Pulling the Plug

May 5, 2011

Thanks for stopping by. I’ve enjoyed dropping some thoughts on this blog for the few church leaders who actually check in once in awhile. The time has come to move on to other things. Twitter has really become a better way to share what’s on my mind and to drop the odd leadership nugget every once in awhile. If you are interested in following along with the Crosspoint story of renewal and revival, we invite you to join us at http://timguptill.wordpress.com/ .

– Tim

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Relaunching a Vision

April 28, 2011

The question I get asked the most by pastors in plateaued or declining churches is this, “What would you do if you were in my shoes?” I would do a relaunch. Here are a few thoughts on what a relaunch might look like.

– You have to step back and make sure that the vision is God-given, focused, energizing, compelling, dangerous, and something that you as a leader will gladly give your life to.

– Do something new. You have to create new energy. You will never get new energy from tweaking something old. A name change, a new ministry, a new service, something radical.

– Brand it. Create new phrases that are simple, they resonate with people, and they give everything traction.

– Promote it. This is almost May. I would do the relaunch in September. If it was Sept, I’d say January. January, Easter. You get the idea. You have to blow torch this for several weeks and get people pumped. If this sounds like hype to you, go stick your head in the book of Acts. If we believe what we believe and that it saves lives from hell, we should be willing to create some enthusiasm around the greatest message of history. Promoting it for several weeks gives time for the right people to rally around you and the vision and it also gives time for the wrong people to make a lot of noise. If the vision is from God just keep going forward. The wrong people will either leave or see that God was in it all along.

– Pull the plug on mediocre programs. A relaunch is your best opportunity to change the way you’ve been operating. There might be a lot of history with those programs, you might have good people who love thos programs and they might not understand why things have to change. As a leader you have to help them understand that we just can’t keep doing what we’ve always done and expect something new. Making those tough decisions and having those tough conversations will elevate your leadership with people. If they know you care and that you genuinely want to see your church reach its full redemptive potential, they will follow you.

– Make sure that the changes you make are significant enough to create new energy. If the first Sunday of the relaunch feels like the last Sunday before the relaunch, you are toast. If your people spend months working on relationships and inviting people to the first service of the relaunch, it has to be a significant, if not radical, change. When you start painting a picture of what that might look like, expect push back. That’s normal. Doesn’t mean everyone hates you and your ideas. Give people time to process the ideas and to envision multiple changed lives on a weekly basis.

– You won’t be able to explain everything or guarantee the success of every idea. It’s not possible. Steven Furtick tells his church that he’s probably never more than 70% sure of an idea. It might work, it might not. But, if we stay where we are we’ll always be where we’ve been.

– Make sure that your communication reinforces your commitment to unity as a multi-generational congregation moving forward on the vision together. This means that you are asking the teens and young adults to lay down their personal preferences for the greater good. It also means you are asking your seniors to do the same. We all want what we want. We all have our preferences. It’s not possible to do church in a way that is perfect for everyone. At some point we all have to say, “I’d rather see lost people saved than have everything my way”.

– A relaunch will cost money. Don’t forget, people give to vision, not need. Finances follow fire.


Easter Series

April 25, 2011

Some random thoughts on our recent Easter series. Hope it helps or inspires someone out there. 🙂

– Some churches launch a new series on Easter. We’ve been launching a new series 3 or 4 weeks before Easter, hoping to grab some momentum on our way in. I like both appraoches. If you launch a brand new series on Easter, it gives you something to promote and invite people back. I get it.

– Our series this year was ‘The Walking Dead’. We intentionally turned up the intensity and did our best to help people cross over from death to life.

– We really didn’t do a lot of marketing or gimmeckry. We had a basic look for the series, screens, etc. No special videos, no printed pieces, invites, etc.

– We had a few really good times around the altar during the series. People were eager to get on their knees and clear some stuff up with God.

– There was a sense of anticipation towards Easter. That’s probably the big take away from this one. It built as we went on each week. By the time Easter Sunday rolled around the energy was through the roof.

– God keeps teaching me to not be afraid to be bold or to go for the ‘big ask’. Inviting people to accept Jesus or asking them to be baptized, when they weren’t prepared for it, should be normal. Jesus asked people to take up their cross and follow him.

– A big honking Easter series doesn’t have to be expensive. We borrowed some extra lights and other than that is was good ‘ol fashioned hard work. A couple of our guys (Mark and AJ) put in ridiculous hours creating a new stage set and look for the series.

