Another Blog Post About Churches Re-opening

How many posts have been written about churches re-opening? Way too many! I mean my inbox has been flooded with posts with subjects like, “Thoughts on churches re-opening,” “things to consider when re-opening,” “when should you re-open.”

Im overwhelmed and a bit exhausted with it. I hesitated even writing about re-opening because every blogger who writes about churches has tried to tackle the subject of re-opening. But before you stop reading, stick this one out. It’s a tad different of a post about the subject that I hope encourages you.

1. Every church will re-open a bit differently and that’s ok.

Listen, not every church is going to do the exact same distancing guidelines that you plan to do, and that’s ok.

Not every church will re-open as fast or as slow as you plan to do, and that’s ok.

Differing opinions about re-opening is the beautiful thing about churches. We can be different and still be okay with one another.

By the way, neither decision of re-opening isn’t a revelation of your spirituality. In other words, if another church opens before you, that doesn’t mean that they are more spiritual than you 🙂

Be okay with the differences and support one another.

2. Don’t be a bad news headline

Look, bad press is bad press. Don’t be that church we see on the news because you refused to listen to experts or you went against the government and claimed that meeting was your rights.

Don’t ignore social distancing guidelines either. Educate yourself and protect your people.

Look, I get it. I recognize the tension, but don’t be a headline, please.

3. Recognize that you may only see 20% of your attendance show up to begin with

It could be a tad higher or a tad lower, but I’m sharing a average percentage that Tony Morgan has found in his survey of churches that have reopened.

Don’t expect your normal attendance numbers or you will be sorely dissappointed

4. Be okay with a pivot

I love what our church is doing. The campus that I serve at meets in an elementary school so we have been told that we can’t return until “possibly” July. We decided to try an outdoor service. We aren’t locking into outdoor every week. We plan to try it once, and if it goes well, we plan to do it again in two weeks.

The point is, when you go back to normal, be prepared to pivot again.

You plan to do 3 services but only fill 2, be okay with pivoting to 2 services the next week.

You set up chairs for 150, and you get 25 people to attend, consider not doing a service and go fully online again or set up a much smaller amount of chairs.

A person in the congregation tests positive for the virus, be prepared to shut it down for 2-3 weeks.

The point is..when you go back, you may not fully go back. You may have to pivot and make adjustments and that’s ok. After all, you have been making a lot of last minute adjustments over the last 10 weeks so you can do this.

5. Don’t go to the extreme to where church is uncomfortable for people

If you obeyed every CDC guideline, you may require masks, no congregational singing, limited seating that is 6 foot apart, no greeters, no community, no kids ministry, temperature checking on the way in, one way in and one way out, and sit in your car until you are escorted directly into the service.

Many of those things need to happen, but I think all of those things combined in a service is a bit much.

Don’t go to the extreme to where church is uncomfortable for people because it will hurt you in the long run.

In fact, some are waiting until they can run church the way they run church and that’s ok (possibly even best).

Everyone has opinions about re-opening and my advice to you is pray and make the wisest decision for your church that you can. Seek advice but in the end, do what’s best for your church and THATS OK.

Helping First Time Guests Return To Your Church For A Second Visit

Every church needs to have first time guests visiting their church in order to grow. It’s not rocket science, right? To grow any organization, you have to get new customers to purchase your product. In churches, you get guests to grow or you don’t grow and stay the same. It’s that simple.

Now, we can talk all day about how to get guests to visit your church. In fact this may be a blog post for another day.

But in this post, I want to talk about how to help your guests return to your church for a second visit. I mean guests are important but second time guests are probably even more important because that shows they are seriously interested in your church.

So, how do we get guests to return to your church? Here are three ways that should help…

1. Make guests feel like part of your family

Have you ever attended a party or gathering where you didn’t feel like you belonged? You attend and you feel left out. You attend and you have no idea what those around you are talking about. It’s terrible. You feel like a third wheel.

Attending and not belonging is a feeling that no one wants to experience twice.

So…think about your church on a weekend. How do people feel when they come in?

