Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Five Keys to an Incredible Greeters’ Ministry

By Thom Rainer

It’s the one thing all churches can do to reach more people, but it’s one thing most churches give little attention.

Most churches can take five simple steps to create and/or improve their greeters’ ministry and potentially see dramatic results. Let me give you a simple example of the potential impact.
A church of 200 in worship attendance may get 150 first-time guests in a year. Can you imagine the transformation that would take place if one-half of those guests connected with the church and became a part of the congregation? The church of 200 in attendance would become a church of 275 in attendance – in one year!
In our surveys of first-time guests, we hear repeatedly that one of the keys that caused them to return was a friendly first impression. Like it or not, it’s often a make or break issue for the guest.
So how can you be certain that your greeters are doing everything possible to provide an incredible first-time impression? Here are five “best practices” where churches have dynamic greeter ministries, and where the return rate of guests is high.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

TRANSFORM Teacher Training Event - Pasadena, TX - August 29 (Repost)

Transform

August 29, 2015 (Saturday)
Pasadena, TX: First Baptist Church
One-day training teachers can put to use the very next day!
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS EVENT:

  • Description
  •    
  • Location
  •    
  • Pricing Detail
  •    
  • Registration Information
  •    
  • Schedule
  • Description

    TRANSFORM equips teachers to build groups with a central focus on seeing lives transformed through teaching. Leading them to recognize that teaching is more than just sharing information—teachers will discover ways to build on relationships with their group members to see lives changed.
    During this six-hour event, your teachers will come to understand:
    • The meaning of transformational teaching
    • How to teach with the goal of transformation
    • Practical teaching methods
    • How those they teach learn
    • How to prepare to teach 
    • Classroom dynamics and more
    Leaders will be able to focus the entire day on the very narrow age segment they teach and will gain new insights and hands-on skills they can put to work immediately.
    The day is facilitated by one of the finest faculties in the nation—a team of experts who’ll provide your leaders with cost-efficient, local training for only $35 per person. TRANSFORM can have a huge impact on the future Bible teaching that takes place in your church. Don’t miss this unique training opportunity
    Cost: $35 per person
     

