Thursday, September 13, 2007


This summer my wife, Mandy, joined our staff for a 10-week project in which she got our children's ministry off the ground. She interviewed several children's ministers, researched curriculum, wrote guidelines and procedures, coordinated volunteers, and purchased equipment and supplies. Quite a 10-week project, huh! She did an amazing job, and the result is that we now have an awesome children's ministry.

We had two priorities for KidsPlace. First, we wanted every parent to feel that their child would be safe. Second, we wanted every parent to feel that their child was not just being babysat. We wanted them to know that their child would learn the Bible while they were at KidsPlace.

As to the safety component, Mandy researched background checks and other safety procedures. She settled on using a company called Protect My Ministry for the background checks. We paid $39 for an initial setup fee, and then $12-20 for an individual background check, depending on how exhaustive we want it to be. If you've ever looked into background checks, this is a good deal. The other good thing about it is that it's all done through their website.

Download KidsPlace Guidelines & Procedures
Download KidsPlace Set-up Checklist
Download KidsPlace Fall07 Budget
Download Comment Form
Download Contagious Illness Parent Note

Facility and Storage

Of all of the amazing doors that God opened over the past few months, this had to be one of the best. One day Jason dropped by the Skinner Center at Peabody Park to see if they would allow us to rent their facilities once a month. The director told him that they would rent it for $100 each Sunday. That's $100 for four hours and for as many rooms as we needed! Amazing! He called me immediately, I dropped what I was doing and came over, and we signed the paperwork.

We met there for the first time on Sunday evening, September 9, and it worked out great. We had the infants in one room, the toddlers in another, and the adults in the main room. There's also a gym that we'll probably use at some point

There was also had the issue of storage to deal with. The first church plant that I was a part of was in Nashville, and I remember every Sunday morning meeting at 7:45 at the pastor's house to load up the equipment. After a couple of years of that we ended up getting office space, so then we started meeting at the office at 7:45 to load up the equipment. I really didn't like doing that.

We decided that the best option was to purchase a trailer. That way it wouldn't be in one of the pastor's homes (which would thrill our wives). It also meant that we would be able to drive the trailer right up to the door of the room we were meeting in and unload. The negatives to this were the upfront cost of the trailer (at least $2000), the question of where to store the trailer, and the fact that the sound equipment would not be in a climate-controlled environment.

When we initially signed the papers at the Skinner Center we asked about storage, and they said they really didn't have space for us. That's when we started pursuing the trailer. One evening, though, we went to take a look at the facility to begin planning how we were going to set up the room. Right before leaving, I decided to ask the assistant director once more about the possibility of renting some space. At this point she thought that might work out.

To make a long story a bit shorter, we ended up being able to rent a good sized closet for $60/month. Now we pretty much just have to take about 20 steps holding a speaker. Not bad!

Update: A few weeks ago we went back to the director to ask him about the possibility of meeting there every week beginning in February. After talking to his supervisor, they agreed to do this for $3,600.00. That’s $3,600.00 for the entire year, and for those of you who didn’t excel in math, that’s an amazing deal. This also includes storage for the year. We’ve been amazed by God’s provision for us!

Marketing - Pt. 2

We were able to write an article for the Lamplighter, our neighborhood's monthly newspaper. Shelley Thomas, one of our newer core group members, wrote the article, and I have heard lots of good feedback on it. Here's the link to the article (it's on page 29). We ran the mailer as an ad as well (page 33). It just goes to show you that some of the best marketing is free!


We ended up going with a marketing firm based in Benton, AR. We were referred to Shaun McFarland and YourAdTeam by Hoyt Lovelace, a fellow pastor and friend who just moved to Japan.

They did our logo.

They also helped us with our domain name ( The one we had come up with was not very good at all.

They did our first mailer, which went out to 5000 households at the end of August. They also did our Connection Cards (aka visitor cards), our business cards, our thank you notes, and our programs for our monthly worship gatherings.

Just like with some of these other things, I would highly recommend Shaun and YourAdTeam. The best thing about the mailer is that they are a one-stop shop. They designed it, printed it, put postage on it, and brought it to the post office for it to be mailed. I received my mailer when all of my neighbors received theirs.

As far as costs, we paid $300.00 to get a mailing list of over 5000 households. We used a company called USA Data for that. Once again, I had no experience with mailing lists, but did a little google research and found them. If you're not familiar with mailing lists, most of them retrieve data based on an address, and a 1/2 mile or mile radius. One afternoon I did a lot of driving throughout Midtown and found a central address. Then I used a 1 mile radius and we ended up with 5800 households. I cut that down to 5000, then emailed it (an Excel document) to Shaun.

