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Can Multi-Site Work in a Rural Context? 28-7

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Posted in AIS - Newsletter, AIS CD - Ministry Resources, PM - Promotions Ministry, PMMA - Managing Promotions Ministry0 Comments

Fishing in a Small Pond

Nestled in the Texas Hill Country an hour north of San Antonio is a small community of 1,100 people. It is a town poised for revival because one apostolic church is full of people dedicated to making that happen, undeterred by the size of their field of labor.

Pastored since 1993 by Bro. Greg Steele and his wife, LaKay, who heads their vibrant music department, the House of Mercy Evangelism Church of Johnson City draws primarily from four small communities within a radius of 35 miles in a county of only 9,000 people. Their new building, just over three years old, stands on the highway through town as a beacon, not just notable in size but also in ministry to the community.

The Steele’s three young adult children and spouses are also heavily involved in the church ministries, as are others in both their extended families. This is a family that knows God is at work here.

Keys in Church Growth

Bro. Steele believes prayer is the major key to revival in any church. This church has been a church of prayer since it was birthed 50 years ago. We’ve also always had a major desire to see the lost saved. That comes from the prayer life. But coupled with that has to be a method. Prayer is the spiritual side of it, but the mechanical part of it is what a lot of us have a hard time getting our hands on and making it happen.

The church has a history of effectively using Bible studies and continues to rely on them as a key in church growth and soul winning. Primarily, we use three, said Bro. Steele. One is a qualifier, a one-day Bible Study, Into His Marvelous Light. Next, we use a five-lesson Bible study by Bro. James Jackson, Salvation Made Simple. It’s very powerful and easy to teach. Then, we use Search for Truth II, not necessarily to initially get people plugged into the gospel and get them to salvation, but as a tool to continue their salvation experience and give them some grounding and discipleship.

Small Town Mindset

Concerned about the rate of people dropping away even after going through Bible studies and receiving the Holy Ghost, Bro. Steele said, we found out we were having babies born, but we didn’t know how to take care of them. Our nursery wasn’t prepared.

At first, our delivery room was a problem too, because we didn’t believe it could happen in a small town. You hear a lot about revival in larger cities, but when it comes to a small town, you only have so many fish in a pond. That was a mindset we had to get over. Prayer and fasting plus positive preaching of the Word of God helped change that. Our mindset changed to, you know what, we can grow; we can have something happen here!

Growing as Pastor

Bro. Steele admitted that one of the first steps was to realize that he didn’t have a clue. Recognizing that not growing personally and as a pastor would hinder the church; he looked for leadership materials and seminars to attend. I went all over our district getting my hands on any nuts and bolts of things I could do to make myself personally better and pass on to the church. I became a student of church growth and of leadership. I’m still a student. I still haven’t got it all figured out. But I know more today than I did yesterday.

Growing Leaders

With personal growth came the desire to grow others. As I began to grow personally, I wanted to build our leadership, said Pastor Steele. If you build people, they’ll build other people.

Hearing John Maxwell at a Because of the Times conference was inspiring. I began to see the principles, not necessarily that they were real spiritual, but you could apply them spiritually. You could take a lot of things he was saying and apply those leadership principles to start building people.

Having key people in leadership roles was important. I still have those same key people today, he said. Incredible people! They have been a main ingredient in our church growth. When the leadership began to catch the vision, it stimulated a hunger for growth. These leadership principles that we were teaching and being mentored in didn’t just affect us in the church, he said. They affected us everywhere, in our families and our businesses. Suddenly, we were seeing people begin to make so much more money because of these principles. They were taking them back to their businesses and applying them there, too.

Bro. Steele brought Dr. Fred Childs in for the church’s first leadership seminar that gave them prototype methods on teamwork, synergy and unity. It was just incredible, he said. We began to take off with that. We were just so excited; we could have tackled hell with a water pistol!

Growing the Church

By the time Bro. Steele was elected pastor, he had already been a part of the congregation for 20 years. Raised under the ministry of the founding pastor, Sis. Billie Fluitt, who also became his mother-in-law, he assisted her for 10 years prior to her retirement in 1983. He assisted the three pastors that followed for another 10 years. Needing a pastor again, the church of around 60 people voted him in 14 years ago.

