It’s Kerrick Thomas here again, Executive Pastor and Teaching Pastor at The Journey and the co-author of Launch and Activate with Nelson. He asked me to share this recent answer to a question from Launch:
Q:You guys said in Launch that when launching Journey, looking back you would have rather launched in February instead of in Easter as you did. What were the determining factors for that correction?
A:The reason that February is a more attractive launch date to us than Easter is because if you launch on Easter you only have a few weeks before summer roles around and attendance gets dicey. We found that out the hard way when we had some weeks down at 35 during our first summer.
There are two big advantages to launching in February (the week after the Super Bowl but before President’s Day is a good week):
1) February is a good month for attendance (people aren’t traveling and many are thinking about starting something healthy and new at the beginning of the year)
2) When you launch in February you have a natural “2nd launch” coming up at Easter. So – you launch big in February and then get a 2nd bounce on Easter Sunday. That helps before summer hits.
Hope that helps answer your question!
P.S. If you’re thinking of or in the process of starting a new church (or know someone who is), check out The Launch Conference on CD:
Q: How do you conduct an Altar Call and still utilize the tools of Fusion?
Coaching Alumni, Travis Johnson
Pastor of Life Pointe Church
A: I want to help people take practical next steps in their walk with Christ. Nelson calls it “preaching for Next Steps.” This ministry practice has become an integral part of who we are as well. The growth and the life change I’ve seen in people as a result of this practice are significant. I could not imagine leading my church without practical devices (like the Connection Card) that assist in moving people forward in their walk with Christ.
So, I do both. I ”preach for the suddenly, organic, experiential moments” where we give place to the Holy Spirit to collide with the seeker. And, we “preach for Next Steps.”
Here’s how we do it:
1. We participate in worshiping God by observing Communion every week. By lifting up Jesus every week, we bring people face-to-face with what He has done for us. And, we bring people face to face with who they are. We communicate that we practice a Believer’s Communion. Then, we give people the opportunity to repent, confess, and invite Christ to be their Savior.
2. We have special prayer for Salvation during Communion (Altar Call). We have people at our Communion tables who are available to pray with people choosing to follow Christ. Twelve people made this decision for the first time this past week.
3. We pray for the sick and special requests during this time. At each of our Communion Tables, we have leaders in our church prepared to pray for people based on James 5:13-16:
13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
We typically observe Communion and prayer (altar call) prior to the message and during the music portion of worship. It speaks to people who are desperate for a personal interaction with God’s presence. And, according to Scripture, it “has great power and produces wonderful results.”
Also, since we are in heavily Catholic communities in Miami-Dade County and in the Florida Keys, it speaks profoundly to the richness of the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf through the act of Communion. The symbolism is vivid. The moment is powerful. The work of the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.
From there, we close our service with the Connection Card and Next Steps just like Nelson describes. And, when I feel like there is an unscripted moment in the making, I am at liberty to call an audible and change things up.
But, we always, always, always collect Connection Cards and help people take practical Next Steps in their pursuit of Jesus. After all, it would be a tragic thing to bring people into a place of wonder without giving them the tools to move forward in their pursuit of the revolutionary Jesus.
P.S. Still haven’t grabbed a copy of Fusion to accelerate your church’s assimilation system? Click here:
Successful church planters love the…
PEOPLE IN THEIR CHURCH
I talked last week about the importance of loving your city and the people of your city, but today I’m talking specifically about the people in your church. It never ceases to amaze me the spite and disdain that I sometimes hear from church planters toward the very people we’re called to shepherd.
We have to keep in mind what a privilege it is to be a part of God’s mission in the world and that we are in the “loving God and loving people” business (remember Matthew 22?). It isn’t always easy but if you signed up for easy, starting a new church probably isn’t the right move for you.
In spite of the challenges, conflicts, and pains that inevitably arise, I can honestly say that I have never met a successful church planter who didn’t care deeply for the people of his church.
Here’s the truth: It is only through cultivating a love and concern for the people of your church that you will find satisfaction and success in church planting (and ministry in general).
Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly — not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. – 1 Peter 5:2 (NLT)
- Are you praying daily for the growth, health, and well-being of the people of your church?
- Will you closely monitor your attitude toward your church people over the next week?
- Do you need to repent of any resentment or bitterness in this area?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of posts as much I have. May God bless each of us and our churches as we work to keep our hearts properly focused.
P.S. Are you getting ready to start a new church? Check out The Launch Conference on DVD:
Many of you have heard me talk about Steve Stroope, Lead Pastor of Lake Pointe Church in Texas. It’s hard to place a value on how important he has been to my personal growth and development and to that of The Journey.
He is a great personal friend and a mentor of mine, and I wanted to let you all know about a special event that his church is hosting next month.
It’s a 2-day workshop called Strengthening Your Church in Tough Times, and it’s taking place Tuesday, May 12 & Wednesday, May 13, at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall, TX.
It looks to be a great training opportunity as we all lead our churches through these trying times, and I consider Steve Stroope one of the best resources in America today on the issue of Biblical stewardship and leading your church in that area.
For all the information on this event, go to:
P.S. Steve and I recorded a downloadable audio a while back called “Money Matters in Church,” which can be found here:
Q: I had a question regarding small group stuff. We observed that most of the subject matter of your small groups were book studies. There were a few actual studies on books of the Bible. What was it that guided your decision to lean in this direction?
A: We always use a book for our growth groups – you can do a Bible book but you need a book to help you approach the Bible and control the interpretation.
With the rate at which our small groups system raises up new group leaders, this provides a way to insure sound doctrine and helps to lighten the preparation load for the leader.
