Archive for the ‘Sundays’ Category

Saturday Night vs. Sunday Night Services

We knew we needed to choose either Saturday or Sunday night for an additional service at our new place, so I thought I would let you know why we chose Saturday night.

We talked to a lot of people, checked out a ton of church websites, talked about it in our team, and said a lot of prayers. In the end, I feel like Saturday night will allow us to reach people who do not know Christ or attend Church a little better than a Sunday night would.

In our area, churches have Sunday night services, and they are generally attended by the highly churched.  Nothing wrong with that, but we’re not trying to reach that demographic. I feel like Saturday night is a night out for a lot of people, and that they might make church a part of their night.

A few other reasons…

#1 – We’ve got a ton of families with children, and Sunday night is a school night.

#2 – We feel like we can develop an identity on Saturday night…no other churches are doing Saturday nights in our area. I think we can really gain some momentum and reach new people. We’ve got a full-blown coffee shop in our building, and I’m hoping that people will connect over coffee before or after the evening service.

#3 – One of the most common reasons we heard about churches doing Sunday night over Saturday night was because of staff. Saturday nights are hard for staff. But we don’t do Wednesday night stuff, we aren’t busy with night meetings throughout the week. We’ll do some things to make sure that we’re taking care of people, but our staff is committed to reaching people, and I think we could all give a night a week to that mission.


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.

Virtual Tour

We’re honored to host church planters on a regular basis, and show them everything we do on Sunday mornings at the theater.  But everyone can’t make it on a Sunday, so I filmed a video basically walking people around, showing you how we do things.  Hopefully, it’s the next best thing to visiting in person.  Let us know if you have any questions or if you see anything we can do better.

Worship Leading Philosophy


I think it’s important for the philosophy of the worship leader to match the philosophy of the pastor and the philosophy of the church service on Sunday. Here’s something I wrote and sent to all of our worship leaders, not as a response to anything, but as a reminder.

– I like upbeat and celebration rather than intimate and thoughtful.  It’s okay to do these kind of songs, but make them the spice rather than the meal.

– I like to get up right after a rockin’ song, not after some prayerful meditation. I typically start pretty light and funny and conversational, so a slow song doesn’t set that up well.

– I love ending the service with something loud and memorable. either a performance tune or a rockin worhsip song. get people leaving on a high note.

– We love opening the service with a popular cover tune. That kind of stuff unfolds people’s arms. If a guest is there and he hears a popular song, he will relax and be more receptive to the message. this isn’t a stand up and sing song.

– We need to program and pick songs with the unchurched in mind. If it would sound confusing to someone who hasn’t grown up in church, we probably shouldn’t do it.

– We like songs for dudes. not necessarily love songs to Jesus about how beautiful he is or how intimate we love him.  That may be true, but most guys don’t talk like that.

– We are rock and roll, and we like it loud

– I like a mix of songs that people will sing and maybe one new or newer tune each week.  If it’s all new, then we will lose people.  if it’s all old, then we will become boring.

– I don’t like it when worship leaders set up songs for 2-3 minutes. The little sentences during intros or quoting a verse during a guitar solo is very cool, but in general, I’ll do the talking and you do the singing.  I promise not to pick up your guitar during my sermon and lead 10 extra minutes of worship if you promise not to preach a sermon setting up a song.

– A worship leaders job is to lead people in worship, not just worship personally.  If a singer has his eyes closed, he’s not engaging the crowd.  you’re a worship LEADER.  if nobody is following, you’re not leading.

– Think of how the words would sound to unchurched men. that’s the filter. If a song has a confusing lyric, we need to explain what it means or skip it.

– It’s nice when the songs fit the theme, but we connect those dots way more than our people do. there are some awesome songs that are just awesome to sing. the song right before the message and right after the message should fit the best…some of the other songs can just be great songs. if they all fit the theme, then that’s great…but an unsingable song that fits the theme doesn’t do much for most people.

– It may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s not…old hymns redone are also connecting points. People in Cartersville have some church background, so reaching back and pulling something that they remember and updating it is a great way to make a connection.

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.


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

Guide to the Giving Talk

Each week in our services, we receive an offering (you don’t ever take an offering by the way).  Before we do that, someone from our church explains what is happening.  We don’t view the offering as a tacked on element, but we try to plan and prepare it just like we do the singing or the sermon.  We want to connect the time of giving to everything else that is happening that day.

Here’s a 2-page PDF Guide to the Giving Talk that we put together to make sure that people on stage know exactly what should happen during this 2-3 minutes of our service.


Explain It

In our partnership class and sometimes via e-mail, we get questions about how often we do come-forward-type invitations.  Public invitations are relatively new to to the organized church, but I grew up in a church were altar calls were standard practice.  I’m quite used to them,

At Oak Leaf Church, we sometimes do public invitations. About four or five times a year, we’ll really encourage our people to bring their friends (maybe their “one”) and we really teach a Gospel message.  We’ll do some type of public response.  Sometimes, we’ll ask people to move from their seats; sometimes I will walk them through it and I’ll ask them to fill out a card; one time I just asked them to stand up boldly with no music playing.

We’ve made a commitment to never do things without explaining them.  For example, lots of churches tack on communion to the end of a service (nothing wrong with this).  But for us, whenever we celebrate The Lord’s Supper, we want to take a lot of time and explain the significance and explain what’s happening.  The same goes for invitations, and baptisms.  Because Sunday morning is designed with guests in mind, we don’t want to do things that make sense to the insiders but would confuse the outsiders.  Calling for decisions, seeing people baptized, celebrating communion…these are all great things.  When we do them, we want to be intentional and explain everything.

E-Mail to First Time Guests

Here’s the e-mail I just sent first time guests…

Thanks for joining us at Oak Leaf Church the other day. I hope you had a great time, met a few new people, and learned something. We started the church about 17 months ago to lead people from where they are to where God wants them to be. People are at all different places, and we want to help people take a next step towards God. We want to be a real church for real people…we’re not trying to make a name for ourselves.

If you have a minute, I’d love to get your feedback from your visit. Here’s a link to a short survey that will really help us. Please be honest and let me know what you thought about your experience.

You might also want to consider attending the next partnership class. At the class, you’d learn about the vision and strategy for the church. You can meet people, meet the entire staff, and ask questions if you have any. The next class is May 18. Childcare and lunch are provided – we want to make it easy for you! Let me know if you’d like to attend and I’ll add you to the list.

If you have any questions, just let me know.

Guide to the Welcome

Like most churches, we have a welcome as a part of the program. During the welcome, we do three things.

1.  Introduce ourselves (the person doing the welcome…we put their name and title on the screens) and welcome people.

2.  Talk briefly about our vision OR talk about a next step

3.  Welcome guests and explain the connection card.

Though it seems pretty simple, this is actually a very important part of the service.  I took some time to write an official guide to doing the welcome.  Here’s a pdf of that document for your enjoyment.