The steps and principles outlined in Tim Massengales book, Let My People Grow, motivated Bro. Steele. I brought to the church a five-year growth plan called It Takes Five To Survive. I preached, if we don’t have godly growth, souls being saved and retention at the same time, within five years, we’re going to die. We have to grow. If you don’t grow, you are dying. I laid out Bro. Massengales book and we just did that.

One of the things I believe has been a key to our growth is that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If somebody else has something going and we can tweak it and make it fit our own thing or save me 25 years of putting things together, why not do it?
At the end of the five-year plan he proposed, the church had not completely reached its total vision, but was a long way down the road. They had 125 people and were out of room.

What they had learned and implemented from Bro. Childs was so effective that Pastor Steele asked him back a second time for vision building. It was also hands-on with action items, he said. There are some actions that you’ve got to take to make it happen. It wasn’t the spirituality of our church that was the problem. The organizational structure just wasn’t there.

Growing the Structure

With Bro. Childs help, the church took on a model and structure they have been developing and refining for the past two years.
We had a strategy team group come together and meet every two weeks to think and pray and plan and organize, said Pastor Steele. We put together a model that moves people. They adopted a special kind of model, rather than the more traditional organizational chart. Ours is totally different because it’s made up of three concentric circles.

In this model, people enter the church in the outside circle. When they come in, we try to move them into the center bulls eye called the point of origin, explained the pastor. This point of origin is the basic doctrinal foundation truths of scripture. We want everybody to be a part of that because if we ever get them there, they’re going to make it.

Focusing first on connection, they work to connect people to the church, its people and programs. Recognizing that almost 100% of their church ministries are about connecting people, they started teaching from this perspective. We’ve got to get every one of our ministries to think, I’m the connect point of every person who comes into this church. I have something to do with connection by the way they see me dressed on Sunday mornings, to the way the parking lot looks, to the way we handle ourselves as hosts and hostesses, and so on All this is connection. It’s a mindset.

After the initial connections that lead, ideally, to receiving the Holy Ghost and being baptized, the model takes them to the next area of training and equipping. We do Bible studies, new convert classes, and mentoring so we don’t lose track of them, explained Pastor Steele. Then, the next step in the model is involvement. We want to get everyone involved in a ministry somewhere as we keep on moving them toward the center circle.

Not only is the core or center circle made up of the apostolic doctrinal truths, it also contains the church’s mission statement and set of values. We have six or seven values that we prize very highly in this church. We want everybody to learn those values, our mission statement and our vision. These are brought before the church regularly in different venues, including the weekly bulletin and media during services.

Also in development is a system of measurement that involves creating a spiritual profile on everyone in the church. We want to know everything about those people, said the pastor. Are they growing? If not, what’s the problem? Did they skip a step? Did they not have a Bible study? Oh, let’s go back and teach them a Bible study. Were they not mentored by someone? Well, let’s do that. Whatever it takes.

We’re seeing incredible things happening. But it’s also a process of change. Some people don’t want to be measured; some people don’t want to get involved; and some people don’t want to have values placed in their lives. And, if people don’t want that, it’s going to be an automatic separation. Some would rather go and sit at someone’s table, eat, then leave and never have to get involved. That’s not our deal here. We want everybody involved. I believe this process will take us from superficial growth to good, solid, consistent revival growth.

Now the strategy team of six members meets monthly. They work in pairs and each is responsible for several ministries. Every team member also meets monthly with the ministry leaders they oversee. Bro. Steele does not have an assistant or associate pastor but points to the strategy team as the administrator of the church. It’s a team; it’s not just one person, he said. So there are six people carrying the ball instead of one.

The Ripple Effect

Bro. Steele is convinced that being in a small town or community doesn’t have to limit anybody. Last year they averaged around 186 in attendance. The different things we practice and do here, anybody can do, he said. It just takes a God mindset. God is big and He thinks big. When we went into this new building, we went from zero payment to $7,500 a month. It was a huge leap of faith. We didn’t know where the money was going to come from and, to this day, we still don’t know how we’re doing it. God makes up the difference.

