BIG Announcement Coming on Monday!

This coming Monday there will be a big announcement on the blog! It’s a project I’ve been working on for some time and it’s now ready to launch. My goal is the same as always, to help leaders maximize their church’s potential. I seek to do that in multiple ways, including this blog, sharing resources like the 30 Apps, or in helping churches through speaking, consulting or at the executive leadership level with the proven Church StratOp process.

The New Addition

I love all of those things, but I’m really excited about this new addition for many reasons.

  1. It will provide something new and fresh that none of other things provide.
  2. It’s free, whereas a number of the options above require a financial investment many churches and leaders can’t make.
  3. It will provide a better opportunity to hear from you and give you what you need most.
  4. It’s going to help me and my church. (one selfish one is okay, right?)
  5. It’s new, and I happen to like new. (okay, make that two)

Subscribers Already Know

Everyone who subscribes to the blog already knows what’s coming, but they’re keeping it under wraps. If you want to be in on early announcements of resources and new things to come, you can subscribe using the 30 Apps form to the right or at the bottom of this post. That will just subscribe you to updates from time to time.

If you want to get new posts by email each week, and you might after the announcement, that’s separate and you can subscribe to that here.

Can You Help?

When it is announced on Monday, can you help spread the word? The more people that get involved the better it will be, so I appreciate you being willing to share it with your networks.

Mission | Vision | Strategy | Values – The Strategy Factor

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Have you ever been confused by the terms mission, vision, strategy, and values?

Join the club.

In the first post in this series, I introduced this topic and wrote about Mission.
In the second post, I wrote about Vision and the role it plays.

In this post, we’ll talk about Strategy. While vision probably gets confused them most, I actually see church mission statements that look more like strategy statements. More on that later.

Strategy

Reggie Joiner has a great definition of strategy, saying:

“Strategy is a plan of action with an end in mind.” – Reggie Joiner

Reggie makes another statement about the importance of strategy that I completely agree with:

“It’s the effectiveness of your strategy, not the scope of your mission, that ultimately determines your success.” – Reggie Joiner

What question does strategy answer?

Strategy answers the question – How will we get there?

Mission defines our purpose, as in why we exist. Vision describes where we are headed. Strategy describes how we’ll get there. The book 7 Practices of Effective Ministry has helpful advice on the importance of thinking steps, not programs. Unlike the picture of thumbtacks above, a good strategy has a clear path with a clear next step. It’s not just a random scattering of programs, events, classes, etc.

In the road trip analogy, strategy is the route plan

Our mission tells us why we’re on the journey in the first place. Our vision points to a destination on the map. Strategy plots the route from where we are to where we want to be. For people in our churches, it’s a defined path with clear next steps for how they can connect with Jesus and follow him.

What should a strategy statement look like?

Strategy statements can be a little longer than mission and vision. Those are basically a short sentence while a strategy can be defined with multiple phrases. Ideally, a good strategy could be drawn on a napkin to the point where someone new would understand it. They don’t have to know every aspect, just the overarching plan.

The strategy at our church is the 3 C’s – Celebrate, Connect, Contribute. We want to help people celebrate regularly with God in worship, connect in small groups, and contribute in ministry in the church and outside our walls. There are smaller steps along the way to help guide people, but that’s the core strategy.

Why do mission and strategy sometimes get confused?

I see church mission statements that look more like strategy statements. For example, a common one would be:

Love God. Love People. Serve the World.

In the first post, I said that I think church mission statements should just be a re-wording of the Great Commission. Here you have the Great Commandment along with a call to serve. It’s good, but for me personally I don’t like that it doesn’t reference making disciples in any way. It references growing them to love and serve more, but it’s not clear the mission is about making new disciples.

It also looks like a strategy. A church could have a mission of “make disciples” and the strategy could be to lead people to Love God, Love People, and Serve the World. You could design a path at your church around those 3 things.

How does this relate to Family Ministry?

What is true for our church is true for any specific ministry. Without a clear strategy, we’re just doing random things and hoping they have an impact. We’re also not leveraging momentum or synergy by connecting things together. In our case, the strategy in family ministry is the same strategy we have for the entire church, but with one addition.

In addition to helping kids and students celebrate, connect and contribute, we also partner with parents. Parents are the biggest influence on their kid’s lives and we want to help them use that influence well.

Action Step

Determine whether or not your church has a defined strategy for how you’ll accomplish your mission. If it doesn’t exist or isn’t clear, start having conversations about how to create one. If one does exist, look closely at your family ministry and see if it translates.

Take the time to define your family ministry strategy and place everything you do where it fits in the strategy.

If something doesn’t fit, get rid of it.

If multiple things serve the same purpose, pick the best one.

If there are gaps, create something helpful.

What we do is far too important to allow a muddy strategy to get in the way.

What questions do you have about strategy?

What Should a Family Pastor Do?

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It’s Orange Week! Scroll to the bottom to read more about that and the connection with this post.

