Do What You Can, When You Can

When I was in college at the University of Georgia I had a big project in one of my major classes. It was a project that would take hundreds of hours to complete. My professor assigned the project at the beginning of the semester and almost every time class was in session she would remind us of the project and ask a weird question – “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer she was looking for was, “One bite at a time.”


Of course, she was teaching us how to handle a big task or project – one step at a time. When it comes to ministry, we would do well to remember this. You can’t do everything all at once. You need to take it one step at a time.

When you’re leading a church, you will have a big task on your hands. There will be much to do. But you will get overwhelmed if you try to change everything overnight. You can’t transform the culture, redesign the strategy, or realign the structure overnight.

Don’t try to do it all at once. Do what you can, when you can. 

Here are three things I regularly pray for as I’m approaching a big project or task. In fact, these are three things I regularly pray for even if I don’t have a big project or task on the agenda. Continue reading

The Power of a Personal Invitation

I’m sure you know this by now but I have to remind you anyway. Easter is coming. In fact, it’s just a few days away – Sunday to be exact. Easter is a pretty big day. There will be a lot of folks at your church who aren’t usually there. So, you better be ready.

youre invited this easter_wide_t

You must be ready to preach the gospel. Clearly. Simply. Powerfully. Faithfully. You must do that always. The people at church on Easter Sunday need to hear a clear and compelling presentation of the gospel. The people faithfully at church throughout the year need to hear it too.

Beyond that, use Easter as a way to train your people to invite their friends, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, and relatives. In another post, I wrote about Motivating Members to Reach Out To Others. This helps describe a strategy we’ve employed at our church to encourage our people to invite others. If you can teach God’s people the power of a personal invitation it could revolutionize your church and ministry.

The statistics are astounding. Most people say that they would come to church if someone they knew invited them. But sadly, most church people don’t invite others. Dr. Thom Rainer makes some important points for consideration:  Continue reading

Motivating Members to Reach Out to Others

There’s a lot to think about when you’re pastoring a church. Things can get so hectic at times that it causes you to lose perspective. That’s why it’s so important to keep our focus in the right place.

Where is that? The same place Jesus put it: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have command you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

The church should continually focus on reaching out to others, winning them to Christ, seeing them baptized, raising them up in discipleship, and sending them out to reach others. It’s important to remember our primary task – making disciples of all nations for the glory of God. And it starts at home – in your neighborhood, on your job, at your school. How do you encourage your church to reach out to others? I want to suggest four simple ways we should be intentional in reaching out to others. Continue reading

Discover and Capitalize on the Growth Cycle

Did you know that your church has its own unique growth cycle? And while you wouldn’t get this from reading all the church growth books, believe it or not, most of the “growth charts” don’t look like this.

I know, I know. There are some magical success stories of certain pastors who have always seen their church grow. They’ve never had a down Sunday and every week is bigger than the week before.  How do they do it? (Please note the sarcasm.)

You need to remember, pastoring a church is not just about preaching, it’s also about planning.  As a pastor/shepherd I believe I’m not just called to feed the sheep, I’m also called to lead the sheep.

So, if every church has a unique growth cycle, it’s the job of the pastor to find out what it is and capitalize on it. Here are a few simple ways to do that:

1. Measure as much as you can. You’ve heard the old saying, “We count people because people count.” I know it may sound trite but I think it may be true. Now, some pastors use this saying to justify being overly obsessed with numbers and statistics. Don’t be that guy! For me, I look at the numbers because they provide a benchmark – something to measure against from year to year. This leads me to my second point…

2. Compare year to year, not week to week. If you have ever ridden the church attendance roller coaster you know it’s a ride that can make you sick. If you obsess over numbers and overanalyze them every week you will drive yourself crazy. Two Sundays ago was Easter. The week before that was Spring Break. The week after was our “Sunday-after-Easter slump.” Compare weeks this year that correspond to weeks last year. Develop a spreadsheet that serves as a dashboard and provides a snapshot of where you are this year versus last year- in terms of offerings, attendance, decisions, etc. Believe me, this will help keep you sane.

3. Know your culture and community. Every city is different. Every school system is different. Every church is different.  For instance, I pastored a church one time that was a fairly young congregation.  While in most established churches, Mothers Day is the second largest attendance of the year, this wasn’t the case at this church. Why? Because most of these young families would travel to see their mom on that day.  It’s okay, you just have to know it. Know your community and culture around you. Are you in a college town? Are you in a tourist town? Are you in a military town? Pay attention to your community. It affects your congregation.

4. Plan accordingly. This is really simple.  Just use common sense. Let me explain – don’t plan a big event during spring break when you know half of your church will be traveling. Capitalize on a community event that brings thousands of people to a specific place. Pay attention to your natural growth cycle that coincides with your community and school calendar. Look at the graphs and learn your most significant times of growth throughout the year and seek to maximize those times.

Please understand, in no way am I discounting the power and work of the Holy Spirit. But I also firmly believe that God desires you to use the brain He’s placed in your head.  Listen to the Spirit – yes! But lead with intelligence as well.

How about you? What have you found that has helped you discover and capitalize on your church’s growth cycle?

Easter is Over…Now What?

I don’t mean to imply that Easter is over in a theological sense.  Followers of Christ celebrate Easter every day! Christ has risen and lives forevermore and we can share in His life eternally. But what I do mean to imply is that the special Sunday on your church’s calendar where lots of guests show up has passed. So what are you going to do about it? I hope have a follow up process in place.  Here are four simple tips:

1. Make it fast.  Experts (whoever “they” are) will tell you that the first 48-72 hours after someone visits your church is a critical time.  Plan something for today or tomorrow to follow up with guests and occasional attendees from Easter Sunday. Don’t just sit there…do something!

2. Make it right. If you are going to follow up quickly, please make it a pleasurable experience.  For instance, don’t assign someone with no phone manners the task of making phone calls.  Plan this process and then work your plan.  Recruit the right people and put them in the right places.  The quality of your follow up will give them an impression of the quality of your church.

3. Make it incredible.  I am a big believer in the principles of the book, Raving Fans. Some computer companies have satisfied customers, Apple has raving fans.  Some fast-food restaurants have satisfied customers, Chick-Fil-A has raving fans.  Go the second mile – do something to “wow” them. A handwritten note, a personal phone call, a gift-card in the mail, a door hanger with information and an invitation to return. Make it incredible and memorable.

4. Make it consistent.  I just read this on Eric Geiger’s twitter feed: “Church leaders, pursue guests & new believers with the same intensity you displayed in your preparation for Easter weekend.” Some churches go over the top on Easter but hardly do anything the rest of the year. Don’t just follow up on Easter, follow up every Sunday!

Establish a simple but effective follow up strategy to reach out to the new people God sends your way.