Monday, October 4, 2010

Weekend Reflections

We had another amazing weekend at South Bay Church. Adding a 3rd service has definitely made a huge difference, allowing an over 200 extra seats for us to reach new people. We have had over 510 people two weeks in a row which is up close to 80 people after averaging about 430 average the previous 5 weeks.

More than just our jump in reach more people there is so much I am encouraged about:
* Our volunteers and leaders have been amazing in stepping up to the plate and sacrificing in order to make the move to three services. In fact there are dozens of people who are at South Bay from 7:00am-2pm every Sunday so that we can make an impact.

* Last week we had 38 first time guests, this past Sunday we had 23 first time guests. This is a ton of people, and this is just those who filled out cards. I've been amazed at how much South Bay people are taking the initiative to invite friends and get the word out.

* We've had people make decisions to follow Christ for the first time every week for the last 6 weeks. This is so huge that God is helping South Bay impact the lives of people who are exploring faith and new to the message of Christ.

* The Romance, Intimacy and Sex series has been a huge hit. We've had a ton of great comments. I think more than the preaching is just the fact that so many people have huge needs in this area of their lives. At the same time, the bible is so clear, so practical and so helpful in this area.

*Currently, we have 270 people signed up for one of our small groups. This is close to 75% of our September adult worship attendance. I still have yet to receive the numbers on how many people took that step. Hoping we had a great response this Sunday and we are closer to 100% of our people plugged into a group.

Overall, we as a staff are very overwhelmed by the things God is doing at South Bay. We are so encouraged by His faithfulness and really are trying to stay faithful and focused. We don't want to lose heart or miss His best for our church.

Thanks to all of you who make such tremendous sacrifices to make a difference in our community. I'm excited that we have three services left this series. God is really up to something huge in our midst. Let's keep pressing forward knowing that the best is ahead.

PS, This Sunday over 30 of our people will go up to SF to help out Epic Church with their first public service. We are getting to be a part of launching this brand new church. We are so stoked about what God is going to do through Ben Pilgreen and his team up there! Please keep them in your prayers this week.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thank You South Bay Volunteers

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!!

I was completely blown away by all your hard work and diligence this weekend. Thank you for representing Jesus and South Bay Church to the Silicon Valley. You served your hearts out. You picked up trash, you tied balloons for hours, you stood in the hot sun, you loved on people, and sooo much more... And, you did all this with a smile on your face.

When we take up the serving towel of Jesus and love people in practical ways we tear down walls that have stood in people's hearts and in our community for years. Our city was impacted and the lives of thousands of other people will be changed because of you. I believe that God will use the seeds that were sown this weekend in great ways for His glory.

Again, this is what we are all about here at South Bay Church. We as a staff are so grateful for you and I could not thank you enough for the sacrifice of your time and energy. I believe God is very proud of you today.

With love, Pastor Andy

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Audacious Faith Affirmations-

One of the best books I've read in 2010 is Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick. The book is set to release late September. I highly encourage you to pick it up and read it to be stretched in your faith! One chapter of his book titled, "Hear. Speak. Do" highly influenced my message today at South Bay Church. In this chapter he shared 12 Audacious Faith Affirmations that are all based upon the Bible and God's promises. I thought I'd share... I've made some slight modifications.

12 Audacious Faith Confessions: Sun Stand Still, Steven Furtick

1. I am fully forgiven and free from all shame and condemnation (Romans 8:1-2, Ephesians 1:7-8, 1 John 1:9).

2. I act in audacious faith to change the world in my generation (Joshua 10:12-14, John 14:12).

3. I overcome my fear and anxiety; I trust in the Lord with all my heart. God is with me (Proverbs 3:5-6, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7, Isaiah 41:10)

4. I am able to fulfill the calling God has placed on my life (Exodus 3:9-12; Psalm 57:2, Colossians 1:24-29).

5. I am fully resourced to do everything God has called me to do (Deuteronomy 8:18, Luke 6:38, Philippians 4:13).

6. I have no insecurity, because I see myself the way God sees me (Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 139:13-16, Ephesians 5:25-27).

