One of the things I’ve learned as a Pastor is that I’m responsible for my own development in my relationship with Christ and ministry skills. It’s an important lesson; one that many Pastors fail to learn. This is why there’s such an epidemic of Pastors leaving the ministry, either from burnout or moral failure. I don’t want to join their ranks!
One of the ways I grow, and help our staff Pastors develop, is to attend conferences together. Each year we choose about 3 conferences to take portions of our team to. I love attending conferences for a number of reasons…
1) I get to worship — when i’m speaking at Palm Valley, I love to worship with our church, but I’ve still got my mind focused on teaching Conference are a great chance for me to simply worship with other believers and spend time reflecting on my love for Jesus.
2) I get fed — Years ago I chose conferences that revolved around ministry skills, church growth, etc… Now I choose conferences based on their capacity to nurture spiritual growth. As a pastor, when I go to church, I’m doing the feeding. It’s nice to sit and be fed.
3) I have fun — At conferences I get to hang out with our staff and laugh. Tonight at dinner Sean and Brent had a hot pepper eating contest (video coming soon); I laughed so hard I cried. I love the team I work with, and it’s refreshing to be able to just have fun together.
4) I network — I’ve developed great friendships over the years with Pastors who have become friends, mentors, and encouragers. It’s a great chance to exchange ideas, hear what God’s doing in other churches, and be reminded that the Kingdom of God is being built around the world.
So this week I, and many of our Pastoral team are at the Creative Church Conference. Last year at this conference I had an encounter with God like I’ve never experienced before. I knew His presence so strongly that I began to weep, and weep, and weep (for about an hour). He spoke some things into my heart, encouraged me, and challenged me in ways I still can’t verbalize.
Tonight I’m in Dallas with great expectation for what God is going to do in my heart this week, as well as our other Pastors. Quite honestly, I need Him to refresh me and encourage me. I’m tired this week. The past few months at PVC have been incredibly rewarding, but greuling: I’ve been teaching my heart out, we’ve experienced incredible growth, this past month I had to make some incredibly tough, painful decisions that were for the best of Palm Valley and honored the Lord, but came at a personal cost. In short, as always, I need Him to minister to me. I’m hoping to experience God in a fresh way, to know Him better so I might love Him more. I’m praying the same for our team.
I’m a big proponent of doing quality, targeted advertising. Obviously the best (and most effective) invitation to church is always personal. However, I believe marketing can help enhance the efforts of our church body by making our name known in the community.
Lately I’ve received a number of inquiries about how/why we do marketing. Here’s some thoughts for churches…
1) Determine who you’re trying to reach. When we do advertising pieces we are always focused on the non-churched person in our community. Use language that they speak. Avoid “churchy” terms.
2) Be specific. Determine what you are seeking to communicate. We always brand a message series and focus on that. If you’re trying to reach those who don’t attend church, I believe you will be more effective with a series that hits a felt need, versus saying “look how great our church is”. Most church marketing is done to compare why “our church” is a better choice than “the other” churches. Non-Christians aren’t choosing, they’ve already said no to church. Advertising should touch their heart and compel them to be at your church this weekend for this message.
3) Use a professional designer. I know there’s someone in your church who has Photoshop and will do it for free, don’t do it. We now have the luxury of having a full-time designer in house. However, before that, we used a professional designer who worked for our printing company. Doing it together with the printing, they would charge us about $150 for the design work.
4) Get second opinions. Take your piece and have others look at it. At PVC I have a marketing focus group that examines the pieces to provide feedback. I would highly encourage you to have some non-Christian friends look at the piece to see if it would catch their attention. Note: if you’re afraid to do this, you shouldn’t waste the money on the advertising.
5) Pray over them. We believe each mailer/door hanger/invite card has a divine appointment attached to it, so we pray that God would use them in a big way.
Not teaching as much has given me some time to read more, reflect, and just hear from the Lord. Here’s some random stuff I’m reading & learning…
One Year Bible: I know, it’s a given. However, I’ve really been hit as we read through 1 & 2 Kings (and beyond) at how repetitively sinful the Israelite leaders were. Over and over they turn from God and do their own thing. Because of this they miss out on God’s best. I desperately want to experience God’s blessing on my life; so I want to avoid the mistakes of the kings!
