Health-E Church

Helping make ready the bride of Christ (Rev.19:7-8)

Archive for the category “Church Health”

LET MY PEOPLE GO!….by Robert Beike

You have probably experienced riding along in your automobile, making good time, visions of your destination dancing in your head, when you begin to see the ominous red glare of tail lights, and traffic soon rolls to a stop. You inch forward, hoping for a breakout, but none comes. So, you sit, and steam, and grow frustrated, until in desperation, you begin to look for an available exit. This is not what you anticipated. It’s not what you planned for when you turned those ignition keys and began your journey.

Such experiences on our highways might be a necessary nuisance, but similar scenarios in our churches can become unnecessary tragedies. Sadly, many churches suffer from people gridlock. God is calling people to a high-octane adventure, a journey of spiritual growth, service, and mission. Yet, far too many are stymied by ecclesiastical bottlenecks leading to spiritual stagnation. Believers find themselves sitting, steaming, and frustrated. Consequently, they are taking exit ramps in alarming numbers, traveling alternate routes that lead into spiritual cul de sacs.

Most churches, unwittingly, are structured to hinder, rather than harness the power of God’s people. Instead of systems and strategies to help people discover and deploy their God-giftedness and purpose, church structures have become strictures that tether people to the church building, and Sunday/Wednesday activities. Their “mission” is to serve as vendors for the consumers who show up to partake of the programs offered. Worse, they may be relegated to the role of consumer themselves, tuned in to that popular station w.i.i.f.m. (what’s in it for me).

God may be saying to His church, as he did to Pharoah, “Let My People Go!” Pastors chronically lament a worker shortage, and that 20% of the membership does 80% of the work. But, that could be good news. Maybe doing “church” as is only requires 20% of  the workforce. That leaves 80% to be released into God’s harvest field to be the church.

What process does your church have to transform its membership into missionaries? Is there an intentional equipping of people to study the word for themselves, pray effectively, share their faith, and utilize their giftedness and skill sets? Let God’s people go to where they live, work, play, and go to schoo,l to demonstrate the love of God. Encourage them to be the church wherever they go, to be good news to whoever they meet, and to engage their world in ways that makes God smile, and makes a world of difference.

Obedience to Christ mandates every believer fleshing out the great commission with their God-given gifts and resources. Reaching our neighborhoods and the next towns will remain forever elusive unless the church releases the ordinary Christians God is calling to do the extraordinary task of loving their neighbors to Christ.

The 10 Most Important People in Your Church on Sunday…by Robert Beike

1. Guests — Are newcomers treated as visitors who may come and go, or as guests who are expected, planned for, and made to feel welcome?

2. Greeters and Ushers — Smiles are the most cost effective outreach tools a church can employ. The first 4 minutes a guest is on your property are the most critical. What kind of impression are you making? Is your attitude saying, “stay away,” or “come and stay?”

3. Custodial Workers — Is your facility clean and uncluttered, especially in the ladies restroom and nursery?

4. Nursery and Children’s Workers — Are parents confident their children are well cared for and safe?

5. Sunday School/Small Group Workers — Are all attendees valued and made to feel welcome? Is God’s word being taught for transformation and not just information?

6. People who sit next to new people — Are new people ignored or included? Are they introduced to others and their comfort considered?

7. Worship Leader(s) — Is there warmth and enthusiasm? Are the people engaged in authentic worship, escorted into the presence of God?

8. People who sing — This includes the congregation as well as singers of special music. Are they smiling? is there joy? Genuineness?

9. Pastor — It’s no mistake that the pastor is so far down on the list. Unless the first eight are positive influences the pastor’s role is extremely difficult. Still, the pastor can make a huge difference. Is he engaging and people friendly? Does he handle God’s word with integrity? Does he communicate God’s truth clearly?

10. Follow-up Person(s) — Is appreciation for guests’ attendance expressed? Is an invitation for further involvement extended? Are questions adequately answered? The first 48 hours following the service is critical in securing their further participation.

 

20 Ways Your Church Can Be a Church Planting Personnel Partner….by Robert Beike

Church planting is hard work. There are a myriad of things that need to be done and, in most cases, few people to do them. In addition to spiritual energy, know-how, and money, human energy is a necessary ingredient for starting churches. Church planters need other “missionaries” to come alongside, roll up their sleeves, and help shoulder the load. Here are 20 ways your church can be a church planting personnel partner.

