Inviting to grow


An article from Rev Dr Paul Beasley-Murray, Chair of CBM, from his blog www.paulbeasleymurray.com

 

Churches need to cultivate an invitational culture among their members. True, a report on Churchgoing in the UK (Tear Fund 2007) revealed that 60% of all adults say that they will not consider going to church – but that still leaves 40% who might be open to an invitation! Indeed, many people on the fringe of our churches are just waiting for an invitation from a friend.

In the light of this my custom was to encourage my people to invite five friends to one of the many carol services, in the expectation that three would accept the invitation. My experience is that many will respond to an invitation. On one occasion I said from the pulpit that I would give £5 to anybody who found that not one of their five friends would accept an invitation – but nobody came up to me later to claim a fiver!

Why are Christians so reluctant to invite friends to church? In Unlocking the Growth (Monarch 2012) Michael Harvey lists the following reasons:

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Change is vital but often time-consuming


An article from Rev Dr Paul Beasley-Murray, Chair of CBM, from his blog www.paulbeasleymurray.com

 

“Change” said John F. Kennedy, “is the law of life. And those who look to the past or present are certain to miss the future”. What is true of life in general, is true too of churches. As has often been said, the seven last words of a dying church are: “We have never done it this way”.

Bob Jackson in his recent book What makes churches grow? (Church House Publishing 2015) declares: “Churches making changes grow and those that don’t shrink”. He draws attention to a 2013 survey of Anglican churches in south-west Wales: of the 92 churches who had made no change, attendance was down by 9%; of the 67 churches had had made at least one change, attendance was up 16%. Even more significant was the impact of change upon children: where there was no change, there was a 20% loss of children; where change took place, there was a 60% increase in children. In such circumstances how dare a church resist change? My mind goes to the words of Jesus: “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt 18.6).

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Making the most of “Ministry Sunday”

An article from Rev Dr Paul Beasley-Murray, Chair of CBM, from his blog www.paulbeasleymurray.com

 

Traditionally the third Sunday in Advent has been associated with the ministry of the church. On this day the lectionary readings focus on John the Baptist, the Forerunner.  So in the Church of England next Sunday the Gospel reading for the ‘principal service’ is taken from Luke 3.7-18 which describes John calling the crowds to “bear fruits worthy of repentance”.

Whether or not the solo ministry of John the Baptist provides a good model for today’s ordained ministry is no doubt debatable. The day does, however, provide an ‘excuse’ – or should I say ‘reminder’ – for churches to pray for the ministry of the church. So for instance in the Book of Common Worship the collect for the Third Sunday of Advent is as follows:

O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger to prepare your way before you: grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight; for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 

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Creating an agenda for a meeting

An article from Rev Dr Paul Beasley-Murray, Chair of CBM, from his blog www.paulbeasleymurray.com

 

Meetings are often the bane of a church’s life. They can be such a waste of time. Indeed, I rather like the suggestion that every committee should discuss its own dissolution once a year, and put up a case if it should continue for another twelve months! Nonetheless, some meetings are inevitable. The fact is that iron sharpens iron. The cut and thrust of debate in decision-making is vital if good decisions are to be made.

So the question arises: how can we improve our meetings? It seems to me that the key to meetings is how we structure the agendas.

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Breaking of bread, communion, Eucharist, the Lord’s supper, the mass – what do we call it?

An article from Rev Dr Paul Beasley-Murray, Chair of CBM, from his blog www.paulbeasleymurray.com

 

The meal that is supposed to unite Christians has all too often divided Christians.  Here I have in mind not just divisions between Roman Catholics and Protestants, but also divisions created by Exclusive Brethren and Strict Baptists. Two occasions come immediately to mind. The first took place just a few years ago at a mass for two devout Catholic friends celebrating their ruby wedding, where the priest said that only Catholics could take bread and wine – the rest of us were only allowed a blessing!  The second took place long ago when as a family we were taken by some Swiss friends to their Brethren Assembly and my parents were refused bread and wine. Thank God there is a growing recognition that the Table belongs to the Lord, and not to any particular church, with the result that in most churches there is a welcome to members from all Christian churches to come to the Table.

