Archive for the ‘Church in General’ Category

Simple for Who

I am a big fan of Simple Church. The book, and also the principle. We don’t want to have a bunch of programs, so we can have good programs. We don’t want to do a hundred things decent…we want to do a few things really well.

But in the fight for simplicity, I think it’s important to consider the reason you’re keeping things simple.  I’m not trying to keep things simple to have less to do or keep things off my plate. I’m not going to allow simplicity become an excuse for us to not do things well.

  • I’m not going to make a simple website because it’s less work…it needs to be simple because that’s what is best for the user.
  • I’m not going to make a theology class simple because I don’t want to wrestle with the trinity or the Image of God, I’m going to keep it simple so people can understand.
  • I’m not going to not have a mid-week service because we don’t want to staff it…we’re going to focus on the weekend so we can make a greater impact.

Simplicity isn’t a ticket out of working hard. It’s not about you anyway. It’s about them.


Calendar Requests

As our church gets larger, we can’t just decide to throw things on the calendar. All events must go through the calendar process.

There’s a Word Doc form (included in the Docs&Forms package by the way), but the form is also online. This gets submitted to our office manager who checks for immediate problems and checks on availability (of the date, the room, the media tech if needed). All calendar requests are approved in our weekly lead team meeting.

By the way, we use Google Calendar for the master church calendar.  Two or three people can add/delete things but every staff member can subscribe.

Multiple Services

I’m amazed when I hear about growing churches who are out of space and considering expanding, yet they only have one service on Sunday. If you’ve only got one service on Sunday morning, and your church has more than 100 people in it, you should move to two services right away. Here’s why.

1. Good stewardship. Don’t go spend money on expansion until you are having as many services as you can in your current facility. We do four services on Sunday morning, and though it wears me out, I can rest the next day. I’m not spending money on bigger facilities only to use them 2 hours a week.

2. It’s better for your volunteers. People say they don’t want multiple service because it’s hard on volunteers. Umm…just the opposite is true. When you have two services, your volunteers can serve one and work one. You can also do away with administering volunteer rotations.

3. It gives people options. People that don’t go to church like options. People in general like options, which is why restaurants serve different things and they make 734 kinds of toothpaste. Some people like an earlier service; some people like to sleep in. Some people would rather go on Saturday night. Give people options, don’t make them cater to your preferences.

EVERY time we have added a service time, we have grown. Multiple services are the way to go.

Sending Financial Statements

Nelson Searcy is a big advocate of sending out quarterly giving statements.  We do this once a year, like the IRS requires, but we’re thinking about taking his suggestions.  He says it’s a great opportunity to communicate vision and develop your givers.   Do you have any thoughts on this?

Gettin’ Organized

One of the things that helps the most in running a church or running any business is the ability to know how things are suppose to work. It doesn’t do any good to have a hamburger flipper at McDonalds that doesn’t know who to talk to if they run out of fries. Likewise, at Oak Leaf Church, we have spent a lot of time getting our ministries organized, so that our volunteers can contact the right person when they need something.

The absolute most important part of the organization (or org chart) is who needs to be shepherding a particular group of people. In other words, what Pastor really needs to be investing in these volunteers to make sure that they know how they can care for them, what their needs are, and if they are being discipled effectively.

The way we have chosen to get organized is to layer teams of volunteers into specific levels. At each level of volunteerism there is a specific level of investment by the pastor or the Lead Volunteer in that area.

We hope that this will really enable us to minister to people effectively (even if they aren’t in a Journey Group…which we hope they are) and help people feel connected no matter how large the Lord chooses to grow Oak Leaf. The program we used, because we are Mac lovers, was Omnigraffle. You can download it here.

If you want to see it by specific ministries you can download each of them by clicking on the following links.


Family Ministry


Journey Groups

– Anthony Gratto, Executive Pastor


I have had many conversations with our staff over the last couple days about tenacity and follow-through. Basically, we have been discussing operating with our best practices and core values.

Excellence is one of our core values and often it is one of the hardest ones to consistently follow. It isn’t that we cannot determine the difference between good enough and going over the top, but it’s that its much tougher to do things the best way, impressive way, and a way that will make an impression on as consistent basis.

One of the other huge hurdles that people face when they take on the role of a pastor at a church plant is being able to seamlessly transition between looking at the big picture and specifics. They have to be able to see it from all angles then work inside their ministry areas. It’s actually more difficult then you think to think like a manager and then still pastor the volunteers in your area. Huge to-do-lists, overwhelming projects, and a constantly evolving ministry can be distracting.

Tenacity, follow-through, and mental toughness is the only way to be successful in this kind of ministry. I often reference my days as a landscaper to illustrate my point. My go to illustration is the day a dump truck dropped off 50+ yards of mulch at a house we had to landscape. I had to clear the driveway it was dumped into in one day with only one helper. We had two shovels, two rakes, and two wheelbarrows. We worked non-stop for 8 hours to clear the pile and have it done for the opening house the next morning.

