Sunday, May 29, 2011

Who Wants To Be The Leader?

By James Smith
Do you remember saying that as a child? The game was called..."Follow the leader". In the course of playing this particular game, a leader would be chosen, then each individual would imitate the actions & movements of the leader. That game was a blast! You could get your friends to do all kinds of stuff they would ordinarily never do. {I won't go into details.} 

Wouldn't it be something if leading the people in your local church was as easy as "Follow the Leader"?! 
I know I'm being a little too simple, but think about it. There would be no complaining, arguing or questioning. Everyone would simply do what ever you did because you were the "leader". 

The reality of it however, is people will follow you if you don't hurt them. If you love them. If you care for them. If you put trust in them. They will especially follow you when they sense that you are close to God. 

I believe some leaders make the mistake of expecting people to follow them simply because they are the "leader". Some people may for a while, but the first time there is trouble, "Look out"! Jesus found this to be true even in His ministry. 

Yet after He showed love to those who denied him and patience to those who doubted Him, he had a group of people who would follow Him to the ends of the Earth. And they did! They willingly gave their lives as a result of His leading. That to me is incredible. 

I believe that the most important thing I can learn by His example of leadership, is that you cannot force people to follow you. Neither can you expect them to follow you when you are not willing to lead the way by example. However, I believe He would have us to understand, that once you have paid the price of true leadership, as He did, then you have earned the right and honor of having a few people say, "I'll go where you want me to go and do what you want me to do.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The 8 Items on a Leader's To-Do List

John C. Maxwell says leadership is just as much about developing your team's talents as it is about nurturing your own leadership skills. The best-selling author of Talent Is Never Enough reminds us that growth is modeled after and expected from leaders. As a successful leader, you must do eight things.

1. Find your own personal strength zone.
A successful leader is a person who knows what they do well and does it, but they also know what their people know well and help them practice it.

2. Help others find their strength zone.
What is their special ability? You can't make others good at something you are bad at. You can only increase a person's giftedness by helping them answer important questions of themselves. What is their temperament? What is their passion? What choices are they making in their life? Help them with these things and there's no limit to how much someone can improve in these areas.

3. Help them define success.
Success is hugely subjective. Knowing your purpose in life, growing to your maximum potential or sowing seeds that benefit others are all great definitions of success.

4. Help them understand how to be successful.
The secret of our success is determined by our daily agenda. Decision-making is important and the management of the decision-making is even more important. Do the right thing today to be in a good place for tomorrow.

5. Teach and practice the four pillars of success.
• Relationships
• Attitude/Tenacity
• Leadership/Influencing people
• Equipping and developing other people

6. Teach your team the 20/80 principle, or the Pareto principle.
Within this, prioritize life. What is required of me? What gives the greatest return? What give me the greatest reward? When these three line up, then life becomes wonderful.

7. Provide resources for them.
There are only three times when people change. When they've heard enough that they have to change; they learn enough that they want to change; or receive enough that they are able to change. Put those resources of change in their hand.

8. Require them to reproduce themselves.
They have to teach someone else what they learn. Don't spend valuable time with people who want to consume but not share. Share the knowledge. Share the wealth.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Guiding Principles For Growing Your Christian Church

by Sam Crowley

Are you a church leader that is struggling to maintain numbers? Or have you sensed the call of God to build your church and have hit a brick wall?

Perhaps you have been led to start a small group and have trouble finding the right people to contribute within the group.

If so, you're not alone. There are many Christian men and women who are asking themselves, "How am I supposed to do this?"

The short answer that they receive from their friends and colleagues is "trust God" and "let Him show you the way."

While this is theologically correct and we should rely totally on God's strength, we need to be prepared to spend all our own efforts to see the vision come to pass.

Sadly, most pastors and church leaders get disappointed when no-one can answer their questions, and their eager desire to fulfill the call of God results in termination of the project.

Ultimately they move on. Or worse, they stay with the congregation bearing the shame of this unresolved project knowing that they are being looked down upon.

Is there hope to take up the call that you've heard from the Lord? Here are seven basic principles of Christian church growth:

Seven Steps to a Healthy Church

1. What is your call? 

Most pastors and church leaders don't have a firm conviction or idea about what they are to do. Ironically their congregations are looking for them for direction and spiritual input, but they lack the vision and wisdom to know what to do.

