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Developing A Growing Church
By: Ray Johnson
Pastor Ray Johnson of the Denham Springs Pentecostal Church shares the characteristics of a growing church.
- There are specific, reasonable and attainable growth goals that have been developed. A pastor must see, believe it and work for it!
- There is powerful Bible-based preaching and teaching, anointed singing, vibrant worship, fervent praying, and generous giving.
- There is consistent visitation and follow-up on visitors.
- The pastor recognizes and releases the gifts and callings among the congregation. These gifts include the gifts of teachers, helpers, prophecy, exhortation, ruling, etc.
- The organization, coordination, and emphasis of the basic departments - Sunday School, Youth, Outreach, Music, New Convert Care - is always on soul-winning and discipleship.
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The 1st Fatal Error: No Clearly Defined Mission or Purpose
If people do not know and can’t offer a simple explanation to the questions, “Why do we exist, and what are we here to do?” they will not pour themselves into your lack of purpose indefinitely.
The 2nd Fatal Error: The Wrong Organizational Structure
God designed every land dwelling creature over 7 inches in length to have a skeletal structure to overcome the downward pull of gravity. However the structure must always fit the purpose of the creature. You cannot do the work of the Church with an antiquated structure designed by yesterday’s business world. The Church is physical and spiritual, and its structure must fit God’s designed purpose.
The 3rd Fatal Error: Using a Shotgun to Hit a Distant Target
If you place a target 150 yards away and shoot at it with a shotgun then hitting the target becomes accidental. If you want to intentionally hit the target every time use a rifle with a scope. Your vision and supporting actions must be focused and intentional.
The 4th Fatal Error: Containment
The best way to kill a church is to keep it contained in the four walls. Don’t let the message out. Don’t advertise. Don’t give to outside ministries. Stay away from media markets for telecasting services. Keep the people submitted and never release their ministries. Death will eventually come to such a church, but very few people will ever even hear about it.[ read more...]
(This is an excellent article for Pastors to share with anyone involved in leadership or ministry in their church.)
Sometimes you just have to say it like it is. This is one of those times. I offer this to you in a gentle spirit and pray that if you share it with others on your team, that you would do so in a spirit of gentleness and meekness.
John Maxwell says “Only do what only you can do.” This is important in the various areas of ministry of the local church. One thing that stops the momentum of a church is various leaders trying to run someone else’s ministry. When God has placed you in an area of ministry within the church, he did not put you there so you could judge other lay ministers of the church. Do your job and let others do theirs.
Focus on your own ministry. What can you do to cause your own ministry to make a greater impact in your church and community? Anytime you spend even a few minutes judging the way another person is running their own department or area of ministry within the church, you are wasting valuable time, energy and emotion that if better used, could be applied perfecting your own.
Too often people criticize the work of others in order to make their own ministry look good. Lazy people usually find time to do this. These people are jealous of other people’s success and try to destroy them in order to preserve their rank or position in a church. This is not a Godly spirit and should be stopped immediately. There is no room in any church for division. If you do not like what other people are doing, mind your own business and do your own job and trust God to take care of the rest. It is His church and not yours after all.[ read more...]
In this unpredictable and changing world, the one thing we can always control is the way we think. While we have little control over circumstances or the actions of others, we can control our reactions to them. And anyone can learn how to think more positively and operate with a better attitude, regardless of circumstances, temperament, or intellect. To begin thinking more positively and leading your people to do the same, follow these guidelines:
Act like the person you wish to become.
To start thinking positively, begin by acting positively. Most of us wait until we feel like taking action, but that’s going about it backwards. Instead, by putting our desires into action, we can establish a habit of thinking positively – and this results in a positive attitude.
Cultivate a Consistent Positive Attitude.
To reap a successful harvest, a farmer doesn’t plant seeds and then just expect them to grow on their own. He must continually water, weed, fertilize and nurture the growing plants if he wants them to reach maturity. Likewise, if we want a successful life, we need to spend time everyday nurturing our attitude. Focus on the positive and successful. Don’t feed the weeds.
"Being a young, next-gen leader is a difficult calling."
You think differently than your more conventional colleagues. YOU CHALLENGE, REINVENT, AND MIX IT UP. You buck traditional models of leadership and you're constantly on the hunt for new ones. Many of your peers and elders in the ministry may not understand your calling.
