Monday, August 30, 2010

Remember when?

Looking forward and planning for the future is a needed discipline for any leader, but I think there are times, REMEMBER WHEN MOMENTS, when we need to reflect back on what God did in the past. Remember when moments are simply the times we can look back and see where God delivered us in the past. Every leader has these memories, the moments where God just showed up and moved despite our lack of talent, volunteers, or resources. Think back...
  • Remember when we did not know where we were going to meet?
  • Remember when we did not have office space?
  • Remember when we left our secure position to start a new work?
  • Remember when we did our job for free as a volunteer because we knew God made us for this?
  • Remember when 15 people showed up at our weekly event?
  • Remember when we were not sure we could pay the bills?
  • Remember when we had nothing to loose?
  • Remember when we shut that program down to do something different?
  • Remember when we did not have _______ (fill in the blank...sound system, lights, banners screens, whatever helps take your environment to the next level)
  • Remember when had 2 volunteers and even they were not sure what was going on?
Remember when moments remind us what we need most today and in the future is simply God...nothing more and nothing less. God has called us, He placed us where we are serving, He has a plan, and He will deliver us. What we are called to do is simply live by faith! What is faith without risk? Are you facing big challenges in the future? If you are then you might want to look back and remember when God showed up last time!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

2010 football predictions...

I am so ready for college and NFL football to be back. I am going to go ahead and make my predictions this weekend for Middle Tennessee State University, the Tennessee Vols, and the Tennessee Titans. Not going to worry about post-season play so here goes my regular season predictions...

Tennessee Titans / 11-5
2 words are needed to explain why I am so excited about the Titans. CHRIS JOHNSON. CJ looks great and the offensive line just looks just a good. Big question will be can the young defense play Titan football. I say yes and we will give the Colts a run for the AFC South.

MTSU / 9-3
Would have given them 11 wins but with Dwight Dasher out for the who knows how long I had to throw in at least 2 more losses. Dasher is that good but he also is a discipline problem. I hear the #2 QB is good so lets see if the rest of the team can come together and get 10 wins and take the Sun Belt!

Tennessee Vols / 5-7
No bowl this year and I will be THRILLED if we can pull 5 wins out of the hat and move on to 2011. I bleed orange and this is the weakest Volunteer team I have ever seen. I am hopeful and I like Coach Dooley. If the Vols can stay healthy and the coaches can work together we may have some surprises this year.

There ya go...what are your predictions for this year? Go Titans, Blue Raiders, and Vols!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

fresh perspective

Three weeks ago we had a "secret shopper" drop in with his family at Grace Community Church. A secret shopper is just someone you ask to come in and check out your organization. This was our first time to try this process out and today our staff got to sit down with Greg Atkinson and work through an entire report about his experience in attending our services on a surprise Sunday morning. We got some amazing feedback and the report is full of info we are going to have to think though. We did some things really well and we dropped the ball on a few important systems. I would never list off what we did well and what we missed on because that is not the point of the process. That info is for our team to use to get better. The reason we went through the process was to get one thing...FRESH PERSPECTIVE. Visitors see things that we miss because we are already focused when we arrive. Greg gave us a new look at GCC. I am thankful that our co-pastors choose to surprise us with a guest so we could get better. None of our team had any idea this was coming. I am also thankful that God is working though our church and our secret shopper was able to see that and confirm what we think is happening. Thanks to all our volunteers who make GCC happen every week. Thanks to a staff that strives to keep getting better. Thanks to God for letting me serve in this church and in Clarksville. Today I was reminded why I love Grace Community. Thanks Greg for a fresh perspective.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NEW brings momentum!

New is fun. Everyone loves a new shirt, car, cd, or laptop!  That same principle holds true with new environments inside our ministries. Every summer we intentionally stop our weekly student gathering so we have a NEW LAUNCH every fall. New brings excitement. We launched a NEW middle school and high school service for teens this fall and the NEW has brought tons of extra room to reach students and fresh energy from teens excited about their new service. Launching new environments also brings a risk factor to the table. If you want the energy of new you have to be willing to embrace the risk that comes along with it. The fun part is that our teams are fueled by the risks we take for the Kingdom of God. Part of the reason we love new is because of the risk. You are not going to be able to launch a new service every year or have new space but you can always work hard to introduce new elements into your ministry...
  • What about a NEW retreat?
  • What about a NEW setup on stage?
  • What about a NEW t-shirt design?
  • What about a NEW intro video for your service?
  • What about adding 5 NEW leaders to your volunteer team?
  • What about NEW staff?
  • What about a NEW Facebook page or website design for your ministry?
  • What about NEW signs or banners in your space?
  • What about NEW lighting on stage or in the hall?
  • What about NEW songs for your band?
  • What about a NEW way to enter your building, new traffic flow?
  • What about a NEW way of doing small groups?
Sure NEW takes effort and resources but it is needed in order to find momentum for your ministry. The Kingdom of God is always advancing and encountering new lives. Staying the same is really not an option if you want to continue to engage the hearts of teens. Look for what you can do NEW in your ministry this week.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

HELP, I'm changing churches!

