The Welcoming Church
What can you do to get your people involved in ministry? “Make it popular to participate,” says Pastor Terry Baughman of LifeChurch in Gilbert, Arizona. “Acknowledge those who are working in the kingdom. Make it sound like everyone is involved and encourage others to join in. I’d call it the ‘band wagon’ approach.
“We try to make everyone feel that what they do around the church is ministry (it is serving God) — from preparing coffee to tending the nursery to grooming the landscape. So with this broad brush, I would say half of the attendees do some form of ministry.”
In getting people involved in evangelism specifically, Pastor Baughman had this to say, “This is an area we are concentrating on. Realistically we may have 10-15 percent really involved in evangelism. We are bringing focus to the congregation at least one Sunday per month to inspire everyone to do something about reaching our world. We are preparing resources (business cards, outreach postcards, tip cards, etc.) to put in the hands of everyone. We want to make it easy for them to invite a friend, a coworker, a neighbor, or their server at the restaurant. Everyone needs to be involved in evangelism.”
Keys to Growing a Church
Bro. Baughman believes there are four principles to church growth. The first is to build a positive culture of expectation. “Always look forward to more. Speak about revival, miracles and growth, and focus on the good things that are happening in your church community. It is too easy to get sidetracked with the negatives, but they will not become issues unless we give them life.”
The second principle to church growth is to value people. “Everyone, from child to senior, has intrinsic value and needs to feel that somebody cares about them. Welcome them. Learn their names. Speak to them. Listen to them.”
The third principle is to know that God is in control. “He is bigger than any problem you will ever face. Whatever happens, nothing surprises God.”
Finally, according to Pastor Baughman, you must trust Him! “He is already in the future. In feast or famine, plenty or poor, addition or subtraction, God is there, and He works all things for our good (Proverbs 3:5-6).
“We continue to recognize how utterly and completely we depend on the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and in the lives of those who attend our services. Without the Spirit we are just another Christian church in our community.”
Growing and Managing a Great Team
“Our ministry team has proven to be extremely valuable,” says Pastor Baughman. “God blessed us with capable leaders, and I have shared the vision God has given me with them. They have embraced it and taken ownership of their areas of responsibility. I try to affirm them and stress appreciation for all their hard work. They are all volunteers but work like they are getting paid.
“Within the first year, we expanded the ministry team to a leadership team. Whenever possible we try to incorporate the spouses of team members who are married. Together they are more effective, and it serves to strengthen their relationships when they are working in ministry together.
“If there is a need or someone has an interest in doing something for God, we try to create a ministry for it.”
The church website includes an extensive list of ministries offered or being developed: www.lifechurchaz.net/Ministries.html.
Pastor Baughman says, “We are constantly working on better communication. We produce a monthly calendar and a weekly print bulletin which we make available online on our website. We try to get something in the hands of every visitor that will connect them to LifeChurch (and the website) and remind them to come back. We try to get contact information from every visitor. They will get an email or letter or both within a week of their visit. I keep a list of visitors in my iPhone so when they come again I can check my list to remember their name and something about them.
“We have a monthly leadership planning session, usually the first Sunday of each month. Our services are morning and afternoon so we meet Sunday evening. Our leadership team consists of all ministers (three are licensed), department leaders and spouses. Currently we have about 18 on this team. In the fall, usually November, we have an annual planning retreat to set an agenda for the next year. In that meeting we will put everything we would like to do on the calendar, cast vision for each department, and spend time building community among our leadership.”
Pastor Baughman’s team does not hand in regular reports, “but they are accountable to the team in our monthly meetings and given the opportunity to share their successes, failures and plans.” Special events, department activities, and future plans are discussed in these meetings. Each member is encouraged to connect with others on the team that can help them accomplish their goals. Rather than handing out job descriptions, “I discuss the area of their responsibility with them and then see how they grow in it. As their talents develop and they prove their capability and their passion, their responsibilities change accordingly.”
For training, Pastor Baughman uses “no curriculum or anything really structured. This is hands-on training. We are learning together what works for us in our community. I try to share a little of the vision for our congregation in each meeting. We talk about the good things that are happening, take a look at the growth track, share some of the challenges we face and ask for their participation in prayer to overcome them.”
Pastor Baughman believes “ministry is serving. I try to keep that in focus. I’m an under shepherd leading people that Jesus loved so much He died for them. As long as someone is under my leadership, I need to love them as much as I can and try to help them grow in their relationship with God.”
Discipleship and trust are Pastor Baughman’s favorite topics to preach about. “The commission is ‘Go teach. Make disciples.’ The plan for world evangelism is pretty simple. Make disciples and teach! The second is learning trust in God. He is bigger than any problem you will ever encounter and already has the outcome figured out!”
God Gives the Increase
“I like to think I can minister to anyone, but in our ministry God has allowed us to be involved in mostly renewal and restoration,” says Pastor Baughman. “There is a multitude of hurting individuals around us. Some have been mistreated by churches, some have lost their faith, and some have grown distant in their relationships with God. We spend a lot of time and ministry rebuilding faith, reassuring people of God’s love, and watching them be transformed in newfound faith.
“It is our desire to have a spirit-filled worship service every time we meet. If a visitor only comes once, they must feel God’s presence in a real way. Our praise team, LifePraise, meets every Saturday evening in our church prayer meeting and spends about an hour in practice afterward. It is a huge commitment on their part but the result is dramatic. They have grown so much spiritually and in their talents. My son, Rhette, is the music minister and is so passionate about leading them in authentic worship. My wife, Gayla, has always been very involved in music and in leading worship in our services.”
The church has experienced 100% increase this year. “We averaged 40 to 50 three years ago when I assumed the pastorate,” he says. “Currently we average 130.”
“I don’t believe that we can just create a simple formula for success that’s going to work everywhere,” says Pastor Baughman. “In our experience with church planting, we’ve tried to identify what the need is in that community. I’m not sure we’ve totally found the key. It’s a continuing process. Try some things and if they don’t work, you try something else. Just be open to whatever God leads you to do. We’ve still got so much to accomplish. There’s over a million people just in the east valley of metro Phoenix, Arizona. We’ve not even begun to have an impact. Don’t try to find one single formula. Just continue in ministry, day by day, speaking God’s direction and purpose, try new things and allow God to open doors.”
By Christina Li