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!


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!!

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.

Campaign Follow Up

October 14, 2010

Here’s a quick follow up post on our campaign:

– The campaign was a 4 week preaching series with a 5th week for celebration.

– Everything was intense and up a notch from where it had been. Worship, teaching, videos, the whole deal.

– Even though the Sundays were brutally intense at points, we picked up new families, didn’t have anyone get up and walk out, and received a ton of positive feed back.

– We ramped up our prayer efforts for the series. Each week had a special prayer event.

– Three of the four weeks were pretty direct about giving, money, finance, etc. It’s hard to do that for three weeks in a row. The fourth week grabbed some parallels from Acts 2: worship + teaching + invitation = growth. Repeat.

– We broke the 400 barrier over the past 5 or 6 weeks.

– We have many new people using tithing envelopes or electronic fund transfers.

– We asked for a ‘largest ever offering’ on week 4. People stepped up and gave $26,000. Wow!

– We asked people to make one year commitments that are renewable every year until Jesus returns. The original thrust is to pay off our debt. Ultimately it will put us in a better position to reach more people for Jesus. Total commitments so far = $160,500/year. That’s around $13,400/month. It’s another 40% over our annual budget. Very cool.

– We did the campaign dinner at the Univeristy of New Brunswick Student Union Building. The food was awesome and the people were pumped. We’re glad we did it.

– Pretty much everything was done in-house. The dinner was the largest expense but we saved a ton by not using an outside firm. Could they have raised more for us? I doubt it.

– We had numerous salvations and baptisms during the series. It’s pretty awesome to preach on money and see people accept Jesus. It feels like we’ve been doing baptisms weekly.

– Campaigns are exhausting. 😉