The Changing Picture of Faces in America

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The following is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of Small Church, Excellent Ministry: A Guidebook for Pastors, written by Dr. Page Brooks. His chapter specifically looked at “Multiethnic Ministry in the Small Church.” The below is used with permission from Wipf & Stock Publishers.

Why should our churches be multi-ethnic? They are some practical reasons that multi-ethnic churches need to exist in America.

First, we are experiencing an increase in immigration in the United States. From the cities to the rural area, immigration is having a huge influence. Cities experience immigrants and refugees as they settle due to governmental relocation programs, settling with family, or for job opportunities. Immigrants also exist in large populations in rural area, often around farming communities. There is almost no place in the United States that a person cannot go with seeing the affects of immigrants.

Second, urbanization is also creating cities that are multi-ethnic. In the next decade or two, there will be more people living in cities than in rural areas for the first time in history. Urbanization has created cities that are no longer mono-ethnic, but are attracting people from all around the world. The affect is not only in larger cities, but now in smaller towns as well. The urbanization creates opportunities for churches that can literally reach the world within their own city.

Third, the denominations in the United States have a long history of systemic racism. By “systemic racism,” I mean that many of our denominations were formed because of the separation of the races in the earliest history of the United States. Often whites worshipped separately from black slaves. If they did worship together, the slaves were often seated separately. Several new denominations were formed due to these separations. For example, the African Methodist Episcopal church (and its forerunners) was founded because blacks worshipped separately from whites in the early Protestant Episcopal Church.

Today, whether intentionally or not, denominations continue the separation. Yes, worship styles and preferences have now developed over the decades and even centuries. But, an opportunity now exists in our society to correct the racism that developed at the founding of the United States. With the increase in immigration, travel to and from other countries, and technology that unites the world, churches have an opportunity like never before to truly be a local manifestation of the heavenly vision from Revelation for all the ethnicities of the world to worship together in a local church.

No Restraints Conference

According to the 2017 Annual Church Profile released by Lifeway, 77.8% of reporting churches averaged 250 or less in Sunday morning worship attendance. Smaller-membership churches are indeed the largest section of churches in our denomination.
Here at the Caskey Center for Church Excellence, our purpose is to equip and encourage pastors and church leaders of smaller membership churches to continue doing the ministry that God has called them. That is why we would like to invite you to our annual No Restraints Conference.

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This free conference will allow an opportunity for you and your spouse to worship and pray with other ministers serving in churches similar to yours. Also, meals and resources will be provided for you.
For more information or to register, please click here.

Hospitality in the Church

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“Hello Dr. Farmer. It’s great to see you back again.” Becca the restaurant manager greeted me on Saturday evening. I had eaten dinner in the hotel restaurant the night before and decided to eat there again. After all, they had elk jerky.

Julia, my waitress, also remembered me. “A cup of coffee and a glass of water? How would you like to try the meatloaf sliders?”

In the first three minutes of sitting down in the restaurant, I felt welcomed and cared for. Is there any wonder why I returned for dinner? Hospitality is important in the service industry. It’s more important for the church.

Hospitality in the Church

The Caskey Center, in partnership with Lifeway Research and the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, conducted research on small churches and personal evangelism last year. One of the interesting insights discovered was that though all churches in the study used greeters and encouraged members to be friendly with guests and non-Christians, the most evangelistically effective churches (Top 20% of churches who retained new commitments to Christ) placed a high value on hospitality.

Hospitality inside the Church

Hospitality inside the church refers to welcoming and loving guests who attend your church’s services. This means more than just holding the doors open and greeting people. It is more than handing out bulletins. A proper greeter will be smiling, friendly, and will anticipate any needs the guest may have. A well trained greeter understands that visiting a church can be very intimidating and will strive to allay any fears.

Hospitable churches go beyond the greeter. The more effective churches also teach church members to be friendly to guests every week. An attender would expect the church staff to be friendly. The attender would appreciate a group of volunteer greeters. But when the attender sees that the whole church body loves him/her that makes a big difference. When the whole church body is friendly, caring, and concerned, it communicates the love of Christ. This is what the guest has been searching for in life.

