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Category: Church Planting (page 2 of 3)

A Post-Meeting Internal Dialogue of a Church Planter

The following is an approximation of a church planter I know very well, and how he tends to process his own leadership of a meeting after the door has closed, the lights remain on, and he’s all alone.

[Closing of the door after last person leaves]

So, how do you think it went?

Eh, it was ok.

They’re probably talking about the meeting right now… on their way home…

What do you think they’re saying?

Honestly?

Yea…

Disappointed…

Thought so. I wish I were a better leader. If I was only like         , then people would really be happy with how things are going. But… he’s got weird hair… and a swagger. But he’s definitely cool. Cool would  win people.

What do you think people will do?

I don’t know… probably leave, I guess.

Probably. What’ll you do if people leave?

If they leave, it’s ultimately not about me…

Yea, that’s easy to say… but you’re “the guy”. You’re the one that this entire “church plant” gets judged by… What do you think           thought of the meeting tonight?

They didn’t say much… probably hated it.

If           leaves, we’ll be down to           (# of people). How will the plant survive? Do you think the plant will survive?

What do you think I lose sleep over? Why do you think my neck’s always tight?… If they leave, our budget will go down          ($X)….

Gosh… If # leave, and we’re down $$, I’ll have to work at UPS again, the secret level of church plant funding…

What will that say about your ability to provide for your family, when everybody leaves, and your family is left starving because you couldn’t pull it through, to lead strong enough, make better decisions, make faster, more creative calls?

Aren’t you supposed to exemplify leading your home and providing for your family to God’s people? If this church plant fails, what does that say about your calling?…

I know…Why do I have to be such a lousy leader?

Why were you so bad tonight? What can be done better next time?

Ask better questions? Give more time to preparing? Ha! “More time.” What is this “more time” you speak of? …I wish I were more creative… more engaging…

…Do you think the plant will survive?

Sigh… I think so, but not on my battery. Michelle says these sort of thoughts are all about me… That I’m not thinking about God’s view on this.

But you’re the guy…

Maybe, but it’s just a role… and here at the end of the day, I’m just a Christian…I really think Jesus had some brilliant things to say in the Sermon on the Mount. He hit it with that “consider the lilies” bit.

“your heavenly Father knows”…

Do you really believe that? Seems like somebody who believes that doesn’t struggle or fail like you…

Do ponder my Father’s knowing very much?… Clearly not.

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”

…. Do you really think you’re doing that?

I think so. We left everything to do this… Affirmed by many, commissioned by the church. The process certainly hasn’t been easy and there have been lots of times to jump ship. So I don’t think I’m here for me. I’m doing this for Jesus.

What’s that bit from the Heidelberg?…

…Question 26…

Q. What do you believe when you say,
“I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth”?

That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who out of nothing created heaven and earth
and everything in them,
who still upholds and rules them
by his eternal counsel and providence,
is my God and Father
because of Christ the Son.
I trust God so much that I do not doubt
he will provide
whatever I need
for body and soul,
and will turn to my good
whatever adversity he sends upon me
in this sad world.
God is able to do this because he is almighty God
and desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.

Able and desiring…

Don’t you think your Father is disappointed in the meeting?…

Maybe with my leadership – I can’t make that call – but not with his Son, nor with his precious people.

Are you one of those precious lambs?

On most days…

No, my Father loves me because of Jesus. That’s enough.

He’s able and willing.

What’ll I do next?

Well, I should probably pray… then whisky.

 

Getting People to Care In Fundraising

One of the main struggles of all fundraising is brining people into the mission. How do you present what you’re fundraising as important to somebody who didn’t feel it was important 5 minutes ago? Moreover, how do you do fundraising that’s envisioning and accessible?

We’ve all experienced bad fundraising in one way or another (or done it). Last week I wrote about how fundraising is primarily about leadership. This week, let me speak to a practical aspect of fundraising: Accessibility.

The Five Yes’s

Accessibility in fundraising is essential. It understands that people need ways to engage with what you’re fundraising for without having to go immediately to the “Big Yes”.