    Location

    First Baptist Church
    7500 West Fairmont Parkway
    Pasadena, TX 77505

    Developing An Intentional Plan For Discipleship

    I recently had a chance to talk to Rick Howerton, our Small Group Specialist at LifeWay, about a serious struggle he is seeing in discipleship ministries all around the country and how LifeWay is trying to help. Here’s a look at our conversation:
    Eric: You talk to hundreds of pastors and group leaders all over the country. What are some of the major trends you are seeing in discipleship right now? 
    Rick: One of the most consistent things I’m noticing with church leaders right now is confusion about discipleship effectiveness. When I’m with a group of pastors and the conversation turns to disciple-making, there always seems to be some debate over how to make disciples who make disciples. The primary disagreement flows from the number of people that an individual or group leader can disciple as well as the best setting in which discipleship takes place. Some say that only one on one discipleship is effective. Others are vehement that no one person can disciple more than a two or three. Still other people say that their small groups, when truly doing life together, are making disciples. And a lot of folks just aren’t sure. Understanding why these disagreements are occurring may be the best way to hone in on that trend. 
    Eric: Speak to that a little more, then. Do you have sense of what is driving this confusion?
    Rick: In the minds of most experts there are two basic types of disciple-making environments. One is centered around a primary disciple-maker. The other centers around a community of disciples. The first approach is similar to what Jesus did. It is one person allowing a few people to walk alongside him or her. It means modeling what a disciple of Jesus should be, do, and teach. One person disciples a few.
    Community centered disciple-making is disciple-making through interaction with a group of people, like what we see in the early church. This happens when a small groups grows together through exercising their spiritual gifts, living out the one another principles found in the New Testament, studying God’s Word, and committing to be a part of that community. The small group as well as the church whole is important in community centered disciple-making.
    Perhaps the confusion comes in feeling forced to choose one approach. In my opinion, both are important in the disciple-making process. Everyone who becomes a mature disciple and then makes disciples needs both a spiritual guide and a biblical Christian community in order to progress toward full spiritual maturity.
    Eric: Where do you think these two different philosophies come from?
    Rick: In short, both philosophies come from Scripture. Jesus definitely gave His time and life to a few.
    Of course we also see in Acts 2:42-47 that new believers were simply getting together devoting themselves to the teaching of God’s Word, fellowship, celebration of the Lord’s supper, and prayer, “and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” 
    Eric: As someone who loves the Church, this all leads me to a pretty serious question, which is, are churches really making disciples in light of this confusion?
    Rick: I do believe that many churches are confusing helping people make friends and connections to church life with guiding people and groups to make mature disciples. If church leaders are honest with themselves, many of their group ministries have the primary goal of connecting high percentages of weekend worshipers to a group. But, when this is the primary goal, churches can lower the bar of expectation so low that it’s difficult for people to become mature disciples of Jesus Christ.
    Even though studies have shown that in order for someone to progress toward spiritual maturity they must be involved in the ongoing study of God’s Word, self denial, serving God and other people, sharing a verbal witness with unbelievers, and other important disciplines, many churches that claim to be making disciples are hesitant to even expect group members to read or do anything outside of the actual group gathering.
    Eric: If that’s true, what is missing? What can a pastor, or church leader do to ensure that discipleship is really happening? 
    Rick: Those who want to lead disciple-making churches need to do a few essential things. First off, they need to be discipled. Many pastors have seminary degrees but they’ve never been mentored/lead/shaped in a personal, challenging way. Also, it is imperative that they talk about disciple-making from the pulpit and practice disciple-making with their staff, elders, deacons, small group leaders, etc…
    The other essential is that each church utilize an intentional plan of discipleship with each generation of disciples. That is, once someone has been discipled using a particular method and set of studies, they then use that same intentional plan to disciple someone or a group of people themselves. When someone has been through the process of being discipled, they are much more apt to disciple someone else if they use the same path they were discipled with. They know how it works and they have stories to tell of their own journey.
    That’s why I’m proud to say I got to be a part of putting together LifeWay’s new intentional plan for discipleship called, The Disciples Path.
    We created the Disciples Path series with the help of disciple-makers for disciple-makers and it should give church and group leaders a practical, workable, intentional way to combat the confusion in their ministries.
    Go to lifeway.com/disciplespath to learn more about this new intentional plan for discipleship. Whether you lean towards a community centered or a disciple-maker centered approach, the Disciples Path can help you in your mission of making disciples who make disciples.

    Monday, July 20, 2015

    A New Way to Train Your Ministry Leaders and Volunteers - Ministry Training Essentials

    How would you like to provide essential, foundational training to the volunteers and leaders at your church in a way that is simple for you and digestible for them? We know that leadership is stressful and time-consuming and that preparing to train well can be a burden. That’s why the LifeWay Christian Resources Leadership Development team has developed Ministry Training Essentials.
    Ministry Training Essentials are video training courses designed to be used either by individuals or in a group setting. They are available for 5 different ministry areas, and each area has two or more video courses comprised of several short videos interspersed with printable resources and discussion guides. Each course addresses one specific aspect of that ministry area so you can train your leaders with depth and clarity. The presenters in each video are church practitioners and ministry leaders who understand the challenges and speak to them well.

