Archive for Church Planting

Reaching Millennials (4 of 5)

4. Lead and Challenge New Behaviors

This generation isn’t just willing to be challenged – they nearly demand it. A significant part of their mentality is they want to make the world better than they found it, whether their focus is on the environment, or putting an end to bullying. They are just waiting for the call to action to jump into a life of influence, particularly when it comes to learning to love the people around them. Their requirement is that you take the role of a “Lead goose” in the V-formation. Where you go, they will follow. It’s a doing thing, not a talking one.

Call them to change the world with you, not for you.

Provide them with simple, doable tools that will get it done. One that I’ve seen work incredibly well is going into the community to reach out to those in need (I like that term versus “The weak” – using the first gives room for change. Just because they are needy now that’s not a category they will live in all their lives).

It’s easiest to begin outreach to these folks.

Even if your knees are shaking from fear, they will be thankful and show you their love.

Reaching out is as simple as bagging up some sacks of groceries. Recruit, a couple of friends. Find an area where people seem like they might need some food or know of a neighbor who does. I usually say, “Do you know of anyone around here who could use some groceries?” I learned to say it this way after blowing it by asking, “Are you poor?” Like I said above, even though I was goofy, they thanked me profusely. There is an excellent communication network among people in need – far better than suburbanites. If they need the groceries, they will let you know. Otherwise, they will point you down the street. When you connect with someone who needs the groceries, spend a little bit of time with them. Ask them if they could use some prayer. They will always have a prayer issue. Then pray on the spot. When millennial folks do this even once, they will be lit.

Coming soon: Part 5

Reaching Millennials (1 of 5)

Reaching Millennials (2 of 5)

Reaching Millennials (3 of 5)

Reaching Millennials (3 of 5)

3. Build an Accepting Community

Pastors who lead congregations that feel “Stuck” – no sense of momentum, resistance to any new idea or direction.

In conversations with dozens of pastors and leaders, I hear the same sentiments.

“We are a very loving congregation, but no matter what we do, we have no momentum.”

After sitting in on some of their services, it seems right that their group is loving. On the other hand, those congregations are usually dug in and unwilling to upset what is already there.

Sometimes I’ve followed up on a list of their recent visitors to ask how they felt in visiting the church and if they will likely return. More often than not they too picked up on the love between members, but they didn’t feel love aimed at them. One couple said they felt “invisible” among the people. Acceptance goes beyond the required, “Turn to your neighbor and say hi” at the end of the worship.

When you go into the community to bring God’s kindness, you send an invitation stop by and check it out. Ask yourself (and detractors who might put fear into the mix) by saying something like, “If we open the doors too widely, who knows what sorts of people would show up – and bring in their problems here.” It is easy to justify attitudes and situations that stink, and that will cocoon us from being soiled by new people.

I usually ask them, “‘I hear your concern.’ How about this question, ‘Who isn’t welcome here?’ Here’s another one that goes with the first. ‘How long does it take for someone to change? As far as I can tell, it’s God who does the heavy lifting when it comes to hearts breaking. Our job is to love them and accept them as they come to us.’ Remember – acceptance isn’t the same as approval.’”

Every couple of weeks, at the end of services I usually ask the congregation to invite some others out to lunch. Usually, three individuals or couples are easier than just two. The new person will be more likely to say yes to dinner with three than two.

I suggest they take the new people out to lunch on their dime and maybe get them a burrito “that’s as big are your head” to give them a touch of the generosity they need to show. It’s amazing what can happen over a 45-minute lunch, even at Taco Bell (if that’s more in line with your budget).

Coming soon:4-5

Reaching Millennials (1 of 5)

Reaching Millennials (2 of 5)

Reaching Millennials (2 of 5)

2. Outward Focus on Loving the City

Millennials are not just open to being outward toward the world around them; they are also open to the possibility of failure. Unlike most, they are willing to take the risk.

Possible failure isn’t something we naturally embrace at any age, but the younger we are, the less we are concerned with it. No matter the typical age of a congregation, if we hope to reach Millennials we need to take more risks. The tendency of established churches is to avoid danger in the least.

Risk-adverse churches will fail to draw the majority of Millennials. On the other hand, those that are willing to take a chance at possible failure are the ones that this generation will be magnetic to them.

Congregations that insist on playing it safe are the least likely to tinker with what they already have in place – what feels safe.

  • Their image
  • Money
  • Time
  • Enthusiasm

It doesn’t have to be that way forever. We can change to become a church that draws Millennials.

  • By investing money with less regard for what might happen
  • By talking/teaching about it without it bearing fruit
  • By recruiting many in the congregation
  • By training leaders who join up but don’t stick with it
  • By the current leaders begin to do what they want the rest of the flock to do
  • By being willing to look possibly dumb by the critics

To begin to reach regularly out a congregation needs simple and realistic tools that will allow them to get to work. Anyone wants to see a return from the seed they plant. Mainly they just need practical tools that will enable them to get to work.

