Just as any house needs to be built on a good foundation, so does every church need to have a solid foundation before they begin to build and expand. The church needs to have a good foundation before any style or promotion can be helpful. That is why I have written this church foundation checklist. Enjoy.
- Jesus is…
- Theology and Teaching
- Salvations and Discipleship
- Church Ordinances
- Biblical Counseling
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.
The foundation of the Church is centered on who Jesus is. If we know not the fundamentals of who He truly is then all that we do, teach and think is only to the hurt of the kingdom of God. Jesus is God in the flesh (John 1:1). He is the savior of the world and the only means by which we can be saved from sin and death (John 3:16-17). He is the head of the Church (Eph. 5:23), and the final judge of all creation (2 Tim. 4:1). He was conceived of the virgin, Mary. He preformed many miracles, and made disciples of twelve men, many of which became martyrs for the faith. He died on a cross in our place for our sins. Three days later He rose again and then ascended into heaven. This is a very basic but critical understanding of who Jesus is. Without this as the base of ministry, nothing else you do matters because you are just leading people astray.
The source of theology and Biblical understanding has to come from the canon of scripture. The Holy Bible is inerrant and we should not add to or take away from it. There are theological dogmas that stand as boundaries for what is considered Christian. As to believe otherwise would be heretical and would remove one from the classification of Christianity.
Penal Substitutionary Atonement for instance, is that Jesus’ death was a substitute for the penalty of our sins; God placed the punishment of our sin on Jesus which satisfies the wrath of God.
The trinity is another dogmatic theological matter. There is one God in the three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They all simultaneously exist as three separate persons, yet being one in the same.
Humanity and Deity of Jesus, Jesus was fully man and fully God. He was bodily resurrected, and born through Immaculate Conception. He experience pain, hunger, thirst, temptation. Yet He was without sin and held His deity in tact.
Return/ Second Coming of Jesus, Jesus will return to earth again to judge all of mankind on the Day of Judgment.
Existence and judgment of sin and evil, the fall of man is the result of sin, which brought forth death. All who sin against God will be held accountable for their sin and judged by God on the Day of Judgment, but there is forgiveness and eternal life for those who are born of the spirit through faith in Jesus Christ.
This is not a comprehensive list, but is meant to be a short hand list of the primary dogma instated in the Christian Church.
How’s your leadership? Are the leaders demonstrating virtue and integrity in their personal life? Do you have people that are living in sin that really need to be taken off your staff or volunteer list? Are you covering up a matter rather than rebuking it openly? Let’s not handle our staff and volunteers the same way Penn State handled their coaches. Is your leadership qualified from a 1 Timothy 3 stand point?
Aside from just having qualified leadership it is also important to have good leadership. Leadership that carries a vision and purpose that then instilled into others all the while systems and opportunities are set in place where it is easy for everyone in the congregation to play a part in advancing that vision.
Leadership should carry a spirit of excellence in all that they do and all that represents the church. Leaders are dependable, influential, and inspirational. Good leaders are open and honest with their team. They are intentional with how they choose to do everything. They plan ahead. They watch over their team. They correct folly. They are gracious and forgiving. They encourage others and have passion for their vision. Their love for people is evident. Leaders lead.
Loosen your grip, delegate authority and coach new leaders to take on the responsibility.
Another item on the list is order; God is a God of order. He made the universe to function and react in a certain way. He instated a hierarchy in the priesthood of the Old Testament and gave them rules, regulations and a calendar for events like the Feast of Weeks, Sabbath day, and the Passover. The church is meant to have order as well. There should be a ranking of authority, delegation of responsibility, and a schedule. When people are out of order, the matter needs to be dealt with. Spiritual matters should be tested, but not utterly disregarded (1 Thess. 5:20-21). Proverbs speaks highly of having a plan and sticking by it.
Consider this, if you were to show up to a meeting that was suppose to start at 6:00 and end at 7:00, but when you got there they were not organized so it actually started at 7:00 and didn’t get done until 9:00 you would be pretty upset. Especially if you woke up an hour earlier to be there on time and you had important plans at 8:00, but in an effort to not be rude, you stayed the entirety of the meeting. Your congregation deeply appreciates leadership that is on time and stays organized.
