We have a ministry team set up for "Lasting Impressions". This is our 'follow up' arm of the impressions process. We don't sweat people to death but we do offer them a small gift as a way to say "Thank You".
This wrapped basket includes:
- a church-branded coffee mug
- a Starbucks drink
- two types of teas
- two types of coa-coa (for winter)
- small snickers bar
This is dropped off at the home with a letter signed by me just to let people know that we've appreciated having them in our service.
This project ends up costing us less than $5 per family and I believe is money better spent on outreach than the initial marketing. These are people who've already made the effort to walk through your doors. If you can demonstrate a quality service and follow up by letting them know you appreciated their visit, you'll retain guests. We've seen people return because of our 'Lasting Impressions' team.
I try to convey an attitude of love but not desperation and it's worked thus far. I got a letter this past week from a young couple who said they "expected to be hounded but Focal Point gave us a balance of love and space." This is what we're aiming for with our follow up. We want them to feel appreciated but we also want them to know that we're not desperate... we know the church is God's church and people are His people.
Anyway... I thought I'd share an idea with those of you in the churchosphere.
The Whole Family Hurts
via Gary's blog
The Pastor at University Baptist Church in Waco, TX (David Crowder's home church) was killed today in a freak accident this morning during a baptism...
Gary Lamb's post
University Baptist Website
David Crowder Band's Myspace
Dan Kimball's heartfelt Thoughts
Scott Hodge's post
Various Blog Links via Scott Hodge
University Baptist Church pastors, (left to right), Kyle Lake, senior pastor; Ben Dudley, community pastor, and David Crowder, music and arts pastor; lead worship. (Photo by Duane A. Laverty/Waco Tribune-Herald)
Photo via BaptistStandard.com
Guerilla Marketing~ Unconventional marketing intended to get maximum results from minimal resources.
Tomorrow we'll be delivering 2,000 bags of goodies to families near our church. We contacted several local businesses in our area who generously donated coupons for treats. We also received Marvel Comics toothbrushes donated by a dentist as well as 2,000 music cd's from a local music artist. Last night we had about 20 people from the church come to the office and stuff these bags of treats with everything we collected as well as information about our church.
This is one example of the type of marketing a start-up church can do. It took next to nothing (maybe $150 total for bags and some printing) to accomplish but it will serve several purposes:
1. Gets our people involved in serving.
2. Raises public awareness of our church.
3. Generates relationships with local businesses
4. Keeps us focused on what matters... people who need Christ.
Ticks me off
Okay... This is just dumb!
This is the phrase "cut off your nose to spite your face".
Wanna catch a buzz with me?
I've done it! I'm getting a buzz.
I'm not talking about getting high or wasted... I'm talking about the Buzz Conference at National Community Church in D.C.
I've been reading Mark Batterson's blog and church story for almost 2 years now so I'm excited to finally get to meet him and see what God is up to in DC.
It looks like they're keeping it small (125 participants max) so it will be intimate and informative I'm sure. NCC is a blowin' and goin' church and I have no doubt that we're all going to be hearing more from Mark in the next few years. He's already kickin' tail with GodiPod.com and his evotional... Now he's giving out some buzz!
I'd like to see some of you in D.C. in May!
Get info here!
"Get off our rumps"
"Thank you for coming, we needed to hear this tonight... we need to get off our rumps around here."
That was a quote from (who I found out later was) the "Chairman of the Deacon Board" at this church I spoke with last night.
A 91 year old lady came up to me and said "Son, you shook up a lot of people in this room. Thank You. We needed it."
Last night I spoke at the "1st Annual Eastern Shore Bible Conference" for our state denom convention. I had a great time. It is a traditional church with traditional views of the world... I loved the opportunity to share with them. I talked to them about having a Big-Screen HDTV vision of the world. For far too long most of us live our Christian lives with a 9 inch black and white TV vision of Chrisitanity. We need to see all that God was doing in the world.
I moved on to talk about apples. Throughout the crowd I had ushers hand out apples so that when I made this point I asked them to hold them up. I said "Starvation can be ended if we'd just use an apple. But for the apples to be planted and cultivated... this origional apple has to "die to self"."
