RE 112c CHURCH INVOLVEMENT IN TOTAL MINISTRY
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Church involvement in total ministry is a study of church staff duties in their leadership of the church’s membership, conducting of worship, evangelistic outreach, teaching ministry, stewardship and church promotion.
COURSE PURPOSE: The study purposes to better equip pastors and potential pastors for understanding and doing the specific activities required of those in pastoral leadership. While the study within itself is not an in-depth treatment of each aspect of ministry, it attempts to present a summary of much which is required to function in a pastoral leadership position.
ASSIGNMENTS: Read the material on the disk and prepare a notebook including:
1. Outline of 600 pages outside reading; Books selected must be related to the subject.
2. Gather statistics from your local association detailing:
a. Per capita gifts for local church work
b. Per capita gifts for denominational work
c. Percent of total church income allocated for pastor remuneration
3. Prepare a questionnaire for prospective Sunday school teachers
4. Discuss a church calendar explaining its importance and how it might be set up.
5. Prepare a Sunday School lesson on stewardship
6. Select a church budget:
Explain how you would lead a church to establish a church budget
Explain how you would establish amounts for cooperative work.
Discuss the weakness and strengths of the budget you are studying
7. Secure a copy of a church bulletin; suggest positive change to its format.
8. Write a news report for a local paper
9. Prepare a newspaper advertisement of a revival meeting
10. Write a religious article suitable for your local paper.
11. Write a religious tract
12. Describe your church program and offer suggestions for strengthening its ministry.
13. Develop a program outline for an ordination service
14. Write an original wedding ceremony.
15. Select a topic in each chapter; prepare a one to two page paper in which you develop
the topic in greater depth.
16. Prepare for a final test. The test will be mostly objective and will be designed to
measure your comprehension of the concepts presented in the material.
GRADES: Grade will be 66% based upon the final test and 34% on the work in your notebook.
This revision of Dr. Kellar’s book is a work in progress. As you study the material, please devote space in your note book for listing any typographical errors, suggestions for additional material or any other changes you feel would enhance the book. (Please list your suggestions in the order of occurrence citing page number and approximate position on the page. Your comments will not affect your grade).
To Dr. G. D. Kellar who authored the original manuscript. Many of his words and ideas were preserved in this edition. As with Dr. Kellar, the work is dedicated to the ministerial students who have come to the Baptist Missionary Theological Seminary with a desire to become more proficient in their ministry among the churches. Some of the ideas expressed in this book were contributed in class discussions and reports in pastoral ministry and church administration classes.
As with Dr. Kellar’s original work, the revision is presented with a prayer that it will help give guidance as pastors labor among church and through their labors God will be glorified.
(Slight revision when necessary)
This book is sent forth with a prayer that it might find a place of usefulness in the hearts and minds of God's ministers and other church leaders as they give spiritual direction to the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. In some way may it be used to strengthen the Lord’s churches and to impress them with the urgency of the Master's business in the world today.
Many sources have been used in gathering and organizing materials for this work. Dr. Gerald D. Kellar expressed indebted to professors under whom he had been privileged to study, both in colleges and theological seminaries, and to the wide range of books which he had read. Due credit was given to those contributors, both by direct quotations and general bibliography.
Further acknowledgments are made to the untiring efforts of Mrs. John W. Gregson,
for her splendid work in typing the manuscript, to Dr. John W. Gregson, for serving as business manager in consummating the contract with the publisher and to Mrs. Gerald D. Kellar. instructor in Jacksonville College, for her invaluable service as literary critic for the materials.
The book was designed primarily as a text for the Baptist Missionary Theological Seminary in the field of church administration and church ministry.
It was the prayer of the author that the work would have God’s smile of approval and that it would find a place in the reading habit of both ministers and laity.
In His Service
Gerald D. Kellar
(As in the original)
Dr. Kellar's labors have been blessed of the Lord; and his richly varied ministry has included authorship of several important volumes, along with significant assignments in preaching. teaching, and school administration. Now, as a colleague of many year’s standing, I take the happy privilege of introducing his book, The Church Attending God’s Business. It is a product of a logical mind, a warm heart, and a life that as a living sacrifice has been placed upon God's altar. The author is well qualified for his work by years of experience as pastor, teacher, college and seminary president. and as a close personal friend of preachers, deacons, and other church members.
These chapters contain a wealth of material which will afford inspiration, instruction, and guidance to many who love the church and who yearn for the Savior's ideal to be realized-that His Bride should be a "gloriosus Church, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Eph. 5:27).
I commend this book to God's people everywhere and pray that its influence for good may last until Jesus comes.
W. J. Dorman Dean of North American Theological Seminary Jacksonville. Texas
SECTION I: PRACTICAL CHURCH MATTERS
CHAPTER 1 CHRIST’S ORGANIZED BODY ON EARTH
CHAPTER 2 CHURCH ADMINISTRATION
CHAPTER 3 CHURCH LEADERSHIP
CHAPTER 4 CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
CHAPTER 5 CARING FOR MEMBERS OF A CHURCH
SECTION II: WORSHIP
CHAPTER 6 A GENERAL VIEW OF CHRISTIAN WORSHIP
CHAPTER 7 A PUBLIC WORSHIP SERVICE
CHAPTER 8 SINGING GODLY PRAISE IN A WORSHIP SERVICE
SECTION III: EVANGELISM
CHAPTER 9 A GENERAL VIEW OF EVANGELISM
CHAPTER 10 PASTORAL EVANGELISM
CHAPTER 11 CHURCH EVANGELISM
SECTION IV: EDUCATION MINISTRY
CHAPTER 12 NEW TESTAMENT EMPHASIS OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
CHAPTER 13 SURVEYING THE FIELD
CHAPTER 14 MAKING THE SUNDAY SCHOOL FUNCTION EFFECTIVELY
CHAPTER 15 PROMOTING DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING
CHAPTER 16 PROBLEM OF A STATIC CHRISTIAN EDUCATION MINISTRY
CHAPTER 17 SPECIALIZED MINISTRIES--MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN
SECTION V: STEWARDSHIP MINISTRY
CHAPTER 18 GENERAL CONSIDERATION ON STEWARDSHIP
CHAPTER 19 A GENERAL VIEW OF CHURCH FINANCE
CHAPTER 20 ADMINISTERING CHURCH FINANCE--THE BUDGET
SECTION VI: CONCLUDING CHAPTERS
CHAPTER 21 THE RURAL CHURCH IN THE WORLD OF TODAY
CHAPTER 22 THE CHURCH REACHING HER COMMUNITY
CHAPTER 23 CHURCH PROMOTION
PRACTICAL CHURCH MATTERS
CHAPTER 1 CHRIST’S ORGANIZED BODY ON EARTH
CHAPTER 2 CHURCH ADMINISTRATION
CHAPTER 3 CHURCH LEADERSHIP
CHAPTER 4 CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
CHAPTER 5 CARING FOR MEMBERS OF A CHURCH
CHRIST'S ORGANIZED BODY ON EARTH
The church as an institution fills a place in God’s program for the world that no other can fill. The influence of churches has been and is being felt throughout the world. Naturally a study of this nature should begin with certain basic considerations concerning local churches.. Dean O. L. Shelton aptly sets forth church ministry by pointing out that it is the greatest institution in the world. It is the body of Christ, active and visible in the world, seeking to do His will, doing His work, revealing His heart of compassion, expressing His love and concern, preaching His gospel, building His kingdom in the hearts of men, and radiating His spirit in all human relationship.”
Origin of the Church
The origin of has concerned the minds of students of church history through the centuries. The church as an institution was born in the New Testament. While God had a people from the beginning of time, there is no logical place or time for the origin of the church prior to the advent of Christ. It is incorrect to think of Old Testament saints as being a part of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
A common view is that the church was begun on the Day of Pentecost. Such a theory would remove Jesus as founder, for at that time He had already ascended to the Father. Since the Lord is the founder and builder of His Church, it had to have been called into existence during His earthly ministry. While the Spirit fell upon the church on the Day of Pentecost, the event did not mark the beginning of the church’s existence.
The traditional Baptist position is that the church was established during the personal ministry of Christ and that the church came into being when Christ called the first disciples to follow Him. Their fellowship fits most definitions of a church. They believed in Christ and committed themselves to following Him, and they declared their faith in Him both by word and public baptism. As such they would have constituted a church in its simplest stage even though it would have been an itinerant church. The fact remains that the small group of disciples constituted a small assembly "called out” by the Lord and had the following essential characteristics of a church:
(1) The Word of God was being preached and taught
(2) Ordinances of baptism was being practiced and the Lord's Supper was initiated
(3) Church leaders were being trained to fill leadership offices
(4) The group was under the leadership of the Lord
(5) There were instruction and authority for church discipline (Matthew 18:15-20;
The Book of Acts opens with one hundred and twenty disciples assembled together functioning fully as a church (Acts 1:12-26). Ten days prior to Pentecost the group of believers were conducting business and experiencing fellowship in harmony with the teaching which Jesus gave during His earthly ministry (Matthew 18:15-17). The logical conclusion is that Christ birthed His church during His personal ministry in harmony with His statement: "I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). To say that the church was brought into being by any other than the Son of God, is to rob Him of His just honor and reduce the church to the status of a man-made institution.
Importance of the Church
The church’s importance becomes evident when the following points are considered:
(1) The church belongs to Christ, Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25-27.
His ownership makes the church an important institution. His ownership elevates the church to a position of everlasting dignity. The church is one in love, hope, and destiny with her heavenly owner and no mortal should ever dare to claim ownership. The church exclusively belongs to Christ and Him alone. No one has the right to say "My church" unless he means it in the sense of the church to which I belong.
(2) The church is to be engaged in the world’s greatest business.
Matthew 28:18-20 defines the work of the church, and no one has to guess what that work is. It is the work of evangelizing, baptizing, and catechizing. Such work imposes a tremendous responsibility upon a local congregation and those who lead in the ministry. Every minister and every Christian worker should stand in awe as they think of the greatness and urgency of that responsibility. Other organizations can fail in their mission, the church must not fail in her task.
(3) The church’s ministry is needed by the world.
Jesus assigned all the world as the target for ministry for His church. In the light of that assignment, a church cannot afford to think merely in local, sectional, or national terms. A church is to reach out to every nation, every territory, every island, every community. every tribe, every family, and every individual.
(4) The church is to exerts a redemptive influence in the world.
The glory of Jesus Christ is invested in His church. It is through the preaching of the gospel that people are brought to a realization and forgiveness of their sins. The salvation of the lost depends upon the zeal and fidelity of churches in declaring the life transforming message of Christ. This is God's ordained means of bringing individuals to faith in Christ the Savior.
Nature of the Church.
The concept of a church was conceived and executed in the mind of God. This institution, as has already been shown, was established by the Son of God during his personal ministry. It is in- dwelled by the Holy Spirit, the third person of the God-head. There is an ever-present awareness by those who work in churches of their dual nature. People who make up churches are called to related to the those in the world; they are also called to walk in fellowship with the Lord who resides in heaven. Churches are over-shadowed by the majesty of God and are made holy by the presence and power of the Spirit of God.
A church is a local and visible institution and it is incorrect to speak of the church as being invisible and composed of all believers. Acts 2:41 gave the divine formula for church membership. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls." That passage spoke of a local visible congregation to which certain ones were added. The term "church” or its equivalent occurred 114 times in the New Testament, and in all except five places, it was used specifically of a local body. The New Testament identified churches by location with such designations as "the Church at Antioch" or "the Church at Philadelphia" etc. A study of those Scriptures shows that each New Testament church was free to do as led of the Holy Spirit, or as directed by one of the Apostles.
The church as an institution is permanent. From the day the first church was established, churches have continued to exist. Christ promised that the “gates of hell” would not prevail against His church. He promised, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Churches have done business in all ages and will still be in business when the Lord returns.
While there are at least four forms of church organization followed in the world today, it is the conviction of the author that churches should be democratic. The four basic forms of church government are:
(1) The monarchial. Under this system the ultimate authority resides in the hands of one man. Roman Catholics follow this theory of government, and, according to their tradition, the one man in control is the Pope of Rome. In matters pertaining to that church, the Pope is the highest church authority on earth in the mind of Catholics.
(2) The episcopal. According to this plan the authority of a church is given to a college or body of bishops. The Episcopalians are governed by this system. They argue that such a system is a representative type of democracy. While the congregation has no direct say in its affairs, it goes directly through the regularly elected or appointed body of bishops.
(3) The presbyterian. The Presbyterians find this to be the ideal type of church government. In this system, a local church is governed by a committee of elders with higher courts of appeal. Again, it is argued that this is another form of representative democracy.
(4) Congregational or democratic. According to this view a local congregation becomes self-governing, with no human authority outside of the local body to whom the congregation is responsible in matters of its internal affairs. It is government by the membership, recognizing every member on an equal basis.
Baptists, as a rule, are democratic in church government. The New Testament shows that churches in the New testament independently received new members, excluded members, carried out the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and selected men to take care of the financial affairs (Acts 6). The church in Jerusalem chose someone to take the place of Judas (Acts 1), and the church at Antioch established its own foreign mission program under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
A pastor needs to know the doctrines of the church where he leads and the working principles of the various bodies with which the church cooperates. Churches affiliated with the Baptist Missionary Association of America subscribe to the a Doctrinal statement. A complete copy of that statement may be found in the Baptist News Service Directory and Handbook.
Since a church is Christ’s body upon the earth, in order to carry out the commission Christ has given, a church needs organization. A church will seldom rise beyond the effectiveness of those who lead in its administration and organization. Churches have an important and varied task. It includes evangelizing, baptizing, and catechizing. In meeting the responsibilities of those task, a church must be prepared to minister to people both as individuals and as a group, and present appropriate programs for various age groups, give guidance in the complicated problems of modern society, and meet the heart hunger of mankind for worship, fellowship, and service. A carefully planned organization which embraces all phases of kingdom work will make for a unified, effective, and ongoing church.
Church Administration should never be though of as a secular part of ministry. The work of administration is a spiritual work because it affects the spirituality of the Lord’s people. Its purpose is to equip the Lord’s people and enable them to be and do all that they are capable of becoming and doing in the Lord’s work. In management terms, it may be defined as the management of its business and affairs for the extension of God's kingdom on earth. In effect, it is carrying out the work defined in the Great Commission, including the overall program of the church, at the same time, giving careful consideration to minute details of the program. In brief, church administration is the manner in which the church does business for the Lord.
Essential to Church Administration
Purpose. One of the first challenges of church administration is to determine purpose. Before evaluations can be made, a church must know what she is suppose to be trying to accomplish. Therefore, a church needs to determining her purpose. The first place to look for determining purpose is to study the founder’s intent (Jesus Christ) and the instructions He gave for the direction of His body.
A church should exist to glorify God in all her work, and her work should be determined to some extent by the environment in which God has planted her. A church should seek to glorify God by serving effectively in her community and through participation in God’s work throughout the world. Determining the unique contribution that a particular church should make is essential in determining the purpose of that particular church.
Objectives. After purpose has been determined, a church should evaluate all aspects of the program in the light of her purpose. The pastor and key members should lead in evaluating the entire program of ministry. The evaluation should ascertain what the program is and what it should be. Such a study should be detailed, revealing points of weakness and recommending plans for overcoming them. The study is a prerequisite for successful administration.
Growing out of such an evaluation of the present ministry, a church should determine the ministries she should have and determine appropriate objectives for those ministries. All objectives should be in harmony with the purpose that has been established for that particular church. An objective would be a statement of a ministry level beyond which a church would never go. In other words an objective is an ideal statement of a ministry. One statement might be: “to win the lost within the community.” That would be a great objective and one that a church should have and faithfully do the work necessary to move toward its accomplishment, but in all probability, a church will be working at that task when the Lord returns. Such is the nature of a ministry objective.
Goals. Goals, unlike objectives, are specific and attainable. For them to have real value they must also be measurable. While winning the lost in the community may be an objective, a goal statements could be to:
1. During the next three months, build a prospect list of unreached people
2. During the next three months, train a minimum of ten people for personal witnessing
3. Plan one special evangelistic service each quarter during the coming church year.
By adopting such goals, a church can determine if they are actually moving toward the ministry objectives they have selected.
Program. The church’s program is what a church does day after day and week after week. A program of ministry is composed of the steps taken to reach toward ministry objectives. Establishing such a program requires detail planning. All planning should be done in an attitude of prayer. While planning is hard work and requires research and responsible decision making, there is no substitute for prayer when dealing with spiritual planning..
One of the first steps in determining programs of ministry for a church is to determine what ministry needs to be done to fulfil the church’s purpose. Any activity that the church is doing that does not move toward her purpose probably should be discarded. Each ministry that is determined to be an essential part of a church’s over-all work should have measurable goals. Without measurable goals, it will be impossible to determine if what is being done is successful. If a church aims at nothing it will surely hit it; if its ministry is guided by definite goals, she may not accomplish all of the goals but she will be moving toward a determined target..
Resources. For a church to do her work, she must have and utilize resources. There are two types of resources that are available to a church--finite and infinite. Human resources and fiscal resources are finite; God is an infinite resource. He is owner and master of all and can make whatever resource needed available to carry out His work. The important question when considering a ministry is not ”Can we afford it?” but “Is it God’s will?” If it is God’s will, begin the planning. Consider the finite resources that are available and plan to make the best possible use of those resources, but look beyond the finite and see the infinite power of God for carrying out the ministries He desires accomplished.
Planning must always consider the Divine as well as the human aspects of ministry. While God is master of all resources, He definitely works according to established principles. Therefore, while faith is an essential part of planning, a presumptuous attitude should not be. God wants His people to take what He has given them and use it for His glory. He can and will provide necessary resources when there is a need for expansion, but as He ask Moses “What is that in thy hand?” He wants us to consider what is in our hand and begin using it to His glory.
Implementation. Planning is perhaps the hardest part in establishing an effective ministry, but the work is not done when the plans have been completed--the plans have to be implement. The ministries have to be launched, people have to be put in places of responsibility, resources have to be utilized, and the work toward accomplishing established goals begun. To fail to begin is to fail.
Controls. An essential part of planning a ministry is to establish appropriate controls. Controls should be in place when a ministry is launched. Often it is too late to establish controls after a ministry is up and running. Putting controls in place after a ministry has begun is much more difficult and problematic than establishing controls in the beginning of a particular ministry. Trying to establish controls after a problem arises often compounds the problem.
Controls can be compared to the driving parts of an automobile. There is a steering wheel by which you guide; brakes to enable you to slow down or stop, an accelerator which determines speed, signal lights to inform others when you need to make a turn, a horn to sound an alarm when necessary, and seat belts to hold you in position in the event of an accident. Ministry programs, like an automobile must be guided. You need instruments to provide proper guidance. There may be times when you need to stop the ministry or at least slow it down. Some of the instruments which can help provide controls are the church constitution, policy and procedures, specific guidelines for a particular ministry, a church calendar, etc.
A church calendar is to a church’s ministry as a road map to a traveler. It helps assure order in the ministry program. Without such instruments in place, a ministry can go in directions that were never intended and take up projects which are foreign to the goal of that ministry.
Evaluation. Every ministry needs to have periodic evaluations. There will be things that are good, but there will be some aspects that could be better. Since all ministries are to have measurable goals, an evaluation will help to determine if those goals are being met. If they are not being met, either the goals were inappropriate or the ministry has not been effective as was hoped when the goals were established. Either way, adjustment will need to be made.
Two-fold aspect of church administration
(1) Mechanics of administration. In all organizations there is a necessity for a framework or the machinery of the organization. Scriptures give warrant for such organization. Everything in the Lord's work is to be done in decency and in order. Just as organization is necessary for the success of a business, it is essential to an effective church program. As long as the mechanics of organization do not conflict with divine principles, it is safe and scriptural. Plans for a church organization should be intelligent, comprehensive, and detailed.
A church should never organize just for the sake of being organized. Organization is not designed to serve as an end within itself, but to serve as a means to an end. The purpose of the church is to further the Kingdom of God upon earth; church organization must be kept in line with that high and noble purpose. All organization should be kept as simple as possible. If a task can be done by one person, don’t create an organization that requires two or more to do the job.
(2) Spirit of administration. The mechanics of administration have to do with outward objective standards. Those aspects are essential. The spirit of administration deals with such intangible matters as attitudes, motives, and purpose. Those considerations are vital for a properly directed church program. Organization without a proper spirit is worse than no organization at all. Organization, regardless of how scientific, is powerless in accomplishing spiritual ends if the intangible principles are ignored. A church is challenged to make her organization glow with the spirit of Jesus Christ.
Leadership is one of the keys to the success of a church’s program. A church will not contribute her maximum strength apart from effective leaders. A leader will influence and produce changes in attitudes and behavior of others. He will see needs ahead of others and visualize and plan to meet those needs. The spirit of a leader helps arouses enthusiastic in others.
To be the kind of leader needed in a church a person must possess certain qualities. Above all else, a church leader must have a spiritual life. That means he must have had an experience of grace and have an ongoing walk with the Lord. The task of the church is to bring men to Jesus. To carry out that task, a church must be lead by those who have been with Jesus and learned of Him. Spirituality is a foundational requirement for leading in one of the Lord’s churches.
Spirituality alone will not make a competent church leader. One must possess certain competencies in order to be able to discharge leadership duties. Those competencies are not acquired overnight but come as a result of study and preparation. Church leaders must possess knowledge and display wisdom as they lead a church. Capability comes as a result of preparation and practice.
It is also essential that a church leader be a person of loyalty. A leader’s loyalty must be born of deep love and appreciation toward the persons and institutions served. No person should accept a place of responsibility within a church if he cannot unreservedly manifest a spirit of loyalty toward the entire program and personnel of that church. A church leader should be loyal to the services and activities of the church. He should be faithful in attendance in all general services and especially those particular activities which are directly related to his responsibility.
A church leader should be loyal to the over-all program of the church including the cooperative work in which the church participates. He should stand ready to speak a positive word for the cooperative work. He should be active in his support and should seek to influence others in support of the work. The cooperative work is an essential part of a church's program. It is a church working with other churches in kingdom expansion and ministry.
All who lead within a church should be loyal to others who lead within the church. There should be a spirit of loyalty to the pastor and others fulfilling various responsibilities. Workers should be respected for the work's sake. Those who take part in a church leadership team should reflect a spirit of cooperation and mutual helpfulness.
Types of leadership
(1) Laiss-faire leader. A Laiss-faire leader assumes no initiative. Such a leader allows the group to go unguided and speaks only when his help is requested. Even when giving guidance he tends simply to reflect the position of the followers.
(2) Autocratic leader. An autocratic leader represents an opposite extreme from Laiss-faire. Such a leader places himself in a status above the group, organizes the work in his own mind, and issues detailed directions and commands to the followers.
(3) Democratic leader. A democratic leader functions as a participant of the group. The authority for leadership lies in the merit of his contributions. His influence is based only upon persuasion and example. Instead of dominating and dictating, he inspires and suggests. Notice the following functions of the democratic leader:
a. Stimulates others in the group to be more active in participation.
b. Supplies specific suggestions.
c. Serves in a supervisory or executive capacity.
Ethical standards for an effective leader.
(1) have a spirit of humility
(2) have genuine love for the group
(3) avoid self-advertizement
(4) encourage participation by all members
(5) practice good communication skills
(6) work to develop leadership in others.
Leadership in New Testament Churches
The churches of the New Testament demonstrated the necessity of leadership. There was a definite presence of leaders in the early churches who were chosen according to a divine plan. The plan was not to establish offices and then elect men to fill them but to assign men to do the work that needed doing. There were needs to be met and churches chose men to meet those needs. Leaders in the early churches were identified as Apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teachers (I Corinthians 12:28-29; Ephesians 4:11). Not all who led in those area became officers in local churches.
The Apostles possessed a high degree of authority in the work of the early churches. They were the founders and guides of many of those churches. However, there is no evidence that they had successors. They filled a unique place in the early ministry of the churches because of their special relationship with Christ. They were the men He prepared and sent out to establish His church in the world.
Leaders who were called prophets were probably functionaries rather than officials. They were endowed with a temporary gift for the edification of the church during the apostolic period. The went from church to church with their message. There is no evidence that an office of prophet was ever set in the church.
There were leaders referred to as evangelists and teachers. It seems that their work was also functional. Those functions were usually performed by pastors. One qualification of a pastor was to be "apt to teach." Paul described pastors and teachers in such a way as to give the impression that they were not separate offices, but two functions of the same office (See Ephesians 4:11). While there was the gift of evangelism, all leaders were to do the work of an evangelists. One students once commented that evangelism is more of a mandate than a gift..
The most emphasized office in churches of the New Testament was that of pastor. The New Testament used three terms for that one office: pastor, elder, and bishop. Scriptures show that those three terms referred to the same office (Acts 20:7, 28; Titus 1:5, 7; 1 Peter 5:12).
I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 gave a list of qualifications for elders. Those qualifications are both negative and positive. The duties of pastors were not defined in detail in any single New Testament passage; however, the over-all teaching of Scripture is that pastors were to take care of the church of God, exhort, preach the Word, rule well, and help the weak.
A special group of leaders were chosen by the church at Jerusalem. They were chosen to assist the Apostles in administering the “daily ministration” of food etc. for those living out of the general church treasury. The choosing of those seven is usually considered the origin of the office of deacon. Even though they were not called deacons in that passage, the purpose for which they were chosen fits well into the work and purpose designated for deacons later in church history. Timothy gave a list of qualifications for deacons (I Timothy 3:8-15). Many of their qualifications parallel those of a pastor.
There was not much information given on the duties and function of the early deacons. It is usually agreed that they were to give their attention to business affairs of the church, thus
leaving pastors free to perform a spiritual ministry. It is to be further observed that deacons were to perform their duties for spiritual purposes. Perhaps, the Holy Spirit was not too specific in detailing duties of deacons because of the nature of their office. Their very name means servant and a servant does what he is bidden to do. That would suggest that deacons are to serve their church in whatever capacity their church determines.
Pastors and deacons were the only two regular officers of a local church clearly defined in the New Testament. The work of those leaders was essential to the work in the early church. Other officers were established as need arose but only those two were described as offices.
Adding new offices as need arose would come under the heading of methods for doing the work. The New Testament warrants using any method that is consistent with the principles of Scripture and fundamentals of ecclesiology to carry out the work the Lord has commissioned His churches to do. Today, churches have many additional officers as clerk, treasurer, trustee, Sunday School superintendent, etc.
Leaders in Churches Today
Pastor. It is one thing to preach for a church, and quite another to pastor a church. There is no higher honor than that of being a pastor of one of the Lord's churches, and every church of the Lord Jesus Christ deserves a good pastor. To be an effective pastor requires disciplining one self and learning pastoral ministry skills.
While preaching is a necessary function of a pastor, it is not the only function. The term
"pastor" implies much more than mere feeding. A pastor must also shelter the sheep, protect
the sheep, provide spiritual leadership for the sheep, cultivate and develop the sheep, and even
sometimes shear the sheep. He will always be alert to discover the best method for serving the congregation for which he is responsible. Above all, he should recognize that he is servant of the church for Jesus' sake and not a lord over God's heritage. A pastor is counselor and advisor in all phases of church life. He needs to be professionally trained in organization and administration. As pastor he is responsible for coordinating the various phases of the church program.
Deacon. The word "deacon" literally means one who serves or one who ministers to others. There was a definite need for this office when it was instituted as it was created as a practical means to assist pastors in their multiplied duties. The office of deacon was not created as a co-ordinate branch of church government, but as an office to aid in ministerial and pastoral functions. It is clear that the first intent for deacons was that they assist in any ministerial function as co-workers to the pastor allowing pastor to devote their energy to the ministry of the Word and to the spiritual concerns within the congregation.
The office of deacon was not created to control the church by dictating its policies but to serve the congregation and help plan and carry out established ministries. Those serving as deacons should see themselves as constituting the pastor's cabinet, to give him counsel and spiritual advice in matters pertaining to the church. A pastor is blessed when he is surrounded by a body of deacons who hold up his hands and stand with him in his varied duties.
Church clerk. A church clerk is one appointed to care for the minutes of church business and help to preserve a record of all church activities.