Where people choose to go to church is a big deal and changing churches is even bigger! People think, pray, worry, flip-flop, discuss, change their minds, and then do it all over again when it comes to moving to a new church. If there is one thing I have learned it is that people take church seriously, even if they are not regular attenders. When someone visits Grace Community Church they are investigating and trying to figure out what we are about. They are trying to imagine GCC being their church. They are worried about leaving friendships at their current church. They are asking God for direction. How our team engages people in transition is very important. Here are some principles that guide us as we work with families through the process of changing churches...
  • Listen // so many times people just want to tell you what is going on, they need to vent! Be ready to just listen and thank them for checking out your church. They are not ready for advice, they just need to vent, so listen.
  • Engage, don't sell // when someone visits, just engage them like you would anyone else! What is not needed is us selling our church to them. We are not in the business of convincing people why they should choose our church. The church / community we lead should speak for itself. Resist the pressure to sell your church.
  • Never be negative // never never never talk bad about other churches or other leaders in order to make your church look better. Again, just never do it and never encourage it.
  • Be patient // people need time when they are considering a move. We have to be patient with people as they work through the process.
  • Encourage // moving to a new church is hard. People in transition need encouragement that the process is ok, that it is normal to question, that it is important to find the best ministry fit for their family. Encourage and allow God to work!

Monday, August 23, 2010

What every ministry needs...MULTIPLICATION

What is your greatest need in the ministry you lead? You may automatically say more volunteers. What you need more than just more volunteers is MULTIPLICATION. You need your key leaders developing other new leaders, multiplying. We need our existing leaders investing in the new volunteers we bring onto our team. In a breakout session I led for the Revolution Conference these are the steps I shared with seasoned leaders that help us all go beyond adding new volunteers and start multiplying...

Invite…there is power in serving alongside others. When we invite new people to join our team we are saying to them I BELIVE IN YOU. Everyone wants to be on a team. Why not view the area you lead as a team…get leaders on your team who have potential to REPLACE YOU.

Intentionally Teach…explain what you are doing even when no one asks…say, this is why I did this. This is how I prepare. This is how I respond. When we intentionally teach we do not leave development to accident!

Remind…you need to be repeating the vision and mission of your ministry areas as much as any staff member, maybe more. Ministry with kids can be rewarding and tiring all at the same time. We need to continually help the people we are developing see why this matters, why we do this strategy, why this is making a difference, why they matter as leaders.

Seek Advice and Listen…get input from new leaders, ask for advice…get feedback. If you want to let someone know they matter then just ask them for advice. A simple What do you think is so empowering for a new leader.

Give Leadership Opportunities…your team needs a chance to serve as you watch, give them a chance to make a mistake! Sure you can teach or run that activity better and that may help the DAY move smoother but it never help a new leader step forward. You have to give people a chance to mess up. 

Encourage…help move your team to new levels of leadership. Some people just need to be believed in. If leaders are going to move forward and take new leadership roles then they need to hear us pushing them forward, letting them know what they are good add. We need to become FANS of new volunteers who have potential.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Revolution Conference...coming this Saturday!

After months of planning and preparing our family ministry team at Grace Community is one day away from the Revolution Conference. Our goal this Saturday is simple. We hope to help our volunteers connect the dots between what happens at home and what happens at church every single week. Our teams at Cross Point Church and GCC have an amazing day planned and we are super excited about spending time with many of our volunteers. There is no way we could do what we do each Sunday without our volunteer teams. This Saturday we get to say thanks! We still have a little room left for the conference. I know it is one day away but if you can make room in your schedule for the conference just go to and let us know you are coming. (EVEN IF YOU CAN ONLY MAKE IT FOR 1/2 THE CONFERENCE) Hope to see you Saturday! Join the REVOLUTION!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

