We are blessed to support ministries all over the country — we partner with churches of all sizes, denominations, demographics, and methodologies.
We recently sat down with one of the first pastors to catch the vision of For Ministry Resources — Justin Bluer of Greene. The ministry of Berean Bible Church in Greene, NY is a fascinating one. They’re a multi-site church in an area where that’s never been done before. They’re leveraging technology in creative ways. They’re from a small town while their attendance numbers are 10% of the population. (Imagine that kind of attendance in a city like Pheonix).
Simply put: this is a small-town church with a mammoth impact.
They are not a cookie-cutter ministry, and we encourage you all to learn more about this ministry and their down-to-earth, sometimes quirky pastor.
Our team sat down to interview Pastor Justin, here are some highlights.
Brandon: As you know, our ministry is build on improving communication with congregations. What works best for communicating to your community online?
Justin: The church and I both have a strong Facebook presence. On the church’s Facebook, we schedule our posts for the whole week as a staff. Like we have our family pastor go in and schedule posts about the family ministry. Then I will take a photo of any wedding I do at that church and tag the couple and let the family post congratulations. That usually gets a lot of likes and drives a lot of traffic to the church page and a lot of times people who attend weddings at the church sometimes want to check the church out on Sunday and now they can get all that info through the Facebook page.
[Posts of people always generate traffic.]
B: Do you think it is important for Pastors to have a strong personal Facebook page?
Justin: I think the personal one is more important then the ministry one even! The personal account is what drives the church presence. Just because logistically on a personal account you could have far more friends than your church page has likes. Which means more people are going to see a personal post from my account than a post from the church account.
[Getting people to see your posts on a personal page is far easier than getting reach on a public page.]
B What is your sermon writing process like?
Justin: In the fall of each year I like to plan out the whole preaching schedule with the elders — emphasizing the books and topics we need to touch. Then as series gets closer I will do some work a few weeks in advanced in fleshing out the individual messages more for the series. You know just doing work like clarifying the text and theme.
Concerning the specific sermon, that looks different. Thursday is when I do a lot of the exegesis. I will dive into the original language stuff and see what is the text actually saying. The goal of Thursday for me is to get it from the exegetical idea to the theological idea then to the homiletical idea. So it is typically a two and a half day process for me anyway. I find when I prepare further in advance the sermon is not as fresh and raw to me on Sunday. Because it is fresher to me and I cannot wait to preach it on Sunday. Now that we are going to a multi-sites model, I wont be able to do that I am going to have to go back to preparing to at least a week in advanced.
B: What changes do you see happening in church and ministry in the next ten years?
Justin: I see a lot of multi-site churches coming in and being able to utilize closed facilities. I think multi-site churches are in the best position right now to make that happen, because you know they are planting churches with a strong foundation. They don’t have to create new leadership new budgets new constitutions. They are taking existing people in your church and sending them out and having them be apart of that new campus. And so church planting has just morphed tremendously in the last 15 years into campus launching. And I think the Gospel is getting out in smaller communities in ways that it never would if we were just planting churches. Church plants often cannot survive without a mothership or a mother church supporting them.
B: What advice would you give to small church pastors?
Justin: I have three things I would say:
I would caution them to watch out for commandment ten. The sin of coveting dramatically effects pastors. It is easy to always look at the next size of growth and go if only I was there. It becomes a coveting thing! A gospel ministry is never about comparison. God is not comparing us against each other! God is comparing us to our obedience to him that is his standard are we full obedient to him.
Also, please do not isolate yourselves! Doing ministry alone is not what God intended, so team up with other people. You must develop friendships and give time for your hobbies. Every six years, take a long sabbatical – take a month or two and just get away to recharge. We would see a lot less pastoral resignations if people developed strong friendships and actively fought burn-out.
Lastly, do not underestimate the power of small ministry. Walmart was a company that went into small towns and they hit a niche that no one else was hitting. Every other company was going into big cities — trying to get those massive populations. Walmart was hitting the small towns — meeting a direct need. Look at them now, they have become one of the biggest companies in the world using that strategy. It is a good example of small impact done well in many places.