Ken Allen, director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions office of LeaderCare, said leadership development is a continuing process, and he is a “practitioner” who is growing but hasn’t yet arrived.
“We learn from doing, and we learn from each other,” Allen said. “Our leadership in our churches must be biblical and missional. We want to help our churches discover their God-given purpose.”
Allen hosted the second of four training sessions for an intentional leader series at the SBOM facility in Prattville on April 18. The first session on Jan. 17 focused on the pastor as a person — his call and self-awareness. The April event focused on the work of the pathfinder.
“Finding God’s will for ourselves and our churches is a strategic part of what we do. We want to effect biblical change without blowing things up!” Allen said with a laugh.
He noted that we live in an era of discontent.
“Many of us remember the so-called ‘sexual revolution’ of the ‘60s, but I really don’t know what we’d call the age we live in now,” he said. “In these times of uncertainty and confusion, we must create a thirst for positive change, building on the best that we may already have. Long-term church health will take time and patience.”
Allen suggested leaders must be able to lead themselves.
“How can we ask people to follow us in prayer if we don’t have a vibrant prayer life or to seek God daily in Scripture if we don’t have a vibrant devotional life?” he asked. “Our leadership is authentic when we ask people to join us on the journey.”
Allen said leaders must also listen to others.
“We love to respond to people, and sometimes we formulate our response while they’re still speaking,” he said. “Listening is a discipline that we must learn.”
Value of retreat
Allen recommended that attendees consider gathering prime leaders for a prayer and planning retreat lasting for several hours or in an overnight venue.
“In this setting we ask smaller groups to discuss and evaluate church ministries, not personalities, and to share ideas with the larger group,” he said. “Then we choose the top priorities we believe the church should have”.
Allen distributed six simple evaluation forms focusing on worship, evangelism, discipleship, ministry, fellowship and prayer.
“I’ve used this setting and these tools in interim pastorates I’ve had, but it doesn’t require a transitional time like this for a church to look at what it’s doing and prayerfully consider ministry priorities,” he said. “And, of course, we mustn’t overlook discussions about implementing our recommendations, or we fall short.”
Rob Jackson, director of the SBOM office of church health, served as the second presenter. His topic was “Twelve Steps to Increase Guests and Get Them to Come Back.”
Jackson said a welcoming church begins with the pastor.
“We can’t ‘hole up’ in our offices and never come out,” he said. “We must be with people and genuinely love them. We must work hard at remembering names and making everyone feel special. Pastors set the example for everyone else in becoming a welcoming church.”
Jackson noted research by Thom Rainer suggests that guests make decisions about whether to return or not within 12 minutes.
“We should look at our facilities with guests in mind, and sometimes it’s good to get someone outside the church to take a fresh look at things since we get accustomed to how things have always been,” Jackson said. “Can we find ways to improve the atmosphere in our churches?”
Jackson suggested taking a look at parking, signage, temperature, cleanliness, sound and lighting.
He also recommended that leaders take a fresh look at worship services, having a simple order of worship so as not to surprise guests, and to be sure leaders know what’s happening.
“I came to the pulpit to preach one Sunday before the choir finished their anthem!” he said with a laugh. “I took a quick look at the order of worship and thought I understood it, but obviously I didn’t!”
Value of testimonies
Jackson said personal testimonies of God’s grace and power in the lives of church members are effective in worship too, though he said he learned to record and edit these ahead of time since sometimes testimonies can become like mini-sermons.
He also recommended timely follow-up with guests, perhaps leaving a door hanger at their homes that afternoon, making phone calls and sending notes.
Jackson also discussed his experience with a new members class. He said this class can be offered to those considering church membership or those who have already presented themselves for membership.
“In my church in Decatur, we asked those who wanted to join to attend the class, and then we presented them to the church,” he said.
“In the class we dealt with our church’s history, our relationship with the missions boards, assurance of salvation and the purpose of the ordinances. A major part of this class is the member covenant that dealt with commitment, conduct and giftedness in ministry. In fact, I asked our entire church to affirm these simple principles outlined in our new member’s covenant.”
Allen said several helpful leadership tools can be found at alsbom.org in “leadership resources” under the “ministries” tab and at leadership.lifeway.com.
The third training event in this series will be July 25 and will focus on preaching.
Allen can be reached at 800-264-1225, ext. 2210, or by email at email@example.com.
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