By David Elms
“Everything we do is based on winning souls,” explains Pastor Fred Foster, “Not only the person we are winning to the Lord, but we are saving ourselves in the process.” Only as we are actively witnessing for the Lord, do we stay refreshed ourselves. Jesus said that rivers of living water would flow from within us and should we stop the flow, stagnation is the result. Every endeavor and plan of the First United Pentecostal Church of West Monroe, is subjected to a critical examination as to its usefulness in winning souls. The heartbeat of every leader and every pastor, should be to
put spiritual ambition into the people of God. For people to desire a consistent spiritual life, through daily prayer, dying to their flesh and walking with their God, should be every minister’s goal. Our people must learn to carry a burden for the work of God that recognizes, they are not able to accomplish anything worthwhile, without the help of God. The Lord can use only those who have ambition. This ambition must be guided by the Lord but it will drive you to attain your best for Him. There are some young men who have all the ingredients for success except one. They lack
that inward drive. When they play basketball, it does not matter to them whether they make the basket or not. That kind of person will never be a winner. There must be a constant pushing inside of an individual, to do their best. It has been said, “It is not the size of the dog in the fight that counts, but its the size of the fight in the dog,” and that statement has real merit in it. A person may be young in years but old in hours, if he has lost no time. We need to plow every inch of ground and get on with God’s program.
Rev. Foster believes that a local church grows as its pastor grows. The leadership of the church is what makes the difference. If the leader will take the initiative and lead the people into spirituality then the church will begin to grow. Many churches grow on leadership ability alone, and others grow because of exceptional organization. Churches that grow with good organization, usually, do not grow as fast as those that grow because of dynamic leadership. There are some men who have tremendous dynamic ministries which draw people to them. Thank God for such talented men among us Pentecostals. Their preaching and personalities are exceptional and they can grow without much organization. As those men join their God-given talent with good organization, then you really have a force for the Kingdom of God. There are other God called men who lack that rich personality, but they do have organizational ability and their own hard work. These two elements will bring about growth. There are a number of ways to approach getting a church to grow. Everybody can have it, though, if they will pay the price for it and it doesn’t matter what kind of personality they may have.
There are definite reasons why a church does not grow. Too many leaders have found it easier, to drag around saying “I just don’t know why we can’t seem to get above 100” than it is, to do some hard thinking and praying until the problems are uncovered and eliminated. Bro. Foster gives five reasons why some churches do not grow. 1) Poor leadership 2) Lack of desire 3) Fear of a large congregation. A pastor grows with his congregation. His own personal training and vision must increase. If the pastors ability does not grow through study, experience and observation, then his church will not grow. Pastor Foster relates, “There is a man I know who is not polished in any way, but he is on his way to build a large church. His sincerity, love for God, and desire to learn, is attracting people. He attends everything he can, to learn, and then goes back home and puts it into practice. 4) Lack of faith. A pastor who has doubled in the last three months, from 200 to 400 in Sunday School said, “I believed other people could do it, but I didn’t believe that I could do it.” He had been running over 200 for years and then began to believe that his church could double.
He wanted it! He desired it! He believed it! He got it! 5) Last but not least, some folks are satisfied.
Foster gives seven steps he would take if he were the pastor of a small church.
1) Begin preparing the people for revival and outreach through preaching, teaching and prayer.
2) Begin working on the people who are on the uninvolved sidelines of the church, by building up their spiritual lives.
3) Prepare the buildings for growth, by fixing them up. Look into renting a warehouse or garage for expansion purposes.
4) Begin training of all available people, to be teachers, so that your staff will be ready.
5) Find three church buses to purchase. It is not good to start a bus ministry with one bus. Multiple buses work up incentives and friendly competition. Should the attendance on one bus be down, the other buses may be up, and everyone is encouraged.
6) Begin leading the people into prayer and fasting. Take everyone, who will go, on a seven day fast.
Getting a church to grow is not just working a method but it is spiritual warfare. “Except God build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” The church cannot be lastingly built unless God works miracles for you, The only way to get God’s attention is for the church to pay the price for revival.
7) Build faith in the hearts of the people. If the church is very old, and is small, then there is a lack of faith. Any church that has stayed the same size for years, in terms of growth, has lost faith in the gospel to reach people, or faith in their ability to reach people, and their faith needs building up. This is a big job, and sometimes it takes a year or more to turn people around. The smaller the church, the quicker one can see the results. Just one person with a burden can, in a short time, increase the Sunday School attendance by 25 on up to 75. If there are three or four willing to work, then before long a Sunday School can gain 200 or more.
