God Has a Thing for Systems
Carlton L. Coon, Sr.
Pentecostals have passion. In most instances, passion alone will not build people or a church. Three vital components to effectively have “Revival in a Plain Brown Wrapper” are:
Missing any of those three components will limit a work. A common breakdown is in establishing and maintaining processes and systems that will sustain vital efforts.
Systems make it happen!
In the beginning God created … a system! The “evening and the morning were the first day”- the first of billions of such days.
System — Day succeeding day the sun has risen in the east and gone down in the west!
System — Spring has followed winter, with summer and fall to follow.
System — Generation follows generation.
System — The altar of burnt offerings was to have a perpetual fire (Leviticus 6:8-13). The fire was sustained by the priest adding new wood and sacrifices. God did not require a bonfire or a forest fire. However, He did require a consistent fire. A fire that could only be sustained by a system of ministry.
Israel’s feast days were not “one and done.” The Sabbath was weekly; the holy days were annual. God’s people had a sustained system. Today we continue applying God’s principle of systems:
·Age-based Sunday school classes are a system.
·A weekly church schedule is a system.
·Maintaining a church bank account is a system.
Systems don’t create buzz
Sustainability has become a hot word for the environment and business practices. By contrast, sustainability has seldom been the “thing” church workers talk about. It should be. Evaluate any church that is making a difference for the long term. That church has an extensive list of sustained behaviors. People are doing the right things —over and over! Perhaps our challenges with “systems” are:
·It doesn’t fit our idea of being passionate Pentecostals.
·With a system, no person gets to be the hero — the system is simply working.
·A one-time event creates more “buzz.”
·We have not been taught the value of developing and maintaining systems.
·Asking “What went right? What went wrong? What can we do differently the next time?” has not been part of our thinking.
·Developing, maintaining and tweaking processes takes more work than event planning.
The end result can be that systems get little consideration in effectively leading revival. Non-growing Pentecostal churches tend to do things on a whim, last minute. This has to change!
·We want praying people – do we have a system to develop praying people and sustain corporate prayer?
·We want good stewards – do we have a system to develop people who tithe and give?
·We want each person to find a place to serve – do we have a system to accomplish this?
Thoreau said, “It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants.” The question is: Are we busy accomplishing the things we really want to get done?
Let’s look at two key areas:
A Sustainable Prayer System
The apostles made prayer a priority. Their adherence to the daily hour of prayer at the Temple put them in the place to perform the miracle for the lame man. Paul instructed Timothy “…first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1). The apostles’ priority and Paul’s instruction does not just happen. An effective prayer program requires a system. Some suggestions that work for others:
·For a church planter — One corporate prayer time each week. This can be pre-service prayer and could be the first “church standard” put in place. If a person is not at corporate prayer that person does not sing or play a musical instrument. This particular standard is sustainable. It gives a missionary the chance to show spiritual priorities.
·For a church of 50 — Every gathering includes pre-service prayer, and one additional corporate prayer meeting is scheduled one time each month.
·For a church of 100 — Continue the same system as for 50 people, except move to having family prayer each week and add a quarterly 12-hour prayer chain. The prayer chain (generally done on a Saturday, the same Saturday of each month) is done with different church members making a one-hour commitment. The goal is to eventually have several people praying each prayer shift. If the church has full-time use of a facility, schedule the prayer chain at that facility.
·For a Church of 175 people — Continue the process for a church of 100, but move the 12-hour prayer chain to a monthly event on the calendar.
·For a Church of 250 — Continue the above, except add a quarterly prayer chain that continues for 24 hours per day for 7 days. The prayer shifts are either 2 or 3 hours. If possible, have all participants pray at the church.
If the question is “Will there be a prayer meeting this week?” the answer is always “yes.”
Systematize prayer, repeat prayer, sustain prayer, duplicate prayer and expand prayer! Systematic prayer is the absolute foundation for sustained revival.
Being hospitable requires developing a process for welcoming people to the church, regardless of the age or size of the church. A hospitality process has two primary objectives:
1. Make them feel welcome and provide pertinent information about the church.
2. Gather each guest’s name, address, phone number, email address, and ask permission to connect on Face-book and other social media.
Effective hospitality does not just “happen.” It has to be created, forced into existence, regularly maintained, and improved. Hospitality requires a structure that will look something like this:
·Trained hosts/hostesses/ushers who accomplish the objectives noted above.
·A schedule for each member of the hospitality team to serve. A process to remind the team member of their assigned times.
·Resources to accomplish the two goals mentioned. This can be a brochure giving visitors basic information and a card for visitors to complete.
·A process to get visitor information to those who follow-up on visitors.
Perhaps thinking about these two basic processes stirs thought about other areas in the church that need a system. What could be done to be more effective in:
·Visitor Follow-up — who follows up, when, what does the follow up look like, how is information passed on to the pastor about the guest’s response to the follow-up?
·Second Time Visitors — A return visitor knows about the church and they have returned. Does a second time visitor merit a distinct strategy?
·Disciple-making — every person involved, leadership development and special events like Easter, Christmas, All-Nations Sunday and Pentecost Sunday are all opportunities to apply systems to be more effective.
Through the years, my personal ministry systems have included the following:
·Each and every Sunday without exception, preach to the lost.
·Establishing and maintaining a weekly schedule to contact five existing church members (a total of fifteen) by phone, personal card or letter.
·A similar schedule for making the same number of contacts to people on my personal prospect list.
·Tim Massengale’s Total Church Growth inspired ministry job descriptions, annual plan and monthly meetings with leaders.
·From Anthony Mangun I took the idea of twenty topics to preach or teach about at least two times each year. Inside my Bible’s flyleaf was where I recorded when I’d preached about each topic.
Systems are everywhere — every place where someone is being effective at reaching the lost.
In Katy, Texas, Pastor Rob McKee has a good system to give significant attention to a guest who visits for the second time. Among other things, each second time visitor is offered a series of sermons or lessons that deal with a particular topic of interest to that visitor.
Metro Missionary/Career Church Planter Scott Sistrunk applies a system to gain and establish the core families around which each new church is built. He has developed a system for meeting new people and connecting to those people. He also systematically uses Endtime Magazine and ministry to gain a hearing.
Actually, virtually everything involved in a revival-in-a-plain-brown-wrapper church has well-defined systems in place. (For ideas on revival-in-a-plain-brown-wrapper church, see Director’s Communiques from May 2010-December 2011.)
Developing Bible lesson materials that have handouts and follow-up material to challenge people with specific behavior requires having a system!
By taking the time to develop and implement consistent systems, we model God’s system as He grows our church.
The above article, “God Has a Thing for Systems” was written by Carlton L. Coon, Sr. The article was excerpted from Director’s Communique.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
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.”