Category Archives: Ministry Development

Plan to Reach More People with the Gospel this year!

I’ve worked on developing missions strategy and structure within the church for the past couple of years.  I found there wasn’t a lot of basic structure  on how to develop and/or promote missions into the lifeblood of the church.  As a result, I developed the following approach to missions and evangelism through the church.  I am including this here as a reference for anyone who might be developing this within their church.  This structure may give you a good starting point for developing a structure for your ministry.  Feel free to copy, take and use any portion of this.

Missions & Evangelism Ministry Breakdown

Overview:

The basis for our missions’ ministry is found in Matthew 28:18-20.  The passage tells us to “Go and make disciples of all nations …”.  It is our responsibility to “Go”.  Every child of God is commanded to “Go”.  This is not dependant on some calling to foreign, national, state or other missions.  God did not leave this as an optional area of service.  He has told each and every one of us to share the gospel throughout the world.   The structure for this ministry is found in Acts 1:8 – [Jerusalem (Local) / Judea& Samaria (Regional)/ Earth (National & International)].

Our purpose is to involve every member of our Church in missions as an effort to encourage personal fulfillment of the Great Commission, both locally and globally.  The foundation of this ministry will always have a goal of sharing the gospel and demonstrating the love of God in radical ways.  The vision and desire of the missions’ ministry is to increase the passion of our Church for personal evangelism, local, state & foreign missions, and missions efforts in general for the glory of Christ through training and involvement in missions opportunities.

This ministry will function under the direction of the Missions Pastor working with the Point Person of each area of missions to determine needs and plans for spreading the Gospel.  The foundation of this ministry should always have a goal of sharing the gospel and demonstrating the love of God in radical ways.

Trip Selection & Planning

Finalization of Trip Selection is to be determined by the Pastors and Point Person of each area.  These trips will be the church promoted/sanctioned trips for the year.  There may be some trips that are one year trips while others commit to a longer relationship with the field.  Those with longer relationships should be planned with the intentions of a multi-year commitment to the field.  These trips should be designed with the intention of developing relationships with the field.  Types of these trips could include: Evangelism, Construction, English teaching, Pastoral Training, Medical, Leadership Training, Life Skills, VBS, Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, Orphanage, Church Planting, and more.  The goal of all missions’ trips should be to support and/or help establish local churches with indigenous leadership.  National and International trips should be prayerfully selected, approved and scheduled by July 15 of the previous year.

Trip Funding

Missions Ministry Leadership will annually prioritize ministry objectives to determine funding.  Portions of church sanctioned trips will be offset by the Missions Fund. (The Missions Fund is supported by the annual missions offering and special gifts given throughout the year to the Missions Fund.)  Each trip’s offset amount will be independently determined by the missions/stewardship team based upon the total cost of the trip, type of trip, availability of funds, and total mission efforts that need to be funded. Because of the missions ministry offset of the trip cost, each team is asked not to conduct a corporate fund-raiser aimed at the Church membership until after the annual offering is received.

Trip cost offset funds are only available to members of our Church.  And team members must contribute a minimum of 50% of the cost of the trip before offset funding will be considered.  Offset funds may cover anywhere from 0% to 50% of the trip depending on fund availability and trips to fund.  There is NO guaranteed percentage or amount for support.  Offset funds are guaranteed only for a set number of participants.

Deposits should be made by all participants on dates determined by team leaders.  Plane tickets may not be ordered until there are sufficient funds (including offset) to cover price of ticket.

NOTE:  Funding assistance for non-sanctioned missions’ trips by church members will be considered on an individual basis. Support will be determined by the missions’ team/pastoral staff with consideration given to other trips and funds available.

Trip Participation

  • The necessary qualifications including age, physical ability, mental & emotional stability, missions’ experience, and spiritual maturity of participants should be determined by the team leader in advance of advertising the trip.   This should be determined based on the requirements of the trip and type of trip.
  • Team participants should submit application including personal testimony to participate on trip.
  • Must be willing and able to share a gospel witness if needed (training will be provided)
  • Must attend mandatory pre-trip meetings
  • Must have or acquire a valid passport at their own cost prior to purchase of tickets. (If trip is International)
  • If the team capacity is not filled from the our membership, openings may be filled by individuals of similar faith. All other requirements remain other than church membership.

