Yesterday, I had a chance to see just a little bit of what the party in heaven must be like when someone comes to the Lord! NewSpring Church had a 10th anniversary celebration at the BiLo Center in Greenville, SC. Just being able to praise an ALL POWERFUL GOD along with 15,000 or so other people was incredible. The great thing was the altar call…over 350 people came forward to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior! The service was about 2 1/2 hours long and could have gone longer! During the altar call people clapped and cheered for those who were laying their lives down to let Christ take control of their destiny! For 15 minutes, 15,000 people were in unison praying for those down by the stage. For 15 minutes, there were no problems, no divorces, no debt, no tax issues, no kid problems or parent problems! For 15 minutes of Glory, people stood and cheered for the ALMIGHTY GOD who was GREAT enough to reach down and save not only those who walked forward but each of us who were cheering as well. We are ALL broken vessels saved by a LOVING GOD who cared enough to make a way for us to find HIM through HIS SON JESUS CHRIST! That was 15 minutes of GLORY!
Archive for the 'ministry' Category
As a church leader, what are you shooting for? Do you want God? Or do you want Hype? Those who have been around the church world for a short time will soon recognize that there are pastors and leaders who are so full of God’s Holy Spirit that it is part of their DNA. God oozes from their pores! Then there are those who are full of Hype. They have lots of energy and do really cool stuff and get crowds excited, but that is where it ends. Our God changes lives! If there is no fruit evidence that He is working in people’s lives, then we can conclude that He isn’t working in their life. God changes people! Does that mean that all Christians change and grow equally…of course not. It does mean however that if someone is mean as a snake, but they claim to have been saved 20 years ago, then they probably don’t understand that being “saved” isn’t just a get out of hell free card; it means that God has control of your life and He WILL change it if He is truly given control. If you are a leader and questioning this post…good. I am too. Am I full of God, or full of Hype? I pray that everything I do will be full of God, directed by His Holy Spirit, and done for HIS glory! When pride gets in the way, it is easly to be full of Hype though. Especially when things are going well! Take inventory of yourself and your ministry. The good news is, if you find you and it are full of Hype rather than being full of God, HE is willing and able to help you change that! Just ask HIM!
Casper (my wife) and I went to a new church this week. So I thought I would give a quick analysis again as I did last week. Again, my hope is that as a pastor or church leader, you will take the time as you read through these comments to reflect on your own church and if there are ideas that could help you improve.
Facilities: This church meets in a converted warehouse or garage, not sure what it was originally. They have done a magnificent job of making the inside feel very homey. Nothing was over-done churchy, but it said clearly that they care about the facilities.
1. Order of service – They start with a 1/2 hour of “Fellowship” and it is exactly that. They had donuts, coffee etc. Tables and chairs in the lobby of the church. It was a casual time for people to meet and greet. As a visitor, it was natural. No one seemed to be on a “meet the visitor committee”, but people came over, introduced themselves and talked a bit. As we shared donuts and watched children run around it was a great way to break the ice. Then at 10:30 sharp, they began the worship service.
2. Music – The music was a mixture of praise and worship music from the 80′s, 90′s and new stuff. I must say, though it is a personal preference call, I really liked this. More importantly, it was well done. The band was simply a keyboard and drummer. The music was lead by three ladies.
3. Preaching – The casual yet passionate delivery style of the sermon was great. I was reminded of how the Jews marveled at the way the disciples spoke with authority even though they were local guys with little formal education. While this pastor has obviously been to college and perhaps seminary, it was a familiarity with the faith of which he spoke that touched me.
4. A self awareness of calling – There were obvious signs, comments etc. that said that this church feels a call to the local community and also the world outside the Pickens/Greenville area.
Negatives:(I am really short on negatives here…thoroughly enjoyed the service.)
1. Youth hanging out in front of the doors were not greeting people…they were getting griped at by a lady in the church as we walked up. One of them did hand us a bulletin though.
2. Two of the three ladies leading worship seemed to really enjoy doing so, and the passion they sang with was contagious, however, the third one looked bored out of her scull. I am hoping she was just having a bad week.
That is it for today. Hope you had a great morning in whatever church you attend this week!
