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Helping the Unemployed People in Your Church

Helping the Unemployed People in Your Church
Bryan Cutshall

What can we do for the unemployed people in our church?

We realized that over 100 individuals in our church were out of a job and it caused us to look into several things we could do to encourage them, but also help them find a new job. By investing in them, we are in turn investing in our own churches financial future. When we began this journey, I had no idea what I was in for. In short, I have met some of the bravest people I have ever met. I met a man that lost his mother, father, two brothers and then his job. By all rights, he should be shut down, but he instead he is working odd jobs and supporting his family until he finds employment. I met a lady who lost her job in June and her husband in July. She is re-launching her entire life. She is braving the storm and pushing forward.
I have numerous stories like this. This is what we did to help the unemployed of our church:

1. COLLECTING THE INFORMATION

We set up stations in our lobby for unemployed people to come by and give us their information. We ask for names, address, contact information and the type job they were looking for.

2. THE PRAYER LIST

We took the names, contact info and type of job, then created a prayer list for our entire church. Individuals would pray, but would also contact them and encourage them. Some gave money; others sent cards and some just shared friendship.

3. THE DIRECTORY

Next, we created a directory that categorized the specific areas where people needed jobs. For example there were headings like: Accounting, Management, Maintenance, Engineer, Construction and etc. Under the heading we listed the name of every person who was looking for that type of job.

4. THE MONDAY PRAYER MEETING

We started a prayer meeting at 10:00am every Monday morning. We serve coffee and pastries while people mingle and share information. We offer devotion and a praise song to start their week. Then we pray. We pray for individuals by anointing them with oil as we send them out into the work week. We also lay all resumes on a table and pray over them. We ask a few staff and some Elders to be on hand for personal counseling and encouragement. The group hangs around for at least an hour after the prayer time. It’s amazing to hear their stories and see their courage and strength. At the prayer meeting we also offer assistance on their r�sum��s and last week we even had a chiropractor set up in another room to give free adjustments.

5. THE NETWORK

Finally, we connect information on programs and resources for the unemployed and we offer it to them. We have an email list where we email the information. Each week we learn of new programs through Career Centers and government agencies that offer programs that never made the news and no one has ever heard about.

It truly is amazing to see how the Lord is using this ministry to make a difference! As ministers, it’s important that people in need see that we are putting our faith in action, doing something to help them in this difficult economy. Sure, it requires some effort and a little planning, but it is worth it if only one family’s economic situation is changed for the better, as a result!

This article “Helping the Unemployed People in Your Church” was written by: Bryan Cutshall

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.”

Posted in AIS CD - Ministry Resources, MM - Men's Ministry0 Comments

10 Things You Should Know about Missions and the Local Church

10 Things You Should Know about
Missions and the Local Church
Andy Johnson

1. The mission of missions is primarily spiritual.
I hope we can agree that the church should especially care about eternal suffering. The church is that unique gospel community chartered by Jesus Christ himself. Consequently, it should especially labor to fulfill its unique mission to guard the gospel, proclaim the gospel, and disciple those who respond in repentance and faith to the gospel.

God intends not only that his mission would go forward but that it would go forward on his terms.

If our churches fail at that mission, no matter what other good things we do, we will have failed in the unique mandate that Christ has given us as churches. It is good to do other good things, and our churches may make different decisions about engaging in good works and social action. But it is the stewardship of the gospel that remains utterly unique to the Christian church. We must keep first things first. That is the priority of Christian missions.

2. The mission belongs to God, for his glory, on his terms.
God intends not only that his mission would go forward but that it would go forward on his terms. He means to get glory by showing that the mission is his and that his power sustains it. Any effort on our part to change or broaden the mission, or to substitute our ideas for God’s, runs the risk of trying to rob God of his rightful glory. And trying to rob an all-knowing and all-powerful God of the thing he is most passionate about in all the universe is breathtakingly stupid and ultimately pointless. God says:

For my name’s sake I defer my anger; for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. (Isa. 48:9-11)

3. Global missions is primarily through the local church.
In one sense the commission to missions was given to every individual Christian. But in another sense it was given primarily to local churches. Each of us individually is called to obey Christ’s command to make disciples who know and obey his Word. But how does he intend us to do that? His Word is clear—normally we are to pursue obedience, build up disciples, and plant other churches through the local church. The local church makes clear who is and who is not a disciple through baptism and membership in the body (Acts 2:41). The local church is where most discipling naturally takes place (Heb. 10:24-25). The local church sends out missionaries (Acts 13:3) and cares for missionaries after they are sent (Phil. 4:15-16; 3 John i-8). And healthy, reproducing local churches are normally the aim and end of our missionary effort (Acts 15:41; Titus 1:5).

4. The Bible says a lot about how to approach missions.
It would be cruel for God to know what he wants, but then leave us to figure it all out. God would never treat his children that way. Throughout his Word, God has given us a treasury of instructions on the global mission of the church—what it is and how to approach the mission in faithfulness and joyful confidence. We love and honor him not merely by working toward the final goal he’s given—worshipers from every language, tribe, people, and nation—but also by using the means he has decreed. And he has told us that his global mission will advance through holy lives, faithful prayer, gospel proclamation, and healthy reproducing churches.

5. The local church can equip missionaries.
The role of the local church is not merely to assess but also to actively equip missionaries. We may not know a lot about specific cultures, learning languages, or even historical issues that shape a people’s attitudes toward the gospel. But the local church is the perfect place—God’s appointed place—to grow Christian character, encourage general fruitfulness, and transmit sound Bible doctrine. We shouldn’t let a few things we might not know keep us from faithfully and assertively stewarding the responsibility for missions God has given churches. Churches are where faithful missionaries are made. If our churches do a good job in our basic responsibilities, then we have all we need to raise up godly missionaries.

6. The church should support those it sends.
Not only should our churches send missionaries wisely, but we should support them appropriately. And our support for workers should be as ample as God’s Word enjoins. As we commit to send or support missionaries, we should expect our giving to be serious, significant, and sacrificial. Whether we give directly to missionaries or through some cooperative sending agency, our goal should be workers amply supplied so that they lack nothing.

7. The church can care for missionaries by keeping in touch.
The foundation of a congregation’s ability to care for its missionaries is regular communication. We can’t meet needs we don’t know about, and it’s hard to meet pastoral needs if relationships atrophy. Thankfully, it’s probably never been easier to keep up relationships from afar. With email and Skype, there is generally no reason to fall out of touch with workers. But it still takes effort. Busyness, time-zone differences, and sometimes security concerns can push these calls off the agenda. Church leaders should consider setting a regular monthly time when they will call each supported worker. In addition, they might find another member of the church who is willing to keep in regular contact with each missionary and occasionally report back to the congregation.

8. Hospitality goes a long way.
One of the best ways to care for missionaries is literally to do what the Bible says to do: show hospitality to them (3 John 8). I wish biblical application were always this straightforward. Hospitality is important during brief visits, but even more important during the months-long returns most missionaries make from time to time. During those longer visits home, consider what your church can do to offer free housing to the workers you support. Plan and budget ahead for this. And don’t stop with housing. Look for ways to help them be a meaningful part of the congregation. We want our workers to be able to rest, be refreshed, and reconnect with friends and church leaders. They won’t be able to do this if financial concerns force them to live far away with relatives or with another church more willing to provide the housing they need.

9. Short-term help isn’t always helpful.
Supporting workers well also means being sensitive about how, when, and whether to send short-term teams to work with them. It’s worth noting that not all short-term teams are a help. Sending people at the wrong time or with the wrong skills, or just sending the wrong kind of people, will not help your long-term workers. The best way to make sure short-term work is genuinely helpful is to send teams that your overseas workers request. Make it clear to your long-term missionaries that receiving short-term teams is not a condition of your support. Rather, give them the freedom to direct who should come, when they should come, and even if they should come or not. Anything else is likely to lead to short-term projects that serve your own ends, but at the considerable expense to the workers you claim to want to help.

