The Future of Small Rural Churches

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by dh1948, Aug 29, 2010.

  1. dh1948

    dh1948
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    After 36-years as a full-time senior pastor, I recently retired. When I say "retired" I don't mean that I left the ministry. I am still very involved, just not as a full-time senior pastor.

    During the 36-years, I never pastored a numerically small church; or at least one that stayed numerically small. The four churches I pastored were all suburban churches. Since my last Sunday "on the job", which was three months ago, I have preached somewhere every Sunday, and some Wednesdays.

    My eyes have been opened to a whole new world, that of the small rural church, and in some cases the small city church. While my entire ministry has been focused on church growth, the churches I have been preaching in do not have the phrase "church growth" in their vocabulary. For the most part, the churches have ranged in size from 15 in attendance to 60. I have found that I have to minister to these churches with an entirely different mindset from that which I have been accustomed.

    Today I preached to a crowd of 18 people, which included my wife and me. The majority of the people were 70-85 years old. The crowd included three men. There were no children or teens. When you have been used to preaching to a crowd of hundreds in a vibrant church, it's quite different to switch gears for a handful of people who comprise a church that is on life support with no hope for life.

    I doubt that a lost person has attended most of these churches in years. Therefore, evangelistic sermons fall on deaf ears. Sermons intended to motivate personal spiritual growth seem to be unheeded. Most of the people in attendance have been hearing these sermons for decades, and they remain unchanged. Sermons to motivate the people to witness to the lost or to invite unchurched people to church are fruitless. They have little or no contact with lost or unchurched people.

    I have sensed that to the majority of the people it's all about attending church, reading the Sunday School lesson from a quarterly (I have attended Sunday School class three times. In all three cases the "teachers" read the lessons word-for word.), giving an offering, and having two "revival meetings" per year, one in the spring or summer and one in the fall.

    I am not being critical, but I have to ask myself how these churches devolved into such a pitiful state. My questions are:

    1) Is there any hope of survival for these churches?

    2) If you pastor such a church, do you struggle with keeping a positive attitude?

    3) If you pastor such a church, please share your heart about your church with me and others on this board.

    4) What is your approach to pastoring such a church?

    Your answers will give me some insight as to how to best minister to these churches when I am called on to supply their pulpits.

    Thanks in advance for your input.
     
  2. abcgrad94

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    Wow. Are you sure you are not describing my church? My hubby has pastored a church exactly like this for the last 5 years. For the first 3 years, our children were the only ones in the church. The age gap is huge; practically everyone in the church is old enough to be our parents or even our grandparents. We've seen one new young family come in and we are trying to disciple them.

    The mentality we've found is this: change is so slow it's almost non-existent. I'm not even talking about changing the music style or adding a "new" program. That's not even on the scale. Change takes GENERATIONS and most pastors give up in despair before even starting to see a glimmer of progress. It's literally like banging your head against a brick wall.

    One thing we learned (the hard way) is that it takes YEARS before you're even considered part of the group. Because of the mindset, there is a quick turnover of pastors, so the people assume as much control as possible and refuse to relinquish that control or trust the new minister. Another thing is that every minor thing is a HUGE sacred cow. One of our church bulletin boards has been exactly the same the entire 5 years we've been here because (gasp!) it would offend so-and-so if we changed it. Dusty old flower arrangements taking up all the storage space so there is no room to put the Jr. Church supplies in the cupboards? Think twice before tossing them, even if they are 30 years old and full of dead moths.

    It takes much patience and diplomacy to slooooooowly work around these types of issues. In a bigger church, it's no problem. But in a little country church where the deacon's great-uncle twice removed on his mother's side donated the ugly painting displayed behind the pulpit. . .well, it's difficult.

