February 8, 2007

Five Things I Will Focus on In the New Church

Paul Peterson stopped by my blog after following my link to his blog from the Christian Blogger Survey (A Couple Hundred Days). He asked me to check out his post: Five Things I Would Do I Were the Pastor of a Small Church. It is a good post.

Paul, having pastored a small church before, says:
1. I would spend more time in personal evangelism.
2. I would start more and different worship style services.
3. I would blog and promote it shamelessly.
4. I would other church's resources without apology.
5. I would build more teams.

It is a good post. He also balances this with the "Do less for more" principle. And he notes, in one of his comments, that in order to build the church you often have to go around the people. (See this interview with Mike Slaughter pastor of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church).

I agree these are great things to focus on. Often the pastor of the small church plays it too safe, and doesn't try that "something new" for fear of retaliation or failure.

Having been an associate in a small church, I would encourage anyone leading a small church to take their time, get to know the church culture, and be patient. There is such thing as moving too fast and blowing the thing up. It takes a wise pastor to see where the congregation is and get them to move in a positive Kingdom direction (which doesn't necessarily mean contemporary music). Kingdom living is more than style, it is taking the Gospel into the community and seeing people transformed. Too many churches and pastors have been destroyed because the leadership couldn't be patient.

Okay, now for my list. I am listing these not in order of importance, as I see them all as important:

1. A Great Sunday Morning. I believe that Sunday morning, while not the only expression of the church, is the point where people visit and worship together in community. Visitors are searching for a place to connect, and Sunday morning is the place where this happens (along with the personal relationships they form and have formed with members). I will focus on creating a welcoming, safe environment that is relevant and helps people take one more step toward God. Great worship and a great children's ministry is vital. Space and money resources often limit the development of other times and styles unless the move is very purposeful. I also think that in a church plant, most people are there at first because you have a certain style. If you begin another service with another style, it can sometimes detract.

2. Service and Outreach to the Community. I am a strong advocate of Servant Evangelism-reaching out to the community in practical, simple ways. I believe it not only changes the way the community sees the church, it changes the people who are serving. Those serving grow in their ability to love and serve others.

3. Small groups. Developing small groups where people can connect and grow in their relationships with other people. We live in communities that are completely alone together. They isolate themselves and rarely have strong friendships with other people. Of all places, this should be happening at the church.

4. Leadership development. I am a strong believer in local leadership and the church training up leaders from within. I also believe that a church only grow so far as the leadership that is leading. Their ability to trust each other and lead into the future helps the church grow and expand the Kingdom of God. I think this encompasses Paul's idea of building teams.

5. Personal development. I believe that as the leader God has placed over the church, I have to stay healthy and keep growing. I have to exhibit a life that has healthy boundaries, good family times, and that I keep expanding my own personal horizons. I must read, write, and become a better person and leader. I must spend time in God's Word and in prayer.

I didn't include blogging because I do that anyway. I also recognize that at any moment the tactics can change. For instance, I will focus on the Sunday morning, but the style of that service and options available are always subject to change.

Thank Paul for spurring this post.

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