7. I am a faithful spouse and a godly father- our family is blessed (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Ephesians 5:25-27, Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Peter 3:1-7).

8. I am completely whole- physically, mentally, and emotionally (Psalm 103:1-5; Matthew 8:16-17, 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:24).

9. I am increasing in influence and favor for the kingdom of God (Genesis 45:4-8, 1 Samuel 2:26; Acts 2:37-47).

10. I am enabled to walk in the sacrificial love of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, 1 John 3:16, 4:9-12).

11. I have the wisdom of the Lord concerning every decision I make (2 Chronicles 1:7-12; Proverbs 2:6, Ecclesiastes 2:26; James 1:5).

12. I am protected from all hard and evil in Jesus’ name (Genesis 50:20; Psalm 3:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 3:2-3).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Gospel.

One of the greatest joys in ministry is seeing the power of God at work through "the gospel." His good news. That he loves us and came to live a perfect sinless life through Christ, suffered death on a cross and has risen from the dead so that we might have abundant, joyful peaceful life that leads to eternity with Him.

Here are some observations from my journal recently...
"it truly is amazing to see the Gospel at work. The Gospel heals, restores, redeems, breaks down walls and chains, loves, serves, prays, weeps, struggles, hopes, believes, sacrifices, waits, persists, and transforms. It is the hope of the nations it is the power of God bringing salvation to the ends of the earth. This is the Gospel."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Everybody Hurts Sometimes

Over the last several months I've had various conversations with friends who were going through a difficult time in life and in marriage. I have these types of conversations often, and usually they are unexpected. Some of the time it's just a Sunday after church or over lunch or a cup of coffee. When I have these types of conversations I am reminded that everybody struggles at times, everyone goes through difficult times. Even people with good jobs and six figure incomes and apparently great lives. As our church has grown it is increasingly evident that I can't personally meet the needs of every person who struggles. There are just a whole lot of people coming to South Bay now, but that doesn't change the fact that people still need help. My job is now to facilitate and make sure large quantities of people are ministered to. This means equipping small group leaders, working with staff and continuing to cast vision about the importance of ministering to a broken world. The church has a responsibility to help people where they are to find healing and hope for life and eternity. If we ever miss this, we've missed the point of the gospel!

Couple of questions I'm wresting through: when someone needs help in our church is it easy for them to find the help they need? Also, do we create a "come as your are" culture that reminds people that they are accepted right where they are? Do we equip people to grow and work through life's challenges? Do we equip those who are being changed to then get in the game of helping others? It's just a good reminder for me today that this whole thing is about helping people who are far from God experience His best for their lives!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Favorite Time Of The Week

It's no secret... before I am a pastor, I am a husband and father. This is one of the greatest joys and blessings of my life. Every week there are three times that I consider to be the highlight of my week. Friday- Family Day, Friday Night- Date Night, Saturday Morning- Boy's Club time with Caedmon. I have countless memories... shooting water guns in the pool, bumper cars at Great America Park, eating cinnamon rolls at Peet's coffee with Caedmon, sharing desert at The Cheesecake Factory with my bride, wrestling on the floor with Caedmon, walking the pier in Santa Cruz, seeing Wicked at Oprheum Theatre in San Francisco, eating at the waterbar for our 7 year anniversary. The list goes on. Some of the best memories of my life are tucked into these three weekly occasions. Men, if you aren't dating your wife you are missing out. Parents, if you aren't investing in your kids you are losing some of the best parts of life!

Stacie, Caedmon, and me at Great America for a recent family day.

Caedmon and I about to head out for Boy's Club.

Enjoying Cheesecake with my beautiful wife Stacie.

PS, we are just weeks away from bring our son Wondimu (pic up top) home from Ethiopia! :-) Can't wait to have him on Boy's Club.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Attracting a Crowd To Monthly Services- Part 3

“Paint The Town”

When starting your Monthly Services, it should be your goal that everyone in the immediate area knows about your church and has the opportunity to respond. Don’t be the biggest secret in town!

So let’s be creative and think about how to make this happen!

1) Start Brainstorming…
Ask your team to help you come up with 50 ways you can let every person in your target area know about your Monthly Services.