Church treasurer. A church treasurer must be one who commands the respect and confidence of both the church membership and those in the business community with whom the church deals. The clerk’s duties are to take charge and disburse all funds, maintain accurate records, and serve as the custodian of legal documents. It would be well for the same person to serve in this capacity over a period of years as it usually requires at least two or three years to learn the details of the office.
A church needs to establish checks and balances in the management of the finances in order to protect the integrity of the office and the reputation of the one serving in the office. No one should ever be chosen to serve as treasurer without a willingness to be fully accountable to the church for the handling of funds.
Church trustees. Church trustees should be people who are faithful to the church in all of its services. They should possess real business ability. Church trustees are given legal charge of the church properties, hence it is necessary for them to be familiar with state laws regarding property, ownership of property, and the reception and administration of trust funds which are in their hands. Trustees must see to the up-keep of the properties and grounds and keep all properties adequately insured.
Church Staff. In recent years many churches have grown into a multiple staff ministry with individuals serving as minister of education, minister of music, minister of children, senior adult minister, etc. The size of churches and the demand upon the ministry has help to create the plurality of ministers with each being responsible for a certain facet of the ministry. When a church has a multiple staff, it is essential that steps be taken to insure that all work together for the betterment of the church. As a minimum, there should be weekly staff meetings in which there is open communication about the various aspects of ministry. A lack of communication will kill the cooperative spirit which is necessary for multiple staff ministry.
Church Committees. Committees fill an important place in the work of most churches. There are two extremes which should be avoided concerning committees. First, having too many committees; second, not having enough. Where there are no committees at work, there is a tendency to drift toward centralization of responsibility in the officers. Too many committees, on the other hand, may result in a drift away from democratic process for the congregation. All committees should realize that they are in existence by the authority of the church. They exist solely to carry out the wishes of the church. In all cases they must be subservient to the desires of the congregation. They must not attempt to usurp authority over the church. Committees are vested with responsibility from the church. As a rule a committee is expected to bring its decision, with or without recommendations, back to the church for action.
There are two types of committees, permanent or standing, and ad hock. Permanent committees should be structured so that personnel will changed from time to time by assigning staggered terms of service. That will prevent a member from assuming too much authority over the years but will continue to allow a continuity of experienced members as the committee fulfills its responsibility in the church. The deacon body, church trustees, finance committee, publicity committee, evangelism committee, floral committee, and Christian education committee are examples of permanent type committees. An ad hock committee is established to meet a pressing need; when the responsibility is fulfilled, the committee is dismissed. Such a committee could be used in drafting a church constitution and by-laws.
Knowing Principles of Cooperative Work
If a pastor is to lead a church in the direction it should go, it is important that he know not only the operations within the local church but also the larger bodies with which the church affiliates in carrying out her mission to the world. The Baptist News Service Directory and Handbook contains a Statement of Principles of Cooperation of the Baptist Missionary Association of America (Pages 24-9, 2004 edition). A pastor leading a church in affiliation with the Baptist Missionary Association of America should be knowledgeable with those principles to better guild the church he leads in cooperative work.
Knowing Departments of the Cooperative Work
The Baptist Missionary Association of America organization is in the process of restructuring it departments. The idea is to combine several departments and created a greater climate of cooperation among all facets of the work. When the revision is complete, the associational work will be divided into four departments. The present departments include:
1. Armed Forces and Institutional Chaplaincy Department, (No permanent office location).
2. Church Ministries Department, Inc. Conway, AR.
3. BMA Theological Seminary, 1530 East Pine, Jacksonville, TX.
4. Baptist News Service Committee (No permanent office location).
5. Department of Camp Ministries, Gary, TX
6. LifeWord Broadcast Ministries, Conway, AR.
7. Ministers Resource Services, Texarkana, AR.
8. Missions Department, Little Rock, AR. (Includes: International Revolving Load Fund and North American Revolving Loan Fund).
9. Publications Department, Texarkana, AR.
10. Moral Action Committee (No permanent office location)
In addition to the National Departments of Ministries, the national association also includes: A National Brotherhood and a National Women's Missionary Auxiliary. The Brotherhood sponsors the National Galilean (an organization dedicated to encouraging spiritual growth among the young boys within the churches). The National Women's Missionary Auxiliary. sponsors the Girl’s Auxiliary.
More information can be found about each department and work in the Baptist News Service Directory and Handbook, 2006 edition.
Church membership is a privilege. A person’s relationship with his church is one of the most important relationship in his life. Church membership should be prized highly and guarded prayerfully. Its privileges should be enjoyed and its responsibilities fulfilled.
Individuals need to be conscious of the meaning of membership when they assume a relationship with a church. Membership in a church should have greater significance than membership in any other organization.
Requirements of Church Membership
The first requirement of church membership is regeneration. One who does not know the grace of God cannot be a real member of a church. He can by false profession have his name on a membership role but such membership would not be valid. Regeneration and church membership are not synonymous. While spiritual birth brings a person into the family of God just as physical birth brings one into a family, a person is not born into a church. Only after a person has been born from above can he qualify to become a member of a church. It is God’s plan for every regenerated person to be aligned with a church. A person is not received into the membership of a local church until he has professed faith in Christ and been baptized. Baptism is one of the first step in the life of a new Christian.
At Pentecost, Peter referred to the divine order for new believers. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). Gladly receiving God's word qualifies one for baptism; baptism makes a person eligible to become a part of a local church.
Church membership carries with it definite obligations. Luke wrote of activities of members in the first church: “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). Those members were responsible to continue in the Apostles doctrine, maintain scriptural fellowship, participate in the Lord's Supper, and practice prevailing prayer. The responsibilities of church membership should not be neglected.
Church membership calls for consecration. The New Testament sets forth a life of personal consecration for all who are a part of a church. A member should present his body unto the Lord as a living sacrifice and seek to be transformed from the old life of sin by the renewing of the Holy Spirit. A church member is to seek to be conformed to the will of God and recognize himself to be a new creature in Christ. He is to be cleansed from all filthiness and perfect himself in holiness before the Lord (Romans 12:1-2, 11; Corinthians 5:17; 7:1).
Establishing Church Membership
There are three generally accepted ways by which one may become a member of a Baptist church:
(1) Profession of faith. Experience of grace and baptism is the first means of becoming identified with a church. One who has been saved by the grace of God and shows evidence of salvation is ready to present himself to a church as a candidate for baptism. While a minister (usually the pastor) will baptize the candidate, baptism is done by the authority of a local church. One of the commands of the Great Commission is to baptize those who have believed in Christ as Savior (Matthew 28:19-20). Once a believer has received scriptural baptism, the act never has to be repeated.
(2) Letter of recommendation. One may unite with another Baptist church of like faith and order upon recommendation from the church of present membership. The recommendation comes as a letter in which the individual is identified by the former church as a member in good standing. Under normal circumstances, letters are not granted to individuals, but to churches. An exception might be in case of a group meeting together to organize into a new church. It might be expedient for them to get a letter of recommendation from their former church as they enter into the new church organization. Regardless of the situation, a letter is not one’s membership; it is merely a recommendation for membership. A letter of recommendation should not be granted except for the expressed purpose of recommending a person for membership in a church of like faith and order.
Some have questioned whether the practice of giving letters of recommendation is a scriptural practice. While the examples of letters of recommendation in the New Testament do not specifically relate to church membership, there is the idea of recommending certain brethren to sister churches.. That principle can be made to apply to today’s situations concerning letters relating to membership without violation of Scripture. Letters relating to membership is simply a recommendation of a party in question from one church to another.
(3) Statement. There are situations when one cannot obtain a letter of recommendation from a former church. In such a case a person may unite with a church upon a statement of faith and baptism. If a statement of previous experience is satisfactory to the church which is being petitioned for membership, the request is normally granted.
Today’s society has become very mobile. That mobility often brings people into a community where existing churches have no affiliation with churches of the former residence. In most cases Baptists churches do not recognize the baptism of churches which teach doctrine which they believe are not in harmony with Scripture. If a person coming from such a church, desires membership in a local Baptist church, the normal procedure is for them to come as a candidate for baptism.
A problem arises when a person desires to be a part of a local church but does not want to change denominational affiliation. Many dedicated people have found themselves in that predicament. Their talents do not need to be wasted and they do not need to live in isolation from a Christian community. Neither does a local church need to be asked to compromise her doctrinal position. One practice that has proven acceptable to many in those situations is to receive such a person into the “watch-care” of the local church until such time they either decide to be baptize or move back to their home community. That practice helps such a person have a sense of belonging and come under the care of a local church without either party being asked to compromise their position.
Canceling church membership.
There are three ways whereby one ceases to be member of a local Baptist church.
(1) Death. A person ceases to be a member of a local church at death. The deceased person does not cease to be a child of God, but his affiliation is moved out of a local church into the courts of glory.
(2) Transfer of letter. Church membership is canceled when a church votes to send a letter recommending a member to another church. In such a transaction, a person has identified himself with another church and it would be inappropriate for the person to hold membership in two different churches. As a rule Baptists historically have not practiced exchanging letters of recommendations with people of other denominations. In recent years, some churches have made exceptions for those who are members of churches who have similar beliefs and practices.
(3) Exclusion. Church membership is canceled by exclusion. A New Testament church has the right to exercise discipline toward members who are engaged in practices unworthy of church membership. Exclusion is the last resort in the matter of discipline. Immoral conduct and heresy are behaviors which often lead to last resort measures. Exclusions should be carried out in a spirit of love. When an excluded member demonstrates repentance, restoration to full privileges of church membership should be made.
Expectation of a Church Toward Her Membership
A church has a right to have definite expectations of members:
(1) It is appropriate for a church to expect attendance at appointed services. Unless there are providential reasons preventing attendance, a church should expect members to be faithful in attendance at public services. However, members should not feel forced into attendance but should desire to be in attendance and a part of the fellowship of their church. A church should sponsor such a spiritual program that member feel a lost upon missing a public service. A church that does not make her services appealing to the entire membership is failing to meet important needs of the membership.
(2) It is appropriate for a church to expect financial support from members. The only financial support a church receives for her ministry is that given by her members. The financial support should not be coerced, but members should be appealed to in such a way that they gladly give of time, talent, and treasures for the successful ongoing of the church’s program of ministry. Every member of a church, from the youngest to the oldest, should be taught individual responsibility in the matter of stewardship.
(3) It is appropriate for a church to expect members to be active participants in ministry. To do all that a church must do requires cooperation from all members. While churches have been given the great commission, it is the members who are the hands, feet, and mouth that must carry out the ministry. Workers are needed in every department of the church. Without participation on the part of every church member many places of responsibility will not be filled.
(4) It is appropriate for a church to expect loyalty from members. Members need to be loyal to their church, to her doctrines, ordinances, institutions, and objectives. If a person cannot be loyal to a certain church, he probably should not seek membership in that church. A church deserves a place in the affections of her members.
Church records are of great importance. They serve as an index to the actual work of a church and become a valuable history of the accomplishments of a church. There has not been enough emphasis upon the matter of records in most churches. Because of that neglect, getting valid statistics from the work of churches has been difficult. The world is "figure conscious." Institutions are judged by the records they have made. If churches desire to make a favorable impression upon the world, they need to record vital facts and statistics that will reveal their accomplishments in the things pertaining to the kingdom.
The Record Keepers
Certain members of the church should be charged with direct responsibility of keeping church records. The church clerk keeps an important part of the records. The work of a church clerk involves keeping all church records, taking care of church correspondence, maintaining a membership record, compiling church statistics for associational reports, maintaining all records and files, signing necessary church documents.
A clerk must be a member of the church and possess good judgment. Maturity is an essential qualification for the work. It is well for a church clerk to possess a basic education and have a good working knowledge of English. A clerk should possess the qualities of accuracy and dependability. A church does not need to change clerks very often. With change of personnel, there is danger of lost records and a problem of communication to the new clerk everything that should be known about the record keeping responsibility.
A church treasurer is also an important person in regard to church records. A treasurer has responsibility for caring for and giving account for all monies received by a church. In many instances a treasurer’s duties include preparing money for depositing and keeping an accurate record of all expenditures. A treasurer usually issues and signs checks.
A church treasurer should be a member of the church where he is serving. He should show aptness in working with figures and be accurate and faithful in fulfilling his duties. When a person accepts responsibility for serving as a church treasurer, he is accepting fiduciary responsibility. Faithful performance of duties can inspire trust among member concerning the fiscal action of the church. With trust, people are more willing to give liberally to support the ministry of their church.
Some churches have a historian who is charged with responsibility of keeping an up-to-date history of the church. One who serves as historian should have the same general qualifications as that of a church clerk. In addition, a historian should have a love for records and a skill for compiling vital information from those records.
Churches should maintain files relating to the families who make up the church. At a minimum there should be a listing of all families and the people who make up each family. It would be good to have such information about each family member as birthdays, ages of children, age of the adults, date of membership, areas of service in the church, offices held, deaths within the family, and weddings. While it will involves a great deal of work, it is important that the information be kept up to date.
In addition to a family record, files should include a record of activity, talent, and experience of each one listed. Members usually fall into one of three classes: active, semi-active, and inactive. Knowing the degree of commitment on the part of each member, can help the church and her leader better minister to each member.
Many churches keep a record of the monetary contributions of members. At the end of a calendar year, notice is sent to each member concerning total giving for that year. From such a record important information can be given to the pastor, the treasurer, and the contributor. While not all pastor desire to know amounts given by specific members, pastors do need to know about the giving patterns of members. When a change in giving pattern occurs, it is a signal that something is happening in the individual’s relationship with the church. By knowing giving patterns of members, pastors can be alerted when a significant change occurs. Noting a significant change can signal a change either in the spiritual or fiscal health of a member and give a pastor opportunity to minister to some special need before the change produces disastrous results in a member’s relationship to his church. As a rule, a member often decreases giving as a prelude to dropping out of participation in the church. A change in giving may indicate a decline of trust in the way funds are being handled.
CARING FOR MEMBERS OF A CHURCH
Watch-care Over The Membership
Congregation should be organized for the overseeing and the cultivating of all members. To minister effectively to all members, a church must have a plan of organizing for watch-care. Such a program will not be carried out without proper organization and promotion. It is not enough for a pastor to urge his members to "watch over” one another in Christian love. Definite steps need to be taken to organize the membership into specific groups for watch care.
A church that minister over a wide area probably needs to organize for care based upon geographical areas. Various ways may be used to define the areas. Each area should be composed of not more than twelve to eighteen families with a faithful church couple given charge for the watch-care of those families.
If distance is not a consideration, membership may be divided according to the alphabet or some other natural division. Even Sunday school classes can be the basis of the organization. Size of membership of necessity determines the grouping and the number of groups. The key to a successful watch-care ministry is the leaders who carry out the ministry. Care should be given to selection and training of leaders. Depending upon the size of a church, such a program can involve a great number of workers. There should be at least two workers for each ten to twelve families. The nature of the work requires a well-trained group of workers. Each worker should posses the following qualifications:
(1) show an individual loyalty to the church
(2) love people.
(3) possess the grace of sympathy and understanding.
(4) be a counselor and spiritual advisor.
(5) possess tact and grace sufficient for any occasion.
(6) be well-acquainted with every detail of the church program
Each leader should visit in each home over which they have responsibility once or twice a year. They need to let the people who are their charge know that they are available to them whenever they have a need. When unusual circumstances such as death, sickness, or sorrow, the leader should go to the home and render whatever ministry is needed. Each leader should alert the pastor when any special need arises among those under the leader’s charge.
Most likely each watch-care group formed will have shut-ins. Those people must not be overlooked. Shut-ins require special attention from time to time. Materials such as church bulletins, special publications, recorded sermons, and other helpful and encouraging material should be taken to them. The shut-in group affords great opportunities for services that will be sincerely appreciated.
Another area of ministry that can be developed in the watch-care group is that of home Bible study and prayer groups. The groups can meet from time to time for special fellowship activities. In this way families become better acquainted with each other and at the same time will be engaging in worthwhile church activity. Another way to promote such fellowship and interaction among members is to started Sunday school a few minutes earlier and allow for a refreshment and fellowship break between Sunday school and the worship hour.
Workers who lead in a watch-care program cannot be neglected. They need encouragement and fellowship. Regularly appointed quarterly meeting can give them an opportunity to come together and review the watch-care ministry. In such meetings problems and outstanding experiences may be shared.
Promoting Members’s Attendance
Poorly attended services is a problem in many churches. Often there is a wide gap between attendance record and actual membership. In many churches, a large percent of members do not attend services with any consistency. Usually less than half of those who attend the Sunday morning services attend the Sunday evening service. Even fewer attend the mid-week prayer service. It is important that churches address those problem and determine what can be done to promote more faithful attendance.
Creating an Environment for Attendance
Responsibility rests upon the pastor to develop skill in promoting members’ attendance. If a pastor feeds the people from the Word of God, and is directed by the Spirit of God, people will have a positive incentive for attendance. A pastor cannot take spirituality for granted. He must carefully guard his prayer life, give attention to Bible study and meditation, and live a consistent consecrated life. When a pastor is diligent in his studies and is filled and led by the Holy Spirit, he will have something worthwhile to give his people. In turn, they will be more readily stirred to come and receive the blessing that comes from being part of such a service. There is no substitute far a spirit-filled ministry.
An inspiring music program helps promote faithful attendance. Christian people love and appreciate good church music. A church should take all reasonable steps in promoting a music ministry that will have wide appeal to the people in the community. There should be a devoted man or woman who plans the music program and helps coordinate it with other parts of the worship service. Those who participate in the music ministry should be made to feel that they are rendering a valuable spiritual service for the Lord. The music program of churches should be spiritual, dignified, and well-organized. Songs with heart appeal should be used. Cheap "jam" songs with “flesh appeal” should be avoided.
A church should challenge her membership to be loyal. Any church belonging to the Lord is worthy of loyalty and devotion from her members. Such loyalty should be earned because of the mission, the ordinances, the doctrines, and the high position of the church in the affairs of men. Every member should feel that his is the best church.
Social contact and Christian fellowship are worthy rewards for church attendance, but there must be greater rewards. A church exists primarily to help men and women, boys and girls, know the Lord. When people are living in a right relationship with God, they will have a right relationship with their fellow men. Churches do not need to be known as great social centers, but as sanctuaries where inquiring soul may find God. If God is not seen, felt, and heard in the services of a church, then that church is failing in her spiritual ministry. By her failure, such a church is creating road blocks to the growth of member and hindering their faithful attendance and participation in ministry.
Churches have gone to great expense in creating comfortable facilities as places for people to assemble for worship. Beautiful buildings, comfortable pews, spacious Sunday school quarters, and air conditioning all make an appeal to those who come into the holy place to worship. The "pioneer" type of church building is not sufficient for the needs of modern-day demands. A church must keep up in the matter of architectural design and interior arrangements for the comfort and convenience of worshipers if she expects to appeal to the masses of humanity.
Hindrance to Church Attendance
Indifference on the part of church members is a big problem in poor attendance. It is the number one enemy of most of churches. Many members are living in a state of spiritual lethargy. As long as a spirit of indifference prevails, churches are going to have a problem of poor attendance.
Many people do not attend church with any regularity because there are so many other places they want to go and so many other things they want to do. Secular work, a visit to the beach or the mountains, a week-end visiting mother and dad, or a last minute nap on Sunday morning prevent many from finding a place in the house of God. Too many people are preoccupied with the cares of this life. They just cannot find time to go to church.
Many people who do not attend church fail to attend because of a lack of a spiritual challenge by the church. Without a challenge when people do attend, they determine to stay away. A church should have a program that is sufficiently comprehensive to challenge every individual who comes to the services. People should be challenge to serve. Talent should be utilized. A church must accept responsibility for creating ministry opportunities where people can uses their time, talent, and abilities to the glory of the Lord..
It is difficult for people to continue attending a church when there is a lack of spiritual appeal. When people go to church they need to receive a spiritual uplift. If services are draggy and sermons are dry and uninteresting, people can think of better places to be. A church needs to take care that the services do not get in a “rut" with everything cut and dried. It is a terrible situation when a church has a form of godliness, but no spiritual power. Some churches have lost their appeal because they have become cold and unfriendly toward strangers and have allowed a “clannish” spirit to be built up over the years.
Problems must be identified and overcome before a church can expect better attendance. Services need to be marked by an air of spirituality. A church who has the warmth of spiritual fervor has little difficulty in appealing to people. A worship service that is alive and speaks to the needs of the people is the best drawing card a church can have.
Activities for Promoting Church Attendance
Many have used special activities to promote greater church attendance. One pastor who has had great success in using special promotions, believes that a church should have some special event each quarter. For over twenty-five years he has used that plan and built a growing church in spite of being located in a town with a declining population.
The following activities were suggested by Dr. Kellar in his original work:
1. Roll call day. At least once a year a roll call service is held in some churches. During this service, the names of the entire membership of the church are called, and each member answers to the call of his name. While this plan does not increase attendance on a regular basis, it does stimulate interest for a special occasion; and it is possible that it might induce certain members to be more regular in their attendance.
2. Rally day. Some churches have a "rally day” as a part of their program. Rally day usually is planned months in advance. All departments of the church should be committed to making the rally day a success. Goals both in attendance and offering should be set and every effort made to reach the goals. Such a program makes church members conscious of his relationship to the church and proves what can be done when the entire church gives attention to the matter of attendance.
3. Church loyalty month. This plan can achieve greater results in overall attendance than single-day efforts. During loyalty month, every member of the church is challenged to put the church first in his affections and desires. If a person can be led to put his church first for one month, his devotion will tend to become regular and consistent.
4. Working through the Sunday School. The Sunday School is the greatest agency of the church in promoting faithful attendance. A campaign to promote church attendance through Sunday School should not limit itself to special days, but to attendance every Sunday. The general superintendent, assistant superintendents, departmental officers, and teachers should work to promote church attendance. Officers of the Sunday School should set an example for the entire membership by practicing regular church attendance.
Leaders in a Sunday School should never think of the school as a separate and independent organization from the church. Sunday School is merely an auxiliary of the church, and in all instances must be under the direct supervision of the church.
ASSIMILATING NEW MEMBERS
It is necessary that church leaders focus upon ways for assimilating new members into the total church life. If a new member cannot find friends and a satisfactory place of service in a short times after become part of a church, he will often begin to think of changing his membership. A church has a serious responsibilities in the manner of helping new member become assimilated into the life of the church. What churches do in this area will determine to a large degree the type of church member a individual becomes. What are the responsibilities of a church toward freshmen members?
Making New Members Feel At Home
It is essential that new church member feel welcome and appreciated when coming into a new church. Churches need to develop plans for welcoming new members which leave no room for doubt in the new member's mind concerning his welcome into the fellowship of the church. So far as possible, each member of the church should extend a personal welcome.
A church should take into consideration that for new members there is both a formal reception and an informal reception into a church. Few churches have problems with the formal reception. That is the simply process of officially receiving a person into the membership by whatever means a church has determined. It may be receiving a person as a member by letter, by baptism, or by statement. But the only thing that formally receiving a person does is to get the name on the church roll and give the rights and privileges of membership. The informal reception is equally as important. It involves all the informal things that member do to actually move a person from the outside into the inside of church life. In might be helping a new member become a part of the choir, or helping a member meet people who have similar interests and helping the member develop real friendship.
A part of the informal receiving of a new member is to orientate a new member to the church. In a large church, there probably needs to be a definite plan developed by the leaders of the church for such orientation. In a smaller or more rural setting, it is best done by having individuals take a new member under their wing and go with the member to various functions that are of special interest. Representatives from different organizations should inform a new member of opportunities of participation.
It goes without saying that until a new member become fully acquainted with the work and activities of the church, he should be contacted and visited by other members. Such contact will tend to encourage the new member. It will help convince the new member that the church wants him and that he made a wise choice in uniting with the church. Care should be taken to prevent a new member from being neglected.
In addition to visiting in the home, it is a good practice to insure that a new member is invited to meals where members gather. Whether in a home or in a restaurant, the fellowship that such occasions will help a new member feel more a part of the church and less of an outsider. It should be remember that unless a new member develops from five to seven new friends in the church and finds a satisfying place of service during the first nine months of membership, he will probably drop out or find another church that better meets those needs.
Recognizing new members
It is well for a pastor to recognize from the pulpit all new members coming into the church. He must be absolutely impartial in making such recognition. People love to hear their names given special mention. Such recognition violates no ethical standards of the church and helps new members feel more important to the church. It would be appropriate to have on occasion a new member recognition banquet or some kind of a social meeting to honor new members and the contributions they are making in the life of the church. Such socials afford the membership opportunities to get socially acquainted with each other and with all the "new comers” in the church.
Helping New Member Find Places of Service
It is of supreme importance that new church members be orientated into the different departments of the church work as soon as possible. Many churches lose great opportunities with newly-acquired members because they never help them find a place of service in the work.
1. New members should be introduced to the different organizations within the church.
Perhaps the pastor could give new members a briefing on the organizations and their
importance to the overall program. Printed materials may be prepared giving vital
information concerning the auxiliary organizations. A copy may be handed to the individual upon his being accepted into the church.
2. Those keeping membership files should interview new members to determine their talents, abilities and interests. It would also be good to give then opportunity to express a preference for the kinds of ministry in which they would like to participate.
3. New members should receive such materials as a church directory, church covenant, booklet on stewardship, and a statement of doctrines. Those will be of invaluable to new members.
4. A church should allow a new members to have definite responsibilities as soon as possible. Participation in the work of a church helps a person feel more like a vital part of the group. A new member can become discouraged if not given opportunities to participate. It is of utmost importance to utilize the talents and abilities of all members. It is only by using new talent that the Lord brings into the church that the ministry of the church is able to expand.
Pastoral Responsibility Toward New Members
A pastor has a responsibility to every member of the church. New members are of no exception but must have attention from their pastor.
1. A pastor should show a keen interest in their spiritual welfare. The ideal pastor will keep the spiritual prosperity of members uppermost in his mind. He should determine to give of himself to contribute to the spiritual richness of the membership. He must do that ministry from the pulpit, by his daily life, and by personal contacts. He should be ready to give spiritual guidance to those who come to him for help. It is important for pastors to realize that the primary purpose of their ministry is the spiritual welfare of the membership.
2. A pastor must have an impartial attitude toward all members. It is not good for him to have "pets" in the church. He must not let one member or a "clique" of members monopolize his time. A pastor must serve the entire church without respect to personalities.
3. A pastor should observe closely the progress of new members. Progress of new members is a source of great joy to a pastor. If a pastor is aware of their growth, he may lead the one who has thus grown into even greater privileges and responsibilities in the work of the church.
4. A pastor should keep close contact with new members by visiting them and encouraging other members to make such visits.
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is” (Hebrews 10:25).
“Sing unto the Lord a new song. and his praise” (Psalms 149:1).
CHAPTER: 6. A GENERAL VIEW OF CHRISTIAN WORSHIP
CHAPTER: 7. A PUBLIC WORSHIP SERVICE
CHAPTER: 8. SINGING GODLY PRAISE IN A WORSHIP SERVICE
A GENERAL VIEW OF CHRISTIAN WORSHIP
Theologians have attempted to define worship, but the definitions and explanations all fall short. Throughout the world, the conduct of people shows that worship is of universal importance to the human mind and heart. Many may worship inappropriately, but the majority of all people find some way to worship. With few exceptions, all people of all race has established various forms of worship. The objects of worship by many has not always been the true God; some have worshiped the devil, embalmed ancestral heads, idol, cows, lady luck and even self. People consistently have demonstrated a deep seated need to worship. When they do not know the true God, they create a god to worship. Since the human family has such a nature that compels worship, it is important that churches provide for all who attend services conditions and circumstances conducive to worship .
Worship is commonly defined as "An act of showing reverence, homage, or adoration to a god.” It is the paramount desire of one whose heart has been made to feel the forgiving power of God's love. In a greater way than demonstrated by humanity in general, worship is part of the fundamental nature of the Christian mind and heart. The first and foremost desire of the Christian is to worship God in spirit and truth.
(1) Prayer is central in true worship. In prayer a worshiper expresses adoration for the Superior Being. Worship is man’s reply to the mystery of his existence; it is his response as a creature to his Creator.
(2) Christian worship is expressed in Christian service. Worship is the foundation for outward activity in the form of service on man’s part. During worship a Christian receives stimulus for service. As a Christian worships, the Spirit of God warms the heart and brings an inner illumination which inspires his soul, and creates within a desire to show his love and appreciation for God through acts of service to others.
