We were not saved alone. Yes, we are saved as individuals. But someone, maybe many others, shared the Gospel with us. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” (Romans 10:17).
Sadly, the experience of most pastors, church staff members, missionaries and other Christian workers is that sometimes we feel like we are trying to do it alone. Sometimes it feels like we are the only one in our corner of God’s vineyard with a desire or passion to make a difference.
We are not the first to feel that way. On Mt. Carmel, Elijah said “I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD...,” (1 Kings 18:22). The psalmist felt alone in the midst of trials and said, “I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top,” (Psalm 102:7). Even Jesus in Gethsemane left behind the twelve and agonized in prayer alone. We read in Luke 22:44 “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
We have never really been left alone. In the Gospel of John, Jesus promised the coming of the Comforter (paraklete), referring to the Holy Spirit . The word literally means, “called to alongside for help.” You are not alone. It is important to remember that. It is important to remind others of that same truth. We are not alone.
We were not saved to serve the Lord alone. The New Testament is full of “one another” and “together” instructions. For instance, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, (Philippians 1:27).
As Biblical, Balanced Baptists, we are not alone. The Baptist Church Ministry Network (BCMN) exists to keep us connected. In the BCMN, you will find others who share your love for the preaching and teaching of God’s Word; who are committed to taking the Gospel to every person without regard to age, race, or socioeconomic status, both in their “Jerusalem” and to the “uttermost;” and who are unashamedly Baptist.
Although you might sometimes feel like you are fighting the “good fight of faith” alone, we want to introduce you to some pastors, church staff members, missionaries and evangelists who are co-laborers in the harvest through the Baptist Church Ministry Network. We are growing, adding new members on a regular basis. Make plans to attend a regional meeting as they come near you. Join us for the big October meeting in Canton, Ohio. Check the Events page here for information on upcoming meetings.
You were never intended to do ministry alone. Come together with us. We look forward to seeing you and encouraging one another.
Many churches have already felt the financial impact of COVID-19 on their offerings. As a Pastor, the financial well being of your church can be a tremendous weight when the economy is booming and especially in the midst of economic hardship.
The link below is a letter written from the President of The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention to Senate and Congressional leaders in reference to charitable deductions.
Mike Frazier and Dennis Jennings hosted a live interactive media forum to discuss, “How to do Ministry in the midst of COVID-19.” From Friday, March 20, 2020
Many topics were discussed regarding how to continue to do ministry during these unprecedented times. The video below is the recorded version of the discussion forum.
The resources mentioned in the forum can be found here.
I want to thank the pastors who responded to the Coronavirus survey. I know you are busy, but your responses will be a help to pastors who are making decisions about what to do next.
Thirteen pastors responded to the survey. This is not a large survey, but some of the comments may be helpful to you.
If yes, what percentage attended?
The responses showed a low of 50% attendance with a high of 90% attendance. The average of all responses was 77% attendance.
If yes, will you allow more than the limit of assembling by your state?
Three of the churches would allow more to come utilizing several rooms and broadcasting the service to those rooms or schedule several identical services during the day.
Three of the churches would allow as many as wanted to come to their regularly scheduled services in the auditorium.
If yes, what is your plan?
If yes, what cautionary guidelines, if any, would you suggest to churches who are encouraging people to give during this National Emergency?
Ted House reported they lost the facility their baby church was meeting in in Springboro, Ohio.
(I know of a church meeting in a school in the Dayton, Ohio that was told they could no longer meet in the school)
What are your concerns about canceling services at your church?
What assistance do you anticipate you may need to provide for the people who attend your church?
What advice, cautions, encouragement, or counsel do you have for other churches?
What information from other churches would be helpful to you?
Recently on a Sunday I shared this thought, “The church doesn’t exist to collect money, but if the church doesn’t collect money it will cease to exist.” As the pastor of a church that seemingly has multiple projects going on all at the same time, sometimes I feel like I’m constantly raising money for something. Occasionally I say to myself, “If every member in this church would just tithe!” By the way, why don’t all Christians tithe?
Well, over the years I’ve found that there are at least four reasons why:
1) Some Christians don’t tithe because they simply haven’t been taught to tithe.
Many pastors don’t talk about tithing, because they’re afraid it might upset some of their members. Consequently, some Christians have never even heard of the word “tithe,” much less practiced it. As Randy Alcorn points out in his book “Money, Possessions, and Eternity” Jesus talked more about money than any other subject. That tells me that we as pastors shouldn’t shy away from the subject. As a matter of fact, we do our members an injustice when we don’t biblically teach them the importance of giving.