Most of the rest of the night I talked about what that means. To die to self. When we accepted Christ as Savior we had no problem acknowledging the need to die to self but somewhere along the way with board meetings and color-carpet choices and deacon fights we started to think that church was about 'me'. So now we dont' have a church of people who have died to self and are ready to reach the world... we have a church full of selfish people claiming the name of Christ.
I moved from there into 'living for significances vs. living for success'. I told them that I don't know if I'll live another day. They don't either. How will we spend our days?
Because it was still so fresh on my mind and because I was in a traditional environment, I took a minute to speak on the idea of "deep" which I wrote about yesterday.
I then spoke about how the church is a VERB, not a noun. I asked them to quit referring to Christ's church as a noun. I went on to talk about the verbs in Matthew 28: 16-20. Then we moved toward discussing what it means to take captive EVERY thought to the cross of Christ. Good thoughts, nice thoughts, even important thoughts... if they aren't captive first to the cross of Christ they are hallow thoughts and not worthy of our time. Thoughts and argument are only given worth when they are under the Cross of Christ.
In closing I challenged this meeting to consider their churches. Each of the churches represented had an opportunity... continue the way they are "like that apple" or die to self for the sake of the gospel. Die to self to plant churches. Die to self to reach their community.
The Pastors on the Eastern Shore have great hearts. They're struggling with the American Church mindset among their congregations. Because I was the first speaker (they continue tonight and tomorrow), I pray that they use this as a catalyst to make the necessary changes in their congregations... if the Chairman of the Deacon moves... I think we may see some changed hearts on the shore. God rocks!
Poop can be "deeper" too.
Okay, I need to tell you up front that this is something that ticks me off so I may be a little straight forward about it....
This weekend (and about once every few months since I've been in the ministry) I spoke with someone about being evangelical in nature vs. "deep" on Sunday mornings.
I had someone say to me "I know you're church is trying to reach the lost but our salvation is secure so we want a church that will teach us deep things of God and go verse by verse through the bible."
I informed this person that we don't go "verse by verse" but rather we rotate between "expository" teaching and topical.
Let me interject here before I get hate mail:
Teaching style and an Active Christian life are never mutually exclusive. I'm not advocating one or the other per-se. My concern is with a person who chooses ANY teaching style and then sits on their rear soaking it up. My beef IS NOT about a particular style of teaching. If you can't download that, stop reading.
The rest is what I didn't say but gets my heart pumping fast:
The bible isn't written like a textbook. We don't have "Chapter 12: Marriage" or "Chapter 24: finances". When your heart is on getting to know God for all he is and getting to know who you are because of Him you don't necessarily have to go 'verse by verse'. I'm not busting on "expository" teaching. I think any teacher in his/her heart should be "expository" in message prep. We as the teachers should know a great deal about the subject matter before we share it with others... but what I'm saying is that the self-righteous attitudes of people who will die on that hill drive me nuts. The funny thing is that most people I've bumped into that use the term "expository" think that it means non-stop verse by verse... When expository really means exposing... like developing film. It's taking the text and sharing the context and content to the present day audience in such a way that they can swallow the text the way the 'church' understood it in their culture.
If Paul wrote the bible today he'd use terms about computers and internet and business and marketing to talk about life. He wouldn't use agriculture. If he used a sports illustration he'd probably use baseball or soccer instead of track and field. People miss the point of the text when they can't see past the illustrations of scripture.
Understanding where a text is coming from is HUGE for the person teaching it but for the listener who AT MAX will only hear 26 hours (1/2 hour for 52 Sundays) and for those investigating Christianity... they need to hear the heart of God. They need to understand the content more then the context.
My view is that most MDiv's have 2 years of a language (Greek/Hebrew)... If you think that the average person is going to pick up the language based on 26 hours a year of your sermons, you're nuts. It not only provides an unreal expectation (you lie to yourself), it produces a spiritual arrogance with tones that only compare to the pharaseical system of Christ's day. If you had to spend 3 hours a week in class plus 15 hours of week in study for 2 years to learn a language but you think you can teach it in 10 minute chunks of a message over the course of a year or two, you've lost your mind or you think pretty high of yourself... pick one.
