Summary: A speech I presented at Manhattan Christian College during a church growth conference in 2007. I was one of four speakers, Myself, Ben Merold, Wayne Smith, and Richard Crabtree.
In The Trenches: Pastor’s Church Growth Conference
Location: Manhattan Christian College Date: 31 March 2007
Acts 5:14 (NKJ) And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.
Ah, the banner verse of the church-growth movement. I beleive if we want church growth we must begin to think on those terms.
A.The Church is a family and a smaller church has their size as an advantage.
1.I once pastured at a large church in Wichita, KS. I thought “Man, this is what it is all about.” I soon realized that I felt dis-connected with the congregation. So many faces that I had no idea what their names were.
I had a difficult time building relationships with them. I wanted so very badly to know each of them on a personal level but this seemed to be an impossible task.
2.Now, Here I sit, in a smaller church. I now know the names of my congregation and not just because of the size but because of the many benefits that a smaller town has.
3.My first summer in Glen Elder was very educational to say the least. You wouldn’t know it by looking at me but would you believe I can drive a tractor? You bet!! I learned that farmers are always looking for people to help them work their fields and it just so happens that they will even use a preacher that grew up in the city.
4.Spending time with them working with them, and getting to know them outside of the church has been one of the biggest blessings to me as a pastor. And this goes both ways, they too have become closer to me and have seen not just the guy from behind the pulpit. They now know me and we have close relationships with one another.
5.If we believe in the scriptures, which I do pray all of us do, then we must see this as something that God desires us to do. Doesn’t God want each of us to actually know Him and become as close to him as possible? Sure He does!! So shouldn’t we conduct our ministries the same way?
6.Some of us may have been told early in our ministries, “Don’t get too close, Don’t let them in.” Some pastors are afraid to open their lives up to the congregation. Some feel that we need to keep a guard up at all times and not let them see we too are human. Guess what… I feel this is something that Satan himself has placed in our heads.
7.People need to be able to relate to their pastor, not feel dis-connected from their pastor. How many of you have ever walked upon a group of people that were enjoying one another’s company but all of a sudden the entire tone stops dead cold? When they see “pastor” coming, they all of a sudden put on a mask and act as different people. They put on a show or they clam up and say nothing.
8.This has frustrated me in the past. How can I minister to those people? How can I become close to them if they will not show me who they are? I realized that I needed to build relationships with them, build their trust and become their friend in Jesus.
B.Building Those Relationships
1.Those of us in the smaller church have a perfect setting in order to build relationships.
2.In Glen Elder we have our little hang outs. You know what I mean don’t you? We have a gas station that people love to get a cup of coffee and just sit around and fellowship with one another. We even have a service station where on most days you will find some of the farmers enjoying telling stories of the day about what their farms are doing.
3.Going by these hang outs can bless your ministry and bring them in the doors. I stop by these places and allow them not only in my life but they allow me into their life. It’s much like being accepted on a team.
C.Building teams are so very Important
- We as pastors love having small teams in place don’t we? We have Greeting ministry teams, Assimilation teams, Hospitality teams; we even have teams that care for the lawn.
1.I think we too forget these teams easily and assume that they will continue to grow and bless others on their own.
2.Now, don’t get me wrong. We need not micro manage our ministry teams and we need to allow our leaders to lead. And this is where we need to focus.
3.Our focus should be on building leaders. We should meet with our ministry team leaders on a regular basis and encourage them continually.
4.I meet with the ministry team leaders once a quarter. We meet and talk about leadership, we talk about their vision within their teams, we talk about where are they going and how can we inspire others to become more involved. We even do team building activities at our meetings. I think the bottom line that I try to stress with my leaders is really very simple: FELLOWSHIP, FELLOWSHIP, and FELLOWSHIP!