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CHURCH PLANTING

2018 Excel Planters: The Klumper Family

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2018 Excel Planters: The Klumper Family

The Table Church

The Klump Family in Seaside, Oregon

In 2016, Andy and Ashlee Klumper moved to Seaside, Oregon with their kids Rikelle (12), Lydia (10), Kennadee (8), and Jobee (5) to launch The Table Church. The vision for The Table Church is to restore health and hope in their community by following Jesus. Andy says, “My hope is for our community to find their way, by way of Christ – allowing Him to heal, redeem, restore, and revive every area of life.” 

Two years into their plant, they partnered with Excel Leadership Network in 2018 to gain access to support and heart-care. Andy says, “We are so empowered by the heart of Excel, and my wife and I are thankful to be a part of God’s great work.”

Here are a few ways you can pray for this church plant in Seaside and the Klumper family:

-      For their family to continue to steer the course and not “substitute the  the good for the great”

-      For their health and strength as a family

-      For their family to continue to grow their roots deep down into scripture and God’s leading

 

To send a note of encouragement to the Klumper  family, email AndyKlumper@live.com

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HOW TO ASSEMBLE A LEADERSHIP TEAM

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HOW TO ASSEMBLE A LEADERSHIP TEAM

One of the common issues church planters face is when and how to assemble a church leadership team. 

The church plant needs some sort of leadership team as it emerges beyond the planter calling all the shots.  But, since it is new, the warning in the Bible must be heard:  “Never be in a hurry about appointing a church leader.”--1 Timothy 5:22 (NLT)

I have observed and unfortunately personally experienced a good deal of pain in watching new churches try to maneuver the first steps of church life with leadership teams. 

In our first church plant one of the most supportive people in our church seemed to change dramatically the moment he became an “elder.”  The “power” may have gone to his head and he turned sour.  When the youth pastor’s daughter beat up this leader’s son (maybe he had it coming!) it became even more ugly.  Anyway, I had to push him to resign and it was not a pleasant time. 

In our second plant, one leader lost his job and spiraled into a seemingly temporary insanity.  Marriage, family and relational problems ensued and he refused to step down from leadership nicely.  I had to redo our whole leadership structure to get him off the team.

Both of those situations caused me great grief, but more importantly, they caused our plants to get a bit off task. 

I wish my experience was rare.  But it happens in many, if not most, church plants.  Someone on the team tries to take over the church, triangulate conflict, or just cause problems.  This seems to be a common strategy of our spiritual enemy.  He goes after the planter’s marriage first, and if that doesn’t work, the leadership team becomes the prime target.

So what’s a new church to do?

Here’s a strategy from my friend Tom Nebel that really works:  Implement multiple leadership team phases before a formal board is chosen.

The idea is to have short, clear time frame and purposeful teams with a clear “changing-of-the-guard” built in at the end.

In our third plant we started with a small “First Preview Leadership Team.”  The function of that team was to help us make wise decisions and to get us to and through our first preview service.  Then we progressed to a “Launch Leadership Team” that led us to launch.  We launched at Easter so we moved to a “Summer Advisory Team” that helped us maneuver the summer.  Then we had a “Grand Opening Leadership Team” that got us through our Grand Opening.  We moved to a one-year “Transitional Advisory Group”--our “Tag Team” that served for a year, and we renewed it for another year.  For years we’ve had a “Vision Alignment Team”--our VAT Team that keeps us on mission.  And now we are moving to an “ABC Team”--a leadership team that provides Advice, Brakes and Crisis management.

We intentionally avoid church-sounding names in our leadership teams.  That term “Elder” seems to come with a lot of baggage these days.  I’m not sure it communicates its Biblical meaning of servant leadership.  We don’t use “Deacon” or “Presbyter” either for similar reasons.

The clear ending time for the team is key.  Early on we purposely had team members who we knew had to leave after the time ram was finished--church planting inters, for example.  The shorter term of service seems to reinforce a servant attitude and it provides a natural opportunity to move folks off the team who don’t fit.

This approach also allowed us to use leaders from outside the church.  In our second plant, we moved to this approach and had two leaders from other churches serve as advisors for a couple years.  Their fresh eyes helped us immensely.

The multi-phase approach doesn’t eliminate leadership friction.  We have had to move people off of our leadership team without their full acceptance.  But it provides a natural opportunity and makes those tough conversations a little bit easier.

The Bible tells us that when it comes to leaders:  “They must first be tested…”--1 Timothy 3:10 (NLT)  This multi-phase approach gives new churches an opportunity to do just that.

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TWO VERSIONS OF DODGER STADIUM

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TWO VERSIONS OF DODGER STADIUM

A few years ago I jumped at an opportunity to do something I hadn’t done before, or since:  I attended Dodger Stadium two nights in a row.  The Dodgers were hosting the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  One night I went and sat in the lower section—field level, the other night I sat much higher up in in the fourth level.  It soon became apparent that there are actually two versions, two variations, two varieties of Dodger Stadium.

The lower level is predictable, unchanging and safe.  It’s the same now as it was in 1962 when the Angels played there.  The upper level is unpredictable, constantly changing and even a bit dangerous.  Nothing is like it was in 1962.

With lower level tickets, you tend to get “Preferred Parking.”  Everything is laid out neatly, you bypass the traffic, park close and follow the clear signs to your section.  Upper level seats tend to come with, “General” parking.  General is a Latin word that means, “In a different county.”  The parking space is typically further away from the stadium than the freeway off ramp, you have to walk up 142 steps, unless you can find the escalator which is especially designed to be moving the opposite direction than the direction you want to go.  It seems like down is up, and up is down.   Nothing is neatly laid out.  Most folks seem pretty confused.

On the lower level they warn you gently about batted balls being hit into the stands.  On the upper level they do not warn you about anything.  If you are wearing the garb of another team, you will be heckled.  If you wear a Giants or Padres cap, you might be beaten—so you better be on the alert at all times.

On the lower level, it’s the same people every time—season ticket holders.  Everyone feels privileged because they paid good money—big money--for the experience.  In the upper levels, it’s a different crowd every time, nothing belongs to you, so you just might feel disenfranchised.  And chances are somebody gave you the ticket.

In the lower level, everyone looks the same.  In the upper level, diversity reigns.

In the lower level everything is in English.  One orders a “Dodger Dog” and a Blue Moon, which comes with the orange slice.  In the upper level, not much is in English.  There’s a good amount of Spanish and other languages that are difficult to decipher.  In the upper level your order nachos, the Vietnamese rice bowl with peanut sauce or the latest tuna poke bowl.

In the lower level, you watch the game.  In the upper level, you watch the crowd.

In the lower level, the bathrooms are spotless and clearly marked.  Pleasant bathroom attendants make you feel special.  In the upper deck you are not sure which bathroom to use, so you just hold it.

In the lower field level you can see everything.  In the upper level you are fortunate if you can see the sky.

In the lower level it appears that there are no broken people.  In the upper level, most people are broken.

In the lower level, the values are universal, and Christianity is the dominant culture.  In the upper level, there are competing values and Christianity means little.

