Posts Tagged church growth

Making Visitation Work

By Rev. Rick Robinson


Mark 16:15
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.

IS IT WORTH IT?

How effective is home visitation? Some say visitation is not effective in the modern church culture. Try explaining that to the cult members who are growing by proselytizing 70 to 80 percent of their membership out of our churches. Only 3 out of 10 Protestant churches have an organized visitation program and most of those have their sights on the church visitor. Churches with effective outreach should be touching the lives in five people groups. These include members, guest, the hospitalized, the homebound, and the unchurched. Each one of these people groups will require a different strategy, and you may have people with a passion for each one of those categories to help. If not, get organized, God will send them.

So how effective is home visitation? The most influential component of your church growth mix is the friendship factor. The effectiveness of visitation is cut in half when a paid staff member does it, because the perception is the staff is being paid to make visits. When ordinary members of the church make those visits, it is an act of wanting to be friends. When we look at the growth mix of your church, we use church growth ratios to determine the strengths and weaknesses you have. We can determine how your assimilation strategy is working by looking at the visitor retention ratios. Ratios from first time visitors are as follows:

  • Declining churches will see 12% or less of their first time guest join the church.
  • Slightly growing churches may see around 16% of first time guest join the church.
  • Growing, healthy churches will see 25% or more of their guest join the church.

If your strategy for growth includes only visitation, you have no strategy. Effective assimilation will require a detailed follow-up strategy, and until you are retaining at least one out of four first time visitors, it is not working. We can help you with assimilating your guest, but this lesson is going to help you get your visitation started, or organized first. You will see how it all comes together.

GETTING STARTED

Mark 7:6
Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two …

Let’s begin here with the visitation team itself. Some Christians prefer visiting alone. This can limit your opportunity for ministry and invite a potential uncomfortable situation under certain circumstances. Having a second person on the team has advantages. Each will have different gifts and perspectives that will make a successful team. This will also increase the safety of the visit. A husband and wife team would be ideal. I do not believe a man and woman should visit alone on the team when they are married, but not to each other. The next logical choice would be a third person team. As with the two-person ministry team, there will be more opportunity for witness and ministry with the variety of gifts, testimonies, and perspectives. There is not a right or wrong number of people to use on the team for basic visitation purposes. There is a common sense number, don’t storm the house with a bus load of people.

RECRUITING WOKERS

Luke 10:2
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

When we do the Thoughts & Perceptions surveys in a church, it always reveals there are people who are willing to be trained in outreach. Most churches already have people that are ready and willing to work in outreach ministry. Pray for God to guide you as you begin this ministry in your church. I would encourage you to start by building a leadership base that you personally recruit, one on one. These are the people you can trust, that love the church, and love you. Make sure outreach is kept in the forefront of the church. Utilize the free help that is available to you in our library at MyChurchGrowth.com as a guideline. As your ministry grows, God will continue to supply the workers you need.

WE DON’T HAVE ANY PROSPECTS

John 4:35
Do you not say, „Four months more and then the harvest‟? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

Unless you got this message out of a bottle that floated up on the deserted island you live on, you have plenty of prospects. Let’s take a look at where we can go visiting. Any evangelism or outreach ministry will be more effective with understanding the fields to be harvested. We must develop meaningful relationships through meeting needs both in the community and the church. So, what types of prospective new members are out there? The simple church growth principle of. No visitors, no growth, really comes into focus here. Our iCONSULTATION can help you with this part of your church growth mix, but here are some basic thoughts.

THE CHURCH GUEST

Matthew 22:9-10
Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.‟ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

The church guest is one of the best prospective members we have. Remember the contact should be made within 36 hours after their visit if possible. This is because 60% of first time visitors will return if the contact is made within 36 hours, while 15% will return if you wait until the end of the week.

INACTIVE MEMBERS

James 5:19-20
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Inactive Sunday School and church members are another resource for visitation. Don’t get discouraged when dealing with inactives. You should be aware that it is likely to require six to ten hours of visitation to move into ministry with the inactive. You can get detailed help with ministry to inactive church members in our library on our web site at MyChurchGrowth.com. Everything in the library is free.

FRAN’s

Mark 5:19-20
… “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors are rich mission fields for ministry. I have gone to many churches that thought they had no prospects, and asked them to make a list of people they can think of that do not attend church. A small church with a handful of people can easily come up with hundreds of prospects. Try it! Make your list, start praying for the people, and ask God to present opportunity. God does not procrastinate like we do. He is more than willing to set up divine appointments for us.

