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Hit the Bullseye: How Denominations Can Aim Congregations at the Mission Field Paperback – July 1, 2003
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About the Author
Asan international consultant, judicatory leader, former large church pastor, andprofessor of homiletics, Dr. Paul Borden knows both what is required totransform congregations and judicatories and how to do it. Borden is Executive Minister of Growing HealthyChurches. He is in demand nationally as a church consultant, who helpedinitiate the "teaching church" movement, in which congregations learnfrom other congregations about excellence. His book Hit the Bullseye(Abingdon, 2006) has been used by over 50 denominations in leading change. Previousassignments include Director of Church Consulting for the Evangelical FreeChurch of America and Academic Dean of Western Bible College. Paul holds aPh.D. from the University of Denver, Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary andB.S. from Philadelphia College of Bible.
Asan international consultant, judicatory leader, former large church pastor, andprofessor of homiletics, Dr. Paul Borden knows both what is required totransform congregations and judicatories and how to do it. Borden is Executive Minister of Growing HealthyChurches. He is in demand nationally as a church consultant, who helpedinitiate the "teaching church" movement, in which congregations learnfrom other congregations about excellence. His book Hit the Bullseye(Abingdon, 2006) has been used by over 50 denominations in leading change.
Previousassignments include Director of Church Consulting for the Evangelical FreeChurch of America and Academic Dean of Western Bible College. Paul holds aPh.D. from the University of Denver, Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary andB.S. from Philadelphia College of Bible.
Top customer reviews
Borden makes frequent use of the term middle judicatories. He uses this term judicatory to mean the regional level of denominational organization. The judicatory that he assumed leadership of had an appearance of health because of a well loved and long tenured leader who had recently retired. But behind this appearance of health was actually an organization in a long slow decline that was on the edge of a swift decline if something did not change soon. He decided to do whatever it took to make the transition from long slow decline to rapid growth and revitalization. This book tells his story and provides principals that other denominational leaders can use to help bring similar revitalization to their own area.
Borden seeks to answer the question of what a regional denominational entity is supposed to do when he says, "A judicatory is doing its job well when it is seeing both transformation and reproduction happen regularly and consistently in a majority of its congregations" (Page 16). There are several parts to this statement that are important. First, it speaks of doing the job well as opposed to completing the mission. The mission will never be completed until Christ returns, so our goal should be to do our part well in accomplishing the mission. Second, he talks about the tension between discipleship and evangelism that all churches, denominations and mission administrators face. We all know that we are to be doing both, but most of us tend to focus on one or the other. Borden reminds us that to be doing our job well, we must be doing both, no matter how much tension that might cause for us. He clarifies what this means by using the words regularly and consistently. Discipleship and evangelism should not be something that happens occasionally or by accident. It should be a regular part of what we do and should be done in a consistent way. Lastly he talks about it happening in a majority of the congregations of a state convention. This last piece provides the measurable quality that is often missing in our definitions of a job well done. Unless something is happening in a majority of the congregations, then it is neither regular nor consistent. association, do the meetings and conferences I attend help achieve that aim?
If one realizes that his state convention is not doing its job well, then what changes are needed to address the situation? Borden says that "The key ingredient needed for change is leadership" (page 17). Why is change so difficult? Borden concludes that "Many pastors back off from the tough acts of leadership because they do not want to experience the pain" (page 110). While he said this in relation to the pastor and the local church, I believe it applies to state conventions and to other mission organizations such as the local association. Borden says, "If people are not following then either we are not leading as we are capable, we do not know how to lead, or we simply are not leaders and need to step away from leadership position. Leadership has at least one simple test: Is anyone following or not? (Page 57).
One of the aspects that Borden addresses that I appreciated was his discussion of the faithfulness or fruitfulness dilemma. Every mission administrator has some beloved pastor in their area who has served faithfully for many years but not seen many results. Because of his longevity, this beloved pastor has often found his way into a leadership position in the association or state convention, but his lack of leadership skills often holds back the organization instead of moving it forward. Borden addresses this when he says "God is equally interested in fruitfulness along with faithfulness. In John 15 Jesus tells us that obedient disciples bear much fruit" (page 36). If a man has been faithful but still not seen fruit, we must ask ourselves if he has been faithful in the right things. Perhaps his message is correct but his methodology is not. "We have often confused the method of ministry with the nature of the message, and when there have been no results we have honored the faithfulness of the messenger" (page 38). Perhaps along with honoring the faithfulness of the messenger we should also teach him some more effective methods so that his message can produce the fruit that he has long desired.
