Conserve the Results

By Franklin Dumond

Any outreach strategy that focuses only on expanding the attendance at one worship service may have the unintended consequence of settling back into the routine of business as usual after that day passes.  Successful outreach strategies include special efforts to conserve the results of this special day.Lancaster_Baptist_Church_Main_Auditorium

Three types of effort are necessary to conserve the results of any outreach strategy, and especially those of a Big Day.

First, efforts must be designed to identify, connect with, and encourage the return of first time guests who are present on any Big Day.

Second, leaders must have a disciple-making strategy in place that will not only introduce first time guests to faith in Christ, but will also facilitate their spiritual growth.

Third, leaders must have a working strategy in place to involve as many new people as possible in service roles in the ministries of the local church.

Because of the conservative nature of most of our General Baptist churches, the third effort just described is often the most difficult.  Nevertheless, assimilation strategies that work can be identified and customized to each local church.

This is also true of disciple-making.  There are many small group and one-on-one disciple-making strategies that can be easily adapted to most local settings, if we will simply make the adaptation.

Working with the structures of a local church, however, to quickly empower new servants can be very, very difficult.  Here are a few suggestions that can assist church leaders from any size congregation to develop a mindset and a practical strategy to include more people in the working life of the church by serving in a ministry setting.

1.  Identify how many volunteer positions are required to operate the ministries of your church.  Think through every ministry task that is needed.  In the established church, many of these roles will be identified in the organizing documents that guide the life of the congregation.  In the growing congregation, there will be just as many informal adaptations to new ministries and new opportunities.  Be sure to identify all the ministry tasks that occupy volunteer time and effort.

2.  Identify who is currently serving in these positions.  Write down their names beside the ministry role they occupy.

3.  Review your list.  Are a few people engaged in several ministries?  If so, you could expand your list of volunteers if folks are limited to how many positions they can hold.  Perhaps they can mentor and train those who will come alongside to share the load.

4.  Expand your opportunities.  Can the opportunity to serve be shared?  Can several people take turns doing ministry?  For example, if four ushers generally collect the tithes and offerings along with the communication cards, ask these questions:

  • Should the same four people serve in this capacity every Sunday?  Could a team of 16 serve by each serving one Sunday a month?
  • If four ushers can collect the offerings and communication cards, why not use eight and expand the number of workers by purchasing a few new offering plates and by dividing the auditorium into smaller sections?

By applying this same logic to greeters, parking lot attendants, welcome center attendants, and those who set up the coffee makers, it is possible to double or even triple the number of people actively engaging in ministry!

5.  Identify how many volunteers would be required to operate as a church twice your size.  This will at least double your volunteer base and will probably expand it even further.  Keep in mind that as you gain new people, they are not coming to just watch the show.  They are coming so they can find meaningful opportunities for relationship and responsibility.

 

We Only Have Two Kids!

By Franklin Dumond

“We only have two kids,” the pastor reported. He then asked, “How do we connect with younger families?”

girls-462072_1920This scenario plays out in all too many single cell, well-established churches. The single cell church only has one group of folks. Typically there will be only one worship service and perhaps only one adult class. Generally, attendance will average 30-50 weekly. The single cell church embodies the organizing principle that we are always more comfortable around people who are similar to us.

In the single cell church the group tends to age together and over time can become a senior citizen’s church with few, if any, children present.

The obvious answer to connect with young families would be to invest in children’s ministries that would include both Sunday morning and weekday options for children. Sometimes the missing ingredient is the lack of ministries targeted for children and their families.

Often this obvious answer requires too many people to implement and to many dollars to provide it. When the obvious answer is not appropriate, then some short-term entry events and adapted on-going programming is necessary.