Pastor Foster indicates that most churches can be divided into three distinct rings of service. First, there is the core group of workers. They are the dependable folks who will always be in there, doing their best, for the work of God. Second, there is the inner group. Most of these folks consider themselves as part of the core group but the leadership of the church cannot depend upon them as much. They can do many things for the Lord. They will always be to church on Sunday and usually all of the other services also. Third, this is the outer fringe group. They are not
dependable at all. Most consider themselves saved and they might be converted to the church, but are not real disciples of Jesus Christ.
The ministry of a church cannot be judged strictly by Sunday School attendance. The number of folks who are there during the week is a solid indication of the churches’ strength. Generally speaking, a church with a heavy outreach on Sunday, will also be growing in attendance on Wednesday night service.
A young man desiring to build a large church should catch the spirit of he who has built one or is in the process of doing it. He must catch that spirit of faith and desire. The best way to pick it up, is, to get around people who are thinking people. A person will not build a great church, who stays around people, who do not believe in building great churches. Those who criticize people who are trying to do something, or are always justifying themselves for not being able to do it, do not inspire faith. If one is around that type of thinking, he will pick up that spirit of doubt. By reading books of faith, and listening to cassette tapes of messages, by men of faith and vision, we will be filled with faith in God and revival will be ours.
Pastoral authority is given by God and rests in the pastor. He is the head of everything and is the man in charge. Responsibility for getting things done is delegated out by the pastor. It takes many dedicated people to carry the load of a growing church. It is the pastor who is responsible to God for giving direction, and proper motivation, to all of the ministries of the church. No board in a church should dictate to a pastor. Some churches have boards and committees for everything, and it works a poor pastor to death, just trying to stay up with them. Every pastor must use his own approach in working with people, but there is a danger of becoming muscle-bound. Growth can be stagnated through letting the work of God become bogged down, by laymen, who do not really feel the Apostolic Commission like a God called preacher. At times, committees are developed to get a job done, and are carrying out the soul winning commission, that is different. But, if the committee is making the decisions and the pastor is asking the committee what to do, then problems can arise. The pastor could hear from God, and be stopped by a carnal committee, that tells him that his plan is not workable. This is not being a lord over God’s heritage, it is simply Apostolic church government.
The Art of Delegation
Learning how to help others be useful to the Kingdom of God, is very valuable to every leader. The job that needs to be done should be outlined and presented to someone you can depend on and let them go do it. It may not be done just like you would do it but it will get done. This gives the pastor needed time and also allows another person to share in the work. Different leaders of the church can be encouraged to plan and dream and create new programs and ideas. These plans are to be discussed with the pastor before discussing them with anyone else or beginning to implement them. The pastor must delegate much of the responsibility and yet stay in the driver’s seat. Too many pastors are afraid to delegate authority because they want it done just the way they would do it. Therefore, they do not put their people to work and this limits the work of God. All of the leaders in a church are actually extensions of their pastor’s ministry and, because of that, the impact and blessing of their combined ministry is far greater than any one man could accomplish alone.
When coming to major decisions, a pastor must lean heavy on the Lord’s direction. It must be remembered that wisdom is honored in the word of God. The cost must be counted and the bills paid. In building a new church, the size of the congregation, budget, and project must all be considered. If the price is too high-then one needs to obey I Thessalonians 5:21 and “Prove all things.” One will be wise to check his inspiration out and make sure it is of God before he takes that step of faith. The Word teaches us to try the spirit and see whether it be of God. If the Lord has spoken to you, then get with it and don’t look back. What one has felt in his soul may be the Will of God but it may not be God’s time yet. On the other hand, one may be five years behind God’s time to act, and in that case, it’s time to put faith and works together and go for God.
What an individual does for God is basically up to himself. The Lord is waiting on our faith and vision to be expanded. Opportunities come to every man. Only those who have prepared themselves through prayer, study and discipline will be able to take advantage of those opportunities. What some people refer to as “getting the breaks” is really where preparation meets opportunity. This is why everyone needs to be constantly preparing and improving themselves. When opportunity knocks and a person has not prepared himself then he will miss being the best he could have been for the cause of Jesus Christ.
When to build and how large to build is one of those good problems every growing pastor faces sooner or later. Rev. Foster pointed out that it is better to grow into business than it is to go into business. A church should grow into its building. More churches are going into three and four phase planning now, so that they can expand quickly to accommodate growth. By knocking out a wall, adding carpet and pews and making a few other changes a church can double their seating space. The phases of seating spaces can be as follows:
Phase Church Seating Space
First 250 500 700 1000
Second 375 750 1200 1500
Third 550 1000 1800 2300
Fourth 800 1500 2500 3000
As the church goes into later phases, the need for other buildings will develop as former classrooms are made into auditorium space. If an auditorium proves to be too large, it could be partitioned or else the rear section be roped off.