The role of Family Pastor / NextGen Pastor is somewhat new in the church. I’m referring to a staff person who is responsible for leading a staff team of people that oversee children and student ministries, from birth through high school (or college). Because the role is somewhat new and is rapidly becoming more popular, there is a question that is often raised about the position.

What Should a Family Pastor Do?

This question is asked by some people who are interested in the role, but more often it’s asked by those who serve in it. They’re trying to figure out exactly what it is they should be doing and how they can best use their time and talent. Here is my take on what a Family Pastor should do in order to best serve their church.

Lead & Unify The Team

Ultimately a Family Pastor is tasked with leading the family ministry staff team. The goal is to not have silos and instead of one team that’s unified. In talking with another NextGen Pastor recently he mentioned how his team felt really unified. Specifically he said he could probably ask his Student Pastor to fill in and lead Preschool for a year and he’d say yes. Not because he’d like it, but because the team is what’s most important.

What does this look like?

Meetings. As Reggie Joiner says, “you can’t be on the same page if you’re not in the same room”. A Family Pastor should be in a meetings. A lot. Not meetings that are a waste of time. Meetings that unify the team where you celebrate, learn, and grow together.

Coach & Develop Team Members

This is true of all leaders, but Family Pastors should make their team members better. It’s our job to coach and develop the family ministry staff team so they can reach their potential.

What does this look like?

This, too, involves meetings. Here we’re meeting with individual team members to encourage, evaluate and challenge them get better. Outside of meetings we’re giving them opportunities to step up and lead in big ways. We’re holding them accountable to goals they set regularly. A Family Pastor is doing their job well if everyone on their team gets better and gets the credit.

Lead Up

The Family Pastor should be the biggest champion of family ministry to the rest of the staff team, including their boss and/or the leadership team of the church. Ideally a Family Pastor sits on the executive leadership of a church, but granted, I’m biased.

What does this look like?

This looks like hard conversations with whoever leads us. Sometimes we’re bringing up something that was overlooked as it relates to family ministry and it’s not an easy conversation to have. Sometimes we’re fighting for something because of the family ministry impact and there will be conflict, hopefully healthy conflict. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that our first team should be the one we serve on, not the one we lead.

Champion the Key Principles

The book Think Orange outlines a framework for creating and leading a great family ministry. Orange has tweaked the language some since the book was written, landing on the following 5 phrases:

  • Align Leaders
  • Refine the Message
  • Engage Parents
  • Elevate Community
  • Influence Service

I believe the Family Pastor should be the biggest champion of those 5 principles and they should work to ensure their ministry does them well.

What does this look like?

As Family Pastors we should cast vision for the importance of each of those principles. Small groups for kids and students should be central. We must regularly evaluate how we’re partnering with parents and seek to do better. One way a Family Pastor does this is by monitoring the transitions and milestones because they are important times where parents can re-engage. In a given month a Family Pastor is probably working specifically in making sure one or more of those principles is being strengthened.

Orange Week!

Orange has been a tremendous help in serving Family Pastors and me in particular. I’ve learned how to do each point in this post better because of their influence. Orange is an organization and it’s a strategy, and that organization provides curriculum based on that strategy. Our church has used Orange since we started almost 10 years ago. The Orange Conference is one of my favorite experiences each year as thousands of family ministry leaders gather to learn, connect and grow together.

Register by February For Orange Credit

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We Moved, and I’m Proud of Our Church (@cccwhitemarsh) – The People

GrandOpening

In the previous post I shared the backstory about our church moving into our new space and all of the issues that came with it. In the end, the build-out took twice as long as was planned, and I couldn’t even begin to convey the amount of challenges and frustrations we faced along the way. Through it all, I was proud of so many people for a multitude of reasons. Here are some, in no particular order.