HOSPITALS AND NURSING HOMES

Luke 8:41-42
Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus‟ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

Hospitals and nursing homes are full of people waiting for someone to come by and spend some time talking and praying with them. If you do not have members in the hospital or nursing home, try going from room to room, asking if anyone would like prayer. I have also asked nurses on duty if there is a certain patient that may enjoy a visit from someone. You run the risk of being asked to leave, but unless it is a small hospital, there’s more than one floor and more than one shift of nurses. You may be surprised with the results.

GOING DOOR TO DOOR

Acts 5:42
Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

Sound a little scary? Being a little frightened is only Satan trying to stop you. Before I was saved, I visited as a Mormon with no fear. Satan did not want to stop me. After I met Jesus Christ began visiting with the true gospel, I found that spirit of fear trying to stop me. Remember that we must only be willing to do it, and God will bless our efforts.

When you consider where you may want to go door to door, something else to consider is the natural traffic pattern. When the church is between the prospects home and a destination the prospect travels to on a regular basis, such as work, it is in the natural traffic pattern. These prospects will be easier to reach since they are accustomed to traveling from home in the direction of the church. It will require approximately 5 visits to get someone to attend worship when the church is in this traffic pattern. It will require about 9 visits for those who live outside that pattern. The most important question is, which field does God want you to work in, and what will the strategies be? These questions will be answered through prayer, the most important, effective part of outreach. Be sure to read the Caring & Sharing article in our library for more help on this subject.

THE BASICS

Acts 19:17
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Now we want to lay a foundation for knocking on the door and keeping a follow up strategy going. This article will assume first, that the prospect you are visiting has previously attended your church. Other articles in our library will support other types of visitation. Secondly, we will assume the reader knows little or nothing about visitation.

PRAYER

Romans 10:1
Brothers, my heart‟s desire and prayer to God … is that they may be saved.

Prayer is the most important part of the visit. Pray together before leaving the church, not in front of the prospects home. If your prospect looks out the window and sees people sitting in a car in front of their home, it can make for an uncomfortable situation. Praying inside the home silently as someone on your ministry team shares is always appropriate. I recall a visit I made a few years back with a new trainee. “All you have to do is pray as I share Christ with our prospect” I said. Well, as I began to share the gospel with our prospect, my trainee dropped to his knees and began praying loudly, “Oh God, save this wretched sinner!” I couldn’t believe this was happening. I continued as though I hadn’t noticed what my ministry partner was doing. Although our prospect received Christ that night, I explained to my new trainee that this is not be the best approach the next time.

THE APPROACH

Colossians 4:5
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

Be sure not to park your vehicle on the grass or a flower bed, and try not to block in other vehicles. You don’t want to position your vehicle so it will have to be moved if someone in the home needs to leave. If there is a woman on your team, she should be the most visible person on the team at the door. This is much less intimidating for most people. Introduce yourself and the team members and state you are from the church immediately. If no one is home, be certain you leave a door hanger with church information, and a brief note to let them know you stopped by.

INSIDE THE HOME

Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Once inside the home, you can look for visible things to build a friendly conversation with. For example: Musical instruments, trophies, pictures, etc. Begin building a relationship with the prospect by talking about the things they like. Remember to retrieve any information that may be used for follow up and ministry. Do not take notes in front of the prospects. Stay focused on ministry to the individual. Listen for feelings, attitudes, perceptions and values as well as for facts. Pay attention and avoid interrupting. Never tune people out because you don’t like them, you disagree with them, or you find them dull. This time should not be rushed although you should not overstay your welcome either. Be Spirit led and use good judgment.

LEAVING THE HOME

Ephesians 5:15-16
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, …

Do not end your visit with a reason you must leave. (i.e. We have a meeting to go to, we have more visits to make, I’ve got to get home, etc..) The prospect should feel special enough that you have designated this time just for them. Praying with the prospect is a good way to conclude the visit, but always ask permission to pray for them and never call on them to pray, some people will be very uncomfortable with that.

KEEP GOOD RECORDS FOR ASSIMILATION

Colossians 4:9
… They will tell you everything that is happening here.

