ThreeNeeds to Start a Small Church
ThreeNeeds to Start a Small Church
Theprocess of starting a new church is quite challenging compared toother types of organizations. This is because an effective churchrequires the loyalty of a number of members for it to keep running,while other categories of organizations may serve different clientswithout requiring their loyalty (Ponsian, 2012). In addition, newchurches face numerous challenges (such as the shortage oforganizational skills, inadequacy of resources, and criticism fromother churches) that threaten their going concern. However, thesuccess of the new church depends on how it will address thesechallenges. Three needs (including a pastor with a vision, memberswho understand the vision held by the pastor, and organizing as wellas financial resources) of starting a small church will be discussedin this paper.
Apastor with a vision
Theleader of any successful organization should have a vision thatprovides the perceived picture of how the organization ought to looklike in the future. Similarly, a church should be considered as anorganization that should be headed by a leader with a vision. It isBiblical for leader and churches to declare their vision. Habakkuk2:2 orders Christians to record their visions and inscribe them ontablets so that anyone can read it easily. Pastors need the power ofthe vision in order to make whatever they wish to accomplish possiblein the minds of the church members (Nichols, 2007).
Apastor who wishes to lead the church with a vision should adhere tothree basic principles. The first principle is known as thefaith-based hope, which is based on the concepts of aspirations anddreams of where the pastors wish to find the church in the future(Nichols, 2007). New and small churches experience numerouschallenges, but a pastor with a vision will always find some ways ofrevealing faith and expressing hope to the church members. This isbecause the primary purpose of a vision is to guide people in theright direction irrespective of the circumstances that they gothrough. In addition, the vision helps the church members rise abovethe challenges since they are able to see a future that is morevaluable than today.
Secondly,a pastor with a vision should observe the principle of Gog-givenpassion and stirring vision. Church members may be willing to maketremendous sacrifices in order to make the vision held by theirpastor a reality. However, this can only be accomplished is thepastor is able to communicate the vision to church members in a waythat they can understand (Nichols, 2007). The aspect of God’s givenpassion and vision can be derived from the fact that anyone whointends to establish a church should be called by God. For example,John 15: 16 holds that Christians did not choose God, but God choseand appointed them so that he could send them and make them bearfruits. The biblical concept of bearing fruits means that Christiansshould teach the word of God with the objective of helping thesinners return to God. To this end, a pastor should base the visionon the ideas of spreading the word of God and converting sinners toChristians.
Thethird principle is the courage of the visionary leader to challengethe status quo. The leadership of any organization (including thechurch) requires those who are involved to get out of their comfort,pursue worthy causes, and challenge their followers to do the same(Nichols, 2007). Studies have shown that the modern church is morechallenging to lead than the early church, given that the majority offollowers are inactive. These members expect to be served and believethat all functions should be carried out by the pastor. Therefore,pastors of a modern church should get out of the status quo andchallenge their minds as well as their hearts to wander outside thetraditional boundaries of leadership that are imposed by the world.This will give the pastor the courage to establish and run a church,in spite of the challenges that result from the impact of secularismand laxity among the church members.
Practicesthat lead to the establishment of an effective ministry
Besideshaving an achievable vision, the pastor should adopt practices thatwill lead to the realization of the dream. Stanley, Joine & Jones(2008) developed a set of seven practices that can help a pastorestablish an effective church. The first practice involves theclarification of the win or success, which is founded on the notionthat people prefer being a part of the winning team as opposed to alosing one. The process of clarifying the win help pastors ensurethat their church members understand what matters to the church andthe exact vision that all of them should be pursued. For example, achurch with a vision of growing through an increase in the number ofconverts should project the number of new Christians that it intendsto have over a specific period of time.
Secondly,the pastor should develop specific steps that lead the church towardsthe realization of the shared vision. Many pastors make a mistake ofdeveloping church programs, instead of setting specific steps thatthey will follow to realize the future of the church (Stanley, Joine& Jones, 2008). Pastors who focus on the development of churchprograms establish a sequence of bible classes and services. Theyfail to establish the criteria for measuring the success of theirprograms in helping the church members achieve spiritual growth.However, a visionary pastor sees these classes as steps that helpmembers grow from one stage to the next.
