Friday, April 6, 2012

Platform Ministries Part 1 - Benefits

Platform ministries are what I call the regular, programmed ministries of a church.   They are usually done on the church property and with a certain amount of regularity. These ministries go a long way in establishing a church’s identity and personality. They are so called, because the church itself is, or provides, the platform for the ministry. To that end, these ministries also do a good job of assimilating people into the existing church culture.

Platform Ministries Include:

  • Regular Worship Services
  • Sunday Schools, Youth Ministry Programs, and Children’s Church
  • Choir, Awana, RAs &GAs, Women’s Ministries, Etc.
  • Grief and Addiction Recovery Ministries
  • Follow-up Visitation and Homebound Ministries.
  • Church Events, Fellowship Meals, and Concerts
  • Vacation Bible Schools and Revivals
  • Mother’s day out, Day Camp, etc.

Platform ministries usually have a steady structure and leadership and have their schedules printed in the bulletins and on church websites. They have a specific scope, purpose, reach, and expectation. Because of their nature, platform ministries are usually consistent in reaching people within their target audience.

Platform Ministries can Lead to Consistent Baptisms.

Strong platform ministries are characteristic of my home church. The late 70s and early 80s had been a period of staggering growth. (I was baptized in 1982). As our part of the city developed, the church expanded proportionally. Throughout the early 90s my church was among the state leaders in baptisms. During this time, new ministries were being developed left and right.

As we approached the millennium, with no new neighborhoods springing up, church growth became predictable and plateaued. By the time I came on staff in 2000, however, the church had already established a good number of platform ministries. Each one could be counted on for a certain number of baptisms each cycle. We were baptizing between 30 and 60 each year while I served there. The church continues to baptize in this range every year.

Interestingly enough, when the church went through a split a few years ago, attendance dropped by more than half, but something peculiar and particularly good happened. The platform ministries of the church continued regular operation during this time and they continued to reach the same steady number of people as they always had. In fact, many of the church’s platform ministries go back several pastors deep, and even after a full generation in operation, they continue.

A Well-Oiled Machine

Wise pastors work for decades building up their churches and their respective platform ministries. They know that these ministries are good vehicles for discipling both workers and seekers. They know that they are good vehicles for developing community and comradery, as well. They see how platform ministries build a sense of obligation, responsibility, and ownership within the church. Most of all, they know that every platform ministry can be an outreach machine in its own right, and consistently bring new people into the fold.

Platform ministries are not automatically evangelistic, however. They tend to be nurturing and communal by nature. So, if a church is evangelistically passive, its platform ministries will not lead to many baptisms. I have mentioned before in this blog that highly evangelistic churches do not attribute their success to having unique ministries. Rather they intentionally connect their platform ministries to evangelism.

Next Post: Platform Ministries Part 2 - Drawbacks and Limitations

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