Biblical Principles Of God's Call to Manage His Flock
The goal of this Primer is to lay forth to you suggestions from God's Word and from my own experience on how to effectively run a church. These are based on many years of research and study and observing the top 1000+ churches in the world as well as personal church growth consulting and pastoral experience. A general overview will be given, followed by a step-by-step plan on how to effectively organize for His glory. Although church growth is the goal, this Primer is not based on traditional church growth jargon, even though some of the principles are applied. After years of teaching traditional church growth methodologies, the Word brought me to my senses and face-to-face with what is revealed there. The Scriptural precepts, what works, and how to best manage your church according to His Word will be the basis of this Primer, not the following of the latest trends!
A Brief Overview on Healthy and Biblical Church Growth Principles
This Primer is for a new church plant, an old church that needs revitalizing, a new pastor, or a seasoned pro. These principles may be new or they may just have been forgotten, so you may need some refreshing. Before using this Primer, please read the following articles to see what we are called to do and be as a church. This is necessary before any attempt at edification on how to better lead a church, because one needs to know where he is going before attempting to lead others.
- "The Problem With Most Church Growth Paradigms"
- "The Twelve Characteristics of a Healthy Church"
"The Leadership Challenge"
"The Three Essential Priorities For the Church"
"What the Healthy Church Looks Like"
A very brief overview: What the Healthy Church Looks Like
In the Twelve Characteristics of a Healthy Church I lay out from God's Word what He requires, and, in addition, observations of healthy churches. These questions asked are the same as McGavran (see article The Problem With Most Church Growth Paradigms), but emphasis on Scripture and not experience has led to very different conclusions. Each of these distinctions is extremely important. However, they have been placed in a hierarchal arrangement, that is, the first one is more important than the second, etc. In addition, the first one begets the second, which begets the third, and so forth. Therefore, each one, when practiced, is dependent on the characteristic that preceded it so it can birth the one that follows. However, if any one of them is omitted, your church will not function as God intended it to.
· First, is the clear uncompromising teaching of God's Word. Psalm 119:9-12
· Second, is impacting worship. Psalm 138:1-4
· Third, is passion for the Lord. Phil. 3:7-11
· Fourth is heartfelt prayer. John 15:4-5
· Fifth is Making Disciples. Matthew 28:18-20
· Sixth is penetrating love and care. Mark 12:28-31
· Seventh is leadership development. Ephesians 4:11-13
· Eighth is outreach and missions. Psalm 90:1-2
· Ninth is powered vision. Hebrews 11:1-2
· Tenth is effective stewardship. Proverbs 3:9-10
· Eleventh is appropriate programming. Philippians 3:12-14
· Twelfth is replication. Acts 1:8
These twelve characteristics converge synergistically to form the church as our Lord called it, to lead His people to Him in worship, and to glorify Christ! Each one of these builds upon the other, each fueling the other, all working together to be the church. This is where our real needs are met and where our gifts are used, because the teaching, worship, and prayer all empower people, through the work of the Holy Spirit and to His glory, to worship Him. The church is allowed to become what it was meant to be from the beginning, forbidding both prejudice and fears to get in the way. This will be a powerful force for His kingdom.
The church does not exist in and for itself. It is the vehicle to lead and manage the people of God through discipleship, evangelism, missions, spiritual growth, and programs all centered to His glory and worship. The quintessential reason for the church to exist is to worship God, not only in the worship service, but also as a lifestyle. The church is to provide the means to grow people in His direction for that worship. Thus, all we do, all we are, must point to the goal of moving people toward worship. However, more often than not, we are so caught up in our programs we forget why the programs are there. If you are the senior pastor, the elder, or the youth pastor, you must ask yourself, "Where am l, and where is the ministry? Is it toward worship, or is it to function in and of itself?
Here are some passages to consider and pray over before you venture into church management: Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:4-5; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 10: 31- 11:1; 12; Galatians 6:1-10; Mark 1:35 - 2:12; James 5:13-16; 1 Peter 3:15
If you still take seriously the classic church growth principles, the bottom line question you must ask yourself is this, Is the Christian movement's expansion a result of the work of the Holy Spirit in new converts, or is it just taking sheep from others? And what of your church? Are its beliefs and actions based on the Word or just on research and presumptions? Be honest! This is between you and God!
Basic Action Plans to Lead and Manage your Church
Essential Principles and Skills for Effective Leadership
and Management In Your Church
Scriptural Precepts: Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:4-5; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 10: 31- 11:1; 12; Galatians 6:1-10; Mark 1:35 - 2:12; James 5:13-16; I Peter 3:15
Once you gain solid Biblical precepts from the afore mentioned articles and most importantly from your personal study in God's Word, then you will have the primary precepts to grow a mature church to glorify our Lord. Once you have these precepts at your core mindset, you can acquire further suggestions on how to go about the daily affairs of the church.
