Prayer and Church Revitalization



Recently I was interviewed by some guys at Southern Seminary about the role prayer plays in church revitalization. They interviewed 12 turnaround churches and the following are some of the findings…

Summary of Research Findings

Interviews revealed eleven themes about prayer from the experiences of these pastors and how prayer aided in their church’s revitalization. Pastors led their congregations in purposeful times of prayer, taught their people to pray in both corporate and private settings. Furthermore, pastors cautioned others who find themselves in a revitalization situation to remain humble and patient, and to seek God and join him in his work within the church and the community. Finally, these pastors articulated practical approaches to promote and develop a prayer culture in their church during the revitalization.

Recurring Themes Frequency Percentage (%)
Pastors directed specific times of prayer 12/12 100
Pastors remained humble during the revitalization process 11/12 92
Pastors modeled prayer in their own life 10/12 83
Pastors discovered that congregations held tightly to the typical and traditional prayer times 9/12 75
Pastors should be more intentional about prayer at the beginning of the revitalization. 9/12 75
Pastors found prayer to be foundational to the revitalization process 9/12 75
Pastors described their church’s prayer culture as scattered before they arrived 7/12 58
Pastors refocused the mid-week prayer service on prayer not teaching 6/12 50
Pastors advised being patient during the revitalizing process 6/12 50
Pastors experienced an apathy, indifference, or misunderstanding of prayer in the congregation. 5/12 42
Pastors advised to learn church’s culture when first arriving at their new ministry 3/12 25

Theme descriptions

Pastors directed specific times of prayer. All twelve pastors unanimously stated that having specific times of prayer became one of the most important things they initiated once arriving at their church. Specific times of prayer ranged from congregation members gathering before Sunday worship service to prayer for the pastor, the worship service, and lost people hearing the gospel for the first time, to home prayer meetings, partnering with a person during the week to pray, and men demonstrating their commitment to pray for the church corporately in the worship service.

Pastors remained humble during the revitalization process.Ninety two percent of the interviewed pastors indicated that remaining humble was a big factor and would advise other pastors who seek to revitalize their church to exhibit the same. Humility came in the form of constantly seeking God’s will and not their own as they desired to revitalize their church. At least a quarter of the pastors either directly or indirectly mentioned the Henry Blackaby quote from Experiencing God, “Watch to see where God is working and join Him.”

Pastors modeled prayer in their own life. Ten out of twelve pastors believed that modeling prayer in their own life both privately and publicly helped in the revitalization of their church.

Pastors discovered that congregations held tightly to the typical and traditional prayer times.One of the difficulties faced by 75 percent of pastors in the revitalization of their churches came in the form of traditions. Traditions practiced by congregations and mentioned by pastors under this theme included: typical Wednesday night prayer time, prayer before worship service, prayer before the offering, and a closing prayer. Church members clung to “prayer times” they performed in rote manner year after year, believing their rituals to be the only way to do things because they lacked leadership to teach them otherwise.

Pastors would be more intentional about prayer at the beginning of the revitalization.Once again, 75 percent of all the interviewed pastors said they would have been more intentional about making prayer a focus earlier in their tenure. Pastors also noted that they would intentionally teach and train their people on prayer.Numerous pastors referred to Gregory Frizzell as a great source for training their people to pray. Pastors also mentioned the works of Jim Cymbala for prayer training. These pastors intentionally sought out books and resources to help their people develop the discipline of prayer in their lives and also preached specifically about prayer from the pulpit.

Pastors found prayer to be foundational to the revitalization process.Nine of twelve pastors claimed that prayer provided the foundation they needed to revitalize the church. Many of these same pastors affirmed that prayer became the catalyst to their church’s revitalization. The idea of prayer being foundational by these pastors aligns with the thinking of Jonathan Edwards in his work, An Humble Attempt. Essentially, congregants began to pray in these churches and God breathed new life into these once dying churches.

Pastors described their church’s prayer culture as scattered when they arrived. More than fifty percent of the pastors interviewed described the church prayer life and prayer culture as scattered, uncoordinated, and unintentional. Knowing the scattered nature of prayer in their congregation helped these pastors focus their efforts.

Pastors refocused the mid-week prayer service on prayer not teaching.Six out of twelve pastors indicated from a previous theme that prayer became part of tradition not a purposeful communication to God. Consequently, 50 percent of the pastors removed the bible teaching aspect of mid-week services, focusing themselves and their congregation on prayer and nothing else.

