A Contrarian View on Starting a New Worship Service [April 19, 2017 Version]

Litrugical Worship

“I cannot stand that loud music,” said Henry Brown, a leader in his congregation.

“But, if it will help us reach a younger crowd on Sundays, as long as it is at a different time than the sacred 11:00 a.m. worship, and I do not have to attend it or hear that music when I arrive at church, then I guess we can have it.”

With that the board of Hope Church voted to start a new contemporary worship service.

“Have you seen some of those things they are doing in what they call their worship service?” exclaimed Claire Yarborough in response to the new emergent worship service meeting in the old church worship center at Council Road Church.

“I am not sure it is Christian. I know it is not faithful to our denominational heritage.”

Claire was not the only person who felt this way. The opposition in the congregation to the new worship service that had been meeting for almost two years was growing.

Claire continued. “We need to get a group of our leaders to attend that service and see what is going on. We may need to stop that service, and get rid of the worship leader. We particularly do not want our pastor doing some of those things in our worship service!”

She was referring to the interpretive movement—dancing as she called it—that was part of the worship experiences. Additionally, the meditation exercises and the unusual and casual way they partake of Communion seemed out of character to their denominational heritage.

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Excellence in Hospitality! Secrets of a Secret Shopper

Secrets of a Secret Shopper CoverGreg Atkinson is one of those folks who actually knows what he is talking about. He has been in hundreds of congregations as a member, guest, and especially as a secret shopper. Out of those experiences he has written a book that is "ultimately about excellence and doing what you do well." (pp. 145-146 in Secrets of a Secret Shopper. As a person who is really big on congregational vision--see Captured by Vision: 101 Insights to Empower Your Congregation at Captured by Vision--I love the various references in the book to casting the vision in the manner in which hospitality is extended to guests.

Greg has been a secret shopper so many times that he has a whole list of "bones to pick," "soapboxes," and "pet peeves." He points these out in the book, but then tells you what to do about them. This is not a book of lists. It is a book that covers key topical areas around hospitality, provides examples of congregations, and references other writers who have made helpful statements.

Instead of a preacher for your next revival, a Bible teacher for your next congregational wide study, or the next music guest person or group, invite Greg Atkinson to come visit your congregation, but don't let anyone know he is coming! Then in addition to sharing the report he provides, buy a copy of this book for everyone in your congregation who works on hospitality issues. Or, just start right now by buying the book and absorbing it. You cannot go wrong!

“I Started a Church Today!” Response: Are you sure?

Church Planting 01“I started a church today!” exclaimed Samuel Powers our congregation multiplication director as he returned to the office from a successful field visit with the potential sponsor of a new congregation.

I responded as the missions division leader, “No, you didn’t. You simply had the first meeting with a potential sponsor.”

“Yeah, but they agreed to start the church. I am putting it up on the board as number 23 this year,” Samuel said as he grinned at me as we both knew what was going on here.

Samuel liked to count new congregations as successes from the first discussion about launching the congregation. I insisted we talk about the seven phases of launching and developing a new congregation, of which the fourth phase was when we formally counted them as a new sustaining congregation.

Consider the full life of a congregation. What happens when a congregation first experiences the waning of its initial empowering vision from God that launched it into a life of worship, discipleship, fellowship, and mission. At some point when vision wanes, it decides it is time to re-envision, revitalize, renew, reinvent, or resurrect the congregation.

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Congregations Must Play at the Top of Their Game in the March Madness

Duke and March MadnessI am writing this as March Madness—better known as the NCAA Division 1 College Men’s Basketball Tournament gets underway. Although as an Atlantic Coast Conference fan I expected the first day of the basketball season both Duke University and the University of North Carolina would be in the tournament, that did not mean they failed to engage in readiness to be in the tournament.

At least for Duke it was an up and down season. Even their legendary coach—Mike Krzyzewski—was out of commission for four weeks with back surgery, and various other injuries and even bad behavior by a player or two threatened that they would miss the tournament, it was still a reliable prediction that they would be in tournament.

With all their challenges, by the end of the season they were playing at their very best. It took more than 30 games for them to get ready for the tournament. They could not just short hoops around Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC for six months and get ready for the tournament. They had to practice hard, play hard, and anticipate the next game as soon as a game ended.

Congregations are too often not like that. They want to play around being a congregation, doing whatever comes naturally to them, and then at a certain point when the pain is too great declare they need help, a silver bullet, a newly drafted pastor, or some other magic to transform. They want to do this without a highly-disciplined season of readiness.

Ten Qualities Found in Congregations Who Appeal to Millennials


Download Bullard 10 Qualities in Congs Who Appeal to Millennials 03.15.17

Frank Powell wrote an article posted to www.Faithit.com entitled 10 Things You Won’t Find in a Church That Attracts Millennials. It is subtitled What differentiates a church culture that attracts Millennials from one that repels them?” Read his blog and learn about him at http://frankpowell.me/.

This is a really big issue for thousands of congregations. I took Frank’s ten points which are written in the negative, and turned them around as positive issues for congregations to address to become appealing to Millennials. I urge you to read Frank’s work in addition to reading my spin on them. I placed them in my own spiritual and strategic framework.

Here we go. These are the ten qualities in congregations that appeal to Millennials. Read and ponder each one of these. Then rate your congregation on each one using a scale of one to ten. One means your congregation is nothing like this. Ten means you congregation is exactly like this. Numbers two to nine can be used to say how little or how much your congregation is like this. Be honest about where along the scale your congregation is today.

Here is the inventory of 10 qualities: Download Bullard 10 Qualities in Congs Who Appeal to Millennials 03.15.17