With practical, biblical wisdom, this book casts a vision for the local church as the engine of world missions—for the joy of all people and the glory of God.

10. Long-term vision is key to a good partnership.
Your church should work to cultivate long-term overseas workers from your own congregation. At the outset of a partnership, why not articulate the explicit goal that some of your own members will uproot their lives and plant them long term in another culture for the sake of the gospel? Even more, if possible, why not aim to eventually staff an entire missionary team from your church or in partnership with other like-minded churches. Having a team that is on the same theological page right from the start won’t solve every problem, but it will certainly avoid many.

Being long term focused may also mean doing short-term trips with the long-term mind-set. Rather than just providing “missions experiences,” consider trips that support the work of existing long-term teams to whom you are committed. See your short-term work primarily as a way to support your longterm partners in whatever ways they need, and secondarily as a way to raise up your own members to join the work long term. Workers on the mission field generally need more boots on the ground—day in, day out—not just friends passing through.

Andy Johnson (PhD, Texas A&M) serves as an associate pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC.

The above article, “10 Things You Should Know about Missions and the Local Church” was written by Andy Johnson. The article was excerpted from Missions: How the Local Church Goes Global by Andy Johnson. www.crossway.org web site. December 2017.

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.”

Posted in MI - Missions Ministry0 Comments

The Value of Visitor Reception

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By Tim Massengale

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Mark North turned into the parking lot of the First Apostolic Church and was immediately flagged down by a waiting lot attendant wearing a bright green vest.

“Pastor North?  Bro. Baker is expecting you.  You can park in one of the guest parking spaces just past the main entrance.”

Mark nodded and pulled ahead to the brightly marked ‘RESERVED FOR OUR GUESTS’ spots located beside the main walkway.  Grabbing his Bible, he got out and paused for a moment to take in the massively attractive building of glass and stone.  It was a modern looking structure with a distinct ‘church’ look to it.  The wide glass front arched up to a high tower, topped by a cross and flame – impressive to say the least.

Walking up to the entrance he was met by the door keeper who also greeted him by name, who then opened the door for him and motioned to one of the hostesses standing just inside the entrance.  The attractive young lady led him down a hall to the pastor’s office.

Sitting in one of the leather chairs positioned before the pastor’s desk, Mark shook his head slowly.  “Mercy me, Pastor – you didn’t need to go through all that trouble just to greet me.  I know this is the first time I’ve preached for you on Sunday morning, but you went all out!”

The elderly white-haired gentleman smiled and leaned back, one bushy eyebrow slightly arched.  “No trouble at all.  But was there something that appeared out of the ordinary when you arrived?”

“Well, just all the special effort you went to in order to greet me – the lot attendant, a door-keeper, the hostesses – I half expected a thirty-piece brass band to start playing!”

 

Visitor Reception Ministry

Elder Baker chuckled.  “Oh, that.  I just mentioned to my visitor reception director that you would be coming and what kind of car you drove.  You preached here about a year ago during the youth conference so most of them know you.  I just asked them to be on the lookout for you and to make sure you were directed to my office.  Really – we did nothing special.”

Mark nodded slowly.  “Then I’m really impressed.  So this is your normal welcoming process?  I don’t remember you talking about a ‘visitor reception department’ when we discussed leadership positions a while back.”

“Well, it’s not a department per se.  It’s just a part of my Ushering / Hostessing Ministry.  You know how I stress the importance of church visitors and visitor follow-up?  Well, visitor reception is an important part of that process.  You do much the same, don’t you?”

Mark grinned.  He unzipped his Bible case and took out a spiral-bound note pad.  “Okay.  I’ll bite.  Your student is ready for instruction.  To answer your question – no, I don’t have any special guest reception ministry at my church.  But it sounds like I probably need it, so full steam ahead, my friend – I’m ready with pen in hand.”

Elder Baker shook his head sadly and made a ‘tsk-tsk’ sound with his tongue in feigned disappointment.   “I thought I taught you better, my boy,” he said with a mock scolding voice.  “So school is back in session,” he glanced at his watch, “at least for twenty minutes until service starts.  You remember why I stress that visitors are so important to your growth?”

“Sure!  100% of my new converts will come from my church visitors.”

“Exactly. Your church services are the best outreach method you have.  Preaching is God’s number-one method of winning souls.  More souls will be saved as a result of someone inviting their oikos – that’s the Greek word for ‘household’ and it refers to your family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances – than any other method of evangelism.  Now, you remember the two statistics that explain why visitors are so important?”

“Of course.  First, you told me that 94% of all who receive the Holy Ghost do so in some kind of church service or gathering of saints.  Secondly, you said that 96% of all who receive the Holy Ghost have come multiple times before they receive it – usually at least three to five times.”

Elder Baker nodded.  “Right.  And when you put those two statistics together it shows you two things:  First, if you can increase your flow of first-time visitors, you will increase your converts, and second, if you can get those visitors to come back several times they are more likely to receive the Spirit.  Less than four percent receive the Holy Ghost or are baptized the first time they come.  The best way to encourage guests to return is to have a good visitor follow-up ministry.”

Mark nodded.  “Yes, Elder, I know all this.  We have visitor follow-up working well at our church.  It has resulted in many home Bible studies and many more receiving the Holy Ghost.  But you never talked about visitor reception.”

“Well, forgive me. I should have.  Your guests are the most important evangelism prospects you have.  Like you said, 100% of your new converts will come from those who visit your church services.  It is important – in fact, critical – that their visit experience is a good one.  That way, when we invite them back, they will respond positively.”

Mark was busy making notes. Without looking up he said, “Got it. Keep going.”

“You may have heard of a study that Marriott Hotels did several years ago.  They found that those who visited their hotel made up their minds as to whether they would return within fifteen minutes of their arrival.  For this reason they go all out with their guest reception efforts.  My church tries to do the same.  There are seven key elements we try keep in place.  They are as follows:

 

Visitor Reception Steps

First is facility and grounds.  We put a lot of effort into making the church look attractive and pleasant.  Building painted, church sign attractive, walks swept, lawn mowed, flower beds weed free, flowers planted in the summer, parking lot without pot-holes and so on.  Churches with limited funds struggle with this, but paint and flower seeds cost little.  Much can be done with a little sweat and attention to detail.  The same goes for the inside – vestibule, restrooms and sanctuary.  I like to have someone from the outside – we use a professional but anyone who will be honest and forthright will work – come at least once a year and do a critique of our facility and services. It is easy to get used to the stained ceiling, the torn carpet and the musty odor.  But outsiders are not so forgiving.

“Second are our lot attendants.  Now, not every church has a parking problem but many do.  Lot attendants can be trained to help people find a parking spot without excessive searching.  But even if a church is small, they should consider having a ‘Reserved for Guests’ area close to the entrance.  Lot attendants can watch for visitors and direct them to these spots.  They can also provide members and guests with umbrellas if the church does not have a portico to drop people off.  Our lot attendants are trained to wave and smile until the lot is about 80% full, then they start helping people find an open spot.  This way it doesn’t feel like you are parking at the county fair. But the guests are flagged down and invited to park in Guest Parking.  This is what happened when you arrived.

Next are our door keepers.  Remember David said he would ‘rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.’ (Ps. 84:10).  We take this position very seriously.  They stand outside and open the door for all who arrive.  This helps mothers with small children and especially the elderly. There is something very classy about it, and it just picks up your spirit to be greeted with a warm smile and handshake.

