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Session 2
Jon Davis: Best Practices

Jon Davis, former pastor of an international church in Beijing led a ‘Best Practices’ forum and was joined by Warren Reeve, Terry Hoggard and Edmound Teo.  Jon highlighted several best practices from a list he provided and then asked conference participants to choose what they woud like to discuss on the list.


35. Spiritual Formation for new believers

In Beijing – most we work with are first generation Christians. Help the gospel take root in their lives.

Terry: Tied to style and deep spiritual conviction. I’m highly relational. I make sure people are discipled in the same context as they had in their conversion. Provide a simple roadmap to hear points confirmed and assured. In IC, often things are driven by community, language, context of work. We also need to be attentive that we are aware the discipleship process be individually instructed. We had 115 genuine Iranians converted. But didn’t succeed in discipleship – probably because my preferred plan was the flaw. For me – inside the context of conversion is best.

Warren:  Inside context of relationship. Sometimes churches assume that spiritual formation is the responsibility of the church. Way I’ve seen it work is when relationship is prioritized so that the one that was a part in bringing that person – so they are very quickly connected. That whole biblical milestone happens. Life groups, cell groups, content is connected with weekly messages. Underscoring of what’s been taught.

Carlotta: What is the BP if a husband or mother in law gets saved – if it was someone close in the family – how would that work? Terry: depends on the family relationship.

Warren: spiritual formation is not institutional, but rather relational.  Church has to provide what’s needed to make this happen.

Steve Gray: Struggled a long time; adopted a model six years ago and started Discipleship Training School where people have to read Bible, memorize Scripture.

First level for new believers.

Gerhard: intentional plan for the people. Start with one to one, basic course of faith.

Encounter weekend.

Someone else: Just do it, find a curriculum, as many languages as you’ve had people.

Jon: I see membership as part of discipleship. Why would we baptize someone to become an orphan?’ We worked hard to make membership as appealing as possible.

How do you get the crowd to go into a small group?

Ed: A continuation of SS services into cell groups. Sunday service is only part of the Christian experience – other half is found in small groups. Don’t make church too busy because people can only give you two times a week. Make sure cell groups are priority. Staff and pastor also attend cell groups.

Jon: I learned from our Mandarin congregation that 50% of the time he will intro a new small group leader. Where is small group located and who it is for. As he’s interviewing, he’ll say after service, ‘Joey will stand up front and you can come meet them after service.’

We also have a welcome corner where we channel newcomers for coffee, tea, food. Small group leaders use this to get the new arrivals into small groups.

Warren: highlighting testimonies from life group; putting influential people in charge of life groups; connection between sermons and life groups – ask tease questions during sermons.

Terry: When cell groups were the big rave – are you going to be cell based or cell offering. Cell based – pastoral care; cell offering – you are thinking of more connection. If I go to a group where it’s cell based, everything except the pastor’s word on Sunday happesn in the cell. I go to a church that’s cell offering – looking for connection.

Brandi: We design our content on Sunday afternoon and on Monday everyone has material for small groups. Form of recap for those who weren’t there on Sunday – helps make message more practical for others.

Jon: when people do their farewells, almost always how people appreciate small group.

John: We have a number of kind of small groups including a football group for guys where up to 40 guys come. Some get saved from it.

Jon: annual SG campaign – every group has name.

Campaigns are great for finding new leaders.

Leveraging ‘Marketplace expertise’

Warren: Not doing it very well in Kuwait and one reason is that we need a theology that marketplace ministry is as valuable as the formal ministry calling of pastors. Some are called to the marketplace.

John: we’ve been wanting to do online giving thru cell phones. Just happen to have a guy who works with Microsoft who has expertise in that area and is helping with us. Another guy who worked for Motorola, started a business, living in Beijing and began to have a heart to see materials made available in the Chinese language – great skill in working with the government authorities. Got permission to publish legally China’s first children’s bible study. Now working on youth study for China. So many areas we can leverge the marketplace. Helping us get message out in the expat community. Now with social media, we have experts who are helping us. A guy showed us how to make an app. Then our message downloading grew exponentially.