(3) Christian worship is instinctively grounded in the mind and heart of believers. It is within the new nature of one who is redeemed to worship God. He does not have to learn how, and he does not have to be forced to worship. Just as a child lovingly adores his father, so Christians lovingly adore their heavenly Father. To a Christian, the urge to worship God is elemental, non-rational, instinctive, and an end within itself.
(4) Worship is a part of Christian history. The advent of Jesus was heralded by the adoration of angels (Luke 2:14; Hebrews 1:6); imitating the heavenly hosts, wise men bowed and worshiped the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:11). For over nineteen hundred years, believers from all nations have bowed before the Lord, lifted the Lord’s name in praise, and expressed worship through dedicated service to Christ. Through the centuries worship has been a primary emphasis of Christian life.
Personal and Private Worship
The Gospel records are rich in examples of individuals worshiping Jesus. The wise men worshiped at His cradle, the leper worshiped as he sought healing, the man born blind worshiped in gratitude for receiving sight, the Syro-Phonician woman worshiped on behalf of her daughter, the Gadarene demonic worshiped when the Lord approached him and cast out his demons, the disciples worshiped after Jesus stilled the tempest on the Sea of Galilee. Those are only a few examples of the many occasions of worship in the New Testament. The Lord was worshiped by all who recognized His Lordship as He walked among the people during His earthly ministry.
The Apostle Paul began his ministry with a prayer to the Lord Jesus, "What shall I do, Lord?" He along with most of the New Testament writers include lofty doxologies of praise unto Christ, “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Galatians 1:3-5).
From the beginning of man’s existence, men and women from all walks of life have worshiped God. Whether peasants or kings, nobles or bondmen, there has been a desire to approach God in private worship. There has been within the heart of man a constant desire to be in contact with the Creator. The Psalmist wrote, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).
A Christian not only worships in private but through various acts of worship. When a
Christian is serving another person in the name of the Lord, he is worshiping. The following are considered acts of worship: Repentance and faith, acts of service to others, benevolence, giving, public praise in a church assembly, mission work, and any other act whereby God is glorified through the behavior of man.
In addition to personal worship Christians have made corporate worship a central part of their activities. As they have assembled as a church, they made praise and adoration of the Lord a central part of gathering. “They, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46-47).
Heavenly hosts as well as earthly groups have taken part in corporate worship. Angels were not only present to strike the chord of the first Christmas carol, but they were also at hand to minister unto the Savior after His temptation in the wilderness and again after His prayer in Gathsemane. The Book of Revelation presents Jesus as Lord of the Heavens receiving the adoration of John, the four living creatures, the twenty four elders, every creature, and multitudes of the redeemed. The myriads of the angelic host say with a great voice: “Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain to receive the power and richer and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12). John described a great congregation of worshipers composed of “every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:13).
Object of Worship
The primary object of Christian worship has been God the Father of the Lord Jesus. In worshiping Christ, man recognizes Him as the Creator and Ruler of the universe. Christians worship God not only as Creator and Ruler, but as a loving, benevolent, heavenly Father who delights to bestow upon his children the choicest of gifts, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself” (Ephesians 1:3-9). Jesus has also been the object of Christian worship. From the beginning of Christianity, Christians have been worshiper of Christ .They have worshiped Him as God, and they have prayed to Him and sang His praises.
Jesus showed that He accepts worship from His followers. During His earthly ministry, there is no record of His ever refusing the lowly homage of those who came before Him. The disciples worshiped Him when He came to them in Galilee, “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him” (Matthew 28:16-17). Throughout the Book of Acts, Christ was the object of a worship and adoration. The worship of Christ in the New Testament was indistinguishable from worship offered God.
Over time some claiming allegiance to Christ began to introduce spurious elements into worship. Images and pictures were used as aids in worship. Those who have used such items deny that such images have ever actually been worshiped, but have simply been used as aid to enhance worship. The practice, however, is foreign to the teachings of the New Testament and should be avoided by those who desire to worship in spirit and in truth. Such artifacts, instead of promoting true Christian worship, become hindrances causing confusion in the mind of a would be worshiper.
Places of Worship
Having an appointed place of worship has been a part of the history of worship. The woman of Sycar showed the tendency of people to identify worship with a specific place, “The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshiper shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. While the places have differed greatly, the result has always been the same” (John 4:19-23).
Perhaps the first place of formal worship was an altar. The Old Testament reveals that the patriarchs erected altars and worshiped God. At those primitive shrines of worship, the family head would lead in worship. He served as priest for his own family group. Such patter of worship continued for hundreds of years among the people who became the nation of Israel.
After the Children of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, as they journeyed toward their Promised Land, they constructed a tabernacle as the center of religious activity. Religious services were centralized in the tabernacle with a high priest presiding over the activities.
King David had it in his heart to build a temple for the worship of God, but God did not permit him to do so because he had been a man with blood on his hands (II Samuel 7). However, God gave him permission to begin collecting material for the construction and his son Solomon would be able to do the actual building when he became king. After its construction the temple became known as the dwelling place of God and the centralized place for public worship.
After the nation of Israel was scattered, the synagogue became a prominent place of worship for the Jews. While the synagogue did not take the place of the temple, it served as a place which kept alive the worship of Jehovah and helped instil in the people a desire for a return to the Promised Land and to worship in the temple in Jerusalem.
Even after the return from captivity, the synagogue continued to be an important part of the Jewish system of worship. Synagogues were constructed throughout Israel and in various Gentile cities where there was a Jewish population. Jesus received His early training in a synagogue. The proliferation of synagogues gave Paul a place where he could teach and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
After Christ introduced the concept of the church, churches became the center of formal worship for Christians. For many years, Jewish Christian continued to participate in synagogues but also gathered in homes and other places for worship as a Christian community. They did not build church buildings for many years into their history.
After the resurrection of Jesus, the Christians would assemble on the first day of the week for worship. It seems that praying, reading Scripture, preaching, singing, and observing the ordinances were central elements of those worship activities. Paul urged pastor Timothy to “give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (I Timothy 4:13). In time churches began constructing meeting places and developing more complex worship styles. Within the world of Christianity, worship has varied from simple forms as practiced in most Baptist churches to highly liturgical service as practiced by the Episcopal Society and other groups.
Personal Rewards of Christian Worship
Worship brings a genuine consciousness of one’s own spiritual life. A person feels his physical needs in countless ways every day. Most of a person’s thoughts and efforts are upon providing for food, clothes, shelter, rest, physical recreation, and other bodily necessities. Most human effort is devoted to satisfying those physical needs. But when a person worships God, he is lifted above mere physical needs in his thinking and begins to utilize the spiritual dimensions of his personality. Worship creates greater moral responsibility and helps one to realize that he is more than flesh and blood. Worship makes him know that there is a soul within, possessing the capacities to reach out and lay hold of spiritual values.
Worship brings to the heart of a worshiper a sense of unity with fellow worshipers. While perverted worship tends to divide people into groups separated from each other, true worship which is focused upon praise and thanksgiving to God, draws worshipers into a closer unity with each other. It creates a better understanding and a greater love and appreciation for others and a greater joy in fellowship. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (Psalm 133:1-3).
Worship makes a person more like Christ. God possess many attributes which He also wants His people to possess. God’s desire for His people is that they “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). Some of the attributes God desires for His people are holiness, love, wisdom, justice, and truth. Those attributes were carried to perfection in the life of Christ. God’s method in making His people like his Son is to allow them to behold in Christ the glory of the Lord. Those who worship Lord in spirit and in truth will become more like Him through that experience. Worship is God’s method of making His people like Himself.
Worship brings a person a new realization of God. A person has a greater need for God than for physical sustenance. Worship brings a person into the presence of God and creates the possibility for that need being met. As a person draws near to God in worship, God draws near to him (James 4:8).
Worship leads to consecrated service for God. Through worship a believer is inspired to engage in active service for the Lord. If there is no worship, a person will have little desire to serve God and his fellow man. Worship leads to altruism, unselfishness, noble ideals, and righteousness.
Worship helps make the sorrows of life bearable. In the oppression of Christians during the early centuries in the Greek-Roman world, believers discovered that worshiping of the Lord set them free from fear of demons and the harsh hand of persecutors. While the world sought to put them in bondage, their worship set them free in their minds and hearts. While Christians face different hardships today, worship continues to provide a peace in the heart and an ability to “endure hardness as a soldier of Jesus Christ.”
Community Rewards of Worship
Along with personal benefits of Christian worship, there are positive social results of people engaging in true worship: Christian worship makes for social cohesion. All classes of people are brought together in worship. Standing before God the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the young men and young maidens, the sage and moron, the capitalist and the laborer, the eminent and the obscure are all on a equal plane. They come as equals to the same place at the same time and together experience the presence of God. In the presence of God, human standing makes no difference. In worship people are brought together with ties that no other human activity can create. The fellowship of those brought together in Christ is a greater fellowship than person to person; it is a fellowship of people based on a common relationship with God.
Christian worship awakens social consciousness and promotes concern for the weak, for the suffering, and for the poor. One by one evils of the ancient world crumbled before the influence of Christian thinking and worship. While there remains many evils in society today, through Christian influence, most of the world has abandoned infanticide, abandonment of the aged, neglect of the sick and poor, gladiatorial combats, slavery, subjugation of women, slaughter of prisoners of war, and many more. As Christian worship is abandoned by society, anti social behaviors begin to revive. Today there is the slaughter of the unborn in the name of pro choice, and wide spread sexual perversion, child abuse, and a decrease in appreciation for family life and marriage. Other evils seem to be reviving as the world moves away from true worship of the Lord.
Christian worship has played an important role in the cultural development of society. Historically, church worship has been the mother of the arts, music, sculpture, architecture. and drama. Philosophy, literature and the English language are permeated with the influence of Christian worship. Education and philanthropy have been byproducts of Christian worship.
PUBLIC WORSHIP SERVICE
The Sunday Morning worship service has been one of the most important functions of churches. It is basic in the overall activity of the church. The Sunday morning service sets the pace for the entire work of the church. Prayerful preparation is important in making the worship celebration what it ought to be.
Pre-requisites for Public Worship. Since New Testament times, churches have held public worship services. Even when under adverse circumstances, Christians have viewed a public assembly as an essential part of their Christian experience. Members were admonished not to forsake the assembling of themselves together (Hebrews 10:25). The New Testament word for church was “ecclescia” which meant an assembly. An assembled congregation should be of one mind and one heart as they come together for worship.
To have an assembly for worship, there needs to be a designated place of worship usually in a building dedicate for that purpose. The site should be viewed as an appointed place where God meets with His people. A house dedicated to the worship of God should be as conducive to the spirit of worship as possible. It should be comfortable, convenient, and clean. .
A place of worship and an assembled congregation do not assure that God will be worshiped in spirit and in truth. Before true worship can be realized, there must be a desire to worship on the part of those assembled. The desire to find God and praise and adore Him should be the motivating power in bringing the people together for worship. People should not go to the assembly out of curiosity, nor for the sake of seeing and being seen; the desire to assembly together as a church should grow out of a urge to worship God.
Public worship demands that there be a congregation of people who have had a personal experience with God. Others can attend the meeting, but true worshipers must know the Lord personally in order to worship Him corporately. Christian religion is an experimental religion. True believers actually know God and Christ. Knowing God, feeling Him in the heart, and receiving His blessings from day to day create within the human heart the desire to pay homage unto Him. It is virtually impossible to worship God without knowing Him.
When Christian gather for worship, they should seek to have a service worthy of the God for whom they gather. Consciously or unconsciously, every church group follows some order of service. The order of service, when it is carried out, constitutes the formal act of worship. No worship service can be any better than the detailed program of that service. A pastor has a heavy responsibility to lead a church in a worship program that will honor to the Lord. It requires much prayer, planning, study, and spiritual insight. Before a pastor seeks to lead a congregation in worship, he should make sure that he himself has engaged in personal worship. A worship program that honors God does not just happen, it can not be thrown together carelessly; it must be born in an atmosphere of prayer, spirituality, and common sense.
A worship program should be built around a theme. The scripture readings, the music, the offertory, prayers and sermon should harmonize with that theme. In such a program a worshiper can easily follow the movement of the entire service and leave the assembly feeling that his soul has been refreshed.
Elements in Public Worship
There are several fundamental elements in any worship service. The elements all work together to make the experience either a success or failure.
1. Singing occupies an important place in all public worship activities of a church. Much care should be given in selecting a choir director, type of songs to be sung, and the manner in which they are sung. Singing is a prime factor in the overall effectiveness of a worship program. As the song service goes so goes the entire service.
2. Preaching is one of the great distinguishing features of Christian worship services. Public worship in a Baptist church is usually built around the pastor’s message. The pastor is in charge of the preaching ministry of the church. He must give himself unreservedly to the task of preaching the Gospel. To this end he must prepare himself physically. mentally, and spiritually. This preparation demands earnest prayer, intensive study, and daily consecration. The minister's message must be born in prayer and delivered in the power of the Holy Spirit. The message should possess didactic, inspirational, and practical values. A great need of the day is for spiritual giants in the pulpits. Spiritual giants in the pulpits can lead to spiritual giants in the pews!
3. Reading from God's Word is an important phase of Christian worship. When one reads from God’s Word he becomes a channel through which God speaks to people. Careful selections and diligent preparation should precede the actual reading. The pastor should teach worshipers to be attentive to the reading of God's Word. People should be taught to avoid moving about, whispering, or doing anything distractive as God’s Word is read. The reading of Scripture should not be looked upon as fill-in, but as a vital part of worship.
4. Giving is as much a part of worship as the singing or preaching. People need to be taught the worship aspect of an offering. It is good to have special offertory music as the offering is received. Well prepared ushers should be in charge and proceed in an orderly manner to make the offering an impressive part of the service. People can actually draw near to God as they make contributions for the work of the church. A pastor should never apologize for reading scripture, calling upon people to pray, or preaching his message; neither should he ever apologize for receiving a public offering.
5. The invitation is an important part of the worship experience. No message should be preached without giving people and opportunity to act upon the information they have received. People need to make a decisions about the challenges placed before them not just hear and continue as they have been. During the invitation, care should be given to the propositions that are made, to the selection of the hymn, and to the length of that part of the service Undue pressure should not be used to force people to make decisions. When the Word has been preached and the Holy Spirit is at work, God is able to take care of the results without a lot of “tug and pull” on the part of a minister. The propositions should be stated clearly, concern and interest should be shown in the people pondering decisions, but whatever action people take should be the result of God’s working in their heart. Only God can give the increase (I Corinthians 3:6-7). All actions taken during an invitation should be governed by the Word of God and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Zeal should never be allowed to run away with itself. Let zeal be seasoned with knowledge and spiritual insight.
6. Praying is an essential part of the worship. In the Bible, God speaks to man; in prayer, man speaks to God. Both processes are fundamental in Christian experience. Public prayers have had a significant place in the affairs of God’s people. In a worship service, he who leads in prayer should feel that he is praying in behalf of the entire congregation not for himself alone. He should use the opportunity, not to display his vocabulary nor his eloquence, but to petition God in behalf of the waiting congregation. Such prayers should be to the point and delivered with genuine earnestness and humility. It should never be a sham or a mere formality. The person speaking should express the sincere desire of the congregation. .
7. The ordinances are a part of public worship. Churches are responsible for perpetuating baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Both ordinances are essential in the life and work of a church. A pastor should perform the ordinance of baptism with dignity and deep spiritual feeling. He should make the candidate feel at ease as the rite is performed. A pastor who fumbles in the act of baptism destroys the beauty of the service. There should be no jesting on the part of the pastor during this service. The audience should sit in silence and reverence as the baptism takes place.
The communion service should be entered into with great solemnity. Usually the pastor is in charge, assisted by deacons. It is appropriate for a passage of scripture to be read before the actual observance. The elements should be distributed in an orderly manner. There should be no further service at the close of the communion. It is good taste to sing a hymn and be dismissed, but not even the singing of a hymn is essential. The two ordinances visibly proclaim the gospel message and promote heightened spirituality among the people. The spiritual impressions received in connection with the ordinances can have a life time influence upon a worshiper.
Ethical Standards for Worshipers
Every person who enters into a church service to offer homage and reverence to God must keep before him certain ethical standards which enhance the spirit of worship. A worshiper should enter a service with an attitude of reverence and respect toward the place of worship. A church house represents God’s dwelling place upon the earth and as such it should be kept in proper order. As worshipers entering into the place designated for worship, they should do so realizing that they are gathering to meet with God. There should be a reverent spirit as people gather to worship. A time of worship is not a time for social interaction with friends; it is a time to converse with God.
As people gather for worship, they should gather with an attitude of brotherly love toward each other. Animosity, envy, strife, and jealously should be removed from the heart in an act of repentance before entering into worship. Jesus taught that “if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). Regardless of race, creed, or earthly standing, a congregation of worshipers should become as one in purpose, aim, and motive as they worship God. Worship should create a spirit which says, "Bless be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.”
Worship should create an attitude of cooperation among the people. For a worship service to be what it is intended, every person present should participate. When one is asked to pray, sing, join in a responsive reading, or assist in some way, he should co-operate. The worship experience is greatly enhanced when the people co-operate together to honor and praise the Lord.
Role of Ushers in a Worship Service
The work of ushering affords an important place of service in the ministry of the church. The ministry of ushers can enhance or detract from the worship service. People entering public services need to be properly greeted and comfortably seated. Ushers have opportunity to minister to the physical comfort of the people as the congregation gathers for worship.
There are several attitudes that an usher should develop in order to be at his best. An usher should look upon the work as a valued Christian ministry, recognizing that any responsibility in the life and worship of a church is important. Each worker has been given a place to fill and should look upon that place as a unique opportunity for serving God. No ministry should be viewed lightly or entered into half-heartedly.
An usher should feel that his ministry deserves his best effort. An usher should desire to be at his best physically, morally, and spiritually, as he deals with worshipers coming into the house of God. He needs to be at his place at least thirty minutes prior to the time of service. He should make a special study of people since he will be dealing directly with them in his ministry and always be willing to take suggestions that are intended to improve his ministry.
It is important that one who would minister as an usher determine to give Christ first place in his heart and life. The service he renders is for Christ’s sake and in Christ name. The realization that the ministry of ushering is service to Christ and His church should cause a deeper sense of responsibility in those doing the ministry of ushering.
There are many opportunities for ministry for an usher. He is the first person to meet the guests who are coming for the service. By making a proper approach, an usher can make a good impression both far himself and the church. People do not forget when they experience a friendly greeting and a spirit of kindnesses. An usher should present a neat personal appearance. He does not have to be dressed in "finery," but he should be clean and tidy. His walk should not be stiff and overly formal, but he should be erect and maintain good posture. He should conduct himself with an air of dignity.
An usher should be meet each guest with a brief, friendly, and pleasant greeting. Each person entering the facility should be made to feel welcome. There it no substitute for genuine friendliness in the ministry of ushering. In a sense an usher is a public relations man for the church. Friendliness on his part will go a long way toward making the initial contact successful.
An usher should look into the faces of the people he greets. Everyone enjoys being noticed and ushers can give that joy. An usher should give each person personalize attention. People do not appreciate being herded about like so many sheep or cattle. They are human beings and want to make eye contact with their hosts. An usher should be careful never to embarrass a guest. He should never take issue with a guest but should seek to allow guests always to be right if humanly possible. It has been said that a visitor makes up his mind as to whether he will ever return to a church within the first few minutes of his arrival. An usher has a wonderful opportunity to influence a visitor in a positive manner during those first few minutes.
An usher must guard against favoritism by giving personal attention to some and refusing it to others. He should not seek out special seats for certain ones. He should never give an impression that it is a greater honor to have some visitors than others. Ushers have a great ministry but they cannot just stand around like a wall flowers. An usher should remember that the church elected him to serve and whatever his hand finds to do, he should do it as unto the Lord. Some of the duties of ushers involve:
1. Seating Guests. In most situations, seating is not a problem. If the situation calls for assisting guest in finding seats, an usher should be prepared. He needs to be acquainted with the auditorium and know the sections that are available for additional guests. If he knows the space situation, much confusion can be eliminated. When there is to be a crowed situation, ushers should seek to sit people as far forward as possible. That will eliminate confusion and disturbance for those arriving later. There will be seats in the rear for them, and their coming in will not disrupt the services.
An usher should be attentive to the people he is serving. When he sets out to lead guest to appropriate seats, he should make sure they are following him. Sometimes he may get into an embarrassing situation by proceeding to a certain pew, thinking that the guests are following, only to learn that he has walked the entire distance by himself, his guests having stopped along the way. When a guest asks about the location of some facility, an usher should go with the person to the entry of that facility. When guiding elderly people it is good for the usher to take hold of their arm to assist them.
2. Attending to the comforts of people. Ushers should see that guests have access to hymn books, Bibles, programs and bulletins. He should attend to anything in the building that needs adjusting. If someone becomes ill, an usher should be available to assist in getting proper attention.
3. Receiving the offering. Ushers usually receive the offerings. It is good for them to assemble at the rear of the auditorium and proceed in orderly formation to the altar. The plates are usually passed beginning at the front and working toward the rear of the congregation. Ushers should attend to this part of the service with dignity and with as little confusion as possible. When the offering has been received, designated personnel should take charge of the offering and properly secure it.
4. Ministering to departing guests. Ushers need to remain after the service to minister to guests as they are leaving. Mixing and mingling with guests after the service is good public relations for a church. Ushers should never be in a big hurry to leave after the services are dismissed.
Ushers' Organization for Service
To do the ministry ushering well requires careful planning. A church should have as many ushers as the need requires. A rotation system of service should be arranged so as to assure actual participation of all elected ushers. The ushers should have regular planning and training sessions. They should have a chairman to help give direction to the ministry. An usher should be always ready to receive counsel from the pastor and others who are leading in the public service. By faithfully fulfilling their ministry, usher can do much to enhance the spirit of worship in the services of their church.
MUSIC IN A WORSHIP SERVICE
Singing God’s praise is an important phase of a church’s worship program. Every church should desire a music program that brings honor to God and credit to the church. Next to the importance of the preaching of the Word is the singing of God’s praise. Usually a church that has a quality music program will not fail in other phases of the worship program.
Personnel of the Music Program
A music program will not rise above its personnel. Those charged with the music ministry are responsible to inaugurate and promote a musical program that will enhance the entire program of the church. The failure or success of any aspect of a church’s program to a large extent is dependent upon pastoral leadership. If a music ministry is ineffective, the pastor must accept responsibility. Being pastor does not mean he should usurp prerogatives of those in charge of various activities, but he must give direction and provide supportive leadership. He is to be an advisor to the minister of music or choir director and give him his whole-hearted cooperation in planning the church’s music ministry.
A pastor should show genuine interest in the choir, encourage its work, become acquainted with the choir member, and attend rehearsals from time to time. He needs to make each person involved in the music ministry feel that each person’s participation is vital to the overall success of the church. When problems arise among singers and between the choir director and musicians, a pastor should help deal with it with as little confusion as possible.
A church should have a functioning music committee composed of people who are interested in the music ministry. The committee should help give direction to the church’s music program and promote a musical educational program for the entire church. The committee should work in cooperation with the pastor and the personnel of the music department..
A minister of music has direct responsibility to make the music ministry effective. He should possess the following qualifications:
(1) Saved. No church should have an unsaved person directing the music program.
(2) Consecrated. Every place of leadership in the work of the church demands consecrated leaders. Those who plan and lead the people in singing praise to the Lord must live close to God.
(3) Musical knowledge. While it is not necessary for a director to know all there is to know about music, a practical knowledge of music is a necessity. A director must know how to develop the choir and how to lead the congregation in rendering music that glorifies the Lord.
(4) An affable personality. To succeed in this work, the director must be able to get along with people.
An important part of any music ministry is the work of accompanists. They should be selected based upon their commitment to the Lord and upon their mastery of their instrument. They must demonstrate the same moral and spiritual requirements as the choir director.
It is important for young people to be involved in music ministry. A graded choirs beginning with young children and continuing through each age group will do much in assuring a positive music ministry. Those working with children and youth music should have practical knowledge of music and possess skill in working with children and youth. All who minister in any area of the music ministry should demonstrate a deep commitment to Christ. No person should be selected based upon talent alone. The life of the musicians will influence the life style of others in the church.
Goals of a Music Program
Some churches seem to have as their goal for their music ministry the attraction of as many participants as possible; others seem to be more intent upon keeping the musicians happy, rather than honoring the Lord. Such goals miss the real purpose of a church music ministry. Consider the following goals:
1. A music program should advance and add to the spirit of worship. The purpose in music is not to entertain, to exploit talent, or to tickle the ego of a choir director. Music is to be rendered as an act of worship. Music is as much a part of worship as praying and preaching and often is used of God to lead people into a deeper spiritual life.
2. A music program should include the enlistment of talent for the glory of God. Every singer and every musician should renders his music for God’s glory and the advancement of His cause. It should never be the goal of a musician to impress the hearers with a display of great talent but as an act of worship.
3. A music program should make its contribution to the overall work of the church. No ministry should function independently of the others. A music ministry must be a part of the total ministry of the church.
Making a Music Program Function Properly
Several factors are essential to assure a proper music ministry:
1. There needs to be cooperation between pastor and music personnel. There have been cases where a pastor and a minister of music were going in different directions. Since they were not working together, the ministry was not very effective. Such problems are usually due to petty egotism and jealousies. The work of the Kingdom of God is glorious and sublime. All involved in ministry must be willing to give and take in order to render their best to the work of the church and to glorify the Lord.
2. Care should be exercised concerning styles of music to be used. Music is an emotional issue for most worshipers. A drastic change usually results in discontent among some within the congregation. Styles of music predominate within the community should be considered when planning music for worship services. Church music does not have to become like the music of the world, but styles of music chosen will impact the congregation’s worship and the outreach effectiveness of the church. Both pastor and director need to be in harmony concerning style of music. Whatever styles are used, the music should reflect a spirit of worship.
3. There should be planning. Without planning, a worship service will lack a consistent theme and not realize its full potential in leading people in worship. In addition to planning each service, the overall ministry of music should be planned to encourage growth and development of those involved. There should be music educational programs which help in the development of the talent of those God adds to His church.
Music selected for each worship service should harmonize with the spirit and theme of the service. Boredom will develop if everything is always done the same way, therefore, planning should include a variety of presentations. There is an attraction in something that is a little unusual, but nothing should be taken to an extreme. Anything that will promote spiritual interest of the congregation is legitimate and should be used. A pastor and choir director, along with the organist and other accompanists should confer when unusual features are to be used. Nothing should ever be done that will draw people away from a worshipful attitude.
Special emphasis days are important to any church. Plans should be made to have special days in the music program of the church. It is good to build programs around Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Father's Day, Children's Day, and other special occasions. It is easy for a church to get into a rut and allow services to become tiresome. If special days are observed, a church will have something different to offer her people. There will be surprises and variety which will help create renewed interest among the people. The various emphasis tend to bring a church’s ministry into the spotlight and create advertising opportunities. Publicity is good for the health of a church and some of the best publicity comes from special services.
Observing special days encourages church members. It gives them a new opportunity to participate and invite friends and neighbors to attend with them. When people are participating in church services, they will have much greater joy in their church experience. Special services create a greater opportunities for individual to render worthwhile service.
There should be a spirit of enthusiasm running through the entire music program. It is difficult for a program to succeed without enthusiasm. A pastor needs to be enthusiastic about the program. If a pastor possesses real enthusiasm, he will inspire the music director, choir members, and the entire membership to be enthusiastic about the music program. Enthusiasms will help a congregation to be a singing church; singing hymns and spiritual songs will help the growth of the spirituality of the congregation.
Widespread participation should be encouraged. It is not enough for a church to have an impressive choir, expert soloists. and other special talent. The total membership needs to be encouraged to sing. Congregational singing gives everyone opportunity to praise the Lord and outwardly express the joy in their heart. An effective music leader will not overlook the congregation’s need for expressing themselves in singing. Just as he takes pride in the choir’s performance, he should take pride in the performance of the congregation as it sings God's praise.
