Why your Church Plant Should Consider Starting in a Portable Facility

Church-plantingSo, you are planting a church? Great, that is awesome, and I applaud you. I love church planters!

During your planning and developing a launch team, I am sure the idea of a portable or permanent venue has come up in your conversation.

This is one of the biggest decisions that you must consider when planting a church.

When our church decided to plant another location in a growing part of the city, we had these same conversations. We chose portable, and it has been a great experience.

Now, we experience some of the same stigmas that come with meeting in a portable facility such as

  • It is hard work! Sure, it is. We get together with a team every Saturday afternoon to set up. We tear down after church on Sunday. Setup and tear down takes work, but we look at it as an opportunity to mobilize more volunteers. Our volunteer numbers have grown as a result of this opportunity. Also, if you get the right equipment, it might not take as long as you may think.
  • We are not a real church! We get the comments such as “church in a box.” We get it and embrace it. The key is that you are a church. In fact, look at the book of Acts, and many of their churches met in homes. The church is not about buildings, it is about the people.

We embrace these stigmas. We chose portable and worked our way through these stigmas. It has worked for us, and been a great experience for us. An experience that I would not trade for anything!

We went portable, and I want to give you a few reasons why you should consider it as well.

1. Portable churches help you reduce costs

Using a portable facility allows you to reduce your startup costs. It is that simple. Portable facilities are cheaper.

Sure you have to pay for your equipment, but you don’t have large construction costs up front.

I have seen some churches raise money for 5+ years just to purchase a facility to meet in.

Going portable allows you to get into a facility much sooner at a reduced cost which in terms allows you to spend more money on the mission from the beginning.

2. Portable churches are attractive to unchurched people

In my experience, unchurched people enjoy the idea of our church meeting in a portable facility. Many unchurched people struggle to step foot into a church building, but may attend your church if it is in the theater you attend or the school your kids attend.

Many of our people tell me that they enjoy attending our church because it is not in a church building.

Now, before you criticize this point, this is my experience. I understand and recognize that there are many churches out there with buildings who are reaching the unchurched, but in my experience, the unchurched have enjoyed attending our church because it is not in a traditional church facility.

3. Portable churches have flexibility

Portable can be temporary if you need it to be.

The key is that you have a sense of flexibility when you go portable. When you build a million dollar building, it is a commitment, a long-term one that is difficult to get out of if your momentum were to drop.

A portable facility allows you to upgrade or downgrade depending on your current momentum.

4. Portable churches foster strong engagement with the community

One positive is that the school officials at the school that we meet in have attended our church numerous times. This might not have ever happened had we not met in a public facility.

We have had the opportunity to meet numerous needs in our host school and meet many families as a result. This opportunity would not have happened as easily without us using their facility every weekend.

For us, portable church has meant portable offices. This has forced us to have meetings and work out of public places such as Starbucks, Moes (my favorite), Panera, Chick Fil A, or other public spaces.

This has helped our staff and church foster a strong relationship with different businesses in our community.

Look, I am not saying that churches shouldn’t have buildings.

I am just saying that portable facilities have benefits that permanent facilities might not have.

I have seen dying churches with tons of buildings and real estate, and I have experienced fast growing churches in portable environments.

Both can work if the mission is right and at the center. The point I am making is that permanent is not a better solution, it is another solution.

There are actually great reasons why you should consider a portable facility for your church plant.

Join the Conversation

So, what do you think?

Is your church portable or permanent. What are the advantages and disadvantages that you have seen and experienced?


5 Reasons Some Churches Don’t Grow

Vision1Every pastor wants their church to grow.

No pastor sits around desiring for his church to stay exactly where it is and never grow.

Now before we go further, I am criticizing small churches. I love small churches. As I have talked with small church pastors, they all want their church to grow though.

The mission of a church should be to reach people and disciple people which results in growth so we should be about growth. We should try to grow.

So why is it that some churches are not growing?

Great question, glad you asked. Here are a few things that I believe can hinder a church from growing.

1. Lack of a clear and concise vision

People can get behind a church with a clear vision.

