Posts Tagged: John Bradshaw

Go Get a Bible Worker First!

I believe that every Seventh-day Adventist Church in America…nay, in the World should invest in the hiring of a really good Bible Worker. Almost all churches I’ve been around void of a pastor, a large percentage of their congregations long for a pastor; I would say in many of those cases these churches would be better off to start with a Bible Worker.

Why am I so high on Bible Workers?

Well let me first tell you this has not always been the case. In fact 5 years ago I would have placed Bible Workers at the very bottom of my ministry totem pole.

Why?

Because Bible Workers a lot of times seem way too happy to me (this remains true in my opinion :)). No people should smile as much as Bible Workers do.

Most Bible Workers I was aware of trended towards emphasis on traditional Adventism (not talking core theology); jewelry, music, women in ministry, service order and function, etc.. And well, I’m just not traditional & didn’t know if I wanted traditional around me at all. (I’ve learned to embrace the traditional in the midst of my non-traditional ways).

I thought they were all vegan and frankly I didn’t want constant lectures on the cheese they’d see me eat. 🙂

Did I mention they smile too much?

And let me be very honest: I questioned the value someone that went to a 6 week or a 6 month course could add to my ministry which was  built on years of studies w/ degrees on my wall to prove it. Boy was I wrong!

You get the point, I was not the prototypical candidate to advocate for Bible Workers. Yet here I am. Shouting through the waves of the internet: HIRE A BIBLE WORKER!

In fact I discovered my love and support of Bible Workers a few years back when our Conference cut the amount of Bible Workers in our territory and I realized I was the only pastor I know of that wanted to give-up some of my money to keep more Bible Workers on board.

What changed my mind?

An elementary teacher turned Bible Worker by the name of Noemi. Who one day told me that she wanted to be hired as a Bible Worker at our church.

I told her to pray about it. Which was a nice way of saying, “Good luck with that.”

But she must have prayed because not more than a month later I had someone in my office offering me $1500 a month to help fund a Bible Worker position. And Noemi was hired.

In my observation of Noemi over the last 3+ years I have come to respect, value, believe in, recognize my great need for, and advocate for the necessity of Bible Workers within our churches.

So that is why I am writing this blog to advocate for and advise on the hiring of a great Bible Worker within your church.

Why Bible Workers?

  1. Most that I have met are passionate about reaching lost people. Having someone like this around can infuse energy into your church.
  2. They are trained for one specific purpose to be soul winners. Unfortunately a lot of churches have forgotten that this is the primary purpose of the church, to bring people to Jesus. Again a great Bible Worker can remind members and motivate them to embrace their true mission.
  3. Let’s be honest. Most Bible Workers are willing to work for a lot less money than pastors. Thus a great Bible Worker will be worth their weight in gold especially next to an average pastor.
  4. Bible Workers have the gift of being able to connect guests with members. They see things a lot of members don’t see and thus can match people up with one another quite effectively.
  5. Bible Workers are happy to get out into the community and mingle with neighbors. They are good marketers for your church.
  6. If your church hasn’t baptized anybody in years, I would be willing to wager that a good Bible Worker will help you baptize at minimum 5 people this next year. If you’ve baptized a lot of folk, prepare to baptize more (our baptisms have doubled & even tripled under the utilization of Bible Workers). And a really great Bible Worker may even help you retain them.

My tips on hiring a Bible Worker:

  1. If you don’t have a Bible Worker be willing to sacrifice anything and everything in your budget to get one. If ever I were to interview at another church no matter how big or how small, how traditional or non-traditional, rich or poor one of my first questions would be, “can I have a Bible Worker?” (Preferably I’d bring with me the two I have now, more on this later).
  2. If at first you don’t succeed try, try again. I recognize not all Bible Workers are great. But don’t give-up just b/c of one, two, or three bad apples. Trust me all the bad ones a church may have to go through are worth it when you find a great Bible Worker.
  3. Don’t hire the next David Asscherick. I love David we are good friends, but what I mean by that is unfortunately there are some individuals out there that go through Bible Worker training, go into the field as Bible Workers, but their real desire is to be the next David Asscherick, Nathan Renner, or Taj Pacleb. You don’t want a Bible Worker that wants to be famous. I want a Bible Worker that could care less about preaching or being a great public evangelist. I want a Bible Worker that hustles after leads, knocks on strangers doors in their free time, looks for every opportunity to help at the church in any capacity. Finds joy in taking members out on studies with them.
  4. Try to hire local. My Bible Worker at Visalia SDA & my Bible Worker at The Ark (our church plant) are both local ladies. Noemi has lived here in this valley since she was around 3 or 4 and Kelly has lived here in this valley since she was 7 or 8. The place I met Jesus (Dayton, OH area) has a soft-spot in my heart. I often tell Christina (my wife) it is one of the only places I think I would be immediately tempted to leave California for. Well it is no different for my Bible Workers they grew-up here, they met Jesus here, they care about this community and want to see it reached for Jesus. It also works in your favor to hire a local in order to retain the Bible Workers services beyond just a short stint.
  5. When possible, hire from within. Noemi and Kelly were both members at the churches they are currently serving at before they were hired. Why is this important to me and the best method if possible? Because both ladies demonstrated their willingness to serve long before they were hired. They both demonstrated that they were invested in the well being of the church, not just themselves and their own agenda, or getting paid. They have a knowledge of the church culture, this is huge especially if your church tends to push against the walls every now and then. The church members already trust them so they can hit the ground running.
  6. Once you’ve found someone you can work with, do whatever you can to keep them! This is why I said above if I ever had to move I would try and take my Bible Workers with me. I’m a 49ers fan, three years ago they hired Jim Harbaugh to be their head coach. When Harbaugh joined the Niners he brought the majority of his key assistant coaches from his previous job. Why? Because he/she knows them he/she trusts them. He/she has a working relationship that actually works. If someone meshes with your church and your pastor don’t mess with that!
  7. Hire for the long haul. In a lot of places Bible Workers are hired for short stints often times around evangelistic meetings. Let me share something with y’all. You have an evangelistic meeting every week, it’s called your church service! The average church gets 3 guests for every 50 attendees per week. A Bible Worker that knows your church, meaning they know who the members are & are not. A Bible Worker that knows they will be there longer than three months will have the long view in mind, which means they will take the time to invest in deeper relationships. A Bible Worker that is an actual member and has vested interest in seeing your church grow will help to embrace these guests that often slip through the cracks week in and week out. (Side Note: We were blessed to have a great short term Bible Worker with us this past fall in conjunction with an evangelistic series held at our church this was a great supplement to the meetings, but don’t let it be your sole view of Bible Workers. Hire for the long haul and supplement when necessary.)
  8. Hire with clear expectations. As someone that might be viewed as more progressive in ministry, maybe even some would say liberal (though many call me conservative too 🙂 ), when we hired Noemi I wanted her to know exactly what my views were so we wouldn’t have needless arguments down the road. Also, I wanted her to understand that I expected results and if they weren’t there the relationship as an employee of the church would not remain. I’ve unfortunately heard pastors express great frustration with the lack of results, the lack of work effort they observe in some of their Bible Workers. If an expectations conversation has been had on the front end it is easier to have the “goodbye” conversation later if necessary.
  9. Hire soul winners. I know this should be a given & this somewhat relates to the above topic of not hiring someone that wants to be famous. But I am also thinking about it from the perspective of what the primary function of a Bible Worker should be. There is a movement afoot that a Bible Workers primary task should be as a trainer and equipper of the membership for the work of ministry. Well I agree that is one of their tasks, but to me it is not their primary task, it is more secondary. A Bible Worker is not necessarily an Elder or Pastor which is whom the scriptures say should be the trainers and equippers. I see Bible Workers as having and serving in a very specialized ministry of the church, and that is as a soul winner. Yes every member should be trained to be a soul winner, but that doesn’t alleviate the need for some to serve exclusively in this capacity of aggressive intentional soul winning. Just as every member should be an evangelist, but that doesn’t take away the need for the specialists in this area like Mark Finley or John Bradshaw. If I paid money to have Mark Finley or John Bradshaw to come and hold an evangelistic series at my church, my primary objective for them would not be to train and equip my members; some of that would occur of course, but that is not their focus. Their focus is what? The specialized ministry of public evangelism. To me a Bible Worker is no different. Yes, I want them to take members on studies with them. Yes, I want them to train members to give studies. Yes, I want them to have members out knocking on doors with them; but with or without these things I want their focus to be what? The specialized ministry of aggressive soul winning! That is what we are paying them for.
  10. Finally hire someone that loves people. I was sitting in on the interview with Kelly when she was hired as a Bible Worker and she was talking about how since she met Jesus she saw people differently, when she met people she wanted to immediately share with them what she has received from Jesus. There are some Bible Workers that can give a great study. That are extremely personable. That can hustle and knock on hundreds of doors securing all kinds of studies. But it will all be knowledge based and mechanical and their converts will join based on knowledge and their religion will be mechanical once they do join. Hire someone that sees people differently than they did before they met Jesus, so that they’ll win people not just with what they know, but with how much they love them.