Youth and Junior Choirs
By creating opportunities for various choirs to render music during worship from time to time encourages youth and children to be a part of worship services. A graded music program provides training for the singers of the church for the future. The early training will help to qualify them for this future places of leadership and give them excellent Christian training for the present by giving them a significant place of service.
A graded music program creates interest among the parents. Fathers and mothers are proud of their children and love to hear and see them perform. Youth and junior choir events will bring many parents to the house of God to hear their children sing who otherwise would not attend.
In order to have effective choirs for all ages, each group must have a good leader. While a music minister cannot direct all the choirs, he should have general supervision over them. Workers should be people who love children and know how to minister to them. As well as dedicated workers, a graded music program requires parents’ cooperation. They need to be led to see the value of the program and be willing for their children to participate. Without cooperation of parents, it will be difficult to have children present and on time for rehearsals and programs.
Graded choirs should have regular practice periods and be given opportunities for rendering special programs at appointed times. They should sing the type music they like to sing; however, they should be taught to appreciate regular church music. In addition to special music programs, the choirs should have social activities. Children are social in nature and need opportunities for play as well as work.
THE CHURCH EVANGELIZING
"Go ye therefore. and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father. and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you away, even unto the and of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:19-20). ". . . He that winneth souls is wise" (Proverbs 11:30).
CHAPTER: 9 A GENERAL VIEW OF EVANGELISM
CHAPTER: 10 PASTORAL EVANGELISM
CHAPTER: 11 CHURCH EVANGELISM
A GENERAL VIEW OF EVANGELISM
Evangelism is an often discussed subject but often neglected activity. There is a consciousness of evangelistic responsibility among most Christian groups but that sense of responsibility does not always translate into action. People who believe in Christ need to be involved in evangelism. Church programs need to be focused upon reaching out to lost souls. Without retaining an evangelistic focus, churches loose one of their basic reason for existence.
Meaning of Evangelism
Evangelism is born out of an earnest desire to bring men to Christ and lead them to become a functioning part of the Lord’s church. It involves the use of various means to present the Gospel to those who are lost in such a way or ways as to give them a viable opportunity to place their trust in the Lord, receive His gift of eternal life, and commit themselves to a life of discipleship.
There are many ways by which churches can practice evangelism. One method that has been used for many years is the annual revival meeting. Some even view the annual revival as their church’s evangelism program. The revival meeting has become less effective as a tool for evangelism than it once was. It is difficult to attract lost people to the church to hear the Gospel and without their being in attendance they do not hear the message.
Evangelism involves individuals making a decision but it is more than a decision. The present day emphasis on "decision” seems to be more of a hindrance to true evangelism than an aid. Decisions need to be made, but only after the Holy Spirit has done His work in the heart of the one making a decision. Harm can be done through the use of pressure to get people to make a premature decision. The Holy Spirit must be given opportunity to do His work in the lives of those who are coming to Christ.
Evangelism should not be confused with church enlargement campaigns. Evangelism will lead to church enlargement, but evangelism is much more than an enlargement program. If a church goes out to get people for numbers sake, little evangelism will be practiced. Evangelism is presenting the Gospel in such a way as to give individuals opportunity to turn to Christ; enlargement is simply enlisting people in a church program.
Evangelism requires the work of the divine as well as human witnesses. Christ as the Savior seeks the lost, the Holy Spirit convicts sinners and draws them to Christ, and God for Christ’s sake forgives the sinners and gives the sinner spiritual life. The prospect for evangelism is a person who is lost and blinded by his humanity to his need of Christ. God has chosen to use other human beings who have been redeemed as instruments to give His message to guide the lost person into truth, faith and repentance. The human factors were demonstrated in Philip’s encounter with the man from Ethiopia. When Philip asked the Ethiopian if he understood what he read, he replied, “how can I except some man show me?” (Acts 8:30-31).
The goal of evangelism is not complete until those who have been led to Christ have been shown how to live for Christ. The work of an evangelist includes helping those who profess Christ to become a responsible part of a church.
Importance of Evangelism
When a church does evangelism she is making the main thing about her mission on the earth, the main thing. There is nothing more vital to the church of Jesus Christ than her program of evangelism. Evangelism was the chief business of Christ's ministry. Luke declared that the Lord’s purpose in coming to the earth was “to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:l0). While Christ did many good things for people, He realized His purpose by reaching the hearts of those who were lost. He sought to win the lost through His public ministry. He sought to lead individuals into life and He gave instruction as to how they were to pursue the new life. Even in the Lord’s miracles of healing, there was an evident spiritual objective. Physical healing was always secondary in his purpose; spiritual healing was always primary. Jesus was the Master Soul Winner as He journeyed throughout Israel during His life upon the earth.
Just prior to Christ’s ascension, He commissioned His followers to do the work of evangelism (Matthew 28:18-20). Evangelism was and remains the heart of the Great Commission. Disciples were trained to be “fishers of men” (Matthew). The church was established to carry on evangelistic work by carrying the Gospel throughout the world. In the beginning of the church age, evangelism was the main work of the church; it must continue to be the chief business of the Lord’s churches today.
Evangelism is God's ordained plan of winning the lost. God has given those who are redeemed a place in His redemptive program. God calls sinners to Himself and redeems them. He then makes them the means of bringing others to redemption in Christ. In every age God has used human means in accomplishing great spiritual ends. Men must hear before they can be saved. There must be someone who proclaim the gospel and God has chosen to use those whom He has redeemed for that solemn task.
God’s evangelistic purpose explains the ministry of the Holy Spirit, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit brings the dynamic power of God into the work of evangelism. He enables believers to be used as a channel in the winning of souls. He gives power to their testimony. He prepares and convicts the lost of sin and quickens them into newness of spiritual life. Having done that work in the heart of those that were lost, He then leads then into a church relationship and into a place of Christian service.
Evangelism is the means of growth and development for Christians. Doing the work of evangelism is the greatest stimulant to Christian growth and development. Evangelism leads a believer to study the scriptures, inspires a believer to live a consecrated life, and creates a prayerful spirit.
Evangelism brings sinners to Christ. Without coming to Christ, they are doomed to eternal destruction; with Christ, they have a home in heaven and eternal life. When a person repents of sin and turns in faith to the Lord, there is not only joy on the earth but joy in the presence of the angels in heaven (Luke 15:10).
Evangelism brings people into a relationship with the church. A scriptural church is a congregation of baptized believers joined together by the Holy Spirit in the ordinances, doctrines, and work of Christ. When a person is saved, he can be added to the fellowship of a local church and become a functioning member (Acts 2:47). There is joy each time a new person is added to a Christian fellowship. The true purpose of evangelism has not been realized until the repentant sinner has been assimilated into a congregation and has become a functioning part of a local body of believers.
Evangelism results in people growing and developing in the Christian graces. As redeemed sinners come into a body of believers, they are to be given spiritual guidance. A church should give instructions to new believers and provide ample opportunities for them to take part in Christian service. New believers are to be part of a body that is “continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people” (Acts 2:46-47).
Evangelism inspire other believers to join in the work of outreach. Evangelism is caught rather than taught. When one believer leads a sinner to repentance and faith, it creates a thirst in others to be involved in that work. There is no joy like the joy that comes from being used of God to lead a sinner to repentance and faith. When one is saved, there is an immediate desire to tell others about Jesus. That desire should be encouraged and there is no better way to encourage a new believer in witnessing than to be a part of a witnessing congregation.
Incentives for Evangelism
There is a cloud of spiritual darkness hanging over the world. Evidences of spiritual destitution may be seen on every hand. The imprint of sin has been stamped heavily upon the hearts and lives of humanity. The situation has but one answer--Jesus Christ and his saving power. The evidence of so great a need in the world should move churches and Christians forward in a great evangelistic effort. There is no better way to transform society than to win souls. Believers everywhere should say as did Isaiah, "Here am I Lord, send me.”
One of the assigned task God has given to churches is to take the Gospel to the lost. Churches must not fail in the performance of that duty. The eternal destiny of souls is at stake. The Apostle Paul declared, “the love of Christ constrains us.” God’s love even more than His command should motivate all who believe in Christ to do the work of evangelism. The bloody sweat of Gethsemane, the thorn pierced brow, and the scourged and bleeding back of Christ pleads with all who know Him to share His message with one and all. Calvary with its pain, its humiliation, its sin offering demands that the Gospel be given to all men.
It is imperative that all who know Christ be involved in the task of evangelism because it is the right thing to do. How terrible it would be to have good news that could save a person’s life and the news be withheld from him. It would be like the incident where lepers went into the enemy’s camp to keep from starving and discovered that the enemy had fled and left an abundance of food. They ate to their full and begin to store up for the future. The lepers suddenly remembered that the people in Jerusalem were on the verge of starvation. They said to each other, “We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king's household” (2 Kings 7:9). No church, no Christian is doing well if they withhold the message of Christ from sinners dying in their sin.
Methods in Evangelism
One of the methods of evangelism is mass evangelism. An example of New Testament mass evangelism was the meeting on the Day of Pentecost when three thousand souls were saved and added to the church. Since the Day of Pentecost, men with extraordinary spiritual gifts have been used mightily of the Lord in dealing with large crowds. Such notables as Moody, Whitefield, Wesley, Sunday, and Smith were successful in mass evangelism. Billy Graham stands as the modern day giant in the field. The local church revival is a form of mass evangelism on a more limited scale.
House-to-house evangelism is a powerful method for winning people to the Lord. Peter went to the house of Cornelius to explain how he and his household could be saved through faith in Christ. Down through the centuries, dedicated Christians have followed that example and have presenting the Gospel to people in their homes. As a result many have come to repentance and faith. When the message is presented face to face, it is hard for a prospect not to realize that the message is intended for him personally.
Of all methods in evangelism, personal soul winning is the most foundational method. Mass evangelism is made more effective when it is undergirded by personal witnessing. Jesus showed the power of personal encounters as He dealt with the Samaritan Woman and Nicodemus. Throughout His personal ministry, Jesus magnified the worth of the individual soul as He ministered to people.
A strong evangelistic pastor will usually develop a strong evangelistic church. To provide the kind of leadership needed in the area of evangelism, a pastor must have a passion for the souls of men. Such passion grows out of his own conversion experience. No man, regardless of his abilities, can lead a church in the spiritual work of evangelism if he himself has no real spirituality. To lead others to commit to a life of witnessing, a pastor must be what he claims to be. Any man who does not seek to live according to the Lord’s standard of spirituality and morality will not be able to provide the spiritual leadership necessary in developing a witnessing congregation.
Essential Characteristics of an Evangelistic Pastor
Evangelism requires a deep love for people and a great desire to see them saved. Paul showed that spirit in his testimony concerning his burden for Israel, “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:1-3). An evangelistic pastor must love people and love the souls of lost individuals.
A true evangelistic pastor must possess certain doctrinal convictions. The Bible shows that John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the Apostle Paul were men of conviction. Men who lead churches must believe the doctrines of the kingdom and possess courage to preach them. A pastor who does not believe that the Word of God holds the answer to the world’s spiritual need should not have a place of leadership over a church. A pastor who is effective in evangelism must not only be able to see a world lost in sin, but he must also see individuals lost in sin who need the message of Christ.
One of the most essential quality for anyone involved in evangelism is to be under the control, power, and leadership of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the dynamic power which makes the witness of the evangelist effective. Any effective witnessing situation demands that the conversation involve the witness, the lost person, and the Holy Spirit to convict and draw the lost person to Christ. Without the partnership of the Holy Spirit all witnessing endeavors will be ineffective.
Doing the work of an evangelist requires sacrifice. The Lord gave His life to save people. There has never been a greater sacrifice for the souls of men than the Lord’s death upon the Cross. Just as it required the sacrifice of Christ to establish the love of Calvary, it requires a sacrifice to proclaim and promote the love of Calvary. Such a sacrificial spirit must be found in the heart and life of an evangelistic pastor. He must realize that no price is too great in order to tell others how to have life in the Lord. Real evangelism requires a total commitment on the part of a pastor.
Leadership Required of an Evangelistic Pastor
A pastor is the recognized spiritual leader of the church in all things. His leadership is usually respected and followed by the church. A pastor is the key leader in any church activity. Leading a church to fulfil her evangelistic responsibility is a heavy pastoral leadership responsibility but it is a responsibility that no pastor should neglect. Normally, a church is only as evangelistic as the pastor who leads in her ministry. A God-called and Holy Spirit-directed pastor has no easy task in the Lord’s work. An evangelistic pastor must fulfil all regular duties of the pastorate plus lead people to be involved in witnessing.
All pastors have a preaching ministry that has a great time demand, but evangelistic preaching goes even further. To preach evangelistic a pastor must be dedicated to preaching the Word of God and following the Bible examples of evangelistic preaching. There are many examples of New Testament sermons that were used of God in bringing men into the kingdom of God, Peter on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-36); Stephen (even though he was a deacon) as he witnessed to the Jews (Acts 6:15-7:60); and Philip as he preached to the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-40). Most of the sermons of Paul's possessed an evangelistic intent.
The preaching of an evangelistic pastor must have clarity and simplicity. Such preaching must be doctrinal sound based firmly upon the Scriptures. Such preaching can be used of the Lord to move men and women to faith. While a pastor may quote Shakespeare and Milton as illustrations, the most powerful evangelistic quotes will come from Jesus and Paul and other biblical characters.
Evangelistic preaching must be in the power of the Holy Spirt. Without His presence in the preaching ministry, a pastor's words will be just words. Regardless of a pastors speaking ability, there is no substitute for the power of Holy Spirit in the evangelistic ministry of a pastor.
The Personal Ministry of an Evangelistic Pastor
An evangelistic pastor must do more than preach. Spurgeon was a power in the pulpit, but for forty years in London he averaged one convert a day in personal work (Kellar). A pastor must train himself to be alert to the daily opportunities for evangelism. He should develop personal witnessing as a way of life and seek to witness daily. By being an example in personal work, a pastor can inspire the people to follow his leadership in that area. If soul winning is a priority with the pastor, it will come to be a priority among the people he leads. Paul admonished Timothy. "Do the work of an evangelist” (II Timothy 4:5). That admonition still stands as a challenge for pastors today.
The Overall Evangelistic Ministry
There is a technical and mechanical side to a pastor's ministry. It has to do with planning and organizing the work of the church. The success or failure of any endeavor of the church depends to a large degree upon the quality of planning invested in the endeavor. Good things seldom just happen; they come about through planning and hard work. Several factors are necessary in planning an evangelistic ministry:
An evangelistic pastor need to have a long range vision of the church's need. In planning, for a fruitful ministry, a pastor must take into account not only the needs of today, but also of tomorrow. Many churches have been blocked from progress because their pastor failed to lead the church to have a vision for growth and plan for a harvest of souls. Without a vision for reaching people, churches will often fail to develop adequate buildings, equipment, and the organization necessary to support growth.
A evangelistic pastor must be a diligent student of methods. Methods will not take the place of a lack of spirituality but they are important. Not all methods will not work in all situation. A pastor must be able to adapt the method that will work best with the people he leads.
An Evangelist Pastor must Be a Skilled Executive
An evangelistic ministry requires planning and the executing of those plans. To be effective a pastor must “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (I Peter 5:2-3). A pastor who leads effectively will involve the total membership as much as possible in the ministry. He will enlist the cooperation of the people and with them will work both to plan outreach activities and lead in carrying out those plans.
Every activity of the church should be directly or indirectly concerned with evangelism. Reaching the lost is one of the purposes for churches being in the world. Baptists historically have been committed to making evangelism an essential part of the church program, but in recent years, the emphasis on evangelism seems to have diminished. The record of baptisms among the churches affiliated with the Baptist Missionary Association demonstrates the diminishing emphasis or effectiveness. In the decade of the 1960's the average baptism per church on an annual basis was ten; in the decade of the 1990's the average has dropped to nine per church (The Directory and Handbook).
The ratio of converts per membership has become embarrassing. In 2003 the churches affiliated with the Baptist Missionary Association of America reported 6,674 baptisms with a total membership of 235,650. To be more accurate, perhaps, the number of baptism should be compared to the average worship attendance which was approximately 100,000. That would mean that there was approximately one conversion for every fifteen in worship attendance. The ratio needs to be improved.
Characteristics of an Evangelistic Church
Spiritual. Cold and formal churches do not attract and hold people who have spiritual desires and aspirations. When one comes to a church to find God and finds nothing but show and cold formalism, he goes away keenly disappointed. There can be no substitute for vibrant worship service in the ministry of a church.
Friendly. A church must show herself friendly to those who come to the services. People love to be treated with courtesy and respect and that requires much more than a hand shake by a greeter at the door. For a church to project friendship to those who come her way, the people must become genuinely interested in those who attend the services and be open to the presence of those who are visitors.
Most churches see themselves as a friendly church. One church in the area where I pastor even put on their sign “Welcome to the Friendly Church.” A church does not become friendly by putting such a slogan upon her sign. It is up to the members to project friendship both to those who attend regularly and to those who are visitors. If members of a church are not careful they will be friendly to each other and unintentionally leave visitors out in the cold. One church made it a rule that after the benediction, members were to send the first three minutes visiting with those in attendance with whom they were not acquainted. Perhaps such a practice would prevent a church who thinks of herself as friendly from being seen as unfriendly by visitors.
Believe that Jesus saves. It is important that a pastor and the members of the church believe that Jesus can save the worst sinner. “It is not unusual to hear a member say of an unreached family, you are wasting your time witnessing to that family. They are not church people.” Paul said, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (I Timothy 1:15). If a church is to be evangelistic, she must embrace the belief expressed by Paul and believe from a practical standpoint that Jesus can and does save the vilest of sinners. Such a believe will prevent certain people in the community from being written off as not being an evangelistic prospect. Unless the witnessing efforts of the people within the church practically demonstrate such a faith, they are just pretending to believe that Jesus saves and pretension in either an individual or a church will soon be detected.
Attentiveness Toward Those Who Are Lost. If a church is to be evangelistic, she must develop programs of outreach. Most people who are lost are not going to attend church services to hear the Gospel; the Gospel must be taken to them. Churches need to use every conceivable method to take the Gospel into her community. A church will not be very successful in winning people to Jesus if she depends upon her services to attract the unreached. Most unreached people have no desire to attend an evangelist church service. One historian of the social and intellectual history of the United States quoted an American Pioneer as saying “I would rather burn in hell than listen to a Baptist preacher whine for an hour.” Unfortunately that attitude has grown worse with the passing of time. If the unreached are to be reached through the ministry of a church, the church must go out an minister to them.
When an unchurched person does come into a church service, the service should not be a complete turn off to him. A church should give attention to her practices which might be repelling to people who are not Christian. The services do not have to become worldly but they should be inspiring. Boredom in church services should be banished and replaced with a spirit that says I love you and I am excited to be here worshiping with you.
United. To be effective in evangelism, a church membership needs to one in Christ. A church that wants to win the lost needs to cultivate a spirit of oneness in love for each other and for lost souls, in her loyalty to the doctrines of Christ, in her purpose to glorify God through her worship and through all her activities. An evangelist church must be one in the Holy Spirit and one in purpose.
Developing a strategy for Evangelism
An effective program of evangelism does not just happen. Effective evangelism within a church requires the development of a strategy. The following are suggested steps in developing such a strategy:
(1) Surveying the field. In most church fields, half of the population is unchurched and many who are churched have no conception of the new birth or of personal responsibility to the ministry of the church. General knowledge or assumptions about a particular church field, however, is inadequate. A church needs to gather real information about her particular field. One way to gather such information is through a community survey and based upon the information gathered set realistic goals for her evangelistic work. In addition to a local survey, information about communities is available through various companies based upon the national census taken by the government once every ten years.
Whatever steps are taken to know a particular community, it is important that a church identify those who need to be saved, the saved who need to be churched, and those within the church who need to be enlisted in Christian service.
(2) Using the Sunday school. A good strategy for evangelism is to work through the Sunday school program. Classes should develop a prospect list. Potential prospects for a class can be identified from the general survey made by the church. Prospects can also be identified through class members who have loved ones and friends who need to be reached for Christ and the church.
When once a class has a list of prospects, a concerted effort needs to be made to reach those prospects. Class members can be encouraged to pray for their prospects and seek to enroll them in Bible study. Prospects can be invited to class social activities as a way of introducing them to class members and breaking down the prospect’s resistance to participation. When once real people have been identified as needing the Gospel message, classes need to do whatever is necessary to reach out to those people.
All workers in a Sunday school program should be impressed with the opportunities for outreach. With proper emphasis, a Sunday school can be made an aggressive, evangelistic agency of the church. Superintendent and teachers need to be charged with responsibility for keeping the fires of evangelism burning in their organization. The personal association of teachers and workers with pupils afford great opportunities of presenting Christ as Savior.
(3) Training soul winners. Not everyone in the church can be enlisted as an active personal witness, but every church has potential witness who can be trained and led to become effective in reaching out to the unreached. Kennedy in Evangelism Explosion teaches that the kind of people who can be trained for soul winning must be faithful, available, and teachable. Pastors and church leaders need to identify such people and develop a program for putting into the hands of such people the tools needed to become effective witnesses.
When developing an outreach program, it is important to remember that the skills for witnessing are more caught than taught. Potential witnesses need to be taught certain truths about witnessing but their greatest need is to be given on-the-job training in witnessing. Most Christians know enough to be a witness but they have not developed the skill of actually getting out an encountering unreached people. A training program which gives individuals experience in going out into the field with another individual who is an experienced soul winner is much more effective than trying to teach soul winning in a class room.
While not all have the skill for direct personal witnessing, most Christian can be led to be a part of a church wide visitation program. One program which is being used successfully in many churches is the GROW program. Members are asked to commit one hour per month to outreach activities. Activities include visitation, writing letters to prospects, prayer for the lost and for those going out in visitation, and personal witnessing. The GROW program divides all who will commit one hour per month into four teams. Each team is given a week in which they will meet and do their work in outreach. By having different levels of outreach activities, even the most timid can find an entry level of participation. By letting people begin at their level of comfort, there is usually a greater level of participation. It also gives people opportunity to grow in their skill level.
Promoting an Evangelistic Ministry.
A pastor should preach regularly on great commission themes. If evangelism is not emphasized from the pulpit, it will not be emphasized in any part of a church’s program. While most people come to know Christ through personal evangelism, unless a pastor is committed to preaching messages with a view of moving men toward Christ, either in salvation or consecrated service, evangelism within the church will not be a high priority among the church membership.
Church need to use various publications and activities for outreach. Such materials as the bulletin and news letters should be used to promote a spirit of evangelism. Publications can include brief evangelistic messages which stress the need for sharing the Gospel. Reports of evangelistic successes can be included in the publications. Various activities that promote evangelism can be planned. Such things as community wide sun rise services Easter morning, revival meetings, guest evangelistic speakers, and visiting missionaries help create a spirit of evangelism with a church.
Rewards of Evangelism
A church that commits herself for carrying out the great commission will be rewarded for her work. A spirit of evangelism creates a warm spiritual ministry throughout the church’s program. When the people of a church have a passion for winning lost souls, a special spirit will radiate in all facets of the church’s ministry. Evangelism causes everything in the church to become Christ centered and spiritual power and fervor will be evident in all that the church does. The singing in such a church will have more spirit, the praying will be more sincere, the teaching will be more effective, and the preaching will have more power. The presence of the Holy Spirit will be evident in the total life and work of the church.
Evangelism brings the joy of seeing many led to Christ. No joy can compare with the joy of seeing lost souls come to Christ. When a church is doing evangelism, the Lord gives her the joy of knowing that God is blessing her ministry and that she is participating in her divinely assigned mission.
Evangelism creates a growing membership. A church that brings people to Jesus will find that the Lord blesses with growth. People are added to the membership and becomes a part of the expanding ministry. When a church is receiving newly saved people she will have more resources, more talent, and more consecrated workmen. The rewards for becoming an evangelistic church are worth whatever effort and whatever cost a church must pay. Giving evangelism it proper emphasis ensures that a church is participating in the work of God for which God places her in the world.
All the training that can be done and all the emphasis that can be given to evangelism will not make a church evangelistic unless the people prepare themselves to be used of God. The Lord outlined the preparation necessary for receiving His blessings, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (II Chronicles 7:14). The greatest preparation for evangelism is for the people to be led to be humble, to be prayerful, to be in search for God’s will, and to be repentant of sin. A people who are willing to make that preparation will be used by the Lord.
THE CHURCH REVIVAL MEETING
There have been great spiritual revivals throughout the history of Christianity. In modern times local revival meetings are conducted as church revivals, city wide revivals; simultaneous revivals among a group of churches, youth revivals, and even inter church revivals.
The latter part of the twentieth century saw a decline in the local church revival meeting as an outreach tool. Some have raised objections arguing that revival meetings do not represent the true nature of a church, but represents a church under a spell of emotional excitement. The results of such meetings usually do not endure. People are pressured into making decisions, and when all the emotional excitement passes, those who made professions go back to their old way of life. It is pointed out that even churches which are lifted high on a peak of enthusiasm during such meetings usually lapses back into the old rut of doing nothing.
There is also the argument that revivals meetings are not cost effective, costing too much for the benefit they offer. It is pointed out that a great deal of money is invested in advertising, promoting, and paying evangelists. It is also noted that several high paid professional evangelists have proven themselves unworthy of church support by their life style.
While objections to revival meetings are legitimate, there is not enough substance to the objections to do away with the concept of revival meetings. The problem does not seem to be with the concept but with the conduct of such meetings. If a church carefully prepares for a revival meetings, the meeting can prove effective. A good resource for careful planning is a workbook entitled REVIVAL PLANS THAT WORK published by the Journey House, Marettia, Oklahoma. Other resources are also available to aid in planning for revival meetings.
The argument that revival meetings are outbursts of a shallow emotionalism may be true in certain instances, but often what opponents are considering emotionalism is really a demonstration of the power and influence of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of the people. As far as cost are concerned, souls won through revival meetings are of far greater value than the few dollars invested in having such a meeting. There have been men and women, boys and girls have been saved and their lives changes through the ministry of revivals. Lives that had made shipwreck by sin have been reclaimed to the glory of God. Churches on the verge of closing have received a new spark of new life and have experienced a new beginning.
Making Plans for a Revival
The greatest problem with revival meetings in most churches is a lack of planning. Dates are carelessly set, and meetings begun without adequate promotion or involvement of the people. Before setting a date for a revival meeting, consideration should be given to the need for such a meeting. Churches should not sponsor a revival meeting unless there is a need for it. Churches should not plan a meeting the second Sunday in August simply because it is a long standing custom of the church.
Setting the time for a revival meeting demands consideration of the circumstances within the ministry field. In farming areas, a meeting should not be scheduled during the busiest farm season. In suburban areas churches should take into consideration the work schedules of the people and other important events taking place within the community. Promoting a revival meeting is difficult without deliberately going up against some big event that is sponsored by the community or city.
Many times the internal conditions of a church are not conducive to a successful revival meeting. In those situations, perhaps, a revival of a different sort is needed. A church may need to be called to a season of prayer for God to heal whatever breach is hindering the fellowship; perhaps, a revival of personal work is needed. Instead of a scheduled meeting, perhaps, the church could engage in a week of visitation and soul winning.
As plans for a revival meeting is made, a church will usually invite outside help. Most churches have a custom of inviting a visiting evangelist to assist the pastor in the meeting. Often a singer and musician are invited. In bringing outside help, the church should be governed by the following points:
(1) Do those being considered have a good reputation and a fruitful ministry?
(2) Does the pastor approve of those being invited?
(3) Is there wide spread support within the members for the team that is being invited?
A church must make herself ready for a revival. Prayer meetings, training people in personal soul-winning, identifying a list of evangelistic prospects, and creating an air of expectancy for the approaching meeting are all essential preparatory steps for a successful meeting.
A revival meeting demands adequate publicity. Every legitimate source of publicity should be used to insure that all people in the area are made aware of the coming meeting. Posters, newspaper ads, spot radio announcements, signs, news letters, and word-of-mouth publicity are all effective means of publicizing a revival meeting.
Conducting a Revival
Singing plays a vital part in revival meetings. The singing should be spirited and appealing to the heart. Music that has more foot appeal than heart appeal, however, should not be used. The musicians selected should be people who are living dedicated lives to the Lord. A person should not be used who has talent but no testimony. While special music should be used, it is important that congregational singing be emphasized. An important part of the music is the invitation. It should be selected in advanced, but if a situation develops that would call for a different selection, the musicians should be ready to make the adjustment.
