As I have visited with churches across our annual conference, I have heard a theme arise from our leaders that they would like more training. With a new year beginning, many of our church members will be stepping into leadership roles that are new to them. These faithful members are answering a call to serve God, and vital congregations will ensure that they have the support and leadership training they need to fulfill their responsibilities. Thankfully, there are several great leadership training resources available to help new leaders become acquainted with their new roles:
The Alabama – West Florida Conference has a contract with Mission Insite, a demographic company, to help us understand our ministry area, and one of the reports lists reasons people do not go to church. Here are the top three with some reflections on each.
#3. Don’t trust religious leaders.
Wouldn’t it be great if all of our churches had continuous supplies of volunteer leaders to step into vacant positions on a moments notice? It almost sounds too good to be true, but I have seen churches where this actually happens! These churches have worked hard to create an atmosphere that continuously raises up new volunteer leaders to be a part of the church. In my experience with these churches, I have learned at least nine things that help to cultivate volunteers within the church.
9 Suggestions for Cultivating Volunteers:
- Connect serving to a spiritual calling.
Lately, I have been asking myself, “How big does a church need to be in order to merit a full time pastor?” I have heard a couple of different things, but I finally found something in writing. This is from Bishop Willimon of the North Alabama Conference, who sites Lovett Weems:
The total minimum financial obligation for having a full-time pastoral position filled by an Elder/Deacon or a Probationary Elder/Deacon is $70,000 including salary and benefits [in other words, $70k is total package, that is not what pastors take home]. Lovett Weems of Wesley Theological Seminary has shown us that a church must average 125 adults in worship to sustain the ability to fund a full-time pastor’s salary, an adequate program for growth, an appropriate mission program, maintaining its facility, and to participate fully in connectional giving. We are sure that more churches will move from full-time to part-time. We anticipate many more of our churches to be placed on multiple congregation circuits in order to meet the challenges of funding trained, ordained clergy.
These numbers seem right on. As for me and my church, we are about 40 people short, and we are feeling it! I know several peers in ministry who are feeling the budget crunch, too (especially in the Alabama-West Florida Conference as we switch to direct billing for insurance). These numbers only help us to understand our budget problem. They do not help us find a solution. My church committees are working on that right now. I know these conversations are being had by many other churches as well.
Someone noted that I have stopped taking pens to meetings… I have switched to pencils. I did not even realize I did it, but when dealing with such difficult math problems, I prefer working in pencil. So, tonight, I lift up a prayer for pastors of small membership churches and their congregations as we try to figure out this math problem so that we may continue to do God’s work.