Within the fundraising world there is the idea of “The Five Yes’s”. I’m not sure if that’s the official term, but here’s the principle: Fundraising needs to have distinct appeal stages where people can affirm a new and meaningful Yes to the mission before the Big Yes ($$$) is presented. The reason it’s called “The Five Yes’s” is simply that in fundraising studies, it takes 5 distinct phases to lead people from knowing nothing about a fundraising project through distinct steps where they are asked increasingly more until they are at the final stage of being open to the Big Yes of financial appeals.

Developing On-Ramps

That’s my operating understanding of the idea. As a fundraiser, someone needs to think through distinct ways for people to affirm the mission and get on board with it’s vision that will lead their interest towards functional support of the fundraising goal.

I call these on-ramps. These are ways people can say “Yes” to the mission without every appeal having to be financial appeals. Often, fundraisers haven’t thought through what they’re doing. They think, “If I just tell people what we’re doing and how awesome we are, they’ll just want to give us $1,000.” First, that’s dumb. Secondly, it’s dumb. Thirdly, it’s not how people work. Unless somebody is already vested in a project’s meaning, they won’t see its value and thus will rebuff financial appeals (and feel offended by them – double loss: relational and time investment).

The Five Yes’s principle treats people as real human beings and recognizes the needs of a developing relationship. Just like asking a woman the Big Yes (Will you marry me?), the relationship is progress, from notes in the school hallway, to prom, to that special picnic. We understand the principle there, but have we connected it to fundraising? When we make financial appeals, we’re asking people to give their hard earned cash to our vision. The “Five Yes’s” principle honors people’s personal investment and desire to be good stewards and gives intentional leadership to leading them through meaningful steps of support towards considering investing that hard earned cash voluntarily into the project.

What we’ve done

So, there’s all the principle. Now you want to know how it works out. Let me tell you how we’re applying this as a church plant.

Newsletter

 

If you’re looking to fundraise and don’t have a monthly newsletter, you’re being, uh… not smart. A mission moves forward by people feeling involved. They way you involve them is by…. that’s right, telling them what’s going on. (Confession: I have not done a great job at this in the past.) When people read this or sign up for it, they are saying “Yes” to the church plant in a way that works for them. They may not be able to give, but the more they hear, the more likely they are to give. And right now, they may only want to hear. I’m deeply grateful for anybody who joins our mailing list.

VIEW OUR NEWSLETTER or SUBSCRIBE HERE!

 

Oh look, we’ve stumbled upon a mini soap box. Don’t mind if I do. Make this short, sweet and to the point with lots of pictures! I’ll speak to this another time, but wordy newsletters never get written. I’ve seen and receive wordy newsletters. The more words, the greater the attrition rate. Keep it simple, punchy, crystal clear and to the point. And pictures.

Information cards

postcard_layoutI’ve made these up to have available at any church I speak at. It presents our logo, mission and vision in simple, accessible bites. Each section is 80 words or less. It points people to our website, Facebook, and Twitter. In picking up and taking an info card home, people are saying Yes to learning more about the plant, and they have a clear Call To Action in their hands, the directions to the next phase of our relationship: the website or Facebook page.

 

Facebook page

facebook_2015_logo_detailOn our Facebook page people will see regular quotes from our church, updates, and more info on what’s going on for us than they will get in the Newsletter. By “Liking” the page, they are saying “Yes” to a new phase of our relationship. It builds our momentum by having X number of likes, but it also gives us access to tell people what’s going on in a space that they spend a lot of time. It’s like having access to somebody’s fridge door where you sit right next to their cute dog pictures.

WOULD YOU LIKE OUR FACEBOOK PAGE?

Twitter

Maybe this is a more limited medium, but it’s so easy, why not? This maybe plays to my strengths since I’m very popular on twitter (read: sarcasm). But if people use Twitter, why not ask for a place on their newsfeed with updates, sermon posts, quotes, etc.? Same principle as with Facebook: When people “follow” @KingsCrossNH they are saying yes to the mission.

Website

On the King’s Cross website, people learn how to join the newsletter, join us in worship, etc. This is the front yard sign of the church plant. The site is designed to direct people towards joining our newsletter, and makes it clear for locals how to join our groups. You have to have a clear demographic and narrative target for your website. Too many churches have horrible websites because, like Kevin Costner, they believe that all they have to do is build any ol’website and they will come. That’s a lie from the pit of Hell. Rebuke it, and get a good website. Also, pay somebody to do it.