Emphasis should be given to the preaching throughout the meeting. Nothing should be done that would take away from the proclamation of the Word of God. While there should be a note of evangelism in the preaching, the spiritual needs of Christians should not be neglected. After all “revival” carries the idea of renewal. Only those in possession of spiritual life can be renewed; all others must be reborn to have spiritual life.
A revival meeting affords opportunity for Christians to become involved in visitation and witnessing. In all witnessing endeavors, however, care should be taken to respect the personality of all prospects. “A person convinced against his will is unconvinced still.” A witness should work in partnership with the Holy Spirit. A witness can present the Gospel in words but, without the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, those words will be of non effect. Sometimes a person can approach a prospect who shows signs of conviction during a service, but great care should be taken when doing so. Sometimes more harm than good is done if a prospect is made to feel pressured into a decision.
Those who seek to be witness, should be consecrated to the Lord. Prayer for the unreached should proceed the actually witnessing encounter. Certainly all witnesses must possess an experimental knowledge of salvation and have knowledge of how to use the Scripture in presenting the Gospel. It is good for a witness to have learned an outline for presenting the Gospel and to have memorized appropriate Scripture. The best way for a potential witness to be trained in witnessing is to participate with someone who has already developed skill as a personal witness. A lack of experience, however, should not keep a Christian who has a burden for a lost friend or relative from sharing with that person a personal testimony and an assuring word that Jesus saves.
As a church enters into a revival meeting, there should be an air of expectancy. Members should be challenged to rededicate their lives to the Lord. When obvious sin is present within members, prayer should be made for repentance. Before much can be done to impact others, Christians need to get right with the Lord (II Chronicles 7:14).
It is appropriate to expect to see sinners converted through the witnessing and preaching during a revival meeting. When there are conversions, members should work with the newly saved helping them to see their need for baptism and participation in church life. If a person is converted and begins attending church, if he is not actually taken in by some group within the church, he will probably drop out of church life all together. It has been recognized by most people involved in church growth that unless a new member can become friends with several people in the church within the first few weeks of membership, he will never become a real part of church life.
One exciting results that sometimes occurs in revival meetings comes from decisions made by those already saved. Many have answered the call to ministry during revival meetings. Some have answer the call to go as a missionary to a distant field. Others have been led to commit their lives to dedicated service in the work of their own church.
Matthew 28:20--Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:...."
CHAPTER: 12 NEW TESTAMENT EMPHASIS OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
CHAPTER: 13 CHRISTIAN EDUCATION TODAY
CHAPTER: 14 MAKING THE SUNDAY SCHOOL FUNCTION EFFECTIVELY
CHAPTER: 15 PROMOTING DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING
CHAPTER: 16 ACHIEVING RELEVANCE IN A CHURCH PROGRAM
CHAPTER: 17 SPECIALIZED MINISTRIES--MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN
NEW TESTAMENT EMPHASIS OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
Both the Old and New Testaments emphasize the value of religious education. In the Old Testament, God directed that education be a part of the home life, the temple activities, and the festivals that were observed. Like Jesus, the apostles, and other gave similar emphasis to the importance of religious education.
Educational Terminology in the New Testament
Didactic language abounds throughout the New Testament, especially in the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. “Thirty-nine times Jesus is called teacher and thirty-nine times he is said to be teaching. Never is he called preacher or evangelist, yet eleven timer he is said to preach, five times to evangelize. Six timer he calls himself teacher, twenty-three times is called teacher by his disciples, ten times by his opponents" (Price).
Terms used concerning religious educational in the New Testament help to understand the nature of education in the New Testament and the emphasize it received.
(1) "Didasko" means “teach" and it means either to inform others or deliver a discourse much like what is considered a lecture. A teacher, therefore, is one who instructs. The New Testament set a high standard for those who fill the office of a teacher (Romans 2:20; Hebrews 5:12). The title Rabbi refers to Jewish teachers, John 1:38; John 3:2; 8:4, to Paul, I Timothy 2:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28).
(2) "Manthand” means “learn” and has to do with the acquisition of knowledge. The central thought of teaching is causing one to learn. Teaching and learning are inseparable. and both imply relationship and activity in the acquisition of knowledge. Jesus showed the personal relationship between teacher and pupils when he invited people to "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me." (Matthew 11:28. 29). Jesus was using a normal manner for inviting people to become His disciple. “Among the Jews a pupil who submitted himself to the instruction of a certain teacher was sometimes said to take his yoke.'Take my yoke upon you' is therefore only a figurative way of saying, become my pupils (disciples), submit yourselves to my instructions; which is stated again in unfigurative terms, 'and learn of me'”. (Broadus).
(3) "Mathetes" means "a learner, pupil, or disciple." The word is used one hundred and forty-two times in the Synoptic Gospels and each instance describes one who is learning from Christ.
In the Great Commission Christ commands "to make disciples” (Matthew 28;18-20). To disciple a person to Christ means to cause that person to be a student of Christ. The emphasis of the Great Commission is to make disciples by teaching, baptizing, and training.
(4) "Paratithemi” literally means to place beside and carries the idea of presenting a truth in terms that the learner can understand. It relates specifically to the way the Lord used parables in His teaching (Matthew 13:24; Acts 16:34; 1 Corinthians 10:27; Hebrews 5:12-14). The references show that the relation of Christ to his followers was essentially educational.
In the Book of Acts, “Teaching” (doctrine) occurs four times (2:42; 5:28; 13:12; 17:79). The verb “to teach” occurs sixteen times; “making disciples" occurs once referring to Paul making disciples at Derbe (Acts 14:20-21). Together the use of such terms shows that education was an important emphasis in the book of Acts.
The writings of Paul carried the same educational emphasis. He referred to himself as a teacher claiming direct appointment from God as an authority for what he preached and taught. (Romans 2:15; 11 Timothy 1;12). Paul used the word “knowledge” twenty-three times in his writings. His aspiration was to know Christ, and the power of his resurrection (Philippians 3:10). Paul prayed for the Ephesians “That.... God .... may give ... the spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17). For the Philippians, he prayed that their “love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement” (Philippians 1:9).
Peter’s writings also contained an educational emphasis. He stressed the importance of growth, which is another word for learning. The purpose of all Christian education is to promote growth among the disciples. Christian disciples need to experience steady and continued growth.
Educational Institutions in the New Testament
God’s primary institution for fostering religious education has always been the home. In the early dawn of the human race, God instituted the family and commissioned it to propagate the race, subdue the earth and the animals, execute the divine purposes of civilization including socialization and education in morals and religion. In a later period, God selected one family, that of Abraham and Sarah, through which to educate and redeem the world (Genesis 12.1-3). For thousands of years the home was God's only agency to educate and train.
The ancient custom of training in the home was still the emphasis in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul lays special stress upon religious training in the home: “Ye fathers. provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephisians 6:4). In those words Paul was exhorting parents to educate their children morally and religiously, both by precept and example. Their responsibility was to teach by actions as well as by words.
The home of Aquila and Priscilla was dedicated to the teaching of religion. They took Apollos, who was a brilliant young minister, and taught him the way of the Lord more perfectly (Acts 18:26].
Paul shows that Timothy had early childhood training in spiritual and moral matters. Writing to him he declared: “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15). An again he writes: “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also." (II Timothy l:5). Timothy's home must have been a home where truth was believed and taught.
Many of the New Testament churches were closely associated with the home. In some instances the entire church would meet in one of the believer’s homes. There may have been “'household churches.” In such cases the entire services which consisted of singing, preaching, and teaching would be carried on in the home. What an honor it must have been to have the church carry on her teaching and preaching ministry in some humble believer’s house!
As Christianity developed, churches became an important in the educational process. In sending the church into all the world, Christ was careful to define her educational responsibility in that she was to "make disciples" and then to teach them to observe all things whatsoever had been commanded (Matthew 28:20). It is significant that the commission is fifty percent educational.
The pastor's responsibility as a spiritual leader of the church included a teaching ministry. That was seen in the various titles that apply to him and the qualifications required of a pastor. One title for a pastor was shepherd. A shepherd was one who tends a flock, and by analogy a person who gives mental and spiritual nourishment and guards and supports those under his care, (Matthew 9:36; John 10:16; 1 Peter 2:24; Ephesians 4:11.) A pastor was to be guided by love in exercising his shepherding function (John 21:15-18).
Another title used of spiritual leaders of churches was overseer. As overseer a pastor must feed and protect the people under his care, (Acts 20:28). Among the various qualifications of an overseer or bishop was an aptitude for teaching (I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9). Paul does not differentiate between a pastor and a teacher; but seems to identify pastors with teachers in Ephesians 4:11 emphasizing teaching as one of the primary functions of a pastor (See Romans 12:7; and I Corinthians 12:28).
In the early church there was the office of an evangelist. The evangelist, like the pastor, had teaching responsibility. His chief work was to teach God's plan of salvation wherever he went. Paul writing to Timothy exhorted him to teach (I Timothy 4:11). and “do the work of an evangelist” (II Timothy 4:5).
Although the first pastors were to function as teachers, it appears that there developed an office of teacher within the early church (I Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11). As the churches grew, there was a need for teachers to assist in the teaching ministry of the churches as they spread among the Gentiles.
The two ordinances observed by churches, baptism and the Lord's Supper, were tools for teaching as well as acts of worship. The ordinances enforce the truths of the gospel with a visual demonstration. The initial ordinance pictures to the eye the basic truths of Christianity--that we are saved through the death and resurrection of Christ; baptism pictures believers union with Christ and His death and resurrection. Baptism shows that a believer rises from his old life of sin to live in newness of life. Baptism also contains a picture of the day that our mortal bodies shall be raised and transformed into spiritual bodies like Christ’s glorious body (Romans 6:4; Galatians 3:27. Philippians 3:21).
The Lord's Supper teaches in beautiful pictorial symbol the fundamental truths of Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of the world. As believers partakes of the broken bits of bread and the fruit of the vine, they can see how Christ’s body was broken and his blood shed for the sins of mankind! Spoken words by the most eloquent speaker cannot make an equal impression upon the mind of participants than that made by the simple ordinance of the Memorial Supper.
Educational Personalities in the New Testament
Jesus is the greatest teacher not only in the Bible but of all ages. While the mission of Christ was to give His life as a ransom for the sins of man, as He walked among men, He was committed to teaching men the ways of God. There was no other teacher His equal. His disciples, the general public, and even his bitter enemies all recognized Him as teacher. His Sermon on the Mount was a matchless demonstration of great teaching. Matthew described his action at the beginning of the sermon: "he opened his mouth, and taught" (Matthew 5:2). He revealed His aptitude for teaching as He sat with Jewish teachers of the law in the Temple at the age of twelve, (Luke 2:41).
The people marveled at His teaching for He taught not as the Scribes and Pharisees but with authority, (Luke 4:14, 15; Matthew 7:29). The Scribes had to quote some illustrious rabbi to enforce their teachings. Jesus could teach with authority because He was conscious that He was God's Messiah and a teacher come from God. He had confidence that God’s full and complete authority resided in him.
While Jesus was unique in His teaching, He followed the teaching methods used by rabbis. He gathered about him a group of chosen disciples whom He trained and taught with a view to perpetuating His teachings through them. Wherever He was, He used it as His class room. He taught in the temple courts, in the synagogues, in private, on the sea, and on the public highway. His teaching was always in harmony with the Old Testament scriptures. He taught by direct discourse, question and answer, and by brief and pointed statements. He made extensive use of parables, simile, hyperboles, metaphors, and paradoxes. His principles and methods of teaching are the standard by which all teaching should be measured. Christ is the ideal which all Christian teachers should emulate.
While Jesus used teaching methods that were common in His day, His teaching differed sharply from that of the rabbis. They stressed the letter of the law devoid of feelings, Christ emphasized the dignity of the individual, with boundless sympathy for man's misfortune, abiding faith in his worth and destiny, and earnest desire for the salvation of His listeners. The rabbis could only lift up a corrupted example, Jesus set before men a perfection example. He by example verified every moral, ethical, and spiritual precept which he taught. By every criteria, Jesus proved Himself to be the prefect standard of a teacher. Jesus, the Incomparable Teacher, is the great ideal of all who dedicate themselves to religious teaching.
The Apostles followed in the footsteps of Jesus by giving themselves to the ministry of teaching. The emphasis which they placed upon teaching grew out of the need of the people for instruction and the command of Jesus to teach all men “to observe whatsoever I have commanded you.” The New Testament reports that “believers in Jerusalem continued in the apostles' doctrine, (Acts 2:24), and daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42).
Antioch became the first foreign missionary center of the church. In Antioch, Paul, Silas, Barnabas and many others taught the word of the Lord, (Acts 15:35). Paul and Silas reasoned with the people out of the scriptures in Thessalonica for three weeks (Acts 17:1-3), they taught in Berea, they taught in the synagogue. Usually after their teaching in the synagogue, they taught those who demonstrated interest in a smaller more private setting. Their teaching resulted in many being saved and confirmed in the Word of God (Acts 17:10-15).
Paul’s ministry emphasized the teaching the Word. He taught in Athens both in the synagogue and market place (Acts 17:16). He taught for a year and a half in the house of Justus after being refused access to the synagogue in Corinth. Through his teaching, he laid the foundation for a great church in that place (Acts 18:1-11). Paul taught for two years in the school of Tyrannus while in Ephesus (Acts 19:8-10). He taught in Rome so persuasively that many accepted the Gospel truth (Acts 28:23).
The educational emphasis of the New Testament is beyond question. The general educational terminology of New Testament literature, the educational function of New Testament institutions, and the educational ministry of Jesus and others testify to the importance of an educational ministry in today’s churches.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION TODAY
Christian education is essential part of church life today. If the education emphasis is weak, the entire church program will be weak. Christian education should be the bed-rock foundation of all activities within a church. A church is not being obedient to the Great Commission if she neglects Christian education.
Christian education is the process of providing mentally, morally, and spiritually cultivation of individuals in keeping with the great principles of Christianity. It is an effort to aid in the development of the whole personality of believers through growth in knowledge and grace of the Lord.
Need for Christian Education
There are several world-wide evidences of the need for Christian education:
1.Secularization of society. Throughout society temporal values of life are emphasized and spiritual values minimized. People, therefore, are focusing upon the secular pursuits of life rather than spiritual matters. Christian education can help to draw the minds of people back to spiritual concepts, thus reducing the secular emphases and creating a better balance in the thinking of people.
2. Conflicts and tensions in civilization. While no effort of man can cure all the ills of the world, if Christian principles are taught, it will help people live more in harmony with each other. If the principles of the Christian faith can become more the norm for conduct and action, the world will be a better place in which to live.
3. Break-down of homes and the decay of character. The last fifty years have witnessed a break-down in the moral fiber of the most prized of all American institutions, the home. Society must realized that no nation can be stronger than the homes of her citizens. The weakening of family life has brought on the weakening of the entire national structure. So long as God is ignored, and the fundamental concepts of the Christian faith are given a "cold shoulder," lives will continue to be blighted by sin, homes will continue traveling the downward path to chaos and ruin, and the Christian stamina of the people will continue to grow weaker and weaker. The only remedy for such a dark picture is a genuine Christian revival — a revival beginning in the homes extending into the churches, the community, and finally permeating the entire composition of national life. One hope for such a revival is a renewed emphasis upon Christian education.
Objectives of Christian Education
One of the primary objectives of Christian education is to bring individuals to an effective Christian life. Evangelism seeks to bring people into Christian life and Christian education seeks to help the new spiritual life of a believer become what it is suppose to be. Christian education directs believers in a pathway that leads toward maturity of character and life. It helps lead them into the fullness of Christian enjoyment and blessing.
Christian educations helps bring individuals into participation and activity of church membership. The different aspects of church life— worship, evangelism, preaching, stewardship, fellowship, training and teaching agencies — all help to accomplish that objective. Through participating in such educational activities a church member can become equipped for a place in the Lord’s service and be an active, participating member of the community of faith. .
Christian education helps discover and develop leaders for the work of the church. All churches need teachers, singers, deacons, clerks, treasurers, secretaries, superintendents, etc. Through an effective teaching ministry, a church can develop a curriculum for training people for those places of responsibilities.
Christian education can help make the world a better place in which to live. Churches must have a world view as she considers her educational tasks. The world is made better as her citizenry is taught the tenets of Christian faith and led to apply those principles to the varied activities of life. Taking the world for Christ will never be fully realized, but taking Christ and His followers into all the world is not beyond the reach of full realization.
Building a Church Educational program
The lives of the people of the churches are a living testimony of the inadequacies of most church educational programs. While there are individuals in all churches who have a good knowledge of Scripture, the majority of members have very limited scriptural knowledge.
A church does not build an educational program without effort and time. Those who hold places of responsibility in the program must invest their time and expand their effort toward building an effective program. The average Sunday School teacher does a poor job because he is not willing to invest enough of his time and effort to the assignment given him.
For a church to build an educational program, she must have a definite educational goal. Only by having a measurable goal can a church adequately measure progress in her program. A lack of goals reveals a definite weakness in the educational program. Such question as “is our church getting the job done in her educational ministry? Are the overall results indicative of progress and efficiency?” help determine if a church is moving in the right direction in her program. If a church is using goals to measure her progress, there will be greater consciousness of progress and the need for improvement. A church that is well organized for her educational task and attentive to the needs of her educational program has appreciation for the obligations, privileges, and results of her teaching ministry.
For a church educational program to be adequate, it must minister to the needs of every member. To neglect any age group is to fail. Both the young and the old and all in between need the benefit of a well organized education program. Age related Sunday school classes and various training groups are necessary if all classes of people are to be reached. A church must not hesitate in extending her organizational framework to include new ministry opportunities. By expanding the educational organization more people will be reached.
Administering a Church Educational Program
Those responsible for the administrative affairs of a church must not only inaugurate an an educational program, but also direct the program toward the successful accomplishment of its goals. The successful accomplishment of goals requires adequate materials and methods. The church must make accessible an adequate supply of literature for the teaching ministry. Teachers need to be supplied with helps such as maps, globes, projectors, and other necessary materials. The department superintendents needs program helps, secretaries need appropriate materials.
An education program requires adequate facilities. Churches need to give more time to the planning of their buildings. Space is needed for all educational activities. Special attention should be given to the size of class rooms. As a rule more and smaller class rooms should be considered especially in facilities for children. Adults, however, do not want a cramped feeling in their classes. To avoid such a feeling, requires from fifteen to twenty square feet per person. Nursery and early age classes also need more space than regular classes. Such standards should not be viewed as an end within itself, but as a way of assuring quality education.
Leadership in an Educational Program
A key leader in a church’s educational ministry is the pastor. He is normally the recognized leader of all educational process within the church’s program. To provide adequate leadership, he must develop knowledge and leadership skills to guide the program toward its intended goals. He should have appreciation for the value of religious education and posses knowledge of its processes. He needs to be familiar with the courses of study and the organization of the program. He should be willingness to work with those who are responsible for carrying out the various educational tasks. A pastor needs to maintain a close relationship with all the workers who make Christian education possible.
Larger churches often have a minister of Christian education. Those filling such a position should have adequate training and a desire to work with people in pressing toward the educational goals of the church. He should exhibit physical and emotional fitness, an energetic personality, a love for the educational ministry, exemplary Christian character, and maturity for working with both children end adults. The minister of education should be able to make plans and follow through with those plans. He should be able to adjust under difficulties, willingly accept responsibility, organize and make wise use of his time, and be willing to take suggestions for his work without taking offense. A minister of education should be highly motivated in his work. His motivation should be founded upon a desire to serve and honor the Lord. He needs a vision for his work and for the educational ministry in the church where he serves.
Educational requirements should not be minimized as a church seeks to fill the position of minister of education. It is best for him to possess both college and seminary degrees with a good background in education, psychology, sociology, philosophy, Christian doctrine, Bible history, and church history. He should also possess specific knowledge of methods with regard to curriculum planning, teacher training, worship planning, group work. and organization.
A minister of Christian education is responsibility for interpreting the work of education in the church, visualizing the program of education for the congregation, and leading in the organization of the ministry. He is also responsible for vitalizing all the educational agencies of the church, training and inspiring leaders for the ministry, and participating directly where needed.
A minister of education does not perform his work in isolation from the rest of the ministry of the church. He must show devotion to all the work of the church and exhibit an interest in the people and their needs at all times. It is important that the minister of education have respect for the pastor and other staff members. All staff members need to recognize that the pastor is the spiritual leader for the entire church program. He is pastor of the educational ministry just as he is pastor of all other ministries within the church. No staff member should speak critical about the pastor and his policies with anyone other than the pastor himself. At all times he should seek the counsel and advice from the pastor.
Many churches have a Christian education committee to help plan and guide the educational ministry. Churches who use an educational committee usually find that such a committee has a positive effect upon the over-all educational ministry of the church. The committee should be composed of leaders of various educational agencies of the church, along with the pastor, a member of the finance committee, a youth representative, and possibly a professional educator. There should be no more than twelve and a minimum of seven members on the committee. The committee should be responsible to determine the policies and plans for the total program for all the education tasks within a church, including Sunday school, vacation Bible school, camps, choirs, and young people’s groups. The following items are normally consider a part of the responsibility of the committee:
1. Study curricular needs for each group and make necessary changes and provide resource materials needed for all education activities of the church
2. Examine present buildings, equipment end furnishings to determine whether they are adequate and recommend adoptions and improvements
3. Secure personnel as needed
4. Study budget needs for the educational program
5. Coordinate the various activities and projects to avoid over-lapping, neglect of educational needs
6. Take responsibility for decisions as to personnel, procedures and programs
7. Make provision for reports and needed records.
The committee should have regular and well-planned meetings to carry out the work in a business-like manner.
MAKING THE SUNDAY SCHOOL FUNCTION EFFECTIVELY
The Sunday school program is very important for the health of a church. It has become central for the teaching ministry in most churches. Opportunities for a Sunday school ministry are more far reaching than most other agencies because of a greater number of participants. The truth of the matter, however, is that many Sunday schools are not fulfilling their potential. No church or pastor should be satisfied with an ineffective non growing Sunday school.
The pastor is a key player in making a Sunday school effective. The leadership he provides to the school will determine whether the program is mediorce or having its full empact. A pastor must demonstrate personal interest in the work of Sunday school. Without his interest and participation, the Sunday school will not likely grow and prosper. A pastor should show interest in the school by personally participating in one of the classes each week. While some think that it is probably best for a pastor not to have a teaching responsibility in the school, it is important that a pastor at least be enrolled in one of the classes and participate as a student. Others feel that a pastor can be effective in developing a large class as an outreach tool. A pastor can show interest in Sunday school by emphasizing and attending teachers’ and workers’ meetings and encouraging the work from the pulpit and through the church bulletin. He can and should pray regularly for the work and workers in the Sunday school.
A pastor needs to view his leadership in Sunday school as part of his regular pastoral responsibility. He needs to help the workers see areas where improvement is needed and show them how the improvements can be made. He can help lead workers to make a greater commitment to achieving a better organization. His example of commitment will do much to motivate the right commitment among all other workers.
In most churches there will come a time when the Sunday school organization must be enlarged and strengthened. A pastor should be the first one to see such a need and make plans for leading in the expansion and the raising of the standards for the Sunday school program. A pastor should lead in the recruitment and training of workers for fulfilling various assignments in the work. In the final analysis, A pastor is responsibility for assuring that there is a definite program in place for teachers and workers training. Both prospective teachers and active teachers should be led to participate in such training.
While a pastor should feel free to advise the superintendent, he should allow him the freedom to lead in the development of the school and its program. A superintendent should not be expected to be a yes man for the pastor, but should allow the pastor to provide needed guidance and should accept such guidance in good faith. Both pastor and superintendent should never let personal pride interfere with their working together to achieve as high a quality of program as possible.
A pastor needs to lift up the ministry of all who serve in Sunday school. Sunday school workers need to understand the importance of their ministry. He can encourage workers by emphasizing the importance and dignity of Sunday school work before the entire congregation. Through such emphasize, workers will feel that the pastor is committed to the Sunday school and that he appreciates their work. It is important that workers feel that they can depend upon their pastor for needed support and encouragement.
A Church's Responsibility to the Sunday School
While a church can use committees and staff members for guidance in the administration of Sunday school, she should retain oversight of the work. It is her program and she must not neglect the oversight.
1. A church should elect all officers and teachers for Sunday school
2. A church should provide a training program for all workers
3. A church should give moral and financial support to Sunday school.
4. A church should provide necessary facilities for the program
5. A church should require quarterly reports from the Sunday school.
Many innovations have taken place in organizing Sunday schools but certain workers and leaders remain important in creating a well working school. A church needs to exercise diligence in the selection of all leaders and workers and teachers. They should be selected upon the basis of qualification not popularity. Those responsible for such an important work should be active and dedicated church members.
Most schools need a superintendent who is responsible for administration of the school. He should be well acquainted with the school’s ministry, be able to get along with people, demonstrate a progressive attitude toward Sunday school work, and be able to express himself well. A qualified assistant should be selected to work cooperatively with the superintendent and be trained for future responsibility. A Sunday school needs a general secretary to be responsible for keeping records of the school’s activities. An assistant should be elected to help ensure that accurate records are kept each Sunday even when the general secretary is indisposed.
If a school is departmentalized, there will need to be superintendents over all department. While their work will be similar to that of a general superintendent, their focus will be upon their specific department and responsibility would be limited to that department. A department superintendent is responsible for monitoring and maintaining the quality of work and workers for the classes under his supervision. Most departments will also need a secretary who would be accountable for reporting class records to the general secretary.
Within each class there will need to be officers to lead in class activities. Most classes need a president, vice-president, secretary, and outreach leader. All except the outreach leader will help the class carry out class functions; an outreach leader will help focus members upon out reach to prospects for the class and encouraging faithful attendance among class members.
Most Sunday schools are age graded beginning with a cradle roll for infants needing more care than those old enough for the nursery. The usual grading consists of a nursery ministering up to three years old, beginners consist of ages four and five, primary consisting of those in the first through third grades, juniors are fifth and sixth graders, junior high is seventh through ninth grades and senior high is grades ten through twelve. Young adults are usually ages 18 through 24. Adults may be divided into several different groups ages 25 and up.
A Standard Sunday School
The following standards have been adopted by the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas and the Baptist Missionary Association of America. Pressing toward such goals should not be the goal of Sunday school but should be done with the goal of increasing the quality of ministry through the Sunday school.
1. Sunday school must be under the control of the church.
2. Enrollment must represent seventy-five percent of resident membership.
3. The school must be graded.
4. The school must use literature published by the Baptist Publishing House
5. Seventy-five percent of teachers and pupils must bring their Bibles to Sunday school.
6. Eighty percent of the Sunday school attendance must attend the preaching service.
7. The school must seek to win the lost.
8. There must be regular teachers' and workers' meetings.
9. Workers must participate in the church’s training program.
Regardless of standards adopted, a Sunday school must have dedicated and quality teachers. All teacher should demonstrate that they have a vital faith in Christ. No class needs to be taught by a person who does not know the Lord. All teachers should be consecrated to the Lord and should have a burden for teaching and a vision for their class and for the church.
Quality teaching requires a teacher to develop skills and knowledge for teaching. A teacher needs to know the people that are being taught, be acquainted with teaching methods, be knowledgeable of the material to be taught, and have skills necessary to be an effective witness. A teacher should be well acquainted with the Bible and make it the chief resource for teaching. A teacher should seek to reach all people possible for Bible study. Reaching that goal requires diligent lesson preparation, ministering to students both in and out of class, seeking to enroll new members in the class, and seeking to win those who are lost.
PROMOTING DISCIPLESHIP IN THE CHURCH
Discipleship is an important part of a church’s ministry. In many churches, however, it is a neglected ministry. Church leaders need to give serious consideration to the ministry of discipleship and training.
Importance of Discipleship
Discipleship is an important Scriptural concept. The Bible does not deal so much in methods and plans as it does with principles that are to be followed in training believers in the Word and work. Any legitimate plan or method that helps prepare believers for more effective service may be used in training people in the Lord’s service. Methods and plans will change from one generation to the next, but Bible principles remain constant through the ages.
