10 barriers to growth – #6 Discipline (part 2)

There are disciplines in pastoral work that are simple, in fact they are ‘no brainers’. Yet they are still easily neglected, and if they are neglected a church will not grow. Three particularly spring to mind. You can read my first one, following up newcomers here. Read on for the other two…

Prov. 27:23 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds;

The 2nd discipline Know who’ at church

The second discipline sounds so simple it goes without saying, and that’ the problem: it goes with out saying. We’ll stop doing this if not reminded.

Know who is at church each week. Or know when people are missing from Church .

When I ask pastors how they know who is at church and who isn’t week by week, very often I get and answer like, We just look around and know who’ not there. However the reality is that no-one can hold 50-80 people’ attendance or absence in their head for a few weeks in a row. In some larger churches, pastors see it as just too hard to know who’ there and who’ not. They’ve given up altogether.

It’ not too hard and it’ vital, not just to see your church grow but for proper pastoral care of your people.

Here are two simple ways you can keep track of who is at church…

Step one: get an up to date church role, with columns for each week beside the names. The leadership team simply ‘marks the role after church’, checking present or absent. To mark a role in this way takes two or three seconds per name; a church of 120 will take about four minutes. This can be followed up on Monday but it’ important to do it while it’ fresh in everyone’ minds.

Step two: Print out sheets of sticky name tags for all your regulars and hand them out as people come the front door. Those name tags not given out will tell you who wasn’t there. These will need to be transferred to a role so you can see week by week.

Of course marking the role is useless unless it’ followed up with phone calls, visits or some kind of enquiry, either to the person themselves or their small group leader. This isn’t some kind of secret police network, it’ a pastor caring for his people. If someone has missed church for three weeks, someone should be finding out why. If they were on holidays, it wasn’t a wasted call – it’ a chance to hear about their lives. But if it’ an illness, physical or spiritual, a pastor needs to know and the sooner the better. Church members will appreciate the fact that it’ noticed whether they are at church or not. It will actually lift church attendance.

None of this is difficult or complicated, it simply requires discipline.

The 3rd discipline Move your people forward

We should know our people, their gifts and the ministries they are involved in, or should be involved in.

We have so many people in our churches who are under-utilised because no one has ever helped them understand their gifts, or helped develop them with some kind of training. Or we simply have such a narrow view of ministry that You’e either a Bible study group leader, or you hand out books at the door. This doesn’t do justice to the diversity of gifts God has given to his people.

So once again, even a simple list is a good start: person, giftedness, training done, ministries involved in, next possible step for them in ministry and maturity. This will give you a goal or the next step for each person. How can you pray for them, and move them forward in maturity and ministry? We need to be focused on the service of others rather than the fulfilment of the servant, but as you help people to be able to minister in a way that God has gifted them, they will enjoy their service of others more, and be more productive.

People don’t arrive and stop once they enter church, they need to be moving forward .

I’ll say more about this under Barrier 7 stay tuned.