Keep in mind a few things...
- It's important to see where other men have been. It is easy to stand on the sidelines and critique other people’s ministries. Keep in mind, you have not walked in their shoes or been where they have been.
The mistake that too many young ministers makes is to assume to have superior knowledge over an elder in the ministry who has struggled to make something happen. If you honor those men and women who have tilled the ground before you, God will give you the fruit of their labors.
- Your greatest asset as a leader will be your mentors. Every Man or Woman of God is a product of the ministers who have invested themselves into their ministries. There is nothing new under the sun and you are not unique from those who have mentored your life. For good or bad, the Pastors and Mentors of your life have touched your ministry. You have been affected by each of them. You have learned things to do and things not to do in your ministry by observing them. Your love and honor to them will determine the level of respect and honor that will be given to your own ministry.
- Stay close to someone more experienced. We learn from those who are able to teach us. If you surround your ministry with people who are less experienced or knowledgeable than yourself, you will become “dumbed-down”. Find some ministers who are heavily involved in the areas of ministry that you feel called to work and begin to glean from them. These men and women are usually very open to teaching a younger minister the ropes.
It’s not unusual to feel stuck, trapped, and unable to move from a situation you feel is stifling. Actually, it’s part of life and growth. But, getting “stuck in” and “growing through” situations are different. Here are ten ways to shift from one to the other:
- Step back and ask yourself what’s really going on. When you’re caught up in the stuff of everyday life, it’s easy to lose objectivity. It’s good to set aside a little time each day to challenge the obviousness of what seems to be going on. Is there a lesson to be learned that you are missing? Might that setback really be a step forward? Will things really turn out as badly as you think they will?
- Consider whether what’s happening has happened before. Is this a unique situation or is it just another example, in different garb, of an issue you’ve failed to confront before? If it’s the latter, maybe now’s the time to solve it and move on.
- Assume that present events and circumstances may be less of a “problem” than parts of a larger “process.” There’s a fair case to be made for the notion that, in this life, all is process rather than result. In other words, what this life is really about is growth and learning. Viewed in this light, where you’re heading is not as important as how you choose to get there. (For those who are strongly goal-oriented, this may be tough to swallow.)
- Ask yourself what you can do next. It’s the small steps that lead to successful journeys. Don’t get sucked in by the suggestion that you’ve got to solve it all today.
- Do something – anything! When you’re stuck, taking any step puts you in a different place and helps change your perspective, even if it’s a wrong move! And, doing something could be a conscious decision to do absolutely nothing!
In his research of leaders, both historical and contemporary, author Robert Clinton found that few leaders actually finish the race well. His two books, The Making of a Leader (NavPress) and The Mentor Handbook (Barnabas), explain that finishing well could be defined as a life that until its end is increasingly more in love with Christ, more committed to His service and more devoted to godly leadership.
What causes a leader to continue to grow, to stay on track and to finish well in life and ministry?
Five Habits of effectiveness. Effective leaders learn to become intentional about their character growth and formation. In this development of a leader we can make three general observations:
- God develops a leader over a lifetime;
- God uses people, circumstances and ministry assignments to shape the life of a leader; and
- Leadership plateau is often indicative of a growth issue within a leader's life.
To help us become more intentional about our health as leaders, let's explore five insights from leaders who have finished well.
- Healthy leaders are lifelong learners. Leaders pursue three types of training: personal training, (personal growth, projects, personal research); informal training (workshops, seminars, conferences); and formal training (continuing education, degree programs).
- Healthy leaders are committed to serve and develop others. Be alert to potential leaders in your sphere of influence (II Cor. 1:3-4; II Tim. 2:2).
Why is it that so many Christians who are working are not doing well financially? Unfortunately too many Christians are not equipped with the scriptures and methods required to better manage their money. God has redeemed man from the curse of the law to give him liberty in all things. This includes money.
A person who calls himself a Christian must adhere to the scriptures in order to better prepare himself. Christians should not worry about money. They should not fret about their finances. But they should rely on the blessing of God to provide for them everything they need.
In the Chronicles, the young king Amaziah was entrusted with the army of Judah. He numbered them and prepared them for battle. However, with only three hundred thousand men ready for battle, the king felt that he needed more soldiers. So he contacted with Israel for one hundred thousand more men and paid one hundred talents of silver for their services.