Trip Leaders / Trainers

Leaders and/or Trainers must be a faithful member of our Church who meets the qualifications for the First Lead level of ministry.  They must have participated in at least one other church sanctioned trip and/or been approved by the missions leadership and pastoral staff. They must also have served as a co-leader with an approved trainer before leading their own trip.  Additionally, they should have good organizational skills including the ability to contact local missionaries, make all travel arrangements, and manage the team while on the field.  They will be responsible for planning the trip itinerary, team size, project costs, and leading the necessary training sessions prior to the trip.  Team trainers are church pastoral staff members and other leaders who have the experience necessary to qualify as a trainer as approved by the missions leadership and pastoral staff.  Those going as co-leaders may receive additional financial assistance from missions’ funds because of an increased level of involvement as determined by missions’ leadership and pastoral staff.

Structure Developed

National & International

  • One to two main areas of focus will be developed for the church with the possibility of other relationships being developed on a lesser scale.

Regional

  • Church Plants will receive high consideration in this area as a way to multiply churches throughout the region.  We will discover ways to partner with and help various church plants.

Local

  • As part of the full spectrum of our missions’ obligation we must participate in missions efforts on a more local level.
  • The Missions Ministry will promote and help coordinate local mission projects throughout the year to help involve more our members in missions.
    • Servant Evangelism (use groups as a vehicle) – these are acts of kindness with the purpose of showing God’s love.
    • Community Involvement (church wide events) – these are opportunities to team up with existing ministries (i.e. food pantries, foster care, homeless shelters, etc…) to assist them in their efforts.  We don’t need to recreate the wheel that someone else is already doing well.  Also, should look for opportunities to partner with other churches to increase our overall efforts and reach.  Our goal is Kingdom growth!
    • Quarterly Collection Projects – (coats & blankets, food for holidays, cereal for kids, etc…)
    • Work Days @ Park / City clean up / etc.
    • Big Days – 3 or 4 per year.  These are more attraction type events that allow our people to bring their friends and family into our environment for worship.
  • One Dayin the community (make use of Servant Evangelism ideas)
    • Prayer Walking and Neighborhood canvasing Teams (get Easter door hangers)
    • Kite Day @ Lake Willastein (children’s and Family outreach event)
    • Car Show (community event)
    • Evangelistic FREE Car Washes (find location)
    • Evangelism at car washes and Laundromats
    • Yard Work/ Minor Home Repairs – Various Locations
    • Bottled Water Team (parks, etc…)
    • Senior Adult Ministry – (Nursing Homes)
    • Block Party (children’s and Family outreach event)
    • Dental & Health Clinic
  • Evangelism Group or Team
    • The vision for the group is to reach outside our comfort zones to share the gospel and build our faith and trust in God at the same time.
    • The tools for the group will use an evangelistic survey, evangecard, tracks (from E3) and invite cards to the church.
    • Demonstrate the tools to the group and how to use them.
    • Have those who have gone out tell stories about what has surprised them the most about going out and what opportunities they have had.
    • Have the group break up and practice scenarios including: How to approach people, What to say and How to close the conversation
    • Challenge the group to learn the E-card before the next meeting because it will be time to go out and put it all into action.

Missions Rally

  • This is designed to cast vision, promote opportunities, celebrate what God has done and pray for the harvest.
  • Missions Rally Plan (once or twice a year … below is an example layout for the meeting)
    • 6:00 – Welcome (Excited about what God has done)
      • Upcoming Opportunities in Missions
      • Praying for fields we have ministered in
  • 6:15 – Pray
    • Testimonies from missionary teams

Evangelism Training

  • The MISSIONS MINISTRY should function as an evangelism arm of our Church.
  • The MISSIONS MINISTRY will lead / help promote at least one evangelism training study or event annually to encourage the church body to become more able at personal evangelism.
    • Evangelism Explosion / Share Jesus Without Fear / FAITH / Way of the Master
    • The MISSIONS MINISTRY will work with the Groups Pastor to ensure that Servant Evangelism is a part of groups every semester.

Prayer in Missions

Daily prayer is necessary if we want to see something happen that only God can do.  We must encourage our church to pray as they are involved in missions opportunities.

