Fishing Sermons: 5 Baits to Ensure a Bite

One of the First Aims of Preaching from Rev. Adam Hamilton’s chapter on “Preaching” is called Evangelistic Sermons.

fishing

I’m sure you will agree that there are two times when the unchurched find themselves sitting in our pews: Christmas and Easter.  Hamilton let’s us know that these are the times we  need to go fishing!

Evangelistic Sermons

As we prepare for our highest recruitment days (Christmas and Easter) or “Fishing Expedition” opportunities as Hamilton states, it’s important to be very intentional.  He shares some strategies that have contributed to his success.

7 Sure Ways to Ensure an Incredible Experience This Easter

Easter Experience Someone once said that Easter is the “Superbowl” of Christianity – the biggest event of the year.

Typically, on this day we have no problem attracting people to our churches.  However, the challenge before us is to create such an experience that our visitors increase their visits from one time of year to multiple times a year — to eventually become active members of the Church.

As pastors, we MUST commit to planning earlier for our Easter services.  Treating this day like any other Sunday would be a missed evangelistic opportunity.

Many churches that are seeing increases in membership, plan for these services a year in advance.  This demonstrates that they are being not only evangelistic, but ‘intentional.’

With just a couple of weeks before Easter, I believe we still can put together some new things to have a successful evangelistic Easter Service.

 

Here are 7 things we can do right away to ensure great experience this Easter:

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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10 Ways to Sabotage Your Church Holiday Service Efforts

welcome Unchurched vistors

10 Ways to Sabotage Your Church Holiday Service Efforts

As stated in a previous post, Christmas, Mother’s Day and Easter are excellent opportunities to grow your church. But this won’t just happen. If proper care is not given to this day you can actually end up sabotaging your church holiday efforts.

We must remember that our target audience during this time should be our visitors, more specifically the UNchurched.

We need to design our services around the needs of our UNchurched visitor rather than our regular church attendees. The goal should be to make the service so memorable and impactful that your guests will want to return.

Below is a list of recommended DO’s and DO NOTs so that you won’t blow a great opportunity to grow your church. Let’s first look at some recommendation of what NOT to Do

 

DO NOT

  1. be unprepared and wing these services. It will no doubt yield you poor results.
  2. get someone to read that can’t read well or who reads in a boring monotone voice.
  3. read King James Bible.  It is written in ‘Old English.” Word such as: Thee, thou, beseech, oweth, shouldeth, will serve as stumbling blocks to your targeted ‘UNchurched’ audience.
  4. showcase a ‘newbie’ singer to lead a song on this day or worst yet showcase a singer who really can’t sing. You have 49 other Sundays to choose from.
  5. showcase unfamiliar songs that the majority of people have not heard before.
  6. use a lot of big words and too many spiritual terms. Stay away from words like propitiation, recapitulation, or exegesis, etc. The UNchurched will not be impressed with your extensive spiritual vocabulary.
  7. extend the length of your service by half hour or hour indicating that the Holy Spirit must have Its way.  Many times it is not the Holy Spirit but rather a ‘movement’ of our own agendas.
  8. Use these C.M.E. days to preach ‘deep’ sermons like the end of the world is closer than you think or sermons that provoke fear, guilt and condemnation, or highly debatable controversial sermons that stir up strong feelings.
  9. Talk about the C.M.E. attendee either negatively or positively. These attendees often times want to blend into the crowd. To bring attention to them can be counterproductive to your goal.
  10. Forget to follow up with visitors

