I should start with this confession: I don’t know much of anything about evangelism. I’m not good at it. I know people who are pretty good at it. And I’ve asked, them how they do it, and they give, what I’m sure are very good answers. But it doesn’t sink in to me.
I mean, they say things like, “It’s just about how much you love Jesus!” which, I’m sure, to them, makes perfect sense. To me, though, well, I think I love Jesus quite a lot, and yet my evangelism efforts are still pretty pitiful.
Part of the problem for me is that I live in a world where my contacts and friends are largely all committed to Jesus and a church. And I’m an introvert — which is true of most men and all bloggers.
And this is going to be true of most elders. In most churches, the elders are deeply spiritual men, beloved by their congregations, who have extensive connections within the church — meaning they aren’t connected outside the church — making them dreadful evangelists. It’s true. The same qualities that make them great elders make them lousy evangelists. Continue reading
So, if this is true, how does it work? How does someone enter the Kingdom? And how does the sacrifice of Jesus result in salvation for individuals?
Before we address how an individual enters the Kingdom, it would help to have some sense of how salvation happens. There are several theories taught by the theologians. They are largely not very satisfying. Continue reading
Alabama goes to a bowl game nearly every year, and the press always asks Coach Saban what he’s going to have the players work on during the weeks leading up to the big game.
Saban’s answer is always, “Blocking and tackling.” He explains that over the course of the season, the players tend to forget their fundamentals. They get so caught up in reading keys and remembering plays that they forget how to block and tackle. And the team that wins is usually the one that best blocks and tackles. The basics are the basics because they matter the most.
What are the basics of being a good church? What constitutes blocking and tackling when it comes to growing a church?
Obviously, you’re going to want to be doctrinally sound. But you knew that already. And you’re going to want to love each other. And you knew that, too. Those are like telling a football player, “You need to wear a uniform.” They should have learned that before they got on the team. No, what are the basics that we forget because we’re so used to being members rather than visitors? Continue reading
The greatest talent that God can give a church may well be the ability to recruit volunteers. If a church has a skilled recruiter, find him or her, take them to lunch, and pepper them with questions. Take notes. Learn from the experts.
I’ve done this. Here is what I learned —
- Recruit in person or by phone — not by emails, announcements, or sign up lists. Recruitment is, at its heart, a personal thing. People need the chance to ask questions, to have their fears assuaged, to feel recognized and appreciated, to be sold.
- Sell. In person or by phone. Explain why this is something the recruiter is passionate about so the potential volunteer can be passionate, too. What’s fun about this? Why is this really needed?
I recently mentioned my disagreement with the authors of Simple Church when it comes to Sunday Bible classes. I think Bible classes are essential toward discipleship. Not sufficient by any means, but essential. But I agree with the authors that church leaders need to work to simplify things for the members.
A church of a given size can only be truly passionate about so many things, and over time, churches tend to accumulate more than they can handle. As a result, members burn out, ministries are done poorly, and members get discouraged.
I once served as part of a committee that supervised the programs of the church, called the “ministries team.” We were fond of saying, “This is where good ideas come to die.” The goal wasn’t to approve good ideas, but to approve only the best ideas and to kill programs that didn’t measure up.
It’s more art than science, but it’s a necessary art for a successful, growing church. And someone has to be willing to play bad guy and say “no” to good ideas that aren’t the best.
It helps if you have an understanding of what it takes for a church to take on a new ministry or project — or keep an existing ministry or project. Here are a few thoughts in that direction — Continue reading
Found this site on the recommendation of Matt Dabbs. Lots of bargains on Christian literature — including some popular titles, such as N. T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope.
Here are a few tips on how to revitalize Bible classes:
- Teaching is a gift from God. Not everyone has it. Don’t put someone in as a teacher who is not gifted to do so — even if this means having fewer classes. If your church doesn’t have enough gifted teachers, consider merging with another church. (And maybe God chose to gift some of your women members. And if that’s God’s decision, it’s his decision.) But don’t put an unqualified person in as a teacher. Nothing kills a class faster.
- Even gifted teachers need training. And I don’t know the best way to do this, but even poor training is better than no training. Some approaches are —
- Have a “master teacher” pre-teach each class to the teachers for a given quarter, perhaps the Wednesday night before the Sunday when the class is to be taught. This may be an actual class or it might be a discussion of the materials. It could be a group effort to prepare discussion questions.
- Have a master teacher rotate through the classes and take notes on how the teachers can do better.
- Survey the students and ask them how the teacher can improve his skills.
- Have a novice teacher team teach with an experienced teacher.
The modern church struggles with Bible class. Many churches report that class attendance is way down. Others have dropped traditional Bible classes altogether in favor of small groups meeting in homes.
Personally, I favor a robust Bible class program. I think the reason churches struggle with their adult Bible classes is an accumulation of bad habits that are easily remedied.
Why are churches dropping Bible classes? Well, it’s largely the example of some mega-churches and the influence of books such as Thom Rainer’s and Eric Geiger’s Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples. Rainer and Geiger recommend a structure along the lines of a single weekly worship, a one-hour weekly small group, and a single weekly benevolence or other ministry project. Simple. Continue reading
We live in an age when most middle or upper class people pay bills by computer, electronically, and everyone else uses cash. Checks are very nearly obsolete.
Ask most people in your church how many checks they write a month, and for those under age 60, the answer will be four — being the four church checks they write each month. For those over 60, the answer won’t be much higher.
In my church, the overwhelming majority of contributions come by check. Cash contributions amount to about 1% to 2% of the total.
Many church members would prefer a means of giving electronically, and there are countless services out there that let a church easily set up electronic donations. Continue reading
I’m taking a one-week pause from the Salvation 2.0 series. I thought we might instead talk about church leadership.
Somewhere near the top of the work of a church leader is communication. I like to think of elders and church staff as God’s “perception managers.”
A few years ago, we elders met with a guy who was then serving as an involvement minister for his church in Florida. He was teaching us about an involvement or spiritual formation ministry. Something like that. He said these words, that I’ve quoted many, many times since:
People fill gaps in their knowledge in the most pathological way possible.
This is not cynicism. It’s astute observation of human nature. Continue reading