Why You Need to Define Your Target

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I’ve been doing a series of posts on churches and the target they have (or don’t have). You can read part 1 on the fact that every church has a target (whether defined or not) here.

Once you determine that you will have a target, the question then becomes, who is it? How do you define it? How specific should it be?

Before you can answer those questions, maybe you are still on the fence about this whole idea. Having a target as a church sounds like a business, or that you don’t like certain people or that you are catering to someone.

As I mentioned already, you have a target, it just might be defined yet.

Here’s what happens in churches without a clearly defined target:

  • Every idea is a good idea. If you don’t have a clear target, every idea has to be put on the table for discussion and kept on the table. You will struggle to say no to anything, because your only reason will be “you don’t want to do it” or “we’ve alway done it this way.” Should we have a drama team? A puppet team? A quilting fair? A small group for coin collectors? Should use drums? Sing hymns? Preach topically or expository sermons? The answer to the above is yes. Do it all.
  • People burn out. Which leads quickly to burnout. When you don’t have a target and say yes to things you should say no to, you end up with a busy church calendar.
  • No one knows what the win is, so excitement and momentum are low or nonexistent. This is why church is so sad to me. I talked to a friend recently who quit his job at a church after “asking for almost 2 years for the lead pastor to define the win for our church. I even told him if what I was doing didn’t fit, I’d stop doing those things. I just wanted to know what the win was.” If you don’t know what the win is as the leader, no one else knows. If no one else knows, no one will know where you are, how you are doing and if it is worth their time, money, and effort. Without this knowledge, they are simply showing up. And no one enjoys just showing up. People will do it for a little bit out of a sense of duty, but they will walk away soon enough.
  • Budgeting is often a battle. If every idea is a good one because there is no target, no defined win, budget meetings are filled with people arguing for their pet projects and ministries they care about. If you don’t define the win, people will make their own.
  • God moves in other churches. I can’t prove this, I have no data on this. I can only look at the church I lead and the times the win was not clear there is a definite absence of God moving compared to the times the win was clear. This is convicting to me as a leader as I think about Revolution. It spurs me to stay as clear as possible, to never let me passion wane.

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Book Notes | Tribes

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I recently read through Seth Godin’s book TribesI had heard a ton about this book over the years and finally got to read it. This book felt like a collection of blog posts or short thoughts. While some were random and seemed not to fit, it was chalk full of great insights for leaders and organizations.

Here are a few:

  • A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.
  • A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.
  • You can’t have a tribe without a leader—and you can’t be a leader without a tribe.
  • Generous and authentic leadership will always defeat the selfish efforts of someone doing it just because she can.
  • Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change that you believe in.
  • Movements have leaders and movements make things happen. Leaders have followers. Managers have employees. Managers make widgets. Leaders make change.
  • New rule: If you want to grow, you need to find customers who are willing to join you or believe in you or donate to you or support you.
  • Leaders make a ruckus.
  • Leaders who set out to give are more productive than leaders who seek to get.
  • The best time to change your business model is while you still have momentum.
  • The secret of being wrong isn’t to avoid being wrong! The secret is being willing to be wrong. The secret is realizing that wrong isn’t fatal.
  • The only thing that makes people and organizations great is their willingness to be not great along the way. The desire to fail on the way to reaching a bigger goal is the untold secret of success.
  • The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.
  • The organizations that need innovation the most are the ones that do the most to stop it from happening.
  • Leaders challenge the status quo.
  • Leaders create a culture around their goal and involve others in that culture.
  • Leaders use charisma (in a variety of forms) to attract and motivate followers.
  • Leaders communicate their vision of the future.
  • Leaders commit to a vision and make decisions based on that commitment.
  • Being charismatic doesn’t make you a leader. Being a leader makes you charismatic.
  • Remarkable visions and genuine insight are always met with resistance.
  • If your organization requires success before commitment, it will never have either.
  • People don’t believe what you tell them. They rarely believe what you show them.

To see other book reviews and book notes, click here.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Nick Roen on An alternative script for same-sex attraction.

“There is nothing wrong with living a gay lifestyle. In fact, if you repress who you are, you will never live a happy, fulfilled life. Be true to yourself!” This is the overwhelming message of society regarding homosexuality. Mark Yarhouse refers to this as “the gay script,” the blueprint for how homosexuals are to live. “Embrace who you are,” a swelling number shout, “and you will find happiness!” I disagree.

Fast Company on 10 surprising stats about social media that will make you change your social media strategy.

Tom Ascol on 35 lessons from being a pastor for 35 years.

