7 Things I Want Every TRCer to Know

Easter is right around the corner.  It’s that time of year to get our expectation levels up, expecting the Lord to do greater things!!!  Here are some thoughts every one of us can do to make it happen!

1.  Invite as many people as you can to Easter.  See every relationship as an opportunity to invite someone to hear the message this easter with you.  If you personally make it a priority to ask someone to church and make sure their experience is 5-star you are guaranteed the best Easter ever.

2.  Let us know when you are coming.  For the next two weeks we want to gather as much information we can about who is coming to which service, there is a card available at church to capture when you are attending and how many are coming with you, or send us a note here.  The options are. Easter Sunday. 9:30 and 11:30.  Instead of adding additional services we are adding seating. These services are certain to be huge, so let us know so we can do our best to get you a great seat.

3.  Get there on time.  I am more pumped about the opener for this Easter than any other thing we have ever done.  We will close the doors when the service starts, so people can experience the service without the interruption of people coming in late.  You want to see it live, so get there on time.

4.  Help guests plan their visit.  If you have a guest coming we can help you plan their visit.  We want all of our guests to have a red carpet experience.  To do that we’ve provided a link on our website so they can get VIP parking, advanced children registration (if they have kids), special seating (while it lasts) and other items.  Click this link, fill out the info and let us help you have a great experience this Easter at The Rock Church.

5.  Pray with us.  We are praying daily for hundreds of people to experience Easter in a life transforming way!  We are also expecting dozens to make the greatest decision of their lives, living with Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior.  Agree with us!!!

6.  Bring your kids.  The weekend is going to be awesome for kids.  We have the Easter Experience for kids on Saturday the 7th.  Egg hunts, great prizes and tons of fun will be had by everybody.  Then on Sunday our Generations Team is going to have a great service for our kids ages 0-11!  If you’re older than 11 don’t miss the worship, message and life change happening with the adults.  It will be a spectacular Sunday for you.

7.  Use your social media world.  Use #TRCEASTER2012; talk about it on Facebook, Twitter and everywhere else.

Finally, I can’t believe I get to be apart of such a great church.  I’m totally stoked and excited for what is happening at The Rock Church.

Unapologetic Leaders of Generosity

I attended the Team Church Round Table Monday, March 19, hosted by Champions Centre.  It was a great day seeing some of my friends from around the state and Northwest.  We do have some of the best leaders and churches in the Northwest.  Reality is, there are allot of great churches with leaders who are determined to make a difference in the world.  One way these church are making a difference, they are unapologetic leaders of generosity.  These days, in our squishy world, generosity is often overlooked and under talk about.  Leaders often play it overly safe when it comes to generosity.  Here are a few of my recent thoughts about generosity, and how it relates to The Rock Church.

There are multiple areas competing for budget at any given time in a church.  Some of them are supplies, for existing and new ministries; resources, for social cause; technology, for efficiency and communication; expansions, of facilities; staffing, for administering vision; and breaking new ground.  When you think about it, there are allot of important and necessary responsibilities requiring dollars in every church.  Some Christ-follwers would have you believe churches with these varying opportunities are simply greedy, preaching a “prosperity gospel.” A recent person said to me, “It’s just too much like a business.”  I thought, “Really?”  If soul winning, preaching the gospel, giving to and feeding the poor, digging water wells in impoverished countries, helping children make decisions for Christ, opening hearts and lives to receive the message of Christ via technology; if that’s “a business,” then so be it.  Why complain?  Face it folks, reaching people, winning souls and making disciples requires generosity.  We need to be unapologetic about the generosity quotient within our churches.

The quicker we accept this reality, and put resources in their proper place, the better.  Resources belong in the tool belt of life transformation.  Money is just an exchange for something, and in our churches case that something is life change.  Tools are made to be used.  This is why church leaders, like myself and so many, take the time to do the due diligence of how and where the $’s come from and go.  Tools are meant to build something of value.  Here’s a few ways I add value at The Rock Church when it comes to generosity:

