Nine Concerns about Church Members Who Withhold Their Financial Gifts

Nine Concerns about Church Members Who Withhold Their Financial Gifts

medium_6859392170 By Thom Rainer

The story is too common, but I hear such stories repeatedly. My most recent conversation was with a church leader where an affluent church member offered to make a large contribution to the renovation of the worship center. He had one stipulation: the worship center had to be named in memory of his late mother. The leader politely declined. The affluent member did not make the donation. To the contrary, he began withholding all of his gifts to the church.

Almost every pastor and church leader has some story about members withholding their financial gifts as an act of protest about the direction of the church and its leadership. I have never known such a situation that had any positive affect. Such is the reason I offer nine concerns about this practice.

  1. It assumes that we are the actual owners of our finances. That is unbiblical thinking. God gives to us everything we have. We are the stewards of these gifts. Such is the reason we use the word “stewardship.”
  2. No church is perfect. If every member protested about an imperfection in a local congregation, no church would ever receive funds. This selfish act is not the way to resolve concerns.
  3. This practice is divisive. One of the most precious resources of any congregation is unity. The withholding of financial gifts is an act of disunity and divisiveness.
  4. It is controlling. The church member who withholds financial gifts seeks to get his or her way. Such is not the spirit of Paul’s words in Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.”
  5. It is self-serving. When Paul penned 1 Corinthians 12, he emphasized how we are to function in the body of Christ. Our motive for serving is for Christ and others before ourselves.
  6. It is demoralizing. Paul wrote in Romans 14:19, “So we must pursue what promotes peace and builds up one another.” This practice has the opposite effect.
  7. It backs church leaders into a corner. Leaders have one of two options. They can yield to the church member and thus affirm a sinful practice. Or they can refuse to yield and continue the conflict that was started by the member. It is a lose-lose situation.
  8. If the church member truly has serious disagreements with the direction of the church, he or she should pursue other paths. They can address their concerns with leaders in the church directly. If members still have serious concerns and no resolution seems possible, it may be best to go to another church. It is much healthier to give to another church than to withhold from your present church.
  9. This practice never has a positive outcome. Even if the member gets his or her way, unity and trust are broken at many levels. The body of Christ is always wounded by this practice.

This topic is both sensitive and challenging. I certainly am not the fount of wisdom. Let me hear your thoughts and ideas.

 

ThomRainer

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on February 4, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

5 comments

  • I agree with you all the way. We are to give thinking we should get something back, or give assuming we would be praise or acknowledge by others, but we should give to the church as a cheerful giver and not to worry how the church and the officials of the church use the monies…They are responsible to God for what they do with it….Just give and do God’s will…Another topic is that many people ask God for a job, and their first check should be the first-fruits to God, and they don’t even do that, because they think if they do, they will some how fall into a deep debt, not so, it is the opposite, you shall see the rewards ten fold, trust the Word of God and me, it is God’s working, fear of losing, worrying, and many other factors of the enemy is not of God…SO JUST BE A CHEERFUL GIVER…..AND NOT ONLY THE CHURCH, BUT HOSPITALS, ORPHANAGES, ETC…THEY NEED HELP IN FINANCES ALSO…..AS LONG AS YOU GIVE YOUR 10%, AND MORE IF YOU WISH, YOU ARE IN THE REWARD PAGE IN GOD’S BOOK…BUT DON’T DO IT FOR THAT, JUST DO IT…….GOD BLESS

  • Ps John Wolfenden

    I am amazed that the 10% issue is raised, the spirit of liberality goes beyond the OT tithe mentality. As to where we are to place our liberal giving for the kingdom is speculative as the so called store house under the OT is somewhat different under the dispensation of grace in the NT. Giving is a reflection of our dedication and commitment to His message, the more we are dedicated and committed the more we give, even to the point of giving beyond normal budget boundaries. Our giving is also attached to our love of Him. “The church” is not simply the building which people congregate in, it is far more reaching than that. we should all give until it hurts, because that is when faith takes over. I love Him and His word

  • J. Adriaan Venter

    Dear Thom,
    I used to give my 10th of income to the church but had a couple of problems which are as follows;
    The Pastors were having too many overseas holiday tours per year;
    They were driving the most expensive cars, almost a new one every year.
    They were spending money on non-essentials, things we, the contributors can’t afford.

