The Speedy Way to Impress your Easter Guests

You want to make the most of Easter this year, but your to-do list looms large, and every day flies by. What can you do that will make a big impression on your guests and is easy to get done?

Give them a copy of The God Questions Gift Edition.

gift book10

Here’s why I recommend this little book for your guests this Easter:
  • It exceeds their expectations.  You are giving them a gift instead of asking them for money.
  • It answers the four critical questions they have about God, the Bible, and Christianity.
  • It leaves them with a great last impression.
  • It includes a presentation of the Gospel.
  • It costs as little as $1.99 each.

This is how we handle it at New Song:

On normal Sundays, during our offering announcement, we ask everyone – including guests – to fill out their Connection Card. Then we say, “If this is your first time with us, take your Connection Card to our Information Center to receive a free gift. (Hold up The Gift Edition.) It’s a book called, ‘The God Questions’. It’s a quick read that will answer the top four questions everyone has about God. It’s our way of saying thank you for coming, and we hope you’ll become part of our family.”

Who wouldn’t love that?

On Easter we go one step further. At the end of the service (after I have given a salvation invitation), I stand at the edge of the stage and say, “I know some of you couldn’t pray that prayer because you still have questions about God. I’ve got an Easter gift for you.” (Hold up a stack of copies.) It’s called ‘The God Questions’ and will answer the top four questions you have about God. I’ll be standing right here (point to the floor in front of the stage) right after the service and I’ll gladly give you a copy if you’ll read it.” This gives me a chance to meet and have a brief personal conversation with every inquiring guest.

This gift and personal touch is the most simple and effective means I’ve found to increase the likelihood our Easter guests will return.

Order The God Questions Gift Edition for your guests today.  Then check it off your to-do list, and move on to preparing the other things you want to do to make Easter the best weekend of the year.

Hal HeadshotHal Seed is the founding and Lead Pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, California. New Song is launching a new campus every year and has seen over 17,000 people come to Christ. Hal mentors pastors to grow bigger, better churches. He offers resources to help church leaders at www.pastormentor.com.

 

The 3 Simple Behaviors of Successful People

There are six of us. All are pastors. All of them lead mega-mega churches. And we get together every January for a Pastors’ Roundtable Retreat.

This year I saw that these successful friends of mine have three things in common.Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 11.05.23 AM

They show up.
They stay long-term.
And they never stop learning.

A ton of great books have been written on what it takes to succeed, but filling a whole book means it gets complicated.  Try these simple behaviors of my successful friends instead:

1. Successful people show up every day.

Wannabees find excuses. They get sick and stay home. They get criticized and quit. They get busy and stop learning.

Successful people overcome obstacles.  “Yeah, but…” isn’t in their vocabulary. They get sick and still preach. They get criticized and learn from it. They get busy and keep learning.

I’ve been huddling with this group of large church pastors for almost ten years now. We all get sick; we all take vacations. But in those ten years, only one of us has missed a scheduled preaching assignment, and that’s because he was in the hospital with a detached retina.

2. Successful people stay long term. 

Wannabees waver. They see greener grass, greater salaries, or more prestige elsewhere. So they go there.

Success is like digging a huge hole. It happens one shovel-full at a time. Digging a big hole takes a long time.

Of the six pastors in my group, one of us accepted a job as a college president three years ago; the rest of us have all been in our present pastorates for more than fifteen years.

3. Successful people never stop learning.

Wannabees let the tyranny of the urgent keep them from the primacy of the important. They start working on a degree, but get stopped by distractions, or financial mis-management, or family stress. They hire a mentor, but quit for lack of time.

Success is a journey, not a destination. Those who arrive do so by getting a little bit better, a little bit wiser, a little bit more godly every week.

The reason my buddies get together is to learn from each other. One of their favorite things to share is the books we’ve read. They all have mentors. They all have advanced degrees. They all are over 50. And they all intend to keep learning like mad.

Advanced lessons in success include great vision, great skills, great leadership and a dozen other factors. But these three are primary: show up, stay there, keep growing.

Think About It: What do these three simple behaviors look like in your life today?