But what’s incredible is what God has done for us in our thinking since we’ve been here. A lot of key people have caught the principle of scripture that says, Give and it shall be given and they have gone from being good givers to great and supernatural givers.

If there’s anything I have learned in this process, it is that whatever we do, we’ve got to learn the power of giving. Giving makes the Kingdom of God grow. The way were going to have growth is to give. The Lord says, if you give, I’m going to open up the windows of heaven and you cannot contain and that’s huge! That’s a key that always works. You just can’t out give God. You give and God will give back.

Posted in AIS File Library, IBC Perspectives Articles0 Comments

A Small Town Church

IBC Perspectives Volume 16 Issue 1 Matthew Martin A Small Town Church

Dewar, OK, was founded in 1907 with a few houses near the Number 7 coal mine. Its first church, “Little Green Mission,” was built in 1912.Dewar is still a small, blue-collar American town, with a population of 928 people. Its main industry is the nearby glass plant, along with the coal mines and agriculture. Sitting on the site of the first church, the “Little Green Mission,” is the Dewar United Pentecostal Church, with an average attendance of 210 more than 20 percent of the town’s population in Sunday School. “Our church is a little unusual because our town’s population is only 928,” Pastor Matthew Martin said. “It’s small-town America. We could knock every door in our town in one Saturday.”

The Challenges of a Small Town

Outreach in a small town can’t follow the patterns of churches in large cities, Bro. Martin said. “We can’t blitz the town with material because everyone already knows us,” he said. “We host functions for the schools regularly, things like baccalaureates and such.” One of the challenges we face is getting people to visit because they think they know everything about us before they get here,” he said. What has worked for the church in Dewar is one-on-one witnessing. “When people teach Home Bible Studies to friends and acquaintances, and they come to a service and feel the presence of the Lord, that is what works,” Bro. Martin said. The church has a New Converts Class for those who have just received the Holy Ghost. That way, the church is prepared to give each one immediate, one-on-one care. “Our motto is: ‘Reaching up to God, reaching out to others,'” he said. “We just did an evangelism month dedicated to how we can evangelize the community.” Bro. Martin divided the church into three groups: youth, young married couples, and those over 50. He had three teachers that rotated through the groups teaching lessons on: Reaching, Reviving and Retaining. “Reaching was about how we appeal to people to visit, how to answer questions, what to say and what not to say,” he said.” Reviving was about altar working; how we help them pray through,” he said. “And Retaining focused on visitor and new convert etiquette. For instance, one rule is that no visitor sits alone. There is always someone who sits with them.”

A Big History

The Apostolic message came to Dewar in 1917, and in a few years, the church relocated to the Little Green Mission. The church was affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church in 1949, and later that same year, the original building burned down. With $1,800 from the insurance company, the church built a block building on the same property. In 1950 Bro. M.D. Deal and his family came to Dewar to pastor. In the 1960s under his ministry came a face lift, indoor restrooms and air conditioning. In the 1970s two more buildings were purchased to house Sunday School classrooms. The 1980s brought more growth and enthusiasm, but Bro. Deal’s health began to deteriorate. In 1989 Bro. Martin preached at the Dewar church for the first time. Bro. Deal wanted to retire and was looking for a replacement. “It was a difficult assignment because the church loved him and begged him not to retire,” Bro. Martin said. Bro. Deal became Pastor Emeritus and Bro. Martin was elected pastor of the Dewar church on Dec. 31, 1989. At the time, Bro. Martin was only 28 years old, pastoring a church in Lone Grove, OK, with about 30 members. “It’s really a miracle I’m here because people with far more experience were interested in taking the church,” he said. “But the Lord saved it for us.” Dewar had an attendance of about 85 when the Martins arrived. “There were a lot of elderly people there when we came, and a few young couples,” he said. “We started a youth group with four kids, started a Bible quizzing team, started teaching Bible studies. Our youth attracted people of our age group.