    I now stopped giving to the church and is assisting our own poor family’s and orphanges directly; etc.

    Is it biblically wrong? please advice!!

    Your brother in Christ,

    Adriaan

  • Lawrence Bennett

    Adrian, I am sorry that your pastor’s don’t measure up. My Dad was a pastor–we always drove a well-used old car and the only over-seas travel he had was a tour of duty to Guadalcanal in WWII as a chaplain. Pastors’ wages then were not much. But now some pastors are in the prosperity mentality and don’t live so humbly. I suggest finding a church with a pastor who has more modest tastes. As to the cars, what comes to mind is that perhaps the pastor is leasing–a pastor’s car gets lots of use and it may be more economical for the pastor to turn in a car every couple of years. But if you are attending a church, you should support it financially and be a happy giver. Someone still has to support the infrastructure and the basics of keeping the lights on and insurance paid. And one of my most meaningful trips was to Israel and Jordan with my pastor and church members. Quite a pilgrimage–I recommend such a trip.

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WHEN THE PASTOR HAS AN AFFAIR

WHEN THE PASTOR HAS AN AFFAIR

By Thom S. Rainer

It happens too frequently.

It can be the lead pastor or any church staff member.

And too many churches do not handle such tragedy well.

But many churches do. Allow me to share some of the best responses I have heard from churches that have gone through this tragic time.

  1. Terminate with compassion. Almost without exception, the pastor is terminated. But termination does not have to be without compassion. The pastor’s family will need financial provisions; thus many churches provide compassionate severances. And though pastors have full responsibility for their sins, they are hurting as well. Tough love and compassionate love are in order here.
  2. Don’t forget the pastor’s family. They have felt the greatest amount of betrayal. They are humiliated and hurt. This person they likely held in high esteem has fallen hard. The family needs compassion, love, attention, and counseling. Many church members do not know what to say, so they say nothing. I know one church member who sent the spouse and the children a simple handwritten note: “I have not forgotten you. I am here for you. I am praying for you.” It made all the difference in the world.
  3. Be forthright with the congregation. The rumors are often worse than reality. You don’t have to give the sordid details. But the church needs to know the pastor was terminated because of moral failure. Speak to the congregation succinctly, honestly, and compassionately.
  4. Provide resources for reconciliation. God’s ideal plan is for the couple to stay together—to make it through this terrible ordeal. The church can be an instrument of that process back to reconciliation. The church can provide the resources so that the couple can get strong Christian counseling. The process should also be one that seeks restoration for the pastor. That restoration may not mean that pastors are restored to their former office; it does mean the path should include a way to be restored to the congregation.
  5. Don’t forget the pain of the congregation. Many of them feel betrayed. Most of them feel hurt. Find ways to minister to the members for the next several months as they deal with this issue.
  6. Begin a ministry of prayer for this situation. I have been so encouraged to see some churches actually deal with this issue through a specific prayer ministry. One church offered a prayer and reconciliation time after every service. It only lasted a few minutes, and attendance was totally voluntary. But the responses were incredible, both in numbers attending and in the way people were impacted. The church began this ministry with a stated goal of continuing it for three months. It made a huge difference in the healing impact on the church.

When the pastor has an affair, it is a tragedy of huge proportions. But the church can respond biblically, redemptively, and compassionately.

It the midst of this awful situation, the church has the opportunity truly to be the body of Christ.

ThomRainer

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on February 6, 2017. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

10 comments

  • Rev. Jerry Hightower

    It’s even harder when it’s the spouse and not the Minister. The Minister feels guilt both from the home, not ruling their home well, and guilt in front of the congregation. This happened to a youth leader that served under me. His spouse cheated. He felt he had no where to go, though many in the church were supportive and we’re trying to convince him he had not done the wrong they left the church. They did eventually get help and are still to this day attending church which is good.

  • pastt Amin Dawa

    I have met a pastor who had an affair, he was punished by suspention for some years. His family really suffered during his suspention financially. But he was later restored to his position and transfered to another location. I can tell you that that pastor is doing very well today in ministry. He leads a church of hundred of thousands of worshippers. So the church must treat this matter with absolute wisdom. Hence we will be throwing away the dirty bathing water with the baby.