So this brings me to my point:
When I hear "Deeper" used as a phrase among Christians I have several feelings on their attitude:
1. If you want to understand the language... go to Seminary.
2. Just because I learn Spanish (which I have) doesn't mean I've learned the culture and context. That's an insult.
3. Most Christians are spiritually fat and need to exercise their faith.
4. The "deepest" part of Christianity is that it's a faith where Jesus says "come to me as children"
5. Arrogance disguised as intelligence is still arrogance.
6. The lost are God's primary fixation, not 'depth'.
7. To make a phone call to my wife (show love), I don't need to know how the phone system works.
8. If you're so smart, teach someone something. Who are YOU discipling personally?
9. Do those who cry for deep teaching also cry for deep compassion, deep commitment, deep brokenness, deep sense of helplessness?
10. The Pharasees knew the OT pretty good too and they still mangaged to get is screwed up.
I think we've created an American Christianity that's self-consumed (understatement of the year). I see absolutely NO EXCUSE for a Christian [especially of more than 3 years in] not to be fully committed to reaching the lost with all of their being. Anything less to me is a mockery of our faith. Traditional or "Contemporary" it doesn't matter. If your life isn't beyond self and outward focused... You've missed the point.
The very beginning and continual core of our faith is "God I'm nothing without you." This is the beginning of salvation. We must teach people that it's not a trite phrase but really can only be reflected if your heart is changed by the power of the Holy Spirit. That initial encounter with God can only be followed by a heart that says "Jesus you are everything. All I have I owe to you and all I'll ever be is what you can make me. My life is meaningless apart from your glory revealed in it. I'm a sinner saved by grace through faith and nothing I can do (or know) makes that change. You are everything and I'm nothing so I want to give my life as a living sacrifice... I want my heart to line up with your heart and do your will."
I don't need to know Greek or Hebrew to love my neighbor or place every area of my life captive to your love and teachings. I can make every thought captive to you if the only language I know is my own."
I don't know about you but I'm done trying to cater to the 13-year Christians with pew-impressions in their rear-end. I want God to pour out his spirit on my community. I want him to start with me and overflow to everyone I meet. I want to be a part of a Christianity that has sore knees from meeting with God and dirt under our fingernails from our encounters with fellow man. Downloaded data that doesn't lead to a soul-satisfying life mission of outpouring is to me data that simply doesn't compute.
Okay, I'm a little freaked out but I totally buy into a future similar to this.
From Terry's blog: Take 8 minutes and check out this view of the future of media.
I recently read a book called "Future Shock" (on my list to the right) that puts this into perspective. It will happen.
Church Planters Speak up!
I'm speaking at a missions conference tomorrow night and I'm finishing up my thoughts tonight... I'm curious to hear from church planters...
"What would you want to say to a church who is curious about church planting?"
If there are thoughts I'm not planning on sharing, I'd be glad to consider anything.... What do you think an established church needs to hear about planting?
Today in our service I was surprised with an all-out Pastor appreciation moment. Our music leader (Calvin) asked me to 'trust him' and give him 7 minutes of our service. I said okay. Well, as I came up front to speak he stopped me and asked me to sit in a chair at the front of the room. He proceeds to invite several people to come up and read their prepared letters of appreciation. I was overwhelmed. After a couple of letters he broke into "Thank You" by Ray Boltz. As the song was ending about 25-30 people came up and stood around me when he came to:
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord.
He said, "My child look around you.
Great is your reward."
Okay, I lost it. I shed some tears. I held back most but I did have to wipe several from my eyes. As the song ended someone prayed for me.
I agree with Bob on the whole Pastor appreciation thing but I must be honest in saying that I did feel appreciated. I appreciate the people of this church for appreciating me. It took a while for me to gather my thoughts however because I wanted our people to see that serving God is not about those moments. I appreciate them (I honestly do) but I don't serve God for people to do that. I took a moment to share with our people that I hope they take away God and thank God for people who've come into their lives but ultimately all we can do is make ourselves available ... God is in the life-changing business... I'm not. I can't change lives.