In establishing a visitation ministry, report back and record keeping are very important ingredients. A report back session gives opportunity to share about our ministry time for purposes of follow-up ideas and prayer. You can serve refreshments and turn this into a special time of the outreach night. A report back time also brings the paper work or reports back to the church. How will you carry on the assimilation process without this information? It is vital the information retrieved will be useful. The biggest problem I have seen when it comes to visitation reports, is a name of the members who made the visit and “Good visit” written on the form. What strategy would you use to assimilate the prospect with the term “good visit” penciled in on a report? Strategic detailed information must be captured if we are to be effective in outreach ministry.
These are the simple basics of a visitation ministry to get you started. When I watch the weekly attendance records for the churches we work with I can tell when they are not doing the outreach, because The growth starts to level off. Visitation still works today, just as it did in the early church.

For other free articles on ministry to inactives and other evangelism and outreach training for your visitation ministry, visit our library at MyChurchGrowth.com/library.

From the library of MyChurchGrowth.com
copyright ©2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
Where the complexity of church growth intersects with the simplicity of the gospel

Comments off

How to figure your church growth rate

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Growth rates are an important part of the diagnostic tools we have in our church growth toolbox. Part of developing your church growth strategies will be understanding growth rates.

First let me clarify what numerical growth is. These numbers we count are much more than statistics. Each one has a name and God knows them, loves them, and desires to have a relationship with them. Trying to separate evangelism and discipleship is like trying to slice a quarter in half so you will have 50 cents. You do not. We must reach people for Jesus, but also assimilate them into a loving church and disciple them. These numbers are only a tool to keep us on track, as a physician would use a thermometer and his other instruments to diagnose a patient.

Each church is either growing, on a plateau, or declining. Eighty percent of the churches in America are not growing in fact eight churches a day close in the United States and Canada. When we do a consultation we look at the AGR (Annual Growth Rate) AAGR (Average Annual Growth Rate) and DGR (Decade Growth Rate).

Before I show you how to figure your growth rate, let me explain what we are looking for. In church growth terms, a church is not growing unless it increases by five percent a year. On the other side, a church is not in a decline unless it is losing five percent a year. Everything in that ten percent window (five percent plus–and five percent minus) is considered a plateau. Most of the churches that have partnered with us and have a membership to our associate services are growing at twenty percent. The smaller a church is, the easier it is for that number to be higher. It is not unusual for us to be able to double many of the churches that have 50 or less in worship in twelve months time. My home church, Idlewild Baptist Church, here in Tampa, has around 7500 in worship. Growing five percent is a lot more work. You get the idea, and have a few thoughts already about your own church.

Now let’s look at these church growth tools and get started on the path to new church growth ideas, with old church growth principles. The Annual Growth Rate (AGR) Not to insult your intelligence, is used to tell us how much numerical growth has occurred from one year to the next, and what the trend will most likely be, if no changes are made.

At Church growth Associates, we have weekly tracking and accountability for the churches we partner with, when it comes to worship attendance. We want to make adjustments as needed and not wait until the end of the year to figure out what went wrong (or right). In my examples I use attendance, so it can’t be said we have more members than there are people. Church membership is important, but attendance is a great measure of our effectiveness. You can use members for your calculations if you like, use any criterion you desire, just keep consistent with the formula from year to year.

1. Subtract the earlier year’s average attendance, from the later year’s average attendance.
2. Divide the answer you get by the earlier year.
3. Multiply the answer you get by 100 to change the decimal to percent.
4. The answer is your AGR.

Let’s give an illustration of this example. Gracious Church had an average attendance of 125 last year. This year Gracious Church had an average of 180 in attendance.

This year    180
Last year  – 125
Increase      55

An increase of 55 in worship, divided by the earlier year average (125) is .44 times 100 (to convert to percent). The AGR for Gracious Church is 44% this year.

Now go back for the last ten years, and get the AGR for each one. This will give you a look at the trend your church is on, and where it most likely will be in ten years if no changes are made.

If you don’t have Microsoft Office or PowerPoint, you will find a link to the open source alternative, Open Office in our library you can own at no charge. This will help you to see a graph of your progress.

You can use the same formula as above to find your DGR if you desire, but I recommend working with the numbers from the past ten years. We use older history only when there are more questions that need to be answered. Ten years is sufficient in most cases.

You are invited to check out the vast resources for church growth on our main website. Here are just a few.

Church Experience Project

The Un-churched by State

Adding Another Worship Service

Check out our Library

If you would like to see if Church Growth Associates could help you with your strategies for church growth, tell us your story, maybe we can help.

