How can your church help other churches be more effective in reaching people?
Here’s a testimony from PastorMentor.com that may help you get started in the new year:
New Song started helping other churches almost by accident. Three years after we launched the church, I had to lay off our entire staff. We were transitioning from the “portable church” stage into a 24/7 lease situation, and it was obvious that we weren’t going to have enough to pay our staff and our lease. So we wrote pink slips which said, “We may not be able to pay your full salary for the next few months, but we’ve always lived by faith and we hope you’ll stay on. We believe God will provide for you until we grow into our increased budget.”
Each of our guys agreed to pray and see what would happen. The next day, my Associate Pastor, Scott Evans, got a call from a church, asking if they could pay him to produce a mailer similar to the ones we had been sending to our neighbors. Another church called the following week. Scott began offering his services to more churches, and eventually Outreach, Inc. was born. Seventeen years later, Outreach has served over 90,000 churches with mailers and other marketing tools because of a pink slip and a nudge from the Lord.
How to Get Started
The week before churches began to call, Scott and I had read Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God. Henry’s chief tenant is Find out what God is up to and join him in his work. God is always at work around you. What is he doing in you or through you or around you that might benefit other churches?
One clue to how you might help is by figuring out what you do better than other churches. We’re all good at something. What’s your strength?
If your church has a problem, chances are that others have that same problem. When you develop a solution, share it!
Church leaders are sometimes tempted to think they’re in competition with other churches. Not so. Other churches are our teammates. They want to win others to Christ as fervently as we do.
How has your church been a blessing and help to other local churches?
Where would Americans be if churches didn’t make outreach a priority? Many would feel the pain of unmet needs for basics such as food and clothing, not to mention a slow-down in disaster recovery efforts. For many hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, it was churches that provided the first signs of relief. In fact, a new survey –Outlook for Outreach – shows that of the 58% of churches in America that provide hands-on assistance for causes throughout our country, 75% of them engage in national disaster relief efforts.
To better quantify how churches engage in outreach ministries to provide for physical needs within their local communities and the world at large, Christianity Today (CT) and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company (BMIC) recently conducted the joint nationalOutlook for Outreach study. Responses collected during the summer of 2012 from 1,486 church leaders and volunteers involved in outreach reveal that nearly all churches (96%) are serving those in their local community, especially in feeding and clothing the poor.
Results show that churches meet — and even exceed — the need for food and clothing at the local level, however, they’re providing less hands-on assistance in addressing unemployment and preventing crime and gang-related violence than the perceived need. Along with providing disaster relief, more than half of the churches send teams on in-country mission trips (54%) and are engaged in housing construction projects.
Churches are involved in international outreach efforts (70%). Fully 60% of them fund building projects overseas, including homes, churches, schools, medical clinics, and orphanages, and 53% travel abroad to physically assist with the construction work.
Nine in ten churches allow other organizations to use their facility for outreach programs, so churches are opening their doors for others to serve too. The survey also shows that churches are taking care to select suitable volunteers and provide adequate training before doing hands-on ministry.
“Churches engage in all kinds of outreach efforts,” says Dave Lantz, vice president, claims, Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company. “Church leaders need to be aware of the risks associated with outreach and recognize the importance of managing those risks. It’s encouraging that many are already taking steps to minimize them.”
The majority of churches say that finding enough funding and volunteers are the two biggest obstacles to doing outreach locally, nationally, and internationally. At the same time, 41% of churches report that volunteerism is up for outreach ministries, and nearly half (45%) expect their church budget for outreach to increase in the coming year.
According to 62% of respondents, the number one result of serving others is a sense of maturing discipleship among those involved. Another added benefit: more than one-third (35%) of the respondents say that more previously unchurched people now attend their church as a result of their outreach efforts.
“Outreach and compassion are important hallmarks of church life,” said Marshall Shelley, editorial vice president of Christianity Today. “The results of this study show the high percentage of churches and church members that are involved in serving their neighbors locally, nationally, and internationally. If faith must be exercised to remain healthy, then most churches see outreach as the fitness center for faith.”
What is YOUR church determined to do in 2013 that you’ve never done before?
Mars Hill Church has been ranked the nation’s third-fastest growing church by Outreach magazine. In the magazine’s most recent issue releasing its annual rankings of the largest and fastest growing churches in the U.S., Mars Hill Church was also recognized as the 28th-largest church in the country. In the last 12 months, the magazine reported, Mars Hill’s weekend attendance has gone up by 3,530 to over 13,100, which represents a 37% growth over the previous year when the church ranked 43rd in both categories.
The Outreach 100 report is the result of a survey conducted by Outreach and LifeWay Research of more than 8,000 churches and is based on average weekend attendance. According to Outreach, Mars Hill’s 3,530 person increase each week was the fourth-largest numerical gain of any church. Mars Hill is also listed as the church with the most locations, 14, which is five more than any other church in the country.
“Jesus is moving, people are being saved, and we are just a kite in a hurricane of God’s grace. Mars Hill Church is on its greatest wave ever, and we’re excited to see the growth and opportunities that God has in store for years to come,” says Mark Driscoll, founding and preaching pastor of Mars Hill. Pastor Mark, popular for his commitment to bible-based teaching, is also featured in a small article in the special report issue.