Pastors advised being patience during the revitalizing process. Another theme affirmed by fifty percent of those interviewed is to exhibit patience through the revitalization of their church.

Pastors experienced an apathy, indifference, or misunderstanding of prayer in the congregation. Every single pastor answered that they encountered no real opposition to prayer; however, forty two percent said that they sensed a general apathy or indifference in their congregation in regard to prayer. Churches viewed prayer as a discipline they ought to do because churches do those sorts of things, instead of one where they get to communicate with the Creator.

Pastors advised to learn church’s culture when first arriving at their new ministry. One quarter of the pastors interviewed agreed and advised any pastor seeking to revitalize their church, to know and understand the culture of the new church before implementing change and to continually be on mission in the surrounding community.


5 Keys to Planning for Christmas



5 Keys to Planning for Christmas

By Jeremiah Semmler

Christmas can be an especially fruitful time of ministry for pastors. But it can also be a very stressful time for pastors, their families and church volunteers and staff. Planning ahead and planning intentionally for Christmas services and experiences at your church can help you, your family and your team avoid the stress this Christmas. Follow these five simple keys for planning this Christmas and enjoy Christmas again!

  • Plan to Plan

Pick a month that you would like to begin planning for your Christmas services, series and experiences at your church. Now challenge yourself to start planning a month earlier than that. July is certainly not too early to start planning for Christmas. The plan is going to be a process, not a single meeting.

Early planning cannot be over emphasized. Early planning will help create a great Christmas experience not just for your church but for you and your staff. Early planning will help alleviate stress during a very stressful time of year for pastors and their families. Early planning will save your church money. Early planning will help make the following planning tips possible and successful.

Christmas messages, series and experiences don’t just happen, they must be planned.

  • Plan for Your Audiences

Let’s state the obvious, many different people are coming to your church for Christmas. Do you have a plan for the different groups of people?

Before they can be planned for and communicated to, they must be identified. Take a minute to think about and jot down at least 5 different groups of people that will be attending your church during the Christmas season.

For example:

first time guests

your church members

families with young children

single parents

grandparents & retirees

couples with no kids

college students that are home for Christmas

Use the following questions to help you prepare:

What are the groups we want to focus on?

What do these groups want or need during Christmas?

What are needs can we as a church help meet and/or address?

How can we meet these needs during December?

How can we meet the needs of these groups during the month of January?

What can we plan to do or say during the service(s) that will speak value and hope into these groups? (or otherwise meet the identified needs) What kinds of things should we avoid saying and doing in order to reach and love these groups?

In slowly walking through this audience exercise, your Christmas services will become more intentional and transformational.

  • Plan for the Future

Christmas is a great time to point people to what’s coming up next. Now is the time to plan what that will be. Make sure that when people come to your church in December they hear, see and learn about what your church will be doing in January. Simply put, this is answering their internal question, “Why should I come back?”. This also answers the questions, “What kind of church is this and what do they really value?”.

What is one thing your church is launching or doing in January? Include this in your planning over the next few months so you are ready to present it to everyone who comes to your church this December.

  • Plan with a team

Your Christmas planning, like other planning, is done best in a team format. No matter how big or small your church is, there are teams of people that can be and should be part of your Christmas planning.

First, take a minute and think of the different directors, pastors and/or volunteer leaders that you want to include. Second, break that group of people into different teams. Not everyone should be in every team or meeting. The bigger the team the more difficult getting things done becomes. Third, communicate the overall direction and vision for the Christmas services at your church. Be sure to tell every team what the next step or experience is for January. It’s important for every team to be aware of that to help them point everyone they come in contact with in the same direction. Fourth, determine a goal or project for each team. Fifth, follow up with each team to help them to take steps toward a great December experience.

WARNING: Don’t neglect communicating to your teams the key information and changes made to any December plans. For example, if service times are added or service times change for Christmas service(s) be sure to communicate that to every team ASAP. There is nothing more frustrating for a team (staff or volunteer) than for them to be left out of key information.

  • Plan the message

An obvious one but still necessary to discuss. The message will need to speak to the groups of people that you have chosen to focus on and are planning for. Also your message and/or series will need to be about Christmas. As tempting as it is to create “fresh and creative” content in December that is not really about Christmas, don’t do it. Christmas is about Christmas and it’s what people expect and want to hear about. God putting on human flesh and being born in a manger to be the hope and light to a dark and dying world is what people need to hear. That story never gets old. The “fresh and creative” will come in how you choose to communicate that story to the groups of people you are planning for.