Rick Robinson

 

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
MyChurchGrowth.com

Comments off

How much space do I need?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Church Growth and Sunday School Space may go together more than you think. One question often asked is how much space is needed when planning a Sunday School? The needs of a church will vary according to size, and age distribution. In an average church the babies and toddlers may amount to three percent, while your church may have a greater number or even none at all. The space needed for a Sunday School will vary, but here is guide you can use when planning your small groups. This guideline is a strategy for church growth, you can get by with less if you have too, but if you sacrifice these ratios you may effect attendance and future church growth.

Age Group    Square Feet / Person
Babies -Kindergarten    30-35
Primary – Middle School    25-30
High School    20-25
Adults    10-15

To maximize the utility you get from existing buildings, you may need to do some measuring. I have a digital tape measure I use for such a project. You can purchase one at Lowes; they are relatively inexpensive and can save a lot of time. I have seen rooms that have not been used for a while with things stacked up in them, and this tool will avoid your having to move things around or climb over them, since it just pings off the wall. You can also work alone if you have this tool, and many pastors don’t always have someone available to help.

Once you figure the square footage of the rooms you will have available; you can use the guidelines provided to see how many people can be accommodated in each room.

Determine the ministry God wants you to do, then adopt your resources to that mission. If you are a church that operates a school during the week in your facilities, I suggest you don’t force your members, and particularly your guest, to sit in your small groups using a school desk. Get creative; get some comfortable adult accommodating chairs in those rooms even if it means more set up and take down time.

Rarely if ever can any one factor be the cause for the growth or decline of a church. It requires a combination of factors to develop a growing church. This combination of factors is called the “growth mix”. Every church has a growth mix, be it a poor one that causes decline or a good one that causes growth. When our church growth consultants diagnose a church to discover the growth mix, we use church growth ratios and principles as a guideline. When it comes to small groups and church growth, keep the following church growth principles in mind.

Every small group, including Sunday School, will eventually close itself off. This is called saturation. Saturation can be caused by many variables, but the most powerful influence is time itself. For this reason, one of the most powerful strategies we have for growth of the Sunday School, or other small group, is creating new units, or classes on a regular basis. Twenty percent of your small groups should have been started in the last two years.

Reclaiming wasted space, freshening up rooms and the environment presented by the condition and cleanliness of the rooms and properly allocating space can be a boost for Sunday School and church growth. The bottom line will be better assimilation of people into a caring church fellowship.

Rick Robinson is a church growth consultant with Church Growth Associates.

If you would like help with strategies for church growth, click here. One of our church growth consultants will call you with no obligation to see if we can help you grow your church.

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
http://MyChurchGrowth.com

Comments off

The Church Visitor Welcome Scale

By Rev. Rick Robinson

What happens to a church visitor (perhaps you call them guest or newcomers) when they attend your church for the first time? Most people don’t think about that question very often, they just assume a newcomer will feel like they fit in with the crowd.

I want to give you a church growth tool we use at Church Growth Associates to help bring a newcomer into the assimilation process of your church. When we do either an iConsultation or an onsite consultation, we use ratios and factors to diagnose your church and find out where your growth mix is. When it comes to church growth, Jesus made it clear that we are to be about the great commission. We cannot sit around and expect new people to show up in the volume it will take to achieve biblical growth.

Matthew 28:19-20
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It is impossible to grow a church without new people, making church visitors the lifeline for the future. Keep in mind this simple church growth principle; no visitors–no growth. Twenty five percent of first all time visitors should become active members of a church within a year, while seventy five percent of second time visitors should become members within a year. We must give honest evaluation as to how newcomers are treated when they attend.

Colossians 4:5
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

One of the tools you can use to help keep people coming back is the visitor welcome scale. There are six actions on this scale, each given a point value. The greater influence the action has on the church visitor, the higher the point value, with a total of 3320 possible points for completing all six actions. Below are the six actions with the point values listed.

1. A smile from someone. This has been assigned a 10-point value. This is so simple everyone should be doing it already.

2. A greeting from someone nearby. This also has a value of 10 points. Most of the churches in American would not score more than the first twenty points. If there were no official “greeting time” in the service, many would not even get this far.

3. Exchange of names. This carries a 100-point value. We start building more of an assimilation environment when we become more personal. Your guest must perceive this is the church where they can make friends and fit in. Remember that if a person does not make seven friends the first year, they probably won’t be there the second year.

