Easter: Full of Life

It is a little paradoxical to write about Easter in the middle of Lent, but every year we pastors prepare our Easter sermons during the heart of the sacrifice and fasting that Lent brings, so the practice makes sense.

In many of our countries, Easter is the day people return to the normalcy of work and school after relaxing during the vacation days Holy Week.  How ironic! After all, Easter is the day “normal” gets obliterated, and a new paradigm emerges.  For Christians there should be no bigger celebration.

As Joan Chittister writes in her book, The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life, “Nothing else in the Christian culture so completely explains all other things Christian as well as Easter does” (p. 54). The Son of God was handed over to be crucified and, after dying on the cross, remained in the tomb three days.  But Easter proclaims that death does not have the last word!  Thus, there should be no greater party than Easter!  An extravagant festival of praise should break forth on that Sunday just as Jesus burst from the tomb in the early morning so long ago.

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Chittister says it this way: “On Christmas morning we find the manger full of life; on Easter morning we find the tomb empty of death.  We know the whole truth now: death is not the end, and life as we know it is only the beginning of Life.  There is no suffering from which we cannot rise if we live a life centered in Jesus.  It is the empty tomb on Easter Sunday morning that says to us, ‘You go and tell the others. Now!’ (Matthew 28:10, paraphrase)” (p. 164).  We simply cannot contain this good news!  We want to invite as many people as possible to rejoice with us!

That kind of impulse should cause our Easter service to overflow with joy and excitement.  Chittister shares a humorous anecdote related to this very reality:

“He was six years old and not given to church-going.  When I saw the family at the monastery Easter Vigil, I groaned.  It’s a long service full of dancing and singing, flowers and incense, bells and organ. Why would anyone ever bring a child to it? I thought.  But afterwards, at the agape, the boy was still clearly animated, and the family was aglow. ‘Jake insisted that we bring him back…for the Vigil again this year,’ his mother explained to me, tousling his hair proudly.  ‘Really? Whatever for?’ I said in obvious disbelief.  Then the little boy looked up at me with a kind of mild amazement. ‘Because I like this church,’ he said.  ‘In this church, Jesus really rises!’” (p. 201).

There aren’t much higher compliments.  This Easter may your service – and your life – be evidence to all that Jesus really rises!

10 Ways To Help You Live Normal When Life Is Not Normal

By: Dan Reiland

I have been thinking about the stresses and pressures we are all carrying these days and attempting to focus on the practical things that help promote mental and spiritual health.

Whether you are a church leader, a parent leading your family, or leading in the business arena, we all need to lean into what helps us think and live healthily so we can better care for and lead others.

This does not dismiss:

1) The reality of the situation.

There’s no question that devastating things are happening in our world, and COVID-19 is at the top of the list right now. My suggestions do not pretend to make big problems magically disappear, but they do help us keep leading with a positive spirit.

2) The need to be vigilant.

The vast majority of our time and attention is needed to handle what is not normal in our midst. However, we must remain strong, human, connected, and reminded of the little things, the important things that make solving the big problems worthwhile.

3) The need for our focus to be on the hope of Christ

Jesus is and has always been the one who promises to help us with what we cannot solve. He is the giver of wisdom to solve problems, strength to endure challenges, and hope in our ultimate destiny. I’m offering some everyday things that really do help. The calmer, poised, and at peace you are personally, the better you can lead the people God has given you responsibility for.

10 Ways To Help You Live More “Normal”

(What’s normal? I know… but each of us has a normal, our normal, and when it’s disrupted, we know it.)

The goal is not for you to do all 10.

Select the ones most helpful to you.

Don’t let this be a task; let it be life-giving.

1) Establish a new routine.

We are creatures of habit, and routine is essential. And a routine is different than a rut. A routine brings stability so we can remain healthy and more productive. A rut is when you are stuck, not growing, and not experiencing spiritual health. Most of us have recently had our routines blown up. Some of you have kids at home. You love your kids, but that’s a big routine breaker.

Then add the fact that perhaps all of you are home – all the time. Nothing further needs to be said.

Modify your family systems.

Make new plans.

Set new routines.

I highly encourage you to organize and simplify.  That will not solve all your problems, but it helps you lift your spirit. Moreover, candidly, it will give you something where you can see immediate and tangible results. In a time when it feels like nothing is in your control, it will help your mental health and overall disposition.

