Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Driscoll on Growing Your Church

Here's a good reminder for existing churches on how to grow your churches influence in the lives of more people by Mark Driscoll, Lead Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. In it he is referring to "new branches" as people who are new converts or visitors and "old branches" as existing or seasoned members and attenders. The illustration breaks down if you take it too far, but as usual, his thoughts are helpful, especially for pastors who tend to get distracted by managing existing people and problems. One main take away is that it's important to give a portion of our ministry time to build relationships with people who don't know Christ or are newly growing in Him. 
Leave room in your schedule to meet with new people and new converts. When you meet folks ask them where they live and if they are at another church just visiting or considering your church. Don’t meet with folks who live elsewhere or are in another church. Do meet with folks in your area who are new to your church. Don’t hand off the visitor assimilation so far down the food chain that you don’t know the new branches and fruit. If you want, tell folks from the front where you will be after church and that you want to meet the new people and give them a gift of a free book. Tell everyone else where to go for prayer and to connect with the old branches. You go somewhere else. Welcome new folks joyfully, have a gift, and get their information then so you can follow up. Even if you close 1 family a Sunday you grow by a few hundred in a year. And, new people bring new people. if you are feeling real crazy, do a monthly new people dessert meet the pastor and his wife in your home. Larry Osborne still does this at 8000 and gets to scout new leaders and people firsthand so he keeps doing it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Meaning Behind Harry Potter

This video isn't new. It was released by Jerram Barrs at Covenant Seminary in 2011; however, it has new meaning to me because last night my family just finished the Harry Potter series with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We'd held off this long because the younger kids weren't quite ready for it at Christmas.

What was so satisfying, beyond viewing the final movie in this series, was following it up with the 6 minute video by Jerram where he unpacks his observations regarding the Christian symbolism within. In light of the popularity of this movie series, we'd be remiss to not see the platform it presents for the Gospel as we discuss with with our friends and acquaintances.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Why Millenials are Leaving the Church

Though there must be Biblical practices and convictions that never change in our churches, there are a myriad of practices and strategies that should often change as we seek to contextualize our message to the culture in which we live. This is why I find Rachel Held Evans recent interview on so interesting. Though I don't agree with some of her theological or social perspectives, in this article she shares some interesting thoughts regarding why millennials (I believe this age range includes those in their 20-30s) are leaving the church. As a pastor in a church that is largely millennial, many of her statements are consistent with what I've observed. Below is a portion of the article and you can read the entire thing here
But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances. In fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular. Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions – Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. – precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance. We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against. We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers. We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.... We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Three Things That Will Kill Your Church Plant in the First Year

A good post sent to me by Zach Nielsen from Michael Lukaszewski on some basic land mines every church planter should try to avoid including...
  1. Launching too many ministries
  2. Being sidetracked by difficult people
  3. Working in it, not on it
For the full post, go here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Do Numbers Matter?

In this blog post my colleague Zach Nielsen features a couple opposing views on the value of numerics in churches. This is an issue that deserves a balanced perspective, especially when church leaders and denominations base their success and strategies on numeric growth... an important yet not always helpful measure of success.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Church Planting Churches Flourish

Jeffrey C. Farmers Ph.D. dissertation, "Church Planting Sponsorship" at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 2007 found that over 300 churches who sponsored church plants flourished in the wake of their commitment. In the first five years after beginning a planting sponsorship worship attendance increased 22%, financial giving increased 48%, and designations toward areas such as foreign missions increased 77%.

Bottom line, healthy and growing churches are committed to multiplying churches!

Monday, July 08, 2013

Best Financial Tools for Church Planters: Online Bookkeeping

In my continuing series on Best Financial Tools for Church Planters I am focusing on online book keeping. There are a lot of different options for church's to track finances and I am far from an expert in that regard. I do, however, have experience at managing finances for a church plant and speaking to other church planters who have had similar responsibilities.

The most popular option for bookkeeping has been Quickbooks Online. Below are some reasons this is a good choice for a church planter.
  • You can access your books from any computer at any time. 
  • There is more accountability because numerous users can access the books
  • You will no longer need to run files back and forth to your bookkeeper or accountant
  • You can take advantage of all the powerful features Quickbooks offers like syncing with your bank, managing payroll, printing checks, etc...
  • You can synchronize your account categories with expense tracking programs like Expensify, which was featured in the last post
Below is a recent video review that reviews Quickbooks Online in more detail.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

New EFCA Mission and Vision

Over the last few days the Evangelical Free Church of America unveiled a new mission and vision statement. The mission statement was minimally tweaked (transformational for healthy) and the vision is something new.

The EFCA exists to glorify God by multiplying transformational churches among all people. 
We are praying that God would grant us one million disciplemakers impacting one hundred million people with the gospel along with one hundred million people with the gospel along with one hundred Acts 19 locations globally where the gospel is transforming whole cities and regions rather than simply a neighborhood. 
What little I've heard about the Acts 19 strategy involves an effort of ReachGlobal (the global missions arm) to saturate key global cities with a focused infusion of people and resources for the sake of generating city-wide movements that trigger kingdom expansion in entire regions. It will be interesting to see where this all leads in the days and years to come.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Beasts, Yet Cowards

Thanks to Joe Thorn for this great summary post of last weeks Acts 29 Lead Pastor's retreat. I was equally moved and convicted by these words Matt shared.
During the final message of the retreat, Matt Chandler made a statement regarding our evangelistic and gospel presence in the community as pastors. These words were burned into my heart as soon as he spoke them, and they have been echoing in me ever since. Matt said, "A beast in the pulpit, but a coward in the neighborhood is not a win!"

It is generally easier to be courageous on Sunday mornings with the people of God, yet cowardly among the lost during the rest of the week. Gospel boldness is almost effortless among those who already affirm it, but it can be far more difficult when we must stand before others and herald the good news they find foolish. "A beast in the pulpit, but a coward in the neighborhood is not a win." Truth. Let me also say it this way, "Woe is me if I am bold among the people of God, but timid among the lost."
(HT: Joe Thorn)

Monday, July 01, 2013

Don't Waste Your Holiday

Wow, this is good. How not to waste the 4th of July....
So don’t cheapen this Independence Day by simply making it about burgers and beer. Dare to discuss the realities of sacrifice, self-denial and honor. Plant seeds about the cost of freedom in the hearts of your sons and daughters. Consider how you might use the opportunity to help your children think about the grace we enjoy as a country. Pray for those who do not enjoy the gift of freedom. How can this day serve as a conversation starter with those you celebrate with? Help your family to dream a little bigger and expect a little more.
(HT: Josh Patterson

Healthy Churches Reproduce

Some good food for thought from the book Viral Churches,
The healthiest churches are those who reproduce, according to a national research project called FACT2008. Among Protestant congregations surveyed, those whose leadership spent the most time recruiting and training other leaders were the healthiest. Similar results came from leaders who promoted a clear vision and emphasized evangelism. The massive survey factored in results from more than 2,000 randomly selected Protestant congregations.
From the book Viral Churches by Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird.