Thursday, March 31, 2011

Signs of a Church Hopper

When you are an initiator, by nature you attract those who are initators as well. When you are starting a movement whether it is a church plant, revitalizing a ministry or kicking a youth ministry off, you will need to know very important elements about the groups of people that will come to your aide. Some people are initiators; others are anchors; others are stabilizers and some are plain out church hoppers. Yep. I said it. You have to be able to identify those who are initiators and those who are bonefide church hoppers. Initiators thrive on doing something new. They love the "new car smell." They are excited about a "brand new church," or new youth pastor, or maybe even a new ministry venture. Beware, because their excitement of that new ministry will wain after it is stabilized. You can easily re-direct an initiator to another ministry to start or help revitalize something. Church hoppers are a little different. You have watch a few things in order to spot these people. Here is what I call the seven signs and sayings of a church hopper: 1. Their first conversation with you is how bad their last church was. A church hopper will talk about all the things wrong with the last pastor and last church. I have a friend name Lee Holley from Calvary Chapel PSL. He said their policy is that if someone trashes their last chuch at your church, then you automatically disqualify them. The reason is that it will not be long before they do it to you. When someone leaves a church whether it is positive or negative, the conversation should be, "I was called out." 2. They get involved in "spurts" and go missing for a while. Church hoppers do not have the power to commit. Either they find fault or are scared of committing because they hop around. They will get really excited for a week or two, or even a couple of months, but in the long run they never commit long term. 3. They have a brief history with churches. Church hoppers have "spotty" church resumes. Mentally compile a "resume" in chronological history of how many churches they have been at, for how long and the reason they left. I have families who leave a church and they have been there 4 years, 6 years or 8 years. That is staying power. They have commitment and a ling term history. 4. They have been to EVERY church in town. Ask other pastor friends about "so and so." You can have an understanding of where they have been and why they left from an objective source. And here is the kicker- If those churches could not do it for them, what makes you think yours can? 5. They commit really fast and tell you, "I got your back pastor. I am here for you." The ones who left the quickest were those who committed the quickest and they made this statement over and over again at the beginning, "I got your back pastor. I am here for you." Now listen, I have core team members who are faithful, loving and supportive. They make this statement, but they back it up with actions. They are consistent in their actions. 6. They do not serve and give to any ONE local ministry. A big sign of a church hopper is that they don't give AND serve at any one local ministry. We have Sunday night church so we have people who go other places on Sunday mornings. I can honestly tell you that people who do not financially, regularly back the church AND serve will be hopping. People will stay where their time and money is invested at. If it is no where, then it will not be long before they are somewhere else. My philosophy is this: If you are a mature Christian who loves Jesus, then serve and give. If you are a mature Christian and attend the church because you need another church service, I have plenty of friends with more seats. We need your seats! :) Be planted and rooted somewhere, for the sake of the Kingdom, please. 7. They want to "help" your church by changing it to where they came from. Yes, church hoppers left a church they did not like, but amazingly enough want to change your church into that church. I have had people tell me that because I am not like Rod Parsley or T.D Jakes, then I am not a good preacher. They wanted to have us doing 80's Christian music as well. They were there waiting and hoping that they could change me, when they could not- they left. At the end of the day, the way to identify a church hopper is when they hop from your church to another. The best thing to do is to love them, know that is their gifting and keep moving on. So, can you tell the difference between and initiator and a church hopper? What is the major difference to you? Answer below....

Monday, March 28, 2011

When the Sun Goes Down

We have been reading Steven Furtick's book, "SUN STAND STILL" in our Community Groups this semester. We have seen great things happening in our midst and believing for greater things.

I am speaking from that book this week to our congregation on "When the Sun Goes Down." So many times we talk about, "breakthrough," "miracles," "walking in faith," and "deliverance," but in our experience we see the opposite. This can be confusing, hurting and demoralizing. To trust for a certain thing to take place and then the opposite happen can take the wind out of your sails.

The key to this is that Joshua saw the sun go down on a generation before he ever saw the sun stand still. Day after day he saw people rebelling and "locked" out of the promise land. Sometimes before we see the sun stand still we will see the sun go down. It takes audacious faith to continue to persevere and believe despite that. Here are three reasons God will allow the sun to go down in our lives:
These are from Psalm 42, when David was betrayed by his son Absalom and was seeing the sun go down.