In addition to growth in physical attendees each weekend, Pastor Mark’s sermons enjoy tremendous viewership via the church’s website and podcasts. Regularly ranked #1 on the iTunes Religion & Spirituality podcast chart, Pastor Mark’s sermons are downloaded over 15 million times each year, which means that for every attendee of a Mars Hill Church there are approximately 20 more sermons that are played or downloaded each week.
Mars Hill Church was founded in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood by Pastor Mark in 1996. Today, 36 weekend services are held at the 14 locations among 4 states. The church recently announced plans to open a 15th church in Tacoma in 2013, as well as move Mars Hill Everett into the Everett Armorybuilding, and Mars Hill Downtown Seattle into the Daniels Recital Hall later this fall. In addition, the church has four Lead Pastor Residents who are currently being trained with plans to open four additional Mars Hill locations in the fall of 2013.
Willow Creek Community Church is planning yet another addition — albeit its first in nearly a decade — to bring its Hoffman Estates-based Care Center onto its main campus in South Barrington.
The Care Center provides emergency food and clothing assistance as well as health and legal advice, employment services and English as a Second Language classes.
The new Care Center will grow the building’s current 295,000-square-foot footprint by 12.5 percent, and will be constructed in a consistent style of brickwork.
The Care Center has been attracting not only more clients during the economic downturn, but approximately 800 volunteers each month.
In a rare move, the 20,000-member Saddleback Church in Orange County is canceling all of its worship services during the second weekend in December in order to help facilitate a huge neighborhood volunteer opportunity. Rick Warren is Saddleback attenders to take at least a half day on Saturday or Sunday (Dec. 10, 11) to go “serve in the community and love your neighbor as yourself.”
In its 31-year history, the megachurch has canceled weekend services less than a handful of times, according to Warren.
Church officials are hoping to mobilize Saddleback’s base of 5,000 Bible study groups, referred to as “small groups,” to perform their own chosen acts of kindness in their neighborhoods.
Pastor Erik Rees, designated as the pastor of Ministries and Life Worship at the church, is leading the team that is championing the event called, “Good Neighbor Weekend.”
“Saddleback has always been a loving and caring church that gives and gives, so this weekend will continue our commitment to love our neighbors,” Rees told The Christian Post. “The weekend will include a variety of ways to shower our neighbors with compassion, kindness and love. These opportunities include on-campus, in the community, and through our 5,000 small groups.”
SOURCE: The Christian Post
Great idea or horrible one?
Would your church ever consider doing something like this?
If your church is at all interested in getting outside your building and looking for new ideas to reach people far from God, then take a look at these 29 top Externally Focused ideas from 2011. After looking at a ton of different ideas, the Externally Focused Network narrowed it down to the best 29 ideas that exemplify what it means to be an externally focused church.
… then let me know what you think.
What’s the BEST idea?
Is there any that you think you’ll try in YOUR church?
Imagine having an outreach so big that 12,000 people show up and children are knocked over or trampled.
That’s what evidently happened last year when Next Level Church did their Easter Egg Drop. Â That has prompted this years drop to be held at a ‘secret location’. Â See this news article for more:
NEWINGTON â€” A “secret location” is among several changes to the Next Level Church’s Easter Egg Drop, now in its second year.
Last year’s event drew an estimated 12,000 people to the Rochester Fairgrounds where a helicopter dropped 60,000 plastic eggs filled with prizes and prize vouchers, including a plasma television and Nintendo Wiis.
Several complaints of children being knocked over or trampled as parents joined the children’s rush onto the field sprung from the event.
Changes to this year’s egg drop â€” to be held on April 24, Easter Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m. â€” are an effort to avoid that kind of activity from taking place this year, said the church’s lead pastor Joshua Gagnon.
In addition to the secret location, which will only be revealed the day of the event, the number of participants will be limited to 300. Event participants will also be required to join the church at its Easter observance, where the children will be given wristbands to allow them into the egg drop.
“We’re not trying to make it you have to go to church,” explained Gagnon. “It’s the only way to control the crowd. We have to limit that and it’s one of the ways we can limit it is that they come to church first.”
The event, said Gagnon, is intended to provide children with a positive church experience.
“When the only time a kid goes to church is on Easter they can have a bad understanding of what church is,” he said. “Why not let them have a good time and show them the church is there to give back, not to take.”
My friend Greg Atkinson recently wrote an article highlighting 8 reasons people aren’t coming back to your church. Â Here are the reasons. Â Go read his thoughts, then come back and let’s discuss…
The Front Door
Before a guest ever steps foot on your churchâ€™s physical campus, he or she has probably already checked out your church website. What every church should have clearly visible on their homepage is a section or button for first-time guests.
