Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer Affects Everyone's Grass

I have something to admit. I love my neighbor's grass (not his wife). I would like to just lay in it. I will refrain from doing that because that sort of practice may be frowned upon. 
I became very discouraged early on in the summer. 
My grass was turning brown and dying. It seemed like all the neighbor's yards looked great, except mine. As I was mowing my yard one day I looked closely to my neighbor's grass I noticed that their grass was being affected by the summer heat too! It was refreshing. 

We usually fall into the trap of thinking that our grass is the only one being affected by heat. The truth is that we all are affected by the heat. This could be your marriage, ministry, job or overall life. You are not alone in your struggle. You are not alone in your situation. 

I realized several key factors that changed my perspective in this. 

1. Summer affects everyone's grass
A game changer for me was realizing that the perfect yard beside me had flaws too. The perfect marriage, ministry or job has flaws. Summer had affected their yard too. 
Everyone is going through something. Don't withdraw or isolate but rather connect with people. You'll be surprised that summer is tough on everyone. 

2. Water your own Yard
I also noticed that my neighbor waters their yard. I wasn't doing that. They minimized the effects of the summer heat by watering their grass. You may go through a "summer" season but you can also minimize the damage it causes. In your situation, apply some principles that others are applying that make their grass green. Stop complaining and stop making excuses. I went out and bought two sprinklers. I water my grass usually while I'm spending time with God. It's a great reminder to water my own grass. Water your marriage, water your ministry, water your marriage and water relationships. 

3. Don't Covet Your Neighbor's Grass
Finally I had to stop lusting after their grass. They worked hard for their grass. I needed to put time in my yard as well as be thankful. Coveting your neighbor's wife was a no-no on the 10 Commandment level. Why? Many reasons but one is very relevant here. Coveting causes ungratefulness with what you currently have. If you are ungrateful then you will not value what you have. You will stop investing into what God has given you. If you believe there is something better than God's gifts to you that is simpy spelled, "S-I-N." 

Everytime you look at a yard I pray these truths stick with you! 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

IN vs. ON

Let's face it. As leaders we have a lot of tasks that have to be done. There are tons of conversations with people that come up. Don't forget the event that is breathing down our necks or the sermon that is due up again. 
There are a lot of small things that demand our time. 

There is a story of a farmer who was forming a field. He started off by tilling the ground, marking boundaries and even putting up the scarecrow. After a while he began to plant seeds. As he was planting he noticed weeds, bugs and some stones. He worked tirelessly to plant seeds and take up weeds. He spent hours in one section of the field. He forgot to plant the seeds according to the proper season. Because of the distractions he planted haphazardly. He walked up months later and made the statement, "I have been so focused on weeds and seeds that I have all but destroyed the field." 

That could be many of us today. You could be focused on the day to day management that you have lost site of the big picture of the "field." The field could be your health, your marriage, your finances or your ministry. 

The key difference is between working IN it and working ON it. 
Working IN it is: 
•Day to day tasks and management. 
•The lesson, the talk or event. 
•Conversations or helping someone. 
All of these are important but you have to take time to pause, reflect and look at the big picture. 

Working ON it is: 
•Looking at the fulfillment of the mission and goals/results. 
•Big picture planning and calendars 
•Reflecting on your roles in life and your calling. 
Doing this is hard but keeps the field healthy and producing. 

Start to look at your week in terms of working IN or working ON. Both need attention. 
Which one do you "lose" yourself in? 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

What Guests Need to Know About You

In the last blog I talked about what you need to know about the 21st century guest. In this blog there is something they need to know about you. 

Many churches have brochures for first time guests with their "hundreds" of ministries. Guests often open it up, get overwhelmed and close it. They will later find it several months later when cleaning out their cars. Other churches have the really cool packet with tons of information. They may even give out a coffee mug with candy and more information. 

We have not had money to make cool packets or start hundreds of ministries. Our story at Thrive is that we have be very, very focused. We do everything on a shoe string budget. So, we give our guest 3 things. They get a life book as a gift as they enter. In that book a connection card and a Growth Track card with our 101-401 is found. 

We focus on helping first time guests understand their clear next step. We let them know where and how to return the card several ways. Our VIP hosts show them. I open up with that next step in my message. They get the next step info in email and a letter so they understand that fully. 

Once they get to 101 we focus on helping them again with next steps. Our whole system is set up to help them connected into the life of our church. 

Does everyone know what their next step is at your church? 
How are guests taught their logical next steps? 
Are your steps clear or do you have 70 classes leading in different directions? 

Make clear next steps. Over communicate those steps. Make each step easy and attainable. Help them personally go through each step. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

3 Truths about the 21st Century Guest

•The 21st century visitor: 3 Truths About Guests Who Come through Your Door

Pastors and Church Leaders, READ UP:

Our generation has more people who are skeptical and indifferent toward church as well as more people who are really hungry for the truth. 
There was a shoe salesman who went to a small village where no one had shoes. He phoned back and said, "No one here has shoes. No opportunity here." Another shoe salesman went and phoned back, "No one has shoes here. Lot's of opportunities here."
It's all about perspective. America is more like the setting in the book of Acts than ever before. There are more unchurched than we have seen in our Country's history. We have to be aware of our culture and meet our culture where they are at with the Gospel. We have our greatest opportunity ever. 