Anyway... we started a Fellowship Church series (FIRST SERIES EVER WITH FELLOWSHIP STUFF) called "In The Zone" I'm doing a FC series because Ed did a terrific job explaining tithing a.k.a. "bringing". If I were to talk about it right now I'd probably drift toward the negative side. Ed created it from a positive "Be Blessable" side of things. Anyway.. the first message today went well with the Pastor Appreciation because it was all about "Receive and Reflect" God's Generosity... God is a generous God.
Anyway... God showed up today as always.... It was a good week.
There is NOTHING "deeper" than Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. There is NOTHING deeper than sharing God's grace and love with those who don't know Him. I'm sick of hearing anything else being trumpeted as 'deeper' teaching. Jesus' redemption of man for God's glory is as 'deep' as it gets.
I'll talk more about this later...
The Mistakes I've Made
Audio A has a song called 'Ocean Floor' that talks about forgiveness of sin. The beginning of the song says 'The Mistakes I've made'... That was going through my mind as I considered our first 18 months. I'm not as cool as Bob Franquiz (nor as patient) to do one a day for 30+ days so I'll just toss them as I recall them. Future church planters grab a notepad.
1. Raised more dinero before going public- Looking back, I would recommend that you not start unless you have some cash on hand. We had none and built up and everything we had came from tithes from our original core. Although that looks great considering church statistics... it felt like garbage. I wouldn't do it again. (I'm not saying not to start... I'm saying build up some cash before going public.) I've talked to some planters who've done this in some interesting ways.
2. I would have made it more difficult to start with us- We had people walk out after a few months. Because we didn't have the extra cash it hurt more than I'd admit. I've never curtailed to complainers but I can say it bugged me a little more than if we were secure. I would have made it more difficult for people to buy-in: if I did it again. Most people in the beginning who say they have your back, won't.
3. Built to critical mass- We didn't focus on a critical mass... we're still not quite there. Looking back I would want to put everything in getting our attendance up before turning to programs or other stuff.
4. Pushed the envelope with facility- We negotiated a very good price for our original space (a roller skating rink) but I should have pushed for better. Again, until we have critical mass we should have spent every penny possible on it.
5. Gone without an office- We took an office this July. Way too early! We have a beautiful space now but I want out. I'm actually currently working to get out of the space. It's terrific but again, where are our financial priorities? I've talked to far too many church planters who've made it much larger than us who didn't have office space. The Pastor at Forefront Church here in Virginia Beach told me the other day that for their first year or two they used another church. They used a small room tucked behind their baptistery. It was a little room with a telephone line and that was it. The rest of the time they met in coffee shops and living rooms. This church was running almost 700 at the time! We could save $12,000 a year (approximately) if we took a route like that. I'm looking at what 12k could do for outreach. In my first plant (as a YP) we went without offices and we were 320 at our 1 year anniversary although it's less expensive there than here...
6. Gone with my gut- Lately some of these things and some other stuff I've dealt with not on this list came by listening to others even when I had a gut feeling. The people who give you advice are doing the best they can. Even when you have great friends who want to see you succeed, they may nudge you to the best case scenario. It's still your fault if you go with it... but it's also your fault if you go against your gut. At least for me I'm finding that my gut (and brain) are pretty good. I need to trust them more.
I'm sure there are other mistakes and miscues... these are some that come to mind. At some point I'll post some things we've done well to get us to stability.
Change or Die
This week I've had some interesting ups and downs. All of them can be handled and none will become a disaster... but it's been an interesting week none-the-less. My friend Ben Arment has taken on the role of a sounding board as I've sought out out advice and opinion on some of these things. One of the things that Ben said was "Tally, what I appreciate about you is your ability to make course-corrections. Even if you've made a call, you're willing to recognize if something is not working. Many church plants die because the Pastor isn't willing to say 'That experiment didn't work'."
Based on Ben's observation, I offer this thought:
You must change or die.
Ben's absolutely right. Many church planters have a picture in their mind about what the church could look like. For some, that picture is 20,000 members but the planter hasn't got a clue how to start a church with 10 and build it to a hundred let alone a thousand.
