Wednesday, July 24, 2013

5 Marks of a Missional Worship Experience

This blog is not designed to teach "style" or "model." I simply want to give you give marks of a missional worship experience. 
We teach our people to live on mission all week. We also work with our ministry teams to be missional on Sundays. Every Sunday every volunteer is taking a mission trip. We are prepared for people far from God to be filled with life in Christ. 

Here are 5 marks of a missional worship experience: 
1. You are expecting people far from God to show up. 
•First and foremost this has to be the key. If you don't expect it then the rest of this blog is pointless. What you pray for and are expectant of comes to fruition. Every team leader and volunteer has to have that mindset. 
•If you are not expecting it them you will just turn your experience into camp meeting each week seeking to satisfy the ones who are coming. 

2. You gear every ministry with the mindset of mission. 
•Our mission at ThriveChurchVA is "we exist to help people experience God's love through Christ." 
•From your parking team to kids ministry; they are on mission. They are cognoscente that they will interact with people far from God. Constantly remind your church of their mission. 
•Help them understand that they participate in the wins. If someone gets saved at your experience help them understand that they, being on mission, played a part with that. 

3. Your worship song selection is Gospel-centered and engaging. 
•Worship is the engaging of mind, emotions and will. You want your songs to speak to them of God's love, the cross and His power that is available to save. You also want them to connect at the deepest level about God's love toward them. Finally you want them to do something. The result of worship music should also inspire people to want to respond to God's grace. 
•Keep a detailed record of all the songs you do. Plan them out and look at the big picture at what you are communicating. Worship leaders preach every week through the song selection. What are you preaching and teaching? Is it Gospel-centered? Does it reveal the true nature and mission of God?
•Be aware of singing songs that don't make sense to non-believers. Also, don't just sing the Apostles Creed or the Doxology. The song selection should be prepared to help them in the three areas  of mind, emotions and will. 
•Many times we do one if these really well but we fail in the other areas. Some churches sing a lot about "praise" but very little about the One who they are praising. Some sing about breakthroughs and new things but never the work of the cross or Christ. 
The main question to ask when looking at the music portion of your worship experience is this, "Are we teaching people the fullness of who the God of the Bible is and are they engaging with Him?" 
This is the essence of worshiping in spirit and truth. 

4. You pass by the cross when you preach and show them the real Hero of the message. 
•We have many different series that we preach. Some are felt needs, others the Gospel and some verse by verse. No matter what series you are in you always need to drive them by the cross. I had an elderly Bible professor tell me that. It has always stuck. 
•Make sure that people see the finished work of Calvary in the message. If you can preach it without needing the finished work on the cross then it is probably not Biblical. 
•Finally show them the real Hero of the story. We often make David, Moses or Joshua the hero. Remember that you are not slaying giants. Jesus did it and is doing it on your behalf. You are not conquering promised lands, Jesus has done it and is doing it on your behalf. Never let someone leave your message believing that they are the center and hero of the story. Point them back to the cross and Christ. 
If you are not preaching this then refer back to point #1 for the reason why you are not. 

5. Your two goals at the end are that people far from God connected with Him and that the people walking with God leave with a missional focus. 
•The main goal is two-fold. You can't make it one or the other. You want people leaving feeling more connected to God and having a greater awareness that they are in mission for God. 
•If they leave with one or the other they are in trouble. If they leave just feeling more connected to God without a sense of mission they become self-centered. However if you try to get people on mission that are not walking with the Savior they feel drained and can even become just a social justice machine. 
•Intimacy and Mission have to be married. Make sure that is woven throughout the worship experience. 

The worship experience requires lots of prayer, planning and evaluation. You can use these five points to see if you are putting together a missional worship experience. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Secret to Understanding Demographics

The Secret to Understanding Demographics

Let's get to the point. Demographics are misleading. I didn't think so four years ago. I had the best demographics for our church plant. I studied them and even memorized certain portions. But it didn't prepare me and truth be known it didn't even help me. Yes. I said that. They were misleading because I was not taught the secret of demographics. 

If you view demographics as just numbers, stats and ratios then you will be misled. 

