Ineffective Church Websites

Posted by admin | Church planting | Wednesday 19 May 2010 2:52 pm

Check out this article from the Christian Examiner. Nowadays, the first place a newcomer looks for a church is the Web. So much for the good ole’ Yellow Pages. My website is fairly static (I am not into blogging, yet), but if you have a church, keep your site up to date and interactive. Underlining in the article is mine.

Press on!


Article from May 2010 issue of Christian Examiner –

Study: Most church websites ineffective

By Mark Woods – ABP News Service

DIDCOT. England

Churches, by and large, still haven’t entered the digital age when it comes to evangelism—but those who have are reaping huge rewards, according to a new survey.

A poll conducted by Christian technology company Endis, which provides the Church Insight Web platform and has offices in the USA and UK, indicates that when churches deliberately focus Web sites on attracting outsiders they see a corresponding rise in the number of non-Christian visitors. But many focus on the internal life of the church, and their effectiveness is reduced.

Endis polled 1.600 churches for its DigiMission  project, asking questions about church size, the Web site’s target readership, the number of Christians and non-Christians coming to events, and the influence of the Web site on their decision to attend.

The 120 churches that responded reported more than 1,300 non-Christian visitors in the past 12 months to church events, services and discipleship courses through the Web, an average of 11 visitors per church. For Christian visitors the figure is 1,600, an average of 14.

Among the survey’s key findings were that most churches’ Web sites were not created with the unchurched in mind. Only half offer an outline of the gospel, and only a quarter provide testimonies of people who have come to faith in God.

Endis spokesman Geoff Knott said there were clear differences in the effectiveness of different Web sites.

“When we looked at the successful sites, we found that they had the gospel on their site, and that people were able to book into events like Alpha courses,” he said. “Interactivity is important, but we didn’t find that blogs or forums did much. The other thing that was very successful was stories.”

It was a noticeable that larger churches were less effective than smaller ones at attracting unchurched people.

“Smaller churches of between 100 and 150 are very good at getting guests in. I think they push harder, using Google Adwords for instance – they’re trying to grow. Are we losing our mission edge as we grow bigger?

He stressed that good content and ease of use were far more important than sophisticated image or a multiplicity of functions.

Tony Whittaker, U.K. coordinator for Internet Evangelism Day said, “They are often mainly ‘brochureware- static informational pages with little interactive comment or frequently updated material. . . . they present the church as a building where there is a program of meetings. But the greater Biblical truth is that the church is a big family in that community, which happens to meet together from time to time as families do. In other words, it’s people, not programs. There are many ways of showing this on the Web, like including photos of members.

How to Pray for Church Planters

Posted by admin | Church planting | Thursday 5 November 2009 10:13 pm

Claudia and I are now parked in San Diego making final preparations to begin “The Phone’s for You” for Tim and Eileen Sneeden to plant Metro Baptist Church. God has provided a perfect place to start the church, and we plan to make thousands of calls in November and December for the opening service in February. We will help here until next summer.

We just returned from a wonderful 3-week California road trip, visiting some supporting churches and several we helped plant. At Faith Baptist in Folsom (a church we assisted in 2001), I trained folks to make church planting phone calls. In that service, Pastor Ron Perry shared 5 specific ways to pray for the Sneedens. I listened carefully to his suggestions and was amazed at the pastor’s understanding of what church planters experience. Here is his list and my comments on each point. Perhaps this will help us all to pray more effectively for church planters.

Five Ways to Pray Effectively for Church Planters

1. Pray that they will be able to survive loneliness by growing close to the Lord.

It was in the late 90s that God began to burden Claudia and me to help church planters. We knew from experience that church planting can be a lonely adventure for a church planter’s family, with a lack of fellowship with like-minded believers. Church planting thus becomes a wonderful opportunity to grow close to God, to make Him best friend and constant comforter. After all, He promises to never leave, fail, or forsake us. Pray that church planters will allow loneliness to motivate them to make God their best friend.

