Archive for May, 2009|Monthly archive page

Church Planting Do’s and Dont’s

  • Don’t think that there is only one way to do church.
  • Do decide your way and be true to yourself and your calling.
  • Don’t hire people just to have a team.  Having the wrong people on the team is worse than not having a team.
  • Do hire people that you want to hang around.  You’re going to be with these people a lot!
  • Don’t be apologetic about who you are or who you are reaching.
  • Don’t offend Christians in the name of reaching the unchurched.
  • Do talk about vision, purpose, and money more often than you think you need to.
  • Don’t try to do it all.
  • Do play to your strengths and do some things really well.
  • Don’t try to meet every need.  Just because it’s a need or someone requests a ministry doesn’t mean you should meet it or start a program.
  • Don’t worry so much about writing bylaws and installing elders early on.
  • Do become a marketing expert in your area.
  • Don’t define yourself by what you are against.
  • Do teach your people that their number one task is to find more people.
  • Don’t freak out when the offering is bad.
  • Do read a lot of books, and not just books on church planting.
  • Don’t be afraid to lose people.
  • Don’t build a church around your preferences.

Documents for Your Church

If you are a part of the Launch and Lead coaching network for church planters, I’m going to give you about 50 documents and forms that we use at Oak Leaf Church.  These are field-tested resources that will save you tons of time. If you’re interested in the Coaching Network, which will begin in August and meet once a month for six months, you can email Tracy and she will get you an application.  I’ll be partnering with Brian Bloye from Westridge.  Also, our graphic designer will create a custom sermon series package – complete with graphic, postcard, and handout.  That’s worth the price of the network right there.

Here’s a sample of the documents and forms that I’ll give you.  (At this time, I’m only making them available for those people going through the network.)

Statement of Beliefs
Job description for board of directors
Directions for taking attendance
Calendar Request
Descriptions of Meetings and Retreats

Facility Use Policy
Facility Use Request Form
Building Procedures

Volunteer Application
Policies and Procedures Manual
Handbook for Parents
Baby Dedication Philosophy
Fuel Policies and Procedures
Pro Kids Policy
Student Ministry Handbook

Counseling Confidentiality Agreement
Counseling Procedures
FTG Follow Up Process
FTG Form Email
FTG Form Letter
Greeter Handbook
Greeter Training
Parking Handbook
Parking Training
Security Plan
Small Group Handbook
New Christian process
New Christian Letter
Volunteer Job Descriptions

Series Video/Graphic Checklist
Series Planning Timetable
Master Production Checklist
Worship Philosophy
Creative Arts Ministry Manual
Style Guide

Flash Report
Chart of Accounts
Spending Procedures
Offering Count Directions

Employee Handbook
First Day Checklist for New Hires
Leadership Development Plan
Resignation Agreement
Hiring Process
Job Application
First Day Checklist
Interview Form
New Employee Agreement/Contract
Termination Agreement
Six Month Staff Evaluation
Staff Job Descriptions

Series/Season Planning

For the past couple of years, we’ve been pretty intentional about series planning…putting certain topics at certain times of the year. For example, we’ve typically put what we call an “A-Game” series in August or January, when new people are most likely to visit a church for the first time.

However, in recent months, I’ve started looking at things from a little broader perspective. I’m trying to look at the series leading up to the series, the A-game series itself, and the series coming after it as a SEASON.

August, September and October are really one season here at Oak Leaf Church. So instead of just putting something cool in August, I’m looking at three series and how they fit together. It’s shaping up kind of like this.

1. A series on evangelism, purpose of the church…fire up the troops kind of thing.

2. A key invite series, where the Gospel is presented and we pull out all the stops. We spent weeks challenging our people to invite and telling them what is coming, so this series seals the deal.

3. Something on next steps or spiritual growth. Praying, Bible reading, hearing from God.

This fall, it’s shaping up like this for us.

1. Beautiful Feet – a series on the purpose of the Church universal. Why are we here? What’s the point? We’ll spend time in Acts.

2. Amazing Grace. Three weeks just talking about grace and telling stories about people who have experienced grace.

3. Go Green – three ways you can grow in your faith.

I’m praying that all three of these series will work together to produce a season of growth…not just numerically, but spiritually.

Coaching Network Update

Applications are staring to come in for the church planters coaching network that’s set to begin this August.  We’re going to meet once a month for six months and talk nuts and bolts of church planting.  I’m limiting the network to about 10-12 people, who are just about to launch or are already launched, and I think it will be worth your while.

