Archive for December, 2006|Monthly archive page

2007 Teaching Calendar

I spent the last month really praying and thinking about what to teach about in 2007, and the result is our 2007 Teaching calendar.  We go ahead and lay out all the series for 2007, because we want to be strategic in what we teach. 

I think it’s a balanced schedule.  We’re going to do 2 Bible book studies, a character study, and an internal series about the church.  We’re going to talk about parenting, sex and finances – three important issues.  We’re going to do a big series in the fall about Issues and cover things like abortion, homosexuality, drinking and racism.  The teaching calendar reflects what we want people to know (our six core teachings).  There are breaks in between some of the series where we will bring in guests.  And we will not determine the book to study until later on, so we can prayerfully choose something that fits.  We schedule in the flexibility.  We don’t have graphics and titles for all the series yet either.  And of course, if God leads, we’ll call an audible.

A teaching calendar allows our entire team tons of time to pray and research and notice ideas that will fit with these series.  I know that 9 months from now I am going to do a message on homosexuality, so I can pay attention to things.  I don’t have a week to prepare…I have months.  And our entire team can contribute because they will know where we are going.  Putting together this teaching schedule is one of the most challenging things and rewarding things I do.

Download PDF version

Download EXCEL version

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Sundays @ Oak Leaf

Here’s a link to a video of a behind the scenes look at OLC.  It begins with our setup, shows a little KidVenture and lots of our adult worship environment.

We podcast all the messages, and you can subscribe at  Look for the e-mail sign up over at the website.  We also post a written recap of the message and provide discussion questions over at

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Church Planters Conference

We don’t get anything for saying this, but if you are a church planter, or thinking about starting a church, you should attend this conference.  I went last year, and I can honestly say it was the best conferences I attended.  Some other conferences I attended were just organized commercials…but this one resulted in several practical ideas that we put into play as we launched Oak Leaf Church.  Here’s why I would attend this year:

  • There are great speakers.  Top notch people.
  • It’s hosted by a great church, who "gets it."
  • It’s just $99, well worth it.
  • And for what it’s worth, I’m leading one of the breakout sessions. 

The conference is February 26-27, 2007 in Atlanta.  I’d highly recommend you attend it. Hollar at me if you’d like to hook up.

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Partnering with the Community

Fro the past couple of big holidays, we’ve hooked up with community events and had a presence there.  And we didn’t just want to show up and be one of many…we go all out to make a splash.  I don’t think it’s necessary to create your own events all of the time – there are some great things that you can partner with that already have a crowd there.

On the 4th of July, our city does a big bash at the park with food, booths, live music, etc.  We set up a free bounce house (everybody else was charging $$) and gave away balloons and invited people to Oak Leaf.  We met one guy who now serves on our setup team.

On Halloween, we didn’t do a Fall Festival, we went downtown where hundreds of kids trick or treated and gave out candy and the same balloons.  It was so cool seeing kid walking around with balloons with our website address on them.  And we gave out good candy and invite cards. 

And last night, we put a float – a very cool float – in the Christmas parade.  It was a replica of the movie theater where we meet.   We gave out popcorn.  Our people, dressed like famous movie characters, gave out "church at the movies" invite cards.  Thousands of them.  It was a fun way to be involved in the community and be a presence.

This kind of stuff has been so valuable to us.  We’ve shown up at school events and brought the Easter Bunny and a thousand eggs to a neighborhood.  People see our church all over the place, and we love doing it.  We like making stuff in our town better, even for those who don’t go to our church.  As a church planter, I’ll show up with stuff anywhere there are people.  Instead of always doing my own events, I’ll partner with anyone I can.  I believe you have to be a part of a community in order to reach it.

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Raising Support

Continuing the money theme of recent posts, I wanted to share some of my experiences with raising salary support.  First, let me say this.  I’m no good at it, and I hate doing it.  I don’t like to feel like a fundraiser, and though I think I’m pretty good at communicating vision, I don’t enjoy raising support.  But I knew in order for things to happen, then I’d have to get over it quick.  So here are some of my thoughts on fundraising.