2) Reach out to your friends.

ainur-iman-IrjcB5DbM18-unsplashYou are probably in close touch with your friends and colleagues you connect with regularly. I’m suggesting that you consider friends and colleagues that you haven’t talked with, texted, or messaged on social media for a long time. Reach out and check-in. Let them know you’re thinking about them. A text or any method is great. Take a moment to pray for them and let them know you prayed.

Don’t make it a project, or a task on your to-do list; consider it a privilege to encourage someone today. This will warm your heart and lift your frame of mind.

 

3) Take time to be quiet.

Time to be quiet is desperately needed by everyone, especially in times of fear and uncertainty. My world is noisy; quiet is priceless to me. I will admit that if I get too much alone time or quiet, I will literally start looking for someone to talk to.  But quiet reflection is essential for the well-being of your soul.

I’m not referring only or specifically to your “quiet time” or daily devotional (although you might prefer to combine them), but real quiet time.  Just to “be still,” to think and reflect. I have a cup or two of tea a day, and that is very centering and a good pause for reflection.  Don’t dismiss the impact of the little things, the simple things in your life. What’s one or two little things or simple pleasures that help keep you grounded?

4) Keep your body moving.

I’m not promoting an exercise routine or any specific workout, though that’s always a good idea. That’s up to you. I’m literally referring to keeping your body moving. It’s far too easy to remain stationary and become sedentary in most leadership roles. Allow yourself to move several times a day. If you are in deep study or on the phone or doing email, get up and stretch, take a few laps or go crazy and do a few push-ups. Take a short walk. Anything. Keep moving; your body was designed for it, and it helps you feel better, think better, and lead better.

5) Do one simple thing for someone else.

Doing practical and physically present things for people is becoming more and more complicated as we are all wisely staying more socially distant. But we can find ways to love and care for people. I recently heard about someone having a meal delivered to an elderly couple who was afraid to go to the grocery store. It was a phone call and a bit of money. Another person picked up medicine for a friend. The key is that this should be a joy for you, not a duty. No guilt, it’s a “get to,” not a “have to.”

6) Take a break from social media.

Used wisely, social media is a useful tool that enhances ministry in significant ways. Personally, however, a break from social media, even if just for a few hours, is healthy.  Use that time to read a good book, one not connected to your work.

The length of your break is obviously up to you. Some leaders go on a social media fast for weeks; others just shut down for a half-day on occasion. The important thing is that you can, and do, take periodic breaks regardless of how long. If you can’t lay your phone down for a few hours, “normal” may be difficult for you to find and experience.

7) Laugh!

ben-white-4K2lIP0zc_k-unsplashThis is a very serious time on our planet, but we need moments to breathe and feel normal for a bit. Laughter is great for your soul. It’s a natural medicine to help you stay fresh and restore your physical and emotional energy so you can pour into and lead others.

For me, it might be an episode of a tv show, or just sharing a funny story with a friend over the phone or playing a board game with family!! How about you?

Let’s not let the Enemy take advantage of what’s happening around us by stealing all the joy from our souls. Find the everyday humor in your life.

8) Express gratitude.

Few things restore and strengthen your soul more than a grateful heart. It would be easy these days to get caught up in what you don’t have. That’s a natural response to loss, and we all experience it to one degree or another. The emotion that comes with that experience can be anywhere from discouraging to crushing. But getting stuck there and dwelling on it is not helpful to you. Do your best to focus on what you do have and the hope of a better future. Those you lead don’t expect you to be superhuman, but they count on you to have hope.

9) Listen to music.

I’m a Beatles fan and proud of it. My new granddaughter already loves the Beatles at six weeks old. (Train up a child… )

What music do you love?

Music does wonders for the soul. Listen to some of your favorites as much as you can.

And of course, your favorite worship music is a great choice as well!

Just don’t do the guilt thing… if you like country, pop, classical, whatever, it’s OK, turn it up!

10) Pray God’s promises of love and hope.

I’ve saved the best for last. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. The longer I’m a Christian, the more I feel “bewildered and disoriented” when I’m not intimately close, daily, in my relationship with Jesus. I love time with God. His promises alone keep me going on tough days.

One of my favorite passages is Psalm 34:4-9:

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me;

he delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant;

their faces are never covered with shame.

This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;

he saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,

and he delivers them.  Taste and see that the Lord is good;

blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Fear the Lord, you his holy people,

for those who fear him lack nothing.”

