People live in a world that is quite different
from the world just 20 years ago.


Our society suffers from a rapid increase in moral bankruptcy and dysfunctional relationships. America now leads the nations around the world in marital breakup. Divorce now lays claim to one in every two marriages (Christian and non-Christian). Families, once considered a sacred and safe entity, have been relegated to a blend of options and lifestyles.

Disregard for human life has caused 45 million babies to be aborted. People are ravaged with insatiable appetites for money, sex, and power. Violent crime has risen 550% in the past years, making America the leading industrialized nation around the globe in murder and rape. Drugs, alcohol, and violence have invaded our schools…communities…and families.

Every day in America, 14 children aged 19 and under are killed in gun homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings. For every child killed by a gun, four more are wounded. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death in the 15 to 24 year old age group. Since 1960, there has been a 368% increase in the suicide rate of young people. More than 600,000 teenage girls (9 out of 10 are unmarried) get pregnant every year. Half of them terminate their pregnancies by having abortions.


The school dropout rate is as high as 60% in many major U. S. cities. SAT scores have dropped every year for 17 years. Students, teachers, parents, and people in general are disillusioned with politics, public education, economics…and the Church. A major gap continues to increase between Church and community.

The needs of people in the 21st Century cry out to the Church to find real solutions to real problems.

Church leaders all across America are asking themselves a similar question, "Can my kind of church truly offer real solutions to the kind of real problems people face today?"

Most churches in America are hampered by stifling traditions, outdated programs, and lifeless institutional processes. Perhaps it is time for us to do whatever it takes to breathe "new life" into the hearts of Christians who are the Church. This may require renewal...revival...or reformation.

Renewal
-
to reopen the valve for creative and innovative juices to flow - impacting traditional ideas.
Revival
-
to restore life to that which is dying and breathe new life into old ways.
Reformation
-
to realign and bring relevant change to misaligned concepts and outdated designs.

Renewal, revival, and reformation are "windows of opportunity" that open people's eyes to spiritual awakening, and "points of entry" for journey towards the urgent need, costly risks, and significant benefits of biblical transformation.

Perhaps now is the time for us to become more focused in our passionate pursuit for God and His purpose for our lives. Not self-oriented, not success-oriented, not church-oriented, but God-oriented. Perhaps we should become more serious about practicing daily "spiritual disciplines" which provide us with a path towards transformation - enriching our marriages, families, friendships, and relationship with God.

Perhaps its time for us to quit using a "marketing" approach in attracting people to church, which is not a vendor of religious services, goods, or special attractions. Special events and lively entertainment may only serve in providing sporadic burst of inspiration and enthusiasm, but they fall short in making true disciples of Jesus Christ. This happens through the transformational power of the Holy Spirit through the avenues of viable "relationships."

Perhaps we Christians need to abandon our "edifice complex." Buildings (a testimony of God's influence in the community) are not bad unless they provide a way for Christians to hide from non-Christians and practice a "subculture" that prevents them from becoming the salt of the earth and ambassadors for Christ. Buildings are a means to an end, not an end in itself - not monuments to our man-made egos and acquisition of resources. The world needs Christ. How will it find Him if Christians go to church and not become the Church? The Church is the biblical community of God's people who model a Christ-oriented culture in word and deed - a testimony for the world to see and seek.

Perhaps it is time for us to engage in culture-sensitive evangelism that speaks the language of people's needs today and not religious jargon foreign to our postmodern world. People need to hear and see the language of love, hope and faith that marks the life of a genuine Christian who is part of an authentic Christian community.

The path towards biblical renewal, revival, or reformation will not be found in any slick gimmicks, new fads, microwaveable methods, quick-success books, or man-made formulas. This path is reserved for those who "seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness" - those who are passionate about God and have sincere compassion for people.