Leading Horses to Water

horse to water cartoon
The old sayings goes, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”
Remember that saying isn’t giving us permission to not water the horses!
In other words even in difficult times keep leading the horses to water.
Wise leaders look for the one or two things they can do. Then they do them!
So during difficult times make it a priority to do what you can and what you should and leave the rest to the Lord.

Not So Random Thoughts on Church Growth and Breaking Attendance Barriers

growth chart
Let’s start this conversation with a couple of questions around motivation…
Why do you want your church to grow?
– Unbiblical reasons for growth – What are they and how can you avoid them?
– Does your church know your motivation – Do they know you have a passion for lost souls?
– The old coaching slogan rings true its not about Xs and Os it’s about Bobby’s and Joe’s
When your church grows who will get the credit?
– Deep dependence on God over and above strategies, structure, systems, stories, services, and sermons.
– Prayer and praise
That all being said healthy things grow.
Focus on healthy structures, strategies, systems, stories, services and sermons.
1. Structure
– Are you structured for growth or control?
– Are you structured for what you have now or what you want to be?
– Will your skeletal structure handle the extra weight of growth?
2. Strategies (marketing)
– Think saturation – it’s not a one time thing. It’s a slow and steady rain.
– How do people hear about your church? Personal invite, signs, internet search, Facebook marketing?
– How systematic are you in this?
– If someone sees a car decal or does an internet search and wants to get more info about your church how easily assessable are you? Is there a main phone number? Are there normal business hours?
3. Systems (Your systems need to be repeatable and systematic)
– Sunday systems – What is the plan from the time a person steps on your campus to the time they leave? What is your first impression plan? What kind of vibe are you going for in worship? If you are a non believer would you understand it and would you come back for more of it? If your members have non believing friends would they consider it a safe place to invite them?
– Assimilation system – Remember you can grow a church by increasing the number of guests and also by simply increasing the retention rate of your current number of guests. So what is your assimilation plan? What is your retention rate? How many unique touches does a guest get the two weeks after their visit? Are there clear next steps for guests? (Ours are baptism and bible groups) Remember you have to have a plan but then you have to work the plan!
4. Stories
– We get what we celebrate or we get what we tolerate – the choice is ours as leaders
– We rotate four categories of stories on our story board…
1. Invite stories
2. Bible group stories
3. Generosity stories
4. Service stories
– Overtime people will begin to get the message. These are the things that get a pat on the back around here. Your church members are like your kids. When you brag on good behavior you will get more good behavior.
– You have to lead the way in sharing your own stories. My people know by name the guys I’m praying for and am witnessing too. They know that my number one burden is for the lost. The church hoppers figure out real quick that they are not our target. The good ones that are church hopping for the right reasons might stay. The bad ones will quickly leave. Either way I don’t invest a lot of time and effort in them. If they are coming here thinking I’m going to dinner and play golf with them they are coming to the wrong place. I reserve my time for lost guys, future leaders, and family. The already churched that will come that you want to stay will get that. The others will leave.
5. Services
– Is there a standard of excellence?
– Do you start on time and end on time?
– Do they know their kids are taken care of well. Unchurched are concerned that their kids are safe, having fun, and learning about God – in that order.
– Remember a church for the all ready reach will give grace to bad singers and bad sermons because they have a relationship with that person. But someone just dropping in that does not know the people on stage will quickly leave when it is below standard.
– I asked our elders why they thought we grew so fast after I came. They said “everything changed”. Don’t die a death of small cuts. There is a thing called death by incrementation and many a church has died as a result of it.
– Be big and bold with change.
– Adopt a culture and theology of change.
– Sometimes we change stuff just for the sake of change
– Andy Stanley calls this “new and improved.” What is new and improved this year over than last year at your church?
– Living things are constantly changing
– When you stop changing you are dead
6. Sermons 
– This matters big time. In the end we will grow our church by the effective preaching of the Word. I’m convinced that we can do all the other stuff but if our sermons stink it won’t matter. People still come to church to hear “Thus says the Lord”.
– The sermon needs to be biblical. (We choose to do mostly books of the Bible with one or two topical series scattered in.)
– The sermon needs to be relevant. It’s possible to package expositional sermons in relevant ways. (Example – Bad Bosses – Kings, Culture Crisis – Daniel, When Life Gets Hard – Holy Week, etc. etc.)
– Relevance with the sermon many times comes down to packaging. Things like graphics, modern illustrations, bumper videos.
– The sermon must be evangelistic.
In the end remember this is a marathon and not a sprint. Enjoy the journey. Know that no matter what size your church is there will always be more to do. You are building a house that will never be finished until Jesus comes back.