We’re going to talk staffing, vision, money, leading, ministry, programming, and more.  I’ll give you every document…bylaws, meeting agendas, forms…that we’ve got.  I’ll let you know how all our systems really work.   We’ll focus on how to launch and how to lead.  I will connect your staff with people on our staff as well, with the hopes of developing an ongoing relationship.  We’ll meet most of one day a month in Cartersville at the House of Rock, and lunch will be provided.

We’re partnering with Westridge, and I’ll invite some of my church planting friends in so we can learn from the people actually doing it.  Three years into this, I honestly believe that coaching is one of the missing pieces in most church plants.  Think about it…professional athletes still have coaches!

If you’re interested, email Tracy and she will send you an application.  The first meeting will be in August.

Don’t Do It

I don’t think most church planters know what they are about to get themselves into.

Starting a church is a lot of hard work. It’s not glamorous, no matter how many conferences pop up or how trendy it becomes. If you’ve ever fought your way though a tough time, a sickness, a business, a ministry, a relationship, you might have a tiny taste of what’s coming.

You may know how to program lights and put together a cool production…that will last you about 3 months. You might be a great youth pastor…this is totally different. You are going to work and sweat in a field where there’s about an 80% failure rate.

Just a little pep talk for you today. 🙂

Attendance Breakdown

Three weekend services…here’s how attendance broke down.

Saturday 6 PM service – 67% full
9:30 Sunday AM service – 55% full
11:15 Sunday AM service – 88% full

We track this pretty close so we can see when it’s time to add another service? What do you think our next step should be?

And what’s your attendance breakdown?

Offering Talks

Before we receive the offering, we always explain it and do a short offering talk.  Here’s some of the statements we use to encourage people to give.

1.    If God wants your money, he’ll take it.
2.    I don’t need your money, but you need to give it.
3.    You haven’t really worshipped until you’ve given.
4.    It’s not really giving unless you miss it.
5.    We are not owners, we’re managers.
6.    Tithing is trusting.
7.    Where we allocate money is a representation of what is really important to us.
8.    You’ve been blessed because somebody else gave.

From time to time, we also let people know where the money goes, either through a video or a story or a chart on the screen.

Open or Closed Doors?

You guys are all smarter than me…what’s your opinion on this one?

Should we leave the doors to our preschool classes in our new building open during drop-off and class room time or should we close the doors once the classes start?

Open Doors: Would have distraction from people walking down hall, and sound from one classroom would bleed into others. Crying babies in one room might create tension in another room.  With an open door, we could use a gate.  The gate would keep kids from escaping.

Closed Doors: I’ve been told that some parents might worry about leaving their kid in a room with a closed door. We always have more than one adult in the room. It would obviously be better for sound and distractions to close the door, and it seems more secure, but what about parent perception?  Is it a big deal for parents to leave a preschooler in a room with a closed door?  Most school REQUIRE closed doors, but these generally have windows.  These doors don’t have windows.

Ultimately, I think we’ll put doors with windows in, but we didn’t get that done in time.  So, what do you think? What’s better for kids, parents, safety, etc.

On Being Portable

Oak Leaf Church has been a portable church for 20 months, meeting in a movie theater, moving to a high school, and then moving back to the movie theater. In a few days, we’re moving into a warehouse/nightclub that we’ve spent the last eight months renovating. I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some thoughts on being a portable church.

1. I absolutely love being portable and doing church in the community rather than in a traditional building. It’s been more great than tiring.

2. Being portable is a great way to connect volunteers, and especially guys. Some of the most incredible people in our church arrive at 5 am and spend 4 hours getting ready for church every week. That’s serious dedication.

3. You can do portability with excellence. We never let it be an excuse and we found a way to give things personality, create an atmosphere. By the end of our run at the theater, we were setting up two full theaters complete with sound, stage, lights and video. And we were doing that twice more for elementary children.

4. If you have a problem getting people to serve, that won’t get better if and when you get a building. You’ve got a vision problem, not a portability problem.

5. We have a great relationship with Carmike and with the local management. We really loved having church there, and they were incredible to work with. I know lots of portable churches have issues, but we never had any. I’m really proud of that. If you’re portable, the relationships that you have with the people that rent to you can make or break you.

6. If you want to do things well, prepare to work. For the first year, I was one of the first people to arrive (though I could NEVER beat our sound guy). It’s hard work to do things right, so if you’re afraid to work or sweat, then you should probably find a different line of work. Lead Pastors and staff…you set the tone for the whole church. If you think it’s too hard, then so will your people.

7. Being portable has affected how we view buildings. We’re moving into a relatively small space, because we don’t want a giant building that sits empty 6 days of the week. The space we’ve renovated is going to be used all the time, and not just for church. We’re making it available to the community because the community has made their space available to use for the past 2 years.

I’m looking forward to our next season of ministry, but I pray that our church always maintains the season of portability.