Other planters only see a church of 100 and therefore spend most of their ministry lives 'building' to that number.
Both examples leave churches at dozens (usually transfer growth) instead of hundreds or thousands.
As a planter we have to see both the grand scheme of things as well as the immediate situation. As we make decisions we have to be willing to adapt to the circumstances. You'll have to get creative with staffing, budgeting, advertising, etc.
There are some non-negotiables (or core values) that will not change in your ministry but you should be open to adjusting when something doesn't work. Ed Young uses the phrase "Dismount a dead horse."
As planters we're naturally the entrepreneurial types. We think we know everything we'll need to know and we play a scenario in our minds about how great the process will be once we're in charge. That's great to think before you start but once you get going you'd better be willing to negotiate for the unexpected. There is a perfect tension that exists in planting. That tension is found between two realities: The reality of your preferred future and the reality of the current situation. It's your job as a leader to discern from God his "plan A" as Ben calls it.
I posted before: "Don't ask God to bless your plans, ask God for the plans He will bless."
Ben said something similar when he said "Our plan B is often God's plan A"
Anyway, leader... be willing to navigate. There is no cruise control in leadership. If you're asleep at the wheel or too prideful you will be sure to see your Titanic sunk.
(Thanks to Ben for many of the thoughts found here in this post)
Kick yourself for being improved
Recently the buzz from Catalyst came from several bloggers about the ideas that Andy Stanley shared about "New and Improved" in session 8. From what I gather Andy was talking about how we must constantly tweak and change ourselved to keep people moving and interested. Always improving.
Well, a couple of months ago my friend John came and visited one of our services. We had just moved from a skating rink to a local High School. The high school is way too big for us and we looked like a child wearing daddy's clothes (cute but certainly doesn't fit). I've been considering a soloution including a possible 3rd move to put us into a facility that better fit us. The concern is if that would actually be an improvement and what would it say to our people if we actually went to LESS space. Well, one suggestion John had was in how we're using the space and how people enter. We've been (at the school's recommendation) entering from the back half of the school because the school has gates tha come down from the ceiling to block of the majority of the school. Effectively we can gain access to a few classrooms, the 1400 seat auditorium and the common area that is the cafeteria.
Based on John's suggestion and my investigation... we found a set of doors that are near the main entrance but on our side of the gates. With the Custodial's okay we decided to move our setup to the other side of the cafeteria (open space) closer to the front of the building so we can bring our guests in at the front for a much nicer entrance.
This brings us to this past week. I pulled a few leaders aside and set the course for this week to be the week we change. Although there was small hesistation there quickly became the buy-in and we made it happen. It was a great move. Not only is the front entrance MUCH cleaner and more presentable but also the walk isn't as long for our guests to get to the service seating and the change gave us the opportunity to tap on some shoulders and say "Get in the game".
This was the best decision we could have made.
So now I have two feelings this Monday afternoon.
1. I'm glad we made the change... what else can I change?
2. I want to kick myself for not doing this sooner. I'm not just saying that... I find myself ticked off that we sat how we were for so long.
Have you ever felt frustrated after you realized that making a change was such a benefit?
Had a Good Morning
It's been a whle... I've missed you.
This morning was a pretty good morning for us. Although we had some regulars out, we had a few families who were our guests. In addition, I started a new series simply called "Trick or Treat". I'm using Halloween as an opportunity to talk about outreach.
Today we talked about how we have the greatest treat to give away (the gospel of Christ). We also talked about how we have a habit of only giving away to others the stuff we don't want (kinda like when you were a kid and gave your sister the junky candy).
I started off the message with a quote from Erwin McMannus
"The church is not FOR us or ABOUT us...
We ARE The CHURCH and WE ARE HERE FOR THE WORLD!"
Ultimately we had 4 people accept Christ. I'm always pumped to see God move.
After the great conference with Ed Young, I came home to my first wife. (my only wife)
After kissing her and saying hello to my son I had to go to the office for a leadership meeting. When I arrived at the office I notice a card inside of an envelope siting on my desk. The envelope has my name in the center with about 10 different titles around the outside: my friend, my love, father, etc.
