By Tim Massengale
Elder Vernon Baker smiled as he gazed across the assembled group of pastors, ministers, and lay leaders.
“I want to welcome you to our sixth annual Revival Harvest conference. We have hosted this meeting in the hope of encouraging pastors and church leaders to apply solid principles of evangelism so they might effectively reach their communities with this wonderful truth. We have a fantastic group of clinicians that will be teaching on a variety of topics over the next two days. Then each evening we will have dynamic preaching that will most certainly put the icing on the cake.
However, before we introduce our speakers, I want to take a few minutes and share with you a conversation that I had with a pastor several months ago. He was concerned because he was not seeing the kind of growth for which he had been hoping. He had set his growth goal to double in attendance in five years or less and he was starting to fall behind on his progress plan. So he called me on the phone and after we talked for a bit I invited him to come down to spend an afternoon with me. We spend almost four hours discussing his situation and arrived at a plan of action for the coming year. I have his permission to share this plan with you this morning. Later, during our last day session, we are planning to have a round table discussion with a panel of our speakers and this will give you a chance to ask questions concerning what I’m about to share. There are ten points that I encouraged him to focus upon in the coming year:
First, I encouraged him to place a greater emphasis on attracting new visitors to his church services and events. You see, 100% of your new converts come from your guests. So if you can increase your door traffic, you will increase your growth. Once an individual attends your church you have a natural connection to reach out to them over and over again. However, if they have never visited your services they are in the ‘cold-calls’ category and the chance of seeing them saved is greatly diminished. But research has shown that a church with an effective follow-up system can see fifteen to twenty percent of their guests eventually become converts. So if you have set a goal for twenty adults to receive the Holy Ghost this coming year, you will need about 100 adults to visit your church.
How can you increase your visitor flow? There are many, but let me share with you a few that have been successful in my church. (1) A number of years ago we launched our Constant Contact Consciousness (CCC) ministry. I have found CCC to be one of the more successful methods of encouraging members to be faithful in personal evangelism. I’ll explain more about this in a minute. (2) Next, we plan a number of special services of various kinds throughout the year. Our goal is to give our saints plenty of reasons to invite family, friends, and co-workers to church. It’s important that you plan these events well, promote them aggressively, inform and invite all past guests, pray much, and of course, follow-up faithfully. (3) We still have good success with Saturday Door Knocking. We use this once a month event to promote special events, boost bus/van ministry, get home Bible studies via the Quest Survey, find riders for our car ministry, and more. You see, we are not just inviting people to church. We are offering them something – free tickets to an Easter drama, teach your children God’s Word, a free Bible survey course, and so on. We are not pushing our church, we are offering a community service. (4) And finally, we experiment each year with various types of cost effective advertising. Over the years we have found several that work well in our area. So always remember, visitors are your number one key to growth!
Next, I encouraged him to put a greater emphasis on visitor follow-up visits. My friends, getting your visitors back is just as important as getting them there in the first place. 100% of your new converts come from your guests and 95% of your guests will attend five or more times before being baptized. Rest assured, visitor follow-up is the most successful way to get them back. Your visitors ARE your future members. If your visitors don’t receive the Holy Ghost, practically no one will. Your growth depends upon this ministry.
I’ve heard some complain that they have few willing to do follow-up visitation. But you only need one or two couples committed to make weekly follow-up visits. This might well include you and your church ministerial staff as well as selected volunteers. Each week these couples should be given 2-3 follow-up packets to visit before the next Sunday’s service. If each follow-up assignment packet has a MapQuest map in it pinpointing the home’s location, or can be located with a GPS, they can be visited very quickly, even on the way home from work, on the way to church, or on lunch hour. This ministry does not need a dozen workers. Two or three faithful, well trained workers will easily get you started. Make visitor follow-up your highest priority for the new year if you are not already doing it.
Third, I encouraged him to place a greater emphasis on the home Bible study (HBS) ministry. Quite simply, home Bible study success requires trained HBS teachers. If you have not already had one, plan to have a HBS training seminar in the near future. There are several excellent training courses available. Pastor, you are more than capable of teaching a 3-4 hour HBS training seminar on a Saturday. If you are reluctant to teach it yourself, there are many excellent HBS evangelists that can visit your church and teach it for you. Then, once the teachers are trained, have a commissioning service the next Sunday morning and commission them to go forth and win souls.
Finally, keep your teachers busy teaching. We use all of the following: (1) Visitor Follow-up – every time we visit we ask if they have thought any more about a HBS. (2) Quest Survey (3) 5-Souls I’m Believing To Get A Home Bible Study With (4) Open Your Home To A Home Bible Study (5) Free Family Bible Give-Away at any event that has lots of people, like a county fair or community event. I want to encourage you to use all these methods to get studies for your teachers to teach. Help them get started. After they have taught several studies they will be excited enough to get their own from their family, friends, or coworkers. Home Bible Study works, but only if you work it!