Call church planters and local businesses that’ve been successful, ask them what worked and how they reached their local community. Then prioritize and pick some of the best ideas that fit within your budget.

Warning: be careful that you don’t stake your future on some grandiose idea that is only working in a textbook!

2) Utilize Direct Marketing Tools…
For each of our Monthly Services we sent 33,000 mail pieces to our community, and then for our grand opening we ended up sending 60,000 mail pieces.

I often talk to church planters who send 5,000 pieces one time and they tell me that direct marketing didn’t work for them. You’ve got to “GO BIG” with consistency. Some people won’t respond until they receive 8-10 mailers.

I went back one year after we launched and looked at the giving of everyone who we reached through mailers – we more than doubled the cost of our investment!

3) Promote Through The Web…
At South Bay Church we’ve seen a great response from Google Adwords. In addition, we created a Yelp page that gives info about South Bay. We have also utilized advertising on Facebook as just another way to get the word out.

Several cost free options include: creating a Facebook fan page for your church and creating a twitter account. As people get your mailers and door hangers they will check you out on the web. Make sure that your site that looks sharp and is easy to explore.

Link your website to Twitter and Facebook so that people can get involved in your online community.

4) Serve at Community Events…
Close to 1/3 of the people who came to our first Monthly Service we first connected with at a local Art and Wine Festival.

Identify local community events throughout the year and contact the city or the person in charge of the event. Ask them if you can serve by picking up trash, and helping with set-up and tear down of the event.

Most cities will also let you sponsor a booth where you can publicize your church. This is a great way to establish a positive relationship with your community and spread the word about your Monthly Services.

You’ve got the Holy Spirit in you. God has a big vision for your church. He wants to use you to make a huge difference.

Rely on Him to give a strategy to let the whole community know about your Launch!

Next week we’ll take a look at what I believe to be the most important part of getting a strong launch and that is PRAYER!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Attracting a Crowd to Monthly Services- Part 2

“Mobilizing Your Launch Team To Invite Their Friends”
Church Planter, As you are planning your Monthly Services and your Launch Team is growing your next goal is to spread the word about your services through word of mouth marketing and personal evangelism.

If you are going to attract a crowd to your Monthly Services you must get the troops moving in the right direction.

Here are several keys to making this happen:

1) Constantly teach on the importance of personal evangelism…

Every time your Launch Team gathers, you should be putting heat under the value of personal evangelism.

You can do this through sharing stories of people you are meeting (pretty important!!), teaching key passages that focus on God’s heart for the lost, and casting the vision of what it will look like when the whole group is focused on people who are far from God.

2) Give the team tools and train them…

We created what we called, “Impact Cards.” They were the size of a bookmark and each card had 10 empty slots for the names of people who individual Launch Team members would invest in and invite to the Monthly Services.

We asked our Launch Team to write these names down on two different cards, one to remind them to pray and one for our staff to pray. It was amazing to eventually meet some of the people I prayed for at our Monthly Services.

We also gave our Launch Team 10-4×6 invite cards with all the info about our services, a list of 10 creative ways to spread the message and invite their friends, and a “life saver” candy to remind them that God was using them to impact eternity.

3) Refuse to cater to inwardly-focused Christians…

It seems like this is a no brainer, but every church planter I know faces this temptation.

You will have people who want to be a part of your Launch Team that have previous church experience. Some will have selfish expectations that you will acquiesce your vision to meet their needs.

Don’t do it! Stay focused on reaching those who are far from God. Move with the movers. Spend your time on those who want to make an impact and those who are far from God. Your launch will be much healthier. I promise!

Remember, during these earlier days your job is that of a team leader. You are a quarterback trying to get the ball in the end zone.

You get a touchdown when you successfully launch the church.

You’ve got to get your team moving in the right direction.

Show them the end zone and get everybody focused on the goal: LAUNCH!

Tune in next week, when I’ll be sharing about how to get the word out in your community about your brand new church!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Basics of Church Planting: Attracting a Crowd To Monthly Services- Part 1

Over the next four weeks I'm going to do a series on launching a church and attracting a crowd to your monthly services when you are starting from scratch. I originally did this for a blog by Nelson Searcy and Church Leader Insights so I thought I'd share it here as well.

