Practical Helps

*new* Dynamics of a Smaller Church:
No two churches are exactly the same. Location, leadership, history, heritage, role in the community, congregational diversity, cultural setting, the role of the Holy Spirit, and the will of God for the congregation–all of these help form the character of a congregation.
In recent years social scientists–sociologists, psychologists, and historians–have studied carefully the dynamics of local churches. They have gathered valuable and useful insights relative to the energies, resources, needs, and forces that activate congregations. This chapter summarizes these findings and gives suggestions for using this information to understand congregational life better where you serve.

*new* Notes on the Revitalization of Rural Churches
I am pleased that NAMB has launched an initiative aimed at revitalization of churches. While my understanding of their program is limited, it seems to build off of the one that FBC Houston has successfully practiced for the past 30 years or so. Its plan is to have a large church with significant resources to partner with a neighborhood church in a city which has grown weak. Often it is a matter of changing the “mission” of a church which was formed to serve a neighborhood that housed one racial/cultural group to one that served another racial/cultural group, because the original residents of the neighborhood have been replaced; e.g., from Anglo to Hispanic or African American. (A church is normally focused on serving a place and/or a “people group”. In most cases both place and people group are co-foci. When the people group changes, the church does not fit.

Picture Album of the Church:
In the transitional period when a pastor leaves and before the new one comes, it seems to me to be wise to spend some time getting back to basics by studying what the New Testament teachers about the nature and work of the church. This morning we will look at five pictures Paul uses in his letter to the church at Ephesus to help them understand the basic nature of the church.

Practical Help: Introduction (PEP):
Many small rural churches leaders express a need for help in putting together the work of their church. They want to honor God with vital worship; they want to see the members grow spiritually; they want to reach the unchurched; and they want to see the community about them become a better place. Unfortunately, this is often not what happens.

Practical Help: Events:
The life of many smaller churches is enriched by a set of annual events. Carl Dudley has made much of this in his writings about the culture of small churches. Dudley identified four categories of events in the life of a small church. They are as follows…

Practical Help: Projects:
Pleasant Hill is a project-doing congregation. It usually has fewer than 30 in Sunday worship. It is growing older. Yet, the people there want to do ministry. They amaze me at the string of ministry projects they do. Let me share but five or six.

Practical Help: Steps:
With most events are projects there are about 10 very basic steps that need to be taken. For your convenience I have listed these steps below…

Practical Helps – A Church Looking Toward the Future:
My goal in this article is to provide guidance for a local church in addressing four basic questions. (1) The general will of God. God’s general will for churches is revealed in Scripture. What moral characteristics and behaviors does God demand of all Christians in a church family relationship? What purposes and goals does God expect church families to pursue? What activities of church families does God approve?

Sure Fire Mission Action Projects (Complete):
When the word got out on the denominational “grapevine” back in 1986 that a committee was to be formed to work on how the denominational programs and agencies might address the real needs of smaller-membership churches more effectively, I volunteered. The end results…

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