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.



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!!

Part 2

December 8, 2010

Last week I broke the ice on a new initiative on our district. Annnnndddd, I’m pretty pumped about it’s potential.

This week I thought I’d blog a bit about what happens when we get serious about this.

– You have to have a passion for souls. It has to be blazing. This is step one. If you’ve lost this, I would say pray, fast, read, listen, plead, do whatever you have to do to get back to this. Think about your calling. Why did you get into this in the first place?

– You have to be strategic about the way you introduce or reintroduce this fire to your congregation. This is where it gets tricky and there is no way I can type everything about this right now. You are going to need to talk to someone who has done this before. You’ll need to identify who your key people are. Essentially, you are going to have to introduce change. And you are going to have to be willing to pay the price for the necessary changes. It’s crazy to think that you can achieve new results from the same methods. People will have to want salvations and baptisms more than they want personal preferences met. The right changes for the right reasons should be acceptable to mature believers. Don’t quit on me already!! 🙂 Don’t think about all the negative reaction to change. If you don’t change, your church will never break through. You may as well pay the price for change as pay the price for maintenance.

– Good evangelism is a mixture of ‘come and see’ and ‘go and tell’. You want to create a culture of anticipation and expectation about Sundays. They (your congregation) will go and tell others to come and see. If the services are done with excellence and there is a clear, quality, relevant invitation to cross the line of faith almost every week…your church will have more opportunities to lead spiritually lost people to Jesus. I know that is quite a statement, but I believe it to be true. I don’t think Crosspoint is an anomaly. I think we can see all of our churches reaching more and more people.

– Being an outward focused church requires risk. There may be some things you need to stop doing and some other things that you can initiate. You need to seriously evaluate the purpose of everything you do. After you have carefully examined everything your church does with some of your best thinkers, you can start to ask “What can our church do (with excellence) to reach our community?” This is putting some substance to your vision. What is the unique way that God has designed your church to have the greatest redemptive potential possible? The answer is in the people you have, or God is bringing, the needs of your community, the opportunities of your community, and what you can do really really well that will make some noise. Most of the changes Crosspoint has made were framed around questions like these.

More later…


Evangelistic Urgency

December 4, 2010

I’m not sure how many Pastors on the Atlantic District of the Wesleyan Church are following this blog, but this will be a good test to find out. If you are one of the above mentioned crowd, and you know someone who needs to read this, please copy and paste, use multiple exclamation marks and all capital letters. Bold type.

I’m on our District Board of Admin. We met in Moncton last week. One of the great discussions of our meeting was our prayer to see more of our Pastors rekindle and fire up the evangelistic flame that called them into ministry in the first place. Yes, we want healthy churches. Yes, we understand there is more to running a church than numbers. But, we are burdened to see more of our pastors and their churches leading more people to Jesus.

So, I’ve been asked by the DBA to create and lead something for this purpose. A few thoughts:

– We’re looking for people who seriously want to see their churches reaching spiritually lost people. We’ll likely contact a starter group and invite them to participate. Hit comment if you want to be contacted.

– We want to come alongside you and encourage you.

– We want to engage conversations that may lead to break throughs that otherwise may have been missed.

– We want to pray for you and your church.

– We want you to know that your District is with you. We are in this together.

I’ll be putting more details together next week. I just wanted to float this to see if there are any keeners out there who want to comment now and say ‘I’m in, let me know more.’ Who knows, this could be the start of something very cool for many changed lives around our District.

Top 5 Reasons to come to OUTLANDISH 2011

November 18, 2010

5. You don’t know everything! None of us do. We all need times when we allow someone else to pour into us from the things they have experienced and learned.

4. To get a double shot of innovation! It takes new ideas to reach new people. Go where everyone is going (Outlandish) to hear what everyone is saying (speakers) so you can do what no one else is doing (in your community) to reach people no one else is reaching!! OK, that’s a mouthful. But you get the idea. We need to get out of our norm and get into environments where God can speak new ideas to us.

3. For community! We don’t get together enough. This conference will give you an opportunity to network and reconnect with people from all over the Maritimes.

2. For all the extras! The music will be smokin’, the coffee will be hot and plentiful and welcome in the sanctuary, the volunteers will be pumped and helpful, the breakouts will be useful, and the energy will be off the charts.

1. Jesus! Hey, what did you expect me to say??!! Seriously. We believe that the local church is the hope of the world, that Jesus is the real deal and that local churches need to be doing all they can to share Jesus with their communities. This conference isn’t about the latest programs, books, or studies. It’s about Jesus!