2. What are your convictions? 

Once you clarify your call, are you prepared to see it through? You will need to be very clear about what is acceptable, and what is not acceptable. Know what you will be fighting to achieve, and what is best left. That is, avoid distractions.

3. Who shares your vision? 

Are you the only person with this call and conviction? If so, you will need to seek out other pastors and ministers who can verify whether the call and conviction are from God. The community of believers will be able to testify with you and provide you extra direction if you need it. Use them.

If there are already people in your congregation that share your vision and convictions, set aside time for prayer and direction and get them actively involved with the project. Listen to them.

This will help you avoid the pitfalls of the "lone ranger" mentality.

4. Prepare your plan. 

Plans alone won't bring about the call. You will need to rely and trust God for the power to accomplish the task that He has given you. However this is a practical step concerned with implementation.

Here is an exercise to do with those that share the call with you. It is best that you pray and ask God for ideas prior to this exercise so that He can reveal more about the project whilst you work.

Draw a mind map. Start with your call as the main topic in a large sheet of paper and draw a circle around it. From there, let your ideas become major topics spreading out from the main topic, and draw circles around them too. This will form the basis of your major concerns or activities about the project.

Further, you will need to draw more lines from these major topics that provide extra details. These deal with:

a) Is this a problem? 

b) What can be done about it? 
c) Is there a historical precedent set? 
d) Will this impact other churches? 
e) What can be done about it?
f) What funds are required? etc.

5. Pray. 

Yes, pray. This is fundamental to the whole process. Leave your plans on the table for a week or so, and ask God to speak more clearly about the project. Rely on him to show you the things that you need to change, remove or reconsider.

More-so, you will need to learn how to listen to God. Most people have never learnt the art of silence and meditation. When you quiet your spirit you are able to hear God more clearly, above the noise of everyday life. Read the Bible and ask God, "Is there anything else You can tell me?"

6. An Outward Focus. 

Most projects fail because the people involved become self-focused. All of a sudden it's no longer God's project, but a project that is going to bring glory to some men or women in a church. As a result, the project typically splits churches, and damages relationships.

The most successful projects are those that have the support of the entire congregation and all share the mission to make the call successful. The leaders are the biggest servants to lead and motivate.

When we aim to help others and look beyond our own circumstances, there is energy and motivation that is created that supersedes the focus that exists when we focus inwardly. That is, on ourselves. The first step to church decline is focusing on "maintaining our numbers".

As a leader, you will need to ensure that everyone maintains an outward focus to achieve the project.

7. Launch. 

After careful planning, prayer, support and focusing on the task at hand, you need to ask God, "Is this the right time?"

You will sense that the time is right when there is a strong and level headed sense of direction among the group. Does the launch have support systems in place to care for those doing the work? How many people will be doing the work? What will you do when things go wrong? Have you got funds in place to cover expenses?

Since every call is different you will need to ensure that the planning phase covers most of the work that you intend to do.

It is better to delay launch until the problems you identified are resolved, rather than to launch early.

One of the major de-motivating factors occurs when people launch a project in anticipation of the results, and then the results never eventuate. This is careless planning, and should be avoided.

Be careful with the call you have been given. You may only get one real chance to do it properly.

Now you have the seven steps to assist you to build your church. Remember that you can't do it alone. You must work 100% with God's direction using 100% of your effort to bring this about.

Sam Crowley is a best-selling co-author and motivational speaker. Sam left his corporate job in May 2005 to spend more time with his family. You can view Sam's home business

NOTE: Referral to Web sites not produced by Rev Albert and his ministry is for informational purposes only, and does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the sites and their contents.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Are You the Best Kept Secret in Town?

A Postcard Introducing Your Church to the Neighborhood
By Bryan Cutshall, Church Growth Consultant
I have seen many great churches with awesome ministries yet no one knows they exist. As a church consultant, I have often been called upon to do church evaluations. One of the things I always do is go to a nearby gas station or convenient store and ask directions to the church. It never ceases to amaze at how many people who work only a mile or two away, do not even know the church is there.