Itâ€™s important that no church ever underestimates the sense of smell. While sight is the strongest sense for short term memory, the sense of smell is the strongest and most vivid for long-term memories. I
One of Tim Stevensâ€™ three â€œgrowth lidsâ€ that he thinks every growing church should have someone who is constantly watching is parking. Tim says, â€œThis is why Visitor Parking is so crucial. If itâ€™s difficult for newcomers to go to your church, they wonâ€™t go.â€
This Way Parents
One way to assure guests will not return is to have a confusing, long or hard to find process for getting their kids registered and in the right classroom. Wise churches have signs for first-time guest kidsâ€™ check-in and make the process quick and painless.
Give It Away
Something subtle, but powerful is a church that has a generous spirit. Chris Hodges at Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, AL is big on this. They have a coffee shop, but they also have a designated area where people can get free coffee and not pay anything.
One issue that is huge to a secret shopper and visiting families is security. If a parent is worried about their childâ€™s safety, they will not enjoy the service and will likely not return. A childrenâ€™s classroom must be clean, safe and secure. Security also includes the check-out process. If anyone can walk into a classroom and pick up a kid, youâ€™re asking for trouble and will turn off potential newcomers.
The Visible Pastor
Accessibility of the senior pastor is another subtle and powerful statement of a church. Even pastors of the largest churches in America make an intentional and strategic effort to be seen, greeted and hugged after a service. They may have a body guard present for security reasons, but they are available and willing to pray with people that need to speak to their pastor.
Itâ€™s simply not enough for greeters and parking lot attendants to say â€œHelloâ€ or â€œWelcomeâ€ when one walks into their church. To go to another level, have your first impressions team stationed at their posts when the service ends to say â€œGoodbyeâ€ or â€œHave a nice weekâ€.
Read more of Greg’s thoughts here… Â Itâ€™s In the Details: 8 Surprising Reasons Why People Arenâ€™t Coming Back | Greg Atkinson.
What do YOU think? Â How are you doing on these 8 things? Â And in YOUR experience, what has kept people from coming back to YOUR church?
Have you heard of Servolution? Â If not… check this out from my friend Dino Rizzo and the folks at Healing Place Church:
A Servolution is not an event; it is a culture. Infusing this culture into the DNA of your church will change the view of the world and your perspective of the needs of those around you. This movement is rumbling throughout the body of Christ – a revolutionary army of people ready to take up this mandate. We are actively pursuing the lost, the forgotten, and the poor to show them a God who is passionately in love with them. We stand ready with one heart, saying, “I will serve others and show them the hope they can have in Jesus.”
Gabe Lyons and Tim Keller had a very interesting webcast last week. The topic: Living in a “post-Christian” world. Here are some quotes captured by The Christian Post:
â€œMy understanding of how you reach a culture is Christians have to be extremely like the people around them, and yet at the same time extremely unlike them… If Christians are not unlike they won’t challenge the culture, but if theyâ€™re not like, they won’t persuade the culture. Now, hitting that middle ground is hard.â€
â€œBefore the coming of Christ believers were culturally different…Christ comes, and now you can be a Christian in every tongue, tribe, people, and nation. Jesus gets rid of the ceremonial laws and all those things that made Christians culturally strange. In that sense, [now] your neighbor is like you.â€
â€œThereâ€™s got to be a balance. On the one hand â€¦ traditional Christian marketplace ministries have put all the emphasis on spiritual support, and thatâ€™s fine and very important…But rather than just simply evangelizing, recycling and nurturing people inside their vocation, they ought to be asking â€˜how does the gospel affect the way in which I do my work, how does it shape my work?â€™â€
â€œThe difference between a pre-Christian setting is a lot different than a post-Christian world. Weâ€™re dealing with a lot of baggage here in America… People donâ€™t feel like they have a lot of needs â€“ they donâ€™t feel â€˜down and out.â€™ [So] instead of only focusing on the â€˜down and out,â€™ which can be easy for a lot of churches, how do you start focusing on the â€˜up and inâ€™ â€“ those who have money, who live in the kinds of homes theyâ€™ve always dreamed of living in… I think this is a new place we have to discover what it looks like to pioneer the gospel going forward in this moment and itâ€™s not going to look necessarily like it did pre-Christian years.â€
â€œIn an industrial city, work matters so much to so many people. But they are many times doing it without a purpose â€“ theyâ€™re doing it to make money to keep up. What I think is unique about the Christian calling is understanding that the kind of work and vocations and occupations we take on really do relate to sense some purpose and mission.â€
â€œBeing a Christian is not only making a decision to follow Jesus but itâ€™s how we live our life todayâ€ like â€œpeople who are called instead of just looking atâ€ a job as just a job.”
What do you think?
I find Tim Keller’s thoughts about the balance being very important to be vitally true. Â And it’s a balance that’s hard to find in our ever-changing culture (to be sure)…
I also thought Gabe’s thought on the church needing to reach the ‘up and in’ crowd to be interesting. Â Many of our society are in the ‘up and in’ crowd. Â But many times the church takes the ‘low-hanging’ fruit of the ‘down and out’. Â NOTE: Â BOTH groups are important, but it’s much easier to respond to someone in crisis than someone who’s still climbing the ladder.
What are your thoughts?
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