Chapter 14
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Joint fellowships

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After completing the OBSes (Outreach Bible Studies) and Nurture Bible Studies, it's time to bring them all together to form a joint fellowship. This is an exciting day for the church planting team! Nakakanerbiyos din!

Attending a joint fellowship is a big step for many new believers. Some may be hesitant to come to this type of gathering. They may be fearful because it's something new and unknown to them. For some it will represent a step in breaking with their current religion. Some may face persecution.

Because of these obstacles, we have used OBSes and Nurture Bible Studies first, before attempting to bring our contacts to a joint fellowship. For most people, attending a Bible study in a home is far less threatening than attending a joint fellowship. There will normally be little or no persecution. Some will attend the OBS while continuing their involvement in their present religion. They can easily add the Bible study to their other religious practices.1 This may not create any conflict, at least in their minds.

It's quite a different matter, however, to bring the OBSes together to form a joint fellowship. It's a bigger challenge. It calls for a higher level of commitment.

We need to carefully prepare our contacts for this step! We've begun by laying a solid foundation, clearly teaching various aspects of the Gospel. We have helped our contacts to begin a daily Bible reading and prayer time. We've strengthened their faith through the Nurture Bible Studies. Will all of these be enough? What if you call for a joint fellowship and no one comes?! What if your months of work do not bear fruit in producing a church?

You have already worked very hard to prepare for this day. In this chapter we will look at some more actions to prepare for the extremely crucial step of bringing all your Bible studies together to form a fellowship.2

"Link" the OBSes together

Before beginning a regular weekly worship service, help the people in all your OBSes to get to know each other. This is sometimes called "linking." Becoming acquainted first will be a big help. If you gather all OBSes together for joint worship and contacts do not know each other, the atmosphere may be a little cold. So use some creative activities to help everyone get to know each other first. This prepares the way and builds excitement to begin the weekly joint fellowship.

Here are some linking activities that church planters have used.

1. Special occasions

Have your birthday party in the target barangay. Invite all your OBSes. Sino ang tatanggi? If your birthday has already passed, use your spouse's birthday (or one of your kids, or one of your team members, or your anniversary).

In our church in Mandaluyong we used a Christmas party as an opportunity to gather all the OBSes for the first time. Masaya ang lahat.

Plan games and fun activities. If you already know where you will hold your regular worship service, this would be an ideal venue.

2. Film showing

The main purpose of this isn't evangelism, but to bring the OBSes together. A second purpose could also be for evangelism, as OBS members may want to bring friends. Hindi natin pipigilin 'yon.

3. Cross-OBS testimonies

Arrange for members of one OBS to go and share their testimony with another OBS.

4. Visitation

Bring members from one OBS with you to visit members of other OBSes. Have team members do this in their routine visitation.

5. Special meryenda

This is sure to be a popular idea.

6. Once-per-month worship celebration

Have a time of informal worship and sharing from the Word. It seems to be easier for some new believers to attend when it's only once a month, at least at the beginning. You can also include fun games and maybe a light meryenda. Many church planters have found this to be effective.

7. Outings

Swimming, picnics, nature walks, sports and other activities have been used. One seminar delegate suggested a family camp.

8. Ask

Need more ideas? Ask your OBS contacts! See what they would like to do. This is a strategic way to help them begin to develop a feeling that this is "their church," not just "your church." You can start involving them in decision-making even at this early point.

While doing these linking activities, keep your ears open for the magic words: "Can we do this every week?"

After a couple of linking activities, Ate Baby asked, "Pastor Dave, why don't we meet like this every week?"

"Magandang idea, Ate Baby. Why don't you ask some of the others what they think about your idea," I strategically responded. Soon after that, we began meeting for weekly joint worship.

If no one asks, you can begin mentioning this possibility to individuals. Observe their responses carefully. You can't start the weekly joint fellowship until your OBS contacts want this.

These linking activities are a crucial step. They help your contacts begin to develop relationships with one another. This will hopefully lead to bonding with one another.

Avoid premature birth

Because of being born prematurely some babies suffer birth defects which last their lifetime. Others die. For a healthy birth a sufficient amount of time is needed in the womb to develop.

This is also true in the birth of new churches. Development is needed before bringing all the OBSes together to form a new church. Premature birth could occur by trying to bring all of your OBSes together to start your weekly worship service too soon.

