The British missionary Lesslie Newbigin went to India around 1950. There he was involved with a church living 'in mission' in a very non-Christian culture. When he returned to England…
The journey to church revitalization is a roadmap. It is not a recipe. When you follow a good recipe, you put together the correct amounts of flour, sugar, milk, butter,…
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It would be easy to come up with a list of 10 issues for church greeters. Some church gurus even offer them as a free download to join their mailing list! But my experience and observation is that four crucial issues are often neglected.
1. Start with Greeters in the Parking Lot (or doors), and End with Greeters in the Sanctuary. Larger churches – or churches with a confusing campus layout – need to have clear signage and greeters in the parking lot. Greeters can give direction and answer questions.
I had a positive experience at one church where the parking lot greeter heartily said good morning and mentioned the message series theme. They smiled and they were upbeat and genuine.
That was it. No questions, no other commentary.
I felt welcomed, I found it interesting to hear the message theme, and I knew I could ask questions if I wanted to. But I did not feel invaded, and that is a very good thing.
If you are a smaller church, you may want to have greeters near entrance doors. To have them in the parking lot of a small church may feel silly. They can fulfill the same function as parking lot greeters. They should stand inside, offer a kind greeting, and simply be available. If someone has a question, they will ask.
When people visit a church they usually don’t know anyone and they sit alone. A sensitive greeter in the sanctuary or worship center can be strategic. As Thom Rainer points out, the worship center is often the place where no one says anything to a new comer. Small and medium sized churches have an advantage here. A person familiar with the church’s members can recognize new comers. Greeting them in the sanctuary can be a great opportunity.
But let the new comer take the lead.
After saying hello and asking if they have any questions, let them determine if the conversation continues. Be sensitive if they want the conversation to go further. If they do, wonderful! If not, kindly give them space.
2. To Shake or Not to Shake, that is the Question.
a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.
If an attitude is a “settled way of thinking and feeling,” there are three crucial theological attitudes pastors need to “settle.” And then settle them again. These three attitudes will permeate your life and ministry.
Theological Attitude #1 “It’s not your church.”
It is easy to have a sense of ownership of the church. You pour your life into it; you know that it is the only “institution” that will endure for eternity; you grasp that the lives of men and women are at stake.
The primacy of the Church is an easy thing to clutch on to.
But it’s not your Church.
Jesus never said he was building our church, but his Church. “…I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 (ESV) The Church, the ekklesia, is made up of the “called out ones.” Certainly, they are called out unto God, not to pastors. (more…)
This guest post by Dr. Kelton Hinton, Associational Missionary of the Johnston Baptist Association of North Carolina, is a review of a book on church revitalization. The principles shared here are worthy of passing on. -Gary Westra, TAP Inc.
Reclaiming Glory: Revitalizing Dying Churches (2016)
By Kelton F. Hinton
This is a brief overview of the book, Reclaiming Glory: Revitalizing Dying Churches (Nashville: B & H, 2016) by Mark Clifton. I have found the read to be interesting, useful and quick (less than 150 pages). I think most of our JBA pastors will gain helpful insights into managing their current ministry settings and positively challenged by the ideas presented in this book.
Mark Clifton uses the term “replanting pastors” to describe the role he and others are taking as they work with plateaued and declining churches, especially in metropolitan areas in the “inner ring,” the area between the revitalized inner city (where the “cool, hipster” new churches are springing up), and the suburbs where all the wealthy families have moved. In spite of his urban context, he speaks about “six imperatives” that he feels MUST be a part of any church turnaround and a part of the strategy of any would-be “replanting pastor.” He says all six must be worked on simultaneously, not necessarily sequentially. (more…)
“Don’t change anything for a year!”
That has been an adage forever for a pastor who is new to a church. I wish I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard it. (That is a nickel indexed for inflation.)
The concept includes some truth. It can be expressed in several ways. First, “Seek first to understand, then be understood.” We should listen with both ears when we begin a new ministry. Second, “Learn the history. Its important.” Yup. No one wants to step on a landmine needlessly! Finally, “If you change too much, people will get upset.” There is some truth to that, but here is where I push back.
Here are three reasons to consider change when you first arrive in a ministry.
“I don’t’ believe you!” he would shout from the last row of the classroom.
John Holland was one tough task-master. He taught a seminary course titled, “The Public Reading of Scripture.” Mr. Holland could smell if something was disingenuous from a mile away. If there was anything “affected” in our Scripture reading, anything that seemed “put-on,” he’d let us have it.
While a gifted actor, he couldn’t stand it if someone was acting when they read the Holy Scriptures.