    Small Groups

                Small Group Basics
                Small Group Challenges
                Small Groups and Your Church

    Adult Sunday School

                Adult Sunday School Basics
                Teaching Adult Sunday School

    Kids Ministry

                Working with Babies and Toddlers
                Working with Preschoolers
                Working with Elementary Students

    Student Ministry

                Working with Middle School Students
                Working with High School Students

    Guest Services

                Parking Lot Team
                Door Greeters
                Worship Center Greeters
                Information Booth
    Whether you simply want to be trained yourself, need to train a small group of leaders, or need to train a hundreds of volunteers, Ministry Training Essentials are perfect for you and are priced accordingly.
    Access for an individual is $20.
    Access for a group of 20 or fewer people is $150
    Access for a group of 21 or more people is $250
    Upon purchase you will have 90 days of access to your training.
    Start utilizing this training today!

    Friday, July 17, 2015

    "I Will" is now available!

    I Will is now available!

    Ever since I Am a Church Member was released, I've been asked about the next step of church membership. The common question could be summed up like this:

    Once the attitude about church membership has been determined, what are the actions that should result?

    I Will answers that question by explaining nine simple traits which will transform you into a church member who makes a lasting impact on others.

    One of the most often quoted lines from I Am a Church Member was "an inactive church member is an oxymoron." You are called to action as a member of the Body of Christ. And when you begin to understand the action plans God has set before you, be prepared to respond with two simple words: I will.
    Click for More Info

    Individual, Church, or Ministry Bulk Orders

    Order I Will in quantities of 20 for just $5 each. Order at LifeWay.com (when quantities in multiples of 20 are entered, the price will automatically adjust) or pick up a box at your local LifeWay Christian Store.
    For questions about bulk orders, contact your
    local LifeWay Christian Store or call 1-800-458-2772.

    FREE Small Group Resource

    Smallgroup.com is a web-based resource that combines a large library of Bible studies with a convenient tool that lets you quickly customize the content to make it your own. For I Will, the team at SmallGroup.com has created a FREE four-week study that coincides with the book and examines the Biblical basis of being an outwardly-focused Christian.

    Church Resource Kit

    Download this FREE resource kit for your church to use with I Will. The following FREE downloads are included in the I Will Church Resource Kit:Church-Resource-Kit
    • Sermon Outlines
    • Worship Song Suggestions
    • Powerpoint Slides
    • Secret Guest Survey
    • Church Website Checklist
    • Social Media Manager Job Description
    Even if you aren't using I Will as a church, this resource kit will help you move from "I can" to "I will!"

    Get the Resource Kit!

    Wednesday, July 15, 2015

    Studying The Gospel Project? Get the complete experience.

    The Gospel Project: The Complete Experience
    Thank you for previewing The Gospel Project Chronological for Adults. Fall resources are now available. Click on the links below to learn about any or all of these helpful tools.
    Personal Study GuidePersonal Study Guide
    This core resource helps group members prepare before the meeting, facilitates discovery during the session, and encourages application after group study time. Available in HCSB® or ESV, it provides Scripture, commentary, thought-provoking questions, memory verses, and additional inspiration through "His Mission, Your Mission" and "Voices from the Church."
    Leader GuideLeader Guide
    This core resource helps leaders prepare for each session, giving them the essential tools they need to lead adults through the storyline of Scripture. It includes a summary and goal for the session, easy-to-follow session plans, expanded session content, optional introductions and conclusions, commentary for every session, and more. The Personal Study Guide content is included in the Leader Guide, so flipping between books is never required.
    Leader PackLeader Pack
    Help leaders prepare, present, and support the group study each week. Details on how each item enhances the group experience are included in the Leader Guide. Each Pack includes:
    • Charts, maps, and other visual aids
    • DVD containing:
      • Customizable Leader Guide session plans and commentary
      • Leader training videos for each session featuring managing editor Trevin Wax
    Biblical IllustratorBiblical Illustrator
    This quarterly Bible study magazine for leaders and learners features articles on biblical archaeology, customs, and locations, as well as fascinating photographs and maps. A third of the articles tie directly to the sessions each quarter. The Leader Guide even references the articles, so you can easily find information to share with your group.
    Circular TimelineCircular Timeline
    View the three-year scope and sequence of The Gospel Project Chronological using this 6' x 6' poster. With one glance, participants can grasp the storyline of Scripture and the purpose of Scripture—to point to Jesus as the true hero of the story.
    Place your orders more easily with the LifeWay Church Ordering system.