  • PRAY for God to give you patience and flexibility as you minister.  Prayer is an important part of any missions effort.  There won’t be any wasted time as we minister … just more time to pray!
  • PRAY for God to bring us people who need to hear about Him and His salvation.  Pray that God will use YOU to share your faith with another person.
  • PRAY that God will bring people in the ministry area to be saving faith in Him.
  • PRAY for the churches of your area.  Ask God to guide them as they ALL seek to reach the city for His glory.
  • PRAY for church as a whole and the leaders of the church.  Ask God for wisdom, guidance, opportunities and safety for those who serve.
  • It is also vital that each person participating in a missions project have a prayer team of at least 5 people who will commit to praying for them daily.

Miscellaneous

  • The MISSIONS MINISTRY will lead and help coordinate along with the pastoral staff an annual missions’ season to promote the missions efforts of the church.  (November through January)
  • The Missions Ministry should seek out new and better ways to promote missions among our church family.
    • Missions’ conference / Missions Rally / etc.

 

Church Missions

Team Participant Application

Name _________________________________________________________

Email __________________________________________________________

Best Phone ____________________________________________________

Are you a member at our Church? Yes      No

Will you commit to pray for this trip daily beginning today?         Yes      No

What do you hope to see God do in the mission field on this trip?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What do you hope to see God do in your life personally on this trip?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My personal Testimony: (Including Salvation Experience)

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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What’s Your Plan for the Offering?

There is one part of our worship service that is often an overlooked part of worship.  This is the time when we receive the offering.  Scripture teaches us that giving our tithes and offerings to the Lord is an act of worship.  As such, we should make this part of our service a continuation of our worship.  It’s not an add-on, an extra, or a break in the flow.  It is an act of worship.  As such, this is a time where people freely give their offering to God and as a church we receive the offering. (Often referred to as “Taking the offering”, but this creates an image for me of people with ski masks and guns taking what they want.)  We should have a well thought out plan not only of how we’ll receive the offering, but once it is received have a process in place that creates integrity in handling the gift.  Let’s explore three areas together:

1.  Preparing to Receive the Offering:  Have a plan of what you will do during this time.  Think intentionally, what are you talking about before you take the offering?  Script this out. This can include an orientation to the materials that you use or even direction to how the offering will be received and opportunities available for giving at other times (i.e. online, mailed in, foyer kiosk, etc…).  Also you can cast vision by telling them “Everything we do at the church happens because you give generously.”  Continue to cast vision for what the offering will be used for as they give.  Tell them things they made happen including testimonies, videos, baptisms, vbs, missions trips, community involvement, benevolence, outreach, etc… You can also tell them, “As part of your own personal accountability, we encourage you to use an offering envelope.”  Bottom line is we need to spend time before the offering preparing to receive it in a way that will bring honor to God.

2.  Receiving the Offering: Don’t surprise people by taking the offering at random times.  During the welcome, you can tell people about when the offering is going to be received.  This helps them get prepared for that time.  Remember that the offering is worship.  As a result, you should make it easy for people to give and be involved in this part of worship. I have heard many well meaning pastors at the time of their offering encourage first time guests not to give.  We wouldn’t encourage them not to praise God in singing or to listen to the message and respond, why would we encourage them not to give as an act of worship.  For some first time guests, the best thing they could do would be to give.  It may be what they need to do to open themselves up to God.  People aren’t offended by the fact that we receive an offering, it’s how we receive it, what we say, how we say it and present it (that’s why it is important that we think this through before we get to the offering).  As you are speaking during this time, don’t make it dark in the auditorium when you tell people to fill out their envelopes.  This works against what you’re trying to accomplish.  Give a minute warning before you take the offering so people can prepare to give.  We don’t want to rush the process of giving, but we also don’t want to get stuck here either.  You should be able to receive your offering in 45 seconds to one minute.  You can do this by placing a basket/bag  per row in your auditorium prior to services starting.  This can be placed under a chair/pew or a bag can be placed at the end of each row.  By doing this, everyone can ‘pass the plate’ at the same time and the ushers simply walk through and collect the baskets/bags.  Note: If you do not actually receive the offering during services, you lose money and your people miss out on a blessing.  If you use the tithe box, people forget to use them once they leave their seat.  Because of this, you don’t need to dismiss your service until the offering is completely received.