Hospitality outside the Church

Hospitality is not just something we reserve for when people darken the doors of our churches. It is an extension of the gospel. It is about showing the love of Christ to those who are estranged from God. As Willis and Clements noted in their book, The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life, “At its core, the practice of biblical hospitality is obeying the command in Romans 15:7 to ‘welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.’ It’s receiving others into our lives—into relationship and, yes, even into our homes.”

Hospitality outside the church requires us to be friendly to non-Christians we meet. Missional hospitality teaches us to utilize the relationships we inevitably build from our friendliness as a way to share the gospel.

 

Implications

In light of the findings, the best way to prepare for guests to your church is to be hospitable outside the church and to treat guests in your church as you would guests in your home. Here are five practical tips for exercising hospitality in your church:

  1. Learn first names quickly and use them often.
  2. Have greeters in the parking lot to welcome and guide guests to where they need to go.
  3. Have large golf umbrellas on hand for rainy days. Walk guests to and from their vehicles.
  4. Ask ice breaker questions to find out something about the guests. If they don’t know anyone in the church family, introduce them to someone with something in common.
  5. Have church members prepared to invite guests to lunch (either at home or in a restaurant).

What practices of hospitality would you add to this list? Comment below.

Getting Small Churches on Mission, Part 1

My friend, Ed Stetzer, wrote a chapter in our book, Small Church, Excellent Ministry. Today he posted a blog  reflecting four big-picture ways for smaller churches to begin moving toward mission.

Be sure to read his blog today and part 2 tomorrow.

No Restraints 2018

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Are you a minister serving in a smaller membership church and looking for a resource that will be refreshing and instructional? The No Restraints Conference is the resource for you. Registration has opened for this FREE conference at NOBTS.

Come to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for a time of fellowship and training. This free conference will allow you and your wife to worship and pray with other bi-vocational and smaller membership church ministers, as well as learn some new skills to assist with your ministry.

For more information and to register, click here.

 

 

Small Church Excellent Ministry Book Release

Book Cover

It’s official! While the paperback of the book was released a few weeks ago, the new resource, Small Church, Excellent Ministry: A Guidebook for Pastors, is now on Kindle. This book is a compilation of practical wisdom written by scholars who have served in smaller membership church ministries.

The introduction and conclusion were written by me (Jeff Farmer); setting the context of small church ministry in the United States. I served as a pastor/church planter of a network of simple churches (also known as house churches).

Chapter one focuses on small churches and the mission of the church. Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism and a well-respected missiologist, provides guidance on leading a church to be on mission.

Chapter two addresses the necessity of multiethnic ministry in small churches. This chapter is written by Page Brooks, Assistant Professor of Theology at NOBTS and lead pastor/planter of Canal Street Church, a multiethnic congregation in New Orleans, LA.

Chapter three gets to the heart of pastoral ministry – evangelism. This topic is discussed by Jake Roudkovski, Associate Professor of Evangelism and Director of the Doctor of Ministry program at NOBTS.

Bo Rice provides excellent instruction on sermon preparation in chapter four, and Ed Steele covers the topic of worship leadership in chapter five. Rice is Associate Dean of Mentoring at NOBTS. Steele is Professor of Music at NOBTS.

For the administrative functions of the church, Adam Hughes writes about leadership in the small church in chapter six, Jody Dean details church administration in chapter seven, and Hal Stewart covers discipleship in chapter eight. Hughes is Dean of Chapel. Dean is Assistant Professor of Christian Education and Director of Mentoring in Christian Education. Stewart is Associate Professor of Discipleship.

The final two chapters are written by Patrick Weaver, Research Fellow at the Caskey Center for Church Excellence, and Mark Tolbert, Director of the Caskey Center for Church Excellence. Weaver discusses the vitality of the pastor’s personal discipleship, and Tolbert emphasizes the pastor’s family life in small church ministry.

As you may have noticed, nearly every author is on faculty at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The primary reason for this is that Dr. Chuck Kelley, President of NOBTS, and Dr. Steve Lemke, the Provost Emeritus, assembled an all-star faculty who are both practitioners and scholars. These men are passionate about equipping pastors to equip the church. They are also men who “talk the talk” and “walk the walk.”

You can find this book for sale on Amazon or you can request it at your local bookstore.