Attracting a Crowd To Monthly Services- Part 1
“Building a Launch Team”

by Andy Wood

My wife Stacie and I, and two other couples moved from Dallas and South Carolina to the Silicon Valley in August of 2008. Our goal was to successfully launch South Bay Church by February of 2009. The Silicon Valley has seen many failed church plants, so we knew a healthy launch would require a miracle from God and a lot of hard work! Our daily prayer was, “God please give us at least 150 people at our Grand Opening Service.”

Given the fact that we had 10 on our team (including dogs and kids) we were just 140 shy of that goal. We quickly discovered that the development of a healthy externally focused Launch Team would be one of the keys to reaching our prayer goal. Many days I would prayer walk through our community with such a heavy heart as I realized that 95% of these people were heading towards eternity apart from Christ.

As we sought God for a healthy launch, I was challenged to pray, “Father just give us 50 people from this community for our Launch Team, you raised Jesus from the dead in three days and this is nothing for you!”

Over the next 6 months we coupled our prayers with hard work and execution. We got moving… serving at local city events, going door to door in our apartments, and hosting neighborhood cookouts (just about every weekend).

Everyone on our original team had a note card with names of people we were praying for and intentionally inviting to be a part of our Launch Team. We eventually ended up with unchurched, de-churched, and churched from all various walks of life and each had a common thread: a desire to serve and make an impact in our community.

Many planters underestimate the significance of a healthy Launch Team and its correlation to having successful Monthly Services. I thought many times, “If I can’t build a team of 50 people that believe in our vision, how can I lead a church that reaches thousands?”

As our Launch Team grew from 8 people to close to 50 by our Grand Opening, our sphere of relationships increased exponentially. Each Sunday night we gathered for one hour, I cast vision and encouraged people to begin thinking about what friends they would invite to our Monthly Services.

This Launch Team proved to be building block #1 of attracting a crowd to our Monthly Services.

Here are Some Action Steps:

  • Come up with 3 creative ways to meet people in your community.
  • Challenge everyone on your team to build a list of 10 people they are investing in and inviting to be a part of your Launch Team.
  • Pray that God would give you 50 people to be a part of your Launch Team.

In next week’s post I’ll write about how to mobilize your Launch Team to bring their friends to your Monthly Services.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Behind The Scenes- Family Fun

Every Thursday/Friday night the Santos Family, Stacie and I swap date nights. When Stacie and I babysit we've developed a little tradition where we take the kids outside for popsicles by the fountain. This past week we decided to do a small olympics race around the water fountain. I thought you might find it enjoyable! :-)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Behind The Scenes- Get Away!

Here is a shot of my monthly day away. This past one i went to Monterey to a hotel, usually I got to a Christian camp for the day. Leave early in the morning and get back later in the evening. It is one of the best tools I've found for staying focused and on track with the vision. I hope this helps some people out there.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Enjoy Your Life Today

Last week I read a great book called, "The 4 Hour Work Week." Packed inside the book are a ton of great insights on life and leadership. There is a great fable towards the end of the book I'd like to share with you. It reminded me to enjoy my life, my wife, my son, and my work today instead of waiting for this illusive point of in the future. The blessings God gives us are to be held with gratitude and appreciation. I put some questions for reflection at the bottom.
The Fisherman & The Businessman (The Four Hour Work Week, p. 252)

An American businessman took a vacation to a small coastal Mexican village on doctor’s orders. Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call from the office the first morning, he walked out to the pier to clear his head. A small boat with just one fisherman had docked, and inside the boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American asked.

“Only a little while,” the Mexican replied in surprisingly good English.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American then asked.

“I have enough to support my family and give a few to friends,” the Mexican said as he unloaded them into a basket.

“But… What do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican looked up and smiled. “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Julia, and stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American laughed and stood tall. “Sir, I’m a Harvard M.B.A. and can help you. You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. In no time, you could buy several boats with the increased haul. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”

He continued, “Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village, of course, and move to Mexico City, then to Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you could run your expanded enterprise with proper management.

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, senor, how long will all this take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years, 25 tops.”