3.  After you have received the Offering: Take it from the floor to a secure room that is not in public traffic area.  Have a minimum of 2 counters (a few more could be helpful).  You can have all the ushers go to this room and count or just a few of them.  Once your in a secure place, I have found a good practice is to have this group pray for the offering, those who gave it and for God to use it for His glory.  Have a process in place for counting the offering.  Once that is complete, have those who counted sign of on the cashout sheet, envelope or any paperwork that is used in counting.  It is good to have a safe to keep your receipts in until it can be taken to the bank.  Once the offering is counted, place it in a bag and place the bag in the safe.  (A safe that does not require a code to place something into, but requires a code to get the money out of the safe is a good one to use.)  At no time in your process should you have only one person handling the money.  This is good to protect the church as well as those who are responsible for handling the money.  It is good to have a written plan of every step the offering takes from the moment it is collected until it is deposited into the bank.  By writing it down, you can identify areas that are needing improvement.

I believe that God honors our efforts as we build integrity into this process.  I have seen what has happened at our church as we developed a solid process of handling funds as they are given.  We have seen more first time givers and increased giving in general.  I can’t help but believe that God is pleased with our desire to be good stewards with what He entrusts with us.  If there is no system in place and things just happen from week to week, it is difficult to have integrity in place. (I know this, because of where we were before we developed our system.)  But if we’re faithful with the offerings and givers we have, I believe God will honor our faithfulness.

Resources


The value of a Ministry Rotation

One of the best ways to include more people in ministry is to create a rotation for your ministries that alternates weekly.  At present, we have a 6 week ministry rotation at our church.  This was started because as we continued to grow, we began to notice two things.  First,  the people who were involved in ministry were getting burned out from serving every week.   Second,  it was becoming harder to find valuable ministry opportunities for people to become involved in as they began to come to the church.  We started looking for solutions.  We realized our Children’s Ministry Director already had a 6 week rotation in place for her ministry that was working effectively.  It didn’t take us long to see that this was something that needed to be implemented into every ministry.  Instantly we had more opportunities to serve than we had people to fill the opportunities.  But this also gave us room to continue to grow and develop.  We also saw that people were able to serve in 2 and 3 ministries without conflict because of this style of rotation.  This helped them to be able to use a variety of gifts throughout a 6 week period.  Below are a five things I’ve noticed that having a ministry rotation has done at our church:

  1. It creates opportunity.  We don’t want to have people doing something just to fill a spot, but to feel valuable.  There are a lot of things that must be done every week both on site and off site in order to fulfill the mission of each ministry.  By rotating people in each week, we have provided opportunity for more people to become engaged in the ministry. They also become more fulfilled by serving in a way that can have a Kingdom impact.
  2. It creates ownership. It’s amazing to see that as people get plugged in through serving, their perspective changes.  It may seem like a subtle change, but it is very significant.  Often, before they get connected through ministry, they talk about “the church” they attend.  Once they have connected and have a responsibility, they talk about “their church”.  They have ownership and realize they are a part of something bigger than themselves.  They, in fact, are an active part of the body of Christ!
  3. It develops depth.  Let’s say that in order to accomplish the tasks of one ministry each week, we needed five people to serve.  By providing a six week rotation, we now move from five people in this ministry to 30 people overnight.  As we add these people into the ministry, we automatically change our thinking.  Instead of asking the question “How many do we need?”, it becomes “How many can we involve?”  We also have looked at breaking up the responsibilities of the ministry from having a large amount on one person to having it divided between multiple people.  This has helped us create even more depth within our ministries.
  4. It builds leaders.  In this structure, because we’re able to involve more people, we have a need to develop more leaders for each weekly rotation.  This is actually a good thing because as you build leaders in your church, you are creating a stronger foundation for growth.  Instead of needing one leader for a ministry team, we now see the need to have six team leaders, one for each week, who work with the ministry coordinator/leader.  Multiply this across your ministries and you quickly see more leaders rising up within your church.
  5. It builds ministries.  This is one of the best side effects to a ministry rotation we have seen.  As we have involved more and more people in ministry, it has freed our staff from some of the details of the ministry and allowed them to broaden the scope and reach of various ministries.  Because of this, we have been able to build more ministries to reach more people and provide more areas of opportunity to serve.
I think as we examine Scripture, we find that a shared ministry approach is a very Scriptural model for us to implement in our churches.  God moves and works in ways that often we don’t understand.  At times, He will move some of our key people out of our church because of another ministry opportunity, a job or another reason.  By having this ministry rotation in place, along with a way to develop leaders, we have discovered that when this does happen, we’re not left picking up the pieces and scrambling for who can help.  We already have leaders in place to help with the void.  My prayer is this post has been helpful as you develop opportunities for people to be used to impact the world around them.