  • Organize a one-day Vacation Bible School and recruit children. If you can get them to the church once then you have an opportunity to work with their families in follow-up activities to enlist them in the local church.
  • Consider week-day ministries. Many churches provide after school programs for latch key children. Others invest in some of the club type ministries like Pioneer Clubs or Awana.
  • You can consider a video curriculum that will include recorded music so the children you have can sing along with the other children on the DVD.
  • Include a children’s message as part of your morning worship. The children’s message should be presented by the pastor in a story telling, object lesson format. When the pastor announces, “Children, meet me down front” both the children and the adults will share in this special message. One way to start this practice is to use Advent, the four Sundays prior to Christmas, to light candles on an Advent Wreath and tell portions of the Christmas story using figurines to build a Christmas display. Children love to help and young boys especially like playing with fire, which is essential if you are to light a candle!
  • Use a children’s bulletin. These are available from several sources and can generally be photocopied on site so the proper number can be prepared. These may provide age appropriate learning activities that could even be the focus of the children’s message.
  • Develop an organized prayer ministry. It is amazing what the Lord does when we ask him to do things! Pray for children to attend. Pray by name for the children you know who should attend.

Continue teaching and training even if you only have a few children. If you only have a few, then be sure to find a way to provide individualized instruction. Make it part of your church’s discipleship plan.

“I was that kid.” This was the report from a pastor reflecting on growing up in smaller churches where he was often the only child in a class. As he reflected on that heritage, he realized that the faithfulness of a few teachers and leaders had positioned him to hear the Lord’s call and to enter vocational ministry. That faithfulness continued week after week when someone studied and prepared a lesson even when there was only one student enrolled in the class. That type of faithfulness will someday warrant a “well done” from the Lord Jesus himself!

Update on Typhoon Hagupit

Dear All,

Here’s an update…It is Monday morning here and the sun is out.  The weather on this side of the country has been fine since Saturday.  Some areas in the Visayas were really affected by Typhoon Hagupit on Saturday, especially in Samar.  Today, the typhoon has moved to Luzon and is expected to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility tomorrow or Wednesday.

There has been no complete report yet as to casualties and damages since some areas are still inaccessible because of flooding, road blocks, communication lines that have been cut off, and also because the typhoon is still traversing slowly across the country.  But initial reports say that the damage has not been like Yolanda/Haiyan of last year.  From a “super typhoon” status as predicted, it was downgraded to “typhoon” as it entered the Philippines.

We praise and thank God because of early announcements and forecasts that have enabled the people to prepare and evacuate earlier, and this time the government had a better plan in preparing and reducing risk.  Previous experiences have taught us all and given us a better understanding of disaster management and risk reduction.  Although there has been property damage, we praise and thank God that it was not like the previous super typhoons the country has experienced.

We thank all of you for your prayers.  The storm has been so inconsistent and unpredictable in its direction, strength, and speed that the typhoon did not really live up to its hype when it made landfall.

Our church in Cagnipa, Samar was used as an evacuation center.  The people there are safe and the church building is intact.  However, the house of one GBBC graduate and teacher was reported to be completely destroyed.  We have been trying to reach the district moderator in the area for more updates from other churches but we have not heard back from him yet.  His phone has been ringing but he has not been picking up.  He lives in Masbate and the typhoon also made its way there.  So we are anxious to hear from him.

We will continue to update you as reports come in.  We continue to pray for safety for al,l especially in the areas that are currently experiencing heavy rains and flooding.

Thank you very much for your support and prayers.

Love, Joyce Porcadilla

President of General Baptist Bible College

Update: Just heard from the district moderator in Eastern Visayas (Samar and Masbate).  They are safe in Masbate.  The church building was not damaged.  There is just one tree that fell right in front of the church but it did not cause any damage.  He has not been able to check with the members yet, as their surroundings are still flooded.  He has not heard from the other church in Nacube yet.  But he said all is well except for the flooding.

We really praise God for His power and mercy…He alone can calm down the typhoon and we praise and thank Him for sparing our brethren from further destruction.

Grace and Acceptance

By Phil Warren

A few weeks ago, I took my wife Cindy on a tour of the General Baptist Bible College in Davao.Phil and Cindy  As we walked around the beautiful campus I became aware of a spy following us.  She watched us from behind the green shrubbery in her pink dress. She could not have been more than five, and wherever we went she followed, scurrying from bush to bush watching our every move.  My wife began to giggle and said, “Have you noticed we have an escort?”  We found out later she had left her room to use the bathroom, but in the process her curiosity had gotten the better of her.  After a little while my wife and I sat down, and she slowly inched closer to us.  Her dark, mahogany-brown eyes twinkled with mischief and her long black hair danced in the slight breeze.