This year we decided to do a LOW BUDGET (I like that term) marketing campaign for Twin Rivers. We called it Pastor's Favorite Things. The purpose of the campaign was to put inexpensive tools into the hands of our people so they could give them away. As we got into the campaign, we added items for purchase in our church bookstore like umbrellas, T-shirts, water bottles and more. We started the campaign by giving away ink pens. Now we see them in restaurants, beauty salons, doctors offices and other places of business all around our church. It worked! We are continuing throughout the year with invite cards (a postcard of our location and service times), windshield decals, key chains and drawings. We even gave all of the kids at Twin Rivers a football on Superbowl Sunday. It is fun, builds momentum and helps us to spread the word without breaking the budget.

Keep this in mind, someone is looking for you and does not how to find you. Utilize free advertising like Facebook, my space, YouTube, GodTube and Twitter. It's powerful and it's free.

Keep your website info current and your pictures updated. It really does make a difference.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Does Your Church Serve Good Coffee?

By Bill

Recently our church started to serve good coffee for free after the worship service. I’m sure that a lot of that has to do with the fact that our Senior Pastor is a bit of a coffee connoisseur. But it has some other benefits too.

By serving good coffee after the service it has some other benefits as well:

It takes time to drink a good, hot cup of coffee. That causes people to stick around after the service and it brings about a sense of community. It usually adds at least 10 – 15 minutes more time for me at the church after the service finishes if I grab myself a nice cup of coffee.
It creates an instant talking point for people new to the church or thinking about coming to the church.

It causes members of the congregation to mingle with people who they might not always talk with. This can be while in line for coffee, or just because there is more time to do so.

All that to say that something as small and as simple as serving good coffee after your worship service can go a long way to building community, growing your church congregation and giving people another reason to want to join you on a Sunday morning.

What are you doing to encourage community in your church?

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Secret to Building a Soul-Winning Church

by Rev. Charles T. Crabtree

Springfield, Missouri, is a beautiful city nestled in the Ozark Mountains. It is the home of several powerful businesses and religious enterprises. Springfield is the headquarters city for the Assemblies of God and Bass Pro Shops, the undisputed champion of sporting goods stores. Added to the allure of this mecca of sporting goods are several wonderful lakes in the Springfield/Branson area.

Among my friends in Springfield is a rather wealthy businessman who claims to have visited Bass Pro Shops only once or twice because friends wanted to see it. He is not the least bit interested in fishing, so the new equipment he could buy stays on the store’s shelves. The sleek new bass boat he could purchase stays on the showroom floor. And the fish he could catch in nearby lakes continue to swim unmolested.
Another friend who also lives in Springfield is not nearly as well off as my other friend, but no fish is safe anywhere in the region. He is a dedicated fisherman who does not let the lack of new equipment stop him from catching fish. He goes to Bass Pro Shops on a regular basis to buy what he really needs and to drool over what he cannot afford.

Both of my friends live in proximity to a major supplier of fishing equipment and wonderful lakes full of fish. Both could be effective fishermen, but only one chooses to catch fish. Therein lies the secret to a soul-winning church.

It was not by coincidence Jesus began to build His Church initially by choosing a number of disciples out of the fishing industry. His call to these men included a promise which interested them: "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). He was saying to them, "Your motivation and skills in fishing are the dynamics I am looking for in a new kind of fishing industry."

Every believer should follow the Master and become a soul winner. Since the Church consists of believers who are called to be witnesses, it is logical to expect every church to be a soul-winning church. Sadly, this is not the case. Far too many believers, including clergy and laity, are apathetic to the opportunity for soul winning. If Jesus promised to make His followers fishers of men, it raises a question whether those who choose not to win souls are closely following the Master.

The soul-winning church begins with the want to before it can move to the how to. My friend who does not fish could be scolded over and over for not fishing, or he could be instructed against his will in how to fish and what equipment he needs for fishing; but it would do no good. The want to has to be born in his heart. Fishing has to become a desire. It must become a significant factor in his life. 

How can I possibly make my disinterested friend become a fisherman? How can I motivate believers to become soul winners? How can leaders create a soul-winning church when there is no passion to reach the lost?

It all begins with the birth or renewal of desire. Somehow, soul winning must be seen as a joy, not a drudgery; a passion, not a duty; a thrill, not a downer.

We would do well to remember that the joy of the Lord is our strength. This principle is at the heart of soul-winning motivation.

When Jesus said, "I will make you fishers of men," He was offering His followers a better way of life. Before Jesus came, they had been satisfied to catch a certain kind of fish. Their lives revolved around the fishing business so they could exist. Jesus came to them with a new basis for living so others could live.

