I am living dangerously now. Yep, you saw the title and know that this is going to be a debatable opinion. Remember, it is my opinion. I am not a researcher and I am not a big name. So read it and know that these are my thoughts.
First, let me acknowledge that we serve a powerful God who can accomplish anything through those whom He desires. If He is able to work through our small Wesleyan church too.
Here are some possible problems.
- South Carolina is Baptist and Presbyterian country. Yes, it is true! We serve the same God, Jesus Christ. Can we say it? There is church competition. What I mean is that there are other churches who are financially well off that can offer many different ministries to their attendees. Child care is huge. Professional musicians. Great speakers. Many different specialized ministries. Unlike our earlier Wesleyans, when these churches build a church, they mean it! Their facilities are beautiful and useful. They can accomadate large amounts of people and hold community services. In other words, they can be of a huge service to the community. Yes, that is important.
- There are only 48-50 Wesleyan churches in the entire state. The good news is that we are working to fix this by planting churches. Our brothers and sisters in other denominations have understood this for a long time. They have been able to acheive a partnership with each other that is really awesome and this is how they take care of each other. This is what we must do too. Some Wesleyan churches are doing this already. Yet again, we are small in number and time is what we will also have to work with.
- We have had bad press in the past. Some have called us a cult. Pleeeezze. People are shocked when we talk about Sanctification and when we acknowledge that we do not believe that once you are saved that you cannot lose your salvation. Sorry. Free will overrides that. Now, listen. Okay, the last is a non-issue. Really it is. Holiness is, and it is in the other denominations too.
- It seems that some of our churches have hidden themselves away from the communities. We did not want to be around sin. Big mistake! As a result, a lot of people that I talk to have not heard of Wesleyans and do not know where our churches are. This is tough on advertisement.
- Most of our facilities are outdated. This leaves most pastors and laymen to choose between being missional or contemporary. I would like to be both.
- A lot of our churches are missing several generations. This makes it tough to build strong children’s and youth ministries. When this happens finances tend to go toward building needs and upkeep.
- I think all churches are facing this next problem. Because we live in the Bible belt it is a tougher assignment to get people to attend church and serve. Consider, it is more of a social statement to attend church than to come out of a passion for Christ. God and Sundays are those things that many take part in only on Sundays and then leave what was heard at church. People have gotten used to the idea that God has chosen them and gives them finances which confirms that He has chosen them. People get used to this. Then there really isn’t a need for God because we have the resources to take care of whatever problems might arise. This leads to entitlement. Yet, those who don’t have anything, anyone, or realize that God cares will come to Jesus. But, they never hear because we are always entertaining ourselves.
- The really most frustrating problem that we struggle with is that we cannot hire full-time youth pastors to minister to children and teens. This is really hard to stomach because here is our future. Man! We can have all of the best intentions in the world. We can dream. We can talk. But, nothing is going to happen until we have faith in God and sacrifice. To get to the next step on the ladder we have to believe in God and give to God. It has to be a united effort.
- Southern Wesleyan helps us by being here. This school helps us to get our name out there and put everyone at ease that we are not a cult.
Listen, Baptists, Wesleyans, and etc. We are all in this together. To my fellow Wesleyans. We have got to be more involved in our communities. We especially have to be stepping out into the waters that only God can get us through. We cannot please Him until we allow God to lead us into waters that we cannot navigate which will cause us to turn to Him by faith. We must begin giving our resources to the next generations because they do not know Christ yet. He is pursuing them in a big way. If we do not join Him in His pursuit, then some might say that we are committing spiritual abortion.
Filed under Church Health, Church planting, Dreaming, Faith, Giving, Living it, Missional Resources, Planting youth ministry, Sacrifice, The Wesleyan Church, Vision
Last week I took a small part in the funeral of dear lady who went to be with Jesus. She attended several churches during her life and Smith Chapel was one of them. One the churches that she attended was a rather large church, the kind a small church pastor might want to become a janitor at or at least covet, this church seated may be a thousand people! It was truly a beautiful church. The choir loft seated around 90 or so. In other words, you could put my congregation in the loft twice. 🙂 It was well lit and the carpet was clean looking.
My people from Smith Chapel came in and, if you know me you know that I tend to tell the same joke over and over to people as they come in, I kept telling them to keep the pastor busy while steal his one of his cameras or bongos. Finally, someone came in and looked at the sanctuary and said to me, “Here you go Pastor, a big church just like you always want.” After a couple of years of preaching about being missional and reaching people for Jesus Christ I was stunned that this is what someone thought was the reason I talk about growing. So here are a few reasons why I want our church to grow:
- Growing numerically will help us to grow spiritually.
- Numerical growth takes us out of our comfort zones and causes us to rely upon our faith in God.
- Numerical growth grants the opportunity to welcome those who other churches may not want into our fellowship.
- Numerical growth creates more opportunities to bless others.
- Numerical growth brings others into the mission of the church to become servants of Jesus Christ.
- Numerical growth, yes I will say it, brings more resources like finances into the church so that the church broaden her mission to the community and the world.
- Numerical growth, while not the only way to measure success, is one way for the church to see fruit from her labor.
