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10 Questions Church Leaders Should Be Asking (But Probably Aren’t)

Posted by on Jul 17, 2018 in strategy | 0 comments

10 Questions Church Leaders Should Be Asking (But Probably Aren’t)

Questions have a curious function in the life of a leader. A good question can often propel us forward more than a great answer. Our roles in leading our churches requires us to not only work in our ministry but to also take a step back and work on our ministry. That means that from time to time we need to step back and ask questions that we don’t normally ask about our ministry. I know this can be hard to do during the weekly crunch of getting our services organized, caring for our community, and completing all the various tasks that we are called to do in our churches. To help you start conversations with your leadership team around the development of your church, I’ve put together this list of ten questions that I hope will help guide you to a deeper conversation, even if they’re just a jump-off point to new questions that might stir in you. What’s happening this weekend at your church that’s compelling enough for people to drive to it? We’re living in an increasingly isolated age. More than ever, people are experiencing the world from a virtual point of view. There was a time when you needed to actually get in a car and come over to a church if you wanted to hear great teaching or experience incredible worship music. These days, anyone who wants to learn and worship can simply download podcasts or connect via Facebook Live. What is it that we’re doing that would invite people to walk away from their screens and actually interact face-to-face? I’m still a firm believer in the gathered body of Christ. I do think that there is something powerful about people getting together and worshiping and learning together. Not only are we living in an age where people are increasingly connected digitally, but for the first time since the advent of the car we are seeing an annual decline of people’s willingness to drive in their vehicles. [ref] This presents a challenge since most of our ministries are based on the notion that people will drive across town to come to our churches this weekend. Your church needs to do things that transcend both the screen and are powerful enough to encourage people to get in their cars and come visit you. Would you attend your church if you weren’t a paid staff member? This is a convicting question for me. I can say there are weekends here and there that, if I’m honest, I’m not sure I’d attend church if I wasn’t being paid. Those days are usually in the middle of the summer when it’s super nice out, and I look out and think, “Wow, it would be great to go to the beach today.” However, over the long arc of my ministry I’ve been proud to serve in the churches that I have. I feel bad for people who serve in churches that they’re not excited to be a part of. This question is as probing as it is a bit disturbing as it could reveal a betrayal in our hearts. If you’re in a place where you wouldn’t attend your church if you weren’t being paid to be there, I’d encourage you to reach out to friends for help and...

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Leading Major Change in Your Church with Dr. Jeff Iorg

Posted by on Jul 12, 2018 in podcast, strategy | 0 comments

Leading Major Change in Your Church with Dr. Jeff Iorg

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Android | RSS | MoreWelcome back to another episode of the unSeminary podcast. I’m excited to have Dr. Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary with us today. Gateway Seminary started classes in 1944 with the long time dream of a theological institute to train men and women for ministry in California. By 1959 it had moved to a community next to the Golden Gate Bridge and entered new development plans over the years as it continued to grow in enrollment. By the year 2000 the 25-year development plan had expired. Gateway Seminary had now been established 50 years, had been through two development cycles, having the chance to go forward again. But they faced a new obstacle: the county where they were located had become one of the wealthiest in the country, and as a result, development restrictions abounded. The seminary faced extreme political and community opposition in moving forward—so much so that the idea of relocating began to seem the best option. But moving was not only emotionally difficult, it was also financially difficult because they would have this property that couldn’t be developed if they left it behind. Jumping ahead to 2013, a man walked into Jeff’s office one day and offered to buy the property, leading Gateway Seminary to move south to Ontario, California in 2016. Dr. Jeff Iorg had the privilege of leading Gateway Seminary through this transformational move and learned a tremendous amount about how to lead in the face of major change. He shares more of Gateway’s story and his learnings with us today. All leaders face opposition. // No matter what you are trying to accomplish, all leaders will face opposition. Jeff believes that the predominant message in the Bible when you face opposition is to press through. Ask God to deliver and give you the grace to stand up to the pressure. That is what they did at Gateway. They had community meetings, they hired attorneys to look for ways to go forward, and most of all, they prayed. Sometimes you need to go another path. // Over time at Gateway, and through a process of prayer and dialog, they realized that the opposition they were facing was not an obstacle to be overcome, but rather a signpost to go in another direction. Jeff advises other leaders who are facing situations like this one to approach this option slowly. We are called to stand firm and have courage, and cannot run away at the first obstacle in our paths, but rather lean in and fight through. But sometimes God puts these obstacles in our paths to tell us to go in another direction and it’s wise to come to that conclusion slowly. Mission matters most. // When you are weighing big decisions and facing a major change, the most important aspect is mission clarity. Jeff recommends always going back to the mission before making big decisions, whether it be relocating, hiring new staff, or other changes that will affect the workings of your church. Tie that change to the mission, and make sure that the people in your organization see it and own it. Ask yourself questions during change. // How do you know when to make a major change? In writing his book, Leading...