4. An invitation to return. This is worth 200 points. You can also invite them to other church events and activities. Doing this at the end of the service will make the introduction time you spent with them more sincere, since you did not run away to talk with your friends when church was over. Instead, apply the next action.

5. Introduction to another member. This is a 1000 point action. The newcomer is going to begin seeing this church is a place they will fit in quickly and call their church home.

6. Introduction to the pastor. This is the highest point value on the scale at 2000 points. Some pastors stand at the exit of the church and greet people on the way out; you may have other ways to interact with people. At my home church, Idlewild Baptist Church, here in Tampa, Pastor Ken Whitten has a “Pastor on the veranda” time after each service on Sunday morning. This is a time where volunteer deacons and their wives meet and greet new visitors on the veranda, give them an informational DVD about the ministries of the church and introduce them to the pastor.

All of these actions combined will give you a total of 3320 points. Let me ask you how many points did you earn last Sunday? How many are you going to earn this Lord’s day? When you use this simple tool, you will set the newcomer on the assimilation path to a meaningful and productive church experience. To learn more about church growth ideas and strategies be sure to visit the iLibrary on our website at http://MyChurchGrowth.com/library and our PowerPoint central (members only area) for additional helpful church growth tools.

To see if Church Growth Associates can help your church, click here;  Can Church Growth Associates help my church? A consultant will contact you to hear your story.

Rev. Rick Robinson is a church growth consultant helping churches of all sizes with church growth and evangelism strategies.

http://MyChurchGrowth.com

 

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

Comments off

Acquainted or acquitted?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

Once when Jesus went to the region of Caesarea Philippi, the question was raised in conversation with the disciples about whom the people were saying that he is. Simon Peter spoke up and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” If you were asked that question, how would you answer? Would it be an intellectually learned answer, or would it be a life-changed testimony to the fact? There are many people today who are confused about the question of who is Jesus. Some say he was created, just like Lucifer. That would make the two of them brothers. Some have a form of Godliness in their life, but yet all the testimonies of what they claim God has done for them is used to point to a particular “true church”. Some believe he is the Son of the living God–but then so does the devil.

James 2:19
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

If we have met the real Jesus Christ on a personal basis, then Jesus is the infinite God-man and there is no other that he could be.

John 1:1,14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Does your life express a life changed meeting with Jesus Christ or just an intellectual understanding of who Jesus is? There is a real difference between the two. What is your testimony when you answer the question about who is Jesus? Are you acquainted or acquitted?

Now let me pose another thought for you here. Suppose people were asked that same question about you? Who would the people say that you are? I am not talking about being famous or popular here, but about your character. Is the joy of being acquitted from your sin bringing genuine change to your life? If there is no difference in your you life, is it because you are simply acquainted with who Jesus is? Your circumstances will give you a difficult path to walk at times. When that happens who would the people say that you are? When you are walking through difficult times, you may feel all alone–deserted by the one who saved you as though you are only acquainted. I am guilty of that many times over. Jesus will not always make your difficult times to go away, but you will not have to walk that difficult path alone, if you are acquitted.

Matthew 16:13-16
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

Copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
MyChurchGrowth.com

Comments off

The Farm of Your Life

By Rick Robinson

There once was a farmer who had a son who watched him plow in the fields. Each day as the son grew; he would ask his father to allow him to take the reigns of the plow. As time passed, the father grew weary of his son begging him to learn the art of farming. So the farmer gave the reigns over to his son, and he explained to him the secret of plowing the field comes down to the art of focus. If you will simply pick something off in the distance, and focus on it, you will be able to master the art of plowing the field in perfectly straight rows. So he gave the reigns over to his son, and made his way to other chores waiting on the farm.  Later, when the farmer returned to inspect his son’s work, he was dismayed to find all the rows crooked and crossing over each other. The father asked his son, why have you not followed my instruction? I told you to simply focus on something in the distance and plow a straight line toward the target. His son answered back, I followed your instruction exactly as you explained father. I focused on the cow in the next field and followed it to plow my rows.

The farm of your life may look like a mess if you are focused on the wrong things.
God wants us to be productive and fruitful. Our Father in heaven has given us the reigns to the plow and instructed us to focus on Jesus Christ so that we may plow in straight rows. When you are trusting in your own strength to accomplish things, you have taken your focus off Christ.

