Here you will find a variety of tips written by Dr. Mike Holloway, the pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Kokomo, IN for over thirty years.
Surviving the Summer
From a church member’s vantage point, summer is a much anticipated time of year when vacations, family outings, and house projects are made possible.
From a pastor’s viewpoint, however, summertime is one of the worst and most dangerous spiritual times when more church members will fall out of church and disappear than any other time of year.
How can a family and church experience a fun-filled summer without getting hurt spiritually?
- Realize the potential danger! Anytime a person’s daily routine is interrupted, a danger of becoming backslidden is always present.
- Maintain daily devotions! Vacation will typically involve sleeping in, staying up late, lots of driving, and sightseeing. Regardless of the daily events taking place, it is vital to maintain a walk with God and stick with the basics of Bible reading and prayer time.
- Keep church attendance a priority! When traveling, it is easy to justify skipping a Sunday night or Wednesday night service because of the need to drive a lot of miles to reach a destination or to get your money’s worth from an expensive outing. Try to eliminate any activity that would compete with being in church by planning lesser events around church time, so there is no competition.
- Guard your testimony! Just because a person is enjoying the surroundings of another state is no reason to change his behavior or lifestyle. What is wrong at home is just as wrong when hundreds of miles away from home. Character is spiritual consistency.
- Have a plan for tithing if you will not be in your home church! Online giving is a great way to continue supporting your church when you are out of town. Some may prefer to drop off their tithe just before heading out of town. Most churches, however, feel the financial pinch when people go on vacation as too many forget to tithe while they are gone.
The goal of summer should not be simply to survive it, but to recharge our spiritual batteries while enjoying a change of pace.
Night of Prayer
Our church recently completed our annual Night of Prayer that we incorporate in conjunction with our annual Stewardship Campaign. Below is a list of things that we do in order to make this a very special time for our people.
- We designate a Friday night through a Saturday morning prior to our Stewardship Banquet for our people to pray in our auditorium for whatever amount of time they choose. It begins at 10:00 P.M. and ends the next morning at 6:00 A.M.
- We create a list of volunteers from among our men who take a one-hour shift as security. A primary door is left unlocked to allow our church members access to the auditorium which is then guarded by one of our men.
- Prior to this event, we provide 3×5 cards and encourage our people to write their prayer requests on them, encouraging them to ask for a miracle that only God could perform. The cards are placed in an envelope, and then all of the envelopes are placed on the altar where they are unopened but prayed over during the Night of Prayer.
- We also provide a prayer list of people and things for our people to pray over, teaching them how it is possible to pray for an hour, as the Lord encouraged His disciples to do in the garden of Gethsemane.
- We provide a place of refreshments that includes coffee, juice, and other drinks for our people to enjoy fellowship with others who have finished their time of prayer or who are wanting a break before resuming their time of praying.
- Finally, we encourage our people to share answered prayers with the pastor so that blessings can be passed along to the congregation as determined by the pastor.
When we built our auditorium, one of the features we incorporated in it were large screens on the wall (one on each side of our fan-shaped auditorium). We also had a third screen placed in the middle over the top of our baptistry.
The use of the screens allows our people to enjoy the services and preaching in a much greater way. Listed below are the pros and cons that were either incorporated or avoided.
- The side screens are used to show announcements prior to the services. These include colorful images and video clips that mention anniversaries, birthdays, a reminder to turn off cell phones, and upcoming special events.
- The center screen is used to provide a quote that is tied to the sermon. For example, the most recent quote used was, “We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.” (General Omar Bradley). If the quote is a great truth but from an individual that I do not want to promote, I omit the source. This quote remains on the center screen throughout the preaching.
- The side screens are used to show the hymns including the stanza being sung along with the page number in the hymn book. We maintain hymn books in the pew, so the people have a choice of using them or singing the words on the screens. While not promoting either preference, my observation was that the congregational singing was louder when the people sang the words on the screens because they were looking up while singing and able to project their voices more than those looking down into the hymn book.
- The side screens are used to show the sermon point that is being preached on along with Bible references that allows the people to follow along with their Bibles.
- If preaching on a topic that has a short video supporting a particular point, I sometimes show the video to the people using the side screens and then revert back to the preaching points.
- I DO NOT have Bible verses on the screens, however, as I want our people to use their Bibles during the preaching and not to become lazy by having verses shown on the screens.
Watch the video below for a sample of how our screens are incorporated into the services.
A number of years ago, we created a maintenance ministry that provides a steady stream of opportunities for our people.
We named it after the book of Nehemiah where the people willingly became involved in the dirty, thankless job of rebuilding or repairing the gates that had been destroyed to provide a better place of refuge within the walls of Jerusalem.
- One of our men is in charge of this ministry who is able to identify and supervise volunteers who are available for helping with projects. He is retired and is able to dedicate every Monday to working about the church and overseeing the various maintenance needs. He is also knowledgeable about how to do most repairs.