2. Pray that God will enable them to be creative, efficient, and timely while planning for the first Sunday.

Preparing for a Grand Opening service includes a plethora of activities such as writing the church constitution, incorporating the new church, finding a place to live and a meeting place for the church, organizing the phones program (too many details to mention), stockpiling several months of sermons, getting acquainted with the area, and on and on and on. All this must be done under the creative direction of the Holy Spirit. All this must be done accurately and on time. (If you attempt to modify the phones program, cut corners, or revamp the calling or mailing schedule, it will not work.) Pray that church planters will beg God for creative wisdom with the details. Ask God to help them get everything done early – which is the only way to be on time.

3.  Pray that God will keep them from discouragement and fear as they remind themselves of God’s call and the “value of one soul.”

Church planting is an adventure of faith. Faith includes moments of fear. If there is no fear of stumbling, is it really a step of faith? To press on through fear, which is often the mother of discouragement, remember the day God called you to do His will. Rejoice that “faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (I Thess. 5:24). Focus on the value of one soul. As Pastor Perry pointed out, “If only soul avoids eternity in hell through the ministry of the new Metro Baptist Church, it will be worth all the effort and expense.”  Pray for holy remembrance of God’s call and Mark 8:36, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”

4. Pray that the Sneedens and Barbas will have grace to greet and smile at many visitors– even when their “smiler” grows tired.

Proverbs 15:30 says, “The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.” In my Power Point seminar entitled “Small Talk,” I attempt to teach believers how to effectively approach a church visitor and begin the small talk that can lead to edifying communication. I point out that one of the Christian’s “secret” weapons is his sincere, Spirit-empowered smile. Most people go all week and never receive a smile from a stranger. Pray that church planters will have a smile in their heart that will spill out onto their lips – to soften the hearts of folks who are rarely offered the gift of a smile.

5. Pray for teamwork and unity among the church planting team.

Though we are divinely called to plant the church, we are still humans. Humans, even believers, are basically dumb sheep following the wise Shepherd. Pray that the Shepherd will keep us all right with Him, filled with His Spirit, and working together as team with a unified purpose to glorify our Creator and Redeemer. It is honor to serve Him!

Birth A Church from Yours

Posted by admin | Church planting | Thursday 3 September 2009 4:25 pm

Plant a Church Out of Yours

By Dave

After His resurrection, Jesus Christ spoke to a large group–possibly the 500 of I Corinthians 15:8–and gave the Great Commission: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them . . .teaching them to observe all things . . .” (Matthew 28:19-20). These are the main marching orders of the church: to evangelize, baptize, and teach.

Though every Christian has a responsibility to obey Jesus’ command, a pastor especially feels its burden, for he is commanded in II Timothy 4:5 to “do the work of an evangelist.” The word for work, ergon, is also used in II Thessalonians 3:10, “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” The work of evangelism is compared to the hard work of earning a living! A pastor, gifted to shepherd and teach, may struggle with his responsibility to evangelize.

When I pastored in Wisconsin, I asked my assistant to kick me out of my office each Thursday to do “cold-call” visiting with me. I knew we would have people at church on Sunday even if we didn’t go, but I also knew the weakness of my flesh. I, like most pastors, would rather study in a comfortable office than do the work of an evangelist.

Do you need help obeying your main marching orders? Perhaps, like me, you have used Sunday school outreaches, training programs, Bible studies, door-knocking blitzes, ladies’ visitation, letter-writing, new move-in outreach, and other methods to reach people. All these are fine. Use them. However, the primary, though neglected, New Testament means of fulfilling the Great Commission is church planting. Starting new churches may be the most effective means of evangelism.


Church planting is full obedience to the Great Commission

A foreign missions program, though Biblical and blessed, does not completely fulfill the Great Commission. Christ’s command includes “Judea and Samaria”–the areas just beyond the geographical area that your church can effectively reach, just outside the distance people are willing to come to you. It may be 5 miles or 50, depending on local demographic and means of transportation. Starting churches outside this circle, in your “Judea and Samaria, moves you toward complete obedience to the Great Commission.