2) Some Christians don’t tithe because they believe it’s an Old Testament concept.
There are some Christians who consider tithing to be legalistic, and they cringe when the pastor gets up and talks about it. They’ll point to the fact that we as New Testament believers are under grace and no longer under the law. And I would say “Amen” to that! But we must not forget that we can label an Old Testament practice outdated only if the New Testament gives us permission to do so. But nowhere in the New Testament do we read that tithing is now obsolete. The word “tithe” only appears twice in the New Testament – Matthew 23:23 and Hebrews 7. In neither passage is it denounced or rendered obsolete. As a matter of fact, the reason why it’s only mentioned twice is because 1st century Christians were giving far more than 10% to their local church.
3) Some Christians don’t tithe because they’ve convinced themselves that they can’t afford to tithe.
Most Christians are so in debt that they can’t imagine giving a tithe to their local church. Instead on a weekly basis they’re borrowing God’s tithe in order to make ends meet. I have learned over the years that people have money for what they want. The matter of tithing has never been a financial issue, but rather it’s always been a heart issue. As Jesus says in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
4) Some Christians don’t tithe because they simply refuse to do so.
With this Christian, it’s not an issue of ignorance, but rather an issue of willful disobedience.
My guess is that as pastors we have all of these mindsets in our churches…and probably always will. After 29 years of pastoring I’ve come to the realization that it’s not my job to change people. That’s what God specializes in! My job is to faithfully teach the truth of God’s Word and to pray that the Holy Spirit will change hearts and lives. In my next blog I’ll talk about how we can get more of our church members to tithe.
We made the case in our last post that in order to keep people from “falling through the cracks,” it makes sense for us to equip others - Sunday School teachers, group leaders - people who are willing to help us expand the number of people to whom we effectively minister. We must equip these leaders with the knowledge that ministry looks different for different people - a visitor, a faithful person with needs, an absentee, a prospect, etc. We identified four groups of people each class will minister to in different ways: members; visitors; prospects; and those who have become unresponsive.
In the last post we dealt with the Class Enrollment. This is the ministry list of class members. Every class member has someone who is personally responsible to know them- to find out if they are saved and “provoke them to love and good works.”They are contacted when they are absent. They are prayed for regularly. Someone cares for them and is there for them in their hurts (sickness, death of a loved one, etc.
The next group we want to minister to are our guests. Each class has a Visitors List- This is a discernment list to make sure that new people do not fall through the cracks. They are visited during the same week they attend for the first time with a goal of enrolling them in a class, if possible, using the church’s criteria for adding people to the rolls. An effort should be made to win them to Christ if they are not already a believer. If they already go to another Bible preaching church, or live out of town, etc, they should be removed from the church database and not added to any other ministry list.
The Prospect List is a next step list. These have not yet agreed to be enrolled. These come primarily from the visitors list, although special “prospecting” can be done via events, mailings or door to door efforts. The goal of this list is to stay in touch and make a solid connection. They are still friendly to our church (leaning towards us instead of away from us). This group requires continual “next steps” and follow through. Contacts (visits, texts, mail) for special events or activities will continue to foster the connection. The goal of this list is to enroll them at some point, if possible.
The Mail Only List serves mainly as a way to maintain contact with those class members or prospects (who have not made a connection to another church) and become unresponsive. Contact is maintained by mail (assuming there are regular mailings from the church) and by phone calls a couple of times a year (like Christmas & Easter) just to let them know the church still cares. “I am calling from the church just to see how you are doing. We’d love to have you back again sometime. Is there anything we can pray with you about?” The goal is to keep the bridge intact for them to return to the church family.
Why is this such a big deal? It is much easier to recruit, equip and train effective ministry partners in our classes and small groups if they understand to whom they are ministering and the purpose of their interactions.
The goal is to equip every class member to be involved in reaching and ministering to others. Every guest and every prospect needs someone who is building bridges to them, who knows their spiritual condition and loves them, connected to a class who will minister to their needs. Those who become unresponsive need to have a life-line of love extended to them so that when their circumstances change, they know they can come to the church and people who have demonstrated a caring spirit towards them. These efforts will help “fill in the cracks” and be more effective in ministering to those entrusted to us by the Lord.
For many years now we’ve had an annual theme at our church and it has worked well. You might ask, “Why have an annual church theme?” Well, to begin with, it gives your church a sense of overall direction and purpose. It also provides your church with a common goal to rally behind and to accomplish. It lets your church know that this upcoming year is not just going to be another “business-as-usual” year. By having a theme we’re communicating the idea that we want to see God do something special in our church.