The Big Picture and Overview: A Basic Church Management Model
The pastor / church leader wears four hats. Each one of these is essential. If even one is omitted, your church will not grow in maturity, and the people will be left out of their essential needs and call. One person may fulfill all four of these or they can be broken up into teams and/or associate pastoral roles. In any case, at some point any leader or pastor will engage all four. The training, discipling, recognition, and encouraging of the church are all critical roles for the pastor. If the senior pastor feels he does not have the gifts and abilities to equip and train others to do ministry, then he needs to build a team around him that does! If not, the church will fail! Some pastors are great teachers, but cannot do anything else.
A pastor cannot be expected to do everything. He is not the sole member of the body of Christ. He is the shepherd for it! A pastor must operate in his gifted area, equip others to compensate in the areas where he is weak, and do his best to still give support to the rest of the church and to the wearers of the four hats! (Romans 7:4-6; 1 Corinthians 10:14-16; 12; Ephesians 4:9-16)
1. Preacher/ teacher: Proclaiming the Word From the Pulpit and/or Class.
Pastors have differing gifts and abilities. However, whatever his gifts are, his primary duty is to Biblical teaching. A lot of energy and effort has been put into training preachers in business and counseling, sometimes to the extent of forgetting the main thing! In recent years, there has been a shift in preaching style from Biblical exegesis to feel good topics. What is popular is not necessary what is best! Never compromise the Word or water it down too much. It needs to be easy to understand, but not compromised! Many churches grow because of the effective and sometimes charismatic personality of the preacher. Make sure growth is a result of the quality of the teaching and not just the charisma of the preacher. Otherwise, the church will be based on a "cult personality" and not on His purpose.
2. Shepherd / counselor: The care of the people in the church, from counseling to the building of relationships.
This function has grown in popularity and emphasis over the last twenty years with courses in Pastoral Psychology and Counseling as the focus in most seminaries. This is good. However, it is a secondary duty. If one does not have the gifts, abilities, or time for this function, he should delegate the responsibility to someone who does. This is still a vital role for the church leaders! Many churches lose people because the pastor has poor relational skills. If the pastor is a good teacher but poor in relational skills, then he must find someone else who is gifted in building relations with the congregation.
3. Leader/ Manager: Leading the people where they need to go; solving problems from personal and relational to care of the building and grounds.
To manage a church effectively we must seriously take our lead from Scriptural principles and not from popular trends. This has been a primary emphasis over the past twenty years. In fact, it has been over emphasized as the quintessential aspect of being a pastor. This is not so! Necessary? Yes, but not by strong willed personalities or personal agendas over and against the Word. This role perhaps takes most of the pastor's time, for which many are poorly trained and equipped. Leadership (see article on The Leadership Challenge) is not dependent on a particular personality trait, but on skills that can be learned, even when that spiritual gift or personality is lacking. This aspect can be delegated. Many pastors get their pride hurt and refuse to let go, but no one can do it all. As your church grows, so must the people grow in leadership, so no one person is running the entire show.
4. Discipler / trainer: the shepherding aspect of the pastor, involving instructions on what a Christian is, how to grow in the faith and how to lead a Christian life in society.
This is the least focused aspect of the pastor and leader in the church. Yet, this is a most important role! The primary role of the pastor is to train their flock in the basics of the faith and continuing through the deeper waters of the Christian faith. Many pastors do not do this. Perhaps they cannot because either they lack spiritual maturity or they do not think it is their role. In either case, they need to read the Bible. This aspect is not focused on in traditional church growth teaching because it does not bring in the numbers. However, we are called and even commanded to do it (Matt. 28:18-20)!
A pastor needs to evaluate his own gifts and his abilities as well as the remaining leadership in the church and their abilities. This should be based on the needs of his church according to each of these four roles, even if he is not the one doing it. It is okay to let go of leadership passions and positions to other godly and capable people. One must be aware of his gifts and abilities, and work mostly within them, lest he fail (see How to Determine your Spiritual Gifts)! Then build the church by allowing each person to function in the gift that he was called and designed for.
Equipping people for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16)
The growth potential of the people in the church will be low when the pastor is the only one who is doing all or most of the ministry. He cannot do ministry to, or on behalf of, the congregation alone. Ministry must be shared through training and encouraging primary leaders, who, in turn, train and encourage secondary leaders, and so forth.
The following is a basic sample of how the church leadership can function best. This model can be molded to fit the needs and size of the church. The primary leader disciples the associate leaders who then disciple small groups and/or classes in the congregation. The congregation then shares its knowledge and faith throughout the community. The senior leadership and/or pastor(s) are accountable to the Elders or Board. The Board is made up from people in the congregation who are chosen by election or appointment, depending on the rules of the denomination. The church is never to be run by a dictator, no matter how good and skilled that person may be! Accountability is essential! Training and discipleship are essential! If leaders are just being elected and thrown into the job without knowledge and training, how can they be expected to function?
Each Elder and/or leader is in charge of a ministry team, such as Sunday School, Outreach, Prayer, etc. Each has regular meetings with his team. Extra pastors are also in charge of ministry areas with lay accountability and lay elders.