The Scriptures stress discipleship and training. The injunction “Train up a child” shows the importance of beginning training at an early age. The training of children is a joint responsibility of the home, church, and school. Churches need to have programs through which they can carry out their responsibility and assist families in fulfilling the responsibility of training their children.
Church members need training for doing the work of the church. Paul urged that church matters should “be done decently and in order” (I Corinthians 14:40). Such passages show the need for a well organized program of training. If Christians are going to “endure hardness as a good soldier” (II Timothy 2:3), they need to be well trained just as a soldier needs extensive training before engaging in battle.
Discipleship and training ministries helps members be better Bible students. Through discipleship training, many become life-long Bible readers and students. When people become students of the Word, they become more productive in the Lord’s work. Discipleship leads people to be more loyal to Christ and His church and creates within them a greater appreciation for their church. It helps them be more enthusiastic about participation in church life and more supportive of Biblical doctrines.
The greatest resource a church has other than the blessings of God are her members. When churches have a discipleship program, members can be equipped for effective service and taught to be good stewards of their time, talents, influence, and money. A church that is composed of members who are faithful in their stewardship will be a church that will be used mightily of God.
Discipleship training can enhances missionary knowledge and zeal within a church’s membership. Programs which acquaint members with missionary activity help them see the relationship between their service and the fulfilment of the Great Commission. By helping members become personally involved in supporting a missionary or taking part in a missionary activity has led many to feel a close connection with the work; it has even led some to feel a special burden for missionary work and surrender their lives to sever as a missionary.
A church needs an ever increasing body of teacher, musicians, soul winners, committee members, and other workers. Discipleship helps train members for leadership within the church program. Without a basic training program, churches seldom have enough workers to do the work. Without discipleship training, often a church will overwork the few workers they have resulting in some experiencing burn out on the job. It is always much better to put ten people to work by equipping them than it is to try to get one person to do the work of ten people.
Churches need members who know what they believe and who are dedicated to the Lord and to the work of the church. Many attend churches for most of their lives and still do not really know what the Bible teaches about certain doctrinal truths. Churches need to inform members in basic doctrine and church practices. Members who are led to an understanding of basic Bible doctrine will usually be more dedicated to the Lord and more active in church work. By being taught Bible doctrine, members will not be such an easy prey to worldly fads and cults who pervert the truth.
Training in discipleship is a never ending challenge. Every member needs to be part of the program. Discipleship is the church at work training her own members for kingdom service. Since the work of the church has eternal importance, the work of training members for participating in that work is of great importance.
If a church is going to carry out an effective discipleship program, she must be led to see its need. While Sunday school is the chief teaching agency of the church, it cannot provide the all training and discipleship needed. Members have to do more than just study the Word, they have to be helped to put into practice what has been learned. An effective Sunday school will result in better informed members, and an effective discipleship ministry will result in better trained and more active members. A church needs a balanced program carrying out the Great Commission by not only teaching but teaching to observe whatsoever the Lord has commanded.
All available means should be used to enlist members in discipleship training. The program should be promoted from the pulpit, attractively displayed posters, well planned programs, and word of mouth publicity. The ministry of discipleship training must not be neglected. No church should fail to use adequate resources for ensuring that members are well trained and equipped for service.
Marks of an Ideal Discipleship Ministry
Proper leadership is essential to any successful endeavor. A Discipleship program will be no more effective than the effectiveness of those leading in the ministry. Qualified people must be led to commit sufficient time to those who are being trained. Without people being willing to invest time and effort in others, discipleship will not take place.
The training programs in most churches have relatively few participants in comparison to total church membership. While members cannot be forced to do something they do not what to do, steps should be taken to enlist a greater per cent of the membership. The fact that the number of people participating in training are few should not diminish efforts to train those who are participating.
When a program is done well, it will usually begin attracting other participants. If it is done poorly, many of those who are participating will tend to drop out. The problem of a lack of participation is usually not the people but the program and how it is presented. It is not easy to get a large number of people excited about receiving training in the Lord’s work, but the rewards for having a well trained membership is so great that churches should never slacken their efforts to enlist people for training. Normally when a program is attractive and challenging people will want to participate.
A church must never loose sight of the proper goal in discipleship training. The purpose must be to produce a more highly trained membership. Any other objective would be unworthy of the efforts that are required in a ministry of discipleship. If the goal of training people for service is not realized, a church should realize that she is failing to carry out a part of the Great Commission.
ACHIEVING RELEVANCE IN A CHURCH PROGRAM
Statistics indicate that church membership in the United States stands at an all time high. It is alarming that while membership is high, many of those members do not actively practice their faith. An increased membership has not resulted in an increase Christian influence upon society. Modern thought and life is being more decisively shaped by economic policy, political decisions, and public education than by churches. It is astounding that in America there is a steady increase in church membership and wide-spread influence of secularism at the same time. People are more and more turning to organizations other than churches for help with their day to day problems. Many people no longer consider church as having a viable answer for life’s problems.
What can be done to correct this horrible situation? Churches must do whatever is necessary to rise to a higher position of prestige and influence in this generation. To face such challenge, churches must become purposive in her program. Effective planning is essential for churches to begin to fulfil their appropriate role in society.
A church with a purpose will deal as rapidly as possible with the necessary institutional machinery and details of ministry in order that time and resources may be conserved for projects which contribute directly to the transformation of men and communities. In contrast an institutional or static church attempts to preserve the structure of a social institution while denying its true function. For a church to fulfil her mission, she must become person centered and community conscious. A static church tends to be program centered and denominational minded. A church must realize that her function is transforming people both individually and collectively. She is interested in every member of the community regardless of color, economic or social standing. The functional church discovers her program in the needs of the people.
A church must be contemporary in outlook rather than historical. An average church may give more attention to a description of conditions in Jesus' day or an expository sermon based on the original Greek meaning of a verb rather than give a thorough application of those situations to modern day and thought. That does not mean that history and principle are not important. But historical perspective and the timelessness of fundamental principles are valuable only as they contribute to contemporary decisions. The church must maintain a present day program for the community she serves. Attention must be given to the life situation as it exists today.
The church must learn to adopt new methods of procedure in her work. When a church is grounded in tradition and afraid of new methods and procedures, it is very difficult for her to move forward. Methods and procedures must be changed to fit the changing needs of people. For a church to preach a powerful message, she must preach the timeless message of Christ in contemporary language. A church must be ready to adapt to changing circumstances. A church must be interested in the matters that are of interest to people or people will not be interested in what she is saying.
People today do not attend church because it is the thing to do; most people attend church because they feel it is meeting some special needs in their life. In order to meet needs a church must spend more time in action and less time in discussing. Ringing door-bells, putting literature into the hands of people, talking with people and relating to community leaders needs to be considered as appropriate for churchmen as teaching a Sunday school class or sponsoring a church social.
SPECIALIZED MINISTRIES--WOMEN, MEN, AND CHILDREN
Women have always filled a major place in the work of God. The influence of women has been indelibly stamped upon the home, the church, and the community. Because of their unselfishness, humility, virtue, and untiring labor of love, God has crowned their efforts with glory and given them a place in life that reaches as high as the stars of heaven. Many of today's spiritual needs must be largely supplied by godly women. This is the golden hour for women in helping to carry out God's work in the world. If women prepare themselves in church work and Bible knowledge, they will have ample opportunities for service.
Women filled a unique place in Bible history. The Bible shows that God gave women an important place in the wonderful story of redemption. Their footprints can be seen, their heart beat can be felt, and their words of wisdom can be heard as the story of redemption unfolds itself through the pages of God's Word: Rebecca became the wife of Isaac and the mother of Jacob, thus becoming a powerful influence in the lives of two of the best known patriarchs of old, Genesis 24:18-25; Rachel, through her patience became the bride of Jacob and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, Genesis 29:20, 21; Deborah, who was a prophetess, a godly mother, and a judge, helped deliver Israel from the Canaanites, Judges 5:7; Ruth, because of her faith in Naomi's God, married Boaz and became linked with the divine chain out of which came the Messiah, Ruth 1:lb; Esther showed great courage in risking her life to deliver her people, Esther 5:1, 2; Hannah was a remarkable woman of prayer and dedication who presented her son Samuel to the Lord, and he became a faithful Judge and prophet of Israel, I Samuel 1:11; Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the most highly honored of all women in being chosen as the one through whom the Savior came into the world; Women followed Jesus to the cross, and they were the first to go to the tomb on the resurrection morning; Women helped constitute the body of baptized believers who continued praying in Jerusalem after the ascent of the Lord; Lydia, Priscilia, Dorcas, Phebe, Lois, and Eunice were all helpers of the church as it expanded its early ministry across the known world.
Women in Churches Today
The ministry of women fills an important part in Christ's church today. This is true of them both individually and collectively. Most pastors are proud of their faithful women who labor unselfishly in the work of the church. Their help makes the pastor’s burden a little lighter and his pathway a little smoother.
In many churches women have led out in a ministry of prayer. I know personally of a lady who after becoming a part of a church, saw a need for a greater emphasis upon prayer. She recruited a list of volunteers who agreed to pray every day about specific prayer needs in the church and in the community. She set up a system whereby each “prayer warrior” would be notified either by telephone or e-mail of the regular prayer needs. They would also be notified in the event of an emergency need. She enlisted a person in each of the adult classes to write down any prayer request received and give them to her. She then prepared the prayer list and forwarded it to the prayer warriors. The prayer needs were also printed in the church bulletin. Her ministry gave a new emphasis to prayer in that church and in a short time even people who were not a part of the church were calling with various prayer needs.
Women play an important role in the ministry of stewardship. While it is not as true today as it was in times past, women have been able to give more of their time to the work of the Lord than their male counterparts. Usually it was the women of the church who planned and led in vacation Bible schools and other such works requiring a great investment of time. Today more women have enter the work force and churches have had to adjust their programs accordingly. Even though they have a much tighter schedule, it is still the women of the church who fill most of the teaching and leadership position in children’s ministries.
Women have always been generous in using their talent in the service of the Lord. Whether it is teaching or singing, whatever the women have found to do in the church, they, to a large extent, have been the ready volunteers that have made the work of the church possible. Even in the matter of giving, women have proven themselves faithful stewards. They have used their influence in making sure that they and their family give a proportion of their income to the work of the Lord.
Women have been especially faithful in the ministry of visitation and personal witnessing. While women cannot meet the scriptural qualifications to fill the office of pastor, they have been used of the Lord to minister by winning many to the Lord though their personal witness and opening doors for evangelism through their benevolent work in the community.
Women Organized for Kingdom Service
To better serve the Lord, women have formed various forms of missionary auxiliaries. The women auxiliary is a church authorized group of women, bonded together for the purpose of helping in the promotion of the plans and program of the church. The organization owes its existence to the church and operates under the direction of the church. It meets for Bible study and prayer, co-ordinates the women’s service efforts, makes voluntary contributions to the Lord’s work, works for the betterment of the entire church, and seeks to advance the missionary program of the church and association with which the church is affiliated.
The auxiliary has a regularly elected corps of officers. The group usually meet weekly with a business meeting once a month. In larger churches, there are usually different auxiliary groups designed to meet the time schedule and needs of particular groups of women. The meetings usually consist of a devotion with a Bible lesson. Regular reports keep the church informed as to the activities of the auxiliary.
For a women’s ministry to be successful, there must first be a desire for such a ministry in the hearts of faithful women of the church. The women should counsel with their pastor as to the need for a women’s ministry in the church. When it is clear that there is a need and a desire for such a work, the church should approve its formation.
Most pastors recognize the value of the women’s ministry in the church. If they are to be effective, however, the pastor will need to promote and encouragement the women in their work. He needs to be willing to give leadership and counsel to the auxiliary leaders when needed and, when possible, show interest in their ministry by attending some of their meetings both in the local church and at the associational level.
Many churches have discovered that an organized men’s ministry is an important addition to their program. In many instances associations have created organizations for men such as district brotherhoods, state brotherhoods, or the national brotherhood. Much has been accomplished through the various men’s ministries.
The purpose of Men’s Ministry
The purpose of men’s ministry is multi facet. An organized men’s ministry should be designed to build a spirit of church loyalty among the men of the church and create avenues for men to better support and encourage the pastor. It gives them opportunities to support in special ways the church services and the associational program in which the church is involved. A men’s ministry should be dedicated to helping build a stronger church in every realm of activity.
An organized men’s ministry can create unique opportunities for men to participate in evangelism. A men’s ministry can sponsor a regular visitation program with primary emphasis upon evangelism. Through this channel men can be trained to be more effective witnesses and go out as a mighty army in search of the lost.
In men’s ministry, men come together as brethren for a common cause and learn to know and appreciate one another better. The times of fellowship, which should be a part of the men’s activities, can be used as a tool for acquainting the unreached men with the men of the church. Such activities help to build bridges for reaching the unsaved men with the Gospel.
An organized men’s ministry can enhance the stewardship ministry of the church by teaching and encouraging men to practice systematic giving. Men can not only be encouraged to be regular in financial support of the church, but can also be encouraged to give time, talents, and influence as well. The ministry can also help keep the men better informed with every phase of associational projects.
There are many values associated with an active men’s ministry. Through participating in such ministries, a man has opportunity for enhanced spiritual development. His growth will result in his being of greater service to the Lord and to the church. The warm fellowship which a men’s ministry can offer adds much to the social development of the individual as well as to his spiritual growth. Through working together a man can learn to love his brethren and feel that he is a vital part of the Lord’s work.
A men’s ministry can bring a pastor and the men closer together in the work of the church. It helps gives a pastor a feeling of security by knowing that such a group of consecrated men have joined hands and heart with him in the Lord's business. A relationship can be cemented between a pastor and the men that will be difficult for the forces of evil to sever.
A well functioning men’s ministry helps insure that the church will have a group of faithful, consecrated, and aggressive men involved in ministry.
Organization of a Men’s Ministry
A pastor should become thoroughly informed with the work of the men’s organization. It is largely up to him to lead the men to participate in such a work. In the beginning stage, a pastor can call for a meeting of all men and explain to them the potential of a men’s ministry. If possible, representatives from a ministry in a sister church should be invited to encourage the men in the work and give them assistance in getting started. A men’ ministry will need a president, one or two vice-presidents, a music leader, and a secretary-treasurer. They should have functioning committees in each of the following fields: worship, education, evangelism, benevolence, and social activity. The president should preside at the meetings and serve as chairman of the executive committee. The vices presidents should serve as chairmen of various other committees. The secretary-treasurer should be responsible for the records and funds of the organization.
One important ministry of the men is the support of various youth organizations of the church. Especially young boys should be supported and given correct role models by the men.
One of the great potentials of all churches is the youth of the church. A church should take every opportunity to lead the children to Christ and to instruct them in the way of the Lord. Those who are young today will be the adults tomorrow. They will soon assume leadership in the churches. Today’s children need intensive training to help them meet the challenge they will face as they assume their roles as spiritual leaders in the churches of tomorrow.
The vacation Bible school and related outreach programs can be effective means for reaching and teaching children the Word of God. The youth of our country today are suffering from a lack of Bible knowledge because many have been taught very little about the Bible. Facts learned in childhood have a tendency to stay with an individual throughout life, therefore, it is of utmost importance that a church reach youth for Bible study during their formative years. Vacation Bible School usually gives a church an opportunity to minister to youth who are not regularly enrolled in the church’s educational program.
The teaching given during such activities helps build a Biblical foundation for the young. It should be the goal of all youth outreach programs to instill into the minds and hearts of children principles of godly character. Such training can help direct the minds of children away from the things of the world to the truth of Jesus Christ. Training offered to youth can help counteract some of the anti-Biblical teaching received in the world.
Youth are challenged by the trend away from the Bible and Christianity in school programs. Many instructors are becoming more and more humanistic in their teachings. Evolution is being substituted for the account of creation. The Bible is being reduced to a level with other books and Jesus is presented as a mere human being. The church must rise to the challenge of meeting this fast moving tide of anti-Biblical propaganda and use various means of outreach to youth to counteract the unwholesome influence that are facing.
It is important that youth be reached with the Gospel as they reach an age of accountability. Young people are sinners and need forgiveness of their sins and spiritual salvation. Outreach ministries such as vacation Bible school, AWANA, organized Bible study groups offer fruitful opportunities for youth evangelism. Experience has shown that youth are more responsive to the gospel during their tender years than in the later years of life.
Sometimes those seeking to win youth to Christ will use undue pressure. All strategy should be avoided. Care should be exercised when dealing with children about their souls. They need to be won to the Lord, but their profession needs to be their own not one which they were tricked or pressured into making.
Youth needs to be given opportunities for service in the church’s ministry. No member whether young or old needs to be ask to just sit or observe but needs to be led to active participation in ministry. Youth can be led to be active in ministry to other youth. They can be trained for evangelizing other youths.
Putting a Youth Ministry in Motion
A pastor needs to become thoroughly acquainted with various youth programs. He should seek to lead the church to commit to youth ministry and provide all necessary materials. Youth ministry requires leaders and workers who are both committed to the Lord and to working with youth. Without a pastor promoting and supporting the youth programs, it will be difficult to inspire enough volunteers to carry on the ministries.
Like all ministries, youth ministries need a general director. A church is directly responsible for the ministries to youth but the actual planning and administration of the program must be carried out by a dedicated leader. He will have to secure needed workers and help keep them inspired for the work.
Youth workers need to be trained for fulfilling their responsibilities. In order to have sufficient volunteers, a church must grow and develop her own volunteers. While there are workshops and clinics to help provide training, the basic training needs to be done at the local level. The best form of training is gained by on the job activity under the supervision of a seasoned worker.
THE MINISTRY OF STEWARDSHIP
CHAPTER: 18. GENERAL CONSIDERATION ON STEWARDSHIP
CHAPTER: 19. A GENERAL VIEW OF CHURCH FINANCE
CHAPTER: 20. ADMINISTERING CHURCH FINANCE -- THE BUDGET
GENERAL CONSIDERATION ON STEWARDSHIP
It is important that a church teach biblical principles of stewardship. The Bible makes it plain that members are to support the ministry of the church through regular and systematic giving, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store. as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come" (I Corinthians 16:2). “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: For God loverh a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7).
In recent years, churches have experienced a time of great prosperity. Large amounts of money has been raised both for local programs and associational projects. The great prosperity of the American economy has made it possible for people to have money to give. In addition to having ability to give, pastors have been diligent in teaching and preaching on the subject of giving. Stewardship, however, is a broader subject than just money matters. It involves the management of life and all its resources in a way that is in harmony with God’s will. Stewardship is the economic result of Christian experience and economic evidence of the reality of Christian experience.
In spite of increases in giving, the per capita gifts to religious causes remains far short of it potential. The past response of church members to solid teaching concerning giving indicates that as Christians are taught Scriptural basis for giving that they will continue to grow in their stewardship of the wealth God intrusts to them. Most church members respond favorably when they are properly challenge to give. Pastors should view the continued development of stewardship among the people as an essential part of the ministry just as he does the other programs of the church. Without an adequate stewardship program all phases of the ministry of the church will suffer.
Viewing the financial program of the average church today, it is obvious that there are some weaknesses that need to be addressed. One of the greatest weaknesses is that too few church members actually contribute to the work of their church in a significant or regular manner. In practically every church there will be a large number who never make a significant monetary contribution. There are also those who give but only give when they are present or when the notion strikes them. They have no regular plan for systematically supporting their church. Leading the involved to involvement is a great challenge but in one that demands an on going teaching program emphasizing the need for faithful stewardship of resources. No church can successfully operate based upon irregular and haphazard giving. The Bible teaches that Christian should “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him” (I Corinthians 16:2). Christians need to be taught that even if their giving is small, it is important that it be given faithfully and regularly.
One failure in the area of stewardship is the failure of a congregation to accept responsibility for supporting missions and outside causes. Large numbers of churches never contribute to outside causes and even more only give token support to causes beyond their local field. It seems that some seem to think that their obligations have been met when all local expenses have been covered. In some instances such failure is a due to a lack of teaching and leadership. A pastor is responsible for leading those under his care to support all the work of which the church is a part. Churches need to be taught that they are part of a world-wide work and the missions program is their program and deserves their support..
Sometimes churches fail to support missions and other enterprises simply because the people are uninformed concerning the different phases of the work. No doubt there are members of churches who do not know anything about the religious publications of their state and national associations. Many do not know any of the leaders beyond their local church nor the institutions which their church is responsible for supporting. Pastors can do much to enlarge the world of church members and help them have a vision for work beyond the local level by publicizing the work and stressing its importance. Pastors should urge the people to read various publications which serve as a channel for presenting the state and national work. If people are well informed they will be much more inclined to give support to missions and other worthwhile enterprises.
A church should have a financial plan which takes into consideration not only the needs of the local work but also the various causes for which the church is responsible to support. A plan that many churches have adopted is based upon a percentage.. Churches probably should set a minimum of ten percent of their undesignated offering as funds for work beyond the local field. Setting that minimum will be an example for the members because it will show that the church is giving a definite proportion just as she encourages the members to give a definite proportion. Ten percent is a good minimum, but churches should be challenged to raise that amount and teach their people the joy of giving generously to the cause of missions. It would be appropriate for a church to give at least twenty five percent of their undesignated offerings to outside causes. When a church is generous in her support of mission, she will tend to produce members who are also generous in their support of the church.
Most Baptist Churches receive many separate appeals for offerings from various causes. Since each department of the Baptist Missionary Association is responsible for raising its own support from the church, all departments devise various means for getting support. At times there appears to be a spirit of competition among the different promoters. With separate appeals coming from each phase of the work, it results in so many special appeals that none are very successful. Effort should be made to address the problem less the people be discouraged and feel over burdened.
Some churches do not have a unified budget but allow various organizations to have their own treasurer. In some instances there is a treasurer for the Sunday school, the church building fund, the missionary fund, etc. It is much better to merge all funds and allow a general treasurer to be responsible for keeping all funds. In that approach, all monies, with a few exceptions, would go into a common treasury, and then all the expense be paid from that common treasury.
A Christian View of Stewardship.
It is important to develop a Biblical view of Christian stewardship. It should not be viewed primarily as a means of raising money, but as a plan for developing healthy church members. The money aspect in stewardship is merely a means to an end. The end is the development of people. The giving of money is only a means used in accomplishing that worthy objective.
Stewardship is a debt of gratitude that believers owe because of what God has put into their lives. While every creature of God is under obligation to his Maker, every redeemed person is under special obligation to Him. Every believer has received from God the greatest gift of all. Therefore he owes everything to God. Stewardship is an expression of gratitude to the bountiful hand of God.
A believer should not give because he has to give but because he wants to give. He is not compelled by Biblical Law to give, but love prompts him to give. God has established Grace rather than Law as the motive for giving. Those who respond out of love for the Lord will receive a greater blessing than those who respond out of a sense of duty.
Practicing faithful stewardship should not be viewed as establishing some kind of bargain with God. Instead of a bargain, it is entering into a partnership with God. It is true that God will bless a liberal giver, but God’s blessings are more valuable than mere monetary matters. A Christian should never be liberal in his giving in order to get more from God.
Christian stewardship relates to personality and all of life as well as money matters. Money is only one phase of Christian stewardship. The use of time, talent, and influence are as important as money.
Stewardship should be built upon Scriptural principles not upon the thinking of men. The Bible is to be the rule of faith and practice in all things and stewardship and money matters can not be made an exception to that rule. The New Testament contains five times as much about money as it does about the second coming of Christ. One verse in every seventeen deals with money or something related to it. Sixteen of the thirty eight parables deal with the giving of material possessions.
Stewardship is based upon God's ownership of all things. That truth stands as the basic foundation of human responsibility to his Creator. A person owns neither the world nor the things in the world. All things including the human personality belong to God. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). God said, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine; and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 50:12). God’s ownership over the earth cannot be disputed.
God’s ownership of the earth carries with it the idea of His ownership of all the things of the earth. “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10). “The sliver ir mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of host. Let no man ray, "the cattle are mine; me sliver is mine: the gold is mine" (Haggai 2:8). All things belong to God for He alone is the source of the existence of all life and matter.
Not only does God own all things but He has purchased all believers with the blood of His Son, "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit. which are God’s" (I Corinthians 6:20). A Christian has a twofold obligation to God; he is obligated because God created him; he is obligated because God had redeemed him. If a believer belongs to God, it follows that all he has belongs to God.
Scriptures stress man’s responsibility to his Maker. As the crowning work of creation, man has been given a place of preeminence over all other things created. He was given dominion over all things of the earth and charged with responsibility of subduing it. One day man will be called to give an account to his Maker for the way he has discharged his stewardeship responsibility for the earth and all its creatures.
Many of the parables of Jesus dealt specifically with matters of stewardship. Those parables teach that God has entrusted to man His possessions and has charged him with responsibility for making the best use of those possessions. Furthermore, the parables teach that one day God is coming back to take personal charge over the things he has entrusted to man, and at that time, he is going to demand an accounting. It will be a meaningful hour when all believers stand before God to give an account of their stewardship.
The First Great Step in Becoming a Good Steward is recognition that God is Lord over all people and all possessions intrusted into their care. Paul lays down the first essential in Christian Stewardship. He declares, "And this they did, not as we hoped. but first gave their own selves to the Lord. and unto us by the will of God" (II Corinthians 8:5). Many teachers of stewardship begin with money or talents. They teach that being a good steward simply involves tithing the income and giving liberally of time and talent to the Lord. Important as these considerations are, they do not represent the most essential factor in scriptural stewardship.
Good stewardship requires that a person give himself to the Lord by the will of God. Giving one's self to God will solve the money problem and all other problems in stewardship. A person who gives himself to the Lord will also give his money, time, talent and influence. A person can give a tithe and not give himself, he can give talent and time and not give himself, But a person cannot give himself without giving all to the Lord. Churches needs the tithe of all members, but the tithe should be given by consecrated hands. Churches need the talent of all members, but talents should be dedicated and consecrated to the Lord.
Even thought every person is obligate to be faithful in stewardship, God has made the practice voluntary. In that regard, Paul wrote, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: far God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7). A person should not tithe simply out of a senses of Christian duty but because of a desire to honor the Lord. The grace of God should inspire a person to give at least a tenth of his possessions to the Lord. Pressure should not have to be brought to bear in the matter of giving. A cheerful, willing, and voluntary spirit should characterize giving under grace. When the principle of voluntary giving is stressed, the stewardship program of churches will be placed on a much higher spiritual plane.
Biblical Principles of Stewardship
In his instructions for a special offering for the poor saints of Jerusalem, Paul gave the fundamental principles for biblical stewardship (I Corinthians 16: 1-2). The Gentile Christians were being asked to give to help their impoverished brethren in Judea. Even though a special offering was under consideration, the principles laid down still apply in all matters of stewardship.
Paul urged that the people bring their offering “Upon the first day of the week.” It is good for a Christian to be a regular contributor to the church. Since the Lord’s Day represents the day of worship, it is only fitting that contributions be given upon that day. It is a good practice to make a monetary offering to the Lord every Sunday.
Paul stressed that “every one” should participate in giving. The "every one” referred to was each member of the Church at Corinth. It is still true that every member of a church should feel responsible to give to support their church. Even children should be taught to participate in giving. Even though they have no income, parents should make it possible for them to have something to give.
The place of worship is the place for making one's offering. The Corinthians were urged to “lay by in store.” Those instructions implies that in general all monies for kingdom causes should be contributed through the church. Even though Paul did not identify a specific percentage, he stressed that people should give in proportion to what they have. He urged that they give "As God hath prospered him.” The only proportion suggested in the Bible is a tithe or ten percent. Certainly, it cannot be argued that it is unscriptural to give a tithe to the Lord's cause. God established the tithe before the law, incorporated it into the law, and commended it after the law. Even though giving is to be voluntary, there is nothing unscriptural about voluntarily setting aside one tenth of income for God's use. Christians should be ashamed to give unto God a lesser amount under grace than was required under the law.
Dr. Kellar gave the following reasons for his belief that Christians should practice tithing under grace: (1) It is not too much for any Christian to give. (2) There are ample scriptures to prove that God blesses the tithe. (3) It is a systematic way of supporting the Lord’s work. (4) It will provide ample money for a world wide mission program. (5) No one is made the poorer because he gives a tithe. (6) Untold spiritual blessings are received by one who tithes.