Fourth is our hostessing team.  We put a lot of effort into selecting and training this group of ladies.  They must be warm, pleasant, and cheerful.  They greet the guests and direct them to our visitor reception desk. They are given a guest packet which explains what our church has to offer.  We put a lot of effort into designing this packet.  They are not cheap – but these visitors are our best prospects and, in truth, our future members; therefore worth the expense. She explains our Sunday school classes and nursery facilities if they have children.  She also gives them a ‘free pass’ to the Pastor’s Reception immediately following service.

“But the most important duty of the hostesses is the guest card information.  We train them to say, ‘Our pastor would love to greet you properly.  Would you mind if we get your names?’  She has the guest card on a clip board and fills it out for them.  This way we don’t struggle with bad handwriting.  She also says, ‘We would love to add you to our mailing list so we can inform you of future events, do you mind if we get your address?’  Very few say ‘no.’ By having the hostess fill it out we almost always get the whole card completed.

 

Into The Sanctuary

Next is our ushers.  Our hostess will introduce the guest to one of our ushers that are standing at the sanctuary entrance.  The usher’s job is to help them find a seat.  Now this is a critical step.  Our ushers are trained to always have a spot open, about half-way down, on the main aisle.  He works with the members to insure this spot stays open.  I don’t want our guests sitting at the back where all kinds of distractions occur.  I want them on an aisle so they can easily respond at altar call time without having to squeeze past a bunch of people.

“After the guest is seated, the usher then discretely goes to several people and reminds them that a guest has arrived and if they could, to go over and greet them.  This way, until service starts, people are being friendly and talking to the guest the whole time.  We also try to get a couple about the same age to sit by them.  If someone runs the aisles or if tongues and interpretation occurs, they lean over and explain what’s happening.  They also invite them to go with them to the front and pray at altar time.  This same couple will introduce them to me following service and I personally invite them to the pastor’s reception.”

Mark sat back, mouth agape.  “Wow!  I am impressed!  How long did it take you to get all this working?”

Elder Baker smiled lightly.  “This sounds good as I tell it, but believe me, it’s a work in progress.  It’s something we keep refining and improving.  But it took a good year of hard work to get the main pieces in place.  But I still meet with each group regularly to encourage them and go over the key elements.  It’s doing better now than ever.”

Outside the organ began to play, and Brother Baker glanced at his watch. “We better hurry this up.  Service is starting.

The sixth element is welcoming the guests.  Once the guest is seated the hostess writes their name on a ‘guest map.’  This is a simple map of our sanctuary with the pulpit and platform at the bottom and long boxes representing each pew.  She writes their name on the pew where they are seated.  If their name is hard to pronounce, she even writes it phonically.  This is then brought to me during song service.  Later I go to the pulpit, look right at them and greet them by name.  This always seems to impress them.”

Mark held up his hand.  “So do you have each guest stand and let the congregation clap for them?”

“No, we don’t.  Research has shown that guests are uncomfortable being singled out in this way.  They do like to be acknowledged, but not made a spectacle.  So I just greet them and invite them to the ‘Pastor’s Reception’ following service.  We also have a ‘friendly time’ during service where all are invited to step out and greet those around them.  I think that adds a nice, warm touch to the service.”

Mark made several more notes.  “And the last step?”

“It’s the Pastor’s Reception.  We have a room off the vestibule where we have coffee, tea, juice and some coffee cake.  As altar service begins to wind down I make my way back there.  The ushers and hostesses on duty that service go to the vestibule at altar time and greet any guests as they leave and invite them to the reception.  I love to work in the altar but we have lots of trained altar workers.  So after a bit I try to slip out when I see guests leaving so I can speak with them.  We try to keep the conversation light and let them ask the questions.  I don’t want this to turn into an interrogation or sales pitch time.”

“Wow!  I like that,” Mark said.  “But unfortunately I don’t have a room off the vestibule to use.”

“Neither did we.  For a while we used the vestibule itself.  We just set up a table with coffee and cookies.  We have also used the fellowship hall.  Really, I don’t think this need to be all that fancy.  Guests just like meeting the Pastor and talking with other saints.  They want to know that we are real people.  This time has worked well for us.  I hope you give it a try.”

 

Time to Preach

Out in the sanctuary the singing began and Mark closed his notebook.  Slipping it back into his Bible case he grinned ruefully.  “You seem to always do this to me.  Now I have to get up there and preach the mind of God and you have my mind going a hundred miles an hour in another direction.  I should have known better than to talk to you before service!”

Elder Baker laughed.  “Oh, I’m sure you will do fine.  I just gave you a piece of my mind – and at my age, I have precious little to share!”

Mark laughed and they stood to make their way to the sanctuary.

 

            If you would like a sample copy of job descriptions for lot attendants, door keepers, hostesses, and ushers, call 1-800-800-0247.  $3.00 plus postage.

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Posted in AIS CD - Church Growth, AIS CD - Featured Stories, NC - New Convert Care Ministry, OPGP - General Outreach Ministry1 Comment

20 Ways to Not Grow

photoTwenty Ways To Not Grow

Tim Massengale

 

 

 

 

Yesterday I drove past a local high school. On the signboard out front someone had placed the following sage observation: The only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary.

 

With that thought in mind, let me say that it is not excessively difficult to see a church grow, but it does require a certain amount of time, effort and work. You also need a plan, for no journey is successful without clear direction. And it requires having enough desire to work your plan consistently regardless of setbacks and disappointments. If a church will do these things, it will grow. As I have stressed often in this column: If we will do our part (go forth with a burden and sow the gospel seed) God will do His part (bring souls to full Bible salvation). This is His unequivocal promise (Psalms 126:6).

 

But then it hit me: Not every church wants to grow – or at least not enough to do something about it. They have this wonderful group of believers who gather several times a week to worship and hear the Word. There is a spirit of love and unity and blessing. They like their church the way it is. It is comfortable. They are happy. Of course, they would love to see new souls in the altars, but not if it requires changing anything and not if it requires more of their time or money.

 

So, here are some easy to apply guidelines to help you not grow. If carefully followed, they will make any church growth highly unlikely.

 

