by Bishop Dr. Peter L. Baker | Project Manager, I AM Kingdom Brands
It's easier to discuss how to grow a church. If that was the focus for this article, I believe I could share a variety of marketing strategies to grow a church in numbers. However, having more members doesn't always translate into more ministry getting done, or even more finances for outreach.
What’s more important is that we learn to better manage the members we have. We often talk about the same members carrying the load of the ministry. Better still, we add to this discussion the lack of getting members to participate in the ministry of the church. To get to the bottom of membership challenges and possibly a solution, I suggest we first come to face the reality that there are 3 truths about membership we must accept in our plan to become an inclusively active church.
Truth #1 Commitment
First, accept the fact that too many members are just not committed to the ministry. When I say committed, I mean they are attached to the church for what the church can do for them. Ministry is a hands-on experience, to be fully productive. When you ask the average person what draws them to a church you hear things like a good Word, children and family offerings, good music, etc.
Rarely, if at all, the response is a place where I can use my gifts or offer my skills and talents. I believe that when we value something, we do all it takes to sustain it, or add more value to it. So, the church remains stagnant because we don’t have enough members adding value to the ministry.
Truth #2 ‘They’ and ‘Them’ Principle
Secondly, a truth about membership is that too many members live by the ‘they’ and ‘them’ principle. When it comes to the day to day tasks of the church, it’s thought that ‘they’ will handle them. Bathroom needs cleaning or toilet paper replaced - they will get it. The church provides van pickup on Sunday, just call and leave a message - they will get it. They should cut this grass, it’s a shame. You see all those candy wrappers in the pews - somebody will get them. Every task seems to have everybody name on it but there’s, yes them, those folks. This is exactly what I mean! Everybody thought it was somebody’s job, only to find out that nobody ended up doing what anybody could have done.
Truth #3 Accountability
Lastly, the truth about membership is that too many members shun accountability. Accountable is simply defined as being subject to an obligation to report, explain or justify something; responsible; answerable. From the leadership on down, every one of us needs somebody who loves us enough to hold us accountable to our call and the work of the ministry.
Let’s start with the Shepherd. Do we have a covering - one that we will take direction and advice from, versus sizing them up to see if they are ‘fit’ enough to lead us? How about the church leaders? Does the Pastor meet with them often enough to show interest in their growth and well-being? Are members accountable to tasks the Pastor may ask of them? Too many members rather go renegade and question why the Pastor would even choose to do things the way they see them doing it. No one seems to want to answer to anyone in the church, however, may be quick to do what a boss at work asks. I know, you’re getting paid there! Kingdom work comes with pay as well. A hundred-dollar bill of peace, a fifty of joy and a twenty-dollar bill of love. Cash-in on this invaluable commodity of accountability!
Membership doesn’t have to be ugly. It only takes one member’s decision at a time to be all that God is calling us to be. Next time you see your Pastor, ask them what can you offer the ministry to take the ugly away!