After much thought and prayer, as a Leadership Staff we chose the theme “Come Grow with Us.” On that first Sunday as our members came through the doors of our building, they couldn’t help but see our theme for 2020. We promoted the theme by placing signage all throughout our complex, utilizing the front of our bulletin, promoting it on our website, and highlighting it in our quarterly newsletter.
I started the year by preaching a five-week series of messages on the subject of growth. In each message I’ve made sure that there was a practical way in which our people could respond.
• For spiritual growth I encouraged them to participate in a Bible reading program.
• For numerical growth I encouraged them to commit to giving one hour a month to our GROW Outreach Ministry.
• For supernatural growth I told them that we need to pray and to ask God to do what only He can do in the life of our church.
• For relational growth I emphasized the importance of them regularly attending a Sunday School class where they can build relationships with other members.
• For financial growth I challenged them to tithe and to give sacrificially to the work of their local church.
By making sure that there was a personal and practical application in each message, the people realize that our 2020 theme is more than just a sign up on the wall. They now understand that when I talk about church growth, I’m talking about how we all need to grow in different areas of our Christian lives.
In order for an annual church theme to be successful three things have to happen.
• First, as pastors we have to continually promote the theme all throughout the year – not just in January and then never mention it again. Everything rises and falls on leadership!
• Secondly, the people need to clearly understand not only the theme, but how they can be a part of accomplishing that theme. In other words, they have to own it.
• Thirdly and most importantly, it takes God to make the theme become a reality in your church. Here’s the bottom line, without God nothing of spiritual significance happens in our churches.
So, yes, I think having an annual church theme is important, and yes, I would be more than willing to share with you the themes and ideas we have developed here at our church over the years.
You can download a list of themes we have used over the years here.
We have probably all heard someone say, either in jest or frustration, “Ministry would be great if it wasn’t for people.” But we who have God’s call on our lives know that people are what ministry is all about! It doesn’t take long to realize that at some point there is more people ministry that needs to be done than any one of us can personally do. We have to have others who will come alongside us to help us accomplish in the lives of people what God wants us to do. If we don’t, our capacity to do people ministry becomes the bottleneck or even the cap on what we will ever accomplish. When that happens, we begin to allow people to unintentionally fall through the cracks.
In order to make effective ministry more manageable, and to ensure no one falls through the cracks, it makes sense for us to equip others to help with people ministry - Sunday School teachers, group leaders - people who are willing to help us expand the number of people to whom we effectively minister. It is important that we equip these leaders with the knowledge that ministry looks different for different people - a visitor, a faithful person with needs, an absentee, a prospect, etc.
We have found that putting people into groups or subgroups within classes helps us based on the type of ministry that is necessary and helps leaders know what their purpose is when they minister to different people. Therefore, they are more effective in their ministry. We have identified four groups of people each class will minister to in different ways: members, visitors, prospects, and those who have become non-responsive. In this post, we will deal with the first. The last three we will address in a later article.
Enrolled - This is a ministry list for class members. These are the people who are enrolled as class members.
Daniel Edmonds really captured the heart of this type of ministry when he wrote: “Enrollment does not represent an individual’s commitment to the class, but the commitment of the class to the individual. Enrollment is not about the person attending the class, but about the class attending to the needs of the individual. Enrollment becomes the way a class extends its ministry and mission field by identifying people to whom it can demonstrate the love of Christ.”
Every class member has someone who is personally responsible to know them - to find out if they are saved, to “provoke them to love and good works” - whether that is the teacher, a care group leader, or fellow class member. They are contacted when they are absent. They are prayed for regularly. Someone cares for them and is there for them in their hurts (sickness, death of a loved one, etc.)
Until each person has someone who cares for them personally, effective ministry cannot consistently happen.
Contact Dennis at email@example.com
In Part 1 of our conversation Pastor Jennings told us that being balanced truly means to filter everything through the Great Commission in ministry. In this part of the conversation, Pastor Jennings gives practical advice to Pastors and ministry leaders on how to lead their churches to be great commission oriented.
What are some things you can do to become more balanced /Great Commission Oriented in ministry?
So many people think about ministry style or standards when they think about the issue of balance in the ministry. Pastor Dennis Jennings says that balance isn't about style. Balance is about aligning our personal ministry and our churches ministry with the Great Commission.
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