Weak faith can cause premature birth. Many contacts have enough faith to attend an OBS. They need stronger faith to attend joint worship. Trying to bring contacts together whose faith is still weak can result in premature birth. We saw this in the church plant in Morong, Rizal in Step 7. Here are some things to look for to make sure your contacts are ready to form a joint fellowship.

• They are sharing how God is speaking to them through their daily Bible reading.

• They are sharing how God is answering their prayers.

• They are repenting of vices and idolatrous practices.

• They are sharing the Gospel with friends and relatives.

• They want to be baptized.

• They are offering to give financially to the Lord's work.

• They are asking for more linking activities.

• They are beginning to serve to fill in what is needed in joint fellowships.

• They are asking for a regular joint fellowship.

When you've reached this point, panahon na! Hinog na! If you don't observe these things yet, hilaw pa. Huwag munang pitasin. Your church plant will likely suffer from premature birth.

Having too few contacts can also cause premature birth. If you begin your joint worship service with only a few people it may be hard to have dynamic worship. This will make it more difficult to attract newcomers. As those who live in the area pass by, they will see that only a few are attending. Many churches that start small stay small. There are exceptions but this is what usually happens. A church that starts with just a few may stagnate quickly. If it does grow, its growth may be very slow. Worse yet, it may die. Crowds attract crowds. Maghintay muna. Patience in making more solid contacts and converts may be well worth the wait.

Some church plants start a worship service with as few as 10 or 12 people. With so few, meeting more like a cell group may be much better. You can still enjoy the dynamics of small group interaction with a group this small. Use the 4Ws format! (See pp. 206-207.) This should be much more effective than creating passive listeners at a traditional-type worship service. There's really no need to conduct a worship service for a group of 10 like we would for a group of 100.

How many should we have before starting a regular weekly worship service? Many experienced church planters suggest 20-25 as a minimum. This gives enough to experience more dynamic worship and attract neighbors. More is definitely better! You may have a different number in mind. That's okay. Just be sure to watch out for premature birth.

Baptize the new believers

For many new believers, baptism puts a seal on their commitment to the Lord and to the new church.

Be sure that those who are baptized invite their friends and relatives. This can help make the stand they are taking for Christ even more significant. It's also a great way to make more contacts, especially by making this a joyful celebration!

First, be sure to teach clearly the meaning of baptism to all candidates. Get their feedback to make sure they understand baptism's significance. Unfortunately, I've been to some baptisms where those being baptized still thought that they could be saved by being baptized!

Have those who will be leading the new church do the baptizing. This gives an opportunity for them to continue to establish their authority. It also further strengthens their relationship with their members. This has more benefits than bringing in a "big pastor" to do the baptizing. If church policy will not allow this in some circumstances, just use this as an opportunity to solidify relationships between those who are baptized and church leadership. Of course, we'll always carefully follow church policy.

A baptism certificate is usually greatly valued. This is another way to help seal the commitment to the new church.

Some church planters baptize while still in the OBS stage. Others use this as an outing and linking activity. Some wait and do this right after the first weekly worship service.

Find a suitable venue

There are many possible venues new churches can rent inexpensively. You may even find a place you can use without cost. It's usually better to rent first rather than trying to put up a building immediately. Building programs can consume our energy, attention and resources. This could unintentionally become the focus, rather than continued outreach and ministering to the members. Also, if you construct a building at this stage it will probably be small. This could restrict future growth.

Most important of all, buildings are expensive. If our church planting is dependent on building buildings, we're going to be seriously slowed down. But if we find inexpensive venues, we can accelerate church planting!

Many new churches have been very resourceful when finding a venue. Here are some places actually being used by new churches:

1. A large sala

2. Garage or driveway

3. Barangay Hall

4. School classroom

5. School auditorium

6. Restaurants

7. Palengke

8. Tabing-dagat

9. Public park

10. Office

11. Bodega

12. Tenement hallway

13. Dead-end street

14. Dating funeral parlor

15. Student center

16. Subdivision clubhouse

17. Multi-purpose building

18. Auto repair shop

19. Tent

20. Movable building

21. Sharing a building with another church

22. Resort

23. Rooftop

24. Sa ilalim ng punong mangga

25. Rest home

26. Covered court

27. Plaza

28. Boarding house

29. Park

30. Gym

31. Vacant lot

32. Cottage

33. Cave (Ano, kweba? Totoo ito sa Aurora province.)

34. Bangka – a floating church!

It's very likely you can find at least one of these options in your target barangay. Again, ask your OBS contacts for their input on possible venues. They probably know the place better than you do. They may even have other ideas that are not on our list. More importantly, this is a strategic way to begin to get them involved in the new church so they feel as if it's "their church."