When it comes to the church planting world, when it comes to ministry and spiritual leadership, we no longer live in a lower level environment.  Christian leaders must recognize that the world has changed and is changing. 

Consultant Bill Easum says, “It’s not a ‘National Park’ world any more, it’s a ‘Jungle’ out there.” 

It’s not 1962, it’s 2017.  Unless we are flexible, nimble and alert, we may end up with an experience that is negative for everyone.

One last contrast:  In the lower level, you can go alone.  In the upper level, you probably won’t make it if you are on your own.

That’s why Excel Leadership Network exists.

We exist to help.  When I sat in the lower level, I showed up by myself and met some people there.  When I sat in the upper deck, I had my wise nephew—one who attends dozens of games each year—accompany me.

At Excel our philosophy of ministry comes from Acts 13.  The church in Antioch was enjoying its lower-level status when the Holy Spirit spoke, “Set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work I have for them.”—Acts 13:2 (NIV)

The church kept fasting and praying and sent the two church planters out into an upper-deck world. 

And they supported them.  As leaders, the world may be changing, unpredictable and even confusing.  But if we support each other, we can have a great time and make a big impact.

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WELL WORTH THE PRICE

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WELL WORTH THE PRICE

Our twin 10-month-old grandsons were over a couple weeks ago.  I was spinning Cole in a living room chair while his brother, Jordan watched.  When I stopped the swirling, Cole crawled to the side of the chair and I moved into a position to catch him if he slipped.  Suddenly Cole inexplicably dove off of the chair like a skydiver.  I awkwardly lunged and caught him by his left foot just before his head would have hit the ground.  Cole was fine, but the maneuver strained my right hamstring muscle.  That warm warning in the back of my leg turned to a shooting pain when I tried to regain my balance.  I handed Cole off to his father and fell back on the couch in distress. 

 

As I lay there grabbing the back of my aching hamstring, I noticed my grandsons playing happily with their dad.  I suspected Cole had no idea that I was hurting.  Those twin boys knew nothing about the sacrifices their parents have made since they came along—the personal time commitments, the new financial obligations, the lack of sleep, the trips to the store to pick up diapers, ointment, plus other various and sundry baby items—not to mention the agony of childbirth.  I doubted the boys had any clue to the expenses their parents incurred by uprooting their lives in southern California to move north—closer to family, including both sets of grandparents.

 

Speaking of grandparents, Jordan and Cole have no understanding that grandparents pay a price too. 

 

Allan Frome said, “Being grandparents sufficiently removes us from the responsibilities so that we can be friends.”

 

And Robert Brault added, “To become a grandparent is to enjoy one of the few pleasures in life for which the consequences have already been paid.”

 

Both Frome and Brault are way off.  Yes, grand-parenting is… well, it is grand.  But there is a responsibility and a cost to grand-parenting.  That day I was feeling it in the back of my leg.  Typically I feel the pain a little bit higher—in the wallet.

 

Someone said being a grandfather is like being a left-handed relief pitching specialist.  You don’t have to pitch the entire game, you just come out of the bullpen every so often and pitch to a batter or two.  I love coming into the game to help my kids with their kids.  But there is a cost.  I limped around for a couple weeks, and I was okay with that, each twinge reminded me of the blessings and privileges I have in my family.  But it does hurt.

 

Similarly, parenting a church—being the mother church who sends out people and money to get a new work started--carries a cost.  Grand-parenting a church—acting as the sending agency or denominational group the helps a church to get started—carries some costs too.  Reproduction is expensive, for everyone involved.

 

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed.  They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him.  What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.—Acts 20:35-38 (NIV)

 

Often church planters miss this.  As church entrepreneurs we can get so caught up in playing our game that we don’t realize the sacrifice that others before us paid, or are paying, or continue to pay.  We expect the money and support to come like a child expects his parents to meet his or her needs, unaware of the sacrifice.  Those involved in helping to start churches are glad to do it, and do not expect any accolades.  But let’s not forget that reproduction is expensive, costly, even painful, but very well worth it.

 

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.—Psalm 126:5 (NIV)

 

Jordan and Cole were over again the other day.  It was their parent’s anniversary so we had the boys overnight.  Cole must like me because he insisted on getting up before the crack of dawn to spend time with me.  It cost me sleep and warmth and the comfort of my bed.  Changing his diaper was no fun.  But being part of his life, of new life, of a new generation is way well worth the price.

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Marketing:Do or Don't?

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Marketing:Do or Don't?

Church marketing has fallen on hard times lately.  In a wise attempt to become more “missional” many churches have unwisely neglected many “attractional” strategies.  Some pastors boldly proclaim, “We do not advertise at our church!”  When I hear that I like to ask if they use church signs or have a website.  Anyway, let’s consider Jesus’ both/and approach.

 “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests.  At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’  But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.”--Luke 14:16-23

Jesus encouraged getting out in the community and inviting friends, family and those we “do life” with to consider Christianity.  But he was also realistic in suggesting this type of approach isn’t always exceptionally effective.

“For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.”

—John 4:4 (ESV)

Perhaps the biggest problem with only inviting those we live in community with is it doesn’t always work. 

So Jesus suggests that we widen our target to include those we often overlook:  the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame:  “the least, the last and the lost.”

But Jesus’ goal is for his house to be full, so he tells us to go to the highways and byways.  He wants us to get the word out to people we don’t even know and compel them to check out Jesus’ party.  Sounds like a Biblical basis for marketing.

"Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God's good news to one and all.”—Mark 16:15 (TMV)

Here’s the point, let’s not throw out advertising our church because it’s not cool.  I admit that many churches in the 80’s and 90’s did away with serving their community and perhaps even relied solely on gimmicks and slickness, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.  The “baby” is using everything we can to influence people for Jesus.

So consider advertising again.  And when you do, here are some other things to consider.

1.  Churches that aren’t advertising aren’t growing.

“The most overlooked factor in church growth:  The only way to see significant increases in growth is to create dramatic increases in awareness.” Michael Johnson

“Publicity can be terrible. But only if you don't have any.” Jane Russell

The churches in our network that are having the most impact are the churches that are putting time, effort and money into some sort of marketing.

 

2.  Pick a marketing medium you can live with.

Just about every type of marketing medium works—somewhere.  Direct mail, radio, TV, Facebook ads, people standing on the street corner spinning directional signs, telemarketing, even writing the church website on the back window of cars—they all work.  So, find out what works in your area. 

But in addition to that, find something you are comfortable with. 

My friend Dave Page admitted, “When we decided to advertise for the new church I decided I did not want to use any kind of advertising that I personally don’t like. Maybe you don’t like direct mail.  Great.  Find something you do like and use it.  Maybe telemarketing turns your stomach.  Don’t do it, but do something else. Last week a young church planter told me that hearing this principle of using advertising tools he felt good about was one of the most freeing things in his ministry.  You are free to use whatever you like, but use something.  Get the word out.

 

3.  Don’t shoot too small.

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." Thomas A. Edison

The "law of large numbers" refers to the principle that the probability of any possible event (someone responding to an advertisement) occurring increases with the number of events in the series.