 

1. Provide short-term “missionaries” to help with music, child care, greeters, etc.

2. Help the planter in the relocation process (locating property, moving furniture, etc)

3. Provide a list of community entities, activities, and contacts.

4. Provide help with website development.

5. Provide opportunities for planter to preach & share at your church.

6. Provide office space and amenities, secretarial and/or administration help.

7. Attend appropriate functions of new congregation.

8. Provide a social and spiritual support system.

9. Pray.

10. Send mission teams for outreach projects, Vacation Bible School, etc.

11. Help with identifying & locating people groups, population segments, etc.

12. Enlist participants in $46 mission trips. Each person takes 100 names from the phone book, directory, or focus group list, 100 envelopes, and 100 prewritten letters. Purchase 100 stamps, address, stuff, stamp, and mail the envelopes. The pray for those 100 names for 100 days.

13. Enlist a team of “telemissionaries” who phone individuals/households from the focus group/area, inviting them to a specific function of the new church.

14. Send prayer walking teams.

15. Conduct a block party, assist in food drives and other “point-of-need” events with the new congregation.

16. Guidance with local school system(s).

17. Help with or provide locations for fellowships, gathering events, retreats, etc.

18. Provide opportunities and appropriate chaperones for children or youth functions.

19. Sunday School classes could adopt the new work and participate in projects on its behalf.

20. Assist the Church Planter/new church in advancing its strategy.

12 WAYS YOUR CHURCH CAN BE A CHURCH PLANTING PRAYER PARTNER…by Robert Beike

Every new church needs the same 4 ingredients; God, energy, know-how, and money. Starting a new church requires hard work, at least some knowledge, and at some point money, but without the spiritual ingredient it all falls flat, or is of the flesh. That is why every new church plant needs prayer partners. The church moves forward on its knees. Here are 12 practical ways your church can be a church planting prayer partner.

1. Establish and develop an intercessory prayer team to pray for the new church, church planter, and family.

2.  Give opportunity for the church planter to personally share prayer concerns.

3.  Conduct prayer walks and prayer drives on behalf of new church.

4.  Pray specifically for the new church during worship services, small groups, prayer meetings, etc.

5.  Provide the names of those committed to pray to the planter for ongoing communication.

6.  Write cards of encouragement to the planter and family.

7.  Send birthday cards to the planter and family.

8.  Distribute prayer cards, magnets, etc with the planter’s family photo and birthdays.

9.  Distribute the planter’s monthly newsletter to the congregation.

10. Practice “blanket praying” for the target community or focus group to be reached. (Enlist as many intercessors as possible to pray for a set period of time to warm up the community or people group to the gospel).

11. Practice “tag team” praying. (Enlist different church members to pray on a designated day of the week, so each day is covered).

12. List prayer needs of the new church on your church’s website.

20 WAYS A CHURCH CAN BE A PRIMARY CHURCH PLANTING PARTNER…by Robert Beike

If you are seeking to maximize the spiritual impact in a community or among a people group, consider planting a church. There are a number of ways a church can partner in starting a new church, but the most significant way is as a primary sponsor. Here are 20 practical ways a church can be a primary church planting partner.

 

1. Provide an intercessory prayer team to lead in praying for the new church.

2. Provide liabilty insurance and legal standing.

3. Provide administrative support, such as secretary, treasurer, record keeping, copying, etc.

4. Provide use of office equipment and supplies.

5. Provide Christian fellowship for planter and new church.

6. Provide a coach and/ or mentor for the Church Planter.

7. Provide opportunities for the Planter to share vision, needs, opportunities, etc.

8. Assist the Planter in relocating (i.e. finding a house and moving).

9. Assist the new church in outreach projects.

10. Allow the Church Planter access to Pastor’s library for commentaries, reference material, etc.

11. Provide leadership in church legal matters.

12. Send deacons to assist the new church in serving the Lord’s Supper.

13. Provide people for the new church’s core group.

14. Provide demographic, psychographic, and ecclesiographic information.

15. Hold a “Baby Church” shower for the new work’s facility.

16. Provide food for fellowships in the new church.

17. Minister to the Church Planter’s family, especially around the holidays.

18. Provide short-term “missionaries” to help with music, greeters, VBS, teaching, and advancing the new church’s strategy.

19. Provide office space, or meeting space, if needed.

20. Provide financial support. (Consider a percentage of the undesignated budget, or a set monthly amount, or a special offering taken monthly or quarterly, or a 5/52 plan wher individuals or families give $5 for 52 weeks {$260}, or instead of hiring staff, fund the Church Planter).

SEVEN DEADLY SIGNS of an unfriendly church….by Robert Beike

Though not exhaustive, these seven signs of unfriendliness are usually deadly to the possibility of guests returning or connecting to your church.