My wife had given me a great gift to come home to... a reminder of her love. I thank God for my wife. She's amazing!
Friends I bumped into today:
Jason Williams- East Coast Church (Suffolk, VA-- car pooling friend)
Vince Antonucci- Forefront Church (Virginia Beach,VA)
Stuart Hodges- Waters Edge Church (Yorktown, VA)
I met in person Kevin Green and Allen Hurley from The Living Room (what a cool church name!) Jason and I sat down and started small talk with this couple (Allen and his wife). We ended up asking the basic "where are you from?" questions. I'm sure I shocked them when they said "The Living Room" and I dropped my chin. I didn't mean to lose my manners but I was delighted to meet them. I've admired them from afar over the last few years. They've quietly grown from 0 to 800 in 2 years and have remained unique in applying what they've learned from other churches to make it their own. The other thing that I love about them is their commitment to excellence in the communication of their vision. If you visit their site you'll see what I mean. Allen has done a fantastic job in growing their multi-media department. Kevin and his wife have cast a great vision.
Kevin Green, the Senior Pastor of The Living Room...(whom I later met personally) is the real deal.
In my first ministry we grew a plant from nothing to over 300 in year 1. I know what a "God Thing" feels like in the way of growth. When you can't explain what you "do" to get the growth... because God is doing everything!
Anyway, at that time I met a Pastor across town--who is now gaining national attention for church growth-- I don't have a favorable view of him because the first time I met him he basically brushed me off and said "You should come to a conference I'm giving" and effectively handed me a flyer. He then looked past me (obviously disinterested and rude) and moved on.
That disappointed me. Today Kevin and his team at the Living room impressed me very much. They were top notch in their sincerity and willingness to get to know me. They came across very down-to-earth and all about the Kingdom. Kevin even invited me to meet up with him next week as his team will be in our area for a conference. I'm going to take him up on that. I'm also going to get a Sunday away here in the next month or so and visit The Living Room.
Go visit their site. They're great people and they know what they're doing!
Faith Landmark Ministries hosted an old fashioned "Camp Meeting" where one of the guests was Ed Young from Fellowship. I'm not sure how, but I ended up on a list getting invited to one of Fellowship's Regional meetings. I looked up the location and discovered that he was speaking at so I grabed a friend and off we went.
The conference location was a little different for me. My church background hasn't included many pentecostal churches but I always enjoy worshipping with other brothers and sisters in Christ. The church rocked! They made opening the bible feel like kickoff at a football game complete with an air horn... the people did drum rolls on their bibles... it was cool.
Ed spoke what appeared to be a collage of messages from Authority Issues to Marriage, to Kid CEO, etc. He combined them well and I took plenty of notes.
This was likely my favorite part of the day. About 70-80 people around tables and Ed Young. I loved this. He spoke for a little while on "Why" questions... I have notes I may post at some point but basically he offered up 9 questions to create creative tension.... questions to make you think as you're acting creatively. It was good.
He moved on to Q&A.
This group was pretty good with questions. There weren't too many annoying "Stupid, why are you here?" type of questions... They were mostly informed and honest.
What I walked away from most was affirmation. Some things Ed said were note worthy (all of it is, I've just learned it from he and others by now)... but for the most part I felt a sense of "right on" in my own esteem. It was as if with each answer he gave I found myself knowing what to do in these situations. This may not be a big deal for some of you but as a leader I've had to learn to trust my copetance and have confidence. At times I can be confident outwardly but be unsure on the inside. This more casual "small group" with Ed allowed me to hear truth from someone who God is using in amazing ways... truths that I shouldn't back away from.
I had the opportunity to ask Ed about loyalty. Again, his answer was clear and straight forward... when crap hits the fan, look around. Whoever has your back in the midst of garbage are the people you want around. He was also honest and opened up about his own protection mechanisms in the ministry in dealing with those who want to attack. He said that he doesn't bare his soul or personal life to anyone but those in the ministry (his Pastor friends). This was another thing that affirmed my gut. As a Pastor we wrestle with how close we are. We have to realize that people are creatures of habit and we can't bare all to the back stabbers. We have to protect our families and our ministries from people who just want to get close to control or manipulate.
