Quite a few years ago there was a television commercial for a stock brokerage called E.F. Hutton. The memorable line from the commercial was “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” The idea was that one could trust the wisdom and expertise of E.F. Hutton. When E.F Hutton recommended something or spoke about any financial matter then people listened. Check out the commercial below.
This leads to the question…who is the E.F. Hutton in your church? Who is the person that when he or she talks everyone listens? Who is the person who has congregational capital to spend and holds great sway in the church with others?
Whoever this person is it is important to get them on your side if you seek to be a transformational leader in your church. Spend time with them, cultivate a relationship with them, give them the “why behind the what” of changes that need to be made, and then encourage them to speak out.
What might this look like practically? Let’s say you are seeking to relocate the church you are serving because they are landlocked and it is stunting growth and the ability of the church to reach more people. Or, let’s say you are seeking to begin a second worship service to reach new people. Or, let’s say your church is getting ready to hire a new youth pastor. Then in the midst of a congregational information session or meeting or at the church council meeting encourage the “E.F. Hutton” of your church to stand up and proclaim their support and the reasons why they are supporting the change. Because they have been there for many years, because they are well respected, and because if they are for moving forward whatever the issue, it must be OK. Many persons will come around to this change.
So who are the E.F. Huttons in your church? Who are the people to whom everyone else listens? It is important to know who these persons are and get them on the side of doing whatever is necessary within the bounds of the Gospel to reach more people for Jesus.
Small groups in the church can be a great way to reach new people. Encouraging members of a small group to invite their friends, relatives, co-workers and neighbors to participate in small group life is certainly one way to do that. And, there is no denying that starting new small groups in the church helps to connect persons who have recently started attending worship as they are more likely to be a part of something new than something already established.
Small groups can be used on a larger level to reach people in the community. This can be done by offering small groups and short term classes that meet a felt need in the community. Examples might include offering Financial Peace University, parenting support groups, Mothers of Preschoolers groups, Caring for Aged Parents support group and more. The key is to find what the needs are of the community and seek to meet them through these groups and introduce people to Christ and the church.
Similarly, knowing the interests of your community can offer the opportunity to begin a small group or offer a class that is faith based and connects people to Jesus and the church. Do you have a lot of wine drinkers- offer a wine in the Bible class. Or, how about an exercise class that starts with a devotion and ends in prayer for the needs of the class. Again, the possibilities are only limited by our imagination and ability to know the needs and interests of our community.
It is always a good idea to offer as many groups and classes as possible off site in a neutral territory as opposed to the church as this will help those who are hesitant to enter a church more likely to come. Rent out the neighborhood clubhouse or community center to hold your group. Have the group meet at the grocery store cafe or in someone’s home.
Make sure you present the Gospel in the group or class. This doesn’t mean you have to have an “eyes shut every head bowed” type of call to Jesus after the first class but don’t shy away from connecting what your group is about to Jesus and the salvation and new life he brings. Then give persons next steps which should include attendance at a weekly worship service among other things.
What other ideas do you have for using small groups to connect people to Jesus?
Here are some church resources from around the web to help your church become a vital congregation for Jesus.
7 Bad Decisions in a Declining or Plateauing Organization by Ron Edmondson. From playing the blame game to not taking risks, Ron Edmondson shares the threat of stinkin’ thinkin’ in organizations that are declining or have plateaued.
How to Shape Your Church’s Culture by Andrew Hebert at the Lifeway Church Leaders Blog. Peter Drucker said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” How does one build a Christ centered church culture to make disciples? Andrew Hebert shares that God’s word, strong leadership, and the power of community all shape a church’s culture.
Moving Beyond a Mountain of Debt by Zip Long of Horizons Stewardship. So many churches are struggling with debt for buildings that it is choking out any money for ministry. What is a church to do? Zip Long has some suggestions. Check them out.
Engaging Your Mission Field by Bob Crossman. Crossman, a New Church Strategist with Path One, with the General Board of Discipleship, of the United Methodist Church shares that churches need to listen and learn and turn missional gestures into missional encounters to engage their mission field.
Create New Entry Points– by F. Douglas Powe, Jr. and Jasmine Smothers in the Leading Ideas newsletter from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. Sunday worship is not the main entry point for many in the church today. It is incumbent upon the church to help persons find ways to get connected to the church apart from Sunday morning. The authors give multiple and practical ways for churches to offer entry points outside of Sunday worship.
12 Principles for Change in the Established Church– by Art Rainer. The only one who likes change is a wet baby. Change is a fickle mistress and navigating those tricky waters is a challenge for even the most seasoned of leaders. Rainer gives some great advice for those seeking to lead change in the local church.
5 Features Every Great Church Website Needs– by Justin Lathrop via Pastors.Com. No one under the age of 104 picks up the phone book and searches for your church in yellow pages so they can call and get info about your service times. Instead, they look you up online. The website has become the front porch of the church and the first impression a guest has of your church.
5 Secrets to Getting Volunteers to Perform– by Bill Tenny-Brittian of Effective Church. The volunteer or “Servant” system of any church is vital if the church is going to be effective. Bill Tenny-Brittian offers a number of pointers to ensure that your volunteer system is healthy.
Most churches have finished their annual Charge Conference. Hallelujah! One of the fun things pastors and church leaders get to do every Charge Conference is fill in names next to leadership positions. To facilitate this every church has a Committee on Lay Leadership (formerly called the Nominations Committee).
The Pastor of the church serves as the chair of this committee. More often than not this committee in the church looks at the vacancies in church leadership and committees and then brainstorms persons they might think would do well in one position or another and then set out to beg, I mean ask persons to prayerfully discern, whether they would be called to this position.
All this is fine but what if the Committee on Lay Leadership did more? What if, instead of just running around like crazy to get positions filled the committee, with the pastor leading the way, took seriously the call in Ephesians 5 to “equip the saints for ministry.” In addition to filling slots for committee vacancies come Charge Conference what if the team met on a regular basis.
Here are a few things they might undertake:
- Help the church as a whole develop a gifts based ministry. This would include arranging for persons to discover their spiritual gifts through a one time or multiple week class. Then the Committee on Lay Leadership might arrange for persons who have done a spiritual gifts discovery to meet with the pastor or other staff to find a fit for ministry. Once a fit is found, arrangements could be made to connect the person with the leader for that ministry. The pastor might also preach a series of messages on the spiritual gifts.
- What if the Committee on Lay Leadership helped the church to provide ongoing training for the servants (volunteers) of the church. This might be gently reminding other leaders of ministry areas (children, youth, greeters, ushers, etc.) to hold regular times of training or find other creative ways to train and equip those who serve.
- What if the Committee on Lay Leadership arranged for one or two Servant Appreciation Nights where the church paid to have a meal catered for those who have been serving so faithfully just as a simple way of saying thanks. Perhaps fun awards are given out at this dinner. This Committee might also send handwritten notes to leaders in the church to thank them for service.
- Ministry descriptions are wonderful things to have in place for the church so that persons know what they are being asked to do and there are clear expectations set out for servants. The Committee on Lay Leadership might help to coordinate this effort asking ministry leaders to provide descriptions.
The Committee on Lay Leadership can help to ensure that the volunteer system of the church runs smoothly. Why only meet once or twice a year to put names next to blanks. What are some other ways the Committee on Lay Leadership might be even more effective?
Does your church need a shot in the arm when it comes to raising its evangelistic temperature. This new article from ChurchIngenuity.Com contains ten practical things the church can do to stoke its redemptive passion. Read the article here.