Hal HeadshotHal Seed is the founding and Lead Pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, California. New Song is launching a new campus every year and has seen over 17,000 people come to Christ. Hal mentors pastors to grow bigger, better churches. He offers resources to help church leaders at www.pastormentor.com.

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Where Do you Start if you Want to Get your Church Unstuck?

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.51.21 PM I hate it when a church gets stuck.

Especially if that church is mine.

In 2001, New Song moved from a leased facility with a 200 seat auditorium to our own facility with a 600 seat auditorium. Everything increased, except our capacity to care. Attendance rocketed from 500 to 1,100 in one month. Then we started a slow slide to 750. I called it “Living on the backside of a miracle.”

The church had grown, but our Care System hadn’t. So as new people came in the front door, older people slipped out the back. There are only two ways to increase the size of your church: widen the front door, and narrow the back door. Moving into a larger building on a prominent street massively widened our front door. We needed a scalable Care System in order to close our backdoor. Our problem was a systems problem.

Almost all church stagnation situations are systems problems.

In my case, I needed to work on our Care System. Once we did that, we broke the 1,000 barrier and have never looked back.

Everything is made up of systems.

God loves systems. Our planet is part of a solar system. Your body has twelve systems. (All of them are vital, though some seem obscure. What’s an integumentary system?) Your family is a system. The ants in your yard operate as a system. So do the birds and the bees.

The Systems of a Church

Churches are made up of nine systems:

1. Your Assimilation System determines how well and how many people get and stay connected to your church.

2. Your Outreach System influences how many people visit and come to Christ in your church.

3. Your Financial System affects how much and how well money is managed.

4. Your Discipleship System guides how well people grow in Christ.

5. Your Ministry Placement System directs how well people find places to serve and how happily and effectively they serve.

6. Your Worship Planning System impacts the style and quality of your worship experiences.

7. Your Care System controls how well people are cared for.

8. Your Evaluation System determines your rate of improvement.

9. Your Facilities System dictates how you manage your facilities.

Which system should I work on first?

What system do you need to work on right now? That depends.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 6.50.37 PMThe systems of a church are like the staves of a barrel.

Each of the vertical boards is called a “stave.” Each system in your church is its own stave. Water can only rise to the level of the lowest stave. If you’ve got a broken stave, fix it first.

Your broken system could be a non-existent front door, meager per-capita giving, cramped facilities, awkward worship, etc. None of those problems will fix themselves. To get out of trouble, you’ll need to improve that system.

It’s more likely that you need to work on all your systems. To increase the size of your church, you’ve got to increase the quality of each of your nine systems. If no particular system is hemorrhaging, start with Assimilation, because there’s no sense bringing more people in your front door if you’re going to make a poor first impression.

Once a good Assimilation System is in place, it’s time to increase your number of visitors by enhancing your Outreach System. In order to pay for your outreach tools, you’ll want to improve your Financial System.

Churches improve incrementally by improving one system at a time.

Work on your ministry this week by deciding which system to work on first. And check out Why I Love Systems to learn more about how to build a system.

 

Hal Headshot Hal Seed is the founding and Lead Pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, CA. Hal mentors pastors to grow bigger, better churches. He offers resources to help church leaders at www.pastormentor.com.

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Why I Love Systems

Pipes SystemThree times in New Song’s history I’ve been depressed or discouraged over the church’s lack of growth. During our early years, we plateaued at about 230. It happened again at around 400. Then we bounced between 750 and 950 for several years.

Every time this happened I would pray, asking the Lord what we needed to do to reach more people. Jesus promised that he would build his church, so I knew there was something I didn’t know, wasn’t doing, or was doing wrong that was keeping us from reaching more people. I just couldn’t figure out what it was.

You might be in the same predicament.

During our final plateau (the five-year one, where we repeatedly hovered between 750 and 950), I humbled myself and hired a seasoned pastor to help me get to the next level. This pastor approached church growth like an engineer. From him I learned that every facet of a church runs on a system.

Today, I love systems! They’re the process by which all ministry gets done.

What is a System?

