NEW ORLEANS (BP)–“Gene Mims was serving as a pastor. He woke up one day and realized he was on a merry-go-round.”
Barry Campbell, manager of the professional development section of the pastor-staff leadership department at LifeWay Christian Resources, relayed this background on Mims, LifeWay’s current vice president of the church resources division, in opening a seminar on “Building Healthy Churches” Feb. 24 at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
After serving 20 years in the same church, Mims found he was doing the same type of activities at the same time each year. “Mims began to pray about how to get off the merry-go-round, a never-ending cycle,” Campbell said during a special seminary emphasis week on the ministry of LifeWay.
During his prayerful search, “God gave Mims something,” Campbell said: an equation that could revolutionize the way churches approach evangelism.
As a result, Mims wrote a book, “Kingdom Principles for Church Growth,” about “the 1-5-4 principle,” as it is known, which any church, large or small, can use effectively, Campbell said.
Starting with the Great Commission, the “one” of 1-5-4, the church receives its “marching orders” to make disciples, baptize them and teach them according to the commands of Christ in Matthew 28:18-20.
The “five” signifies the five functions every healthy church must be about:
— evangelism. “Reaching people for Jesus” needs to be every church’s “command, joy, priority,” Campbell said.
— discipleship. As defined in the five functions, this simply means teaching. “One believer encounters another and the result is they are both more like Jesus in what they think and what they do,” Campbell said.
— fellowship. This term is “harder to define,” Campbell said. “When one believer gets under the load [burdens, cares or concerns] of another believer,” that is fellowship.
— ministry. “Meeting needs in Jesus’ name” is Mims’ definition of ministry. “The Bible says Jesus looked at them, had compassion on them,” and then healed or fed or taught them, Campbell said. “If we take time to look at people, we can help them,” he said, adding, “The most effective and important way to minister to the church is through the Sunday school.”
— worship. Worship “is not the last priority. It is an absolutely essential function of the church,” Campbell said.
The “four”signifies the four results flowing from the functions.
“If I do these five functions and do them in a healthy manner,” Campbell said, “then I’ll experience:”
— numerical growth.
— spiritual growth.
— expanding ministries.
— expanding missions.
The “process to build a healthy church” helps apply the 1-5-4 principle to the everyday life of the church, Campbell said.
First, teach people about the kingdom of God. “The smaller the church, the more important to share this truth” since people need a “kingdom perspective,” Campbell said.
Second, teach people about the Great Commission.
Third, lead people to determine a purpose, vision or mission statement to help them understand why the church is there. Campbell said his book, “Tool Box for Busy Pastors,” goes into detail about how to do this.
Fourth, people need a spiritual giftedness inventory to direct them in areas of service.
Fifth, people need to brainstorm about the “SWOTS: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and the threats of things to shut you down.”
By taking these five steps in the process and applying them to the five functions, Campbell said a church can develop a plan of action that is suitable for that church.
That application or planning has three steps according to the 1-5-4 model:
— review: Take each of the five functions one at a time and review and evaluate it in light of what the church is doing in that area.
— possibilities: Consider the possibilities of how the church can succeed in each function, make a dream list and discuss it.
— actions: Choose actions that the church can take for each function. Each function “needs to be considered in light of the five process items: kingdom, Great Commission, purpose, spiritual giftedness and SWOTS.
As a result, Campbell said, “you will have balance and focus” as the church moves ahead in kingdom work.