You ask a girl for a date and she tells you she can’t because she has to wash her hair.  Do you give up completely on dating then?  Do you let one girl with dirty hair stop you from pursuing relationships?  I hope not.  But too many pastors try one, usually feeble, attempt at advertising and announce that it doesn’t work.

Try at least a 30,000 piece mailing.  If you only have 5,000 homes to mail to, blast them all six times then.  Try primetime with radio spots.  Spend some money on each bid for your Facebook ads…which leads us to the next remark:

 

4.  Spend some money on marketing

Good publicity doesn’t cost, it pays.

“If you only spend nickels and dimes on advertising you’ll only get nickel and dime results.” Rick Warren

“If you can afford to advertise, you don't need to.” Norman Ralph Augustine

 

5.  Keep at it. 

Marketing is never finished.

We will always be tempted to drop going to the highways and byways from our priority lists, but we need to keep getting the word out.

“Step one: Get the message out. Xerox introduced the first copier in 1959. As you can imagine there were tons of publicity about it. Eventually, the newsworthiness of the copier subsides. So what is Xerox going to do to stay on top? Step two: It will begin to advertise. This process can produce an automatic leader in a category and give birth to a new brand.  Application in the church: You have just finished building a new facility. You have invited numerous local dignitaries and press people to help you celebrate the opening. The event is all over the news. Now what? Advertise. The media got your message out; now you have to reinforce it through advertising. This is something you must do or you lose any momentum the publicity provided you. All the noise you have generated is going to reap benefits, one of which is it will make the community aware of your church.” Steve Davenport, branding expert

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TOP TEN ISSUES THAT ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU MIGHT THINK:

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TOP TEN ISSUES THAT ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU MIGHT THINK:

Two recent conversations sparked this article.  One was a conversation our church staff was having about the music ministry at church.  It was a conversation similar to one I’ve been involved with dozens of time over the years—how to work with musicians and the like.  As we hashed things out, one of our staff concluded, “Why do we put so much time and effort into the music thing anyway?”

 

I concluded, “Some things are more important than you might think…”

 

The second conversation was with a potential church planter who was sharing a vision of a house church with me.  He talked about doing away with music, and preaching and buildings, and just being a “New Testament” organic church.  Then he asked me what I thought.  I responded, “Do you really want to know what I think?  “Yes,” he said.  “Really?” I insisted.  Then I told him that in the last fifteen years I’d talked with at least a hundred guys who shared a similar philosophy of ministry.  And I added, “I don’t know any of those “churches” that lasted even a year, and I don’t know any of those guys who are still in ministry. 

 

I told him that I actually agreed that his philosophy was Biblical.  But it didn’t make sense culturally.  Then we discussed the men of Issachar from 1 Chronicles: 

 

“…from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do…”

--1 Chronicles 12:32 (NIV)

 

These were men who understood God, but they also understood their times.  They knew God and they knew their culture.  We’re called to minister with a Bible in one hand, and an iPad in the other—we need to understand our culture.  Some things in our culture are more important than they actually should be.

 

So, I started to put together a list of those things.  I’ve shared this list at four church planter clusters recently, and here’s an updated list of some of the things that might not be super important Biblically, but they are culturally:

 

1.  Music

 

David assigned the following men to lead the music at the house of the Lord after the Ark was placed there.  They ministered with music at the Tabernacle until Solomon built the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. They carried out their work, following all the regulations handed down to them.—1 Chronicles 6:31-32 (NLT)

 

Music is important in the Bible, and we’ll have music in heaven.  But in our culture, it is way more important than we might think. 

 

I my first church plant we started with a Junior High girl “pianist” accompanying our singing.  She is now a missionary, but she’s never been a good musician.  We’d get ahead of her and have to wait for her to catch up.  Then she’d get ahead of us and we’d have to sing faster to meet her notes.  It was awful, but I didn’t care.  It was only music.  Then I opened my eyes (and ears) and realized how critical music is in our culture.  We don’t put up with bad music.  There’s only three places where we even tolerate bad music—grade school programs, beginner recitals and karaoke.   

 

Music has to be great, and everyone has their opinion about what is great.  We all think that the music on our iPods is “classical.”  The top television shows in our culture are all about music:  “American Idol”, “The Voice”, “Dancing with the Stars”, “Family Guys”  (Just kidding about that last one—or am I!?)

 

Music is crucial.

 

2.  Facilities

 

Then Solomon began to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem…--2 Chronicles 3:1 (NLT)

 

Something in us equates spirituality with a building.  It happened to Solomon and it still happens today.

 

When people say they are “going to church” they mean a building.  I know Biblically the church isn’t a building—it is people!  But culturally we have to understand how essential facilities are.

 

3.  Location

 

Jesus replied, “Believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth…--John 4:21-23 (NIV)

 

Jesus says location isn’t very important.  But we have to understand our culture isn’t there yet.

 

Rick Warren recently admitted, “The dirty little secret to church growth is location, location, location.”

 

One church planter who has experienced his church being kicked out of their building by the city says a drop in attendance followed:  “Based on regular conversations with groups of people that are not currently attending we believe attendance will at least double shortly after returning to our original location.  The responses we hear are either "the area is too rough", "the building makes me feel anxious" or "this place is just not home" all followed with a statement about attending regularly again once we reopen our original location.  This covers 95% of the people we talk to that are not attending regularly now.”

 

4.  Critical Mass

 

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”—Matthew 18:20 (NIV)

 

Jesus says that where two or three are gathered, he is there!  But if we only have two or three people in our church, visitors will not feel comfortable coming in, let alone coming back.

 

Facilities that are uncomfortably empty communicate that nothing is happening.

 

At the Catalyst West Conference last year Andy Stanley got off on a tangent talking about hiring preacher’s kids.  “Preacher’s kids just get it,” he said.  “After a great service, some people will says, ‘The Spirit was moving today.’  But a preacher’s kid will correct them, “Not really, the room was just full.”

 

There is something culturally important about a room that feels full.

 

5.  Expectations

 

For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.—Isaiah 64:3 (NIV)

 

The number one reason why church plants fail, according to Ed Stetzer is “unrealistic expectations by the church planter.”

 

We need to manage our expectations.  But it is tremendously difficult.  The Bible tells us to expect the best, expect tribulation, expect a future and a hope, expect the people will want to kill us, and expect God to come thorough—unexpectedly. 

 

We need to constantly communicate that we’re expecting great things while at the same time we need to constantly communicate that we’re not caught off guard by the latest curve ball our church is facing.

 

6.  Money

 

“Whoever can be trusted with a little thing can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with a little thing will also be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?—Luke 16:10-12 (NIV)

 

Jesus says money is a little thing, it is worldly—it won’t be in heaven, it isn’t true riches and it isn’t even ours anyway.  So it’s not that important. 

 

But culturally it is essential.  If we can’t deal effectively with money, we will never be able to effectively minister in our society.

 

7.  Team

 

Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.  And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.  Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors.  He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three.—2 Samuel 23:20-23 (NIV)

 

Benaiah was pretty close to a super hero—but he didn’t even make David’s first string!  No wonder David was so successful—he had great teammates around him.