Thirty-five years ago this month I began serving my first church as pastor. The Rock Prairie Baptist Church in College Station, Texas took a major risk on a senior Texas A&M student by issuing me a call to be their pastor. It was my happy privilege to serve them for nearly two years before being called to the Spring Valley Baptist Church in Dallas. I am currently in my twenty-eighth year of serving Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida. As I recently reflected on the last thirty-five years I wrote down some lessons learned and convictions I’ve come to or continued to hold.

Thom Rainer on Pastors and christmas gifts.

I asked a simple question on Twitter: What do you do for your pastor at Christmas time? For pastors, I asked what their congregations gave them at Christmas. Though my survey was not scientific, it was nevertheless revealing. I am truly concerned about how congregations treat pastors. I thought the issue of the Christmas gift would at least be an indicator of such concern.

Matt Walsh on Men, your porn habit is an adultery habit.

I know a guy who cheats on his wife. He cheats on her every day. He cheats on her multiple times a day. He’s a husband and a father and a serial adulterer.

Mark Driscoll on How many people should go on the honeymoon?

In the absence of any cultural definition of gender or marriage, let alone any restriction on sex, relationships in our society will only get cloudier. We will see polygamy legalized in my lifetime, perhaps even in the next twenty years.

Michael Lukaszewski on Why people don’t do what you preach.

Your content was carefully researched, outlined in detail, and prayed over it multiple times. You put in hours of study on an important topic and you communicate your guts out, only to have people walk out the door and forget everything by lunch or kickoff. You delivered a faithful, accurate, truthful and well-written message. And nobody did anything.

Target, Customer Service & the Church

The other day, Katie, myself and the kids went looking for furniture to put on our back porch. We started at Target since Katie knew there something she wanted and it was 50% off.

We got there to find out that they had the two chairs we wanted, but not the love seat that went with them. A salesperson said she would call around for us. She came back and informed us that a Target an hour away had the love seat we wanted. Unfortunately, the sale was not valid on the website (not sure why companies still do this). She also said, they can’t put it on hold because it is on display and on sale. So, we took home the new chairs, made dinner for our kids and headed an hour to the next Target.

What awaited us?

No love seat. Not only that, this Target claimed they sold the last one 4 days ago. Meaning, the salesperson did not call around for us.

Now, that’s customer service!

It got me thinking about leadership and the church. Do we put forth false advertising? Are we too lazy to help people?

Let’s start with the advertising. Many churches say they don’t advertise. Usually, they have a low opinion of the churches who advertise. The problem with this mindset is that every church advertises. Every time someone drives by your building, looks at your website, any time someone says, “I attend ______ church.” All of those things are advertisements for your church. It isn’t that you don’t advertise, you don’t have a plan for what you are advertising.

The other thing churches do is advertise laziness. Everything from not having clear signs at your worship gathering, a website that is not updated, not prepping a sermon, not starting on time. Every time I meet with a pastor I ask them what they are preaching on and most pastors look at me and say, “I’m not sure what I’m preaching on next, maybe I’ll check to see what ________ church is preaching on and use that.” Your people know if you prepped something, stole something or threw something together.

Or else we advertise we are a church and then when people show up for a worship gathering, we spend the next hour trying to convince them we aren’t a church. Almost like we are embarrassed. They came to church. They came looking for Jesus. Open the Bible and show them Jesus. One night after a gathering, I had a guy tell me that he was not going to come back because “we used too much Bible.” At least he knew what we were.

Target advertised that they have great customer service. Churches advertise they are a church. Be a church.

When it comes to customer service, many churches say that is beneath them. We aren’t pushing a product. Which I agree with. But most churches communicate, we don’t have a servant mentality and we are here for the people who know us and their way around.

Here is what I mean. If I walked onto the campus where your church meets, could I find where everything is without having to ask someone or look lost? Could I drop my kids off? Is someone there with a smile? If I asked you where something is, would you tell me where it is or would you show me?

If you think you have enough signs, make some more. You don’t yet.

Smile. Communicate you are glad that someone took the time to come and be a part of your worship gathering. There are a hundred other things they could be doing instead.

If someone asks, “Where is _____?” Don’t point. Don’t give them directions. Show them. Walk them to where they need to go, make sure they get checked in okay. Then ask, “Is there anything else I can do to help you?”

That’s being a servant. That’s being helpful.

Even though it was completely frustrating. And Target lost our business because we bought the same love seat somewhere else. It was a good learning experience.

Links of the Week

  1. Jim Tomberlin on 125 tips for multisite churches and those who want to be. This is a free e-book that is definitely worth picking up if this is something you are thinking about. I know I got a lot out of it.
  2. Mark Driscoll on To hell with hell? Great insights into what Scripture has to say about death, what happens after death and hell.
  3. Don’t advertise your church until it is worth advertising.
  4. Seth Godin on The difference between a manager and a leader.
  5. Kevin DeYoung reviews Rob Bell’s new book. If you are planning to read Rob’s book, then you need to read this review which is spot on theologically.
  6. Tim Keller on Are religions equally right? This 5 minute video is worth watching if you’ve ever asked this question or been asked this question.
  7. 5 ways to grow as a leader.

