Monday, December 10, 2007


Many times I have heard the expression, “You are trying to bring the world into the church!” It always is connected with drums, drama, or years ago with the use of the screen for music. It’s interesting that people often relate certain forms of music, instruments, dress, or food with the world. The Bible seems to be mute on this association. On the other hand, the things that the Bible does condemn, which would make them “worldly,” are gossip, backbiting, evil-surmising, criticism, and faultfinding.

In my years of ministry, I have seen the church plagued with these problems on every level, but the amazing thing is that there is no outcry of “worldliness!” addressing these problems. In the end, the only winner is the devil, and our churches or schools cripple along with no hope of reaching their full potential. As we continue to plant new churches with the same basic message, wouldn’t it be nice if we make a deliberate effort to exclude the real “worldliness” from our congregations through teaching and example?


Thursday, November 08, 2007


It is the goal of Mission Catalyst to facilitate the planting of healthy churches with certain basic beliefs and focuses. What does a healthy church look like? Having pastored many churches through the years, I have a mental picture of a healthy church. There are several factors, but I want to focus on one that is basic: Affinity. This means that there is general agreement on basic beliefs and goals. Affinity goes farther than beliefs, however. Affinity includes a natural sense of agreement on worship styles and life’s values. When two people are introduced, they usually make small talk until they hit on some common ground — they both lived in Tennessee at one time; they both graduated in the same year; they both listen to Rush Limbaugh; or they are both fans of the Chicago Bears. When some affinity is reached, no matter what it is, there is more joy in being together and sharing. That is essential with a church. When all like the fact that their church has a “great” band and plays music they can really get into, that is an affinity that causes them to love their church. When all like the direction in which their pastor or point person is leading the church, that is affinity. When there is affinity, there is joy, excitement, and enthusiasm. Where people are enthusiastic, churches grow. Healthy churches grow just as healthy plants grow. If they are not growing, they are dead. In my experience, there is little affinity in congregations. Because people are poles apart on various methods, goals, or even basic beliefs, there are mediocre methods used and middle of the road compromises on almost everything. The intent is to please as many as possible so as to keep everyone on board. In reality, many bail, and evangelism tries to replace them so that we do not have negative growth. Affinity, on the other hand, breeds joy, and people invite their friends. This is human nature. If we buy a new Chevy truck and just love it, we tell others and are very convincing. If we went to an amusement park that really was worth the money, we tell others and they plan their vacations accordingly. Church growth is best done magnetically. Joy is contagious. This is true with any style of worship or beliefs. Their must be affinity, not tolerance. How does your church rate on affinity?

Dennis Pumford
Assistant Directional Leader

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Which Denominations Will Thrive in the 21st Century?

George Bullard on ( has identified 20 factors that empower denominations to survive in the 21st century. I have condensed them to 10, and revised a couple. I hope the Seventh-day Adventist denomination will take a careful look at these. Just for fun, rate each point on a scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (excellent) and let us know your overall score by posting a comment.

1. They proactively acknowledge and function with the understanding that real denominations serve congregations, and all they do points to enhancing the vitality of local congregations.

2. They unite on a clear and compelling message that seeks to make a transformational difference in the world. That message is so powerful that it gives them great reason to work through issues that seek to divide them.

3. They develop clarity around their doctrinal values that focus on core doctrines and allow flexibility for congregations who do not agree with every non-core doctrine espoused.

4. They empower congregational multiplication movements that result in a number of new congregations each year equal to three percent or more of the number of congregations already affiliated with their denomination.

5. They adopt and adapt effective models for helping congregations to develop readiness for transition and change, and ultimately transformation.

6. They help faithful, effective, and innovative congregations move to the next level of effectiveness in reaching their full kingdom potential.

7. They rediscover the core, highly valued activities of the denominations, and move secondary endeavors such as institutions to the back burner.

8. They make peace with the parachurch world, and even become more parachurch in nature themselves. They partner with parachurch organizations to increase effective service to their congregations.

9. They find ways to conduct the basic services and systems of the denomination in a manner that spends as few resources as possible and still maintains basic services to congregations. They do this by becoming resources brokers and coaches, rather than resource providers and consultants.

