How we are changing our late culture at Grace

Below is our solution to.....
The Changing of a Culture (part 1 of 2) 12.18.08

The issue: The late culture at Grace
  • The disruptions latecomers bring to the beginning of a worship service when not managed appropriately.
  • How do we change a culture that is so prevalent in the country to not be the culture in our small little corner of the world.
  • Who is negatively affected by our mismanagement of the distractions late guests/members/attenders bring. Apart from guests, as we start a service; are we valuing those that are timely in their seats and ready to begin worship more or are we paying more attention to those who are late thus enabling them to be a distraction?
  • In general, our staff's strengths and weaknesses tend to rub off on most of our ministry leaders and members. If we all dressed sloppy, we would have more attenders that dress sloppy. And so it is with being timely. If we start everything late, won't people stop coming on time? How has our staff enabled this culture? How do we empower the staff to lead by example when they are serving on Sunday mornings? During the week, do we start meetings on time and finish them when we say we are going to finish them?

The collective solutions:

  • We began a 10 minute countdown on all our TV media screens to help grab the attention of those in the lobby and sipping java in our cafe.
  • At 4 minutes until service begins, we have live music specials begin playing in the Worship Center and close 3/4 of our doors to drive outside traffic in. The doors closing are a good sign to people not wanting to miss something. If you were in the parking lot at Disney and the gates began to close - you would probably sprint to make sure you get in. We want the same effect here. The music helps set the tone and make the 1st worship song more meaningful. Before we changed this, it seemed as though the first song was practice due to all the distractions from those who were late.
  • As the countdown ends, all the main doors close and attenders are the escorted to the side entrance to prevent less distraction to those worshipping.

Has it worked? So far - yes. As long as your greeters and ushers deal with those that are late in a sensitive and welcoming fashion. This is one of those initiatives that needs sold well from the top down. If your ushers don't buy into a standard like this, those walking in 5 minutes late will not buy into it. The last thing you want is for one of your volunteers to be agreeing with someone that may question the new initiative or seem frustrated with it. You want everyone to understand you have many people that have put a lot of energy into making a 75 minute worship service valuable for all 75 minutes, not just the last 60 minutes.

One crack in a dam can lead to a flood. Make sure you communicate everything well and lead by example. Empower your volunteers to excel at making this work.

How has your church solved or not solved the late culture?


NO Perfect People Allowed

I am looking for emerging church leaders at Grace to join me in a Book Study. It will be about 15-17 weeks. Once I see who commits then we pick what will be the best day that works for all involved. Please review the following then let me know if you are interested.

"No Perfect People Allowed" (Living out the message of Jesus in today's ever changing culture.)
John Burke, gives us the following insights into cultural issues that impact the way many people outside the church view the church and Christianity.

1) Trust – there has been a breakdown in trust in many families due to abuse, neglect, broken relationships. Many people’s trust is waning in institutions and authority figures, including churches, clergy and anyone who claims authoritative truth. When people arrive at church, we can assume they have issues with fully trusting what they hear and experience.
2) Tolerance – A “litmus test” many people will use on the church is, “Are you tolerant?” The question may be “What do you think of other religions?” or “What do you think of gays?” but the real question is, “Are you guys the self righteous hypocrites I’ve been hearing about?”
3) Truth – Generally emerging generations do not ask, ‘What is true?’ They are primarily asking, ‘Do I want to be like you?’ In other words, they see truth as relational. ‘If I want to be like you, then I want to consider what you believe. If I don’t see anything real or attractive in you or your friends as Christ-followers, I don’t care how true you think it is. I’m not interested.’
4) Brokenness – If you are reaching the average person under age forty, more than likely, one out of every three women you interact with will have had an abortion. One or even two out of six women you talk to will have been sexually molested. More than six out of ten people you speak with will think living together before marriage is the wisest thing to prevent divorce, and five out of those ten will have already lived with someone. Most will have been sexually active, and the thought of waiting until marriage will sound totally foreign and will need explaining. Most men will have struggled with pornography or serious problems with lust. One in vie to ten people will struggle with substance abuse. If the church is to be the hope of the world, we must realize what a broken world we live in.
5) Aloneness – Family breakdowns and geographic distance, increased life-transitions including job changes and moving, isolation in front of TVs and computers, have all contributed to a sense of aloneness many people experience.
Adapted from John Burke, No Perfect People Allowed p. 33-47
check out more about the book HERE


Lenten Blog #2

Are we really sure what we mean each time we use the word LOVE?

Sometimes it seems like LOVE is one of the most widely misused words in the English language. We LOVE our children, we LOVE our spouse, we LOVE a TV show or we LOVE chocolate. The same word we use to describe our feelings towards the most basic of items we use towards the most treasured relationships. Do we have the same misuse when it comes to God’s LOVE when the bible says God is LOVE? God’s LOVE is not just a happy and sweet LOVE. His holiness demands that all sin be punished, but His LOVE provides the cross and the cleansing of our forgiveness. No matter how terrible our sins are, God LOVES us. He is also the perfect example of LOVE for us.

As you read the following passage from 1 John 4:7-21, meditate on the following:
1. Have you fully embraced the LOVE God has for you?
2. Is there a relationship in your life that you are having difficulty showing LOVE to another? What are some initiatives you can take to mirror God’s example of LOVE?

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. "


Lenten Blog

Below is is my post to the whoisgrace.com blog for Lent. I encourage you to check the other posts out at http://whoisgrace.com/index.php?/staff_blogs/category/lent_2009/

Over the last few weeks, I have been noticing more of the advancements my oldest son (Eli) has been making in his life. Not only is his body growing, but his mind is growing and he is accomplishing things that he has been unable to complete before. What has recently stuck out to me is his new ability to write almost any letter you ask him to, especially his name. He has gradually moved from scribbles on the paper to legible and mostly in line letters. If you are a parent, you know the excitement this can give you. You begin to think, "wow, another milestone...another check mark...he is getting so big...I am so proud of his ability to do this with minimal help from me."

Then my mind began to ponder the excitement our Heavenly Father must feel as we move into adulthood in our spiritual maturity. How proud He must feel when we overcome that nagging sin or take on a Christ-like attribute in an area we just have not mastered yet. As we continue on in the season of Lent, let us take stock of the areas in our own lives that we have been able to grow from scribbles to legible letters. Reflect on the joy God must have felt in those moment? Reflect on how you felt making your Father proud. At the same time, we should also review the areas where we keep missing the target. Have you become frustrated in your attempts to overcome a certain obstacle? Have you given up?

Like most parent's, God and His incredible love are standing by to rejoice when you grow and to encourage you through failing and getting back up. Isn't that encouraging?

Galatians 4:2-7
While they are children, they must obey those who are chosen to care for them. But when the children reach the age set by their fathers, they are free.3 It is the same for us. We were once like children, slaves to the useless rules of this world.4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son who was born of a woman and lived under the law.5 God did this so he could buy freedom for those who were under the law and so we could become his children.
6 Since you are God's children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and the Spirit cries out, "Father."7 So now you are not a slave; you are God's child, and God will give you the blessing he promised, because you are his child.