I’m proud of

  • Our God, for using us to reach people who are not a part of any church and blessing us with great facilities and resources to do it.
  • CakeOur staff, for their endless ability to adapt and change to accommodate so many curveballs. See the cake on the right, which was out at the Grand Opening, for a comical idea of how often plans had to change.
  • Our elders, for praying for, caring for, guiding and guarding our church along the way.
  • Our attenders, who gave sacrificially during a 2-year generosity initiative that enabled us to purchase the building and renovate it.
  • Mike, an elder who ran point on the project and worked full-time/overtime to make it happen. He owns and operates his own business, so it’s not like he had plenty of time to dedicate to this project, but he did. He outworked us all.
  • Our volunteers, for making Saturday night services the best they could be by taking on additional responsibilities.
  • John, an elder who is insanely gifted at creating and building just about anything really, but especially gifted with metal work. In his day job he leads a staff that builds a number of cool machines, including a Grit Blast, Vacuum and Recycle unit used to clean things like bridges by shooting grit at high speeds, vacuuming it up, and recycling it to use over and over. One unit can be over 10 tons and power 8 operators at a time.
  • CCCLobby8009Jo Ann, who led the charge for the design of the entire space. The incredible look of the space is to her credit, along with the countless hours shopping, choosing, re-choosing, adjusting, and everything involved with bringing it to life. Many people have asked if they can get her to design their home, and for good reason.
  • Our pastor, David Robinson, for leading us through everything and bearing the weight of it all. That burden was shared for sure, but I know enough to know that only lead pastors understand the true burden they carry.
  • Fork Christian Church, for allowing us to meet in their space on Saturday nights. They were amazing hosts.
  • Bill, an elder who is also insanely gifted at creating and building things, and helped make a number of important pieces throughout the building that really create the environment.
  • PreschoolStageDebi, an amazing artist and volunteer who created our entire Preschool decor to match the videos from the curriculum we use, My First Look. Debi has basically worked part-time at the new space for the past few months.
  • Adam, our Executive Minister, for using his gifts as a leader and manager to keep us on point while navigating the ever-changing landscape.
  • Our part-time staff who have worked full-time+ in recent weeks to get us in the building and make it home.
  • Mountain Christian Church, for continued support in a bunch of different ways.
  • Sue, a Preschool volunteer who runs point on our curriculum, resources and room setup all geared towards maximizing the time we have with preschoolers.
  • Volunteers who came out a number of times to help paint, move in, put things together, and anything else that needed to be done to get the room ready. I think of Debbie who came out just about every time we asked, which was usually last minute because of how it worked out.
  • Lisa, our Elementary Director who is an environment-guru (see Ready Set Sunday) and helped make our elementary space irresistible like she always does.
  • Melissa, our Preschool Director who is a great delegator and gets it done early and well. Seth Godin talks about the importance of shipping, meaning the importance of action, progress, and delivering on time. Melissa ships.
  • Gracie, our Children & Student Team Admin who has been on maternity leave since May 1, but you wouldn’t know it because all the work she did to help us continue operating as well as get in the building is still showing up today as if she’s in the office.
  • Susan, our staff person who handles all of our communication. When you meet on Saturday nights at a different church, then not at all for a while, and you’re week-to-week, you really rely on communication through email, blogs, and social media. Susan made that happen.
  • Attenders who gave financially even when we weren’t meeting. Giving in May was about the same or more than previous months despite not having a service. I’m proud of how they responded.
  • WarehouseChris, our Student Ministry Associate, who is gifted at creating and building, and helped make the Warehouse (for children & students) awesome. 3 screens, 3 projectors, a lighting truss, tons of cable runs, all done by Chris.
  • Attenders who invited friends and family to one of the past 2 weeks. We’re all about reaching people who are not a part of any church, and inviting is the number one way people get there.
  • Volunteers, who create the experience each week and care for people over everything else.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a ton of people, but there’s a snapshot of all the people I’m proud of and why. I’ll finish by saying how proud and thankful I am for my wife, and for all the staff and volunteer’s spouses, who helped out and enabled us to do what had to be done. Check out the video below for some highlights of the Grand Opening.

Grand Opening Video

We Moved, and I’m Proud of Our Church (@cccwhitemarsh) – The Backstory

Our church (Community Christian Church) recently moved into a new building (new to us, that is). Some of you who read this blog are fellow attenders of CCC, but most readers are church leaders from all around the country. We learned a lot in the process of moving from one building to another, and Lisa Molite and I plan to write a series of blog posts to share our thoughts about moving into a new space (for environment planning purposes).

But, until then, I just want to write about how proud I am of our church. First, a little history.

The Plan

When I say our church, I mean the people who call CCC home. Not the building. Speaking of buildings though, for the first 8 years of our church’s existence we met in a leased office space. Last year we purchased an office building in the same business park and made plans to renovate it and move in early this year. The original plan was to have our first services in the new space on March 2. That would be good since our old lease ended February 28. There was an extra month built in to the schedule for delays.

Like many construction projects, it went long. Real long. Like, Lord of The Rings extended movie edition long. Our backup plan in case that happened was to rent our previous space for however long we needed. But, before we were moved out the property management company had already leased it to another company starting March 1. They weren’t interested in renting it to us, so we quickly became a portable church.

Saturday Night Services

Once we knew the delay would be more than a couple weeks, we explored dozens of options for how to hold services until the building was ready. There were very few options, by the way, and no great ones. The best option turned out to be meeting on Saturday nights at a partner church of ours just north of us. We had 2 services (after having 3 at our old site) at 5PM & 6:30PM.

The hope was to meet there for a few weeks until the building was ready. A few ended up being 9 weeks, all of March & April, including Easter Sunday (or Saturday for us). Each Saturday we saw about half the number of people that were previously attending on Sundays before we moved. We knew it would be less, but we didn’t expect half.

No Services

The new target date to open the building at that time was May 4. That, along with schedule issues on Saturday nights, led us to end our Saturday night services in April and look solely to opening in the new space in May. Delays continued, however, and it was essentially a week-to-week situation throughout May. We ended up not having services throughout all of May and on June 1, before having our Grand Opening in the new space on June 8.

To say it has been a challenging few months would be a huge understatement. In the midst of everything that happened a bunch of people stepped up in some huge ways that really made me proud. I’ll share some specifics in the next post.

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