I believe every pastor knows what their church’s mission is and likely has some form of  vision. The problem is that not all leaders are good communicators of vision.

If you cannot recite your vision in a few simple and concise thoughts, rethink it and reevaluate it.

Our church’s mission is to reach as many people as possible and develop them into becoming committed followers of Christ. 

If we took a test in our church, we would want them to know this above anything else.

We accomplish this vision by encouraging every single person at our church to be involved in these three things:

  • Worship (Weekly worship Attendance)
  • Groups
  • Outreach (in our church and our community)

Everything we do as a church should fall into those three categories to support our mission of reaching and developing people.

You hear us talk about this all of the time. Our pastoral staff states our mission and vision with the individuals that they lead. We want everyone to know this.

Churches with clear and concise visions usually grow faster. [Click to Tweet]

If you do not have a concise vision and mission, your church likely has reached a peak for growth.

2. Your church thinks like a small church

Here is the reality, churches do not grow far when thinking like a small church.

The bigger the organization or church gets, the bigger it must think.

If you organize and behave like a small organization, you will be a small organization. [Click to Tweet]

When our campus started, we had 200 people on launch Sunday.Now, our campus runs 400 people. Our process, organization, and structure has had to change if we intend to host 400 people on a weekend.

We are changing processes and structures now to prepare our church to reach 600 people soon.

The reality is that as your church grows, your processes must reflect bigger.

Churches that never evaluate and change their processes are churches who likely struggle to grow.

3. Lack of strategic programming

I have grown up in a programmatic church. We had programs for everything.

Programs are not bad, but programs that do not support your vision are bad. [Click to Tweet]

If you have a bunch of programs that you cannot explain how they fit into your concise vision and mission, then your church may lack strategic programming.

Every program that we get behind as a church must mobilize our people to worship, groups, or outreach to fulfill our mission of reaching and developing people.

The problem with programs is that we tend to over program our churches to where we pull people out of what really matters and into our programs.

If your people cannot be in worship, group, or outreach (serving) because they are tied to a program your church has offered, maybe you need to rethink your programs.

Evaluate your programs and if you cannot concisely explain how they support your mission, kill them!

4. People pleasing leaders

Look, I am guilty of being a people pleaser so this one makes me cringe.

The problem is that people pleasing has never resulted in church growth for me.

As a parent, I do not always do what my kids want me to do. I have to do what I believe is best for them. Sometimes they do not like it, but it may be better for them and for our family in the long run.

The same is true of the church. You are the leader, the shepherd, the one that God has ordained and placed you to lead His flock.

Sometimes the congregation may not understand your decision, but if it is best for them in the long run, you better do it regardless of if they like it or not at the time.

Leadership requires you to make difficult decisions at times.

5. Lack of volunteer engagement and empowerment

If the pastoral staff is doing all of the work, you may have peaked as church. Your staff can only take you so far.

The churches that are growing bigger and bigger tend to engage and empower volunteers. [Click to Tweet]

This is why we track volunteer numbers every month. We believe that this is a good indication of us moving forward as a church.

The best leaders at our church are sitting in the seats.

Find them, engage them, and empower them to lead.

Engaging and empowering volunteers will take you further as a church than your church staff will ever take you.

Join the Conversation

So, what did you think? Yes, these can sound harsh, messy, and downright ugly, but they are things that I have seen and experienced in church life.

Church growth is difficult and requires you rise above certain things to achieve it.

What would you add to the list?

Join the conversation by commenting below.

Metrics your Church Should be Measuring


Every successful church or successful organization does not become successful without evaluating itself.

Evaluation is critical to be successful. You must evaluate everything.

What you desire to replicate, you should evaluate! [Click to Tweet]

If becoming a successful church requires evaluation, it is important that we are evaluating the important goals that we intend to replicate.

So, what are they? What are the metrics that we should be measuring and evaluating?

Great question, glad you asked!

I want to share three main things that our church measures to determine if our people are engaged in our church. Here they are:

1. Worship

Every church likely looks at attendance on Monday. You should. Now to clarify, numbers are not everything, but they can give you an idea of where your people are at.