Find several options, then choose the best one. When choosing, here are some things to look for.

• Centrally located for OBS members

• Easily accessible

• Visible

• Kilala

• Pleasant

• People will want to go there

• Affordable

When your church grows you can look for a larger place to meet. Here are some more samples of venues churches are actually using:

• Cockpit

• Skating rink

• McDonald's

• Shakey's

• Mall

• Hotel

• Sinehan

• Building function room

• Music Museum (concert hall)

• Disco house

• Night club (The owner of one became born again through the service held there!)

Gather equipment

Meet with the team and make a list of all the equipment you will need. Here are some things you may want to include.

• Chairs or benches for adults

• Chairs for children

• Flip chart

• Musical instruments

• Pulpit

• Karaoke

• Microphone

• Offering baskets

• Blackboard

• Table

• Electric fan

• Communion set

Keep it simple at the beginning. An expensive sound system probably will not be necessary at first. You may not even need a karaoke. Start off with a flip chart. Balang araw, baka magkakaroon ng overhead projector. Be sure to have musical instruments, even if you can only afford a tambourine and a pair of marakas. Some new churches also use bongo drums. These instruments are much better than nothing. Someday maybe the Lord will provide a keyboard.

You can probably get some used equipment from the mother church. Better yet, involve your OBS contacts. Again, this is a strategic way for them to develop a sense of ownership in the church. At the church plant of Pastora Grace Agravante in Antipolo, Rizal, Ate Cecille brought their karaoke. Kuya Fernando and Mang Tinio brought chairs. Julius made a flip chart.

Prepare the people involved

1. Praise and worship leaders

Napakahalaga ng praise and worship. In some new churches praise and worship is even more effective than preaching in attracting and keeping the new congregation. Some church planters spend years preparing to preach. Be sure to give adequate preparation to the praise and worship also.

Use team members as singers and instrumentalists. One person could possibly do both, if that's all that is available. If no team member can lead worship well, you can recruit from the mother church muna.

Be sure to prepare the praise and worship leaders well! Explain clearly to them that the church is made up of puro baguhan. They need to carefully explain everything to the new worshipers. Beyond leading worship, kailangang turuan ang mga baguhan kung paano sila magwo-worship. Some worship leaders in new churches assume everyone already knows how to worship, just like in an older church. This can cause new attenders to feel left out, parang hindi marunong. Baka hindi na sila babalik. Teaching them how to worship in the OBSes will also help minimize this.

Ideally, involve the new believers as worship leaders as soon as possible. Work hard on raising up worship leaders from the harvest, from your new believers. Experienced worship leaders can train the baguhan. Use the five steps of on-the-job training in Step 2 (p. 77).

2. Children's teachers

For the spiritual growth of the children provide Bible teaching and worship on their level. It's best to separate the children during the sermon. Many churches keep adults and children together during the worship time.

If children remain with the adults during the sermon baka makaabala. Parents may not be able to give their attention to the message as they are also watching their kids. Some parents will solve this by having one parent stay home and one attend the worship service. This will cut your attendance in half kaagad! A good children's class during the sermon not only ministers most effectively to the kids but allows both parents to attend and give their full attention to the message.

Team members can handle the children's class. If none are available, again, you can recruit muna from the mother church. Again, as soon as possible, begin to train new believers from the harvest as children's teachers. When you add a second service, these teachers can attend the other service.

3. Preachers

Who will give the message at the first worship service? If the church planter is going to stay and pastor the church, he should give the sermon. This will help establish his credibility.

Other church planters establish churches and then move on to plant another. Perhaps one of the less experienced team members is being prepared to become the pastor. If this is the case, it's beneficial for this team member to deliver the first sermon. When we planted a church in Mandaluyong I did this with Kuya Tony. This is a strategic step in the church planter's phase-out. Even though I was the more experienced preacher, this was an important step in establishing Kuya Tony's authority. Work with the new preacher. Help him prepare a good message. This is more work but a valuable investment in developing leaders. Higit pa sa sulit.