 

1. No (or unclear) directional signs inside or outside your facility

Unfortunately, familiarity often breeds contempt for strangers. Once we know the ropes we forget about those who don’t and it becomes every man, woman, and child for themselves. Put yourself in the place of a first-time guest and ask; “Do I know which door to enter?” (What if that door leads to the choir loft, or the front of the worship service? What if it opens into the Pastor’s study? Or maybe its locked and I’ll make a fool of myself.)  “Do I know where the childcare or classes are located? Where are the restrooms? Etc.

2. No greeters other than someone handing out bulletins.

Strategically placed greeters not only say “hello,” but their presence communicates to guests that they are special and you’ve been expecting them. A smiling face, a warm handshake, and a helping hand are hallmarks of a friendly church. Many churches place greeters in the parking lot, at the entrances, in the classrooms, and worship area. They not only welcome folks but also are available to walk people to where they need to go. (By the way, even regular attendees appreciate a friendly greeting.) Can’t find anyone in the church with a friendly disposition willing to greet guests?…Well, that may be another deadly sign.

3. No information about your church is readily available.

A greeter armed with brochures, or a wecome station stocked with newsletters, info cards, and Sunday School/small group information, and other opportunities to plug in or get connected is extremely valuable. It tells your guests who you are, what you’re about, and that you’d like them to be a part too.

4. No one introduces himself or herself to, or welcomes the guest(s).

You’re probably thinking that this never happens. That’s probably because you haven’t attended any churches other than your own lately. Check out the friendliness quotient of your church by enlisting a non-attendee to show up some Sunday and give you honest feedback (A kind of “mystery shopper”).

5. No one extends an invitation to lunch or to return next week.

People will connect to your church through relationships. If they can’t relate they won’t return. You will need to overcome your discomfort to make them comfortable. You will need to make others part of your life if you want them to be part of God’s kingdom. Hospitality may be the church’s most under utilized gift.

6. No general word of welcome is offered from the pulpit/platform.

What is said from the platform can make a big difference in how one feels from the pew. How the welcome is extended is critical. Normally, its not wise to call guests by name, have them stand, or stand in their honor (while they are seated). You don’t want to embarrass them in any way. In today’s culture people seek a degree of anonymity, yet don’t want to be totally ignored. Find a balance that works in your setting. Use the term “guest” rather than “visitor” and simply thank them for coming. Have registration material available in the pews/chairs and encourage them to fill it out and place in the offering. Bulletin tear-offs work well for this and can be used by everyone present to allow for prayer concerns, decisions, and other requests. A bonus would be a time and place after the service for guests to meet with the pastor and have refreshments.

7. No follow up within 48 hours of guests attending.

You have a two-day window to make a positive impression after someone attends your church. After that the possibilities of their connecting with your ministry are dramatically reduced. Send a letter, a card, an e-mail, or make a phone call to say thank you, invite them back, offer assistance, etc. In some cases a brief drop-by to leave literature or a gift is appropriate (hint: keep the car motor running and the car door open to signal the brevity of your stay). Also, if the contact person is someone other than the Pastor it is of more value. Sorry, but a non-clergy contact is often considered more genuine.

Get S.M.A.R.T. About EVANGELISM….by Robert Beike

Let’s get S.M.A.R.T. about evangelism. No, I’m not referring to a “cone of silence,” or communicating via shoe phone, for those old enough to remember the TV series. I’m talking about a holistic approach to reaching more people for Jesus. Examine your church’s entire ministry and overall approach to fleshing out the great commission. Is there proper focus on others, and their need for the gospel? Do the elements of church life work together to create positive synergy for evangelism? Here are some ways your church can get S.M.A.R.T. about evangelism.

SPIRITUAL CLIMATE

Learn to become a spiritual climatologist, and evangelism environmentalist. The spiritual atmosphere of your church largely determines if you will experience showers of blessings or a draught in the baptistry.

Pray for souls to be saved, and for believers to be bold. Preach the word of God in season and out. Stress outreach and include gospel presentations in Sunday School classes and small groups. Conduct regular witness training, and set aside  specific times for outreach. Make use of testimonies. Be mindful that every kind word and caring act enhances the spiritual climate of your church and community. We must be good news if we are to share the “good news.”

MINISTRY TO OTHERS

Get outside the walls of the church and serve beyond the gravitational pull of the membership. Discover the needs of others around you and develop ministries to meet those needs. Recovery ministries, child care, food distribution, tutoring, literacy classes, and servant evangelism efforts are just a sample. Create your own list of 101 ways to reach out to your community.

