Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

Core Values

If you’re like most churches, you have a set of values.  Maybe they are written down or maybe not.  I thought it would be interesting to see what the people in our church thought our values were.  In other words, I wanted to see if what WE say is important matches what people in our church PERCEIVE to be important.  I created a survey with 20 words or phrases and asked our people to choose EIGHT that best described our church.

Here were the choices:  Loud, Real, whatever it takes attitude, serving the community, geared for young people, daring and willing to try things, tolerant, teaching the bible, accepting environment, community/fellowship, kid friendly, Michael, stir things up, church that meets at the movie theater, creativity, generous, good music, in your face, passion, volunteer driven.

So, what were the top choices.  What did the people in our church say our values were? Serving the community was #1, closely followed by teaching the bible, and real.  Also in the top 8 were willing to try new things, good music, accepting environment, volunteer driven and creativity.

It was an interesting experiment and I was encouraged.  Many of the things we talk about and shoot for were reflected in people’s choices.  I’d be interested to see responses from other churches and people in our community who don’t go to church, but that’s a little harder to figure out.

If you want to check out the actual survey, just visit  We use Constant Contact to set it up and send to our email list.


Last Sunday of the Year = No Services?

I know there are a lot of churches that cancel services on the last Sunday of the year, and I’m not dogging that.  Here’s why we don’t do it.

Sunday only happens once a week, and we want to use every opportunity we have to gather people to hear about Jesus.  People generally go to church on Sunday, and we gear up for 52 big days every single year.

The most common reason people site for canceling services is to honor and thank all their volunteers. While I understand the sentiment, I don’t really get the point.  Our volunteers love to serve and they look forward to Sundays.  Plus, killing people for 51 weeks and then giving them a week off isn’t really appreciating them.  Your volunteers should always be able to take a week if necessary.

There’s a good chance that guests and people who need Jesus would attend your church on the last Sunday of the year.

Not everybody goes out of town or checks out.  In fact, in this economy, I bet more people stayed home and would appreciate something to do that doesn’t involve going to the mall.  We nearly had our ten week average attendance on the last Sunday of the year.

It’s a great opportunity to do something special – like the Lord’s Supper (like we did), or look back on what God did in your church during the year (like NewSpring did).

By the way, I don’t think churches that cancel services are less spiritual or don’t care about reaching lost people.  I’m just sharing a few reasons off the top of my head why we do church at the end of the year.

Last Sunday of the Year + Inclement Weather

I know a lot of churches shut down the last Sunday of the year, a trend that I think Northpoint started or at least made popular. The idea is to give staff and volunteers a Sunday off, and since people work hard at Christmas and kick things off again in January, the break can be good.

I think this is a fine idea, but we don’t do it. I decided a while ago that I get 52 chances a year to do what we do and I want to take advantage of every one. I’m not shutting down because some people will be out of town…Sunday is game day. I don’t feel the need to give our volunteers a day off because they love what they do as much as I love what I do. And our volunteers are always free to take days off throughout the year. Some people may think that it’s about the money…that we can’t go without a week’s offering and that honestly has nothing to do with it. I know that there will be guests on the last Sunday of the year and that there’s a chance people will meet Jesus.

Somewhat related to this belief is our bad weather policy. We will NEVER cancel services for bad weather. People should be safe as they drive and plan accordingly, but we will always have church. I remember last year when area churches all canceled services, but we stood in there. We had a higher attendance than usual and a great Sunday. Rain, wind, snow, ice…this is North Georgia! If it’s just me and eight guys in their F-250’s, we’re having church!

I’m not saying our way is right or someone else is wrong…it’s just what we do.

Speaking Schedule

Looking back on 2008, I spoke a total of 45 Sundays at Oak Leaf Church. For those of you that don’t like math, that means I was not teaching live 7 times.

I was on vacation two of those Sundays, speaking elsewhere on two of those Sundays, on a mission trip one of those Sundays, in the audience listening to someone teach one of those Sundays and just doing nothing on the other one.

We had two special guests that we brought in from the outside. Other pastors covered four of those Sundays. And I did one message via video.

That seems pretty healthy to me, but I’m curious what you think? For those of you who are pastor-types, do you speak more or less? And who speaks when you’re not there?

Stage Right Staging For Sale

We have NINE 4×8 sections of Stage Right heavy-duty staging that we purchased used about a year ago for $8,500. 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 used it in the movie theater. Selling for $6,000 if you’re interested.

Teaching Calendar

A couple of months ago, our team went away to lay out the teaching calendar for all of next year.  We will make a few adjustments throughout the year, but we know where we’re going on the weekends from now all the way until Easter of 2010.

We use Google Docs to keep track of everything.  Not only do we lay out the series titles, we put in the key Scriptures, the big idea, announcements we know we need to make and any notes.  This document is shared across all of our staff (and a few key volunteers) so everyone can see the big picture.  This system works great for us and it’s my job (Michael, Lead Pastor) to keep this document up to date.


Tell me how I am doing!!

