Yesterday, I traveled with the senior staff from Resurrection to the Lutheran Church of Hope. It was an opportunity to benchmark another church and have conversation about how ministry happens in their setting. I have had the opportunity to take part in several of these trips during my time at Resurrection to visit other congregations both larger and smaller than Resurrection. The bus ride is always a great opportunity to connect with fellow staff members and it was a great time touring Hope’s West Des Moine location and spending time in conversation with some of their staff. Here is some of what I learned:
Mission, vision and values are what holds true across all of their campuses
Senior pastor provides a worship plan six months in advance with the series, sermon title, scripture passage and a sentence or two about direction for the sermon
Rooms all have numbers. No ministry area has claim to a particular room.
A culture of trust in leadership has been developed that has proven beneficial over time.
If you can’t give cheerfully, we don’t want you to give. Giving will bring you freedom.
Success looks different in different contexts
Bigger or smaller isn’t better, better is better.
Who are the people that no one else is going after?
Being in transition to serving as lead pastor at El Dorado First United Methodist Church, I also had some personal reflections:
Touring the buildings of other churches is not worth much. There are little things that can be picked up about facilities, but overall the building that the church has is what it will be. The building at El Dorado First seems to have been kept up well and is an asset for ministry.
There was a sense of camaraderie amongst the staff of our churches – similar worship attendance, programs and ministries and hopes and dreams for the congregations. I am looking forward to finding out which churches are “peers” to El Dorado First.
I have had the privilege of spending time with Ray Pitman, a member of Resurrection, over the past several months. Several years ago, I officiated at the funeral for his wife, Betty, and we reconnected this summer when I lead worship at Leawood one Saturday night. Last Friday he invited me to hear him speak to an executive MBA class at the Helzberg School of Management at Rockhurst University. He has told his life as a case study to classes at the Helzberg School for several years and I wanted to share a few tidbits for life, work and ministry.
Don’t ever be afraid to ask. Don’t worry if you don’t have the money to accomplish a project that you have in mind. If the idea is great, there will be someone that will be able to help fund it.
Just because your back is against the wall don’t think that there isn’t anything to do about it.
What may seem to be tragedy at the time may be the best thing that ever happened to you.
Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you are and your horizons will be broadened by their abilities.
Sometimes its best to ignore the details and focus on the people who are caring for the details.
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?
In some ways it is both. There are people who are primarily connected at one of Resurrection‘s physical locations that worship online each week. These are people that are sick, out of town, recovering from surgery, have a sick child and any number of other situations that leads them to worship online that week. There are people who are not at all connected with one of Resurrection‘s physical locations who worship online most weekends during the year. For the former group of people, Resurrection Online is an online extension of Resurrection. For the latter, Resurrection Online is one of Resurrection‘s campuses and this is the way that these individuals connect with our purpose of building a Christian community where non religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.
While Resurrection Online may be experienced in different ways for different people, it makes sense to focus on one vision for the ministry and continue to move forward in that way. That vision is that Resurrection Online is one of Resurrection‘s campuses. Our goal is to move toward offering the opportunity to live out all the membership expectations of the church online and encourage people to get connected in person, when possible. I hope that Resurrection Online will be a tool for people to be more engaged in their faith and not less engaged. Developing the opportunity to grow in your faith outside of worship and serve God inside and outside the church are key areas that Resurrection Online are key areas ahead for this ministry area.
I was glad to be able to share the story of Resurrection Online with Beth and Brandon from NBC Action News yesterday morning. They put together a great story. You can find the entire story at http://bit.ly/jf3zYr and see the segment that played on the 5:00 PM news. Will you please share the story with others?
Each year, Resurrection takes an anonymous survey of the congregation. This year there were 134 people who took part in the survey that indicated they primarily worship with Resurrection Online. I have completed some analysis of the survey. What do you make of these results?
More gender balanced than the rest of the church with 56.7% females and 43.8% males
Highest % of 18-24 year olds
Older than West and Downtown; Younger than Blue Springs
Shortest length of involvement at Resurrection
Lowest participation in small groups by more than 20%
Attend the most infrequently
Give least percentage of income across all giving levels with 28.3% giving 0% of their income
Aspects of worship service to change to better experience God, more than the rest of the church: sermons, length of service, interaction with other worshipers
59.8% with few social connections in the church; almost twice as many as any other location
The church could help grow toward becoming a deeply committed Christian by: teaching me to pray on my own, hep me increase my financial generosity, improve my experience of God in worship, teach me to study scriptures on my own
“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all others.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a human being. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
I agree with what my current senior pastor, Adam Hamilton says in response to a question about whether he really believes in the resurrection, I don’t just believe it. I’m counting on it.
As Pastor of Resurrection Online, I have heard from several others who are interested in starting an online worship service. I suggest the following:
1 – Ask the Right Questions
Pastor(s), key staff and volunteers need to be able to have clear answers to the following questions:
Why are we considering starting an online worship service?
How will this initiative further our mission as a church?
What are we hoping for?
How will it be implemented?
What will comprise the worship experience online?
What impact do we anticipate on the current congregation?
Why does this make sense within the culture of our church?
What balance between service to the current and future congregation will be struck?
At Resurrection, I was part of a staff team that considered these and other fundamental questions about the structure of an online worship service for nearly a year before we launched weekly worship online. While many of our initial responses to these questions changed, it was crucial to getting off the ground.
2 – Clarify Scope and Ownership
A key to success in launching an online worship service is to be clear about the scope of the initiative and who will own it.
Will there be interaction around the online worship experience?
Will there be intentional efforts to provide care and discipleship?
Is it to be just a worship service or more than that?
The scope of the online worship service will provide a guide to who will own the effort. It may be within the worship team, volunteer effort, stand alone ministry area or some combination. Before launch, it is necessary to know who will own it.
At Resurrection, it was clear that Resurrection Online would become a stand alone ministry area. It did not begin that way, however it was clear that this was where it was headed.
3 – Get it Started
Go for it.
If you have spent time on fundamental questions, scope and ownership, it is time to kick it off. You might start with a webcam, a laptop and livestream.com or you might have high definition cameras, broadcast quality switcher and dedicated encoders. In any case, start and see what happens. You will not be able to really tell what works and what doesn’t until you actually get started.
4 – Be ready adapt or hit the kill switch
When you start an online worship service, you have to be flexible. Be ready to make changes as needed and incrementally. Always be ready to pull the plug on the online worship service if it is no longer making sense for your church. Don’t make it something that starts and can never stop. It would be helpful to go back to the fundamental questions on a regular basis to check for any changes in direction or to realign your efforts.
Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to preach at the Heritage Service at Resurrection Leawood. This is the first service on Sunday at Resurrection beginning at 7:45 AM. It was the first time that I had lead worship in several months and it felt really good.
We considered the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples in John 13 and looked at ways that serving others builds relationships both with those being served and with those with whom we serve. We serve others out of gratitude to God and a clear hope for the future.