  • Tanya

    I guess my question is…why is termination one of the bests responses? As a pastor, I often question why some churches choose this option. I firmly believe that if a congregation chooses to move in Grace and not terminate, the opportunity for true and organic growth increases.

    • Sid Wood

      Tanya, termination does not automatically mean expulsion. Obviously, every situation is different, but the individual has experienced a “moral failure” and in doing so has failed to live up to the trust in which both his flock and his God held him. However, although the ultimate aim is reconciliation and restoration, and hopefully all work toward this end, we must also remember that God holds His shepherds to a higher standard. (See 1 Timothy 3:2)

    • Barry L. Davis

      Why do you assume termination is not an act of grace?

  • James Hamilton

    Termination should be the last resort and ONLY if it is the demand of the congregation. Too often we pastors are put on pedestals, which is completely unfair and makes a job much more stressful than it needs to be and the problem with someone being on a pedestal is that the fall is often fatal.

    • Lizzy

      Yes, you may have been placed on a pedestals, and it is unfair, however you first obligation is to God and to remain humble, watch and guard your heart. Shepherds are held to a higher standard not placed on pedestals. The whole family family suffers from the decision of one.

  • Tosa

    Termination is not the punish, especially if it is the first time. Where is the forgiveness? The Pastor is a man with faults just like you and me, stop putting the leaders on a pedestal or treat them as if they were God. Just a man with faults who sinned, repented and forgiven as Jesus did each one of us.

  • mariette

    that happens also with priests : they are sent to another parish. pastors and priests are human, all humans fail

How to Make Changes in the Church Without Being Asked to Resign

How to Make Changes in the Church Without Being Asked to Resign

By Barry L. Davis

I’m sure a lot of you can relate to the scenario taking place in the cartoon below:

Cartoon by Dennis Fletcher from ChristiantyToday.com

Almost without fail, when you candidate at a church they will tell you early on that they are specifically looking for someone who will lead them to make the necessary changes for growth. If you’ve been in the ministry for very long, you know that this is a lie 99% of the time. They don’t mean to lie, and most of them have convinced themselves that they really do want change, but once changes start to take place, the complaints begin to pile up, and most of the time, you are the fall guy.

Well guess what? I’ve discovered a solution to this problem. It won’t work in every single case, and probably shouldn’t be used in all of them, but most of the time it works just great. Are you ready for the secret? Here goes – MAKE CHANGES ON A TRIAL BASIS! I am not talking about trickery here, or manipulation, I’m talking about actually making most changes on a trial basis.

Let me give you two examples that worked very well for me:

I was at a church that was stagnant in the growth department, to put it mildly. Our worship service was completely dead and we were not reaching anyone for the Lord. I truly believed that starting a second, more contemporary worship service would help us, but the truth was, I wasn’t sure. (God doesn’t always speak to us audibly concerning these matters, does He?). I knew that if I wasn’t sure, the congregation wouldn’t be either, and as a matter of fact, I KNEW of a few people that wouldn’t like it because they didn’t like any change whatsoever. So here is how I presented it – I went to the board and told them the reasons I thought starting a second service was a good idea and what type of resources we would need to pull it off. I also told them that while I thought it was a great idea, I couldn’t be sure until we tried it, and suggested we do it on a six month trial basis. If at the end of six months we didn’t feel like this was the direction to go, we would scrap it. We presented the same idea to the congregation, and guess what? I didn’t have one single person complain about it! Not one! They knew that there was an out if it flopped.

Way back when video projectors were just being introduced in churches I really believed it would enhance our worship. We spoke to a local vendor who agreed to let us borrow one for three months, with the understanding that if we decided to buy we would purchase from him. We told the congregation about what we were doing and let them know at the end of three months we would make a decision one way or the other and we wanted their input after they had seen it in use for a while. Believe it or not, the most elderly members of our congregation came to us and said that they loved it! They could see the words better than they could in the hymnal, and they could hear the congregation better since everyone’s heads were up and facing forward.

Now lest you think that I believe every decision in the church should be made democratically with input from the whole congregation, I do not. BUT…when it comes to things that are not a matter of doctrine, or urgency, oftentimes it is best to allow changes on a trial basis as I’ve described above. You don’t have to vote on these items, but you can get a consensus on how the congregation feels about the change once it is in place. Many are pleasantly surprised to find out that they love the change they thought they would be opposed to. And the truth is, it’s nice to know if something doesn’t work that we can toss it and move on. I can’t tell you how many pastors I know who hold onto a program just because it was their idea, even though they know it is failing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below:

 

Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1997. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling. His latest book is God-Driven Leadership: A Call to Seeing, Believing, and Living in Accordance with Scriptural Principles.

