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Omar Garcia on Transforming an Inward Church to an Outward Church

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Omar Garcia on Transforming an Inward Church to an Outward Church

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | MoreThank you all so much for joining us for another episode of the unSeminary podcast. I’m so excited to have Omar Garcia with us today. Omar is the missions pastor at Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, Texas. Omar arrived at Kingsland 12 years ago as the first missions pastor. The church had a great reputation in the community, with a great prayer ministry and great family ministry. However, everything at Kingsland was very inwardly focused. The church needed help in reaching beyond the church and into the community. Take ownership of ministry initiatives. // Omar wanted to help the Kingsland membership to stretch themselves and step into situations they never had before, locally and internationally, while demonstrating God’s love in practical ways. One of the first steps in reaching beyond the church’s doors was to challenge the community groups to take ownership of a local initiative. The church stepped outside of Katy’s upper middle class neighborhoods and into the inner city of Houston, forming an urban alliance with a church there. Omar took 45 moms and kids to deliver fans during the summer to elderly within these neighborhoods in Houston. Care for your community in various ways. // Once the local initiatives took off, Kingsland faced the issue of remodeling their worship center and having to be out of the church for a Sunday. The staff discussed the plan of finding another place to worship that day and what building they could rent. But instead the initiative of Caring for Katy was born, which filled the problem of needing a place to come together to worship. On that Sunday, everyone stepped outside of the church, found needs within the community and determined how they would address them. Caring for Katy is now in its tenth year and reaches out to people throughout the Houston area to bring the love of God to them in practical ways. Find passion among the staff. // An important part of finding success in initiatives like the ones Kingsland has done is to be passionate about seeing people grow in their relationship with Christ. Kingsland’s senior pastor is a passionate supporter of everything the community missions has done in reaching beyond the church. He recognizes that as his congregation grows in sharing their faith, they are investing in and contributing to the Kingdom of God. Often these kinds of outreach initiatives don’t work because there is no passion or full support from the senior leaders in the church. A senior pastor who is just as passionate about these projects as the groups doing them will encourage success and help provide resources needed for local missions. You can learn more about Kingsland at www.kingsland.org and reach Omar at omar@kingsland.org. Thank You for Tuning In! There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose unSeminary, and I’m grateful for that. If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it by using the social media buttons you see at the left hand side of this page. Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show and you can bet that I read every single one of...

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Bruce Ammons on 500% More Second Time Guests Than The Average Church

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Bruce Ammons on 500% More Second Time Guests Than The Average Church

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Podcast (video): Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThanks for joining us for another episode of the unSeminary podcast. Today I’m excited to have with us our guest, Bruce Ammons from Sugar Creek Baptist Church. Sugar Creek is one of the fastest growing churches in the country. Serving the greater Houston area, the church is very ethnically diverse, with people among the congregation from over ninety different countries, speaking seventy different languages. The mission of getting first time guests to return to a church again became Bruce’s burden after he learned that only 1 in 10 first time guests will return to a church a second time. However if an unchurched person returns time and time again, Bruce notes that a lot of these people (even adults) will trust Christ as their Lord and Savior. So at Sugar Creek, Bruce and his team have worked hard to retain first time guests, and now about 50% of their first time guests do return. Of those who return, about 76% stay and continue attending at church. Bruce talks with us today about how to retain visitors to your church. A great Sunday morning experience. // When a first time guest attends your church, they should feel welcomed and invited when they walk in the door. Bruce explains that at this point in the path, it’s about feelings rather than theology. Guests should feel comfortable and valued, and non-believers especially shouldn’t feel overwhelmed among a group whose enthusiasm for Christ may be greater than theirs. Many of the people who begin attending Sugar Creek regularly are not followers of Christ when they first come to church. Amazing, quick follow up. // Years ago, Bruce did door to door visits in order to follow up with first time visitors. But today that method doesn’t work because door to door visits are seen as an interruption. Now Sugar Creek does a quick follow up mail campaign. On Sunday mornings, Sugar Creek asks that everyone in the church to fill out a communication card with their information. First time visitors shouldn’t be singled out and made to do something everyone else isn’t doing, so even regular attendees are asked to do this. On Monday at 2:00pm, Bruce sends out an email to attendees thanking them for attending Sugar Creek and inviting them back again. The email includes a link to a five minute survey that the guests can fill out if they want or have the time, which lets the staff know how the experience was and how they can improve their services. On Tuesday at 1:00pm, a team meets together to write handwritten cards to the guests. Bulk mail campaigns are often tossed in the trash, so these cards can’t look like a bland, metered mailer. These cards are handwritten by Bruce or the senior pastor and have a first class stamp on the corner instead of being processed by a mail machine. As Bruce explains, these cards essentially look like birthday cards and are much more personal and inviting. The cards also include a $5 Starbucks gift card in order to make the guests feel loved on by the church. Bruce says, “I want...

