My church is exploding! We are one of those crazy churches that plants new campuses because people are driving from far away. Last night, we announced three new church campus plants. (FYI Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach and Greenwood all in SC) One of the things that is often asked of our senior pastor and the leadership team is, “What is your system?” While there is no doubt that a ton of planning goes into every service and every series, there isn’t a “system” for explosive growth in the church. Well, there is one and it is quite simple. Do whatever God tells you to do. That’s it. Do whatever God tells you to do. There is no guarantee that your ministry will suddenly have thousands of people just because you follow that, but I will guarantee you that if you do whatever God tells you to do, you won’t be wrong. When you stand before the Lord having done what He told you to, having shown as many people as possible the way to a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ, it will be a good thing.
Archive for the 'Church Planting' Category
Each week, there are churches who close their doors for the last time. There are pastors who resign never to go back into full time paid ministry. There are those out there who love to dig in and help a failing church revive and become new. It seems in today’s world, most young bible students want to plant a church rather than revitalize one. I am not taking anything away from church planters, it is hard work! There are pros and cons to both. The person who attempts to revitalize a dying church likely has a paid for building, maybe a parsonage, often even some money in an account that isn’t doing much. All that sounds great to the church planter in a rented facility, no money and wondering if they will be able to pay rent next month. The church planter doesn’t have to deal with an entrenched power structure, 100 year old committees, deacons who think they own you and people who claim they actually do own that pew because their family bought it and it has a brass plaque on the end to prove it. So to put that in a nutshell, church planting is more popular than church revitalization because the church planter doesn’t have to mess with church people!
In the book The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, the first line is “It is not about you”. As leaders, this is even more important to remember. It isn’t about us. We must be constantly working ourselves out of a job by forming up leaders who will step into our shoes, take over parts of our ministry, and not only replace us, but go above and beyond what we ever dreamed possible. If we aren’t training up those leaders, what we end up with is the second generation blah blah blah movement. Churches are a great example. Think of a dying church in your area, every community has one. There are 5-15 people attending, it hasn’t grown in years and the congregation is literally dying off of old age. That church didn’t start that way! Someone had a great vision for your community! They got out there and did the hard work! They spread the gospel and reached people for the Lord! The church grew, built a building and loved on lots of people with the love of Jesus…then that leader moved or died. The next generation just did what the leader had done, but not quite as well, and without quite as much enthusiasm. Passion for God was replaced with “That is the way we have always done it.” …and the church began to die. Train up great leaders so that when you are gone, they continue with the passion for the dream God has given you!
When Church planters enter a community, they usually do some research first. They figure out where the people are, where they can meet the needs of the people they intend to reach etc… In established churches, sometimes the community changes while we aren’t paying attention. Maybe we need to take a walk around the neighborhood with some new eyes. Plant a new church within the established church! Rose White (Sorry Rose, I don’t have a link to you on the internet) recently did some incredible research into the idea of the “Christo-centric Walkabout” finding where people would and wouldn’t go in a city and why people might find certain areas or even churches “inaccessible”. Has your church become inaccessible to the people of the community where it is located? Do changes need to be made so that you can meet the people where they are in order to create relationships in which the Gospel of Jesus can be shared? Maybe it is time for a Walkabout…or even just a walk around the neighborhood with your eyes open to how God would have you reach the people there.
As a Christian leader, are you clearly identifying the goals that the Lord has placed on your heart so that those who God has given you to lead can work along side you to acheive those goals? Are people in your church just trying to guess what the purpose of the congregation is? Having been both a lay person and a church staff person in various congregations in my life, I have noticed two leadership traits that can stifle church health and church growth.
1. No clear plan! If the pastor and church staff don’t know what the goals are for the church, then how can the average person in the pew hope to know and be a part of achieving the goal.
2. Goals that change too often. Many pastors and leaders are visionaries, this is a great quality as long as the vision is sustained. The problem comes in when the leader has one great plan after another with no time in the middle for implementation! We see this issue when the church attempts to start too many ministries…the result is that none of them are carried out well.