7 comments

  • Larry Briley

    I can not begin to tell you all I have tried to change at our Church, music, use projector etc. we are a small body of believers that is like a strong willed child that are set in their ways. I told them once I was driving one day and heard our Church theme song “I Shall Not Be Moved” I’ve been here 7 years and I believe I’m going to try this! What have I got to loose? PRAY FOR ME! Lol

    • Barry L. Davis

      Please try it and let me know how it works.

      • Nancy Payne

        The title of the email made me read it. I’m not a pastor but in charge of the music at church. Just the sight of drums would cause mad hysteria at my church. My church is mainly comprised of retired elderly people. By some miracle, my band got permission from the pastor to lead music for January 29th, 2017.

        Before that Sunday came, I thought we were going to be canceled. I sensed from some of the questions the pastor started asking me (who’s playing, what instruments we have, what songs we’re doing, etc.) that he had apparently gotten wind from some of the “concerned church leaders” that they vehemently disapproved.

        In spite of possible ex-communication, we pushed forward and it was January 29th. We were nervous and excited and praying a lot.. Attendance was up that day about 42% with more teens and young adults in attendance, two of which were new band members! It was great. We received so many compliments after the service.

        The pastor was still not sure to let us continue but he gave us a month.. So far we’re still playing but our song time allowance has been drastically cut. If it gets cut anymore, there will be no more singing. Gotta have room for all the other stuff and must be finished by noon. You’ve probably never heard that before.

        So we’re still striving forward, and by the way, my band is comprised of one teen, three early 20 somethings and me. I’m 64 but love the music we do and they let me play with them, lol. Pray for us and our church to grow! If you have any suggestions, we’re all ears. We still do the old hymns in addition to contemporary. Sometimes the hymns are contemporary arrangements but they are beautiful ones.

  • Sound advice. We who are like sheep. Sheep need led, cattle are herded.

  • Crawford kirkwood

    Sounds like the wisdom of God to me, change is a constant, and often a constant fight.

  • Niel Shoffner

    very sound advice that is exactly what I did I had a projector I brought it in and said we would try this and I wanted there opinions on it. it worked after a year We had a new and improved projector permantly installed and just prior to that the sound system was somewhat not great. I had some equipment. so I set it up and utilized it and everyone was in agreement they could hear better and we purchased a really great system. Some times just have to ease into it.

  • Richard Tuopay

    So great a way, I think that the church should go about a change. By the way, what ever change a leadership wants to effect, it is sometimes better for those to be impacted by the change to get involve into making the decision, themselves.

Millennials and the Demise of Print: Five Implications for Churches

Millennials and the Demise of Print: Five Implications for Churches

Thom Rainer

As the president of an organization that has huge investments in both print and digital assets, I watch the trends related to the two closely. Current discussions focus on a few basic issues. First, digital communication is pervasive and growing. Any metric will affirm that reality. Second, print as a form of communication is suffering in most areas. Third, print will have occasional rebounds that will give print adherents hope that it is not going away. In the past couple of years, for example, print book sales have stabilized.

But a recent article by Henry Blodget in Business Insider shed some fresh perspectives on this issue. He notes the allegiance to print media is highly influenced by the age of the readers. Simply stated, the older you are, the more likely you are to like, or even prefer, print. Of course, that information is really stating the obvious.

The Stark Reality of the Future of Print

But Blodget notes recent research that is almost breathtaking. The research looked at media preferences for different age groups. The stark reality of the future of print is most noticeable in the 16-to-24 age group and the 25-to-34 age group. The Millennials have absolutely no loyalty to or preference for print media. Blodget’s words are worth repeating:

“Media consumers in the 0s, 10s, 20s, and 30s have no such print alliances. To them, the idea of printing on a dead tree and then trucking it to houses and newsstands seems ludicrous, old-fashioned, inconvenient, and wasteful. To these folks, paper-based publications are a pain to carry and search, easy to misplace, and hard to share, and the information in them is outdated the moment it appears. For those who weren’t raised on paper, digital is superior in almost every way.”

