When I pastored FBC in Altoona, I had just come from FBC, Hammond, Indiana. From a church of 25,000 actively attending the church to less than 30 in attendance at FBC in Altoona. On one hand I had seen a mega church ministry. I had gone to the college to learn about church ministry. I had five classes a week on Christian Education. Then coming to FBC, was not only a shock, but trying to achieve what I had learned in college was very difficult. To be able to keep focused in the present was a real challenge. I had been on staff of some rather large churches. Southall (1000) Baptist Tabernacle (1600) Mansfield (600) Calvary (600). To have a church staff of more than five pastors at these churches was normal. There were multiple Sunday School classes and many ministries.
Coming to FBC to pastor a small church in a small town was a real challenge and humbling for sure. I was often reminded by the church members, "This is a small church in a small community., not a large church in a big city." They were right. But I didn’t want a small church mind set. We are small so we think small, and so things remain small.
But at the same time I didn’t want fall into the trap of saying "we will have 300 in the next twelve months." That wasn’t a realistic idea., and you have your members getting discouraged if you push for high attendances that cannot be reached.
But on the other hand we still could do the best that we could. We had the best possible music, and we had the best possible groups of music teams coming and singing for us. We had the best possible missionaries coming each month. We had the top evangelists coming to preach for us. We provided the best Sunday School material for the teachers that we could. We had a great Children’s Church program, and the best trained teachers. We had a wonderful church secretary and financial secretary. We had some very good Deacons. We had the best organ and piano players. A small church setting doesn’t mean that you have to do things poorly. We provided good discipleship training for each member. The preaching/teaching was not all that bad either.
My objective was to have Ephesians 4:12 church members. My objective was to build up people to be fully mature believers in Christ. I was trying to build up people rather than build a physical church. We made improvements on the inside of the building, but we needed a new facility. That was achieved by the people and the next pastor, Monty. Praise the Lord
While at FBC we didn’t have the ability to have a staff of multiple pastors coming into our church. As a matter of fact in the sixteen years I was there we had two preachers who came to our church.
One pastor/teacher doesn’t have the ability to do all he would like to see accomplished in the church. You have to learn to work with the good people that are in the community and work with your own spiritual gift and abilities, and they are limited. While I had worked as a youth director, a bus director, a camp director, an educational director, etc. the possibility of doing all that in one church is impossible. Even if Mrs. Ethel York thought I could do it all..
What if today I were to pastor a church in a small town with a small congregation? The mind set of the church body I have discovered is the key to doing ministry. Each organized body of believers has a different perspective on what ministry is and what they believe is important and what is secondary in ministry.
I pastored a church that had 478 members and less than a fifty came my first Sunday. The mind set of this church body had been set in stone for over fifty years. It was impossible for me to bring about a change in mind set about ministry into this church body with any success.
My original thought of this thread was, "Are the ministry principles I am suggesting today the same principles I used at FBC?" It’s one thing to suggest ideas and principles for church ministry as a consultant knowing they will work and another thing just to believe they will work. Biblical principles will always work.
I have studied church ministry for over thirty years from some of the largest churches in the country in the past.
- Church ministry is undertaking the task of accomplishing the fundamental principles the church has established to be Biblical.