so proud of the...MAJESTIC DRAGONS

I did what I said I would never let happen at Relevant Student Ministry...this summer we had a softball team. Here were the rules.
  1. Michael Bayne will never come to a game. // Seriously, I would burn every bat and ball at the park the first time I saw a youth pastor act like a "butt" when coaching SOFTBALL.
  2. Have fun all times. // Softball is a game. It is fun to play. Why play if you are not going to have fun and that includes competing hard, competition is fun.
  3. Never ever take softball too seriously! // why ever take church softball serious? who really cares? It is a game!
After summer ONE of our first softball team (the Majestic Dragons) I could not be more proud of a group of students. They represented Grace Community and Relevant Student Ministry so well and they followed all my softball rules. If fact they had so much fun and did so well at not taking it serious that they finished 2nd in the league and never lost their cool. Here is an email I got from one of their coaches this week...

Hey man I just wanted to let you know how awesome all of our softball guys and girls are and have been all season. Last night we were forced to forfeit a game because of some crazy rules that the other teams coaches and parents decided to pull on us but as we left the field I'm rather certain our guys still had bigger smiles on their faces than the other team and that is the same attitude they have had all year, they just want to have FUN and they want everyone else to do the same. After the game I was approached by several of the league officials who commended our team not only for their positive attitude last night but they had all noticed it all summer long. Long story short our teens have been a true walking testimony all summer long on what it means to live a CHRIST centered life in everything you do and it has had an impact on many who have witnessed it. I am very proud of the teens and to have been able to be a part of just this one great thing that they are doing in their lives.

All I can say is...I am proud to be on the Relevant Student Ministry team. Thanks to the coaches and players who made this experiment work. GO MAJESTIC DRAGONS!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

what's playing on my Ipod...

Just need to come right out and admit it...I am addicted to music. It is flowing as I work, in the car, and when I crash at night. Here is what I am listening to right now. Check these albums out! What are you listening too? Let me know!

Arcade Fire, the suburbs

The National, high violet

Passion, awakening

Robbie Seay Band, miracle

Vampire Weekend, contra

Angels & Airwaves, love

Casey Darnell, ep

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 day of the week (for evaluation & planning)

I know, people hate Mondays. The weekend is over. People are dragging into work. But if you serve on a church staff Monday is one of the most important days of the week. Think about it...Sunday is our first day of the week. Sunday is the biggest day to carry out ministry. Sunday is the beginning, not Monday. Monday is day 2 for our team at Grace Community's week. Monday is so important because of 2 things...
  1. Evaluating / more evaluation happens on Monday morning than any other day of the week at our office. It is informal, it is relational, it is fresh, and it is GREAT evaluation time. What worked, what didn't and what do we need to talk about in staff meeting gets processed on Mondays. For those of us who lead mid-week gatherings this same process happens on Thursday also. Evaluation happens best close to the event we are evaluating! We care so much about the Sunday morning experience we are evaluating every week. It matters that much and Monday is a great day to make it happen.
  2. Planning / Monday is the best day for planning because it leaves the rest of the week for execution. The best idea talked about on Thursday is terrible. When you wait till mid week to plan you leave no time for execution. For our team, Friday and Saturday are days off and we work hard to protect that freedom. If our team works on Friday it is a choice or there is a major project due that week. We get more done creatively when all creative meetings are finished on Monday. Monday planning leads to amazing experiences later in the week.
For all of you who dread Monday you may need to rethink your Monday strategy. RETHINK MONDAY, it might end up being one of the best days of the week!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Do you invest in kids at Grace Community? this is for you...

This week the family ministry team at Grace Community is getting ready for the Revolution Conference. We have partnered with the team at Cross Point Church in Nashville to create a one day experience to renew and inspire our volunteers. Yea...we wish we could take you to some of the conferences we go to. We wish you could hear some of the speakers we learn from. We wish we could take you to visit some of the churches we learn from. We may not be able to take you all of these places but we can work hard to bring the experience to you and we have made sure it is FREE for you. This conference is one way we can invest in you. Many of you see yourself and a person who fills a slot on Sundays. YOU ARE WAY MORE THAN THAT, YOU ARE A PART OF A TEAM. You are an important influence in the life of a child. You matter. Because of that we want to invest in you. Please do everything you can to carve out ONE SATURDAY to get out of your routine and join the revolution that is taking place in our churches. Go to to register today. We can't wait to spend Saturday with you!

Friday, August 13, 2010

new staff at RELEVANT...

