure you otherwise.

Leadership lesson number two is that there is a price to pay for saying no to side deals. But with only one year to live, side deals are a distraction and hinder the growth of the church. In the next 365 days, our vision has to be laser focused. For a church heaving its last breaths, side deals hasten death.

So this week....Starve the side deals. Feed the Harvest!

To follow the unfolding journey of Bruce and Heather and the Christ Fellowship team, go to www.1year2live.com. As you share your ideas on the blog you'll not only help us but also the hundreds of other churches needing a comeback as well.

Bruce and Heather Moore live in Tampa. Bruce is the Senior Pastor and Chief Side Deal Eliminator at Christ Fellowship. Heather serves alongside Bruce helping to carry out the vision for the church. They have a two-year-old daughter.

Bruce and Heather will both be checking in today, so feel free to interact.

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Posted:December 2, 2010 at 12:00 am


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Thursday Is for Thinkers: Bruce and Heather Moore