Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Survived a Tornado!

It's been a few days since writing last, but they've been some interesting days. This past Sunday saw some violent weather roll through which we came to find out later was a tornado. (Pictures to follow in my next blog post) Here is how it played out from my perspective...

It wasn't a typical Sunday in that I was looking forward to relaxing and watching some great college basketball and a potential Tiger Woods comeback. It wasn't long into my settling in that all the channels were interrupted with weather alerts. Thankfully my wife takes this stuff seriously and moved our family to the lower level as the skies got pitch black.

As we moved to the lower level, I decided I should take the dog out before the rain came through. As the dog and I stepped outside, I determined pretty quickly by the look of the sky that this dog better hurry and make his way in or he would be the next Toto from the Wizard of Oz. No sooner had I shut the door with the dog in did the violent winds pick up and the debris start flying. I knew it was bad when I saw a barrel and the side of a neighbor's shed fly through my back yard. I also knew it was bad when it sounded like gunfire hitting the front of our house.

It was an intense 10 minutes that left great damage to our entire neighborhood. As we looked into our back yard, I saw shingles and debris everywhere. The sad part is that they were our shingles and house debris. The hail and violent winds also ripped screens, dented our garage door and put holes in our siding. The entire front of our house that faces west will need replacing. Shortly after the skies cleared all the neighbors began making their way out for a few hours of clean up. I must confess that I had some great conversations and met neighbors that I never knew before. Amazing how hard times can bring the good out in people.

All in all it was quite an experience and we were reminded that our lives rest in the hands of a Sovereign God who allows the rains to fall and the winds to blow. I'll look to share some pics and a wonderful story of how God reminded me of His goodness shortly after our ordeal in some upcoming posts.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stay in the Game

Perry Noble wrapped up the Unleash conference by asking these four questions that all leaders must wrestle with. Thought they were great and worth sharing as they are things I wrestle with and chew on regularly.

1) Who is with me? (Exodus 33:12)
a) Sr. Pastor – Love your people and buy into them. They need to know you love them and are committed long term to them.
b) Staff – Satan wants to destroy the ministry by splitting the staff. Don’t let him get a foothold in your life in this area.
c) Staff – You must let the Sr. Pastor know you got his back.
d) You must build the culture whereby every staff member sees their role as more than a job. It’s a culture where together as team you do great things for God.

2) Am I pleasing You? (Exodus 33:13)
a) How can you lead people publicly if you’re not yielded privately?
b) Are you a prophet for God or just a prostitute?
c) Do I understand that ministry is received and not achieved? (2 Cor. 4:1)
d) Am I placing limits on myself that God has not placed on me?

Will we see You? (Exodus 33:14-17)
a) Are we providing an atmosphere for our people where there is conviction of sin?
b) What do you want more, attendance or repentance?
c) We must be committed to God going with us!

4) What’s Next? (Exodus 33:18)
a) Are you a leader ready to ask God this question on a regular basis?
b) Do you regularly ask God to show you His glory?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Launching a Campus from Scratch (# 2)

Here are my concluding notes from the talk I sat through by Mike Brown (NewSpring Florence Campus Pastor) on launching a site from scratch:

3) Hang On!
Once you launch... Sunday rolls around fast every week!
You must have teams ready/willing to set up/tear down weekly
You must determine how weekly responsibilities will be divided amongst staff
You must commit to casting vision regularly and not just needs

4) Other Random Thoughts

The campus pastor must possess the DNA of the main campus and be committed to casting it regularly. He must be the protector of the vision when the church site is 100's of miles away.

All key volunteers must have the DNA of the ministry or the potential for division is a reality.

We recommend launching a site with a full children's ministry program and not student ministry. WHY? Because in 5-8 years a full blown children's ministry becomes the foundation for a solid student ministry.

KEY THOUGHT: Always look to give something new to the campus on a weekly basis no matter how small. Even the small celebrations go a long way when starting something new.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Launching a Campus from Scratch (# 1)

As I continue to research multi-site churches, here are a few insights I gained from sitting in a session with Mike Brown down at the Unleash conference. Mike launched the Florence, SC site back in January. These are part of my unedited notes from that session:

Launching a Campus from Scratch

Mike BrownFlorence Campus Pastor

Florence campus Launched January 11, 2009
Currently Averaging 330 people over nine weeks

Message: They are running a week delay with video (no live feed yet)
They are using one screen, not 3D or HD
Launch more like a church plant then the Greenville Site Launch
Learning that if more than 50 miles from main site – like a church plant
They launched with a Campus Pastor, Director of Children’s Ministry, Worship Leader and Ministry Coordinator (Coordinates volunteers)

How did they plan/prepare for launch?