Church planting is good stewardship of evangelism funds

I strongly support foreign missions. When we traveled in full-time itinerant evangelism, we maintained a tape and book table. All profits went into our foreign mission’s fund and we took preaching mission trips to Argentina, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, England, Germany, Hungary, and Russia. A primary motivation for our ministry of re-seeding America with new churches is the need to broaden the base of financial support and supply potential missionaries for foreign fields. However, consider the following facts.

A typical missionary has to spend up to 4 years raising support to stay an average of less than 8 years on the field. He wrestles with a new language and culture shock. Those he attempts to reach for Christ may be slow to trust him because they do not understand his teaching. After a few years, he must leave his small, struggling group of believers for a year to return to the states for the required furlough. Your church willingly devotes thousands of dollars to sending and keeping this sacrificial missionary on the foreign field.

In contrast, how much would it cost to start a new church in your own Judea—a church that would soon support and send out foreign missionaries and eventually plant other churches? Claudia and I rejoice often when we hear of churches we have assisted financially supporting church planters and foreign missionaries. Do the numbers. Keep on supporting foreign missions, but make a wise investment in church planting as well.

Church planting helps you reach more people with the gospel

Over 20 years ago, a group of folks left a church I planted and pastored to start another. Though I felt the pain of that loss, I am now thankful it happened. I didn’t plan it (or finance it!), but a new fundamental church was born out of the old (and our church grew by 20% the next year). Today, both churches are thriving and preaching the gospel in different parts of a large, needy city. Those 2 churches will reach more souls than 1 church. By dividing, God multiplied.

Whose kingdom are you building? If your desire is to build the kingdom of God (and not the kingdom of you), you will build it more effectively by branching out–like Starbucks or McDonalds—than by building one large organization or building. If you plant a new church from an existing one, God will take care of you, your flock, and your finances. You will not lose; you will multiply as God blesses your unselfish efforts to win souls.

Church planting gets your people involved in ministry

If you plant another church out of yours, you will find your folks doing more than just dropping money into the offering plate for overseas mission projects. Starting a new church requires the help of many believers, to canvass, make phone calls, prepare mailings, work in the nursery, usher, set up the meeting room, provide special music, and of course – bring lasagna to the potluck supper. Folks who have only been pew-sitters may find new purpose in using their gifts to build the Kingdom. The church planting adventure, a thrilling ride of work, faith, and miraculous answers to prayer, offers a unique opportunity for believers to “do the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:11-12).


Philosophy – “ . . . all to the glory of God”(I Corinthians 10:31).

Planting a church out of your church starts with you, Pastor. You must get past believing the lie that ministry success is determined by the size of your congregation. You must be committed to building the kingdom of God instead of a personal kingdom, and be convinced that, in the long run, several churches in your city will win more souls than one.

Prayer – “Ye have not because ye ask not”(James 4:2).

Pray that God will send folks to you who live in strategic areas of your Judea. Ask them to pray that one day God will use them to start a church in their neighborhood. Be ready and willing to send them out.

Program – “He calls – He provides” (I Thessalonians 5:24).

Ask God to show you the best method for your area. It may be a Bible study, “The Phone’s for You” program (, canvassing and special meetings (, or a number of other ways. God will reveal His method to a willing servant.

Consider the following church planting parable by my wife.

Two Coffee Shops

A parable for pastors

by Claudia

Once upon a time, there were two brothers, Al and Zack. Al liked making coffee. He served it in his kitchen. “This is delicious,” people said, and they invited others. Soon the group outgrew Al’s kitchen. He set up chairs in the living room. Al liked people—liked knowing their names, their joys and sorrows.

The group grew. They rented a building. Soon, they bought it. Still more came. They expanded into the building next door, and then added on. They were now in debt, but a thousand could be seated at once. Still people came, some from far away.

Al’s became the biggest, fastest-growing coffee shop around. Aspiring coffee-makers admired him. Everybody in the coffee world knew his name. He was a success. But now Al spent more time overseeing staff than brewing coffee. He worried about debt. He began diluting his coffee, just a little bit, to increase profits.

