I anxiously await the release of the first book written by my friend Ben Arment, entitled Church in the Making. Ben is the former lead pastor of Reston Community Church, who partnered with us in launching our first Expression at The Bridge. I haven’t read it yet, but have had the opportunity to pick his brain a bit and get further elaboration through his blog. If you’re considering planting a church, you should read this book before you start. Seriously. If you’re like me, you can probably read his blog posts on book and begin running with some of the concepts. Ben deals with some hardcore, brutal facts as it pertains to church planting. According to Ben, there are three elements that make or break a church before it starts: good ground, deep roots, and rolling rocks. After being involved in two church plants and observing those started by friends and peers, I got to tell you. This stuff is “the truth.”
Archive for February, 2010
Every once in awhile, God nudges us to move forward. Sometimes, we can give logical reasons for our decisions. We often find ourselves doing things that make sense. In some instances, God nudges us to do things that don’t seem to add up on paper or in our mind. After righting the pro’s and con’s, further confusion is created as you conjure up one pro and fifty cons. Even after that, you still find God nudging you forward. You can’t sleep at night. Your not at peace. As suicidal as it may seem, you can’t see yourself do nothing else. I suggest moving forward by faith. Things will only add up after you step out on faith; not before.
This one is not so much a reason than it is a declaration. It is probably the most challenging one for me to face. As teachers and leaders, we love seeing a packed house. Part of us is excited about what God is doing and another part of us gets a sense of personal validation. This is why an “empty” room makes us feel as if we have failed or God is not truly moving. One of the hurdles to get over in going to multiple gatherings is coming to peace with a non-packed room. It’s being able to glorify God for the 10 people that showed up in the 300 seat auditorium and not feel obligated to give an apology. My wife and I went to see a movie recently in the same theater where we meet on Sunday mornings. The movie was the number one watched film in the country at the time, but the theater was NOT packed out! I don’t even think it was half-filled, but it was still a blockbuster movie. It was there that God whispered to me, “Jumaine, the theater does not have to be packed out. Even if just a few people show up, my kingdom is still a blockbuster.” Even if it doesn’t work, at least you’ve tried. But you’ll never know unless you give it a shot. Hey, you can always go back to one gathering, right? 🙂
As you may know, cross-pollination is when pollen is transfered from the flower of one plant to another. It’s an exchange of knowledge and ideas resulting in cross-fertilization. Both entities enhance the other resulting in progress that may not have occurred if the one entity existed by itself. Our hope is that both services would help advance each other resulting in overall growth that we may not have experienced with just having one service option. Some of you that have been a part of a thriving church with multiple services can probably attest to this. A person feels more at ease volunteering since they can serve at one gathering and attend another. An individual is so excited about what they’ve learned at one service that they get on the phone and urges someone else to catch the second one. We have a few individuals that Twitter and post Facebook updates about what they experience on Sunday morning. Now, a person who reads a tweet or Facebook update at least has the option of taking advantage of the same, exact experience. This only happens if there’s momentum and people are actually excited about what’s happening. If there’s no momentum, you’ll just have two lifeless entities. But if you have one thriving plant, planting another one may not be such a bad idea.
Like many of you, God has blessed us with momentum. We’re continuing to grow on Sundays. Our small groups are multiplying. God is raising up new leaders. More people are getting plugged into our volunteer staff teams. People are coming to know Christ. Attenders invite new people every week. Individuals continually express their excitement about beign a part of what God is doing. Whenever we experience momentum, our tendency is to coast and play it safe. Why risk loosing momentum, right? We high five each other, slap each other on the backs, and make preparations for our victory party. What we fail to realize is that we can loose momentum as quickly as we got it. Anyone that has lost ministry momentum knows it difficult to recreate it; in some cases, nearly impossible. Momentum is not something we create, but something we steward. If God has given us momentum, we can’t take the credit. We can only leverage it for advancing God’s kingdom. We can’t want to wait until we’re in a crisis and loose momentum to expand. We must launch something new while we have momentum. As Andy Stanley says, “New always triggers momentum.” The best time to launch something new is when you have momentum, not after you loose it. This can enable you to maintain momentum in the long haul. I call this the ocean concept. Before a wave crashes and hits the shore, the ocean has already created new waves. This continuous momentum keeps surfers at the beach. Launching the new while you have momentum can keep momentum going.
Those of you that are church planters or pastors may be familiar with the 80% or 70% rule. The rule states that a church should consider expanding when it reaches 80% or 70% seating capacity. This could be starting another service, launching a new site, creating an overflow room, etc. It’s based on the idea that people are more hesitant to invite others due to uncomfortable seating. Many church plants start out in rooms with a 100 – 200 seat capacity; mainly because that’s all they can afford in the beginning stages. We started out meeting in a theater with a 230 seating capacity. Last year, we were approaching 70% capacity. Right when we were contemplating a second service, we got moved to a larger theater that sits about 430. According to the 80% rule, we should remain at one service until we have an attendance of 344. This means, we should sit tight for right now. This is when my mind began to brew. “Hmmmm…. If we were in a much smaller space (seating 100, 150, 200 people), we would have no choice but to create another service option. Why wait until it becomes a need? Why not just launch one now? I came to this conclusion: “Space size never drives strategy. Vision does.” Our venue size may not be screaming for another service, but launching another service fits our vision and purpose. We exist to help people experience true life in Christ. Starting a new 9:00am service allows us to help people experience true life in Christ at 9:00am, as well as 10:15am. If a new church planting team happens to have a venue that seats 1,000 at a growth rate of 100 people a year, will they actually wait eight years before providing their community with another service time option? Or is their something in their vision or mission statement that will propel them to start one regardless of how much space they have? Of course, it will feel weird having 100 people with 900 empty seats. Our job is to preach, lead worship, and serve like it’s a pack house. Let God do the rest.
On Friday, I promised to give you five reasons as to why we are launching a second service at The Bridge. Here’s the first one: to provide options. We meet in a movie theater. Most movies have various show times: 12:15pm, 3:15pm, 5:30pm, 7:30pm, 9:00pm, 10:15pm, etc. Customers simply look up the movie times and choose which one best fits their schedule. There’s a movie my wife and I desire to see, but we keep running into one problem. The movie only has one show time and it has not been convenient for us. There have been other movies that we’ve desired to see less, but have seen before it because the other movies provided more options.
Presently, The Bridge only has a 10:00am option. That option may work well for myself and others. However, what best fits our schedule may not fit the schedule of others in our community. Adding another option gives a person the opportunity to say, “I can’t make this service, but I think I can make the other one.” This may be a hard pill for die-hard believers to swallow, but people actually have other things to do than attend our gatherings (service, youth meeting, young adult bible study, etc.) We may be willing to clear our schedule to be there, but for some people it has to fit their schedule. Just because a person has to be at work or somewhere else by a certain time, doesn’t mean they are less spiritual, disinterested in God, or lack commitment. The more jars you have, the more jars God can fill with oil (2 Kings 4:4-7). The more options you provide, the more seats God can fill. We’re hoping that adding one more service option will enable us to reach more people for Jesus Christ.