  1. Don’t think, talk, or preach about growth. Any topic but that. Talking about soul winning is fine, as long as no real plans or programs are discussed to see this happen.
  2. Don’t delegate any ministry leadership. Or at least, no more than you already have. If you already have a Sunday School Director, a Youth Leader, or a Ladies Auxiliary Director, fine. But stay away from delegating any new positions like New Convert Care Director, Home Bible Study Director, Visitor Follow-Up Leader, Promotions Director, Outreach Leader, Music Minister and so on. Be totally content with what you now have.
  3. Do nothing to help or encourage your leaders. Don’t give them a job description. Don’t help them learn to do their job better. No books, no magazines, no conferences, no seminars, nothing. Show no interest in helping them set goals or explore new plans.
  4. Don’t do annual planning with your leaders. Don’t even think about having an Annual Planning Retreat with all your leaders. Don’t brainstorm ideas or try new things or improve current plans and activities. In fact, don’t challenge them to do anything this next year.
  5. Don’t ask your leaders to plan on their own. Don’t ask for a departmental one-year plan. Don’t ask for any departmental goals or activities. This will encourage them to coast along and to be content with the status quo.
  6. Don’t meet with your leaders monthly. In fact, never meet with them at all unless they ask – and then cancel the meeting a few times or just keep it short and quick. If you do meet with them in any way, do it only once a year to put a few dates on a calendar. Regular meetings builds team spirit, shows that you are interested in their success, and encourages them to plan and reach for goals – and you would not want that.
  7. Don’t make anyone accountable for anything. No monthly reports, no follow-up on goals or plans. Don’t check up on anything. New converts? Visitor Follow-up? Home Bible Studies? Who cares?
  8. Don’t train your leaders to be leaders. If your leader grows, his or her department will grow. And if the department grows, your church will grow. God forbid.
  9. Don’t set any numerical growth goals. Don’t set goals for converts, new convert retention, home Bible studies, visitors, contacts, Sunday school, bus ministry, or anything. Stay away from goals of any kind. Because when you set goals, it just makes you feel guilty because you made no plans to help you reach those goals.
  10. Don’t be friendly to visitors. If this seems too extreme, be friendly at first, then ignore them. No guest parking, no greeters, no ushers, no guest packets, no welcome time – and when they slip out the door during altar call, don’t have anyone speak or invite them back.
  11. Don’t follow-up on your visitors. Since 100% of your converts come from your visitors, and few receive the Holy Ghost the first time they come, you don’t want to encourage any to return. Don’t call them, send them a letter, and especially don’t visit them. A visit has the greatest effect upon whether they return or accept a home Bible study – so don’t do that.
  12. Don’t push Home Bible Studies. Don’t promote it, don’t train teachers, and don’t try to get new studies for your teachers to teach. And especially don’t appoint a home Bible study director because he might try to do all three.
  13. Don’t train your saints how to be a witness. Just assume that growth is entirely a work of the Holy Ghost. If a saint has the Holy Ghost they should know how to witness. No training needed.
  14. Don’t start a Constant Contact Consciousness ministry. The CCC ministry just might encourage people to get in the ‘habit’ of witnessing. It’s much better to go month after month and never witness or invite anyone to church.
  15. Don’t start a bus, van, or car ministry. In fact, stay completely away from any children’s evangelism ministries. When you win a child to God you just might win their parents too. We don’t need that.
  16. Don’t advertise your church. Especially don’t let newcomers to your community know where your church is or what special ministries you might have to offer.
  17. Don’t try any new evangelism methods. Use only methods that were popular fifty years ago. Just because a method isn’t working is no reason to abandon it. After all, it’s the tradition that counts.
  18. Build small buildings on small lots. This keeps the congregation thinking small. Don’t even consider moving to a new facility. Too many memories and history in the old one. Better to just stay small.
  19. Emphasize ‘quality not quantity.’ This one always works. Make it sound like those who advocate growth are just playing the ‘numbers game.’
  20. Don’t pray for growth. Pray for the sick, missions, spiritual renewal, anything but growth!

Posted in AIS CD - Church Growth, NC - New Convert Care Ministry, OPGP - General Outreach Ministry1 Comment

Constant Contact Consciousness

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By Tim Massengale

Mike took a deep breath and tried to calm the butterflies in his stomach. He was not very good at this but he was determined to try. Holding the soft drink and chips in one hand and the church flyer in the other, he approached the counter at the local Quick-Stop to pay. Smiling, he handed the girl his money and as she rang up his purchase he spoke with only a slight quiver in his voice, “So, Janice, do you go to church anywhere in town?”

She glanced back and smiled slightly. “No, not regularly. Why do you ask?”

“Our church is having a special Endtime Prophecy Crusade and I wanted to invite you to come if you are interested.” Mike handed her the flyer. As she looked at it he explained what the services would be about and when it would start.

She smiled again, and said, “Thanks, I’ll think about it. I just might come.”

Mike smiled as well. “Great! Hope to see you there!” With a small wave, he left the store and returned to his car. As he drove off he grinned and made a quick mental note. “That’s nine so far this week! Way better than last week!” He felt good about himself as he turned the corner toward his house.

Mike was a member of his local church’s Constant Contact Consciousness (CCC) team. They also called themselves the ‘New Life Soul Patrol.’ This was a group of saints that were committed to witnessing and inviting people to church each week. His pastor had launched the ministry several months before after preaching a powerful message on the importance of being a witness. The sermon had really convicted Mike. He had been in church all his life. He loved God and loved living for God. But witnessing was not really his ‘thing.’ Yet he knew he needed to be a witness. But he often went months without even inviting someone to church, much less witnessing. So being on the CCC team looked like a good way to develop a better ‘witnessing habit.’ Since joining the team he was doing much better. He had started out slow – one, maybe two invites a week. But lately he started to get better. He was a lot more ‘consciousness’ of the need to witness. He was beginning to get over his fear and shyness. In truth, he was really enjoying it even though he didn’t think he was all that good at it.

Constant Contact Consciousness
Constant Contact Consciousness means exactly what the name implies: being constantly conscience of the need to contact people for the Lord. It is a simple, yet highly effective method to encourage saints to invite people to church and share their personal testimony if the opportunity presents itself. Personal witnessing is by far the most powerful method of outreach around. It will give a church more home Bible studies, visitors, and prospects than any other ministry.

Giving his personal testimony was the main evangelism tool of the Apostle Paul. Over and over we read of Paul telling of his Damascus road experience. We too must accept the Lord’s commandment to, “witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.”(Acts 22:15) This idea of “life-style evangelism” will only come as we become more conscious of the need to witness and of the opportunities available.

What Are The Benefits?
The Constant Contact Consciousness ministry is an excellent outreach for churches to consider for a whole host of reasons. It is a ministry that any size church – from the very smallest to the very largest – can utilize. It’s a ministry that any person, regardless of their skills or abilities, can be involved in, because all are called to be witnesses. It is a ministry that has no staff limitations. Unlike Sunday School – which only needs so much personnel – the entire church can participate in CCC. It does not require a set night of the week. Your people can witness anywhere, anytime, to anyone. CCC is a much needed reminder to your people each week of their personal evangelism efforts. We all need that! It also provides the church with an incentive to witness, for they like to keep the weekly CCC number high. They can also have a weekly goal to reach for. CCC provides the pastor with a chance to give recognition to those who are witnessing on a consistent basis. Without this type of ministry, the pastor never knows. CCC provides the pastor with a unique “thermometer” of the church’s spiritual condition. When people are on fire for God, they witness. As the fire dies, so does their zeal to tell others. CCC also provides the church with many visitors and home Bible studies, for witnessing is the first step to getting both of these. And finally, involvement in CCC builds strong, overcoming Christians. A long-time alcoholic, who had been totally changed by his experience with Jesus Christ, was once asked, “How do you do it, Carl? How do you stay off the bottle and faithful to God?” To which he replied, “I just keep giving my testimony for Jesus. I can’t backslide while I’m giving testimony for Jesus.” And they overcame by . . . the word of their testimony (Rev. 12:11).

How the Ministry Works
The ministry of Constant Contact Consciousness is really quite simple. Start the ministry by having your CCC slips printed (see sample provided) and handing one out to all church members on a major service night. Quickly explain the benefits of CCCC and how the ministry works. Key points to make are:
• Involvement in C.C.C. does not mean you are committing to witness to a certain number each week, but you are simply committing to fill out a CCC slip each week – whether you have witnessed to anyone or not.
• No one will ever say anything to you if you failed to witness that week. This is entirely between you and God. Only you can say if you had the opportunity to witness or not.
• A contact can be as simple as inviting someone to church and handing them a church card. However, whenever the opportunity presents itself we should endeavor to share more. This might be: how you came to the Lord, how you received the Holy Ghost, past healings, how you were delivered from drugs or alcohol, the joy and peace of serving God, or anything the Lord has done for you or shown you in His Word.
• It does not need to be a long, drawn-out time of study or discussion. A contact can take less than one minute.
• You can witness to the same people week after week, and still count them each time. This is an important point. You will probably witness 3 or 4 times to someone before you get them to come to church with you. Perhaps twice those many before you get a home Bible study. Each time you talk to them, a little more seed is planted.
• The CCC coordinator will give each person involved a slip each Sunday morning. You will fill it out and hand it right back or drop it in the offering plate or in another designated location.
• No record is kept of how many contacts a person has made – only whether they turned in their slip. It is important that you are faithful. The total contacts for the church will then be posted each week.
• CCC is simply a weekly reminder for you of your personal witnessing. We all need that! We cannot afford to allow week after week to pass without talking to someone about the Lord!
• Realize that more doors will now open and more opportunities to witness will become available. Now that the Lord knows you are serious about being a soul winner, He will be continually sending people into your path to talk to.