Inthe third practice, a pastor focuses on narrowing the focus. Thisinvolves the elimination of what the pastors can do well and adoptionof all that they can do the best. A visionary pastor should stopfocusing on everything and develop programs as well as steps thatwill specifically help the Church pursue its main mission (Stanley,Joine & Jones, 2008).
Fourth,a visionary pastor should start teaching less to get more results.This means that the pastor should only teach what the church membersneed to hear at a given time, in order to give them room tointernalize and implement what they teach (Stanley, Joine &Jones, 2008).
Thefifth practice expects pastors to listen to the outsiders whendeveloping programs and steps that will guide the members towards theultimate vision. Although the interests as well as the needs ofinsiders (the church members) can guide the process of developing thechurch programs, it may reach a point where the church fails toattract outsiders (Stanley, Joine & Jones, 2008). Pastors withviable visions need to listen to the outsiders in order to developprograms that will ensure that the church members continue to growand allow the church to accommodate new converts.
Sixth,a visionary pastor develops an effective exit plan, which determinethe time when a new pastor will emerge and take the role of leadingthe church. This is based on the notion that pastors should expecttheir followers to grow spiritually replace them at one point in time(Stanley, Joine & Jones, 2008). Creating room for fresh blood inthe leadership ensures that the church will continue pursuing thevision, even in the absence of the pastor who came up with thatvision.
Lastly,pastors are expected to work on their programs that lead towards therealization of the vision, but should also evaluate their progressand celebrate their victory. The process of evaluation help thepastor identifies weaknesses that might prevent the church fromrealizing the vision and refocus the energies of the church on newideas (Stanley, Joine & Jones, 2008). Therefore, pastors who havea vision keep the church going irrespective of the nature of theprevailing circumstances.
Memberswho understand and see the vision of the pastor
Apastor may have a great vision, it is impossible to realize it if thechurch members do not understand or refuse to be part of it. Thechurch members who understand the vision of their pastor are expectedto be functional and engage in activities that can help them realizethe pastor’s dream. From the Biblical point of view, members areexpected to see the church as a unified body that can be made up ofdifferent parts (Rainer, 2013). According to 1 Corinthians 12: 12-26,human body is made of different parts (including the foot, ear, hand,nose, and eye), but they all function to ensure the well being of onebody. Similarly, church members are gifted differently and shouldassume a different function that leads to the achievement of onevision. Therefore, a functioning body of church members is criticalfor the establishment of a small church.
Waysof demonstrating support for the pastor’s vision
Churchmembers can demonstrate the fact that they support the pastor’svision in many ways, but two of them are more specific. The firststrategy is the support that the church members give to the churchleaders (including the pastor) who are in the front line of thechurch’s progress. This support can be through the provision ofmaterial items of through prayers. Although most of the members ofthe modern church tend to believe that the pastor is expected to prayfor them, the Bible indicates that members should also pray forpastor (Rainer, 2013). Paul asked the church members to pray for him,so that God could give him the words and the courage to declare thetruth of the gospel fearlessly (Ephesians 6: 19). From thisperspective, it is evident that the church leaders are the visionbearers, but they need prayers from their members in order to pursuethe dream that they have for the body of Christ.
Churchmembers may also choose to provide material support to their pastor.This is based on the notion that a pastor with a vision will spendmost of the time pursuing that dream and have little time to findmaterial items that are needed in life (Murphy, 2012). For example,the disciples of Jesus identified that a lack of a team of people totake care of material things (such as food) that they needed in theprocess of spreading the gospel could force them to leave the wordand focus on serving the table (Act 6: 1-4). However, having a teamof responsible church members to serve leaders who are preaching theword is Biblical and it plays a key role towards the achievement ofthe pastor’s vision.
Thesecond way through which church members can demonstrate that theyunderstand the pastor’s vision is by playing an active role inpursuing that vision. For example, if the pastor’s vision is toexpand the church by converting non-Christians, the church memberswould be expected to play an active role of converting other people,including their family members, friends, and strangers (Rainer,2013). The Bible (Mathew 28: 19 and Like 24: 47) does not explicitlycall upon the church leaders and pastors to preach the gospel tonon-believers, but it is the reasonability of all believers to sharein the primary vision of the church, which is to proclaim theforgiveness of God to the world. Therefore, the church members candemonstrate their understanding of the pastor’s vision by beingpart of the team that will pursue it.