Hosea 10:12-13
Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you. But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors,

There is also a warning about trying to reap a harvest on sun baked soil that allows growth of mostly weeds, or sin. It is essential not only that we do not rely on our own strength, but that we do not allow our heart to become hardened, and our actions to sow seeds of destruction. God calls this type of farming sin.

Jeremiah 4:3
This is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: “Break up our unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.

Plowing only prepares the soil for sowing the seeds that bring forth the harvest. On the farm of your life, the soil is our heart, the plow is the word of God and the seeds we plant are our actions. Your actions will produce a harvest of peace or destruction according to what was sown.

Galatians 6:7
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Is God calling you to have a radical change in your life? If you are focused on things other that Jesus Christ then you have plowed crooked rows in the farm of your life, even if they look straight to you.

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

If you have not put application to the things God has shown you in His word, you are bound to reap a harvest full of weeds. If you have not plowed the soil of your heart at all, the sun baked hard soil will produce a harvest by chance instead of by God’s design and perfect plan. What kind of fruit are you harvesting with the farm of your life? No matter the mess you feel you or circumstances beyond your control may have made of your life, Jesus Christ has already provided solutions. Nothing is too difficult for God.

Copyright 2010 Church Growth Associates
http://mychurchgrowth.com

Comments off

Sanity Takes a Holiday

by Rev. Rick Robinson

So they don’t want us to call it Christmas anymore? The caravans did not travel following OnStar to their destination for a holiday. The angels did not announce glad tidings of vacation time and great shopping discounts. All right then, I want to wish you a very Merry Jesusmas! I know it has extra syllables, even for those of us who are from the south–but if you get a running start with it, you can make it fit in most of those songs that offend some people.

Well, if I can’t change the name legally, then why can someone else? At least I left the “mas” in my revision; they aren’t suggesting Happy Holidaymas. When is the last time you asked someone if they accepted a Holiday as their personal Lord and Savoir? If you don’t like Jesusmas, you are not alone. My spell checker wants me to change it. Add it to the dictionary…argument over. Maybe there should be a Sanity Clause in all of this legal mumbo-jumbo.

While we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25th, and many are working to remove reference to Christ from the day of celebration, let’s look to the Bible to see what information we can get about the birth date of Jesus Christ.
Many Christians acknowledge that no one knows the exact day Jesus was born, but the Bible gives us some good information about the event. The exact date of Jesus’ birth is not as critical as not losing focus of the greatest gift given to mankind. Let’s look at the series of event recorded in the book of Luke, and break it down into a time frame.

Luke 1:5-17 (NASB)
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years. Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. And aan angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. “And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

We see from this passage, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was serving in the course of Abijah in the temple. The “course of Abijah” was a specific time when priests served in the temple. King David had divided the sons of Aaron into 24 groups (1 Chr 24:1-4). This would set up a schedule by which the Temple could be staffed with priests all year round in an orderly manner. Lots were then drawn to determine the sequence in which each group would serve in the Temple (1 Chr 24: 7-19). Zechariah served in the course of Abijah, the eighth course, which started in early June.

Luke 1:24-37 (NASB)
After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.” Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of  the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, ‍The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

As we continue exploring the timeline in Luke, we see the angel announcing the birth of Jesus, to Mary six months later. The Jewish calendar was different than the one we use today, but this would have been sometime around our December, when Mary conceived. If I was teaching this in a classroom environment we would dig deeper into this, but this is not a course on calendar conversion. We know this was six months after the conception of John, because the angel told Mary that fact. Assuming that both Mary and Elizabeth were normal in terms of length pregnancy, John the Baptist would have been born in March, and Jesus probably sometime in the month of September.

The Bible also gives more evidence that Jesus was not likely born in December.

Luke 2:8-12 (NIV)
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Shepherds were not in the fields in the winter, they were in the fields early in March until early October. This would place Jesus’ birth in the spring or early fall. It is also known that Jesus lived for 33.5 years and died at the feast of the Passover, which is at Easter time. He must therefore have been born six months the other side of Easter – making the date around the September/October time frames.

Luke 2:1-7 (NIV)
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Palestine is very cold in December and much too cold to ask everyone to travel to the city of their fathers to register for taxes. This would also support the evidence of the shepherds being out in the fields.