Make sure the messages are positive and uplifting. Choose topics that will help the new believers feel glad that they are Christians and involved in your church.

4. The worshipers

Most of all, prepare the new worshipers. Remember, bago ito sa kanila. Many have never been in this type of worship service before. Explain everything to them as you go along (when to close their eyes, open their eyes, clap their hands, raise their hands, what to do while you pray, and so forth). This will help them feel more comfortable. If they are comfortable it's more likely they will continue to attend.

Use the same songs you used in your OBSes. If you do this, your new worshipers will already know these songs. You can teach new songs slowly.

Have a baguhan-friendly church

Your new church will be composed of puro baguhan. Do things in your new church in a way that's best suited for them. There are many things about church they don't know yet. If we conduct our new church just like an older church, many may feel out of place. Puro baguhan kasi. Others won't return.

Think about everything you will do in your new church through the eyes of a baguhan. What would be hard for a baguhan to understand? Think back to the first time you attended a born-again church. What were some things with which you were unfamiliar? What made you uncomfortable? Could you change these things in your new church to make the new worshipers more comfortable?

Here are some ideas that might help.

1. Use a flip chart

If everyone can see the words of the songs it will be much easier for them to join in singing.

2. Use understandable words

Bawal ang theological words that baguhans do not understand. Bawal ang churchy words like "invocation" and "benediction."

3. Loan Bibles

Have a few Bibles available for those who do not yet have their own. Train helpers to distribute these to those without Bibles and help them find the verses. It's even easier for newcomers to follow along if this translation is the same as the preacher's. It's even easier yet if the page numbers are the same. The preacher can mention the page numbers to help newcomers find easily the passage being studied.

4. Dress with sensitivity

How will those who attend feel when they see what you are wearing? Will it help them feel comfortable? Keep this in mind when choosing your clothes and jewelry. Dress nicely, but don't overdress or dress to impress.

5. Clearly mark the CR's

Make clear signs pointing the way. Set up the worship center so that those getting up to use the CR won't be embarrassed.

6. Batiin ang mga baguhan

Train your team to actively socialize with the new believers before and after the service. Bawal magkuwentuhan ang team sa ganitong oras. This is a prime opportunity to help the new members feel more comfortable by talking with them. Also continue to help the new members get to know one another. Facilitate this. As soon as possible, mobilize the new members to handle this bati ministry.

Starting a new church with all new believers requires a different mindset. Being sensitive to them will help minimize those who drop out of church because they feel uncomfortable. It's hard to change the ugali of an older church. A new church provides a completely new start. Without careful thought it's easy to do things in a new church just as we did things in our old church. Mag-ingat. Mag-isip nang mabuti. Sadyain. Plant a baguhan-friendly church.

Regretfully, let the unresponsive go

If there are some contacts from the Nurture Bible Studies who are unwilling to attend the joint fellowship, there is not much more we can do. The time frame of 4 months is now over. Just let them go. Don't extend their Nurture Bible Study any further. Just gather those who have responded to all that you have done to minister to them. It's very possible that some may never come to a joint worship service. Use your manpower to make new contacts, rather than stay forever with the unresponsive.

If you were careful to explain the time frame at the beginning it won't be hard to end unfruitful Bible studies. If there is no clear time frame it's very awkward. Without time frames unfruitful Bible studies usually drag on and on, then eventually die off with no lasting fruit. Sayang ang pamasahe. Sayang ang oras. At may ibang mga contacts na naghihintay pa!

An OBS is not an end in itself. It's only a tool. Through it we lead people to Christ. Then we join them into a church to make disciples.

What more do they need?

Ephesians is loaded! Look at some of its great truths:

If you studied Ephesians in your OBSes and Nurture Bible Studies, your contacts will have studied all of this. If they are not ready to participate in your church after all this, when will they be ready? What more can you teach them? Will more Bible studies help? At this point, it's usually best to leave these contacts and open new OBSes with new contacts.

We wish that everyone from our OBSes would become active in our new church. Fortunately, most will participate. But some won't. This shouldn't surprise us. We don't want to tie up our OBS leaders for long periods of time in unproductive OBSes.

