At North Village Church we are finishing up a season of planning. It isn’t something that happens naturally, but I encourage all pastors to set aside time to work “in the ministry” and “on the ministry.”
By working “on the ministry” we focus on three areas:
- Yearly Theme: We look at the vision and values of our church and we begin to prayerfully consider what will be the focus of our church over the next year. This process has been extremely helpful to shape our sermons, groups, and involvement in the community.
- Month By Month: We look at each month and we ask ourselves, “How are we taking steps this month to point our church family toward our “Yearly Theme.” This process allows us to think through details, obstacles, and plan accordingly.
- Financial Budget: After we have spent months praying about what God wants to do in our church family we begin to see our financial budget coming together. We work on this as elders, and then we submit our financial budget to people outside our church to receive feedback. We have found this process extremely valuable.
In each of these steps we are prayerfully positioning ourselves in a place where we believe God has to show up for our church family to continue. Sometimes I hear pastors neglect the discipline of planning because it might hinder the movement of the Holy Spirit. We completely disagree. We believe the Holy Spirit is moving in our planning and through our planning to maximize the movement of the Holy Spirit.
In the end, we hold all those plans with an open hand. They aren’t our plans. They are His plans, and we desperately need Him to show up so that we don’t look really stupid.
On any given Sunday there are three types of people who show up on a Sunday morning:
- Legal Larry: Legal Larry is self-righteous. He tends to look down on other people, quick to judge, and thinks too highly of himself.
- Loose Louis: Loose Louis errs on grace. He doesn’t really worry too much about holiness, obedience, or Scripture as long as people love each other and get along.
- Lost Lenny: Lost Lenny isn’t sure what to think about the whole experience. He is skeptical, guarded, and cynical from the moment he walks in the door.
In our culture today that question probably sounds like nonsense. We place ourselves as the final authority in life on all matters, however, this isn’t very logical because all we have to do is look back on the last 6-months of our lives to see that our “final authority” isn’t very reliable.
This is why Scripture is so important.
I know there are some objections and concerns so let me respond quickly:
On Sunday, we taught about the importance of North Village Church personally being involved in starting new churches. We identified three primary ways we can participate today:
- We can pray: Pray for God to raise up people to be involved in starting new churches. We are currently supporting two churches financially and helping them get established: Iglesia Biblica de City Bell in Argentina and The Well in Austin, TX.
- We can go: Consider going to help get a new church started. Pray for others to go, and pray about how you can personally lay aside personal comfort to see a new church get started.
- We can give: Right now we are giving 5% of our finances toward starting new churches and our goal is 10%, which would be an additional $12,500. On Sunday, we received $8,200 toward starting new churches and we are praying that we can reach our goal of $12,500 by the end of the week. You can help!
How to give: (Deadline ends Friday at 12pm)
– Pay Pal (Just put Church Plant Sunday in the memo)
– The City (Drop down window: Church Plant Sunday)
– Mail: 8705 Shoal Creek Blvd. Suite 201, Austin TX 78757
Every year pastors all over Greater Austin gather to worship Jesus, confess sin, and pray for the city. It is something really powerful to see and experience.
The average new church will cost $100K to get started, but it doesn’t have to cost that much. Below are a few tips to keep it affordable:
1. Buy used equipment: Buying used equipment is a great way to save money. It doesn’t look as clean and the quality might not be as great, but in our economy today people would rather see a more simple set up rather than experiencing the benefits of top quality.
2. Meet in multipurpose buildings: We meet at a school here in Austin and our weekly rent our first year was $240.
Yesterday our church hosted a garden fair for the community. Why? Because people love gardens and our church just wants to serve the community. It was something fun and simple. We had local vendors from organic gardens, wild flowers, artists, landscapers just come out to create awareness for their business and help educated the community about gardens. You can go to www.austingardenfair.com for more details.
This Sunday we are going to host a garden fair for the neighborhood because after all who doesn’t love gardens! You can click on here for more information.
Lucy Read is the only pre k school in AISD and this year we were able to help the kids have an Easter egg hunt. Over 400 children, over 2000 eggs, and they were gone in seconds!
I am not that good at raising money, but there are a few things I have learned from the experience:
1. Boldness. Get over the awkward feeling of asking for money. It takes money and when you start a new church it will take money outside of the church. People are going to say “no” and that is okay.
2. Make a list. Write down everyone you have ever met and start praying about how God might want to involve them in what you are doing to start a new church.
3. Craft your vision. Be able to cast your vision in 30 seconds and expand up to 20 minutes, depending on the opportunity. Work really hard on the wording and be as clear and specific as possible without being deceptive. Every church planter wants to see the Kingdom of God expanded for His glory. What makes your vision different?
Over the next 35-days we are going to go through a spiritual journey with our church. During that time we will explore areas such as:
* Fasting / Prayer
During this time our heart will be to draw close to Jesus because we have seen that the church often times struggle with living in rhythm with Jesus. We tend to drift toward harmony and living in rhythm with our culture or drift toward hostility and living out of rhythm with everyone else. When we look to Scripture instead of seeing Jesus drift toward harmony or hostility we see Him drifting toward holiness Our heart is during these 35-days, individually and collectively, we would see us drifting toward His holiness as we live in rhythm with Him.
Every year pastors from around the city of Austin gather to pray for the city. This is the 3rd time I have been and every time it is amazing. There are different denominations, different theological views, and yet everyone is there to pray for spiritual transformation of our city.
One of our goals as a church is that we would be a people who Connect With Others. To help us accomplish this goal we created little cards to challenge and encourage one another.
3 People To Pray For: The first number is 3 and we thought if as a church we were all taking the initiative to pray for 3 people that would be a really powerful experience for our church. It can be a neighbor, it can be a co-worker, a family member, but somebody that you are going to go to battle for spiritually. You notice it doesn’t say when or how often you are going to pray for those people, but it’s our desire that this would be something you keep in your Bible, your purse, your wallet, tape it on your steering wheel as a reminder to pray for others.
When it comes to starting a church today in the United States 95% of them do so with a traditional promotional marketing strategy. Which means they come into an area, study the demographics, and market their church accordingly, just like any business would market its self.
When I speak to other new churches they tell me they spend $30-50K on marketing. They send mailers, door hangers, billboards, radio spots, magazine ads, and they come into a community and blitz the community with marketing. There is nothing wrong with marketing, but if our focus is a traditional marketing strategy it will create two road blocks:
• Not Effective: In North Central Austin we called all the churches in a 2-mile radius and of the 200,000 people living in the area less than 10,000 of them are connected to a local church. Many of them have had negative experiences, many of them are jaded, have been hurt, and a door hanger isn’t able to overcome those past experiences. There will be a few, but in our context, it typically won’t work. We have done some traditional marketing, but less than $2K.
• Not Reproducible: The second is that strategy isn’t reproducible for the average Christ follower. The average person isn’t going to call up KISS FM and purchase a radio spot for our church. As a result, the traditional marketing strategy removes the Christ follower from the equation and it isn’t reproducible.
So “What is our marketing strategy?”
Are We Listening?
God communicated with His people in the Old and New Testaments through dreams, prophets, angels, and an audible voice. But what must He do to make us listen? God offers His Word to communicate His will and allows the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts. God also sends others to bless and direct us. Even in our disappointments, God communicates that our failure today can be made a success tomorrow (Romans 8:28).