1) Prayer (God laid a passion to reach the city of Florence on the heart of some of the staff of NewSpring and out of hearts of prayer God opened up the door to start a campus in Florence)

2) Planning/Preparation

Study the city (what area looking to reach?)

Create a timeline

Need to cast vision in the city before launch

Membership (Get a core group ready to go with you)

Preview (Offer some preliminary services to give people a taste for what will do)

Budget (Must have one - realistic idea of what expenses/income will be)

Structure (How will you establish the site with finances, staffing, technology, marketing)

HEARD IT AGAIN: Multi-site changes everything!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

For Your Glory God!

I've been a Christ follower for 30+ years now and I'm so thankful that God regularly meets and moves me. As I've noted in previous blogs, when I get really weary and my mind isn't real clear(yes this happens to pastors) my hope quotient tanks and my mind can take me in a million directions. It's at those points I've learned to cry out to a God who loves me and ask Him to meet me right where I'm at and restore hope quotient.

God did that this morning during my car ride in. I was listening to a new CD by Lee McDerment entitled "A Matchlight in the DARK". As the song "For Your Glory" came on, I found myself just singing it out and as I did, the tears just started flowing. Yes I most likely looked like a nut job driving in this morning, but God met me right where I was at and was able to recalibrate my spirit this AM. He reminded me that everything I do is not for me or to make me feel better but for the glory of Christ my Savior! Here are the lyrics that met me right where I was this morning:

from every nation, every language, every people and tribe
You've rescued and ransomed chosen a family
making the dead come alive
we join our voices with millions of angels
gathered around Your throne
lifting the chorus like the roar of the ocean
singing together as one

for Your glory
for Your kingdom
for Your name
we are saved for You

we trust in Your promise that You are returning
and You will make all things new
with all of creation, we long for Your coming
when we are transformed in You

for Your glory
for Your kingdom
for Your name
we are saved for You

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Unleash Debrief - MultiSite Strategy (Part 2)

Here are the remaining unedited notes from my breakout session on Multi-Site strategy! As you will see, it has given me much to ponder.

Multi-Site Changes Everything!!! (This point was emphasized repeatedly throughout conference)

Questions to Wrestle With:

Can it be replicated? (Site vs. Main Campus)
Must think through what goes into site vs. what is at main campus (i.e. youth ministry?)
Must ask what do we absolutely need to replicate and what is unique to site area.

What does the main campus control?
What does the site do? What can the site do? Where is there flex? Where is there no flex with the control needing to stay at the main campus?

How do decisions get processed?
i.e. The campus pastor oversees his campus ministry. For example, the director of children’s ministry reports to the campus pastor BUT must also report to a central ministry team at main. This is something they are still working through as there can be tension.

How do we structure?
Must establish a campus pastor to oversee campus ministry
Allow the central team to build into some of the areas (i.e. finances, facility, technology)
Must allow for some tension between central ministries and site ministry.

How do we communicate?
Must keep it simple to communicate similar messages to all campuses
Too much communication/programming leads to confusion on various sites
Multi-site requires simplicity and focus of ministry or else communication breaks down.

What about Leadership Development?
They look to staff from within which requires strong leadership development
They want leaders who have bought into the vision of NewSpring as there is tremendous trust that is placed into the hands of the campus pastor. (i.e. The Greenville site has 2200 people attending… tempting for the campus pastor to break away and do his own thing)

How do we pay for it?
Greenville Site = Campus Campaign with a price tag of $5 million
Hope to see multi-site campuses fully self supporting in 12-24 months
Hope to see site eventually help fund central ministry (i.e. financial staffing on main)
Hope to see site eventually helping to fund new sites.

How many volunteers do you need?
Launched Greenville with 180 and are now up to 550.
They look to have a 30% volunteer base when launching a site.

How do you choose a Campus Pastor?
He must be willing to execute vision (why they hire from within)
He must be able to communicate the vision (not necessarily preaching ability, but must be able to communicate the vision well)
He must have great relational skills
He must possess the ability to lead through others (must be willing to delegate)
He must be driven (They have to be willing to go and get things done without day to day supervision from the main campus)

GREAT READ: The Multi-site Revolution (Contains time lines, checklist – written by the SeaCoast church staff)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Some Unleash Pics

The man in the picture above is John Kegarise, our elder chairman, who went on the trip with me and took the pics. I'm the good looking one on the left in my blue sweater vest walking into the church with Matt McElravy (Worship Arts Director) and Andy Spade (elder here at Grace).