Lessons on Church Planting


I’m no expert on this. I’ve only started one of these things. But I know someone who is. The Apostle Paul started a bunch of these.

What are some lessons from the greatest church planter that could help us plant more effective and heathy churches today?

From the story in Acts 18 and the start of the church in Corinth let me offer a few, hopefully, helpful and encouraging lessons…

Target the Right Location – v. 1

“After this, he left Athens and went to Corinth.”

Corinth was an important and strategic location for a new church. It has a booming population (750,000 plus at the time of Paul’s visit). It was at an important intersection of trade and commerce which made the proliferation of the Gospel more likely.

Tony Merida says in his commentary on Acts, “The city was a strategic spot for gospel advancement due to the city’s influence and to the mobility and diversity of the people there.”

In real estate it is all about “location, location, location.” This is somewhat true in church planting. Make sure you target the right location.

Build the Right Team – v. 2-5

Starting a church is an exercise in team building. For a while Paul has been building his team. He would bring Silas, Timothy, and Luke with him to Corinth. After he arrived he would meet Aquila and Priscilla and further add to his team.

The effective church planter must be able to recruit, build, and inspire a team of people to work alongside him!

Maintain the Right Attitude – v. 6, 9-11

Remember this is going to be hard. There are going to be bad days and big disappointments.

Paul later wrote that when he came to Corinth that he, “Came to them in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.” 1 Corinthians 2:3

But he was encouraged to continue by the Spirit of the Lord.

Every church planter needs an Acts 18:9-10 moment!

Then the Lord said to Paul in a night vision, “Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent. For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.” Acts 18:9-10

Share the Right Message– v. 5, 8, 11, 13

Paul knew that the main thing was to preach the Gospel.

As church planters we can get caught up in a myriad of different things. Incorporation papers, URL addresses, marketing plans, securing meeting space – these and other concerns can crowd our day. But remember our primary job is to make Jesus known!

Paul knew that when he went to this important city and started this church.

“When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-2


The Single Hardest Thing About Being a Pastor – Relationship Attrition

People leave

October is Pastor Appreciation Month and it really is a good time to be a Pastor and it’s nice to get all those cards and letters of affirmation. But as you do that for your Pastor it might be helpful to know what his single hardest issue is.

I’ve been serving as a Pastor for well over 30 years and I can tell you the hardest issue your Pastor faces is what I call “Relationship Attrition.” That is when people leave the church.

Now the truth is – we will all have people leave.

I was interviewing a prospective pastoral coach and he told me over the phone in our interview that he had grown his church to over 3000 people and during that time never lost a church member. I didn’t hire him. He was a liar.

We will all have people leave.

  • Jesus lost Judas.
  • Peter lost Ananias and Sapphira.
  • Paul lost a staff member in John Mark and others along the way.

News flash people will leave your church. But that doesn’t make it easy.

At Cross Church we have more than doubled in attendance over the past several years. But the thing that keeps me up at night is how many people have left our church. We have gained far more than we have lost but that doesn’t make it any easier.

And people leave for lots of different reasons…

They leave because they get mad at the Pastor. That’s always a joy. To think that your actions have driven people away from God rather than drawn them closer to Him. I mean we all answered this call to ministry for the later not the former.

They leave because the church has changed. You made the decisions to position the church in the best possible way in order to reach people for Jesus and still people leave.

They leave because of their own spiritual backsliding. It’s not your fault. There is a thing called the priesthood of the believer and soul accountability. However, not everyone in the church will see their departure as anything less than your fault as the Pastor.

They leave for consumer reasons. More and more people are shopping for churches like they shop for restaurants. They are just there to consume and not contribute. These people are destined to leave.

They leave because they move out of town. Two summers ago, we had five families in one month move to Kansas. They left for all the right reasons, but still the hurt for our Pastors who had invested hours of relational equity into them was severe.

The point is – people will leave. And knowing that doesn’t make it one bit easier.

Every time a church member leaves, the Pastor on some level is prone to take it personal. People will say it’s not personal. But by their actions they are saying we just don’t want to be around you anymore. We like someone else’s church more than yours. We like someone else’s sermons more than yours. How could you not take it personal? With the exception of moving out of state for a job it is personal.

And if you wonder why it’s hard for some Pastors to get close to people in the church – it could be because the last five families that he got close too left!