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4 Painful Mistakes Multisite Churches Make Early On

Posted by on Jul 10, 2018 in multisite, strategy | 1 comment

4 Painful Mistakes Multisite Churches Make Early On

Is your church considering launching a multisite campus? Do you think this might be the best next step in your journey? Have you wondered if this approach could help you reach more people more quickly? Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of talking with scores of church leaders who have launched campuses that went on to impact many people with the message of Jesus. In fact, I’ve had the honor of being in the driver’s seat for the launch of 14 campuses. During that time, we recruited 1,500 volunteers, and somewhere north of 9,000 people attend those campuses today. It’s been amazing to watch the spread and flourish of this movement over the years. However, I’ve spoken with a number of church leaders who are struggling to resolve problems that have arisen in their multisite church as they try to unpack exactly what is going wrong. They are often worried about the future of their multisite and want to diagnose the root cause of these issues. As I’ve listened and interacted, I’ve learned churches tend to make four painful mistakes in the early days of launching new campuses. These mistakes may not cause problems early on, but they always come to root in the long term and ultimately cause a painful future for churches pursuing this approach. About Those Dotted Lines and Solid Lines… When launching new campuses, the main question becomes who is responsible for what. People at other locations will feel the need to lead the ministry in a certain way. They want to make sure areas of particular concern are developed and led excellently as they serve their community. However, the central leadership team will likely have an approach, style, and brand that they’re trying to maintain in the various locations. At its core, campus teams are responsible for relationships and execution. They consider how the ministry affects people while the central team members are concerned with systems and curriculum. Regardless of who reports to whom, who has the first move, and who has the responsibility, it’s important to communicate. This order breaks down when campus teams and central teams stop communicating with each other. In order to radically grow your church, make sure that you have communicated your approach clearly. From which leaders are the first movers to who reports to whom, having these early discussions about structure will prevent painful conversations later. In fact, in my own leadership I would say this conversation has been the most persistent and painful part of leading. It’s matter of authority and responsibility. At a deeper level, this issue is really about many different things that can cause conflict in people’s lives. It could be relational conflict between leaders; it could be an issue of monetary conflict. (Who determines how the church spends money is the root of many problems at so many churches.) This question of responsibility can be a complex situation to wrestle through and requires the church to think clearly about who is responsible for what in a multisite church. Too Close or Too Far? One common problem many churches encounter involves launches that are too close together on the map. Why is this a problem? When campuses are too near to each other, you’re not reaching new markets. The solution: put distance between...

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Why Rural Ministry Should Matter for Every Church with Dr. Glenn Daman