“But what then, senor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”

“Millions senor? Then what?”

“Then you would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll in to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Questions to consider:

* Why do we have such a hard time enjoying the blessings God has placed in our lives?

* What would it look like for you to enjoy your family and job now instead of in the future? How would you think, act, or live differently?

* Spend a couple minutes thanking God for His blessings in your life and ask Him for wisdom to enjoy them more!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Trip to Facebook

One of the wonderful advantages to living in the Silicon Valley is the incredible companies located within just a few miles of South Bay Church. Some of the most influential organizations in the world our just out our backdoor. Filipe on our staff has made it a goal to schedule visits to these companies so that our staff can grow and learn together as we investigate the principles that have led to their success.

Our most recent trip was to Facebook (FB). I want to share some of my key learnings from this visit.

Key Facts:
* FB has grown to over 1,200 employees worldwide in about 6 years.
* Over 400 million people are active users on FB. If FB were a country it would be the 3rd largest country in the world. That's a whole lot of people.
* Mark Zuckerberg- CEO of FB is 26 years old.

So here are some of my key learnings from our time there:
1. Be Fast/ Be Bold...
FB has become one of the most influential organizations in the world by being willing to be fast and take risks. If you are not failing, you are not taking risks. They have a philosophy of having quick execution from idea to implementation. This culture inspires the best in people and prevents your environment from becoming stale and mundane. We must resist the temptation to protect our achievements of the past. If we stop taking risks we have stopped living by faith!

Questions from this principle- what risks are we taking for God? are we continuing to go out on the limb of faith as our organizations gets larger and more influential? what things in our current structure impede the execution of vision?

2. Be open and transparent...
Everybody works out in the open at FB. There are work stations even for people at the VP and CEO level. In fact, when we were there I saw Mark Zuckerberg meeting in glass walled conference room with another employee. BTW, he was wearing blue jeans, sneakers and a hoody. I love it. We should encourage people in our organization to share information with one another. When you stop sharing info within the team, silos begin to form. Promote an open structure so that people can learn from one another and challenge each other to go to a the next level.

One interesting point as a side note. FB has an open structure when it comes to their office schedule. For example, employees can come in and work 24 hours a day. All of the engineers have freedom with their hours. Each engineer is a part of a team of 6-8 people that meets every other week. There is a team leader and his/her job is to work to keep the group on par and focused. Because there is such momentum in the organization it seems that the open structure promotes diligence and hard work with the engineers. At the same time there are still hourly employees. Our friend who works at FB said that many of clerical positions are more structured and time bound. Makes sense.

Questions on this principle: what is my personal philosophy of open structure with employee schedules? What can we do to promote the greatest level of innovation and creativity in church work? Do the people in our organization feel free and empowered?

3. Be careful with titles...
So many organizations use titles as a way of motivating people to work. If the vision of your organization is not strong enough to motivate someone you have a big problem. FB is extremely careful with the titles that are given. Each employee knows who their supervisor is, and they know what team they are a part of, but as far as title... the organization has been very careful to not use this as a motivating factor for progress. You are given a status level 3/4/5, but you don't know your coworkers status level. This is kept between you and your supervisor. In so many ways, this philosophy also helps fight against politics and turf wars in your organization. It helps prevent people from jockying for power.

Questions: Are there politics for titles and positions in our organization? Do people advance for the right reasons... hardwork, faithfulness, sacrifice?

4. The Leader must stay focused on vision and high level strategy...
The FB teams meets once a month with an "all hands" meeting. Every employee globally pipes into this meeting. This is Founder and CEO Zuckerberg's opportunity to cast vision and discuss high level strategy. This meeting rallies the troops and helps people stay focused. In 2008 Zuckerberg hired Sheryl Sandberg as Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. She has helped take away some of the operational burden so that Zuckerberg can stay focused on vision. I loved that word choice our FB friend used, "he stays focused on vision and high level strategy." I once heard Colin Powell say, "80% of the decisions you make could be made by the average 5th grader, we pay you for the other 20%." A leader must be focused on the strategy decisions that affect the whole company. I also heard it said like this, "average leaders focus on what happens next, extra-ordinary leaders focus on what happens after what happens next." There some serious wisdom in this principle.

