It’s True, I’m Working for the Weekend!

Whether you’re a multisite or a single-site church leader, everyone in ministry is working for the weekend. If you’ve been in ministry any length of time, you’ve been asked more than once: “What do you do during the week?”

While someone who is not in full-time vocational ministry might not know what happens during the week, we do. Prayers are prayed, people are cared for in times of crisis, others are celebrated with during some of the most joyous moments of life. Bibles are studied, sermons are prepared, schedules are created, and songs are practiced. Plans are coming together for the next major event or outreach, teams are being mobilized for impact, leaders are being equipped, and the list goes on.

If you’re in ministry, you know about the actual work that should take place during the week, but let’s be honest. There are some ministry leaders who aren’t working during the week. In fact, I believe the weekend reveals what level of work has or hasn’t been during the week. I can’t help but wonder if the question, “What do you do all week?” came from frustrated weekend volunteers and church attendees?

Most of the time, the weekend reveals issues that should have been addressed Monday through Friday, but too many church staff leaders aren’t working for the weekend, they are working on the weekend.

The most critical part of my job as a campus pastor is not the platform time, but what I’m stewarding Monday through Friday.

So what does working for the weekend look like? Here are five things I “work” every week to make sure I’m ready for the weekend:

1. I connect with my team
Whether you have full-time staff members or not, you should be connecting with your staff/volunteer team weekly. We do this in various capacities, but the most important connect is to debrief the previous weekend, and forecast the coming weekend. As part of the debrief, it’s always important to share the wins. Looking for bright spots in your ministry is not as hard as you think. Where did you and your team win last weekend?

2. I share gratitude
We cannot do what we do without the people God has entrusted to us. Sharing our gratitude and thankfulness for our team is a daily job. Writing thank you notes, sending text messages or emails, and making personal calls are great ways to say “Thank You!” to an amazing volunteer. The adage, “What gets celebrated gets repeated!” is so true. When are you taking the time to express gratitude today?

3. I communicate early
Communication among teams is hard enough before you add the complexity of multisite ministry. As a leader, you cannot communicate enough. Key volunteers hate learning key things about the church during the announcement time, and your staff hates this too. Keeping volunteers and staff engaged and energized starts with communication. I love to tell our team, “You’re hearing this first!” or “We wanted you to be the first ones to know.” You’ll be surprised how thankful people are to know the direction. What do you know that your team needs to know now?

4. I prepare for the weekend (before the weekend)
As a campus pastor, I can’t prepare for my platform responsibilities on the weekend, I’ve got to get prepared beforehand. I typically do this on Thursday or Friday. I know a lot of ministry leaders take Friday off but I believe Friday is one of the best days to prepare for the weekend. Having carts for teams ready, supplies for the greeters, platforms prepared, and countless other tasks shouldn’t happen moments before service. What can you do today to prepare for the weekend?

5. I pray
This should go without saying, but I still struggle with the reality that I cannot do this on my own. Prayer reminds me of my role and God’s responsibility. Praying for your staff, volunteers, attendees, and guests shouldn’t happen only on the weekend. Create space to pray today for what God is going to do on the weekend.

Are you working for the weekend too? I’d love to hear your best practices for preparing for the weekend, comment below.

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How & Why We Baptized 270 People in One Weekend

This weekend changed the trajectory of our church in an immeasurable way. Our pastor and teams designed the entire weekend experience around a huge celebration of believers baptism. While we know the number of those baptized, we are not entirely sure of the ripple effects of their life change. As a church, measurements matter and often reveal areas of health, or where improvement might be needed, but not all measurements reveal the maximum impact or reach of the church.

One thing we measured this weekend was the number of adults, children, and students who were baptized at each campus. At the campus I look after, 270 people went public with their faith through water baptism. While we know that number is accurate, we don’t know every story behind each number. But we have faith to believe that each number represents an answer to prayer, and the potential to change the world.


So how did we baptize 270 in one weekend?

1. We PREACHED about baptism 
Pastor Todd and our creative team did a great job recording a message that clearly delivered why believers baptism in so important in the life of every believer. You can watch the message here.

2. We shared baptism STORIES 
In every service, we celebrated baptisms following our greeting during a worship song that thematically matched baptism. We also had a live testimony from someone who was going to be baptized later in the day. These baptisms, and the sharing of life story, helped build the momentum throughout the service.

3. We allowed for SPONTANEITY
We attempted to remove every excuse possible. Yes, there is an expense to this, but it’s well worth it. We provided free shirts that each person could keep following the baptism, and also provided shorts and towels that we requested to be returned after each use. While we lost some towels and shorts, most were returned. Providing additional changing areas also helped us get people prepared more easily.

4. We involved our KIDS & STUDENTS 
Both our Children’s and Student teams funneled interest to this weekend. We provided both Student and Child orientations for kids and their parents to attend. These orientations provided parents with the ability to help determine if their child was ready for baptism.


5. We threw a PARTY!
Our church family stayed following the services to celebrate all that God was doing. We threw a simple party with snacks and music to help create an atmosphere of celebration. While every church may not be able to afford to provide refreshments, a little music goes a long way.

So why did we do it? Two reasons:

1. We are COMMANDED to!
Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.ā€ Matthew 28:19,20

2. We NEEDED to!
Baptism celebration reminds us why we do what we do. It is a reminder of our vision and mission as a church. Celebrating the life-transformation God is performing helps keep our volunteers engaged and our staff impassioned.