After CCC. has been explained and the burden presented (this is best done during an anointed message on the need to reach the lost), you should ask those who wish to be involved to stand or come forward. These names are recorded.

Each Sunday morning, the CCC coordinator will personally hand a slip to each person committed to involvement. It is important that the slips are passed out by hand. Those involved should fill it out and hand it right back or drop it in the offering plate – even if they witnessed to no one. (Suggestion: we have found that recruiting a 10 to 12-year old young person works great! Offer them a small weekly reward – like mini-candy bar – when they finish. They will be faithful to a fault!)

The pastor should take note of the total each week (or month) and comment on it regularly. Something like: “If you are a part of our CCC team, stand up! Folks, give these people a good round of applause. They make 414 contacts this past month! Great job! I’m proud of you!”

As often as possible ask people to testify that have a good witnessing story to share. Afterwards, stress the importance of being a witness and how we all need to be reminded regularly. Then ask if anyone wants to join the CCC team by a raised hand. Add those names to the CCC team list.

In Conclusion
To have a “constant contact consciousness” should be the goal of every Child of God. Unfortunately, most of us let weeks or even months go by without talking to a single soul about the Lord or inviting someone to church. It is time that we face up to the fact that millions will continue to die in their sins unless we wake up to those that we meet every day. Evangelism should be planned and spontaneous both – planned by the various outreach ministries of the church and spontaneous by the personal evangelism of every believer. The average person meets at least thirty different people every day. Someone must tell them the Good News and inform them of Christ’s soon coming. Who if not us? When if not now? Where if not here? What ministry if not this ministry of personal evangelism: Constant Contact Consciousness!

Posted in AIS CD - Church Growth, AIS CD - Featured Stories, NC - New Convert Care Ministry, OPGP - General Outreach Ministry1 Comment

How to Get More Home Bible Studies Than You Can Teach

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By Tim Massengale

 

Without a doubt, home Bible study programs such as Search For Truth, Exploring God’s Word, and others, have been the greatest tool of evangelism in recent times. Thousands have been brought to the saving knowledge of Truth in the comfort of their own home by an individual with a burden, a Bible, and a Bible study chart. Entire churches have been raised up through this one outreach method alone. Because of its effectiveness, it is imperative that every church try to establish an ongoing Home Bible Study Ministry within their local assembly.

Home Bible studies fall into two broad categories: multi-lesson studies (often starting in Genesis and ending in Revelation) and single lesson studies that focus upon presenting the plan of salvation. Both types have been successful. The multi-lesson studies, which range from five to twelve lessons long, have historically had a 50% success rate, meaning that half or more of the studies taught result in an individual being baptized. The shorter lesson studies, which range from one to three lessons long, have had about a 10% success rate, meaning one person will be baptized for every ten studies you teach. However, the success rate of all studies will vary somewhat depending upon the skill of the person teaching it. Both type studies have their pros and cons. Many have had good success by first setting up a single lesson study and after teaching it, offering the individual a longer study. This combines the benefits of both studies and often results in more individuals won to Christ.

The success of a local church HBS ministry requires a focus upon two areas: trained HBS teachers and unsaved individuals willing to be taught. This article will focus upon the latter: how to get more home Bible studies. I am convinced that, with a little effort, any church, regardless of their size, can have more HBS then they can teach. Space will not allow me to cover all the various methods. Here are the top four:

Visitor Follow-up
Every visitor that comes to your church should be offered a HBS numerous times. First, a HBS brochure should be included in your guest packet. Also in the guest packet is the standard ‘guest information card,’ which often has several boxes that can be check at the bottom. One of these should be “I would like to know my Bible better. Contact me about a free home Bible survey course.” Every visitor that goes to the altar should be offered a home Bible study as standard procedure. Having altar cards and trained altar workers helps facilitate this. When the pastor’s welcome letter is sent out the next day it also can mention the availability of the HBS program. Finally, whoever makes the follow-up visit should simply ask, ‘Have you heard about our home Bible study program? No? Let me tell you about it!” Each time a visit is made (there should be at least three visits per year), a HBS should be offered. Follow-up personnel should understand that ‘no’ does not mean ‘no.’ It just means ‘not now.’ With this kind of emphasis, a majority of your HBS’s can come from an effective visitor follow-up ministry.

Open Your Home To A Home Bible Study
This once a year thrust is to encourage each church member to set up a HBS in their home. To encourage this, a church will often hold a simple contest during this annual promotion. Here’s how it works: Divide the church into two teams. Appoint a team captain over each. Team members are then encouraged to talk to their family, friend, co-workers, neighbors, and others and invite them to a home Bible study event to be held at their home. The church member provides the home, refreshments, and invitations. The church provides the teacher. A nice flyer is designed to promote these home Bible studies. Example: “Explore God’s Word! You are invited to participate in a twelve (or 7 or 5) lesson Bible survey course that covers the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Come enjoy an evening of friends, food, and interactive study of God’s Word!” A point is given for each lesson taught in a home. A banquet is held at the end of the contest with the winning team getting special recognition. With this method it’s important to have several trained HBS teachers ready to teach several studies a week.

Door-To-Door Quest Survey
Every church that wants to have a successful HBS program should plan to teach one or more HBS teacher training seminars each year. Trained HBS teachers should be encouraged to set up their own studies from those they know and meet. However, any teacher that cannot find a study to teach should be encouraged to get one with the Quest Survey. The Quest survey is taken door-to-door on a Saturday by the HBS teacher. It asks ten simple questions. At the end of the survey, a HBS is offered. The survey is designed to bring the individual to the place of seeing their need of God. Two hours of door knocking in a neighborhood between 10 a.m. and noon will give you one or more home Bible Studies. The results have normally been this: knock on one hundred doors and fifty will be home. Of those that are home, 30-40 will take the survey. Of those that take the survey, ten percent will agree to a home Bible study. The teacher should be willing to teach all the Bible studies they get. For a sample Quest survey and instruction sheet, see below.

Five-Souls I’m Believing God to Get a Bible Study With
This method has been very successful and works from the network principle of evangelism (reaching family, friends, coworkers and neighbors). Pass the ‘Five Souls’ slip out to all your saints on Sunday morning. Ask them to go home and, after praying about it, write down the names of five people that feel might be hungry for God. Bring the slips back that night and take up prayer and fasting pledges. Have them pray and fast for those five names for one week. The following Sunday all should come to the front and pledge to ask all five for a Bible Study that week. Anoint them the workers with oil, lay hands on them, and send them out with Holy Boldness. By doing this, many, if not most, will have one or more on their list accept a study. Offer to provide a teacher if they feel they cannot teach the study themselves. Why is this so successful? Simply because focused prayer and fasting works. For a sample slip, see below.

Many other methods
Newspaper ads, direct mail, telephone canvassing, fair booths, bus ministry parents, and many other methods have seen solid results. For a booklet entitled “Home Bible Study Success” that includes details and photocopy masters on the above four methods, plus many other principles of HBS success, call Indiana Bible College at 1-800-800-0247. Cost is just $6.00.

Conclusion
For too long our philosophy of evangelism has been askew with the New Testament pattern. But the commandment of Acts 1:8 didn’t tell us to tell the world “come hear.” The New Testament pattern was “go tell.” Motivation is the key. You must promote and encourage the Home Bible Study ministry consistently and effectively if you are to have home Bible study success. Train your teachers. Promote the ministry. Encourage studies to be taught. Help teachers find students to teach. Pray. Fast. Believe. The only way that home Bible study can fail is if you don’t do it. Go forth and teach!