Finally, her curiosity pushed her beyond the safety of her self-imposed boundaries and she came over to me and began to rub the hair on my arm.  I smiled; this was a first for me.  She had touched me with grace and acceptance and I gently reached over and rubbed her arm as well.  Grace and acceptance: the heart of missions.

Whenever you leave home and enter another country, you do not attempt to impose your cultural values upon them.  Rather, you hold loosely your values and integrate as best you can into your new surroundings.  You eat different foods.  You travel in different modes of transportation.  You experience different forms of worship.  You don’t worry as much about time, and value relationships instead. However, there are two values you must always give and receive: grace and acceptance.

Jesus said if you give it will be given back to you in disproportionate amounts. Give grace and receive grace. Give acceptance and gain acceptance.

This is not only true in international missions but in the local church as well.

Our spy took a big risk to approach these people who looked different from her. I saw her the other day at the college and she ran over to me and gave me a high five. Once fear is broken by little acts of grace and acceptance, a whole new world can open up for you.

6 Reasons Churches Never Address Decline

By Franklin Dumond

Churches, like other organizations and the people who participate, move through predictable cycles.  In the institutional memory of every church there is the awareness that average attendance varies from year to year.  Anyone who has been part of a congregation for any length of time will have experienced those occasions when more people attend now than used to attend.  Seasoned members will also have experienced those occasions where fewer people attend now than in the past.

Some years ago, one church consultant described churches and their attendance patterns as either being on the incline (growing and increasing), on the recline (stable, on a plateau), or on the decline (fewer attending now than used to attend).  Most observers of the American church landscape suggest that at least 80% of churches are reclining or declining.

The net result of long term decline is always death.   So why don’t more churches address the serious issue of decline?

  1. Poor record keeping disguises decline.  I once helped stage a picture for some church publicity.  We wanted to show the auditorium as full of people, but it was a weekday and only a handful of people were in the building when the photographer arrived.  No problem.  He simply staged them along the center aisle and framed the shot looking down the aisle.  By cropping out the rest of the picture we had a full house with only a couple of dozen folks present!

inside-of-a-church-pews-hanging-cross-shiny-aisleMy wife observed recently that the church looked “pretty full this morning” but in actuality the seating capacity was seriously          underutilized at only about 50% occupied.  I counted.  She observed.  My count did not match her observation although she admitted the seating patterns made it look like a larger crowd was present.

Unless church leaders count and compare the counts from week to week, from month to month, or from year to year decline may easily be disguised.

  1. Righteous Remnant Theology often predicts a falling away from the church because people in general just cannot accept the hard truth of the Gospel.  Decline in this scenario has to do more with decline in standards and errors in theology rather than loss of numbers.
  2. Decline is the new normal.  Congregations that experience long term decline can reach the point that decline is expected.  Many worshippers have little if any experience in another church and are simply unaware of any other scenario.
  3. We’ve built it so they should come.  This philosophy of ministry worked very well in the 1950’s when it was expected that folks should attend church.  That social or cultural expectation no longer exists, so new folks now attend church only if they are invited by someone they know and trust.
  4. A lack of introspection, and thus lack of personal responsibility, can speed decline.  As a young pastor I found a box of old church newsletters.  While reading through them I noticed a particularly personal confession from a former pastor.  He was a seasoned veteran.  He also took a hard look around and noticed that there were no conversions for three months.  At that point, he began looking inside himself since he felt a keen responsibility to model personal evangelism.  If he had not taken the time for this personal introspection the decline would probably have continued.
  5. Churches prefer to reach one person rather than one neighborhood full of people.  Remember a broken clock is still correct twice each day.  It is very easy to excuse what we are currently doing because once in a while we connect with one person.  Isn’t it worth it to reach even one?  Maybe not, when similar resources of time, talent and treasure could reach a neighborhood full of people by intentional outreach.

Periods of decline are inevitable.  Persistent decline, however, was never the intention of the Lord Jesus who announced that the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church.