Consider the current state of Christianity in the U.S. today:


· 85% of the 350,000+ churches in America today are stagnant or in decline. Six out of ten Americans believe the church is irrelevant. Only one out of three pastors believes the church is making a positive impact on American culture - George Barna Research Group

· Evangelical churches have failed to gain an additional 2% of the American population in the past 50 years. In other words, we are not even reaching our own children. - American Society for Church Growth

· North America is the only continent where Christianity is not growing. - George Gallop, Church in the World Today

· During the last 10 years the combined communicant membership of all Protestant denominations has declined by 9.5% while the national population has increased by 11%. What's more, not one county in the U.S. has a higher percentage of churched people than it did 10 years ago. - Charles Arn, Institute of Church Growth

· Half of all churches last year did not add one new member through conversion growth. - American Society for Church Growth

· Approximately 70 to 80% of all church growth in America can be attributed to the movement of Christians from one church to another. - George Barna Research Group

·  4,000 Churches close each year in the U.S. 3,500 people leave the Church each year committed not to return. One-half  of all ministry students are out of the ministry within five years of graduation. Only 12% of churches are growing but only by way of transfer growth from other churches. Only 3% are growing by conversion growth. One-half of all churches failed to add one person to the membership by conversion. 167 to  187 million non-Christians live in America making us the fourth largest mission field in the world. The Church is growing on every continent except North America. - "A Snapshot of the U.S. Church" from the McAlvany Intelligence Report, November 1998.



Churches all across America are filled with Christians who are starving to death for meaningful relationships, passionate spirituality, and purpose. They are searching for a place to belonggrow…and participate in the building of "life-giving community." Many Christians are inside the church walls hoping for better times; others are "displaced" outside the walls hoping for change in the Church.

Something has to be done to "bridge the gap" between Church and community. The sleeping giant (the Church) must be awakened and transformed; but for this to happen, changes must come!

We cannot afford wasting time in addressing people's needs and church problems with the same level of thinking that helped create these needs and problems in the first place. To do so would suggest an insane process - doing the same things over and over again…expecting different results.
"Can my
kind
of church
truly offer
real solutions to the
kind
of real problems
people face today?"
We must prepare and position ourselves for a "paradigm shift" in awareness...attitude...and application. Without a direct approach to finding solutions to the problems that people and the Church face today, we fall short in our personal responsibility as Christians and sabotage any hope for a positive outcome.




 

 

 






 


 


Vision for 21st Century Ministry Design
and Community Transformation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Need:

 

 





 




 













 


 


 

 



Vision for 21st Century Ministry Design and Community Transformation


Using strategies defined by biblical principles and contemporary applications, the staff of the Powerlife Project has created a vision which reflects a culturally, relevant approach to meeting people's needs and serves as one of the new paradigm, ministry models that God is strategically empowering all around the world today.


The Solution:

Our only hope is in the Lord who has never left or forsaken us. Throughout history God has successfully orchestrated His plan of salvation and reconciliation for mankind. He has communicated and implemented His divine plans through culturally, relevant wineskins or "paradigms" that accomplish His divine will.

These new wineskins or paradigms reflect the winds of change that impact our lives and bring renewal, revival, and reformation to the Church - the community of God's people and agent for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

Oftentimes difficult to accept, change is inevitable! Change can bring forth a transformational process that breathes new life into people, their churches, and their communities.

The Powerlife Project can help address four (4) major needs among Christians and "seekers" in society today.


1. The need for a "change agent" that serves communities as an impartial catalyst for development of 21st Century, new paradigm ministry models, which take a "direct approach" to serving people's needs.

2. The need for "tangible, relevant expressions of true Christianity" marked by genuine Christians who truly care about people and their needs.

3. The need for "authentic Christian community" that breathes new life into the hearts of people and serves as an agent for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

4. The need for "synergistic, city-reaching strategies" and "City Church initiatives" that binds churches together in unity of purpose, mission, and tangible results.




Plan To Address the Need for a "Change Agent"


Using creative and innovative designs, a "process" can be implemented that helps people negotiate change and move forward in progress and growth. For change to happen, four (4) mighty rivers, characteristic of people's culture, values, and perception of reality, must be crossed using "relational bridges."

1. River of the Mind - people's intellect (knowledge and perception of reality). A "bridge" of good information must be built. This would require a communications strategy in adding new information for people to digest. This would include facts, statistics, and testimonies that "raise people's eyebrows," create a sense of urgency in moving forward with culturally, relevant models of ministry, and support the need for change.



Build "Relational" Bridges
2. River of the Heart - people's emotions (beliefs, values, and attitudes). A "bridge" of meaningful relationships must be built. This would require intentional processes for building relationships built on trust - a growth-oriented environment that values individual contributions, celebrates differences, and promotes unity of purpose. We can impress people with facts and figures from afar, but we cannot impact their lives except through up-close and personal encounters, which foster understanding and empathy.

