An Interview with Pastor Mark Carter, Torch of Faith Church
Casting a compelling vision within a church often proves to be a formidable task. For pastors and church leaders, navigating intricate decisions and conversations is practically a daily occurrence, an inherent part of the ministry that occasionally leads to tangled situations. When circumstances peak and the call to lead empathetically yet resolutely arises, it can indeed feel like a daunting undertaking.
This scenario unfolded for Mark Carter, the Lead Pastor of Torch of Faith Church. Torch Church, a youthful congregation with a thriving appeal for young families, encountered a formidable challenge. Despite their vibrancy, they were without a permanent church home, having spent six years in a “nomadic” existence, rotating through theaters, schools, and the like.
Parallel to their situation, Faith Church, their neighboring congregation, had an older demographic. With their Senior Pastor set to retire and less than a year remaining before financial struggles forced closure, Faith Church was at a critical juncture.
From what initially seemed like an implausible notion, a remarkable reality emerged: a merger between the two churches. Naturally, melding two congregations with distinct experiences and perspectives posed a complex predicament. Carter acknowledges that, in retrospect, there might have been alternative approaches. Nevertheless, he highlights two core principles that contributed to building unity. Ultimately, he secured the support of 90% of both congregations, a remarkable feat considering their diverse backgrounds.
1. Simplify Your Message
Displaying amazing judgment, Torch of Faith (its post-merge moniker) initiated a “re-brand” once the merger solidified. This strategic move yielded dual benefits for the church. Firstly, it fostered unity among the congregation by rallying them around a shared vision. Secondly, it facilitated a clear focus on a shared objective: “unchurched Charlie.”
Carter’s approach aimed to provide both himself and the congregation with a tangible image of the person beyond their church walls. It allowed them to adeptly communicate their identity and purpose to those with no previous exposure. In reality, churches can often fall into the trap of using insider jargon that confuses newcomers or those seeking deeper insight.
Lee Lefever, in his book “The Art of Explanation,” dubs this phenomenon the “curse of knowledge.” Essentially, as we become well-versed in a subject, we inadvertently lose the knack for simplifying and conveying it in easily comprehensible terms for others.
Carter shared that during Sunday services, they acknowledged the feelings of unfamiliarity that can accompany a new church experience, empathizing with new faces and uncharted systems. This served as a platform to cast a compelling vision for how the merger could exponentially extend its outreach, leveraging the strengths each congregation brought.
By centering all their efforts on catering to “unchurched Charlie” and his family, Torch of Faith Church streamlined its messaging and united behind a shared purpose.
2. Invest in the Right People
The subsequent step taken by Carter and his team was a deliberate investment in the right individuals. He acknowledges dedicating perhaps an excessive effort to persuading those who were unlikely to embrace the cause fully. In hindsight, channeling more energy towards those already aligned could have been wiser. At a minimum, focusing on individuals undecided about the merger would have been advantageous.
In retrospect, he affirms the successful initiation was forging consistent unity between the two elder boards. Regular gatherings facilitated joint prayer, discernment on the timing and necessity of the merge, and meticulous planning to ensure alignment.
Subsequently, post-merge, they’ve committed to bi-monthly sessions concentrating on substantial engagement with key leaders. These individuals revisit and rearticulate the vision and core values. This signifies that at times, a new vision necessitates moving forward with most of the same personnel while potentially parting with a few. Nonetheless, Carter emphasizes that the ultimate objective is aligning with God’s vision for their church and adhering to that path.
Finally, Carter underscores the paramount significance of relationships. He underscores that within the framework of relationships, endeavors tend to unfold more smoothly.
3. Know What It Takes to Grow
Pastor Carter provided great insight into how casting vision did great things during a church merger. However, it’s important that we interject one more strategy into this process. Whether you’re going through a merger or another demanding time, it’s imperative that you understand what it takes for a ministry to grow. And while there are various issues involved in this endeavor, it all comes down to increased giving.
In the ever-evolving landscape of church operations, navigating challenges requires innovative strategies that blend donor engagement and effective technology. This holds true whether churches are seeking to increase donations or are embarking on the complex journey of merging two congregations. By embracing these approaches, churches can not only overcome obstacles but also foster a united community with a shared vision.
Donor engagement is a pivotal aspect of building a strong financial foundation for any church. Cultivating meaningful relationships with donors involves consistent communication, transparency, and a clear demonstration of the impact of their contributions. Effective technology complements donor engagement by providing streamlined avenues for giving. Online platforms, mobile apps, and digital payment systems offer convenience and accessibility, allowing congregants to contribute easily and consistently.
These technological tools eliminate barriers and create a seamless giving experience, catering to modern preferences for cashless transactions. In the context of merging two ministries, donor engagement and technology take on added significance. Mergers introduce unique challenges as two congregations with distinct cultures, practices, and financial structures come together. Effective donor engagement becomes a bridge, helping members of both churches find common ground and a shared purpose.
It’s Time to Grow Your Ministry
Attracting and retaining new members is crucial for church growth, but their engagement and support are equally vital. DonorWerx offers comprehensive solutions to strike this balance effectively. Donor engagement goes beyond financial transactions, fostering a sense of belonging and purpose. Personalized communication, transparency, and shared involvement create a committed community.
DonorWerx employs technology to enhance engagement. Online platforms, streamlined giving, and analytics cater to modern preferences for digital interactions. This boosts accessibility and encourages consistent contributions aligned with members’ lifestyles. Ultimately, a successful ministry requires involved congregants. DonorWerx combines donor engagement and technology to empower churches.
Connect with our giving experts to elevate your ministry’s impact. Schedule a Discovery Call to learn more today.