No pastor or spiritual leader will ever motivate believers to become soul winners by making them feel guilty, pressured, or coerced. The only way believers will become soul winners is if they can experience the joy and fulfillment of leading someone to Christ.

Believers will only be motivated to become soul winners by soul winners. My disinterested friend will never get into fishing by himself. He is only going to get interested when somebody he cares for begins to testify about the thrill and satisfaction of catching fish. He will never head for the lake with fishing tackle if simply told he should by someone who does not fish. He will not get the urge to buy a boat if he hears horror stories about fishing—no nibbles for 8 hours, the one that got away, the boat that went aground, everyone got motion sickness.

The main reasons we do not have enough soul winners are:
1. We do not have enough soul-winning pastors and leaders. If soul winning is not a passion and joy in the life of leadership, it will certainly have no place in the lives of those who follow. People are not interested in theoretical truth.

2. We drive people by guilt rather than leading them by an excited and effective role model. Lots of people are turned off by preachers and teachers who shout mandates but leave out the promises.

3. Soul winners talk too much of their failures and have no record of effectiveness. You can just imagine how motivated new believers will become when they hear about doors being slammed, testimonies being refused, and statistics showing how few who pray the sinner’s prayer really become true believers. It reminds me of the proverbial ineffective broom salesman who knocked on the door with the question: "You don’t want to buy a broom, do you?"

The soul-winning church begins with an excited, influential soul winner. No person in the church is more influential than the pastor. Pastors can have soul-winning churches if they are soul winners themselves—in the pulpit and outside the pulpit.
Believers are weary of being told what to do. They want to be shown what to do. They must be shown how to be effective witnesses and soul winners in the marketplace. A revival of soul winning in the church will take place when spiritual leaders become fishers of men outside the pulpit and then share the joy and fulfillment of these new experiences from the pulpit.
The most effective motivation in creating soul winners is not preaching about soul winning but telling about it. I saw this over and over in my own ministry. When I was pastoring, I would often preach about soul winning, but I was most effective when I could tell the congregation about a soul I had led to the Lord that week. What a joy I felt when people I was baptizing turned to me and thanked me for leading them to Christ at their workplace or in their home. In those moments, my congregation was able to relate to me as a witness of Christ as well as a pastor. As an undershepherd, I was able to say to them with authority, "Follow me as I follow the Lord, and I will help you become fishers of men."

1. The soul-winning church has soul-winning leaders. They create a hunger in others to become effective witnesses.

2. The soul-winning church makes room for those who win souls to share their joy and testimony with the congregation. Pastors would do well to have a witness box or a soul-winning window—time set aside in the service—to give opportunity for others to share the joy of fishing for men.

3. A soul-winning pastor will give opportunity for souls to come to Christ service after service. Altar calls are a priority in a Pentecostal church. If no one comes, it is still a victory because the opening of the altars reminds people why the church exists. Of course, when someone responds, the joy on earth becomes the joy of heaven.

4. The soul-winning church has effective altar workers. The training of altar workers creates soul winners. If people learn how to lead people to a saving knowledge of Christ at an altar, they will be able to do the same in a car, in a cafeteria, and in the corner of an office.

Some time ago, I was preaching in a soul-winning church that had a wonderful choir. I learned that a person wanting to join the choir had to attend one musical tryout and three training sessions for altar ministry before they could take their place in the choir. When I gave the altar call, choir members streamed out of the choir loft to meet those coming to Christ. It is no wonder this particular church is flourishing.

Recently, one of my grandsons came to visit. He was barely in the door when he began to beg me to take him fishing. We had gone on his previous visit, and he had caught the fishing "bug" rather severely. At the time I could not go, but did that stop him? Oh, no! He and grandma took off with a couple of poles and a few worms to go fishing. They did not catch much, but they caught more than I did. He did it! A 6-year-old with a pole, a hook, and a worm.

You may have started reading this article with a desire to find some new ideas and techniques to build a soul-winning church. Hopefully, the Spirit of God has gripped you with the secret of building a soul-winning church—a love for souls with the accompanying invitation to go fishing with the Master.

To me, the Parable of the Two Headquarters in Springfield is profound. The Assemblies of God and Bass Pro Shops are both in the fishing business. Both of these dynamic institutions are centers for equipping fishermen; however, neither of them can create a fisherman. They are only of interest and value to those who want to catch fish.