Podcast

SoundCloudWe’ve just started preaching at King’s Cross Church. Ever notice how Desiring God has that nice, inviting closing to each podcast telling people how they can support their ministry? Not only are people saying Yes to the church plant by subscribing to the podcast, but they are being directed towards how to support the ministry. The intro/closer directs people to act on their Yes of listening to the sermon. They’re being directed to the next phase of the relationship. It’s the Five Yes’s principle: They’ve said yes to listening to the podcast, now give them clear steps for the next phase.

Two tips here

  1. If you want a good opening and closing voice over, check out Fiverr. Cheap and important. This is the guy we used – super great experience. Did a few back and forth. He did it right. It sounds great.
  2. Host your audio on SoundCloud. They make it super easy to push to podcasts (iTunes, etc.) and they integrate flawlessly with all forms of social media. Not only is it a socialized space for audio content, but it also makes your content easily shared on all venues. Just do it. Trust me.

T-Shirts

kingscross-frontLook, we’ve got a sweet logo, and we’ve got a gifted graphic artist in our team. She threw the shirt together, and it came out looking awesome. When I visit churches, I sell the shirt for $15. The point of the t-shirt isn’t to be a major fundraiser, it’s an accessible, tangible way for people to support the church plant. At $15 per shirt, we’re making some money, but we’re bringing people in on the mission, which is more important. Now they advertise the church plant. Now they think about us when they decide to wear their cool new shirt. Hopefully they pray for us. As importantly, it keeps us on the front of their minds amidst all the things that’re competing for their attention. Maybe they’ll decide to support us more. Maybe they’ll remember a relative who’s in the area that would be interested in the church plant. All of those have happened. All that for $15. (Comment if you’re interested in getting one. $15 + s/h.)

Side note: Don’t over charge for these. I almost did $20 per shirt. I think people would pay that, but begrudgingly. More than $20 and I think it’ll leave a bitter taste in people’s mouths. Yea, they supported a cause, but only because that’s what “Good People” do gosh darn it… yea, that doesn’t taste of Jesus. My experience has been that people are happy to give more (and often leave it at “just keep the change”), but $15 is accessible and much easier to pay. Plus, a married couple can both get shirts for $30. If you charge more, they may only buy one. I want people to enjoy their support of the church plant. If they want to give more, that’s great, but both of us are getting value with the low-bar $15 they invest.

This blog

Look, I love Sovereign Grace Churches and want to invest in our future. I want us to succeed in our mission to plant and build churches in the Gospel of Christ. But this also gives me another platform to push the church plant. It also gives me a platform to strengthen Sovereign Grace, which in tern strengthen’s our ability to fund church plants, one of which happens to be mine. I don’ think of it as self-interest, but strategic, long-term investment in the future of Sovereign Grace Churches.

Conclusion

You’ll see in all of these that relationships and time are essential. None of these come out of a box pre-made. But there are all intentionally designed to guide a relationship. The fundraising goals need to be met, but they need to be met in ways that build people into the vision, and aren’t just money grabs. The more they’re built in, the more they’ll give to support the mission long term. That’s most important, because the mission is the goal, not the budget.

How To Choose A Logo For Your Church

I’ve often looked at church logo’s and had the internal dialogue of, “How on earth did they come up with that?” That can be a good “how on earth” but it’s often a negative reaction, like seeing somebody’s ugly dog and finding a way to compliment it.

So, whether you hate our logo or not, let me pull back the veil and reveal the magic behind the scenes, and make a few suggestions for how to design your own logo if you’re planting (or rebranding) a church.

Historicity

Potentially unique to New England, but the sense of “church” and “what a church is” here has a distinctly high church feel. Whether old school Anglican, Puritan or Roman Catholic, the sense of what a church is pulls from our English roots. I describe our city as “burn-out, post Catholic.” Thus, in choosing a logo I wanted to pull from something that touched on that without being rule by history (and thereby dying a slow, painful death).

220px-Jerusalem_cross.svgThe Jerusalem Cross has a long historical tradition dating back to the 11th century. There are two meanings that are given to it’s origins: The central cross and it’s four accompanying crosses represent the Five Wounds of Christ, or the central cross is accompanied by four crosses representing the Gospel going to the four corners of the earth.