3. River of Personal Behavior - people's personal actions. A "bridge" of personal experiences must be built. I hear...I forget. I see...I remember. I do...I understand. Hands-on experiences should be provided for people. These might include: reading books that have impacted people's lives, assign tasks or opportunities to serve in ministry, visiting places where change is needed, fellowshipping with a coalition that supports change, and attending ecumenical prayer gatherings.

4. River of Group Behavior - the culture. A "bridge" of life-giving community must be built. "Community" provides the environment where change can be embraced, celebrated, and put into action. It also creates awareness, addresses people's needs, and transforms (changes) the culture and the community at large. A viable expression of authentic Christian community can and must be built.




The theme of the Powerlife Project is "power that breathes new life."

Our mission is to motivate, mentor, and mobilize Christians for broad-based action in city-reaching and community transformation.


The Powerlife Project can help ministry workers bind together in a "synergistic process" that helps people create a path towards transformation by:

· Creating a sense of urgency regarding people's needs.

· Facilitating the development of a coalition (purpose-driven teams) that creates vision and strategy.

· Serving as a resource, coach, or consultant in strategic communications, informative teaching, and personal training for local Christians, congregations, and community coalitions.

· Help in the planting of new paradigm, ministry models in the community.

· Empowering ministry teams for broad-based actions that lead to synergistic results.

· Maintaining the change process through events, activities, celebrations, and relational "connections."

· Encouraging people to flow with God's future paradigms in change and transformation.



Plan To Address the Need for
"Tangible, Relevant Expressions of True Christianity"


New paradigm ministry models can profoundly impact any community by orchestrating collaborative partnerships with church, business, and civic leaders. These partnerships can result in tangible, relevant expressions of true Christianity marked by genuine Christians who truly care about people and their needs. These ministry expressions serve in a "direct approach" to helping people in their:

·   Survival needs - food, clothing, shelter, employment, a safe environment, and supportive relationships.
·   Emotional needs - healing for the brokenhearted, abused, and lonely; rescue from the storms of life; care for those who face fear, anxiety, discouragement, depression, and despair.
·   Intellectual needs - teaching, training, and exploration of new insights and creative ideas.
·   Spiritual needs - salvation, prayer, answers to spiritual questions, and Christian discipleship.

New paradigm, ministry models provide the way and means for "connecting" needy people with genuine, loving, and caring Christians.




Plan To Address the Need for "Authentic Christian Community"


Authentic Christian community "connects" people in relationship with God and with people. It also helps people tap into the transformational power of the Holy Spirit.

"Community" breathes new life into the hearts of people and serves as an agent for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. This happens by providing:

· A welcomed environment pulsated with vibrant, caring relationships.
· A safe place where people are open and transparent; free of prejudice attitudes and behavior.
· A practical learning environment for people to develop and exercise their gifts/talents in service to one another.
· A wholistic Christian setting for building people up and providing a non-threatening environment for "seekers."
· A spiritual place where people love one another, pray, worship, and experience TRANSFORMATION POWER together.

Through hands-on experiences, The Powerlife Project can help train people in the process of "Ministry Multiplication," which emphasizes: EXALTING the Lord our God, EVANGELIZING people for Christ, ESTABLISHING devoted disciples, EQUIPPING workers, and EMPOWERING servant leaders.

The Powerlife Project can accomplish this through facilitating or planting new paradigm, ministry models that follow biblical principles such as:
· Strategic prayer gatherings, prayerwalks, and concerts of prayer.
· Contemporary music and God-focused worship styles.
· Culture-sensitive evangelism and relational discipleship training.
· Cell-based (small group) ministry designs that foster meaningful relationships, develop people's spiritual gifts, and provide pastoral care.
· Flexible organization designs based upon team leadership, purpose-driven process, and relational synergism.
· Apostolic networking that plants new ministries, links resources, provides training, and empowers servant leaders in local communities.



Plan To Address the Need for "Synergistic, City-reaching Strategies"
and "City Church Initiatives"


One of the greatest ways new paradigm, ministry models can impact a community, city, or nation is by serving as a catalyst for "relational synergism" - people working together for greater purposes realized only through concerted efforts.