Do guests feel like they walked into a country club filled with cliques and they are on the outside looking in? They have to join the “bubble” to belong in other words.

Do guests feel out of place with the standard of dress? Nothing is worse than dressing up on casual night or dressing casual on formal night. If I show up at a church dressed oppositely from everyone else, I probably don’t return.

Do guests feel like part of your family? Think of your biological family. You are most comfortable around them. Are guests comfortable at your church? You are loved and accepted in your biological family. Are guests loved and accepted in your church? You are spoken to and cared for in your biological family. Are guests spoken to and cared for in your church?

The key is how you make guests feel when they come. That’s the difference in them returning.

2. Follow up with all guests

I think there is a balance with follow up. You can’t be too aggressive but you can’t be too passive either. Find the balance and live in the middle.

I cannot tell you the number of times someone has told me that a church never followed up with them after they visited. It happens all of the time, but don’t let it happen to your guests.

When guests attend on Sunday, they should receive some follow up. A phone call or text message.

Hand written notes should go to all guests as a way to say thank you.

In your follow up, always invite them back a second time.

If you don’t have a good follow up plan for guests, you probably don’t have many second time visits. They go hand in hand.

3. Aim to inspire your guests

I love moments where I feel inspired. You do too. We have all seen a viral video that inspired us or heard a speech that inspired us.

How do those moments make you feel?

Inspired to take a step toward something better.

Inspired to change.

Inspired to make a difference.

Inspired by the experience.

Inspired to act and try to change the world.

Let me ask you a question, does anyone leave your church feeling inspired to do any of those things? If not, I bet you don’t have many second time guests visit.

Much of what churches do on a weekend should be well planned out to seek to inspire people.

Look, I get the theology tension with this one. The Holy Spirit does the changing, but we are still responsible for crafting services that give the Spirit a clear path to do His thing. We are responsible for crafting helpful messages that engage audiences to live a life that reflects the truths of the Bible. Now it’s between them and the Holy Sprit whether or not they apply the truths, but we can be instrumental in making the pathway easier for them.

So start being creative in your weekend service.

Plan your music in ways that can inspire them. Sing to inspire your audience. Inspire them with the way you give announcements or in the way you celebrate.

Motivate your audience to change. Dream with your audience about what it would look like in their life if they applied what Jesus says about your topic for that weekend.

Create meaningful prayer times in your service.

People are searching for moments, and church should be one of the best moments of their week.

The problem is most churches put little thought into their weekend experience. It becomes routine.

When the weekend becomes “just routine” to your staff, it becomes “boring” to your audience.

So, every week, seek to inspire.

So to review, if you want guests to return for a second visit, these three things are super important to make that happen: 1) Make them feel like part of your family 2) Follow up with all guests 3) Aim to inspire your guests

You do these three things, and I bet in 3-4 months, you see several guests return for a second visit which will then lead to GROWTH in your church which is what we all want to see!

5 Traits to Becoming a Leader Worth Following

Everyone wants to be a leader. Every leader wants followers as well. But we have all seen or even worked for a leader that you just don’t want to follow, right? Maxwell would say that individual is only taking a walk, they aren’t leading. I would go a step further and call them a manager but not a leader.

So, what separates a manager from a leader? What separates a leader from someone that is just taking a walk? Well, I am glad you asked…Here are a few traits you need to become a leader worth following. Now, I could have come up with 100, but I chose 5 of the most important ones so here they are:

1. Integrity

Integrity is when your behavior matches your beliefs. It is that moment when there is alignment between what you say and how you behave. Integrity is when your private life and your public life match. I like how one pastor put it, integrity is when those who know you the most respect you the most.

Integrity is so important as a leader. We all have seen a leader fall because of a lack of integrity. Something in their private life came out and it ruined their influence.

Here is why: Ability and talent may get you to the top but integrity will keep you at the top.

No one wants to be one of those stories. No one sets out on a journey looking for that to happen in their lives. Usually, they are blindsided by it.