Either is fine with me – I like them both. The historicity of the logo serves to connect our mission as a local church with the broader work that God has already been doing. In a culture that has near-exclusive connotations with the Gospel and the Roman Catholic Church, bearing a logo that draws from the historic church may help us bridge the gap of people’s expectations of what a church should be and our own unique contribution to the advance of the Gospel.

Cross-Centered

This is another reason I wanted to use the Jerusalem Cross. I may not be the smartest guy, but if you have cross in your church name, you probably want to have a cross in your logo. Just a guess.

There are very few churches in our area explicitly cross centered. I’m not going to throw dust on them – they’re my friends and we’re in this together. But as a point of clarification, we want to be explicitly cross centered from top to bottom. If Paul, in a pagan culture where nobody cared about Jesus or the Gospel (hm, that sounds familiar…), made it his one aim “to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2), I do not think we’re undermining our appeal to unbelievers (of any stripe) to put the cross in our logo (and name). If pictures tell a story, I want people to know that they are being invited into the story of Christ crucified, and their live’s story in him will be one of a cross – dying to self and there finding the life of Christ. Even in our logo, I want to be clear that we’re about the Gospel in all of life and not some emotion or movement or aspect of the Gospel. We are about the complete Gospel, which is Christ crucified, risen and ascended. It’s about The King.

I’m a bit concerned at times about church logo’s that do not have a distinctly Christian image in them. This is obviously a preference thing – no commandment in Scripture related to this. I just wonder if it’s being completely honest with people if something other than a Gospel-referent icon is used to attract or centralize attention. Or, to flip the observation, what does it say about a church’s main emphasis when something that’s not God-centered (even in the broadest sense) is the icon? Again, this is a fluid observation since the Episcopal’s have some cool icons and (largely) no Gospel. Just a question to wrestle with.

The Jerusalem Cross was catchy, historical and cross-centered. Also, nobody else in our city was using it or a variant of it. (Pro-tip, don’t choose a logo that visually competes with another church in your city. That’s not loving, and it’s dumb.)

Design

So, here’s a major principle of all of this for me: Pay somebody to do it. You’re a pastor, not a graphic artist. Yea, I know it looks easy, but that’s how people feel about how you spend your time. This is important and valuable to the church’s “branding” or “messaging” to the local community (and your fundraising!). You want somebody who’s been trained and thought long and hard about this. Moreover, as a personal rule, I want somebody’s paid time on something that’s central and important. If you get their volunteer hours, you’ll get pushed around according to their priorities. Money means our project takes front-burner preference.

Also, I’m disinclined to have a friend do the work. The logo is important. It’s the first thing somebody sees and experiences of the church. I don’t want my inability or hesitation to say “No” or “Wrong” to a friend to keep the church from getting the best. In a professional relationship, it’s easier to say “No” or “Different” without offending. That’s the way the relationship and collaboration work. Maybe it’d work for you, but I’ve seen it go poorly for many, and wanted to avoid it.

Even if it’s somebody in the church, I’d be inclined to pay them for it. It makes the relationship clear and it gets you their best work. Also, it honors their labor. Logo and design aren’t easy. As a web-developer (my bi-vocational job), I know what it’s like for people to take for granted the work I do. “It’s just a website, how long can it take?” Come really close, would you like a bite of this knuckle sandwich…

One more note: We wanted modern, not dusty. The Jerusalem Cross on it’s own could come across as dusty and too Roman Catholic. So we wanted modern with historicity and cross-centeredness.

What we did

So I threw a tweet into the void asking if anybody has designer recommendations. A friend of mine, Corey Sosebee (Twitter, website) responded saying he’d like to take a stab at it. So, I sent him the Jerusalem Cross and said “I like IKEA” and left him to it. We did a good bit of back and forth. He sent me like, 10 options. I said yes to two, we narrowed it down, talked color, weight, font size, etc. We came out with a logo, church name and slogan and a few other things with the logo. It was sweet. He’s an extremely competent and capable designer. He’s also a missionary. Bonus rewards in Heaven for supporting him! If you want to rebrand or brand your church, I’d highly recommend working with him. (Incidentally, and completely by God’s providence, his wife and I had a class together in college – War Eagle! – and her life and example have had a massive impact on my life. But we only realized that after we started talking.)