"But I still want to study the Bible"

After completing the Nurture Bible Study, some will still want to study the Bible raw. To these you can say something like, "I'm so glad you still want to study the Bible! Tuloy-tuloy ang ating gawain. We meet every Sunday, 4:00 pm, at the barangay hall. We study the Bible, worship the Lord and fellowship together. Marami tayo! Sama kayo, ha?

Some will selfishly want the Bible study to continue in their home, just for themselves. What about their neighbors? They haven't had even one OBS yet! They deserve a chance too! There are many good contacts still to be made.

You might be thinking, "Sayang if I leave them after four months of hard work." That's true. Sayang nga. However, to continue on will probably be mas sayang pa! To avoid mas sayang pa, consider four months to be tama na.

Avoid problems, explain the time frame

It's awkward to end a Bible Study if you haven't previously explained the time frame. Making the time frame clear will also help avoid tampo. When the OBS ends, no one is surprised.

We can still visit contacts from completed Bible studies, like these. We can still pray for them. At the same time, we need to open a new OBS with fresh contacts.

But what about …

Yes, there are exceptions. There are rare instances where OBSes have gone on for many months. Then, the contacts finally came into the church.

Most good contacts will come into the church within four months. If they don't, they probably never will.

People in some areas might require a little more time. Be flexible. Study your context. But never let an OBS go up to sawa. Up to sawa OBSes usually eat up months of our time and produce no lasting fruit. One of the biggest mistakes a church planter can make is to open OBSes with no time frame.

How about cell groups?

If your new church uses cell groups then an OBS can become a cell. In fact, one of the best ways to start new cells is through OBSes. In this case, healthy cells can go on indefinitely. That's good. Make sure the cell is growing by adding newcomers. Eventually, it will multiply. Also, healthy cells participate in joint worship. Disband cells that do not grow or will not participate in joint worship. Members of disbanded cells can join healthy cells, if they are willing. We'll look more at cell groups in Step 9.

Phase out the church planting team

With small church planting teams (3-4) you will probably need everyone to serve in the joint fellowship. In our church plants we have had some very large teams (12-16). Not everyone was needed to staff the worship service and the children's class. In fact, having a large team present at the joint fellowship could be counter-productive.

In Step One we saw that new churches grow faster than old churches. One reason is because in new churches everyone is new. Therefore, new believers feel more comfortable. Everyone is new— like them. The church has an atmosphere to it that makes it easy for new believers to become active. If there are a large number of team members or visitors from the mother church present, this atmosphere could be lost. These Christians know how to worship in this type of setting. Sanay na sila sa ganito. You could, out of habit, conduct a worship service that is just right for them. Pero baka maiwanan ang mga baguhan!

To prevent this, it may be a strategic time to phase out some of the team members. They have done their job. They have gathered a new congregation. They can now go on to another church planting project. Oo nga—baka masakit. But it's for the best. Para mabawasan ang sakit begin preparing team members for this well in advance. Then, after a little rest, begin planning for the next church plant.

A wrong extreme would be to pull out team members without having basic ministries covered. Of course, we need to be careful not to do this.

Also, it's best for the health of the church that the new believers begin to handle the ministries of their church. Allowing team members to stay on too long can create unhealthy dependence. Use a core of team members to train the new believers using the five steps of on-the-job-training (see p. 77). When they reach "They do, someone else observes," it's time for the original team to move on.

Be sure to recognize team members and bring proper closure to their ministry. Give opportunity for sharing testimonies, expressing appreciation and giving affirmation. This can be an emotional and very touching time as new believers thank team members who led them to Christ.

Mobilize everyone to serve

While new believers are still new, it's important that they adopt the idea that they have been saved to serve. Brainstorm with the team and the emerging leaders from the harvest. List all the possible jobs in the new church that the new believers could fill. These should be easy-to-do ministries, suited for new believers. Eventually some will also become elders, preachers, church planters and missionaries. For now, let's begin with the easier jobs. Most importantly, try to get everyone involved in serving.

Serving gives the new believers an opportunity to express their love for the Lord and thank Him for the salvation that is now theirs. Having a responsibility is also one of the things that will keep new believers in the church.

