One Simple Thing You Need to DO to Grow the Church

churchgrowth

My work allows me the luxury of being able to visit many different churches in a number of locations, of both the denominational and non-denominational variety. While I usually stick to evangelical assemblies, I frequently visit Baptist, Assembly of God, Independent Christian Churches, Christian and Missionary Alliance, and many more.

Over the last year my wife and I have intentionally visited ten churches, all evangelical, and all who have clear Vision/Mission statements about reaching the lost and growing the Kingdom. Every single church had a Guest or Visitor Card that they asked you to fill out. We filled one out at each church and gave all of the correct information, including name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. None of the ministers knew us and I did not volunteer any information about my pastoral background.

Now here was the shocker for me – while most of the ten churches were somewhat friendly and offered a decent worship experience, only one of the ten followed up with us based on the information we gave them! Only one out of ten! And to top it off, half of the churches said during the service that if you filled out the Guest Card they would be sending you a gift of some kind in the mail.

I don’t have any studies to back up what I’m about to say, but based on personal experience, about 2 out of 10 visitors will fill out your Guest Card. Most people will not fill it out on their first visit because they don’t know you yet and are uncomfortable with the thought of some strange religious group hounding them. That’s understandable.

But when they do fill it out, it is absolutely inexcusable for the church not to follow-up with those people in some way, shape, or form. I’m not suggesting being intrusive or bothering people, but if you’re not even going to send a “Thank You For Visiting” note, you really shouldn’t be asking people to fill out the card at all. For all we know the people filling out the card might not even be in a relationship with Christ and we have an opportunity that has been handed to us by God to reach out to them. There is absolutely no excuse for not doing so.

I will not name the churches that did not follow up, but I will name the one that did. It was Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, KY.  We visited on a Sunday Morning. On Wednesday we received a handwritten note from a couple that were members at the church thanking us for visiting. On Thursday we received a letter from their financial secretary thanking us for giving. On Friday we received a letter from the pastor thanking us for attending and including a brochure with helpful information about classes, worship, times, etc… While I haven’t asked, I am almost positive that they have a system set up to do this with each visitor who fills out the card.

9e68ff9d79062ab0a6009254374c12f8While I was impressed with what Immanuel Baptist Church did, I shouldn’t have been, because this should be the norm. The fact that it isn’t tells me quite a bit about how serious the other churches were about evangelism, gaining and retaining members, and outreach in general. I realize that not every church has the resources to put a lot of money into this type of thing, but anyone can set up a small volunteer team to make sure that the Visitor Cards are gathered and, at the very least, a note sent out on Monday letting them know you are glad they stopped by.

I want to encourage you today to begin to do this if you’re not doing it already. From my somewhat limited experience, it will help you to stand out in the crowd and just possibly give you the opportunity to lead more and more people to Christ.

That’s what it’s all about anyway…isn’t it?

Barry L. Davis

 

Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1996. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling.

Preaching Christmas

Our Brand New Book, “Preaching Christmas” is available at:

PreachingChristmas.com

3d Coversmall

 

Endorsements:

Barry Davis’ timely book, Preaching Christmas is an answer to prayer. Every year leading into the month of December I am literally pleading with God to give me new insight to a story that I have been preaching on for the past 29 years, the story of Christmas. Every chapter is based on biblical doctrine and never strays from what is written in the Word of God about the birth of Jesus Christ. Preaching Christmas will give fresh insight to pulpits all across this country. Thanks Barry, for being an answer to prayer!!

Dr. Fred Luter, Jr. Pastor, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans, LA.

Former President, Southern Baptist Convention

Every teaching pastor I talk to loves Christmas. It’s an incredible opportunity to tell the wonderful and redemptive story of God’s love through the gift of His Son Jesus. And yet it’s also a challenge to create a fresh new series of messages each year. In his book, Preaching Christmas, Barry Davis provides messages that are biblical, redemptive, organized, uplifting and insightful. The Holy Spirit will help you make them your own, but these messages provide you with great material!

Dr. Dan Reiland, Executive Pastor, 12Stone Church, Lawrenceville, GA.

As much as I love the Christmas season, one of the hardest parts for pastors is discerning how to package the most familiar story of Christianity in a new and fresh way each year. Obviously, this should be a work of God’s Spirit, but I believe He uses the Body to bless one another. Such is the case with this wonderful resource. I can see myself referring to this often. Christmas is coming — I’m feeling more prepared already!

Ron Edmondson, Senior Pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.

Whether you are like me, and look forward to every Christmas season, excited to share about the History & the Mystery, the Glory in the Story, the Revelation in the Incarnation, or like other pastors who honestly dread December and all the pressure to be fresh and relevant while still biblical, this is a treasure-chest of CHRISTmas inspiration for all of us. Reignite the CHRISTmas flame in your heart and ministry once again with this excellent resource.”

Myles Holmes, Pastor, REVIVE Assembly of God, St. Louis, MO.

Preaching fresh, creative holiday messages is always a challenge even to a seasoned communicator. Dr. Barry Davis’s new book Preaching Christmas is an extremely helpful resource for those who hope to inspire and encourage believers during the Christmas season. This book is filled with timely illustrations, practical insights and solid, theologically rich sermons.

Dr. Tom LaHue, Senior Minister, Port Orange Christian Church, Port Orange, FL.

