5 New Year Resolutions for Churches (and Pastors)

Many people talk about making New Year resolutions this time of year. They make their lists of things they want to start doing or stop doing. Their goal is to improve on the previous year, by making necessary changes and adjustments in their life.

But what about churches? How many churches make resolutions at the start of a new year? The truth is, churches need to make adjustments and changes at the start of this new year just like individuals do. There are things they need to start or stop doing.

If your church doesn’t make New Year resolutions, it should. Here are 5 New Year’s resolutions every church should consider.

1- Trust the Power of God’s Word More

I’m afraid us pastors tend to drift toward trusting in our ability to plan, cast vision, lead, communicate, and make tough decisions more than we trust the power of God’s Word. Don’t get me wrong, these other things are needed, but none of them come close to the importance of simply trusting in the life-changing power of God’s Word.

2- Do More to Help the Poor and Needy

I know there are a million reasons not to do this. However, I cannot get away from the command the Bible gives time and time again to help and minister to the poor and needy. Partner with an organization that specializes in this kind of ministry. Talk to others who are doing it. Come up with a plan. Start small if you need to, but do something.

3- Focus More on Discipleship

Most churches do not have a content problem; they have an application and obedience problem. What I mean is that most churches I know do a good job of presenting biblical information each week, but a poor job helping their people apply and live out the truths that have been taught. This is why discipleship is so important. I am convinced that discipleship is a key ingredient to having a biblical church.

4- Operate Intentionally

I know how easy it is do something because it has always been done. I also know how easy it is to get into a rut of doing the same thing over and over without giving thought to it. Operating intentionally means that we know what our God-given purpose is, we have a biblical plan for getting there, and then we make decisions each day that move our church in that direction. I wrote more about being an intentional church HERE.

5- Be More About People

Ministry requires programs and activities, I get that. But don’t get so focused on the programs that you fail to minister to the individual. Pastors, get out of the office and spend time with people. Focus less on building a church and more on building people and you will accomplish both. [Tweet “Focus less on building a church and more on building people and you will accomplish both.”]

What resolutions do you think churches need to have?

6 Things Small Groups Help Accomplish

As I have been reading and studying over the past several months it has become clear that there are a variety of purposes that a small group ministry could have. Each church must give careful thought to the role that small groups will play in their ministry. Without careful thought, planning, and communication, small groups will not work–well, they might survive, but they won’t thrive.

Here are some of the purposes that small groups can have.

1- Discipleship/Accountability

Some churches use small groups as the discipleship arm of the church. These small groups are designed to be the place where people hold each other accountable. These groups supplement the worship service and provide a more personal avenue for spiritual growth.

2- Evangelism

Some small groups are solely evangelistic in nature. The goal of these groups is to constantly be inviting unbelievers to the small group meeting so that they can be introduced to others in the church. The thinking is that as the visitor becomes more comfortable and gets to know others in the church, he/she will be more likely to visit the church.

3- Teaching

Other churches use small groups as the teaching time of the church. There is a curriculum that is used with the goal of giving spiritual instruction. Some of these small groups meet on Sunday (Sunday School), while others meet during the week.

4- Application

Some churches view small groups not as a teaching time, not as an avenue for evangelism, and not even as a place for discipleship and accountability, but a time to specifically apply the sermon from the previous Sunday. It is impossible for the pastor to apply the message to every life. These small groups help remedy that.

5- Building Community

Other churches have separate discipleship groups as well as time for teaching, but lack a time for fellowship and building community. These churches create small groups that are specifically focused on building community and providing opportunities for fellowship.

6- Community Projects & Member Care

Some churches use small groups as a way to facilitate community outreach projects as well as member care. It is a way of making the church smaller in order to help see that each member is taken care of as well as involved in reaching out into the community.

The Challenge

The challenge is that small groups can accomplish more than one of these purposes, but they cannot accomplish all of them. The responsibility of the church leaders is to know what the specific purposes of the small groups are, communicate the purpose frequently, and then implement the small groups, stressing how they help accomplish the overall purpose of the church.

If the church members do not know what the purpose of the small groups are, the leadership has done a poor job. Small groups can be a vital part of a church’s ministry, but they must be implemented correctly.

Teaching Disciples Vs. Making Disciple-Makers

The need to make disciples has been brought into focus over the past several years through the many books that have been written about this topic. For far too long conservative churches were simply focused on making converts. Evangelism was stressed so much that discipleship was minimized. While churches may have talked about discipleship, it was not practiced as it should have been. Thankfully, this is changing. More and more pastors and church leaders understand the difference between making converts and making disciples. More of an effort is being given to ensure that once someone is saved they are then discipled.

While I am extremely glad to see this taking place, I do have one concern. Making disciples, by its very nature, means to make disciple-makers. And I am not sure that is the ultimate focus of some who talk about discipleship. Some appear to confuse teaching disciples with making disciple-makers. Here are a few points to keep in mind that help distinguish the difference.

1- The simple transfer of information does not necessarily equal discipleship or spiritual growth.

2- True discipleship should result in action, not just knowledge.

3- Each disciple should be involved in the process of making other disciples.

When Jesus gave the Great Commission to the disciples, the instruction was to “Go and make disciples.” He was not instructing them to do nothing but sit in a discipleship group and talk about truth. It was a command to make disciples of people who were currently unreached; and then train them to make other disciples.

Let’s be committed to making disciple-makers.