I loved this honesty and transparency.
You know what else I loved? Observing his interaction with his team. You can absolutely see loyalty and love in this team. He's not "Mr. Big stuff" to them... he's Ed... the guy we love, our Pastor, our friend, our boss... Ed. I love that.
I love that he brought 3 of his 4 kids and his wife on this trip.
I love that he shared his own stories during the talks and he was honest about sin and temptation.
I love that he's comfortable in his skin.
I love that he downplays himself even though he has 9,000 Pastors who pay to take part in his conferences and Fellowship Connection.
I love that "YJC" John Cross was with him. Again I saw YJC taking care of his friend. I saw much more than a 'staff'... I saw family. Pastors should look to gain that from Ed's example... not just CEO tips or how to get to a billion attendees....
I loved the small environment. Ed doesn't have to do these meetings. He especially doesn't have to do meetings of under 100 but he knows that people like me will appreciate it and God has called him to use his voice. I appreciate that about him.
I loved the fact that he didn't try to "push" Creative Pastors or Fellowship Connection on us. This was NOT a bait and switch. In fact, you need to know that YJC wrote on a piece of scrap paper the words "Creative Pastors" which Ed got at the end and said about 10 words about it. He understands that you don't have to talk about yourself for people to buy-in. Just be you.
I learned a ton from this meeting and most of which (as you may see) wasn't in what was said.
This morning I was a guest speaker at our state convention's board meeting. Effectively they are charged with the oversight and planning for the convention. As a church planter I was invited to share what God is doing in the life of our church. As I had just a few minutes I was forced to cut away the fat and find a story that captured the heart of Focal Point. I found such a story in the life of a military family (navy) who attends our church. He's now in
Who's in your bullpen?
Tonight during the 18 inning game between the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros I couldn't help but see future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens as an allegory to what I beleive we in the ministry covet most... loyal team players.
For those of you who do not follow baseball we're currently in the first series of the playoffs. The Braves were down 2 games to 1 going into tonight's game 4. If Houston wins, they move on... if the Braves win, the series goes to Atlanta for a final game to decide who moves on.
Clemens was scheduled to pitch tomorrow.
Tonight the game was tied 6-6 in the 15th inning (yes, baseball games normally only go to 9 innings) when Roger Clemens was brought in to HIT in place of the pitcher whom he was to relieve. Clemens did his job! He laid a great bunt to ADVANCE THE RUNNER. Clemens went to the plate to sacrafice his own ability to get on base (we need this in ministry). After advancing the runner you would have thought Clemens hit a home run by the way the crowd responded. Here was a 43 year old hall of fame pitcher coming into the game to take one for the team.
Immediately after advancing the runner, Clemens went into the dugout under the stadium to warm up to PITCH THE REST OF THE GAME! Clemens went on to get the Win when teammate Chris Burke hit a home run in the bottom of the 18th to win the game and take the series.
There were a lot of heroes for the Astros in this game but seeing Clemens' performance made me reflect and think about the types of people we need to be and we need to surround ourselves with. It truly takes a team. We need players who are great in their own right but have the confidence to also 'do what it takes'. We need people who get the vision and who act on the vision. We need people who will make the sacrafice to move runners along because they understand the game. Too often times churches become stagnant because arrogant ball players want to be a hero. Clemens came out of the dugout for the first time since 1984! This wasn't his position. He's not used to this. He's a starter... blah blah blah.
The fact is that Clemens wanted to help his team win the game. Yes he gets paid to play but I know his attitude and performance are a result of his love for the game and desire to help his team win in any way possible.
As an aside, the Astros moved much of their team around during the later innings of the game. A catcher played first, a shorstop played first, etc. It led me to believe that the Astros as a team truly believe in the team concept and all of them are willing to do what it takes to get the win.
With that being said... Who is in your bullpen? Do you have the players around you that you could call on if necessary? I'll accept annomous posts on this one :)
By the way, if you enjoy baseball annalogies Gary Lamb has a great breakdown of the connection between the Braves and the church.