Arto:  1988 – Indonesia – Christian business people who had heart for missions.

Book: ‘Business by the Book’; ‘God At Work’

How To Organize Your Sunday Morning Service

Bill Hybels showed up at our church on Sunday morning. When I showed up, here was Bill Hybels. It was a nightmare Sunday – woman responsible for worship had forgotten. I asked him to critique; he began to write; filled two pages and asked for third; I took those notes from him and one of the key things he said, ‘John when you show up on Sunday morning all you should worry about is the preaching of the word. Give your theme to the team – to inspire direction – make sure it works with the worship leaders, arts, building on the theme, putting service together, monitoring time, all elements are covered. You need to delegate all those details to someone else.

I took that to heart and we hired an inspiration director.  I don’t worry about timing, schedule – all been pre-planned. I don’t approach staff on Sunday in the heat of the battle – deal with on Tuesday if it’s still bothering me. Sit down on Tuesday with inspiration team and critique – what went right; and what can we do better?

Joe: we start planning on Tuesday as part of the regular staff agenda. Alleviates stress. Songs are chosen, all planned out.

Jon: recommends using planning center online.

Kelly: pet peeves are misspellings. Attentive to detail is important.

Terry: ID number of components in service: can do too much time wasting on the front end. Know the capacity of your team. Generally people need all three points on the same slide – so no one is distracted from the person not bringing the right slide up.

Edmound: think through songs. Younger crowd likes long worship; older crowd shorter worship; older crowd – longer and deeper; think through use of pulpit.

#26: Guest Care

You have guests coming all time. Sometimes they are invited.  Sometimes not. As Sr pastor I got burned out. Couldn’t handle them all. Different levels: we invite; they invite; we don’t know them.

We’ve had John Maxwell, Andy Stanley: communicate pickup, coordinate sightseeing, know what expectations might be.

In a city like Beijing, have people from all church backgrounds attending. With multiple church traditions, have to step lightly. Sometimes people want ‘Uncle Freddy’ to speak. We determine the preachers are determined by needs of congregation not by the desire of someone who wants to preach in China.

Larry: We redid our website – ‘plan a visit’ – made every congregation record the same greeting in each language all saying same thing. Welcoming people, here’s what you can expect, you will feel welcome and then we give opportunity – encourage to click on plan a visit below and let us know when they could come. We try to push them and ask them to make decision now. They get an automatic response; then we have strategic people who are part of this plan a visit team who are looking for them – at the front door. We have someone looking for them – then we’re very careful to make sure their needs are met.

Melinda: we use guest not ‘visitor’. Just redid our guest card – too many things on it – cut out unnecessary – now it’s clean and basic: two pieces – where they keep the cover part, then the second part they give to us.

David Buckley: perforated card; then they get free coffee to turn in card.

Steve Gray: We make phone call on Wed to newcomers; and on Friday I send out an email to them and invite them to Friday evening service.

Terry: CC does something I like. Have a person that makes a phone call. Then they have a person with a placard asking people to follow them out to a room with refreshments, etc.

Edmound: Also use the concept of ‘hosting’ – our church knows they are responsible to be good hosts to guests.

#23: The Wow Factor

Emphasize: exhuberance of welcoming committee; worship; creative expressions; scripture reading that is dramatized. Don’t let Sunday morning service go by without something ‘wowful’ happen.

Josh: How do you develop church budgets?

Joe: In Brussels, I have an idea to tie a budget to the mission: tie budgeting to that.

How do you deal with people leaving?

We see it as sending people. How can we be the greatest sending church in the world. How can we send them so that when they leave they are different than when they came. Emotionally that will help you stay in the saddle a lot longer.

Book recommendation: Expatriate Ministry by David Peterson

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