Don’t make numbers the main thing, but make them a thing.

Every number has a name; every name has a story; and every story matters to God.

Every week, we evaluate the attendance. Evaluating attendance helps us see the trajectory of where we are headed. Evaluating this also gives us an idea of our progress in engaging the community from week to week.

If you expect your people to be faithful to your church on a weekend, why not evaluate the number of people coming on a weekend.

What we believe is important for our people is a metric that we want to be measuring.

If you value people attending your church regularly, you should be evaluating and measuring whether or not they are coming back each weekend.

2. Groups

Worship attendance is important, but one thing corporate worship is not designed to do is to help people build deep friendships with other people.

Groups (you might call it Sunday school) are the avenue for people to find community.

We  measure how many people attend a group each month. This shows how engaged your people really are.

Most people who join a group stick with your church for a long time.

In our experience, groups are the stickiest thing that we do as a church. [Click to Tweet]

If you want to retain people, have a good assimilation process to get people into groups.

That is why we measure group attendance, and you should to.

3. Outreach

We view outreach in two ways in our church: 1) Outreach in our church 2) Outreach in our community.

We ask for those who attend our church to engage with our church by participating in assisting us in accomplishing the mission of our church.

This is why we celebrate those who park cars every weekend. This is why we celebrate those who pass out bulletins and greet people.

We celebrate every volunteer because we believe every volunteer regardless of their role helps us accomplish our mission each weekend of reaching people.

We also want our people to engage with their neighbors through outreach in their community.

Our church tries to be present in the community in some way about once a month. We do different outreach events, and we ask for our people to come out and serve the community.

Few things change people as much as getting them out serving others. [Click to Tweet]

We measure successful outreach by how many volunteers we have on a weekend engaging in the mission of our church.

What do you Think? 

What metrics does your church measure? Would you add anything to our list?

Join the conversation by commenting below. I would love to know what your church or ministry measures to determine how successful they are.

5 Key Questions You Should be Asking Those You Lead

20160229200753-leadership-teamwork-business-group-collaboration-meetingGreat leaders ask great questions.

Brad Cooper said in his afternoon talk at the most excellent way to lead conference that “The greatest leaders of tomorrow are the greatest question askers of today.” (Listen to the talk here)

In fact, some of this post is derived out of Brad’s talk so much of the credit to this post is from him.

I am learning that to become a better leader, I must be asking better questions. [Click to Tweet]

I think that too many people believe that leadership is about answering the questions, but the best leaders are the ones asking the questions. [Click to Tweet]

Here are 5 questions that you should be asking the people who you lead:

1. What areas of your life would you like for me to speak into?

Too  many leaders are speaking into people who really are not asking to be spoken into. Also, too many leaders are speaking into areas of people’s lives that they do not want you to speak into.

Every one on one conversation that you have with a person that you lead, you should be asking this question.

It will grow you as a leader, but it will also grow the person you are leading, because it will be answering some of the greatest questions and needs that they have as an individual.

2. If you were in my position, what would you do differently? 

Brad Cooper asks it this way, “If you had my job, what is the first thing that you would change?”

This is a question that you help you lead like never before. It will take the focus off of the results that you believe people want, and place your focus on to the results that people actually want.

3. What is it like to be on the other side of me?

This question will challenge you as much as any question that you ask.

Sometimes we feel we are great communicators, and those on the other side cannot understand you. Sometimes we feel we communicate tasks in a kind way, and we don’t.

My point is that how we feel we are communicating sometimes can be drastically different from the way we are actually communicating.

The best way to evaluate the effectiveness of our leadership is by asking those who are directly impacted by our every day leadership.

4. What would you attempt to do if you knew that you could not fail?

Want to improve your business, church, or organization? This is a question to do just that.

It allows those you lead to dream and then you as a leader can position them for maximum success.

This question can be very revealing. It can show that maybe you have not placed them in the right seat on the bus. Maybe their gifts and desire is to do something entirely different.