Here are some easy-to-do ministries you might consider:

1. Usher

2. Chairs set up

3. Record-keeper (attendance, etc.)

4. Decorator

5. Artist

6. Lettering

7. In charge of tracts

8. Messenger (goes to a Bible League outlet to pick up Bibles, etc.)

9. Technician (sound system, musical instruments)

10. Maintenance man

11. OBS apprentice-leader

12. Assistant to children's teachers

13. Visitation ministry

14. Tagalaba (church curtains) ministry

15. Tagadilig ministry

16. Tagawalis ministry

17. Tagapunas ministry

18. Cooking ministry (kapag may handaan)

19. Dishwashing ministry

20. Game leader

21. Transportation coordinator

22. Special number

23. Prepare communion

24. Photographer

25. Apprentice prayer warrior

26. Back up singer on Praise and Worship team

27. Instrumentalist (guitar, tambourine, marakas, bongo drum, other)

28. Scripture reader

29. Liturgist

We made a list similar to this in our church in Mandaluyong. At the worship service we gave a message on service, then posted the list. We let members pick which ministry they wanted to take. Everyone claimed a ministry!

As the new believers mature they can graduate to more challenging ministries. As they vacate their first ministry newer believers can take their place. Holding on to pambaguhan-type ministries for too long can deprive newer believers of a ministry position.

Name the church

Get your new believers involved in this decision. This is another great chance to enable them to feel that the church is their church. Let them choose a name that is meaningful to them.

In Navotas, the favorite verse in many of our OBSes was Ephesians 1:7, "Tinubos tayo ni Cristo..." They chose the name Redeemed Christian Church.

Besides choosing a name that appeals to your new believers think also about the rest of the target barangay. There are many unbelievers still to be reached. What name might appeal to them? It's easy to determine this. Ask them! Get a list of about three possible names from your new believers. Ask unbelievers in the target barangay which one they like best and why. You'll probably learn a lot!

No one will come to your church just because of the name. However, some names could hinder some people from attending. Choose a name that can take in a broad target audience. Avoid names that could possibly cause anyone to feel excluded.

Avoid any name that potential visitors might possibly perceive in a negative way. One church chose the name Little Hope Baptist Church. This was because they were in a town called Little Hope. Maganda sana kung Big Hope, New Hope or Living Hope. But Little Hope? Hindi maganda ang dating!3

Another church has a signboard that reads "Boring Seventh Day Adventist Church." Like Little Hope, Boring is the name of their town. To make this even worse, the bottom of the sign reads "Pastor Dull"!

Many churches use the town or barangay in their name. In addition to possibly causing outsiders to feel excluded, baka katawa-tawa pa ang dating, like these actual churches. (English-only readers may enjoy reading the English translation of these church names in the Notes at the end of the book.)4

• Tabaco Christian Crusade

• Lobo Fundamental Baptist Church

• Wawa Bible Church

• Tawad United Church

• Pagala-gala Baptist Church

• Linawan Alliance Church

• Sablayan Christian Fellowship

• Luksuhin Baptist Church

• Bato Baptist Church

• Pico Nazarene Church

• Pinagbarilan Christian Fellowship

• Sto. Niρo Baptist Church

• Padagaan Independent Church

• Burol UNIDA Christian Center

• Tabaan Baptist Church (Mahilig yata sa kainan)

Judging by the names of these churches you would think they also used the name of the place. That's not the case. For some other reason the following names were chosen:

• Sumpit Baptist Church (Baka dahil sinusumpit ang pastor habang nagsesermon.)

• Ducot Calvary Tabernacle (Ingat doon.)

• Sariwa United Methodist Church

• Lunok Baptist Church

• Balisong Foursquare Church

A few more interesting names:

• Happy Church

If you don't like Happy Church, how about …

• Iyak Full Gospel Church

• Jesus the Fairest of Ten Thousand International

• John 3:16 Ministries International

• Binabalian-Loob Baptist Church

• Bantay-Abot Full Gospel Church

• I Bind You Satan in the Name of Jesus Fellowship

• Pasong Diablo Christian Fellowship changed their name —nakakatakot yata

• Jesus Christ Prince of Peace King of Kings Lord of Lords God of Signs and Wonders Christian Ministries International also changed their name. Bakit kaya?

Begin taking an offering

Before taking the first offering be sure to teach clearly what the Bible says about Christian giving and how you will use the money. Don't make this the sermon topic at your first worship service. If you're planning on taking an offering at the very first worship service be sure to teach on giving in all the Nurture Bible Studies, before beginning the joint worship service. Another option is to preach on giving after a few services, then start the offering.

