This morning, I had my usual spot on Monday and Wednesday mornings. In a seat in chapel at North Greenville University. As with any institution that has chapel services, some services are better than others. This morning’s speaker was a guy named Dr. David Garrison. Don’t let the “Dr.” fool you. He was very in touch with his audience and with the message the Lord had laid on his heart. His text for the message was Habakkuk 1:5 “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” The stories of what God is doing in traditionally tough mission fields were incredible! God is doing amazing things around the world in ‘our days’ that seem to defy reason. Missionaries in muslim and hindu nations reporting hundreds of thousands of people accepting Jesus as their Lord and savior! I see God working here in the USA on a regular basis. We however usually don’t face being beaten or killed for our faith when we tell someone about Jesus. These men did face that, and GOD showed that HE isn’t scared! HE can overcome any obstacle! And HE is doing things that utterly amaze us! He is doing them in our day! And they are things that seem almost impossible! Praise the LORD!
Archive for the 'planting' Category
While I have read about churches with multiple campuses, this morning, my wife and I had our first experience with going to one. We decided to visit NewSpring Church‘s Greenville, SC campus. It meets in a convention center ballroom near the airport. Not exactly a residential neighborhood, nor is it super easy to find. With printed yahoo maps directions in hand, we ventured the trip. After missing an exit, and then turning the wrong direction on a road, we finally got there to find smiling faces and a very professional church! The music was done with excellence! The campus pastor, Howard Fritz, did a great job with intro and explaining with a mini lesson the importance of the tithe and offering. When the message time came, there were three large screens in the front with the message being projected that Perry Noble of the Anderson Campus was preaching. I had really wondered on my way there if this was going to be like getting together with a bunch of people to watch a sermon on someone’s bigscreen TV. But somehow, it wasn’t. For one thing, Pastor Noble did a great job of being aware of the other campuses. Having been to the Anderson Campus before, I had noticed that they often were giving directions to the other campuses, and it seemed a little odd…but then being on one of those “other” campuses, it suddenly made sense! At the altar call, I am not sure how many people stood to get saved, but it was at least 18! Then in a baptism service immediately following, there were about 80 people who got baptized! Those are the numbers that really mean something! I really don’t know how many were in attendance, but my first experience with an extension campus church was definitely a positive one. And, as a first time visitor in a large church where it would be easy to get lost in the crowd, someone invited my wife and I out to eat lunch with them! We accepted and had a great time over burgers at 5 Guys Burger getting to hang out with some great people! (If you are reading this Jason, Mary or John, thanks for making it a great day!) I learned that getting together with a bunch of people to watch TV can be a life altering experience for many. Keep up the great work NewSpring Greenville!
When you go to a restaurant, what makes you go back to one, and avoid another at all costs? There are some basics, like…the food. If you can’t stand the food, chances are, no matter how great everything else is, you won’t be frequenting that restaurant. A place with friendly courteous greeters is likely to not turn you off to them. Your server is probably a huge part of your decision to frequent that establishment again. Does she do the little things like make sure your glass doesn’t go empty? Does he warm the coffee mug for you before giving you coffee? Do you have to ask for silverware? Does your server clearly communicate your order to the cook in such a way that what you get is exactly what you ordered? So why write a restaurant service review on a page about church life, pastors and lay leaders?
When an unchurched person drives into your parking lot, are they warmly and courteously greeted? Are they helped to find a way to their seat or to check their kids into the nursery? Do people take the time to talk with them? Like the restaurant, even if the service is great, if the food isn’t they likely won’t come back. Pastors, music ministers, that is your part. Like the cook, you and your creative team cook up a service that will feed the hungry. I didn’t say that you should preach unbiblical fluff, just in case anyone tries to read that into it. I mean that each sermon should be prepared like it is the last one that God will allow you to preach. This worship time is the last time God will allow you to play your instrument or sing. There is a quote by Dave Ramsey about personal fincance, but it applies here too. “Pray like it all depends on God, work like it all depends on you.” It does all depend on God, yet somehow he doesn’t seem to like to bless laziness. “Go to the ant thou sluggard” comes to mind. Is your church a place where people want to come back? Or is it somewhere they tell their friends to avoid?
Is your church is a downhill slide? Have you not seen a salvation or a new member that wasn’t a child or grandchild of a member since Elvis was controversial? Is most of the tithe money in the church coming from pension checks or social security? Then you as a pastor or leader have some work to do! What can you do?
Option 1: Lay down and die. Soon, your church will literally die off, and the building can be sold once you can’t afford to keep the lights on anymore.
Option 2: Try something new…radically new! Change is hard! It is even harder when working with a congregation whose youngest member has been there longer than I have been alive. But change is better than dying off. I am not talking about compromising principles or changing the message of salvation. I am referring to the way that message is conveyed. I am also referring to your outreach programs, missions etc. Take a hard look at everything you do! What does your budget say about you? Are you spending more money on keeping the dead in the cemetary than you are on evangelism, children and youth?
Option 3: Find a church plant that is busting at the seams in a rented facility and invite them to come join with you. This will take some guts for both pastors! It falls under the really radically different category. You can’t expect them to follow the same path your church has been on for years…but remember that they are growing, and seeing people’s lives changed by the power of Jesus Christ! So maybe they are doing something right.
Other ways to get out of your rut are to read books that will challenge you in your ministry. Attend conferences. Get together with some other pastors..not to compare attendance numbers, but to encourage one another and share ideas. Never forget to get back to the basics of spending time in God’s Word every day! Beg God in prayer to give you a new vision for HIS church. Turn it over to HIM, if you have tried to take control…and remember, with God, ALL things are possible!