Grains of Sand: An Update from Faith Home

By Christina Massey

sandHow did November come so quickly?  The past few months have flown by and been filled with so many special moments that it is hard to process them all.  With so many kids involved in different school activities and events, sometimes it is hard to keep up.

One of my favorite moments during the busy last few months was a field trip with our 7th graders to the beach and Botanical Gardens.  This group has blossomed this year since they first walked out of our gates to attend Emanuel (a private Christian school) in San Manuel.  These previously shy children have matured and grown into amazing teenagers. As I watched them interact with their new friends at the beach, I thought about how far each of them have come this school year, and how all the little moments of their lives have built on each other like grains of sand to bring them to this point in their life.  As I watched Emerita writing ‘I Love Jesus’ in the sand along with her school friends, I was so proud of her witness and her love for Christ.

The children and young adults at Faith Home have each experienced so much in their lifetime.  The pain and sadness of their pasts mix with the laughter and joy they have experienced at Faith Home to create the amazing young men and women of God they are becoming.  God is sifting those moments and memories and helping them to become stronger as He is writing His name, not in sand, but on their hearts.  It’s a blessing to see Him shine through each of them as they interact with others at school, church events, and out in the communities.  We are thankful for every moment and blessing as the sands of time pass and we see God’s plan unfolding in each of their lives.

 

Independence Day Parade:

Groups of Faith Home children represented the outside schools they attend in FH kids in paradethe Independence Day Parade in San Manuel.  The day concluded with all of Faith Home marching together.  Our kids received applause when they continued to march in formation even though it poured down rain.  We were even presented a plaque in the stadium at the end of the parade-the kids were so excited and we are so proud of them!

 

 

 

 

FH childrens dayChildren’s Day:

Children’s Day was celebrated at Faith Home with a water slide, piñatas, games, and refreshments.  The younger children got to go to the swimming pool, and the older kids celebrated with popcorn, sodas, and the movie, ‘God’s not Dead’.

 

I’ll Do My Best

By Clint Cook

A few weeks ago I joined six other General Baptist pastors on a journey to the Philippine Islands. I had the privilege of leading this team of pastors in the important task of teaching and challenging our Filipino brothers and sisters in leadership and spiritual growth. The team consisted of Chad Hensley, John Brumfiel, Dr. Jim Pratt, Barry Cullen, Jim Rudolph, Clint Pagan and myself. It was a hectic but life-changing trip. Each member of our team had the privilege of preaching in one of our local General Baptist churches during Sunday morning worship and visiting with the members. We traveled to the Matigsalog area to view the General Baptist work there to encourage our teachers and leaders hard at work in this important region at the Matigsalog Bible Institute. We also held a conference at the General Baptist Bible College called the 360º Leadership Forum where we met, taught, trained and encouraged young students determined to win the Philippines for Christ. How uplifting it was to see how God is using them!

While in Davao City we also hosted the first ever American-Filipino Minister’s Retreat. It was a wonderful time of worship and training with our Filipino counterparts. We shared meals with these ministers, listened to the triumphs and struggles of their ministries, and cried and rejoiced with them as they told us stories of rebuilding after Typhoon Pablo in December 2012, a project made possible by the generosity of General Baptists. What a solemn sight it was to see Ground Zero for Typhoon Pablo, a pile of rubble where a thriving community once stood, and where over 1,000 people lost their lives.

It was an awe-inspiring experience to see our work on the island of Mindanao. A special note of thanks and appreciation goes out to Joyce Porcadilla and all of her staff at the General Baptist Bible College and the Matigsalug Bible Institute for making the 360º Leadership Forum and first ever Minister’s Retreat a definite success. Out of the 120 college students that attended the 360º Forum, 90% of them are General Baptist students, and nearly 80% anticipate continuing in ministry as Christian leaders, preachers, and pastors. How bright the future of General Baptists is in the Philippines! How blessed we are to have this Gospel-proclaiming, gates-of-hell-storming work thriving on the other side of the world!

