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Five Ways To Grow Your Congregation
By: David Church
The Bible says in;
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
The final verse of Acts, chapter two, ends with two phrases that really catch my attention:
· Having favor with all the people.
· The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
The last phrase ,"added daily to the church", is our goal, yet it cannot be accomplished without first having, " favor with people." You will never grow your church unless you have favor with people. You will never win people to Christ unless you first win peoples favor. One of the reasons that Jesus was so successful and had so many people following Him was because He had favor with man.
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Without fail, every time I fly, I am amazed at what I can see from the window of an airplane. Whether it is scenic mountains and lakes or large cities, I love to see the view from above the world.
I live about forty miles from Chicago and I drive the Chicago highways quite frequently. What a horrible mess they are. Often it takes two hours or more to get from one side of the city to the other. Many times I have sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic wondering what the problem is and promising myself that I will never drive that highway again. Yet, when I fly over the city I can see all of the highways at the same time. I can point out all of the trouble spots in just a few moments. I can see the bottlenecks, I can see the accidents. New perspective is gained.
If you have been through Chicago more than once, you have probably heard of the 'Hillside Strangler'. It is a notorious section of highway near the town of Hillside where two interstates and a road merge into a single lane to enter the Eisenhower Expressway. It has long been dubbed one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the world. It will literally stop you dead in your tracks where you won't be able to move for a long, long time. A few years ago they spent over a 100 million dollars to fix the problem. They widened the entrance to three lanes. However, after all of the time and money they spent to fix this, the traffic flow is only slightly better. People are just as frustrated as before. When you see this area from above, you can see that the congestion has only been pushed further east. The problem is easily seen from the sky, three lanes are not enough for this traffic merger, and they need more lanes stretched out over more distance. The estimated cost to rebuild this section of highway is now well over one billion dollars.
It is amazing how crystal clear the answers are when seen from above. The perspective one can receive from the skies is like receiving new revelation.
During a time of terrible persecution and uncertainty, the Apostle John was banished to the Isle of Patmos. There was no way out. Facing the darkest hours of his life, John had many questions on his heart. He couldn't think his way out. He couldn't see his way out. Though he lived to an old age there, he didn't know he would do so at the time.
However, Jesus knew some things John didn't know. Jesus was about to invite John up into the heavens. Jesus wanted to give John some new perspective and some fresh insight.[ read more...]
“Have you been trained to fail?” You have been trained in ministry to fail if you have been taught to do the ministry rather than to train others for ministry. I am grateful to the teachers who taught me to perform the functions of ministry: visiting, counseling, marrying, burying, teaching, witnessing, and a host of other duties. All are needed. By themselves, however, they help us only to maintain, not to maximize ministry. We can never be effective ministers until we learn what it means to be a leader and how to function as a leader. The following are five common ingredients in growing churches:
- (1) The pastor and the congregation understand their God-given gifts and use them in ministry.
- (2) The pastor’s hands-on ministry decreases and the congregation’s increases.
- (3) Both the quality and the quantity of ministry increase.
- (4) The pastor’s ministry influence increases as he shares ministry responsibilities with the congregation.
- (5) A biblical philosophy of ministry is established. That is, leadership plus lay ministry equals growth.
How can you build a leadership team and maximize ministry in your church? The following six steps are proven and effective.
- Identify the leaders in the church. Who are the influencers? These persons may hold formal or informal positions of leadership. They are the ones to whom others look for decisions. Write down their names and rank them on a scale of 1 to 10 as to their leadership and influence within the church.
- Intentionally take time to build relationships with your current and future leaders. Do not ignore or exclude the others, but focus on developing leaders.
Making a change in pastoral ministry is challenging for any pastor and his family, even when they have chosen the time to make that transition. However, a staff pastor and family who are released from their present ministry and must make a transition to a new place of ministry face a different situation. Thus the question, “How should a minister respond, act, and live if he is asked to leave his pastoral ministry?”
Ministers have been released from staff ministry positions for various reasons: decreased church income, downsizing of pastoral staff, the phasing out of a particular ministry position or consolidating church ministries. Regardless of the reason(s) for ministry release, this type of transition can be traumatic to the pastor and his family. Because of the emotional, financial, spiritual, and family issues, this topic must be addressed to help ministers and their families who have been asked to transition from their church ministry. Having been through this type of transition myself as a staff pastor in the past due to pastoral change and staff downsizing, I share some insights that will help edify and support the minister and his family who are in transition.
