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District Resource Day: Bill Easum

In the interest of me actually blogging something, since I just am totally uninspired to write lately, I'm posting my basically unedited notes from today's District Resource Day with Bill Easum. The topic was “Leading Turnaround on the Road to Mission.” I read a little of Easum at Drew, but haven't read much else. We had some interesting conversation - lots of questions asked. Some things I thought he was right about, some I just thought I'd heard too much before, and some I really disagreed with him on. I guess that's a pretty typical breakdown though, isn't it? (My apologies for the parts of the notes that won't make sense without the corresponding hand out. I'll try to blog better soon ;) )


Where is Jesus going?

Way, Way, Beyond Emmaus

Where is everyone going?

* Away from spiritual centers
* Away from religious professionals
* Out into the world, away from the institution

Faithfulness – not survival, hanging on, but doing whatever is necessary to be on the road to mission with Jesus. If a church isn’t making disciples it is unfaithful and it doesn’t have a right to exist. A Hospice is not a church.

Institutional survival can never be goal.

Do you spend 80% of time going to them?

A dying church takes 11 years to turn around, but we still move every 3-4 years.

Stuck or Unstuck Churches: Concerned with the Roof, or Concerned with Jesus. Have to lose people in stuck church before you can turn it around. Stuck churches are clergy killers.

The building has nothing to do with being the church. Going to church/being the church.

Not mentioning Jesus enough – focused on God. “My God is not Oprah’s God.” Specifying which God – “God of Abraham,” etc.

Christians ought to be able to move from one building to another without any difficulty, and without being tethered to a building. The building is the place where the church meets, not the church.

Generation: Place more important than relationship, vise versa.


Some are – who is in control? (1)

- There must be more than this (2)

- Why are we here? (3)

- How can we do it better? (These two are healthier) (4)

(Think, Law, Feel, Grace)

Key people in your church:

- Deciders/controllers

- Doers

- Ignored (stuck church ignores ignored, unstuck focuses on ignored)

- Dreamers

- Leaders

Sphere 1 – Egypt

Sphere 2 – Wilderness: Some doers become dreamers. More confusion. More controllers will try to control. Fan discontent, spend time with dreamers.

Sphere 3 – Permission-giving, decentralized. Is it inviting? Is it growing? Is it sending? Three questions applied to everything. Mission, Vision, Values. Develop leaders and systems. Pastor spends most of time either in community, being visible, or growing leaders within the church. Difference between Wesley and Whitfield – Whitfield didn’t leave system to survive him, Wesley did.

Sphere 4 – can’t stay here for long.

How do you unfreeze a system?

- Anything that destabilizes the status quo, destabilize the story, allow leaders to do something new

1) A Solid Community of Faith – Spiritual Leadership. Highly committed spiritual leaders who put mission before personal interest, attempt ministries that don’t necessarily involve them. “Pray for it and pay for it.” (Pastoral leadership.) Functions around trust. Disciples would follow Jesus anywhere. No major on-going conflict. (You take something to the board, and you’re praying that so and so isn’t there.) Desire to connect with the world.

2) Biblically Sound and Culturally Relevant DNA – if we do this, will it make more disciples of Jesus Christ? Not “warehousing Christians.”

3) Indigenous Worship – “doesn’t need a bulletin.” Can’t grow a church by great preachers. Safe place to hear dangerous gospel, not a dangerous place to hear a safe gospel. Easiest way to grow church and to get in trouble. No announcements! Concerts: big, extravagant, etc.

4) Mobilizing the Laity to be God’s People in the World – identify, recruit, discern, equip, deploy, coach

5) Redemptive Missional Opportunities

6) Organizing Around the DNA

7) Hire Servants, Not Professionals

8) Place and Space as Metaphors

9) Radical Generosity

An emerging crisis – we are short on leaders. On the other hand, the roles of leaders is changing dramatically from/to – solo leader/team-based leader, top down/permission giving, given authority/earned authority

People coming in to church are at best skeptical, at worst angry. Are you hospitable or hostile?


Bill said…
Hi Beth,

I would have enjoyed bill Easum. I ahve been to a few training days with him and I have read most of his writing. He seems to suffer from CDD - compassion deficit disorder.

I miss you!
Theresa Coleman said…
Oooo... nicely put, Bill.

I actually disagreed with him on his blog once. I won't do it again.
Jo said…
The issues raised in this blog resonate so intensely w/me and it is "comforting" (?) to know that I was accurate in my perceptions re: what the life of the Church - (really, the Body of Christ, is about). As a pastor who has served since 1999 I have tried to articulate these understandings in such a way as to help people realize "WHO" the church is - not what. I haven't read Easum but the plans our classis (Reformed Church in America) had to have him come do a workshop a couple of years ago fell through. There were a couple of reasons for this but part of that was the fact that in our neck of the woods - too many individuals adamantly believe that engaging in the Christian faith is something that the "professionals" do while they listen for an hour on Sunday to words that they expect will comfort them and bolster them in their way of thinking. An elder in the congregation I most recently served told me that a) he believe that the job of the pastor was to do PR and fundraise with the purpose of keeping the church building around & b) he personally could not worship with another congregation in another building - it just "wouldn't be worship". I had only been serving there for about 6 months when he shared that with me. I stayed for 2 years and then had to leave. There were other reasons but it was partly because I didn't want to end up angry at people for being who they are. There were people who appreciated & recognized my gifts for preaching & "pastoring" but after about year were saying that I was being mistreated so badly by some that I should just leave because nothing would change. I spent another year there in an attempt to remain where I believe that God had called me to and hoping to work with the congregation to empower them to grow & become the disciples that we are all called to be but it got to be too much.
The thing is - I have been reminded that it is God, through the Spirit who changes people, opens their hearts and minds etc. but people also have to want to change and grow. When they don't, when they hold onto the building as the point of their faith and don't (seem) to want anything more - then it can be a daunting challenge. I accept that I apparently did not have the experience or insight needed to work with this particular congregation but it seems to be a prevelent attitude in far too many congregations these days.
(And it isn't just the boomer or prior generation who are ensconced in this bunker mentality).
There also seems to have been a lack of accountability in recent years - in terms of people actually fulfilling their call. Elders who state that they can't be bothered to join the congregation for coffee hour or come to bible studies or other activities related to spiritual growth and discipleship remain in office because either they are willing to be called "elder" or "deacon" without actually doing anything and/or because no one else wants to take on what is a time consuming responsibility. As I've been told on a few occasions - "you are the one being paid to do this".
Anyway - just some random thoughts triggered by the blog - and related to the events of the last year of my life.
(ps - My husband is also a pastor and has served 3 congregations in our area. He has done better at working with congregations to help them grow but biased or not he is gifted at that. He has had more flexibility with his congregants as well - more willingess to step up to the plate).

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