Helping Your Congregation to Thrive

Article excerpt

A LOT IS BEING written these days about the most effective styles of leadership for developing vital congregations, but I haven't seen much that addresses the role of the average church member in this process. Average church members make up the majority of our congregations, so their contribution to congregational health is indispensable. Here are four suggestions for so-called average church members interested in helping their congregations to thrive.

1) Make a commitment to growth. The New Testament is clear that all who become followers of Jesus are called to grow towards spiritual maturity. A static faith is a boring faith; the adventure and excitement of Christian living are all in the growth. This growth is called discipleship. Its goal is to become more and more like Jesus in thought, character and behaviour. Discipleship involves getting to know God better in a personal way. It calls us to a broader understanding of God's purposes so that we might be able to serve and represent God more faithfully in the world and in the church. There is enough here to keep all of us actively engaged in this exciting adventure for the rest of our lives!

2) Make a commitment to welcome. As much as it depends on you, make sure that your congregation is a warm and welcoming place for newcomers. Horror stories abound of people feeling ignored and unwelcome when they attend a new church. This is not because the members of these "cold" churches are uncaring or unfeeling. Usually it is just a simple oversight. Good people, caught up in the warmth and enjoyment of spending time with their long-standing friends at church simply overlook the newcomer standing there feeling awkward and strange. While greeting your friends, keep one eye open for newcomers whom you can welcome; greet them as though they are the personal guests of Jesus, show interest in them, introduce them to your friends, invite them back. …