Are you ready for a first time guest?

A first time guest in our services shouldn’t be just a pleasant surprise, but an expected part of the services.  In fact, a portion of our preparation for Sunday should be making sure we are inviting people to join us for services and encouraging our people to do the same.  With that said, we should be expecting new people to walk into our doors every Sunday.  Because of this, there are a few questions we should be asking ourselves.  I want to spend some time exploring these questions in this post.

1.  What are we doing to make them feel welcome?  It is a hard thing to walk in the front door of a new place and not know where you’re going or what waits on the other side of those doors.  Making a choice to visit a church requires our guest to ‘put themselves out there’.  You may be comfortable at your church, but this may be the first time in years that your guest has walked in the front door of a church.  There are a few things we can do to help them feel welcome.  We can start by having a team of people who are available for our guests to open the doors, give direction, help orient people to the building (restrooms, children’s, worship center, etc…), and provide a warm welcoming face as well as their name that our guests can know as soon as they walk in the doors.  Some churches have put into practice having guides available to walk with guests as they move through the complex to help them find their way around.  We also need to be sure that we aren’t just welcoming those who look like us, but we welcome everyone that Christ died for.  It’s not our place to pick and choose who has a right to worship or hear the gospel.  We should welcome everyone God brings through our front doors regardless of their outward appearance.

2.  How are we engaging them in the services?  One of the best things we can do to engage our guests is let them experience the services like everyone else.  Having guests stand up and draw attention to themselves or ‘remain seated in a seat of honor’ helps them feel more like outsiders.  I have been in services where, as a guest, I was asked to stay seated while the regular attendees and members were encouraged to greet each other and those who were sitting down.  It is an awkward place to put a first time guest in.  (Note: depending on your culture, you may find that this works great, but let the culture dictate it.)  I have found that encouraging opportunities for everyone to greet each other is good, especially if you encourage everyone to find two or three people they don’t know and introduce themselves.

3.  Is there any plan in place to follow up with them after the services?  Let’s be honest, follow up is where we normally drop the ball.  But follow up is a very important part of anything we set out to do when we’re ministering to people.  When we follow up with first time guests, it lets them know that we value them and also gives them an opportunity to find answers to any questions they may have.  This is also a great time to not only thank them for coming but let them know about how to connect in an upcoming event, groups, or ministries.  If you don’t have a plan for follow up, you can look at Our Church Assimilation Process for a plan we have used for the past few years and found it to be very effective.  All of it may not work for your church, but it may be a good place to start.  Doing something in the area of follow up is better than doing nothing at all.

4.  Are we genuinely interested in them or in the ‘numbers’ they bring?  Numbers are important for one reason and one reason only.  Every number represents a person.  Every person is an opportunity to see God do something in and through them that only He can do.  When you look at Scripture, you see that Jesus fed 5000 and that 3000 were added on the day of Pentecost.  We find accounts of numbers throughout Scripture which means that someone took the time to count how many were there, because numbers matter.  But we also find in Scripture that numbers matter to God because He is genuinely interested in people.  So much so that He sent His Son to die for them.  When we work with new comers, we can work a plan or a system, but realize that each person has a different background and a different gifting from God.  Keep this in mind as you begin to pour into them and bring them into the church.

5.  What would make them want to be a second time guest or even become a regular attendee?  We should know that every first time guest that comes through the door will not become a second time guest for one reason or another.  But the primary reason for that should be because God has another church He wants to use them at.  We should do what we can to create an atmosphere where God’s Word is not only proclaimed boldly and truthfully, but it is lived out in action on Sundays as well.  We should seek to create an environment where people are genuinely welcome no matter their status.  In the eyes of God we all are sinners who have the opportunity to be accepted in Him because of His grace and His grace alone.  Let’s treat everyone like Christ died for them and we’ll see more first timers become regular attendees.