  • I plan for it to cost more than I think.  One time I planned a campaign for a project in our church.  I think it required 3 miracles to actually pull it off, and that was before any people committed.  Needless to say we didn’t receive what we needed, and I learned a valuable lesson.  Plan on it costing more than you think, in some cases, much more.  You’ll still need a miracle, don’t forget that.
  • I teach people about resources.  Generosity is not only about giving and receiving!  Generosity is a lifestyle perspective.  People who are generous are seldom surprised about how resources flow.  In other words, they’re not surprised when they get their paycheck.  Generosity is about work ethic.  It’s about converting time into money.  It’s about converting power into money.  For instance, Deut 8:18, “don’t forget, it’s the Lord your God who gives you the power to gain wealth.”  Frankly, generosity is the whole package; converting time and power to value, giving, and receiving value.  Generosity is always value based.
  • I try and know generous people at The Rock Church.  Recently I started acknowledging the first gift a person gives at TRC with a quick note, mailed out following their gift.  Someone who gives their first gift is exercising extreme generosity.  I value a first gift and the trust required to give it, so I want to acknowledge those people.  Also, last year I started spending time with our leading donors in order to tell them ‘thank you’ for all the things they do for us that have nothing to do with money.  Have you ever noticed generous people are often only acknowledged for what they give monetarily?  Truth be told, generous people are often successful people, they are also servers of the vision and often the first and last to show up and leave.  They are often kind hearted, gift giving, encouragers and lifters of others.  I love this about generous people.  Acknowledge your best donors for something more than their giving.  They add value in so many ways.
  • I try and teach people to not simply give their dollars, but to have a plan for money.  I think programs like Financial Peace University, and Breaking Free are absolutely necessary for every household.  Don’t wait another day to start building a plan for your money.
  • I want people to know their contribution is the tipping point.  Because it actually is.  At the end of the day The Rock Church requires every giver and every gift amount the Lord directs someone to give.  There are no giant whales at TRC, those who give the most do so because they are committed to be generous beyond their means.  The most generous view giving 10% as a starting point, not a finish line.

As leaders we cannot apologize for receiving extreme generosity for the vision of Connecting People to life.  If you are a leader in your church get behind your pastor and champion the generosity factor.  First, be generous yourself; second, find ways to resource ministry.  Too often we rely on the church budget to fund what is in our heart to do.  Instead, we should find ways to resource the church.  Imagine if you looked at every opportunity, every battle, privately and publicly as an opportunity to advance the local church?  What if you committed to the Lord and said, “Every deal, every bid, every job I get; I’m going to set aside an income stream for generosity?  This is, without a doubt, what every generous person does to some degree.

I know a man who bids every job and figures into every contract his generosity factor.  He believes he is awarded contracts because he decides, up front, before he is awarded the contract, how much he’ll give from the contract.  I know another man who will not buy something of luxury for his family unless he matches that same amount to his church.  Imagine planning to buy your family your dream home, but having to believe for the dream home times two, so you can give an equal amount to God’s work at your church?  This is extreme generosity.  Don’t apologize if that is in your heart.  Believe God, you’ll stand one day in what you see.  I encourage you to go for it.  The Kingdom will be better off because you allowed the Lord to use your generosity.

May everything you put your hand to prosper.  May you never apologize for the blessing God places in your midst, and may you live unapologetic about your generosity.

 

When My Friends Leave

Recently I had an important conversation with one of my friends.  He’s apart of a church–attends, gives, serves–and loves his church, but recently he’s had allot of friends leave his church.  His statement to me was, “All my friends are leaving, what do you think I should do?”  His heart was pure, he wanted to hear God, do the right thing, and lead his family in a way that brought honor to Jesus, and his church.  I asked a few simple questions, we talked.  After our talk he called and told me he decided to stay.  Here were my questions…

Who brought you to your church, Jesus or your friends?

He told me about how he and his wife relocated to a new place.  He couldn’t make the drive to the church he’d been in for many years.  Leaving his old church he visited several.  When he decided on his current church he told everybody, including the pastor, the Lord led him to this church.  

I think this is a huge question.  People come to church for many reasons. Some our sent by the Lord, they just have a directive they are suppose to be there.  Others are invited by friends, and still others come for a variety of reasons.  Answering this question, do I go to church because of friends?  The answer will tell you who you are following, Jesus or your friends.  At some point every Christ follower has to make a choice as to who will be more influential.

Why are your friends leaving?

He told me the church had been going through allot of change, even hard times.  It seemed to him most of his friends were critical. They wanted more information about what was happening, but to his understanding his friends never asked anyone who could give helpful answers, instead, they just kept talking as if they knew.  He was influenced by these conversations, that’s why he called me.