    We have prayed many times for God to either "move" this church or to move us. So far, neither has happened, so we're assuming God still wants us here for some reason. Maybe it's to teach US something, I don't know. I do know that God expects us to be faithful whether we see results or not. I guess the one thing that keeps us going is knowing that we cannot control the outcome. We have to do our job and let the Holy Spirit do his. Sometimes we want to "help" the Holy Spirit instead of trust him to do his job. (I for one would like to toss some fire crackers under some pews but so far God hasn't given me permission to do that!)
     
  3. exscentric

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    I put in most of my life in such churches as a tentmaker. First of all I was called to minister to the people of God. Christ said he would build His church He did not say he would build big churches, nor did He say He would build vibrant churches. He is the builder even of the small works. Each has their place in His plan.

    Go back to your past churches in fifty years and see what they are like. Might be good, might not be so good - time changes things big time.

    On death's door, maybe, those that are usually close. However if they can function, why not allow those folks to function as a church. If no unsaved have been there, that is a good thing, the church is for the saints. If there are no new people then some good lessons on the church, witnessing and responsibility might make some changes.

    I found most of these small works were full of people that had been trained to live in neutral by men that were maintaining mostly to fill the offering so their fund needs might be met.

    Many country churches come from terrible beginnings and what you see might be great improvement. Some were "community" churches where the theology taught varied with each preacher and often little theology at all. The people were not prodded by specifics from the Word lest some of them get upset.

    One of my aunt and uncles went to a church where they called alternating pastors - alternated between a Methodist one and then a Presbyterian.

    Some churches like this are product of their surrounding population. One I ministered in awhile was full of 50 somethings. The very small town was full of fifty somethings.

    If there is any advice I would give it would be (if you become involved with one long term) just get to know the people, read the church history and any other records that might be around and find out why they are as they are and begin to change them as you can through sound teaching.

    If you continue to just fill in, then encourage them to understand what a church is supposed to be, and their responsibility to share their Lord with those around them - humm yep, lot like any church I'd guess. :thumbs:

    When just filling in I usually did topics that would encourage in any area where they were struggling (requires a little knowledge of the churches situation/background). If they had lost a pastor I would encourage them to take time to find a quality replacement etc.

    I have known of a number of these churches close for various reasons, partly due to lack of interest, partly due to location and partly do to people getting tired of fighting to keep them open - maybe too long.
     
  4. glfredrick

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    I've been a part of those type of churches since the beginning of my ministry. Coming out of rural Wisconsin, where the typical Baptist church has a difficult time hitting 50, I've seen how the small churches play out. Even after landing in Louisville, I've been in several small churches due to student status, where landing a large church is difficult if one wants to inhabit the pulpit on any given Sunday.

    I was at a church like the one you describe for 5 years, and the answer is, no. They cannot survive. In fact, they are already dead and just waiting to turn out the lights so they can go home to be with Jesus.

    You mention that evangelistic sermons land on deaf ears and speculate that the people are already saved. I think it may be exactly the opposite. I find that the people in those small churches have run out most of the saved folks in favor of their own kind, which tend more toward "religious". They have a zeal and have been in the church since they were infants, but they do not demonstrate much of the Holy Spirit of Scripture power or grasp of what it is that Jesus asked us to do -- from the one anothers to the Great Commandment to the Great Commission.

    If the pastor alone would reach one person for Christ per month, 12 would be baptized per year. If the pastor added one other person who reached one per month, that number would double to 24 -- which is what some mega-churches baptize a year... We wouldn't have to resort to stealing sheep or worrying that the big church down the street is harvesting all the people. There are plenty to go around!

    I did just that in one church in Wisconsin. We went from having to clean the crud out of the un-used baptistery to using it at least once per month. It was catchy. People started inviting others to church because the church was presumed alive. Our membership grew from 25 to 125 within 3 years. We started a youth program and saw over 100 young people come to know Christ. The local high school called on my wife and I when he had problem kids -- they came back knowing Christ and changed people. Several are now in ministry and missions themselves -- all from a local rural church that struggled to run 25 members for most of its life.