Unleash Debrief - Multi-Site Strategy

I've decided to share my notes on the multi-site strategy of NewSpring as is from the conference. I'll share them in two parts since it is quite lengthy. These notes create more questions than answers, but are the foundation upon which Grace will begin to pray and prepare for multi-site ministry as we move forward in our 5 year vision plan.

Multi-Site Strategy
March 12, 2009

Speaker: Tony Morgan (Chief Strategic Officer of NewSpring Church)

Greenville Campus:
Launched summer of 2008
Fixed Location (10 yr. lease on 60,000 square foot grocery store)
Total cost to launch = $ 5 million (includes facility renovations and all technology, lighting (2 million)
Sent out 800 people from the Anderson Campus
Currently averaging 2200

Florence Campus: (See notes on Launching a Campus – Breakout Session # 2)
Launched January 2009
More like a church plant
Totally Portable
Sent out Campus Pastor, Children’s Director, Worship Leader and Ministry Coordinator
Currently Averaging 330

Web Campus:
Launched early 2009
Tape 9:15 service on Anderson Campus
Show the taped service at 11:00 and 2:00
People must log in to view
There is a campus pastor
Currently averaging 550

Columbia Campus
Campus pastor already appointed
Marketing launch
Not sure of launch date (still learning how best to do this with long distance campus’ like Florence and now Columbia.

Why NewSpring go the route of Multi-Site?

Acts 1:8 (A Gospel Decision)

Financially Responsible (A Stewardship Decision)

Reduces Staffing Costs/Hires

Gets a gifted communicator in front of more people

Connecting People (People were driving long distances to attend one weekend service on Anderson Campus and were not connected apart from that – thus launch of Greenville campus)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Unleash Debrief # 2

Well I'm home and have spent much of Saturday relaxing and watching basketball. The trip home turned quite interesting when we "kinda" missed our connecting flight in Philadelphia. (AHHHHH!!!!)

I'm still processing all that I took in and will be sharing more thoughts on the Unleash conference and more specifically what I learned about multi-site ministries, but thought I would give a few pics and links for you to see some of what I experienced.
The two pics above were both taken at the Greenville Multi-site campus which was launched back in the summer of 2008. They are now running 2200 people over three services on a Sunday. They took and renovated an old 60,000 square foot grocery store and have an incredibly modern and functional facility.
The actually conference took place on the main NewSpring campus in Anderson SC which is about a 35 minute drive from Greenville. Sr. Pastor Perry Noble spoke twice throughout the day and his Chief Strategic Officer Tony Morgan blogged live during his talks. Check out the following link to see what Perry said. http://tonymorganlive.com/
In days to come I'll continue to unpack my thoughts and share how I believe what I learned will impact Grace Church and our community as we continue to meet and move!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Unleash Debrief (Part One)

I have enjoyed immensely my time at the Unleash Conference at NewSpring Church. It has been enjoyable for a number of reasons including but not limited to:
  1. It's been a lot of fun hanging out with our Worship Arts Director, Matt and a few of our elders. You really get to know the guys you serve with when you take a trip like this.

  2. It's been very educational in respects to our investigating the realities of multi-site ministry. We heard over and over again "Multi-sites change everything."

  3. It's been spiritual refreshing to get pumped up for Jesus with over 3000 leaders from around the U.S., Canada and even the U.K. It was loud and the bass thumped right through my chest, but it was awesome to sing out in praise to Jesus Christ who was the center of all our attention.

Here are a few thoughts from the first main session by Perry Noble:

There is a breakdown in communication between Jesus and the church. We keep asking him to build OUR church rather than HIS church.

Three Questions the Church must ask themselves:
(Based upon 2 Kings 7:1-11)

1) Are we willing to embrace change?

It is hard for most churches to embrace change, but most churches are only 1 or 2 decisions away from doing something great for God.

Every church has a choice; change or die!

It’s important to understand that we can’t manage a move of God. But understand that moves of God are messy.

2) Are we willing to work?

Don’t use prayer as an excuse for working hard.

The lepers got up and after they did they realized that God had done a work as well. But, if they had never gotten up (done the work), they would have never experienced the work of God.

3) Are we serious about reaching the world

The four lepers went and told the city about the moving of God and set an entire city free with the good news (2 Kings 7:8-11)

There were many other thoughts that went along with this message, but these are some pertinent questions worth chewing on!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Multi-Site Strategy Time

As Grace Church continues to MEET as many people as possible and MOVE them to where God wants them to be, we have committed as a leadership to begin investigating the possibility of launching another campus at some point in the next five years.

