Church Involvement

Creating a Culture of Involvement in Every Church

Tag: Involvement

The Latest Statistics for Church Involvement

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If you are interested in discovering how your church’s overall involvement is, you can go to the link pasted below.

Pew Research says that the churches of Christ average about 44%.   I think that is pretty impressive.   It is also interesting what churches/religious organizations place near the top and near the bottom.

I am still an advocate of 100% involvement, and I am still convinced that we can have it (please see my article on 100% involvement on this website).

Travis Irwin, Athens, TN

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/16/church-involvement-varies-widely-among-u-s-christians/?utm_source=Pew+Research+Center&utm_campaign=834ce9f890-11_19_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3e953b9b70-834ce9f890-400000993

Some Possible Ministries for Your Church

Shine3Some Ministries at Athens Church of Christ

When I first came to Athens in October of 2008, the church here had 43 ministries.   Today, we have 38.   Some ministries were no longer viable and some new ministries were started.   Below are some of our ministries.   Most of these are traditional and some are not.   I will also list their mission or purpose.

Financial Peace University

We are blessed to have a young man who is a CPA and he leads this 9 week class. This is a much needed class for church members and folks in the community, and it is well attended.   Many folks are in financial crisis.   However, taking this class pays for itself (more than you’d pay) and it prevents financial disaster while preventing marital issues related to money and it helps folks plan for retirement. Members and non-members attend and this class can be a vehicle in getting non-members to start attending your church services.   Go to www.daveramsey.com for more information.

Mission statement:   to assist families and individuals in becoming better stewards of God’s blessings.   FPU provides the needed curriculum materials, the group dynamic and the learning atmosphere to assist in this process.

You may have to charge full price for the materials or the church may have to pay part of the price and/or provide scholarships to the class.   It is well worth any expenses.

Grief Share

A large number of your church members and people in your community will be touched by loss issues this year.    This ministry is designed for these folks.

Mission statement:   to provide a grief recovery support group where you can find help and healing for the hurt of losing a loved one.

We are blessed to have a mature Christian woman who has lost loved ones and has been instrumental in helping dozens of folks who have experienced loss.   The church provides the videos and materials for the class.   For more information about Grief Share, you can go to www.griefshare.org

Hearing Impaired Ministry (Deaf Ministry)

The volunteers in this ministry ‘sign’ for those who are hearing impaired in our worship services and some even teach American Sign Language (ASL) to others so they can communicate with those in and out of worship services who are hearing impaired.

Mission statement:   to extend the borders of God’s kingdom to include deaf people in Athens and surrounding cities, towns and communities.

We are blessed to have two members who are deaf; one of them is a lady who helps those of us who are ‘hearing’ (who are able to hear) to understand her culture and she also helps teach ASL.

Email Ministry

Most of our families are on a group email list and we send them emails about sicknesses, surgeries, hospitalizations, deaths, bad weather, church events, cancellation of church services, special prayer requests,  and other church-related matters.   This is the mission of this ministry.   Many of our ministries use this group email to inform members of their events and to seek volunteers.

Time Travelers (formerly Senior Saints)

The mission or purpose of this ministry is to provide retirees with social activities, service projects and soul-winning opportunities.   Our retirees are very active and they really enjoy being together.  They ‘are’ the Bear Ministry (which provides small cloth bears for children for the local ER, children’s doctors and EMS).   Many of our retired ladies are heavily involved in ladies’ ministries and in providing and serving food.

Our Congregational Mission Statement

Our congregational mission statement is taken from Matthew 22:37-40: “Love God & Love Man.”   Our ministries exist to fulfill both loving God and loving man.   For a full list of our ministries, please go the church website at www.athenschurchofchrist.org

Please write me and let me know about some of your ministries and what you would like to accomplish through them.   Trav     travisirwin@att.net

When People Say “No”

NO1When People Say “No”

We assume that God’s people will always say “Yes” when we ask them to do something.   When a congregation is smaller there is an unwritten rule that you have to say “Yes” to every request because ‘everybody is suppose to pitch in,’ and there aren’t many other folks to ask.