Although the seven members of our team were sent to train and encourage these Filipino students and ministers, each of us left with hearts full of thankfulness, humbleness and excitement for the General Baptist work in the Philippines. The students at the General Baptist Bible College repeatedly displayed their burning desire and passion to serve the local church as Christian leaders. Prepare to be blessed as you watch this short video of 3rd and 4th year students at GBBC telling, through song, their General Baptist brothers and sisters in the U.S. that they will do their best!

Where in the World are the Warrens?

By Cindy Warren

A family steps off an airplane and is greeted by the Bowers family (Keith, Carrie, Jason, and Lucas), General Baptist Bible College president Joyce Porcadilla, and many other sweet, welcoming faces.  Who are these new arrivals?  Aren’t they General Baptist missionaries to the tropical island of Saipan?  Not anymore?  The Warren’s mission trip has turned into two destinations instead of one.

The Philippine countryside

The Philippine countryside

My husband Phil and I are now living in Davao City, Philippines, along with our two youngest sons, Oliver and Harley.  There are a few things we have to to adjust to here.  The money system is different than on Saipan, and the language is sometimes a barrier.  I exchanged my first US currency for Philippine pisos at the information desk at the mall!  Other major differences are the congested traffic, the many open air markets, and the fact that some of the mall include grocery stores.

Our two youngest sons are now attending a Christian school with the Bowers’ sons just four blocks from our home called Faith Academy International.  They have a great school and they enjoy being close enough to walk over to shoot hoops and play on the new soccer field with the other students.

We have been trying to build relationships with our pastors here in the Philippines.  So far we have visited the Matigsalug Bible Institute and the General Baptist Bible College and met with the staff, have attended a baby dedication, attended a Sunday morning service at First General Baptist of Davao City, and attended both the Pastor’s Conference and the 360 Conference.

The Warrens are now serving General Baptist work in the Philippine islands.  We pray that they will adjust seamlessly to this new assignment, and facilitate General Baptist work there in a way that allows us to do together what cannot be done alone.  

Making it on a Pastor’s Pay: 4 Reasons Salaries are Low

By Franklin Dumond

Honest discussion of the salary and benefit needs of a pastor should not be uncomfortable. The Scripture is very direct: pastors are expected to work hard; churches are expected to offer fair compensation.

congregation in pewsThe pastor’s salary should be reviewed on an annual basis. The finance committee should review the entire salary package as each annual budget is prepared. Years of experience, educational level, and cost of living adjustments should all be part of the discussion. Support staff such as secretaries and custodians should also have salary packages reviewed annually, but they should be evaluated and paid in comparison to their skills and positions, not in comparison to the pastor or staff ministers.

Church paid salaries have historically been lower than the average salary amount in most communities. Too often the old adage “Lord you keep him humble; we’ll keep him poor!” has been an actual fact. The scandal generated by a few notorious preachers has sometimes reinforced the tendency toward lower salaries.

A few reasons for lower church salaries are:

  1. Unbiblical priorities. The New Testament is very clear that pastors are to be respected, treated with dignity, and paid fairly. The Apostle Paul instructs, “Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:6-7
  1. Unrealistic expectations. While all believers are expected to trust God, and not man, members may expect their pastor to live on less as an example to the flock, while the flock continues to live on more despite the noble example of the underpaid pastor.
  1. Untrained lay leaders. Many lay leaders who serve on finance and budget committees simply have never been trained to develop a pastoral compensation plan. For example, the specialized tax status of pastors is often a mystery to lay leaders. Even self-employed businessmen do not always understand the special dual status of the pastor, who is considered an employee for income tax purposes but self-employed for Social Security purposes.
  1. Unfair models. The salary model churches often use is based on the net, or take-home, pay of the average church member. While this can be a fair approach to compensation, it generally does not take into consideration that the gross salary of the average worker is substantially greater than the net pay. Most workers benefit from having an employer who provides health insurance, job training, and retirement benefits, in addition to the matching share of Social Security paid by the employer. Yet all too often the total package for a pastor is based on the take-home (net) pay of an average worker, not on the total package paid directly and indirectly to that worker by their employer.

