Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Week In Review

The Life of a Healthy Church (part 3) 

There are reasons that a leader may be enticed to base their ministry on selfish pursuits.  These pursuits, however, will only lead to failure.  For a biblically based foundation, the first place that one must begin is in the word of God.  "It demands that we begin with God and the Bible rather than man and culture in order to understand God's will in ministry" (Mayhue, 11).  God's word tells us "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  To have a successful ministry, one must look to God to understand his or her purpose, and depend totally on God for the strength to carry out the mission. 
In the book, Natural Church Development by author Christian A. Schwarz, he lists several characteristics that are needed to produce a healthy church.  He lists as the eight characteristic needed to grow a healthy church as, empowering leadership, gift-based ministry, passionate spirituality, effective structures, inspiring worship service, holistic small groups, need-oriented evangelism and loving relationships
To understand how important these things are, we first look at what statistics show us important to individuals as they are looking for a church home. The first was the pastor/preaching at 90%, the second was doctrines at 88%, friendliness of members at 49% and after some other listings he states sensed God's presence/atmosphere of Church at 37% (21).  These statistics show us what we need to do to become more effective in what we do.  Let's look at some of the characteristics.
The first characteristic is gift-based ministry.  What does gift-based ministry mean?  Schwarz explains it this way, "The gift-based approach reflects the conviction that God sovereignty determines which Christians should best assume which ministries.  The role of the church leadership is to help its members identify their gifts and to integrate them into appropriate ministries.  When Christians serve in their area of giftedness, they generally function less in their own strength and more in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus ordinary people can accomplish the extraordinary!" (26).
To begin implementing the gift-based ministry characteristic, one must first start with the leaders and teachers being taught the importance of all believers understanding their giftedness.  The general church population will not have a great understanding of the importance of gifts, if the leadership does not teach that it is important first.  This cannot be achieved until the leadership understands that this is not simply a fad, but a vital part of the building of the body of Christ.  Schwarz states, "Unfortunately, in recent years some have misunderstood the gift-based approach as just another passing church growth fad.  But the discovery and use of spiritual gifts is the only way to live out the Reformation watchword of the 'priesthood of all believers'" (26).

Therefore the teaching starts at the top with those responsible for teaching others the importance of gifts and their usage (train the trainer).  The teaching starts with what does God desire for the believers?  Donald A. McGavran, author of the book, Understanding Church Growth, states, "The finding God wants them found – that is, brought into a redemptive relationship to Jesus Christ where, baptized in his name, they become part of his household…The chief and irreplaceable purpose of mission is church growth. Social service pleases God, but it must never be substituted for finding the lost.  Our Lord did not rest content with feeding the hungry and healing the sick. He pressed on to give his life a ransom for many and to send out his followers to disciple all nations.  Service must not be so disproportionately emphasized at the expense of evangelism that finable persons are continually lost" (21-22). (Come back next week for the next installment)

The Week In Review

The Role of the Pastor in Church Administration (Part 4)
Written by Minister Jewel D. Williams
October 11, 2007

The ultimate goal of church administration is to do as Lindgren says, "let the church be the church" (p. 60).  The pastor must take the time to determine the goals that must be set to help the church be as she should.  It will call for the pastor to evaluate the programs set before him/her to see if they will help the church reach their goals. A pastor must look at the administrative duties as a means of helping the church to be healthy in her functions.  That means while it is important to have a well thought out worship service and sermon, those are not the only details that require his/her attention.  It is those details that happen behind the scene that ensure what happens in the open arena. 
The pastor that studies for hours over his/her sermon does that work behind the scenes.  We see the evidence of it when he/she stands to deliver the word to the listening congregation.  Therefore, the details of making sure individuals are trained is an important administrative duty. "The pastor should have a firsthand acquaintance with the educational program of the local church.  The educational work of the church is and must be largely carried out by laymen" (Lindgren, p. 116).  It is then the pastor's role to ensure that individuals are trained to carry out missions within the mission of God.  The pastor also must be careful to help the church not adopt a "warm body" mentality.  This is when someone comes into the church, instantly they are given work without ever any teaching or training, which often creates more problems than are solved. "A strong word of caution needs to be given here, however, against the popular notion that simply giving everyone a job and putting him to work will make a good churchman and Christian of him" (Lindgren, p. 135). 
One of the last points I want to make about administration comes from John Galloway, Jr.  "Imagine how our churches would come alive if we let hospitality define what we do.  Arranging the chairs is not demeaning, grunt work.  It is the host and hostess preparing for the guests.  The church bulletin is not a dull routine.  It is something to help our guests be guided in their worship, to be welcomed into the fellowship, to be invited to feel at home.  Cleaning the building, if necessary painting the walls, mowing the lawn, and adding beauty to the landscaping – all are done to prepare for the party…The Lord has invited quite a number of people to the house of God next Sunday morning.  God has great plans for them on that day.  The Lord has invited a smaller group Tuesday morning to study the Bible and another group on Wednesday evening to discern with is God's will on some organizational matters.  God wants all people to be welcomed, freed to grow, and made to know they belong.  Seen in this light, all the work on details and arrangements is some of the most important, exciting work we can do" (Galloway, pp. 73-74).
Each time I read this section from the book, I see the great possibilities not only in the church.  It states to me that whatever you have been called to do is important to God because it adds to the whole.  The pastor that preaches is important, but he is not able to preach the word of God if someone doesn't pay the bills so that there will be electricity. Scripture confirms this understanding, "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do
it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness" (Romans 12:4-8).   Purposeful administration is fulfilled when individuals understand that the work they are doing is needed because it allows God to do in the lives of others what he intends.  Each of us, with the help of the pastor must see we are a vital part of the kingdom work.

As we have been discussing administration we also have been touching on the areas of what activities a pastor needs to do to guide the church toward fulfilling her mission.  I will highlight those areas again in this section.  Some of the things already mentioned were, 1) Be a yes person (this helps others to feel free to dream), 2) Set up an organizational model that frees positive people to lead (this moves more people toward stepping into their place and then helping to cut down on the "no's" of those that are overworked), 3) Help the church to be confident to take risks (this helps the church to move forward and see success it would otherwise not obtain), 4) accountability (we are accountable to God to fulfill his mission) and 5)Reforming (this means the church is never satisfied with where it is, but always seeking to allow God to move us further).  These steps were mentioned earlier and were taken from Galloway's book.
 Another critical point is that the pastor has to set the priorities of the church.  This will not always be an easy thing, when others often times feel your priorities should be in line with theirs.  However, the pastor must set the tone.  It does not mean that things are not important, but everything cannot be the priority for there is a limit to how much time is available for things to be accomplished.  That means some things, though important cannot take the place of priority.  Another area where a pastor must handle is the area of conflict.  Sometimes conflicts arise because of time or space or other situations.  Two groups need a specific time or place within the church and both cannot have it, so what do we do?  The pastor has to help us in our administrative capabilities, which includes our scheduling to help work these conflicts out so that they do not stop us from moving forward (come back next week for the next installment. If you missed previous installments, you can go to the tri-production blog and look under the "Week In Review" to find the series).