When it comes to larger churches, it is more likely to have someone say “No” to a request.   Sometimes, this doesn’t sit well with us.   So what do we say or do when we get a negative response to our requests?

  1. Realize people can say “No” just like you can say “No.”   I think it is interesting that we say “No” to others and yet when it comes to our brethren, we always expect them to say “Yes.”   When they don’t, we get upset.   We forget that they have as much right (and reason) to say “No” as we do when we say it.
  2. Realize that neither you nor your ministry are being rejected.   When a person says “No” to our request it does not automatically mean that the person rejects us personally or our ministry.   He/she may say “No” because of time (or other) restraints, lack of giftedness or passion for the item of request or for some other personal reason—even disinterest or laziness.   Don’t take any negative response as a personal rejection.
  3. Accept the fact that some folks have boundaries.   Most Americans (including members of the church) have no boundaries in their lives. A boundary is something that assists you in saying “Yes” to the things you should “Yes” to and “No” to the things you need to say “No” to. When you don’t have boundaries you get over committed financially and time wise.

Some Christians (as Jesus did) actually have boundaries (cf.Eph.5:15) and they have learned to say “No” when they need to say “No.” We need to respect such boundaries 

  1. Think of other possibilities.   Is the person you asked the only person who can do what you request?   In some very rare cases, it may be so. However, in most cases, there are several people that can be contacted. Yes, it is difficult to approach someone you don’t know.   However, you need to try this approach to finding new help.
  2. Graciously accept their response.   When people said “No” to Jesus (and they did), He didn’t argue, throw a fit, threaten them or get mad. In fact, in one case, it grieved Him.   He accepted the negative answers of those whom He loved and had invited to follow Him.   I’m sure it broke His heart, but He still accepted their refusal to follow.   The best we can do is accept the answer.   However, we may want to ask, “May I ask you again in the future?”
  3. Negotiate.   Sometimes we need to find out why the person said “No.”   Sometimes we ask him/her to do too much.   Could you break the project down and delegate the different parts to different people?   When negotiating, ask a person to do part of a project instead of the whole project. Ask them what part they would like. Give options and choices. Folks are more willing to do things if they have options and choices.

Trav

travis@churchinvolvement.com

High Expectation Churches

Expectations5High Expectation Churches

When I was a boy, grade card time came around all too quickly.   I remember many times wanting to hide my school grade card so I wouldn’t have to face my parents (especially when my grades were not very good).   My mother would always express concern but my Dad was a bit more emphatic.   He would say something like, “You’re not applying yourself,” or “You are capable of doing much better.”   I remember one time I replied, “Dad, I’m just stupid,” to which he immediately responded, “I don’t have any stupid children, and don’t ever say that again.”

It is obvious that my father expected much more of me than I did of myself.

My heavenly Father also has high expectations of me.   Not because I am exceptional. His expectations are high because He created me, re-created me in Christ (created for good works), and empowered me with His indwelling, a spiritual gift, life experiences, passions, His Word and hundreds of brothers and sisters to encourage me.   This is why He can rightfully expect more of me than I do of myself or more than others.

With this story in mind, I’ve noticed over the years two kinds of churches, when it comes to expectations.   There are congregations that don’t expect much of their members and there are churches that have higher (than normal) expectations of their members. And, it shows.   Low expectation churches aren’t growing and most members come and go at will and never seem to grow spiritually and the community doesn’t know about them.   On the other hand, churches who are aware of the high expectations of Christ and have ‘high expectation’ elders are known in the community, they are growing both numerically and spiritually—it really shows.     Simply put:  brethren become what we expect of them.  Sometimes we expect too little.

Now, I am NOT promoting a “performance” theology.   However, I am promoting a Christ-like theology, an abundant living theology and a “faith working through love” theology.  I am promoting discipleship.  When we intentionally look at God’s Word wanting to do what He expects, church leaders will lead and empower members for service.   Jesus expects us to be disciples and to produce fruit. He expects us to be light and salt. He expects us to be holy and righteous.    And, we are enabled to be all of these.   Even the Hebrew writer expected more of the brethren (6:9).