If you ever get an insatiable desire to catch bass, I recommend you visit Bass Pro Shops. They will really be able to help you. They will offer you the latest in techniques and equipment. They are very effective in helping the person who really wants to catch bass.

If you ever get an insatiable desire to win souls, I recommend you call the headquarters of the Assemblies of God. They will really be able to help you. They will offer you the latest in materials and guidance. Every department from children through senior citizens is effective in helping the person who really wants to catch souls.

If you have no interest in fishing for bass or men, neither organization can help you. However, if you really want to fish, you will find a way even if the preacher cannot go with you. Just a fishing pole, a hook, a worm, and a grandma will do.

Charles T. Crabtree is the Assemblies of God assistant general superintendent.
Source of Article

Rewarding Your People

By Rev Albert Kang
When you plant a Church, you are not planting a building but a congregation. Congregation is made out of people. This immediately tells you how important people are to your church growing healthily and bigger.

For the pastors who are reading this article - remember this cardinal rule: Programs do not keep people in your church, people keep people. In as much as people bring people, they also stay because of each other. The fact has a way of  deflating our pastoral ego - more than 80 percent of the congregation will stay because of somebody in the congregation and not because of our great preaching and teaching abilities. Humbling isn’t it?

Not Just Friendly But Learn How To Make Friends
Weekly emphasis from the pulpit is made on the importance of evangelism. Encourage your members not only to be friendly but to make friends. Many congregations are friendly especially towards other existing members. However, when a new person or family turns up at church, few members actually befriend them. Before the month is over, the new person or family would have moved on to try out another church.

Evangelistic Aids
Supply all kinds of relevant tracts so that your members can give them out freely. You can buy very cheap tracts from bookstores or if you are a good writer, create your own tracts. Nowadays, printing cost is quite reasonable. 

Conduct regular workshops to show members how to evangelize and share the Gospel. Many church members are willing to reach out to their own communities if only they knew how to do it.

Reward Your People
Reward the members who bring friends by recognizing their efforts in front of the congregation or by giving them a certificate of appreciation. Show everybody in the church that the leadership approves and rewards evangelistic efforts. Believers who donate money for evangelistic efforts should be recognized too. Small groups or cells that win souls are also mentioned in the weekly bulletins. During the baptism of the new converts in water, the cell leaders whose cell has won the most people to Christ, should be asked to participate in the actual baptism. In some churches, the cell that produces the best annual result in term of winning souls gets sponsored to attend a church growth seminar in other countries. We do all these not because believers only serve for the sake recognition. The purpose is to encourage the evangelism culture. Once this culture has a firm foothold in the church, then winning souls will become second nature to all who join the church later.

It's Not The Size of The Church But Its Health That Counts!

By Donald Bryan
I’ve heard many people say over the last year that, as we enter into the 21st century, it will not be the size of the church that matters, but its health that will ensure its survival. So, what about the health of the church? May I suggest a few guidelines for assessing the health of a congregation of any size? 

Biblically based. Do your congregation members have a clear understanding of what they believe and substantial information to assist them in defending their faith? Is there a discipleship- training program? 

Mutually concerned. Do your people genuinely care for one another? Is there a system in operation that easily allows your congregation to know when people have needs and a prayer chain to respond to those needs? 

Socially concerned. If you do not have a small group ministry, do you have a Sunday School program that provides adequate time for your people to break bread together? Church is fellowship as much as it is a formal worship service. 

Community saturated. Are you aware of the day-to-day decisions that are made in your community that affect the school system, the social programs, and the overall moral climate of the city you serve? 

Financially stable. The church that is fiscally responsible will be able to weather any situation. Every pastor and board should insist on maintaining a certain dollar reserve, and do everything possible to avoid paralyzation of ministry through an unrealistic building or property debt. People must be taught by example to give and to give cheerfully. 

Clearly understood vision. Every church needs to know who it is, what its calling is and how it will be directed to meet the challenge of the future. If not, many small, and even larger, churches will simply exist to support an institution. 

Positive outlook. Please do not allow yourself to fall into a “poor me, small us” mentality. Little-mindedness is contagious. See yourself as God sees you- full of potential and planted for a purpose.

I’m sure there are many other “good health indicators” for churches of any size, but I urge you to consider these we have listed, and then add your own ideas to the mix.