Wow. Those words are painful for an old print adherent like me. But facts are our friends, and I would rather deal with reality than deny reality.

Five Implications for the Church

Of course, after I read the article, my mind traversed quickly to implications for local churches. I see at least five at this point.

  1. Churches not fully acclimated to the digital age need to do so quickly. It’s a matter of gospel stewardship. There is no need to compromise biblical truths, but there is a great need to be relevant.
  2. More of our congregants will be turning on their Bibles in the worship services rather than opening them to a print page. Some pastors view this practice as troublesome. One pastor recently commented to me: “How do we know if they aren’t looking at sport scores or something else?” We don’t know. And we don’t know where their minds are wandering if they don’t have a digital device with them.
  3. Church leaders should view this change as an opportunity to be more effective missional leaders. We would not expect international missionaries to go to a place of service without learning the language and the culture. The language and the culture of the Millennials are all digital.
  4. Leaders must keep current with changes in the digital revolution. While old guys like me will never be as conversant with the digital culture as our children and grandchildren, we must do our best to understand this ever-changing world. What is current and relevant today may be dated and irrelevant tomorrow.
  5. Social media is a key communication form for the Millennials; churches and church leaders must also be connected. I recently wrote an article on this issue. For now, a church not involved some way in social media is neglecting a large part of the mission field.

Implications and More Implications

I recently was reading a print magazine article to one of my grandsons who was cuddled in my lap. He saw a photo on the page and tried to swipe it like he would on an iPad. When nothing happened he declared my “picture was broken.”

That is the age and the era that are quickly approaching. The implications are many and staggering. But we in churches cannot be complacent. The very communication of the gospel is at stake.

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on May 14, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

Nine Rapid Changes in Church Worship Services

Nine Rapid Changes in Church Worship Services

Thom Rainer

If you were attending a church worship service in 1955 and then returned to the same church in 1975, the changes would be noticeable but not dramatic. Churches were slow to change over that 20-year period. If you, however, attended a church worship service in 2000 and then returned to that same church in 2010, there is a high likelihood you would see dramatic changes in just ten years.

What, then, are some of the most significant changes? Please allow me to offer some trends from anecdotal information, church consultations, and objective research. As a caveat, some of the data based research comes from an excellent study, The National Congregations Study by Duke University. This study, fortunately, is longitudinal, so it is able to look at changes over many years. But the study is also dated, with the latest data reported in 2007.

From these multiple sources, I have assembled nine changes that have come at a rapid pace in many churches. Please note my perspective. I am offering these from the perspective of a researcher; I am not making qualitative assessments. Also, with every trend there will be thousands of churches that are exceptions to the norm. But these are the changes in the majority of churches in North America.

  1. Choirs are disappearing. From 1998 to 2007, the percentage of churches with choirs decreased from 54% to 44%. If that pace holds to this year, the percentage of churches with choirs is only 37%.
  2. Dress is more casual. In many churches, a man wearing a tie in a worship service is now among the few rather than the majority. While the degree of casual dress is contextual, the trend is crossing all geographic and demographic lines.
  3. Screens are pervasive. Some of you remember the days when putting a projection screen in a worship center was considered a sacrilege. Now most churches have screens. And if they have hymnals, the hymnals are largely ignored and the congregants follow along on the screens.
  4. Preaching is longer. I will soon be in the process of gathering this data to make certain the objective research confirms the anecdotal information.
  5. “Multi” is normative. Most congregants twenty years ago attended a Sunday morning worship service where no other Sunday morning alternatives were available. Today, most congregants attend a service that is part of numerous alternatives: multi-services; multi-campuses; multi-sites; and multi-venues.
  6. Attendees are more diverse. The Duke study noted the trend of the decrease in the number of all-white congregations.
  7. Conflict is not increasing. In a recent post, I noted the decreasing frequency of worship wars. The Duke study noted that overall church conflict has not increased over a 20-year period.
  8. More worship attendees are attending larger churches. Churches with an attendance of 400 and up now account for 90% of all worship attendees. Inversely, those churches with an attendance of under 400 only account for 10% of worship attendees.
  9. Sunday evening services are disappearing. This issue has stirred quite a bit of discussion the past few years. I plan to expand upon it in my post this coming Saturday. Stay tuned.

