What I am most thankful for/excited about at Watermark and what do I see as the next big challenges our church?

Our passionate group of friends at Leadership Network are always combing the church world, assessing what is going on and then trying to figure out what the best way for them to focus on the “next thing” in terms of the organizations offerings. Typically their “what’s next” is driven by the priorities, challenges, opportunities and strengths of those they want to assist so they asked a number of church leaders, myself among them, if they could bullet out some quick answers to two questions.

I thought I would share my answers with you so you could share in thanking the Lord with me for His grace on us as well as join me in praying that we would be effective in the days and opportunities ahead.

Here were the questions:

1. What are you most excited about at your church? What is going on really well?

2. What are two or three challenges/opportunities that you have to figure out solutions for over the next 12-36 months?

Below are my answers.  I hope they encourage all of my Watermark friends out there.

What are you most excited about at your church? What is going really well?

1. I’m excited that we continue to stay on mission. I think we have met/are meeting the challenge of moving from a start-up/entrepreneurial/edgy church to an established church with a great physical plant. While we look like we have “been around forever” from the outsider’s eye, I think the call, the commitment, the passion, and the heart of what we wanted to be are thriving as much as ever. We still measure our success by our ability to be and make disciples and we are just as committed as ever to be biblical and authentic rather than big and impressive.

2. We are completely grateful for and intentional about the culture we have been able to create and maintain for our current staff and core leadership. Deep commitment, high passion, authentic beyond the buzzword, deep trust, and high professional/relational/spiritual trust are rampant.

3. I’m also grateful for the fact that we continue to develop, attract and deploy leaders. I keep hearing others say that leadership development is a major area of struggle/concern for their body….while we always want to do better, I am thrilled that Watermark is being used by God to discover, develop, and deploy leaders (Christ-followers, servant leaders, eternally-minded, culturally  relevant, and engaged leaders) on a tremendous scale.

4. I am excited about the things we have developed/are developing that will allow us to be more useful to other communities that desire to effectively and courageously be salt and light amidst the opportunities of their complex, continually changing, and challenging communities, countries, and world.

Some of these include:

ReEngage: A revolutionary way to serve marriages across a broad spectrum of health, develop leaders, reduce pastoral care issues, give couples a chance to lead and minister together, restore the church community to its intended place of care, help and restoration. We say whether your marriage needs to be REIGNITED or is in need of a complete RESURRECTION, REENGAGE is a safe place for couples to RECONNECT. The truth is that ReEngage is an effective place where communities of believers care for one another, disciple one another, admonish, encourage and help one another with great patience and instruction. Marriages are helped and healed, the lost are reached, hope is restored, and discipleship happens.

Re:generation: Re:gen is our recovery ministry. We were willing and grateful partners with Celebrate Recovery for years and saw the Lord do great things through our partnership. But from the beginning there were some areas where we did things differently than they preferred (with the knowledge and understanding) while still partnering with them. However the asked us not to mentor/help/teach other churches b/c of these differences. After years of careful conversation with our friends at CR we determined the best way for us to continue impacting our community and serve churches across the world was to develop our own curriculum and model. It has proven extremely effective and life-giving, and we look forward to sharing this material/strategy with others so they can serve the recovery community well.

Merge: Our tremendous pre-marital ministry and strategy.

Foundation Groups: Hundreds of new marriages get off to a great start as a result of these communities and curriculum.

The Journey: An innovative and effective tool that allows our body to interact daily over God’s word. It reduces a tremendous increase in Bible intake across our body, develops unity and intimacy among our large body, and is easily transferable to another community of faith.

Porch: One of the most effective Young Adult communities in the country producing transformed lives, healthy Christ-followers, future leaders, and a deep connection with this demographic within the larger church.

Other areas of strength and gladness not mentinoed:    (a) Annual spiritual advancement/re-covenanting efforts that keep vision and focus alive before core members.  (b) Equipping days/great questions classes/counterpoint lunches.  (c) On-line broadcast of complete services.  (d) Facility development, design and completion.

What are the two or three challenges/opportunities that you have to figure out solutions for over the next 12-36 months?

    1. Number one here will always be maintaining, improving, focusing excellence and commitment to the first three “successes” above.
    2. Effective launch and development of Watermark satellite campuses.
    3. We are working on increasing our intentional recruitment and development strategy for future vocational ministry leaders. Something that will supplement or potentially even replace the current models as the preferred place for church leadership (as opposed to academic/professorial/research) training.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “What I am most thankful for/excited about at Watermark and what do I see as the next big challenges our church?

  1. 3.We are working on increasing our intentional recruitment and development strategy for future vocational ministry leaders. Something that will supplement or potentially even replace the current models as the preferred place for ministerial (not scholarly/professorial) training.

    I am intrigued by the dichotomy. Can we so easily separate out ministerial training from “scholarship?” Or put another way, should ALL Christians pursue excellence of thought? And shouldn’t ALL Christians pursue holiness? This very dichotomy is the reason “heart” seems harder to develop in seminary and “head” is too often checked at the door in church. It grieves me.

    • Glad you asked Carisa. Dichotomy is not the word I would (or did) use though I see how I leave the post open for that impression if that is how someone wants to take it. To eliminate the confusion…I changed the parentheses above from (scholarly/professorial) to reflect my intention.

      ALL believers should continually pursue excellence in everything (excellence honors God [Col 3:23] and inspires others) including thought. I think you would agree, Watermark is NOT a place where you check your head at the door (if someone holds that opinion they either haven’t visited or aren’t paying attention) and I am sure most seminaries would want to argue that they work hard to prevent students from losing their heart for the Savior or people while enrolled.

      Our reason for looking to develop an alternative has little to do with the heart/head dichotomy you mentioned. It has more to do with raising up future leaders for the church in the most effective way possible. This would include both study and submersion in the ministry/church environment where they hope to one day lead. It is not that there is a dichotomy, it is that there is a need to train future leaders for two specific disciplines differently. CLEARLY there is some overlap..both need heart and head but future scholars in advanced studies/disciplines will not face the same challenges as pastors will and pastors do not need to be trained the same way future research “academics” are. Thankfully we are both intent on the same thing, honoring our Savior with the gifts and passions we have been given. I for one am exceedingly grateful for the scholars who dedicate their life to write, study, research and publish their findings so others can learn/benefit from them while dedicating their life where they are called to serve. Over the years, especially as formal “accreditation” within academic circles has become a desired status for some seminaries there has been limitations/requirements set on everything from faculty to curriculum. IMHO, often these requirements can compromise other goals/strategies for equipping, preparing leaders for the church.

      What you saw in my post was an acknowledgement that it is appropriate for individuals who are going to serve within the academic arena to have different training then those who are going to lead and serve the church. Both should be excellent in thought (2 Tim 2:15 certainly comes to mind) and ideally both should be pursuing Christ in all His fullness (though I am sure you know, as an example, some of the best language work done over the years has not been done by orthodox believers). We can’t say that about leaders in the church.

      Bible, theology, ability to understand and use the plethora of excellent language tools and resources, knowledge of church history are clearly important for the Pastor. The question is, what is the most effective way to raise up the next generation of church leaders. This is what we are exploring…not necessarily to the exclusion of most current seminary offerings, but not necessarily requiring it either.

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