Attachingvalue to church membership
Memberswho comprehend the vision that the pastor has for the church considertheir membership to be more valuable than merely attending servicesand listening to sermons. A group of church members who comprehendsthe pastor’s vision can be characterized by three factors. First,these members consider their membership as a commitment to serve withtheir pastor and a group of a group of believers in their church.Based on the Biblical metaphor of the human body, all church membersare expected to fulfill their responsibilities and calling within agiven body or the church (1 Corinthians 12: 18). However, people canonly fulfill their responsibilities within a single body if theyuphold and pursue one vision.
Secondly,church members consider their membership to be a pledge that leads totheir direct involvement in the work of God. The pastor plays thecritical role of communicating the vision to the church members andhelping them identify their gifts (Lawless, 2005). Once they realizetheir gifts, church members commit themselves into God`s work and inthe process of helping the pastor pursue the ultimate vision.
Third,church members with a clear understanding of the pastor’s visionconsider their membership to be an official commitment to the work ofa greater commission. This category of church members expecting toaccomplish responsibilities that goes beyond their personal interestsand desires. They understand that the primary vision for the churchis to serve God by spreading the good news to the entire world (Acts1: 8). Therefore, church members who have the same vision with thepastor do not take evangelism and serving God as options, but ascommitments (Lawless, 2005).
Thechurch, similar to other types of organizations requires leadershipstructures to organize its day-to-day operations and resources tofinance its development projects as well as recurrent expenses. Eventhe pastor of a small church cannot do everything, includingpreaching, procurement of equipment, planning meeting, schedulingclasses, and among other functions (Ponsian, 2012). The organizingand other management functions are quite demanding and require anestablished leadership structure, where the pastor appointsresponsible persons to oversee different roles. However, the churchhas an advantage over other types of organizations, given that it canrecruit members of the leadership team from within either at a lowcost or free of charge.
Thesources of financial resources can be determined by the model thatthe church adopts or its needs. For example, a church that adopts aself-sustaining model can finance its development projects as well asrecurrent expenses using the money contributed by its members(Ponsian, 2012). Christians are mandated to make contributions to thework of God in different forms. For example, Exodus 14: 22 remindChristians that they are expected to give a 10 % of all theirearnings to God as a tithe. The resources collected from differenttypes of offering can be used to run the operations of the church.However, the church may choose to source additional funds throughfundraising or engaging a few enterprises. The funds collected fromthe outside are used to supplement the money contributed by thechurch members.
Theprocess of establishing a new small church requires three basicelements, which include a pastor with a vision, members whounderstand the vision held by the pastor, and organization as well asthe financial resources. The vision plays the role of guiding thepastor as well as the church members in the process of growing thechurch through recruitment of new converts and the spiritualdevelopment of the current body of the church members. In addition,an achievable vision encourages the church members to make personalsacrifices since they understand that the future of the church ismore promising than the present. However, a well crafted vision maynot help the church, unless it is communicated and shared with thechurch members. Moreover, the process of pursuing the vision requiresa team of leaders who will play the organizing role. A successfulchurch should also have adequate resources to finance its developmentprojects and recurrent expenses.
Lawless,C. (2005). Membershipmatters: Insight from effective churches on new member classes andassimilation.Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Murphy,T. (2012). Theduties of church members to the church. Philadelphia: PresbyterianBoard of Publication and Sabbath School Work.Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Nichols,T. (2007). The pastor’s role in vision-based leadership. TheJournal of Applied Christian Leadership,1, 20-31.
Ponsian,N. (2012). Sourcesof finance in the church today: Reliability and sustainability.Dar-es-salaam: St. Augustine University.
Rainer,S. (2013). Iam a church member.Nashville: B&H Publishing Group.
Stanley,A., Joine, R., & Jones, L. (2008). Sevenpractices of effective ministry.Luis Palau: Multnomah.