Posted in AIS CD - Church Growth, AIS CD - Featured Stories, HB - Home Bible Study, NC - New Convert Care Ministry, OPGP - General Outreach Ministry1 Comment

Foundational Principles of New Convert Care

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By Rev. Tim Massengale

Pastor Johnson smiled broadly and waved as Dave and Patti’s car pulled out of the church parking lot. Then, with a small sigh, he turned and walked back into the church. He could not help but feel a little apprehensive.

Dave and Patti were new converts. Both had been baptized and received the Holy Ghost during a revival about a month ago. This morning they had called and asked to meet with him at the church. They had some questions and were puzzled about several things they had heard from other members. Their questions had to do with holiness standards. He had answered them as best he could but he could tell they were not fully convinced. Carefully he had encouraged them to pray about the scripture he had shown them and to give the Spirit time to lead them into a better understanding. Afterwards they had prayed together. Dave and Patti said they felt better and both assured him that they would be in church Sunday. They expressed their love for the church and especially for the presence of God they felt during the services.

Pastor Johnson returned to his study and sat staring out the window, silently praying for this promising new couple. He asked the Lord for the wisdom to help them mature in the Lord. But so many converts had come in lately only to drift off after a few months. He could not help wonder if there wasn’t more that could be done.
Proactive New Convert Care

The above example is fairly common. Souls come in the front door and then frequently slip out the back. Often you will hear people say, “Well, they know the truth. If they want it they know where to find it. When they need God bad enough, they come home.” How sad! Too often we have come to accept a poor retention rate as inevitable. This should not be!

On the day of Pentecost over 3,120 new converts were born into the church that very first day. It had to be the work of the Holy Ghost to inspire the Apostles on how to establish these new Christians. The writer Luke records that after the three thousand were baptized, the new converts continued steadfastly in three areas (Acts 2:41-47): First, instruction (vs. 41, 42, & 46). Secondly, fellowship (vs. 42 & 46). And thirdly, a unity of involvement (vs. 44 & 45). Each of these are extremely critical to the growth of a new convert. If any of these three areas are neglected, the convert will struggle.

Around the turn of the century, the infant death rate was close to 10% – almost one tenth of the babies born in the world died the first few years. Infant diseases such as small pox, scarlet fever, influenza, and others took a heavy toll. Today, the death rate in America less than .04%. Why? Do mothers today love their babies more now then back then? No! The simple fact is, we have learned to care for newborns better. The same applies to the church. If we will learn to take better care of our new converts, we will see more solid, established Christians.

When an individual comes to our altars and receives the Holy Ghost or is baptized, they begin their new life much like a new born infant – very weak, very hungry, and very dependent upon their mother. They do not know how to live for God, how to pray, how to study the Word, or how to fight temptation. Someone must train them; someone must teach them – and that someone is us. If we abandon the newborn, it will not take long for them to die. You can be sure that the devil is going to do everything he can to make them stumble and fall. Somehow we must give them proper nourishment and provide the protection that will deter the devil’s attack. While there are many things that can be done to help strengthen a convert, one of the most important is what many call, ‘First Week Counseling.’
First Week Counseling

Research shows that most new Christians who backslide, do so within the first month – and many the very first week. The reason is that the devil will strongly attack the convert before they know his tactics or how to fight back. His attack usually begins the moment the convert leaves our services. Satan knows that the sooner he can cause them to stumble – and all new babies stumble when learning to walk – the better are his chances of getting them to give up and quit. We dare not let a new convert leave that service without putting something in their hands – both for strength and to defend themselves. For too long churches have used the “sink or swim” attitude once someone receives the Holy Ghost. Far too many are sinking. First Week Counseling can help prevent this.

First Week Counseling simply means that someone, usually the pastor or a trained assistant, calls the new convert the very next day and sets up an appointment to visit them that same week, usually in their home. The purpose of this visit is to teach a simple, short Bible study on the basic fundamentals of living for God. These are:

Your New Life. The convert needs to know what has just happened to him and how it fits into the new birth process. If they haven’t been baptized, baptism is explained. If they haven’t received the Holy Ghost, this is explained also. But what is mainly stressed is the “new beginning” that comes by being born again. This way we defeat a major tactic the devil uses against new converts: dragging up their past that’s now under the blood.

Three Essential Truths. The second topic is what many call the “three essential truths for new converts” – daily prayer, daily Bible reading and consistent church attendance. A convert needs to begin a daily prayer life immediately. The problem is, they often don’t know how to, or that they even need to, pray. To wait until lesson five of the new convert’s course to begin praying is too late. The same applies to the Word of God. They need to read their Bible daily, for this is their source of strength. But they don’t need to begin in Genesis, like the Bible was some kind of novel. They need to begin in the Gospels or the Book of Acts and read a chapter each day. They also need to know that every time the church doors are open to be there. The world’s concept of going to church is ‘Sunday morning only.’ Someone must tell them otherwise. These three basic truths – prayer, Bible study, and church – attendance are explained in a simple straightforward way. Often a handout is given that explains the basics of prayer, provides a beginning Bible reading chart, and also lists church service times.

The Devil’s Attack. We must warn the new convert that the devil will soon attack them. He may use family or friends to condemn their decision to live for God. He will try to make them stumble and sin. He will try to tempt them back into their old way of life. The new converts needs to be aware of this and be ready to defend themselves. And if by chance they do stumble and do something wrong – and all babies stumble while learning to walk – to get back up, tell the Lord they’re sorry, and try to never do it again. They need to know the Lord will forgive them. A favorite ploy of the devil is to tell the convert that, having stumbled, they are now forever lost – so they might as well quit. If someone doesn’t tell them otherwise, how will they know it’s a trick of Satan?

We Care. The last topic is very simple, yet so extremely important. The new convert needs to know “we are here, we care.” Many converts have no one close to talk to when they encounter problems because no immediate family is in church. Yet, they are often reluctant to call the pastor for fear they are imposing upon his time. So they battle alone and often fail. Someone needs to reassure them that they can call or come by any time. If we don’t come when the baby cries, the devil will! It is good to give them the pastor’s contact number, the assistant pastor’s, the new convert care director, and any others who can encourage them when they are down. Someone needs to be there. We must realize a new born baby is not like an adult – they must have much more personalized attention until they mature, and much more often.

In First Week Counseling these four subjects are only covered briefly. The objective is not to give them a comprehensive study, but rather to reveal a few basic principles and spark their hunger for more. More depth will be provided in each area by teaching a comprehensive new converts course at the church on Sunday morning. Every convert should be enrolled and strongly encouraged to attend.

It is also recommend that the pastor take a Bible Study night and teach a lesson entitled, “The Successful Christian Life” and expound on these and other important concepts of spiritual growth. But make sure you record it, because from then on every new convert should have this cassette tape or CD given to them the night they receive the Holy Ghost or are baptized.

In addition to the CD, many recommend giving the new Christian a new convert’s booklet. Several excellent examples are Victorious Living for New Christians (Kinzie), New Beginnings (Triplett), Growing With God (Alphin) and Ready Set Go (Cook). All can be purchased from the Pentecostal Publishing House.
End Time Harvest

This is First Week Counseling: a forty minute home visit, a booklet and a CD. Now they have some tools with which to fight the devil and spiritual nourishment with which to begin their walk with God. With this and other key methods, a church can see their retention rate increase to fifty, sixty, even seventy percent. Understand this well: God is not in the business of making backsliders. He does not want to send us a mighty revival only to have 90% backslide. But if we will prepare ourselves for a great end-time harvest of souls, and have a program in place to retain that great harvest, I believe that God will give it to us. Don’t you agree? So how ready are you?

If you would like more information on successful new convert care, call the Apostolic Information Service at 1-800-800-0247 and ask for “The Complete New Convert Care Program” by Tim Massengale. Cost is just $5.00.

Posted in AIS CD - Church Growth, AIS CD - Featured Stories, NC - New Convert Care Ministry1 Comment

Do Your Guests Know You’re Expecting Them?

