By Tim Massengale
You can build a successful church! The secret is not in programs or methods, but in the vision that burns in your heart and your refusal to give up when opposition and trials come your way.
The following powerful story is based on real life events and is meant to help you overcome your fears and succeed in whatever objectives you have in life. And if your objective is to build a church, take this simple story by Dick Kazan to heart and refuse to quit.
Read The Story Together: Overcoming Fear and Failure
“Oh God,” Benny cried out. “I’m ruined! My business can’t pay its bills and I’m broke. I borrowed against everything I own to start it and now I’ve got to close it. I’ll lose my home, my car and my self-respect. People already thought I was insane to risk so much and now they’ll laugh at me for being such a fool.”
With tears in his eyes, Benny locked his business’s plate glass front door behind him and stepped on to the sidewalk. Staring at his shoe tops, he hung his head and began walking down the busy street, unaware of all the traffic noise or of the people walking by him.
When his legs could carry him no further, he found himself in front of a small old Jewish Temple and wandered in to sit down and rest. As he sat on a brown folding chair, he buried his head in his hands and began to weep.
“What is the matter,” asked an 85ish silver haired man who witnessed this scene, and sat down next to him.
“I’m ruined,” Benny said, his tears trickling down his cheeks. “There’s no future for me,” he added as he told this man about his failed business.
“Let me tell you a story,” the older man replied. “And then we’ll see if you’re ruined.”
“In 1939, my family and I were living in a lovely home in Poland, when the Nazis invaded, their troops killing everyone who resisted them. Poland surrendered and in our city, the Nazis set-up a Jewish ghetto and ordered all the Jews into it.
“By the thousands Jews were packed tight into a few blocks, in a barbed wired prison, where they were hardly fed, many of them dropping dead from hunger or disease, while the Nazis planned to ship the survivors off to death camps.
“But my family was among the Jews who refused to go, and we hid in the basement of our home as some other families hid in their basements or attics. We all knew this couldn’t last for long and one day we heard the roar of engines and smelled diesel exhaust and as we heard orders being barked in German, we knew the storm troopers were coming for us.
My parents were ready and had sewn gold pieces into my clothing and that of my little 10 year old brother. As we heard the troopers yelling and kicking in doors, their attack dogs barking, people screaming and shots being fired, my father said with a quiver in his voice, ‘Quickly you must run! Go through the forest and join our family in Hungary. We’ll join you later.’ “
“But poppa,” I cried, “I’m just 14,” and I pleaded not to go. “But they shoved us out the door, and the last thing I recall is my mother sobbing, her eyes reddened from all her tears. We never saw them again.
“We ran for the forest and it took us four frightening days to get to Hungary and sneak across the border. All we had to eat was the food our parents had hastily packed and our only possessions were the clothes on our backs, with the little gold pieces sewn in.
“We reached the family home in Hungary. But with the looming threat of a Nazi invasion, they got my brother and me to the Jewish underground and they shipped us to Palestine. It was a rugged experience but we had survived! There were so many kids like us that youth hostels were started and we slept on cots. We helped to grow our own food, and schools were set-up for us.
“As my brother and I grew up, he settled in what became Israel and he built a good life there.
“But that was not for me. I came to America in search of work and a college education. But I was broke and took whatever job I could find. Sometimes I couldn’t find work and I went hungry. Often however, I got janitorial work and that kept a roof over my head and usually I got enough to eat.
“After awhile, I decided to start my own janitorial company. I thought it would be a great success but it failed miserably because I didn’t know how to sell my services.”
“Didn’t that discourage you from ever trying again,” Benny asked. “Not at all,” came the reply. The failed company had taught me a lot about business, and when I worked again for others, I learned how to sell my services. It is as simple as taking a sincere interest in your customers and listening to what they want and figuring out how to provide it at a profit.”
“But when your business failed,” said Benny, What about all the criticism from others?” “I wasn’t concerned about what they thought,” the older man replied.
“Those who care about you are supportive, and those who criticize haven’t had the courage to do what you did, so they mock you for trying. I didn’t have time to listen to the critics.
“All of that aside, once you’ve been confronted by death and destruction, you realize thoughts of a failed business mean nothing. Soon I was back in business and this time, built a giant janitorial firm and it made me a very wealthy man.
“But I’m a humble man. I come here to pray for my parents and for all the people who perished from the blood stained hands of the Nazis, and to thank God for sparing people like my brother and me. I also pray for the well-being of all mankind.
“Where do I go from here,” asked Benny. “I’m broke!” “No you’re not,” boomed the older man’s voice. “You’re a young man with most of your life ahead of you. You had the courage to start a business once and you’ll find the courage to do it again, this time wiser from the experience.