    Oh, my current church is very urban -- uncomfortably for my wife and I, but we are adapting. We are reaching the "arts and crossiant" crowd in our city, average age is under 30, kids coming out of the woodwork, tats, piercings, weird hair and clothing, the works. But the MESSAGE is straight Bible with a reformed perspective. We are gospel centered -- to the point where we ask people to move to areas of the city where there is no church presence and make one. It is working radically well. In 10 years, we have gone from a handfull to 3 (almost 4) campuses with over 2000 in attendance every Sunday. EVERY member meets in a community group in someone's home during the week (no SS). We live the gospel with each other and with our neighbors, both spoken and acted upon. (Our sermon today found the pastor saying, "Perhaps you've heard the lie, "Share the gospel, and if necessary use words..." The Bible says that we USE WORDS!) We're seemingly doing the impossible and reaching the un-reachable. Growing pains are many, but what a gift to have GROWING pains.
     
    #4 glfredrick, Aug 29, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2010
  5. HAMel

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    The church we are currently attending is as you describe, dh1948.

    The two or three close knit families who's Great Grandpa's laid the corner stone in 1952 still own and operate the church. Nothing gets past the Head of each clan and nothing new is ever introduced. The only good side to this is there is "never" a fight at any business meetings. Ninety-five percent of the membership is between 65 and 80 years old with perhaps twenty some children.

    The pastor does a wonderful job at preaching against sin and the need for salvation but that's about all there is going on.

    During a Mens Breakfast I asked where we/the church would be once all the old timers died off. I've never been invited to speak since.

    ...on occasion, a church is their own worst enemy.
     
  6. abcgrad94

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    Another key to whether the church will survive or not is MEN. Small rural churches desperately need men who are willing to lead their homes and willing to spiritually lead the church. The pastor cannot do everything by himself.

    Our church is full of widows and women whose husbands are unsaved/uninterested in church. Of the few men we have, one is too elderly to even come most of the time, another one is a young convert still trying to learn to be the spiritual head of his home, one will help sometimes, and one is not a member who likes to debate core beliefs of our church. The only true male leadership we have is my husband.

    Without good male leadership, there is no vision. Where there is no vision, the people perish.
     
  7. Dr. Bob

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    God's plan has been to have LOCAL churches, meeting the needs of LOCAL members of His Church who meet for fellowship, instruction and fulfillment of the Great Commision.

    While trying to build big numbers is the thinking of some preachers (hesitate to call them "pastors") my goal was always to glorify God in building big Christians!!

    What a wonderful privilege to serve as an elder/pastor to a small rural congregation. They don't need or want all the hoopla or programs of a mega-church, but need the love and care and ministry of a man of God.

    BTW "under 50" is about the optimum size for a local church. I would never speak negatively because a group was "only" x.,y. or z sized. A LOCAL church at a crossroads in the countryside, a small village of 500 or small city is best. Part of my work is to train up "elders" who will work in such a location. The seminary grads disdain the small church and look for bigger opportunities.
     
  8. glfredrick

    glfredrick
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    Dr. Bob,

    I'm not sure that small churches are disdained because they are small... They are disdained because they are small and ineffective. If you notice the gripes for small churches in the posts above, the commonly held issue is a small church run by one clan, elderly, who are not going to do a thing that Jesus asked them to do because it would necessarily introduce "change" into their mix -- change that might cause them to loose control of their little slice of the kingdom.


    Of course, you are absolutely correct -- it is every joy and privilege from our Father above to be given the chance to be His under-shepherd for a flock, large or small -- and EVERY true flock is small, even if the overall gathering is large. One man (see Moses and Jethro) can only handle just so much shepherding without becoming overburdened and worn out, so God already gave us the blueprint for dealing with that scenario; multiple shepherds and servants (deacons) that minister to the flock under the guidance of a senior elder or pastor called by God to administer the church.