By Mark Waltz

 

This really happened to me.

I walked into a restaurant early in the lunch hour. Like 11:00. Surveying the place, I saw, well, nothing. Lots of open tables. And still I was told “give me just a couple of minutes and we’ll have a table for you.” I could see at least 1,200 seating options. But I waited.

As I sat down I intuitively wiped bread crumbs from the table into the floor and thought “this doesn’t make sense. There’s no way there have been other customers in here for lunch already.” Of course, the mess had to have been left over from the night before. We then learned that the coffee and tea were still brewing.

Bottom-line? This staff wasn’t ready for us. They weren’t really expecting customers – not this early any way.

How about your church? is it apparent that you’re expecting new people? Here are some simple ways to communicate “we’ve been expecting your…

  • a core of people who know church isn’t all about them – but about others, so they..
    • give up their front parking spaces
    • move to the center of the row, leaving the aisle seats open
    • greet people around them – even when they’re not “on” as an usher or greeter
    • invite their friends to join them
  • parking attendants in the parking lot
  • greeters at entry doors and ushers throughout the building
  • signage that points to “new family children’s area” or “guest services”
  • a verbal welcome from the front of the room that includes (without embarrassing) new guests
  • a program/bulletin that speaks to new people, using “normal” language
  • visible, accessible “on-ramps” that help new people connect and grow

When your guests show up will they think, “Wow! They acted like they were expecting me… and they were happy about it”… or will they feel as if they’ve crashed a party they weren’t invited to attend?

How are you planning for and expecting new guests at your church?

From the www.becausepeoplematter.com website, October 2009

Posted in AIS CD - Featured Stories, NC - New Convert Care Ministry, OPGP - General Outreach Ministry0 Comments

Visitor Follow-Up Training

By Rev. Tim Massengale

An effective visitor follow-up ministry should be a high priority in every church. Why? Because your visitors are, without a doubt, your best prospects for salvation. Consider the following reasons:

1. Ninety percent of the visitors that come to your church know someone within your church. Most of our churches have few “walk-ins.”
2. They are often searching for something spiritual or they would not have come.
3. They (hopefully) felt the power of God in your service.
4. Most important, the Word of God was planted in their heart by the power of preaching.
5. Finally, two very important statistics: (a) Ninety percent of all who receive the Holy Ghost in our churches receive the Spirit during a church service or a gathering of saints of some kind. (b) Most who receive the Holy Ghost in our services have come several times before receiving it. Very few receive the Spirit the first time they visit.

Therefore, since most who receive the Spirit receive it in a church service and also come multiple times before receiving it, we must do everything we can to get our visitors to return. Each visit increases their chances of going to the altar.

For a church to neglect so great an opportunity as their visitors and spend money, time and effort on a less likely prospect, is poor judgment. If your visitors do not return, you will have few receive the Holy Ghost. Therefore every church should strive to launch and maintain an effective visitor follow-up ministry.
How Visitor Follow-up Works

Visitor follow-up begins when the individual visits your church for the first time. Ideally a guest should be greeted at the door by a church doorkeeper. A friendly hand shake, a bright smile, and a kind word can set the tone for a pleasant welcome. Doorkeepers can help in many ways, especially when young mothers have arms full and children in tow.

After entering, each guest should be greeted by a trained host or hostess. A cheerful greeting and a warm handshake make a guest feel welcome and wanted. A well designed guest packet can also express that we care about their visit and hope that it will not be their last.

Guest reception experts tend to agree that it is best if the guest card is filled out by the host or hostess. Handing them a card and asking them to complete it and drop it in the offering plate will only see limited success. Many forget and very often the cards are incomplete.

Opening the guest packet, the Hostess quickly explains the contents and then takes out the guest card. Often she will say, “It’s so good to have you with us! Now, Pastor Smith will want to greet you properly. Would you mind if we got your names?” Most have no problem providing this basic information.

While names are a good beginning, it is the address that is the most essential element for effective follow-up. Research has shown that it’s best to be up honest and up front about why we want their address. Many have found success by simply saying, “We would like to add you to our church mailing list so we can inform you of future special activities. Would you mind if I got your address?” The majority are glad to provide this information for you. The hostess writes this on the card, making sure the name and address are spelled correctly. Phone numbers are optional. If they hesitate you should not press since this information iseasily looked up in the phone book or online.

After the guest card is completed, the guest is introduced to one of the ushers who helps them find an isle seat about half way down. Strategic seating of guests makes their response at altar time easier.

All guest cards are turned into the church office and quickly photocopied four times and distributed after service. One copy goes to the office secretary who will type up a letter from the pastor. This signed letter will be mailed the next day. She will also add the address to the church address database for future contacts by mail.

A second copy is given to someone assigned to make a phone call the next following evening. Often it goes like this: “Hi, this is Debbie from First Apostolic Church. Pastor Smith wanted me to call and express to you how much he appreciated you visiting with us in church this last Sunday and if there is anything else we can do for you, please let us know.” The purpose of the call is to simply leave a warm feeling in the heart of the visitor. The phone call says, “We care about you and we want you to return.”

A third copy goes to the church’s Home Bible Study director. This person does not call or contact the visitor. They contact the person that invited the visitor. One of the questions on the guest card should be, “How did you hear about us?” The majority of our guests come because someone in the church invited them. The Home Bible Study director should contact this church member and encourage them to ask their friend for a home Bible study. If they are reluctant to teach a study, they should be encouraged to set up the study and a teacher will be provided to help them teach it.

The last copy goes to the pastor who will follow-up in whatever way he feels necessary. The original card is given to the Visitor Follow-Up (VFU) Director. This individual is the key to a successful visitor follow-up ministry and should be good with paperwork and details.

On Monday the VFU director takes all the guest cards from the previous week and prepares follow-up packets for those who will be making the follow-up visits. First she transfers the information from the guest card onto a follow-up card. The follow-up card contains additional information that is not on the guest card, such as: approximate age, marital status, church affiliation, and other information that will help the person assigned better know how to approach this person.
1. How To Make A Follow-up Visit
a. Obtain your weekly follow-up packets from the visitor follow-up director.
b. Review your assignments and put them in a logical visitation order.
c. Always pray before going out. Ask God to prepare their heart for your visit.
d. If possible, always go out in two’s. If alone, never go inside with the opposite gender.

2. Each follow-up packet should contain the following:
a. Follow-up assignment card (see sample in Total Church Growth materials)
b. Printout of home location from Mapquest
c. Home Bible Study tract or brochure
d. Home Bible Study prospect slip (see sample in TCG materials)
e. Church card
f. Flyer for the next ‘major event’ on your church calendar
g. Prayer Request Card

3. Consider taking a small gift
a. Many have found it successful to take a small gift each time you visit: homemade cookies, homemade breads, church mug, a nice pen, etc. For other ideas visit www.outreachgifts.com on the internet.

4. On The Doorstep #1
a. Introduce yourself: “Hi! I’m Mike Smith from First Pentecostal Church. You visited with us last Sunday morning and we wanted to stop by and let you know how much we appreciated you visiting us and wanted to make sure you enjoyed your visit and to answer any questions you might have about the church or its ministries.”

5. On The Doorstep #2
a. Invite them to an upcoming event: “Well great! Glad you enjoyed the service! We also wanted to give you a personal invitation to our upcoming Homecoming Anniversary Service this next month.”
b. Hand them the flyer as you are inviting them. “Sell” the event a bit.

6. On The Doorstep #3
a. Ask them for a Home Bible Study: Oh, by the way, have you heard about our Home Bible Study program? No? Well, let me tell you about!”
b. Sell the HBS a bit (free, in your own home, helps you know your Bible, Genesis to Revelation, just 12 lessons, learn so much, Bible becomes alive, etc.) As you ‘sell it’ hand them the HBS brochure.
c. If they say, ‘yes,’ complete a HBS Prospect Slip. Get day and time! Close the sale!