In churches that did not start the offering immediately, members have asked why there was no offering. A good response might be, "I'm waiting and praying for the right time, when our members are ready. When do you think would be a good time to start?"

This answer might help you gain a supporter who can begin to prepare other members for the offering.

Some church planters like to post a project list. They encourage members to specify the item which their offering is to be used for. When sufficient funds come in, they purchase the item. This has been an encouragement to many new believers.

Eventually, a new church will need funds for items that members won't see as clearly. But for now, this is often a good way to get started.

Other church planters emphasize that giving is an act of worship. They prefer not to point out how the funds are used.

Appoint a treasurer and assistant treasurer before beginning the offering. It's normally best that these be from outside the family of the church planter or pastor. Doing this, and having two people involved, will provide healthy accountability and reassure your members that the church's funds are being handled properly.

Give regular reports to the congregation on how much money was received and how it was used. A monthly report is usually sufficient. Mention that all financial records are open to any member who would like to see them.

"Natatakot akong magpa-offering," sabi ng mga ibang church planter. The Bible clearly teaches that God blesses those who give. Give your new believers this chance to be blessed! Start the offering.

Begin the new church's prayer ministry

Give priority to developing the church's prayer life while it's still very young. Beyond just beginning a prayer meeting start other prayer ministries. Here are some ideas being used by churches that can be easily incorporated by new churches.

Prayer methods and prayer ministries5

1. Evangelistic prayer visitation

Mobilize the new believers to pray in the presence of unbelievers for their felt needs (described in Step 5).

2. Prayer lighthouses

Mobilize members to pray for the salvation of each household around them. For a full explanation, see That None Should Perish by Ed Silvoso, pp. 253-63.

3. OBS intercessors

Mobilize at least one intercessor who will pray daily for all OBSes.

4. Intercessors for the pastor

Mobilize those who will commit to diligent daily prayer for the pastor.

5. Prayer walks

Walk through the church's barangay praying for the things seen which God lays on your heart.

6. Barangay captain

Visit him occasionally and pray for him in his presence.

7. Everyone prayed for

Make a list of everyone attending your fellowship. Divide this list among those who volunteer to pray. Pray daily for everyone on the list for one month.

8. Church prayer time

Members gather at the church, once a week, for an hour of prayer. They form a circle, hold hands, and pray about whatever is on their hearts. Purong panalangin lang.6

9. Days of fasting and prayer

Schedule these regularly. Include prayer guides. Come together at the end of the day for joint prayer.

10. Prayer retreats

Get away for an extended time to focus on prayer.

11. Prayer week

If a retreat is hard to implement, you could try having a prayer week at church and/or in homes. Use special speakers and schedule prayer activities.

12. Prayer groups

Groups could meet regularly in the morning, afternoon or evening. Missions prayer groups could have a special focus on the nations and people groups. Some churches have developed childrens' prayer groups. Also, mobile groups could go out to pray for those in need of healing and deliverance.

13. Prayer partners

At the worship service, everyone finds a partner. They pray for each other during the coming week.

14. Prayer chain

Cover emergency prayer items by having one prayer warrior communicate to another.

15. Vital part of all meetings

Give significant amounts of time to prayer in all leadership, planning and task force meetings.

16. Collect prayer requests

Distribute a simple form in the worship service to collect prayer items that will be prayed for by various prayer groups or intercessors.

17. Apprentice-intercessors

Intercessors are those who pray longer, more intensely, with more insight and see more answers to prayer than the average Christian. Use these intercessors to mobilize others. This can include warfare prayer. Use the five steps of on-the-job training from Step 2 (p. 77).

18. During the worship service

Beyond the normal pastoral prayer from the pulpit, some churches also give opportunity for all those with illnesses to come to the front of the worship center to receive prayer. Others have those with illnesses stand where they are. Those nearby lay hands on them and pray. We can also do this with those who have sick loved ones, unsaved loved ones, financial needs or any other prayer focus.

19. After the worship service

Those with special needs can remain after the service to receive focused prayer. Personalized prayer is best.

20. Mobilize a prayer leader

Recruit and train someone who could develop and coordinate all of the new church's prayer ministries.

Prayer items

Here are some specific items you may want to cover.

1. Other churches

One pastor prays from the pulpit for two other churches in their town. He does this in every worship service.

2. Your town

Pray for victory over specific strongholds of the enemy.

3. Unchurched barangays

Pray for a church in every barangay in your town, and province.