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Let’s make the most of the Easter Season

An article from Rev Dr Paul Beasley-Murray, Chair of CBM, from his blog www.paulbeasleymurray.com

 

Without exception every church does a great job when it comes to celebrating Christmas. Many churches make a good deal of the season of Lent. But most churches do a miserable job in celebrating Easter – in the sense that they limit Easter celebrations to Easter Day. Indeed, if the truth be told, for most Christians Easter if a half-day hurrah filled with food, family and festivity. And even the festivity tends to be short on Christian content: because after the morning service the focus switches to the egg hunts and chocolate bunnies. What a travesty – not least when you consider that the resurrection is the first article of the Christian faith and the demonstration of all the rest.

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Bring back the Bible in our services

An article from Rev Dr Paul Beasley-Murray, Chair of CBM, from his blog www.paulbeasleymurray.com

 

The other day I re-read Understanding Anglican Worship (Grove, Nottingham 1999) in which the author, David Kennedy, wrote “Anglican worship gives a central place to Scripture”! In support of this contention he went on to quote John Wesley: “I believe there is no liturgy in the world, either in ancient or modern language, which breathes more of solid, Scriptural, rational piety, than the Common Prayer of the Church of England”. As a staunch Nonconformist of many years standing my immediate reaction was quite negative – ‘How dare this man suggest that the Anglicans take Scripture more seriously than other Christians!’

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Guidelines for Pastoral Care – An Example of an Approach

Every church needs an approach to Pastoral Care. In a small church the pastoral care is frequently handled mostly by the minister, although it is surely preferable if the members share in the work of caring for one another, sharing their lives and bearing one another’s burdens. However, the larger a church becomes, the more important it is that pastoral care is shared more widely, not least to ensure that the minister is freed to build discipleship and to support and train others for their ministries. To make sure that needs are not missed and that nobody slips through the cracks, it is important to identify who cares for who. We might distinguish between Day to Day Care, Crisis Care and ongoing Special Care. We would also want to identify “problem areas” which would always be referred to the minister (and then if appropriate to outside agencies) and we would need clear instructions on matters such as confidentiality.

 

In case they are of interest to anybody, I am sharing below the Guidelines for Pastoral Care which I developed for my previous church. By way of context, the church had 130+ members and roughly as many other adult contacts regularly attending services or different activities. As well as the minister, the church was led by 2-4 Elders with pastoral responsibility (and Secretary, Treasurer and 6-8 Deacons without pastoral responsibility). There were around 8 Home Groups and the Leaders of these had responsibility for members/attendees of the groups and their families, and a few individuals were identified as Pastoral Carers supporting people who were not part of Home Groups.

 

Do feel free to use or adapt these guidelines in any ways you choose.

 

Rev Peter Thomas   North Springfield Baptist Church 2017

 

 

 

Guidelines for Pastoral Care in Somewhere Baptist Church

 

Every member of the church has a general responsibility for the physical and spiritual well-being of the other members. Within the church some are gifted and set apart by the church with particular responsibility for the pastoral care of others.

 

“Pastoral care” can mean many things and operate on many levels.

  • Friendship – mutual support and encouragement;
  • Practical help – for example with household tasks, transport, etc;
  • Discipling – guidance and support in the Christian life;
  • Counselling – a listening ear and wise advice;
  • Short-term Crisis Care and Long-term Special Care in particular circumstances.

 

In general the Minister’s pastoral role is to give type (E) Crisis Care and Special Care as described below, to offer pastoral care type (D) counselling, and to train, equip and support others in the church in their ministries.

 

The Elders, Home Group Leaders and Pastoral Carers share responsibility for pastoral care type (B) practical help and type (C) discipling, drawing in other members of the church where appropriate.

 

The whole church shares in the responsibility for pastoral care type (A) friendship, caring, sharing and bearing one other’s burdens informally.

Who does the Caring?