A GENERAL VIEW OF CHURCH FINANCE
The raising and disbursing of funds for kingdom enterprises are important functions within a church. Much of the church's activity centers in her money program Just as individuals members of a church are responsible for stewardship of what the Lord entrusts to them, so must a church render an accounting for the manner in which she administers the Lord’s funds. If a church handles funds in such a manner that it inspires trust among members, the members will be must more inclined to give sacrificially; if members do not trust the way funds are managed, they will be reluctant to give appropriately. Nothing inspires sacrificial giving like trust in the way funds are handles and utilized.
A pastor is the recognized spiritual leader in all areas of church life. Therefore, a pastor is responsible for leading in a stewardship program. He must believe in and practice faithful stewardship himself. It must be a vital part of his life He must prove by example that one’s time, talent, and money belong to the Lord. It is not enough for a pastor to teach others to be liberal in their giving; he must set an example of liberality before the people. He must practice what he preacher or the people will ignore his message. In the matters of stewardship, there is no substitute for the influence of a good example.
A pastor must have courage to preach and teach the biblical truth concerning stewardship knowing that good stewards are grown and developed through proper teaching. A pastor must see to it that the principles of Biblical stewardship are taught in all departments of the church. He must preach it from the pulpit and urge teachers to teach it in the classrooms of the church’s educational program.
A pastor must lead the congregation to practice faithful stewardship as a church. Church stewardship involves supporting causes beyond the local field. Definite opportunities should be given to the church to support a world-wide program of missions and benevolence. Goals in missionary contributions should be set; special days should be observed for various phase of denominational causes. In addition to preaching and teaching on stewardship, a pastor should make available posters, pamphlets, and tracts to keep before the people the need for faithful stewardship.
Practical Purpose of Stewardship
Consciously or unconsciously, each church supports a program of kingdom work. In many instances the support is woefully inadequate, and in other instances, it is worthy of commendation. Like in all matters there should be a balance in stewardship matters.
There must be support of the local work of the church. Every congregation has responsibility to maintain her local ministry. Included in this local program are such items as the pastor’s salary, salaries for other personnel, literature for Sunday school and other educational material, buildings and repairs, utilities, insurance, advertising, production of the church bulletin, parsonage expense, pulpit supply, church library, hymn books and other music material, etc. No church should allow her local work to be under funded. Her reputation in the community depends upon her taking care of local expenses in a timely manner.
In addition to the local church ministry, there are other causes within the local community that needs to be supported. In every community there are people in need of benevolence who have no place to turn but to the people of the church. In many instances there will be members of the church who are in need of assistance. Churches should have an emergency fund to care for those needs. Where no emergency fund exists, special offerings may be taken to meet the needs.
Many churches seem to have little sense of kingdom responsibility. Such churches seldom go beyond the border of their local fields in ministering financial support. Jesus taught that churches are to have a world view and be prepared to take part in a world wide ministry (Matthew 28:18-20). No church should feel that her responsibility ends when all local bills are paid. A church has world-wide responsibilities and her obligations extend unto the ends of the earth. Any church that claims the name "Missionary Baptist" should support every phase of the cooperative work among Missionary Baptists. The cooperative work includes missions at home and abroad, Christian education, and Christian benevolence. Churches should seek to invest as much as possible in the work beyond her local field. No church should consider giving less than fifteen to twenty-five percent to work beyond the local level.
Churches must secure a rather large amount of money if she is to support all of the causes for which she is responsible. Because of inadequate support from members, some churches have resorted to unworthy methods of raising funds. Some have resorted to soliciting donations from non members. While the church should not refuse a contribution that is voluntarily made by a non member, she should never actively solicit donations for such individuals. It is not the obligation of the world to support the work of the church, and such solicitations are poor advertisement for the church. Non-church members who are solicited may get the idea that the church is not able to support herself but must resort to outside help to pay her bills. Thus the reputation of the church with those she need to reach is greatly impaired.
Some churches seek to raise funds through rummage sales, pie suppers, cake-walks, and church entertainments. There may be instances where a special project may be funded through a bakery or rummage sale, but such methods should not be used in the over-all support of a church.
Below is given the substance of a clipping from a local paper. The clipping illustrates in a graphic manner how far from scriptural stewardship some have drifted:
“FIRST BAPTIST CLUB PLANS SQUARE DANCE FEBRUARY 11 AT CHURCH
The Thirty-nine Club of the First Baptist Church will conduct a benefit square dance from 8 to 11 p.m. Wednesday, February 11, in the auditorium of the church at 1509 E. Court St. Robert Dariy will be caller, and he will instruct from 7 to 8 p.m. Refreshments will be served. Tickets may be obtained from any member or at the door. The public is invited.”
Such methods of raising money should be avoided for the following reasons:
a They are beneath the dignity of a church belonging to Jesus.
b. Some of the methods are aligned with immoral practice.
c. They do not contribute to the spirituality of the church or her members
d. They are out of line with Bible teaching of church finance.
The scriptural responsibility for church finance rests with church members. Giving should become a weekly habit for each member. If all members practices making a weekly offering (each Lord's Day), the church would have ample money to fulfil all her financial obligations.
Each member should give proportionately. The Bible teaches that believers should give as the Lord prospers. The tithe should be the very least that a believer gives into the Lord's treasury. Each member should give cheerfully. Supporting the church should not be viewed as a burden but as a privilege and gives should be given with joy. Cheerful givers will be blessed givers. They will come to realize that what Jesus said is true: “lt it more blessed to give than to receive."
If Baptists throughout the land would practice the Scriptural methods of church finance, there would be no need for rummage sales, cake walks, pie suppers, church carnivals, nor any other off brand schemes of bringing money into the church treasury.
Teaching Stewardship to a Church (A Model Lesson by Dr. Gerald Kellar)
Christianity is a five-pointed star: "When a Christian prays, he communes with God; when he studies God’s Word, he learns from God; when he seeks the unsaved, he works with God; when he ministers, he shows forth God; and when he gives, he shares with God” (John E. Simpson). No Christian life can be complete until the star is complete.
The fifth point in the Christian star is of great importance in Christian life. Paul placed stress upon the matter of giving, listing it as one of the fundamental Christian graces. A great need among Christians is a scriptural practice of this grace. There has been a twofold neglect of this grace; The preacher her neglected it in his preaching; and the layman has neglected it in his practice. As a result of such neglect many churches are filled with untrained and unfaithful stewards. Much preaching has been done simply to raise money, overlooking the viral principles and underlying motives which should govern one’s giving. As a result of such preaching, generous contributions have been forced from reluctant souls apart from a proper development in the doctrine of stewardship. Realizing that Christians have not been properly instructed in this important doctrine. the purpose of this lesson is to educate the heart, enlighten the understanding, and quicken the conscience to our responsibility and opportunity as Christian stewards.
Foundational Principles of Christian Stewardship (Luke 19:12-27)
This passage presents the very heart message of the stewardship of money as it comes from the lips of our Savior. It is interesting to notice that one verse in every four in Scripture, including nineteen of Chris’s major parables, deals with the vital subject of giving. let us briefly notice some of the vital principles of stewardship that are presented in this parable
I. God is the Creator, Owner, and Giver of everything.
Luke 19:23 establishes the fact of this principle. In Psalms 24:1, the same great principle is given: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” This is God’s world. It belongs to Him by creation--The cattle on a thousand hills belong to Him. The gold that lies deeply embedded in the heart of the earth is His. Upon this amazing principle of divine ownership, the eternal issue of stewardship shall ever rest. God has a right to expect a definite part of one's material possessions. Do we dare try to deny Him that right?
A. Man is a steward; all he is and has is a trust from God.
Luke 19:12-13 makes this principle evident. In the strict sense of the word, a steward is one who handles the property or administers the affairs of another. God has placed man as the lord over the material universe. His capacities and powers as lord of the material universe must be exercised from the avowed purpose of promoting the glory of God. How careful he should be in administering the sacred funds which God has placed in his hands. Before one can ever hope to understand and carry out the Bible doctrine of stewardship, he must recognize himself as a steward in the right of God Some other passages where this principle is set forth: Genesis 1:27, 28; 1 Chronicles 29:14; Deuteronomy 8:18; 1 Corinthians 6;19-20.
B. Man's stewardship must be acknowledged.
In the parable, two men acknowledged their stewardship. They were praised and prompted for their acknowledgment of it. One man failed to acknowledge his stewardship. He was disgraced and punished for such failure. God expects one to give a practical demonstration of his stewardship. This can be done by setting apart a portion of income for the extension of the Kingdom of God. God would have the first fruits of the land and a tithe of all we possess. “The first of the first fruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord Thy God”(Exodus 23:19). “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse (Malachi 3:10). Other scriptures to be studied: Leviticus 27:30, 32; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Psalms 96:8.
C. Man must give an account unto God for his stewardship.
How clearly this principle of accountability is revealed in this parable. The reckoning day came, when the three men had to give an account of their stewardship. Everyone must appear before the Great Judge of the universe to give an individual account of himself. This account will include the matter of his stewardship. how he has spent and used his money for kingdom purposes. The stingy, unfaithful, and unreliable steward must give an account of himself to God. How this solemn fact of judgment should impress us to be liberal with our possessions. When God audits your account, how will you stand before Him?
II. Some Underlying Motives of Christian Stewardship (Luke 21:1-4)
Having established the principles upon which the stewardship of possessions is based, the heart motive which should prompt one to fulfill his duty in this matter shall be next considered. What prompted this poor widow to cast all she had into the treasury? We are sure that she was inspired by noble motives in the demonstration of such unselfish liberality.
A. Motives which were evidently absent in the poor widow
She did not give to be seen of men. If that had been her motive, Jesus would not have complimented her liberality Some Christians may give to be seen of men. They have their reward. If such a motive prompts one to give to the Lord’s work, it is a low and un-Christlike motive.
She did not give to fulfill a legalistic requirement. In other words, she was not giving because it was demanded of her. There was a much higher motive which caused her to give. We should not give today simply to measure up to law’s requirement of the law. If that is your our motive, much of the satisfaction of Christian giving will be loss. As much as the writer of this lesson believes in tithing, he doesn’t believe that Christians tithe merely to measure up to an Old Testament law.
She did not give merely to drive a bargain with God. How often do we hear the challenge: "If you will tithe, God will enable you to make more money.” Many people may have been led into the practice of tithing for a selfish purpose-- that of making and getting more for themselves. God would certainly condemn such a motive.
B. Motives which were evident in the heart of the poor widow.
She gave out of a heart of love. She loved God and his kingdom. She wanted to honor and glorify Him with her offering. Oh, that love unfeigned prompted us to support the work of the kingdom! When love moves, when love inspires, when love controls, human greed is conquered, all the material resources of life are invested in the Kingdom of God.
She gave out of a heart of gratitude. God had blessed her life in many ways. He had given her salvation from sin. He had enabled her to work with her hands, to make money. He had blessed her many times in her Christian experience. Gratitude prompted her to give to His cause. May we never forget that every blessing. every gift of life comer to us from the Father above. A grateful heart should move us to place kingdom interest above every other interest of life.
III. The Ideal Plan of Christian Stewardship, I Corinthians 16:1-2
While the apostle Paul spoke of a special collection, the principles which he laid down are applicable for stewardship responsibilities in general.
1. The time element which entered into the plan. Paul offered a specific time when Christians should make their offerings. He says that the offering should be presented “upon the first day of the week.” Christians should form the habit of setting aside an offering every Sunday for the work of the church. Such a practice brings a system and regularity to stewardship. Giving an offering unto God every Lord's Day should become as much a part of our religious lives as going to Sunday school and church. Let us learn to worship the Lord every Sunday with our money.
2. The participants in the plan.
Paul placed responsibility upon every member of the church, “let every one of you lay by him in store." How this fact needs to be borne in mind. Every member of the church, from the youngest to the oldest, should be enlisted in active giving. It is not enough for the father to give for all members of the family. Children should be trained from early youth to assume responsibility in the matter. Not until every member is enlisted in active giving will our stewardship program measure up to the divine ideal.
3. The place of offering in the plan.
This parable seems to teach that the offering is to be brought to the storehouse, the place of worship. Christians should be taught the importance of supporting kingdom activities through the organized church. Generally speaking, tithes and offerings should be given through the church of which you are a member.
4. The voluntary spirit entering into the plan.
One should give because he wants to give. There should be a liberal spirit back of every gift. The New Testament knows of no plan of supporting the Kingdom of God through enforced law. Everything is placed upon a voluntary basis. An individual is free either to give or not to give. But certainly individuals whose lives have been blessed of God will want to give.
5. The proportionate angle in the plan.
Paul declared that we are to give "as God hath prospered.” We see here that the percentage idea is present in the Lord’s plan. While the passage does not name ten percent as the appropriate amount, it certainly does not oppose it. Tithing is definitely established as an Old Testament law. There is nothing in the New Testament which would lead us to believe that God would expect any less of us today than he expected of Israel when the law was given. In the matter of proportion, a Christian should set ten percent of his income as a voluntary minimum to be used for kingdom purposes. With this beginning, he should grow and exceed the tithe. While we are not under the law today, we should be willing to give God as much under grace as Old Testament saints gave under law, a Christian who tithes out of a voluntary and free heart properly administers kingdom interests, and gives God the rightful place in his heart As we lay aside a part of our income for the work of the Lord, let us keep the tithe in mind as a minimum percentage for that purpose
IV. Some Practical Gleanings From the Lesson
A. A Christian steward is a person who accepts the management of all possessions entrusted to him for God’s purpose. He acknowledges God as sovereign owner of all he possesses, and faithfully administers his life and prosperity for the Kingdom of Christ.--Birhop Curhman.
B. Christian stewardship is not primarily a means for raising money but a plan for making the right kind of men.-J. E Dillard.
C. The stewardship of possessions is the economic expression of Christian experience.
D. Christian stewardship it not confined to just part of one’s time and money, but requires that the whole be held and used according to God's will.
E. The tithe is a working scheme of proportionate giving by which we can make the principle of stewardship actual and living.
F. Stewardship is not measured by the amount one gives, but by the amount he has left after he has given. The poor widow gave her all.
G. In stewardship, God, gives us the power to get, give, and have the will to give.
ADMINISTERING CHURCH FINANCE-THE BUDGET
Some Baptist churches do not see the need for a definite church budget. Their opposition to a budget comes from two causes: (1) lack of understanding as to the nature of a budget, and (2) prejudice against a budget. There should be no opposition to formulating a budget for the church's business. Pastors can do much toward eliminating the prejudice in the minds of many good people by explaining the meaning of church budgets and showing the advantages of budgets.
A Church Budget Considered
A pastor should lead the church to conduct her business on a sound financial basis. Leading the church to adopt a budget will be one of the first step in helping a church achieve sound fiscal health.
There is nothing in the word "budget" that Baptists should fear. The term “church budget" may be defined simply as a financial statement of estimated income end expenses of a church for a specified period of time. A budget helps a church have a definite idea as to what her income and expenses are going to be. Some advantages of a church budget include:
(1) Putting the church on a business basis. A church's business is the greatest business in the world. It is the Lord’s business and as such it should not be conducted in a "slip-shod” manner.
(2) It gives the church a definite challenge. A church needs to challenge the members in a financial program. The church budget sets up a goal to be reached. Each member of the church is thus challenged to make his own contribution toward that goal.
(3) It enables the church to do a greater kingdom work. The members will give more and, thus, enable the church to do more when a sound plan is followed. When a church adopts an annual budget, definite appropriations are adopted for all phases of the work. Every effort will be made to see that the budget is met.
(4) It saver the church money in the long run. To adopt a budget a finance committee has to make a careful survey of the church’s finances. Such planning enables a church to avoid unnecessary expenditures in her financial structure. Sometimes it will be pointed out that more is being spent for a certain item than should be spent. The church is thus able to see where she has been misusing funds and can take steps to correct those mistakes.
(5) It enables a church membership to know where its dollars are being spent. When a church budget is adopted, every member of the church should be made familiar with it. Knowledge and trust are the two greatest motivators for sacrificial giving. A budget carries a detailed account as to how every dollar is being spent and the ministries that are supported. Such an account enable members to know how much of his dollars are being spent for the local program and how much is being invested in world-wide causes. Having this information, he becomes more interested in the finances of his church and is more inclined to be faithful in his support.
The unified budget is the type that is most often used. A unified budget will take into account the entire financial program of the church. It brings the expenses of the church under a single instrument and makes it possible to have a unified appeal, a unified offering, and a unified treasury
People become tired of separate appeals and separate offerings. Normally, greater results come from a unified appeal and a unified offering. Having such a budget puts all funds under the care of a treasurer who is able to give a complete report of the church’s finances to the church. Even with a unified budget there can and should be special offerings for various causes. A budget should represent a minimum and not a maximum in the over-all contributions of the church.
There should be special offerings because:
(i) Some people desire to designate funds. That desire should be respected. It is a person’s right to contribute to any phase of kingdom work that he desires to support.
(2) Special emergencies will arise that call for special offerings. Surely the church should be alerted to those emergencies and do her part to help deal with them. The emergencies may arise on the local field or they may arise in some particular area of the over all work.
(3) Certain seasons of the year lend themselves to special offerings. During the Christmas season an offering to the orphans' home has great appeal. During the fall, it is appropriate to remember Christian education.
(4) The financial needs for a revival meeting is often handled with special offerings.
Procedure for Adopting a Church Budget
To develop a sound budget and lead a church to adopt it requires skillful leadership. Of course, the pastor and other church officers need to prepare the church for adopting a budget. The pastor’s responsibility will involve preaching, teaching, and lifting up various ministries. Other church officers can make a contribution in private conversations, in church group meetings, and before the entire church. By careful and prayerful instruction, most churches can be led to adopt a challenging budget.
The basic steps in adopting a budget include:
(1) A budget plan should be recommended to the church.
(2) A careful survey of the church finance should be made.
(3) A budget should be developed by a special appointed committee.
(4) The budget should be presented for adoption to the entire church.
(5) Finally, plans should be made for promoting the budget. It is one thing for the church to vote a certain annual expenditure, but it is another to actually raise the funds. To assure the full amount of the budget requires the cooperation of every member of the church. Some churches canvas the membership and ask for pledges. Some churches reject pledges but others use them to insure subscription of their budget.
The author sees no harm in pledges if they are voluntarily made. Surely if one makes a pledge he should intend to pay it. Through the means of pledging, the entire budget can be subscribed. Records are usually kept of the pledges. At the close of the year, the contributor receives his pledge card with the amount he has given credited to his account. With this card in hand he has an authentic record of contributions which are important in substantiating gifts to various taxing entities.
Most churches in affiliation with the Baptist Missionary Association of America, follow a system of contributing to the budget without making a specific pledge. Every member should be urged to support the budget on a weekly basis. If the people are not accustom to pledges and have resentment to such, allowing people to contribute without making pledges will usually result in a more favorable response to the support of the church’s budget. Many look upon seeking pledges as being out of line with the simplicity of the New Testament teaching of voluntary giving.
A church budget should include all the expenses of the church. Such items as salaries, utilities, portage and printing, insurance, bulletins expense and advertising, pastors housing and car expense, repairs, principal and interest on church debt, all educational material, various auxiliary, church library, music ministry, association expense, pulpit supply, vacation Bible school, building fund, revival meetings, local charity, and various mission projects such as association, state, inter-state, and foreign missions, and Christian benevolence.
Once a church adopts a budget, it is responsible to raise the funds and spend them accordingly. In many churches, most of the funds are raised through Sunday school. It is good for the church to concentrate on the Sunday school as her chief money raising agent because:
(1) The Sunday school is a church organization. Its work is directly related to the church. It is in fact the church at work.
(2) The Sunday school organization is composed of the most consecrated people and the best informed people of the church. Such people will be eager to cooperate in the matter of the church budget.
(3) The Sunday school organization is inclusive enough to reach most members. It is the most representative of the church membership of any church organization. It is easier to make personal contact with members in Sunday school than in any other church capacity.
(5) The Sunday school organization already has a system of records that enables the tabulation of funds and reporting to members concerning their giving.
Even though most of the members will be involved in Sunday school, there will be those in the church who do not attend Sunday school and will desire to give their offerings in some other way. The morning and evening worship offerings will afford them opportunity of supporting the budget.
Sometimes the church runs behind in meeting her obligations. In such a case it becomes necessary to make special offerings. It is much better to take special offerings in order that the budget be met than to fall behind the minimum set by the budget. In those special financial drives, individuals might be contacted who are not regular in contributing through either Sunday school or the worship service.
A last Word Concerning the Finances of the Church:
1. Pastor need to preach occasionally on the grace of giving.
2. Churches should conduct special studies on stewardship and giving.
3. Occasionally letters should be sent out from the church office reminding members of their opportunities for giving.
4. All monies contributed to the church should be viewed as a sacred trust, and care should be given in accounting for the funds and in their disbursements.
5. Churches should look upon the matter of financing the kingdom as a glorious privilege.
SECTION V: SPECIAL CONCERNS
CHAPTER 21: RURAL AND SMALL CHURCHES
CHAPTER 22: THE CHURCH REACHING
CHAPTER 23: CHURCH PROMOTION
RURAL AND SMALL CHURCHES IN THE WORLD OF TODAY
To a large extent, American Christianity was born in a rural environment. The rich church heritage has been married to the soil since the days the founding fathers planted Christianity on American shores. The rural community has championed the simplicity of Christian religion in all of the years of American history. Churches today are indebted to the heritage of the small one room churches planted in the early years of America.
Historical Contribution of Rural and Small Churches
Even though the population continues to shift toward urban areas, much of the American population remains rural or lives in small towns. Three fourths of all American churches are rural in character. When the number of those who live in rural areas are added to those with rural backgrounds, it can be concluded that the churches of America are greatly impacted by rural minded folk.
From a historical standpoint most of America’s moral and spiritual leadership in churches and in the nation has come from rural areas or small towns. From the publication. "Education of American Ministers" the following was reported: “Forty eight per cent of American ministers spent their formative years in communities of less than one thousand population. Fourteen per cent came from towns of one thousand to twenty-five thousand; and twenty five and a half per cent came from cities of twenty-five to one hundred thousand; and only twelve per cent came from cities of over one hundred thousand population.
Historically, many of those who have lead on a national level in the nation, have a similar pattern in their background. A large percentage of college presidents were born in communities of less than twenty-five hundred. A large number of those serving in United State Senate were born in small towns or communities. Even those who have served on the Supreme Court of the United States were born in small or rural communities.
The rural backgrounds of so many leaders serving both the churches and the nation underlines the importance of the influence rural churches have had upon American life. Even though much of the population has become urban, the future of churches and of America may still depend to a large extent upon the effectiveness of religious training in rural and small town churches. A decline of the influence of rural and small town churches could very well help explain the decline in the moral and spiritual leadership that has taken place in recent years.
Malcolm Dana declared that seventy per cent of all those joining city churches by transfer of membership, and seventy per cent of the official boards in most of the large city churches, have come from small towns and small rural churches. Perhaps, those figures have changed over the years, but in almost all large churches, there is strong evidence of a rural background. With the decline that has occurred in the rural churches, it is possible that the large city churches will have difficulty retaining their membership in the future.
Appearing on the front of the Union Station in Washington D.C., is this inscription: THE FARM, BEST HOME OF THE FAMILY, BEST SOURCE OF NATIONAL WEALTH, FOUNDATION OF CIVILIZED SOCIETY, THE NATURAL PROVIDENCE. That statement gives another reason why churches at large should be interested in rural churches. Historically, rural areas and farm life have offer unique opportunities for the development of ideal family life and the cultivation of character traits necessary for national life.
The welfare of rural churches should be a concern not only for the rural church itself, but for city churches and the nation at large as well. Rural communities presents quite a different picture from that produced fifty to one hundred years ago. Some changes have been for the better such as changes in transportation, communication, education, farm organization, and scientific impact on agriculture. A host of other developments have also impacted life in rural America. The changes for the most part are the result of material progress and development. A question of great significance is, has the church adjusted her program to the needs of the modern community that has developed around her, or is she still trying to serve the needs of the communities that existed fifty or one hundred years ago? A church must face a new day with a new plan and a new program that addresses the environment in which her potential members live. A rural church must be INFORMED, INSPIRED, AND EQUIPPED to help in the rebuilding of rural America.
Rural and Smaller Churches Meeting Community Needs
Small churches have provided needed opportunities for people living in rural and small towns to have public worship in their area. They have been effective in outreach to families living in those rural settings. Personal relationships have strengthened their ability to bring Christ to the lost within their sphere of influence. While few rural churches report large number of converts, over the years, churches in small towns and rural areas have had a positive impacted upon the spiritual lives of the community’s population. Often many churches in small towns and rural areas have had strong families ties and family members have been diligent in bringing their lost relatives to the Lord.
It has been argued that Christian education in small churches is ineffective because they are not able to have a closely graded program and are limited in the opportunities that can be given constituents. In spite of those weaknesses, rural and small town churches have produced many people with deep spiritual commitment. They have produced more than their share of spiritual leaders. Perhaps one of the reason the educational efforts of small churches has been effective in spite of its weaknesses, is the close relationship between churches to the homes and families of those she seeks to serve.
People need social and fellowship opportunities regardless of where they live. Most small churches have created an environment among people which fostered a closeness which is difficult to achieve in more urban areas. People meet together for worship and if someone is not present, he is missed immediately. The people gather for eating meetings and sit across from neighbors and friends which helps promote interests in one another. Those who fall upon hard times, usually find open hearts among those who make up the small town and rural churches.
While the kind of leadership that is effective in a small church is different from that in larger congregation, the personal nature of the leadership required in small churches helps prepare leaders for effective roles wherever they happen to go. In small churches leadership is base to a large degree upon personal relationships. Regardless of the size of a leadership challenge, it is invaluable to be well schooled in the personal nature of leading people.
Evaluating the Services Rendered by Smaller Churches.
The programs in smaller churches have usually been built around the sermon. The sermon being considered an absolutely essential part of worship with little emphasis placed on other parts of worship. The music ministry has been limited because of a lack of available talent and trained musicians. However, a service was considered a success if the sermon measured up to the standards demanded by the listeners.
The changing environment in which people live has resulted in sweeping changes among smaller churches. Because of changes in transportation, closing of rural schools, and other factors, many living in rural areas have left their small rural church for larger congregations in near by towns and villages. As a result many of the small rural churches have closed. The creation of larger congregations of rural people gathered in small towns is bringing to the people opportunities for participating in worship services led by better trained pastors and musicians. As a result more people are worshiping in larger but less numerous congregations, led by devoted, well-trained, and effective preachers. With better trained musicians, more emphasis is being placed upon music ministry. Such congregations usually have meeting houses better equipped to meet the needs of the those who gather for worship. There is little doubt that the trend away from the very rural and very small church to a more consolidated congregation will continue.
With changes occurring in small community churches, approaches to evangelistic outreach needs to be adjusted. The strong larger family units have been dispersed. Where people once lived in close proximity to their family roots, today most young families are scattered throughout the nation. The strong family ties which once were effective in helping enlist and win the young to the Lord is to a large extent gone. Therefore, many young families who once would have been influenced by their Christian cousins, are being lost in large urban areas. Even in rural towns, churches are encountering a growing population that has no orientation to church or the Christian life. Therefore, all across the nation people in churches need to be trained to practice witnessing as a way of life. It should be remembered that the new family that has moved into the area is made up of someone’s children; they probably will not begin attending church unless concerned Christians reach out to them in love with friendship and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Personal visitation has been weak among the churches for many years. In small towns, in rural areas, as well as in the cities, there are thousands of homes into which no Christian witness has ever entered. Pastors as well as the people of the churches need to be trained to be visitors for the Lord. Without a concerted effort on the part of Christians to reach out to the homes of America, thousands will never be confronted with the Gospel of Christ.
Some weaknesses which rural and small town church program must address include (1) need for more trained leadership (2) more comprehensive program of religious training within the church’s program (3) better training for lay leadership (4) developing a better financial support base for the ministry’s program (5) acquiring adequate buildings and equipment (6) and developing better relationships with the community.
