Three Areas to Help Your Church Thrive

3 Core Areas to Help Your Church ThriveServing in today’s world will be different. We are faced with new challenges, emotions, and struggles that make us give pause to serving in the methods that we were used to before the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are playing and replaying the same questions in our minds: “Can I leave my house?”, “Should I wear a mask?”, “What if I get sick while trying to help someone else?”, “Am I being disobedient if I do not rush out to save the world?” Depending on where you live in the country or in the world, people are faced with different sorts of questions and different layers of concerns. It is so difficult to make blanket statements that prove true for all right now. But, we can always start with God’s word.

The Bible is pretty clear about serving your neighbor and taking care of the least of these. I cannot find a caveat that says “unless there is a pandemic or you are fearful.” 1 Peter 4:10 tells us that “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” God’s grace is readily available. His grace fills us with the strength to overcome everything the devil tries to pile on us. God reveals Himself as our helper, protector, healer, provider, and defender. His grace supplies whatever is needed to lift the load and allows us to press on in service to one another.

As we mentioned in this video, we want to encourage you to not forget about your neighbors and your community. As we are being told to stay home or to not gather in large groups, it becomes very easy to stop looking outward to see what the needs are around us. We begin to focus only on our family or only on our church congregations. We forget about the high percentage of unchurched people all around us, and we really don’t want to forget them as we struggle with the best ways to help.

I want to leave you with three core areas that will help your church thrive during these changing times.

  1. LEADERSHIP – What a challenging time for our pastors and church leaders! We need to pray for these people who have been called and set apart to shepherd the church. With everything happening today, our church leaders have to be able to make quick decisions that impact large numbers of people, all the while seeking and trusting Christ for direction. Leaders, use this opportunity to refocus on the things that mean the most, both to your local church and to the church. Reground your staff and leaders about the biblical vision for your church and go be the church. As you look for ways to reach out to the community through service, you might just find some new unexpected leaders capable of meeting real needs in your own congregation.
  2. ADAPTABILITY – The importance of adaptability right now can not be understated! This includes adaptability from the leadership and certainly adaptability from the congregation. Let’s not let the devil get a foothold in the church with discord over varying options. Over the next 6 – 12 months, consider possible changes that could occur and pray about how you might respond. Setting more short-term ministry goals with potential “plan B” steps will prove to be effective in the near future. As you look at Operation Inasmuch, think about doing projects in small groups of 10 and under. Even consider spreading out the projects over several weekends to meet any guidelines in place and get the most bang for your buck.
  3. COLLABORATION – This pandemic is definitely a time to come together. The body of Christ is made of many parts and we all have a part to play (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Churches need to unify in ways that they have never done before. People are hurting. This pandemic has brought on unexpected deaths, loss of jobs and comfort, and millions of people are looking for hope. The emotional and mental health of people has been affected greatly. Depression and loneliness are at an all-time high and people are seeking fellowship and relationships. What a time for the church to step up, in the name of Jesus, and fill a void! Community agencies will be looking for help as things continue to unfold and again, the church has to be there for the community. Reach out to them as you plan Inasmuch projects to see how you might collaborate through your church.

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Inasmuch Revival Produces 125% Participation

What’s an Inasmuch Revival?  It is an effective, intensive way of motivating church folk to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their community.  In September, Colosse Baptist Church, West Point, VA, conducted their first Inasmuch Day.  They had 125% of their average Sunday attendance involved!!  They attribute much of that extraordinary success to what they call an Inasmuch Revival—a series of church renewal services the week of their Inasmuch Day.  Phil Peacock, pastor of Broadus Memorial Baptist Church nearby, preached the revival.  Broadus had conducted their first Inasmuch Day in 2012 and Peacock often referenced his church’s experience with Inasmuch as he preached in Colosse.  Steve Smith, Pastor at Colosse says:  “The revival really helped prepare our congregation to participate in Operation Inasmuch.” 

David Crocker, Executive Director of the national Inasmuch Ministry says:  “What’s interesting about Colosse’s experience is that this is precisely the way Inasmuch happened initially in 1995!  Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, Fayetteville, pioneered Operation Inasmuch at the conclusion of a series of renewal services.  We found it to be enormously effective in motivating folks to get involved and apparently Colosse in Virginia has made the same discovery.”

Although Colosse Baptist is located in a rural area and they are not a large church by any measurement, they achieved 125% participation as folk who rarely attend worship and college students came home that weekend to participate.  Holding the revival services with compassion ministry as the focus Sunday through Wednesday prior to their Inasmuch Day on Saturday clearly enhanced their overall experience.

               Mark Townsend, Colosse’s Inasmuch Coordinator says the church conducted 24 projects in their Inasmuch Day—food collection for food pantries, sewing pillowcases for a nearby hospital, assisting customers at a local Laundromat, clothing and money giveaways at a local gas station, visiting a juvenile detention center, and many others.  He adds that one of the keys to their success is the training they received from the Inasmuch ministry several months earlier.  Also, they purchased the Inasmuch Day Training Kit which provided lots of useful resources and instructions as they prepared for their event.

Townsend smiles when he tells about Colosse’s celebration.  He says in his church folk sometimes complain when Sunday worship runs past Noon.  But on the Sunday following Inasmuch, the pastor asked people to share from their experiences with Inasmuch the day before.  THAT day worship ran until 1:00 “and no one complained!” says Townsend.

“Our people are already talking about our Inasmuch for next year,” says Townsend.  “Inasmuch has helped us see some of the needs in our community AND our ability to meet those needs.  We are a different church today because of Inasmuch.”

Thoughts on How to Be Thankful

A group of us recently discussed the fact that most Americans have essentially self-centered and unrealistic expectations of life. We want to achieve something. We want to avoid pain. We want to feel beautiful. We want great relationships, fun vacations, retirement savings. We want. We want. We want.

And because we want what we often can’t have, we become disillusioned, frustrated, angry, anxious… ungrateful.

Many in America and most of the rest of the world don’t have such high expectations. They know they can’t have, so they don’t want. They’re grateful simply to have their needs met: to have clothing, to have food. It’s interesting that God tells us if we seek first His kingdom, that’s exactly what He will provide: the basics (Matthew 6: 28-33).

As we approach Thanksgiving, it’s timely to think about how we can be thankful when some of us barely have our needs met, and few of us have received the wants we dream for.

Maybe we need to change our expectations.

Maybe we need to “seek first” God. The Apostle Paul said that he considered everything to be “garbage” compared to knowing Jesus Christ (Philippians 3: 7-11). Maybe we need to expect one thing supremely, to have one ultimate dream in this life: to know Jesus better than we do now, to find ultimate satisfaction through our intimacy with Jesus.

But the dream to know Jesus deeply won’t fully come true in this life either. We won’t know Jesus perfectly until we see Him face to face. Still, even a partial vision of His face, an incomplete knowledge of His love, satisfies our souls — whether we “feel” it or not — far, far more than any other want fulfilled.

Maybe we have to lose a lot of our dreams and wants in order to know Jesus better, too. But it will have been worth it. And as we grow closer to Jesus, we will find ourselves filled with the gratitude that requires no outward blessings, a gratitude to the One who died for us so that He could become the satisfier of our souls.

So, this Thanksgiving, why not ask: is Jesus all I need? And if not, ask what dreams must I repudiate until He becomes all I want?

Lorraine Kalal