So you are a church leader or pastor; What is the goal that God has given you for the ministry you are over? Are you just marking time til you can “move up” to a bigger church or a position with more clout? God tells us in Matthew 6:33 to ” seek first HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” If we don’t take the time in prayer to seek out God’s plan for our area of ministry, then we will NEVER be all that HE intended for us to be. Not all ministries are created equal, yet God created each of us perfectly to fulfill our part in HIS plan. If we try to add our plan into the mix, it usually results in failure and at very best mediocrity. Following HIS plan may not always bring us happiness, but it will fill us with Joy! It may not bring us money, but we will be rich! It may not bring us a huge following, but we will be leading people to follow HIM, which is much more important! Seek God first in all that you do and find HIS goal before starting on your goal.
How do we integrate great ideas like permission marketing into the church. First, what is permission marketing. I don’t claim to be the expert on the subject. (For expert, click here) Basically though, permission marketing says that we must earn a person’s trust before marketing a product to them. The days of just blaring out a message through television, radio and print media are waning quickly. In the church, this seems to be doubly true. Just standing on the street corner shouting to random people that they are going to hell is unlikely to cause sinners to fall in love with Jesus. (There are times for confrontational evangelism, but that is another post all together.) Most of the time, a person is brought to the Lord because a believer showed interest in them as a person first. Once we care about the person and they realize that we are there for them whether or not they accept our “product” then they are much more willing to listen. Jesus as our example in this style of witnessing, He met with sinners in their homes. He cared about us enough to die on the cross for us even before we decided to accept Him as our savior. (Not jumping into the predestination argument here.) He cared about us…we must care about others first! That way, we earn the right to share with them the greatest product endorsement ever!
This last weekend, I had the chance to go to a small country church with my wife and my parents. It was a different denomination than I usually attend, and a church of about 40-50 while the church I had been serving at is a church of 600-700. Needless to say there were differences. Some of the differences were good, while others were things the church could work on. I am going to write up my observations so that hopefully if you are a pastor or church leader you can evaluate your own church a little.
1. Age of the congregation: There were people of all ages! This may seem like a silly thing to point out, but the presence of teens and young adults in a rather traditional style church says that they are doing something right! There was an energy that is brought out by having youth yet it wasn’t all young people. There were those there who have the luxury of wisdom as well.
2. The preaching: Well planned and based on scripture. It was a clear message that people could apply to their lives. (Based on dealing with trouble in our lives. Used a passage from Job and supporting scripture from both old and new testaments.)
3. They shake up traditions a bit: If anyone knows this church, they will figure it out from this point. The denomination they belong to is known for being traditionalists, however, they changed up the order of service. That may seem like a small thing, but it is working for their community. They have Worship service first, then Sunday school, then lunch and then the second service…so there is no evening service. That is quite radical for that denomination, so I am applauding them.
4. The warmth of the church: The people were quite friendly once we got inside. (See Negatives). They prayed for each other’s needs in a very real way! During the “meet and greet” time, while most churches I have been in simply shake a few hands and sit down, at this church it was about a 15 minute time of fellowship among the people. Most of the church came to greet us…that last part can be both a positive and a negative, but it was obvious that this church had a real sense of community among the members.
1. Entering the church – Here was one of the areas where they needed help. The only one to welcome us was the mat in front of the door that clearly said “Welcome” on it. Upon entering the foyer of the church, the bulletins were laid out neatly on a table, yet there was no one there to show us where to go. We made our way into the sanctuary and sat down in a pew. (Yes, I did actually hear someone say, “Sorry sister __________ those people are sitting in your seat.”)
2. Music – Music is an opinion thing. Here I am not referring to contemporary or singing from the hymnal. They sang from a hymnal and that is fine. There seemed to be a disconnect at times in the rhythm between the piano player and the young man leading the singing. All in all though I enjoyed praising the Lord with this group!
3. Visitor treatment: We were very much pointed out. I heard people say, “I am going over to greet the visitors”. I am a fairly outgoing person who likes to meet new people. My wife is not. She absolutely hated everyone coming over and introducing themselves to her and asking questions. Not all visitors are created equal. Some just want to come in and enjoy the service without being singled out until they are more comfortable with the congregation. (Side note, those who just spontaneously greeted her before or after the service aren’t the problem, it was those making a point of meeting “the visitors” during the meet and greet time.) I admit this is a picky point and possibly one of personal preference, but if your church notices that visitors are coming, but not coming back, you might want to look at reasons why that might be the case.