If Jesus started His ministry at the age of thirty, as was customary for the Jews (Numbers 4:3) and was crucified at the feast of the Passover, which is Easter time, then He was about thirty-three and one-half years old. Six months the other side of Easter would make His date of birth around the September time frame.

Regardless of when Jesus was born, our hearts should be filled with thanksgiving that God chose to send his Son into the world for our redemption and salvation. I hope this information does not ruin your Christmas, but makes it more special. If you have not received this gift of Christmas (eternal life) you can do it now and make This Christmas the best ever.

The gospel does not require the celebration of Christmas, but there is no time that is “off limits” for us to meet together to celebrate the good things God has done for us through Jesus Christ. We celebrate Christmas in our home every year, but we are aware that the thing that is sacred, is the birth of Jesus Christ, not December 25th.

Copyright 2010 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
http://MyChurchGrowth.com

Comments off

5 Reasons To Use Church Growth Associates

With 20 plus years of church growth experience focused on the Word of God, you will receive a personal partnership with Church Growth Associates, bringing you the results you need with exceptional value.

Experience

Rarely if ever does one factor cause church growth or decline. Church Growth takes place when successful combinations of factors are in place. This combination of factors is called your church growth mix. Church Growth Associates has the experience to help you adjust your church growth mix to be successful. You have probably found many of the hundreds of books we have collected and read on the subject of church growth, but have not been able to transfer the ideas in the books into reality. We have been helping churches of all sizes grow through using the tools and methods we have developed and proven since 1989.

Focus

The best book ever written on church growth is the Bible, and the best consultant is Jesus Christ. In only one sentence, here are four important things Jesus said we should know about church growth.

1. Jesus owns the church

2. Jesus will build the church

3. Satan will fight against the church

4. Jesus will bring victory for the church

Matthew 16:18

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

The main focus of church growth must be centered on Jesus Christ. We will always focus on Biblical solutions for growth above paradigms or experience alone.

Results

Results are always the bottom line when it comes to implementing church growth plans. Churches of all sizes, in large cities and small towns alike have seen results using our services. Rural churches, such as one that had 12 members, but now has over 120 in worship in the small country church. We have helped other churches that were going to give up because they could not afford the rent for their building.

Tell us your story, and let’s discuss how we can get results for you.

Personalized

Church Growth Associates gives you personalized progress and response to get the results you are looking for. The personalized touch doesn’t stop with the analysis and leadership for church growth, but we are also available when you need a friend, or have questions. We have a network of prayer partners that are praying for the churches and people we work with. You can send prayer request 24/7 on our website. You can also e-mail or call with questions at any time. Be part of Rick Robinson’s circle of friends on Facebook, (http://facebook.com/churchgrowth) read devotional thoughts, or follow the restoration of his 1929 Pontiac on the blog. (Life is not all work.)

We know being the wife of a pastor is a demanding call. Ladies can read Victoria Robinson’s daily devotionals on the Girlfriend’s Oasis on our site. There are a lot of free resources available on our website, even if you are not a member of our church growth plan. Get more information about us at http://mychurchgrowth.com

Value

All this ads up to exceptional value for your church. We have onsite Consultations and church growth workshops to choose from. (http://mychurchgrowth.com/onsite) You can save even more of God’s money when you get help through the Internet, using our innovative iConsulltations. (http://mychurchgrowth.com/iconsultations) Every church can afford help using our iConsultation. We also have a scholarship program for qualifying churches.

Call or click and let’s talk about church growth for your church.

813.920.0586

To see if Church Growth Associates can help your church, click here;  Can Church Growth Associates help my church? A consultant will contact you to hear your story.

Rev. Rick Robinson is a church growth consultant helping churches of all sizes with church growth and evangelism strategies.

http://MyChurchGrowth.com

 

Comments off

Spiritual ADD

By Rev. Rick Robinson

I sat over lunch one day and asked a pastor friend of mine, who he was intentionally, discipling. What if I asked you that same question? Did you know most of you are discipling people almost every day? I call this action of unintentional discipleship, Spiritual ADD, or Spiritual Accidental Discipling Disorder. Your actions and attitudes will either encourage people to find a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ or it will lead them to neglect looking for God’s direction. Discipleship is much more than some program or academic procedure of Bible studies. Discipleship is a lifestyle, even when you are not aware of it.

When I was a young believer, God placed Al Hunt in my life to disciple me. Al was an intentional disciple; it was no accident when he was involved in my life. Al constantly was taking me to the word of God when I had questions or prayer request. This was true discipleship, even though the only program we used was life itself, and the curriculum was the Bible.