- Numerical growth creates the opportunity for the church to continue multiplying herself by planting another church.
- A larger church facility also allows for church growth. Now I know that there are going to be some purests out there that will say that I am focusing on the thing. May be so. But we cannot deny that in this day of plenty, many people choose the more up to date churches that are new looking. When I first moved to SC, we found two grocery stores in Clemson, Winn Dixie and Bi-Lo. They sold the same things and had the same sales. Yet, the Bi-Lo, which is newer, had the people all the time. While the now out of business Winn Dixie store, which was older and dated looking did not have many shopping there.
- The better facility is not a hinderance to the gospel. The hinderance happens when we are only motivated to build a new church so that we can have a cornerstone on the front of the building and a pat on the back from others.
- Church growth is the result of being missional. It is not the objective. It just happens when a Body of Christ desires to reach out to the lost world with more than mere words.
I want to grow a bigger church only if it is the result of faith and obedience to Christ’s mission as the Body of Christ. I just wanted to clarify to everyone and myself why I want to grow. It is good to check my motives and that is what I have had to do. So I am grateful for straight talk from people in my church sometimes because I do not want to be a pastor who is career minded only. I want to simply here, “Well done; good and faithful servant.”
- Launched first night of Faithweaver kid’s ministry. It went very well. I was able to connect with some families. All churches need to know that kids and teen ministry are important. I don’t understand how we, Christians, become so churchy that we lose sight of the fact that most kids and teens are important to their parents. This means that we have the opportunity to connect with families through those avenues. Besides, I like kids and teens.
- Gas was high enough that I chose not to mow the church and the parsonage yards. I know. Pitiful ain’t it. How’s this for irony? Some churches are setting attendance records. While we struggle to mow our property. The good news is that we are going get past this in future. When we do, everyone will know that the Lord has done great things among His people.
- Our local church leaders, and I, looked at our local church history together and saw that we need to adjust our emphasis to reach out to our community and world. This was a great starting point.
- Someone, besides me, showed some of our board people that until we have do something with our sanctuary, we will not be able to get more than 48 people on a consistent basis to our Sunday morning services.
- I ran two laps around the Liberty High School track. Whew! How did this being out of shape happen?
- I preached a sermon at Pelzer Wesleyan Church Sunday. They have a good pastoral couple! They also have a great bunch of people! This means that because they serve a great God, they are primed to do great things for His Kingdom! This church gave out the New Testament on audio CD! Everyone listen, we must be busying ourselves with seeding God’s fields with His Word. It is the only hope for our community and world. I was blessed this Sunday preaching in a different environment for a change. I love preaching at our church, but a change up once in while is good.
- Pastor Jon preached a great sermon at our church while I was gone. People, you should know that Pastor Jon is a gift from God to our church. It is not surprising that he preached a good sermon because he has gifts and abilities that only God can give. Plus, he obviously is not in ministry for the money, because we (our church) are not financially in a place where we can support him full-time. If you attend Smith Chapel, then you should be praying that God will create this possibility at some point.
- Last week I realized that not only do we need to make our communities children a priority, and hire Pastor Jon full-time, but we also need to admit that we need to do something with our sanctuary at some point. Simply put, we need room! If you are not familiar with our church, it is not that we are experiencing a large church growth. Instead, we are plateaued at a particular number right now; and have been for a while. We need to expect that more people want to come to our church, but they do not have a place to sit, or park. How are we going to fix these problems? I don’t know. But God knows, and He will do it.
Here are some questions that I am pondering. These are not meant to be flippant, but are questions that, in my opinion, should be considered.
When searching for a church, do you look for an atmosphere that portrays the image of a coffee house?
When considering service to a church, do you consider the love that Christ has for His local church and the community that surrounds her?
When considering the pastor of the church, do you seek a minister who looks artsy and intellectual?
When considering committment to a church, do you have to go worship God with a particular style of music?
Are you looking at the image the church portrays? If you are, is it an image that you want to be part of?
Do you serve the image of the church, or the Image of Christ?
- I can’t decide, if I am going to spend my time daydreaming, whether or not I want to be young again or retired. This is a tough decision. It is tough when you think about it because this decision is about what you are going to wish for all day long.
- How can I lay may hands on some money to finance this “crisis?” This is the main problem that I am having with this phase of life. I can’t afford to do it right. To blow money means that you have to have money.
Decisions . . . Decisions . . .
Is Loverboy still touring?
Another post from Mark Wilson that should be seen. I hope that we can be challenged as a church to get on mission. Check it out.
1. We would have a creative paid staff.
2. We would spend time helping struggling churches to become turn-arounds.
3. We would seek out small churches who are one staff person away from a breakthrough and pay for their staff person for two years.
4. We would have a fund drive that would allow my church to develop an extreme makeover contest for a small church with a big vision. Imagine the fun that could be had by showing video clips of pastors and lay leaders who would pitch why they deserve the makeover.
5. We would help Hephzibah Children’s Home in better ways.
6. We would concentrate on planting churches for the kingdom.
7. We would offer free counseling to the community.
8. We would offer free tutoring to children and teens.
9. We would offer scholarships to our people who want to better their lives.
10. We would have food and clothing for those who are need.