Your Voice: 9 ways to help grow church attendance

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Your Voice: 9 ways to help grow church attendance

By Rob Jackson
Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions

As I travel around the state, I’m encouraged to see churches that are now “blowing and growing.” Others are lagging behind and a little “winded.” Some churches seemingly are “gasping” for breath.

Regardless of where you are as a church, here are some suggestions that might help spark growth in church attendance:

  1. Have each Sunday School/small group contact everyone on their roll. Make a call and ask for prayer requests. Pray with them over the phone. If they haven’t been in a while, let them know you have missed them. If needed, apologize for not contacting them sooner.
  2. Make it a priority for you as a leader to contact a few regular attendees and let them know you appreciate them and their faithfulness.
  3. Personally contact three people that have not been attending lately. Tell them you love them and miss them. This contact needs to be a phone call or a personal visit.
  4. Invite someone and pick them up for church. Bringing someone with you to church can encourage the entire congregation. Hopefully, it will spark an interest in them bringing someone.
  5. Have a service day in the community and use this time as an opportunity to invite others to your church.
  6. Send an encouraging email to every church member. Along with this email, pray that it will fall on receptive ears.

Ask God to use this to spark a renewal in excitement and attendance.

  1. Pray that God will add to your number. Make praying for the lost and those who are unchurched a priority. Remember, it is God who adds to our number!
  2. Set goals. An “old fashioned” friend day still works. Prayerfully set a goal of invitees. Also, encourage each member to bring a friend.
  3. Teach your congregation to share about what God is doing in your church.

Genuine enthusiasm is contagious. Excited church members invite guests.

People want to come to a church where God is evident.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This article first appeared in Ministry Moments, a newsletter of the Alabama State Board of Mission’s office of church health. Rob Jackson serves as director of this office, and has served in ministry since 1990.

Letter to editor — Johnny Hunt lawsuit

I read your recent article pertaining to the Johnny Hunt lawsuit. This is a sad commentary pursuant to his “return to ministry.” Reading of his alleged lawsuit reportedly filed against the SBC, Executive Committee and Guidepost Solutions makes me wonder if Mr. Hunt has ever read 1 Corinthians 6:1–8.

The question is, should believers (like Hunt) carry their brothers (SBC, EC and Guidepost) to court? I think the Apostle Paul clearly answered this question in the mentioned Scriptures.

When Christians decide they need to go to court to resolve their issues, somewhere you will find their motivation for retaliation, anger, bitterness and vengeance.

In my opinion, there is no way God’s people can reconcile their differences by going off to court, suing their brothers and sisters in the Lord, because they can’t settle a dispute outside a courtroom.

Have we forgotten what Jesus told us about forgiveness?

Unforgiveness is a form of bondage, and so I cannot understand how Mr. Hunt, a supposed minister, pastor, evangelist, can justify carrying the SBC, EC and Guidepost to court considering he allegedly admitted to “a brief, inappropriate encounter with the wife of a fellow pastor in 2010.”

I think Paul suggested a better alternative: “Why not rather be wronged, why not rather be defrauded, than to lose your testimony in Jesus Christ because you refuse to forgive your brother (another believer)?”

I don’t think you win going that way. I think Satan wins when we cannot settle, or will not settle, our differences outside the courthouse (should be handled in the church, the SBC), certainly in Mr. Hunt’s case.

John Witherington
Troy, Alabama

Life is short; make each day count

Every day is a gift.

Paul wrote, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time …” (Eph. 5:15–16).

Time is a gift from God and no one knows how much time we have on this Earth. Thus, we must maximize this gift.

Also, life is short. Psalm 144:4 reads, “Man is like a breath. His days are like a passing shadow.”

  • Life’s too short not to enjoy each day.
  • Life’s too short to sweat the small stuff.
  • Life’s too short to stay at odds with someone you love.
  • Life’s too short to fill our days and sometimes our nights with worry. Trust God.
  • Life’s too short to be ungrateful. Count your blessings.
  • Life’s too short so fill it with laughter and joy.