God allows the sun to go down because:
1. It Creates an Opportunity to Get Closer to Him
David said that his soul "panted" for the living God. His sun gone down experience pushed him closer to God.

2. It Causes us to Reflect Upon the Goodness of God in the Past
Two times David says, "I remember...."

3. Our Hope will Remain in God- not a Vision or Positive Circumstances
David said twice to himself, "Put your hope in God." He was sad, depressed and worn out because his hope was in circumstances changing, not in the Unchanging God of the Universe.

As you have "Sun Gone Down Experiences" read Psalm 42 and gain comfort, encouragement and perspective.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Now What? The After Party

Okay, so we had our official Grand Opening on Sunday March 20th, 2011 @ 6:00pm. After months and months of praying, planning and promoting, we finally saw fruit from this. We had over 200 people show up for our Grand Opening. What a great day! It was encouraging, inspiring and exciting.

.....but then Monday came. I was really tired. I had to go back to my full time job. I am not "Pastor Kevin" at my job. As a matter of fact, I had two co-workers actively try to get me fired. I had to meet with management and our HR department about this. I had to work on next week's sermon. I began to work on our next events. Very anti-climatic. What now?

I am reminded of the birth of Christ. There were angels, traveling shepherds and God's glory that came that day. What a circumstance of miracles that led up to this event. I heard a message from one of my mentors, Dwight Dunning, who preached, "What Happens After the Glory?" He spoke on Christmas about the shepherds and all those involved in this event. It was probably pretty anti-climatic. They went back to "normal." They had this great experience, but what now?

After a Great Ministry Experience:

1. Take Time to Celebrate with Your Team: Have a party! Have fun. Thank them for their faithfulness and reflect upon the faithfulness of God.

2. Share with Them your Next Big Event: Shift their minds to thinking that was the end all. Remind them there is much more to come. Start working on improving your ministries. Use S-Curves for your advantage.

3. Make a Memory, but not a Monument: There are some preachers and even leaders in our denominations who talk about that "one experience," pastorate, church plant or book they wrote. They are experts of the previous 20 years, but have no clue how to shift for the next 20 years. Some guys say, "Yeh, son, I had 80 people at my church one time too." (gruff country old voice.)

4. Don't Try to Out Do the Previous Week: Ministry is tough. We have great nights where we progress and change and then we have MONTHS where nothing visually happens. It seems like we are plowing through concrete..... then BAM, we have a powerful week and so we work hard to out do the previous week. Don't focus on that. Growth is a process, not an event.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday's Thoughts: Kool-Aid

Why do people "drink the kool-aid?"
Why aren't people digging my "kool-aid?"
On Sundays, I am going to post thoughts about church and why false movements make it. I watch Jehova's Witnesses and Mormons go out in groups and spread their false gospel. I watch non-Christian movements about saving "pear trees" or something like that flourish and have followers.

Why is it that the church is so bad at starting movements? Only 1 in 10 church plants make it. Why? Why do pastors and youth pastors struggle to keep people coming?

The basic human need of every person is love and acceptance. The second major need on the "Bordeaux's" scale is "a sense of being a part of a greater movement to change the world."

Churches for the most part are lacking in these two areas. We thrive on superficial worship services with superficial relationships. We punish people by with holding love from them if they are not part of our standard or code. We also are so wrapped up in "doing church" and having Bible Studies that we don't have a vision to be a movement, sent by God, to bring tangible change to our communities.

People join false movements because they are accepted, loved and feel part of a movement that is greater than them.

Let's make a personal covenant to see potential and speak to the potential in people around us. Let's return to authentic relationships where people can be transparent. Let's also recover our lost mission and invite people around us to be a part of that.

When is the last time you have told someone how much potential you see in them and called out gifts that you see?

When is the last time you sat over a cup of coffee, or hung out a while after church or a meeting and chatted about life with someone?

When is the last time you have casted vision beyond yourself?

Do people feel accepted in your ministry? Do people have the fire in their eyes about a vision larger than themselves?

Don't be mad if people ain't all up in your kool-aid. Maybe your kool-aid lacks sugar.