Archive for January, 2008|Monthly archive page

Sunday Setup Schedule

6:00 – Load-in. Everything from the trucks and trailers gets brought in and set-up.

7:30 – Sound Check. All cables are run, all lights are pointed, all elements are assembled and functioning properly.

8:00 – Production Meeting. Everyone gathers together on the stage to discuss and pray for the service.

8:15 – Rehearsal. An actual run-through of the service that includes lyrics to songs, all videos, and every person who has any role in the service.

9:00 – Breather Time. Rest, focus, and pray for the service.

9:15 – Doors Open for 9:30 service.


Advertising is Spiritual

Rob Bell doesn’t like marketing and advertising.  His doesn’t do mailouts or invite cards or billboards.  On more than one occasion, I’ve heard Rob talk about his distaste for advertising and marketing, as it’s lumped in with the commercialization of Christianity.  He’s pretty down on the subject.

These words come from the same guy that talk about how everything is spritual.  How the secular and spiritual divide wasn’t existent in Hebrew culture.  How art and music and culture are spiritual, and how the secular label falls so far short.

If art or music can be spiritual, than so can marketing.  I’m not saying that advertising is required.  But I believe it can be a form of advertising.  Equipping our people with invite cards and doing some targeted direct mail and putting out signs on the weekends are just some of the ways that we do outreach.  Personal invitations are fueled by some of these other methods.  And as Rob Bell might say, they are all spiritual.


If the name of your kids ministry comes from Northpoint, and your series graphics are downloaded from Lifechurch, and your mission statement is a slightly modified version of Saddleback’s, and your website is a template, then you don’t have a vision.

Too strong?


I’m not saying that it’s wrong to borrow anything from another church.  I am saying that building your whole church around everyone else’s stuff – all of these things used in COMBINATION with each other – might not be good.  It’s one thing to do a series or use a video from another church; it’s another to pirate their vision.  I’m not arguing that everything has to be original. I’m simply stating that perhaps EVERYTHING shouldn’t be borrowed.

What Do You Want to Know?

If we were going to write the ultimate church planting book, what do you want to really know about?  Here’s what I have so far.  Let me know what to add to the list.

1.    How do you know you’re supposed to plant a church?
2.    How do I learn what to do?
3.    How do you recruit and develop a core group?
4.    How much money will it take?
5.    How do I raise money?
6.    How do you set a budget?
7.    Should I get a part-time job?
8.    What systems should I create?
9.    What’s the deal with bylaws, finance teams, and incorporation?
10.     How can we get people to show up?
11.    Does direct mail work?
12.     How can we get people to stick around?
13.    How do I do something excellent on a budget?
14.    What should I focus on early on?
15.    How do we get people into small groups?
16.     How do we get people to volunteer?
17.     Where do we get staff?

Five Tools for the Casual Blogger

Today, we’ve got a guest post from Scott.  Scott recently redesigned Michael’s blog. Scott is going to give us some useful blogging tips.Blogging is a great way to communicate with a lot of people super-efficiently, but are you using it to its fullest potential? Here are five tools to spruce up your blog immediately.1. One word: Worpdress. I can’t brag enough on the superiority of WordPress over the other options. Why? Host-ability (you can host it yourself for complete control and more options), flexibility, plugins, design options, ubiquity, open-source support, and usability. Switching to WordPress is simple and takes only a few minutes. If you’d like some help, contact me through my blog and I’ll give you a hand.

2. FeedBurner can revolutionize your blog for your readers. Most of the people that read your blog won’t be “tech-savvy” enough to know what RSS is and how to use a feed aggregator like Bloglines or Google Reader. Since building a subscriber base is the end-game for a successful blog, making it easier for your readers to subscribe is paramount (important). Using FeedBurner, you can create two ways for your readers to subscribe (RSS and email) and you’ll be able to keep track of your subscribers, too.

