3 Steps to Getting Things Accomplished as a Team

Recently I spoke to a group of church planters. My assigned task was to share the “3 most important steps to launching” a church plant in my opinion and experience. After the times of prayer…when you know you have a God-given assignment to plant a church…what next?

Here is what I shared. I believe these are similar for beginning any project.

Step One – Have a big vision

One that requires faith…

Where you can draw a clear picture…

And everyone on the team can know where you are going…

This is where you define the win…

Step Two – Write a strategic plan

There should be a well-written plan…

Stating what steps are needed…

When they are to be completed…

With accountability and reporting of benchmarks included…

Step Three – Assign specific tasks

Everyone has a job…

Everyone knows their role….

What would you add to my list?

If you could only share three things, what would you share?

5 Types of Church Visitors

One thing pastors love is church visitors. Really, what we like even more is church visitors who become regular church attenders, but that process begins with visitors. It’s always a mystery why some visit a church and never come back. Those reasons may be the subject of another post, but one thing I’ve learned, much of the chance for return depends on why the person chooses to visit in the first place.

I have discovered there are basically 5 types of visitors to a church:

Testers – These visitors are just looking around…perhaps for a new church…perhaps because they are dissatisfied where they currently attend church. They may feel they are not growing at their current church or they aren’t completely satisfied with the leadership, the programs or the opportunities for service available. If testers find what they are looking for they’ll be back, but most likely there is a specific fit they are seeking. I wouldn’t suggest altering things to keep them, but make sure their questions are answered.

Pleasers – These visitors are usually coming to appease someone who asked them. They have less interest in attending church than they have in satisfying the request of a spouse or friend. This is not a bad way to get them at first and I’m always happy to have them, but it is harder to get them to stick unless God moves in their heart for attending church to become their personal desire. For these visitors, the person inviting them is just as important as the visitor in keeping them, but help the pleaser feel welcome, don’t make them feel uncomfortable, and you’ve got a good chance of seeing them return.

Seekers – These are people who know they are missing something in life, but aren’t sure what it is. Church may simply be another option or it may be the only option, but these are the true unchurched. These visitors are a mission field. If we introduce them to Christ, they become forever loyal to the church where they found Him.

Jumpers – These visitors seldom stay long at one church. They get upset at something the church does, the church enters a building program that scares them away, or they simply grow bored. Likely they’ll only stick for a while at the new church too, so don’t be take it personal if they disappear, as it may not be anything you did or didn’t do. Enjoy them while they are with you.

Investors – Most likely these people moved to your community or some major issue caused them to leave their current church. These visitors are active church attenders looking for a new long-term home. They are ready to quickly commit and serve. It’s important to plug these people in as soon as possible.

Again, churches love visitors. In fact, we like any of these five types. Knowing why someone is visiting your church, however, often helps the way you respond to them and gives you a better chance of keeping them. I wouldn’t recommend you ask them which of these they are, but it’s good to have in the back of your mind as you get to know them.

Did I miss any type of visitor? Have you seen each of these?

Defining a Radical Faith

I see a growing interest in encouragement to sacrifice everything for the sake of the Gospel. I love that kind of passion. We see so many examples of it in Scripture and many are listed in the chronicles of faith in Hebrews Chapter 11. There have been a few times in my life where I’ve sensed a specific call to do something so drastic, so seemingly bizarre, so faith-stretching, that even thinking about those decisions today seems scary.

I wonder, however, if that expectation is unrealistic when applied to all of us at all times. Is it okay, should God allow it, to live a “normal” faith at times…to not feel like everything is on the line…but rather feel like you’re in a safe place…depending on a regular paycheck, in a steady job, with a healthy church…for example?  Would that be considered okay and still be considered radical in your faith?

Just asking…

Recently I was reading John 7:1, which says, “Jesus didn’t go where He knew there was immediate danger. There would be a time for this, but this was not the time.”

Of course, you should read it in the context….not just that context, but the entire context of Jesus’ story. There’s no mistaking, however, that at this particular moment…Jesus played it safe. He didn’t jeopardize His life for the mission…in fact He did the opposite. There would be a time when He would sacrifice everything…willingly…for the sake of the call, but this was a time to be wise rather than risky.