I miss you Catalyst
Unfortunately I didn't get to get down to Catalyst this year. From what I understand I'm missing out on something huge. I'll pray my way through it.
With the advent of blogs and the fact that half of the Pastors on my bloglines are at Catalyst... I'm getting the cliff notes without the worship. I'll take what I can get at this point. I appreciate the guys who have been blogging thus far. It's interesting to see several different takes on the same speakers. Most of the bloggers are hitting some points but it's the emphasis that strikes me. Apparently Andy's message kicked some tail because guys are saying things like "I deserve NOTHING" and "you may compromise with success". Good stuff.
For the record Ben was on the brink of taking me down and I appreciate him for that. I'll look forward to joining everyone next year.
My wife and I drove up to Maryland today. We're here for a little relaxation and introducing our son to this side of the family. He met Great-Grandma tonight and his grandmother was all over him. His Aunts showed their love and his little cousin who turns two this weekend said hello. It will be a good few days before we head back home on Saturday night. These trips are needed and I'm hoping we get all we can from this one.
Eat for a good cause
Apparently there is a new organization called "Dine for America" which is encouraging restaurants who participate to contribute profits to the American Red Cross. Most restaurants are giving away 100% of profits all day, October 5th to support the Red Cross.
If you're planning on eating out this week why not go ahead and "Dine for America"
Go to DFA's site where they have a listing of all participating restaurants in your area along with how much they will contribute.
Serve your customers
You can slice it and dice it any way you wish, if you are a leader, you have customers. You have people who are looking to you to guide them.
Today I wasted 2 hours on the phone talking to computers. I called 4 different numbers and heard every form of phone music known to man. I became very angry (righteous of course) and will probably switch our telephone provider for the church office.
- Was I angry with the actual service? No. The service was fine. I reported a problem at noon and a tech guy was at our office by 3pm.
- Was I disrespected by the people I came in contact with? No. The lady who took my initial call quickly set up my appointment and the gentleman who came to check the lines was very kind.
So, What was the problem? I was passed around like a number.
Because I had to talk to computers instead of people, I felt abused and left to fend for myself. I did not get the impression that the company WANTED to earn my business.
In your church you have people who need to know you care. Some simple ways to ensure this happens:
1. Phones get answered by people!
I worked at a mega-church during college and never once when I called the church offices did I have to talk to a computer. I didn't have to guess an extension. A friendly voice answered and directed my call if I didn't have someone's direct line. If I did have a direct line, I got a secretary or the person I needed. No matter what, I got a person.
2. Everyone gets eye contact and a touch.
Two churches I've been to who do this great are Fellowship Church and Granger Community Church. They each do a terrific job of first impressions. If you attend church (especially at Granger) you WILL have someone acknowledge you. For those of us in smaller churches this IS a problem even among 200 people. At that size churches are just big enough for someone to go unnoticed. Be sure you have a plan for people to be in contact.
This post is not about those people who are greedy or extra-needy. It's about the average person in your church. The average guest from your community.
What are some other ways we can remind people that they are valued?
Music is important to many in our culture. One of the ways to begin to know a younger person is to ask them what type of music they are into. What bands do they like?
In church, we often end up defining our 'style' based primarily around the music elements.
Last week I asked our music team to take a break. This Sunday we only sang two songs and then "everyone became the band". We set up two mics at the front of the room and opened up for a time of testimony, prayer and praise. In essence our people began to worship God without music. They began to worship Him through the lives of each other.
One after another people from the church came forward and shared what God is doing in their lives. Some came up and asked for prayer and some came just to testify that God is good and that they are thankful. One man who was deployed this morning to the Middle East came forward and told how he heard about our church. He talked about how he knew about the church as a kid but didn't know about the personal relationship side. He said that he's thankful that his family is at Focal Point Church now because his wife and children can experience the church in action. To see a big strong navy guy get choked up while thanking God for our church was a powerful experience.
I could go on about each story but the biggest thing we received yesterday was the ability to worship. The ability of our church to be transparent through praise. The band's instruments were put aside for a week and the souls of our people became the instruments used to sing praise to our King.