Who is in charge? Moses’ step father thought him that delegation of authority is necessary. If the only person who has any say in a matter is the lead pastor then that pastor is going to get overworked and burnout pretty fast. Not to mention people will be frustrated because the one person they need to talk to on a matter is always busy. Loosen your grip, delegate authority and coach new leaders to take on the responsibility.
Recently, a very unfortunate event took place in my home town. A very large and widely noted church went bankrupt and had to come to an end. It made front page news and the determining factor in the fall of this church came down to one word, stewardship. They were misappropriating funds. Certain members on the staff where being over paid considerably, and when they were in a deficit, they decided to just ask the congregation for more money and hope for the best. The church even sent out a donation letter with their Christmas card, I know because I got one. They did this instead of cutting their television spot, reducing their staff budget, and limiting their expenses. Eventually the funds ran out and the church went bankrupt. I tell you this as a warning; that regardless of the size of the church, poor stewardship will lead to your ruin.
It is critical for a church to be strategic in the way they use every penny. Everything needs to be budgeted and when you are not making budget, budget cuts need to be made. Be open with your congregation about what is going on, rather than turning into a prosperity gospel preacher giving yet another 12 week series on “if you give to the church, God will bless you.” Pray for wisdom, assess your expenses, and trust God to help you when money is tight.
Is your ministry fruitful? The church should be all about building the Church. Is your ministry successful at drawing in new visitors that are hearing the Gospel and being changed by that message? Are lives being changed? Are new believers being discipled and educated in the things of God? Does your ministry truly benefit the community? Are stories of people coming to know Jesus, being set free from a life of sin and rebellion frequent? Who are you reaching? Who are you benefiting by existing as a local church?
We have to assess our effectiveness as a ministry, and if you’re not producing fruit then something has got to change.
If God is love, then we need to demonstrate love to the world in tangible ways.
A church preaches and teaches the Word of God, and the most practical way to do that is through a regular service. Are you having regular corporate gatherings for worship and Biblical teaching? Is your congregation also encouraged to meet in smaller gatherings for community and discipleship? These are two things that the early church practiced and we would do well in following their example.
Another type of service would be to server the community. To serve those who have no ties to the church. It is instrumental to practically serve the community. Entire ministries are based around the concept of just helping people with their problems and circumstances, such as the Dream Center in L.A. If God is love, then we need to demonstrate love to the world in tangible ways.
Water Baptism is the first biblical step after salvation. Today baptisms are drastically under emphasized. Make baptisms a frequent part of your churches activities. Communion is another ordinance or sacrament that was commanded of us at the Last Supper. The responsibility for church ordinances falls on the church leadership, so we need to make sure that people are given frequent opportunities to practice these ordinances. Also, marriage is another one that tends to be forgotten, although most churches do marriage ceremonies. Just the same, couples should be counseled and undergo an approval process. By marrying a couple, you are placing a stamp of approval on their marriage so it’s not to be taken lightly.
I could also give mention to baby dedications and funerals but for times sake I’ll leave them out.
The reality is this, people have problems and they need to talk with someone to help them through those problems. So make sure that there is adequate attention given to simply helping people and being there for people in times of grief or need. The fact of life is we go through trials, we have uncertainties, and we experience temptation. So several trusted leaders should be trained and equipped to Biblically counsel people and be there for those in need. Many churches have a pastor on call system which I would recommend.
Last, but definitely not least is worship. Is Jesus number one? Does He receive worship honor and praise? Or is it a pastor, cause, or band that is being worshiped, honored and praised? Possessions, position, prominence, and purpose should not be worshiped and do not go before God. We instinctively worship as humans, because we are made to worship, but the question is, “What do we worship?” What is the primary object of your affection? What is most of your time spent on? What is at the forefront of your mind? It has to be Jesus; it is all about Jesus.
As a whole, the congregation should be all about Jesus and love to worship Jesus. There should passion for Jesus and a deep desire to please and serve Him. Worship is more than just music. It is a lifestyle and a state of being, and before the congregation can get there, pastors and leaders need to get there.
In conclusion, I hope this concise list has been helpful to you. If you are reading through this list and can check them off one by one, and are still among the 85% of American churches that are either not growing or declining, then I would suggest taking a look at your execution of everything in the ministry, strategizing a plan of action, and making use of my other articles on church promotion. I wish you the best of luck.
May God be with you,