Starting a New Universal Life Church can be a daunting event for those that are not sure what is needed and troublesome for those that do. There are companies that will help you and there are many documents available (found on the internet and in bookstores) on what is needed to legally start a New Church but the ones that I have seen, do not tell you how to build the Church Membership to a level that will support the Church. For those of us that are just starting out, I have a suggestion.
Small Group Bible Study.
Start your ministry by meeting at a home or other small meeting place and hold a Bible Study. This type of ministry can be started with just one other person and grow from there. Once you start invite the participants to bring a friend to the next Bible Study meeting. As time goes by, with a successful Bible Studying group, your attendance will outgrow the meeting place have to move to a larger venue to hold the meetings.
One of the characteristics of church life which necessitates small groups is that every pastor has a personal contact limit (PCL). He or she is only able to minister effectively to a certain number of people. No pastor can continue to minister to increasing numbers of people indefinitely. At some stage or other the PCL level will be reached.
Every pastor has a different capacity. For some, their PCL may be 80 people; for others (super-pastors!) it may be 280. When the PCL is reached, however, the church will simply plateau. There will be no further numerical growth until delegation takes place. The church will need to be broken down into various small groups, each with their own leader, for the purpose of pastoral care.
This is nowhere better illustrated than when the children of Israel were in the wilderness. In Ex.18:13-27 we read that Jethro, Moses鈥™ father-in-law, noticed the frustration of Moses attempting to care for the needs of the people on his own. He suggested a program of delegation to solve the problem. Moses listened to his advice and introduced an effective strategy of delegation.
In Deut.1:9-18 Moses recalled that situation and noted the following points:
路He appointed leaders to share the responsibility with him (1:13&16)
路They counseled according to their ability and referred the difficult cases to Moses (1:17)
路The leaders themselves were shepherded by Moses (1:18)
This is a great model for church life today.
So, by using the Small Group Bible Study formula, you not only build up a membership but you are also able to start identifying future Church leaders.
Now, how do you conduct a Small Group Bible Study? There are many resources available on the internet to help you conduct your Small Group Bible Study. Some of these resources are free and some for pay. Either way you go they will allow you to grow in your Bible Study while teaching others. To give you an ideal of some of these resources, you can find study guides for the leader and students, adult and youth courses, handouts, etc.
A couple of things to keep in mind when dealing with any Bible Study are the following two questions:
1.What does the scripture say?
2.What does the scripture mean to me?
Ok, so you鈥™ve decided to give the Small ULC Group Bible Study a chance. Now what?
Launching a new small group is never as easy as it would seem. There are several different variables to consider, different steps to take, and different types of people to interact with. If one thing goes wrong in the launch process, the whole group can unravel in a hurry.
Fortunately, there are some broad factors that can increase your chances of success when launching a new small group. Take each one of them into consideration before launching your group. They are outlined below. Group leaders who take these simple steps before launching will increase the likelihood of that new group taking flight.
Make the effort to invite people into your group before it even starts. Contact your friends and invite them to be a part of your group and then invite them to invite their friends, too. The goal is to create your group's nucleus before you even go public.
In other words, don't wait to form your group until the launch date. Start inviting people ASAP and view the "launch week" as an opportunity to build off the core you've already encouraged to come together.
The Universal Life Church offers opportunities for for ministers to learn the ins and outs of starting their own ministries, building their own churches and learning about other religious beliefs through our online seminary .