Church health taught through humor
JEFFERSON CITY – In an atmosphere where laughter flowed freely, a little more than 300 Missouri Baptists gathered in the sanctuary of Concord Baptist Church on April 24 to hear Reggie McNeal teach “The DNA of a Healthy Church” through four lively sessions.
McNeal, missional leadership specialist for Leadership Network of Dallas, is a well-known seminar speaker who has written several books. His experience includes more than a decade as a denominational executive and leadership development coach, and his church health principles drawn from Scripture seemed to go down well with David Tolliver, interim executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC).
“I think of reaching people,” said Tolliver, responding to a question about what he thinks about when he hears the phrase “church health.” It marked the first major MBC-sponsored conference for Tolliver since he became interim executive director April 10.
“If people are genuinely discipled, the result of that is they will reach others,” he said. “Too many of our churches are not doing that.”
McNeal’s streaming video style of disseminating information was attention-grabbing in that it was peppered with plenty of humorous sayings.
“The humor that was used to make a point made us laugh, but it forced us to face the reality of the point he was making,” said Bruce Morrison, director of the MBC’s Sunday School / Discipleship team. “For me, it went in like a clean knife, but when he twisted it and pulled it out it really got me.”
In his second session he talked about getting the generations to interact more within the church. He described this process as the older generations of Christians needing to “build more Velcro” to hang on to the young people.
The Millennials (the generation of young people born between 1984 and 2001) need to stick close to the Seniors (those born in or before 1925) and the Builders (those born from 1926 to 1945), McNeal said.
“These kids want to serve,” he said. “They want to change the world, but when they say change the world, when we say change the world, we built an organization. When these kids change the world, they’re going to go down the street and help somebody build a ramp up to their house. They change the world one person at a time.”
One practical way for churches to make this happen, he said, is to promote more family mission trips instead of student mission trips. Another way to accomplish this on a local level is for Seniors and Builders to make the effort to couple their skills and knowledge in community construction projects with the enthusiasm and energy of young people.
“I felt like Reggie had some very significant things to say to us,” said Jerry Field, MBC state church planting director who was over the event. “I think it was really well-received. I think there’s some real interest in the days ahead of having more things that address church health, which is, I think, a very significant issue for us as a convention.”