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Art Rainer on The Money Challenge at Your Church

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Art Rainer on The Money Challenge at Your Church

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Podcast (video): Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSArt Rainer is the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), and previously the Administrative Pastor at Family Church in Florida. In his current role at SEBTS he does work with financial development, marketing and communications, and enrollment, just to name a few. He has a passion for personal finances which began many years ago—in fact Art shares that his initial goal coming out of college was to be a certified financial planner. He’s written a number of super-practical books and his latest, The Money Challenge is no different. Listen in as Art shares with us his passion for seeing people become financially healthy while living a lifestyle of generosity, and the action steps found in his new book. Thank You for Tuning In! There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose unSeminary, and I’m grateful for that. If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it by using the social media buttons you see at the left hand side of this page. Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show and you can bet that I read every single one of them personally! Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live!  Lightning Round Helpful Tech Tools // Mint.com, Clear app Ministries Following // Family Church Influential Book // The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown; The Elements of Investing by Burton G. Malkiel and Charles D. Ellis Inspiring Leader // Elon Musk What does he do for fun // Family time with kids and wife Contact // @artrainer on Twitter, Seminary website:...

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Dennis Richards on How Breakthrough Clarity Can Help Your Church

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Dennis Richards on How Breakthrough Clarity Can Help Your Church

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | MoreDennis Richards is the executive pastor at Preston Trails Church in Texas. Listen in as he walks us through how the church gained extraordinary clarity and the difference that made in the life of their church. This episode is a great guide for your church to wrestle through what elements you need clarity on and how to move to action once you have it! Thank You for Tuning In! There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose unSeminary, and I’m grateful for that. If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it by using the social media buttons you see at the left hand side of this page. Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show and you can bet that I read every single one of them personally! Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes...

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Stephen Brewster on Creative Leadership for Your Church

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Stephen Brewster on Creative Leadership for Your Church

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Podcast (video): Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSStephen Brewster serves as a part of the leadership team at Freedom House Church in Charlotte, NC. In his role, he leads the Creative team in dreaming, creating and executing experiences, communications, music and more for all areas of ministry at the church. Stephen has nearly 20 years in professional creative environments including music marketing and management, artist development, creative team leading and art directing. He and his wife, Jackie, have four children. On today’s podcast, we have a helpful conversation about how you can lead the creative types within your church. Listen in for help lead the team of people who push the creative elements of your ministry forward! Thank You for Tuning In! There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose unSeminary, and I’m grateful for that. If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it by using the social media buttons you see at the left hand side of this page. Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show and you can bet that I read every single one of them personally! Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes...

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U2 vs. Star Wars: Lessons for our Churches

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U2 vs. Star Wars: Lessons for our Churches

You know I used to think the future was solid or fixed, something you inherited like an old building that you move into when the previous generation moves out or gets chased out. But it’s not. The future is not fixed, it’s fluid. – Bono, U2 This summer I had an unparalleled spiritual experience. After waiting for over 25+ years I got to see U2 live. Every time they came around I really wanted to go see them but I just couldn’t swallow the cost. However, this time, my wife and kids got me tickets to go see U2 in concert when they swung by our local mega-stadium. It was a stunning experience! There was so much about it that was moving. As I’ve watched on Facebook and other social media channels, it would appear that a lot of my friends have had a similar experience this summer as the boys from Ireland are making their trek around the world. Even as the concert was happening, I was trying to figure out why this was such a great experience for me and I came up with the following few reasons: It connected with my youth. // These songs, in particular, have played as a part of the soundtrack of my life. My brother had the “Rattle & Hum” album when we were young and I would listen to it over and over. This album was from the “concert movie” of the “Joshua Tree” tour from 30 years ago and this current tour literally helped me relive those memories. As the night rolled through it was like parts of my youth kept popping in my head. I was cheering for Bono and the boys. // At the beginning of the night, Bono said something like “thanks for letting us into your lives all these years”. I’ve heard him say this on a few talk shows about the tour, and this touched me deeply. In a weird way, Bono and The Edge have been a part of the extended friendship of my life. I was cheering for them as people not just rock stars … for them to continue doing what they do … and for all they’ve done. It was a celebration of them being them! I saw a lot of people I knew… like a lot! // I kept joking that it is was a family reunion for the broader evangelical movement of a certain age. I saw so many people I knew that I haven’t seen in years. I literally bumped into friends in a crowd of 50,000+ people. The density of “people like me” was higher than I’ve felt in a very long time and this was really comforting; we were all cheering for us and our experiences. I loved the concert! I know it sounds crazy in a cynical world to say it was a dream come true. I’ll probably hold onto the memories of that night for years and years to come. I’m thankful for the experience and honored that I got to be there. However, it was unsettling. I’ve said that if I could get U2 to lead worship at my church I would literally die and go to heaven. That would feel like the ultimate expression of worship to Jesus from my cultural...