Here’s a bottom line where I’ve landed. I see lots of well-meaning people encouraging a radical, sold-out faith…and I’m totally for that. I think all of us should live that way, but my point is that will look different for all of us.

Living by faith may not require you to:

  • Sacrifice your family for the ministry…
  • Forgo earning an income to follow a call…
  • Risk your life to share the Gospel…
  • Surrender to full-time vocational ministry…
  • Sell everything and move to Africa…
  • Quit your current church…
  • Plant a church…
  • Ignore your safety to complete a mission…

There may be times God calls you to take tremendous risks of faith. He may ask you to sacrifice everything some day…or certainly be willing to…He may send you into dangerous moments…even be a martyr for your faith…

If that’s God call on your life…my best advice is to obey quickly!

But walking in faith doesn’t always require such extremes. The key is that you are willing to follow wherever He leads.

What do you think? Reflect on what I’ve written and give me your feedback. Help me think through this thought process.

Words of Wisdom from Chuck Swindoll

If I had to name one senior person in ministry who has most impacted me from a distance as a believer, it would probably be Chuck Swindoll. I grew in my faith listening to his radio program and reading his books. He was contemporary and applicable in his preaching and not afraid to be innovative in reaching people.

I recently read an article in Leadership Journal interviewing Swindoll on his newest book, The Church Awakening. I haven’t read the book, but the article says some things that caught my attention and I intend to read it.

He says things like:

  • “When a church is spending more of its budget on media than shepherding, something is out of whack.”
  • “We must make sure that new things actually help people grow in the truth, that they edify the saints and build them up.”
  • “We try to keep it simple so that the pizzazz doesn’t become the reason to bring a neighbor.”
  • “I let people see the cracks in my life. We can’t be phony. We’ve got to keep it real.”

Read the article HERE, then come back to this post and reflect on what Swindoll is saying to younger pastors and church leaders.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know at first glance that I agree with everything he said, and I’ll read the book for more clarity, but I did read the article and Swindoll makes some bold statements. I believe in listening to the wisdom of elders too. Could there be a word here for the church?

What are your thoughts about where the church is now or is going in worship planning?

Are we putting too much emphasis or spending too much money on technology?

How do we balance the tension of reaching people uninterested in the church, yet making sure we always honor Christ in worship?

Is this a word from the wise or a dear wise pastor who is also struggling with the changing times?

Let me hear your thoughts.

7 Suggestions When Interviewing for a Church Staff Position

This week I had two people email through my blog asking for suggestions when interviewing with a church for a staff position. I am thinking it could be an issue worth addressing.

Having sit on both sides of the table, here are 7 suggestions:

Know your audience – Do as much research as you can about the church. Ask who will be in the interview and what role they have in the church.

Be honest – This is critical because you don’t want to win a job at a place where you can’t live with or support the vision.

Be upbeat – The main thing in adding staff in most churches is that the person be a good fit for the church and team. Show you’re easy to get along with and likable.

Be humble – If you’ve had past success, don’t take all the credit. Share the victories with others, knowing that most likely you couldn’t have succeeded without them, plus it’s a much more appealing approach.

Don’t appear controlling but appear competent – There is a balance between being able to lead with confidence and being a cocky leader. Be gracious with your answers but remain firm in your convictions.

Be forward thinking but celebratory of the history – Let them know you want to work with them and strengthen the church, building on the best of its history, but you want to take them wherever God leads in the future. Many church’s, even after a difficult period, continue to remain proud of their heritage.

Pray before and after and ask others to pray too – In the end this will either be a God-thing or not. You don’t want to take the position if it’s not. I believe God often gives tremendous latitude and freedom in choosing our place of service, and we should represent Him with our best appearance, but in the end, we want to be in the center of His will.

What tips would you offer to those interviewing at another church or ministry?

10 Suggestions for Bi-Vocational Pastors

One of my sessions at Exponential Conference this week was my friend Artie Davis and I encouraging bi-vocational pastors. The session, called “Flipping Burgers while Planting a Church” was to offer suggestions for those who trying to earn a living outside the church and pastor a church at the same time.