© 2020 Dan Reiland | The Pastor’s Coach – Developing Church Leaders

Declaration From General Superintendents On Coronavirus

 

Declaration from General Superintendents on Coronavirus:

https://nazarene.org/article/board-general-superintendents-statement-coronavirus

To our global Nazarene family:

These are unprecedented days in the life of the church and for the citizens of the world. The global pandemic as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has led us into new territory. The good news is that all of this is not a surprise to God, and while we may feel unprepared and uncertain, we know that we are able to put our faith and trust in God. We encourage you not to live in a spirit of fear but to allow His peace to lead and direct each and every day. Today, we pray for the peace of Christ to bring us calm in the midst of this storm.

Throughout history, the church has been used by God to reflect Christ in a time of crisis. This is the time for the church to shine. Reach out in holy love to those in our communities who are in need. Do not allow prejudices to form our opinions regarding particular people groups, but instead, “love your neighbor.” Consider those who will be the most affected by restrictions, and be prepared to share resources with those in need.

The Board of General Superintendents and additional Church of the Nazarene leadership continues to closely monitor the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the church and people around the world. We are working closely with districts and churches to provide guidance regarding legislative and jurisdictional questions during this time.

Click here for general guidelines for local churches.

We continue to pray for all those affected by this illness and are believing for the Lord’s wisdom, healing, blessing, and guidance during this difficult time. Let us not stray away from our faith into fear during these hard times, “for the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

For the latest information regarding COVID-19, visit the World Health Organization website.

How To Strengthen The Church Of The Nazarene (USA/CANADA) By 2030 II

PART II: ANSWERING SOME QUESTIONS

In the previous entry, Rob Prince, Lead Pastor of Flint (Michigan) Central Church of the Nazarene, detailed the current reality facing our denomination in the U.S. and Canada and began to offer some suggestions for a brighter future.  His recommendations echo many of the same sentiments we in the Mesoamerica Region have been attempting to address through the ministry of Genesis. Let’s continue this conversation today by reading Rob’s second article, and know that we will also be covering these topics in a future episode of the Worthless Servants podcast.

In my previous blogpost, I posed the question: What if we thought differently about the future church and ministry in the Church of the Nazarene in the USA/Canada region?

I offered a new scenario of normalized ministry, if indeed you can call it new.  Paul, a tent maker (see Acts 18:3), was bi-vocational and still managed to plant a bunch of churches and write a major chunk of the New Testament. Maybe better stated, I asked: what if normalizing bi-vocational ministry and the planting of 5,000 house or in-an-operating-business churches by 2030 in the USA/Canada could happen?

Here are some possible answers to a few questions that might have been raised:

What could happen (through this method)?  Many of these churches could grow beyond their house or business meeting place – to that we’d say, “Hallelujah.” But even if that didn’t happen there would be 5000 new house churches or gatherings meeting in a business place averaging 25 people or more for a total of at least 125,000 new Nazarenes.

What else would happen? We’d see smaller, viable, reproducible, faith communities where non-Christians meet up with theologically trained pastors on a daily basis all over the country.

What else wouldn’t be there? Let’s name them: church buildings to maintain, pastors’ salaries, students’ debt that hinders financial stability of the minister, and other expenses that drain a church budget but have produced little or no results.  Remember: for all the money spent last year in churches around the USA/Canada, the church has been in decline…and for more than the last decade the church has been in decline.

What’s the worst that could happen? The coffee shop, thrift store, business venture/house church goes belly up or the pastor has proved to be a goober.  Well, then you pull up stakes, sell the building, and move to the next small town or to the other side of that same town or urban area and do the same thing.

What’s the next worst thing that could happen?  We burn out our people. Pastoring, running a business or working a job, having a family…there aren’t enough hours in the day. This problem could be helped with more and better delegation of responsibilities in the local gathering, better support from the district, partnering with more established churches, and efficient time management from the pastor.

How could the denomination pay for it? If the USA/Canada church model must be strengthened to keep the global mission of the church operating, then envisioning a way forward to make that happen must be a priority.

The homes/buildings for this new church venture would be purchased from district funds that have been acquired from the sale of other properties.

The college tuition would be covered by an increase in the USA/Canada portion of the WEF funds. Increasing the USA/Canada portion of the WEF funds is necessary if the goal is to strengthen the local churches by providing an educated clergy who are also able to sustain themselves without church budget funds.

