Ugly Clothing Marketing Works Great For Churches

UglyTie-33053I love shirts that do not have to be ironed. I travel a lot and right now the nylon, breathable shirt appears popular, at least among my age, and so I can be “in style”, comfortable and basically wrinkle-free with little effort. I have to confess to something, however. My style is usually determined by what other people do not want. I choose to dress primarily in rejected clothing! You see I am hugely price conscious. I love new clothes, but the thoughts of spending more than $10 for a shirt bothers me, so if it’s on sale for $6, I tend to like it even more. I have often wished there were a store for folks like me that sold only the clothes others didn’t want…the rejects…at dirt cheap prices.

I realize this would not be the best marketing approach for the clothing industry. Imagine the ads going after customers no one else wants. What kind of commercial would you make from the clearance rack?

It may not be the best approach in retail marketing, but guess what? The system I use in clothing myself is a great marketing approach for churches. If you want your church to grow, go after people no one else wants. Go after the ones who feel unwanted. Attempt to reach the people the world has rejected.

It worked well for Jesus. It has worked well for Grace Community Church. Perhaps it will for your church as well.

Catalyst Video with Darren Whitehead

I love this video with LV Hanson and Darren Whitehead from Willow Creek. I want my boys to watch this.  You should too.  I think he’s onto something here.

Thanks to Brad Lomenick for pointing me to this and giving me permission to post it here.

Catalyst Voices – Darren Whitehead from Catalyst on Vimeo.

Guest Post: Creating Systems For Worship Teams

2349_64241154877_678929877_2148714_488_nI decided my 18 year-old son’s latest post was important enough to steal it from him. I only wish I had written this first.  Great thoughts.  Nate has led in our student worship area for the last couple years and done an amazing job.  Our church is going to miss him this fall as he begins his college days at Moody Bible College in Chicago.  You can follow Nate’s thoughts at his blog Moons from Burma.

Here is Nate’s post on Creating Systems for Worship Teams:

For any organization to maximize its potential, GREAT systems have to be in place. You can have poor systems and still reach your potential, but your potential will just not be very potent.

One of the most important areas of church world is the worship team. If a church wants to maximize the potential of their worship environment, then it obviously makes sense that a GREAT system would have to be in place. The problem is this: the system builder types are typically not on the worship team. Usually the worship team consists of extremely abstract/creative people and people that simply want to help setup and tear down stuff. Both are vital to the team, but neither is especially gifted at building systems.

The temptation is to just let the worship environment take care of itself, because after all, creative ideas are probably flourishing already. However, creative ideas are not a system. If your goal is to maximize potential, you need a great system; which means you need a system builder. You need someone who can sit down and figure out how to get every part of the worship team on the same page; someone who can build a framework in which the creative ideas can be executed. Every second of the worship time needs to have been thought through with an ultimate purpose in mind.

The reality is that most worship leader positions are filled based on musicianship and vocal ability, not on LEADING ability. There are multiple types of leading that must be done in order to truly LEAD worship, and I would argue that the majority of it takes place behind the scenes on Monday and Tuesday, not on stage Sunday. So, if you are going to really take your church somewhere in terms of worship, you need a system in place. What that ultimately means is that you need a leader in your worship area… in addition to an artist.

Systems can be hard to build for a group of abstract/unstructured people, but ultimately there needs to be a great one to maximize your potential. You need structure to succeed, which also means you need a structured person on the team.

How does your church systematize its worship environment?

Preaching at City Church, Klaipeda, Lithuania

DSCF7412For over a year Grace Community Church has partnered with City Church in Klaipeda, Lithuania.  This partnership has at this point consisted primarily of frequent Skype or Tokbox conversations between me and Pastor Saulius of City Church.  This trip was primarily a vision trip for our church, combined with a focus on building business relationships between our churches.  We learned a lot about the culture and how our churches can continue to learn from each other.

I love to invest in other pastors and churches and this provides a wonderful opportunity to learn from each other.  They currently are meeting in a T-shaped attic of an old hotel the church has purchased and is renovating, so the picture of me speaking here actually shows one smaller portion of the crowd.  They average about 150 people each week, which in relative terms makes the church a thriving Protestant church in a country fairly new to freedom of religion.

Last Sunday I was blessed to stand where Saulius stands each week before his people.  By the way, I love the cheer of applauds the speaker receives before he or she delivers the message in Lithuania.  (Their custom also has them applaud a safe landing of an airplane.  I thankfully got to experience that custom also.)

If you have never experienced a translated message before, here is an example of one.  Click HERE to hear last week’s message from City Church Lithuania.  This was a simple message of hope, something the Lithuanians (and all of us) need a lot more of, but God somehow used it last Sunday in some people’s lives, according to the feedback from Saulius.

I am praying for the years of partnership between our churches to strengthen each of us and help further the Kingdom of God.  This week I will continue to share highlights of our trip.

Video Messaging (Using Technology to Stay Connected)

My 18 year old son Nate is serving as an intern this Summer for Michael Bayne our family minister working primarily with middle and high school students.  Recently he took it upon himself and made this video announcement to send to the students.  It reminds me that the methods of communicating with our people are changing every day.  Are you staying current?  Does your church use Facebook, Twitter, text messaging and video messaging to stay current?

