As churches grow in numbers, the clergy find a challenge of keeping in close touch with believers.
Beyond evangelism, the church must express compassion and mercy by helping others following Jesus Christ’s example and making a difference in the lives of believers. This may not be an easy undertaking but it has happened in some churches whose number goes beyond 1,000.
It is against this background that Holy Spirit Fire Church, a Pentecostal church in Mbarara, has started an initiative for families.
Apostle Willy Tumwine, senior pastor at this church, says a pastor or church leader cannot easily reach out and impact on believers, but with families (small units in the church) they can become instrumental in the total transformation of Christians.
The family members are a group of 10-20 people who meet regularly at church, in their homes for spiritual edification, knowing and sharing challenges and helping each other.
“Besides spiritual needs praying and worshiping together, family members follow up each other.
It may be difficult for me to know a member of a church is missing, sick and in other problems because of the big numbers but the family easily follow up each other,” says Apostle Tumwine.
“Since we started this initiative three years back, the lives of our believers have been transformed.
The jobless are getting ideas from the members and have been supported to start some businesses, believers have pooled resources together to start up big projects, members are supporting each other spiritually, socially and economically, which is a noble as a church,” says Tumwine.
Seeking talented and better income
He adds that families give members identification and help in exposing individual talents, especially during the family week that is filled with fun, talent shows, and worshipping, traditional dances, among others.
Pastor Annah Tumwine, the senior pastor’s wife, says families have family heads who represent the pastor in this unit and offer guidance on the church values.
“We always meet leaders and share with them to see they represent our values if a member has a problem and they cannot handle it we take it up,” says Pastor Tumwine.
She adds that through the church family initiative, the members’ incomes have improved.
“Some of these families pool resources to undertake development projects, support members to start businesses, pay school fees that keep a Christian empowered,” she adds.
Joining a family is at will as not very church member at this church has a family but members are always urged to join this unit.
Through families in the church, members also contribute to the development of the church like funding construction.
This church now has more than 20 families named after biblical persons such as Abraham, Paul, Job, Jonathan, King David, Samuel, Rachael, Zion, Timothy, Joshua, Isaac, Dorcus, Sarah and Abigail, among others.
Jacklean Arinaitwe, a member of the Gideon family, says she was able to start a second hand cloth business with support from family members.
“I was stuck, unemployed but when our pastor started the initiative of families I chose to join Gideon but here besides praying and worshiping together members chose to pool resources and help each member start an income-generation activity and I’m now in business, ”says Arinaitwe.