This Primer will direct you through the basics of how to prepare your church for growth, and to be your best for His glory. You may use this personally, to train your leaders, or use with your people to reveal Biblical precepts and ideas on how to run your church effectively. It could also be used for a Leadership Training Retreat.
The goal is to find the heart of the church, what has God called us to do and why! This includes the focus of our purpose and direction, things to avoid, and methods to make it work. This Primer is not necessarily about numerical church growth, but growth in the faith, and growth in Christ, leading to the prime directive for church, which is to worship Christ! When a church becomes strong in the disciplines of the faith and is contagious with Christ, then people will be attracted to that church. The result will be real growth and glory to our Lord.
The church does not exist in and for itself. It is the vehicle to lead and manage the people of God through discipleship, evangelism, missions, spiritual growth, and other programs all pointed to His glory and worship. The quintessential reason for the church to exist is to worship God. Worship is not just to be done during the Worship Service, but is to be a lifestyle. In other words, when we worship (as a lifestyle as opposed to just a gathering for a service) and are obedient to Christ, we will be demonstrating His love and character in how we relate to others. This will be the hallmark of our churches to be attractive for visitors and keep the people we have. This will also be the characteristic for both spiritual and numerical growth! The church provides the means of growth in teaching His direction for worship. Thus, all we do, all we are, must move people toward worship. What often happens is we become so caught up in programs, we forget why the programs are there. If you are the Senior Pastor, the Elder, or the Youth Pastor, you need to ask yourself, "What is the focus of this ministry? Is it toward worship, or is it to function in and of itself?"
This tutorial is primarily for the Pastor and leadership of the church. A suggestion is that a retreat be scheduled with the Leadership Team, using this study and one-third of the time spent in prayer! Give your team an opportunity to read this Primer and pray over it first. Then, come together at a time where there are no other distractions, and go through this primer, keeping the focus on how Christ is working and what He is calling you to learn and do. Once this has been worked though with prayer, study, and discussion, the Pastor and/or church leaders can make the study available to the rest of the church. Remember, you cannot lead where you have not been!
Principle Scriptures: Leviticus 27:30; Psalm 34:3; 122:1; Proverbs 11:27; Isaiah 23:3; Matthew 22:36-40; 28: 19-20; Luke 14:23; John 10:10; 15; 17:1-26; Acts 1:8; 2:1-47; Romans 5:19; 12; 15: 5-7; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 16:2; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Ephesians 2:19; 4:1-16; 29; Philippians 1:3-7; 27; 2:20-21; 3:1-16; Hebrews 10:25; 13:17; 2 Thessalonians 1: 2-4; James 1:8; 1 Peter 1:22; 4:10.Opening Message: Our Faith Is the Most Important Item We Offer
This statement is "a must" to know and yield to, before you can venture into the arena of "authentic church growth." You have to know whom you are and what you are in order to do what you are called to do. In other words, you are saved by faith because of what Christ has done, then, you are able to communicate that to others around you. All that we are, and have to offer, is faith. It is faith that will build the church and will be the catalyst to attract others to it. Faith is the prototypical aspect of growing a church God's way.
God's Word tells us in the book of John the incredible wonder and power of the Incarnation. God Himself became one of us. The Creator of the universe, who transcends space, time, all that ever was, is, and will be, loved us enough to give up His throne and position to become human. No mere illustration could ever come close to explaining this truth. Even saying that the President of the United States would give up his position to become a toilet scrubber at a bus station would never, ever come close, yet God did exactly that. God sought entrance into the lives of mankind for His wonder: "The Word became flesh…"
To illustrate this point, a group of elderly people came together in a rest home, each one disillusioned, angry and bitter from a life of hash trials and tribulations. They each said God has no idea what they went through. One Man who was particularly angry with God suggested they hold a mock trial and put God on trial for all the unfairness that they went through in life! The rest of them agree to this, and one by one they each listed their grievances against the Almighty God. First was a man who was a holocaust survivor from a Nazi concentration camp. He suffered mercilessly for no reason. He was angry and cried out in anguish and said, God you do not know what I have been through! The second was another man who worked so hard with honesty and virtue all of his life only to be ridiculed and disrespected. The third was a women who worked so hard too all of her life to raise her children and give them all that she could only to have her beloved children become selfish and lock her away and do not even visit her. Then another man came in who saw all of the commotion and jumped in with his grievance. He said that he was in politics; he worked hard and was honest and rose in power only to be kicked out of office and desecrated by malevolent political rivals who planted false incriminating information about him to the press. Finally there was a former pastor who served his parish all of his adult life only to see his flock gossip and slander one another and treat his earnest Biblical counseling and messages with contempt. Then their was silence as the pastor realized what all that the others have said and he knew that is exactly what Christ did for me. Then he turned to the others in tears and said to them, that is what Christ did for you.