“A year later Bro. Greg and Sis. Susie Joki moved to Dewar to be youth pastors and built the youth group from four members to a youth group with more than 50 kids. “We have so many young couples and children now, we had to start a nursery so these parents could get something out of church,” Bro. Martin said. The 1990s brought continued growth. The Little Green Mission church is long forgotten. Now the church property includes a sanctuary that seats 330, a children’s chapel, a youth chapel that seats 75 to 80, a large prayer room and the M.D. Deal Fellowship Center, a 10,500 square foot facility that houses the gym, kitchen facilities and classrooms. “Nobody would believe in a town this size that our sanctuary was paid off in 18 months,” Bro. Martin said. “Our church is debt free, a miracle in itself. Our people just give and support the work of the Lord. We support more than 100 missionaries, and in the last five years two of our ministers have left to start home mission churches.”

Priorities of Leadership

The priorities of a small town pastor aren’t much different from any other pastor. “Your relationship with the Lord has to be your top priority,” Bro. Martin said. “I’m a firm believer in early morning prayer. If you don’t get it done early, you may never get it done. “The second priority is taking care of your people. “Feeding the flock is number two,” he said. “You need to be there when they need you.” Children’s ministry is a very important part of the church, he said. “We’ve found that you have to build a children’s ministry, because it is the feeder system for a strong youth group,” he said. “One of our goals is for every child to have the Holy Ghost before leaving Trailblazers.” Bro. Martin has completely departmentalized the church ministries and established a leadership committee that includes every department in the church. It meets quarterly. The departments include: Trailblazers (children 5-11); Youth Alive (ages 12-18); College and Career (post high school through marriage); Preserving Christian Homes (PCH) (married couples through age 50); Young at Heart (ages 50 and up); Iron Sharpens Iron (men’s group); Ladies Ministries; and Sunday School. “At each meeting we have dinner together, review the previous quarter, have a leadership lesson and a devotional, and then plan the next quarter,” he said. “I ask each department to have at least one function on the calendar each quarter.” About 50 percent of the church is actively involved in some form of ministry. “I teach that everyone has a ministry, and everyone can help somebody,” he said.” Sometimes people are too shy to volunteer, but they qualify for a job,” he said. “We just have to invite them to be a part.”

The Personal Touch

Bro. Martin grew up going to Calvary Tabernacle in Indianapolis, IN, under the ministry of Bro. N.A. Urshan. He received the Holy Ghost at age 7 in a New Year’s revival. He can’t remember the day he felt called to the ministry. “As early as I can remember, it always seemed to be there,” he said. He graduated from Apostolic Bible Institute in 1982 and went on the evangelistic field. When he was 23 he took the pastorship at Lone Grove UPC in Oklahoma. His greatest influences have been his father, Bro. Urshan, Bro. R.D. Whalen and Bro. M.D. Deal. “My father isn’t a preacher, but he is a good Christian man,” he said. “And Bro. Whalen was instrumental in our coming to Oklahoma.” He invested a lot in my wife and me and taught me a lot from the ministry perspective,” he said. “Not being raised in a minister’s home, he really mentored us.” Since coming to Dewar Bro. Deal has been very influential. “Anything that has happened here has been with his full support,” he said. Bro. Martin likes to preach and teach on practical subjects and doctrinal material as well as revival and growth. “Sometimes you preach to potential, and sometimes you preach to need,” he said. “It’s not just about relevance but about bringing us to a higher place where God wants us to be.” Bro. Martin has served as the district editor of the Oklahoma Beacon, sectional youth leader and president, district youth secretary and president, a sectional presbyter and currently serves as District Superintendent. He and his wife Kala have two children: Meghan, 18, and Matthew Paul Martin II, 15.

Final Philosophy

What does work in a small town? For Bro. Martin, the important thing is practicing the Golden Rule. “My philosophy of leadership has always been to treat others like you’d want to be treated,” he said. “I’ve always considered how I’d want to be treated if I were sitting on the other side of the desk.”

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Youth Ministry in the Small Church

Youth Ministry in the Small Church
Daryl Dale

Let us define “small” as a church with fewer than 10 junior and senior high young people who will attend church-sponsored youth activities. Small churches can use most of the concepts described in this manual and effectively build up teens in Christ. The key to successful youth ministry within the smaller church is the youth worker. If he loves teens, is willing to work with them regularly and is committed to the job year after year, he can have just as an effective ministry with a small number of youth as a salaried youth pastor can have with over 50 teens.