Posted by on Jul 5, 2018 in podcast, strategy | 0 comments

Why Rural Ministry Should Matter for Every Church with Dr. Glenn Daman

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Android | RSS | MoreThanks for joining in for another episode of the unSeminary podcast. Today I’m happy to introduce a new friend and guest, Dr. Glenn Daman, pastor at River Christian Church near Portland, Oregon. River Christian is a small church in a rural community near Portland. Glenn is with us today to talk about the struggles that church leaders of small churches may face and encouragement for serving in rural ministry. Struggles of leadership. // The lack of leadership is a huge problem in churches in rural America. A study by Patricia Chang showed that about 50% of Presbyterian churches below 100 did not have full time pastors. There is a significant problem with finding and recruiting pastors and raising up leaders to serve churches in rural areas. Redefine success. // There is also a continual struggle and frustration in rural churches to demonstrate that they are growing larger. Even among churches we’ve learned to measures success by numbers, as our culture does. In rural America, the church may have been 50-100 people for 30 years and it will remain within those numbers for another 30 years because it reflects the population in the area. This seeming “plateaued growth” leads to frustration and feelings of hopelessness that the rural church isn’t successful because it doesn’t grow in leaps like a church in a more urban area. Dr. Glenn Daman challenges this idea – we need to redefine success as faithfulness to Christ and faithfulness serving in the ministry we’ve been given. Spiritual growth can’t always be measured, but it’s not the number of people that make ministry effective, it’s the change that people have in your ministry. Be a part of the community outside the church. // In a large church the lead pastor typically relates to people from the pulpit. In a rural church, it’s all about how well you relate to them during the week. If a pastor has been out there in the community, then they know you and relate to you as a friend, not just an eloquent speaker. It’s especially important to build these relationships in rural communities—go fishing with your congregants, sit down with them for coffee. Be a part of their world so they can relate to you and trust is built. Invest in people for the long haul. // For a young pastor entering into a rural ministry for the first time, Glenn underscores the importance of getting to know the people in your community and the culture there first. If you didn’t grow up in the community, they may be less likely to trust you and believe you’ll stick around. You need to demonstrate that you are putting down roots and be there several years if you really want to invest in the community. Be committed to your calling and demonstrate that you don’t see rural ministry as simply a stepping stone to a larger church or urban ministry. Show them that you are there until God moves you and you’re not just using them. The call for pastors in the forgotten church. // Glenn’s book The Forgotten Church: Why Rural Ministry Matters for Every Church in America was written to raise awareness of what’s going on in rural America and...

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5 Tips to Make Series Titles at Your Church More Sticky

Posted by on Jul 3, 2018 in communications, strategy | 0 comments

5 Tips to Make Series Titles at Your Church More Sticky

Churches will often organize their Sunday morning content into series. In the simplest terms, a series is a collection of organized ideas and content that is easy for people to understand and share with their friends. As I discuss in my book, Church Growth Flywheel, leveraging the shift from series to series is a great opportunity for churches to grow. Great titles are the key to making your series stickier. We all know that we judge books by their cover and their title, and the same is true with a message series. A good title both has the opportunity to grab people’s attention and makes it easy for them to invite others to listen in as well. So, how do you create a compelling series title? Lead with a Conversational Hook When you develop a title, imagine your people talking to their friends about the series. Make the title conversational, as in the kind of thing that people would actually say in a conversation. I often think about what would happen if I were at the gym talking to a friend—could I actually say the title of the series and capture their interest in what our church is talking about? Lead with this conversational hook. Use the tool below to measure how conversational your series titles are. Finish the following sentence: “You should come to my church this weekend because we’re talking about _____________. “ If you can’t finish that sentence eloquently, then maybe the conversational tone isn’t there for that particular title. We use series for teaching because we want to make our content understandable and memorable so it’s easy for our people to then share it with their friends. Starting with a naturally conversational title is a core element for enabling content sharing. Here are some examples of conversational titles for upcoming series: Raising Sane Kids in a Crazy World A New Year and a New You Finding Peace at Work At the Movies: Lessons from Today’s Movies and the Bible Each one of those titles could slip into a conversation between your people and their friends. The key is to consider the following: What it is that people actually discuss on a regular basis? How can you position your series around those topics? Use Contrast to Spark Intrigue When I was a kid, my mom would microwave strawberries and we’d put them on top of ice cream. The taste combination of the warm strawberries and the cool, sweet ice cream was hard to resist. This response of intrigue tends to happen when we see two unalike ideas together. The human mind is a pattern recognition machine, so when you combine two different ideas the mind is naturally interested in learning more. Contrast is a powerful communication tool that you should try to use in your titles from time to time. Here are some examples of series titles that leverage contrast: Ancient Truth for a Modern World How to Be an Everyday Hero Living a Vitally Simple Life Slow Down to Speed Up Each one of those titles attempts to combine ideas that don’t normally go together. The contrast draws the reader in and begs them to look for more information. They’re intriguing. Be Google-friendly Churches are content creation machines. Every week you generate a tremendous amount of...

