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.