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It’s All About People

Any way you look at it, growing churches is hard work! Those who have never held a church office, or served as a ministry leader may not realize the many meetings, concerns, phone calls, and prayers that go into to pulling it all together. Every week pastors run through a gauntlet of details to help organize facilities, people and money to bring blessing, healing and hope to those who attend. To be sure, the blessings come from God, but pastors and church ministry leaders are key players who help make it happen.

Success in church ministry is directly related to a leader’s commitment to God and to his or her willingness to follow God’s leading. This means spending time with God each day in personal Bible study and prayer is essential. That should be a no-brainer.

In a more practical way, your work as a pastor or ministry leader is probably about 20% cerebral and 80% relational. The role of a pastor is to spend time with people–to visit, nurture, encourage, enlist and train those are who willing to serve. Good basketball coaches spend the bulk of their time with their team on the court practicing and planning. If you are a pastor who can’t stand being around people you’re in the wrong profession. Ministry is all about people–about finding ways to lead them into a deeper experience with God.

“Selling” Truth

Churches are people places–at least they should be. Each one represents a group of people who share common values and beliefs. Seventh-day Adventists Christians are committed to sharing a message of hope with a hopeless world. Unfortunately, some churches think that having “truth” is enough. They haven’t learned how to value people and love them unconditionally. Adventism’s message endears many hearts to it because it is logical and biblically based. But if truth does not reside within a working laboratory of warm personal relations where fellow believers demonstrate compassion and respect for one another, it becomes extremely hard to “sell.” When this occurs, the “product” may come across as being reliable and true, but if its paying customers are relationally challenged and can’ t seem to get along, potential customers will question whether it’s really true or worth the effort.

The Apostle John said, “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…” (1 John 3:11, NASB).

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20) NASB. Every Adventist church could benefit from initiating some kind of on-going member training on how to treat other people. You could call it “Relationships 101,” or “People Skills,” or whatever. The training should be focused on things like:

  1. Effective interpersonal communications
  2. Conflict resolution
  3. Personal ethics
  4. Practicing common courtesies
  5. Gaining respect through honesty

No doubt many other topics could be added to the list.

Why Some Churches Stagnate

Over the last few years I have visited churches where most of the people did not know who I was. The friendliness of some was outstanding. In one church several people came up to my wife and I as soon as we walked in the door. In that same church we were invited to someone’s home for lunch within the first 5 minutes we were there. Other churches were extremely cold and reserved. Not surprisingly, the churches that were warm and friendly had more people.

Ellen White once said, “If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tender-hearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one.” –Testimonies to the Church, vol. 9, p. 189

Whether you are a pastor, local church leader, or member, I challenge you to be the warm, positive influence that beckons people into your circle of friendship and worship.

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About Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

is director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference

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