“In the meantime, go get a job and rebuild your savings.” “What about my debts,” asked Benny? “Talk to your creditors, the older man answered. “They don’t want to seize what you have, they just want to know when they’ll get paid and some of them will work out a payment schedule with you, a car being a fine example because it doesn’t hold value well.
“But in the worst case, you’ll downsize at least for awhile,” the older man continued. “That’s what many a great entrepreneur has done, and they came back stronger than ever.”
Benny rose from the chair, standing taller than he had in a very long time. “Thank you for taking the time sir,” he said, looking the older man squarely in the eyes. “I will take your advice, for you have lit an entrepreneurial fire and I am determined to become successful in business.
“Good,” said the older man while shaking Benny’s hand. “You are never defeated as long as you believe in yourself and you find the courage to commit yourself again. When you do, I’m confident you will succeed.”
How To Apply This Story
If fear or frustration has stopped you from pursuing your dream of building a church, then use this story as a call to action. The worst that can happen is but a brief set-back on your road to success. The keys to church growth success are:
Build a ministry team. You will be hard-pressed to build a great church on your own. Use the pattern that Christ gave us. He spent His entire ministry building a ministry team. Even though they failed him often, he continued to teach, train, develop and encourage. When one turned into a devil and tried to destroy him, he turned adversity into victory for all mankind. Build a ministry team to labor with you to see your church grow. Key ministry positions are: Sunday School, Home Bible Study, Visitor Follow-up, New Convert Care, Outreach, Promotions, Bus Ministry, Music, Youth, and Ladies Ministry.
Market your church and the Gospel. This is the fundamental message of evangelism: “Buy the truth and sell it not!” Like a mighty force of salesmen, we go out into the world and present the saving message of Jesus Christ. Focus on the most successful methods of evangelism: church visitors, effective visitor follow-up, home Bible study, personal witnessing, bus ministry, and new convert care.
Invite visitors to hear the preached Word of God. 100% of your new converts will come from your visitors. Do as much as you can to attract visitors to your church. Preach the Word! Have a move of God in every service! Train your saints to work in the altars! Make your church the friendliest and most exciting church in town.
Follow-up on your visitors. 96% of all who receive the Holy Ghost come three to five times before they receive it. You must get your visitors to return or you will have few receive the Holy Ghost! Telephone them, send a letter, put them on a mailing list and send them invitations regularly. BUT MOST IMPORTANT: visit them at their home! Nothing else will work as effectively to get them back. Set up a visitor follow-up ministry and train people to make home visits. Churches that do home follow-up visits have triple the number of return visits as churches that don’t. They also have triple the number of converts!
Train Home Bible Study (HBS) teachers. Make HBS a major ministry in your church. How? Appoint a HBS director. Promote HBS in church often and creatively. Train HBS teachers several times a year, especially your new converts. Harvest HBS’s from many areas of outreach: the altar, visitor follow-up, bus ministry, door-to-door surveys, family Bible give-a-way’s, HBS contests, the ‘Open-Your-Home-To-A-HBS’ method, and dozens more. Never doubt that Home Bible Study works!
Train your saints why and how to witness. At least once a year teach a soul winning seminar series on Bible study night. Motivate and encourage your saints to witness and invite regularly by using Constant Contact Consciousness (CCC). Set up door-knocking teams. What? You don’t think door knocking works? Then pray tell me why the two fastest growing denominations in the USA in 2009 were the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. Door knocking still works if it is done correctly. Try it and see!
Start a bus, van or car ministry. Reach for the souls of children. God will pour out revival on any church that carries a burden for ‘the least of these,’ for such is the Kingdom of God. Do not focus on numbers; focus on evangelism. Those bus children must to receive the Holy Ghost. You must also evangelize the home using the concepts of Parent-Reach. Bus ministry will bring you new saved families every year if you will reach aggressively for the hearts of both the children and the parents.
Make new convert care a top priority. Appoint a New Convert Care director. Follow-up on every baptism and Holy Ghost recipient with a home visit to do New Life Counseling. Enroll every convert in a home Bible study. Stress the importance of your Sunday morning New Life Class. Give them a new convert’s booklet, a Bible if they lack one, and a CD of the pastor teaching a lesson entitled, “The Successful Christian Life.” Focus on the three basic needs of all converts: instruction, fellowship and involvement (Acts 2:42-46). Take roll on every convert in every service. Assign every convert a ‘Care Partner.’ Make a commitment to God that you are going to do everything possible to keep every convert that He gives you in 2010.
On the plains of hesitation,
Lie the bleached bones of thousands,
Who, on the very threshold of victory,
Sat down and rested,
And while resting, died.
If you would like a detailed explanation of each of these key steps, call the Apostolic Information Service at 1-800-800-0247 and ask to purchase the Total Church Growth materials.