I shared 5 things to do and 5 things not to do. I would say many of these apply to all of us in ministry.

Here are my notes:

Do

Be accountable – let People speak into your life. You’ll feel more independent if you’re not dependent on the church for income.

Be disciplined – Stay healthy in all areas of your life.

Be organized – Have someone help you if needed, but develop systems to do everything you have to do in a week.

Be intentional – It’s hard work, but you have to keep both business and church worlds running well, and still be a good family man. It will require intentionality.

Be diligent – In all areas of your life, you must do your best. It’s your witness.

Don’t

Complain to church – About how hard you have to work. They should know you do, but not hear you complain about it all the time.

Lose sight of vision – The reason you are doing what you are doing is to complete the call God has on your life.

Let yourself burnout – Stay healthy physically, emotionally. Again, let people speak into your life who recognize when you are stretching yourself too far.

Allow one to outshine the other – Be good in all worlds…it will be hard, you’ll need God’s strength, but it’s your witness.

Neglect your family – That makes it even harder, but they are your first commitment.

I closed by explaining the concept in THIS POST. A key to doing more in life is that you have to get better personally.

Have you ever had to balance dual careers?  What advice would you give?

If You Only Follow The Rules…

Just a quick reminder…

If you only follow the rules others set for you…

If you only do what others call “safe”…

If you never risk everything…

If you never step out of the norm…

There’s a chance….

Someone could drown…

Sometimes you have to step away from the established rules and traditions of men in order to do something no one has ever done…

You have to go where no one else has gone…

You have to refuse to play it safe…

You may even have to break someone’s established “rules”…

Be honest…if there were only two options…

Which sounds more appealing to you?

Playing by the rules…

Or…

Doing something others say couldn’t…or shouldn’t…be done…

Have you ever had to break the rules to do something worthwhile?

17 Months from Start to Launch: The Story of One Church Plant

We have had an incredible journey these last five years as a new church. God continues to amaze us. I am consistently asked the story of starting Grace Community Church. Specifically other planters want to know what we did prior to launch. I’ve been asked enough that I thought it was worth sharing here.

The vision for Grace was placed on my heart 10 years before this process began, so we either had a head start or we were behind the curve; however you look at it. There were three of us sharing the vision, but the other two moved and I wasn’t in full-time ministry at the time, so the dream basically died…at least to me.

That’s when our timeline began in May of 2004:

May – I had an almost prophetic encounter with another pastor who encouraged me to revive the 10 year dream God had placed on my heart.

May-June: I took about 6 weeks to pray…

July: Approached my co-pastor to see his interest (He wasn’t interested at the time.)

July-August: I kept praying during these months for clarity…

September – My co-pastor and I started dreaming together, he wasn’t completely on board yet, but he was willing to see what God wanted to do…

Oct-Dec – I personally met with potential core members to share the vision, while my co-pastor and I kept shaping the vision…

Jan – Feb – Core pastor agrees to be a part…we invited potential core team to an organizational meeting, committed core to vision, solidified core…

March – June – Core learnings – The core team divided responsibilities, then traveled to different churches, learning all they could about what a successful church might include.

July – Core Training – We met to make clear our vision and primary strategy.

August – Practice/Preview services – With these services, although we didn’t promote them, we invited anyone who wanted to attend.

September 11, 2005 – Launch church – The rest is our history post-launch…

That’s our timeline. How does that compare to your church plant?

Any questions? Please ask.

The Life of an Idea on a Healthy Team

Healthy teams allow every idea a chance to live…

The healthiest teams don’t contain an idea killer…

Healthy teams:

  • Brainstorm
  • Analyze
  • Test drive
  • Push back
  • Critique
  • Debate
  • Challenge

Every idea…

But healthy teams remain open-minded about an idea until it’s proven to be a bad idea…

It could be a short process or a long process…

But healthy teams give every idea a chance to live…

Knowing that…

There is value in the collection of ideas on a healthy team…

And…

Some of the best ideas are killed before they have a chance to shine…

Have you ever worked with an idea killer?

Are you one?

(This post contains a main idea…feel free to Brainstorm, Analyze, Test drive, Push back, Critique, Debate, or Challenge.)