The ministry family leaving a church may experience emotional stress, financial strain, grief, and a sense of frustration. The exiting staff pastor may question the effectiveness, value, usefulness, credibility, future, and potential of his ministry. Income may be an issue, especially if the staff pastor was the major wage earner in the family. There will also be the question of health insurance. Because health costs can be expensive, health insurance is a necessity. If a transitioning staff member lives in a church parsonage he may wonder, How long can we live here? These are just a few of the concerns that a transitioning staff pastor will be forced to address. What follows are a few suggestions that will help the transitioning pastor and family.
1. Affirm your personhood as a Christian.
God loves you. You, your ministry, and family are valuable to Him. He knew this change would take place before you were asked to make your transition. He has confidence that, with His help, you will make it and your future will still be bright. He knows this is a traumatic change that affects your life, finances, ministry, self-perceptions, spouse, and children.
2. Continue growing in your personal faith walk with God.
You will need to grow spiritually through this situation. Don’t become stuck on, Why is this happening to me? Instead ask,How can I grow through this situation and see glory brought to God?[ read more...]
There are a number of great ways to preach the Word of God, but one of the most effective is expository preaching.
Stephen Olford defines expository preaching this way;
"Expository preaching is the Spirit-empowered explanation and proclamation of the text of God's Word with due regard to the historical, contextual, grammatical and doctrinal significance of the given message or given passage, with the specific object of invoking a Christ transforming response."
That is a pretty heavy definition, let me simplify; "The text does the talking, the preaching, the teaching and the transforming." The message is already there, you just have to open it up and discover it for yourself. Expository preaching forces the man of God to open his own heart first and allow the scripture to change him before it ever changes his audience.
An expository sermon comes from a portion of text that is usually at least one paragraph in length, and where at least a good portion of the story is told in its context. For an expository sermon to have impact, the story of the text must be opened up to your audience. A casual reading and retelling of the scripture is not quite what it is about. Nor is it a step by step outline of each verse. There is a message in the story of the text that must be shared in a meaningful way.
There is a pressure in our culture today for preachers to be 'relevant' to their audience. In doing so, expository preaching has become less and less popular. Many insist that it is no longer effective. Most of today's mainline preachers have adopted the 'topical' style of preaching in their attempt to become relevant. In this style of preaching they choose a topic and then go to the Word to see what the scripture says about it. The danger in this is that they become so topical in their preaching that there is very little of the Word of God left. The one or two scriptures they do use are often taken out of context and used in ways that alter their intended meaning. I would like to say that there is nothing more relevant for our culture today than the Word of God. The Word of God transcends time, tradition and culture. The writer of Hebrews declares that the Word of God is quick enough, sharp enough and has enough power to pierce into the thoughts and hearts of every person.[ read more...]
- Get Rid of Stuff - Paper, publications and possessions require maintenance; maintenance costs time, energy, space and money. Dispose of seldom or never-used items. Ask yourself, “What will happen if I let this go?” If the answer is “nothing,” get rid of it.
- Limit Your Reading Material – Realize that you can’t read, know, or retain all the information you receive. Set up a reading folder for holding unread information. Pitch the oldest material (read or not) when that space is full.
- Touch it Once – Be decisive: Handle mail only once and move on. Don’t shuffle papers with the vague “I don’t know what to do with this so I’ll put it here for now” Syndrome. Use a simple DRAFT technique – Delegate, Read, Act, File or Toss – the first time you touch it.
- Think Before Acquiring More – Evaluate before accepting new items. Get off mailing/routing lists that serve no purpose. Ask yourself if you really NEED this item.
- Organize Before Increasing Space – The more space you have, the more inclined you are to be a saver. Keep things as simple as possible by retaining as few items as you absolutely need.
- Don’t Leave Things Out As Reminders – Leaving items out is a common mistake.
- Keep Frequently Used Items Handy – Keep within easy reach your current working papers and items you’ll need when you answer the phone.
- Don’t Crowd – Individual file folders over ¾ of an inch thick need to be first purged, then divided if necessary.
Although you may feel like you are the only one, you are not. A large percentage of other pastors and ministers also feel isolated and alone even as they minister to crowds of people on a regular basis. The feeling of isolation or of being alone plagues many ministers and their spouses. This article identifies 12 causes and potential solutions. It also validates a few of the many needs for spiritual Fathers and/or mentors.
The vast majority of Christian leaders do not actually have a mentor or spiritual father in their life.
Each of the following topics could be a guideline for validating the need for a mentor in your life and ministry.
The Isolation of the Calling
If you truly have a calling from God you may be the only one with that particular call. Even a quick cursory review of the Bible reveals men like Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Elijah, Jeremiah who felt the pain of isolation and solitude. They had no peers.
Elijah even stated once that he was the only one like himself, but God quickly corrected him by saying there were 7000 others similar to him. Your isolation may have many ingredients such as location, a unique but misunderstood calling, not relating to the people around you, and many others.