7. On The Doorstep #4
a. Prayer Requests: as you are saying good-by, ‘Oh, I also wanted to mention. We have some really great prayer teams at the church and we have been having some pronominal miracles of answered prayer. Just recently a woman was healed of cancer. Another fellow needed work and God helped him find a great job. Really exciting stuff! Would you happen to have any special needs you would like our prayer teams to pray about?
b. If they have needs, write them on the follow-up card.

8. On The Doorstep #5
a. Quick word of Prayer: If you feel led, ask if they would mind having a quick word of prayer right there for their need. “Debbie, we will certainly make this a matter of prayer. In fact, would you mind if we took a moment and said a short prayer right now for your father?”
b. If possible, all three of you hold hands. Say a simple and sincere prayer. “Lord, we are so thankful today for Debbie and Mike and their two wonderful children. We know your hand is upon this family and home. We ask that you would continue to bless them and draw them closer to you. Lord, today we are agreeing together for the healing of Debbie’s father who is in the hospital for heart surgery. Etc…”

9. On The Doorstep #6
a. If they are touched: Often times you will see that they are visibly touched by you praying with them. Reemphasize again how much we would love to see them in church this coming Sunday and, if you feel led to, mention again how much they would enjoy the Home Bible Study.
b. If anyone is in the hospital or jail, ask if they would like to have a minister visit this person. Get information so a follow-up visit can be made.

10. In The Car
a. Complete any information needed on the follow-up card: comments, contact date, visit results, etc.
b. Be sure to note their prayer requests on the follow-up card. The next time we visit, we need to ask about the need and if we should continue to pray.

11. If Nobody Is Home
a. Leave a church card on the door with a brief handwritten note.
b. Plan to visit at least once more before Sunday Night in order to try and find them home. Try visiting at a different time.
c. This guest will be assigned to visitor follow-up each week until someone finds them home.

12. Subsequent Visits
a. We try to visit all guests three to four times a year.
b. If they visit went well, the same person should be assigned to make subsequent visits. Build relationship. Trust.
c. Each time we go through the same steps: invite to upcoming event, ask for a HBS, and ask for prayer requests.
d. After first visit our question for a home Bible Study changes to: “Have you thought any more about that home Bible study I was telling you about? Sell it a bit each time.

13. Pray For Them!
a. Most likely you will be visiting them several times each year. Put them on your prayer list! Pray for them daily. Prayer changes things! Ask God to get them to a place they see their need of God. Most people tend to come to God while in the midst of personal crisis. Pray, “God, whatever it takes to see them saved!”

14. If You Get A Bad Visit
a. Not all visits go well. Some people are cold. Others can be rude or verbally abusive.
b. If we get a very cold response twice in a row, we will evaluate whether to visit again.
c. If they are verbally abusive in any way, or ask us not to visit again, note this on the card. We will not visit them again. But we will continue to pray.

15. Importance of Visitor Follow-Up
a. The most important and successful evangelism ministry in the church is visitor follow-up. You are visiting the future members of our church.
b. If our visitors do not return, we will have few, if any, who receive the Holy Ghost. 95% of all who receive the Holy Ghost in our church came multiple times before they received it.
c. Visitor follow-up has proven to be the most successful way to encourage a guest to return. It also provides many home Bible studies.

Posted in AIS CD - Church Growth, AIS CD - Featured Stories, NC - New Convert Care Ministry1 Comment

Seven Guidelines for Starting a Home Bible Study Ministry in the Local Church

Seven Guidelines for Starting a Home Bible Study Ministry in the Local Church
Don Fielder

1. Find a coordinator for the Home Bible Study (HBS) ministry
A Coordinator may be someone already on your leadership team. This person needs to be strong in the area of administration. He or she will be responsible for recruiting and training leaders, conducting in-service meetings for the leaders, and helping the leaders to enlist men for their group. Do not start until you find the coordinator. Remember the principle that nothing gets done without leadership.

2. Determine your strategy and philosophy of your Home Bible Study ministry
As a leadership team, you have a lot of decisions to make regarding what types of groups you will have. There are three levels of home Bible study.

* Entry Level – low commitment, show up for a couple of weeks. Teach one or more studies. This level could lead into a medium level group.
* Medium Level – This is your normal home Bible study teacher. They are willing to meet one to one and a half-hour per week with an interested student to study the Bible together, pray and support one another.
* High Level – These high commitment individuals would serve the purpose of training and equipping Bible study teachers. An example of this high level commitment would be to teach a Basic HBS Training Group

Other decisions that your leadership team will need to make:

* Who is going to care for the HBS leaders?
* What type of HBS’s will we have?
* How are we going to train the HBS teachers?
* What will out criteria be for recruiting ministry leaders?
* Will the studies be open, closed, or both?

Successful home Bible study begins with leaders who model genuine Christ like relationships.
-Geoff Gorsuch

3. Recruit Home Bible Study teachers
The leadership team or the coordinator will be responsible for recruiting HBS teachers. Look for men and women with godly character, Christ-likeness, competency, compassions, and a commitment to making disciples who see their role as facilitator rather than just a teacher. The best HBS leaders are those that have experienced a healthy small group. Look in your existing home Bible study for recommendations from existing leaders. Provide a complete job description for the potential HBS leader: What he or she will be doing; how much time is requires; what type of support he will receive; and to whom he is responsible. Don’t worry about numbers. Prefer fewer groups that will go well over many groups led by men not prepared or able to lead.

4. Train the Home Bible Study teachers
The best way to train new teachers is to give them a healthy HBS experience. If you have never taught a home Bible study before, you may want to lead a study group first to give your small group a good experience. Then, let them start their own groups. If you already have HBS groups, ask the leaders of the existing groups who they think would be good leaders and pull them out. We do our training on three consecutive Monday evenings. Provide training in the areas of Small Group Dynamics:

* How to start a small HBS group
* How to lead HBS discussion
* How to lead a HBS sharing time
* How to handle difficult questions
* How to study the Word and develop good questions

5. Begin to Publicize the Home Bible Study
Often times the home Bible study ministry can be the best kept secret in the church. Be creative in how you get the word out. Here are a few possibilities:

* Ask the pastor to promote the HBS groups from the pulpit
* Ask the pastor if there can be a testimony from up front
* A mailing to all the men and women in the church with a list of potential groups starting up.
* The church bulletin
* Personal invite from the leaders – have them make a list and begin to pray for men to invite to their HBS groups. This will be the best way
* Informational meeting between services

Never ask a man or woman to do anything unless you are willing to train him or her.
Each person needs a brother to support, encourage, and hold him accountable to a Christian model of servanthood.

6. Create windows for HBS group start ups
As mentioned early in the series; you always want to use an activity or event as a bridge to the next level. After a retreat, kick –off event, or seminar, offer sign-ups for one or more small HBS group options. They should be full HBS, for to six to twelve weeks in length, using a book or material that follows up on what was talked about. Strike when the iron is hot!

7. Provide shepherding for the HBS teachers
Never ask a man or woman to do something without providing the support that he or she needs. It may start with the coordinator shepherding the groups, if there are less than five groups. After that, they will need to get the others to help. Have in-service meetings a few times a year for the HBS teachers to share how things are going in the HBS groups, and for continued training and prayer.

* Who might be some potential small group leaders
* When and how are we going to train these leaders
* What are some ways we can publicize the group
* How are we going to care for our small HBS group leaders

This article “Seven Guidelines for Starting a Home Bible Study Ministry in the Local Church” by Don Fielder was excerpted from: www.smallgroupleader.com web site. October 2009. It may be used for study & research purposes only.

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.”

Posted in AIS File Library, HB - Home Bible Study, HBAC - Acquiring Home Bible Studies0 Comments

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