I have tried to present these changes from a research perspective instead of injecting my opinions or preferences. Obviously, I have my own, but I would rather hear from you. The readers at this blog are much smarter than I am anyway.

Do you see these trends in your local congregation? What would you add?

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on May 7, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

2 comments

  • Steve Hayes

    Interesting stuff, but all of this is simply window dressing…in my opinion (and I am not really sure when the change occurred)the most disturbing change in the American Church (at large) has been the move away from accurate theology and actual belief in God’s word. The church has adopted pop theology, engaged in pop marketing, limited (and/or completely excluded) God’s involvement, and has essentially become “nice people club.” Now, I love the Church and I like nice people, but when you can’t distinguish between the Church and the United Way, something is missing…God and faith in his word

One Simple Thing You Need to DO to Grow the Church

One Simple Thing You Need to DO to Grow the Church

churchgrowth

My work allows me the luxury of being able to visit many different churches in a number of locations, of both the denominational and non-denominational variety. While I usually stick to evangelical assemblies, I frequently visit Baptist, Assembly of God, Independent Christian Churches, Christian and Missionary Alliance, and many more.

Over the last year my wife and I have intentionally visited ten churches, all evangelical, and all who have clear Vision/Mission statements about reaching the lost and growing the Kingdom. Every single church had a Guest or Visitor Card that they asked you to fill out. We filled one out at each church and gave all of the correct information, including name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. None of the ministers knew us and I did not volunteer any information about my pastoral background.

Now here was the shocker for me – while most of the ten churches were somewhat friendly and offered a decent worship experience, only one of the ten followed up with us based on the information we gave them! Only one out of ten! And to top it off, half of the churches said during the service that if you filled out the Guest Card they would be sending you a gift of some kind in the mail.

I don’t have any studies to back up what I’m about to say, but based on personal experience, about 2 out of 10 visitors will fill out your Guest Card. Most people will not fill it out on their first visit because they don’t know you yet and are uncomfortable with the thought of some strange religious group hounding them. That’s understandable.

But when they do fill it out, it is absolutely inexcusable for the church not to follow-up with those people in some way, shape, or form. I’m not suggesting being intrusive or bothering people, but if you’re not even going to send a “Thank You For Visiting” note, you really shouldn’t be asking people to fill out the card at all. For all we know the people filling out the card might not even be in a relationship with Christ and we have an opportunity that has been handed to us by God to reach out to them. There is absolutely no excuse for not doing so.

I will not name the churches that did not follow up, but I will name the one that did. It was Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, KY.  We visited on a Sunday Morning. On Wednesday we received a handwritten note from a couple that were members at the church thanking us for visiting. On Thursday we received a letter from their financial secretary thanking us for giving. On Friday we received a letter from the pastor thanking us for attending and including a brochure with helpful information about classes, worship, times, etc… While I haven’t asked, I am almost positive that they have a system set up to do this with each visitor who fills out the card.

9e68ff9d79062ab0a6009254374c12f8While I was impressed with what Immanuel Baptist Church did, I shouldn’t have been, because this should be the norm. The fact that it isn’t tells me quite a bit about how serious the other churches were about evangelism, gaining and retaining members, and outreach in general. I realize that not every church has the resources to put a lot of money into this type of thing, but anyone can set up a small volunteer team to make sure that the Visitor Cards are gathered and, at the very least, a note sent out on Monday letting them know you are glad they stopped by.

I want to encourage you today to begin to do this if you’re not doing it already. From my somewhat limited experience, it will help you to stand out in the crowd and just possibly give you the opportunity to lead more and more people to Christ.

That’s what it’s all about anyway…isn’t it?

Barry L. Davis

 

Barry L. Davis spent two decades as a Senior Pastor and started the ministry of The Pastor’s Helper in 1996. The Pastor’s Helper strives to provide tools and resources to help pastors succeed in their ministry calling.

15 comments

  • Valda

    This result doesn’t surprise me because so many ministers or pastors do not do home visits any more.This is a sad situation for me because when I was growing up our home was always a second home to our minister and his wife.. We know without any doubt that God is Love and love in a church is expressed by caring.