If strengthening the USA/Canada church is priority #1 (and it is my contention that it must be for the long-term well-being of the global church) then this should be reflected in the WEF allotment to USA/Canada region. WEF dollars could be spent not only on educating a new horde of pastors at N.T.S. or N.B.C. but also in bringing in missionaries from other world areas to reach the various ethnic groups in the USA/Canada region.

Honestly, what has to happen to start 5000 churches?

More than money or finding pastors—there will need to be some major shifts in thinking.

  1. Church buildings are not necessary for Kingdom growth. This goes against the now-debunked theory: “If we build it, they will come.” No, they won’t. A more accurate moniker is: “If they build it, they will have a huge debt and will be unable to invest in ministry.”
  2. Pastors are not obligated to be compensated by the church. Paul and many more modern tentmakers show that bi-vocational ministry can be done successfully. The fastest-growing church on the district where I serve (Eastern Michigan District), Family Community Church in Goodrich, Michigan, has no paid church staff and averaged 295 people in attendance in 2019.
  3. The USA/Canada must be strengthened now (yesterday, actually). The ship is sinking. If the USA/Canada Church is not strengthened, the whole global church will be impacted negatively. The situation is critical, and the needs are immediate. Taking our collective heads out of the sand is needed.
  4. Who am I kidding (Take 1)? Nazarene churches (and pastors) are too territorial. Too often when an existing Nazarene church is in a town and a church plant is suggested there is major push back. Like it was played out in the old Western slang vernacular that says, “This town ain’t big enough fer the both of us.” But the truth of the matter is that nearly every city could use more churches preaching the message of holiness. We need a more “What’s good for Kingdom” mindset and less worry or contention over territorial boundaries.
  5. Who am I kidding (Take 2)? There are pastors just like me, who have earned our living off the church for 25+ years and are too old to learn a new trick (i.e. “we ain’t changing” and we aren’t about to open a coffee shop anytime soon). This is the biggest hurdle. I get it. The shift to make bi-vocational ministry the norm, not the exception, will take my generation and the generation behind me to retire.

In the meantime, pastors in my bracket need to cheer on those who are stepping out on marc-scaturro-brnf7UfFMXk-unsplashfaith. Applaud the adventurous, worthy millennials and iPhone generation pastors (OK, Boomer) who will do the hard kingdom work of bringing the church back to the center of ministry again. These are the ministers who willingly serve without pay in house churches and build the Kingdom of God in coffee shops, restaurants and public meeting places.

We need a new era of evangelism. Probably the old way of Biblical tracts and four spiritual laws isn’t going to have the same effectiveness in USA/Canada. Instead, the Jesus model of moving in and living among the people, the Paul model of being a tent maker and living off their secular work, and the Stephen model of Kingdom before self are what is needed (and repeated 5,000 times) if the USA/Canada church (and in turn the global church) is going to be strengthened in the coming decade.

 

 

How To Strengthen The Church Of The Nazarene (USA/CANADA) By 2030 I

PART 1: THE PLAN

Recently we had the privilege of reading an article by the Lead Pastor of Flint Central Church of the Nazarene, Rob Prince, in which he reflected on changes that will be needed in the coming decade in order to see growth and transformation in the Church of the Nazarene in the U.S. and Canada. Many of the things he proposes are exactly what we are promoting through the ministry of Genesis in Mesoamerica and through our Worthless Servants Podcast.  Rob gave us the permission to reproduce his articles today and in the following entry, and we will also be touching on these issues in some upcoming episodes of the podcast.

What if we thought differently about the future church and ministry in the Church of the Nazarene than the way we currently think?

Here are the facts as I see them (some anecdotal, some not):

Fact 1: A strong USA/Canada church is essential for the good of the global church (currently the USA/Canada funds 94% of the mission of the global church).

Fact 2: The USA/Canada Church has been in decline for over a decade and the coming decade could be worse.

Fact 3: The ONLY way to reverse the trend is to open more churches (5,000 new churches).

Fact 4: Seminary enrollment is down (way down from when I was a student 35 years ago). I haven’t seen the Bible College numbers. If we are opening churches we need trained pastors.

Fact 5: Many of the seminarians/ministry majors who are enrolled aren’t thrilled about reviving a church in small town U.S.A. or planting a church in an urban area. Many don’t want to pastor a church at all.