The Four R’s of Preaching

fourrs

Facing the task of sermon preparation each week can be daunting for any preacher. It can also, over time, become a monotonous burden if we let it. While there are those rare individuals who never lose their fire, and continuously produce God-inspired sermons with never a hiccup, that is not the case with most of us. The sad truth is that some of us fall into a pattern of preaching that might “get the job done,” but somehow lose our purpose in the process.

Some of us need to be reminded of the great calling God has given us and remember the privilege we have to address a group of people each week, no matter the size, who are hungry for a Word from God and are expecting us to deliver it.

Consider the following statement from the great preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

“The work of preaching is the highest and greatest and most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.”

If that declaration is true, and I believe it is, we need to always keep that calling from God at the forefront of our minds and hearts as we prepare to address those under our care each week. To help us do that, I am proposing Four R’s of Preaching that should stand as a reminder and a guide for those of us who are privileged to share God’s Word from the pulpit.

1. Reverence

I have noticed a lack of reverence coming from some of our pulpits. Sometimes a preacher will allow the message to be more about him than it is about God. We need to approach the task of preaching with an understanding that we are mere spokespersons for the Great and Mighty Creator of the Universe.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe. – Hebrews 12:28 (ESV)

While preparing our messages and while preaching them, we must remember Who it is we are doing this for, and make sure that He features prominently in our message. We are not calling people to follow us, but our God and Savior. We must come to the sacred text and to the pulpit with a sense of awe and wonder, as well as with recognition that God is watching every word that we utter.

2. Responsibility

We are given a great responsibility. God has called us to lead men and women to His Son, Jesus Christ. He has also called us to teach and disciple those who have already accepted His wonderful offer of salvation. This is not something to be taken lightly. When we are preparing our messages we need to always remember to give the time and effort necessary to communicate God’s will clearly.

If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously… – Romans 12:8b (NLT)

The preacher who takes this responsibility seriously will always makes sure to be prepared, to have studied diligently, to have prayed fervently, and to have the needs of the people and God’s solution to those needs at the forefront of every sermon.

3. Respect

If you do not respect the people you are speaking to, not only will they pick up on it, they will turn a deaf ear to everything you have to say. I am well aware that some of the people in the audience might be people who have done you or your family wrong, or given you reasons not to have much respect for them. I get it, I really do!

On the other hand, even if you can’t respect the person, you can respect the message God has given to you and deliver it in a way that is meant to lift people up, rather than bring them down. Consider that those who may have wronged you need this most of all.

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. – Romans 12:10 (ESV)

When you show honor to those in your congregation by showing respect to them, to God, and to His Word, you will have come a long way toward leading others toward spiritual insight and personal growth.

4. Restraint

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. – Proverbs 17:27 (ESV)

There are at least two ways we can apply this:

1) There is a great temptation for some preachers to deliver personal rebukes from the pulpit. Rather than confront a person in private, during the sermon they will bring up something this person has done wrong and then go on the attack. They normally won’t mention the person by name, but everyone knows who they are talking about. Don’t do this…EVER! There is nothing wrong with confronting sin from the pulpit, and we are called to do just that, but never, ever, do it in a personal way, or in a way meant to embarrass or demean an individual. If you need to deal with a problem, take the person out to coffee or meet in your office and discuss it one-on-one.

2) To use an old term, some ministers “go everywhere preaching the Gospel” from the pulpit. They have trouble sticking with one subject and go from one topic to the other, never really landing on anything solid. Here is something to remember – when you go into the pulpit, have one point. You might have three steps to this or four reasons for that, but there must be an overarching thought or purpose that you want to get across. Don’t stray from that. You don’t need to preach the whole Bible every week.

This week, as you prepare for the weekend, make sure and remember the Four R’s! It will help you more than you can know, and you will become a better preaching in the process.

 

I welcome your comments below.

 

Barry L. Davis

 

Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1996. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling.

 

 

 

Yes, God Does Care About Numbers!

numbers

By Barry L. Davis

Often we hear the statement, “God doesn’t care about numbers, He cares about people.” Well, the second half of that statement is true, but the first half is not. If you say that God only cares about numbers, I would agree with you. But it doesn’t need to be exclusive. God cares about numbers AND people, because every number that you count at church represents a soul that Jesus Christ died for. It isn’t numbers or people, it is that numbers ARE people!

If you are trying to gain numbers just so you can brag to other preachers about your church attendance, you are doing it with the wrong motive. But if you are trying to gain numbers because you want to bring more people with you into heaven, you’re doing it right! The ministers I’m most concerned about are the ones who are not bothered about numbers at all.

When you consider that the book of Acts in the New Testament covers approximately the first six decades of church history, you begin to realize that it, at the very least, is a good indicator of how the church should grow. And when we examine that dynamic book we discover that God inspired its author to go to great lengths to record the number of people who were being saved. Why would he do that if numbers weren’t important to God?

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. – Acts 2:41 

praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. – Acts 2:47 

But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. – Acts 4:4

And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. – Acts 5:14

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. – Acts 6:7

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. – Acts 9:31

And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. – Acts 11:21 

…for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. – Acts 11:24

Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. – Acts 14:1 

So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily. – Acts 16:5 

And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. – Acts 17:4

Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. – Acts 18:8

As you can clearly see, God cares about numbers, and He cares about numbers because He cares about people! While God blesses churches of all sizes and all churches have different demographics that might limit or enhance their ability to grow, none of us are excused from trying to spread the Gospel just like they did in the book of Acts. Lets start caring about numbers, just like they did in the early church!

Barry L. Davis

 

Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1996. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling.

 

 

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version”, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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