The Leadership Hats:
1. Focus on developing the existing disciples in your church before you go out and make new disciples. The spiritual strength and maturity of the church must be developed first. If not, there will not be the ability or maturity to reach out. At the same time, make sure people are not being turned away or ignored!
2. Leadership trains and disciples people. One cannot lead where one has not been, nor can we do the work of God until we are the people of God. Clarify your purpose from Scriptural principles. Determine spiritual gifts and roles. Be ready to interpret changes in your church and society. Equip them for it.
3. Management: The church is a living organism, made up with different personality types all incorporating into a group mentality. The church must be adaptive to achieve its purpose within a stated environment. Leaders need to know the culture and the people. Then, they must train and encourage them accordingly.
4. Decision-Making Process: Make sure you make healthy decisions based on the Word and character of our Lord and not on personal agendas and political power trips. This is necessary if you are to effectively establish unifying goals, to anticipate and adapt to change, to encourage leadership initiatives, and to ensure that budget allocations are in accord with ministry priorities.
5. Communication: Miscommunication is a sad fact of the church. It is part of our nature both not to listen and to place our needs over those of others. Effective means of communication need to be established in order to connect the church's purpose with the leader's intentions. There must be specific channels and means to bring information and encouragement to the flock!
6. Facility: One of the good things to come out of the church growth movement is the sensitivity to the felt needs of people. However, felt needs are never to supplant genuine spiritual needs, as they so often do! I am sorry to say this, but most people, including Christians, are not mature. That is why the Bible calls us sheep. Sheep are dumb. They will starve between two bales of hay if not led to feed. They will scratch themselves to death and wander off into oblivion. We are the same, so to speak. (Just ask my wife. I, too, cannot take care of myself!) Thus, we need to create an environment as comfortable as possible. If it is too cold or too hot, people will not come. Even when they do come, they will not listen. So, we need to do the best we can with what God gives us to arrange activities and create an atmosphere in which people feel comfortable. Having convenient parking is an example.
A Pastor needs to sit down with his leadership and go over the above principles, keeping the other articles and Biblical precepts in mind. How can this work and become a reality? The answer to that question is to do it through prayer, through seeking the Word, and through brainstorming options and ideas. Afterwards, ideas can be implemented and necessary changes made. Monitor those changes and be willing to listen to feedback. Make changes and never compromise the integrity of Scripture or the character of our Lord!
Remember, as the capacity of the pastor to lead others to do the ministry is increased rather than his doing it all alone, the potential for spiritual and numerical growth will also increase.
Now that you have a general overview, get ready to lead your church to be her best for His glory!
Getting Started:"Seven Keys for Effective Pastoral Leadership."
During brainstorming sessions, go over each of these keys. Let others show you how the church is doing, motivational patterns, and where the weak and strong points are. Then, use those as a template to think through and strategize an effective way to manage the church. Later, more specific action plans will be offered.
Ask: How can I…
1. Set Goals. Go over the Scriptural precepts and strategize the goals that God has for the church. Keep in mind the principles previously laid out. Go over each one, one by one. Make sure as much time as possible is spent in prayer. Try to have your meetings 1/3 to ½ of the time in prayer! This will allow less time for arguments and circular reasoning, and the meetings might even be shorter! (See the article, Practical Strategies for Prayer.)
2. Be Focused on God's precepts, not just on research and trendy ideas. Those ideas change and conflict with each other every few years, while God's principles remain steadfast and keep working! At the same time, use the resources and ideas as a catalyst for other ideas. Filter out anything that goes against what Jesus would have done! Keep in mind to manage time and resources to maximize results.
3. Have a Vision. Once you see the goal through prayer, Scripture, and the needs of the church, map out the direction in which God is leading. Keep it simple, and keep it focused on Scripture. Then, strategize on how to communicate it to the people. This is called "casting." Remember, the primary goal is to cultivate faith and envision where the people need to be in the future with their faith, both personally, in the community, and in the world. How do you bring the church deeper into the heart of God to worship and glorify Him? (See the primer Preparing the Pastor and Church Leadership to Grow!)
4. Create ownership of the ministry, so that the people in charge as well as in the church can feel a part of the process. They need to be reassured that it is their church too! Be affirming to them, communicating important values, but prepared for some people to resist change. It may take time. Congregational prayer and fasting are essential to grow people in new directions!
5. Mobilize the people in the church. Mobilize them by recruiting and evaluating their spiritual gifts. Mentor and equip them.
6. Coach them with training and encouragement. The goal is team-building and supervising, not doing it all alone!
7. Make sure your Decision Making is centered on His Word. Have a plan to evaluate and solve problems. If conflict develops, check the articles on conflict resolution
Make sure you see the other articles following this primer as they all converge and synergistically combine to help you grow your church to glorify our Lord!
Copyright 1988, 1998, 2000 Richard J. Krejcir Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.com