We paid around $3000 for our first mailer and logo, though we will be refunded around $700 from the post office because our paperwork for a nonprofit bulk mail permit had not gone through.

We are planning on doing one more mailer right before our November service.

Download NC September mailer

Video Equipment

This was one area that I was pretty clueless in. I first began researching projectors, and was told by one person that I would need to spend at least $3000 on one. That was $2000 more than I had first estimated. I ended up buying a Dell 2400mp projector for $1000.00. That included a three year warranty. It's a 3000 lumen projector, and I've been very happy with it thus far. I purchased it here.

After spending ten to fifteen hours on a projector, I thought I would just order a screen and be done with it. After going to this site, I quickly learned that you can spend anywhere between $100 and $5000 for a projector screen. That site alone has almost 10,000 screens to choose from. Needless to say, I was a little overwhelmed.

I ended up going with a local company after not having much luck with the customer service at the above site. I stumbled onto Bluff City Electronics after doing a google search (Praise God for google, right). They were extremely helpful, and I ended up purchasing a Da-Lite tripod projector and case for a little over $200. After getting a 50-ft VGA cable, my video purchasing was complete at under $1300.00, which, by the way was just a little more than if I had purchased the projector from Dell.

Sound Equipment

I probably know a little more about sound than the average church planter because my background is worship leading. However, I still needed help in this department. I researched several church planting websites, and discovered that many sound budgets exceed $30,000. I knew that we could only do a fraction of that, so frugal shopping was essential.

I did most of our shopping at Yarbrough's Music. They spent a lot of time helping me design the system, then teaching me how to operate it once it came in.

I'll post our sound budget soon, but I can tell you that we came in under $5000.00, and I feel like we got a lot for that amount.

Download Neighborhood Church Sound Budget


For most churches, the hub for information is the weekly service. People come every week and hear what is going on during the coming week. Because we are starting out with monthly worship gatherings, we knew that we needed a great website to serve this purpose.

We ended up going with a company called Ecclesia 360. I cannot speak highly enough of these guys. This company was started by church planters and their product is targeted towards church plants. The primary thing you are purchasing from them is a Content Management System. I know just a tiny bit of html, but definitely not enough to design a website that would serve the needs mentioned above. I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed putting this website together using their CMS. Jason and I did all of the writing, but I got to play around with the site.

We ended up paying $2500 for the site, and we'll pay $50-60/month for the hosting. That also includes the use of the Content Management System.

I'll let you read more on it, but I highly recommend them. If you'd like to see our website, here it is.

Post-Launch Thoughts

Our first service was this past Sunday evening. Getting ready for that service was so much more work than I had first thought, and now that I've gotten caught up a little, I thought it might be helpful to others down the road if I began putting some of what we've learned down on paper (electronic paper that is).

So I'm going to use this blog to compile a procedures manual, so to speak. There is so much that we did not know going into this. I'm sure that's always the case, no matter what kind of task one is doing. However, I hope that some of the steep learning curve can be made a little less steep for other church planters.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Discovering Your Brand

In many cases, branding refers to an organization’s logo, but a logo is not a brand. Rather, it is a symbol of the brand.

Branding actually goes much deeper than design and marketing and is a representation of the unique personality of your church. It should take into account your church’s calling, strengths, and core values. In fact, your church’s brand should be communicated at every touch point your with your congregation and community.

Read more

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Church Planting in North America

Watch this video. The statistics presented here are pretty staggering.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dave Ferguson – Session 3

Here's how we count today: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…

This wasn't always the case. 1000 years ago we counted this way: I, II, III, IV, V…

Why the change? Fibbonaci was the mathematician behind the change. The change came because of a question/problem that could not be solved using the system in place. The math problem concerned rabbit reproduction. He ended up having to create an entirely new system in order to solve the problem. By solving the problem of rabbit reproduction, Fibbonaci forever changed the way we do math and count.

Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

How do you think the disciples reacted to this proclamation by Jesus? How do we react? Either we chalk that up to grandiose, naïve dreams that are nice to talk about but which we know will never happen, or we admit that there is something fundamentally wrong with our systems, and that we have to start counting differently in order to solve this problem.