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Andy Steiger on Why Apologetics Should Be Added to Your Church

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Andy Steiger on Why Apologetics Should Be Added to Your Church

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Podcast (video): Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSAndy Steiger is the founder and director of Apologetics Canada, an organization dedicated to helping churches across Canada better understand and engage today’s culture. He created and hosted the Thinking Series and is the Author of Thinking? Answering Life’s Five Biggest Questions. He has spoken on life’s big questions internationally in universities, conferences, churches, prisons and coffee shops. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Andy lives in Abbotsford, BC, Canada with his wife, Nancy, and their two boys. In today’s episode, we talk about the place that apologetics could play in your church! Listen in for some practical help and insights as your church attempts to impact a post-Christian context. Thank You for Tuning In! There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose unSeminary, and I’m grateful for that. If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it by using the social media buttons you see at the left hand side of this page. Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show and you can bet that I read every single one of them personally! Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes...

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Do These 8 Steps When Your Church Launches a New Series

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Do These 8 Steps When Your Church Launches a New Series

Church growth is more of a flywheel than a cannon shot. It requires consistent energy applied in the same direction over time to see results. It doesn’t happen overnight but as you gain traction the small wins start to add up and something truly amazing happens. A year ago, the church I worked in was named one of the fastest-growing churches in the country by Outreach Magazine [ref]. As I reflected on this, I tried to dissect our strategies and what made us different from other churches. I wondered what it was that seemed to make a difference and enable our growth. I became convinced that our consistent focus on series promotion was part of the equation. For over 30 series in a row (that’s nearly three years), we would do the same thing to promote every new series. And although we’d mix up the content to ensure the approach didn’t get stale, we always applied the same core elements every time we did something new. If you’re looking for ways to jumpstart your church’s growth and help you launch a new series, repeat these same elements every time you launch a new series at your church. The goal is to build excitement for the new series and encourage your people to bring as many friends and family members as they please. Staying focused on repeating these eight every series is a part of the discipline that will add energy to your church growth flywheel! Heads Up Announcement – Two Weeks Before // As you near the end of the series that you are currently on, take some time to telegraph what’s coming up next. Doing this helps your people know what to anticipate next in the life of the church. It could also serve as an incentive to persevere to people who might not be raving fans of the current series. Momentum is generated in all organizations by “new” things. Our minds are hardwired to see the new and novel and be attracted to it. By articulating what is “new and exciting” in the life of your church, you can start generating positive momentum. Momentum is first an idea in your people’s minds before it translates in tangible impact. This announcement should be anticipation-inducing and explain the core “hook” for the series. A positively toned announcement on a slide with the start date and core “look” of the series would be a great start for your church! Trailer Video – One Week Before // The week before the series launches is critical for your people. During the service, play a short trailer (45-60 seconds) that sets up the tension of the series. This video is designed to entice its viewers to want to learn more and to invite their friends to the series. Oftentimes, you’ll notice churches use questions in these trailers because it is a simple way to frame the series. A video trailer is an important communication tool because it breaks up the format of a “talking head” doing announcements and grabs peoples’ attention. This video should also be shared on your social media channels during the week after it’s played. (Bonus: email core “insiders” and invite them to share the video online so it spreads more on other channels.) Two-thirds of your church are visual...

