Copycat – Implement Proven Strategies from Other Churches

Conventional wisdom says to be a ‘copycat’ is bad, especially when it comes to business, ministry or church affairs. “Spend time identifying

 

copycat your uniqueness” we are told.I don’t know about you, but I wasted a lot of time, energy and money being preoccupied with discovering my uniqueness.

A retired pastor friend of a 1400 member church once told me that every year he and his wife go on a vacation. He allows his wife the privilege of choosing the vacation site. Once she has made the final selection, he would seek out the ‘largest’ Christian church in that area to attend worship. Before you consider him to be so holy, I asked him why he did this. He told me that he was there to ‘OBSERVE.’

“There is a reason why that church is large and is attracting so many people,” he replied.I asked him what he observes. He told me ANY and EVERY thing.

Pastors Can Benefit From Being UNDER Leadership

I was viewing a sermon from Apostle Ron Carpenter earlier this month on our need to be UNDER leadership in order to grasp a hold of our inheritance. Of course he was speaking to his congregation. However, I couldn’t help but ask the question if pastors could benefit from being under leadership too.

Mentoring-wht1

In the Bible, a high official came to Jesus asking Him to heal his servant. Jesus was going to accompany the official but the official said, “I am a man UNDER authority; send your Word.”

3 Reasons to Consider On-Line Giving

giving online

Our church is currently in the process of restructuring our finances and committee roles.  We are adding, revising, and or deleting policies, functions, and systems.  We are also considering some new functionality.

We sat in a meeting on Thursday and literally wiped our brows having narrowly escaped the three foot snow storm that hit New York and Massachusetts.

We, like so many churches simply could not afford to ‘CLOSE’ church. Bills have to be paid and so do employees of which the pastor is one.

This narrow escape forced us to address the subject of online giving AGAIN moving it this time UP on our priority list.  Instead of discussing things-to-death we made a conscious effort to implement this task.  We even decided to enforce a deadline date as we simply could not afford to procrastinate any longer.

Three concepts we had to come to terms with:

1) We are living in a ‘cashless’ society.

To prove this point eight people were around the table and only two of the eight had cash in their possession.  The rest of us said that we had our Debit cards.

Interestingly enough, the average age of our committee was 60. So if 80% of our committee operated mostly using our cards, this only confirms what the majority of people are using – their CARDS.

2) Great number of people bank online.

Again, using our meeting as a sample poll, this percentage dropped by 50% as some people around the table still wrote checks to pay their bills.

I think it is also important to note that the oldest in this meeting was 74 and the youngest was 51. Those under the age of 60 ALL banked online.  Suffice it to say the average adult between ages 27-60 also bank online.

Why is this important to note?  Because we anticipate that when we finally introduce the concept to our congregation, it should be met with minimal resistance to the average person already familiar with the automation.

3) Closed church, closed wallet.

Weather is not the only obstacle, last year we had a mysterious power outage.  It did not only affect the church, but all the surrounding businesses and residential areas.  Everything was shut down. This lasted for four days.

What’s the significance? It’s the temptation to spend that which would have otherwise been earmarked for the offering plate.

To some, especially those not sold on this tithing thing to have to double up the following Sunday is more than they can bear.  It’s something about giving ‘the CHURCH’ that much money. See the humorous story called, ‘The Pastor and the Successful Young Man.’

The Real Benefit

Once you are set up to receive donations, contributions, tithes and offerings online, you will not be in FEAR when there is inclement weather or when there are mysterious power outages that keep you from having church services.

Many churches, from my research, have enjoyed more ‘consistent’ giving among their congregations as many of them have set up their accounts for a particular amount to be taken out at regular intervals of their own choosing.

This automation helps the member stay faithful in his or her giving as well, and of course, it eliminates the anxiety of having to double or triple their tithes on account of church closings.

There are many online giving companies that will assist the church in setting up this feature on their websites.  You can, of course, do your own due diligence, but here are just a few companies I put together that offer this service.

What is your back up plan if you had to close your church unexpectedly? How is the giving at your church?  What would happen if you couldn’t count on two of your largest tithers?

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Sermons: Address Congregational Care Issues

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Sermons: Address Congregational Care Issues

I hopped onto www.churchleaders.com and was intrigued by an article entitled, “How to Preach Like Andy Stanley” written by Michael Lukaszewski.

Of course Mike’s title caused quite a stir.

Actually, it was quite clever. The title alone enticed us to read the article which really addressed why he felt Andy Stanley was one of the top communicators of our time.  Andy Stanley is the senior pastor of North Point Community Church in Georgia and is also son to the well known tel-evangelist, Charles Stanley.

Congregational Care: One of the Keys to Success

I would like to address two of the six reasons Michael highlighted in his blog because I think pastoral and congregational care are extremely important to the success of any church.

Mike wrote in his article that Andy Stanley understands people and tackles the tough topics with grace.

As pastors, it’s extremely important to stay connected with the real issues facing our congregations.