I’ve noticed seasons where we didn’t seem to have many first time guests coming to our church.  When we looked into it, we discovered that either we weren’t inviting people to come or we weren’t prepared for them to come.  Let’s get ready for first time guests this Sunday and see what God will do.


Fresh Eyes are Valuable

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Have you ever found yourself going into a store and being put off by the clutter, disorganization, dust or something else?  Have you ever gone to fill up with gas and pick the brighter well lit gas station over the older station with dimmer lights?  The truth is that we make choices every day based off of what we see and how we perceive things to be.  It could be that we make the decision off of a need to feel safe or the idea that a store like this wouldn’t have quality merchandise.  But without knowing it, we make a split second decision of where to go, how long to stay and if we will return to that place.  Realizing this, a fresh set of eyes on our church complex might prove to be time well spent.

As you walk through your complex, try to put yourself in the place of a guest to your church.  What do you see?  This can be difficult for us to look at with fresh eyes because many times we are walking through the same halls everyday.  It might be better to get someone else from outside the church to walk through and give their opinion.  You might be surprised at what they tell you.

There are a few things below that you can look at as you begin to evaluate how welcoming your complex may be:

1.  When you pull up to the building.

  • Is it inviting? (clean, lawn/building maintained, etc…)
  • Does it have clearly marked directional signage for guests? Including where to park, where is the main entrance, etc…
  • If you could identify one thing as you pull up to the building that might need to change, what would that be?

2.  When you enter the building.

  • Is there a welcoming atmosphere/environment created? (Any clutter, or items that have no purpose being in the main entry?)
  • Is it clean?  What is the first thing that you smell when you walk in?
  • Does it have clearly marked directional signage or a campus map letting people know where to go? (i.e. where is Children’s Ministry, Worship Center, etc…)
  • If you could identify one thing as you walk into the building that might need to change, what would that be?

3.  As you walk through the building.

  • There are many places that things get ‘stuck’ in a church building.  As you walk through the building ask yourself, What is the purpose of this being here? What value is it to our guests and regular attendees? If it’s not decor that is creating a welcoming atmosphere or something that will enhance the full experience on Sunday morning, it might need to go.
  • Is there a detailed cleaning that is needing done? Look at the lights, baseboards, walls, etc…
  • Is there some building maintenance that needs taken care of? (Lights that need replaced, toilets that need repaired, carpet that needs fixed, etc…)
  • Are there outdated materials left from previous weeks and months? If so, eliminate them.
  • If you could identify one thing or group of things that might need to change as you walk through the building, what would that be?

4.  Pay attention to the restrooms

  • Restrooms are a great place to invest some time.  This may not be high on our ‘worship experience’ list.  But it is high on the list of every ‘consumer minded’ person who walks through our doors.  Are the restrooms clean and inviting?
  • Are they well stocked for the amount of people that will be coming through the building?
  • Is there any maintenance, painting, etc… that needs to be taken care of?
  • Are there baby changing stations available for guests to use?
  • Is the smell pleasant when you walk into the restrooms?
  • If you could identify one thing that might need to change as you examine your restrooms, what would that be?

One exercise that you might find very enlightening.  Take a neighborhood tour of churches.  (These will be the same churches your guests may be visiting too.)  Ask yourself these same types of questions as you walk through their building.  What ideas can you learn from them that you can take back to your church complex? If  for some reason you can’t tour neighborhood churches, then anytime you’re at a meeting in another church, make sure to use this time to also pick up any ideas that might help you develop your welcoming environment at your church.

We might could discuss the fact that people should come to church for worship and not care about the rest.  And in a world where we were all spiritually mature, that would be true.  But the fact is we should also be seeking to reach those around us who are lost and those who haven’t grown spiritually.  One thing that I emphasize continually with our property team is that the work they do to keep the grounds and the property maintained is an important part of seeing people come to Christ.  It eliminates the distractions.  Even those that come through our doors with a ‘consumer’ mindset will have barriers removed so they can worship and draw closer to God.  Our goal is to use our facilities to bring honor and glory to God.  It is to allow people to come and worship together.  Spend some time evaluating your complex and see if some of the ‘first impressions’ that you’re giving to people are actually causing them to leave.  We are stewards of all that God has blessed us with daily.  Let’s take good care of it!