Maybe you need to take a lesson from the next generation of leaders too of how best to contact your people.

Use The Summer To Prepare For Fall

SummerSunOne quick reminder.  Don’t kill a summer.  Use it to plan for fall.

Summer is often a time for church leaders (unless you are youth leaders) to take vacations, chill out, and rest up.  While I agree with that need, the fact is that fall gets here quickly and we need to be prepared for one of the best growth opportunities of the year.

Take some extra time before summer is over to spend some time dreaming, planning and implementing steps to help your church have a great fall!

I would love to learn from you.  What are you doing this summer to prepare for a great fall?

Lithuania or Bust!

125px-Flag_of_Lithuania.svglogoTomorrow morning Cheryl and I and another couple leave for Lithuania.  For over a year Grace Community Church has worked with City Church in Klaipeda, Lituania.  (I love a church that has a website in multiple languages!)  I talk regularly with the pastor via Skype and Tokbox and we share ministry stories, struggles and victories.  The people of our church share the same struggles as the people of City Church and therefore we are able to help each other.  My pastor friend Saulius and his wife Sanna will be our host and I will have the opportunity to preach in their church next Sunday.  We will be dreaming of ways our two churches can broaden our partnership.  I love investing in other pastors and learning from them and this will be a sweet time of fellowship without the barrier of distance.

If you want to read more about Lithuania click HERE and HERE.

I have programmed some blog posts for the next few days and I hope to have opportunity to post some from on site, but in case I do not have time or access, at least you know where I am.

Just curious, will you have to look Lithuania up on a map to see where it is?

An Encouragement to Stay Faithful to God’s Call

In some quiet time this morning, God led me to pray for some of the struggling ministers I know and work with each week.  I was reminded also of this verse:

1 Corinthians 16:8-9
But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.

Sometimes we keep doing what we are doing because God called us to do it, not because we are popular, the work is easy, or even that we are being well received at the time.  Being obedient to the call of God is sometimes painful, unpopular, difficult, and seemingly unrewarded (at the time).

I am also reminded of this passage from Mark 10:29-31 (The Message Version)

Jesus said, “Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of me and the Message will lose out. They’ll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles. And then the bonus of eternal life! This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first.”

Do you need a reminder to hang tight to the call God has placed on your life?  How can I or the readers of this blog pray for you right now?

Innovative Ministry Leader: Don’t Miss This Opportunity

flowerdust-graphic1This year at Grace Community Church we became even more conscious of how we spend money and we have always been conservative with what we spend.  The economy has had an impact on our people.  While our local economy is strong, the perception among people has created a mood of uncertainty and so we are looking for ways to be better stewards of our resources.

At the same time, our church has continued to grow and the needs for our ministries are greater than ever.  This season has forced us to find ways to do more with less.  We need to continue to train our people, learn new ways of doing things and keep up with current trends, but we can no longer afford to attend all the conferences we once could.

Introduce a novel idea. (Why didn’t I think of this first?)  Why not bring first-rate conferences to the churches where everyone who wants to attend can benefit from the teaching firsthand?  Enter Innovative Ministry Leader.

Innovative Ministry Leader is the world’s first web-based training center. It will feature monthly teaching videos in the areas of leadership, worship, marketing, culture and technology from today’s top church leaders including Dino Rizzo, Anne Jackson, Jud Wilhite and Mark Batterson…and the list is growing daily.   During and after the monthly video sessions participants will be able to login to engage with the speakers through features on the website.    All videos will be archived as well, so you can access them at anytime!

It all kicks off in June and comes with a low monthly subscription of $34.99 for unlimited access to everything. Imagine sending all your staff, leadership and volunteers to a top notch teaching every single month.

Act now to get in on this incredible opportunity!

Creating SMART Goals Important for an Organization

Most managers with any management training know the concept of setting SMART goals for their organization.  Though apparently having unknown origins, the strategy of SMART goals has been widely written about and used to help make organizations better.

I work with lots of church plants and young ministry ventures.  I also have numerous occasions to speak with entrepreneurs in our church.  I love the enthusiasm and momentum an organization has early in its life.  I hope to always be a part of starting something.  As I’ve gotten older, however, I’m equally as concerned about sustainability.   The right energy and vision will create growth fast, but building an organization that lasts requires having a plan for maintaining viability.

Think about the goals you are setting for your organization and consider applying the SMART goals strategy to them.  You will most likely find your goals have a better chance of becoming reality.


  • S – Specific- Clearly define what, who and how the goals will be achieved.
  • M – Measurable – You must have built in the ability to measure a win. What will it mean if you accomplish your goals?  An old saying goes, “You can’t manage what you cannot measure.”
  • A – Attainable – I believe in and have big dreams.  Goals should stretch the organization.  Having unattainable goals, however, can kill momentum and eventually destroy an organization’s momentum.
  • R – Reliable/Relevant- If you accomplish these goals will they be helping your organization reach its overall mission? Energy spent in achieving irrelevant goals wastes an organization’s resources.
  • T – Timely – To be sustainable, goals need to have timeframe for completion.

What goals do you currently have for yourself or your organization?  After reading this, do you need to reevaluate some of those goals?