The culture behind the numbers and stats are more important than the numbers themselves. For instance, you may have "City A" with 40% of the population 20-40 years old. So, you assume that you will mostly reach that group. So you sit in an office and make a plan based on those demographics. After a while you find out why you are not reaching that group. You moved from "City B" and reaching that group is like shooting fish in a barrel. You pop up a church and boom- they come. It's not happening here in "City A." Why? The culture is totally different. 

You need to put culture to your demographics. You can't exegete your culture by numbers on paper. You have to be baptized in that culture. For those pastors and planters who grew up or pastored previously in the city they do ministry in it's much easier. But if you are a church planter or accepting a pastoral assignment in another area then you need the numbers and stats but don't make any assumptions based on your previous culture. 

4 Things to Remember: 

1. All cultures are unique and different. Chicago and Atlanta are metro cities but totally different. Their cultures are very different. Find out what makes the culture unique there. Certain portions of the US have culture pockets. Some pastors work better in their culture pocket. A pastor from NY may not do very well in a Southern rural town just as the country preacher from a rural town may not make it in Seattle. 

2. Don't base your target on demographics alone. 
Get baptized in the culture. I worked for a government agency helping folks who were unemployed get back to work. I saw hundreds per week in South FL. I quickly realized the culture and my estimation of demographics were wrong!

3. Talk to the locals. 
Talk to pastors, natives and pilgrims. When I planted my first church I resisted the wisdom of local pastors. Granted most of them were very negative and cynical but I did not listen. In my most recent endeavor I just sat in onunch meetings and asked questions. Also, listen to the natives. Read responses to online newspaper articles. Find those who have been there for years and ask them questions. Also, talk to Pilgrim's. find out why people are moving to your community.

4. Don't ignore demographics. 
At first glance of this article it may seem that I am downing demographics. Not so. Learn them. Memorize them and adjust accordingly. 

The secret is to know the culture of each people group in the demographic that is represented. This is an ongoing task. Don't think you have it figured out after 3 months or 6 months of being there. You will continue to exegete and excavate that culture that will give you more insigt on the numbers and percentages. So, never recite numbers with out attaching the local culture if every group represented.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

7 Secrets to Make the Most out of Summer

May 31-Sept 7 is church summer time. The months of June, July and August are usually a time for vacations and travel for families. 
I saw one church sign say, "I am glad God doesn't take vacations." You can sense the pastor's frustration. 

Summer can be fruitful. I am not saying you will break major growth barriers. If you do, that's great. But most past it's are trying to blindly walk through summer. I have heard that if you plateau during the summer you are probably growing. Encouraging, right?

Here are seven short secrets to making the most out of summer. 

1. Focus on getting better before bigger. 
•Take time to meet with ministry leaders and make each ministry better. Focus on getting better in all your functions. As the founder of Chick-fil-a said, "If we get better out customers will demand we get bigger." 

2. Plan strategic events that create momentum toward the fall. 
•We are hosting a baptism bash and BBQ, a community wide VBS and two back to school bashes. These events help build synergy and excitement within the church that bring momentum toward the fall. 

3. Use the summer to evaluate the previous six months. 
•Look back at averages, numbers and stats. Breakdown percentages of those serving, in groups, conversion growth, attendance and finances. See how much you have grown, declined or plateaued. 

4. Don't use all your creativity in preaching during the summer time. 
•We do a verse by verse teaching starting after Memorial Day and it continues through most of the summer. We teach through a book of the Bible. Don't use creative series during the summer. Save those series for Sept-May. Save up those creative juices. 

5. Summer doesn't mean you have to shut down. 
•I know there are several ways to skin this cat. The main point is to not quit during the summer. Use it strategically. 

6. Have a half-time huddle at some point.
•All sports teams have a half-time huddle. The coach reviews the first half of the game and gives an "adjusted" game plan for the second part of the game. Do the same with your church. 

7. Do some fun things during the summer with the church. 
•When people think of summer they think of BBQ's, water and fun. Have some fun events that can bring your folks together. Just have some fun! 

There are hundreds of other things ministry leaders can do during the summer. These are just a few ideas.