“They don’t care what you know until they know that you care” is the motto of many pastors and evangelism directors, but it also describes well the ministry of Mr. Joey Blake, Local Church Lay Coordinator of the Harvest Temple Church of God in Montgomery, Alabama. Brother Blake is the “Pastor’s Partner” for Pastor Rich Deem, and together they have seen normal Sunday morning attendance double.
Part of this success can be attributed to the new “Care Ministry Team” program which Brother Blake heads up. Started at the beginning of 1998, the program has its Biblical basis in Matthew 25:42-45 and Matthew 28:19-20. Its object is to minister to new people in the church from the time they first step in the door. It accomplishes this with a four part program:
- Altar Workers
The first group of people to swing into action are the greeters. There are about twenty of them; they staff every entrance of the church during the Sunday morning and night services and during Wednesday night as well. Their task is to welcome everyone into the house of the Lord. Brother Blake uses the Lord’s guidance in recruiting the greeters. He wants to make sure that those who are chosen are faithful, and he seeks the approval of the Pastor for every appointment. He also trains them in their task and organizes their rotation schedule to prevent burnout. He began the whole “Care Ministry Team” with the greeters before organizing the rest of the program.
At an appropriate point in the service, the greeters seek visitors, and hand them a packet which includes: a brochure describing the ministry of the church, a tape, a letter from the Pastor, and a visitor’s card. The ushers—who help the visitors find a seat—collect the completed cards and pass them along to the visitation teams.
As with the greeters, there are about twenty people at this time involved with visitation, and Brother Blake provides them with training and organization. Once a visitor’s card is received, the visitor is ministered to with a seven step process:
- A phone call from the Pastor.
- The visitation team visits their home and brings them baked goods.
- A visit from the Pastor.
- For the men, a contact from a LifeBuilders® Men’s Ministry representative.
- For the women, a contact from the Ladies Ministry representative.
- Contacts from the appropriate Sunday School classes.
- An invitation out for a meal.
In this way visitors have no doubt they are wanted by the church.
The altar workers are trained to minister to people at the altar and to help them receive what they are seeking from God.
With such a program in place, visitors (and present members) are not only wanted by the church; they are needed too.
In speaking of the Care Ministry Team program, Brother Blake emphasizes that one of the main benefits is that it involves people in the life of the church, and in doing so, ministers to them. In the past, lay people had the idea that unless they taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, ushered, or served on the Church and Pastor’s Council, there was really nothing for them to do. Now they can get involved in vital ministries of the church, and in doing so, their attitudes–and indeed the attitude of the church in general–change, from a group of spectators to a team of participants.
Brother Blake never forgets that without the Lord behind him, his ministry wouldn’t amount to anything. With the Bible as his guide he depends on Jesus Christ who ultimately saves, calls and equips all of us to the advancement of His kingdom and the salvation of souls.