 

We can’t do it alone.  Just ask Kobe Bryant.  He can lead the league in scoring, but if Dwight Howard keeps missing free throws in crunch time, Kobe’s team is sunk.

 

8.  Dress

 

Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in.  If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,”  have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?—James 2:2-4 (NIV)

 

James says what we wear really doesn’t matter.  But what we wear communicates to our culture that we either understand our target group, or we don’t. 

 

What people wear on the platform, and what our greeters wear speaks volumes in our society.  We need to understand the times.

 

9.  Technology.

 

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.-- 1 Corinthians 1:27

 

Paul says the latest and greatest is generally foolish.

 

But if we ask twenty-somethings in our culture to turn off their cellphones, we are asking then to cut off what they believe to be their lifeline. 

 

10.  Tell me what I missed.

 

I’m sure there are plenty of other things that are more important thanks we might think.  Feel free to let me know at JDPearring@gmail.com

 

The men of Issachar understood the times.  We need to imitate them.  I’m not advocating imitating our culture.  I understand the Bible admonition to, ”Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within…”—Romans 12:1-2 (Phillips)

 

But we have to understand where people are, if we’re to meet them where they are and help them progress to where God wants them to be.

 

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YOU JUST MIGHT BE A CHURCH PLANTER…

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YOU JUST MIGHT BE A CHURCH PLANTER…

The Excel Leadership Network seeks to support church planters and leaders for the work God has for them (Acts 13:1-2).  And one of our key support strategies is our Discovery Center.  We strive to help leaders discover if the lead position in a church plant is a good fit for their next step of ministry. 

 

The Discovery Center is designed to help leaders discern if they are wired for planting.  The center will include:

 

Multiple Advisers.

Proverbs 24 tells us that “many advisers” are needed to engage in spiritual warfare.  The Discovery Center staff consists of experienced assessors who know how to assist ministers in transition as they explore church planting.  I’ve personally assessed over one thousand potential church planting couples over the last 25 years.  In addition quality counselors, administrators and directors have agreed to help us at Excel as we work toward offering the best assessment product.

 

Multiple Days.

The Discovery Center takes place over 3+ days so that staff and candidates have ample time to consider the best fit for ministry.

 

Multiple Exercises.

Candidates participate in a wide array of exercises, interviews and instructions so they can look at themselves from different viewpoints.

 

Multiple Tools.

The Discovery event will utilize several testing tools, such as the Gallup StrenghtsFinder instrument, the Golden version of the Myers-Briggs type indicator and the DISC test in helping candidates clearly understand their wiring.

 

Multiple Tracks

At Excel we offer the Discovery Center to church planters, campus pastors, missionaries and those looking for a ministry tune-up.  It’s a great event for all in ministry.

 

Multiple Outcomes.

Candidates will be given thorough feedback from the Discovery Center staff regarding next steps in ministry.  Those suited for church planting will be pointed toward the next steps and support systems within the Excel Leadership Network.  Those who seem best suited for other ministry endeavors will be steered toward some specific exploration paths such as pursuing the lead pastor of an existing church, an associate role, a campus pastor position, missionary work, team roles or other leadership opportunities--we want to help leaders discover their best fit.

 

Multiple Opportunities.

Excel offers the Discovery Center all throughout the year, in several areas of the country and North America.  The next one will take place July 1-4 in Havana, Cuba.  Plus these upcoming dates in 2015:

 

July Discovery Center 20-23 Sacramento

September Discovery Center 21-24 Cincinnati

October Discovery Center Kansas City

November Discovery Center 10-13 Alabama

 

We’re excited about supporting leaders and planters through our Discovery Centers.  If you are thinking about church planting as a possibility for your next step, or if you know someone who just might turn out to be a church planter, contact the Excel Network Assessment Specialist, Rachel Kihlthau at rk.globetrekker @gmail.com.   If you’d like to serve in a Discovery Center as a staff member, feel free to contact me at JD@ExcelLeadershipNetwork.com.

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FINDING FACILITIES

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FINDING FACILITIES

The facility issue may be more important than we expected.   In my years of church planting, here are some of the places we’ve met for church:

A Day Care Center

A Junior Achievement Building

The YMCA (It’s fun to meet at the…)

A School Performing Arts Theater

A Community Center

Several Movie Theaters

The Town Hall

Rented Church Buildings

A High School and a Middle School

A Hotel

Restaurants

Outside (Under a canopy)

 

I’ve been surprised at how important facilities are in our culture.  People associate stability, permanence, credibility and even a sense of peace (or a lack thereof) with a church’s facility.

 

SEVEN QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT A FACILITY:

 

1.  Is it appropriate?

 

Is it appropriate emotionally? 

 

When we arrived in Elk Grove to start a new church we were approached with an offer to use a beautiful, comfortable , brand new 300-seat auditorium - for free!  We turned it down, because the offer was from a local funeral home.  The building wouldn’t work emotionally for us.

Schools can be a nice meeting place, but don’t expect an elementary school to attract middle-school or high-school students--most will see it as an emotional step backward.

 

Is it appropriate geographically?

This was a huge issue with our church plant in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The town we were planting in, Benicia, was situated with a great view of the Bay.  But the water also served as a giant natural barrier - the majority of folks would simply not cross a bridge any more often than they had to.  Geography was huge.

 

Is it appropriate visually?

A friend of mine once admitted, “You can always tell a church is with the denomination I grew up in - look for the largest eyesore of a building in town - that will be ours.”

People like to go into attractive buildings.  I heard a radio announcer recently talking about the difference in attendance between the San Francisco Giants (strong) and the Oakland A’s (weak).  He said it was as simple as the ballparks:  “Switch the stadiums and you’ll switch the attendance.  The Giant’s Park is a work of art, the A’s stadium is a pit.”

Perhaps a little paint, a little Round-Up and a little elbow grease can make a big difference here, but looks do matter when it comes to buildings.

 

2.  Is it visible?

When someone giving me directions uses that dreaded phrase, “You can’t miss it.”  I immediately respond.  “Yes, I can!”  Believe me, I can miss it.  I can drive around it three times and not see it.  If you’ve been in the car with me, you’ve missed it too.  I can print out the MapQuest directions, have a Garman in one hand and my cellphone Google Map lady talking from the other hand and I can still miss it.  It’s a gift!

When we were meeting at a hotel, a friend stopped in town on a Saturday night and decided to try to find our church.  He said he couldn’t find it - he looked all over.  I asked him where he stayed that night - he stayed at the same hotel where we met!  He walked right past the ballrooms, the suites, and the boardrooms where our church was meeting.

If the place where your church is meeting is not on a main drag, then move it to a main drag!

If that isn’t possible, advertising can help.  Here’s a follow-up question:  Can our lack of visibility be overcome with marketing?

 

3.  Is it accessible?

A friend of mine had started a church that met at (or is it “on”?) the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA.  Yes it is a visible structure!  I tried attending there once.  I couldn’t do it.  I pulled up, got the parking ticket, saw the vast parking lot, looked at the time and…drove away.  It was way too intimidating for me - and I’m a pastor, planter, church leader.  Getting to church was like battling through an obstacle course.