    Tuesday, July 14, 2015

    LifeWay selects partners for new headquarters

    LifeWay Christian Resources announced Tuesday (July 14) it has hired design and construction-related partners in its efforts to relocate the organization's corporate headquarters to a new location nearby in downtown Nashville.

    LifeWay has contracted with Gresham, Smith and Partners to design its new 216,000-square-foot office building, according to a news release from the Southern Baptist entity. Bell & Associates Construction in Brentwood, Tenn., will manage construction of the new building. Compass Partners, LLC, in Brentwood, Tenn., will help LifeWay manage the process of the new project, serving as the owner's representative.

    "We are blessed to have gathered such a renowned team that will be instrumental in the success of this project," said Thom S. Rainer, president of LifeWay. "These three partners are responsible for much of the transformation of Nashville's skyline over the past 20 years. We are excited about the development of a timeless, long-lasting building in the heart of downtown Nashville that is representative of our values and will serve our ministries for the next 100 years."
    LifeWay anticipates finalizing the sale of its 14.5-acre downtown property in the next few weeks to Uptown Nashville, LLC, a consortium of local and national developers formed specifically to develop the property.
    The entity began a preliminary feasibility study last August into selling its campus to relocate to facilities better suited to the ministry's future.
    Some of LifeWay's downtown buildings date from the early 20th century and weren't designed for modern technology or collaborative work, Rainer has said. LifeWay has moved printing, assembly and shipping elsewhere, leaving two-thirds of the current property unused. Its complex includes more than 1 million square feet of office, warehouse and parking space. About 1,100 of LifeWay's employees are scattered through nine downtown buildings. The organization also oversees 186 stores and 4,300 employees in 29 states.
    "We cannot waste time, money and other resources on inefficient facilities," Rainer told messengers at their annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 16-17. Read story on Rainer's report. "We must be the best stewards of the resources Southern Baptists have entrusted to our care."
    LifeWay, founded in 1891 as the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, expects to acquire new property later this summer with plans to break ground this year on a new facility that is slated for completion by late 2017.
    This story was compiled by Shawn Hendricks, managing editor of Baptist Press, from a report released by LifeWay.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2015

    Journey Through the Storyline of Scripture with The Gospel Project

    The Gospel Project
    The Gospel Project® for Adults takes men and women on a chronological, Christ-centered journey through the storyline of Scripture. Over the course of three years, your groups can journey from Genesis to Revelation and discover how God's plan of redemption unfolds throughout Scripture and still today, compelling them to join the mission of God.

    Through The Gospel Project, churches and study groups can consistently experience: 
    • Age Alignment for churches that wish to build a shared discipleship plan for kids, students, and adults and equip parents to lead spiritual conversations in the home.
    • Christ-centered Study that helps participants understand how all Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, gives testimony to Jesus Christ.
    • Chronological Study Plan that shows how the Bible is not just a collection of stories, but one unified story—God's story of redemption.
    • Missional Application that examines how the gospel encourages and empowers us to be mission driven.
    • Essential Doctrines that help participants grasp the theological truths and central themes of the Christian faith.
    Watch Trevin Wax discuss The Gospel Project
    Order nowOr sign up for a FREE preview

    Wednesday, July 1, 2015

    Seven Key Reasons Your Church Attendance May Be Declining

    By Thom S. Rainer

    My five-year old grandson asked me how old I was. When I told him I would turn 60 in a few weeks, he responded: “I didn’t realize people got that old.”

