Last week my son and I met Nicole for lunch at Chick-fil-A. This is a restaurant that has hospitality down pat and from which the church could draw helpful lessons. I have come to expect this when I go there to eat, but this time I had a surprise.
We had ordered a Kid’s Meal and was taking the toy (which was a computer game on CD) to the counter to trade it in for the board book designed for younger children. The cashier gladly took back the CD and asked if I would like a cup or a cone. I was confused. I was bringing it back to trade in for the board book. It took me a bit to catch on to what the cashier was telling me.
I could trade the CD in for a board book, or I could turn it back in for a kid’s ice cream cone.
What a great deal. I took the cone and there was a benefit for everyone. I will gladly make this trade again in the future.
This started me thinking about how to pleasantly surprise people at church? What do people (both new and regular attenders) expect when they walk in the doors to worship? In what ways could the church have more pleasant surprises? I haven’t come up with any out of the ballpark ideas yet, but will keep thinking as Chick-fil-A made a great impression on me.
There are many things that I hope to do well as a pastor. One of those is strategic planning. The Wikipedia contributors define strategic planning in this way - “Strategic planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy, including its capital and people.”
This process is critical for a local church to have significant success in their purpose. At Resurrection, our purpose is that we are building a Christian community where non-religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians. Each year the church council defines strategic objectives to help us accomplish this purpose. As an associate pastor, I have some role in this process and when I am the lead pastor at a church I want to be great at leading the congregation through this type of planning process.
Strategic planning can undergird the purpose of the church, equipping volunteers, mobilizing for mission and faith sharing. It is a helpful skill for pastors.
I believe that starting new churches is a critical component of The United Methodist Church finding renewal and new life. There are new churches started every year, but there are some things about this start that I find intriguing:
I am on a strategic project team at Resurrection that is looking for three small churches, currently led by lay speakers, local pastors, or student local pastors, who would be interested in testing a new model for ministry – these churches would, for one year, become a part of a multi-point circuit with Resurrection. The aim is to see what we might do together to strengthen small churches. Resurrection would provide 36 weeks of sermons via video, coaching, and other resources.
I am excited to see what fruit may be born with this model of ministry. What would you see as some of the greatest benefits and biggest challenges to exploring ministry in this way?
“The problem is: We just don’t do whole things anymore. We don’t read complete books — just excerpts. We don’t listen to whole CDs — just samplings. We don’t sit through whole baseball games — just a few innings. Don’t even write whole sentences. Or read whole stories like this one. We care more about the parts and less about the entire. We are into snippets and smidgens and clips and tweets. We are not only a fragmented society, but a fragment society. And the result: What we gain is the knowledge — or the illusion of knowledge — of many new, different and variegated aspects of life. What we lose is still being understood.”
I want to find the one verse that applies to my life.
The children’s ministry doesn’t really matter because I don’t have kids.
How can I continue to grow after I have gone through all of the Disciple Bible studies?
Do you ever hear things like that? What impact does this have on the community or our faith? How can the church pay more attention to the whole?
(I wanted to practice self awareness and let you know that I am aware that I just pulled out a quote from a much longer article and wrote my own short form response. In any case, I hope that you find value here.)
I recently read How to Choose a Church by Bruce Reyes-Chow and wanted to take time to share with you some of the things that I share with people considering either leaving Resurrection for another church or beginning to attend Resurrection from another church.
It really matter to me whether you attend Resurrection or not. What I care about is that you are part of a faith community where you are both comfortable and challenged. I don’t want you to dread coming to worship every Sunday, nor should participation in the community be a chore for you. However, I hoep that you would be involved in a church where you are challenged to continue to grow and develop in your faith. Each one of us is on a journey of growing in our faith and the church in which you participate plays a big role in that journey. If that place is at Resurrection, that’s great. If not, that’s okay too. I care most about you growing in your faith and living as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
How do you feel about this response? What conversations have you had with people leaving a church to attend another? What could be done better? What is good about this approach?
I found this to be fascinating and thought that you might enjoy this graphic. How much is or could be applicable to the church? For example, to paraphrase a paragraph found in the graphic:
But today, due to the Internet’s transformative power, faithful people can custom-design their own religious experience in whatever way they see fit. Creating discipleship content and being discipled is no longer confined to being connected with a church; anyone with an Internet connection can grow in their faith.
I don’t agree completely with the paragraph above but see how it could be appealing. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?
Currently we are not offering Coffee with the Pastors online, however I hope to be able to offer that possibility in the next few years. Being a member offers no benefits at Resurrection and only expectations. You can participate in nearly everything at Resurrection as a member or a visitor. Our membership expectations are to:
Be in worship every weekend
Be actively growing in your faith outside of worship
Serve God both inside and outside the congregation
Give in proportion to your income with a tithe (10%) being the goal.
I want to make sure that people who join online would have the opportunity to live out their membership expectations online. We are not there yet.
For those that worship regularly at Resurrection Online and are interested in becoming a member, I suggest two possibilities: Seek to live out Resurrection‘s membership expectations where you are. If you want to travel to be a part of a Coffee with the Pastors in person, you could become a member of Resurrection in that way.
Will you please share your thoughts, feelings or opinions about all this?
I continue to appreciate the work of Lovett Weems and the entire team at the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. The offer a great number of resources for pastors, congregations, students and denominations at www.churchleadership.com. I wanted to draw your attention to Leading Ideas – a biweekly newsletter from the Lewis Center. You can find more information here.
At Resurrection, I do many, but not all, of the things on this list. My experience in serving in this place is that I am responsible for a deep dive into my ministry area and am free to let others be responsible for other areas. What do you do or what does your pastor do?
According to their website, The Table is a relational, online web application, custom-tailored for the church. We aim to engage the community, empower leaders, and move people beyond the pews and into authentic, life-changing friendships. Check out this video and let me know what you think – Would your church find something like this to be helpful?