All sorts of obstacles hinder people--going against natural traffic patterns (like going the opposite direction across a bridge), stretching typical trip times (this obviously varies for different areas) and poor signage.

The best meeting places are easy to find and have a clear sense of openness - the building is an invitation to come in.

 

4.  Is it comfortable?

Comfort-ability was not an issue in church facilities before the Reformation, but longer sermons and services brought the need for pews (what’s with that name?) and kneelers.  They were actually attempts at helping people on their spiritual journey.  Comfort is even more important in our culture today.

But not just physical comfort.  Emotional comfort is incredibly significant--the feel of the room can be a major factor.

I’ve been to the Staples Center twice: 

Once for a Los Angeles Clippers basketball game.  It was mostly empty, had a dungeon feel, and I didn’t make eye-contact with any of the ushers because I thought they might ask me to help clean up. 

My other visit was for an NBA Finals game between the Lakers and the Celtics.

It was wall-to-wall people, and when the Celtics won it seemed that half of New England showed up to rub it in.  Both experiences were quite extreme and very uncomfortable.

Crowd experts suggest we shoot for an in-between feel:  comfortably empty, or even better:  comfortably full. 

80% capacity is uncomfortable and will hinder growth.  I’m not sure of the percentages on uncomfortably empty, but you will know too empty when you feel it, so dress down the room, bring in curtains and PVC pipe, have ushers add chairs as the room fills up.  Make it feel comfortable.

 

5.  Is it affordable?

Can we afford this facility?

When it comes to church facilities I always look for one thing:  a miracle.   In our first plant the YMCA had never allowed a church to meet there (doesn’t the “C” stand for “Christian”?)  When they relented, it was a miracle.  Then a rich lady bought us a building.  In our second plant I was looking for a miracle.  One of our launch team members said that if we met in a school he would pay for the entire first year - a miracle!   Our third church plant is now buying a building and our contract has a confidentially clause.  The bank we’re purchasing from does not want us to tell anyone the great deal we got on it.  That’s what I’m looking for - a miracle.

 

6.  How is the parking?

Is it insufficient?  Then maybe it won’t work.  We have limited parking on our new property but have worked our reciprocal parking agreements with the shopping center next door and the library up the street.

Is it adequate?  Adequate means “not enough!”

Is it ample?  That’s what to shoot for.

Is there surplus parking for big days?

Is there too much parking?

We once met at a high school that had over a ton of parking spaces in front of our church entrance--the school built surplus parking for the football stadium.   It was a downer.  People would have to drive by hundreds and hundreds of empty spaces to come to church--the parking lot was uncomfortably empty--even though our meeting room was full.  That parking factor was big in our decision to move.

7.  Is it available?

Maybe your ideal meeting facility isn’t available right now.  Keep asking!  It took many asks, a steak dinner and lots of prayer to get the YMCA to allow us to meet there.  It took a large donation to the Math department to get the Vice Principle (also a Math teacher) to let us meet at a local high school.  It took repeated work to get the theaters to open up.  And it took four giving campaigns to get into a position to buy a building.

And keep up the relationship!  The number one reason I’ve seen for good facilities not open for churches:  a bad experience with a church meeting there in the past.  If we are renting, let’s work hard to keep landlords happy.

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THE PREVIEW

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THE PREVIEW

For many years new churches have launched using a “preview” strategy.  The idea is to use the movie industry idea of the test screening, or sneak preview--giving a glimpse of what is to come.  Most new churches now hold a series of preview services as they move toward a launch.

 

Previews are an effective approach because:

  Previews are easier to execute than a full-service, full-time presentation--a planter might even be able to borrow personnel to make a preview happen. 

  Previews serve to give folks a foretaste of what this new church might look like. 

  Previews tend to stretch the launch team’s vision.

  Previews provide quick feedback on what changes need to be made as the church progresses toward every Sunday public services.

  Previews can help gain additional buzz for the new entity.

 

But the effectiveness of preview method isn’t limited to church launches.  At the church I serve we’ve used previews in many scenarios:

 

Going to two services

One of the most difficult growth steps in church life is when a church moves from a single service to two.  In the first two church plants I led, this move was almost traumatic for a lot of folks.  The usual complaints of, “we’ll not get to see everybody” and “it’s too much work” fought hard against outreach.    But in our third plant this move went smoother because we used a preview approach--just like when we launched.  We picked typical high attendance Sundays and did a preview of two services.  The transition went very well.  People saw that we had the resources to could pull it off, and some even realized that if they wanted to see everyone, all they had to do was stick around for both services--serving in one and attending another.

 

Adding additional services

When we moved from two to three services, we used the same preview approach.  Easing people in made it easier.

 

Determining service times

One of the issues we faced with holding three Sunday morning services had to do with service times.  The preview method allowed us to try a host of different service time options without getting stuck.  We discovered that an 8:30/9:45/11am schedule was by far the best for us. 

 

Moving venues

Our church has moved a lot--so much so that we realize how tough a move can be--but the preview option has lessened the blow.  When we were meeting in a school and a hotel opened up right near property we were in the process of buying, we thought about a move.  But what would it be like to meet in a hotel?  We did a preview.  We picked a holiday Sunday--Memorial Day weekend and did “A Holiday Sunday at the Holiday Inn.”  That preview helped us--and the hotel--realize what needed to take place to make a move happen.  Later when we moved to a theater complex that had recently reversed its opposition to holding church services, we were able to give it a try with a preview.  We also held several preview services outside on land we were considering purchasing --like I said, we’ve moved a lot!

 

Going to multi-site

As we consider moving toward a multi-site ministry--one church in more than one location--we’ve used the preview approach.   We enlisted a potential leader to gather a group, multiply to a gathering, then move to “party” and “services” stages.  At our first preview we recognized some major issues and realized we are not ready yet.  The preview saved us from a myriad of problems.

 

Changing formats

When we moved to using a “Big Idea” teaching method on Sundays, we introduced the concept (the children, youth and adults using the same teaching and one central main idea) through a preview approach. 

 

We’ve made other changes by previewing the change first.

 

I like how leadership expert Warren Bennis puts it:  “Innovation by definition will not be accepted at first.  It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization.  This requires courageous patience.”

 

Bennis is on to it regarding change, resistance, testing and patience.

 

One caveat:  I’m not sure “endless demonstrations” is the answer.  For new churches there is a shelf-life to the preview phase:  two previews might not be enough, six might be too many.   Leaders need to read this carefully.   I enjoy a few previews while waiting for a show to start, but there have been occasions when I thought, “Hey, when are we going to get to the feature presentation?”

 

But the use of previews can make a big difference in implementing something new.  Actually this article might be a preview of a better one later!

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NAME THAT CHURCH PARTY:

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NAME THAT CHURCH PARTY:

One of the biggest opportunities that I see many church planters miss is the “Name That Church Party.”  Planters do not necessarily miss on naming their new church--as much as they do in using the naming experience for outreach.

 

During the gathering stage of planting most leaders struggle with getting people together.  Let’s face it, an “Information meeting” doesn’t sound that attractive.  “Launch team meeting” or “Core Group Get Together” are not much more tempting titles either.     