Fibbonaci gave us the problem of rabbit reproduction. Jesus gave us the problem of rapid reproduction.

Rodney Stark believes that Christianity grew from approximately 1000 Christians in 40 CE to approximately 31 million Christians in 350 CE (Cities of God, 67).

How did this happen?

What's it going to take for each of us to see rapid reproduction in our own churches?

We need to start with a big dream. Jesus gave us a big dream in Acts 1:8.

  1. Dream BIG
  2. Talk about that dream all the time. People need to know about it.
  3. Dream big, but start small (2 Timothy 2:2)
    1. Start with yourself – we reproduce who we are; if we want people to be intimate with God, we have to be intimate with God
    2. Reproduce leaders – for small groups and teams
    3. Reproduce artists – for larger worship gatherings
  4. Set goals

Characteristics of big dreams

  1. The bigger the dream, the more profound the questions you are going to ask.
  2. Big dreams will begin to change your prayers. You become more dependent on God. There is no way that you on your own can accomplish what you feel God wants you to do.
  3. Big dreams are contagious.

How do you know when you have the culture of rapid reproduction?

  1. When you're more concerned with the lost than the found; Jesus left the 99 sheep to go in search of the 1 lost sheep
  2. When you begin to love the edge (risk) more than the center (safety)
  3. When you begin preferring the going more than the staying

One of CCC's sayings: Treat them like Christians until they realize that they're not.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Bill Hybels – Session 4

There was once a community of people who were completely devoted to God. They were so devoted to God that when He told them to go, they went. They would do whatever God told them to do. In this community there was a radical love for one another that broke down every kind of wall there is. Each member used his or her spiritual gifts, and they knew that they were dependent not only on God, but on one another as well. They believed that God could perform signs and wonders, and because of this, they regularly stood in awe. The people in this community of faith burned with passion to take the gospel to their world. When they were threatened and told to stop, they met in an open room and prayed not for God to stop the Romans, but for courage to spill their blood. There was once a community of faith like this.

Hybels' Counsel for those thinking about Church Planting

  • Understand the difference between a hankering and a holy discontent.
    • A hankering doesn't last. A true holy discontent cannot be put out. God has stirred something in you that cannot be quieted.
    • David – he got the point where he could not take any more trash talking by Goliath about his God.
    • Bob Pierce (World Vision) – He saw children dying because of a lack of food. This wrecked him for the rest of his life, and he decided right then and there to devote the rest of life towards providing food for children.
    • Martin Luther King, Jr. – His dream for racial reconciliation eventually killed him.
    • If church planting is simply a hankering, then when the hard times come, you will quit. If it is a holy discontent, then nothing anyone can do to you will stop you.
  • Understand how God has gifted you.
    • Who's got what gifts?
    • Rank order of giftedness matters.
    • There are times when we have to do lots of things to keep things going, but we need to make a habit in the beginning of doing things based on our giftedness.
  • Understand the connection between leadership and faith.
    • We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)
    • There are going to be countless times when the money is not there, the people are not there, and problems are all around us. If we walk by sight, we are going to lose heart.
    • We have to walk by faith, believing that God will do what only he can do between here and there. That's what faith is.
    • Faith is walking in the direction that God has told you to go, believing that somewhere between here and there, he is going to show up in power and He's going to help you do what He has called you to do.
    • Moses and the Red Sea
    • Joshua and the Jordan River
    • Jesus at the wedding in Canaan (faith of the wine tasters)
  • Figure out early on if you're going to take the high road or the low road.
    • More than anything, people desire for their leaders to have integrity and character
  • Ask God to let you finish with a few of the people with whom you started.
    • It's naïve to believe that everyone you start with will be here in twenty years, but ask God to let you finish with two or three of them.

Ed Stetzer – Session 2

Missional DNA

Acts 16:9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Come over to Macedonia and help us.