A system is just a process that is well-thought out, written down, and spread around. Depending on how you number them, your church has eight or nine major systems that accomplish (or diminish) the work of God.

What a Good System Does for You

Your outreach system attracts newcomers; your assimilation system welcomes them. Your discipleship system helps them grow. Your worship system connects them to God. Your financial system teaches biblical stewardship and manages funds for kingdom work.

All of your systems provide:

  • Quality: systems help your volunteers do it the best way
  • Consistency: systems help all your volunteers do it the same way
  • Reproducibility: systems make it easy to teach new people what to do

How to Create Good Systems

  1. Develop a one sentence statement of the purpose for your system.

    What is the name of the system and what do you want it to accomplish? Example: The purpose of the assimilation system is to welcome and connect guests to our church.

  2. Think through a logical progression of steps.

    Make a list or draw a flow chart of each step in the process. Example: What steps must be taken to ensure guests feel welcome on their first visit?

  3. Break down the steps into a checklist of action items.

    What needs to happen regularly and in roughly what order? Example: Someone is out front to welcome people thirty minutes before the service begins.

  4. Define the roles in the process.

    What people are needed to handle the items on the checklist? Group the steps into jobs that volunteers would want to do. Then, write ministry descriptions so volunteers can understand it. Example: Greeter, Usher, Team Leader.

  5. Build up a team to work the system.

    Get together with the team members to show them the whole process and their essential part in it.  Apprentice them through on-the-job training until they know their responsibilities.

  6. Test the system.

    It’s all practice until you succeed, so set people loose and see how it goes.

  7. Evaluate and improve.

    Watch for gaps, for frustrations, for breakdowns. Try some solutions, then update the checklist, and ministry descriptions, when you figure out fixes.

One of the biggest mistakes I made was to think I was too busy working in my ministry to devote time to working on my ministry. This is the lesson I wish I could pass on to every pastor:

Work smarter rather than harder. Multiply your efforts by thinking through and developing systems that will enable others to do the ministry as well or better than you.

Figure out where to start to get your church unstuck by learning about the nine systems every church needs and how to pick which system to work on first.

Make it Happen

In the meantime, pick a system in your church and think about these things:

  • What is the purpose for that system?
  • What are the steps in the process for that system?
  • What goes on a checklist for that system?
  • What ministry roles are needed to execute that system?

 

Hal Headshot Hal Seed is the founding and Lead Pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, CA. Hal mentors pastors to grow bigger, better churches. He offers resources to help church leaders at www.pastormentor.com.

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How to Keep ‘Em Coming Back After Easter

Easter PreparationsDon’t you hate it when you’ve got a good crowd on Easter, but then the next weekend attendance is even lower than usual? All that work to prepare an experience you hope will win their hearts, but no one sticks. Try adding these ideas to your Easter prep and see more of your Easter visitors make your church their home.

1. Launch a new series.

If you were thinking of doing a stand-alone message on Easter, think again. For years, I preached a Resurrection message and invited people to return for a new series the following week. But CEO’s (“Christmas and Easter Only”) are a hard bunch to persuade to return. Instead of telling them about what you’ll be preaching the following week, let them sample it. Tie your topic to the Resurrection, but center it on family, or purpose in life, or whatever need-oriented topic you’ll be tackling over the next few weeks.

2. Give an Invitation.

More people come to Christ on Easter Sunday than any other day of the year. If you’re rusty on how to present a salvation invitation, practice on your congregation once or twice between now and Easter.

3. Train a Follow-up Team.

The first twenty minutes after a person receives Jesus may be the most important twenty minutes of his or her life. Recruit and train a team who know what to do to help new believers begin their new relationship with Christ. As you give your invitation, these follow-up counselors should have material in their hands to begin a three or four week discipleship process. At New Song, whenever someone raises their hand to indicate they’ve received Christ, a counselor comes to their chair immediately and introduces themselves. Before the service ends, the new believer and counselor have begun a dialogue on what it means to walk with Jesus.