3. Bloglines or Google Reader can revolutionize your blog for you. By using a feed aggregator like these, you’ll be able to sift through many blogs in a short amount of time, gleaning insight and ideas for your own blog. It’s the one tool that helps me the most to create fresh and relevant content for my readers.

4. If you’re looking to build community through your blog, then you’ve got to get your hands on some rockin’ plugins. Choosing the right plugins for your blog will encourage commenting, discussion, and sometimes even full conversations right on your blog. There’s nothing more desirable for a blogger than honest discussion on a topic that you wrote about. Disclaimer: Plugins only work for self-hosted WordPress blogs. Again, if you need help with this, hit me up on my blog.

5. Twitter or Tumblr are great tools to supplement your blog. Many bloggers are beginning to use these two mediums as mini-blogs and linking to them from their main blog. You might think that this is overkill, but it’s actually pretty useful. It helps you keep relevant content on your main blog and random thoughts and ideas on your “side blog” for folks who want more. I use Tumblr because it offers much more power that Twitter and it’s still accessible from my cell phone to post entries on-the-go.

For church leaders (and others), blogging can become an incredibly useful tool to communicate with people outside your normal gathering times. Taking the time to make sure this tool is firing on all cylinders is crucial.

How to Be a Better Teacher

My two primary jobs at Oak Leaf Church are teaching and leading. I don’t think I’m the best teacher out there, and I’m always trying to get better. When we survey our people, way more than 50% say that the primary reason that they attend is the teaching. I’m convinced that people come because of an invite or some kind of promotion, but they primarily stay because of the teaching.

1. BOOKS. I would recommend two books that will give you a good starting point. The Revolutionary Communicator and Communicating for a Change.

2. LISTEN TO OTHER TEACHERS. Listen to other great communicators. There are tons of podcasts out there….subscribe to some of them. Don’t just listen for content – listen for delivery. I regularly listen to Perry, Steven, Mark, and Rob. I think Adrian Rodgers was one of the best preachers ever. I also mix things up and listen to new people. During the month of January, I’m trying to listen to a different message every day.

3. LISTEN TO COMEDIANS. These guys and girls know how to engage an audience and can hold peoples attention for a good bit of time. Listen to them and see how they deliver. Brian Regan, Jim Gaffigan and Mitch Hedberg are some of my favorites. You don’t find many wasted words with comedians. Also watch other public speakers…politicians, artists, professors, etc. You can find a lot of famous speeches online.

4. LISTEN TO YOURSELF. When you teach, make sure you go back and listen to what you said. Even better, watch yourself. Nearly every Sunday night, I watch the video from Sunday morning and critique myself. I listen to what I said, how I said it and watch my mannerisms. Coaches ruthlessly break down game film…I think we should do it too.

5. ASK OTHERS TO LISTEN TO YOU. I actually do this in advance as we’re preparing messages. I ask people on our team for input on the sermon. Between services, I’ll ask a couple people if they think I should do something different.

Getting the Word Out Quick

Unlike 800 other churches in the metro Atlanta area, we did NOT cancel our services.  In fact, our weather policy is pretty simple…we will NEVER cancel services. But we also wanted to make sure our people knew this.  So…

1.  The first thing I did was e-mail and group text our staff to make sure they knew the details.

2.  I then sent out a mass email using Constant Contact.  We know from stats that only about 50% of the e-mails are opened.

3.  We updated the website and I updated my blog.

4.  We used Calling Post to call our entire database.  I recorded a 60 second message and it was delivered on Saturday night.

The result:  Attendance was 727, about 100 people down from normal.  Considering the holiday weekend, and the fact that everybody was canceling church, and that it was 15 degrees in the morning, I think that’s pretty good.

Professional Staging for Sale

We have NINE 4×8 sections of Stage Right heavy-duty staging that we purchased used about a year ago. Together, it makes a 12 foot x 24 foot stage. The legs extend from 24 – 36 inches. This is industry standard stuff – you could park a car on it. We aren’t really using it at Woodland any more, so we’ll sell it for $4,000.