Our Lord seeks us to be His "change agents," the presenters of the wonder of His message, His Gospel. The people of the church are the front lines that wage not just the battle, but also the marketing of the message. How we engage in this endeavor will be the biggest testimony for the message of faith. This is where "the rubber meets the road." The local church is the display case that presents the marvelous wonder of Christ's love through faith. If the display case is dirty, the Wonder is hard to see. If the case is broken, or if there are other things occupying the Wonder's space, the Wonder becomes cloaked and the viewer's perspective becomes skewed. The message is the eternal truths of our Lord, the reality of life, and the purpose of existence. The Wonder is Christ Himself desiring to live and work in our church and us! The Wonder is the Christ who suffered mercilessly, who went through false accusations, sufferings and rejection, not because He was forced too, but because He chose too on our behalf.
How do the people of the church, the visitors and the neighborhood, see your case (church)? How are you displaying the wonder of His message? How does God see His wonder in you? Is there stagnation, a case (church) that is filthy, where junk, such as pride and political agendas, sit in the place of the Wonder, and where the people cannot see the message, so the message does not go out? On the other hand, is the case (church) clean and crisp, a display that lifts up, honors, and cherishes His most precious wonder? The message must be lit with vibrant and growing awe because of who He is. The Wonder is a living message that must be displayed and used in a living and vibrant body. It sees Christ as who He is, and then responds in gratitude and passion.
· Spend a significant amount of time in prayer. (For prayer ideas and plans see our Prayer channel!)Session 1. Displaying the Wonder of Faith
1.How have you been transformed by His wonder (such as grace, faith, Holy Spirit)?
2.Is your faith the most important item that you share?
3.Do you know how to lead yourself and others to bring the church deeper in the heart of God to worship and glorify Him?
We need to be willing to discover what weaknesses are within us, keeping us from being in and responding to His glory.
4.How do you offer your faith?
The people of the world need the wonder of the message. They have to see it displayed, working, and real before they can accept it. How your church engages in this display will determine its faith and its expectance of the faith. It must be real and authentic; Christ has to be formed in you, and growing with passion, conviction, and wonder.
5.Does your church model the message that it teaches? Do you live the walk and not just talk the talk? Do you practice what you preach?
Concern for the people in your midst will usually determine your love for the Lord. Because we love Him, we desire to serve Him. Our service does not earn us our salvation; it is a response to what He did for us, and the rewards to come in eternity.
6.What burns within you and your church? What is your desire?
7. Does concern burn in your heart for the people in your church and neighborhood?
8.Why? If not, what is in the way?
9.Read Matthew 16:26. How does this apply to your church and its collective desires?
10. Read Luke 5: 4-11. Do you fish? Do you try to fish without casting a line?
We may have the desire to model the Wonder of Christ, but doing is more than just desiring. We have to realize that God loves us so much He would have gone to the cross for just one of us. Should we not have a mere fraction of that love flowing from us to those around us? Should we not have just a small fraction of that love for His "other" people?
11. Read Luke 13: 3-9. What needs to be dug around or out of you and your church?
12. Read Luke 14: 11-31. Whom do you invite?
A church cannot, must not, seek a limited "target." This is unbiblical! We can emphasize age groups and seasons of life such as youth, older singles, etc., but we must never exclude people, saying we are not targeting them. (I once consulted a "Dutch" church that would only target other Dutch people, and refused to honor Scripture and the call of our Lord. That church was dead.) When we exclude the people we do not like, we are excluding our Lord! We do the same when we focus on a specific target and exclude those not in the target. You can focus on targets such as Gen X, but when the neighbors start attending and they are older, of a different ethnicity, or of a different social economic status, you cannot, must not, swish them away like a stray cat.
13. Read Luke 14: 15-23. Do you set up the banquet tables, only to forget to send out the invitations?
Numbers are not the focus of the church; trust and obedience is. However, numbers are important because people are important. Our passion to grow our church must not depend on the increased numbers we may receive, but rather on the love, care, and discipleship of the people He brings us.