4. Train Your Members to Begin Inviting.

Easter is the easiest day to invite people to church. During worship next Sunday, give them a 3×5 card and ask them to write the names of seven friends on it and begin praying for an opportunity to invite them to Easter. Role play making this invitation so they see how easy it is to say, “Hey Phil, would you and your family like to join us for church on Easter?”

5. Figure out How to Get Them to Return.

Your Easter guests are most likely to return if three things happen for them:

1. They receive Jesus.
2. You do something that impresses them.
3.  Someone connects with them relationally.

One way to impress them is to do something unexpected for them. Most non-church-goers think that the church just wants their money. So instead of asking for something from them, give something to them. At New Song, we offer them a copy of The God Questions, Gift Edition.  It’s a mini-book that answers the four major questions pre-Christians ask. We say, “If you’re a guest with us this morning, we have a free gift for you. You can pick it up at the table in the lobby.” The guy at the table then introduces himself. As he hands over the book he says, “This book does a great job of answering your questions. But I have found that the best way to get your questions answered is to start coming to church. I hope to see you next week.”

We offer copies of The God Questions Gift Edition for as little as $1.99 on PastorMentor.com.

You can find more ideas to bring your Easter visitors back in this post Sixteen Ways We’re Preparing for Easter.

I hope this is your most effective Easter ever!

Hal Headshot Hal Seed is the founding and Lead Pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, CA. Hal mentors pastors to lead healthy, growing churches. He offers resources to help church leaders at www.pastormentor.com.

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Well Then…You Might Be a Church Planter: 15 Signs You’re Ready For or Already Doing Crazy Cool Work

15 Church-Planter-isms You’ll Relate To

Last week, I was training a group of church planters when the thought occurred to me, “I’ll bet there’s a whole slew of funny church-planter-isms like that.” So, I put together a list. It turns out, there’s not much humor in it. Church planting is the serious and rewarding work of heaven, but there’s plenty of laughter and joy in it, so I hope you’ll have a laugh.

My favorite comedian these days is Jeff Foxworthy. He’s famous for his long list of, “You might be a redneck…” jokes - one of my all time favorites being, “If you’ve ever made change in the church offering plate, you might be a redneck.”

My favorite comedian these days is Jeff Foxworthy. He’s famous for his long list of, “You might be a redneck…” jokes – one of my all time favorites being, “If you’ve ever made change in the church offering plate, you might be a redneck.”
Image Credit: Albany.com

So, with a nod to Mr. Foxworthy, here are fifteen ways to know if you might be a church planter:

1. If you love dreaming about what could be for God, you might be a church planter.

2. If you can’t stand the thought of lost people going to Hell, you might be a church planter.

3. If you like lost people as much or more than you like found people, you might be a church planter.

4. If you know the exact population of the city you live in, how many of them go to church, and how many don’t, you might be a church planter.

5. If you love leading people to Christ, you might be a church planter.

6. If you like taking risks, you might be a church planter.

7. If you’re willing to ask others to pray for you and support your dream, you might be a church planter.

8. If you can persevere when all Hell breaks loose, you might be a church planter.

9. If you realize you started all sorts of new things when you were a kid, you might be a church planter.

10. If your wife is committed to risking and reaching out, you might be a church planter.

11. If you are regularly looking for people to help you fulfill the Great Commission, you might be a church planter.

12. If you’re a crowd-gatherer, with the gifts of leadership and evangelism and are regularly looking for people to help you fulfill the Great Commission, you might be a church planter.

13. If you’re flexible and adaptable are regularly looking for people to help you fulfill the Great Commission, you might be a church planter.

14. If you love learning about how churches grow are regularly looking for people to help you fulfill the Great Commission, you might be a church planter.

15. If your friends think you might just have a little too much faith are regularly looking for people to help you fulfill the Great Commission, you might be a church planter.

I love training church planters. They’re a faith-filled, risk-taking bunch who wants to change the world. If this list fits you, you might be on a verge of the adventure of your life!

 

Pastormentor.com

Hal Seed is the founding and Lead Pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, CA. Hal mentors pastors to lead healthy, growing churches. He offers resources to help church leaders at www.pastormentor.com.

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