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Managing Internal Communications in a 26 Location Multisite Church with Kent Richardson

Posted by on Jun 28, 2018 in communications, multisite, podcast | 0 comments

Managing Internal Communications in a 26 Location Multisite Church with Kent Richardson

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Android | RSS | MoreWelcome back to another episode of the unSeminary podcast. I’m so excited to talk today with Kent Richardson, the Communications Director of New Life Community Church. Kent is part of the central services team at New Life and his role includes trying to resource, support, and equip New Life’s twenty-six locations, as well as overseeing the websites and social media presence and internal communications between the staff. Kent is with us today to talk about how his role as the Communications Director works within New Life Community Church across so many locations. Listen to what each of the locations need. // When Kent first came into his role three years ago, one of the first things he did was meet individually with each of the location pastors. While familiar with the location where he was, Kent did not have that same insight everywhere. So he began asking questions about what the broader church looked like. What are the values? What are the pastors talking about, concerned about, needing? That helped Kent discover internally who New Life was, what they value, and what they were doing from a ministry standpoint. As a result, Kent knew his audience better and what communications would resonate with them. Get to know the differences at each campus. // Kent also learned that each location had their own style of communication. Some used more formal written communication, while others tended toward oral communication, such as storytelling. It can be chaotic at first, but try to learn to work within those differences and discover a method that works well for everyone. Kent also learned about the strengths and weaknesses of each campus. If one location was struggling in one area, and there was another location that was excelling in that same area, Kent worked to discover good ideas and best practices from the different locations, tapping into the skills of each pastor and sharing resources. Develop a central place to disseminate information. // Consider the idea of using a WordPress site to share with your pastors in order to offer ideas for sermons, freebie resources, videos, and other items they could use in prepping for weekend services. Kent originally sent out files through email to his pastors, but there were always files that were too big and it cluttered up people’s inboxes. Deciding there could be a more fun and efficient way to share resources and communicate to the many campuses, Kent built a WordPress site where he made everything easily available for download. Now he updates the site on Mondays to allow the team to have the week to work through the resources. Also, consider offering tips on how to use the available tools in sermons. The tools are great, but having tips on how to use them is beyond valuable. Develop communication tools easily. // Previously if various ministries needed a postcard, flyer or other communication tool, they would send Kent an email and let him know. But this always created a lot of back and forth as Kent tracked down all of the necessary information for the marketing piece. As a result, Kent developed a Communication Request Form where people were able to submit information for a creative project all in one place, which helped...

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All About Multisite // Robust Leadership Development Practices & Keeping Teams Aligned

Posted by on Jun 27, 2018 in All About Multisite, multisite, podcast | 0 comments

All About Multisite // Robust Leadership Development Practices & Keeping Teams Aligned

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Android | RSS | MoreWelcome back to our new podcast all about multisite! I’m chatting with a group of multisite ninjas and answering your questions about the ins and outs of launching new campuses. Our group is as follows: Natalie Frisk is our family ministry expert. She is a key leader from The Meeting House. This church has 19 (!) locations and is doing all kinds of great stuff, including a killer kids’ & youth curriculum that they give away for free. Natalie’s a lot of fun and will have so many great insights around leading in a thriving multisite church. Greg Curtis is our guest connections and assimilation expert. He leads at Eastside Christian Church, one of the fastest growing churches in the country, and literally, is the “go to” source for getting people to stick and stay in the church. (Eastside has assimilated something like 1,500 people in the last 18 months!) His coaching practice around assimilation is amazing. Ben Stapley is our communications and service programming expert. Ben is one of the most helpful leaders I know. His day job is at Liquid Church in NJ, but he does so much to help other leaders with the “big show” part of church world. And I, Rich, have been involved with 14 different campus launches over the years and enjoy helping churches that are thinking about multisite. We are here to answer your questions about running a multisite church and are excited to be here today with our fifth episode. Opening Question: Who are some other multisite churches that you are learning from? Greg Curtis – There isn’t one or two specific ones I have personally invested in, but I would say in general Church of the Highlands and Central Christian in Mesa, Arizona. Natalie Frisk – To be honest with you and without even building into their egos at all, I have been learning a lot from Liquid Church and Eastside, both Greg and Ben. But not just those guys, different people on their teams. Aside from those two, I would also say Crossroads Church in Ohio has been an incredible church to tune into. Ben Stapley – I know one that I’ve given a lot of shout outs to in the past is LCBC Church in Pennsylvania. They’ve been super helpful with their time and have systemized things really well. In terms of following churches from afar, on my radar right now would be Christ Church of the Valley. They do a great job of sharing their resources. Q1: What are some effective systems and practices churches are using for developing leaders in multisite churches? Raising up leaders is critically important for both staff and volunteers. 87% of all campus pastors are found from within the existing church and 2/3 of volunteers in all locations are new to volunteering. Within Eastside Church, when a new campus is started they invite people to come to interest meetings where they can meet the campus pastor and key leaders that have already been recruited for a few major areas. There is a short presentation to let everyone know where the church is in the launch process, and then the leaders are introduced by area. People are invited to sit at the...

