10 years, 4 children (one via China) and 3 degrees (one was Sherri's) later - here's what I've discovered about pastoral ministry:
1). You must teach people to love God's Word. Church attenders love programs, events, ministries, being involved, serving - all of these are good - but I've learned: you can only know God through His Word. Many times church leaders try to give something they don't have.
2). People stay at a church because of their friends. If people are connected to close friends in a small-group setting such as Sunday School - hook-line-and-sinker you've got them. When someone leaves the church - I look at their circle of friends (or lack of). You should attend church with your closest friends - you'll have a better experience, I promise.
3). Unprepared meetings become detrimental. My first two years at the church I actually attended every single committee meeting (we had 10 committees). Now I only attend deacon and staff meetings. If there's no agenda or goals for a meeting, they end up becoming gripe or gossip sessions. Preparation is a pastor's friend.
4). Building ministry teams is the best way to grow a church. If your class, ministry or event is led, organized and taught by you alone - it will not become larger than 20 or 30 people. My Doctor of Ministry faculty chair at Southeastern Seminary, Dr. Charles Harvey, told me in April 2013, "Dan, if you want FBC Moreland to go to the next level, it will be through ministry teams." The solo approach to leading a ministry and teaching a class - keeps a church small.
5). Boringness kills churches. A stagnant and declining church (or class, ministry or meeting) will almost always be boring. Anticipation, excitement, passion, and vibrancy attracts people. Most ministers will struggle with this: he's a nice guy, but he's...kinda boring. No one wants to attend an average church.
6). Invite the best guest preachers possible. One thing pastors are instructed to do is to "equip the saints" (Ephesians 4:12 ESV). I've found one way to accomplish this is to invite the best preachers possible to preach at FBCM. Next month for Harvest Sunday - Evangelist Junior Hill will be preaching. Revivals and special services are some of the best services of the year.
7). If you can't raise money, you'll struggle in ministry. Everything we do at church costs something. When offerings are up, it actually affects the mood of the congregation. I believe God has blessed FBCM because the church tithes. Every dollar we receive, we've already given away 11% (10% to the Cooperative Program and 1% to the Western Baptist Association). A church shouldn't ask members to tithe, if it isn't tithing.
8). When a church steps out on faith, it usually means it will spend money. Faith and finances tend to be synonymous. Church attenders and givers become frustrated if a church is too conservative with their finances. The other extreme is debt - it handcuffs ministry.
9). Visitors visit the church's website first - if they connect to others while at church they'll turn into members. The majority of our first-time guests will have visited our church's website before they set foot in the building. People want to know three things about a church before they visit: what time does it start, what's the address, and are the people similar to me. The last one is most important.
10). Most people who begin the journey with you, won't finish the journey with you. The average American changes churches seven times in their lifetime. The average adult church member will change churches every eight years. Church leaders have to learn to be thankful for the years of service a church member gave - even if they left for another place.
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FBCM's Master Plan