4. Daughter church

Ask God to raise up resources, and guide your church to plant a daughter church. Impart this vision through prayer!

5. The nation

Intercessors For the Philippines7 publishes a prayer guide, Operation Burning Bush, to mobilize prayer for the nation.

6. Unreached people groups

Helpful prayer information is published by Philippine Missions Association.8

7. Missionaries

Pray for missionaries from your denomination or local area.

8. The world

The excellent prayer guide, Operation World, by Patrick Johnstone is available through OMF Lit.

These items could be prayed for personally, in prayer groups, at prayer events or from the pulpit.

Summary checklist

When will you begin your weekly joint worship service? A good time to begin is usually after two months of OBSes and two more months of Nurture Bible Studies. There are two extremes to avoid in setting this important date. One extreme is to wait too long. Baka maiinip ang mga tao. The other extreme is to start too soon—baka mag-premature birth. Avoiding these two extremes is the main guideline, rather than how many months have passed.

To see this clearly you can use the checklist below. When these specific items have all been accomplished, you're ready to start your weekly service!

q 1. Enough linking activities have been done (see p. 235-237).

q 2. Enough people are ready to attend. (You will need to decide on this number.)

q 3. The new believers have strong enough faith to attend.

q 4. The new believers are practicing daily Bible reading (most of them).

q 5. The new believers have a daily prayer time (most of them).

q 6. The new believers are excited about the joint fellowship.

q 7. The new believers have been baptized, or there is already a plan to do so soon.

q 8. You have a stable venue.

q 9. All the necessary equipment is ready.

q 10. The new believers are ready to help with all the necessary preparations.

q 11. Praise and worship leaders are ready.

q 12. The new believers know the songs they will sing at the worship service.

q 13. You have a plan to teach the new believers how to worship.

q 14. Children's teachers are ready.

q 15. The church planting team is ready to begin to phase out now (if this is helpful for the new church's development).

q 16. You have written a list of possible service opportunities for the new believers.

q 17. You have a date in mind to begin to take the offering. You have a plan to prepare the new believers for this.

q 18. The treasurer and assistant treasurer have been chosen.

q 19. You have ideas on how to begin a prayer ministry.

q 20. You have decided how you will continue to nurture the new believers. All people involved are prepared to lead these ministries. (We will discuss this in detail in the next chapter. But your plan and people involved need to be ready before launching the weekly worship service.)

q 21. You have a plan to do more outreach. (You will implement this in Step 9. We'll discuss this there. But you should prepare this plan before launching the weekly worship service.)

Add other things that the Lord puts into your mind to the list:

q 22.

q 23.

q 24.

Congratulations! You're ready for your weekly worship service!

Action planning and discussion

1. Share an example of a church you have observed which experienced premature birth. What were some of the unfortunate results? How could this have been prevented?

2. Are your new believers ready to form a joint fellowship? What are the signs that you observe which tell you they are ready?

3. What are some of the different ways that a good baptism event can help your church planting project?

4. Think back to the first time you attended a born-again church. Was there anything that made you uncomfortable? How can you minimize this in your new church?

5. How many months will your OBSes and Nurture Bible Studies last?

6. Have you observed an OBS which went on for many months, or even more than a year? What could have been done differently?

7. Describe the two wrong extremes in phasing out the team. What could be the consequences of each extreme?

8. What are some names for your church which could possibly cause some potential attenders to feel excluded?

9. When will you begin the offering? Why at that time?

10. Describe the prayer ministry you would like to develop in your new church.

11. Which items on the summary checklist on pp. 261-263 do you think are not essential? What items could you add?

12. In forming the fellowship, what are some ways to involve the new believers, so that they begin to feel that this is "their church"?

The main thing to do now

q Complete the items on the summary checklist on pp. 261-263.

Overview of Step Nine

We have a joint fellowship! Salamat sa Diyos! Malaking accomplishment! But we're not finished yet with our church plant. Our new believers are probably still immature. We'll need to develop ongoing ministries that will effectively help new believers become strong. How can we do this? We'll cover this in Chapter 15 – Develop Nurture Ministries.

How many people in the barangay are still unsaved? Marami pa! What can we do to maximize our resources and reach as many of them as possible? We'll look at this in Chapter 16 – Continue to Do Outreach.

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This page was last updated on 15 July 2013.