5. How can I help you succeed?

When you have reached a point of leadership with people where you are truly influencing them, this question can take your team next level.

This question should be the heart of every leader. How can we help position people into the place that sets them up for the most success.

What do you think?

These questions are not yes or no questions. They also are not task oriented questions. They are leadership questions that will help you grow in influence with the team that you lead.

Join the conversation by commenting below!

3 Things Pastors Need in Their Personal Lives

personal life of a pastor blog postAs I write this, my heart is heavy. My heart is broken for Perry Noble and Newspring Church. If you have not heard yet, you will soon- Perry Noble was removed from the senior pastor position at the church that he started nearly 20 years ago, NewSpring Church. He was removed because of an abuse of alcohol according to reports out of NewSpring.

As a Pastor and leader, I have been heavily influenced by Perry and the leaders of Newspring. I listen to their sermons, Perry’s leadership podcast, and I have attended their church before. In fact, last year, we took a team to an event that they hosted to train kids and student ministry leaders.

I respect and appreciate all that Perry has done for the church and for my life personally. I will pray for him and pray that complete restoration happens where he can find himself serving in the church again in the future.

Perry is just one of many who have been removed recently that I am aware of different reasons. I am not posting to debate why they were removed or anything of that nature. This post is to address some missing elements in the life of many pastors today.

Something is clearly missing in the personal life of many [Not all] pastors today. So, what is missing? Here are three things that are missing in the personal life of many pastors today:

1. Accountability

Healthy accountability leads to spiritual integrity [Click to Tweet]

I believe that many pastors lack personal accountability in their lives. If a pastor is struggling with something, they need an outlet just like everyone else.

The outlet should be someone who has the right to speak directly into the life of the pastor. The outlet should have authority to call out the pastor when he is messing up.

The problem is that pastors are afraid to tell any of their secrets for fear of losing their jobs.

Pastor, if you are reading this, I urge you to get an accountability partner and give them the right to speak into your life. You will be glad you did. Every pastor who I have talked to that has been removed from their position wishes that they had accountability in their lives.

2. Mentoring

Pastors preach to their congregations every week. They counsel their congregation and speak into their staff’s lives on a weekly basis.

This is all great and part of their job descriptions, but one thing every church should add to the job description of their pastors is that they have a mentor that they meet with regularly.

Pastors do a good job speaking into other people’s lives and influencing others, but every pastor needs someone who is speaking into their lives. Every pastor needs men in their lives who will sharpen and seek to grow the pastor in their personal walk with Jesus.

3. Group Life

We believe that we grow better together. We grow better through relationships.

Pastors spend so much time teaching others about Jesus that I believe they miss out on being taught themselves about Jesus.

One leader who exemplifies this point is Andy Stanley. I have so much respect for him, because he as a mega church pastor commits to being in a small group! He values being taught.

I believe that so many pastors are trying to pour into the lives of others, and they are trying to pour from an empty cup. [Click to Tweet]

Pastors, to grow others, you must first be growing yourself! [Click to Tweet]

Pastors, my heart goes out to you! You have a difficult job. Do not be one of these that we read about on the news one day. Seek accountability now to fix the deepest secrets of your life. Get a mentor! Give someone access to speak directly into your life. Then, be in a small group or a Sunday school class. Have a moment where you are being fed. It is a great example for your people, and it shows that you value your personal life.


5 Tips For Recruiting Volunteers

lightstock_74992_xsmall_deborah_wipfI do not know a church in America that could not use just a few more volunteers. Every church is in search of more volunteers to do more for the mission of their church.

Why is recruiting volunteers such a problem?

I believe that the problem might not be with the ones in the seats on Sunday. The problem might be in our approach to recruiting.

Here are five tips to help you recruit volunteers:

1. Celebrate volunteers

Your church will not maintain a steady influx of new volunteers, if they are not celebrated.

Whoever started the idea of posting a church volunteer of the week on their social media pages is a genius.

Celebrate them, bless them, and recognize them.

When you celebrate volunteers, you communicate that you value and are appreciative of what they do each weekend for you.