    I've been associate pastor, interim pastor, senior pastor, church planting pastor, deacon, and community group leader -- all pastoral shepherding roles -- in churches that numbered from 12 to 2000. Funny thing, the task and the way it happens never really changes. Currently as a community group leader with a group of about 18, I am but a small cog in a mega-church with 3 (soon 4) campuses spread across the metro district, yet I do as much, if not more ministry to this small group than I did when I was in the pulpit of other churches.

    Small churches (under 100) make up the bulk of all Protestant/Evangelical congregations in America with 59% of the total number of congregations. But small churches don't have the most people... That falls to larger bodies, even though their numbers are lower.

    Here is some data that is easily digested:
    http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/fastfacts/fast_facts.html#sizecong

    Approximate Distribution of U.S. Protestant and Other Christian Churches by size (excluding Catholic/Orthodox)


    ATTENDANCE -- # OF CHURCHES -- WEEKLY WORSHIPERS -- PERCENT

    7-99 -- 177,000 -- 9 million -- 59%

    100-499 -- 105,000 -- 25 million -- 35%

    500-999 -- 12,000 -- 9 million -- 4%

    1,000-1,999 -- 6,000 -- 8 million -- 2%

    2,000-9,999 -- 1,170 -- 4 million -- .4%

    10,000-plus -- 40 -- .7 million -- .01%

    TOTALS approx. 300,000 -- approx. 56 million -- 100%​

    The segment of local congregations who are growing in membership are the largest churches. Like it or not, that is what is happening. Evangelical churches over 1000 are growing at 83% (all numbers are 2007) while churches from 1-49 are growing at 37%. The problem is when the numbers are stacked up, a church of 30 that grows at 37% adds 11 members, while a church of 1000 who adds 83% adds 1830 new members. Even if the church of 1000 only added 10%, they would add 100 new members a year.

    Combine these statistics with the fact that about half of the churches we're talking about baptized one or zero new people last year (and did so for the past 10 years or more) and you have a real epidemic in small churches in America.

    What is sick, sad, and directly sin against God, who called and commanded us to be about the business of building His Kingdom by making disciples of those who came to faith in Christ Jesus, is the total number of churched individuals in America.

    With all our vast resources, incredible number of pastors available for service, huge budgets, Bibles and other church-related materials available by the truck load, etc., etc., etc., we only see 56 million of our 300 million + population churched in a place where the gospel (ought to be or) is shared (and that number includes Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses). Of that number, statistics (and drive-by evaluations of local churches in a community) indicate that on any given Sunday EXCEPT Easter and Christmas, the actual number of Americans in a Bible-believing church is about 20%. If one factors in the total church population including Catholics, Jehovah's Witness, Mormons, etc., the number is about 40% of the population.

    At the end of the day, the problem isn't one of size, but of effectiveness and fulfillment of what it is that Jesus gave us to do. Many a "small church" will quickly discover that once (or if) it gets healthy that it grows like a weed and is small no more.

    By the way, one of the best small church respources I've found is this:
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/1889638285/?tag=baptis04-20

    Nebel is out there in small church land, and he gets it!

    Another great work is:
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/082542500X/?tag=baptis04-20
     
  9. preachinjesus

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    Thanks for your years of faithful service.

    Sure

    I can't answer these questions because it isn't my context.

    Now as for the major question concerning the OP, I am among many who are somewhat more than worried about the future of the small rural churches.

    On one hand the nature of Christianity (particularly American Christianity) has always seen some congregations that grow beyond others. Some will flourish, some will languish, some will close. It is part of how the Church has always existed. Now particularly with the remarkably decentralization of Christianity and the run away from anything resembling formal, institutional parameters this is exacerbated.