Questions: am I staying focused on the future of our organization? am i inspiring our team with the vision God has given us? am i carving out time to hear from God for the future of our church?

So, with all this being said. It was definitely a fruitful time. Our team had some great dialogue after the tour. Special thanks to our friend who showed us around and kindly answered our questions. It is amazing what you can learn when you go outside your camp. All of the principles of leadership we see in these great organizations are principles that come directly out of the Bible. God blesses the principles he established long ago. May we be wise to learn and grow to become be all that he is calling South Bay Church to be!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

4 Dumb Things Smart People Do

Have you ever noticed that really smart people do some very dumb things. You can have a Phd from Stanford or Harvard and still make some pretty critical errors in life. I'm super pumped about the series we are starting tomorrow at South Bay Church. I have done some pretty dumb things in my life. I'm looking forward to sharing a few of them with you over the next four weeks. Some mistakes in life are pretty funny, but there are other errors that can absolutely destroy you. The Bible actually addresses common human errors and how to avoid them. I want to invite you to join me for this series and bring your friends and family as we kick off this new series tomorrow May 23! For more info about the titles you can just click here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Making Tough Decisions

When you are appointed a leader over an area of ministry you are the one who is called to make the final call. Sometimes this is a beautiful thing, sometimes this is extremely stressful. I believe this one thing you can never completely understand until you are underneath this pressure. I remember when I was in youth ministry and the most important thing I had to consider was how much it was going to cost to take the students on youth retreat. Now as a leader I have to make very complex decisions that includes every area of our church: first impressions, worship experience, students, finance, young families, and much more. At times this pressure is brutal. Here is why... I deeply want to reach our community for Christ. I want to do whatever it is that will help us reach the most people as quickly as possible. What's best for the church and for the mission is not always what's best for one person or one department. Sometimes I have to ask teams or leaders to make big sacrifices for the sake of this vision! Today I am up against a big decision for our church that has huge ramifications. I am glad that the Holy Spirit gives wisdom and strength.

So, in the end I am grateful to God that I have a team that supports me regardless of whether or not they agree with me. I am glad that we are all working together to reach as many people as possible. If you are a part of our church, I am so thankful for those of you who pray for me on a regular basis. Pray that God gives me increasing wisdom. Pray that God helps me lead the charge with courage and passion. Pray that God gives me the strength to be focused and helps me grow into the leader he wants me to be and the father and husband I need to be for my family.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Keep Growing!

We have a very intense pursuit of personal growth around here at South Bay. Our team is always exchanging books, audio resources, notes from coaching calls, insights from mentors and more. I love the culture that we've been able to create, which values continued growth and development as leaders. One of the greatest investments of our time, money and resources has been to go through various coaching networks. I've been in coaching networks led by the following leaders: Bil Cornelius, Perry Noble, Ron Sylvia and Nelson Searcy. All of these networks have been a tremendous help for my leadership. Each of these leaders has different strengths and has challenged me in different ways. Bil has challenged me to think big and never get comfortable as a leader. Perry has helped me understand leadership at a whole different level, Ron helped me understand how to think about our organization strategically, and Nelson has helped me understand church systems. I would highly encourage you to check out all of these guys.

In particular I wanted to let you know about a network being started this fall by Perry Noble. I went through this last fall and it helped me grow tremendously. Click here for all the details. When you consider the investment of your church's resources, there is no greater investment than in the leadership development of your team!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stop Talking! Start Doing!

Proverbs 14:23, "All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty."

What a challenging statement. So often we as leaders can be found guilty for wanting to talk a subject to death. We think that by talking, talking, and talking we will eventually make progress. Is it possible that part of the reason you have "poverty" in your ministry when it comes to fruitfulness can be traced back to the principle found in this verse? So many in my generation are guilty of spending large chunks of time arguing over theological nuances and philosophical differences. There are so many things in scripture that are clear... love your neighbor as yourself, be wise in the way that you act towards outsiders, don't let the sun go down when you are angry, speak the truth in love, and the list goes on. I am challenged when I read scripture by how often my life falls short of these commands. I find that I am tempted to drown myself in the nuances that are unclear so that I don't have to obey the things that are unquestionable in the scriptures. I think that at times our concern for protecting theology and philosophy actually leads to the greatest heresy of all, which is a failure to obey the truth. I am troubled at times with the verbage used by many of the young leaders in my generation. I hear many conversations about the future of ministry patterns without much clarity on how to implement an effective vision in the now. What about this week? What about the 95% of my community apart from relationship with God... TODAY. Hard work and diligence leads to fruitfulness, talking leads to poverty and a lack of progress. Let's stop talking and start doing!