Finally, It was wonderful to worship with a great group of believers! I look forward to seeing them in heaven and even here on earth should our paths cross again.
Pastors and Lay leaders, do you use technology for your ministry? If you are reading this, then you at very least read some blogs for ideas to help you out or to get encouragement from. How about social networking? Do you use Myspace, Facebook, Twitter…? What good are these mediums? Part of the answer to that question lies in the target demographic of your ministry. If the average person in your congregation and in the group you are attempting to reach still jumps on a chair when someone refers to a “mouse” then there is probably little gain to be achieved from using any web based social networking…stick to the potluck dinners. However, if you are a leader in a church with a slightly more computer literate society in mind, then you might be wondering how you can make this work.
WARNING! Social networking online cannot replace social networking in real life! You must still meet people in person where they are in the air breathing part of the planet.
That said, it can be a great tool for keeping up with your people. Many pastors find great success in blogging to let the people in their congregation know what is on their hearts and minds. Parishioners appreciate this very open and transparent view into their pastor’s heart. Sites like Facebook, which have traditionally been great for youth pastors or pastors of churches with a very young demographic is now fair game for anyone pastoring or leading any age ministry. A good many of my “facebook friends” are people I know in real life who are in their 60′s and 70′s. The fastest growing group of users for facebook and twitter is in the over 35 group.
There is no perfect way to use the site. It can be used as much or as little as you and your staff have time for. Facebook can be a great way to send out notices of upcoming events! It is sort of like micro-permission marketing in that anyone receiving the invite is someone who has chosen to be your “friend”. Have fun and experiment with the different tools that are out there. Having a power driver doesn’t mean you throw away all your screwdrivers, it just gives you another option. In the same way, using Facebook, Myspace or Twitter, shouldn’t replace your traditional networking skills, but should be used to enhance them. Have fun!
There is a term that has taken off in the marketing world. “Viral Marketing” It is what happens when something becomes popular and is passed around by customers rather than being advertized by the corporation’s dollar. My workstudy has a video clip of a Nascar race that he posted on youtube. It has had thousands of hits…even though there is nothing special about the video. We as believers in Jesus Christ have the most incredible story ever written! Shouldn’t we be putting together video clips that will become “viral marketing” tools for Jesus? lifechurch.tv has done a great job of this, but they are one church in Oklahoma! Think what would happen if churches around the world would join hands with them in what they are doing to change the world for Jesus Christ. (I have no affiliation with lifechurch.tv or Craig Groeschel other than that I enjoy the videos they produce.) Can your creative team make a video that will be viewed over a million times on Youtube? Consider that a challenge!
Yesterday in our staff meeting, there was a lively discussion about getting word to the congregation about various ministries in the church. It really comes down to how much pulpit time the senior pastor wants to give an individual ministry. As I began to reflect on the meeting, I began to think, (((Are we trying to do to much?))) We always say that things should be done with excellence! In my experience if we multi-task in to many directions, none of them actually gets done with excellence. After a quick outline of our ministry areas, I saw the problem. We have at least 10 areas of ministry! (In a 5 year old church of about 600). It might make people mad, but it could be that one of the very best things that could be done is to axe one, two, three or more of the ministries so that we can focus more time, money and energy on those areas that we do with excellence! I haven’t read Jim Collin’s book Good to Great, but I remember hearing him speak about it, and it seems that was one of the points of the book. (Forgive me if I am wrong Jim!…and I do plan to read your book someday…just haven’t gotten to it yet.) Just looking at the title though. If we just want to be a “good” church and do things “good” then we are fine. But if we strive to be a “great” church! Then excellence and greatness must be our standard, not good and ok.
Today I have a great honor! I get to go speak at Home with a Heart! It is always great to go speak with these guys! Michael Campbell, who is the editor of our local paper, The Pickens County Courier is going with me. It is always great to get to hang out with him. Those aren’t the reasons I am excited though. Sometimes, as a guy who doesn’t get to preach much, when the occasion comes up, I feel like I have to rush to get something, anything put together to be able to share with a group of people. Today is different. God put something in my heart especially for today and I am excited to be able to share it! Can’t wait! Have an awesome day!