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Behind the Leaf is closing, and Launch and Lead is taking it’s place.

Please visit the new site, and update your RSS feeds. All posts have been archived there, and Launch and Lead will continue to be a resource for church planting ideas.



It may not sound like a big deal, but it’s important for everyone in your church to use the same vocabulary. Here’s a list of official Oak Leaf terms. Believe it or not, getting everyone on the same page required a good bit of discussion (and some final decision making from me)

  • Volunteer – Not serving group member. This is a person that serves in some capacity at Oak Leaf Church.
  • Volunteer Team -Volunteers don’t serve alone; they serve in a team. Not serving groups. A team is a group with a purpose. Teams work with a goal in mind.
  • Coach – This is a person who is charge of a volunteer team. They coach other leaders.
  • Huddles –  These are short meetings of volunteer teams that happen before a weekend service.
  • VIP – This is the acronym used to guide the Huddle Meeting. Every huddle meeting should contain some vision, some information, and some prayer.
  • Mission Statement –  We are here to lead people from where they are to where God wants them to be.
  • 3 G’s – (Gather, Grow, Give) This is our strategy – how we accomplish the mission. We want to GATHER people on the weekends. Then we want to help them GROW, maybe through a Journey Group or an Oak Leaf University course, or by reading their Bible. Finally, we want them to GIVE… through being on a volunteer team and giving of their finances.
  • Service –  Not experience or gathering. Are you coming to the Saturday night service?
  • Time of Giving The part in the weekend service where people give their tithes and offerings. Not “the offering.” We are going to participate in the time of giving.
  • Receive the offering – We receive the offering. We do not have mafia guys who go through the aisle and take it.
  • Guest – Visitors are usually uninvited, but you prepare for guests.
  • Partnership – This is what we call membership. It’s usually a good idea to say “this is what we call membership” when you toss out the term.
  • Courses – What we offer through Oak Leaf University. Not classes or seminars.
  • Instructor – The person who teaches an Oak Leaf University course
  • Handout – not the bulletin or talk notes.
  • Connection Card – Not communication card.
  • Next Step Area – Not table. If you decided to follow Christ, stop by the next step area after the service.
    Environments – Not classrooms. The air isn’t working properly in one of the preschool environments.
  • Auditorium – Not the sanctuary or the main room. If you have a main room, then you have minor rooms.
  • Invite – We never recruit….we invite.
  • Opportunity – We have opportunities for people to serve, not needs.
  • Message – Not sermon or talk.

Huddle Meetings

Every weekend, all of our volunteer teams meet in huddles, about 40 minutes before the service begins. These huddles last about 10 minutes, and they are a valuable time for leaders to connect with their volunteer teams. I believe short bursts are often better than lengthy training meetings. We adapted the format of these meetings from Newspring. Every huddle meeting contains the following:

Vision – remind people that their volunteer team helps advance the mission of Oak Leaf Church. Tell “mission accomplished” stories

Information – Let people know what they need to know. Talk about things that are changing or improving.

Prayer – Pray for each other, for the weekend services, and for anything specific.

VIP. Pretty simple format to a pretty important weekly meeting.

Coaching Network Set

Tracy emailed 11 people to let them know they were accepted into the coaching network that’s beginning this fall. I am excited for each and every one of these guys, and the potential that they have to change this world for Christ. I’m looking forward to investing in their lives and teaching them what we’ve learned so far.

Guys are coming from Texas, Ohio, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia to be a part of this network. That blows me away! Our first session is in August, and we’ll meet once a month for six months.

If you missed out on this network, we’ll probably do another one later in the year or in January.  Stay tuned.


On my blog, I wrote a few tips for keeping things simple. I think this principle is true for every church, but it’s especially criticial for a church plant. As a church planter, you’ll be tempted to try and do it all, or offer everything that your sponsoring church does.

In reality, you should probably focus 90% of your energy on the weekend services, since that’s when most people will encounter your church for the first time. Behind the scenes, you should build your team…the people that will lead your ministry in the future.

If I was going back and doing it all again, I’d spend less time trying to create catchy core values and messing with the website, and more time on the services and on developing leaders.

Job Descriptions

One of the most common things we’re asked for is copies of job descriptions. We’re revising them all slightly as we ramp up to six-month-evaluation time, so check back next week and I’ll post updated versions of everyone’s job description.

Coaching Network

The deadline to turn in your application for my upcoming coaching network is June 15. We have about 10 or 12 solid applications in so far, and I am limiting this group to 12 people maximum. The network begins in August.

Successful pastors will tell you that coaching is one of the keys to effective leadership and growth, so I’m honored to be able to pour into a group of guys who are going to change their cities as they plant churches.

Again, get your application in quick if you’re interested. It’s affordable and I really believe you’ll be challenged. I’ll load you up with tons of documents and forms as well.

Send an email to and she will hook you up with an application or answer any questions you’ve got.

Hungry for Learning

I am seeing coaching networks pop up all over the place, and they are filling up quickly!

This is a good thing.

It’s interesting that people are spending lots of money (in a down economy) to put themselves in a relational learning context. I mean…there is no shortage of books on any particular topic. There are conferences. And Google will find anything that you want to know.

I believe one of the reasons that networks are so popular is not because people need information, but precisely because there is too much information. We need someone to process the information for us. We need someone to interpret the data.

I think it’s a good move to add something like coaching to the regular diet of books and conferences. It’s a different way to learn.

Free Church Planting Book

My wife and I moved to Cartersville, Georgia in May of 2005 to start a brand new church. Oak Leaf Church held it’s first service in August of 2006, and within two years, we were seeing more than 1,000 people come to church. We’ve met in a movie theater, moved to a school, moved back to the movie theater, held four services at the movie theater, and renovated a night club.

I’ve learned a ton over the last few years. In fact, I’ve written it all in a book. Not to make money, but to get practical information into the hands of people thinking about planting churches. When I was first learning about church planting, I read everything I could get my hands on. Still, I wanted…I needed more. I wanted to know more specifics…more practical stuff.

So after a lot of writing, editing, and praying…I have decided to give away the PDF of Launching Large for free. Hopefully, there will be something in these pages that will challenge, encourage, or help you.

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List iconSign up to receive the free book

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.