 

The Minister has responsibility for

  • The Day-to-day Care of the Elders and their families;
  • Short-term Crisis Care of any individuals and families e.g. in the Problem Areas listed below;
  • Long-term Special Care of any individuals and families.
  • Any individuals in special circumstances of e.g. Marriage Preparation, Baptism Preparation, Bereavement, Hospital visits;
  • Any individuals who request the assistance of the Minister.

 

The Minister and the Elders are jointly responsible for

  • The Day-to-day Care of the Church Officers and their families;
  • The Day-to-day Care of the Home Group Leaders and their families;
  • The Day-to-day Care of the Pastoral Carers and their families.

 

The Elders have responsibility for

  • The Day-to-day Care of the Minister and his family;
  • Supporting the minister in offering Short-term Crisis Care and Long-term Special Care.
  • Any individuals who request the assistance of the Elder.

 

The Home Group Leaders have responsibility for

 

  • The Day-to-day Care of members and regular attenders of their groups and their families;
  • The Day-to-day Care of other members of church and congregation on their list which the group has agreed to care for.

 

The Pastoral Carers have responsiblity for the Day-to-day care of

  • The Day-to-day Care of members of the church and congregation on their list, who would not usually be covered in other ways.

 

Levels of Care

 

Day-to-Day Care involves support and encouragement by fellowship, prayer and practical help. For a housebound or sick person, it requires periodic contact by visit and telephone. Note that Home Group members will normally share in the tasks of caring for each other and for others on their Home Group’s list – the Home Group Leader coordinates the caring but does not do everything!

A vital part of Day-to-Day Care is to refer situations to the Minister and Elders whenever greater experience and knowledge is required for effective pastoral care. A Home Group Leader or a Pastoral Carer has the responsibility of quickly informing the Minister and Elders when Crisis Care or Special Care become necessary for someone on their list.

 

Crisis Care is the short-term close involvement by Minister (or Elders) in situations of particular difficulty and delicacy such as the Problem Areas listed below.

 

Special Care implies regular long-term specialist support and counselling in Problem Areas and will be offered by Minister, (Elders), other appropriately qualified members, and outside specialists.

 

Problem Areas

 

Among the circumstances where the help of Minister or Elders must be obtained are any problems connected with

  • serious illness or accident, and Laying on of Hands for healing;
  • bereavement;
  • family breakdown;
  • matters related to sex* including child abuse* ;
  • alcohol or drugs;
  • crime;
  • debt;
  • psychiatric problems* ;
  • any aspect of the occult* ;
  • spiritual problems of various kinds;
  • any other serious problems affecting attendance or participation in church life.

 

A Home Group Leader or Pastoral Carer must ALWAYS inform the Minister and Elders before offering care and ministry himself/herself to anyone on his/her list in any of the Problem Areas listed above.

A Home Group Leader or Pastoral Carer should not normally offer any ministry in areas marked with a * above, nor to folk not on his/her own list.

A Home Group Leader or Pastoral Carer might visit but would not undertake any ministry while alone with a member of the opposite sex.

These common-sense principles are very important to prevent unnecessary duplication of effort, to prevent the damage which may easily be done by inexperienced or ill-informed counselling and to avoid any risk of embarrassment or scandal. If in doubt, seek the guidance of Minister or Elders.

 

Confidentiality

 

Any matters discussed with the Minister remain confidential to him, although he reserves the right to seek the advice of specialists completely outside the church if necessary.

Any confidential matters discussed with an Elder will normally be shared with Minister and may be with other Elders or with outside specialists, but not otherwise within the church.

Any confidential matters shared with a Home Group Leader or a Pastoral Carer will normally be shared with Minister and Elders but not with other Home Group Leaders or Pastoral Carer or in any other way within or outside the church. The ability to abide by such confidentiality is an essential requirement for any Home Group Leader or Pastoral Carer.

A person who requests help on the basis that ‘‘The Minister and the Elders are not allowed to know’’ should NOT be helped but referred immediately to Minister and Elders. This principle is entirely for the protection of Home Group Leaders and Pastoral Carers, who might otherwise find themselves needing to refer a person elsewhere but being prevented from doing so on grounds of confidentiality – a dangerous and intolerable situation.

