- Jim Townsley
- Apr 3, 2013
At the beginning of a new church it is hard to imagine that one day this church will be celebrating its tenth, its twenty-fifth, and its fiftieth anniversary. You may not remain as the pastor to experience all these special anniversaries, but the church family will experience these special moments. Though not an immediate goal, the development of the church over the long term is important. Everyone would like to celebrate church anniversaries with pride and rejoice over the past as well as the present.
New churches are more consumed with survival than creating a legacy, but the early years begin to establish a long term pattern of ministry. The community develops an opinion of the church for either good or bad. The mindset of the church's nucleus is developed during these formative years that will impact the future years. No one intentionally plans to hinder the long term progress of the church, but if the short term plans and programs are not developed with the long term in mind it will probably affect even the immediate future of the church.
There are significant differences of short term and long term goals. The immediate goals are more related to developing a nucleus of strong believers who will lead the church, while the long term goals are more related to strengthening the church. Though the immediate goals are urgent and compelling, the long term consequences must also be considered. Before launching a new ministry in the church the question should be asked, "Do I want to continue this ministry for the rest of the church's life?" It can be exciting to start a new bus ministry or a children's program, but maintaining this program will require workers and money. It is much easier for people to be excited about a new ministry than it is to maintain and run it. There should be a deep conviction that it is the will of God and that there is strong support from the church as a whole. If the church family does not support this new ministry it will be difficult for it to continue very long into the future.
Though I have never allowed finances to be the determination of whether or not to start a ministry, money is important. "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" (Luke 14:28) Where God guides He provides, but often your faith will be tried. It is much better to know God has directed you to undertake this ministry before you face serious trials and quit. If God is in it, He will see you through.
Some of the first initiatives of a new church are: starting and building the Sunday school, beginning a faith missions program, starting a music program, beginning a children's ministry, starting a bus ministry, or starting a Christian school. There are many other possible outreach ministries that are worthy projects of the church. A camp ministry, a Bible publishing ministry, and a radio ministry are all valid ministries. Keep in mind that though these ministries may be a blessing to one church, some of them may not be God's plan for your church. Starting any ministry to compete with neighboring churches is never a good idea. If another church has a Christian school that you can support it is probably better for all if you support them and spend your efforts in another area.
Timing is also important. People should be prepared for the start of a new ministry. As the pastor, you may understand completely all the future plans, but the members need to be prepared so that they also fully understand what you are doing and that they can get behind this new ministry and support it. Also, I believe it is important to not start too many new ministries too soon. Starting a new ministry can actually take away from the main soul-wining and discipleship of the church
When considering renting a facility or buying a piece of property godly counsel should be sought. It is never a good idea to undertake a costly or extensive ministry without much prayer and godly counsel. Remember, when you rent or buy a piece of property you have made a big commitment. If something else comes along that is better you have already committed yourself and you will be unable to take advantage of it. Consider the needs you may have as the church continues to grow. Can you expand in this location? Will it meet the needs of the church for the next ten or twenty years?
No one has all the answers about the future. But God knows and His guidance will lead us in a plain path. We must be willing to follow His direction and to wait upon His leading. When He directs us to step forward we must, by faith, act upon His leading.
Ask yourself this question, "What is your long term vision for this new church?"