Al missed the old days, and his brother. Zack had also once served coffee in his kitchen, in his living room, and in a rented building. Zack’s shop also expanded, again and again. It was crowded, but still people came, some from far away. Zack sketched expansion plans and contemplated a big loan.

Then one of Zack’s customers suggested, “Teach me to make coffee. I’ll serve it in my kitchen to people who have been driving here. Then you’ll have more room.”

Soon there were two coffee shops rather than one. Whenever Zack’s shop gets too crowded, he just does it again. He never applied for that loan. And more people than ever are drinking coffee.

Zack still mingles with the people in his shop. He knows their names, their joys and sorrows. They think he’s a success. He spends more time brewing coffee than overseeing staff. And he’s never even considered diluting the coffee.

Are you hungry to completely fulfill the Great Commission? Plant a church in your Judea!

What is an Evangelist?

Posted by admin | Church planting | Thursday 3 September 2009 11:18 am

What exactly is the New Testament office of the evangelist? Here is an article that a website editor asked me to write that he hoped would shed some light on the office and responsibilities of a Biblical evangelist. Please forgive the autobiographical details and let God burden your heart about your personal responsibility to do the work of evangelism.


“What is an Evangelist?”

Since I entered the ministry in 1974, I have served as a church planter, itinerant revivalist, and pastor. My wife Claudia and I now live in a fifth-wheel trailer and assist couples who plant churches in America. We typically spend about six months with each new church, helping to gather a core of people and lay a foundation for growth. Looking back at these varied ministries, I can accurately say that I have done the work of an evangelist. When our family planted two churches, we were doing the work of the evangelist. When we traveled for nine years conducting week-long revival meetings, we were evangelizing. Claudia and I are now involved in church planting, which is the heartbeat of first-century evangelism.

The apostle Paul provides a cogent, Biblical list of qualifications for and responsibilities of a pastor in I Timothy 3, II Timothy 4, and Titus 1. No such Biblical information can be found for the evangelist. The word evangelist appears three times in the New Testament. Acts 21:8 speaks of Philip the evangelist. Ephesians 4:11 lists evangelists among God’s gifts to the church. In II Timothy 4:5 Paul exhorts Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist”, making “full proof” of his ministry. In that verse, the Greek word for work is ergon, which is the same word used in II Thessalonians 3:10: “If any would not work, neither should he eat.” Biblical evangelism is more a work to be done than an office to be filled. It is difficult for some pastors to personally evangelize and maintain evangelistic zeal in the church. Maybe that’s because it is hard work. For an evangelist, evangelism is a like a cold Coke in the desert. For a pastor gifted in teaching, administration, and counseling, it may be compared to having a tooth pulled without Novocain.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary describes an evangelist as a “publisher of glad tidings, a missionary preacher of the gospel (Ephesians 4:11). This title is applied to Philip (Acts 21:8), who appears to have gone from city to city preaching the word (Acts 8:4, 40). Judging from the case of Philip, evangelists had neither the authority of an apostle, nor the gift of prophecy, nor the responsibility of pastoral supervision over a portion of the flock.” Though it is not possible to offer a dogmatic apologetic of the office of evangelism, from the New Testament uses of the word and a few sketchy examples (aside from Paul) of the life and ministry of evangelists, we can at least conclude that an evangelist is a God-called servant who does evangelism. That is, he proclaims the gospel and labors to get the gospel around the world. That may involve preaching an organized meeting in a local church; starting a new church that will constantly do the work of evangelism in the USA and around the world; teaching others how to evangelize; personally sharing the gospel with a lost soul; or other activities that contribute to proclaiming the glad tidings that Jesus saves.

With this in mind, I share my story which has taken me, an evangelist, from church planting to an itinerant preaching ministry, back to church planting, and now to our present ministry of assisting church planters. In the summer of 1974, my wife and I borrowed a well-worn green pickup, loaded it with our one-year marriage’s worth of stuff, and moved to Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin to plant our first church. I was 23 years old and only two years young in Christ (my testimony). August 18th was our first wedding anniversary and the first service our new church, Falls Baptist Church.

