Thoughts and Observations of a Minister

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Growing a established Church

When becoming a pastor of a established church, one thing is a constant 20% do most of the work and give most of the money.
The first thing most pastors do is try to inspire the leadership, and teach them new way, remember new ways come hard, even harder if some of those ways work. Change is always difficult.
The second thing most pastors do is try to go out and find new people, and new leaders. That isn't a bad thing, but we all know it is difficult to bring new leadership into a established church, no matter how low the attendance.
Even if successful at bringing new folks in, bringing them to a position of leadership is almost imposable.
It is no wonder many ministers want to start a Church from scratch, taking a established church is like starting from itch, that is before scratch
The question needs to be ask why are 80% of the people that attend doing nothing, and giving even less. These people have made a commitment, to attend, but for some reason they do not move beyond the attendance point of commitment.
You will find these things to be true, if you do a slow interview process with the 80%.
Some have been through difficult times, and feel disqualified from working, I have found this could be a child born out of wedlock 35 years ago that disqualifies both the mother and child, a divorce 20 years ago. There are many things that makes one feel disqualified, usually it is a devils lie to keep them on the side lines. I have found that this lie is usually confirmed and enforced by the 20% in leadership.
Others may be considered too new, they married into the church family, and just are not considered as a insider quite yet, even though they have been married for 15 to 20 years. They also are a little outspoken, and the 20% do not like that, it could threaten the way they have always done things.
I have always made it a point to try and pastor all of the people, and hearing their stories have always helped me in decision making.
A old pastor told me when taking a new church wait two years before making any real changes, he was a wise man. He was telling me to get to know the people. Read and understand the by-laws. After two years you should have a vision what is happening, and a vision on how to make things move ahead for Gods glory.
The 80% that are there committed, and willing to help, but never ask, never considered, because a established church has its leadership, and it is passed down from generation to generation, and always with less real commitment to God or the real vision of the Church. We would call that denominationalism, dedicated to the movement, but not dedicated to what built the movement, or the spirit that inspired the movement.
First get as many of the 80% working, find them jobs, no need to take old jobs from those serving, just add new work, new ministries.
The first thing I have done, and suggest to all new pastors, have a group you can lead, I called it pastoral ministries, it worked outside of the committees, I could start them staff them, and in order for anyone to attack them, they had to go through me, that protected the new leadership, and the others were busy doing what they always did. Never put new wine in old skins or new ministries under old committees, they will die, I learned that the hard way.
As the 80% feel accepted and are working, they will develop into acceptable leaders, and will catch the vision of growth. They are teachable, and will grow in the Lord. They will not take ownership, but will take responsibility the ministry they are leading.
There will be some battles, most will be along the lines of selfishness, and
As the old move off the scene, move the new real leaders into positions of leadership, they will accept the new people God sends to the church. They will make sure they are treated with respect, you trained them.
The biggest challenge is a game children play, and it is easy to spot. It is played like this. (Pastor: I know I may be only one of the few that want this, but I need your influence so I can get my way with the majority.) It will be more covert, but you will hear it loud and clear. Two things, one they already know they do not have the influence they had, and two they are trying to see if you are still working for them.
Remember it is your influence, not theirs to be used, you earned it, so use it wisely.
If you do not do as they ask, it will be a battle, but remember who called you, and he will always be faithful. In times like this, I have seen God hand move, he always sends replacements if they leave always, you can bank on that. These are the hardest times for any minister, watching someone that can work, give, and lead, just walk away. It will happen, ownership of the Church is only by God himself, not anyone else. When they leave they will go to another established church and most ministers are willing to accept them, and this can cause hard feeling between ministers. Do your best to keep those doors open, you too will accept those from other churches. I personally do my best not to side with those who come but accept them, and help them to move on, and keep a healthy relationship with the church and pastor. Hatred has no place in any church.
Try to fine people with spiritual gifts in the areas you need leadership. There is a real anointing that goes with Gods work, allow him to help you start ministries that are need based, and when people have a passion for their work. Look beyond the worlds qualifications, and look for a spirit of love joy peace long-suffering gentleness. Make sure these people are being used, they are like Maple trees, once they are tapped they just keep putting out sweetness.
Move the Church to a point that seeing someone saved is the best thing in the world to see, nothing is better. This will bring the church to its mission, and teach all to be better Christians, this will attract others, to Christ and to his Church.
Prayer is touching God and his power, submitting to prayer is easy if we have submitted to God himself. Prayer is the most powerful thing we have, when building a church, prayer changes us so we can be used by him.
Every young minister want to pastor a established church, and most young ministers do not get a chance to do that, unless the attendance is embarrassing, and the church needs life support.
I have pastored two established Church, and both had a train wreck before I came.
Established churches are click orientated, if you as a pastor are accepted that is good, but remember if you change too much they will reject you, especially if their positions are threatened.
The 20% will stay when a church wins no souls, when the pastors mess up, and when the hand writing is on the wall about the death of the church.
They will leave when their positions are threatened, even if the church is winning souls, growing, and the spirit of the lord is present at all services. I have seen many come back, and embrace the Church, many I am sorry to say do not.
Make sure you welcome them back if they come back, they are not bad people, they have just done what they have always done, and many times when they leave they will be successful in another church were they can not take ownership, they would be considered the new kid on the block, so pray for them, but never let what happened in the past mess with the present, it is never personal, even though Satan tries to make you think it is personal. I have been called many times to the side of a death bed, by those who had left usually upset. I always go, and the time has always been rich, and rewarding.
Building a successful ministry is just that, ministering. Be constant in season and out of season, you never know when God will call you into account, in everything pray. Keep good notes, I have always kept a journal of the hard decisions and the process I went through to make that decision. I have found that others try to paint you as they want others to see you, and a journal will help to keep what you knew and when you knew it in line. I always ask for more information, when someone says many or several people think this, I always ask who, and many time I ask them to write down what that person says, so I have a hard copy of all the information on a difficult decision I am about to make.
Lives are at stake, we have no time to play Church, it is time to do something.
I ramble a little, sorry for that, but I pray this gets in the hands of someone who needs it. God Bless you
Pastor R.L. Fry

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