Tuesday, 26 February 2013

How to use an evangelist effectively..

At King’s we don’t do a gospel appeal every week - perhaps on average 1 in 4 Sundays there will be a gospel application and we would make an appeal. On occasions we might invite an evangelist to speak; churches that can’t afford to employ a full-time evangelist (and not many of us can afford that luxury!) can bring one in from elsewhere for a particular day. Many of us on the King’s team have a little bit of the evangelist in our make-up, but we don’t have an evangelist like we have an Ephesians 4 teacher. Such gifts are great but they don’t carry the church on a day-to-day basis.

My observation would be that too many leaders bring in a specialist for their second or third staff appointment and do that too early. If you’re a smaller church then you really want a generalist as your second appointment because the main thing that needs to happen is to release the senior leader into other areas. I’ve seen this happen time and time again - an evangelist is taken on and when the pastor wants the evangelist to carry some further areas of responsibility the evangelist says, ‘No. I just want to preach the gospel and speak to unbelievers...’
However, each church could get an evangelist in on occasions. Our observation of gifted evangelists that have come to our church is they spend more time on the appeal than most of us do because the rest of us are generally teachers and are less comfortable with dwelling on the appeal. Lex Loizides has shown us a way to do this…

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Appealing to people...

We tell lots of stories at King’s. Honestly, I would say that if you see someone saved tomorrow, tell everyone two or three times. People, particularly British people, always look on and say little! If you see someone come to faith here and there, you grow a bit and your people need to hear such stories. We tell the success stories; we’re not unreal, we don’t make them up, but we do tell the stories when they happen - I do that regularly. ‘We had 25 people at Alpha and on Holy Spirit day 5 people responded and became Christians’...

We want to stir faith in our people and of course we pray a lot as a church about people becoming Christians. So growth is on our agenda. Even more precisely - salvation growth is on our agenda. So we teach it, we model it as leaders; we set goals, tell success stories and pray about it in our prayer meetings.

I want to make some comments on gospel appeals and how we do them at King’s. At the end of a Sunday meeting quite regularly I would do a two minute gospel appeal. I might not be leading the meeting or preaching but at the end of the worship or if we’ve broken bread together, we might just feel it is right to go for a gospel appeal - literally a two minute thing. It is ‘God is here. God loves you. We’ve just celebrated His death and resurrection. We don’t know if you’re a Christian. We just want to give you an opportunity to respond to Christ here and now. So why don’t we all close our eyes. Is there anyone here that wants to become a Christian? Could you put your hand up now…?’

Sometimes when we do it that way we get no response but you’d be surprised how many times someone in our context will respond. If there is no response in the first meeting, there are always the subsequent meetings. That’s all we do. You don’t need to include the whole doctrine of salvation in there, with the creation and the fall and things like that! In that sense you don’t lose the whole meeting to the gospel moment because there are other things to include such as teaching for the church and worship. We would say to our preaching team ‘you need to present Christ every time you preach and everything you bring should go through the Cross or reflect the Cross somehow as you preach’. If you just preach and Jesus doesn’t appear in the material then we are ‘off message’.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Building trust, setting goals

I would stress that a key component in leadership is trust. If you don’t have the trust of your fellow leaders and of the people you lead then you’ll know about it because every time you initiate something, you will recognise there’s an underlying issue with resistance and lack of trust. To gain trust also involves giving people confidence in your leadership and the decisions that you make, so I present our vision goals to them in faith. ‘We’re going to see 10 people saved this year’ - and we saw 3 saved in the following week. I’ve seen too many leaders present faith goals which are against the past trend of their achievement and everyone in the church who hears them says ’yeah, yeah, yeah’ publicly but in their hearts they say ’no, no, no’.

So we set yearly goals and then as we gained some momentum we then began to set 5 year goals to give us a longer framework within which to work. Our set of 5 year goals set in January 2007 included reaching people - to grow from an average of 750 to 1,100 attending at King’s on Sunday and we are currently seeing around 1400 now (2012). Children are included in our attendance figures because their numbers impact us every week. In order to make space for the adults in the auditorium we provide kids’ work for the entire duration of our meetings. With multiple meetings this has an on-going impact on our room space elsewhere in the building – it’s essential to provide facilities for our kids’ work. It would be true to say that currently our huge facility problem is faced predominantly by our children so I count the children in to keep their needs in high profile - that’s been one of our big issues. One of the other areas impacted would be adequate office space for our staff and volunteers.

So we set goals - goals built from trends that we have seen, that are measurable, not just taken out of hope – goals based on past evidence. If your church hasn’t grown for 10 years you need to create some momentum moments to encourage growth. So don’t say, ‘Steve Tibbert says set goals!’ and then set goals that are so far ‘out there’ that in a year’s time you realise that you’re going to have to really move on them because you‘re already 30 behind. You‘re setting yourself up for failure and failure is never an encouraging thing!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Changing your church culture

If you’re going to change the culture of your church, that change has to come first through the teaching given. As a result I have taught a great deal about being a missionary church. Dave Devenish was very helpful to me and to the church on this. When looking at being a missionary church rather than just a pastoral church, he argued that good pastoral care is actually there to care for people who are getting saved and to equip them to reach the next group of people, so you need to teach it that way. For example, a great way to begin to change the culture of your church would be to equip people to witness. I’m talking about a huge cultural shift here.

It’s foundational that you begin to look at everything in church life through a different filter - and you also have to model it yourself as a leader. This is personally demanding; one year I invited 18 people to our Christmas Carol Service. I invited 18. I think in the end 10 of them came and one went on the Alpha course.

And we have set ‘smart’ goals for our growth. When I first started at King’s I made yearly goals because what was needed was to gain trust from a church that had struggled. I set such goals so that we could have measurable amounts of progress that everyone could see and recognise. Initially I set goals at such an attainable level that we had almost achieved them by the time the ink dried on the paper - even though I was giving us a year to reach them!