Finally, Borden makes quite a case for the fact that "Most congregations separate authority from responsibility while holding no one accountable" (page 95). Borden suggests that part of the reason why a leader who is faithful but stills sees no results is because the organization structure is working against him. Perhaps he wants to do something innovative and new but got tired of knocking his head against all the committees and boards. I agree with Borden on this. This has been one of Borden's key concepts in the revitalization of his region. He says that whoever is responsible for accomplishing a particular goal should have the authority to do it.
Borden has done a great job of explaining how he revitalized his region. He defines what success looks like. He emphasizes the need for leadership to be willing to lead even if it brings pain. He reminds us that fruitfulness is equally important as faithfulness. He makes it clear hat whoever is responsible for ministry must have the authority to do that ministry. Bordens shares these foundational principals with his readers. "Foundational principles are truths that are transferable across all middle judicatories regardless of polity because they relate to such underlying concepts as mission, vision, values, and structure" (page 13). Borden has clearly articulated these principals and that is why they are so transferable. Every mission administrator should read this book in order to improve their leadership skills.
At last someone offers a paradigm in which denominational leadership leaves the boring offices of bureaucracy and enters the field of consultation to come along side pastors in local churches! Everyone always says it's all about the local church, but leadership seldom seems to act like it. Three cheers for this proposed paradigm.
Thankfully Borden raises the bar on pastoral expectations, at least in the area of productivity. Too many pastors are hired who should never be behind the pulpit and once the mistake is discovered, too few are out counseled into other areas of service. I think Borden's style is a little strong and in reality there are reasons other than leadership incompetence that can cause churches not to grow. Some reasons are beyond control. Still, raising the bar doesn't hurt, if done thoughtfully, and is sorely needed.
I applaud the effort to help churches become missional. Too many churches routinely go too many years with no conversions. This is a mark of ill health.
Borden writes from personal experience. Who can help but be emotionally moved to see the churches of a large geographical area revitalized and brought back to life? May this story happen again and again across the country and in many denominations.
I also am impressed with Borden's ability to create a large intricate movement. His ability to cover all details, his passion, his strong personality, and his recruitment techniques would make it hard to fail.
First, Borden routinely writes about community and church "family" as if the communal nature of church detracts from mission. To be Christian is to be in community. This is not just organizational community (i.e. an employee at Wal Mart), but spiritual community. If I must place community on the back burner to build the church, I sacrifice too much. The church is the assembly of those who have been called out of the world (ecclesia) and the fellowship of those who have been called together (koinonia) in the name of Christ. The mission of the church is to lead souls to Christ, but this is not the only reason for the church's existence. The church, the Bride of Christ, will still be in existence long after heaven and earth pass away and there are no more souls to lead to Christ.
Second, Borden speaks as if leading people to Christ is everything, or at least the most important thing. I once believed like that. We lead people to Christ, so we can train them to lead others to Christ, so they in turn can lead others to Christ, and we will build up the church and someday those who were saved can be with Him in heaven. One day I thought, "What are we doing here?" We are peddling our product like a pyramid marketing scheme! Christ is more than that. We are so concerned with bringing people to Christ that few are taking the time to be with Christ right now! The kingdom of heaven isn't just someday. It's at hand here and now. There is more to salvation than many evangelicals stop to dwell on. When a bride and groom consummate their relationship children are born. When the Church (Bride of Christ) comes together with the groom (Christ) spiritual babies are the natural result. There is nothing about community or spiritual formation that should detract from evangelism.
Finally, how about a little fair play here? Borden repeatedly gives his employees and pastors timetables for performance or their jobs are at risk. But he also asks them to promise that they'll stick with the program a certain amount of time to work through the hard times. In the early portions of the book he equates the church to an athletic team. If a player doesn't produce, the player is traded. No hard feelings, that's just the way it works. True, but this also creates a system of free agency and a mentality of players who go to the highest bidder. He wrestles with this by using 2 million from the judicatory's funds to recruit and train leadership. He also negotiates with local churches for pastors' salaries. Leadership recruitment is a big hurdle. This worked well for the five years it was studied. What will happen over the next decade?
Get the book. Read it. Discuss how it can be beneficial to you. Don't throw away the baby with the bath water. There's some good stuff here. On the other hand don't swallow everything that's thrown your way. There are some gaps that need to be addressed, perhaps in a sequel?