One of the most fundamental ministries that the church performs is visitation. A church, no matter how big or small, will have people who are sick, in the hospital, shut-in and in need of a visit. As a result, pastors spend a significant amount of time visiting people from their church and community. As the church grows the amount of visitation required can bury a pastor unless structures and systems are put in place to spread the load of visitation out. Developing systems ensure that the pastor does not burn out, but at the same time ensure people receive the care that they need. There are no doubt a variety of ways that a church could set up a visitation system but here is how one church takes on this need:
Visitation & On-Call Pastors – Every day there is one pastor that is assigned to do all the hospital visitation for that day. If the church is aware going into the day that someone is in the hospital, and in need of a visit, then this is the pastor that goes. Additionally, there is another pastor that is on-call each day. This pastor handles any pastoral care that cannot be planned ahead. This would include anyone who is rushed to the hospital or anyone who calls or walks in wanting to talk with a pastor.
We live in a world where people often struggle with various needs. As a result, most churches are presented with requests for financial assistance on a very regular basis. A church that does not have a plan for addressing these needs can easily find itself saying no to people who truly need and deserve help, or find themselves saying yes to people who are taking advantage of the churches good nature. So, it is important that churches have systems in place to fairly and adequately address the various needs they are presented. There are no doubt lots of ways to go about setting up a benevolence ministry in a church, but here is what my church does:
Funding – Every week my church transfers 1% of the general tithes and offerings to the church benevolence fund. This fund is then used to help provide financially for those that are a part of our church family and who are in need. We also provide free food through our churches food bank to anyone. The food bank is provided for through our church, but also through a partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank and grants from other agencies.
This week our church had our four summer interns arrive. We’re privileged to be near both a seminary and a Bible college, so we always have interns coming and going, but I especially love when the summer interns show up. What makes our summer interns extra special is that they are full-time, which means they are able to see nearly everything that goes on behind the scenes. It is an amazing time of mentoring and growing for every student that is able to participate. But how exactly do we set the summer up so that every intern is able to learn as much as possible?
First, we have a formal application process. We are only able to take on four paid summer interns, despite the fact that we always have far more apply. To help us decide who gets to spend the summer with us, we have them fill out a preliminary application that asks them about their ministry goals, where they are at in life, and where they see God leading them. We only allow individuals who are pursuing full-time vocational ministry to be a part of our summer intern ministry. (To see the application that we use feel free to check out https://lccc.wufoo.com/forms/calvary-christian-church-internship-application/.)
Many pastors steer clear of teaching on giving as they don’t want the churches they serve to appear to be all about money. The Bible has much to say about our stewardship, however, and to ignore this teaching would be to ignore a large portion of what scripture has to say. So how does a church teach on money without turning people off? Here is how my church addresses this topic of giving:
Yearly Tithing Message – Every January we do a “Month of Personal Commitment.” We preach and teach on a commitment to prayer, reading the Bible, ministry service, and giving. This annual message on tithing is an opportunity for the whole church to hear about the importance of honoring God with their finances. This one message is enough to teach and remind people about the importance of giving, but not enough overwhelm them or turn them off.
Every pastor who wants to see their church grow is intentional about developing leaders. These pastors grow and develop their leaders through a variety of means, and meeting regularly is typically one of those ways. These meetings can be called a lot of things, my church calls them Partner-In-Leadership (PIL) meetings, but the common factor is that the time in the meetings is spent on developing leaders through casting vision, teaching skills, praying together, sharing stories of what God has done in the church, and more. Who should a pastor invite to these leadership meetings, though? I believe there are at least four groups of people who should be invited.
First, positional leaders should be invited. This is the people your church that lead various ministries, whether that be men’s or women’s ministry, ushers, greeters, children’s, youth or other ministries. This also includes the staff, board members and perhaps even their spouses. Anyone who has a position of leadership in the church should be invited.
The possibility that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of the cause we believe to be just.
Most churches do not strategically think about who they are inviting to church. They have service every Sunday with the hope and expectation that new people will come, but they don’t put much (if any!) thought into who they are going to invite throughout the week. Obviously, churches should be inviting everyone to join them, but who specifically should churches strategically be thinking about inviting?
- Friends and relatives who do not attend church. People should hear often about the importance of inviting their family, friends, coworkers, and other to church.
Many churches are canceling their Sunday night services. Citing low attendance, not wanting people to be out multiple nights a week and other reasons, many churches are opting to forgo the once central Sunday evening service. At Calvary, we’ve made the opposite decision. Rather than getting rid of Sunday night, we’re keeping our Sunday evening service as an integral part of the life of our church. There are lots of things that we do on Sunday nights that makes these services some of my favorite, but my favorite favorite Sunday night service is the monthly New Life Sunday Night.
Typically on the last Sunday night of the month, we do a New Life Sunday Night service. On these nights we celebrate new life in the church by dedicating babies, receiving new members, baptizing new believers and more.
In Mark chapter 2, Jesus was teaching and there was such a crowd of people there that they were piled on top of one another. Literally, no one else could get into the house to see him or hear what Jesus was saying. There were some men, however, who had a friend that was paralyzed and they wanted to get him to Jesus because they rightfully believed that he could heal their friend. So the men loaded their buddy onto a stretcher and brought him to where they knew Jesus would be. When they saw the huge crowd and the fact that they couldn’t get anywhere near Jesus, I imagine they were a bit dismayed. They probably sat their friend down for a minute to talk things over and decide what to do. They didn’t give up, however, and came up with a somewhat outrageous plan to get past the crowd. Four of the friends climbed up on a roof, hoisted their buddy on the stretcher up, walked across the roof until they were above where Jesus was at, and then cut a hole in the roof of the house so they could lower their friend right down next to Jesus. Talk about commitment to get someone to church! They even risked personal injury, as I imagine the guy who’s roof that they had just cut a hole in was about to beat them up!
Here is the point, they didn’t just tell their friend about Jesus….they brought him to Jesus. They didn’t just tell their friend “Jesus is over there” if you can find a way to get there he might be able to heal you…no, they actually took him to Jesus. They didn’t just invite their friend to church, they brought him to church and when they couldn’t get in they went the extra mile and cut a hole in the roof to get him in (now please don’t get any ideas and cut holes in our roof of your church to get people to church!!).
Growing churches have several options available to them as they consider how to expand (as we have discussed here). One of these options is to add additional services at other worship venues through a multi or microsite approach. Typically, these services have live worship, a campus pastor, and the preaching comes either via video or the pastor from the main campus is able to be there and preach live. It is a great way to move forward, but starting a new campus comes with some pros and cons that every church should consider before launching a new one.
- Provides convenience. People will only drive so far to church. Even if you have a committed person that will make the drive, will their friends and family they would like to invite also make the commute? Putting a campus in their neighborhood makes coming easier. As Josh Hunt says about multiple worship options it “allows us to overcome the number-one obstacles facing the people we are trying to reach: inconvenience.”
- Allows for Variety. Each satellite campus should retain the first campuses’ DNA, but a new campus allows for a bit of variety in feel. It should be allowed to be a bit different to match the community it is in. This allows the church to reach new people as ”It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people. The more hooks you cast in the water, and the more varied the bait, the more fish you will catch” (Hunt).