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Bigger Vision for Deeper Team Development in Worship Ministry with Jon Usborne

Posted by on Jun 21, 2018 in Developing a Leadership Pipeline, podcast, strategy | 0 comments

Bigger Vision for Deeper Team Development in Worship Ministry with Jon Usborne

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Android | RSS | MoreThanks so much for joining in for another episode of the unSeminary podcast. We have a great conversation today with Jon Usborne, the Creative Arts Director with 2|42 Community Church in Michigan. 2|42 Community Church’s heart beats for its community, whether it’s the neighborhoods where they are located or building community on their teams. Today Jon is with us to talk about what that looks like in the worship ministry and how to build teams of depth that help people to develop more than just their technical skills. Less technique and more depth. // When you’re leading the worship ministry, the focus tends to primarily be on getting team schedules correct, being intentional about choosing songs, and ultimately leading the community to Jesus so they are impacted during the worship time. Those are good things, but as a result the focus can shift to technique rather than depth, and it can be tempting to skip parts of the whole process during those times when you’re tired. There’s a lot more that we can do to build the worship team community, putting systems and structures of discipleship in place so our team understands the value of not just working on skills training. Rather they need to be leading out of a place of what they’ve discovered worshiping is in their personal lives. Don’t just develop musical skill. // As one who oversees the worship ministry, Jon doesn’t just want team members to develop their skills. Jon explains, “Your skill isn’t what identifies you in this community – being a worshiper of Jesus is what identifies you.” 2|42 Community Church is strategic about how they develop those qualities and characteristics in the members of their worship team – it breaks down to small groups within their worship community. Their focus is now to create a spiritual development pathway for the people on their teams. Audition for the community. // Let newcomers know that when they come in for auditions, they’re auditioning for the community and not for the stage. Choose musicians who are willing to serve in other areas besides just on stage. Encourage them to go out into community events, play music, reach out to others, and be a part of serving wholeheartedly off the stage. These events can be part of the audition process early on. Team leaders have a pastor’s heart. // At 2|42 the worship ministry is broken into teams based on the area of musical skill. For example, vocalists are on a team together, and each team has a leader. The team will get together over three months to help each other develop harmony and skills, and read the bible together. The team leader also meets with each member of their team over coffee with a goal of discipleship and just being present in someone’s life. The team leader is not the person who has been there the longest or is the most skilled in their craft, but rather it’s the people with the pastor’s heart. These individuals feel like they’re meant to lead people, and not just lead moments of worship on stage. You can learn more about 2|42 Community Church at 242community.com. Thank You for Tuning In! There are a lot of podcasts you could be...

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Brian Dodd on Leadership, Pastors Blogging & More

