I would like to take a new look at church design and then propose a few models.
In doing so, I will touch on administration, worship, community, teaching and finally, evangelism.
The administrative cost of doing church needs to be significantly reduced. In some cases, the heightened need for offerings & tithes is directly proportional to the expense profile of church services, activities and daily operations.
An efficient non-profit institution spends a reasonable percentage of its income on expenses. Therefore, if a church regularly spends a lot more, perhaps it should review its operational model to find better ways of doing things.
Ministry leaders and church office personnel must be paid well.
Most times, they are full-time staff of the church and the labourer is indeed worthy of his wages. Church staff should never worry about sending their kids to school or feeding their families. But what parts of the system are overly expensive? Let’s start cutting costs there.
I believe the main focus of churches should be worship, community, teaching and evangelism.
Charity can therefore be spun off as a stand-alone Foundation with a proper governance structure and funding model. That way, church admin funding can be separated from charity & good works.
Every year, a church can present its primary administrative budget (which covers HR and operations). This can then be taken up by a few members. Typically, the people that really give to the church are able to underwrite the entire admin budget on an annual basis.
Once this is done, every other fundraising, including offerings or tithes can be redirected to the pre-established Foundation. There, it can be properly accounted for and disbursed to concrete projects that the community can see and touch. Outreaches can be coordinated and executed by the Foundation. I will elaborate later.
The church pays obeisance to the King through worship. And when we do so, we invoke the corporate presence and power of God. Ideas are unleashed. Inspiration is unlocked. But worship should be prophetically inspired.
God has a program for every church service. Each one cannot be the same and therefore, should not be treated as such.
The Holy Ghost has a specific message for the people that attend church. We ought to allow him to direct the service and we must avoid squandering these weekly opportunities.
I remember when I was a choir director. Before services, I would spend days asking God what the order of worship should be. He would respond by dictating each song I was to sing and the order of the music.
He had a plan and design for every week and was that intentional.
Churches need to bring that intentionality back to worship.
It is my opinion that the worship team should be paid if that is their profession. Volunteers can be encouraged of course. For instance, my profession was strategy consulting but I volunteered in the worship team. If music had been my only profession, and I was required to be in church almost daily, then it would have made sense for me to be employed by the church.
At the end of the year, everyone must justify their time and gifts relative to their income.
If a church cannot afford its overheads, then service production must be drastically scaled down to what is sustainable. The form must never outweigh function.
A Christian does not require the church to access God every day. However, churches are great for accessing other believers.
Therefore, churches must be very deliberate about family and community – both inside the assembly and within the immediate neighbourhood.
When people attend church for the first time, afterwards, there ought to be a curated and thoughtful welcome reception. Some people are shy and may not attend the first time. So the reception should remain open to anyone who has not yet attended.
Receptions can be hosted by natural networkers. People with a gift for connecting with others. The focus should not be on the activities and departments of the church. Rather, guests should be asked about their needs and interests. For example, are they new to the neighbourhood and what do they do for a living?
The job of the networkers is to ensure everyone leaves with at least one concrete human connection. Someone who displays genuine interest, can recognize them and say hello the next time they attend church.
When people leave the welcome reception, they should also receive a link to an interest group they can subsequently join e.g an entrepreneur’s network. The focus should be on the people. You can introduce church departments and volunteer groups much later.
In my opinion, there are three types of teaching that churches should focus on by design: Foundational, Seasonal and Advanced.
Foundational teachings are a form of independence training.
They instruct new believers on the basics of Christianity so they can eventually graduate to an independent and personal relationship with God. The end goal must be teaching them to study the Bible on their own, to develop a vibrant daily relationship with God and to hear from him directly. In other words, maturity.
When Christians come for counselling, the instinctive response should not be to reel out solutions but to first ask them what God has told them about the issue. That way, people can learn to talk to God about their issues in addition to seeking external counsel.
As for seasonal teachings, they should be prophetic. The pastor sits at the feet of Jesus to find out what he wants to say to the church at a time. It is about what is relevant to the body of Christ now. If you take the time to ask, God will tell you.
Finally, advanced classes focus on equipping the body of Christ to do work of ministry in the real world and not in the church.
The focus is on how to serve God in business, politics, media, tech and so on. Many times, this takes the form of expert seminars as well as hackathons for the most brilliant ideas. I wrote about church hosted hackathons here
The products of those hackathons can be legitimately funded by the independent Foundations I described earlier.
There’s a link between evangelism, outreach and church Foundations. Let me elaborate.
Evangelism is cultural and contextual. If a man is hungry, you feed him first before talking about Jesus. The environment and target audience also matter. For instance, is it a rural or urban audience? Are you targeting youths or low-income communities?
Charity based outreaches are more efficient when executed by a properly administered Foundation. It reduces the administrative burden on the church. It allows the ministry to seek additional sources of funding that can widen its outreach scope. In addition, it helps the church to engage both members and non-members in execution, thus spreading the gospel.
Now, if your target audience is young and urban, then you’re better off using media as a tool of evangelism.
Focus on creating contemporary social media content. Design gaming products. Explore the metaverse. Deploy music. Employing street evangelism for a young & urban population is like distributing paper tracts.
Digital natives consume digital products. So think outside the box and speak their language.
I hope this helps.
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