As a Pastor how do you deal with this reality?

  1. Live for the approval of God not men. Make his approval the primary goal of your life and ministry.
  2. Be open handed with the relationship resources that you’ve been given. When they leave send them on their way gladly. Perhaps, there are good and godly reasons for their departure. And unless you plan on staying and serving in the same church all your life as the Pastor – you must give space for people to leave for the right reasons.
  3. Know that few human relationships are forever. I pray your relationship with your wife is until death do you part. I pray your children will always be there for you. But outside of those family relationships there are few that will last forever. And even your children will one day leave the house. At least we hope!!!!

And for the church members who are reading this? Remember during Pastor Appreciation Month that your Pastor loves people. The reason he serves as a Pastor is because he loves and cares for people. And because of that it hurts his heart when people leave. It will serve him and the church well to look for ways to affirm him during those seasons of departure. He may not be your Pastor forever – but while he is look for ways to guard his heart and protect his focus.

I leave you with that.





#SBC2018 Recap

See You in Birmingham

I shared with our church yesterday some thoughts from the SBC meeting in Dallas this past week. Here they are…

  1. Our convention is becoming much more racially inclusive. This is way over due and is a very good thing. I’m thankful for Pastors and leaders of all ethnic backgrounds that are making our convention more diverse and more representative of the people God has called us to reach!
  2. In the future I believe our convention will speak with a more prophetic voice and a less political voice. There was much to do about allowing Mike Pence to speak at this years convention and numerous attempts to block his speech. For the record I was against disinviting the setting Vice President of the United States only hours before his schedule appearance. I think that would have been bad form. However, I am in favor of not allowing political speeches by politicians moving forward. We need to focus on the Gospel that unites us not party politics that divid us as a convention.
  3. We are getting younger (at least in leadership). With the election of J.D. Greear as the new convention President we are moving toward unleashing a new young group of leaders within our convention. Hey when the new Prez is wearing Air Jordans on stage you know we are on the verge of hipster – lol.
  4. The main thing is still the same thing. The main thing as a denomination is our Cooperative Program giving and the sending out of missionaries around the world. All of our churches need to invest more in this missionary movement – and we need to do so with the confidence that the lions share of our investment will reach the mission field.

Overall, I walked away from the 2018 SBC meeting more encouraged than ever before about what the future holds for our denomination. Hey I’m even thinking about bringing some staff members with me next year to the meeting in Birmingham. Why? Because I think it’s now safe for my young staff members soul to attend. And that hasn’t always been the case. See you in Birmingham in 2019!

Problem of Power Structures in the SBC


I was a young Pastor in the late 80s when the conservative resurgence was winning the day in the SBC. Like many I was supportive of the need to defend the inerrancy of scripture against the stranglehold of creeping liberalism. It was a fight I am glad we fought and won. And I’m thankful for those who led the way in the fight.

However, as a young observer back in the day I was always curious at how the spoils of battle were handed out in the SBC. Entity heads were quickly replaced with Pastors who were on the frontline of the fight. I suppose for some this seemed like the natural thing to do. Power was clearly placed in the hands of those who had orchestrated the fight.

Here is the problem as John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

I would suggest that the SBC does not have a people problem we have a structure problem. A structure that inadvertently places too much power in the hands of too few.

Entity heads wield too much power with too few restraints. (Recently I asked one of our state convention leaders to contact one of our entity heads regarding what appeared to be a duplication of national work verses state work. His response was that isn’t something you do. That those kinds of conversations make this particular entity head very upset. One has to ask is this healthy?)

Centralization of power is favored over decentralization. (We hear all the time about the importance of local input, however decisions and the balance of power still seems to predominately come from HQ.)

Yes, we have oversight by boards of trustees and directors. But as one who has served on such boards I know all too well the way these boards tend to function.

I believe it is time to rethink our structure.

  1. Boards need to become more active in our entities. Not just when a leader fails but when the leader is doing well. Remember a good structure protects the organization from the leader and the leader from the organization. We need less rubberstamps and more proactive leadership on the part of our boards with whom we entrust the oversight of our entities.
  2. Whenever possible we need less top down leadership from HQ and more field level, localized leadership and decision making. We need to look for ways to decentralize our leadership particularly with our mission agencies. We may need to consider giving more power back to the state conventions.
  3. Maybe, it’s time to rethink the entire structure of the SBC. How the entities are related to each other. How the national convention interfaces with the state convention and local associations.

