Today’s guest post is from Brad Winter, Rec Director at NOBTS. It is a repost from his blog site, I Must Decrease.
This is a piece I wrote for the Dean of Students Newsletter at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
I remember stepping on that scale three years ago and realizing that I had enough. If I was truly going to go wherever God wanted me to, I had to change my lifestyle. I just knew that if God called me to a remote part of the world at 300 plus pounds, that I would struggle the whole time there. Sadly, I would not be able to honor and serve God to my fullest ability.
Excellence in physical health and wellness is vital not only for being available to go wherever God wants you but also for your own well-being. Physical health and wellness, when placed in the top tier of our priorities help with stress and anxiety. It also helps with battling depression, it affects your work performance, protects against heart disease, and other medical issues that we encounter in our lives.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Take some time this summer and reflect on where you are with your health. See which areas in your physical health and wellness that are not glorifying God at the current moment and work on those areas. Then, get busy getting healthy in order to go where God wants you and to glorify Him in that aspect of your life. It’s tough, but you can do this!
Pastors should be purposeful in leading their churches. A pastor who resigns himself to simply show up at the regular meeting times, and teach a nice Bible study or preach a sermon is not honoring his calling. We are called to lead the churches to make disciples who make disciples. Healthy churches do that through evangelism, discipleship, worship, etc. In order to keep the church on mission, it is important to evaluate your church’s health regularly.
John Finkelde recently posted an article here about five metrics he suggests churches should measure regularly to stay on course. Read the article for his explanation, but the five items are:
- Baptisms as a ratio of worship attendance
- Average age of the congregation compared to the average age of the community
- Percentage of adults serving
- Visitor flow
- Secondary giving
I agree with most of what he says regarding the metrics. If the church is baptizing roughly 10% of it’s average worship attendance, it is more likely to be a healthy church. Baptisms reflect the presence of evangelism and discipleship. I agree the average age of the congregation should be mirror the community. I would also add that the racial/ethnic and economic composition of the church and community should be similar as well. This indicates the church is making an impact in the community.
The percentage of adults serving indicates discipleship and equipping effectiveness in the church. I would probably tweak this metric to measure the percentage of baptized believers who are serving. If we believe that the Holy Spirit empowers all believers to engage in ministry, then we must believe that baptized children and youth must be engaged in ministry.
Visitor flow refers to keeping track of the number of visitors in the church. It is extremely important to show hospitality to those guests who visit the church. Smaller churches tend to have a more intimate setting, and they must make guests feel like they are part of the family.
Secondary giving deals with giving beyond the regular offering. This could be missions giving (Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, etc.), capital campaigns, or any number of designated offerings. I would adjust this to examine the percentage given to mission and ministry through the budget as well as through designated gifts. It will reflect the institutional attitude of missional giving as well as the personal attitudes.
I would also recommend the pastor and each staff minister keep a personal assessment dashboard. Here are some metrics I would recommend for your personal ministry dashboard:
- Keep up with the quality and frequency of your personal spiritual disciplines.
- Spend quality time with your spouse.
- Invest in time with your family.
- Regularly meet with a small group.
- Assess your personal health and fitness.
- Assess your emotional health.
- Rate the quality of your sabbath.
- How productive are you being?
- How effectively are you managing your time?
Regular assessment keeps us focused on the mission. How do you measure your church’s health? Would you add or change anything for the personal ministry dashboard?
I read an interesting article about the lack of musicians available in the church. Scott Barkley, production editor at the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Christian Index, wrote about the effects of the cultural change throughout America. What was once considered a rite of passage for children has diminished. Fewer kids are taking piano and other music lessons. More kids are involved in sports. While this may be healthy for kids who sit around looking at tablets, it has an unexpected negative consequence for the church. Also, those who are skilled musicians are often drawn to secular opportunities. We are seriously lacking talented musicians to lead in worship.
Rather than bemoan the state our culture is in, we need to be proactive. This issue affects small churches and large churches. Many churches have adopted the use of recorded music (CDs, digital music, etc.), and others are contacting local college ministries.
Beyond the immediate measures, I believe it is important to make systemic changes so that the church has musicians in the future. Here are three suggestions to help with the future worship of your church:
- Disciple young believers with musical abilities to see how they can use their skills/gifts for the kingdom.
- Encourage current musicians in the church to mentor/teach potential musicians. Give them space to practice. Give them opportunities to play during worship.
- Disciple the congregation to be open to different types of worship expression. Many younger musicians are capable at contemporary worship, but are intimidated by hymns. Allow them to worship God in their own cultural expression.
What have you found that would help in these types of situations?