By the way, as I read this month I see a pattern in those who fell: hardness of heart led to lack of discipline led to giving in to temptation led to sin action led to sin lifestyle led to consequences!
The Hole In Our Gospel: challenging book that takes us back to what it means to follow Jesus. It’s more than saying a prayer and going to church; it’s a sacrificial lifestyle in light of all Christ has done for me!
Crazy Love: Great read about how much God loves us; not because of what we do but because of who He is! Our life is to simply respond to Him by loving Him with our heart, soul, mind and strength.
The Principle of the Path: I think Andy Stanley is an incredible leader, so I read anything he puts out. This book is a strategic look at how the church can be more effective at accomplishing the vision God has given us. I appreciate Andy’s simple, straight-forward, yet practical teaching.
I’ve received a ton of emails asking ot hear this weekend’s message at Revolution Church.
You can listen/download it here
I want to thank Dan Sutherland, who spent time Saturday giving me wisdom, insight, and even his teaching notes from his message during a similar situation.
This was one of the toughest weekends of my life. So many emotions, so little sleep; but I truly got to see God work in a big way…
- My heart is broken for Gary. I’m even more pained for Deanna and the kids.
- I’m ticked that the evil one was able to injur so many.
- I was asked to speak at Revolution this Sunday and deliver the news.
- Didn’t sleep a wink Friday or Saturday night.
- I’m grateful for Dan Sutherland for providing me insight, wisdom and even his notes from a previous message he gave on the subject.
- I was overwhelmed at the response of the people at Revolution. What an incredible body. I was so glad to be there for them and help provide hope!
- I was in the lobby after each service to greet and answer questions. That was the real ministry!
- Noticed that Revolution has more “Affliction” t-shirts than any church i’ve attended. Loved seeing so many guys at church.
- Missed being at Palm Valley; I love my church family. Thankful to them for encouraging and praying for me this weekend.
- Had lunch with Gary today. Lots of tears and tough things to talk about.
- I’m completely drained, I’ll blog more this week, but that’s it for tonight
We preachers are a funny (warped) bunch; and we have our own language. From time to time I’ll ask a fellow pastor how there service(s) went. The reply will sometimes be “I felt a great freedom, the Holy Spirit was really working. During our 10:00 am service this weekend, a thought occured to me (thoughts in red)…
When preachers say this, they usually mean the crowd was full of Christians who were amen’ing away, and it really fired the preacher up to say everything they’ve always wanted to say. The crowd already believes, so they keep agreeing. The preacher gets more and more fired up and yells alot, the people clap, and everyone leaves saying “that was a great sermon!”.
It amazes me with 5 services each weekend (6 on easter) how different each of the crowds can be. This weekend we asked our regular crowds to move to Saturday night or early Sunday; and man did they respond. Thanks to PVC’ers who made the move to free up seats in the 10:00 and 11:30 services. However, this left our 10:00 and 11:30 services made up of a large portion of visitors.
It was obvious during worship that the 10:00 crowd was full of people who aren’t used to going to church. They didn’t know the words to the songs, they didn’t sing, but they were intently watching During a video our worship leaders commented how different this crowd felt. As I got into my message I could tell that this was not a “Christian” crowd; but had a large portion of people who were checking out church on easter. I could also tell the message was hitting home and causing a great deal of thought and angst. So here’s my point….
I felt like I could literally see people standing between heaven and hell, eternal life and eternal death, and wrestling with the reality that they needed to make a decision. There was a great heaviness in the worship center. It was during this that I sensed that this is when the Holy Spirit is really working; convicting men/women of their lostness without Jesus, and the fact that they are not “good”. To me when the crowd is silent, not applauding a word you’ve said, that the Holy Spirit is using the words to convict of sin, change hearts, and move men to repentance!
I pray for and relish the opportunity to be a part of the conversation with people who realize they need Jesus, and this is when I need the Holy Spirit to speak the most. It’s fairly easy to preach to Christians, the already convinced. It’s a much tougher message, and more critical, to deliver when people’s eternity is at stake. By the way, 63 people visited the indicated they made a decision for Christ this weekend; that’s God at work!