In order to do this you have know the people who will come in the door of your church each week. 

Here are 3 basic attributes of those who come through your doors: 

1. They are Skeptical
•Our generation is skeptical of preachers and churches. They have every right to be too. High profile preachers have been caught in scandals, affairs and embezzlement. Because of these facts people are a little less "trusting" up front. They may have even been hurt by a church or pastor. So, we have to realize that because of these experiences the guest is evaluating every word and action. Don't take it for granted that they just believe you. They don't. Their arms are folded and they are arguing with you the whole time while you are speaking. 

2. They have more Options:
•There are a lot of really great churches in our communities. That's the truth. I know we all feel our church is the best but there are so many great, godly and missional churches in our communities. Most folks under the age of 50 are not looking for their denomination affiliational church. They no longer move to a community looking for the Southern  Baptist, Methodist or Pentecostal Church. So, they usually are looking for a church where they can feel comfortable and grow. So, church shoppers are now the reality of most guests who come in the door. You are one of five they are going to try out. This is even true of the unchurched. We have tons of stories where the totally unchurched mapped out 3-5 churches after research on the internet and they ended up choosing us. They have options. 
3. They are Searching
•People really want truth this day and time. They are searching for authentic leaders to follow. They also are very informed. Our generation has more access to knowledge than any other generation in history. They can search and find seven different views on a topic  while you are speaking. This means that we must not treat people in our congregation as "idiots." They probably know as much about the Bible as you do. Share the history of the account you are teaching on. Make a bridge between that world and their world. Finally help it help them practically. They have felt needs. They are hurting somewhere. They are searching. Pray each week that God would help you help them find Him in their need. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Change the Scorecard (new metrics)

The Right Metrics in Church

As we look at the new year there is excitement of the possibilities of what it will bring. Most of us have closed the physical and mental books of last year. In order to stop the cycle of “end of the year depression” and “beginning of year highs” is to start using the right metrics for success in churches. If you are part of a church, leading a ministry in a church or even pastoring a church you can agree that we measure success on different metrics than the Bible. The question is usually, “How many are you running on Sundays?” or we talk about finances. If you are a small church then you kind of make up your own metrics. You talk about the outreach event you accomplished or how many responded to the altar call. The point is that we have to change the metrics of what we consider “successful.” I had a professor who would say all the time, “Thousands pack out sports arena’s because they have great entertainment. They yell, they get loud, they play music and enjoy the sport but nothing spiritual is really happening.” I am afraid that could be many of our churches in America. What really matters in churches?

I don’t have all the answers. We are on a journey at Thrive to discover these metrics for our body of believers. Here are just a few of the metrics that we matter. If you want to find some great statistics to follow then pick up Bob Franquiz’ book, “Pull.”

The following metrics are what we give in our annual report each year to our partners.

Metrics to change the “scorecard:”

Baptisms versus Average Attendance:Don’t just say how many you are attending on Sundays, but talk about how many have been baptized versus your average attendance. A healthy church has 15%+ of their attendance baptized in that year. So, instead of asking, “How many you running?” Ask, “How many have we baptized this year and in the last 5 years against our average attendance?”

Small Group % Participation versus Average Attendance: You should be measuring how many of your people are engaged in small groups versus your average attendance. A church should set a high mark on this one. Plan and pray to have 40%+ of your people involved. Talk to the congregation about it. Ask them to pray with you about it. Make it the norm.

Actively Serving in the Church Body versus Average Attendance: Another important metric is looking at how many are serving on a team in the church versus your attendance. In the same manner as small groups, this metric should have a high bar. You should pray and plan for 40%+.

Small Groups that are Actively Involved in the Community Each Semester or Year (depending on your group structure): We have a standard that every small group, we call Community Groups, have to engage their community each semester. They pray, get ideas and find creative ways to engage their community. This takes the small group participation % to another level.

The Ways Your Church is Engaging Your Community: Each church should have a unique niche of how they engage their community. It may be just one thing and that is fine. But always reflect on how your church is actively engaged in your community.

Salvations: Enough said.

Baptisms versus the number of Salvations: You should be measuring how many baptisms you have versus the number of salvations. For instance in 2013 we had 125 salvations and 48 baptisms. That is about 38%. If you have a high number of salvations but a very low baptism rate then that shows that people are not taking the next step after surrendering to Christ.

Membership: Now I know what you are thinking… Yes! We have 500 on our membership roll. The issue is that you only have 200 attending. In the 50-90’s we had the mindset of “stacking” the membership roll. We are in a season now where we are making it harder for people to become a “member.” We use the term “partner.” You have to go through 101 and 201 before you can sign up for partnership. Partnership for us is where you acknowledge God has called you to partner with the vision at Thrive. We have about 31% of our attenders that are partners. They are the extreme navy seals of our church. You should strive to have a process for membership, set the bar high and give them the next step after membership. Our next step is that you will now be on our Dream Team. You will be asked to lead and mentor.

Have you noticed the big difference in these metrics? They are all percentage based. It doesn’t matter how many you have showing up to a show on Sunday but the idea of actively making disciples. Take some time to review these metrics. Use these as your new scorecard. When someone asks how your church is doing, don’t blab just about nickels and noses, but talk about the % involved in serving, groups, baptized and partners. Change the scorecard!