Regardless of the reason(s) for your isolation you need to understand that there is someone somewhere who can relate to you. It is your responsibility to climb out of your box of isolation. Of course, God always understands, but there are times you also need people. Just having someone to listen to you is not always enough. You need someone with wisdom and sage advice who can help direct you forward. Perhaps you need a mentor? The right mentor will help you use the isolation of the calling as an advantage to become more effective.
The Solitude of Alone Time
Solitude is a two-edged sword. Although it is healthy to have alone time for self, meditation, exercise, relaxation and prayer, it can also become a dark pit of separation and despair. You must not close out the essential people around you. Your family, staff, and peers each need the right amounts of time with you and your input.
If you do not have alone time in your schedule it is imperative that you work toward finding time for it. You must use your alone time wisely by assuring that there is some personal growth value associated with it. You must also establish some mind guards because an idle mind can wander into areas it should not go into. Always remember that the adversary may use your alone time to speak his deceits into your thoughts.[ read more...]
One of the keys to Effective Church Leadership is delegating work to others - no one can do everything for themselves. Learn to delegate aspects of your ministry properly, and you will have time to complete the most important needs of the church successfully.
The process of delegation consists of the decision to delegate, the briefing, and the followup. At each of these points, anticipate the potential problems.
The decision: Persuade yourself to delegate. You will not benefit if you lead the Church with the assumption that it takes longer to teach somebody else to do a job than to do it yourself. Delegation has its own rewards. Once somebody has learned a particular task, they will be able to do it in the future without repeated briefings. However, be sure to delegate each job to a person with the appropriate skills, experience and knowledge.
The briefing: Make sure that the person to whom you are delegating clearly understands the brief - what you want them to do and by when. Offer ongoing support and guidance.
The followup: During the course of the project, check the standard of work produced. Provide positive feedback, but beware of overdoing it - there is a narrow line between helpful supervision and debilitating interference.
Delegation does not mean handing over control of a project, but handing over responsibility for certain tasks. Encourage people to work using their own methods, providing they stick to the instructions you have given them. This allows you to utilize their specialized giftedness or to provide them with an opportunity to develop a new area of expertise. One of the common contentions arising out of delegation is conflict over responsibility, so it is vital to define exactly what the person is responsible for.
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1. Clutter can slow you down by distracting you from what you want to do. To take control, begin in one corner of one room and straighten up. (No cheating! Don't just move the clutter to another corner!) Afterward, give yourself a reward for your good work. If you continue this pattern over time, you'll get the job done.
2. Do you arrive at your office most mornings frazzled from too much rushing around before leaving the house? Prepare for your departure the night before: put your coat, car keys, and briefcase by the door, ready to grab, and set your alarm fifteen minutes earlier. You'll start the day feeling more in command.
3. The next time you pass a card store, stock up on a supply of "thank you," "congratulations," and "great job" cards. Keep a supply at the office and some at home. Remember how you feel when a good word is sent your way and be generous in your compliments to others.
4. Do you keep "to do" lists that run on for pages? If you often feel discouraged by what's not crossed off your lists, make them shorter. The most effective managers identify only three top priorities each day. And their self-esteem is stroked repeatedly when they cross off all three tasks, day after day.
5. In today's world of so-called advanced telecommunications, more people identify "telephone tag" as their biggest time waster. When you leave a phone message on someone's voice mail or answering machine, remember to cover the four W's: who called, why you called, what you'd like the receiver to do, and when you're available to receive a return call. A specific request with detailed information increases your chances of a reply. Furthermore, on the incoming message of your answering machine, direct callers to leave you answers to the four W's.[ read more...]
Jesus died for the sins of the world. He did not die for most, several or some. He died for all. When He suffered on the cross, He did not have only a few hundred or a few thousand on His mind. What held Him to that tree was every single man, woman, boy and girl who would ever live on this planet. Is our own directive the same?
How many churches would be quite satisfied if they could just reach a few hundred from their community. Think about it, if your church directly affected 300-500 souls on a weekly basis, would you be satisfied? I would. For a while any way.
We've got to stop thinking small. Jesus did not think small. The scripture does not speak small. This gospel was given that every single person ever conceived could have a relationship with Him. For too long the Church’s growth has been limited by our small thinking.
There are well over 6 billion people on this planet today. Some would say that God will add to the church in His time. That growth will happen when He wills it to happen. Jesus proved his commitment and desire to see every person in your city saved when he suffered that horrific beating and the cruel death of the cross.
Revival has nothing to do with God’s will for it to happen. He has proven His will. It has everything to do with our putting ourselves in a position to allow it to happen and to receive and maintain it when it comes.[ read more...]