1. I didn’t start from zero.  My family and I had about four months of income set aside before we even started.  We knew we could make it for four months without a dime of support.  That honestly helped us jump off.  I think this is key.

2. I was prepared to work wherever to make money.  I would have gotten a job if necessary.  For me, I knew this was a call of God, and I would do whatever was necessary to launch this church.  I don’t think there is any room for wishy-washy stuff when it comes to church planting.  Having doubts is normal, but you’ve got to be willing to be in it for the long haul.  I didn’t have to get another job, but I was willing to. I was willing to live off credit cards if necessary – that’s how serious I was about the calling.

3.  I began with a series of letters to everyone I knew, just letting them know what I was doing.  I followed that up with another letter about a month letter asking for support.  If we didn’t hear from people after a few letters, we stopped sending them updates.

4.  When someone agreed to send monthly support, we sent them pre-stamped envelopes to make things easier.  I didn’t bombard people with letters.  I sent out monthly e-mail updates to let people know the progress.  I think people want to know that their money is making a difference.  People want to support something that is working, not just finance someone’s hobby.

5.  Some people that I thought would support us hands down, didn’t respond.  And others I hardly knew jumped in big time.  I heard a lot of "I’ll pray for you."  That’s always cool when people mean it, but honestly, it’s a cop out most of the time.

6.  I didn’t do this well enough, but you really should follow up letters with personal phone calls.  Someone suggested that you send out 10 letters and make the follow up phone calls, and then send out the next letters. 

7.  I asked for support for one year.  I think people want to know that there is an end in sight.  That one year would get us to our launch date, and I believed that once we launched, the church would be able to take care of a large part of my salary.

8.  I met with pastors but we honestly didn’t get much support from churches other than our two sponsoring churches.  You would think that churches would love to support church plants, but there is still a lot of territorialism.   One pastor told me that we’d had a lot of churches try to start in this area and that we were pretty saturated.  Plus, they were going to start a church in a couple of years.  Now that’s some nice contradictory advice.  🙂

9.  I continued to lead weekend retreats and stuff (still do actually).  I enjoy doing this, I feel like it’s part of my calling, and the extra money helped pay the bills.

10.  I sold my Taylor 714 Guitar on eBay.  I miss it, but figured that eating was more important than strumming.

11.  After our grand opening, I did another "round" of letters because we had a win to celebrate.  I think raising support is easier after a win.  And I say again, people are more inclined to give  to an organization that is fulfilling it’s mission.

12.  We did a special push around Christmas to get some equipment and supplies.  That resulted in a lot of one time gifts that were huge blessings.

13.  In the end, it really is a matter of faith.  I hated the support raising side of things, but God took care of us.  We used up most of what we had set aside, but you know, that’s what we set it aside for.  I wouldn’t trade where we are now for anything.  I don’t think any of this stuff is rocket science advice – there’s lots of helpful information out there in the church planting books.  The biggest thing is just to keep people updated, communicate the vision, celebrate the wins, and just ask.

Here are some Word documents of my support letters.

Download announcement_letter.doc

Download support_letter_1.doc
Download support_letter_2.doc

Download support_letter_3.doc

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Where did we get startup money?

Several folks have asked were we got our startup money.  Great question.  It came from a variety of sources.  Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Our denomination provided about $5,000 in start up money.
  • A couple of churches gave us some money.  One church plant actually sent us a check for $2,000.  That was absolutely amazing.
  • One church gave us $5,000 as a part of a special offering.
  • Our launch team (about 20 families) began giving.  This was so key.
  • In June and July, we took up an offering at our preview services, which totaled about $6,000.
  • I put some of my personal support in the general fund.

We did not have a bunch of large gifts.  The one church gift of $5,000 was the largest.  Even though I asked churches, most said that their budgets were strapped and offered to pray for us.  I asked everybody I knew to support the mission of the church and a lot of people sent money.  It really is the power of a bunch of people rallying behind a cause. 

I was amazed when we added up how much we spent leading up to launch, because I honestly didn’t think it was that much .   

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