 

One event that tends to bring folks out is the “Name That Church Party”--people who are not necessarily interested in spiritual things can be persuaded to help with a name.  The more we can publicize and invite folks (and it is easier to invite people to a “Name That Church Party” than to an “Information Meeting”) the better the event will be.

 

The Name That Church parties I have led usually started with pizza or snacks, and an informal time of connecting.  Then we’d do some sort of basic introductions, a quick vision of the church and launch into brainstorming.

 

People need to be reminded that with brainstorming, there are no bad ideas.  We would use “Post-It” notes, write down every idea that was suggested and put the notes on a wall or a huge whiteboard (for one party we bought a 4 by 8 white board from Home Depot for a few dollars.  It fell off the car on the ride home, so we went back and bought another one!)  Every idea is posted in the brainstorming time.  I remember “Church-in-the-Box” and even “Jack-in-the-Church” being suggested.  Usually getting 100-120 possible names is fairly easy to do.

 

The next step is to whittle the ideas down to a workable number.  Having each person vote on his or her top three usually gets the list down to a dozen or so.  Further voting and discussing is used to pare the number down to 4-6.  Those top four to six names will go on the “Name That Church Survey.”  

 

The “Name That Church Survey” is fairly simple.  Just a few questions:

 

1.      Based on name alone, which of these do you like best for a new church in town?

2.      Do you regularly attend a church in town?

3.     Would you like the results of this survey?

4.     Can we have your name, email, phone… (this serves as a great contact list!)

 

Everyone at the party is asked to take a few dozen surveys and use them with their friends, co-workers, family…A follow up meeting is scheduled 1-3 weeks out where the results of the survey are gathered, reported and the name is announced.

 

So, those who came to the “Name That Church Party” are immediately invested in the new church, they are actually put to work, and expected to come back for the follow up--it’s a great outreach tool.

 

Plus the survey is one of the easiest conversation starters ever.  I used it with every server in every restaurant I went into--I did this for several months.  (We used the survey for months after we named our church just because it was such a great conversation starter and a great way to gather a list of interested people.)

 

The survey also helped us get to know the area.  When we started a church in Benicia, a waterfront town in the Bay Area of Northern California, the favorite name of the launch team was Bay View Church.  When we did the survey we discovered that a church with that name had failed a few years earlier and it left a bitter feeling with some folks in the area.  We learned that a company called Bay View had just laid-off quite a few local workers and it wasn’t a positive label.  The top answer to our survey was “New Harbor Community Church.”  Folks commented on the harbor term as a safe place (being from Southern California I thought of the Harbor Freeway and lots of traffic, so it wasn’t my favorite) over and over again.  Also, the term “Community” kept coming up as a real positive for that town.  We were surprised at the survey, but the choice was obvious.

 

I know that many planters feel almost married to a name.  “God gave me ‘Solomon’s Couch” as the name for this church!” they insist.  Fine, we have learned from our national elections that it is possible to ask people to vote even if we’ve already decided the outcome.   I encourage planters to use the party and the survey for outreach, but if they want to count or not count “hanging chads” to make sure their choice wins, they can do that.

 

I also recommend reading the book, “Hello, My Name Is Awesome” by Alexandra Watkins before the final determination on a name is made.

 

But the outreach possibilities with using a “Name That Church Party” and “Name That Church Survey” are huge--don’t miss out.

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WHY ARE WE INVESTING IN CHURCH PLANTING?

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WHY ARE WE INVESTING IN CHURCH PLANTING?

I want to raise a question today:  why church planting?  Why are we spending time, energy and effort investing in church planting?  Why do we in the Excel Leadership Network emphasize church planting so much?  There are plenty of internal needs to be dealt with so why church planting?

 

For an answer to that why question I’d like to turn to Acts chapter 13.  Our whole Church Planting philosophy and Excel strategies come from Acts 13.  We’re about setting apart and supporting high level leaders. But that passage also tells us why we must continue to devote ourselves to outreach and planting:

 

In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul…

 

Let me pause here to say what an awesome church they had in Antioch.  This was arguably the best church ever.  Seriously.  The church started in Jerusalem, but Acts 11 tells us that the Antioch church put Christianity on the map. 

 

The disciples were first called “Christians in Antioch.”—Acts 11:26 (NASV)

 

It was an incredible church.  Can you imagine being in a church where Barnabas was the lead dog.  That church was great before Barnabas got there, but can you imagine how encouraging that congregation must have been.  Can you imagine the giving campaigns they had in Antioch?  Dave?  It was a generous church—Barnabas was the leader and he came on the scene in Acts 4 because he sold land and gave all the money to God’s work.

 

The Antioch church was the first multi-cultural church.  Before Christianity was a Jews-only deal.  But the Antioch church changed all that—they welcomed Gentiles.  And there was Simeon who was nicknamed Niger, which means “black.”  Lucius was from Cyrene, which is in Lybia, Africa—maybe he was one of the founders of the church in Acts 11.  And Manaen, who was Herod’s foster brother.  Josephus has some amazing things to say about Manaen, and I suspect he had some interesting stories.

 

Then there was Saul, soon to be Paul.  Can you imagine being in a church where the Apostle Paul was on staff?  This was the church where Paul did his internship—can you imagine the excitement in that church.  It was growing like crazy, things were happening, everybody was hearing about it and they must have felt like staying together forever. 

 

But God says:

 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

 

It’s a great church, but God says, “Send off Barnabas and Saul to plant some churches.”  We’re not going to even think about becoming inward-focused.  Set apart and support these guys for planting.

 

And so they did.

 

So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.—Acts 13:1-3 (NIV)

 

So, why church planting?

 

Church Planting is God’s primary strategy for kingdom expansion.

 

Peter Wagner says church planting is the most effective tool for evangelism.  And Acts 13 says it is God’s primary strategy for kingdom expansion.  Find leaders, train them up, then send them off to plant.  It is the primary strategy for expanding God’s kingdom.

 

As I read the book of acts I only see three models for expansion.  There’s the Jerusalem method in Acts 8; the Antioch method in Acts 13; and the Corinthians method in Acts 18.

 

In Acts 8 we see the Jerusalem method for expansion:

 

A great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.—Acts 8:1 (NIV)

 

Persecution is one strategy for church reproduction.  Scattering because of suffering really works for outreach.  Look at China or Cuba. 

 

Maybe we should simply pray, “God we really want to make an impact so will you please allow some sort of horrific, terrible tragedy and suffering to hit us.  We are too complacent and set in our ways, so really let us have it God so we will scatter and be forced into expanding your kingdom!”

 

I vote “No” on the Jerusalem method.  If God wants to do that, he is God, so okay.  But if I have a choice, I would like to pass.