Fourth, I recommend he launch the Constant Contact Consciousness ministry in his church. CCC is an extremely simple ministry in which anyone of any age can participate. Those involved in CCC simply commit to be ‘constantly conscious of the need to make contacts for Christ.’ They make a mental note of how many people they have witnessed to or invited to church during the week. Come Sunday they are given a little slip upon which they write their name and how many contacts they have made. If they can remember three, they write three. If they can’t remember any, they write zero. They are committing to hand in the slip, not witness. Of course, when a person writes a zero the Holy Ghost is very quick to respond: “You mean I have given you over 160 hours this week and you could not even find one minute to hand someone a church card and invite them to church?” I assure you, the next week they will likely do better. CCC helps people get into the ‘habit’ of witnessing
We have found a few things that helps keep CCC alive and vibrant. We make sure we read from the pulpit the totals of how many CCC’s are being made each month. We complement the CCC workers when we do this. I brag on them! I will often ask several to testify of their unique witnessing experiences. I also constantly encourage others to join the CCC team.
Remember, for CCC to work someone must hand a slip to each CCC worker each Sunday morning. We’ve had great success using a ten-year-old who will make this their Sunday morning ministry. We give them a list of CCC workers and promise a treat when all the slips are handed out and collected again ― the workers fill the slip out and hand it right back. You see, if we will hand out the slips, God will do the rest. CCC does something to a church. It sparks excitement and enthusiasm, not to mention you will see more visitors and Bible studies.
Running Out Of Time
Elder Baker looked at his watch. “Forgive me, I’ve taken much more time than I had planned with this list, so let me quickly list the remaining six recommendations
I urged him to teach an annual soul winning training course to his saints. Pastor, how long has it been since you taught your church the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how to witness? I urge you to take 3-5 consecutive Bible study nights and teach a good soul winning course. One I often recommend is the Christian Soldier’s Workshop by Juli Jasinski (603) 465-4367 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org . People witness if they know the why and how of witnessing.
I urged him to start a Car Ministry. Car ministry simply matches saints who are willing to pick someone up on their way to church with people who would come if they only had a ride. Launch this even if you only have a few willing to do it. Take a group of 5-7 people into a neighborhood and devote 3 hours on a Saturday (10:AM to 1:PM) to knocking on doors. You will find at least one individual, usually elderly or a teen, who would attend church if they only had a ride. Your mission: To try to get an extra rider in every car that pulls into your parking lot.
I urged him to launch a bus or van ministry – Most churches need to get their Sunday School totals up – and a bus or van ministry will do this quickly. But we need to be careful that it does not become simply a ‘numbers’ game. Each child has a soul. Provide regular evangelism opportunities for each bus child. Once baptized, involve them in all aspects of your youth group. Reach for the parents with a `ParentReach’ approach. At least quarterly have a Sunday school activity in which the parents can come see their child involved (Easter, Vacation Bible School, Kids Crusade, Children’s Musical, Christmas, etc.). Ask the bus parents regularly for a home Bible study.
I urged him to place a renewed focus on New Convert Care (NCC). We must strive to get each area of instruction, fellowship, and involvement implemented in your NCC ministry. Attendance should be taken on converts each service by the NCC director. Each convert should be getting a HBS and a new converts course. Help your converts to make friends by using assigned fellowship dinners. Get them involved in active, productive ministry ASAP. New convert care needs to be a top priority for 2012.
I urged him to place greater faithfulness upon managing his ministry team. This list looks overwhelming – and it is if only one person is doing it. This absolutely requires a TEAM effort, and the team needs (1) An Annual Planning Retreat to plan 2012, (2) A written One-Year Plan from each department and ministry (3) A Monthly Planning Council to stay on top of and work steadily and consistently on this plan. Motivate, encourage, challenge, inspire, pray for and with every team member. (4) A Weekly Tag-In on a regular church service night. This keeps the team focused, unified, accountable, and available. It keeps communication open and fosters problem solving.
I urged him to have an annual tune-up visit by a church growth consultant. A little known secret of growing churches is their use of church consultants that can help identify areas of need and then provide ideas and solutions to meet those needs. Your ministry leaders need to meet with this individual so he can help them minister more effectively. Your church needs to hear a fresh voice teach the basic principles of church growth and how critical their involvement is to the church’s revival and success.h
Elder Baker took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Thank you so much for your kind attention. I am confident that this next year will be your best year ever!”