Okay now go find the budget and hire a great Bible Worker & enjoy the church growth that will follow!

The Four Most Important Evangelists in The Adventist Church

If you follow the world of Adventist Evangelism you are familiar with ministries such as It Is Written, Amazing Facts, Breath of Life, & Voice of Prophecy. You’re also familiar with the great evangelists of Adventism, some of y’all have seen them so many times on 3ABN or The Hope Channel that you almost feel like they are your own personal friends, Doug Batchelor, Shawn Boonstra, Mark Finley, Alejandro Bullon, John Bradshaw, Carlton Byrd, and more. But of all the evangelists in our denomination, The Seventh-day Adventist Church, which ones are the most important, the most vital to the growth of our church?

I’m going to give you my top four. They are…

  1. Parking Lot
  2. Groundskeeper
  3. Janitor
  4. Greeter

These three individuals & one inanimate object are far more important to the growth of your church and thus the growth of Adventism at least here in North America than any of the names I mentioned above. Why do I say that? Because these three evangelists have a weekly impact on the growth of your church that the other three do not have (unless of course one of them is your Pastor:)).

Pastor Nelson Searcy and other church growth surveyors report that churches have roughly 7 minutes from the time a guest pulls into your church parking lot to make them feel welcome and give them a compelling reason to come back. Now a lot of folk may be skeptical about that statement, but if you’re a church goer then that disqualifies you from being able to speculate on the mind of the un-churched. The un-churched don’t think like church folk or act like church folk or talk like church folk, but they are the folk we need to reach, which is why these four evangelists, parking lot, groundskeeper, janitor, and greeter are so important to the life and growth of a local church!

Let me tell you about the value of each one:

Parking Lot

Church growth studies state that if a parking lot that is more than 80% it is a deterrent to guests. When I first read this in a book by Russell Burrill I was skeptical, but I’m a pastor which makes me even less qualified than the average member in the pew to analyze the thoughts of an individual searching for a church, so I took the study to the church Elders and there in our meeting one of our Elders raised his hand. He said, “Pastor 8 years ago when my wife and I first move to the area we came to this church; we pulled into the parking lot and didn’t see many openings. The place seemed too crowded so we drove to another church in town.” They weren’t even here 7 minutes and they left. Praise the Lord they gave us another chance, they have been a great asset to our church! But we could have lost them because the evangelism of our parking lot dropped the ball! How can we help with the evangelism of the parking lot? Well first off pastors we can actually pay attention to it. One thing we did prior to moving to two services in Visalia, as our church grew, we not only paid attention to how many people were sitting in the seats but we also sent a Deacon to count the empty spots in the parking lot. When we were getting to full we began to ask our members to park elsewhere. There was a parking lot next door and we got permission to use it, we also had members park out on the street at the curb. Our church having the evangelistic heart that they do complied and our parking lot was once again ready to be an evangelist to our guests.

Groundskeeper

Are your bushes trimmed, is your lawn mowed & green, do you have flowers blooming? The first thing that people see when they pull up to your church are these things and whether we pay attention to it or not, it is noticed by guests. If you don’t believe me think about the last time you pulled up to a persons house whose yard was falling apart. Did you notice? Of course you did! Especially if you were about to go inside. In fact you probably thought in your head, “If this is what the outside of their house looks like, I wonder what the inside looks like?” We’ve all thought it (if you haven’t you may be the one with the ultra shabby yard:)). Well do you think folk pulling into a church think any different? NO! And what is one of the most important rules of evangelism? Start by focusing on the positive. What do most our main stream evangelists start their meetings with? Daniel 2. Why? Because they want folk to see the credibility of the scriptures and honestly probably the credibility of us, in that we were so “smart” to show them the meaning of Daniel 2 (sorry mild sarcasm there:)). But this is a positive message for a positive start. It is no different each Sabbath morning, we want to start things off on the positive. And the positive is a green mowed lawn, trimmed bushes, and flowers blooming. Pastors are you paying attention to the evangelism provided by your groundskeeper?