A Satellite Spinning out of Control

November 3, 2010

This post is for you Allison! 🙂

I was a youth pastor at the Corbett Avenue Wesleyan Church in Fredericton back in the mid-90’s. I clearly remember us talking about Oromocto and how someone needed to go down there and start a church. I remember Oromocto being on my mind. A lot. When I came back to Fredericton a few years ago I knew it would only be a matter of time until we pulled the trigger on that military town and tried to make some noise for Jesus. That time came in the summer of ’09.

After months of praying, planning, vision casting, branding, and marketing we launched our first satellite service in the theatre of the Oromocto High School. We met some new friends, got a little energy going, and just tried to give it our best from week to week. There were challenges for sure. The space was too big. We didn’t actually have a pastor or staff person living in Oromocto, and it was very tiring on the team. Our model that we were committed to was live worship with video teaching. Right or wrong, that is what we felt we needed to be doing.

By January 2010 we were pretty much out of gas as a team. We loved O Town. We had a burden for O Town but we just couldn’t sustain the pace. So, we called everyone together, bought them lunch, and explained where we were. We weren’t sure if it was the end, but we knew something had to change. God had a plan.

That was February. Zoom forward to November and O Town is one of the great miracles happening in our church. We have more families from that community attending Crosspoint Fredericton than we ever did when we were actually holding services in O Town. People are being saved, lives are being changed, people are being baptized, new families are coming all the time, etc, etc. It’s incredible. So, how do you explain that? How would you teach that in a multi-site church seminar??

The satellite church showed people who we were. They could tell that we were genuine, real, and we were willing to do church differently in order to reach others. Once they caught our style and quirkiness, and our passion for Jesus, they were more than happy to make the 20 minute drive into F’ton. Here they have children’s ministry, a crowd of people, the full energy of a packed church, live teaching, etc. Another key component in the O’Town Revival is ‘friends inviting friends’. Found people find people. (*Newspring Church quote) We probably have 30+ people attending from Oromocto who could point back to one person who was willing to take some risk and invite someone to church. Lives changed for eternity simply because she invited others. Very cool!

What have we learned:

– If you do what God is telling you to do, you can’t go wrong. You just have to trust the results with God. Sometimes you don’t see the impact right away.

– Stepping out is always risky. You can’t let risk stop you.

– Changed lives are worth the effort. All the loading of gear, trips to O’Town, setting up, etc. When you see those families walking in to church, it is ALL worth it!!!

– Invite someone to church. Many people are only one invitation away from Jesus. Step out. Take the chance. Go for it.

Between Faith and Foolishness

October 26, 2010

I’ve blogged something similar to this in the past. If it sounds familiar, my apologies.

There is a risk zone somewhere between faith and foolishness. For our church, that has been the sweet spot of God’s blessing. We’re totally out on the limb of faith where we could never take credit for what is going on but we aren’t completely foolish either.

If you are wanting to see something new and crazy take place in your church, I would say that you should white-board some ideas of what that might look like. Take the list of ideas and give them a grade between 1 and 10. Anything between 1 and 5 you can probably do on your own. Anything above 5 requires faith. A ten is probably near foolish. You should probably only tackle 2 or 3 things a year that score a 7 or higher on this scale.

There have been numerous times in the past 3+ years at Crosspoint that we have jumped at an idea without knowing whether or not we could pull it off. There was huge risk of failure. God blessed us every time and filled in the difference between what we felt called to do and what we were capable of doing.

A few thoughts about these leaps:

– Hecklers are usually watching, hoping that you will fail.

– It builds confidence in the people. People want leaders who are willing to take some risk.

– It fires the right people up. All of your visionary, entrepreneurial type people will be behind you.

– It sets a goal for everyone to meet. These leaps usually require everyone working together and getting involved.

– Every time you come out of one of these near-foolish risks you are getting stronger for even greater risks.

– You build God-stories into the life of your church. You can point back for many years and declare ‘God is with us!’

Some examples of risk:

– Hiring staff because of vision when we weren’t sure we could afford them.

– Going to two services before it looked like we needed to.

– Changes in worship, media, etc.

– Budget increases.

– A satellite church launch that is seeing greater results since we stopped holding the services there. (needs another post to explain!)

Most people aren’t wired for a lot of risk. But, they might be wired for opportunity and they should be wired for reaching the lost. You can probably show them examples from scripture that didn’t exactly look like a great plan on paper but God blessed it big time in the end. No risk = no reward. If you don’t know where to begin or what to do, don’t be shy about asking someone else to take a look at your situation and make some recommendations on some risks your church can take.