God has uniquely qualified each person in the body of Christ to carry out a mission for HIM. Pastors and Leaders help others plug into that mission and unite people of similar mission to carry out the goal of being the Hands and Feet of God here on earth. There are many vital ministries in this world, each of them is important. Remember that no one person or even one congregation can do them all! Beg GOD for THE MESSAGE that your church needs to hear and carry out. It won’t be the same as the church down the street…if it is, there is no need for your church to exsist-Just go join them. It will be something that God impresses on you that is specific for the congregation HE has allowed you to lead. Have an awesome day! I hope you found some encouragement and direction in this post.
This morning, I had my usual spot on Monday and Wednesday mornings. In a seat in chapel at North Greenville University. As with any institution that has chapel services, some services are better than others. This morning’s speaker was a guy named Dr. David Garrison. Don’t let the “Dr.” fool you. He was very in touch with his audience and with the message the Lord had laid on his heart. His text for the message was Habakkuk 1:5 “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” The stories of what God is doing in traditionally tough mission fields were incredible! God is doing amazing things around the world in ‘our days’ that seem to defy reason. Missionaries in muslim and hindu nations reporting hundreds of thousands of people accepting Jesus as their Lord and savior! I see God working here in the USA on a regular basis. We however usually don’t face being beaten or killed for our faith when we tell someone about Jesus. These men did face that, and GOD showed that HE isn’t scared! HE can overcome any obstacle! And HE is doing things that utterly amaze us! He is doing them in our day! And they are things that seem almost impossible! Praise the LORD!
While I have read about churches with multiple campuses, this morning, my wife and I had our first experience with going to one. We decided to visit NewSpring Church‘s Greenville, SC campus. It meets in a convention center ballroom near the airport. Not exactly a residential neighborhood, nor is it super easy to find. With printed yahoo maps directions in hand, we ventured the trip. After missing an exit, and then turning the wrong direction on a road, we finally got there to find smiling faces and a very professional church! The music was done with excellence! The campus pastor, Howard Fritz, did a great job with intro and explaining with a mini lesson the importance of the tithe and offering. When the message time came, there were three large screens in the front with the message being projected that Perry Noble of the Anderson Campus was preaching. I had really wondered on my way there if this was going to be like getting together with a bunch of people to watch a sermon on someone’s bigscreen TV. But somehow, it wasn’t. For one thing, Pastor Noble did a great job of being aware of the other campuses. Having been to the Anderson Campus before, I had noticed that they often were giving directions to the other campuses, and it seemed a little odd…but then being on one of those “other” campuses, it suddenly made sense! At the altar call, I am not sure how many people stood to get saved, but it was at least 18! Then in a baptism service immediately following, there were about 80 people who got baptized! Those are the numbers that really mean something! I really don’t know how many were in attendance, but my first experience with an extension campus church was definitely a positive one. And, as a first time visitor in a large church where it would be easy to get lost in the crowd, someone invited my wife and I out to eat lunch with them! We accepted and had a great time over burgers at 5 Guys Burger getting to hang out with some great people! (If you are reading this Jason, Mary or John, thanks for making it a great day!) I learned that getting together with a bunch of people to watch TV can be a life altering experience for many. Keep up the great work NewSpring Greenville!
Every semester’s beginning is sort of like planting a new church. You plan for students to come, but then the first day of classes come and you finally find out who is actually going to show up. You know that they are evaluating you to see if they will come back. You have practiced your lecture/sermon. You are also evaluating them. Is there any talent to work with here? Did the cream of the crop come or the bottom of the barrel? (I seem to have gotten a bit of everything this semester, just like most churches.) A million thoughts are in your head: Did I forget anything? Will I remember to put on my pants? (If you have never had that dream about teaching/preaching in your underwear, then I am not sure you are really a teacher/preacher.)
The great thing is that eventually, that bunch that hardly know each other eventually become friends. It is amazing how that happens! Community springs out of nothing! God is awesome!