This is why as leaders, we must work twice as hard on our integrity than we do our ability. Look, get better at your trade, but get even better at your integrity.

2. Transparency

Craig Groeschel says this on every one of his podcasts: People would much rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.

I love that statement, because it is so true. Followers want to follow a leader who is real. One who is authentic. One who they can relate to.

As leaders, there is a tension between being transparent and proving to our followers that we have it altogether.

Listen, live in the tension, but it is okay to allow your audience to see that you are a real human being. It is okay that they know you struggle and make some mistakes.

Be transparent.

3. Teachability

Never stop learning. Be teachable. I don’t care how long you have been leading, you have something that you can learn.

Because here is the big idea: when you stop learning, you stop leading

This is why as leaders, we must keep learning. You can learn something in every season that you find yourself in.

Make the most of it and learn.

4. Emotional Health

Our teams need to see leaders who are healthy, because the health of the organization is only as healthy as its leader.

We all want to build healthy organizations, and the best way to do that is to be a healthy leader.

Be physically healthy. Excercise. Stay active. Eat right. When I am physically healthy, I feel better which helps me lead better.

Be personally healthy. See a counselor (it is okay and really good for you). Find someone who knows you inside and out. Have friends. Be in community.

Be emotionally healthy. Your team needs this from you.

5. Humility

You cannot be a good leader and be prideful at the same time. Here are a few thoughts on being humble:

  • Be more impressed with your team than with yourself.
  • Don’t build the organization around you, build a great team.
  • Work yourself out of a job.
  • Give responsibility away
  • Celebrate the wins of your team, not just your personal wins
  • Listen to your team’s ideas, and not just your own
  • Listen to the team’s feedback and be willing to pivot if their feedback is better than what you think.

Being a good leader is being a humble leader.

Be a leader that is worth following!

Key Behaviors for Multi-Site Campus Alignment

Multi-site church is awesome and many churches have gone multi site. Multi-site is the method used by most of the largest churches in the US. You replicate who you already are somewhere else. What a great idea, right?

Yes, it is a brilliant idea, but multi-site can be messy and there can be tension around multiple campuses. That is why you have to behave the right way to eliminate some of the messiness of multi-site.

Let me say up front that we are learning these principles in our church. We aren’t perfect, but we are getting better at the following behaviors.

Here are a few behaviors to provide campus alignment in your multi-site church:

1. Say The Last 10% In Meetings

Have you ever left a meeting wishing you had of said what you were really thinking? We all have had that feeling. Now, if the thoughts are rude, personal, and judgmental- Don’t say it 🙂 But many times, we leave meetings and what wasn’t said could have made the difference.

In the multi-site strategy, you have to be intentional about saying that last 10% (what is not being said).

Sometimes it provides tension and some confrontation, but most of the time your best decisions and your best teams are on the other side of those conversations.

2. Have The Right People In The Room

There is nothing more frustrating that having a meeting with the wrong people in the room. Seriously. I hate attending meetings where decisions are made, and we cannot finalize the meeting because the person making the decision wasn’t in the room. So, we have to schedule another meeting in order to make the decision.

Have the right people in the room.

Also, if it is a creative meeting, non creatives probably should not attend.

It just makes sense.

Have the right people in the room to get the ball as far down the field as possible.

3. Be Unified When Making Decisions

When the campus leaders leave a meeting, decisions need to be “our decisions,” not “their decisions.”

Campus leaders cannot lead well if every decision is not equally their decision.

You need to push for unity in your multi-site church.

Don’t finalize decisions until the team agrees to own the decision.

4. Use Common Language

In a multi-site church, common language is a huge part in its success or failure.

Figure out what the right language is for vision, strategy, and values. This needs to be the same at every campus considering you are replicating who you already are.

This aligns the staff toward a common goal, purpose, and pathway to get there.

If everyone is heading in a different direction and taking different paths to get there, it will not end in alignment, it will end in confusion and frustration.

5. Org Chart clarity

When working in a multi-site church, who you answer to matters. A lot. It matters in every organization, but in this case, you have so many hands in the mix. Questions such as:

Who makes the final decision?