  • Come Over
    • What/where is our Macedonia? Forty times in the gospel of John refers to himself as "sent." We are a sent people, and so we are to GO. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you (John 20:21). John 3:16 leads to John 20:21. The NT is a book about a God who sends, who then sends his people on mission.
    • Paul had a vision for a people. We have to have a vision for a people, not a vision for a church. The how of church planting is going to be influenced by the who, when and where of church planting.
    • We have to bring Christ, not just a church. We are planting the gospel that gives birth to a church.
  • Help
    • What does "help" mean? The most important help we can give people in our neighborhood is to help them understand that it's all about Jesus.
    • The answer can be found in the text. It was the preaching and the proclamation of the Gospel. It's at this point that Luke begins writing "we" instead of "they." It was at this point that he joined them in this "helping."
    • 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 Here we find words like persuade, compel, appeal, implore, reconcile, ambassador.
    • The totality of the Christian message is not that we can be saved from hell. It is much bigger than that. However, if at any point we remove a bloody Cross from our message, then what we are planting is not a church.
    • Francis Dubose, God Who Sends
    • If being missional is reduced to simply helping people with their physical needs, then this is not the complete help that they need.
    • We must BE, DO, & TELL the Gospel (good news). We must do all of these in a relevant way.
    • Relevance is a tool. The Gospel is the goal. We must not mix those two up. Relevance should never be our goal.
  • Us
    • The "us" here refers to a lost world. Lost people matter to God.
    • Augustine: "My heart was restless until it had found its rest in Thee."
    • People have a God-shaped hole.
    • John Knox: "Give me Scotland or I die."

Ways to Determine Whether Relevance Has Become the Goal Rather than the Tool

  1. When we focus on personal transformation and not gospel transformation. Gospel transformation will always include personal transformation. The same is not always true for personal transformation.
  2. When our sermons are so practical that they do not contain the gospel. We should not preach any message that would not be true if Jesus had not died on the Cross. This is what separates us from Dr. Phil.
  3. When we talk more about practical than we do about biblical. Do we believe that the Bible shape who we are?
  4. When our outreach demeans those who are preaching the gospel.
  5. When our approach makes us the hero rather than Jesus.
  6. When personal evangelism is an oxymoron at our church.
  7. When Invest and Invite never leads to Evangelize.
  8. When attendance is a bigger value than conversion.
  9. When the cross gets less focus than our church.
  10. When not offending seekers is more important than telling the gospel.

National New Church Conference

This conference was going on at the same time as I was in Atlanta for Q, so I'm grateful that they have the audio from their main sessions available for download. You can download them here. I've listened to two of them so far, and both have been very thought provoking. I thought I'd take some notes on both of them.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Donald Miller - Storytelling

Jason sent me this article from Christianity Today.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Marketing Tips from Christian Community Church

Dave Ferguson, the lead pastor at Community Christian Church, shares the three keys to creating a big weekend at his church.

1. Marketing - If mailing postcards, Dave recommends mailing to each household 1-3 pieces for awareness and 4-6 pieces for action. Recently, they tried something new and launched a web-based campaign and also used door hangers and yard signs.

2. Inviting - CCC challenges its people to commit to bring three people.

3. Wow! - Lastly, they make sure to create a “Wow!” experience for first time guests.

Marketing Tips from Fellowship Church

Some excerpts:

  • Banners and signage outside the church are worth every penny. Many visitors have told us that they saw our signs and logged on to our Miami campus website for more information.
  • We made sure the front page of [the website] is very easy to navigate with important information prominently displayed, and also included content that would give them a taste of the Fellowship Miami experience.
  • Because of a press release we filed two weeks ago with national and local news agencies, the Miami Herald was on site covering our Kickoff Weekend.
  • Nothing beats one-on-one dialogue. Whether we are in local stores, restaurants or just waiting in line somewhere, we strike up conversations with the people around us. Building relationships within the community is the most successful form of outreach available.
  • Our staff personally calls each first time visitor. And we’re making a special effort to call in the evenings so we can actually talk to the visitors, answer questions and invite them back.
  • We know that our overall vision for this environment will take time to achieve. But we are taking immediate, easy steps (and lots of volunteer elbow grease) to upgrade the campus by planting additional landscaping and applying fresh paint. We’ve brought in some more modern wood tables for hospitality areas. We’re adding music, Cuban coffee and local pastries to create a welcoming atmosphere. And we’re fanatical about keeping the facility sparkling clean!
  • A positive attitude and huge smile are tremendous assets in attracting people to any church. We have a team of floaters (greeters) who circulate throughout the entrance and areas outside the worship center, so visitors usually are engaged in several conversations before they sit down. The parking lot entrance is flanked by greeters who wave at passing traffic and incoming cars. In fact, we just talked to some visitors recently who said they turned around and came back because we waved at them!

More on Church Marketing

Here are some more links I've found. Most are from Church Relevance.

10 Big Web Photography Mistakes

15 Questions for the Perfect Postcard

How to Get what your Postage Pays For

Monday, May 14, 2007