PS, Am I the only one who has found this to be the case? Is there anyone else out there who is sick of talk with no action?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday Morning Download

Easter 2010 will go down as one of the best days of my ministry life. Stacie and I left church with smiles beaming across both of our faces with a true sense that we had experienced something only God could accomplish. 525 people from the Silicon Valley showed up for South Bay Church's Easter services, 18 people made first time decisions to follow Christ, 24 people in all made some sort of a commitment to follow Christ, we had over 80 kids, close to 50 first time guests and that's just the ones who turned in cards, and one incredible worship experience. This is all on top of having our largest outreach of the year on Saturday where 2,500 people from our community rushed Live Oak park for 10,000 Easter eggs.

We kicked off a new series, "Relationship Rescue" and the message was titled, "The Greatest Relationship Rescue." Everything was focused on the Easter message and God's desire to rescue us back into relationship with Himself. We did our best to communicate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus clearly in a relevant way. We said as a team, "we want to make it hard to go to Hell today." We talked about the sacrifice Jesus paid which was motivated by His love for us. The service climaxed as we gave every person the opportunity to respond to this message of His love by placing their faith in Him. Kendall from our team painted a colorful scene of Calvary, at the bottom was painted the phrase, "He is risen! We are rescued!" All of this while the song, "How he loves us" was being sung by the band and scenes from the Passion of the Christ was rolling on 3 huge screens and 2 giant plasmas. When the phrase was revealed the crowd erupted. It was incredible!

This weekend Stacie and I were blown away with the sacrifice and commitment of our staff and volunteers. I am thinking of people who spent all day on Saturday helping with the Hunt, setting up for church and then would spend another 7 hours on Sunday serving. I think of David Dorflinger who spent his whole week building a frame for a piece of glass that would be used as an illustration at the end of the message, and our BayKids volunteers that spent an hour on their knees putting together flooring in our toddler area, and Aimee Kruger our amazing BayKids Director who jumped into a bouncy house on Sunday to clean up puke. Mmm! (you definitely get the "Humble Servant" award!)

I really am so humbled to be your pastor. You inspire me to higher levels of leadership. You make me want to pursue God more. Your enthusiasm for God is amazing and your diligence is unparalleled. In combination with the Holy Spirit, you made this weekend happen. Your prayers and hard work led to over 500 people coming to church 14 months after South Bay opened her doors, your sweat and sacrifice led to 18 people stepping across the line of faith, your smiles and love helped many people who have never been to church experience the love of Christ, your willingness to serve led to 2,500 people experience the serving heart of Jesus through the Hunt. Again, I couldn't be more proud of you. I am excited to continue to serve Jesus as your pastor and I cannot wait to see what He will do in the future as we continue to trust Him to help us reach and love the Silicon Valley and the SF Bay Area.

With love,

PS, as soon as I get some pics I'll put them up. :-)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Easter is here!!

So Easter weekend is upon us. South Bay Church is hosting a huge Easter Egg Hunt and 2 Easter services. I can hardly wait to see all that God is going to do at South Bay Church this weekend. For all of the details about the weekend you can go to our website by clicking here. Before the weekend hits I just wanted to pause and remind of the power of your influence. There are people in your life that will respond to your invitation to church this weekend. More people go to church on Easter than any other weekend throughout the year. Check out this story below of a person who invited a friend to South Bay last year Easter. This one is amazing! Be bold and courageous. Walk across the room, peer over the cubicle, go next door, spread the word... Don't miss your opportunity.