- A weekly Sunday evening meeting is conducted after church asking for volunteers who could give an hour or more. They then meet with our coordinator who schedules the people. These could be men or ladies who can clean or paint as well as teenagers when not in school who can change light bulbs, etc.
- We have even had recurring visitors ask to help out, which we do not encourage but do allow in certain supervised settings.
It has been a very successful ministry where other retired members have found a meaningful way to donate their time and talents to their church at no cost to the church.
With a new year approaching, a great promotion that our church has used for a good number of previous years is the promotion of Genesis Sunday.
This is the first Sunday of a new year and is used to encourage a number of things in a variety of ways.
- In the past, we have created and passed out a book marker containing a list of the Baptist distinctives.
- Years ago, we also created another book marker listing things that would create a perfect day such as Bible reading, prayer time, exercise, passing out a Gospel tract, and healthy eating.
- In addition, we also pass out a variety of Bible reading schedules.
- We have also, passed out a handout that details how to pray for an hour with a list of things to pray for including a praise list.
One of the most overlooked duties of a pastor is to create opportunities for church members to become more involved in the church.
Here is a great opportunity to get men, ladies, and teens involved in creating a nice end of the year giveaway for each family in the church:
- First, have a calendar printed on 5″ x 7″ cards including Bible verses on each monthly card to serve as encouragement on various topics or as a monthly memory verse. You may choose to download the calendar we used in our church from the link below.
- Second, encourage people to come in and help put the calendar cards together in a chronological order.
- Third, encourage men to get involved in making the holder out of wood purchased by the church or donated by people in the church. The dimensions of the wood block are 4″ long x 2″ wide x ¾” thick with a groove cut into it that is ¼” thick at a 10 degree angle.
- Each calendar can then be placed in a clear plastic bag and presented as desired whether it is one per family or one per person.
- This calendar makes a wonderful Christmas gift from the church to the membership or as a gift for the new year.
Building the Mid-week Service
When I first became the pastor of Temple Baptist Church almost thirty-four years ago, I made instant and deliberate changes to our mid-week service that have created very strong attendance and involvement among our people. If some of these things are different than how a pastor chooses to conduct his services, then that is the wonderful thing about being an independent Baptist. My desire is not to be critical of how the Lord might be leading another ministry but rather to reveal what has been done in our church for many, many years.
Here are the changes I made to our mid-week service:
- Prayer meeting versus Bible study. When I first came to TBC, the mid-week service was sparsely attended, and it focused on mentioning the prayers needs that were turned in along with breaking up into smaller groups to pray for those needs. I changed this immediately to focus on the service being a preaching service that emphasized Bible study instead. The result was instantaneous and impressive in how quickly the attendance grew. Most church members are intimidated about praying in public or breaking up into smaller groups. When they began hearing that the mid-week service was a full-blown preaching service, they were excited and began coming to the services instead of staying at home. We have a prayer sheet as a weekly handout that mentions the prayer needs that are turned in.
- Increased importance. The second change that I made was to increase its importance. When I first got into the ministry, I heard Dr. Curtis Hutson share his desire to make the mid-week service the most important service of the week! The Sunday morning service is the biggest in the eyes of most church attenders. Sunday night services usually see a decrease of 1/3 of the morning service with the mid-week service dropping yet another 1/3 of the people. Dr. Hutson deliberately worked harder and longer on his sermons in order to make the mid-week service just as valuable as the other two. In order to accomplish this, our mid-week services look identical to our Sunday morning services minus a choir. We have special music and give an invitation as we do in all of our services along with receiving an offering.
- Outreach ministry. A final step taken to help boost the attendance was to have our weekly church-wide soul winning program at 4:00 P.M. each Wednesday followed by a meal that can be purchased by our people, so they are already at church for the services which begin at 6:00 P.M.
The result of these things has boosted the attendance of our mid-week service to be more inline with our Sunday evening services.
Here is a great outreach idea that will require the necessary budgeting but provides a number of great benefits. This ministry utilizes direct mail as a way of getting the gospel into every home in the community as well as an invitation to the church.
Here are a few easy steps to jumpstart a great way to give the gospel and to reach your community:
- Set up a weekly budget for printing a nice brochure about the church in addition to a letter that presents the gospel along with envelopes and postage.
- Purchase a database of homes you would like to reach in a particular zip code. These can target specific groups of people.
- Schedule a time for church members to come and help prepare the material to be mailed. This provides an opportunity for people who will never make a visit to be involved in the church’s outreach program. We schedule ours for Wednesday afternoon from 4:00 – 5:00 P.M. We then provide a meal that they can purchase at a low cost which helps them to be present and ready for our church service at 6:00 P.M.
- Send these brochures via bulk mail which greatly lowers the cost of postage.
- Design invitation cards around the next holiday or upcoming church event so that the mailouts are always changing and not becoming stale for the people who are helping to get them mailed.
A number of years ago before COVID, we started a new ministry in our church that we called the Life-line Ministry. It was designed to enable many of our older members who were still wanting to participate in our soul-winning ministry but were unable to do so due to health issues.
