Growing a Church in New Church Setting, Part 2

The Pastor, the People, the Program

Acts 2:44. And all who believed were together and had all things in common; 45. and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. 46. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, 47. praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
 

 

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5:   Living Debt-free Biblically
6:   Youth Ministry Leadership
7:   Growing a New Church 1:
      The Price Tag, the Target
8:   Growing a New Church 2:
      The Pastor, People, Program
9:   Spiritual and Motivational Gifts
10: Envisioning, Friendliness and Authority
11: Making the Case
12: How Do We Get Them to Come?

 

 

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The Pastor

   The identity of the founding pastor makes a great difference in the new church setting.  (In many churches it makes no difference who the pastor is.)  Contrary to the popular belief, the small church is the strong church; the large church is fragile and the pastor can make the difference in whether it stays together or falls apart.

Jeff Spiller   Qualities of the pastor include: A personal experience of Christ and a commitment to share it with as many as possible.  A vision that Christ can make a difference in the redemption and quality of society, and that he himself can make a difference, is essential.  (An exercise that might be done with a reluctant board to gauge its vision is to ask each member to answer the question, "Why are we in business?" on one sheet of paper.  The correct answer is "To reach as many people as possible for Christ."  Other answers help get visionless board members into a theological corner, giving some basis for friendly confrontation.)

   In addition, the pastor of a new church must have a love for  people and the relationship skills to relate to people of every age  and theological outlook.  "Genuine love is transparent."  The authenticity of the pastor rubs off on others, and is expressed in caring gestures including "back-patting," thank-you notes, and cards.  Encouragement sometimes means saying "no"; a caring pastor is not a co-dependent one.  The pastor must not take on the burdens of others to the point of feeling personally responsible.  (The book Co-dependent No More is recommended.)

   Biblical teaching and preaching must be the focus and love of  the pastor.  He must believe that the preaching moment is the most important time of the week and that it makes an impact on its hearers. 

   The pastor must have the ability to work with others -- staff and lay leadership -- keeping the church leadership focused on the larger picture, and helping to develop their abilities in ministry.  The pastor realizes that his mission will probably not  be accomplished in the way it "has always been done" before.  But he has the discipline, maturity, and common sense to know his limitations, and he delegates the work to others more competent than he.  If he is not good at administration, he finds someone who is.  If not at pastoral care, he finds someone who is.  The pastor does what he does well (which is not necessarily what he best enjoys doing).

 

Equipping the Laity with a Theology of Evangelism

   “Evangelism” has negative connotations for about 85% of the people.  It is thought to be manipulative, based on numbers only, rather than on true conviction.  Evangelism thus is relegated to a committee and is often done as a "revival with an evangelist."  But evangelism is not revivalism or recruitment to save the church!  Evangelism should be counted in seeds sown rather than souls saved.

  Morris' definition of evangelism is "sharing the gospel in word and deed and waiting in respectful humility and expectant hope."  One shares faith by answering the question aloud to others, "What has Christ done in my life?"  People need to learn to articulate what Christ has done for them personally.  Such training might begin with Acts 3 & 4.

   Peter and John did not ask the lame man, "Are you a member of a church?" or "Are you saved?"  Rather, the apostles did a "deed of shalom" by healing, which brought peace, wholeness, and reconciliation.  The man at the gate was restored to physical, emotional and spiritual health, and the people around were astonished.  "When was the last time your church did something astonishing?"  The people must be taught to love, to listen, and to heal.

   When Peter saw the astonishment of the people, he then preached.  The deed came before the word in this instance.  When the word comes before the deed, people are offended.  This is why door-to-door witnessing is so feared and offensive.  The model to be used is deed then word.  If a good deed is done, then people will ask about it.  Then one must tell the good news of what Christ has done in his / her life.  But do people have anything to say about Christ?  Usually not; therefore, teaching (and story-telling) may be the most important task to be done today.

  Expect trouble!  Peter and John were jailed.  The risk today is rejection.  People may associate the witness with manipulative evangelism.  Nevertheless, the results were tremendous - 5,000  people believed.  But such results were up to God, for Peter and John were no longer with the people, but in jail.  Results are not the pastor's area of responsibility, but God's.

 

Programming

   The strengths of the congregation need to be assessed against the needs of the community.  If the church focuses on weekday ministries, like day care, mothers' day out or a children’s clothing ministry, people will come to church on Sunday.

  A neighborhood survey might be done.  It must be publicized first through the local paper, official nametags should be used for surveyors, then Sunday nights and week nights used for the survey.

 The questions asked might be, "What could the church do to improve the neighborhood?"  Expect a 1% response at first (1 out of 100 surveyed to visit church).  But, as programming gets going, more can be drawn in.

 

Music, Worship and Response

   The worship time is the most important of the week.  Worship must be genuine, "marginally spontaneous," warm, dynamic, "like home," performed with integrity.  The impression that the worship team has "spiritually arrived" is to be avoided.

   Music and worship should aim to transform: people need to have a supernatural experience.  Use whatever will help people get in touch -- healing services, oil, special music, participation, altar calls, invitations.  People need to have the opportunity to respond.

   Invitations might begin with, "We believe in giving the opportunity to respond to the grace of God.  You may respond where you are or you may feel free to come forward where one of our deacons will pray with  you. . . . "


The Changing Roles of Pastor and Laity in the New Church Setting

   Pastors of new congregations are the mother and father figures.  They must be willing to promote themselves more than they may feel comfortable with, for the pastor of the new congregation is really the focal point.  The pastor's name is synonymous with the church and should be connected to the name of the church at every opportunity (signs, etc.).  The pastor must be the authority -- strong in leading and directing laity, yet make the effort to gain the trust of those who are involved.

   Later, when the congregation is established, pastors go through a "weaning process."  Because the price to be paid for growth is the increasing complexity of the organization, the pastor often becomes frustrated because he/she feels "out of control."  The relief comes when the pastor can honestly admit, "I can't be responsible for everything that does or doesn't get done."  All responsibilities outside of "equipping the saints" need to be delegated to the right people.  It is better to have no staff that the wrong staff.  Never settle for whoever is available but for who is gifted and willing.

   There must be regular meetings with volunteer or professional staff.  The pastor needs to take a "hands off" approach once tasks have been delegated.  There also needs to be times for envisioning and dreaming.  A planning retreat is to be held bi-monthly.  The laity must be brought in on any plans made by committee then given the opportunity for part ownership.  Committees, especially administrative boards and finance committees, need to be rotated frequently.

SOURCE: "Growing a Church" Seminar, October 4 & 5, 1994 at Christ Church in Mobile.  Speakers included Lyle Schaller and Jeff Spiller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

©2007 Jackson H. Snyder II.  (jackson @ jacksonsnyder.com)  This information may be reprinted in whole or part if author and copyright information is left intact.

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