Altar Ministry Guidebook

The Frontlines of Ministry

Below is a downloadable copy of our, “Altar Ministry Guidebook”. At First Baptist Fernandina Beach, our Deacons and their wives serve alongside our Pastors in meeting with individuals who respond during the “invitation” portion of our service. This guidebook covers the key issues that we wish to convey when ministering to these individuals.

Alter Ministry




According to Mark McCormick’s book, What They Don’t Teach You in the Harvard Business School, There was a study done at Harvard between 1979 and 1989. Graduates of the MBA program were asked “Have you set clear written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” The results of that question were:

•Only 3% had written goals and plans

•13% had goals but not in writing

•84% had no specific goals at all

10 years later Harvard interviewed the members of that class again and found:

1. The 13% who had goals but not in writing were earning on average twice as much as the 84% of those who had no goals at all

2. The 3% who had clear, written goals were earning on average 10 times as much as the other 97% of graduates all together. The only difference between the groups is the clarity of the goals they had for themselves

Here is a guide to help you set SMARTER goals.

(S) Specific: 

For a goal to be helpful it must be clear. Get clear on what the goal/win is.


  • Outcome Goals – I want to loose 20 lbs
  • Input Goals – I will workout 3 times per week

(M) Motivational:

The goal has to be motivational enough to cause you to press through the inevitable obstacles that you will encounter. If you goal is too small, you will not have the emotional fuel to stay the course.
(A) Achievable:

Some things just aren’t God’s will for you. Be wise and allow that to inform your goals.

(R) Recordable:

You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Documenting your progress (or lack thereof) makes you accountable and shows how far you’ve come and what you need to work on.

(T) Time-specific: 

When do you intend to have your goal met. Attach a date to your goal. Reverse engineer, then realistically set benchmarks.

(E) Evaluated:  

Review your goals weekly (or daily if you’re struggling). That way you can trouble-shoot early, and change direction when necessary.

Howard Hendricks – Experience will not make you better only evaluated experience makes you better.

(R) Recited :

Make sure you communicate your goals to the correct people. One of the greatest source of stress on teams is unclear goals.


Principles of Church Growth

Human factors that can cause a Church to grow.

When it comes to church growth, there are four factors primary factors that determine the growth of your church. By church, I am referring to the gathered church, or in other words you weekend attendance. These are the factors that influence the growth of your church gathering. Keep in mind these are s

  1. Attraction – Getting new people to attend.
    • 80% of all people who attend a church and join were invited by a church member.
    • Only 5% of people who regularly attend a church invited someone last year.
    • Many times we try to make up for the lack of invites by financially investing in marketing campaigns, but the return is FAR less and the cost is FAR higher. It is inefficient.
    • Advertising and marketing can be helpful in that it give credibility to our personal invitations – but Marketing is NOT a substitute for personal invites.
  1. Assimilation – Getting those that have attended to return and join.
    • According to Outreach Magazine, 1/10 people who visit your church will end up joining the membership.
    • If you had 100 guest families (avg. 2/week) you will have a net gain of 10 families.
    • You can greatly increase the assimilation rate if you have a system in place.
      • If you can get the families to visit a 2nd time, your attrition rate goes from 1 in 10 to 1 in 4 who join.
      • If you can get them to visit a 3rd time almost half will join.
  1. Attendance Frequency – Getting those who attend you church to come more often.
    • What would happen if everyone who calls FBC home all showed up in one Sunday?
    • When do we see all of them show up at one time? Easter! Easter isn’t so large because of a TON of guests, but rather because the folks who come sporadically all show up at one time.
  1. Attrition – Getting less people leaving your Church.
    • People leave via death, transfer, conflict, etc.
    • We must make sure we guard the backdoor – make it TINY but still existent.

Ahab’s Advice as you Start Your Day

Something to Remember when Strapping on Your Armor

Linwes_armorJ. Vernon Mcgee once told the story of a young seminary student who was about to preach his first real sermon. The young man was quite accomplished in his studies, and he felt more than equipped to communicate God’s Word. As a matter of fact, he was overly confident. When the time came for him to deliver the sermon – he walked boldly, even arrogantly, to the sacred desk. He arranged his notes before him, then gazed over the congregation. As he began to preach, his memory and his tongue betrayed him. He couldn’t remember his illustrations, his words shaky and weak. What he thought would be a 30-minute sermon was over in 10 minutes. Sheepishly he descended the stage after the concluding prayer.

The Senior Pastor of the church was an experienced minister who had seen this sort of thing many times before. He placed his arm around the young seminarian and said, “Son, if you had walked onto the stage the way you came down, you would have come down the way you went up”.

King Ahab of Israel gave similar advice to Ben-Hadad in 1 Kings 20:11 (ESV), “Let not him who straps on his armor boast himself as he who takes it off.” No matter what you are attempting to accomplish today – remember that victory belongs to the Lord. He gives you a mind to think and arms to work. As Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). May this thought sober you and humble you as you strap on your armor. 

The Seed in the Stump

The King on the throne is the seed in the stump

Isaiah 6 tells the story of one of the most remarkable revelations of God ever experienced by a man. It was in the year of Uzziah’s death that the event occurred. Uzziah ascended to the throne in the midst of a collapsing economy, a weakened military, and growing threat of an Assyrian invasion. But under Uzziah’s godly leadership, things seemed to be turning around. The economy soared, the military grew strong and hope was alive in Judah. Uzziah was making Israel great again (I couldn’t resist.)

rememberFrom Genesis onward, humanity has waited and watched for the “Seed” that God would provide that would ultimately crush the head of the enemy. Throughout the Old Testament, we see hopeful prospects- Seth, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David… and now Uzziah. Could this be the one? Could it be Uzziah?

Then, at the height of power, Uzziah made a fatal mistake – he allowed the power and strength to go to his head, and he became filled with pride. God punished him by striking him with leprosy, and ultimately he died. Can you imagine how this felt for the average Israelite? Hope was deferred and their hearts were sick (Proverbs 13:12).

It was at this time that Isaiah has a vision of the eternal King sitting upon an eternal throne. In the midst of this revelation, Isaiah’s sin is magnified, then atoned for, and a question is raised. It seems God has a plan to radically change the world, and he desires a human instrument to accomplish his purpose. God asks, “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah volunteers. The mission to which Isaiah is called is bleak. He would see no fruit from his service to God, but earthly success didn’t matter – Isaiah had seen God and lived.

Isaiah 6 ends with a faint whisper of hope. In the midst of a tragic loss, that promises only to get worse, God says,

“And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump.”

God’s answer to all of man’s problems wasn’t the forest, it was the Seed. And the Seed remained. The Seed in the stump was also the King on the throne, Jesus Himself. The glorious mystery of the nativity is when the God of glory will become the seed of Mary. He is the Seed that Israel and all of humanity had longed for.