    The other reality is that we have a HUGE identity crisis in American Christianity. It comes from tons (literally hundreds or thousands) of influences into the DNA of the local church. We need all kinds of churches to do all kinds of ministries in all kinds of ways to reach so many people. Yet we've also allowed the media/publishing/marketing influences to push us all to believe that the only effective pastor/leader/church is one that is 1,000+ on Sundays or something like that. We need to liberate ministry from the "success syndrome."

    I've been into some small, rural churches that have vibrant fellowships and authentic worship but also into some that are cold, lifeless and nearly gone. I've been in medium and large churches with some of these same characteristics too.

    We need all kinds of churches and they need to be led by men of God who are able to do what God has led them to do amongst His people. I don't always mourn when a church closes its doors, sometimes its the best thing that can happen. But if we continue to fail to support all churches small, medium, and large and rejoice in the successes we will end of pursuing a legacy of slow destruction that will ruin so much of the Gospel work.

    The pendulum will begin swinging back soon enough. The huge, megacomplexes will go out of fashion with their detached video-pastor venues and a new generation will embrace smaller, authentic communities like these. It has happened before and will happen again.

    Probably not much help there, but I will say there are tons of good resources out there for a church that wants to use them. Too much of me wars in my spirit when I enter a building that is being controlled by people who want to shoo away any outsiders. Give any young pastor a fertile ground with people who desire to be led and you'll see amazing things. Its hard to plow the field when ground is worn out or has been hardpacked for decades.
     
  10. jonthebaptist

    jonthebaptist
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    DH,

    Most Baptist churches in Scotland are of the size you mention. When we have contact with fellow Baptists in America we are puzzled when they speak of their "small" church, and quote the membership as being in the hundreds.

    Reality is this, what ever size a church is, it will come with deficiencies, both the big and the small. I have preached in large American churches who speak of the great work the church is doing in missions around the world, yet when I spoke with them about the needs of THEIR community they did not know what to say.

    Now, here is a question I put to you. Since retiring from preaching to large churches, do you sense Gods call to small churches? That is the crucial question we all need to ask wherever we are.

    One further point. Often we can find in Western churches that Christians will pass many churches that are of the same denomination and theological position as they relate to, before they get to the one they want to go to. Whatever the reason, why did God call them to live in one area, yet worship in another, if it is Gods call (??) Could this be the starting point as you think of the influence you have had during your ministry to encourage people to think about the witness of where they live, and if they worshipped in such a locality would that make the universal church of Christians more efficient? It might also be an encouragement to those in the small churches who hve come to believe that noone else really cares about them.

    Just a thought.
     
  11. 1Tim115

    1Tim115
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    Just curious about this one part of your comments...

    "...a handful of people who comprise a church that is on life support with no hope for life."

    ...are you describing the elderly in the church who are not saved?

    Surely, you're not saying God can't. Whether or not God will is up to God. My hope would be God sends His man to these churches. Revival starts with God and He handles the circumstances.
     
  12. thegospelgeek

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    My first work as a Pastor was 18 months in a church as described in the OP. About 18 to 20 people who did not want the numbers to grow. I know and have preached at several of these. I used to think it was terrible, but after getting to know the people and listening to God, i came to the conclusion that just because it wasn't for me didn't make it wrong. These elderly people needed ministering to the same as anyone else. And you might be surprised at the number of unsaved folk who wander through the door from time to time.

    Not all small churches are dead. Some are, some are not. Just like large ones. The only difference between a dead small church and a dead large one is the number or corpse inside.
     
