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!!


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!


Leadership/Ministry Alignment

October 19, 2010

I drive an old car. It’s 10 years old, doesn’t owe me a dime, and has all the ‘character’ of a 10 year old car. One of the issues that we’ve had with it is keeping the alignment dialed in. It would wear tires, we’d rotate, balance, lay hands on them, do whatever the mechanic suggested. Finally, we stopped fooling around and we replaced a bunch of serious parts in order to fix the problem. Being out of alignment is costly and wears on everybody.

In leadership and ministry it’s crucial that you know who you are, where you are, where you need to be and how you are going to get there. You should be able to map this pretty simply on a white board. Or an iPad. Or a napkin. Look at everything you are doing and ask yourself whether it is in line with where you need to be. There is nothing more exhausting or frustrating than doing a bunch of ‘stuff’ that isn’t really helping your cause.

WARNING: This will likely lead to things that you need to stop doing. They might be good things. They might be well attended things. Whatever. If they aren’t contributing to the vision they are taking resources and they are distracting from what you ultimately need to be about.

Things just roll better when you are lined up well. Things are clearer. It’s easier to make decisions. You can be energized about tasks. It’s easier to measure the outcomes because they are vision driven based on your goals. You won’t spend a large part of your day managing things that aren’t making a difference for you.

Alignment has to be constantly checked. For me, weekly staff meetings and monthly board meetings are times to check alignment. It’s pretty obvious when we get discussing something that just isn’t in our DNA. It just seems to be forced or awkward, or off-beat. But, when we discuss things that resonate with our vision we immediately get amped up, creative and innovative. Alignment holds things in balance and brings it’s own synergy to meetings, planning, discussions, etc.

Where to start:

– Know who you are. If you are trying to be something you aren’t it will wear you down. It’ll wear everyone down. People can tell when you are posing.

– Know where you and your church/organization are. Have a clear picture of reality. This probably means you will have to ask an objective person you trust to tell you straight.

– Know your vision. Vision is critical to alignment. You have to have a clear and compelling vision for the future that fires people up and causes them to follow sacrificially. There has to be something dynamic to align around.

– Know how to get there. Alignment doesn’t just happen. You have to plan for it. You have to aim for something. Get the right people around you and hold strategic planning meetings until you are confident that you know how you are going to lead the people from A to B. If you are all over the road, you’ll never know if you are lined up or not. This is huge. A vision without a plan is a regret.


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. 😉


MAP Ministry Action Plan

September 15, 2010

The MAP is the core document we use at Crosspoint for ministry alignment. Each staff person is responsible for completing it in detail, submitting it on time, and sticking to their objectives. I don’t have an Executive Pastor, so the MAP’s come to me. I review them and discuss them with the staff. I’ll adjust things up or down if I feel I need to. The main objectives are clarity, vision consistency across multiple ministries, and strategies. I’ve copied the doc below. If you are in ministry and you’d like the file emailed to you in pages or word, just ask and I’d be happy to ship it off to you.

MAP 2.0

Crosspoint

August, 2010

Vision: Crosspoint exists to lead hundreds of people to Jesus.

MAP Purpose: The MAP is meant to help you with ministry alignment. We want you to be clear about what we’re asking you to do and where God is leading you. The MAP should answer 3 main questions: What is the current status of my ministries? Where do they need to be? How will they get there?

  1. Crosspoint needs me to give exceptional leadership to these ministries/areas:
  • List other areas that you are involved with but aren’t the primary leader
  1. Crosspoint needs me to be a leader of leaders. Here are the key leaders that I am investing in. These people are leading ministries and equipping others for involvement:

Total # of people involved in my ministry now: _________

Total # of volunteers I need by May 2011: _________

Things I’m doing to equip, train, lead, and inspire my volunteer team:

  1. Some serious evaluation. Starting with my largest responsibility, this is the current status of that ministry, how it can change to grow and be even better, and my strategy to make that happen:
  • Give us your thoughts, numbers, circumstances (I had 40 snow days in a row…) etc. Doesn’t need to be long. Just accurate. Where, in a God-awesome state of renewal, would you really like to see that ministry? Detail your plan to get it from A to B.

4. Other stuff:

I’m really not flexible about flexibility. You have to be willing to do whatever it takes to help Crosspoint realize the vision God has given us.

Also:

  • Daily office hours
  • Other ministry time as required. If you want regular hours, you know what to do.
  • Take your day off.
  • Be on time and ready, as a professional, for all activities under your leadership. Make sure your people know what’s going on. Remember, when they don’t know, they ask me.
  • Be loyal to all things Crosspoint. Lead Pastor, staff, people, ideas, etc.
  • Christlike character. We are setting an example. People watch every thing you do. Twitter. Blogs. Music. Movies. Don’t embarrass me and please don’t make me come and talk to you about this stuff.

We are all privileged to work at a great church like Crosspoint. Let’s enjoy this as much as we can. If we continue to honor God, preach and teach Jesus, and get pumped over changed lives, good things will continue to happen. God, keep us humble. Help us to stay out of Your way.