DO

  1. Plan your service.
  2. Get your ‘BEST’ readers to read scriptures.  These readers read with passion and keep listeners engaged.
  3. Read scriptures from modern day translation.  The UNchurched will understand and will be able to relate to what is being read.
  4. Pull out your ‘BEST’ singers, leads who are comfortable singing in front of and engaging large crowds.
  5. Sing songs that people are familiar with; catchy songs and songs with a responsive track record meaning every time you sing these songs people get up, clap and sing with you.
  6. Speak in everyday language. The use of stories and modern day events visitors can relate to will also yield positive results.
  7. Stay within a reasonable time frame with your service. Keep in mind your visitors, not your regular members. So 15 minutes over may be acceptable, but not a half hour or hour. It will be a stumbling block to your visitors.
  8. Keep your sermons within the theme of Christmas, Mother’s Day and Easter.  It is always a winner in picking topics that provide, hope, joy and contentment rather than fear, guilt and condemnation.
  9. Let all your visitors know that you were glad they came.  Invite them back and tell them to pick up their special gift after service.
  10. Provide a visitor card so they can write their contact information. Collect cards during offering.  You can use this information to invite them to other services and events.

 

We must keep in mind that if we really want to yield positive results in terms of growth, we must keep our visitors and C.M.E. attendees in the forefront of our mind when designing our holiday services.

To review related blog entitled, “Improve Your Church Holiday Services by Planning Ahead.”

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Is Sheep Stealing a Form of Evangelism?

Is Sheep Stealing a Form of Evangelism?

sheep
Is sheep stealing a form of evangelism? I guess it could  be in one sense, but who, worth their salt would recommend stealing.  I mean one of the 10 Commandments is “Thou Shalt Not Steal.”

Many pastors would defend their position in that they are are not saying, “Leave your church and come to mine” no matter how desperate times are.

One of the main concerns of many pastors and church conferences is the ever declining membership and ‘empty pews.’

Church conferences have instructed many of their churches to put evangelistic strategies in place to draw in more members.  How to do this effectively is what, I believe, has been the greatest challenge.

From a member’s point of view when you say ‘evangelism,’ you think about the ‘hard’ sale, the knocking on an unsuspecting neighbor’s door – DREAD!

It is so much easier to talk to your saved friends and family sharing with them the great things that are happening at your churches and before you know it, they have defected. Oops!

What is sheep stealing?

The most simplest definition of Sheep stealing’ is when a church actively recruits people from other churches.

I’m not sure who really coined this term, ‘sheep stealing’ but can say I am not a fan of it as it suggests that pastors are intently and deliberately going after other pastor’s flock.

When we think about Jesus’ Great Commission, “Go out and make disciples…” I am sure Jesus was not suggesting go out and get those already disciples, but rather in today’s terms make disciples of the “UN-churched ” – those unsaved and or those saved without a church home.

If we do not put together an intentional evangelist plan that will yield us the unsaved or saved without a church home, we will inadvertently find that the additional members sitting in our churches did defect from other churches and will be accused of stealing other pastor’s flocks.

Are the majority of pastors in the business of sheep stealing?

I don’t believe this is the case at all. The mantra that most pastors have come to embrace is, “whosoever will let him come.”  I believe most pastors would prefer the UN-churched and those without a church home, but in the days of declining membership all are welcome regardless of church affiliation.

Why do sheep visit other pastures?

It could be any number of reasons, but I took time to share 5 top reasons people have shared with me on why they visit other churches:

  1. They want exposures to something different – heard about ‘greener’ pastures.
  2. They are bored with their church
  3. They struggle keeping family members interested in church
  4. They were invited to some program/event church was sponsoring.
  5. They were feeling spiritually deficient

Who are those susceptible to having their sheep stolen?

As I evaluate churches, read and listen to testimonials, I think churches most susceptible to having their sheep stolen are churches who insist on keeping their programming the same.

This is the way we have always done it. The music, the order of worship, annual programs all the same. Even the look in and outside of the church is the same.

Everything is predictable and there is nothing new to look forward to.

What can be done to safeguard your sheep?

  • You and your team do an assessment of your Sunday morning and evening church services, your annual services, etc.
  • Solicit anonymous feedback and suggestions from your congregation from the youngest to the oldest.
  • Invite feedback from your visitors about their experience at your church
  • Implement something new that had been suggested and publicize that you had done this.
  • Put together an intentional evangelism plan that targets the community, the UN-churched, and the saved folks without a home.

Other than to chain your members to the pews, can you suggest additional ideas on how to safeguard your sheep?