Fact 6: Getting a job in small town USA can be difficult.

Fact 7: Finding affordable housing in urban areas of the USA is difficult.

Fact 8: Jesus’ words in Matthew 9:37 are still true: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” People in both small town and urban USA need Jesus. We need churches and pastors.

What if we actively tried to change the current reality?

What if the term “bi-vocational pastor” was looked upon as a normal, regular ministry option rather than one inducing sympathy or being viewed as “second-rate?”

What if we thought of the bi-vocational pastor as the most honorable pastoral position and held these sacrificial women and men in high regard? Conversely, what if the idea of a “full-time” clergy role was viewed as a somewhat questionable pursuit?

What if seminarians/Bible college students were taught how to open a coffee shop (don’t people-inside-bar-2159074all ministry students love coffee?) or a thrift store (who doesn’t like a good thrift store/consignment shop?) or some other venture and taught how to play the guitar? Singing has always been a part of Christian worship (Live music > YouTube sing-alongs). And what if simultaneously these bi-vocational ministers were taught how to craft a sermon and be a pastor?

What if Acts 2:42 became our model of these house or inside-a-business-space churches? The followers would devote themselves to Biblical teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and to prayer. That’s it.

What if the district leadership could convince the twenty people or so remaining in a dying church that is on hospice care that they could sell their building and open a coffee shop or thrift store, that instead of the lost folks never stepping in their church, those that don’t know Jesus would regularly walk into a coffee shop or thrift store? (Note: this sales job from the district leader might take an act of God to actually happen).

What if we made the Bible college or seminary tuition FREE for those going into (or already doing) pastoral ministry?

What if districts started buying houses for the pastors to live in and where the house churches could meet?

What if the being-trained, guitar-playing, coffee-making, thrift store-operating, theologically sound seminarian or Bible College student with free education and free housing in the apartment above the coffee shop (with income from the coffee shop and with a steady stream of potential Jesus followers coming to get their coffee or find a bargain) could actually make a difference for Jesus in small town USA? What if all that could happen and…

What if this model was repeated again and again and again all across USA/Canada?

If that model was repeated, say 5000 times in the next decade, then attendance numbers and declining dollars would be dramatically reversed. We would see revival in small town USA and urban areas and everywhere in between.

No doubt, I’ve raised a lot of questions. In the next blog post I will attempt to answer some of those questions.

Cross-Cultural Orientation (CCO), Puerto Rico 2020

By: Javier A. Otero, Member of the Global Missions Team in Puerto Rico East

On January 10, 11 and 12, 2020, a Cross-Cultural Orientation (CCO) was held in Puerto Rico. This training was organized by leaders from four different countries: Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Guatemala and the United States, showing once again that the Church of the Nazarene is a global Church.

com 222 participants from 2 districts and 8 different churches attended the event. Among the participants were 3 Senior Pastors, all of whom testified to the importance of clergy involvement in missions. Participants ranged from 17 to 65 years old, making evident that involvement in missions has no age limit; one need only be ready to respond to God’s call.

15 of the participants went through the process of interviews as they sought guidance for how to participate in future mission opportunities. Frances G. Rivera Medero (participant), shared with us: “The CCO helped open my eyes to many possibilities and opportunities that God has for me.”

Responding to the call of our Lord Jesus Christ to “go and make disciples” was the heart of every activity. The group took a big step towards the Great Commission by equipping themselves during the weekend. com

The faith of the organizers and the participants was put to the test three days before the event when Puerto Rico was hit by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, leaving thousands homeless and much of the island without power and running water.  Still, leaders and participants left their homes and families to respond to God’s call and arrived at the CCO trusting that God was in control.

Another participant, Sandra Lugo, commented that Jesus “showed me that I must work for Him and look at the cross; not in the style and differences of other people.”

com 3This CCO showed that the Nazarenes in Puerto Rico are accepting the challenge of the Great Commission. Pastor Jorge Cádiz was impacted by the event.  “In every detail of this event, we could see the Nazarene missionary impulse at work.  Every new activity or workshop kept surprising me. As a pastor I feel extremely honored to belong to this movement.  Every Nazarene should live the experience of the CCO.”

All of us who have participated in the CCO feel the same way.  In fact, we continue living out the CCO, and we invite you to do the same!