This question also has massive implications.  People leave churches for the same reasons they come to church.  Some hear the Lord telling them the season is over, others leave because their friends leave.  Still others for a variety of reasons.  Are your friends leaving because they are offended?  Are your friends leaving because they disagree with some part of the vision?  Have you asked them beyond the “God told us” comment?  And when you ask them, does your conversation stop after they answer, or do you encourage them to resolve any difference/offense you discern?  Do you tell them to make their voice heard?  I seriously believe it’s a friends responsibility, as a good friend, to not let a friend leave the Church the Lord has sent them to and planted them in!  I can think of many people in my church I would not allow leave without being the great friend who challenges their reasons.  Sadly, many Christ-followers sit passively by while their friends wander away.  Be a friend to somebody.  Help them sort through their offense.  Help them conquer the temptations to leave because of unmet expectation.  In every church, every person loves the newness together, it’s like a kid with a new bedroom.  But the newness wears off, and at that point we’ve got to be a friend enough to help one another grow.

Fact:  Just because your friends leave, doesn’t mean you should leave.  Paul tells us, “God sets the members in a body.”  Over the years I’ve watched people follow other people blindly to a life of compromise, inefficiency and disappointment unintentionally, simply because they were friends.  Do not make the mistake of leaving your church too soon.

Fact:  People mostly come alone.  Very few people come to a church in groups. It’s because of church they make a new friend, best friends and life-long friends.  Have you considered that maybe the only reason you are friends is because of your church?  It’s a sobering thought to think most of my friends wouldn’t even be my friends if a) it wasn’t for my church and b) my pastor didn’t introduce us.

Fact: People mostly leave in groups.  It’s a hard fact to accept, and I don’t like it much, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.  We seldom “grow” alone, and we seldom “go” alone.  It takes both a church and a friend to grow disciples, and it takes both a church and a friend to go elsewhere.  Accept this fact, especially if you are a part of a group that’s leaving, you may be leaving for the wrong reasons, and if you do you can miss God for you.

My friend said to me, “We decided to stay because we realized we’d invested much, and if we were to go it wouldn’t be beneficial to the people we loved who were staying.  We decided to become a part of the solution, met with our pastoral teams, got involved in a greater degree.”  He explained to me the reasons his friends were leaving were mostly because of false perceptions, what they thought was reality.  He told me some of his friends had sharp criticisms, but mostly they were letting one element/circumstance/experience determine the rest of their expectations.  He concluded by saying, “We realized there was this point in our journey where we needed to stop attending to receive friends, and start attending to give friendship.  He told me, “It’s been the best decision Jeff.  We’ve grown closer to people we’ve known for years because of a small shift in our thinking.”

Final thoughts:

No doubt, there are external realities to leave a church.  In the culture we live in Pastor’s and leaders are being crushed by the weight of expectations.  Sometimes it leads them to do dumb things, but I’m of the opinion pastors don’t wake up in the morning intending to do dumb things.  Most reasons people leave churches are just hooey.  They critique and scrutinize to the point where they can’t stay.  I’m not saying there aren’t some reasons to go, but if you’ve got to keep mulling it over and over in your head it’s not the church, it’s you.

Frankly, merited reasons to leave a church are few and far between.  Yes, the Lord calls people out, but not as often as you would think.  Most people play the “God card” when they’ve got nothing else to lean on.  It’s easy to cover our lack of forgiveness, disagreement with how things are being done and our own struggles to be a Christ follower with nothing more than a “God told me…”  In the end it can lead other well meaning people–our friends–down a dangerous road of destruction.  As for me, I don’t follow my friends, and I don’t think you should either.  I follow Jesus, He’s planted me at The Rock Church.  If he tells me to go, well, he’ll tell a lot of my friends also, as they send me.  For now, I don’t follow leavers, I follow believers.

My Favorite Thoughts from DAY 1 Seeds Conference

Last week I spent a few days with Church on the Move, Tulsa Ok.  I attended the Seeds Conference with a few staffers of TRC.  It was a great time, definitely a highlight for the year.  Here are a few of my take-aways, and who said them.