The great commission tells us we should be intentional disciple makers. If we are serious about being a true disciple of Jesus Christ, then we should take serious the traits of a disciple from the very words of Jesus. How do you think you are doing as an intentional disciple, in light of the words of Jesus?

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you can be free from any bondage to sin or bad habits. Are you continuously in the word, and trying to live accordingly?

John 8:31-32
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you will not only be free from your past, but you will be fruitful. Are you living in freedom from your past and being productive and fruitful?

John 15:5-8
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you must be willing to put Jesus above everything in your life. You must be willing to give up any possessions in total surrender to Christ.

Luke 14:33
In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:26
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you must be willing to die to self. This is part of the discipline of becoming a true disciple.

Luke 14:27
And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, your life will display genuine love.

John 13:35
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

I did not decide any of these traits of being a disciple–Jesus did. As a disciple of Jesus Christ you must consider the cost to follow his teaching. Do you have the discipline to pay the cost of following Jesus?

Luke 14:28
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?

Churches grow by homogenous units, that is, like groups of people. Our churches will not experience growth through making disciples until we ourselves are willing to become disciples. Are you suffering from Spiritual ADD, or have you committed to having the discipline to be an intentional disciple of Jesus Christ?

 

Copyright 2010 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
http://MyChurchGrowth.com

Rev. Rick Robinson is a church growth consultant, working with churches with church growth strategies.

Click here to talk to one of our consultants to see if we can help your church grow.

 

Comments off

Mirage or Miracle?

By Rev. Rick Robinson

While driving your car, you most likely have seen a spot in the road ahead that looks as if it were flooded with water. The mirage you see is caused because the sun heats the pavement, which causes the air at the point just above the road to heat up. When the air temperature is increased more than two degrees per meter from the resting temperature of the atmosphere, light passes from cooler air across the boundary of warmer air causing the light rays to bounce and reflect. As the warmer air rises it mixes with the cooler air and does not continue to bounce the light. When pavement or sand heats up in the summer, it easily reaches a ten-degree per meter difference in the air just above it, creating the mirage of a body of water. This occurrence is not what it appears; your brain just interprets the information incorrectly. Your brain interprets this as water because your experience tells you it is a reasonable and common occurrence. Once you advance to the place you saw the water, you realize all you had was a mirage.

God may want to do something of a miracle in your life, but if you allow your brain to interpret what is going on around you, it may be discovered to be a mirage instead. It is because your common sense will effect you to give up when God wants you to continue ahead. We must continue to learn to live by our conviction of the truth and not by what we see with our natural senses.

2 Corinthians 5:7

We live by faith, not by sight.

When we go through problems in life that discourage us, we usually are looking at the mirage and not the miracle on the horizon. Our brain is interpreting failure and trouble, instead of a time of refinement to make us more effective. Satan has to ask permission to do anything bad to you. The story of Job is perhaps the clearest picture of that fact, but we also see this throughout the scriptures.

Luke 22:31-32

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.

”From these words of Jesus, we can see Satan asked permission to sift Simon like wheat. Jesus did not say permission was denied, but instead told Simon he prayed for him that his faith would not fail. Permission was granted to allow things to take place in your life as well. Understand then, grain had to be purified by sifting. This process was called winnowing. Everything was put into large sieves that allowed the grain to pass through but left most of the rubbish behind. It was also necessary to remove any darnel grains at this stage because they are bitter and cause dizziness and sickness if eaten. Darnel was called “tares” or “weeds” in the New Testament. Darnel looks identical to wheat until the grain ripens and it turns black instead of yellow. When this part of the work was complete, the farmer normally stayed with the grain, camping out to ensure that the harvest was not stolen. Sifting will bring you to a place of strength if you will keep your trust in Christ. Notice Jesus finished his statement to Simon with the encouragement that he would then strengthen his brothers. Just as the farmer would stand guard over the wheat that had been sifted, so your Heavenly Father will stay with you through your trials to make certain you will be safe.

Deuteronomy 31:8

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

It may not seem that way right now because you are hurting, but your trials may be a time of purification and miracles. If you trust in your natural senses, it will cause you to turn away; then you will turn your miracle into a painful and disappointing mirage.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Copyright 2010 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

http://MyChurchGrowth.com


Comments off

Older Posts »