We also know that while life is uncertain, God has a plan.

Tim Challies wrote “Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God,” an honest account of the pain he and his wife suffered when they lost their 20-year-old son, Nick. This book shows how to grieve as those who have real hope in a real Savior.

He wrote, “I trust Nick lived the number of years, days, hours, minutes and seconds that were perfect for him. His life was not cut short but lived to the final moment of God’s good plan. … In the wisdom of God and according to the will of God, he died not a moment too late, and not a moment too early.”

Nick was kept by God until God was ready to call him home, he said.

God, teach us to … live each day for You.

By Pastor David L. Chancey
McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, GA

Some things never change — or do they?

By Barry Holcomb
Pastor and former entity board of trustee chair

I was immediately concerned a few weeks back when Texas pastor Jared Wellman was announced as the candidate to lead the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee.

His nomination to the highest level of entity leadership in our denomination reminded me of another questionable SBC entity head selection process from nearly 30 years ago.

Wellman’s nomination made me think, “Some things never change.”

In 1995, Southern Baptists voted to accept the recommendations of a restructuring task force and began a process of combining some of its entities and eliminating others. This restructuring brought the number of entities down from 19 to 12.

Three entities — the Radio and Television Commission, the Brotherhood Commission and the Home Mission Board — were combined to form the North American Mission Board.

NAMB’s first president

The Covenant for a New Century Task Force, which led the effort to replace the 150-year-old Home Mission Board with NAMB in 1997, was chaired by Bob Reccord.

Reccord also became the first president of the newly formed missions entity.

My tenure as a NAMB trustee began in 1998, one year after the agency was formed. I also was honored to serve as the trustee chair from 2004 to 2006.

My final four months in that role were consumed with responding to a February 2006 article published by Georgia’s Christian Index, which chronicled several failed initiatives and misguided management decisions under Reccord’s leadership.

Areas of critique leveled at NAMB included a reduction in the tens of millions of cash reserves, two failed national evangelism campaigns and outsourcing of the agency’s video production to a company with ties to the president. The outsourcing process did not include competitive bids from other vendors.

An investigation led by the trustees revealed several crucial decisions by NAMB executive leadership that were never brought up for trustee approval. These findings may be read in the 19-page report, unanimously approved by the board in March 2006.

Wellman’s election to lead the Executive Committee would have been similar to the election of Reccord to lead the North American Mission Board.

Wellman had served as trustee chair and was an ex-officio search team member that presented him as their candidate.

Selecting entity leaders from inner circles of organizational involvement is not a good look for Southern Baptists.

It did not serve us well when NAMB was born and would not have served us well had Wellman been elected.

The vote of the Executive Committee trustees to reject his candidacy has made me re-think my assessment that “Some things never change.” Now I am hopeful that maybe they do.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Barry Holcomb serves as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Belmont, Mississippi, and previously served Baptist churches in Alabama for more than 25 years. He received a master of divinity from Southwestern Seminary in 1991 and currently is working on a doctor of ministry from New Orleans Seminary.

Related: SBC EC search team holds first meeting, elects officers

The presidential search team for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee held its first meeting June 1 to elect officers and determine basic organizational aspects for the group.

Neal Hughes of Alabama was named chair, Nick Sandefur of Kentucky vice chair and Nancy Spaulding of Michigan secretary.

Other members are Corey Cain of Tennessee, Drew Landry of Virginia, Sarah Rogers of South Carolina and David Sons, who serves as an ex-officio voting member of the committee by nature of his role as chair of the full EC board of trustees.

The new search team was selected by EC members May 1 after the first search committee’s nomination of former EC chair Jared Wellman was not approved by the full board of trustees.

The group originally planned to meet in early May but had to reschedule due to an unexpected health concern for one of the committee members. More details regarding the search process will be available soon.

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