I am so excited that we have added Brandon and Kara Reed to our family ministry team at Grace Community as our High School & College Pastor. This past year we knew that we had to add student ministry staff. We had grown beyond our capacity to equip our volunteers and continue to engage students. Growth is great, but growth without leadership will only last for so long. So...I had the chance to interview, email, call, visit, and pray with several incredible leaders across the country as we looked for the right person to join our team. At the same time we were watching Brandon launched our first ever college ministry at GCC while at the same time finishing grad school. We finally approached Brandon and Kara about moving their role here to full time and moving into a high school/college role. God took care of the rest and we brought Brandon on full time this month. What I am most excited about with Brandon is our partnership in ministry. We are friends...we are passionate about reaching students and families...we think alike...our strengths compliment each others weakness...we have worked together before. Brandon and I are going to be able to lead the student ministry here together as I focus on middle school relationships and he does the same with high school students and leaders. We both really believe in a team model when it comes to student ministry, our true heroes at Relevant are our small group leaders. Our staff and volunteers function as one team as we lead together. That is what teens need to see in leadership. We can't wait to see what God does next at Relevant Student Ministry and Grace Community Church!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

THE MIX (6:30) and REMIX(7:30) launch AUGUST 11

We have been hoping this day would come for over three years and now as we begin the 4th year of Relevant Student Ministry we are about to experience our first Middle School and High School gathering. This Wednesday at 6:30 The Mix will welcome a room full of middle schoolers at our St. B Venue and at 7:30 that same room will be packed with high schoolers. We are nervous and excited all at the same time. Our team is trusting God and we are anticipating great things this fall. We have small group leaders stoked about launching small groups. The REMIX band is ready to lead 2 services every week. The plan is set. Now we are just asking God to show up and do great things. For all the info about REMIX and THE MIX check out

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

upcoming EXPERIENCE for our preschool and children's volunteers!

Training, equipping, and encouraging our volunteer leaders is a challenge. Our volunteers are busy! They face work and family demands that leave them spinning. They are passionate about kids and families so they serve here at Grace Community Church in Grace Acres or Cross Street, but when you talk about training it can be difficult to find the perfect time. What we have discovered is that there is no perfect time for training so whenever you plan to invest in your leaders make sure it is excellent. We think we have an amazing experience planned for our volunteers at our first Revolution Conference. We are asking all our volunteers in children and preschool environments to get away on Saturday, August 21 for a day of inspiration and renewal. When we talk about all our volunteers we mean all...check-in, small group, large group, worship leader, storyteller, every week, every other week, once a month, veteran or new volunteer...whatever you do to serve here at GCC with kids we have thought about you and how to help you take the next step forward as you serve! We know you wonder why you should sign up so here are a few reasons...
  1. Our staff wants to spend a day INVESTING IN YOU! You are our greatest asset in ministry and we want to say thank you!
  2. The conference is FREE and this is an experience people would pay to attend! This is our gift to you as a leader.
  3. We are going to have fun. We work with kids, we know how to have fun!
  4. We are going to help you be a better leader.
  5. Carey Nieuwhof is our speaker, you need to check out his book and blog at
  6. You will get to meet tons of other volunteers who work with kids and have the chance learn from each other.
  7. We are gonna give away FREE STUFF.
We want you to sign up today, just hit and let us know you are coming!

Friday, August 6, 2010

the intersection (me & God & ministry)

15 But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer. Luke 5:15-16 (NLT)

This passage is such a great reminder for me. Jesus had launched his ministry, He was making a difference, He had a mission, and still he took time to get away and pray. Jesus understood His need to continually communicate and spend time with his Father. His closest followers just wanted Him to press on and do more, heal more people, establish His Kingdom. That desire sounds familiar. Sounds like me every fall when I have all of these great plans and ideas and I want those plans and ideas to WORK. My passion for my ideas and overcome my passion to know, love, and serve Christ. I have to remember in the middle of going after the mission God has given me I have to stop, slow down, and know that God cares way more about advancing His Kingdom than I do. God is at work...we (our lives, our ministries, our everything) are just one small part of what He is doing. I love to plan, dream, and create but in the end I need God's hand to move in my heart, family, and ministry more than anything else.