  13. freeatlast

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    Church growth is dying every place. By the way growing numbers does not mean there is church growth. I believe the problem is with the leaders today. They claim to be giving God's words but few follow it. I can say that for myself in the last 15 years I have been ashamed to invite anyone to the church I attend. By the way I have attended at least 10 or 15 in those 15 years. Where I am at now, last Sunday the Pastor stated laughing that while others come together for prayer and fasting Baptists come together for food and feasting. He was announcing finger food after church. While one might be shocked at this boast the sad fact is that it is mostly true. Please don't miss-understand. The church I am attending would bless your socks off with kindness. Lot's of smiles and blessing passed on, full of community service, active in politics, but the spiritual level is in the basement and this is the standard in this area and I am in the bible belt. (so called bible belt)
    I am convinced that there is little true biblical understanding in the churches today. Very few people who claim to be saved follow the biblical teachings. If I meet someone new who claims to be a Christian out of 100 of them 99 seak with prophanity. While a large church might make a Pastor feel nice it is no evidence that there is spiritual life in it. By the way I have attended both large and very small. Today we are seeing exactly what scripture says will happen in the last days and it is most discouraging. It has been a long time since I have been able to invite anyone to church since I do not want them to be lead astray because of the lack of biblical teaching. I just tell them to read their bible and believe what it says. I pray for them and I let them find their own church. I have had people contact me and what to know of a bible teaching church and I sadly cannot point them to one. :tear:
     
  14. glfredrick

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    By way of encouragement, freeatlast, let me say that there are still churches where the gospel is being preached, and more so, lived. I'm in one of those places now. That, in large part, is why we are growing so rapidly. God works in places where He is glorified and His Word is preached faithfully.

    Although your area is probably already saturated with churches, you may want to consider a new work, where the gospel is the reason for existing instead of tacked on to the other stuff the church does.

    Don't be afraid to be radical... Jesus was. In fact, the moment He had some good sized crowds around Him, He preached those crowds back down to 12, then asked, "Will you also leave Me?" While I'm certainly not advocating Hemphil's approach (The Bonsai Theory of Church Growth -- prune off the dead wood and keep it manageable) I do think that a radical message won't play off of a lot of so-called Christians these days.

    They are "getting their reward" right now, in their fancy buildings with all their voted-on comforts instead of looking outside the walls of the building. Have a building -- sure! Every church in every age has profited from being able to have a safe meeting place and only moved away from that concept when it was utterly necessary for existence -- but when the building sucks up all the resources of the congregation, then the building has become the mission and the idol.

    Interestingly, my wife and I had dinner with a friend and his wife who can trace their family history back to the same small town in Kentucky since their people came through the Cumberland Gap in the 1700s. He is THE most set in his way Baptist that I've ever met -- period. He won't sing a song that isn't in THIS particular hymnal, he won't hear preaching that is not from THIS book (KJV of course), he won't welcome a pastor who tells the people that they need to change (and he works hard to run them off...). What's more, he believes that he is 150% right -- all the time -- because that is what his daddy said, and his daddy before him, and his daddy before him... etc. Never mind what the Scriptures actually say and never mind that they are dying. JUST DON'T CHANGE. He would not even attend church with my wife and I Sunday morning, though they stayed over in Louisville instead of heading home after our visit. He made it clear that he would just walk out the moment he saw someone with in church with a cup of coffee (which we do) or wearing shorts and sandals (which we do) or when the electric guitar started playing (which we do) or the drums, or the kids with tats led the service, etc., etc., etc. (which we do!). Of course, his church is dying... They've gone through 6 pastors in the past 2 years. Ours is now over 2000 members since its planting 10 years ago, and the testimonies of our members read like the Book of Acts... He JUST DIDN'T LIKE IT... :BangHead:

    Let's talk about "radical" for a minute... I'm a church planting North American missionary. I deal in missionary tactics and strategy to reach out to lost people groups with the gospel.

    What if we ASK our members to re-locate to a part of the community where there is no Christian presence so that there will be a praying neighbor on every block, getting to know their neighbors and sharing their faith? Will they do it?

    What if we ask our members, as a requirement for their church membership, to unite with a community group so they can work together to reach that neighborhood with the gospel? Will they do it?

    What if we ask our members to tithe or at least offer up a calculated percentage of their income -- and we keep track? Will they do it?