Developing a Prayer Team – Part 2

Earlier this week  I posted about developing a prayer ministry at our church.  I want to continue to share some of the thought process for this ministry.  God has gifted the whole body of Christ to be able to minister to each other.  We as pastors can share the load of ministering to those around us by investing in a group of people who truly care about people.  We can help them know how best to minister to others and give them tools to accomplish this.  As we build this kind of ministry, we can allow God to work through the process in a way that only He can.  Below are the guidelines and principles of this prayer ministry that we have at our church:

Guidelines and Principles

1.   Realize the serious nature of what is happening when someone responds to an invitation.

 

2. Realize that the enemy and human flesh are interested in interfering with what the Holy Spirit is doing during an invitation

 

3.      Always be spiritually prepared to minister.

a.      You should be in unity with those in authority

b.      You should be living a life honoring to God.

c.      You should be meeting with God daily through personal devotions.

d.      You should be available to be led by the Holy Spirit.   

 

4.      Be physically ready.

a.    Breath mints may be a good idea. 

b. Speak pleasantly and remember to smile as someone comes to you. 

c.   Don’t act “spooky” or “super spiritual”.  People are looking for someone real to talk to. 

d.   Don’t be shocked by what you are told or what you see.

 

5.    Always wear your “identification lanyard”. This is what will allow people to know that you have been authorized by the Church to minister to people.

 

6.      Always treat each person with respect and love. Do not be overly “mushy”. 

         

7.    If at all possible, Men minister to men and Women minister to women. There may be exceptions as allowed by the Pastoral Staff.

 

8.   You must know how to guide someone to accept Christ as Savior and how to help them rededicate their lives. 

 

9.    Allow people the freedom to pray alone in the altar if they desire to do so. (Note: if someone is praying in the altar for an extended amount of time, go to them and ask if there is any way you can pray for them.  The Holy Spirit will prompt you and guide you through this.)

 

10.Always ask the person for permission to pray for them. (Is there a way I can pray with you today? Would it be ok if I prayed for you?)

 

11.You should never argue or debate with anyone in the altar area. In fact arguments and debates are seldom fruitful.  Present the truth of God and pray for the person.

 

12.Remove people to the prayer room who need salvation, extended prayer or who are becoming a disturbance to the public service.  (There will be times when you won’t be able to minister effectively due to the music at the altar and may need to go to the prayer room to minister.)

 

13.Give the person your undivided attention.  Realize this is not a time for a life history to be given to you.  Keep the conversational part only to the specifics of their need.

 

14.Without interrogating a person, ask questions to discover their need.

 

15.Don’t give advice or counsel outside spiritual areas. You are a prayer team member not a lawyer or professional counselor.

 

16.Don’t share your problems. This adds more weight to their burden and draws their attention to you instead of Jesus.

 

17.Don’t preach to them—pray with them!

 

18.You need to learn when “not” to pray for someone.  (We don’t pray selfish prayers for people.  We always pray God’s will to be done.)

 

19.You are to be the leader in the conversation. If a friend accompanies the person you are praying with, do not let them take over the situation. The person has come forward to be helped by the church—help them. 

 

20.Obtain information that will be needed for follow-up.

 

21.Always seek the direction of those leading you if a situation arises with which you are not prepared to handle.

 

22.You should demonstrate respect for those leading your team and ministry. If asked to do something, know that your pastors have asked you to do it and there is a good reason.

 

23.Always point them to Jesus. He is the Savior, Healer, and Deliverer.

 

24.Your goal is prayer and ministry that will honor Jesus.

 

25.Remember: You will be blessed for allowing the Holy Spirit to use you.

These guidelines are useful in establishing a clear understanding of how God can use team members as they are open to Him.  It also helps them know how to prepare to minister as well as worship God as they are His hands and feet.  This ministry is still new to our church, but I look forward to seeing what God is going to do as a result of many being prepared to be used by Him.


Developing a Prayer Team – Part 1

It’s a privilege to be able to come and worship God through singing and it’s amazing to hear the word of God presented in a relevant way each week.  But the most important part of a worship service, as we give ourselves to God, is when we respond to the worship and do something with what we have heard.  That’s why I believe the invitation is the most important part of the church service because it is our chance to respond to what God has revealed to us.  

