Creating a Growth Climate in Your District

Creating A Growth Climate In Your District
By E. L. Holley

That a growth climate now exists is an accepted fact. For this we are thankful; first, to God; and to our leadership. Brother Urshan has, in addition to a multitude of other duties, inspired and promoted the revival that is in our midst. We know that such a growth climate didn’t “just happen.” We have been led of God!

In such a season, a local assembly, a section, or a district can either take advantage of the conducive environment or let it slip by. Once lost, it isn’t always easy to recapture. In the same sense that a pastor must be sensitive to such an opportunity, a District Board must also.

Furthermore, I am convinced that the District Board is the key to developing a growth climate at a district level. No department can do it. Only the District Board can ignite fires of growth on the district level.

I cannot discuss your district. But, I can relate some developments in the Texas District which resulted in growth. These developments are especially pertinent to you because they involve a project undertaken by our District Board.

Background

From 1977 to 1980, our district was beset with problems—serious problems—time-consuming problems. You name it—we had it! We were in danger of becoming problem-oriented reactionaries.

To avoid this, we assigned as much time as possible into our board meeting agendas to goal-setting, planning, and dreaming. We had spiritual “brain pumping” sessions where we refused to talk about “reasons we can’t” or “things that won’t work.” Clearly, we wanted to “build a few fires” instead of waiting to “put ’em out.”

Birth of a plan

At one of our board meetings in 1980, an intense hunger began to rumble through our hearts. Each member expressed the same desires. It was spontaneous and infectious. God was stirring our hearts. It was time to act on a district-wide basis.

I appointed a very unusual Evangelism Commission. It was more of a Growth Commission. I asked for, and received, constructive criticism. There were no sacred cows. We wanted input-suggestions, ideas for improvement. No area was exempt.

The men on this committee understood that they were not expected to formulate a detailed “plan” or “program.” They would report and the District Board would work from their suggestions. This they did.

I held pastoral councils. Six or eight pastors would meet with me in their section. After prayer I would ask them to talk to me. I took copious notes. The meeting never deteriorated to a gripe session. The response was purposeful and profitable.

I met with every departmental committee in the district. We talked development, improvement, and growth. Each meeting made invaluable contributions. We corrected “bottlenecks.” We eliminated unnecessary routines that had out-lived their usefulness. We opened communication lines.

There emerged a “plan,” and we called it that with all the evidence against it! District growth would call for new churches. This meant preachers-able ministers-would be needed. Further, they would need training and assistance. We would need all the help available from our pastors and churches.

The “PLAN” formulated

A newspaper article regarding a state-wide study of population trends caught my attention. I asked Brother Ken Gurley, our Administrative Aide, to contact the firm who made the study in an effort to obtain the data. To our pleasant surprise; they responded without charge.

We developed charts and comparative data lists. We learned that the 145 counties of Texas District had undergone quite a change between 1940 and 1980. More importantly, we found that the projected population trends for the next twenty years would further alter our District.

For instance, in 1940, 65% of the population lived in rural areas. But, by 1980, only 20% of the population still lived in rural areas. This means that more than 80% of our people live in metropolitan areas. Yet, 80% of our existing churches are in rural areas.

Clearly, we had built our churches during the past 40 years where the people were at that time. But now, we only have 20% of our churches where 80% of people live today! In fact, we learned that 2 out of 3 people in the District lived in three metropolitan areas:

NOTE:
HOUSTON . . . . . . . . . . . .17 churches { 1980 } 10% of our churches
DALLAS/FT. WORTH. . .12 churches { FIGURES } were in most densely
SAN ANTONIO . . . . . . . . 3 churches populated areas.

We presented this to our District Board in 1983 along with the Evangelism Commission’s report. Fifty-one (51) counties had no United Pentecostal Church. Metropolitan areas such as Corpus Christi and Austin were virtually untouched. The Rio Grande Valley was projected to be a hot growth area. Laredo had 90,000 souls and no church.

And, we had almost 300 uninvolved preachers somewhere in Texas! (We learned later there weren’t quite that many!)

A loosely structured strategy for action was adopted. The District Board divided the district in to 4 zones-A, B, C, and D. Each zone was comprised of 3 or 4 sections. The presbyters, along with their respective Home Missions representatives, became zone committees. Each committee elected a chairman—one of the presbyters.

The District Superintendent, District Secretary, and District Home Missions Director became the Executive Committee. They would coordinate the effort. Each zone would operate as it felt best. Information would be fed back to the Executive Committee.

The “PLAN” implemented

The growth areas were targeted. While each zone was gearing up for action, we devised a recruitment program. Brother Ken Gurley assisted Brother Vernon Neely in conducting “Launch Your Ministry” seminars over the district. Volunteers were carefully screened and we began in January, 1984, to invade the targeted zone and establish “beachheads.” Invasion Communiqués were mailed to every minister and church in the District. The “Strike Zones” established war chests to help in the effort.

The “Launch Your Ministry” seminars were kept to less than ten participants. These were ministers who had their pastors’ approval, and they were invited to pray and consider the need in the light of their call. After showing them slides and answering questions regarding the high growth areas, they were asked to make a trip to the city of their concern and talk to God about it. Then, upon return, report their feelings. If they decided to go, they were then turned over to the Home Missions process. If they were undecided, we urged them to return to their pastor and make loyal members of the church. We also contacted the pastors in the target zones to secure their cooperation. We assured them there would be no churches started off of their flocks. We have backed up our assurances with positive action and there is little tension over the matter now.

Pastors across the district are supporting the effort in various ways. Some are going to new works to hold revival meetings. Others are providing Home Bible Studies. One pastor took a van load of good witnesses to a city and spent 3 days and nights with our Home Missionary there. They passed out tracts, prayed people through, and did some excellent public relations work in the area.

There are so many facets to the effort which became known as Evangelistic Invasion ’84 that I cannot relate them all. In fact, I’m not even acquainted with them all! One thing is certain: Our District Board became the catalyst of the effort, and I’m grateful to them. They are responsible for the attitude that prevails in our district.

What are the results?

1. We have adhered to one guiding principle. The entire plan was to remain flexible and involve everyone. It has been modified so many times we hesitate to call it a “plan.”

2. In November, 1984, we reached our goal for the year. We had promised God a “tithe” of our churches and in the last board meeting of the year we approved the starting of our 33rd new work in Rockford, Texas.

3. Our Home Missions offerings increased in every category during 1984. Undesignated offerings were up! Designated offerings were up! And, Christmas For Christ broke our record, becoming #1 in the nation.

4. Section 11—part of the targeted zone—doubles in the number of churches in 1984! Section 12—the other half of the targeted zone—is also greatly increased in number.

5. Though we have a late start in 1985, our Home Missions Director and our District Secretary are conducting “Launch Your Ministry” seminars over the district. The momentum is still present!

6. The greatest blessing and benefit from this growth climate is a beautiful unity throughout the district! For this we are exceedingly thankful.

Article “Creating A Growth Climate In Your District” written by E. L. Holley is taken from an unknown source.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

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