In my previous post I pointed to Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox. It’s a treasure trove!
Here are some snippets from articles that I really enjoy.
Did you know that God uses a very predictable process to build your character? I call this process the “Six Phases of Faith.”
The bible quotes are very enlightening!
Why there’s no altar call at the end of Saddleback services
So we came up with the idea of using a registration card, and we decided that everyone should fill the card out – even our members. That way there is no distinction between people who are making a decision and the people who are just filling out the card. And then we’d collect them during the offering.
On the back of the card, we listed several decisions, for instance, “I’m committing my life to Christ,” or “I want to be baptized,” or “I’m recommitting my life to Christ.” Then, everybody – including our members – could put the card in the basket together.
We found that 80 percent of the people who made a decision were making them during their first visit to our church. And that was a shocker, considering it takes most people in a traditional church about six months to work up their courage to come forward down the aisle.
Once we started doing this, I talked to a lot of pastors, and even they would say things like, “I would have become a Christian sooner. I was just scared to death of going forward. It wasn’t that I was ashamed of Christ. It’s just that I’m a naturally shy person.”
Traditionally, churches ask people to make the most important decision of their life in front of a bunch of other people they’ve never met, and then we forget how intimidating that can be. So we said, “Let’s make it easy to come to Christ, and then make it more difficult for them to join the church.” In order to join Saddleback, you have to take a four-and-a-half-hour membership class (C.L.A.S.S. 101) and sign a membership covenant.
We found this so effective that – even after we had a building with an aisle – we kept the card.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – “If they’re not coming forward, where is their public profession of faith?” My answer to that is to look in the New Testament. Baptism is the public profession of faith in the New Testament. We know that they didn’t walk the aisles in the first 300 years of the church because there were no church buildings – so there were no aisles. So for 300 years the church grew without a “come-forward” invitation.
The whole article deserves to be read, it’s fantastic.
Some rules for selecting music
Preview all the music you use. Don’t have surprises in your service. I learned this the hard way. Once a guest singer decided to sing a 20-minute song on nuclear disarmament!
If you don’t manage your music, your music will manage your service. Preview with an ear for both the lyrics and the tune. Ask, Is this song doctrinally sound? Is it understandable to the unchurched? Does it use terms or metaphors that unbelievers wouldn’t understand? How does the tune make me feel? Identify the purpose. Is this a song of edification, worship, fellowship, or evangelism?
Encourage members to write new songs. Psalm 96:1 says, “Sing to the Lord a NEW song.” Sadly, in most churches they are still singing the same old songs. Every congregation should be encouraged to compose worship songs. If you study church history, you’ll discover that every genuine revival has always been accompanied by new music.
Don’t force unbelievers to sing. Use more performed music than congregational singing in your service for seekers.
Really good and balanced viewpoints on music.
How to increase baptisms at your church
The most basic way I spotlight baptism at Saddleback is by talking regularly in my sermons about the value, the purpose, and the benefits of baptism. The sermon doesn’t have to be specifically focused on baptism to make the connection either.
We have found that a sizeable number of people intend to be baptized, but they never do it. They say, “I’ll do it next month,” but then the next month they forget. So any time I promote baptism, I challenge people to commit on the spot to being baptized. There are a couple ways I do this.
First, during our services, we give everyone a card that includes a place where people can indicate a desire to be baptized. Asking people for a commitment keeps them from perpetually delaying the baptism decision.
Another way we keep people from putting off baptism is by holding what we call “Nike baptisms,” which means we just do it.
Because baptism is a public step of faith and ESPECIALLY because it is the moment when we can point to and say that we died and were set free… for that reason baptism is a turning point in every believer’s life. His advice – and he’s done 20k of them – is especially good.
Lord, please keep growing more people with the wisdom and love and committment and vision that Rick has.