An easy outreach project to begin with that is likely to succeed is the “One-dollar Carwash.”

  • Set up some sign holders/cheerleaders to draw cars.
  • Go to the trouble of getting professional vinyl signs – you will communicate excellence. In future outreaches, they will still look great.
  • Have an array of washers to do different parts of the car. The introverts don’t need to risk talking to drivers. We can do that by walking through some new doors. Put a couple of enthused, friendly outgoing people who find it easy to connect with drivers.
  • Put a “Designated Evangelist” in place to explain what you are doing. When they go to pay for the wash, tell them, “Oh, you don’t understand. We pay you for the privilege of serving you with this.”

I often ask if I can pray for them for ten seconds. Of the hundreds I have offered prayer to, only two have turned me down so far. That shows a bit of the spiritual hunger of most people. Sometimes people tear up. Of course, we get questions. The three most common are: “Where do you meet?”, “Do you have something for kids?” and, most telling, “How long do your services last?” (Gulp!) Most can’t imagine giving more than an hour to a service.

Coming soon:3-5

Reaching Millennials (1 of 5)

Reaching Millennials (1 of 5)

There is no magic to reaching the Millennial generation. On the other hand, if we hope to get them, we simply need to do and be what God’s word has called us to be about all along.

Sometimes working with Millennials is about as frustrating as trying to use Jello as a baseball. The truth is they are not just a gift to your church. They are even the strongest booster rocket you can desire.

They call us to think through what we want to see. As you look this over realize a couple of matters. These are descriptions of the sorts of churches that Millennials will consider joining.

As you read these over, resist the trap of “Cognitive dissonance” – that is, the tendency to assume the best about what we are doing, even when our image is far from reality. This confusion is more prevalent in the church world than any other.

When we begin to make changes those already in our church usually resist – even to the point of threatening to leave or even worse, to stir up others to leave because all of the sudden “My” church has changed to a different direction.

1. Be Generous with Money

In the eyes of many Millennials, the church seems to exist mainly to for self-perpetuation. More than their predecessors, they live out the line “Put your money where your mouth is.”

To reshape that assumption, let’s be known for our extravagant generosity. Let’s even go so far as to be willing to nearly “Squander” money on the world around us. All hyperbole aside, let’s drop any caution and now define ourselves as incredibly giving without being overly concerned with that self-interest mindset.

The Orthodox Jewish Bible uses the word “Generous” to describe one of the marks of the fruit of the Spirit in Ephesians chapter 5. When we show generosity, we establish credibility. As we go into the community to give away bottles of water at a stoplight, sometimes people ask how we can afford to pay for all of this.

“Oh, we pay for it out of our offerings. We can’t help but spend a lot of money in our community to bring the same love that Jesus showed in his day.”

“But how do you cover all the expenses your church needs if you give so much away?”

“We see the city is worth investing in – worth showing love by serving. We believe that if Jesus were walking around town today, he’d being doing this sort of thing.”

As we loosen our grip on funds, our reputation as a giving church will begin to spread like a life-giving tsunami. As it was with Jesus, when we get into the community “Advertising” will take care of bringing all the attention we need to notice and experience God’s tsunami, his love, attention, and acceptance, they will start to “Gossip the Gospel.”

When we start to flow with God’s generosity, we are merely opening the door for our people to do what has already been in their hearts.

When it comes to outreach to the needy, pantries are good, but don’t let that be the limit of your outreach. Sometimes those with the greatest needs can’t get to any pantry without a lot of difficulties. Jesus reached out to the poor in a variety of ways. The most common way Jesus reached out was to meet needs as he ran across them.

Invest a given percentage of the congregation’s income back out into the community. A smart way to begin is to commit to percentage giving. If you already have required portions, you are expected to pay – tithes to the denomination, the denomination’s requirement to foreign missions, etc. You can negotiate those percentages.

Coming soon: 2 – 5

#1. The senior leader is the primary mentor of evangelism.

10.5 Ways To Overcome Fear of the “E Word”

God’s church goes forward numerically only as she gathers Newcomers unto herself. Yet it is becoming increasingly difficult for leaders, much less the regular church rank, to embrace the notion of evangelism. There is a lot of baseless fear that is associated with the ineffectiveness of the church in her outward trek. Let’s look at a number of key insights that clear the way for us to think—and act—differently toward not-yet Believers.
1. The senior leader of the local church is the primary mentor who guides the way in all things related to evangelism. A local church will rarely grow beyond the skill and passion level of her pastor. As that person does, so does the local church, for better and for worse. It is a heavy burden to bear but it is the reality of life. Most of the time, not surprisingly, the pastor of the local church is not naturally gifted at evangelism. The key word is “naturally.” He is usually more introverted and oriented toward speaking and teaching gifts. He would rather spend time studying than out with people trying to actively lead them to salvation. That’s okay. God can take a person like that and bring about exciting change. Remember this important principle: as a pastor changes so changes the local church. God isn’t interested in a pastor’s natural gifting. God tends to use us most profoundly in the areas where we lack a natural inclination. It is there we lean the most into God for strength and results.
To the degree the senior leader owns his responsibility in leading the way for evangelism God will be able to break through and do something significant. Until the senior leader owns this role little will happen. Tell God you are willing to step up. He will impart his desire. Then step out.

