Alan Nelson, Executive Editor Rev! Magazine
Alan Nelson has been a pastor for 20 years, planting two churches, and is the executive editor of Rev! Magazine, one of several things he does at Group to serve pastors and church leaders. He is the author of a dozen books, including Me to We, and has a doctorate (Ed.D.) in leadership. He has been married to Nancy for 26 years. The Nelsons have three sons and live in Fort Collins, CO.

Alan starts us out by having us engage the person next to us and ask them who they are and what their church is about. He also went around and said hello to everyone and found out why they were here.

The role of the pastor is not to be the predominant purveyor of ministry but to be a supporter and equiper of the ‘we’. What does this mean on a national level? What are the national symptoms? \

National Symptoms:

  • On any given weekend, only 20% of people are in church says Rev. Magazine contra Barna’s stats that say 50% are. The differenc is that Barna did not actually go out and see who is in church versus what people say.
  • Attendance is estimated to be 50% of what it is now, by 2050
  • “Regular church” attendance is now twice a month
  • Less than 15% of churches are growing (<1% primarily due to evangelism outside the church)

Local Symptoms:

  • Over worked pastor, staff and faithful few
  • Lack of commitment of people (time, money)
  • Outreach is becoming more difficult
  • Spiritual maturity is lacking (see the Reveal study posted by Willow Creek)

The question is what are we doing to get and help our whole church to be externally focused? [ok this is funny Alan used the video about church I posted last week on this blogsite] Being externally focused isn’t just about evangelism though its also about discipleship. What does this look like:

  • Most churches can absorb approximately 1/2 of their active attendees in internally focused ministries.
  • To become externally focused, chances are you’ll need to involve over 50% of attendees in a role of service.

What’s the problem churches face in all this? PCMS: Pastor-Centric Ministry Syndrom. Pastors need to become minister equppers. How to get here: the power of teams. To illustrate this Alan had us group up in teams of four and build chains out of paper clips, first he has us do it individually and then as a team and discuss the differences of these two ways of working.

Shifting Pastoral paradigms: Moses is the traditional American pastor Exodus 18, very busy but about to lose his family and marriage, and people let him get there. You need to decentrialize yourself and the ministry. The “Moses-Syndrome” is the typical paradigm we see in the American church. Look at how Jesus lives as a leader, he picks twelve people and pours himself out into them and notice that Jesus picked these guys he didn’t invite all to come. Look at Paul, he was a multiplier; the role of a pastor is to be a multiplier. The local church is really to be a seminary for people to grow up in and be pastors themselves. [In this section Alan challenges the ‘notion’ and ‘value’ of seminary trainning – I think his concerns are fair].

Why we went from a we to me? Historical, Economic, Social/Psychological reasons: 

  • Historical: He does some simple deconstructive steps on the church from Constantine to today, and the emergence of the emerging/missional conversations. This is interesting, he puts the Externally Focused Church crowd in concert with these but doesn’t really develop the idea, leaves us thinking about it…
  • Economic: Churches have to be a certain size to have full-time pastors, the American church pays pastors to work for them rather than the pastor working with them. This for-with shift is big.
  • Social/Psychological: People like an ego to stroke and pastors like their ego stroked; there’s a social/psychological shift we need to take to reverse this. Pastors need to struggle through this, we need to be able to say to our people, “your going to do greater things than you see me do”.

Ministry is more complex: “All hands on deck” today. Competition as a ethotic preassure is real. Incarnational ministry is desireable: “Show me your faith.” Experiential individualism is increasing: “I want to express myself”. The rise of educaiton and information. Younger generation whats to lead more.

Me to We Benefits:

  • Staff invest 70% of time in your sweet spot, if not you need to decentralize yourself in other areas and get there.
  • Lay people take ownership; increasing financial and attendance commitment.
  • God grows people when the body utilizes their individual gifts. We grow when we’re being used.
  • The synergistic effect builds unity and momentum, diminishing criticism and consumerism.
  • Leaders are impowered to lead the church. When you need to change a church you need leaders, when these catalytic people step forward a church will change.

We need to take advantage of the volunteer empowerment tools available in the church today. One Alan emphasizes is www.churchvolunteercentral.com. Alan also suggests www.rev.org ie Rev! magazine which he edits. (Alan uses a great video called “God Pies”). Alan uses a graph he’s created that helps measure the me to we reality in the church. Basically he moves from discourages others-delegates to others-drives from 1-10. 1 being the most centralized pastor, and 10 him being decentralized.

How do pastors move up from one to ten? Here are some values that pastors need says Alan:

  • valuing self-image vs. sermon series
  • valuing becoming a coach vs. a teacher “answer-person”
  • valuing being responsible vs. being the “fixer”
  • valuing manufacturing vs. sales
  • valuing resourcing the system vs. running the show
  • valuing training ministry ministry leaders to run teams vs. being the talent.

Alan closes the time asking us to write what’s one thing we want to grap onto and what’s one thing we want to let go of to be a better equiper?