Personnel committees, finance committees, and pastor-search committees do well to avoid two perilous pitfalls in planning for pastoral compensation. First, it is never appropriate to use an average of church member’s income to determine the pastor’s salary unless an honest study is done of the actual income of the members. Best guesses about average income will always understate the income levels. Census data on average household income in any census tract will provide surprising insights into actual household income within the congregation.

Second, it is important to consider the long term implications of a parsonage to the pastor who is more than 30 years of age. Home ownership in our society is a keystone to retirement. The general practice of a 30 year mortgage means that if a pastor does not purchase his own home by his early 30’s he will not have it paid for by the usual retirement age. While the parsonage is convenient for the church and may be necessary for the pastor due to lack of housing, it should be used sparingly in the long term pastorate. Churches sometimes rent their parsonage to provide housing allowance for the pastor. To encourage a long term pastorate some churches provide a down payment in the form of a loan or grant to the pastor which is forgiven over a period of a few years. Other churches use the parsonage for second or third staff members as the church grows and develops.

Every salary package should address three broad areas: base salary, fringe benefits, and professional expenses.

This article is the final installment of a six part series by Dr. Franklin Dumond, Director of Congregational Ministries, on understanding and planning for a pastor’s salary.  To learn more about the process and intricacies of paying your pastor, catch up on part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5.

Making it on a Pastor’s Pay: 5 Dangers of a Reimbursable Plan

A reimbursable plan for the pastor’s salary package can seem like a good idea because it is simple to compute, but can be dangerous in actual practice.

dollarsIn a reimbursable plan, the available salary for the pastor’s family is used in part to pay for the costs of ministry first, leaving the remainder for the take home salary.  In the not too distant pass this strategy was used to reduce the pastor’s tax burden.  The dangers of this approach are five-fold if the plan is not computed from the proper starting point.

A reimbursable plan would state, “We are providing a salary package of $50,000.”  What that statement does not identify is that from this plan the pastor will be reimbursed for items like health insurance, travel, continuing education, and phone that would normally be considered costs to the employer.  Thus a $50,000 package may actually result in only $20,000 to $25,000 in actual take-home pay.

There are five dangers of these kinds of reimbursable plans.

  1. Costs are unfairly shifted from the employer to the employee.  In the United States employers are required to match Social Security contributions. Shouldn’t the church at least do the same?  Health insurance, despite the complications imposed by the federal government, is tied to employment in our country.  Shouldn’t the church do the same?
  2. Unrealistic assumptions are at work.  One motivation for these kinds of reimbursable plans is the drive to reduce taxes that are owed.  While everyone should take every legal tax break possible, the net result of these plans is that taxes are reduced because income is reduced.  For many years I listened to my mother-in-law complain about paying extra income taxes every year.  I offered to let her have my reduced tax burden if she would give me her level of income.  She never made that trade!
  3. Unbiblical standards are being used.  The Bible calls for fairness and generosity for those who labor hard to teach and preach.  Enough said.
  4. Unskilled bookkeepers don’t deal well with the IRS.  Financial reports and W-2s for this type of system must be carefully maintained.  It does little good to have gone through the pain of careful reimbursement if the financial report or the quarterly 941 misstates what was done.  The complications of this system lead to mistakes by both the church and the pastor.
  5. These plans are unfocused on the future.  The reimbursable plan deals only with the moment.  Reduced taxable income is reduced available income.  Reduced taxable income is reduced retirement benefits.  A plan that provides easy solutions for the church treasure today may not provide the management systems necessary to maintain credibility in the 21st century.

The advice from Scripture regarding compensation for pastors and staff ministers has not always been taken seriously.  Congregations and their leaders often want to be fair, or even generous, but information about what is being done in other churches, along with guidelines and suggestions for implementation, have not been readily available.  On the other hand, the very nature of ministry often finds pastors hesitant to ask for adequate salaries.  Indeed, many pastors would find a means to do ministry even without a salary.

This article is part 5 (read part 1, part 2, part 3, or part 4) of a six part series by Dr. Franklin Dumond, Director of Congregational Ministries, on understanding and planning for a pastor’s salary.  Check back over the next few weeks (or subscribe using the box to the right) to learn more about the process and intricacies of paying your pastor.