Many are moving away from having this as a part of their service for a variety of reasons from not capitalizing on emotional responses to the message, to not wanting ‘seekers’ to feel uncomfortable or pressured.  But if we close the door to the freedom of the Spirit we actually hinder the growth of our people and the movement of God.  Because I do value the ‘invitation’ or ‘altar call’ portion of the service, I recently was able to develop a Prayer Team that is available to help minister during this time and continue throughout the week.  Some of this ministry is described below:

Overview of Ministry

The purpose of this team is to pray with, direct, and love people.  It is to show comfort and consideration to others.  Having a burden to help people is one thing. Actually acting on that burden is something else. John 12:8 says there will always be people who are hurting and who need help and encouragement. That’s why this ministry is being formed.  We will be available for people to seek us out during the invitation.  But we won’t just wait for others to seek us out; but rather seek them out. Pray for, look for, and act on opportunities to comfort others. If we don’t, who will?

What will you do on this team? You will…

  • Lead people into a personal relationship with Christ.
    • With new salvations we make sure they understand what they prayed and believe, reinforce and encourage them, invite them to meet the pastor and sign up for the next baptism. Move them towards the next session to introduce our church. (We will follow the New Believer Process to accomplish this.)
    • Give guidance to those who receive Christ at the altar
  • Support those who want to rededicate or strengthen their walk with the Lord
    • When someone comes forward to rededicate their life, always explore whether they have had an initial dedication. (Is there a time in your life when you made Jesus the Lord and Savior of your life?)
  • Pray for the prayer needs of those who come forward for prayer
    • With prayer needs, we let people talk for a few minutes but then ask them to be specific as to how we can pray for them. We ask our prayer team not to give counsel but to offer prayer. Many times people will ask important questions like “Should I quit my job?” Our role is not to make decisions for people but to pray with them as they make the decision. Afterwards, they’re invited to a small group if they’re not in one.
    • If someone comes forward asking for the elders/pastors to pray over them for healing (according to James 5:13-16), direct them to one of the pastors.
  • Equip others by presenting opportunities for them to grow in their faith (directing to small groups, quiet times, missions, etc)
  • Help those in the prayer ministry understand what they believe, and how they can most effectively help others
  • Encourage those who have matured in the prayer ministry to step out as soul winners
  • Work with People interested in membership
    • If someone comes forward and wants to become a member of the church, start here:
      • Has there been a time when you accepted Jesus as your Savior? … If yes, explore that with them
      • If no, present the gospel … If yes, explore and then sign them up for the next session to ‘Introduce our church‘.
  • Direct people to resources or counseling (we have a handout available in the prayer room to help with this: You can use this as a guide for creating your own: Prayer Team Reference Guide)
  • Pray throughout the services

Follow Up after Sunday

It’s important to fill out a Decision Card on each person you speak with so that you can continue to pray for those requests through the week.  Additionally, the team that serves on Sunday will need to do a follow up phone call at the first part of the week to anyone they counseled.  Also, there will be a letter or email sent out from Pastor/Staff on Tuesday to these people letting them know we’re praying for them and reinforcing the decision that was made.

Requirements to serve on this ministry team:

  1. Must have a personal relationship with God that is being maintained through daily times with Him.
  2. Must be an active member of our Church who has been baptized by immersion and completed the Membership group.
  3. Must be trustworthy, knowledgeable and personal.
  4. Must have a Pastor’s heart. (caring, loving, concerned, bold)

Committing to Serve in this Ministry

Taking the first step to join this ministry might be the hardest part. It’s easy to allow your flesh to refuse to be used by God because of fear: fear that you don’t think you’re ready, fear that you’re not good enough, or fear that you don’t know enough.  I want you to remember that the disciples were ordinary men, but they were available.  If you are available and you want to grow, God will use you. When we face a situation that creates fear in our hearts, we need to remind ourselves of how great our God is and pray that He will grant us courage to overcome our fear.

Every day God gives us opportunities to create meaningful moments where we can reach out and comfort others–close friends, relatives, or complete strangers.  We often miss those opportunities because we fail to open ourselves to those “God moments” each day.  By serving in this ministry, you will not only be able to minister during the invitation, but you will become more aware of other opportunities (“God moments”) daily.

It’s my prayer that this has been helpful to you.


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