 

Gossip

 

Pastoral Care and Gossip are mutually exclusive. If remarks or accusations are made about another person’s problems or conduct, the speaker must be invited to repeat them in that person’s presence as soon as practical and such matters should be referred to Minister and Elders.

Action Groups – an Example of an Approach

An Action Group is simply a group of four to six people including Elders, Deacons and Church Members who take responsibility for a particular area of the church’s life.

 

In case they are of interest to anybody, I am sharing below details of the Action Groups we adopted in my previous church as a way of distributing the tasks often carried by the Deacons. By way of context, the church had 130+ members and roughly as many other adult contacts regularly attending services or different activities. As well as the minister, FT Youth Worker and FT Outreach Worker, and PT Administrator, the church was led by 2-4 Elders with pastoral responsibility (and Secretary, Treasurer and 6-8 Deacons without pastoral responsibility). There were around 8 Home Groups and the Leaders of these had responsibility for members/attendees of the groups and their families, and a few individuals were identified as Pastoral Carers supporting people who were not part of Home Groups.

 

Do feel free to use or adapt these guidelines in any ways you choose.

 

Rev Peter Thomas   North Springfield Baptist Church 2017

 

 

An Action Group is simply a group of four to six Elders, Deacons and Church Members who take responsibility for a particular area of the church’s life.

 

Each Action Group is empowered to guide the life of the church within its area of concern, initiating, planning, promoting and realizing appropriate events and activities, liaising with other people as required. Groups (apart from Group 1, Worship and Learning) will make recommendations to the Deacons’ Meeting and, except for major or sensitive issues, Deacons will normally accept recommendations without revisiting all the earlier detailed discussions.

 

Action Groups are appointed by the Elders and Deacons and led by a Coordinator. By delegating many things currently discussed by all the Deacons to different groups, the work is shared more widely.

 

Periodically some Action Groups will hold “consultation meetings” drawing together a wider group for particular purposes (e.g. Worship and Learning AG meeting with the whole of the Worship Group, or Youth AG and Children AG bringing together ALL the leaders of the relevant organizations) or even “open meetings” inviting attendance from the whole church. On occasion Church Meetings could incorporate meetings of some of the Action Groups, inviting members to join in discussing a particular aspect of the life of the church in depth but with two or three Action Groups holding discussions in parallel.

 

Note that Pastoral Care does not have its own Action Group. Pastoral Care is the shared responsibility of Deacons, Home Group Leaders and the whole fellowship, co-ordinated by the Minister and Elders, aided by the Pastoral Co-ordination Group.

 

 

1.  WORSHIP AND LEARNING – coordinator Minister

Areas of concern: Worship. Prayer. Teaching and Training.

Personnel necessarily involved: Minister. Elders.

Co-opted: some Home Group Leaders, Worship Group Leader Relevant budget items: Teaching/Training. Music.

Specific responsibilities: Services. Visiting preachers. Prayer meetings and events. Prayer triplets. Home Groups. Womens Own. Training events. Liaison with other churches (Churches Together and local Evangelical Fellowship).

(This Group reports to Elders not to Deacons)

2.  OUTREACH – coordinators 1 Elder and 1 Deacon

Areas of concern: Witness and evangelism. Social responsibility and community action.

Personnel necessarily involved: Minister. Outreach Worker

Relevant budget items: Outreach. Publicity.

Specific responsibilities: Alpha. Jesus Video. Open air witness. Mums & Toddlers. Oasis. Special outreach services, events and activities. Outreach publicity and liaison with Press. Developing community involvement and social issues. Training in evangelism

(This Group reports to both Elders and Deacons)

3.  YOUTH (11-18s) – coordinator 1 Deacon

Areas of concern: All activities involving 11-18s

Personnel necessarily involved: Youth Worker. Co-opted: leaders of relevant organizations.

Relevant budget items: Youth Work

Specific responsibilities: All youth activities. Special events for youth including any holidays away. Special services for youth. Training for youth workers. Safeguarding for 11-18s.