    Indeed, in 60 years, like any of us who have lived a few years, I have seen change, lots of change. And I am seeing change in local congregations faster than any time in my lifetime. One of the most disheartening changes I am seeing is the declining attendance in a majority of churches. I am asked repeatedly to diagnose and help with these challenges.
    Though addressing the issue of declining attendance cannot be covered in a brief blog post, I hope it will be helpful to share some high-level perspectives. See if any of these seven reasons apply to your church.
    1. “Cultural Christians” no longer see the need to attend church. “Cultural Christian” is really an oxymoron. I refer here to those men and women who once attended church for social, political, or business reasons. Most of them no longer feel it is necessary to be in church to be a regarded citizen in the community.
    2. Church members are attending less frequently. I have noted in other articles how I see this development as potentially the greatest contributor to attendance decline. Three decades ago, a very active church member attended three times a week. Today we call those who attend three times a month an active church member.
    3. Expectations are lower for church members. One of the reasons church members attend less frequently is that very little is expected of them in many churches. If we expect little of our members, that is exactly what we will get.
    4. Insufficient emphasis on groups. This reality may be one of the most neglected areas of church life. Groups of all kinds – home groups, small groups, Sunday school classes, life groups, and others – are key to assimilation and greater commitment. The importance of groups must begin with the pastor and all other key leaders in the church.
    5. Inward focus. In too many churches, the emphasis is on “me, myself, and I.” Some members are more concerned about the temperature in the worship center than the eternal destinations of their neighbors. The “me-focused” church is on its way to decline.
    6. No clearly defined process of discipleship. Eric Geiger and I reported on this issue in our book, Simple Church. Growing churches are much more likely to have a clearly grasped and implemented process of discipleship than declining churches.
    7. No strategic plans for multi-venues or multi-campuses. As I noted in my article Monday, the trend of multi-venue and multi-campus churches may be the most significant in church practices in the past three decades. Even smaller churches are now planning for more than one site or venue. Those churches not making such plans are more likely to be declining.
    Decline in church attendance cannot be defined in seven simple statements. But these reasons are at least broad explanations of what is taking place in many of our congregations. I would love to get feedback from you on these issues.

    Monday, June 29, 2015

    LifeWay releases WAR ROOM resources

    The War Room Church Campaign Kit provides a comprehensive tool for churches seeking to plan and promote prayer efforts in their congregation and community. It comes complete with a step-by-step planning guide, supportive sermon outlines, a 5-week small-group study (with War Room Bible Study Book and supporting film clip DVD), evangelism outreach materials, and a DVD-ROM with promotional trailers, flyers, posters, and web ads, all designed to create an exciting campaign for your church. Also includes a guide to help churches launch a prayer ministry.
    Learn more about this and other WAR ROOM resources...

    Friday, June 26, 2015

    TRANSFORM Teacher Training Event - Pasadena, TX - August 29

    Transform

    August 29, 2015 (Saturday)
    Pasadena, TX: First Baptist Church
    One-day training teachers can put to use the very next day!
    FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS EVENT:

  • Description
  •  
  • Location
  •  
  • Pricing Detail
  •  
  • Registration Information
  •  
  • Schedule
  • Description

    TRANSFORM equips teachers to build groups with a central focus on seeing lives transformed through teaching. Leading them to recognize that teaching is more than just sharing information—teachers will discover ways to build on relationships with their group members to see lives changed.
    During this six-hour event, your teachers will come to understand:
    • The meaning of transformational teaching
    • How to teach with the goal of transformation
    • Practical teaching methods
    • How those they teach learn
    • How to prepare to teach 
    • Classroom dynamics and more
    Leaders will be able to focus the entire day on the very narrow age segment they teach and will gain new insights and hands-on skills they can put to work immediately.
    The day is facilitated by one of the finest faculties in the nation—a team of experts who’ll provide your leaders with cost-efficient, local training for only $35 per person. TRANSFORM can have a huge impact on the future Bible teaching that takes place in your church. Don’t miss this unique training opportunity
    Cost: $35 per person

    Location

    First Baptist Church
    7500 West Fairmont Parkway
    Pasadena, TX 77505