I don’t know if there is a more effective tool in all of leadership then feedback.  You can give all of the directives, make them read all of the books, listen to a great sermon, but your staff will never know if it really paid off until you tell them how they are doing.  If you have kids you do it naturally, because you are desperately trying to build their confidence and feed their self-worth.  I would ask, why do we stop with the people that we lead?  They can’t lead a ministry for years on the accolades of their high school baseball coach or their Mom’s gleeful smiles when they got the main role in the high school play.

At Oak Leaf, we don’t necessarily do anything so much better then any other church, but I do use two tools to make sure that I am properly investing in our staff.

One is the 6-Month Staff Evaluation and the other is a Health Report (you will have to e-mail me for that) that tells me if I am regularly investing in them as a person and a Pastor.  The Health Report gives me a couple categories of investment and feedback and let’s me put in dates to track my deposits into their well-being.

Use these tools and I’m sure your staff will appreciate it!

Anthony Gratto

Executive Pastor

Philosophical Language

environment (not class)
environment (not Sunday School)
auditorium (not sanctuary)
invite (not recruit)
ministry teams (not committees)
receive the offering (not take the offering)
handout (not bulletin or program)
opportunity (not need)

What about you? What intentional language do you use or avoid?

Leadership Development Plan

At our all staff meeting today, I shared my Leadership Development Plan with our staff.  We talked about developing volunteers and turning them into leaders.  We talked about the role of staff and how to intentionally develop leaders.  And we talked about personal leadership development.

Here is the document that I prepared and shared with our staff.


4 Services on Sunday Morning


Yesterday, we announced that we’re starting a 4th service at the movie theater.  We are pretty full across the board, so we need more space for people to attend.  This was our solution.

Basically, we are setting up two identical theaters for adults.  Two sound systems.  Two stages.  Two lighting rigs.  Two sets of volunteers.  And two bands.  Both services will be exactly the same, and we’ll be able to get 4 services into about 3 hours.

I will move back and forth and teach live in each service.  We will eventually experiment with some video, but we thought live was a better option for us right now.  (Hey, if drunk bands can play music for 4 hours straight in clubs, I figure I can talk about Jesus four times in a row.)

We are formatting all the services like this:  15, 30, 15.  15 minutes of music and worship, plus the welcome.  Then 30 minutes for the message.  Then 15 minutes for the “wrap up” and some additional worship.  This format will allow the service times to overlap.

In case you want to know more, here are some answers to some questions that we put together for our people:


What are the new service times? 9:30, 10:00, 10:45 and 11:15.  This means that we will have four great times for people to come to church.  All four of the services will be one hour long, just like now.

How is this going to work?  We will set up Theater 8 and Theater 12 in the exact same way.  Two stages.  Two sound systems.  Two sets of lights.   The rooms will be nearly identical.  There will be a worship leader and band in each theater, and Michael will teach live.  Overlapping services will allow us to fit four services in three hours.

Why are we doing this?  We’re more than 80% full at the movie theater in three services and the House of Rock isn’t going to be ready in January, which is one of the most important times of the year in our church.  We don’t think it’s a good option to tell people to “go away,” and we want to do everything we can to provide a place for people in Cartersville to hear about the grace of God.

Isn’t this plan a little crazy?  Absolutely.   It’s bold, audacious and crazy.  But we’ve never been afraid to try things in order to reach people for Christ, and we aren’t going to stop now.

What about preschoolers?  Just check in your kids at least 10 minutes before the service starts and take them to their class.   There will be signs in the classroom to guide you.  You can pick them up from that same room when the service is over.  The important thing is to arrive at least ten minutes early.

What about elementary kids?  The City will be divided into two areas.  Depending on what service you attend, your child will either attend the large group or the small group first.  If that sounds confusing, don’t worry.  The volunteers at KidVenture check in will make sure you know what to do each morning. The important thing is to arrive at least ten minutes early.

What if I am late?  If you’re more than 10 minutes late for a service, don’t worry.  You’re actually early for the next service!  For example, at 10:55, the volunteers at KidVenture check in will stop checking in kids for the 10:45 service.  We’ll do this to maintain the continuity of each KidVenture environment.  Doors to the adult service will close 15 minutes after the service begins.  In other words, it’s important that you’re early or on time.

I’m a part of the setup team.  What time do I get there now?  Since the first service begins at 9:30 instead of 8:45, most of the Crew can arrive at 6:00am.   Here’s the early morning schedule:
•    5:30 – trucks arrive, unloading begins
•    6:00 – stage setup in all three theaters (two for adults, one for elementary)
•    6:30 – production crew arrives
•    6:30 – KidVenture setup begins
•    7:00 – call time for musicians
•    8:00 – production meeting and service run thru
•    9:00 – Huddle meetings and prayer time

What’s going to happen when the House of Rock is completed?  This plan is designed to bridge the gap, so when we gain the seats that the House of Rock will provide, we will adjust the schedule.

How can I help?  To pull this off, we need about 60 volunteers.  Oak Leaf Church is fueled by amazing volunteers…people who leverage their time, talents and energy into serving others and building the Kingdom.  If you’re interested in serving in one of these areas, just email and he will connect you with the right person.
•    Host Team (greeters, ushers, coffee) – 20 people
•    Production – 10 people
•    Preschool – 15 people
•    Elementary – 10 people
•    Kids Check In – 5 people
•    Setup and Tear Down – 7 people