I knew little about the scriptural office of the evangelist when we planted Falls Baptist. I was sure that I did not want to pastor an existing ministry with its built-in problems, established patterns of church administration, and lingering loyalties to the last pastor. I did know that I wanted to start a church from scratch. I longed to enjoy the adventure of moving by faith to a God-appointed field, watching God open the door to an appropriate meeting hall, and provide the people who were hungry for truth and open to the gospel.

God blessed our new Wisconsin church with slow, steady growth for 12 years. By 1977, three years after the first service, our congregation of 180 had purchased property and built our first building. That year we had our first weeklong revival meeting with Ron Comfort and Larry Brubaker. Souls were saved in the meeting and many believers challenged and changed. After the final service, I stood in our parking lot and watched them drive away. It had been a wonderful week of revival and encouragement. I had a new understanding of the evangelist. He preached the same principles as I in my pastoral ministry. But God used his different voice and direct, illustrated messages to accomplish as much in one week as I seemed to accomplish in six months.

I made a couple of decisions that night. I decided to take advantage of one of God’s gifts to the church: the evangelist (Ephesians 4:11). I also decided that if God should call me to be a blessing to churches like the Comfort team had been to ours, I would be honored to serve. During most of my 12 years as pastor of Falls Baptist, we had revival meetings twice a year. God used those weeks and those evangelists to produce godly decisions and results that enhanced my pastoral ministry.

In retrospect, my Friday night longing to do the work of an evangelist was more than just a reaction to an encouraging week of meetings. It was an indication to me that, by God’s grace, I am an evangelist. Maybe that’s why I have always loved to preach for immediate results, I enjoy sharing the simple plan of salvation with anyone who will listen, and I feel like a failure if I go for months without seeing someone come to Christ through my life and ministry.

Several years after that Friday night decision, Dr. Bill Hall preached a spring revival meeting at Falls. We had grown to an average attendance of about 280 and souls were being saved regularly. I told Brother Bill about my inner itch to serve churches as an evangelist. He wisely said, “Dave, why don’t you take a few meetings and get your feet wet? See if God really wants you to do this.” I told the church of my burden for evangelism and asked them to pray.

God soon opened doors to preach some meetings, but I did not enjoy it. Though I loved seeing God work in the services, I hated being away from family. At the end of the year, I told the church how happy I was that God was leading me to continue to pastor Falls Baptist.

We soon built a wing on the building and started a double-service Sunday morning schedule. I loved that schedule because I could repeat my sermon at the second service (after polishing it a bit in my office during Sunday School), and we’d usually have a capacity crowd back for the Sunday night service. Evangelists enjoy polishing their sermons and preaching them more than once!

My itch to enter itinerant evangelism continued as the church kept growing. By 1986, after 12 years of ministry, our Sunday morning attendance had grown to about 500 (which included 90 from our bus outreach). God had given us a Christian school, bi-weekly radio broadcasts, foreign missions programs, and many new believers. We were still in double services and needed to build a bigger auditorium. Just before major jaw surgery in January, I made a personal re-commitment to stay in Menomonee Falls and lead the church into another building program. That was a firm decision . . . I thought.

Following the jaw surgery, my mouth was wired shut for six weeks (“Hallelujah”, said Claudia). I started working on the introductory message for a new sermon series on the book of Jeremiah, convinced that I could overcome my itch for evangelism and get back to shepherding and expositional preaching. All was well . . . until I discovered that to set the stage for the book of Jeremiah, I would have to explain the historical context, which happens to be a revival lead by Josiah.

I didn’t preach through many chapters of Jeremiah, because I soon left Falls Baptist Church. During the spring of 1986, God worked obvious miracles, including a clear, unmistakable call to leave the pastorate and enter full-time itinerant evangelism; a truck and trailer to live in on the road; and a pastor to lead the church. For extra measure, He also provided an almost-full schedule of meetings to get us started. On September 1, 1986, I pulled our trailer loaded with wife and three children, out of the parking lot of Falls Baptist to head to our first meeting. That same week, Pastor Wayne Van Gelderen, Jr., arrived as the new pastor. Falls Baptist was never without a shepherd.