Top Posts of January 2011

In case you missed them, here are the top posts for the last month:

  1. Where is the Gospel?
  2. Radical:  Taking Back your faith from the American Dream
  3. What Attracts People to Church
  4. What’s Challenging me Right Now
  5. Planning a Preaching Calendar
  6. 15 Ways to Improve your Marriage
  7. What Matters Most
  8. My Sermon Last Night
  9. 8 Reasons God Allows Trials in our Lives
  10. Saturday Night Mind Dump… (Sunday Edition)

Don’t Make me Beg

The other day I saw an advertisement for a church that had a picture of the pastor with a caption that said, “Don’t make me beg?” I think it was referring to, “Don’t make me beg you to come to my church?”

My first thought was to laugh, but then I was struck by how sad it was. This is what we have stooped to when it comes to the gospel, “Don’t make me beg?”

When we look at a broken world, filled with people who walk through life with no point, empty, lonely, unsure about who they are and if God exists and if He has a purpose for their lives and all we have is, “Don’t make me beg?” How about, the only thing that will fill that place of emptiness and loneliness is the gospel. The only thing that will take that loneliness away and give you purpose is the hope of the resurrection.

For me, I look at an empty cross and an empty grave and we throw our hands up and say, “Don’t make me beg.” As if that is the only power we have. Jesus did say in Acts 1:8 that the Holy Spirit would come upon us, we would have his power and we would be his witnesses and take over the planet. In Matthew 18, Jesus said we are to load up our super soakers and storm the gates of hell and they wouldn’t be able to stop us. And we say, “Don’t make me beg.”

I think often, as Christians and churches, we treat evangelism and the gospel like an 8th grade boy staring at the ground asking a girl to a dance. “Uh, if you, um, are, you know, free, or, uh, um, not doing anything, and, uh, if nothing better, you know, comes up, there is Jesus. What, uh, do you, you know, think?”

The next time you get nervous or scared about sharing your faith or inviting someone to church, just remember that as a follower of Jesus the power that raised Jesus from the grave is the same power that is in you.

The Best Form of Marketing

Even though marketing is usually seen as a dirty word in church circles, every church markets. Marketing is simply spreading your message, getting the word out about who you are. That can be through mailers, posters, ads, billboards, postcards, signs, invite cards, recommendations from friends, the list goes on. The point is, when you say, “I go to _______ (church name)” people immediately look at the way you live and form an opinion of not only Jesus but that church.

The best form of “marketing” is our lives, the way we live and what they reveal about Jesus. If you claim to be a follower of Jesus, how you live shows Jesus to the world. Good or bad. You proclaim a message.

Ignite: How to Spark Immediate Growth in Your Church

Just finished Ignite by Nelson Searcy. I had to read it for the coaching network I am in.

What this book looks at is how people find your church, how does your church do evangelism, reach people. It walks through how this happens on an individual basis, corporately, the pastor’s role in this and how to keep the tempature hot in this area.

The longer a church is around, the longer someone is a Christian, the easier it becomes to not reach people or care that people are going to hell. We forget what it feels like to not know Jesus, not have an answer, live without purpose. We start to like the comfort of knowing everyone and begin to protect our turf and let other churches reach people.

If you as a church are not reaching people, if you personally are not building relationships with people who don’t know Jesus, you are telling your city to go to hell. This always gets me in trouble with well-meaning Christians, but follow the logic. If someone doesn’t know Jesus spends eternity apart from Jesus in hell, if you don’t reach them and don’t care to reach them, what are you saying by that? You are saying, “We don’t care if you go to hell.”

At Revolution, this is not acceptable. We will not be that church. Period.

I’ll be talking about this in a few weeks, but who right now are you building relationships with that you are going invite for Christmas. Over 70% of our first time guests come with a friend. Over 85% of Americans say they would go to church if someone invited them.

This book lays out how a church creates a system where inviting people to church and into a relationship with Jesus is normal and happens all the time.

Definitely worth reading.

You are Always Talking

Many Christians, especially pastors are against “church marketing.” I will hear how it is unspiritual, we aren’t pushing a product like a book or shirt, we are sharing the gospel. We can’t market that.

The reality is, as a person, as a church, we are always marketing. We are always talking. Even when we don’t say anything. Even when our building sits vacant on a Monday morning. Even when our signs sit in the middle of the day. Everything we do as a church, everything someone hears about a church, everything someone sees about a church is marketing. We are always communicating to people about Jesus and the gospel.

The question is not, “Are you marketing?”

The questions is, “What are you saying?”