In the middle of our desire to create environments, accomplish our goals, reach people for Christ we have to take time to simply rest and be fully present with God. God cares way more about reaching students than any of us ever will. Jesus...that was His idea. The Church...His idea also. New life...yep you guessed it His idea. Your ministry...God gets the credit also. Striving on your own just leads to worry and fear. Take some time...get alone with God and start serving in and through his strength.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

first time guest EXPERIENCE

Every year the first time guest experience in your environment should be evaluated. When a student walks into The Mix or Remix for the first time we want the experience to be great and we want them to know we are pumped they are with us. Most of the time teens come with a friend but often they come alone. The stakes get higher and higher when the student does not know other people. I have never met a teen who likes being uncomfortable. The quicker we can help our guests connect with other leaders and students the better. We have an intentional plan for greeting students and helping them enter our environment. Have you thought through that experience? Do your adult and student leaders know what to do when a new student arrives? Thinking and planning for guests helps remind me that we still have thousands of teens to reach in Clarksville. God makes a big deal out of people discovering Him...maybe teens will have a better chance of discovering who God is if they have a great experience when they come to our environment! Maybe? Make sure you have a plan for those new teens that are going to show up.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

TEACH...with a plan

Want to take the communication in your student environment to the next level? Get a plan. Something happened when we finally discovered the power of planning and partnership at Relevant Student Ministry...our communication with students and parents got so much better. Parents understood our communication goal and students left week after week knowing our bottom line. How did we get there? We partnered with the team at xp3 students and began the process of collaboration. I am amazed by how many student ministries are trying to create all their curriculum on their own. With xp3 we are able to choose our sequence of teaching but have so many creative, small group, and teaching elements ready for us to use in our environment. I don't have to create series graphics. I don't have to write small group questions. I don't have to create a video bump. Those things are done for me and I get to focus on making the message work for the students who come every week. I am a better leader and communicator because of this partnership. I hope you will check out xp3 students, just click on the graphic above. Teach...with a plan!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

new year, new songs, new plan for your environment

Over the past few years Nate Edmondson and I have tried so many different things when worship planning for fall. Picking songs and planning the worship flow helps set the tone for the rest of the year. In our city fall sets the tone for the rest of the year so it is so important to teach our new stuff early and YES new songs are such a huge deal. When it comes to the worship planning here is what we try to do the first four weeks of the year...
  • Plan 8-10 new songs we will add right off the bat at the beginning of the year. // Why this many? We want to add them in slowly over the first 2 months mixed in with other songs our students know. At the beggining of the year everything is new, why not push new songs and new ideas. We also bring in new songs we learned at summer really works. When it comes to new songs make sure and get input from teens! We are getting old, "How Great is our God" might be your fave but it might not be the best song for teens...if you are planning for a teen environment you better listen to teens.
  • Prep the band // practice is a big deal, we work in several huge practice days and make sure to get the band the material so they can be practicing. We also try to get new players we will be rotating in during the year all the new material also.
  • Get 4 weeks ahead // we go ahead and plan out our worship sets for four weeks. Planning helps us make sure we are balancing the new and the old. Planning also gives us a chance to really craft the worship set to support the bottom line being communicated by our communicators.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Change it Up, Rewire, Add, and Test

I am a production fanatic. I love creating environments where people can connect with God. An environment that helps people move past their present circumstances and toward God never happens by accident. This week our team is prepping to launch our fall gathering for teens so my mind is focused on production...SO...that is what I am going to focus on this week. Every fall we work through the process of changing it up, rewiring, adding, and testing...
  • CHANGE IT UP > one simple way to keep things fresh in your environments is to simply move things on stage around. Before both fall and spring semesters we change up our stage layout. We rent the same facility all year so we are blessed to be able to leave our stuff set BUT change is good and does make a difference as teens come in for that first week and GUESS is free!
  • REWIRE> this is hard work but it is worth it. At the beginning of fall we unplug everything and rewire it all. Rewiring keeps the stage clean and helps us to make sure everything is working right. Today we tossed several jacked up mic chords. If they don't work they get trashed! Nothing looks better than a clean stage! (I said I was a production freak)
  • ADD> we try to add some new stuff each year to our arsenal. You will never be able to have every toy you want for sound or lighting so you have to add as you go. This year we have been able to save thousands of dollars by being patient and looking for used deals (we are moving to in-ear monitors) We are also adding some stage elements that we are going to use for the Sunday morning gathering in August (we get them after this series!) When it comes to ADDING, think ahead and add a little every year.
  • TEST> if you want to have a good first night you better take time and test every system. LEAVE NOTHING UNTESTED! Today we were able to get a hum out of some of our speakers...we got it worked out by a simple fix but that fix came by testing over several days.