Meetings, committees, budgets. Is your church drowning in the details and losing sight of its mission to reach the unchurched?
More than 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention within the Church. And although 4,000 new churches open each year nationwide, more than 7,000 close. The details, meetings, and time it takes to run a church can often turn the Great Commission into the drained commission as pastors, staff, and members physically, mentally, and spiritually burn out.
Sound familiar? Here we give you 11 proven ways to take the lead and wake up your church!
1. Read the Bible and Fast Company.
That’s right. Read Scripture and secular magazines, books, and Web sites. Not at the same time, for the same length of time, or with the same trust of the authors. But make sure your reading is varied and diverse.
Have you ever met a pastor who’s the real-life version of the phrase “so heavenly minded that you’re of no earthly good?” He or she can quote boatloads of Scripture but can’t carry on a conversation with a gas station attendant or a waitress. These pastors spend 100% of their time with Christians, engaging in church conversation, studying the Bible, reading Christian magazines or books by Christian authors, preparing messages, and going to Christian conferences. They have no connection to the real world.
Of course, it’s essential to read the Bible every day. But it’s also important to spend some of your time reading material that can prepare and equip you to reach your community. Check out some secular books or magazines that offer best practices from the business world, and learn what you can do to lead your church more effectively. Moreover, newspapers, movies, and books that are culturally relevant can help you tune in to your community.
By augmenting your spiritual study with secular reading and viewing, you’ll likely discover new ideas and information that can help your church. Topics often explored in-depth in secular publications—innovation, creativity, financial management, and growing an organization—translate well to the church.
And you’ll know firsthand what many in your church and community are reading and watching, helping you relate and connect with the unchurched people around you.
2. Eliminate committees and multiply the ministries.
Ever hear of a church that had so many committees it even had a “committee of committees” to keep all the other committees organized? It exists—no joke. It doesn’t take a church growth expert to know that’s too many committees!
Get rid of committees and create ministry teams, who will meet occasionally to plan, reflect, set goals, and measure performance—but their primary function will be ministry.
This doesn’t have to be as radical as it sounds. Simply changing your terminology can make a difference. The word “team” connotes vision, goals, purpose, unity, equal effort, and accomplishment. The word “committee” is draining; it communicates bureaucracy, policy, power, status, and lots of meetings.
If your church’s culture values people more highly in meetings than in ministry, you need to begin to change your culture. If your church has a team mindset but uses “committee” instead of “team,” you need to change your terminology and re-educate your congregation on the difference.
God calls us to ministry, not meetings.
3. Recruit constantly.
As a ministry leader, one of your primary roles is to recruit continuously to build teams and help people plug into ministry.
Always be on the lookout for new people to fill ministry roles. Plug them into ministry and help them develop relationships that offer mentoring and discipleship. Some ministry roles need committed Christ-followers. Some require skilled technicians. Others need servants who are available and willing to be trained.
This idea of constant recruitment may sound sacrilegious to the purists out there, those who believe that when it comes to asking people to step into ministry, there’s an appropriate path volunteers must take. Many believe that people must wait until they’ve attended a church for at least 12 months and have taken a spiritual gifts test. Or they have to be Christ-followers with baptism certificates.
But the reality is that some people will go through the strategic steps you’ve established. Others will never get connected in relationships and, unless someone asks them to join a ministry team, they may never take steps toward a spiritual journey. It may be only through that volunteer experience that they build the necessary trust with team members to ask the tough faith questions and meet Jesus for the first time. Increasingly, people are “belonging” before they are believing.
You’ll never have enough volunteers, so the recruitment process should be ongoing.
4. Throw parties.
We’re all two-year-olds at heart, aren’t we? We love to be cheered and affirmed. Even though our heart’s desire is to deflect that attention to God, it sure feels good to be appreciated.
However, when we grow up, we tend to overanalyze potential responses to any praise we might offer: “If I praise him too early, he may think the job is done and he doesn’t have to finish.” Or “If I give her too much praise for a small success, what am I going to do for something big?” Or “If I make a big deal about this, won’t it set a precedent that obligates me to do the same thing every time for everyone?”
The key is to not think about it. Just do it. Don’t determine your action based on a predicted response. Don’t worry about precedent or patterns or “what ifs.” Just choose to develop a culture in your life and in your congregation that notices and affirms the smallest successes.