Clearly, we can do better. But we won’t do better by simply hiring new people to lead a system that tends to over time corrupt even the best men. Because remember, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”



Billy Graham: He Finished Well


This morning we woke to the news that Billy Graham had died. Immediately we are reminded of Grahams own words on the subject of his death…

“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

I’m amazed of how many people during the course of his ministry heard him preach. Even more amazing are the number of people who gave their lives to Jesus as a result of hearing him preach!

Graham grew up on a farm. Was saved at the age of 16. Went off to college and met and married the love of his life. Started a family. And then God reached down and in an unusual way called him to preach to the masses.

By all accounts he lived a simple life dedicated to faith and family.

Perhaps, the most amazing thing about his life is how well he finished. He finished strong and was able to avoid the pitfalls that entrap so many preachers. He was able to stay faithful to Christ to the very end.

Recently, I was reading in 1 Kings a brief description of the second king of Israel – King David. 1 Kings 15:5 contains an interesting description of King David. It says…

“David did what was right in the Lord’s eyes, and he did not turn aside from anything He had commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.”

Wow – David lived a great life and left a great legacy – yet even David had an asterisk beside his name. There was that one time that he really screwed up. There was that deal with Bathsheba and the cover up and the death of her husband Uriah. Unfortunately, most of us have a Uriah like asterisk that follows us all the days of our lives.

Remarkably, Billy Graham seems to have made it to heaven without a nasty footnote regarding some glaring moral failure. Surely, he was not perfect. Probably, not even close.

Nonetheless, there was no, “except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite” that was ever attached to his legacy! 

Today we mourn the loss of a spiritual giant and thank God that he faithfully finished the race set before him!

Creative and Effective Ways to Build a Ministry Staff


Recently, in an elders meeting, it dawned on me that we have a church that has nearly 1000 in weekly attendance and no one that works on our staff has served in a full-time ministry position prior to coming to work at our church. Let me say that again, no one that works on our staff has served in a full-time ministry position prior to coming to work at our church!

Furthermore, in the past 4 years we have gone from a ministry team of 3 to 14. And they are the best, most productive, and hardest working team I’ve ever been a part of.

So how do you creatively and effectively build a ministry team for your church?

  1. Try to hire people you know

Trust is key when it comes to staff. If you can hire someone that you already have a built in trust factor with and who already knows you and your vision for ministry, then they will hit the ground running.

Of our 14 staff members I had a previous relationship with 11 of them!

  1. Look within your church

Cleary, when you hire from within your church you are hiring people that you already know. But more than that you are hiring people who love the church and have been serving the church. They know your values and vision. They also already know your people. Again they will hit the ground running.

Of our 14 staff members 8 of them came from within our church!

What a great sign of church health when people inside your church aspire to work at your church!

  1. Don’t be afraid to hire people who are young

I love to platform the young eagles in our church. They are usually hungry to learn and grow, and anxious to make a big difference in the Kingdom.

The key to hiring young people is that they are teachable.

Of our 14 staff members 5 of them are under 25!

(And I will let you in on a little secret they are cheap)

  1. Don’t limit your search to seminary trained candidates

We want to hire faithful disciples that have a solid grasp on the bible. However, we have yet to make seminary education a requirement for employment.

Timothy Keller in his classic piece, Leadership and Church Size Dynamics writes regarding hiring staff in a larger church environment…

“Studies show that churches of fewer than 800 members are staffed primarily with seminary-trained ministers, but the larger a church gets, the fewer trained ministers are on staff.”

Of our 14 staff members we have only 2 with any formal seminary training.

  1. Hire part-time people

Hiring part-timers is a great idea for several reasons…

  • Part-time staff are easier to get rid of if they don’t work out
  • Part-time employment gives you a chance to date them before hiring them full-time
  • Part-time employees are still in circulation in the “real world”. They will be more likely to bring new people with them to church.

Of our 14 staff members 4 of them are part-time employees. 

  1. Think about utilizing “quasi” staff

This is a trick I learned as a church planter. Having no personnel budget should not keep you from having a sizable staff.

There are people who will be attracted to the vision and mission of the church and will be willing to work for free. Give them a job and give them a title. Treat them like paid staff. Require them to come to a once a week staff meeting. Make them a business card. List them on the church website. Give them an official church email account.

What you will find is that in some cases these individuals will out work some of your paid staff. And, they will also become prospects for that next paid position that opens up!

Of our 14 staff members 3 of them are “quasi” staff.

Trust me there are ways to creatively and effectively grow a ministry team without breaking the budget.