PS, here are a couple of invitation tools for you to use for Sunday. (facebook invitation) (email invitation) Just include these links in an email and send them to your friends. Can't wait to see what God does this weekend.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Instruction from the Master

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse of the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you." Psalm 32:8-9

Some of the Lord's instruction is very clear. For example the phrase "pray always" means you should pray all the time. That's pretty clear if you ask me. On the other hand there seems to be some of the Lord's instruction that tends to be more illusive. It is harder to know His exact plan or leading. Leading a church or a family can be very sticky at times and requires a ton of wisdom and discretion. The path is not always marked out for us. Yet, this passage gives us great hope. God instructs, teaches, gives direction, counsels and guards. He is the ultimate guide in any situation. Sometimes that instruction is hard to discern. Yet, a part of his guidance comes through our conscience and the freedom He gives to His followers. The writer of Psalms gives a contrast. The contrast is a horse that must be bridled to move in the right direction. The man or woman of God is free to listen and hear from God and then act. Sometimes we get it wrong, but that is just a part of the deal. When we seek Him with our whole heart and honestly strive to walk in His ways, there is tremendous freedom. We don't have to be like a bridled horse. We can become a wild stallion with the heart of the Master inside of us prompting us to move and take action. Isn't that a beautiful word picture? May I live closely enough to Him today that I hear His voice and respond with vigor as he leads. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Future Orientation

I am amazed at the difference it makes in my life when I stay focused on the future. I meet a lot of people who like to whine and complain about their current circumstances. I fight the temptation at times myself. Check this out... Proverbs 4:25-27 says, "Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil." In essence, stay focused on the future and the path that is required to get there. Don't let yourself be distracted by activities that don't contribute to the vision God has placed in front of you. Make sure your feet are moving forward! Wow! What a challenge to us today. What is the vision God has for your marriage, for your ministry, for your work? Don't let anything get you off the vision. Stay focused and keep putting one foot in front of the other. This is wise living! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Power of One Idea

This past Sunday God did something pretty amazing at South Bay Church. We had over 50 new people step up and make one of the most important decisions of their lives. They made a decision to use their gifts and talents to serve and be a part of God's kingdom. We prayed like crazy all week and worked like dogs trying to get ready for this day. Through this experience I learned a significant leadership lesson.

The solution to your problems can often be found in one idea or one strategic step. South Bay Church is moving from one to two services on January 31. Which means that we needed to double our volunteer base in less than one month. We got in our "war room" a few weeks back and started asking God to give us a solution to this problem. We felt like he gave us what is now known as the "t-shirt idea" from God through Renan! :-) We had over 100 t-shirts made with four different colors. Each t-shirt had the South Bay logo on the front and each color represented one of our ministry teams. I taught out of the book of Esther about making your one life count. At the end of the message I challenged every person to make their life count. "God's kingdom is moving forward with our without us" I said. "but if we say 'yes' to His call to serve than we get to be a part of something so much bigger than just our lives." At the end of the message each person had a small commitment form in hand and the colored t-shirts lined the pipe and drape surrounding those in their seats. During the challenge time each person was given the invitation to fill out the card and go grab a t-shirt signifying their desire to be a part of the South Bay vision to change the world! Standing by each group of shirts were the different team leaders. I had everyone in the church count to 3 with me and then we clapped and hollered like crazy for all of those who were taking the step to get in the game. Initially only one person stood up. I was about to pee in my pants. Then another 50 stood up all at once. Wow! It was one of the best moments in the history of our church. Watching people struggle and then say, "I am not going to live for me anymore, I'm going to start making a difference." God used one idea that came from a brainstorming meeting as a staff. When Renan said it in our meeting we all said, "That's it!" We all agreed! It took us close to 45 minutes of brainstorming to get that one idea, and that was actually relatively short. I feel like in the past I've often stopped short of the one idea or been to lazy to mine for it. I think God uses our brains and infuses creativity for the purpose of extending his kingdom. I just think we've got to be willing to get in a room with our teams and do the dirty work of brainstorming until it comes! The vision and impact is worth it.

What problem are you facing today, both personally and organizationally? Get a whiteboard, get your team, ask God to move and start brainstorming. Watch and see if He doesn't give it to you!