Pastoral and Congregational Care issues may look like this:

  • Depression or anxiety disorders
  • Marital unfaithfulness [infidelity]
  • Divorce
  • Loss of job
  • Debt
  • Alcohol or drug addiction
  • Rebellious children
  • Unwanted pregnancy or abortion
  • Infertility
  • Rape or molestation
  • Illness

At Least 25% Need Pastoral Care

Adam Hamilton, author of Leading Beyond the Walls stated that at any given time he counts on the fact that 25% of people coming to worship are in NEED of pastoral care.

Depending upon how large your church is or your personal work load, it may be simply impossible to devote sufficient time one on one to these individuals.

What Mike was saying in his article about Andy Stanley is that Andy is very much aware that there are people sitting in his congregation who are battling issues everyday and need help.

Andy bravely takes on some of these issues in his sermons or sermon series and does so with grace and not condemnation.  Andy often cites that you may not always agree with him, but regardless, he is committed to sharing God’s truth. A prime examples of this is his video series on “Guardrails.”

Adam Hamilton states from his book that pastors have to address these real issues.  He gives a couple of examples and the first is when he preached a funeral of a man who committed suicide.

Pastor Adam sensing that there was a need, devoted a whole sermon on the topic of suicide.  A number of people told him that the sermon alone convinced them not to take their own lives.

Pastor Adam’s sermon was taped and copies remain in their bookstore weekly for anyone who wishes to pick up a copy for themselves or for a friend who is contemplating suicide.

Added BONUS: It Can be Evangelistic

Another example of meeting congregational care is the area of dealing with relationships and marriage. Pastor Adam devoted an entire sermon series on the “Biblical Perspective of Love, Sex & Marriage.”

This was as a result of a lot of pastoral visits of couples on the brink of divorce.

The goal of the series was to help the congregation understand the Biblical perspective on marriage and relationships between a man and a woman. By the way, everyone that is married at his church gets a DVD of this series.

Although the goal was to help relationships and marriages, members of the congregation invited friends and other family members.  By the time the series concluded, their church took in nearly 200 new families.

Pastoral care sermons are important.  As Adam Hamiliton quotes, “…help us offer real hope and help to those who are broken.”

Do you take time to assess the real needs of the congregation and intentionally study and create sermons to address congregational care issues?  If not, are you motivated now to?

 

 

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Declining Church Membership – Do Something Different

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Prevent the Padlock

My friend and I were sitting in a standing room only church hall filled with preachers and lay people. The bishop of the United Methodist Church Conference began to speak about “The State of the United Methodist Church.”  In particular, he addressed the topic of declining church membership.

He rattled off all sorts of statistics.  It was no surprise to hear that membership was declining.  This is something we had heard about with all churches across the United States.

UMC Statistics

To our surprise the bishop mentioned that we had 650 churches in our particular region and that of these churches . .

  • 40% (260) have less than 50 members.
  • 75 churches had 11-25 members
  • 81 churches had 26 to 35 members
  • 91 churches had 36 to 50
  • 4 churches with less than 10 members

I had read stats from groups like PEW Research Organization and the Barna Group that church memberships across the board regardless of denomination or non-denomination were in decline; however, the UMC statistics were alarming.

Face Realities

The survival of the United Methodist Church or any church for that matter have to face some realities, for if over time a church can no longer pay its pastor, its musician, its utilities or its mortgage, closing is inevitable. And just like those dinosaurs, we could look up and face the fact that our church has become extinct, and there is a padlock on our doors.

The message that the bishop told preachers and laity was to take some risks and to do somethings differently. Our survival depended upon it. If your church is barely making it, struggling to keep members and finances are just not enough to cover expenses, you have NO other choice but to explore OTHER options.

Go Visiting

Visit some churches outside of your comfort zone, even visit some churches outside of your own denomination. Visit some large churches.  While you are there, objectively evaluate how they do church. How long is the preacher preaching and what kind of songs is the choir singing? What are you seeing? What are you hearing? What is the energy like? How do the people seem to you? How do they attract new members? How were you greeted when you entered the church. How do they acknowledge visitors?  I am sure you will be surprise to learn that not everybody does church the same way.

Check out online resources, magazine and websites

The Internet is filled with resources to help us do church better.  There are church and ministry magazines you can subscribe to in order to keep you abreast and get ideas.  The whole premise is to obtain ideas and credible solutions to enhance ministry, encourage community, and move toward your vision.

Here is a list of people I believe that will give you a great start.  Go ahead and click on their names and peruse their sites.:

Rick Warren, Thom S. Rainer, Ed Setzer, Michael Hyatt, Kent Shaffer

Recommended Books Include:

Church Growth

Go BIG: Lead Your Church to Explosive Growth – Bill Easum * Bill Cornelius

Church Growth6

The Creative Leader – Ed Young

Church Growth3

The Purpose Driven Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

..to next level. Where You are Won't Get You There

..to next level. Where You are Won’t Get You There

Recommended Magazines Include:

Leadership

Leadership Journal

Ministry Today

Charisma

Christianity Today

 

There really isn’t any point of re-inventing the wheel when there are resources available at your finger tips.  Applying a few tips can be what will make a difference in turning your services around.  Let’s learn from one another.  We are all on the same team.  It’s about the Kingdom.

Can you  think of any church leader or pastor who would benefit from this post?  If so, please share.

 

 

 

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