Attending a Church Conference

Pros & Cons

Welcome to the second edition of Pros & Cons. Today we tackle the pros and cons of attending a church conference.

ChurchConference

Our team tries to go to at least one conference a year, and it’s always one of the highlights of our year. Over the years we’ve been to C3, Catalyst, Unleashed, and, most recently, Inside Elevation. While the content of the conference is always great, what we’ve found most valuable is just spending time outside of church with our team. I’ve listed my other pros, as well as some cons, below. Keep in mind this is a candid look, so don’t take it too seriously.

Pro – Long road trips spent talking and laughing with your team.

Con – Getting sick in the back of a 15-passenger van.

Pro – Getting to visit a new city.

Con – Realizing your church is in a terrible location.

Pro – Getting the best seats in the house.

Con –Sitting around someone who speaks his/her every thought, “Wow.”

Pro – All the coffee you care to drink.

Con – Twenty minute waits for the bathroom.

Pro – Getting to hear messages from some of the best speakers in the world.

Con – Your team wondering why they have to listen to you every Sunday.

Pro – Worshipping with thousands of other church leaders.

Con – Elders who ask for earplugs.

Pro – Learning ways to do ministry better.

Con – Returning to church and trying to implement the changes.

If you enjoyed the list, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Make sure to include your own pros and cons as well. I’d love to read them. Also, if you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to the blog so you never miss a post.

Money Advice from Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan may not have been the very first church consultant, but he seems to have perfected the craft. We brought him in to evaluate our church a few years ago, and it was one of the best things we’ve ever done. He gave us several valuable insights about our church, but none more valuable than telling us to move our offering time.

Money

Before Tony showed up, we had always waited until the end of service to talk about the offering. To make matter worse, we just asked them to drop their offering in some buckets by the back door as they left.

Tony saw what we couldn’t. By waiting until the end of service to take up the offering, we were communicating that it wasn’t that important. We were treating it more as an afterthought.

Our congregation treated it the same way. Some of them gave, but many of them did not. It wasn’t that they necessarily didn’t want to give. We just did a terrible job of asking.

When your church is located in a town where the median household income is $29,000 a year, you can’t afford this type of mistake.

So, we took Tony’s advice, and our offerings tripled. Just kidding but they did get significantly better, and they’ve continued to get better as we’ve become more intentional about how we talk about money and giving.

Currently, these are the four things we’re doing that we believe is making a difference in the finances of our church.

  1. We make giving easy by offering people three different ways to give. They can give through cash or check as we take up the offering each week. They can mail in their offering through a postage paid envelope we have available at our Guest Services desk. Or they can give online. If you don’t offer online giving, you’re making a huge mistake. Get online immediately.
  1. We speak on giving throughout the year. The past couple of years we’ve done a financial series in the fall. These series not only teach people the concepts behind giving but also are designed to teach people better money management.
  1. We make the offering a part of our worship set each week. After the third worship song, someone on staff will come up and talk for two to three minutes on why we give. They’ll sometimes share a personal story, other times it’s a scripture, and other times it’s a story of life change taking place in the church.
  1. We offer classes once or twice a year on financial management. Many people would like to give to the church, but they just aren’t in a spot where they feel they can. So, we try to help them set up a budget, save an emergency fund, and find ways to pay down debt.

Our per person giving is still nowhere near where I’d like it to be, but we continue to make progress. I’m just glad we called Tony when we did. His advice couldn’t have come at a better time.

How’s the giving at your church? What are you currently doing to increase generosity within your congregation? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Fighting Amongst Ourselves

As I scrolled through Facebook on the Friday before Easter, I came across a post from a pastor that was putting another church down for their Facebook ad. The Facebook ad was a picture of a bunny and Easter eggs and was inviting people to the church’s Easter services.

Fighting

The pastor didn’t name the church, but I quickly discerned that he was talking about my church. In his opinion bunnies and eggs are not an acceptable form of advertisement on Good Friday, although based on his church’s post the previous week, it can be used before then.

I do have to give him credit. He did take the post down after about an hour. I’m not sure if it was because he felt bad or if it was from unrelenting pressure from the bunny and egg crowd. Either way it saved me from getting into a Facebook feud and making both of us look bad.

But I have to ask, why do Christians do this?

Why do we feel the need to attack others who think differently than us?

Why are we so quick to judge?

Didn’t Jesus warn us about this?

“Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5

I fear that the Christian community has for far too long been obsessed with winning the argument while creating even greater divides to those outside our faith.

What’s the win when we put down another church? Less people attend that church, and less people attend church altogether. Do we really think Jesus is pleased when with this result?

Now certainly there are times when churches need to be called out for teaching false doctrine, but let’s be honest. The majority of our quarrels stem from our preferences.

Traditional versus Contemporary

Sunday School versus Small Groups

King James Version versus Any Other Version

You see, I don’t think Jesus died for our preferences.

The fact is it takes all different kinds of churches to reach all different kinds of people. So, the next time someone does something that you don’t really agree with, remember what Jesus said,

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35

Your love, not your preferences. So let’s stop trying to tear each other down, and start trying to build one another up out of love.

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