OK, so you have a church. What is its purpose? Who is it trying to reach? I know that all churches have some things in common. They at least should have in common that they are trying to reach people for Jesus Christ and disciple those people and most likely be a place of fellowship for believers. Beyond that, there are differences. Example: if you are trying to reach out to young urban professionals, would you really want to start your church in a barn or a rodeo arena? However, if your target is to reach cowboys, that might be the perfect place. Some things to keep in mind as you plant a church or redefine the church you have just started pastoring…or even just realized something needs to change because you have been in a downhill rut for years in the church you are a leader at.
1. Know what you are about. If you don’t have a passionate call from God to reach the people you are trying to reach, then why should they come to a laissez faire church? Like writing a blog, if the church doesn’t offer quality content, then there is to much competition for their time. They won’t waste it on a church just because it has a building and a sign out front.
2. Be proactive in evangelism. You can’t expect people to come through the doors of your church on their own. They need a reason to come. Some will occasionally come because they are family of the people already there, but to reach the rest of the community, it is important to go to them. There are thousands of ways to do that, but the important thing is that you are reaching out beyond the walls of the church.
3. Don’t rely on tradition to bring them in. This may just be a continuation of point 2, but just because peoples parents are from the Church of God of Methodibapticostal Episconazaratholic doesn’t mean that they will follow in those footsteps unless they have a reason to. This is also a point to look at what you are currently doing. Is your church doing X program because it is effectively helping you reach one of the goals of the church like reaching out to the community or discipling believers, or is X program in place just because as long as grandma has been there in that church that is the way it has been done?
4. Help your congregation find their passions. Most people have them they just need help focusing their passion. They need leadership, and that is where you as a pastor or church leader come in.
I hope this gave you a few ideas for kick starting your church if you were in a slump and if you are a church planter, my hat is off to you! Hope this helped you too.
Have you ever thought about planting a church? What does it take…other than everything you have and a bit more? God has allowed me to be part of a church that was a couple years old when I first attended. It is now a 4 1/2 year old church plant. The senior pastor is a visionary who is also quite ADD, I am much more conservative, structured…the rest of the staff is as different from each other as they are from us. We ALL have two common goals – to reach people with the love of Jesus Christ and to teach them to love others with the Love of Christ! Many would consider our church a “successful” church plant. It wasn’t accomplished by finding a bunch of people who were exactly like the church planter. (If it were, I would not have been allowed to even attend, much less end up on staff.)If you are considering planting a church, this is one small point among many to keep in mind. As you start staffing even if that is unpaid lay staff, find someone who has strengths in your weaknesses. My wife often laughs that 1/2 the staff here are ADD or ADHD and the other half are uber-organized number-crunching nerds….you can guess which category I fall into. That is a good thing! Guess what, if I were the “front man” for the church…it wouldn’t look anything like it does, and I must admit, it would probably be much more boring to many. I am not the super get excited kind of person. Those people are needed! Calm, cool and collected doesn’t inspire people unless there are guns involved. Passion does! I thank the Lord that he let me be a part of such a diverse bunch every day! Have fun with your church plant! We need more of them! Until everyone on the planet can claim to have been presented with the gospel and have made a choice to accept Jesus or reject Him, we still have a lot of work to do!
I know I already posted today, but I was reading my friend Travis’blog and he mentioned a site developed by Cody Thomas that helps churches get rid of stuff that they have outgrown and helps church plants get stuff free/cheap that they really need. The site is called Missioneeds If you are a church pastor that has a closet full of cool stuff that a church plant could use, but you have upgraded to the newest and best, then check out Cody’s site!
Is marketing a bad term when it comes to the church? I don’t think so. It does depend on what we are marketing. Are we trying to just make a big name for ourselves, or are we making a big name for Jesus? If the former is true, then you may as well just join any club and make a name for yourself. If the latter is true, then we should be shouting from the rooftops that Jesus is Lord! Advertising and Marketing can be as simple as telling a friend about Jesus over coffee. No matter how technologically advanced our world gets, it still takes one on one interaction with people most of the time to lead someone to Jesus! If computers could do it, the whole world would have been won for Christ by now. We must be His marketers here on earth. As we go and make disciples we are helping people become more like Christ. That makes Christian our brand name, our tribe, our corporate identity. Have fun marketing!
If you have followed my blog, you know that I teach Spanish at North Greenville University. Today, as I took attendance, my question of the day, translated back into English for the reading audience,was “What has God been doing in your church?” I was amazed to hear all the testimonies from the students! God has been busy, and so have God’s people! Sometimes it is easy to get focused on our own ministry, our own church, our own community. It was refreshing to hear what God was doing in all sizes of churches and communities represented by the 100+ students that answered the question. HE is helping poor hispanics, people hit by hurricanes, planting new churches, growing youth groups, growing college groups, healing hurts, helping the homeless, starting house churches, adding home groups,sending out mission teams, adding prayer teams, bringing in new pastors, reaching out to communities and much much more! I must say that today’s question of the day was quite a blessing to me, and I think to the other students in the classes as well! It was a great reminder that we serve an AWESOME GOD!!!
Got back from the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta yesterday, but this is the first chance I have had to sit down and write. It was an awesome time! If you are a pastor or business leader who would like to get new ideas on how to be a better leader from a Godly perspective, then I encourage you to register for next year’s conference! There were great speakers like Craig Groeschel and Andy Stanley but even better was that I was surrounded by 12,500 church and business leaders in the seats. I enjoyed the breaks getting to talk to people about their own ministries and what God was doing in their church or business. At one point while talking with two men, one from a church of thousands and another getting ready to plant a church, just as the break was about over, we had an incredible time of prayer together praying for the guy who was planting a church. We were from different states, but we were all in one accord in our prayer. God is doing amazing things in our world! It was neat to hear many of the stories of what he is doing!