– Good series take a lot of planning. The themes, the messages, the songs, transitions, announcements, segues, etc. There are probably things we missed or things we would do differently, but all in all it was a well planned series. We probably worked 2 months on the series with a conference thrown right in the middle of it.

– Many changed lives, 18 baptisms, spontaneous baptisms, largest crowd ever, tells us that it was all well worth the effort. Giving God all the praise for amazing things He has done!


Outlandish!

April 11, 2011

A few quick thoughts.

– Outlandish was outstanding. It just was. God was with us.

– We had the right speakers with the right messages for the right time and the right people. You can’t line that stuff up. It’s a God-thing. There was a flow from topic to topic and speaker to speaker that made it one of the most seamless, cohesive conferences I’ve been to.

– People were pumped! We were tweeting our fingers off and just trying to keep up with all of the good points from each speaker.

– The format worked. The one day, 6 speakers, blast of information was a rush. I loved it.

– People were very positive. The feed back was excellent.

– We broke even. Whew!

Thanks to all of you who showed up, volunteered, registered, drove for hours, etc. Thank you!!


Keys to a Great Board Meeting

March 21, 2011

We love board meetings at Crosspoint. No. Seriously. We look forward to them. Board meetings don’t have to be bored meetings. They don’t have to stink. They don’t have to be stressful, tense, or threatening. Here are a few things we do that add value to our meetings:

– Have a plan. We don’t waste people’s time. You have to have a clear agenda and you have to keep things moving. Make sure all reports are ready, the room is ready, and have the meeting planned as best as you can.

– Have a vision. All church business has to be focused on moving your God-given vision forward. Remind people up front that every discussion and decision made in this meeting can help or hurt the vision. Meetings take on an entirely different tone when they have purpose and passion. You are answering the question, “Why am I here?”

– Keep it relaxed. I don’t mean disorderly, just not too uptight. Choose your words carefully. Keep it buoyant. Laugh, cry, stop and pray, etc. The setting of the room is huge. We’ve met in 3 or 4 different places here and we keep mixing it up.

– Coffee. Water. Snacks.

– Lead with conviction. Don’t hesitantly mumble your way through your thoughts. Share your heart. Clearly explain the direction you want to take. Don’t be afraid to take risks.

– Don’t spend inordinate amounts of time on finances and facility issues. There may be times of crises that require this but as a rule people will dread coming if they expect long periods of circular conversation without conclusions. Don’t let the same people always steer the topics or do most of the talking.

– If you don’t have much on the agenda to discuss, spend the time celebrating victories and casting vision for the future.

– Don’t be too long. We meet from 7-9:30 once a month.


Israel

March 14, 2011

I’m not posting this to gloat. I’m just saying.

I just got back from my second visit to Israel and it just continues to blow my mind. I used to say, “If you ever get a chance to go…” Now I’m saying, “You need to get there any way that you can!”

It’s hard to put it all into words. When you walk where Jesus carried the cross for you it just does something to you. Standing in Gethsemane and considering His love for me, I felt God speak to me, “Lead people to the Cross”. I wanted to catch a jet back to Fredericton right then.

Biblical history isn’t bunk. It’s true. It happened. There is overwhelming evidence of God’s overwhelming grace.

If you decide to go but don’t know where to start or who to contact, let me know. We’ll be going again.

Peace.


iPad Preaching

February 21, 2011

So, I’ve been preaching off my iPad for several weeks in a row now and I’m loving it. Here are a few thoughts:

– No paper! Uh, yeah, that’s a bit of a no brainer. But seriously, I just like the clean uncluttered feel of just my bible and my iPad.

– It’s brighter. I’m only 41, but I find the iPad screen a whole lot easier to focus on than my paper notes.

– I can transition from one page to the next with the slide of my finger. No more fumbling with sticky pages or getting on the wrong page.

– I have a paper back up. I’ve never had an iPad freeze or crash, but I do print off a copy of my notes just in case the worst happens.

– It’s modern. Say what you want, go ahead and throw stones, but I think some people appreciate that we’re embracing technology and using it for the Kingdom.

Other tips:

– I lock the screen so it doesn’t accidentally change orientation on me.

– I should turn the ‘auto-off’ off but I haven’t yet. If I get away from it for a few minutes it will go black. No biggie. I don’t think people even nootice me hitting the power button. As soon as I power on, it is there.

– I’m using an iPad app called ‘Good Reader’. When I synch I just go to apps, scroll down to Good Reader, get the file I want, and voila. Very nice.