KC-Logo-redThat’s how we came out with our logo. I like it. Our team likes it. We vetted it together, and this is how we come out. It works well on t-shirts and works in grabbing attention for our fundraising. It accomplished a lot, but it wasn’t easy to produce. At the end of the day, what I love most about it is it’s Cross-Centeredness. It highlights our core identity, our one priority: Christ and him crucified. The King, who ascended to his thrown between heaven and earth, and in the shedding of his blood saved men and women from the wrath of God from all ends of the earth. This King, in the power of his Gospel, will advance his glory to the ends of the earth, and King’s Cross Church, in Manchester, New Hampshire is one way that he is doing this glorious work.

How We Chose Our Church Name

“How did you get to that church name?” I’ve thought that in most cases when learning any congregation’s name. It’s not an inherent derision of the name, but just a question of curiosity. Some names are obvious because they speak to my own pastoral inclinations. Some names sound like they were conceived in suburban D.C (ahem, how many Crossway’s or Crossroad’s are there?). Other names remind us of the days of yore, where apostles were Saints, and they owned terrestrial property.

While there are ways we could poke fun at certain church names, and bemoan naming trends in certain strand of church planting ventures today, let me just speak to how we chose our name.

The Gospel

At the heart of our church was the Gospel. I wanted something that communicated the Gospel clearly and immediately in the name. If we’re cross-centered, I wanted our name to be cross centered.

Culture

In New England, while most people do not care about the Gospel (link previous article), their sense of church is infused with Roman Catholicism, or maybe more broadly, “High Church”. There are two ways to think about this: 1) Pick a name that’s definitely not Catholic  (Journey Church, or something like that), or 2) Pick a name that pulls from that linguistic tradition. We did the latter. I chose King’s Cross more from our high church Anglican brothers. Having been raised in the UMC, I’ve always had a very formal, non-emotive soft spot for the Church of England, so this one was easy in some ways.

Given that Manchester specifically was founded on primarily French Canadian and Irish immigrants, Roman Catholicism is deep in it’s cultural ethos of how it thinks about church and religion. Now, I know that a church name won’t win somebody for Jesus, but I hope it would make them feel a little more familiar and comfortable to visit a church from their tradition (unspoken and unconscious though it be). A church name that sounded Roman Catholic was something I was willing to risk for the sake of people feeling comfortable with the existence of a new church which they’d hopefully visit.

Another factor under cultural considerations is that nobody, read this, nobody in New England cares about Sovereign Grace Churches. They do not know about any of our history, and do not care that we’re Gospel-centered. Thus, we’d gain nothing by putting our denomination in our name. Moreover, in a post-Christian world, denominations smack of an old, 1950’s crusade’s feel that may deter people. Moreover, “Sovereign Grace” would strike me as a bit confusing as a non-believer. What does “Sovereign” mean? We’re in New Hampshire you know, Live Free or Die. And why is Grace sovereign? And how does that relate to church? The title assumes too much Christian knowledge to be useful – in my opinion – in the post-Christian New England. (Which, by the way, is where you’re small town America will be in 20 years.)

Endurance

I don’t want to take pot shots at other church plant names, but I will say this: I often wonder how a trendy church name will communicate in 50 years, and what that says for their longterm discipleship plan. Our log, font and color may change in 50 years, but I wanted a name that endured from generation to generation. By pulling from a “high church” or Catholic/Anglican pool, I was intentionally picking a name that would last. As we are gathered by Christ through the Gospel, so we expect more and more people to be saved through God’s work among us, which included our children. I think names that pull from an older linguistic day have more cache to last into the future. King’s Cross Church, or like names, have a name for the future of Gospel ministry here (and won’t sound dumb in 50 years). I think that honors the Gospel.

A Christ-Centered Noun

Theologically, the name pulls from the early church’s teaching about Christ “reigning over us from the cross”. It ay sound strange to talk about a king on a cross, but that’s the nature of the Gospel. The King on his throne, the cross. Baffling to angels and men, it is the only hope of the world.

Moreover, the name is a noun and only a noun. The church of Christ is not focused on our journey or conversation with Christ. The church is defined by Jesus dying on the cross for the forgiveness of sins and justification of God’s glory.

Thus, we landed on King’s Cross Church – The king of glory, who ascended to his throne of glory – the foolishness of men and offense to the world. But it is this King, on his Cross, that saves men and women into his Church.