About twenty years ago, some brethren were discussing how new members should be told what was expected of them when they placed membership.   These same folks were criticized.   I understand there is always the possibility of abuse of anything good.   However, many of us have taken this to the opposite extreme:   we don’t expect much of the brethren or we don’t tell members what is expected of them.  Many members of the church are left to figure out what the leaders expect of them.    I suggest church leaders have the right to expect the same things of church members as did Jesus and those expectations need to be verbalized often.

Church leadership needs to raise the bar.   It takes guts, it takes faith, it takes prayer and it takes a lot of hard work, but the payoff is huge: the brethren are blessed, the lost are reached and taught, children grow up being disciples, and people in our church and community are the recipients of the good things our ministries provide.

Is your congregation a “High” or “Low” expectation church?   What are you presently doing to make it a congregation seeking to fulfill the Lord’s expectations?

Trav

travis@churchinvolvement.com

Is Your Church ‘High Maintenance’?

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Is Your Church ‘High Maintenance?’

 

A good mechanic friend of mine told me years ago that any car will last longer if its owner will do regular maintenance.   This includes scheduled oil changes, keeping all the fluids ‘topped off,’ and keeping the vehicle clean.   From my personal experience, I have found this to be true.   I’ve also seen cars that were not maintained properly and they wore out much faster than they should have.

When it comes to the church, we could ask: “is your church ‘high maintenance’?”   Churches, like cars, need constant maintenance.   Churches have much more value because they is made up of souls.   If churches fail to do maintenance on their members, the members will grow weak and fall away.   Churches (and the sheep in them) need shepherding, protecting, leading, guiding, feeding and comforting.   They need constant maintenance.

However, some churches are (what I call) “HIGH” maintenance churches.   While it is important to provide the things that make for a strong congregation, some churches are made up of folks that are high maintenance.

Some folks are high maintenance and have no choice in being so.   They need special attention.   Here are some examples:   new Christians (babes in Christ),   shut-ins, those who have lost loved ones, those who have lost jobs or their health, etc.   These are the folks that need special attention from time to time.   We exist to serve them.   They actually provide us with opportunities of service.

Some Christians are high maintenance and yet they do have a choice.   These are the church members who always have some issue in their lives that is related to their not being stronger Christians.   These are folks that are always missing Bible classes and worship assemblies.   They aren’t involved in church ministry.   They are sometimes referred to as ‘fringe’ members. They live lives of constant drama.   They are always worried about something, they have difficulty forgiving others, the elders have to call them every week to check on them (sometimes they are offended when called and sometimes they are offended because they aren’t called).   Some of them feel neglected, unappreciated, overlooked, slighted, unfriended, lonesome, unconnected, etc.   However, they get invited to every church event, they are greeted when they attend worship, and yet they just don’t seem to ‘get it.’   These are high maintenance members.   They have not put forth the effort to grow spiritually.   In many of these cases, they are the third soil mentioned in the Parable of the 4 Soils (Luke 8; Mark 4).    Some of these are the folks that Paul mentions in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15.   They expect the faithful to serve them and they never reach the spiritual maturity required to become servants.   They are self-centered and fleshly minded.   They have chosen to remain spiritually immature.  The church leaders and many members spend countless hours trying to reach these folks and help them become faithful members.

What do you do with high maintenance folks?   There is a sense in which there is nothing more we can do for these folks (other than what we’ve already implied).     However, we must make sure they are loved, shown concern, exhorted, communicated to, encouraged and above all, (knowingly and obviously) accepted.   They need phone calls, personal invitations, hospitality, one-on-one visits and prayer.   We need to get them involved in some sort of ministry.  And, such efforts may take years before they become useful servants in the church.

When do you give up?   High maintenance folks keep us from working with other members and non-members.   Much of this ‘high maintenance’ nature can be prevented when folks are taught and baptized into Christ.   Before we baptize folks, they need to understand what the Lord (and the brethren) expect of them: they are to be disciples.   See Matthew 28:19 – Christ says, “Go make disciples….”

Sometimes we are so excited about getting folks baptized that we forget what it means to obey the gospel.    When people obey the gospel, they die to the old self and arise to the new self in Christ.    They become disciples of Christ.  Usually we talk about their giving up sins in their lives—and rightfully so.   However, we need to also tell them what the Lord expects of them:  growth and service.   These last two things need to be illustrated and explained to the person who is about to be baptized.   These are a part of his/her counting the costs of being a Christian.