    What if we celebrated the Lord's Table every Sunday, and the servers prayed individually over every member as they took the elements, either wine or juice "as their conscience allows"? Would they do it?

    What if the demand was that every member be active in at least one ministry of the church on a regular basis? Would they do it?

    What if the altar call was scrapped in favor of a talk with one of the elders? Could they see that happening?

    What if virtually all the music in the church was written by persons under the age of 25, who had a passion for a radical "Christ-life"? Would they sing it?

    What if all the above happened in a church? Would it grow or shrink?

    We do all that stuff and more (medical clinics for street people, helping each other with life and child rearing, etc., etc., etc.) and we can't fit in the people who are coming to know the Lord... Radical, Christ-centered, reformed theology, culture is all over the map, and reaching people in the streets for Christ every day.
     
  15. gb93433

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    My first church was a lot like you described. It was as low as ten and had 16 on my first Sunday. We came not knowing where we would live and the church had about $1,000 in the bank. I started with leading myself and discipling myself to get into the community and knock on doors. I knocked on 75 to 200 each month. I spent many hours in prayer each week asking God for people to help me. Within about 1.5 years we had a full staff and little money. We had staff that churches would have been glad to have. Today that church owns 20 acres and has a church building. Everything is paid for.

    I believe that the pastor must be led by God and that starts with prayer. One who prays sees God's hand in the little ways.

    When God breaks us to the point where we have nothing that is when he begins his work in us and through us.
     
  16. thegospelgeek

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    Not so sure that the Bible instructs all of us to do these things. Can you give me a scripture?
     
  17. freeatlast

    freeatlast
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    Hello glfredrick. I have no doubt that YOU believe that your church is spiritual. Just about anyone will make that claim, but the truth is that they have been put to sleep about real holiness. I mean you no ill from what I am saying but I can tell you that your church is not spiritual by what you described. It is modern, It is contemporary, but not spiritual. Yes you may pray a lot, visit and witness and even fast, but without holiness no one will see the Lord. If I were a betting person I would bet that your church does not obey scripture. By the way I am not suggesting that there is no church that is in obediance, but they are few and far between. I seriously doubt that 1 out of 1000 is in obediance. And like I mentioned a church that grows in numbers does not make it of God even in the mist of many so called spiritual claims. I am remined of what the Lord said in Matt.
    [SIZE=-1]21 [/SIZE]Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. [SIZE=-1]22 [/SIZE]Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? [SIZE=-1]23 [/SIZE]And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
     
    #17 freeatlast, Aug 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2010
  18. Luke2427

    Luke2427
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    What a fantastic topic!

    I pastor a church in a town, literally, that has NO red light. I think my county population is about 6,000 and nearly half of that is our County Prison.

    But there are needs here. I ask God to burden me with those needs and enable me to burden the people with them.

    That Christ be magnified here and rule this town is the most important need I address.

    That souls be rescued from eternal judgment is another.

    But there is also a terrible literacy problem here, along with high school drop outs and our neighboring county is number one in the nation per capita for teen pregnancy.

    So I saddle my church church with their God given responsibilities to meet needs or close the doors. I'm compassionate but frank and blunt.

    We've baptized eight in the past ten months- not impressive to many- but more than this church has baptized in a very long time.

    Our worship service has increased from about 60 to about 100.

    We've got a long way to go but God is moving and there is atmosphere of excitement.

    Find the needs in their community and plow their turnip patch until they put their shoulders to the plow that Christ might become King of their little communities.
     
  19. Luke2427

    Luke2427
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    Another thing. The church I pastored before this one was also in the country. In three years we went from running 55 to 125, baptized 30, and our budget expanded from 70,000 to 225,000. Christ desires to conquer these hamlets, too. But country folks have to be challenged frankly.
     
  20. Luke2427

    Luke2427
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    Are we to deduce from this that your church is one of the few "holy" churches. Are you guys the 1 in 1000?

    How do YOU define holiness?
     

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