Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Philosophy of Ministry

So how do you ground your vision in the life of your church? Agree an upfront philosophy of ministry!

A philosophy of ministry is more important than we realise as leaders. I think this is often very much amiss in church leadership teams. Who believes that we should be involved in outreach? We all believe that. Who believes that we should witness? Right. Now your philosophy of ministry - that is, how you take those biblical values and apply them in church life, can take you in differing directions. So your philosophy could be, well we’re going to do door-to-door work - that’s one outworking of outreach. Others will say, ‘We don’t do it that way’ - that’s actually a philosophy. Another philosophy is to say - we believe in relationship and process evangelism, and so we use the Alpha course. Many of us would be there. At King’s we believe in outreach and witness; we do Alpha and our philosophy of implementation is centred on Thursday night when a large team of dedicated people run the Alpha course here. We’ve done it for over 10 years and seen great fruit – fantastic! It’s an approach to review from time to time.

Your Sunday meeting is also in your philosophy. Do you see it as being for believers and for teaching the saints? Even if you haven’t articulated it, Sunday preparation can be done as though that is what they are for. At King’s we haven’t gone to the point of running ‘seeker services’ which is what Bill Hybels did at Willow Creek, where they said ‘Sundays are for unbelievers and midweek meetings are for believers.’ That’s not where we are - but we would have numbers of Sundays which are designed for the needs of unbelievers, not for Christians and in this way our philosophy impacts how we do Sundays. I’m sure many churches do this - we just seem to do it a bit more than some.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Strategic Thinking

At King’s we would be able to say on any given Sunday, or at any given major event that we do, exactly why we’re doing it and at what point on the Rick Warren circles (community, crowd, committed, core) we find our ‘target audience’. So when some years ago we did our Freedom event, which was to commemorate the abolition of the slave trade - in our context a massive, massive issue as we are in very multicultural context - our team discussed together and said ‘this is how we’re pitching it.’ We identified our target audience.

The result was three Sunday meetings and 1400 people through the doors. That was a big Sunday for us. The mayor of Lewisham and Steven Timms MP came along to add to the moment, but really we were trying to connect into our community. So our presentation and the content were full of the gospel but we weren’t overtly evangelistic. It was very much a time of sowing and giving our church greater credibility in the community. I think we achieved that goal.

So in that sense our lesson has been - be strategic and be really clear on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. My experience of working with churches is that doesn’t always happen; the attitude can be more one of ‘we do it this way, we just preach the Bible’. At King’s we have learned to integrate our approach and package things in a way that links what we’re doing on Sunday with our midweek activities. We want our vision to be grounded in the whole life of the church and we have found it pays to be strategic.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Watch your language!

We really are happy to work with ideas from others! The next idea came from Rick Warren’s book, Purpose Driven Church - if you look at our Vision Statement you will see that it’s exactly the same as his - apart from the fact that he had a few more noughts on the number of members in his vision… He’s done it and we’re on our way! So I feel fortunate in this - I will just take things that I see others doing that God is owning and blessing and integrate them into our philosophy and strategy. We have found this approach to be really very helpful.

We believe that ‘doing church’ is not just about the members. Within Newfrontiers, with our restoration foundation, we automatically think about church members. At Kings, we believe it isn’t as simple as that – you also have a community around you which you are there to reach. How many people live in your community? Around King’s we have 250,000 people and we see it as our responsibility to get around to thinking how they will find their place with God.

There is a crowd of people that live near your church and around mine who are not yet members - but they’re coming on Sundays. Some of you have got two such people, some might have twenty. Then you have the congregation - that might well be your membership. We do have a membership at King’s and think it is very important as a commitment to a local church - but it doesn’t stop there because you know within your members’ list that there are some people that are even more committed than others in terms of turning up and serving! It’s not just members and then the rest - it’s more complex than that. Members need to be encouraged into greater maturity. And you’ve then also got some people that are your ‘core’ people.

I found this analysis very helpful in understanding my church - it affects me every time I get up on the platform on a Sunday morning because I’m aware that I’m speaking to a very broad group of people with different levels of involvement and commitment. That realization should affect how you present your message. If you’re ‘new people aware’, it will influence how you organise church life and how you explain church events, including the notices. Listen to what is said from a visitor’s point of view. Delete church jargon, ‘in jokes’ and those easy terms and acronyms familiar to you – but not to new people. Watch your language!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Growing a Church: Keep It Simple!

When it comes to bringing vision to the church, at King’s we try to present it in a creative way and engage people to step in. This might be at a meeting with lots of people being baptised or one of our regular ‘ministry fairs’ on a Sunday as serving is a very real way in which people can engage with the vision. On that Sunday all the ministry teams set up a stall and there will be a high level of ownership as they look to recruit more volunteers to help within their sphere. I’ve noticed that cakes seem to feature strongly on some stalls…! So, with Vision Sunday, a baptism and a ministry fair, the fourth Sunday of that particular month might feature a guest speaker.

One January we went through a highly recommended series – based on the book Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels. We took four Sundays to cover it and I began the series on our Vision Sunday talking about one of our goals - to reach people. We integrated our mid-week group programme during that month with the topic – preaching through the series, followed by discussion in our mid-week groups, supplemented by having the book for individuals to read – these three approaches really saturated the church culture.

Some people ask me, ‘What have you done that’s different to other churches?’ or even questions like, ‘What’s the secret of your success?’ The strange thing is that we haven’t really come up with a new idea because I’m not that creative. I’ve met pastors who are very creative but don’t do what’s really simple and what works. They have to reinvent the wheel and as a result make it hard for themselves; that creative element can really complicate their lives! I like to keep things really simple and so practically all the things we’ve done have been taken from the tried and tested experience of other leaders and churches - and we’re very happy for others to take them from us as well if it helps!