The life-changing transformation of any community is based upon seven (7) important factors:

1. The success in communicating a compelling vision for transformation that is urgent, relevant, and anchored.
2. The fertility of the culture's environment for the planting and growing of new paradigm, ministry models.
3. The realization in creating an accepted local coalition that guides the transformation process.
4. The ability to "connect" people in solid relationships that grow in depth and maturity.
5. The level of commitment, responsibility, and accountability of people to common purposes and goals.
6. The flexible and functional nature of effective organizational processes.
7. The willingness of Christians to focus on God's will and bond together in "relational synergism."


New paradigm, ministry models can help orchestrate and/or facilitate city-reaching and community transformation.

This provides a platform for good communications, activities for drawing and connecting people together, and organizational vehicles for empowering synergistic ministry teams.

This will enhance the labors of Christians to cast vision for unity of purpose among local church, business, and civic leaders. If they all can see it; they can all be it!

This will help new paradigm, ministry models grow, develop, and expand their influence. These might include:


·  Strategic prayer networks, empowered by local intercessors that are ecumenical in nature.

· Local ecumenical coalitions which build relationships and accomplish city-reaching, ministry tasks.

· Area-wide conferences, seminars, and events that advance spiritual awakening, renewal, and revival.

·  Recognition and rewards events that celebrate the personal contributions of individuals and coalition teams.

·  The developments of Christian Community Foundations which provide new alternatives in resource development that help finance the ministries planted within local communities and neighboring geographic areas.




Ministry Design:


The purpose of this design is to help people maximize their efforts, simplify communications, focus strategies, and match ministry needs with specific financial resources. This design can be "customized" to fit each community's demographics and culture.

We recommend that certain ministries consider organizing their efforts in conjunction with seven (7) strategic areas of ministry within local communities.


1. Poor and Needy Projects - teams of people that focus on one-on-one help and short-term critical needs of poor and needy people. These teams show compassion and mercy to people who are disadvantaged, homeless, destitute, and hungry.

2. Urban Projects - teams of people that focus on the needs in cities where people live. These needs include - health, hunger, unemployment, skills training, economic welfare, housing, and human needs resulting from crime and incarceration. These teams are collaborative ministries that bring local church, business, and civic leaders together in relational synergism.

3. Education/Special Projects - teams of people that focus on educational programs and innovative projects that increase learning and develop leaders. These teams include Christian educational programs (seminars, workshops, conferences, conventions, etc.) in continuing education and leadership development. Other projects may focus on the educational needs of children and youth involved in public education such as reading/writing clinics and tutoring.

4. Evangelistic Projects - teams of people that focus on bringing people to Christ; and then, teaching and equipping them to reach others. These teams may include local coalitions that produce evangelistic events (crusades, concerts, school assemblies, etc.), street evangelism, need-oriented evangelism, and other activities. These teams would also teach and train people in relational (oikos) evangelism that targets family, relatives, friends, and co-workers.

5. Discipleship Projects - teams of people that focus on establishing mature devoted followers of Jesus Christ. These ministries primarily serve the needs of Christians who desire transformation, becoming ambassadors of Christ - bearers of the ministry of reconciliation. This includes one-on-one discipleship training in conjunction with a relational mentoring process. Making disciples and disciplers are the goals.

6. Youth Projects - teams of people that focus on the needs of young people. These ministries take a direct approach in helping young people combat negative peer pressure, bad choices, drugs/alcohol, sexual promiscuity, and violence. Training programs are designed to implant into the hearts of young people an intrinsic value system that fosters integrity, morality, and sensitivity to others' needs. Contemporary strategies and language are used to speak directly into the heart of youth culture today and mobilize young people to reach their own generation for Christ.

7. International Projects - teams of people that focus on fulfilling the Great Commission around the world. This includes Christian missionary outreaches to nations outside the United States and the networking of these ministries with others around the world. These apostolic networks are linked together in prayer, communications, resource development, training, leadership development, and an Internet "cyber community."

Although these seven (7) areas of interest have primary focuses, this ministry design helps people organize around processes rather than functions and uses teams as the basic organizational building blocks. This design orchestrates an "interdependent organizational climate" that helps teams reach high performance levels and synergistic results. This flattens hierarchical organizational process and makes it more flexible, fast, focused, friendly, and fun.



Who Benefits From This Vision?


No ministry can meet all the needs of people in the local community; however, every ministry has its part to play. This is how the Body of Christ works - connecting people; connecting ministries.