Who are you to tell me what to do in my department?

Am I being told to do this or are you suggesting I do this?

These questions are so important and if you do not have answers to the org chart, dominant personalities will constantly reign and rule.

This behavior just gives your team the ability to say “no” to certain things if they need to.

These are just a few behaviors that I have noticed in our multi-site church. How about you? What are some behaviors you would add to the list?

Leadership Lessons From Star Wars

Ok, I am very very very late to the Star Wars party. Very late. I watched my first Star Wars film, the original, several months ago, and I didn’t like it. It was too geeky for me (sorry, Star Wars fans). I started with episode IV (the original).

Well, my family decided to give it another try this quarantine season, and we are into it. In fact, I’m tempted to stop writing this and go watch another right now.

This time we started with episode I, and that was a much better experience for us. We started last week, and we have watched, episodes I, II, III, & IV. We are binge watching them as a family. It’s fun and everyone is into it. I actually like Star Wars now. I never thought that I would say this.

I have noticed some interesting leadership principles in the movies that got me thinking. So here goes…

1. All leaders need honest feedback

What is interesting to me is Yoda. Yoda has so much wisdom, and does not sugar coat how he feels. He expressed his concern about Anakin from the beginning. He held off giving his support. He gave feedback to others about Anakin, and he gave Anakin feedback directly to his face. He did not sugar coat it.

Yoda and several others out of love and concern shared with Anakin their concerns about him moving on in leadership.

I think about my own leadership today. Honest feedback is essential to growth. In fact, you cannot grow in the weak areas if you have not given anyone in authority the means to speak into those areas.

2. All leaders need an apprentice

Star Wars had a leadership pipeline in place (on the dark side and the good side).

They identified leaders and made them their apprentice for the means of training them to take their place. If Obi-Wan Kenobi gets killed, he has someone ready to take his place.

This is how our organizations should be led today. We should be constantly working ourselves out of a job by developing someone under us.

Evaluate your own leadership. God forbid, but if you were taken out of the organization right now, could the organization function? If not, then you need to start leading someone to take your place.

Every leader needs an apprentice.

3. Leaders rise and fall with their integrity

The rebellion of Star Wars reminded me that every leader can rise based on their integrity or fall based on their lack of integrity.

Anakin lost his personal integrity. He became infatuated with power and pride that he gave an ear to the dark side.

In leadership, there are many things that can pull our personal integrity right out from underneath us. It can be pride, fame, respect, or a personal private fault of yours that is never dealt with.

Your ability may get you to the top, but your integrity will keep you at the top.

4. Leaders need someone that they can be honest with

Anakin had his wife, Padme, but that was not enough.

He needed someone where he could share the depression, anger, and frustrations that he was feeling. He was angry about losing his mother. He was depressed about it. He was frustrated about the council not allowing him to lead and quite frankly, he did not think that they were treating him like the chosen one.

These are real emotions. Emotions that left not dealt with can cause deep depression and bad behavior, because we behave out of what is in our heart. That is why our hearts must be clean.

Who knows the real you? Who knows your frustrations, depression, and things that you struggle with.

If you do not have a name of someone, find someone who you can be completely honest with. Every leader needs someone.

5. Leaders are human beings (they make mistakes and have feelings)

Last is simply this, leaders are human beings. They make mistakes and they have feelings.

Too often, leaders are placed on this pedastel, and revered as “above mistakes.” Listen, I don’t care who you are following in leadership, they are human and make mistakes.

Every leader makes mistakes. That is why I appreciate what Craig Groeschel says, “people would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.”

The people that you lead do not need you to be right all of the time, they need you to be real all of the time.

Don’t approach your day to day job and think you have to “have it all together.” That you cannot make a mistake. That you cannot admit that you do not know the answer. Listen, people appreciate your transparency more than you proving you are right.

Well, I am finally a Stars Wars fan. I never thought that I would say this, but I am into it, and cannot wait until we watch the next one tonight.

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