That project and many others like it didn’t tempt me to quit because it was physically taxing. It was the mental gymnastics to keep shoveling instead of sitting down in front of the frightening pile of mulch built up my attitude to stick with it…even when it was overwhelming. Unfortunately, you can’t teach people mental toughness…it’s learned. The mental toughness necessary to stick with a church plant when lousy stuff happens, when hard decisions have to be made, when giving goes up and down and when people quit on your church is the only thing that will ensure long-term success.

What’s your mulch pile?

Anthony Gratto

Executive Pastor

On the same page…

I don’t know where this quote originated, but I’ve heard it said, “You will never be on the same page unless you have an actual page.” In other words if you have expectations, goals, and behavior you would like to see, you better put it in writing. Then you better make sure the person you are trying to lead can read your expectations for themselves.

At Oak Leaf Church, we desire to make Sunday morning a great experience from start to finish. If there is something we can do better we are probably going to find it. We never stop improving, so we are always drafting the next version of this policy or another.

A couple days ago our Connections Pastor and I sat down and worked for 3 hours making a few changes to our Host Teams. In case you are just curious, or you are one of our greeters, or you are church planter, I am going to provide a few of these lists for your review. I hope it helps you get everyone “on the same page.”

Kid’s Check-In



Anthony Gratto

Executive Pastor

Ministry Appraisals

I wanted to create a system to help our staff track their progress and reach their goals. I probably could have thought up a better name then ministry appraisals, but that’s why I am the Executive Pastor and not the Creative Arts Pastor.

These little 15 minute one-on-one session with our staff are a crucial piece of the puzzle. The puzzle for most administrators in a church or business is determining what their staff is doing, what they are accomplishing weekly, and if they are truly helping the church move forward. I don’t want our church to feel like a corporation, but we didn’t hire our staff because the love Jesus. We hired them to accomplish some task. The fact that they love Jesus just allowed them to be considered for the job.

The ministry appraisal is basically a diary of our conversations. Our conversation revolves around the, specific and measurable, goals that our staff sets for themselves and get approved by Micheal. The purpose and benefit of this meeting is for me to be completely confident that our staff is performing to their potential and that they are helping us accomplish our mission. I created an Excel spreadsheet to document our conversations and I make sure that the staff look at it after our conversation. In addition, we schedule the next meeting before they leave, so they know when we will check up on their progress.

I also make sure it doesn’t kill anyone’s day, so we make it only 15 minutes. It’s a real and practical number and I even downloaded a timer so I can make sure that we make it work for our schedules and doesn’t become a cumbersome chore.

If you want to use this meeting plan, have your employees or staff set 3 to 5 6-month or long-term goals and 2 to 3 short time goals. Track the progress during these meeting and catch up with their overall picture of their job, their contributions to the organization, and their overall well-being.

To download the timer click here.  The spreadsheet could/should have these headings: Meeting/Purpose, Date, Topics, Discussed, Mini-Goals, Deadline, Deadlines Met?, Performance Rating (10 Points)…sorry I couldn’t upload it.

Hope it helps.

How We Count

Our goal in counting is to be accurate, not come up with the biggest number.  In addition to keeping tabs on attendance, we also track the offering, the offering per person, the number of first time guest cards received, salvation, and baptism numbers.  With multiple services, getting an accurate count can become problematic.  You have people there both times and you have to account for volunteers.  The simplest and most accurate way we’ve found is to count children and to count butts in seats.   Here’s specifics on how we arrive at our total worship attendance number.

  • In the kids areas, we only count children in our total attendance.  We assume that the leaders and teachers attend a service and they will be counted there.
  • In the services, we count the number of people in the seats.  In one of the services, we add the band, speaker, tech crew, etc.  We don’t count them in both services.
  • We don’t count our overflow kids area – the environment we design for kids who are there for both services.

This post sponsored by Lunar Pages…1,500 GB of hosting space for $6.95.

Top Givers

I haven’t been blogging like I should or like I want to lately. Instead, I have been using all of my brain power planning for 2008 and figuring out how we end this year on a high note. We felt that our final series of the year should be powerful and that it should make a statement that we are even more serious about reaching people next year.

With that said, we created a little thank-you package for those who give to OLC to let them know that we appreciate them, but hopefully communicate that we aren’t taking it too seriously.

We are sending all of them a thank you letter from Michael, a trophy, and a book. These are not incredibly valuable items, but the personal touch and the effort is our attempt to tell them we appreciative each of their contributions. Our trophy says, “I give to Oak Leaf and all I got was this lousy trophy.” A copy of the letter can be found here and the book is “In A Pit With A Lion on a Snowy Day,” by Mark Batterson.

Just some ideas to thank people in a creative way 🙂

Anthony Gratto

Executive Pastor