Because The Powerlife Project is a new paradigm, ministry model that focuses on city-reaching and community transformation, it can function in broad-based action. Many people can benefit from the services offered by this ministry model. Those who benefit are,

·   Disadvantaged children from poor and needy homes. These children need love, support, and Christian role models to fill the void left by dysfunctional relationships.

·   Young people in need of Christian absolutes and values. According to research, 85% of people who make a commitment to Christ will make it before age 18, or they never will. Research also shows that only 4% of Generation X is being assimilated into church settings. This means that an entire generation could be lost to the world in a number of years and never become genuine Christians.

·  People in general who are searching for real solutions to real problems. They are not impressed with religious rhetoric that promises better times.

·   People who are searching for genuine Christians who reflect the incarnational presence of Jesus Christ. They want to see Jesus - His love and compassion.

·   People searching for a place to belong…grow…and participate in the building of life-giving Christian community. This has resulted in "church-hopping" and an illusion of church growth.

·   Christians who have fallen into complacency and spiritual lethargy; succumbed by apathy. They need spiritual awakening and revival.

·   The 20% of Christians in most churches who are presently being awakened by God to pursue life-changing discipleship and serve people's needs out in the community. Unfortunately, 96% (according to national statistics) of their local church's resources focus only on needs and programs inside the church house.

·  The vast number of "displaced" Christians who are disenchanted with outdated traditional, mind sets and religious practices; gifted/talented people who are unable to find fruitfulness and fulfillment within static hierarchical, church structures. Research suggests that a mass exodus of Christians is leaving the Church each year, committed never to return.

·   Church leaders starving to death for true relationships and life-giving Christian environments. Statistics show that one-half of all ministry students are out of the ministry within five years of graduation.

·   Parachurch ministries in desperate need for resources, that will help them continue their God-ordained missions in local communities.




Concluding Remarks:

In Western society today we are moving through a powerful paradigm shift in cultural changes that will affect the way we live, work, and do church for many years to come.

This major transition is from a modern to a postmodern society. Modernism was a period in our history characterized by obsessive organizing, standardizing, and categorizing reality into one system of understanding. Corporate endeavors celebrated massive hierarchies and rigid organizational designs which eventually led to impersonal, institutional process. Institutions took on a life of their own and outlived the people who created them.

Postmodernism is a radical departure from the cold nature of modernism. People and their gifts are more highly valued than organizational designs. Relationships are celebrated as the glue that holds organizations together. Hierarchies have been flattened and made more fluid, flexible, and cross-functional.

Organism is now served by organization, rather than the other way around. Authority is based upon relationships and trust, rather than manipulation and half-truths. Leadership is vision-driven as opposed to heritage-driven. Organizational designs are smaller; networks are bigger. People's gifts, instead of rigid policy, are the paths to greater productivity. High performance, team process and synergism are the new paradigms for success.
The Winds of Change



Are Blowing

New paradigm, ministry models are the new wineskins for the 21st Century. Because they are "grassroots, community empowering" instruments in the Lord's hands, they have the potential for influencing Christians, congregations, communities, and cities all across the United States. The reasons for this are quite clear. These new ministry models have moved way beyond the rhetoric that stifles many city-reaching efforts and moved directly into broad-based community actions that communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ in relevant, tangible language.



We believe the Church in the 21st Century must awaken to the reality of its present mission and embrace all of its foundational, biblical principles in contemporary form - new wineskins. Christians must recapture their "state of innocence" in trusting and obeying God. To do so means that we must be willing to allow God opportunity to bring the needed changes to our lives that foster transformation according to His design.

We believe transformation is not all about copying ministry designs, replicating formulas for success, or manipulating imbalanced attempts at growth. Transformation is all about God helping people become "originals" instead of "copycats."

This is grand opportunity for all of us to discover (or rediscover) the inherent potentials and possibilities that lay docile or "untapped" within our midst; a time to celebrate our own unique God-given lives, respecting other's differences, and then capitalizing on personal strengths and pooled resources. This is what makes transformation so inviting...exciting...and worthwhile!

With the help of the Lord, The Powerlife Project (a new paradigm, ministry model) has rallied the willing hearts of passionate Christians, who rolled up their sleeves and hit the ground running in ministry that impacted the lives of thousands of people. We believe that Christians must come together on common ground...covenant to work together as the Body of Christ...and concentrate their God-given resources for concerted efforts - the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

The gap between Church...and community must be bridged. Time is short and too many lives are at stake!


Please...let's not just talk; let's do it!






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