ACTIVITIES FOR OTHERS

Include those outside the church in activities of the church. In fact, initiate activities just for them. Vacation Bible School, concerts, musicals, dinner theaters, recreation, family movie nights, and game nights (including video games), just scratch the surface of possibilities. But, activites need not be just an inside job. Consider how others can join you in engaging the community for Christ.

RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS

Equip and encourage the church to cultivate relationships with neighbors, co-workers, and others in their constellation of influence. Learn to genuinely care for them and show it. Practice a lifestyle of evangelism, and “infiltration” tactics, so when Sunday services are over the church is strategically deployed not simply dispersed. Be salt and light by “infiltrating” organizations, teams, exercise classes, and other venues where lost people gather. As Jesus demonstrated, meeting people where they are is the first step to getting them to where God wants them to be.

TRUTH SHARED WITH OTHERS

Become an opportunist. Be sensitive to holy moments and divine appointments. Share the truth about Jesus; who He is, what He has done, and the difference He makes in your life.

Since evangelism is a top priority of the church and every Christian’s job, let’s get S.M.A.R.T. about it.

PRAYING BY THE NUMBERS (Five Prayers Every Believer Should Have On Their Speed Dial)…by Robert Beike

Scripture tells us to “Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Because prayer is a Christian’s lifeline there are at least five types of prayers we should have on our speed dial, ready to send at the appropriate time.

911 PRAYING / PRAY IN EMERGENCIES

(Psalm 102:1-2) “Lord, hear my prayer; let my cry for help come before You. Do not hide your face from me in the day of trouble. Listen closely to me; answer me quickly when I call.”

This is easily the most common kind of prayer. 911 praying is a cry for help. The emergency may be our own or someone else’s. It might be sudden and temporary or sustained and long term. It could be a cry for help, or hope, or healing, a need for rescue or escape. The prayer may be as simple as David’s “Help, Lord” (Psalm 12:1), or Peter’s “Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30). But, God is already tuned to the problem and ready and able to respond. So, if in need of the ultimate crisis intervention, punch in a 911 prayer with confident expectation.

411 PRAYING / PRAY FOR INFORMATION

(James 1:5-6a) “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.”

Where to go for wisdom? Who to ask for direction, or understanding? We are confronted with these questions every day as we process life’s information and make choices that determine our life paths. While the wisdom of the world is ever present, the wisdom of God is always accurate, timely, and generously given to those who ask. The difference between taking risks in faith and a reckless decision is the promises of God. When you have a need to know, hit 411 on your prayer speed dial.

111 PRAYING / PRAY EVANGELISTICALLY

(Romans 10:1) “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God concerning them is for their salvation.”

Part of every believer’s prayer life should be the earnest intercession for the salvation of others. 111 praying is for one person to become one with the one and only true God through Jesus Christ. One approach is to pray for the salvation of one person for one minute at one O’clock each day. If necessary, a different person could be prayed for each day of the week. Set the alarm or alert on your cell phone and pray. Ask God to remove any obstacles that might keep this person from hearing and responding to the good news of God’s unconditional love. Ask him to orchestrate circumstances in the person’s life to produce receptivity to the gospel. Beseech the Lord of the harvest to send someone to share Christ with them. Then make yourself available to be that someone.

714 PRAYING / PRAY FOR SPIRITUAL AWAKENING

(2 Chronicles 7:14) “And (if) My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

Research shows that the fastest growing religion in the world is Christianity–except in North America. With three-fourths of our population living in spiritual darkness, and three-fourths of our churches stagnant or dying, our desperate need is a widespread spiritual renewal. We are like fish in a dried up pond, gasping for air and clinging to life. 714 praying is not an option.

618 PRAYING / PRAY AS A SPIRITUAL WARRIOR

(Ephesians 6:18) “With every prayer and request, pray at all times, in the Spirit, and stay alert in this, with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”

Spiritual warfare is real, and so are the consequences of ignoring it. When a person is born again into the kingdom of God, it is like being parachute dropped into enemy territory. Engagement with the enemy begins immediately. But God has given us sufficient armor (Ephesians 6:14-17), a host of heavenly allies (2 Kings 6:16-17), and a powerful arsenal (Eph. 6:17). Although Satan has placed a target on every church, believer, and family, we can stand firm and join the resistance movement by praying. Deploying all kinds of prayer energizes our armor, mobilizes our allies, and empowers our arsenal. Pray as a spiritual warrior, being assured that there is victory in Jesus.