What I Would Tell Young Pastors

I’m encouraged and challenged about the church planting movement that seems to be growing over the last couple of years.  Ten years ago, I didn’t know of that many church plants, and today, I see them popping up all over the place.  Guys are going to metro areas, rural towns and suburbs to start new churches in order to reach people far from God.  We’re seeing that we don’t have to go to Eastern Europe or China to be missionaries – that if you were to take all the unchurched people in America and put them together, it would be the world’s 11th largest country.  We are missionaries right here at home.

We started Oak Leaf Church to reach out to the 60,000 unchurched people in and around Cartersville, Georgia.  Our missions is to lead people from where they are to where God wants them to be.  In 17 months, we’ve grown to 900 people and we’ve seen God do some amazing things.  This success is all from God and has very little to do with what we’ve done.  We’re honored that people would look to us for guidance and help.  Here are some of the things that I would challenge a young pastor in ministry (which seems odd to write, because I’m a young pastor!), especially those launching out to start churches.

1.  You can grow a church without God.  I heard John Piper say that the church should be a sailboat, not a motor boat.  The fact is that a lot of passionate guys can attract a crowd and start a church all on their own power.  You can advertise, market and be relevant, and that will get some attention.  But don’t focus on those things…focus on being the Christian, Pastor and church that God wants you to be.

2.  The church belongs to God.
  I see a lot of guys go plant churches because they don’t like working for somebody else.  That’s pride!  Don’t think that planting a church means that nobody can tell you how to do ministry.  If you go into it with that framework, you’ll fail.  Jesus said He would build His church.  He can do that without you.

3.  Focus on having a good service. 
The Sunday service will be most people’s experience with your church.  You can spend thousands of dollars and invest a ton relationally in people, but if they come to the church service and it stinks, they will not come back.  As a Lead Pastor/Church Planter, you can’t delegate the effectiveness of that service to a worship leader or tech guy.  YOU are the one that is responsible for making Sunday great.  Spend time on Sunday.  Spend money on Sunday.  You have to create the environment.  Eventually, other people will catch the vision and understand it all, but early on, it’s YOU.

4.  Teach God’s Word because you have something to say.  I know a lot of people provide sermons and resources, and I think that’s great.  Use these as references tools.  I don’t teach canned messages because God has given me something to say.  I have a passion for helping people understand God and follow Him with their life.  Preaching Rick Warren’s messages or preaching someone elses podcast is lazy.  I’m not saying don’t listen or watch or learn from this…there aren’t that many original thoughts.  I am saying don’t take the easy way out, and listen for what GOD wants to tell the people.

5.  Understand marketing and advertising.  This is not an unspiritual practice.  Early on, I read as many business, marketing and advertising books as I did church planting books.  Just like history, or biology or English can help you…so can principles of advertising.  I’d recommend books like Make To Stick, Buzz Marketing and PyroMarketing.  Figure out creative and strategic ways to get the word out about your church.  Don’t do what everybody else does.  Learn your area and then learn how to create buzz.  Don’t you want people to find out about your church and attend?  And when they do that, because you have worked hard at #3 above, they will stick around.

Promotion via E-Mail

Based on Tadd’s recommendations, we recently used InBox Promotions to do a mass e-mail to a bunch of people that live in our area.  These were opt-in people, and we sent them an e-mail that promoted our upcoming Google series.  The e-mail cost us $295.

The email generated about 850 hits on our website.  We did see more first time guests the week after the e-mail went out (there were probably other factors in addition to this).  But even if a few people came to church as the result of this $295 investment, I think it’s well worth it.  I think it was a fair price for nearly 1,000 hits on our website.

We’re planning on doing it again in March when we launch a family series.  That time, we’ll let the e-mail point to a specific page on our site where we have a promotional video for the series, map and service times.

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