14. Read Luke 15: 8-10. Do you look for the coin?
Sometimes we will not find the coin. Finding is the goal, but the purpose is to obey the One who sends us. Our seeking and looking are what matter. We are responsible for the effort, but not for the results. We are called to be creative, compassionate, and courageous to the people God brings us. We need to be creative and innovative with Evangelism. However, it is not enough to just do it; we have to know why. We need to be our best for His glory, to be the best display and model of His character as we can be. It is not enough to pass out tracts and invite people to crusades; we have to pour out our hearts to His glory. We have to literally seek out the hurt, the lonely, and the lost to find ways to care for them. We need to have the acceptance of the people we do not consider a part of us to become a part of our family. Evangelism does not always bear fruit, so, sometimes we give up and say it is too time consuming and expensive. Nevertheless, take careful note of this; it is our call to evangelize even if there are no results. It is His call to present Christ, not to achieve results. Remember Jeremiah was perhaps the most unsuccessful person in the Bible, yet one of the most obedient! Would he last more than six months on staff at your church?
15. Read Matthew 9:36-38. Is your church willing to step up to the plate to be the laborers?
16. Read Matthew 10:14. We need to know that we are not responsible for the results; we are just responsible to obey and to do!
17. Read Matthew 13: 3-9. Do you sow? Do you reap? If so, how? How can this be improved?
18. Read Matthew 18: 11-14. Do you 'ditch' your sheep?
It is God's Will that our churches be alive and vibrant. When the church refuses to honor its call and becomes stagnate, it slaps the Lord who loves it. The local church must have the passion, vitality, and excitement to be the displayers of the Wonder. We are not to ditch the sheep! We are not to be a tree that does not bring forth fruit. We are not to proclaim our Lord without responding to Him. We are not to forget to be harvesters and reapers. We need to look for the coin, set the banquet table, and invite the guests. We are to dig out the rot that is in the way in our lives. We are to be fishers and casters for His wonder. We are to have a heart and a desire that burns to serve Him. Our hearts and desires must burn for the lost; what grieves Christ should also grieve us. We are to be transformed by His wonder so that our faith is the most important thing we share. Then we can do it with love and passion because we are walking the walk, and living the faith.
19. Read Acts 4:1-20
Remember we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Through Him we can be all that we are called to be!
If you desire revival to take place in your church:
a. What would it look like?
b. What must you do?
c. What must happen first?
Session 2. Determine the Needs of the Church
Session 3. Determining Needs Of the Community Around the Church
Session 4. Determining the Purpose of Your Church
1.God leads through the precepts and principles of His Word! (Psalm 119, emphasis on vs. 66 & 105). Precepts are statements that are imperatives, such as commands, (Mark 12:28-31) and passages that are clearly His Will (Gal. 5). Principles are general concepts in context such as character that requires us to make a determination. Think through how to apply them through prayer, wisdom, decrement, growth, and maturity (Sermon on the Mount).
2.God leads us through the power and prompting of the Holy Spirit. This will never countermand the Bible! Through our walk with Christ by His Word, prayer, devotions, disciplines, and the teaching of others, we will receive prompting to move us in a certain direction (Psalm 32:8; Philippians 2:12-14).
3.God leads us through wise counsel of others. This too will never countermand Scripture, or the Spirit's leading. It will test us to make sure we hear the Spirit correctly, and are on the right tract (Proverbs 15:22; 27:9; 1 Timothy 5). We are to pray and think through issues, considering all options in making a decision. Make sure the people to whom you are listening are walking in His way (Chronicles 25:16; Psalm 1:1)!
When we achieve following all three of these, we need to take a step of faith (Hebrews 11:6). As if we are at a nexus, or fork in the road, we have to choose a path and then go. To follow God, we have to know Him intimately, believe in Him, trust in Him, and then react and do what He says within the character of Christ. Remember, faith is belief, trust, and action synergistically combined. Faith requires us to react. Unsure? God also leads us by giving us peace about our decision. If you do not feel right about it, it is probably the wrong decision or direction (Colossians 3:15). (See our articles on God's Will at www.discipleshiptools.org)Begin Writing Your Complete Purpose Statement!
How much time was spent in prayer?
© 1986, 1988, 1998, completely revised 2002, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org