 

In Acts 18 we see the Corinthians method for kingdom expansion:

 

But when they opposed and insulted him, Paul shook the dust from his clothes and said, “Your blood is upon your own heads—I am innocent. From now on I will go preach to the Gentiles.”—Acts 18:6 (NLT)

 

I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”—Acts 18:6 (NLT)

 

This is the Earl Weaver model.  Earl Weaver was the manager for baseball’s Baltimore Orioles for many years—so many years that for decades he held the record for being thrown out of baseball games more than any other manager or player.  One time he was asked if there was a trick to getting thrown out.  Was there a magic word or words that would automatically get him ejected?  And he admitted, “One approach worked every time.  If I really wanted to get tossed, I would slowly stroll out to the umpire.  I’d look him in the eyes and simply ask, ‘Are you going to get any better, or is this it?’”  That got me ejected every single time.”

 

This is the fig tree model.  You’re not doing anything?  Boom!  May you never bear fruit again!

 

The Corinthian prayer is, “Dear God, we suck.  We’re not doing a dang thing to reach people, so will you just curse us or better yet, just wipe us off the face of the earth.  Seriously, we’re basically just in the way.  So, smite us and be done with it, in Jesus’ name, Amen!”

 

Again, I vote “No!”  I don’t like option one or option three.  I propose the Antioch method.  I suggest we set apart and support high level leaders.  I recommend we continue to put time and energy and effort and money into finding high level leaders and supporting them in church planting.

 

Now I don’t know if the Antioch church raised any questions with God.  I don’t know if they pushed back and said, “But God, Barnabas and Saul?  Barnabas is not only our pastor, he’s out top giver.  Saul has the potential to do great things here in Antioch.  Sending them off would be too expensive.  And what about us?  What about our needs?”

 

I don’t know if they asked those questions.  But I do know this.  They didn’t let those questions stop them from God’s primary strategy for kingdom expansion.

 

Folks, we’re putting time and energy and effort and staff and cash into church planting.  Let’s refuse to be stopped.  Let’s continue on in the Acts 13 method of kingdom expansion.

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CHURCH PLANTING BY THE NUMBERS

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CHURCH PLANTING BY THE NUMBERS

Here are some proven numbers Church Planters and leaders might want to keep in mind:

 

 

One. 

The number one priority of the church plant needs to be evangelism.  If we are simply shuffling Christians around from an established church to a new church we’re more than likely taking time from the one productive thing we can do here but not in heaven--reaching others.

 

Jesus reminded us, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”--Acts 1:8

 

A new church sets the evangelism emphasis early on.  There is a one-to-one relationship between the outreach of a church in its pre-launch phase and the evangelism of that church after launch.  If no one is coming to Christ before launch, don’t expect it to happen afterward.  So, if ten percent of the launch team is made up of pre-believers the church can expect that about ten percent of its church will be pre-believers after launch.  If twenty percent are unchurched before launch, then twenty percent of the congregation after launch will likely be unchurched.

 

The obvious application is, put evangelism on the front burner at the start.  If evangelism isn’t put on the front burner, it tends to wane into non-existence pretty quickly.

 

Two.

The church plant will double its launch team when it launches.  It doesn’t matter how large the crowd is on launch Sunday, when the hoopla dies down and the well-wishers go back home, the vast majority of new churches end up with twice what they had on their launch team. 

 

This number has been proven over and over again for the last several decades.  First Sunday attendance numbers are great for denominational newsletters, but they tend to be fairly meaningless.  The church will settle in at double its launch team, actually double the launch team seems to be all the growth new churches can handle.

 

So we encourage church planters to secure at least 40 committed adults before launching.  A 40 adult launch team would double to eighty and, with children, provide a base of about 100--a good size to get going that first year.  Churches with less than 40 committed adults on the launch team tend to struggle with critical mass issues for the first two years--if not longer.

 

How can we maximize this number?  Have two launches.  Or more!  In the third church plant I pastured, we didn’t launch until we gathered the 40 committed adults.  We doubled that at launch to about a hundred, grew to 130 over the next several months, then had our “Grand Opening” and settled in at twice that.  We were well on our way from there.

 

Established churches might keep this number in mind when launching a new service--40 committed adults to start is wise.

 

Three.

Most church planters will need at least three sources of income in our new economy.  One source, obviously, is the tithes and offerings of the launch team and the new church.  A second source is the outside fundraising done for the new work.    But unless those numbers are extraordinary , the planter will have to look for resources elsewhere.

 

Here’s a quip from an article I wrote last year, entitled, “Only Two Jobs?”

 

Most of the churches we have started in the past couple of years require the planter to be carrying two jobs (at least).  The economy has changed.  Fund-raising has been a tougher task.  Ends have been harder to meet.  I started listing the planters we are serving and yes, most of them are working more than just the ministry job.  I thought of our ethnic planters, and our planters serving in areas hit extremely hard by job-loss--most are bi-vocational.  And I thought of our Growing Healthy Churches Network leaders--many of us are working at least two jobs.  Hey, I’m working two jobs too!  If you have a ministry job that pays salary, housing, insurance, retirement with loads of great benefits, thank God, really thank God!  If you don’t have to work two or more jobs count your blessings.  (And I realize that having two ministry jobs like I do is an incredible gift from God.)  But in this changing economy, you might have to work two jobs (at least) for a season.

 

I am not actually talking about the spouse’s income being that third source--that often causes more family pressure than necessary.  I am talking about the planter being creative in a changing culture and finding another job, another source of income.

 

Four.

In the past we typically encouraged planters to raise outside support for up to three years.  I encourage planters to extend that to four years (if not five!)--especially if the church is focusing on outreach. 

 

The good news about raising money for a church plant is we will be able to tell pretty early on how things are going.  The good news is we are not asking for support as missionaries for the rest of our lives.  But extending that support from three years to four years is not that difficult and it makes the money-issue a lot easier.

 

In the last two church plants I led, we asked for at least a three-year financial commitment.  And at the three year mark we went back to some of our supporters and asked them to extend.  The churches were both doing well, and in typical fashion, our denomination at the time cut the support they promised (Crazy, but normative for most denominations.  Don’t get me started…) And I suspect they both would have made it without continued support.

 

But when we asked some of our financial givers outside the church to continue for a year--or two--some obliged, and many were excited about staying on the team. 

 

“Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.”--2 Corinthians 9:23

Our support approached $100% the first year, then 80%, then 60%, then 40% and finally 20%.  The last two years we had minimal amounts coming in from the outside, but it really helped us, it really took the edge off.  And in our case, when we went to plant a third church, we had an easier time raising funds because many stayed on.    

  

Five.

Years ago I heard a quote that has stuck with me:  “When you spend nickels and dimes on advertising you get nickel and dime results.”

 

So here’s the principle:  Invest more than a nickel on getting the word out about your ministry. 

 

I realize that one ministry trend is to see marketing as opposed to missional and some churches proudly announce that they “spend no money on advertising!”  That tends to be both not true and not biblical. 

 

Churches that don’t spend on marketing always have some sort of sign, some sort of website and some sort of community presence.  That’s called marketing, even if you find the term distasteful.

 

And Jesus was pretty clear that a missional and opportunistic approach is great, but we’re also to go to the “highways and byways”--Luke 14:23 (The Parable of the Great Banquet)

 

Getting the word out has to be a priority (See number one!)  Does it reflect that in our budget?  I encourage planters to take the money that would be spent on equipment and use it on advertising.  We can beg, borrow and steal equipment.  Well, maybe not steal, but there is a ton of equipment sitting in storage (in established churches) and on Craigslist!     