In case you missed it, I gave away our approved curriculum list a few months ago here on the blog:
P.S. For everything that we know about small groups, check out The Small Groups Intensive, for the CD Set click here:
or you can save $50.00 on the downloadable version:
Successful church planters love their…
This is something I have noticed time and time again. The most successful church planters I know really love their city! They think it’s the best place in the world. They enjoy what the area has to offer, work to make it a better place to live, and genuinely care deeply for the people who live around them.
On the other hand, many unsuccessful planters I’ve met through the years don’t have that same love for their city. They are always talking about how bad their city is (too cold in OH, too hot in Phoenix) and how ‘it aint like the place we used to live.’ It’s as if just living there is a burden.
Here’s the truth about this topic: Loving your city is no guarantee of church planting success but not loving it is good sign that you aren’t going to succeed.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. – Matthew 9:36 (NLT)
- Do you truly believe God has called you to your city for such a time as this?
- Do you ache with compassion for the people of your city?
- Are you committed to making a positive, long term difference in your city or are you dreaming of what it would be like ‘over there’?
Next week we’ll wrap up this series of posts with Love #4.
P.S. Looking for a great way to show love to the people of your city? Check out Reaching Your Community Through Servant Evangelism:
I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to spend 3 days in Nashville with Dave Ramsey. It was a great experience and I learned a lot in those three days (I’ll share more of that soon), but I wanted to make sure you know about a special, first of its kind, event that Dave has coming up.
It’s coming up on Thursday, April 23, and it’s called the Town Hall for Hope. The concept is a nationwide town hall where Dave Ramsey will answer questions and reassure the American people that there is hope in the midst of our struggling economy.
Here’s perhaps the best part of all: it’s FREE. Dave is working with LifeChurch.tv to make this FREE event available to as many people as possible across the country. Not only is the event free to the participants, it’s also free to any venue that wants to host it for their community. To find a local host OR to become one, check out: www.TownHallForHope.com.
Here are the details:
Town Hall for Hope
Thursday, April 23
8:00 PM Eastern Time
P.S. If you’re looking to teach your church what the Bible says about financial stewardship, you might want to consider the Stewardship Sermon Series, a collection of 5 of our most powerful and popular stewardship messages:
I get a lot of questions about how we handle church membership at The Journey. We place a high value on being a member of the church and recognize that there is a responsibility on those of us in leadership to hold members accountable to what they agree to when they sign their membership covenant.
When we fail to lead diligently in this area, we aren’t doing people any favors in terms of their spiritual growth and we end up with outdated, bloated membership lists. To give you an idea of how we handle this sensitive topic, here’s a recent email that Kerrick sent out:
Subject: Your Journey Membership
Hi [[First Name]]…
I hope you are having a terrific afternoon!
I’m writing you this quick e-mail to let you know that our staff just completed our quarterly members review. And God is really blessing our church. However, our records show that you have not been able to join a Growth Group, give or serve over the last 15 months.
Trust me…we certainly understand how at times life can get crazy and how unexpected circumstances can impact our lives. Maybe that has happened to you or maybe you have moved further away recently. But because being in a group, giving, and serving are an important part of the expectations for Journey Members, what we hear you saying is that, at least for the time being, you would like to be removed from Membership at The Journey.
So, at least for the present time, we are going to remove you from our Membership list at The Journey.
Please e-mail me and let me know if you have any questions, if our records are incorrect or if you would just like to talk about your Membership. I would love to chat with you and to talk about reinstating your membership at the church.
I hope you have a wonderful evening and please don’t hesitate to let me know if there is anything at all that we can do for you. After all – that’s what we are here for!
The Journey Church
P.S. We have put together everything you need to move people to membership at your church in one powerful resource, called The Maximizing Membership Package. You can find it and download your copy today here:
I hope you are overwhelmed after an amazing Easter Sunday at your church! While you’re working hard to follow up on all the blessings that God sent your way yesterday, let me share a quick reminder with you:
Today is the final day of our BIG Easter Sale!
If you haven’t done so already, I hope you’ll head over to the store and take advantage of the savings.
We have over 35 resources at up to 50% OFF, including some of our most popular downloads and CD sets.
Here’s the link:
Last week I kicked off a series of posts called “The Four Loves of a Church Planter.” Here’s a link to the first post in case you missed it:
The next love of a successful church planter is their (drumroll please)…
We have all read and spoken about the painful and damaging ravages of divorce, and how the divorce rate in the U.S. is at 50% or above. Many of us have even shared the more painful statistic that the divorce rate within the church is equal to that of the rest of the country. However, did you know that the divorce rate among pastors is also 50%?
Does that bother you?
Here are a few other jarring stats for you from a 2006 study:
- Almost forty percent of pastors polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
- Eighty percent of pastors’ spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
- Eighty percent of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
- The majority of pastors’ wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.
These statistics are not an indictment on serving in ministry so much as on how we choose to serve in ministry. Failure to prioritize your marriage and cherish your spouse is a recipe for disaster in ministry and especially in church planting, the consequences of which reach far beyond your family to your church, your community, and our collective witness for Christ.
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her – Ephesians 5:25 (NLT)
- What boundaries have you set up to protect your marriage and your spouse?
- How are you intentionally and regularly cherishing your spouse?
- What needs to change in your life and routine to “love your wife as Christ loved the church”?
P.S. Are you preparing to plant a church? Recently planted? How is your spouse feeling about that? Here’s the link to “Is My Husband’s Call My Call,” a resource that my wife Kelley and I put together specifically for you (the downloadable version is 50% off this week):
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