Episode 5: Changing Church Ministry Paradigms

Church ministry looks a lot different now than it did before Covid.

Many churches are feeling lost about where to go next.

In this episode, we’re talking about how to start a new church ministry that will succeed, no matter what size church you have.

This episode’s special guest

It’s a pleasure to welcome Dr. Scott Paskiewicz to the podcast today. Scott is a physical therapist by trade, and a member of Eastport Bible Church in Eastport, NY. He’s started a number of ministries both in his home church and abroad in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Burkina Faso West Africa.

Scott has master’s degrees in both Business Administration and Christian Ministry and Discipleship. His experience owning multiple Physical Therapy practices helps him to bring a hands-on, functional approach to church ministry

The state of church ministry post Covid

One of the ways the Covid pandemic has influenced church ministry around the country is that many churches have lost programs like Sunday school, VBS, and Awana.
Pastors and boards are wondering, “What do we do now?”

We wanted to bring Scott onto the podcast because of his experience bringing new ministries into the church.

Receiving a call from God to start a new ministry

Ministry expansion and bringing in new ministries starts with receiving a call from God through prayer. If you are interested in starting a ministry, your first step should be to seek the Lord and ask, “God, what can I do for you?”

Humility is the key to ensuring that a new venture is from God, and not from your own agenda. A crucial step is to involve other leaders in the church such as board members, elders, and the pastor, and to present your idea to them in humility, to see if they are on board.

What causes a ministry to fail?

We asked Scott about a program venture from his life that didn’t succeed, and he tells us about an evangelism ministry that he tried to start at his church. The ministry got off the ground and had a small impact, but didn’t last in the long run.

Scott attributes the failing of this ministry to the way he started it. He says he didn’t take the time to get genuine support from church leadership, and he didn’t have the humble approach necessary to succeed. He felt that he was trying to force it to happen by his own strength and skill as a ministry starter.

What casues a ministry to succeed

Next, Scott tells us about a ministry he started that has been a huge success. He began a small group ministry at Eastport that has been a long-lasting blessing to the church.

The success of this ministry came from the steps they took at the beginning to get it started. First, Scott got the support and excitement of the senior pastor.

Then, the senior pastor shared the ministry plan with the rest of the church leadership to get everyone on board.

After the church leaders were all on the same page, they began to build a strong foundation for the small group ministry by starting out with just their Sunday school group.

Once the solid foundation was there, they used that momentum to expand it to the whole church. This last step of expansion to the rest of the congregation worked so well because they already had something to bring people into.

Building a culture base for the ministry program

A great strategy for getting a new ministry off the ground is to build a culture base with a smaller group before opening it up to the broader church. That way, you already have stability in the ministry, and you have something to invite people into.

Church size: can any church do ministry?

Some churches worry that they are too small to have ministries or programs. But is there really such a thing as being too small to have a ministry? Nope!

Scott’s church, Eastport Bible, has about 175 congregants. They have an after-school program for kids, a youth ministry, a small group ministry, and others.

Even a much smaller church than Scott’s can have meaningful and successful ministries. Start a discipleship program with a one-on-one model, or a small groups program. For example, a church with 20 or 30 congregants can divide into 2 small groups and several discipleship pairs.

Any size church can do ministry!

Three categories of churches regarding small group ministry

There are three categories of churches when it comes to small group ministry:

A church that doesn’t have organized small groups

A church that has organized small groups and other programs

A church that is small groups – no formal Sunday gathering, just a group of small groups that are connected

What you want is a church where people are actively getting involved in each other’s lives. It’s not about having people show up for church on Sunday and a Bible study here and there, it’s about building real connection and community.

Recipe to build a successful church ministry

We’ve talked about different elements that go into starting a church ministry, but how do they all fit together?

Here’s the recipe:

First, you need a person with an idea. That person bathes the idea in prayer and then presents it to the pastor. The pastor gives permission to proceed, and a plan is built in collaboration with the pastor. The plan is then communicated to the rest of church leadership, and eventually, to the whole congregation.

The need for human resources

It may go without saying, but you need people in order to start and maintain a church ministry.

Your pastor probably has a lot on his plate already, and it might not be the best use of his time to put him in charge of the VBS program. Even if the pastor is willing to take on more responsibility, the church should keep an eye out to make sure he is not being stretched too thin.

Small groups and other church ministries can help take responsibilities off the pastor’s plate and divide them among the congregation. This way, the pastor’s time can be used for the essential things that only he can do.

Defining what success looks like

How do you know when your church ministry has succeeded, or when something’s just not working? Well, first you need to define what success looks like.

Getting everyone on the same page about the missional objective is key. Once the objective is clear and everyone working on the project understands the mission, you will be in a good place to proceed.

It’s just as important to know when something isn’t working and it’s time to call it quits. Having a clear definition of what success looks like will also help you to know if the new ministry venture is missing the mark.

Busy doesn’t equal productive

It’s easy to confuse being busy with being productive. One risk in ministry is falling into thinking that if there is a well-attended church activity every night of the week, you’ve succeeded.

But, the goal of church ministry programs is to bring people into a deeper relationship with God and real community within the church, not to keep people busy for busy’s sake.

To keep the church leadership and congregation from being overloaded with too many programs, you might need to choose some things to cut or substitute before beginning a new ministry.

How do you know when a ministry is going to accomplish the goal?

If our goal is to bring people into the church in a meaningful way, how do we know when a ministry is going to accomplish that goal?

1. Talk with good counselors and ask for their advice and opinions about the ministry.

2. Have a vision for how the program will accomplish the goal. Ask yourself, “Why does the church need this ministry right now?”

3. Keep the ministry in line with the mission and vision of the church.

Final advice for anyone trying to start a ministry at their church

If you’re a pastor who wants to start a new ministry, look for the guy in your church who is humble, wants to serve, and knows how to implement. Take someone with a good track record of getting things done, and set him loose on the project.

If you’re a church layman like Scott, pray for humility and for God to grow your opportunities. Don’t be afraid to pray big prayers.

In this episode:

00:00 – Introduction

02:55 – This episode’s special guest: Dr. Scott Paskiewicz

05:00 – Bringing an entrepreneurial spirit to church ministry

08:45 – The state of church ministry programs post-covid

10:20 – Receiving a call from God to start a new ministry

11:50 – What causes a ministry to fail?

13:50 – What causes a ministry to succeed?

16:25 – Building a culture base for a ministry program

17:55 – Church size: can any church do ministry?

19:45 – Three categories of churches regarding small group ministry

21:50 – Importance of congregants being actively involved in each other’s lives

23:20 – Recipe to build a successful church ministry

25:50 – The need for human resources

28:10 – Defining what success looks like

30:15 – Busy doesn’t equal productive 

31:35 – How do you know when a ministry is going to accomplish the goal?

33:50 – Final advice for anyone trying to start a ministry at their church

35:00 – Closing thoughts


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