    • Dr. Mark Lynch

      Being a Pastor myself, who has been in the Ministry for over 28 years I would like to comment on the lady who said “that most Pastors don’t do home visits anymore.” In the first place Luke spoke on this subject in Acts chapter 6 when he wrote in verses 1-4 , 1And in those days, when the number of the disciples was -multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 2Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. “3Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, (Deacons) whom we may appoint over this business. 4But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” The Pastor of a church is called to be the spiritual leader of the church, manage the administration affairs of the church, train and manage his staff, pray for his congregation, study the word of God faithfully, prepare his sermons under the leadership of the Holy Ghost, preach the word of God for the equipping of the saints for the work of the Ministry, teach and train his staff and flock to become better disciples for Christ and counsel people within the church who have a need that cannot be handled by the Deacon body. Deacons are responsible to do home visits, hospital visits and nursing home visits and take care of the many needs of the congregation both spiritual and physical. If a Pastor is expected to do all the visiting, including home visits, hospital visits, nursing home visits and so forth he has no time to do what he is called to do. To many churches today think that is what they pay the Pastor for, is to do all the work in the church, while the Deacons think they are responsible to run the church, which is completely backwards from what the Word of God teaches. A Pastor that is doing what God has called him to do effectively has a full time job and cannot do all the visiting in the church.

      • Chaplain Jorge Rosas, Sr.

        First I agree with Pastor Davis and will reply to Pastor Lynch. We have been in street evangelism where the church itself goes and grabs all that receive salvation and promise to follow up on the conversion in a drug infected neighborhood. Well I have spoken to many in prison, that have told me that before they were send to prison (for what ever reason, no judgement), they attended a Sunday service or a street evangelistic preaching, and their hope to receive at least a courtesy call, (probably would have deter) that person to going to prison, (so says the individuals). But as to the follow up, many have not done so here in the Bronx, I was in a church for 25-26 years, and all the promising of a follow up to congregants visiting have never been done.(It is shameful) Now I go to a Church that all the visitors cards are announced to the meetings of officials and each one take one and follow up, and the results have been, I say 32% on a positive bases. As for Pastor Lynch, I agree with him all the way, what are the Chaplains, deacons, officials of the church for is they can’t provide the ministerial teachings of discipleness in the outer world. What are they warming seats, receiving the word and allowing them to glutton with it; I don’t think it is fair to place all the weight on the Pastor of the church, he is their to disciple the flock, and the flock is their to make more disciples with the teachings of the Pastor and of course the complete guidance of the Holy Spirit… May God continue to Bless the Pastors that do disciple the flock of Jesus, thank you pastors especially Pastor Davis and Lynch for now…..Many Blessings and prayers…….By the way God’s people, need good teachings, well Pastor Davis ministry has them, read, enjoy, learn, cry, and work, because the harvest is full, but few laborers….

  • J. Kelfstrom

    We are a very, very small church and so when visitors come to worship they definitely stand out.. One Sunday a family of four. and new to the community join us for worship. After the service I asked if they had signed the guest register and they had not. I said please do because we would like to send you a thank you note for coming. The mom said to me, “out of all the churches we have visited since moving here your church was the only one to ask for our information. and that meant a lot to me.” We all need to feel we are welcome, Take the time, We never know what messengers God is sending our way.

  • Awesome! At our church we have visitors to fill out a card and on Monday we mail a “Thank you for visiting us” card. We also send the visitor a happy birthday and/or happy anniversary card when that time comes around. I love it, hoping they would love to return. It works.

  • D. Thomson

    I don’t know what our church does, bit I am going to check. Thank you for the reminder.

  • I thank you for this article it is an eye opener really puts our focus on sharp

  • Daniel Hyde Appiah

    It’s a great challenge for today’s church develop this missing culture.

  • Kathryne Young

    We stopped the mailing when so many cards came back as undeliverable,ie, people were giving fake info.

  • DANIEL ANAMKULYA

    That is great. Those simple steps could really change someone’s life.
    thanks

  • OKobi tephen

    Can we really quantify the magnitude of loss the church is experiencing for this great negligence.
    As for me not that the pastors are meant or required to do it all;but they do have a great role to play
    in teaching and encouraging their subordinates ministers and members to make it a priority.

    • Barry L. Davis

      I wasn’t trying to imply that this was the main reason for decreasing membership numbers, but it is one thing that adds to that that can be easily corrected.

  • Loren Sanders

    ” I am almost positive that they have a system set up to do this ”

    Almost positive? No sir, what yiou experienced WAS their system in action. ????

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