Religious Training. Throughout rural and small town in America, there is need for religious, moral, and social leadership. While the pioneer preacher may have been qualified to have led a rural church seventy- five years ago, such is not the case in this highly specialized age. Rural America needs leadership that has been specially trained for the situation of life as it is today. Mark A. Dawber, in his book. Rebuilding Rural America wrote, “The situation in American rural life today urgently demands leaders who will give time to self education and to wide reading in current, social, economic, and religious literature, and who will seek to acquire an understanding of the forces in rural life and the problem of rural people. With such leadership, consecrated to the service of Jesus Christ, the kingdom can be built in rural America.”l
Many pastors look upon small churches as a stepping stone to something bigger and better without thinking of a commitment to ministry in a smaller church. Small churches need pastors who are committed to ministry wherever God has planted them. Ministry in small churches calls for a whole-hearted devotion and understanding of the unique needs of that ministry.
Preaching in small and rural churches is different from preaching in city churches. The people appreciates a simple and direct approach. The preaching program needs more in it rather than more of it. The message needs to address problems with which people are actually dealing.
Worship is undergoing a change throughout America both in city and rural churches. People everywhere want music that speaks to the heart and helps them enjoy taking part in the services. No church can afford to ignore the heart need of people to express their praise of the Lord in both contemporary and traditional music.
A rural pastor is not only a leader among his own people, he is also a recognized leader in community affairs. He is expected to be an integral part of the life of the community. His church must become related to the organizations and objectives of the community as a whole. Often a pastor in a small church serves not only as pastor but as minister of Christian education and seeks to minister in almost every other area of need. He needs to have broad training in pastoral ministry to meet his challenge. He usually will have to lead in organization, curriculum, teacher training, and other aspects of the educational process in the church.
All across America there is inadequate religious training. That is true both in ministry to the young and the old. While the following information given by Dr. Kellar is somewhat dated, the statements still suggests the need that is before churches: “There are more than ten thousand communities without a Sunday school; thirty thousand villages without spiritual guidance or teaching by a trained person; thirteen million children and young people receive no Christian instruction. In Maine, one hundred thousand are without religious opportunities; 95,652 families are not identified with any church; 109,017 boys and girls of school age are not enrolled in any kind of church school.” Since that was written, the situation has improved in some areas but has grown worse in others. Many small churches have closed their doors. Many families who were active in church have simply driven from their community into other areas to take part in larger and more flourishing churches. Those lacking such conviction have dropped out of church and with no local congregation to reach out to them, they and their children are remaining without the church influence.
Even those people who attend church are not getting very much religious instruction. Most non Catholic children are getting very little religious instruction from their churches. Catholic Churches provides 200 hours of religious training a year for its children. Jewish groups provide their children with 335 hours of religious training a year. Protestant children get only 26 hours of religious training and education if they attend their church school every Sunday in the year. In recent times, some groups have begun offering other training opportunities in addition to the Sunday school program. Such program as AWANA’s, special organizations for girls and boys, and even the Scout program has been used for additional outreach and training.
Some steps toward improvement. Several things can be done to help correct the situation. The Sunday school should be rediscovered and strengthened. Sunday school has been one of the principal institutions for religion instruction throughout America. With all of its weaknesses and limitations, it has been effective in reaching many. In recent times is seems to have become less effective in out reach. To correct that problem, Sunday schools needs to be restudied in the light of changes that have come to society. The organization, curriculum, and teaching methods need to be adjusted to better reach people of the contemporary generation.
Any appropriate outreach method that proves effective should be utilized. Vacation Bible schools have proven an important method of reaching children who do not normally attend any other church function as well as ministering to children who are a part of the church. In some instances, churches may be unable to enlist sufficient workers for a day time vacation Bible school. In such instance a school conducted in the evening may be effective. Some have adapted principles from vacation Bible school to “backyard Bible clubs.” Often a series of backyard Bible clubs will reach larger numbers of children than a single school conducted on a church campus.
Summer camps have also proven effective. By providing a program of recreation, study, worship, and fellowship churches can provide unique opportunities for boys and girls of various ages to grow in the knowledge of the word and strengthen their contact with churches. There are camps organized on a local, state, and national basis. If those camps are beyond the reach of prospective boys and girls in a certain area, a local church can provide a one day camp on her own campus and have great impact in the lives of many young people and workers who minister in the camp.
In order to conduct effective education opportunities through a church, a church must have members who are willing and able to provide necessary leadership. In many small churches finding adequate personnel is difficult. The answer does not lie in imported leadership from other churches but in a church training her own people to accept the challenge and do the work. It is a mistake for a pastor to try to furnish all the leadership of a church or activity. Such a pastor may have a measure of success, but the work will depend too much upon him. When he moves to another field, much of the work he did will be dissipated because he left no trained leadership to carry on the work.
Rather than trying to do all the work, a pastor should diligently work in training and equipping others for the work. As potential leaders are identified, he can begin furnishing materials that help them learn how to do the work. The most effective method of training, however, will be on the job training. A pastor can enlist people to work with him on a given task and provide them the information that they need to do a particular part of the ministry. When that is accomplished, he can move them into greater areas of responsibility. Regardless of what methods a pastor chooses to follow in training the people, he should recognize that his greatest potential for leading a church to be more effective is equipping people for ministry.
Providing sufficient resources for ministry. The matter of small churches not have sufficient financial support is an important consideration. When there are only a few people within a congregation, there will be limited resources. The available resources need to be maximized. People need to be taught to be systematic in their giving, and a church body needs to be taught to use their funds effectively. Regardless of the size of a congregation, if the people practice systematic giving there will be money available for ministry. If there are ten families who are practicing tithing, they will be giving an amount equal to the income of one entire family. With today’s income of the average family being at an all time high, one family’s income would be a significant amount available for ministry.
The greatest problem in church finance is that members have not been taught and challenged in an adequate manner. Wherever people have been taught, positive results have followed. Pastors must teach members the grace of giving and lead them into a systematic program of church support. Tithing is a good and scriptural plan of church finance and people need to be lead to give at least a tithe.
Churches have made great strides in providing buildings and equipment for doing the ministry. In some instances, it seems they have made more improvements in their buildings than they have in their ministry programs. Even those churches who have had to continue with only limited facilities have discovered that with a little money and paint, even a one-room building can be made attractive and serviceable for worship and education. Soft and beautiful shades of paint can do much to beautify the interior of a church building. By using what is at hand a small church can have a place of worship which will be inviting to those who attend.
Even a one-room church can be utilized for educational purposes. By creating flexible seating, chairs can be arranged in groups for classes in an area separated by a screen divider or some other equipment. By moveable partitions, a room can be divided into as many units as necessary. Arrangements for as many as six or eight classes can be made in a one room auditorium. Even though it sounds as if it would produce complete confusion, such arrangements can accommodate classes with a minimum of disturbance. In fact when an area is divided into three or more groups, the distraction of the noise is much less than when there is only two groups.
Buildings, while important, will not within themselves perform a ministry or reach needy people. Churches can often use their facilities in ministering to the entire community and thus, establish better relationship with the community. Buildings and equipment suited to social. recreational, and community activities can be invaluable as tools of outreach to the entire community. It is important that churches enter into the life of the people through co-operation with community agencies. By making such a commitment, a church will be seen as a serving institution and will open many new doors of ministry to those who are presently beyond the reach of the church’s program.
Providing financial support for the pastor. Present salaries in most small churches are inadequate to provide the needs for a family. Some churches may be providing all the support that they can but in most cases, people give meager support to the ministry because they have not had adequate teaching nor have they been sufficiently challenged. In such cases more teaching and a greater emphasis upon stewardship could very well solve the problem. Consolidation of churches can also help the situation.
There will always remain those situations where a congregation will not be able to support a pastor with a full time salary. Such a problem is not insurmountable. Bivocational pastors have served such churches for many years. Some men feel they are called to do bivocational ministry. The people of a church with a bivocational pastor should remember, however, that their pastor has other obligations in addition to the ministry of their church. They should do all possible to assist in the ministry and avoid unreasonable expectation from their pastor.
One way churches can help in supporting the ministry is to establish an accountable reimbursement plan for handling his expenses. Churches can pay whatever amount the Internal Revenue Service establishes as a per mile expense. They can also reimbursed the pastor for expenses when he attends associational meetings.
A Church ministering to her community. A church can be one of the most effective forces for building and developing community spirit. A church and the community share much common interests. Without a church a community is not a desirable place to live; without a community, a church could not survive. Churches and communities need to be allies in their work to bring improvement and opportunities into the lives of the people.
Church leaders can be community leaders. The ministry of a church can inspire and promote wholesome interest in community progress. A church can make available her equipment and facilities for community service and help meet the recreational needs of those living in the area. A church can become an energizing force giving people a renewed confidence in the possibilities of a better life in their community. Activities for young people can be coordinated through a church. Instead of the youth having to turn to the sinful elements of the world for entertainment, a church can provide wholesome activities and be an ally in helping parents accomplish the goals they have for their children.
In order to serve a community, a church must fostering a cooperative relationship. A community sensitive church will be represented in community affairs. She will seek to co-operate with the school and other groups in scheduling events. She will seek to make appropriate contributions by urging members to support appropriate community activities. A church needs to join with the rest of the community to work for the common good.
THE CHURCH REACHING
A church is a world institution. That does not mean that she owes her origin to the world or that she is obligated to please the world in her ministry. But a church must realize her obligation to the world as a spiritual force for righteousness and seek to fulfill that obligation for the welfare of man kind and the glory of God.
A Church’s Affiliation
There is a trend toward church union in the world today. Church leaders are concerning themselves with a basis upon which their respective denominations can cooperate for the furtherance of the kingdom. In some instances, foreign mission agencies of those denominations have been consolidated. In other instances there has been mergers of the denominational machinery into a single organization The last few years have witnessed a working agreement between the Northern Baptist Convention (now the American Convention) and the Disciples of Christ in their foreign mission efforts. The two largest Methodist bodies have resolved their major differences within the last twenty years and are now working together as a single organization. Overtures have been made to bring Northern and Southern Baptists together, but there has been no success in that effort. In fact there has developed a division between moderate and conservative Southern Baptists resulting in competing organizations being formed within that body of Baptist. The World Council of Churches has been putting in over-time trying to minimize denominational differences and magnifying their likenesses in an effort to cement greater ties among their constituency.
In view of those trends the question naturally arises, “Will there ever be a World Church?" It is the writer's firm conviction that there shall never be such an organization. Denominations may continue to consolidate and even a numerical majority of the denominations may join a world organization, yet true churches of the Lord will never compromise their time honored convictions and Bible principles for the sake of ecclestiastical union. Baptists will do well to keep themselves aloof from entangling alliances with other groups who do not believe as they do. They cannot afford to sell their birth-right for a “bowl of pottage." Until various denominations come together (and the writer believer this shall never be upon the basis of Biblical truth and practices), Baptists must continue to go their own way in the work of the kingdom. Baptists have everything to lose and nothing of value to gain "in joining” with other groups. Baptist people need to be cordial in their relationships with others; they need to be tolerant toward various beliefs and practices of others. People of all beliefs must respect the constitutional right of others to worship according to the dictates of their own conscious and convictions. Respecting that right, however, does not mean that a church should waver from the Scriptural course they have been traveling for nearly two thousand years. If all others compromise the truth, let there remain a clear voice from those who believe that the Bible is the sole rule of faith and practice. If necessary let their voice be as one crying in the wilderness, calling the world back to God, to truth, and to worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Missionary Responsibility of a Church
A church which fails to carry out a missionary program is not worthy to be called a church. The church’s missionary endeavor should be her greatest concern as she seeks to carry out the plans and purposes of her Lord and Master. Missions is the heart throb of God and so must it be of His people.
Teach Missions. A church must teach missions. Missionary education is one of the most pressing needs of the hour. Missionary contributions, activities, and cooperation among affiliated churches are woefully inadequate. To a large extent, lack of support and participation in missions can be traced back to inadequate mission education. The pulpit needs to declare Great Commission themes on a regular basis to help the people accept their missionary responsibility. Sunday school and other teaching agencies of a church need to have a mission emphasis. Whatever can be done to increase the missionary consciousness should be done. It will only be when such emphasis is made in a church that members will desire to “strengthen her stakes and lengthen her cords” to the end that she may be an active part of a world-wide program of missions.
To have a heart for missions members must be made to feel the world's need of Christ. The lost condition of the heathen constitutes one of the strongest grounds of missionary appeal. When a church's conviction of this need is deep, her zeal for missions will also be great. Nothing is more damaging to missionary zeal and effort than the unbelief or half-belief regarding the absolute need of the lost world for a Savior. A church, through her teaching agencies. must not fail to teach the doomed and damned condition of the lost without Christ. In teaching this challenging fact, it must also be impressed upon the minds of members that those farthest away are just as precious in God’s sight as those near by.
A church must be impressed with a strong sense of Christian obligation. Many members fail to have a clear scriptural conception of missionary responsibility. Statistics reveal the shocking fact that only one third of members of protestant churches and only one-fourth of all church members of America make any contribution to missions. Many who even support missions think of it only as a philanthropy, a charity extended to people who are more unfortunate than they. There is a lack of a deep abiding conviction of mission responsibility. Member must be taught that as a part of a church, they have a missionary obligation to evangelize the nations of the world. The assignment was given in the Great Commission. While many para church organization do great works in reaching out to the lost, only churches have been assigned the task. If churches do not meet the world's need with the gospel, the need will not be met. Churches must be taught to go! That is a God given responsibility!
A church must be brought to a clearer understanding of God’s missionary program. By understanding God’s mission purpose, a church can be led to understand her part in that purpose. Some try to make the conversion of the whole work the objective of churches. Such a view is not only out of line with the teaching of Scripture, but it is equally out of line with reality. If the goal of missions is winning the whole world to Christ, churches are far from realizing the goal. Furthermore, there is no hope that she will ever reach that goal. The scriptural purpose of a church objective in missions is not world conversion but world-wide evangelization. The task is not to bring the whole world to Christ, but to bring Christ to the whole world. To take as a goal winning the whole world to Christ would bring discouragement, but if the accepted goal is taking the message of Christ to the whole world, there is reason for encouragement. Today, more than ever in the history of the world, the Gospel of Christ is being sent to almost every nation on earth. Through the mission endeavors of many different churches, through radio and television, through missions literature, people are hearing the Gospel and many are being saved. The successful endeavors in sending out the Gospel seems to be creating conflict in the world. Those who oppose the Gospel are rising up in arms to stop the spread of Christianity. Thousands are being persecuted for no other reason but that they are Christian. The strife in the world over faith issues brings to mind the words of Christ, “I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:35-39). Missions helps bring peace to the heart of a believer but missions creates outrage in the hearts of those who refuse to believe.
A church must be taught to support missions. A church that is informed about missions will support missions. A church should give a large place to missions in her budget. It is a special responsibility of pastors and other church leaders to lead the people to be inform of mission and to support the mission task. When a church is faithful in leading the people to support missions, she will normally find that God blesses in such a way that it become easier to pay local expenses. A mission minded church will not only support mission in regions beyond but will also accept the mission responsibility of the local field seeking to evangelize the lost in her community. Missions is basic to the program of any church. When a church meets the missionary challenge, God will bless her in other endeavors. Most churches involved in missions have learned that missions do not cost but pays.
The Source for Missionaries. Churches are the source from which missionary workers must be recruited. Missionaries do not just suddenly arise, they come from the membership of various churches. This task of providing the fields with capable, qualified workers is a solemn task that the church must face. To face that challenge it is important that a church:
(1) Challenge youth to a full dedication of life and all it holds. God calls his workers from among those who have spiritual discernment. It is not difficult for one who has laid his life upon the altar to surrender to God's will, once God’s will has been made clear to him. A general surrender to God and his cause leads the way for a surrender to God's specific will. Dedicated youth are standing by ready to answer “Here am I; send me” when the call of God comes.
(2) Challenge youth to see the world's need. One who is conscious of the lost condition of the world makes good missionary material. Such a person does not have to be convinced that men without Christ are lost and doomed, he will already be convinced of that truth.
(3) Challenge youth to offer their lives to God. The greatest gift one can make to the cause of Christ is the gift of self. When a youth surrenders to God’s will, he is a pearl of great price in God’s hand. A youth surrendered to God is a potential preacher, missionary, teacher, doctor, or nurse, who can be used in God’s great missionary program.
(4) Challenge youth to make adequate preparation for mission work. Mission fields demand and deserve the best from the standpoint of qualification, intellectual, physical, and spiritual preparation. Christian colleges and seminaries are effective training institutions for preparing youth for dedicated service. To serve on a foreign field, a person should dedicate four years of basic college and two to three years of specialized seminary study.
It is important to avoid certain mistakes in recruiting potential mission workers.
(1) Avoid superficial emotionalism
(2) Avoid glamorizing missionary life and work
(3) Avoid appealing to the sense of pity for the people to be served
(4) Avoid picturing missionary work as the highest form of heroic consecration. A missionary who is in God's will is not demonstrating a higher form of loyally and devotion to God’s cause than one on the home field who is also in the center of God's will. The thing of paramount importance far one to settle is God's will for his life. Once that has been determined and followed, there is no ascending or descending ladder as to the level of consecration.
“lt pays to advertize" is a trite but true statement. It is applicable not only to the business world but also for churches. To lead a church in publicity, a pastor needs to learn how to use publicity to the best advantage in promoting the work of the church in the community.
Ethical Standard for Advertizing the Church.
Church advertizing must be based upon truth. A church cannot afford to indulge in exaggerations, mis-leading statements, or dishonest in her advertisements. No church representing the work of the Lord should stoop to questionable publicity to promote her ministry. A church should be known in the community for what she actually is, not for making exaggerated claims about her work. The work of a church is spiritual and her advertizement should not distract from that spiritual nature.
A pastor should never allow a church he leads to use cheap and underhanded methods of advertizement. Sensationalism and gimmicks are beneath the ethical standards of promoting the Lord's work. Church advertizement should possess dignity and authority. Nothing should ever be used which would cheapen the high calling of the ministry of a church.
Goals for Advertizing a Church.
A church should not advertize for the sake of advertizing. A church should not allow her promotional material to be motivated by competition with other churches or selfish ends. The goal in advertizement should be to reach people by informing them of the church’s activities and helping people grow spiritually and morally by becoming involved in those activities. Using various forms of publicity to accomplish that goal is worth its cost.
Advertizement can be a powerful tool. It can help stimulate interests among members and enhance their commitment to service. It can help create a feeling of Christian pride in the various activities being promoted. It can helps prepare prospects for evangelistic contacts or assist in enlisting new people in the work of the church.
Organizations for Advertizing the Church
In the promotion of a church, every member should feel personal responsibility, but as in all activities, someone must provide the necessary leadership. To fail to have specific people in charge of publicity will usually mean that the program of a church does not receive adequate attention in the community. The ministry and message of a church is too important to keep it a secret. It must be promoted. To ensure that a church is adequately promoted, a church should have a publicity chairman. The person should have experience in advertisement and a strong commitment to the ministry of the church. Whoever leads in the ministry of publicity will usually determine whether the ministry of the church is adequately promoted. Even with a publicity chairman, a pastor cannot take a hands off policy toward publicity and in most situations should give guidance to all publicity.
While a pastor is normally chief promoter of the ministry of the church, having a publicity chairman will be of great help in ensuring that the total ministry receives adequate promotion. Except for promotional work done through the pastoral office, the publicity chairman should approve all copy for publication, determine the target groups for a particular promotion, utilize all effective channels of publicity, and encourage various group within the church to have a reporter to report their activities.
The ministry of publicity should receive adequate funding in the church budget. In many churches, especially smaller churches, advertisement receives very limited funding. A community needs to know what a church is doing. Without adequate promotion a church can have a great ministry and most of those needing its ministry not know about it. Even with the best efforts in advertisement, many will remain uninformed of a church’s activities. A pastor of one large congregation who spends approximately twenty-five percent of the annual church budget on promotion decided to make an informal check of its effectiveness. He was preparing to make a trip and took a cab to the airport. While passing the church campus, he asked the driver, “What are all those building for?” The cab driver responded by saying, “I am not sure, but I think it is a Catholic hospital.” That pastor’s realized that in spite of all his efforts to promote the ministry, there were still many who had not be informed.
Channels For Church Advertizing
Local Newspaper. A local newspaper is a good channel for church advertisement. A church and a local newspaper should share a common interest in promoting the welfare of the entire community. Because of that common interest, a church should maintain a friendly relationship with the local paper. It is best that a pastor not take public issue with the policies of a paper unless principle is involved. A church should always bear in mind that the paper exists for the welfare of its readers. Because of that, a church should understand that a newspaper has the right to reject articles presented for publication especially when the contribution does not seem to be of interest to the readers.
A pastor should cultivate a positive relationship with the staff of the local newspaper. He needs to be acquainted with the editor (in a small town) and work with him to the best of his ability. While a pastor should support the paper in his community, he should always reserve the right to express his moral convictions even if it resulted in conflict with the editor.
Churches can and should use their local newspaper by purchasing paid advertisements of regular and special services. Not all advertisement in a local paper, however, must be purchased. It is not difficult to get a local newspaper to report special accomplishments of a church. Newspaper editors are interested in reporting extraordinary circumstance, special services, human interest matters, and even digests of sermons dealing with certain topics.
For an editor to be interested in items reported by a church, the information must be accurate and to the point. Material should be presented from an impersonal and objective viewpoint without prejudice and written in good taste. The material submitted for publication should begin with a lead statement that attracts attention.
Church Bulletin. A church bulletin is one of the most valuable means of direct communication with the membership. A church that does not utilize a bulletin is missing a great opportunity for inexpensive publicity. There are some weaknesses in church bulletins, however, that need to be avoided. A note of sameness running through the bulletin from week to week will eventually cause people to lose interest in it. Bulletins should not retain the same style and make-up on the front and back pages week after week, but should seek to present information in a variety of ways. The same type of printing throughout the bulletin should be avoided. A poorly prepared bulletin becomes negative publicity and should be avoided.
Care should be taken that a bulletin is well prepared with a professional appearance. Sometimes bulletins are poorly prepared because of a lack of knowledge as to what constitutes a well prepared church bulletin. Sometimes bulletins are poorly prepared because of a lack of willingness to invest time necessary to do a good job. Sometimes the use of inadequate equipment contributes to poor production.
Almost all bulletins can be made better by varying the size from time to time. A bulletin does not have to always be 8 x 11 inches and folded in the middle. Varying the color of the paper can make a bulletin more appealing. Red and blue printed on white stock is a good combination for Memorial Sunday, Fourth of July, and Veterans Day. Light purple paper with dark purple ink can make an attractive Easter bulletin.
A bulletin should be more than a mere program of the Sunday service. It should be used as an means for giving information concerning coming events, inspiring people, and helping people make decisions for work and worship. The bulletin should not be over crowded with material. A bulletin that does not include adequate white spaces in the format will be hard to read.
If bulletins do not get into the hands of readers they are useless. All active church members, all shut-in-members, special friends of the church and people identified as prospects should receive copies. The bulletin can be given to active members as they come into the building; others need to receive the publication by mail. There are special postal rates available for mailings of 200 or more pieces.
A church bulletin must have adequate financial support. It should be funded from the regular church budget. It is not recommended that the bulletin be supported by paid advertisement.
Church Announcements. Church activities should be promoted by announcements during a specific time in public services. A good practice is to enlist an assistant or some competent layman for making the announcements. They should be taught to make the announcements in an attractive and compelling manner. Announcements should be brief and to the point. Mechanical announcements should be avoided. Public announcements should only be made concerning events which affects the total congregation. Announcements concerning deacons’ meetings should be made to the deacons; announcements concerning a particular committee meeting should be to the committee. The time for public worship service is too valuable for making public announcements to small groups whose activities are not of interest to the whole congregation.
Word-of-mouth. One of the best forms of publicity is word-of-mouth from person to person. All members need to be urged to support their church by giving good words about the work to the people with whom they visit. There are many great opportunities for using word-of-mouth publicity. Member can be organized to do a community-wide visitation project telling of certain events planned for the church. In a community-wide visitation program, teams of two should visit every home with the message being promoted. Those who take part in such a project need to be well informed concerning all phases of the church work. A community-wide visitation program will require promotion, cooperation, and hard work.
In addition to a community wide visitation, each member should feel personal responsibility in telling the good news of Christ and promoting the church wherever he goes.
A telephone brigade can be organized to promote a church event. That type of advertising is especially adapted to special services and revival meetings. Housewives have many opportunities to use their telephoner to promote the work of the church.
Closely related to word of mouth promotion are communities activities that attract attention to special events. Churches can generate publicity through parades. Parades can usually be held in connection with Sunday school promotions, vacation bible school, and youth events. Parades have proven to be an effective means of advertising church events.
Media Advertisement. Radio and television are powerful instrument in molding public opinion. Almost every American has a radio and a television. The majority of people spend several hours each day watching television. Even though less time is spent with the radio, it remains a powerful media because of its mobility. It is installed in almost every car; many people listen to radio or prerecorded music as they exercise.
While there are opportunities for using television and radio in church publicity especially in the smaller markets, but cost effectiveness must be considered. Advertisement using television and radio media is expensive and requires quality production to be effective. Almost all smaller media markets have news programs designed to promote local events. Using those programs is usually free if all the guidelines of the stations are followed.
In addition to radio and television, direct mail holds great possibilities for church promotion. It can be promoted by a pastor, a specific organization within the church, or the church in general. It can be used to promote revival meetings, special events, the regular church program, or any other worth while ministry. The direct mail campaigned can be directed toward the membership or the community. The target group will be determined by the project or plan being promoted.
Direct mail can utilize postal cards which would reduce the cost of the mailing. Personal letters are probably the most effective devise that can be used in direct mail. A personal letter possesses an air of dignity and usually has a greater impact upon the recipient. It is more expensive than other direct mail methods and is more time consuming but the results justifies the extra cost and time. It is advantageous to send the materials first class. Such mail has the advantage of quicker delivery and the receiver will appreciate it more than if it were sent as bulk mail.
Another form of direct mailing is publication of a news letter. It can be done on a small scale as a local project. There are organizations which have developed publications which can be used and personalized for mailing to specific zip codes or market areas. Usually the front page is devoted to information specific to your organization. At least one other page is also available for information about your program. The rest of the publication contains generic material such as sermons and new items. Choosing such a company would require investigating their doctrinal position so as to insure that the generic portions would be consistent with the position of your church. In any direct mail, care should be taken to avoid copy that has a cheap appearance and is of poor quality. The mailing list needs to be kept up to date less there be needless waste and cost because of returned or undelivered mail.
Miscellaneous Forms of Publicity. Tracts can be used to get a message out to people. They can be mailed to targeted individuals. Tract distribution can lead to opportunities to witness personally of Jesus and helps promote the ministry of a church. Tracts have been used for the past 175 years and have proven a powerful witnessing tool. All tracts should be carefully reviewed for doctrinal soundness.
For the most part tracts should be written to address the unsaved. Tracts should avoid technical theology. Theological discussions are important but are not appropriate for an evangelistic tract. Those for whom the tract is intended will have little or no understanding of theological terms. No more than a brief paragraph or two should be used to introduce the subject. Since the amount of material that can be contained in tracts is limited, it is important to get to the message without adding unnecessary material. When quoting Scripture, it is important to indicate which version is being used. All versions except the King James must be given credit to avoid copy right violations.
Tracts can be distributed via a tract rack in the vestibule of the church or in a any public place where permission can be obtained. When placing tracts, the name and address of the church should be place upon the tract. It should be the hope of those placing tracts, that a reader will contact the church for further information or to make a public profession of faith. Tracts can also be placed through house to house distribution or through mailings. There would be nothing inappropriate to include a tract with a bill payment or a personal letter to a friend.
Outdoor Signs have much potential for advertising. Signs can range from the simple to the complex; from inexpensive to very expensive. Signs that have changeable message creates greater interest than fixed signs. Whatever sign is chosen, it should be done in such a way as to have a professional appearance.
One possible sign that can be used is a way-side-sign. Such a sign would be placed at a strategic point such as entrances to the city or community. Usually the sign should contain only brief words of welcome to passers-by. For some churches a permanent bill board would be too expensive, but an inter-church group could use it to a good advantage. Smaller churches in locations where there are no churches to form a co-op, can sometime arrange to have smaller signs placed strategically to advertise their location or some other important feature.
The following Bibliography was included in Dr. Kellar’s original work:
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BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR THE REVISION