The program has three strong benefits that are:
- It involves no cost to the church.
- It allows anyone to be involved in spreading the gospel regardless of his health or limitations.
- It provides an opportunity for volunteers to be involved in witnessing.
Listed below are the detailed steps that are involved with a brief explanation as needed.
- The church purchases a database according to the desired zip codes for their community. The cost is part of the purchase price of one dollar per letter which is paid by the individual.
- Other materials purchased by the church are envelopes, stationery for the gospel presentation, and a normal stamp. Bulk mail is not used because it is always viewed as junk mail by the recipient.
- A full-length letter is written by the pastor that presents the gospel and an opportunity for recipients to obtain further information along with an invitation to church. We do not put the name of the church on the return address of the envelope, so the person will open the letter out of curiosity. We do however give the address of the church, so returned envelopes help us to track the accuracy of the database. Bad labels can be refunded by some companies. The church’s name and information is mentioned at the bottom of the letter.
- Volunteers are recruited to fold the letters, stuff the envelopes, attach the stamps, and attach the labels to a card that is given with each envelope sold. The mailing label is not placed on the envelope but is handwritten by the individual to avoid the letter looking like junk mail while also allowing the person purchasing the letter to be involved in making it personalized. While addressing the envelope, he is also encouraged to be praying for the person who will be receiving it.
- We sell the envelopes from our bookstore which in turn increases traffic to it.
This is a win-win outreach ministry because it is free to the church; it provides an ongoing purpose for shut-ins or others to still be involved in helping the church; and it is a service opportunity to anyone who wants to do something for God.
Church Constitution and Bylaws
I would encourage any and every pastor to evaluate their church’s Constitution and Bylaws with the idea of protecting the church from recent social changes that are sweeping our nation. Specifically, I would look at inserting language that would protect the church from a variety of things that are important.
- First, it would be good to limit the church to only using the KJV. This would help safeguard a church from a new pastor who is wanting to begin preaching from the NIV, ESV or some other modern version.
- Secondly, it would be wise to insert language that would legally protect the church from homosexual or transgender individuals who might be church members from demanding access to restroom facilities of their choosing or a church wedding that would involve a same-sex marriage. To do so, check with the Christian Law Association to obtain a copy of their recommended format and then change it as desired.
The bottom line is that activist groups and individuals are targeting churches for the purpose of creating a lawsuit and every church needs to be pro-active in putting their religious views in writing before a lawsuit is launched against them.
Boost Your Sunday School Crowd
Years ago, I heard a very well-known preacher and Baptist leader state that in order to have a healthy Sunday School program, a church needs to be getting forty percent of the Sunday morning crowd to Sunday School. I want to share with you how to do even better, far better.
How would you like to have 95% of your Sunday morning crowd in Sunday School?
I will share with you what I believe is the single greatest thing that you can do in your church that will maximize the ability to teach far more of your people than is possible or realistic to do in the traditional Sunday School set up. I call it the Flip-Flop, and it is amazingly simple. It doesn’t cost any money, and it will double your Sunday School attendance immediately. All you have to do is have your Sunday service first and your Sunday School after it. In our church, we have the morning service at 10:00 A.M. We then give a fifteen-minute break for donuts in our Fellowship Hall, and then it is time for Sunday School.
What are the advantages?
- Your Sunday morning crowd is already present and will be far more receptive to stay for the Sunday School hour than to arrive at church early for the traditional Sunday School setting.
- Because your Sunday School lesson has not been taught yet, it can be heavily promoted from the pulpit in the morning service and in the bulletin.
- Because Sunday School follows the preaching hour, the end of the church service is not critical to end at a particular time. Whenever the preaching and invitation are over, there is a fifteen-minute break with a starting time given for Sunday School. If our preaching time ends around 11:00 A.M., Sunday School will end at noon. If the preaching goes over, Sunday School can be extended to no later than 12:15 P.M.
- If you have a missionary drop in, you can still preach the morning service for the benefit of visitors in attendance, but you can then have the missionary speak to ninety-five percent of the same crowd during the Sunday School hour.
This is probably the greatest change that we have made in our ministry in over 30 years, and I would never want to return to the traditional Sunday School format. NEVER!
Every Church Needs a Website
I would love to encourage every church to create a website if you do not have one. In my travels, I encounter countless times when I discover churches that are simply not prepared to have visitors because there is little to no information about their church. One of the most difficult things to find when trying to visit a new church is their service times! Most churches have their service times on their sign out front, yet there are so many who neglect to place this information online. Therefore, to every pastor, I highly recommend that you create a website for your church. If you don’t know how or don’t have the time, there are people in the pew who would probably be able to make it happen. To every church member of a church that does not have an online presence, please approach your pastor and volunteer to build a website for your church. It was Curtis Hutson as the editor of the Sword of the Lord who used to encourage churches to advertise in his paper by saying, “Not advertising your church is like winking in the dark. You know what you just did, but no one else does.”
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