 

Be wise, invest in getting the word out.  I suspect that if you spent more (five times?) than you’re spending now on reaching the highways and byways, you won’t be sorry.

 

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ONLY TWO JOBS?

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ONLY TWO JOBS?

Several weeks ago my son, Tim, was preaching at our church when he started to talk about all the things he had going--youth pastor at the church, student at Sacramento State, husband and father of two, part-time waiter at Outback, and recent entrepreneur as he had just started a one-day a week lawn-care business with a friend.  As he was listing his endeavors Tim made a casual remark that stuck with me.  He said jokingly, “In this economy, if you only have two jobs, you might be lazy.”

 

 

Tim’s message that day was great (he’s my son, he is always great!)  But the two-job comment got me thinking.  Most of the churches we have started in the past couple of years require the planter to be carrying two jobs (at least).  The economy has changed.  Fund-raising has been a tougher task.  Ends have been harder to meet.  I started listing the planters we are serving and yes, most of them are working more than just the ministry job.  I thought of our ethnic planters, and our planters serving in areas hit extremely hard by job-loss--most are bi-vocational.  And I thought of our Excel Leadership Network leaders--many of us are working at least two jobs.  Hey, I’m working two jobs too!

 

Now I understand the concept of “double honor”--1 Timothy 5:17.  Ministers should be paid, and paid well.  I recognize that we are not to “muzzle the ox”--Deuteronomy 25:4  I know that “the worker deserves his wages”--1 Timothy 5:18.  But sometimes in our culture we turn those admonitions into rights we demand.   We can slip into a feeling of entitlement if we’re not careful.

 

Acts 18 tells us that the Apostle Paul, and Aquila and Pricilla were tent-makers.  Many other characters from the Bible supported themselves during their ministry.  Abraham raised cattle, Joseph was a government official, Joshua was a war general, Nehemiah was cupbearer to the King, and Luke was a physician.   (I think Barnabas and Silas worked part-time at Starbucks.)  Even Jesus himself worked as a carpenter.

 

But pay wasn’t demanded:  “If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more?  But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.”--1 Corinthians 9:12

 

Working two jobs can be a great help to those you are serving as well as those you are trying to reach.  I am amazed at the number of folks from Outback that Tim has brought to our church.  And I am amazed at the number of folks from our church that Tim has helped get jobs at Outback!  Check out the Elk Grove Outback on a Friday or Saturday night and you’ll see Discovery Church at work--literally and figuratively!

 

Of course, full-time pay is great and wonderful and humbling if you can get it.  If you have a ministry job that pays salary, housing, insurance, retirement with loads of great benefits, thank God, really thank God!  If you don’t have to work two or more jobs count your blessings.  (And I realize that having two ministry jobs like I do is an incredible gift from God.)  But in this changing economy, you might have to work two jobs (at least) for a season.

 

I do need to mention that taking time for our families, time with God, and time for self-care need to be priorities regardless of how many jobs we have.  We’re not to burn out or shirk our other responsibilities.

 

But let’s get past the notion that in the United States we demand to be paid and if we aren’t we’re second-class ministers.  “In this economy, if you only have two jobs, you might be lazy.”

 

I shared this “two-jobs” idea at a recent church planter event, and received this note back from one of our top planters:

 

“I forgot to thank you after the last event.   I got two other jobs in the last 6 months and it felt like a failure to be doing them and not having 100% focus on the church.  So thanks for giving me permission to have 3 jobs, and not feel like a failure.”

 

Keep up the good work--at all of your jobs.  And in these high-unemployment times, if you know anyone who is hiring, let me know--maybe there’s a church planter who needs another job…

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HOW TO ASSEMBLE A LEADERSHIP TEAM

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HOW TO ASSEMBLE A LEADERSHIP TEAM

One of the common issues church planters face is when and how to assemble a church leadership team. 

 

 

The church plant needs some sort of leadership team as it emerges beyond the planter calling all the shots.  But, since it is new, the warning in the Bible must be heard:  “Never be in a hurry about appointing a church leader.”--1 Timothy 5:22 (NLT)

 

I have observed and unfortunately personally experienced a good deal of pain in watching new churches try to maneuver the first steps of church life with leadership teams. 

 

In our first church plant one of the most supportive people in our church seemed to change dramatically the moment he became an “elder.”  The “power” may have gone to his head and he turned sour.  When the youth pastor’s daughter beat up this leader’s son (maybe he had it coming!) it became even more ugly.  Anyway, I had to push him to resign and it was not a pleasant time. 

 

In our second plant, one leader lost his job and spiraled into a seemingly temporary insanity.  Marriage, family and relational problems ensued and he refused to step down from leadership nicely.  I had to redo our whole leadership structure to get him off the team.

 

Both of those situations caused me great grief, but more importantly, they caused our plants to get a bit off task. 

 

I wish my experience was rare.  But it happens in many, if not most, church plants.  Someone on the team tries to take over the church, triangulate conflict, or just cause problems.  This seems to be a common strategy of our spiritual enemy.  He goes after the planter’s marriage first, and if that doesn’t work, the leadership team becomes the prime target.

 

So what’s a new church to do?

 

Here’s a strategy that really works:  Implement multiple leadership team phases before a formal board is chosen.

 

The idea is to have short, clear time frame and purposeful teams with a clear “changing-of-the-guard” built in at the end.

 

In our third plant we started with a small “First Preview Leadership Team.”  The function of that team was to help us make wise decisions and to get us to and through our first preview service.  Then we progressed to a “Launch Leadership Team” that led us to launch.  We launched at Easter so we moved to a “Summer Advisory Team” that helped us maneuver the summer.  Then we had a “Grand Opening Leadership Team” that got us through our Grand Opening.  We moved to a one-year “Transitional Advisory Group”--our “Tag Team” that served for a year, and we renewed it for another year.  For years we’ve had a “Vision Alignment Team”--our VAT Team that keeps us on mission.  And now we are moving to an “ABC Team”--a leadership team that provides Advice, Brakes and Crisis management.

 

We intentionally avoid church-sounding names in our leadership teams.  That term “Elder” seems to come with a lot of baggage these days.  I’m not sure it communicates its Biblical meaning of servant leadership.  We don’t use “Deacon” or “Presbyter” either for similar reasons.

 

The clear ending time for the team is key.  Early on we purposely had team members who we knew had to leave after the time frame was finished--church planting inters, for example.  The shorter term of service seems to reinforce a servant attitude and it provides a natural opportunity to move folks off the team who don’t fit.

 

This approach also allowed us to use leaders from outside the church.  In our second plant, we moved to this approach and had two leaders from other churches serve as advisors for a couple years.  Their fresh eyes helped us immensely.

 

The multi-phase approach doesn’t eliminate leadership friction.  We have had to move people off of our leadership team without their full acceptance.  But it provides a natural opportunity and makes those tough conversations a little bit easier.

 

The Bible tells us that when it comes to leaders:  “They must first be tested…”--1 Timothy 3:10 (NLT)  This multi-phase approach gives new churches an opportunity to do just that.

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