The “iPlant” (10 Essential Applications for Church Planting) PT 2…….by Robert Beike

Whether you are a believer God is nudging toward planting a church or a church looking at sponsoring a new work, consider an “iPlant” and these 10 essential applications for maximum kingdom impact. The first 5 from part 1:
* INCARNATIONAL PRESENCE
* INDIGENOUS APPROACH
* INSIGHTFUL PREPARATION
* INTENSIVE PRAYER
* INTENTIONAL OUTREACH

Pt 2

INCLUSIVE MINISTRY
(1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Peter 4:8-10)

Every member is to be on mission for God; involved in the ministry of both the “gathered” and “scattered” church. Spiritual gifts must be discovered, deployed, and developed. A God-sized impact on a community or people group depends on the inclusive ministry of all God’s people. Help others to catch the vision of being missional, and release them into the harvest field.

INSTRUCTIVE PROCESS
(Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:42;11:25-26; Ephesians 4:12-13)

Remember the goal is to make disciples who can reproduce disciple-makers. A systematic process should be in place to build up the body of Christ, making its members fit for the kingdom of God, and equipped for service. The study of God’s word and development of Christian skills are to be designed for every stage of spiritual development. Think discipleship by design.

INSPIRATIONAL WORSHIP
(Psalm 34:3; Isaiah 6:1-8; John 4:23-24)

Christ-centered, Bible-based, Spirit-led, God-glorifying, believer-edifying, guest-appealing worship is critical. Whether in a living room or auditorium, the Savior is to be magnified, the saints motivated to serve, sinners moved to repentance, and the repentant experience grace and renewal. Times of worship act as a fueling station, and strategy session, that provides impetus for the work of the church–beyond the walls.

INNOVATIVE MEANS
(Mark 2:22; Proverbs 18:15)

Don’t be afraid to color outside conventional lines. Creat a climate conducive to risks and experimentation, where failure is not seen as final, but tuition necessary for ultimate success. Avoid being trapped by the familiar, wed to the comfortable, or driven by the traditional. Neither become enamored with everything new, but rather embrace what honors God and is effective in fulfilling His purposes. Remember, creativity runs in God’s family.

INVESTMENT OF LIVES
(Romans 12:1; Isaiah 6:8)

Planting churches requires seeing ourselves as “living sacrifices,” an offering poured out for the kingdom of God. A faithful investment of time, energy, and resources in God’s kingdom, will pay divine dividends.

The “iPlant” (10 essential applications for church planting) pt 1

More and more lives are being influenced, even dominated, by the latest and greatest technology. iPhones, iPods, and iPads are flooding the marketplace with the “ipromise” of making life better. But, if its real life change you’re after, i recommend the “iPlant.” Whether you are a believer God is nudging toward planting a church, or a church considering sponsoring a new work, here are 10 essential applications that can lead to eternal kingdom impact.

INCARNATIONAL PRESENCE
(John 20:21)

Just as Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, we are to flesh out God’s kingdom among those to whom He sends us. A godly presence is foundational for church planting. Being good news is an inseparable companion to sharing the good news.

INDIGENOUS APPROACH
(Luke 8:38-39; Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5)

For maximum church planting impact, our efforts must fit the cultural context. It’s important to avoid inflicting a community with a vision and values that God does not intend, or implanting elements into a culture that are not readily suited to, or sustainable within the local context. Discover how God is already working and allow the culture to be a channel for God’s blessings.

INSIGHTFUL PREPARATION
(Proverbs 12:15;16:9;28:19)

Seeking the wisdom and guidance of God is paramount, but, the wise counsel of others should also be utilized. Counting the cost is a necessary first step in planting a church. In addition to a calling, church planting requires the power of God, know-how, energy, and money. Determining a people to reach, a place to meet, partners to support the work, and a prayer strategy to fuel the work, is all part of the initial planning to make it happen.

INTENSIVE PRAYER
(Luke 10:2b;11:9; 2 Corinthians 10:4)

Church planting moves forward on the knees of devoted believers, who persistently ask, seek, and knock with fervent prayer. Ask God to provide workers, seek God’s direction and timing, and knock on heaven’s door for needed resources. Recognize prayer as our work and weapon. Utilize it for the welfare of the church and mankind.

INTENTIONAL OUTREACH
(Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8; Mark 1:38-39; Luke 8:5-8)

Take the great commission seriously. Be strategic in attempting to reach the “Jerusalem” to which you are called, but understand the reach of the local church body also extends to the ends of the earth. A new church’s strategies should reflect an intention to reduce lostness by encompassing the globe with the good news, and growing the body of Christ, numerically, spiritually, locally, and globally.

….to be continued..

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