A church must advertise to let people know it is in town. The First United Pentecostal Church of West Monroe sends mail to all of its bus families. Spot announcements on the radio have also proven very effective. Word of mouth enthusiasm is still one of the best advertisements available. People like to be where the action is taking place. Every church is projecting an image to their community. We can be assured of an excellent image being projected if our church is pulsating with life and the fruits of the Spirit are flourishing in our lives.
The pastor must constantly be pushing for the spiritual move of God in every service. John Wesley told his young preachers, “get on fire for God and people will come to watch you burn.” A young minister preached one of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons and was not aware that Mr. Spurgeon was in the audience. Upon leaving, Spurgeon introduced himself and the young minister stated that he was sorry no one had responded to the invitation. Spurgeon asked, “Well, you don’t expect someone to come every time do you?” The young man answered, “No.” Spurgeon responded, “That’s the reason they didn’t come, you were not expecting them to come.” It is up to the leadership, what we expect will usually happen. Revival is not a series of meetings, it is the result of people stirring up themselves to seek after the Lord. Some churches wait for an evangelist to come to have revival. Our goal is to stay in revival. There may be lulls at times because every church has its times of planting the seed. That does not mean we plant, plant and plant some more, without harvest. Harvest time will come. If we sow in tears, we shall reap in joy. Some churches use that “planting time” idea to cover up their laziness and unconcern.
The First United Pentecostal Church of West Monroe has many ministries with which it serves its community.
Prayer Ministry – The prayer rooms are ringing with the prayers of the saints before every service. At 9 A.M., Tuesday through Friday, a prayer meeting is going on in the church. Twenty-four hour prayer chains are taking place constantly.
Sunday School Ministry – Specializing in center of interest teaching methods, over 1000 pupils are taught each Sunday.
Bus Ministry – An excited group of young people bring over 400 to church on seventeen buses. Ten more routes are in the planning stages.
Nursing Home Ministry – Church workers have worship services and teaching sessions in three different homes during the week and on Sunday.
Deaf Ministry – Every service is interpreted for the deaf in sign language.
Detention Home Ministry – Over 100 inmates have attended services.
Kindergarten and Day Care Ministry – Taking care of the little children and teaching them the things of God is a beautiful experience.
Ladies Ministry – The ladies of the church provide many services for the work of God.
Music Ministry – The church choirs are a blessing each time they sing. A “Golden Age Choir” is limited to those who are above 50 years old.
Invaders Ministry – Each Friday the young people of the church go on a mission of witnessing. Street rallies, tract attacks and other methods of reaching the lost are incorporated into an exciting evening.
Follow-up Ministry – When folks miss services, they are contacted and encouraged to be faithful. Our bus children are contacted weekly.
Five Year Plan
Pastor Foster believes that a five year plan can be used effectively in helping a person strive for their best in God. One must write down what he wants to accomplish in the next five years. Then divide those goals up into yearly segments. Next, through prayer and planning, decide on workable methods to reach the yearly goals. Check on yourself every two months or so to make sure you are still on target. Plan your work and then work your plan. Sometimes you will accomplish in one year what you thought would take five years. Other times you may not reach all of your objectives when you had planned to reach them. If you aim high, you will always hit higher than if you were not aiming at all.
The Bus Ministry is one of the most effective soul-winning tools ever used. The philosophy of the Bus Ministry is to reach the family through the child. While the child is being reached, the family is also becoming acquainted with the people of the church, so that they can also be reached with the Gospel. Weekly follow-up is necessary to develop a friendship with the child and the family. “We have baptized numbers of Bus Ministry parents who have the Holy Ghost now,” states Bro. Foster. “Some say ‘that’s just a bunch of kids’ but in reality they are gems of great value. They are ‘my’ kids, and when they become ‘my’ kids, they become important.” Rev. Foster explains, “I have four children. The first one received the Holy Ghost when he was 10 years old. He is a preacher now. We have twin boys who are both in college now. They received the Holy Ghost when they were six. They are effective bus captains. We have a daughter who received the Holy Ghost when
she was 11 years old and now she is also a terrific bus captain. Now the question comes, are those just a bunch of kids? Or are they valuable individuals who were going to grow up and be effective in the work of God. These children we bring in on our buses are “our” kids and that makes them important. Even if you should not win the parents, that child is going to grow up. They are all important to Jesus.”
The First United Pentecostal Church is growing because of the leadership of Fred Foster and the dedication of its members. Bro. Foster encourages pastors to really be involved in the work of God. Be friendly and caring and go beyond the ordinary. Underlying every ministry is fasting and prayer. If those things are not there, that ministry will not be what it ought to be. When a person will fast and pray, they will work because of a burden. Keep soul-winning outreach going strong. Take care of the needs of the people. Be kind. Be congenial. Be available. Have the spirit of faith
so that you can inspire others.
(The above material was taken from Revival Churches for the Rapture Generation, by David Elms, 1977).
Christian Information Network