4.  CHILDREN (0-11s) – coordinator 1 Deacon

Areas of concern: All activities involving 0-11s

Personnel necessarily involved: Co-opted: leader of Family Church and some other leaders of relevant organizations.

Relevant budget items: Children’s work,

Specific responsibilities: All children’s activities. Special events for children including Holiday Club and Family Church Festival. Children’s items in services ands special services for children. Liaison with pre-School Committee. Training for children’s workers. Safeguarding 0-11s.

5.  WORLD MISSION – coordinator Minister

Areas of concern: Prayer, giving and support for Mission beyond our town.

Personnel necessarily involved: Minister. Co-opted some reps for missionary organizations.

Relevant budget items: Giving to others.

Specific responsibilities: Effective liaison with Missionary Organisations, especially AIM, BMS and Baptist Home Mission, and with our missionaries. World Mission displays and literature. Regular Mission news items, intercessions in services and prayer for mission. “World Mission Evenings” and other special events.

6.  FELLOWSHIP – coordinator 1 Deacon

Areas of concern: Building relationships among members and friends of the church by appropriate social events/activities.

Personnel necessarily involved: Co-opted: catering people.

Relevant budget items: Catering

Specific responsibilities: Special social events e.g. Harvest, Christmas, Church Anniversary. Developing a programme of regular social / pre-evangelistic activities. Fellowship occasions (after services etc). Newcomer’s Teas

7.  PREMISES – coordinator 1 Deacon

Areas of concern: Church buildings. Manse. Church property.

Personnel necessarily involved: Treasurer, “Property Deacon”

Relevant budget items: All Property items

Specific responsibilities: Maintenance and security of all property. Health and safety. Innovative development and enhancement of plant/fabric for the needs of a church in the 21st century.

Oversight of a group delegated to supervise the premises day-to-day, including overseeing the cleaning.

8.  Administration and Finance – coordinators Church Secretary and Treasurer

Areas of concern: Administration. Finance.

Personnel necessarily involved: Church Secretary, Treasurer and Administrator.

Relevant budget items: Overview of budget.

Specific responsibilities: Support of Secretary, Treasurer and Administrator . Church internal communications. Membership list. Administrative liaison with outside bodies. Consultations re budgets.

Action Group Responsibilities 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
W&L Outr Yth Chld Miss Fell Prem A&F
Home Groups / Bible Studies x
Prayer meetings and events x
Preschool x
Mums and Toddlers x
Family Church x
Childrens Clubs x
Youth activities x
Christmas and Easter x x
Harvest and Anniversary x x
Alpha x
Womens Own x
Weekday Group x
Oasis x
BMS & Home Mission Support x
Our Missionaries x
Christian Aid, Tear Fund x
Link Missionaries x
Alpha x
Baptist Times x
Book Stall x
Bible Reading Notes x
Child Protection & Advocate x  x
Church Directory x
Church Magazine x
Church Yellow Pages x
Drama x
Flowers x
Holiday Club  x
Housebound Visits x
Kitchen Steward x
Minibus Rota x
PA/ Technology x
Prayer Focus x
Premises Team x
Press Liaison x
Stewarding x
Tape Distribution x
Welcoming Team x
Worship Group x

The Marks of Ministry in 2 Corinthians

This sermon is by Rev Peter Thomas, minister of North Springfield Baptist Church and CBM Treasurer. It comes from his blog at

www.pbthomas.com/blog

 

The Church in Corinth was established around 51 AD through the preaching of the apostle Paul. We read in Acts 18 how Paul stayed with Aquila and Priscilla and worked with them in their tentmaking business. Every week for 18 months Paul preached in the synagogue that Jesus was the Messiah. Crispus the leader of the synagogue and his entire household became Christians and many others were also baptised and the church in Corinth was born.

Some years later Paul received a letter from Corinth telling of all kinds of problems in the church there with the church dividing into factions. We don’t have that letter, but we do have Paul’s reply and we know that as his First Letter to the Corinthians. In that letter he teaches them many things about the church as the body of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. He answers their moral and ethical questions and teaches them about true worship, the meaning of the Lord’s Supper and many other things.

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