Wednesday, May 11, 2011

11 Part Series: How to Maintain a Successful Church

** For anyone who hasn't realized it, this blog is updated on Monday, Wednesday, Friday **
** Each part will be posted on these days **

I've talked some about worship and different areas of a basic church setup. I now want to post what I use for a church that I've pastored and any others that I will pastor. This goes back to help answer a question that I asked in the first blog; "How do you measure church growth?" There are many ways, but a church that follows this basic guideline will be more apt to succeed. I'm going to tear this apart for the next 10 postings and look at many facets that makes this successful.

How to have a successful church:
1.    Find people that are an appropriate fit for your church committee:
a.     If you have a Building and Grounds committee, put your carpenters, plumbers, electricians, contractors, painters, roofers, landscapers, etc on the committee. That way if you need something fixed, you know who is a possible source in your church, plus you can use their expertise to verify what the repair person is telling you.
b.    Put people who work in the financial industry (banks, credit unions, CFO’s, etc on your finance committee.
c.     Nominations committee should have people on it who have been ACTIVE in the church for several years. By active I mean, that they have done more than sat on a committee and showed up at meetings. Someone who leads a group, and/or is involved in an active part of a ministry of the church. These are the people who will be aware of others that have the drive and desire to further the ministry of the church.
d.    Children and Youth committees need to have someone who has a child that is full time in their home in that age group. A senior or junior in high school should serve on the committee (rules can determine if they have a vote or not) so that the young people have a voice in what happens in their ministry. Kids know what kids want. Adults can decide if it is appropriate or not.
e.     Pass out a form with a list of the committees and their responsibilities to the congregation for them to read at least a month before nominations are held. Have interested individuals indicate which committee that they are interested in. Sometimes you may have someone with resources that fit a certain area that you are not aware of. It also gives people a way to drop off of a committee and serve in another capacity without having to request such an action.
f.      Consider having an outsider or several outsiders on a panel or board for your church. Use people who are considered influential in the community. These people are not given a vote on church business, but they are “outside” voices who can guide your church on the direction that it is being put on. They are a great gauge as to how the church is perceived in your community and/or town.
   2.  Make sure that the church ministries are doing something to minister to the congregation and community. Is this a time when the men or women meet, eat, and gab about the latest news? Or do you have speakers who can come in and motivate, educate and get something going or furthering a goal of the group? Have the ladies start a quilting/sewing club that meets, and can also listen to the heartbeat of the community when they come to join in the group. Men, start a group that gathers regularly and goes hunting or fishing or some other popular sport in the area. Invite non-church members who love the sport to join in. Have a “wild life” supper near the end of the hunting seasons to celebrate the time and the catch that was shared together.
  3.   Jesus Jar: pass out glass jars for people to put their change in regularly. This does not take the place of tithes. This is offerings. Decide on what the money should be spent on (building fund/missions) and at least semi-annually or annually disperse the funds to the appropriate people/agency. Collect the monies monthly in a large container. Many banks have a machine that will count the change for you. Also, many churches have a Christmas tree in their sanctuary or somewhere in a prominent place. Have them bring “gifts” of money to put under the tree during a service that will be used for a predetermined fund of the church. This is great to use to bless a family in need at Christmas. Doesn’t have to be a church family. If there is not a need in the church, then anyone in the community should be eligible to receive aid.
  4.   Have a long term goal and a short term goal for the church. Short term should be 1 year or less. Long term should be 3 to 5 years. Examples:
Short term: Develop a plan to find out what the needs of the community are. How can the church resources be used to further the development of the community? Are there organizations that need a place to meet? Are there Christian charities/ministries that need extra volunteers? Find people to meet the needs. Start an after school daycare for latch key kids.
Long term: Increase membership by ____ % (use the population trend of the area for a guideline). Build new building (gymnasium/sanctuary), Replace roof or whatever is going to need replacing or repair in a few years. Upgrade facilities to more modern and efficient.
  5.   Make sure that you have a vision of not only increasing membership, but also attendance. If people do not come anymore, find out why. Did they move? Is there a problem with transportation? Hurt feelings? Find out and fix it. Have a team solely responsible for this. People who feel led to minister to others through comforting words or who can also find solutions will make good members for this team.
6. Have the church membership split up between the elders/deacons of the church. Have each one responsible for keeping in touch with the families that are assigned to them. If a family misses 2 or more weeks of services, have them contact the family to make sure that everything is alright. Send out anniversary and birthday cards as appropriate to their families. If a family has a need, they are to contact the elder first, then the elder will contact the pastor if they are not able to meet the need or if they determine that the pastor would be the appropriate one to handle the situation. This frees the pastor to focus on the most important needs of the church, and it also has someone besides the pastor responsible for the congregation and their needs. 
7.   Lastly, make sure that you have a regular number of salvations for unsaved attendees. We are responsible for leading people to the Lord. We can’t make them choose God, but we can lead them to the decision time. If you’ve gone a year and no one has accepted Christ, find out why. Are you tracking the people who attend the church and getting to know them? Assign groups of people to the elders of the church for them to shepherd and get to know intimately. This way spiritual guidance can be given on a more frequent personal basis, and the church and/or pastor can be kept apprised of any situations that may arise where the church/pastor can help.

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