One of the biggest questions I received during my interviews with several Churches (other than about worship) was, “What is the biggest thing you have learned about ministry through the years?” My response is so simple that one search committee member kept asking for another answer and got agitated when I told him the same thing over again.
My simple response was this: “Every Church and community is unique.”
It seemed that every Church wanted me to give them some steps that I would perform to help grow their Church. Honestly, there is no such thing. There are similarities between what Churches are doing that we can learn from, but that is about it. My first Church grew because of a group of people began inviting their friends and family. My second Church did not grow through the same approach. The next Church I lead in Indiana grew through having big days that people could invite their friends too. The new Church I lead in Iowa grow through advertising and through me performing hundreds of weddings. Here in Alaska the growth has come through my family and I being out in the community.
Honestly, there is very little that has transferred from one Church to another. Each community has unique needs, unique people and each has a unique background. Each Church has its own unique history, its own unique people and its own unique experience. For example, in the Church in Indiana I had a couple who invited almost all guests out to lunch each week at a local buffet. When they moved, the Church changed and we need to create a program for guest follow-up. That couple personally had a bigger hand in our growth than anything I did.
The struggle in Church is not to become like a Mega Church that we admire. The struggle is to utilize the way God has gifted us in the community that God has placed us.
That has been the biggest thing I have learned about practical ministry in over 20 years of preaching. God continues to underline it to me over and over again … along with His amazing ability to do anything in Church He wants. But that is another blog post 🙂