The Top 7 Reasons Guests Return To Your Church

By: Dan Reiland

Recently we came across the following article and believe that it has some wonderfully practical suggestions to help any local church leader.  Although our readers will know that we bristle against vocabulary that refers to “church” as a place we go to or something that can be “attended,” we trust that the wisdom provided here will be gleaned in spite of such language.

The most common reason people check out your church is someone invited them. The most common reason people leave your church is they don’t feel connected.

But what are the most common reasons people return to your church after their first visit or two?

There’s lots of conversation about church attendance patterns these days, and that affects how we measure guest retention rate, and the length of time it takes for guests to connect with your church.

Here’s a new reality, new people connect more slowly than in the past and disconnect more quickly than we’ve previously experienced. It’s a double-edged sword. It takes longer for new people to connect because they don’t necessarily attend every week. And, they disconnect faster because the best “connection factors” are relationally based and therefore depend on attendance!

We can’t change current culture, or can we?

Here are two big reasons why people attend church less frequently (not in order):

  • Families are busier now than ever. From demands in their jobs (travel etc.) to sports for their kids on weekends, people are on the go nearly seven days a week.
  • People get bored faster than lightning. If guests attend your church and it gives off even a hint of being out of date, not fresh, “seen this before” or in some way behind or irrelevant, they are gone!

That’s difficult to compete with, so perhaps competing is not the answer. We might be wise to focus just a little less on why people don’t come, and invest more energy into why people do come. Focusing on what church does best is a smarter approach. Doing it the way your church does it best, is smarter still.

That takes us back to the top reasons guests return to your church. Put your energy here.

Top 7 Reasons Guests Return:

1) The Presence Of God Is Felt.

There is an unmistakable awareness of the presence and power of God at work. It may be inspirational and filled with emotion, or a more quiet and peaceful stirring within, but however it’s experienced, the presence of God is felt.

2) The Key Leaders Are Perceived As Trustworthy.

Guests come to your church at varying levels of “readiness” to trust the leaders they encounter. But it’s surprising how quickly they can discern if they trust you or not. Even from only a message or two, or brief connections in the lobby, they intuitively have decided if they can trust you. Your level of authenticity and clarity of communication make a huge difference in this process.

3) The Worship Service Is Positive, Relevant, Biblically Sound, And Executed With Heart And Excellence.

You don’t have to compete with the other churches near you. The important thing is to be the very best that you can. For example, if the worship team isn’t strong, select less challenging music, and do it with excellence. If the preaching isn’t strong, make the message shorter. In all cases, keep practicing, so you get better. Make sure the service is positive, clearly biblical, and upbeat and communicates faith in an atmosphere of grace.

4) The Volunteers And Congregation Express Authentic Love And Care.

Genuine love and attention are unmistakable and irresistible. When people encounter it, it’s truly transforming. The source is God’s love, but the expression and experience come from the people in your congregation, both from your volunteer leaders and regular attenders.

5) They Hear Current Stories Of Life Change.

Connected to brief and creative communication of your purpose or mission/vision are stories of life change every week. These stories need to be communicated in a variety of creative ways. That is hugely compelling and draws people back. Life change is inspiring, and it gives hope that they too can experience positive and spiritually oriented change.

6) There Are No “Glaring” Shortcomings.

There are no perfect churches, we all have flaws. But there should be nothing that is an immediate turn-off, or so grossly out of line that it makes people feel awkward and uncomfortable. For example, I’ve seen nurseries that were unclean and unsafe. I’ve listened to worship music that was painfully unrehearsed. Or it may be something as simple as the building is in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint or signage that is clear and helpful. If you are not sure, invite a church consultant to come in for one Sunday, that’s all it takes!

7) The Children’s Ministry Is Outstanding.

Each of your ministries matter, but children’s ministry is the one that receives the least grace from your guests. Parents are justifiably protective and want the best for their kids. They don’t yet know you or what happens when they drop off their children. Candidly, guests will give an “average” service another shot, but if their child has a bad experience, they will not likely return. Invest great effort and energy in your children’s ministry.

These are the elements that inspire guests to return. This gives you the opportunity to make the “deeper connections.”

The most common paths to deeper connection – (longer term, greater commitment, and ownership of the vision) are:

  • Small groups
  • Serving opportunities
  • Deeper friendships

Make your next steps simple and clear.

Leading a local church is complicated. But sometimes breaking it down like this helps you become more intentional and know where to invest your energy best.