  • A great word for young leaders, “You gotta learn how to do it when you don’t feel it.”  Steven Furtick
  • “Only God can make it rain, but you have to dig the ditch to contain the water.”  Steven Furtick
  • “Are you praying for God to make it rain; God’s waiting for you to be working on containing the water, dig the ditch, get bold about it and dig the ditch before the clouds touch the horizon.”  Steven Furtick
  • “Instead of thinking and working ‘outside the box’ work ‘inside the box’ of what you have, and your box will get bigger.”  Steven Furtick
  • WIllie George, “The more success in reaching one generation the harder it is to reach the next generation.  It’s hard to give up and old strategy when it has brought you what you have.”
  • “The resources are not the problem; a willing heart is the problem.”  Willie George
  • “Other churches aren’t the enemy, recreation is the enemy.”  Willie George
  • “You have to change because your people are going to change whether they realize it or not.”  Willie George
  • “Transitions are temporary, all are miserable.  For example, infant to toddler, toddler to childhood, childhood to teen and teen to adult.  Same goes for the church.”  Willie George
  • “People jump from place to place, church to church for childlike newness.  But all newness wears off.  Transitions always come, the most important one is to transition from receiving to giving.” Will George
  • “Minor change is worthless without a major philosophical shift.”  Willie George
  • “Why change?  Instead of preaching/existing for the people we have we started preaching/existing for those we don’t have, yet.”  Willie George
  • “Lose unfriendly people.  Get them out.  Don’t let one person change the face of the church because they are mean.”  Willie George
  • “When the vision for Sunday morning is weak a host of auxiliary minsitries will spring up like weeds and choke the momentum of the main event on Sunday.”  Willie George
  • “Misbelief:  If we were doing it right everyone will stay to the end.”  Willie George
  • “Worship is bringing people face to face with God.”  Willie George
  • “If you have flies in your restaurant you must like flies.”  Lee Cockerill
  • “Create an environment where every person matters.”  Lee Cockerill
  • “Four things people want, 1) make me feel special, 2) treat me as an individual, 3) show respect to me no matter what, and 4) bring me knowedgable people.”  Lee Cockerill
  • “Don’t underestimate your influence.  You’ve got one reputation.  Part of your job, daily, is to behave.  All day.”  Lee Cockerill
  • “Don’t believe half of what you think.”  Less Cockerill
  • “Question what you’ve thought.”  Lee Cockerill
  • “Leadership shows up when you least expect it.  Think about how many leaders come to the forefront in your daily life.  Leaders!  Thank God for them.”  Lee Cockerill
  • “Create art not gimmicks.”  Whitney George
  • “Boundaries help.  The absence of limitations are the enemy of art.”  Whitney George
  • “I don’t think about the audience.  I think about me.  No one is more critical of my work than me.”  Whitney George
  • “Authenticity resonates with people, even if they don’t have the same style.”  Whitney George
  • “It’s not about where you take things from it’s about where you take them to.”  Whitney George
  • “Focus on details and ruthlessly evaluate.”  Whitney George
  • “The solution to the magic is usually more simple than the actual magic.  The trick when revealed is not magic.  The secret to the best magic is nothing more than hard work.”  Whitney George
  • “Art is a daily discipline.”  Whitney George

VISION: THE FUTURE IS BRIGHTER

Five “Must Be’s”  of Your Vision:

  1. Your vision must be simple and clear:
    1. Hab 2:2, “Write the vision, make it plain on tablets…
    • Can a man running past read the vision.
    • Simple enough to be grasped at every level of your life.
    • Simple enough it can be passed through every level of your life.
    • Simple enough to be memorable.
    • Simple enough to be understood.
  1. Your vision must produces visual images that capture your imagination: 
    • Vision of yourself worshiping the Lord…
    • Vision of yourself reading your word…
    • “people of all ages and races worshipping together.”
    •  “a new facility”
    • “Teaching classes, Discipling new Christians, Powerful Children Ministries, Attracting Others Picturing what it will look like when it is done
  1. Your vision must demand your sacrifice:
    • John Maxwell, “If vision does not cost you something it’s only a daydream.”
    • You must be willing to pay the price…are you willing?
  1. Your vision must be communicated with contagious optimism:
    • When you speak of the vision you are painting pictures of coming celebrations
    • Vision is fun, exciting, exhilarating and upbeat.
  1. Your vision must be difficult—even impossible to achieve
    1. If it is easily within your grasp it is not a vision it is a goal.
    2. Visions are achieved through a series of goals…