Our first meeting was for a Christian school camp. Years later, I met a young man who told me he received Christ in that meeting! After a few months on the road, I knew for certain that I was an evangelist. Road life was not easy, but I loved–and still love–the constant variety of the itinerant life, the privilege of seeing souls saved regularly, and now the thrill of seeing new churches birthed in the USA. God also had given me a wife who became a road warrior with me, home schooled my children in our home on wheels, and served next to me with music and children’s meetings every night.

We spent nine wonderful family years holding revival meetings in the USA and foreign mission fields. After about six years, I began to experience unrest and some discouragement. It seemed as though we would have a “good” meeting at a church, only to return to the same church in a few years to find it the same as we had left it, or weaker. My ministry experience in Wisconsin had been one of slow but steady growth. I was not satisfied to simply have a “good” meeting and then return in a few years to repeat the same. It is true that the ministry of an itinerant evangelist is uniquely valuable to a local church. God uses pointed preaching to bring souls to Christ and produce life-changing decisions. This needed, Biblical ministry should be used often by churches. But after eight years on the road, it was leaving me a bit unfulfilled. God simply was working to change my direction.

In the summer of 1994, after 8 years in itinerant evangelism, God spoke to me about the need for more good churches in America. By December of that year we had cancelled most of our revival meetings and raised support to start a new church in Franklin, TN, a Nashville suburb and the womb of Contemporary Christian Music. Though the Nashville area boasts over 800 Baptist churches, there are few that maintain a balance of solid Bible preaching and Christ-honoring music. Most have gone the way of man-centered worship, complete with pragmatic methods of outreach such as “we must be like the world to win the world.” As an evangelist, I was anxious to exalt the holiness of God in that place.

To plant a church in Franklin we had to get the word out to many people. A friend in Wisconsin told me about a program called “The Phone’s for You,” which involves live volunteers making thousands of phone calls and building a database of folks who request mail about the new church. With the instructions my friend gave us, our family and a few others stumbled through our first phones project. We installed seven lines in our rented mobile home and for one month made phone calls to find people who would let us send them information about the soon to be planted Trinity Baptist Church.

After we made 23,000 calls and sent five mailings, 120 people attended our first service on April 9, 1995. Souls were saved at that service, during the following week, and the next Sunday. Of course, not everyone came back. However, we never dropped below 40 on Sunday morning. The church began to grow.

God blessed Trinity Baptist in Franklin. Growth was slow and difficult, but within five years we had purchased land and built our first building. We purposely bought a small plot of land (five acres) so we could focus on planting other churches. I told the folks from the beginning that my burden was to see God build a church that would be willing to “lose” some families to plant other churches in the greater Nashville area.

In the fall of 2000, while speaking to a church planting class at Bob Jones University, I mentioned that I had received a number of phone calls from would-be church planters. They all asked the same thing, ”What advice can you offer me as a church planter?” I told the class that each time I spoke with a church planter my heart was burdened to help him. When the class ended, the teacher, Dr. Bruce McAlister, suggested that I follow my burden. “I know church planters all around the USA who would benefit from the assistance you and Claudia could offer,” he said. “I don’t know of anyone of our persuasion who is doing exactly what you would like to do.”

We prayed about it, and God clearly confirmed our call. We left Franklin in 2001 to begin Press On! Ministries, and now serve as missionary church planters helping to re-seed the USA with solid churches. Our primary ministry is to team up with a couple to plant a church, but we also enjoy preaching revival meetings for churches we have helped plant.

An evangelist does the work of evangelism. Whether planting a church, witnessing to someone on the street, or preaching the gospel from a pulpit, it is an honor to be a co-laborer with the Creator and King of the universe in the glorious work of proclaiming the good news that Jesus saves.