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Scott Bixby on How a 127 Year Old Church Grew to Over 90% in Groups and 2,000+ People

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Scott Bixby on How a 127 Year Old Church Grew to Over 90% in Groups and 2,000+ People

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | More Podcast (video): Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSWelcome to this week’s podcast and thank you for joining us today. We’re talking with Scott Bixby of Northridge Church in Rochester. We’ve highlighted Northridge Church in the past in this article about theater churches, and we’re happy to be talking with them again. Northridge Church has been around for 127 years and was a typical Baptist church when Scott first came there. Since then, it has transitioned to a multisite church with three campuses in the Rochester area that better reaches people in the community. The team pared down a lot of the things they had done and began to use a simpler approach to church. Part of that process was removing the adult Sunday School classes and using a group structure instead. Scott is with us today to talk about how they transitioned into a groups model and the impact it’s had for Northridge. Be a church OF groups, not a church WITH groups. // Typically the first point of contact with a visitor and a local church happens during the Sunday morning service. Create an environment where the newcomer feels welcome and then invite them to take their next step in joining a group. At Northridge the groups are a constant topic within the church, as well as part of the assimilation process. As Scott notes, “There’s no way we could have grown from a few hundred to 2,200 without our groups formed and functioning well.” Keeping groups in the forefront on Sundays exposes visitors to the group culture, plus reminds people in existing groups why their group is important in their lives and spiritual growth. Create a clear method for joining and sharing groups. // Northridge uses a method of trimesters to have people transition into and out of groups. Three times a year everyone has the chance to join or leave a current group. There are feedback forms so that the leaders can be aware of anything they need to change or continue to do in their groups. Each group has its own plan, but there are churchwide topics that are given to the groups to be discussed. The trimester method Northridge uses has groups starting fresh in September and meeting for 10 weeks. They then take a break for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and kick off again in January. After another 10 weeks they take a break for Easter, and then reboot for 10 weeks in late spring/early summer, taking a break before the September kickoff. While people can join a group in the middle of a trimester, most of the time people are joining and changing groups during the break periods. Train and coach group leaders. // Training and coaching community group leaders is of utmost importance at Northridge. To train group leaders, Northridge will have a large training event twice a year in which the group leaders from all of the campuses come together. There are a number of breakouts at that event and the leaders get to choose which ones they want to attend. In addition to the training event, Northridge helps develop their groups by having coaches visit the groups a couple of...

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7 Pivots Churches Make to Break the 1,000 Barrier

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7 Pivots Churches Make to Break the 1,000 Barrier

What got you here won’t get you there. As churches approach the 1,000 mark in weekend service attendance they can often find that their growth slows down. This is often identified as a “barrier” to growth that many churches can’t seem to get over. In fact, only 2% of churches grow beyond the 1,000 barrier. [ref] There are twice as many churches in the 500-1,000 size than those who break through and move above 1,000. I’ve had the privilege of serving in three different churches over the last almost 20 years that have all broken the 1,000 barrier. Through the coaching I’ve conducted, I’ve also been up close with a bunch of other teams as they cross over this barrier. As well, through the unSeminary Podcast, I’ve talked with hundreds (really 200+!) leaders from churches, mostly those who have crossed this barrier. All of these churches have made some significant changes in the way they perform ministry as they cross this barrier. Here I talk about just seven of the pivots necessary for churches, as they attempt to reach and serve more people beyond 1,000 people in attendance. Hiring Randomly to Building the Ideal Team Early on in a church’s development, you are just so happy that you hire anybody to help with the mission. Often, proximity to the key leader is highly valued because typically, people within close relational circles are hired. However, as the church grows you start to see the leaders slowing down and making more deliberate hiring choices. Rather than just “filling holes” these churches are now attempting to strategically build a team that helps them grow into the future. More specialization occurs as the leadership attempts to drive up the quality and execution in various vitally important areas of ministry. There can be a sense that they are “buying clothes they need to grow into” at this phase. Oftentimes, as a church is attempting to break the 1,000 barrier the hiring is done in a growth oriented need for the church to reach out to more people and get plugged in. Learn from This Church //  I love what Dan Zimbardi from Sandals Church has done with their “Ethos Document” that helps shape the kind of team they are wanting to be! General Dream to Laser Focused Vision As churches move beyond 1,000 people they develop a deep sense of their “big why”. Their points of differentiation come into sharper focus as the leadership moves to achieve breakthrough clarity on the vision for the church. In fact, it’s difficult for a church to move beyond 1,000 people unless the entire leadership core (volunteers & staff) and large portions of the general church can articulate the unique mission of the church’s calling. Sometimes church leaders at smaller churches are worried about being “better” than the other options available to people in town. Although it is not appropriate to weigh how one church is “better” than another church, (unfortunately) at times some leaders do it! One of the common traits for church leaders as their ministries break the 1,000 barrier is a quiet confidence, which settles over them that their ministry isn’t better than others in town but just different. This confidence comes from a deeper understanding of the mission that they are called to and...

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