This concept is not unique to Grace Church by any stretch of the imagination. It is a common concept that is gaining great momentum all around the United States. Tomorrow morning I leave for a trip down to NewSpring Church to attend their Unleash conference. What's special about this conference is that it contains a multi-site focus that will allow me and a few others to do some great hands on research regarding the nuts and bolts of a multi-site launch. NewSpring has successfully launched two sites last year and are looking to launch another one this year along with a web campus. There is something special about rubbing shoulders and interacting with others around the country who are excited and passionate about what God is doing through His people and these new strategies.

Over the next few days I'll look to post some thoughts and pics of our experience at NewSpring. I've been praying it pumps me and the others up to strive forward and accomplish even greater things for God with you the Grace Church family!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Night Decompression

Here's what rambling through my head on a Sunday night after a busy morning:

Dan Keller and John Kegarise both did an excellent job sharing their stories this morning. It was a joy to see how God used them both as they opened up their hearts to the church family.

I'm tired! It was a busy Sunday AM and losing an hour sleep didn't help. I never sleep well when I know the clock has been changed and I have to get up.

I didn't get much of a nap this afternoon... the nice weather has all the dogs in the neighborhood outside which drives mine nuts.

I heard a cool story of how someone had a guest at church with them and this guest put it all together regarding names on the wall, target three and their need for a Savior. Really wonderful!!!

I enjoyed watching North Carolina and Duke square off in ball this afternoon. Great game.

I spent some time getting ready for my trip to the Unleash conference in Anderson SC on Wednesday of this week to start studying Multi-site churches. It's supposed to be in the 40's with rain on Thursday and Friday. Ugh!

I beat my son in b-ball this afternoon out in the driveway. He thumped me yesterday. The boy can shoot.

All in all a great day when I consider that I had the privilege of giving praise to my God for his indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Adapting Organizationally (Part Two)

In my previous blog post, I briefly addressed some thoughts regarding how the church as an organization must be willing and committed to adapting in a rapidly changing world. Here are a few more thoughts on how I see that impacting the Grace Church staff.

We will continue to assess and evaluate our current staffing and systems with the above mentioned realities in mind. No good can come from hiding our heads in the sand from the cultural realities we face as a ministry/organization.

We will continue to create a culture amongst our staff that is more concerned with our four C’s (character, competence, chemistry and courage) then they are with comfortable and familiar systems that have grown obsolete.

We will continue to strive to get the right people around the table to provide the innovative expertise and cultural understanding of how to navigate and be successful in an ever changing culture.

We will continue to work with some of our current staff to create a culture that is open to organizational change in order to accomplish our vision plan. It is true that our Biblical foundation never changes, but the way we communicate/propagate its transforming message must always be open for discussion.

We will continue to intentionally unlearn and emotionally detach ourselves from the current organizational order of things in an effort to sell out to meeting and moving as many people as possible by becoming an organization that in its very nature is adaptable.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Adapting Organizationally (Part One)

I've posted some thoughts that I recently shared with the Elders of Grace Church on how we as an organization must be willing to create a mindset that sees adaptability as not just tolerable, but the norm. Part Two deals with how it impacts the Grace Church staff.

I recently read an article from the Church Executive website entitled “The paradigm has shifted and effective churches will adapt” that got me thinking about the Grace Church organizational structure. The author (Rex Miller) spent a few moments commenting on the new landscape of 2009 in light of the unpredictability and turmoil of failed institutions/organizations. One of his statements that he later applied to the church really caught my attention. He stated “One of the messages from last year’s financial collapse is that traditional institutions are not built to navigate in a rapidly changing world.” As I read this statement I am quick to place the “church” into the term “traditional institutions.” I believe this is proven true in that statistics will show that since 1950, mainline churches have declined at a steady rate because their “basic structure, culture and operations has changed little.”

With this in mind, I am firmly committed to continuing the process of evaluating our current systems of operation on all levels in order to create a staff and organization that is adaptable to our ever changing culture. My goal is to provide more than just management of current systems, but innovative leadership as our ministry seeks to navigate its way through a culture that sees institutional effectiveness in decline. Statistics have shown that the millennial generation (born between 1978-2003) will represent 50% of our workforce by 2018 which can be carried into the church as well. In light of this, leaders must take seriously the call to move away from institutionalizing their ministries as this generation is more concerned about making a difference in their world with their time, abilities and money rather than putting it into buildings and infrastructure.