It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.

— Somerset Maugham

Words of Love That Follow Deeds Of Love

One of my ongoing frustrations in Servant Evangelism has come in seeing people verbalize the Good News. The tendency of human nature is to speak little in the context of serving others. It is rather easy to recruit people onboard with the serving part of equation (the “S”). The evangelism (the “E”) is more challenging. Works of love are powerful in themselves, but without an accompanying verbalization of WHY we are doing these things we are cutting things significantly short. In other words, we need to live out a capital S and a capital E lifestyle.

Setting Sail

Missouri Is Happening

I just got back from a trip to Missouri – I was in Springfield and Columbia. The kingdom is alive and well in both places. People are excited about extending the kingdom in big ways. I am thrilled to be included in what the Father is doing these days. I grew up in Kansas – in the Wichita area. I was inclined to think that the people who live in Missouri – and who follow Missouri sports teams especially – were a little off kilter. Such categorical thinking goes with the territory of growing about anywhere I guess.

Today God is on the move in a big way in good ‘ol Missouri. It is exciting to meet people who have been persevering in serving, praying and connecting with their community. I mentioned during one talk that I have planted several churches and, “who knows, maybe I will end up here in Missouri one day.” Four people came up to me after I finished talking to further inquire about my church planting plans. I was making a comment in passing, but it certainly was encouraging to hear the hearts of a number of people who are looking for cool spiritual things to happen in the Show Me State.

ServeCoach.com Registration Is Open!

ServeCoach.com is live and open for registration!

Head over to http://www.servecoach.com to try and snag one of those Fast-Mover Bonuses!

See you there!

Steve

ServeCoach Video Walkthrough + Launch Updates

VIDEO WALKTHROUGH
We just posted over at ServeCoach.com a video walkthrough of the new website that is going LIVE tomorrow, May 6th! This 8 minute video will show you exactly what you get with a ServeCoach.com membership. Head over there right now and watch this video:

ServeCoach.com

LAUNCH UPDATE

ServeCoach.com goes LIVE tomorrow at 4 PM Eastern / 1 PM Pacific. I’ll be sitting down with Lance Ford, from Shapevine.com, to answer several last-minute questions and explain some important aspects of this training. Make sure you’re on this webcast with me tomorrow at 3PM Eastern / 12 PM Pacific! The webcast will be live at ServeCoach.com. Immediately following the webcast, ServeCoach.com will go live.

BONUSES

Fast Mover Bonus #1 – First 50 Only

Ok, this is a biggie…

For the first 50 people who join ServeCoach.com, I will schedule a one-on-one strategy session where we can discuss your ideas and how you should proceed.

And if you don’t think we can get much accomplished in 30-minutes, think again!

Prior to our first call, you’ll fill out an information sheet where you’ll give me all the details about your ministry. (NOTE: You’ll find the mere act of filling out this info sheet to be valuable all by itself.) This way I’ll be able to prepare for our call ahead of time and fully maximize the time that we have.

Value: Priceless

Fast Mover Bonus #2 – First 500 Only

When we were cleaning out the vault we found my original presentation on servant evangelism on the church satellite network. Though the clothes and hairstyles of the audience will have you laughing, the content has never been needed more. It’s just as appropriate for you doing ministry in 2009, as it was fifteen years ago in 1994.

This 3 hour training seminar has been broken down into 6 lessons and includes PDF notes for you to download, print out, and fill out as you watch the videos.

Value: $99

OK, now you know about the bonuses being offered, so make sure you’re ready for the launch tomorrow at 4 PM Eastern / 1 PM Pacific!

Steve

P.S. – We have a large number of people on our list, visiting the blog, and leaving comments. All of this has come without much “publicity” – this is all from our own internal list.

I have no way of knowing how many people will register for ServeCoach.com, but I DO know that the first bonus will go very fast.

So if you want to grab one of those spots, then be ready tomorrow when we open.

44 Hours and Counting…

We are less than 2 days away from the launch of ServeCoach.com – so if you want to join me in this powerful, outward-focused coaching venture… then you MUST do two things:

1) Visit ServeCoach.com Wednesday at 3 PM Eastern / 12 PM Pacific for the LIVE broadcast that I will be doing with Lance Ford from Shapevine.com. I will be sharing more about ServeCoach.com and what it entails, as well as answering a few last-minute questions before we go LIVE at 4 PM. If you are interested in ServeCoach.com, then I highly recommend you bookmark the site, put the date and time in your calendar, and join us at 3 PM.

2) Sign up for the ServeCoach.com email update list, because I am going to send something you DEFINITELY are going to want to see. It’s also going to include bonus updates and launch information that’s important.

That’s all for now… keep walking in the outflow!

Steve