Here are some keys to effective youth ministry in the small church.

·Do not start a youth group until you have an adult worker who loves teens and is willing to work with them for more than one year.

·Do not distinguish between Sunday school and youth meetings. Have one united program. The Sunday school teacher and the youth sponsor should usually be the same person or couple.

·Feel free to use youth materials in Sunday school. Do not be bound to Sunday school materials, but always use published materials.

·Combine junior highs and senior highs for Sunday school, youth group and socials. Special trips should be reserved for senior highs only, so junior highs have something to look forward to.

·Separate the junior and senior high teens on Wednesday nights and alternate in having special studies for each group. For example, meet with the senior highs for four weeks to talk about dating and marriage. Then meet with the junior highs for four weeks to study friendship or self-acceptance. The group for which no study is planned can attend prayer meeting. Occasionally drop all Wednesday studies and rest a month.

·Have “growth” eyes. Continuously reach out to new teens. Add teens to the group one by one and do not allow anyone to drop out.

·Follow up each visitor within seven days by taking the teen out for a Coke or recreation activity with another teen in the church. You may also send teens out to follow up the visitor. Letters and phone calls are always welcomed by teens.

·Plan a youth activity for almost every week of the year. You can alternate between socials, studies and service projects. Occasionally enlist other adults to plan a social or conduct a study.

Be present at all meetings, but use other people to give yourself a breather. (Yes, everyone needs an occasional vacation. Give yourself a month off once or twice a year.)

·Meet once every three months with the teens’ parents, as a group, for the purpose of planning, communicating and learning needs. Enlist parental support for socials and service projects.
·Join with another youth group at least once every three months for a combined activity. Teens in smaller churches need this broader fellowship circle.

·Be creative. Try new things. Do not be afraid of failure.

·Always be positive. Never pity yourself for being small. Your ministry to teens can be just as exciting and beneficial as that of those ministering in larger churches.

Special Note to Rural Churches

Small churches in rural areas often have very large and enthusiastic youth groups. Teens in rural areas lack the entertainment options of city youth. Therefore, a church may become the social center for the teens of a small town if it organizes a full and active youth program.

What to Do When You Only Have

Three Young People

Sunday school can be exciting with three teens as you buy special study materials from time to time that deal with needs the teens feel. Purchasing a $5.00 book for three teens is much easier than purchasing it for 15 teens. A small group can occasionally have class in a restaurant, or go to a location similar to the setting in which the Bible lesson occurs (e.g. study about the Garden of Gethsemane in a pretty park instead of the classroom). You can all fit into one car and get back for church with little difficulty.

Socials can be fun also. A retreat can take place in one motel room next to a major tourist attraction. Sightseeing is enjoyable for small groups. Learning a craft skill can be great fun. How about taking a pottery, woodworking, weaving or painting class together? Such a class could involve the youth for several weeks and would be impossible for larger groups. With a small group, a game of tennis, badminton, bowling, racketball, riflery or table tennis would allow everyone to participate at the same time. Sporting events would also meet the social needs of small youth groups. Go into the city and see the professionals play.

Be sure to meet with other youth groups within your denomination. Attend camps, rallies and retreats. When nothing else is happening, invite another small youth group or two over to your church and do your own thing.

Discipleship and Bible study are also possible with small youth groups. When a topic is studied and assignments given, accountability is much greater within a small group. You can check on how each person is doing. Such accountability is the foundation for rapid spiritual growth. Within the small church high standards and expectations are much easier to establish and maintain. Therefore, it is easier to build a Sunday school or Bible study class that effectively teaches the Word.

Christian service can be very rewarding with a few teens. You can prepare puppet plays, skits, minister to the mentally and physically handicapped, have a car wash, sponsor a fair booth, etc. Small groups can perform big ministries when they decide to trust God for vision and power.
Being small can be sensational, but be prepared to grow. Teens who are receiving quality ministry will normally bring in other teens.

The above article, “Youth Ministry in the Small Church” was written by Daryl Dale. The article was excerpted from the book Youth Worker’s Manual.

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 AIS File Library, YMGE - Youth Ministry0 Comments

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