Discipleship is more than church membership.   Church membership (to some folks) has become synonymous to showing up to a church service every-once-in-a-while and having their name on the church roll.   However, discipleship includes thinking like Jesus, suffering like Jesus, learning from Jesus, praying like Jesus, worshiping like Jesus, following Jesus, talking like Jesus, loving like Jesus, sacrificing like Jesus, living like Jesus, giving like Jesus, telling others about Jesus and serving like Jesus, and above all, laying down our lives for Jesus and His followers.   Discipleship calls for total commitment to the Lordship of Jesus (cf. Gal.2:20-21; Luke 9:23).   Church membership is important but discipleship is what will make a greater difference in our lives.    The word “disciple” and other derivatives of that word is found over 168 times in the New Testament.    The word “Christian” is a wonderful/beautiful word, but it is used only 3 times in the New Testament.    It appears that God is serious about our being disciples.    He has so much to say about it and He uses the word so often.

This should be the goal of any elders, evangelist, Christian and Bible class teacher: to assist others Christians and non-Christians to become disciples of Christ.   When we intentionally purposefully seek to make disciples, there will be fewer high maintenance members and the church will grow numerically as well as spiritually.   It is worth the effort involved for all involved.   Trav

What is Church Involvement?

7 Adults volunteeringThe idea of church involvement is found within the 12th chapters of both 1 Corinthians and the Book of Romans.    Paul says in both passages that we are members of one another.    Specifically he mentions spiritual gifts in each text and tells us that these gifts are to be used for the good of the church. In many congregations today church membership includes little more than a member showing up for church services every-once-a-while and contributing money to the church’s treasury.   While both of these are important, the Lord expects His children to contribute more than their physical presence and a few dollars every week.   He expects us to bear fruit (John 15:8) and He expects us to use our  gifts in service in the church and in the community.   This is why I feel strongly that 100% of the church ought to be involved in ministry/service in the local church.   Ministry or serving is a sign of spiritual maturity and a life focused on the full will of the Lord. I believe there are 9 spiritual (non-miraculous: Romans 12) gifts in operation today— that when paired with members’ passions, personalities, life skills and life experiences, great things happen:   the church grows in number and in spirit. My goal is to assist churches (and her members) discover these gifts (and the other things listed above) and coach (or train coaches) members on how to develop and use these gifts for the good of the church and community in which the church finds itself.   Also, in this process, the Christian bears fruit (which is a mark of true discipleship and brings glory to the Lord), souls are strengthened and souls are saved.   All of this is by His design.   Individual members discover God’s specific purpose for his/her life and the local church may be able to discover God’s specific purpose in their locale. If I can be of service to your congregation or to you as an individual please contact me at travisirwin@att.net

Travis Irwin

Athens, TN

100% Involvement: How?

We have 100% of our membership involved in some sort of ministry.   Following are the six steps that we took to reach this goal:

6 Steps towards Having 100% Involvement

Step 1:

Education – you must educate your church about ministry and how each member can serve.   Ignorance is not bliss.

Step 2:

Determination – you must determine who are and who aren’t active members of your church.   Generally speaking, active members will say “Yes” when they are asked to serve.

Step 3:

Supply – you must make sure you have enough ways of serving in your church.   If you have 200 members, you need to have at least 200 opportunities to serve.

Step 4:

Assess –  this is the most exciting and rewarding step.   In this step you discover your members’ spiritual gifts, passions, life experiences, personalities, etc. and how they can contribute to the spiritual and numerical growth of your church.  This is done with inventories.

Step 5:

Contact –  every member must be encouraged to do inventories.  However, some members will need to be contacted personally and some of these will not do the inventories.   Every member, even shut-ins, need to given an opportunity to serve in your church.

Step 6:

Record & Distribute – record in a database your findings and make this information available to your ministry leaders so they can incorporate these folks into their ministries.

If you would like a copy of the manuscript describing each of these steps, please email me and I’ll copy and paste it to you right away.

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