By Ken Blue
Although needs and trends are not synonymous; needs may change as trends change. Trends can be good or evil. Certainly, no church should follow evil trends. The spiritual needs of believers never change. However, how the church addresses and meets those needs must change with time.
What the average church members need is relevant Bible teaching and preaching. That means, the preacher must be aware of the real world and the real people who live in it; then he must be able to build a practical sermon or lesson that clearly helps others with their problems. I know the Bible is relevant, but many pastors don’t know how to preach it so people can understand or apply it.
Some preachers think if they cram the sermon with bible verses, it has more authority and value. Nothing could be further from the truth. Neither Jesus or Paul were concerned about the number of verses in their messages. Look at them; they told simple stories about life and used biblical and natural examples to communicate one truth at a time. This is the need in the pulpit today. The primary purpose of the Bible is not to inform, but to transform. Do you really have an end goal for your sermon, or is the only end, just to preach another sermon. You should write at the top of your sermon notes what your objective is.
Some pastors think if they can get their members to conform to four or five standards, they have met the needs of the believer. The category is: A haircuts, dresses on women, tithing, Bible reading, and soul winning. These may have an outward show, but they do not meet the needs of church members. Usually, these are promoted by the pastor so the members will build his church membership. So, make the sermon relevant to the time and place.
Church members need a sense of belonging and ownership. New members must feel they fit and are accepted. This means the church must create a strategy to assimilate them into the fellowship with other believers. Remember, the glue that holds the ministries together, is the cement that keeps others out. Do everything you can to create a spirit of belonging and ownership within your members. The saying is true, “Use me or lose me.”
Members must be able to develop close friendship ties. Experience shows that if a person does not have a family member or a close friend in church, they will not stay. The pastor should know this and do everything within his power to create ministries where these relationships can develop. Private small groups are one of the best ways for this to happen. Everyone wants to be an important part of an important ministry. The church should have in place and a strategy for recruiting and placing members in ministries best suited for them. Friendships are developed in these ministries. This takes planning and work, but the payoff is great!
Worship is expressing love and praise to the Lord. Although it can be spontaneous, it should also be planned as part of the church service. There are various way to do this and the pastor should vary from time to time. One could use music, testimonies, giving and sermons as worship. The one thing the congregation can do collectively is worship and praise God. This too, should be well planned.
Perhaps the most important part of a church is its atmosphere. Dr. Jack Hyles said that the difference between an exciting church and a dead church is the atmosphere. The preacher must be positive in his messages and announcements. The pulpit is not the place for scorn, griping, complaining, or excuses. A pastor told me that he could not get his members to bring visitors to church. He had pastored for 15 years in a large city and maintained about fifty members. I later found out that practically every sermon was against the Roman Catholic Church Whore, fags, other translations of the Bible and the present government. Are you surprised that his members would not invite others? I’m not.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]…show people what great things God is doing in the lives of church members…[/pullquote]
Preach down the blessings of God! Exalt the goodness and love of the Lord. Talk about and show people what great things God is doing in the lives of church members and in your church. Stop trying to kill the frogs, make the pond bigger. This will keep the Devil off balance.
Church members want a quality ministry and buildings. Many church members are actually ashamed to bring family and friends to their church because the buildings are dirty and unkempt. Many churches are also shoddy in their ministries. The music is not well planed or practiced. The bulletins are pointless and so is the sermon. Cut the grass! Paint the buildings! Clean the carpets! Improve the nurseries and bathrooms! I preached in a church that had only one bathroom. To make things worse, they had only one towel. It was the kind you have in your home, and everyone used it. Visitors will not return to any church run like that. Do the best you can with what you have to make everything first class. Start the services on time and stop them on time.
Vision for world missions is a must for the church. People must see the needs around the world and then be led to get involved in meeting those needs. This involves more than giving and praying for missions or reading a mission letter. Allow people to visit a mission field. Get them personally involved in world mission projects.
People need purpose for everything that the church does and for what you want them to do. Pastors must get off their backsides; discover what the real needs of their members are, and then research ways to address these needs with the Book. Have a purpose statement and teach it to your people until everyone knows what their church is about. Stop trying to make your church like someone else’s. Find out how to best meet the needs of your members and then implement what is needed to accomplish it.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.