If you do not think that celebrating and recognizing volunteers is important, try to do church on Sunday without them.

It would be utter chaos. It would be foolish. We need them, and therefore we should recognize them.

Churches who keep volunteers recognize and celebrate them.

2. Communicate specific expectations

Leader, do not be aggravated with your volunteers and their performance if you have not clearly stated your expectations for them.

If someone is holding a door for people, they need to know specifically what you expect.

This may sound silly and tedious, but there is a certain way of doing what you want, and our volunteers want to know what that is.

3. Never sound desperate

Too often, we sound like the ministry will fall apart if you do not recruit more volunteers.

Look, that may be true. I get it, we need volunteers and rely heavily on volunteers every weekend, but never sound desperate.

Make your pitch to volunteers inspirational and motivational. Communicate that every volunteer gets to be a part of our mission every weekend.

Every volunteer regardless of the position helps your church do what they do. Motivate and inspire your volunteers, do not guilt or make them feel like you are desperate.

Desperate appeals for volunteers will leave you with people who are volunteering because you need them, not because you want them.

Articulate your vision to prospective volunteers and where they fit into your vision.

4. Set clear start and end dates

We tend to never have a problem with the first part of this. Start dates are easy.

We rarely set end dates. I believe too many churches have communicated to people who when they sign up, they are in it for life.

This scares many away. When you recruit volunteers, tell them that this is for a 6 month or 1 year term, and then you will evaluate them to see if they want to continue serving.

It gives time for volunteers to give it a shot and if they hate it, they have an out.

5. Communicate every position as fun and important

Do not ever down play a position in your church. From the guy in the parking lot, to the one passing out bulletins, to the one holding babies, to the one speaking to the adults. Every position is important and helps churches accomplish their mission.

You should paint it this way when you recruit. You also need to paint the position as fun. Make every position sound like the most fun job at your church.

It encourages people and places value on the position.

What advice would you add to this list for recruiting volunteers?

Characteristics Of Prospective Youth Leaders

Characteristics of prospective youth leadersEvery leader understands the importance of recruiting and developing volunteers. It is not rocket science, but so few do this the right way.

Why? I believe we recruit people, but not always the right people.

Part of being a good leader is not only recruiting people, it is recruiting the right people.

So, if we want to recruit the right people in youth ministry, how can we know that they are the right people for the job? Here are some things to look for when recruiting youth leaders:

1. Personal Growth Plan

Before you throw a leader to help lead your students, ask them what their personal growth plan looks like.

A personal growth plan assures you that they are growing, and they have a path that will continue to help them keep on growing.

One of the reasons our youth ministries are not growing faster is because we have a lot of leaders leading who have never been led themselves.

Your leaders cannot lead if they are not being led themselves.

2. Personal Integrity

We need leaders of integrity teaching our students.

Craig Groeschel said in his book Altar Ego that “your reputation is what others think about you, and your integrity is the real you.”

I want leaders who are authentic and not just popular.

3. Attitude

Skills are necessary, but a person’s attitude in your youth ministry can be a key component in taking your youth ministry take next level.

If you have not read Kurt Johnson’s five attitudes of prospective youth leaders, go do it now. You can read it here.

That article is a game changer and will change the way that you recruit leaders.

4. Relational

You must recruit leaders who can build relationships with students.

Students are at some of the most awkward stages of their lives, and sometimes they are awkward in the way that they communicate with adults. Your leaders must be able to create conversations with these students.

5. Commitment

Recruit leaders who can commit.

Give an end date to give people an out, and ask for them to sign a contract to commit until the end date. I am convinced that many people do not volunteer because they believe they are signing up for life. Give them a time commitment.

If a prospective youth leader cannot be at youth group regularly, find a different place in your church where they can serve. Recruit committed leaders.

6. Teach-ability

The last thing that you need are leaders who have arrived and have nothing else to learn. You do not need leaders who believe that they know more than you.

Recruit leaders who can learn from you.

Recruit leaders who can learn from others.

Recruit leaders who are teachable.

[Question] What would you add to this list? What do you look for in prospective youth leaders?