Janitor

Really this evangelist follows in the same line as the previous. If your church is unkempt and dirty you are communicating a message you don’t want to communicate. Bathrooms need to be clean! If they are like ours in Visalia (literally the worst church bathrooms ever) then you really have to go out of your way to make them as useable as possible! Papers should not be lying around, the walls should be clean, the tables at potluck should be clean. I was once speaking at a small church in the Southern parts of these here United States. I was the guest so I showed-up early that gave me the opportunity to stand in the foyer and look around while I waited for the Sabbath Schools to finish, what I noticed made me wonder how many guests came back. There was a coat rack that probably had half the coats hanging on the rack and the other half were lying in a heap on the floor. Sitting on top of the coat rack were stacks of what appeared to be old Adventist Review magazines along with other various papers. Everything just looked disheveled. We don’t get points if the outside is beautiful but the inside it is a filthy mess, either Spiritually or as a literal church structure. Your janitor evangelist is important!

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Greeters

This evangelist may be the most overlooked because most people consider their church friendly. But just because we as members think our church is friendly doesn’t mean that is what your guests experience. And unfortunately what has been discovered is that members almost always rate themselves higher on the “friendly” meter than guests do. All the other 6 1/2 minutes of a guests first encounter with your church are important but the first 30 seconds that a guest steps inside your church are the most vital and will leave an impression of your church that can be very hard to shake! I’ve found within Adventism that most greeting ministries are the same. Hand-out a bulletin and be done with it. In some churches that is even an overreach of expectation. One of my associates went to preach at another church in our area, when he walked into the church foyer there was no greeter. There was a table though with a stack of bulletins. My associate greeted the table and took a bulletin 🙂 To be a greeter is not to be a bulletin dispenser. A greeter is an evangelist! Every pastor should do training sessions with their greeters. Have a plan for how to greet and where to greet. Yes, where matters. Guests should not have to come to the greeters, I can not count how many times I have had to tap a greeter on a shoulder in a church I was visiting and ask for a bulletin. One pastor friend told me how at a church he was serving at the greeters refused to come out from behind the hospitality table, they said if the people wanted something it was clear where they needed to go. Sounds so hospitable! 🙂 I find the greeting ministry of our church to be one of the ministries I spend the most time thinking about and praying over!

So there are your four “most important” evangelists in Adventism! From personal experience and observation I believe if a pastor will take a little more time focusing on even just these four areas, he or she will see the retention of their guests increase.

 

John Bradshaw–Ripe

I thoroughly enjoy and am blessed by the preaching of Elder John Bradshaw. Here is a sermon he did this past summer at the Georgia-Cumberland Conference Camp Meeting.

<p>John Bradshaw – Ripe from GCCSDA on Vimeo.</p>

You Need to Listen to Great Preachers!

What would happen if more of us listened to great preaching rather than the non-sense on the radio (for me sports talk radio)? Would we all be more edified? I’m pretty sure we would!

Thanks to modern technology most of us can take great preaching with us wherever we go through ipods, iphones, ipads, and I am sure all the other non-Apple gadgets I know nothing about (yes that was a plug for Apple:)).

Right now there is some great preaching going on and I would encourage y’all to download some and have a regular listen. Have church in your car every time you drive.

We’ll start with to me the living Dean of Preachers in Adventism:

Pastor Dwight Nelson: He brings a strong word week after week!

On the Lightbearers website you can get tons of free audio as well as lots of other great resources. Here you will hear great preachers like Pastors David Asscherick, Ty Gibson, James Rafferty, & Jeffery Rosario.

Pastor John Bradshaw will bless you through the weekly It Is Written Broadcast

You can hear a good word from Pastor Nathan Renner

I’m sure there are many more–one I think of is Pastor Carlton Byrd (and hopefully he’ll read this and get his stuff online:))–but these are just a few I would recommend for this evening.

What about you, who would you suggest? Feel free to post the links in the comments.

 

The Most Exciting Numbers!

I look at a lot of numbers. If you follow this blog, you know that “Church Growth” is the most tagged topic, and that naturally is about NUMBERS.

But of all the numbers I have written about I believe the numbers I am going to share with you in this blog are the most exciting thus far.

At the end of 2011 we decided to be a host site for the John Bradshaw/It Is Written evangelistic meetings being broadcast from Las Vegas.

One of our prayer warriors came to me with the idea that we get folk from in our church to pray for every single name on our membership roster and any others that we have in our “friends” list. That was a list of over 750 persons. I thought it was a great idea and so we went to our Prayer Director Kristin to see if something could be set-up. The decision was made to call folk to see if they would take a list of names to pray over.