10. They understand multiple funding streams will have to be developed and cultivated to pay for denominational resources and services. They realize it is not likely the offering plate dollars in their affiliated congregations will provide the financial resources needed for future denominational vitality.

Dennis Pumford
Assistant Directional Leader

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Are You Free, or Are You Fearful?

Systems, structures, organizations, and denominations are formed to streamline the already existing goals and movements that began in an informal way, but were worthy of greater exposure. Thru the years, the organization thus formed petrifies into something “established” rather than organic. In the end, most activity is to sustain the system that now consumes rather than contributes. Loyalty to the organization is the yardstick for measuring success. Now and then someone talks about how they should return to the original mission. Everyone agrees and feels better that those sentiments were expressed, but nothing is ever done to go back. Nothing can be done. Why? Because the organization saps all the energy and resources that might be used to go back. At that point people bail. Those who bail are smeared, their reputation and investment are ruined. Others see this and decide that they must stay loyal or suffer the same, so they dig in and join the criticism. So how do you really know what a person thinks in his or her heart of hearts? This is the game we play. Ralph Waldo Emerson was right when he challenged people to leave their political party, club, organization, or church so that their yes would be yes, and their no would be no. He could not separate when they were talking or when they were speaking for their affiliation. How is it with you? Do you speak on your own, or are you controlled by your investment into a system? Are you free, or are you fearful?

Dennis Pumford
Assistant Directional Leader

Monday, May 14, 2007

Can You Handle the Freedom?

Someone said, “Freedom is the opportunity to choose what will enslave you.” I think they are right. Mission Catalyst chose a new slogan: Can you handle the freedom? Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… If therefore the Son will make you free, you will be free indeed.” I have heard many people say that they are glad they “have the truth” (as though there was no more to find). I have rarely heard people say they are glad they are “free indeed.” We thought of the slogan: Have truth, add freedom. Imagine being “free indeed.” God needs people today to do whatever it takes and to go wherever to reach lost people. That takes freedom. Can you handle it? If you can, you will find good company: Abraham, Jesus, and Paul. Abraham was free to go when God said, “Go!” Paul had the right balance: when it came to theology, he counseled with his brethren. When it came to methodology, in raising up new churches and in reaching the Gentiles, he made himself a servant only to those he was trying to reach: “Though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more… I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.” Mission Catalyst Network is about freedom. We want to help free, mission-minded people reach others for Christ. Can you handle the freedom?

Dennis Pumford
Assistant Directional Leader

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Ron Gladden's Ordination

It is no secret that when Seventh-day Adventist pastors get together, whether for camp meeting, workers’ meetings, or camp work bees, the conversation often turns to the need to change the organizational structure of the church. Frustration is expressed over the bureaucracy, and the question often arises: “Why doesn’t somebody do something?” “Why, if I were in charge, I would…” Some of those pastors go on to serve in the conference office. Their rhetoric then takes a softer tone. Some even become administrators. At that point they seem to forget their resolutions and become lapdogs for the higher administration. Forgetting their conversations in the little huddles years back, they then turn on someone who finally did something. Ron Gladden’s ordination was voided last week. This is something that was not done even to John Osborne, who caused so much damage to the Church over a period of several years with his lying attacks and video propaganda. Isn’t it ironic that a pattern is being followed just like the pattern that frustrates us all when politicians have been in Washington too long? Rather than dealing with the serious issues of the day, they spend their energies making personal attacks on anyone daring to be different. Some of you reading this may be administrators thinking, “Not me! I am not a lapdog who turns issues into personal attacks!” Fine, if you know Ron’s heart, know his commitment not to attack the Church, know his desire to further the Advent Movement and make a positive difference, and know his fidelity to Adventist Beliefs, then show your support for his leadership by sending him an e-mail or, if you really want to be a difference-maker, by granting honorary ordination and credentials to Ron Gladden, a true modern day pioneer, light-years ahead of his time. As for me, I give to Ron an open invitation to speak at our local Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Dennis Pumford
Assistant Directional Leader