- Jim Townsley
- Feb 17, 2012
In a year's time the pastor and his family can easily become emotionally attached to members of the congregation. When one of the sheep strays from the flock it becomes personal. When members fall to the wayside that have helped you start this new church it brings grief to the preacher and his wife. Why does this happen? It is important to realize that many people who are attracted to a new church are not always stable and they are more likely to attend a new church, but they are also more likely not to be faithful either.
Some new members begin to grow initially, but after a while they fall away from the Lord. Others start to grow from the beginning and continue to grow until they become strong believers. At the end of the first year every new church is likely to experience some attrition of these initial members.
A positive aspect of the first year is the emergence of future leaders. Many times these potential leaders are right before our eyes, so it is important not to overlook them. The large amount of the preacher's time should be spent training these potential leaders. The pastor must be careful not to fall into the trap of spending all his time solving problems for people who, after receiving godly counsel tend not to follow the advice they are given.
The first year affords the opportunity to go soul-winning constantly. But as the church matures, more time will be taken to feed the flock and care for the flock. Training members requires time and that time is taken from personal soul-winning. Now that the church is becoming more established additional time will be needed to prepare messages and attend to the needs of the members. Therefore, it is essential to spend every possible minute witnessing and visiting during that first year. The care of the church begins to weigh upon the preacher and his wife as they begin to adjust to this new ministry. Every pastor can attest to the emotional, physical, and spiritual burden that rests upon the man of God. The burden will begin to be felt at the end of this first year and will continue to increase in the years to come.
The number of people attending the church may increase during the first year, but many times it is necessary for the church to grow spiritually before it continues to grow numerically. Men and women should now become tithers and soul-winners. These new members will begin to think of the church as their church, but many years are required before most members accept the responsibility and feel the same burden as the pastor and his family.
Another aspect of grounding new believers in the Lord is to train them to be faithful to all the services of the church. It is important to promote the Sunday night and Wednesday night services. These evening services should be promoted and special activities planned. Some special suggestions are: preaching a series of special sermons, a special children's night, a food fellowship following the service, and a host of other ideas should be implemented to encourage faithfulness to all the services.
By the end of the first year the new preacher should begin to transform into a pastor. As one preacher said, "There are many preachers, but few pastors." Learning to become a pastor is essential and after one year of ministry the burden and joy of pastoring should become consuming. There is no greater title than for your people to call you "Pastor."
The reputation of the church is beginning to be established. A church that is known for poor planning, poor organization, and sloppy appearance is a bad testimony for the Lord. A church with a good reputation will always have the best printed material, function smoothly, and become known for doing things right. The attitude of the pastor will ultimately affect the members so that the church as a whole will reflect the spirit of the pastor. Building and maintaining a good reputation in the community is extremely important and entails years to establish. However, the church's reputation can be destroyed quickly by a single careless act. The church should become known as a caring and biblical family of God.
There is only one first year of the church and every effort should be made to establish a strong foundation and set the sail for the future of it. Looking back over the first year should bring many lasting memories for a lifetime. "Only one life will soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last." It is now time to heed the instruction of the prophet Isaiah. "Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;" Isaiah 54:2