Posted by on Jun 14, 2018 in communications, podcast, strategy | 0 comments

Brian Dodd on Leadership, Pastors Blogging & More

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Android | RSS | MoreWelcome back, friends, for a unique conversation today with Brian Dodd, author at the Brian Dodd on Leadership blog and Director of New Ministry Partnerships at INJOY Leadership Solutions. Brian is with us today to talk about leadership and leader development and how he used his research of both to write his book Timeless. 10 most common practices. // On his blog, Brian coined the phrase “Apex Leaders”—leaders at the top of their professions. When it comes to leadership, there are also Apex Organizations and Apex Churches. Over the years, Brian has done over 185 profiles of Apex Leaders, Churches, and Organizations on his blog. In profiling so many exemplary leaders, he wondered if there was a common thread among the Apex groups, so Brian began an Excel spreadsheet and started going through all of those blog posts. He identified 309 things that those Apex leaders, churches, and organizations do and narrowed it down to the ten most common. With each of those ten practices, he builds a biblical framework within the chapters of the book Timeless and then ties each of those back to modern day examples. Build leadership culture. // With every book he writes, Brian sets out to create something that can be used to build a leadership culture. Timeless can be used as a personal study, but pastors can also read through it with their staffs, staffs can do it with their primary lay leaders, and lay leaders can do it with their spheres of influence. A faith-based organization or business group can go through the book together. There are discussion questions at the end of each chapter that you can go through on your own or with a group. Character comes in later. // The most shocking discovery Brian had during his research was what did not make the top ten most common practices. It was so shocking he wrote about it in the introduction of the book. You have expected steps that leaders would take—build great teams and deliver results—but Brian thought character would be number two or three in most common practices. To his surprise it didn’t even make it into the top fifteen. The fact is while you don’t need character to reach the top, you need character to stay at the top as a leader or organization. You see it in entertainment, sports, business, and even ministry—people who shoot to the top, but fizzle out because they don’t spend time on character development. Leader development versus leadership development. // Brian explains that leader development and leadership development are two different things. Leadership development is developing the skills, talents, and abilities to accomplish a task or assignment given to you by God. Meanwhile, leader development is becoming the type of man or woman who can accomplish a skill, task, or assignment given to you by God. We spend time an inordinate amount of time on leadership development, but not enough time on leader development in order to sustain the positions we’re placed in. How is your mission and vision becoming a reality? // Some may say blogging is dead, but Brian encourages pastors to have blogs. God has given you a unique word to say on His behalf, so what do...

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Leading a Growing Church in an Unlikely Location with McKenzie Schreck

Posted by on Jun 7, 2018 in podcast, strategy | 0 comments

Leading a Growing Church in an Unlikely Location with McKenzie Schreck

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Android | RSS | MoreI’m so glad you tuned in to today’s unSeminary podcast. Today I’m chatting with McKenzie Schreck, the executive pastor at Capital Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. Capital Church just celebrated their twentieth anniversary this past fall. They began from a group of college kids who followed their professor to Salt Lake City to plant a church, and they now have a couple of locations in Utah. Salt Lake City may be thought of as a difficult place to begin a Christian church and expect it to thrive, but McKenzie is with us today to talk about what they’ve done at Capital over the past 20 years and what you can do in your church too. Be intentional. // At Capital they make it a point to be very intentional about knowing who is in the room. In order to do that, recognize that everyone is at a different place on their spiritual journey. Capital presents the truth of the Gospel and demonstrates that it’s applicable to all of life, but they do that with grace for wherever people are at. If you do that in a safe and intentional way, it will encourage people to bring others with them to church because they know it won’t be shaming or hostile to those raised with a different faith. Make shifts when needed. // Capital Church started a class called Conversations on Christianity, which aren’t targeted toward Mormons in particular, but rather are geared toward individuals with any faith or non-faith background who can come to find out what Christianity is all about. People can sort through what they believe Christianity may be and what it really is. For a long time, the Conversations on Christianity was held in a classroom setting with everyone in one large group. But over time, they began to see the attendance of the class taper. During that time, the church shifted into more of a focus on small groups which was well received all around. So they decided to take a cue from that decision and incorporated the Conversations on Christianity class within the small groups setting. Small groups open conversations. // Capital Church has many people with Mormon backgrounds exploring their church and dealing with a variety of emotions, from anger about what they had been taught, to fear of leaving their family with their Mormon faith, to excitement at discovering who Jesus really is. Capital has learned that placing these people in a small group environment to process their emotions while working through Conversations on Christianity provides a safe community where they can also build relationships with others experiencing the same things. Live out the joy of journeying with Jesus. // As your life transforms, people you come in contact with will see that change within you. Create a safe space within your church so that when someone is curious, you can lead them to check it out for themselves and explore what it means to follow Jesus. You can learn more about Capital Church at www.capitalchurch.com. 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...

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