The man of God came to King Amaziah and said that God did not want him to use the soldiers of Israel and if the king did so, God would not be with him. It was obvious what had to be done, however, the King questioned the man of God. “What then shall I do with the hundred talents of silver that has been paid for the service of Israel’s army.” The man of God replied, “God is able to give you much more than this!”
God is able…fully capable…ready and willing to give you much more if you will only learn to maintain his economic plan and manage what you have. You can have the blessings of God on you life by obedience.[ read more...]
In a recent study of church growth, the following factors and strategies were noticed as being utilized in growing churches while churches that were declining were not using these principles.
1. Reach out to Newcomers. Focusing on the needs and concerns of newcomers, making inquiry convenient and non-threatening, and allowing people to move at their own pace, characterized the growing churches.
2. Build Member Commitment. While reaching newcomers is most important, the growing churches expected much of members, and active involvement of everyone was sought.
3. Train and Involve Laity. There was always a bold, compelling vision for the congregation’s future as well as ways of equipping and deploying laity drawn to the vision for ministry.
4. Make Bold Plans. Churches with goals and dreams far beyond current ministries and resources were more likely to grow than other churches, all other things being equal.[ read more...]
The expression of guarding the gates really has to do with guarding the mind. As noted in the previous message, John Bunyan wrote another classic although much less recognized than Pilgrim’s Progress entitled The Holy War which tells the story of Mansoul being captured and taken over by Diabolus because of the gates being compromised. That same plan is still being effectively carried out in our generation. People of every kind and status within the church have a responsibility to not let this kind of thing take place. This is especially true of those who are actively called into the ministry. If the shepherd can be toppled, the sheep will scatter.
It was explored how that study allows a man who serves a church to guard his mind. While that is a good measure to take up, there is another crucial “guard” that we have to recognize. It is the aspect of prayer. Of all the disciplines involved in a Christian’s life, prayer is the most difficult one to maintain conversely it can be one of the most joyous and powerful tools we can find in our spiritual arsenal. A preacher must maintain regular habits of communion with God in prayer. If a minister is not careful he can come to the place in which he will neglect his place of prayer because of his attention to the Kingdom. He may have all kinds of grand truths rolling through his soul because of the constant exposure to the Word. He can be so busy with various meetings, discipleship of new converts, and counseling of those who are in the throes of some dilemma of life, and obligations to duties of the organizational stripe, that he can entirely neglect his prayer life. In fact a minister is more likely to omit his praying than a new convert who has just come in to the church.
Diabolus loves to get the men involved in ministry to fall to the temptation of substitutes for prayer. Sermons on prayer, reading books on prayer, attending prayer conferences, and hearing sermons on prayer can never take the place of prayer. One can even come under the belief that church attendance, praise, singing, giving, and doing measures of physical labor at church can be a valid substitute for prayer. What soon happens is a tendency to resort to all of these things to move us into a position for revival without true heart-felt prayer.
Pastoral prayer is a great biblical concept and it has great authority. There is an ingredient of spiritual authority that comes to life when a pastor will discipline himself to prayer for his people. From the outset, I have to tell you that this is NOT an easy task to do. Prayer that is truly heart-felt and sincere rarely takes place (for me, perhaps not others) when we just decide to get on our knees and begin to pray. There has to be some stimulus of preparation that is involved in it. There are useful things that you will learn to use to help put your mind into a vein of prayer.
There are times when reading books on prayer will be very helpful to put you into a mindset of prayer. Some of the ones that I have regularly gone back to frequently and year after year are listed below:
E. M. Bounds Complete Works on Prayer—There are eight books in a single volume and are very rich and motivational toward opening my heart for prayer. The Necessity of Prayer, The Essentials of Prayer, The Possibilities of Prayer, The Reality of Prayer, Purpose in Prayer, The Weapon of Prayer, Power Through Prayer, and Prayer and Praying Men.
Leonard Ravenhill on Prayer—Ravenhill’s material is becoming increasingly rarer to find in bookstores these days. He was a staple for many of the preachers who attended the Deeper Life conferences scattered around the nation in the 1970’s. There have been times that I have read just a page or so of Ravenhill’s material and found it incredibly rich in preparing my heart and mind for prayer. Particularly helpful a [ read more...]