I’m more energized today because of what I witnessed this weekend. We often say at Christ Fellowship, “What I am a part of is bigger than the part I play.” I’m just so thankful I get to play a small part in it. The best is yet to come.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20,21

Not All God’s People Say, “Amen!”

Churches everywhere make statements, and do things that automatically place distance between themselves and those who are visiting for the first time. Let me set the scene.

It’s a rainy Sunday morning, and everyone’s trickled into the worship center a little late. The worship team was a little lethargic, and it took them a song or two to get into it. As they’re winding down the worship time, the pastor makes his way on to the platform to transition to the next part of the service, and prays a prayer. The prayer ends with the infamous phrase (to the insiders) in a louder tone: “And all God’s people said…” Wait for it – a boisterous congregation responds with, “Amen!” Have you been there?

I have, and we’ve all probably missed the guest behind us who was jolted by the unanimous thunder around them at that moment. How did they feel? More than likely they felt like an outsider, and it usually gets worse for them throughout the day. I’m not sure where this phrase or the countless other churchy phrases we use come from, but I do know they often alienate us from many guests in our churches.

Insider language creeps up so quickly in churches. We create stylish names for membership classes that don’t communicate what the class is all about or we place cool names on children’s ministry gatherings that always need further explanation. If the church should be the easiest place on the planet to connect with and grow in, then we should make sure we do everything possible to remove insider focused language.

How do you know if you have an insider language problem? Here are three things to consider:

1. You’re always explaining what everything means.
“How do I ________ here at the church?” If you’re always explaining how people can serve or get connected, you may be too insider focused. “What is the __________ all about?” Too many churches and ministries create names for classes and groups that need explaining; names should speak for themselves.

2. You’re not retaining first time guests.
If people feel like an outsider on their first visit, they’re more than likely not going to come back. Believe it or not, most churches don’t have a visitor problem, they have insider problem. When guests feel like they know what’s going on and where things are, they’re more likely to come back a second time.

3. You’re always using acronyms during announcements.
At Christ Fellowship, our favorite financial management and stewardship class is Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. We never – I mean never – refer to the class as FPU in a public setting. Why? No one knows what FPU stands for, especially guests. Speaking in acronyms is the simplest way to put distance between your church guests.

Our words matter. The Apostle Paul understood the importance of connecting with those outside the faith, just read his words in Acts 17. Every single thing we say during our worship services should connect with all people at every step on their spiritual journey, and communicate that ‘All are Welcome’. Take some time to think critically about what you’re hearing, and not hearing, this week at your church. Host a focus group with new families and ask them about what they experienced. Call several families who visited and never came back, ask them why.

Becoming an outsider focused church takes intentionality, most churches drift towards being insider focused without even knowing it.

Is your ministry insider or outsider focused? I’d love to hear how you stay outsider focused. Comment below.

4 Things I Ask my Team to Measure Every Weekend

If you’re only counting attendance and offering at your church, you’re not counting enough. As a campus pastor, I want to know more than just who showed up and who contributed to our weekly offering. While those metrics are helpful, that don’t tell us enough because they don’t communicate the overall atmosphere of the weekend, how many people are serving, or what kind of issues need to be addressed during the week. Churches measure all different types of things, but there are four things I have my team report back on every weekend.

I’ve asked my team to generate this report and submit it every Sunday before leaving the campus. Even after a long weekend, it’s important for everyone to report back while the information is fresh. The report is sent via text message or email, but most of the team members prefer to send me an email.

The report includes each of the following four ā€œSā€ metrics:

SPIRIT:
I ask each team member to reflect and share their overall feeling or vibe of the weekend from the services to the environment and atmosphere of the department they lead. The spirit of the weekend also captures what people are talking about, and the common theme of discussion throughout the campus. Often this part of the report is brief and to the point.

STORIES:
Each staff member is asked to share a brief story of an encounter they had with a volunteer or guest and how the ministry of Christ Fellowship is impacting their life. For the purpose of this recap, I ask for a quick summary and picture of the person if possible. These stories become incredibly helpful as we try and track individual stories of radical transformation.

STRUGGLES:
Every church, regardless of size, encounters struggles on the weekend. I want my team to share any areas where they experienced tension or difficulties which impacted their ministry (i.e. event management systems down, AC not working, ran out of food, media issues, not enough volunteer coverage, etc.). These issues are sometimes solved on the weekend, but from time-to-time, they become items to be addressed early in the week.

STATS:
We count people because people count, right? But there is more to count than just attendance. I ask my team to provide any statistical data from each of their departments that might be helpful in measuring our overall health as a campus, including:

  • Attendance
  • Volunteer check-in
  • Orientations/training
  • Baptisms
  • Decisions for Christ
  • Volunteer to attendee ratio
  • Any other pertinent info to the overall success of their ministry area

These reports help me look for common denominators over the course of the weekend, and where we might need to focus as a team. Measuring more than just the stats also keeps me focused on more than just the numbers. It also requires our entire team to be intentional on capturing stories of life change and spiritual growth. These reports also help me to generate my weekly report for our senior pastors and multisite director.

So that’s what we measure on the weekend. What are you counting and how are your teams reporting back to you?