After much calling & some emails Kristin had 7 individuals, not the number we were looking for :),  that agreed to take a list of names to daily pray for. So they started with praying for all our active members.

But maybe more importantly, we began to pray for more prayer warriors!

That is a prayer we knew God wanted to answer in the affirmative, and He definitely has!

Today (ALL) just shy of 800 folk connected with our church are being prayed for daily by at last check 60 prayer warriors!

We started with 7 and we asked God to send more prayer warriors and now 5 months later we have 60 folks hitting their knees daily for their church & their church family!

I believe we have seen the difference. Between the Visalia Seventh-day Adventist Church & our northside church plant The Ark we’ve had 20 baptisms, 2 Professions of Faith (so 22 new Adventists), & 7 rebaptisms. An entire family is attending our church because they were led to do so in a dream, and 12+ more are in Bible studies.

In the past those are the things we have primarily prayed for, this year, while we have still prayed for decisions for Jesus, without much forethought our primary prayers and emphasis in church have been, “Jesus give us a greater spirit for prayer.”

The numbers the conference will look at & the numbers church growth statisticians look at are nice, but I believe that all those numbers are a direct result of the most exciting number of this year–SIXTY–60 interceding on behalf of the names on their lists.

I am so thankful for those 60 and I praise the Lord for the many more He will convict to be warriors in prayer for His people and for the city of Visalia.

Where do you live? What do your prayer warriors pray for? What would happen if you started praying less for church growth and more for prayer growth? Would your church grow anyway?

“It is a part of God’s plan to grant us, in answer to the PRAYER of faith, that which he would not bestow, did we not thus ask.” –Ellen G. White, The Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 4, p. 348.

 

 

The Twitter Blessings!

  Twitter is a blessing to my life!

Why Twitter? 

Well let me share with you some reasons:

Substantive conversation and thought takes place. I know this may be hard to believe, but when a person really takes the time to think about it, a lot can be said in 140 characters.

Daily on Twitter I get links that add some value to my world. Whether it is a blog post, an article from a website, a video clip that blesses my heart; I find the Twitter users I follow process through and think about the content they are sharing with their social network. They post things because they want others to be enriched, not just simply entertained by the nonsense they find humorous.

I also find the conversations, as brief as they may be to be extremely uplifting and beneficial to my ministry, my life, and my journey as a believer.

For instance here is a poem that Ty Gibson Co-Director of Light Bearers wrote just last night about the city of Los Angeles (hope you don’t mind Ty):

Oh city that I love, city long my home; Streets all red with pain, blood-soaked as Rome.                    

City of angels, and demons too, Oh Los Angeles, my heart bleeds for you.                                           

City of lights, and darkness too, Your Savior’s Light will soon break through.                                       

And on that day, when you hear His call, your angel tears will cease to fall.

It was just a quick little thing he put together after there were some comments about Los Angeles by some of our twitter friends. It was quick, but it was a blessing to many of us, particularly those of us that have spent significant time in or around Los Angeles.

Because Twitter is primarily done from a phone, quick petitions for prayer are often responded to and followed up on in quick time. If I tweet I need prayer, without hesitation I receive tons of responses some even in the forms of prayers. 

Different folk are brought together over specific interests and community is formed. A lot of young pastors are runners and there is definitely a bond being formed between folk that have never met over the subject of running and health. It would have never happened without Twitter.

Pastors share and collaborate on ideas. There doesn’t seem to be competition in the twittersphere, but rather a collective desire to help one another out!

Pastor Dwight Nelson recently tweeted out that he was “sold” on 9 night evangelistic bursts for the local pastor to be able to pastor and still do evangelism.

Immediately David Asscherick affirmed the thought and then a bunch of guys started to ask for more details. Dwight and David both shared their models in just a few tweets, and now there will probably be dozens of young guys or even older guys out there giving these things a shot.

I have also found that Twitter has been a great place where one can be encouraged. Some of us younger guys in the ministry post thoughts, questions, stories of what we are doing. Then to have a Dwight Nelson, John Bradshaw, Shawn Boonstra, Ty Gibson, etc. chime in with their suggestions, their affirmations, their prayers is uplifting to younger folk who maybe have never had any other association with these men they have looked up to ’till they became Twitter friends.

My Twitter world is a world of celebration. We rejoice with one another over what God is doing in each other’s lives and ministries.

I don’t know what your Twittersphere is like, but mine has been a tremendous blesssing, and I thank all those that have played a part in that blessing.

May we all keep tweeting to the glory of God!