Clean Up Your Act

Basics - Cleanliness

Every Monday I post one of The Basics. The Basics are simple steps every church can take to grow. They are the same steps that led my church from 87 people in attendance to over 700. These steps have helped my church see hundreds of people saved and baptized in just a few short years. Most of these steps you can take this week without even having a board meeting. These are The Basics.

Spring-Cleaning

Whenever my wife and I have guests over to our house, there’s a mad dash to clean up. I take out the trash, my wife vacuums and dusts, and we have the kids pick up all their toys. Why? Because we want to show our guests value.

It should be no different at your church. Each week guests walk through the doors of your church, and whether we want to believe it or not, the cleanliness of your church plays a huge part in determining whether they return.

So, what have you done to prepare for their arrival?

Here are 15 areas I suggest looking at as you prepare for guests each week at your church.

  1. Make sure the parking lot is clear of debris and clutter. Sweep leaves, rocks, dirt, etc.
  2. During the winter, make sure snow and ice are cleared from walking paths and sidewalks. Apply salt and sand as necessary to keep these areas from being hazardous to vehicles and pedestrians.
  3. Keep landscape up to date. Make sure grass is mowed, weeds are pulled, and dead flowers or shrubs are removed on a regular basis.
  4. Discard of any dead animals on property. This summer we had a bird try to fly through a window, which led to its death. This stuff happens.
  5. If your church is in a more secluded wooded area, make sure these wooded areas are trimmed so they don’t appear “overgrown”.
  6. If you have any water features such as fountains or ponds on your property, make sure they’re operating properly and not filled with stagnant water.
  7. Change light bulbs when they go out, not when you get around to it.
  8. Carpets should be vacuumed every week.
  9. Tile & vinyl floors should be swept and mopped.
  10. Every bathroom should be cleaned and neat. Make sure plenty of toilet paper is available, plungers and mops as well, in case of emergencies.
  11. Clean up any dead bugs or animals inside the building. Mouse and bug traps should never be visible to a guest.
  12. Clean all windows, handrails, and mirrors.
  13. Have children’s rooms clean and neat. Each toy should be disinfected. Carpets should be clean and have a pleasant odor.
  14. Clean any stains on chairs, pews, and carpets.
  15. All trash should be disposed of prior to guests arriving for services.

What areas have I forgotten? What would you add to this list?

Feelin’ It

Staying in Love - Part 3

This November my wife and I began a new small group study based on Andy Stanley’s series Staying in Love . Over the course of four weeks we’ll be learning practical lessons that will help strengthen marriages.

We’ve already had a tremendous interest in the group at our church, so I thought it would be a good idea to sum up what we’ve been learning each week and share it with a larger audience. This is part three. You can catch up on part one, and part two here.

StayinginLove

Feelin’ It

Isn’t it interesting that two people can stand at an altar and be so in love that they will commit to love each other “till death do us part” – and then just a few years later be standing in a court room getting a divorce?

How is it that two people who are madly in love can end up falling out of love?

Many times it can be traced back to our heart.

Solomon tells us this, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”. Proverbs 4:23

The truth is every one of us bring baggage into our relationships, and this baggage has a way of spilling out over time.

Since we have a hard time recognizing our own baggage, we often find ourselves blaming our spouse, when really the issue is us.

We think to ourselves if only he did this, I would be happy. Or if she didn’t do that, I wouldn’t feel so jealous.

We let our spouse’s behavior become the monitor for our emotional satisfaction, and we fail to realize how much the condition of our own hearts determines that satisfaction.

So, how can we fix that? Andy suggests four simple steps to apply before you react.

  1. Before you speak, think about what you’re actually feeling. 
  1. Identify this emotion or reaction by name (anger, embarrassed, jealous, lonely, afraid, etc)
  1. Once you’ve identified it, say the name aloud.
  1. If and when appropriate, tell your partner how you feel.

This exercise may seem silly, but if you apply it, what you begin to realize is that a lot of your “marriage problems” are actually problems in your own hearts.

Once you identify where these negative emotions are actually coming from, it’s a whole lot easier to work through them together.

Why do we have such a hard time identifying the emotional baggage we carry in our lives? How can we get past this?

Three Types of Sermon Series

One of the biggest sources of stress for a pastor is deciding what to preach each week. If you’re preaching stand-alone sermons each week, I would ask that you prayerfully consider switching to a sermon series format for your preaching. I believe there are tremendous benefits to this switch, four of which I outline here.

SermonSeries3

But you still have to decide what sermon series you’ll be preaching throughout the year. Don’t stress, here’s the three types of sermon series we use.

  • Attractional – The main purpose of an Attractional series is to bring new people into your church. To do this, your sermon series should address a topic people are already talking about in their daily lives.

The three topics we’ve always seen attract a large number of guests deal with marriage, family, and money. So, we make sure to work this into our preaching calendar each year.

We’ve also seen success with series like:

At The Movies– We take a movie and design a message around it. We serve popcorn, cokes, and give away free movie tickets to our first time guests.

Redneck– This works particular well if you live in the south, especially with the success of a show like Duck Dynasty. We used this I Am Second video to set up one of the weeks, which worked really well.

Walking Dead– We did this series for Easter a few years back when the show Walking Dead was just starting to blow up. It was one of our biggest Easters ever. We talked about how we’re all dead in our sins until we allow Jesus to breathe new life into us.

Some people say Attractional series are too shallow. I say you wouldn’t throw someone who can’t swim into the deep end of the pool, so why do you want to do it with unbelievers? Give them a chance to get their feet wet first. It works much better.

  • Growth – The main purpose of a Growth series is to help your congregation take steps to grow them closer to Christ. In our church these series focus on spiritual disciplines, serving, small groups, giving, and evangelism.

We are very strategic about when we do these series to maximize impact. For example, we will do a short series on evangelism every year right before Easter. At the beginning of the year, we may focus on spiritual disciplines. After the start of school in the fall, we will do a small group push.

Some examples of Growth Series we’ve done in the past include: I Love My Church, You Got Served, Go & Tell, and Red Letter Prayers.

  • Balanced – The main purpose of a Balanced series is to fill in the gaps that your Attractional and Growth series missed. These series focus on the topics or felt needs of your congregation that you haven’t had the opportunity to touch on yet.

Some of the topics we’ve used in the past include how to deal with stress, how to deal with disappointments or loss, how to have more hope in your life, etc.

We’ve also used Balanced series to concentrate on a single book or person in the Bible. We’ve preached sermon series around the book of Job, the book of James, and Paul’s letter to the Phillipians, among others.

Hopefully this gives you an idea on how you can start setting up your preaching calendar for next year. We typically do three to five of each type of series throughout the year, but feel free to adjust to the needs of your church.

Do you use a preaching calendar? What are some series that you’ve found have worked well in your church?