Getting People back to In-Person Worship

Church has changed. Gathering has become a challenge more than ever. This is true in churches of all sizes and denominations. I have talked with a lot of pastors, and most of them are asking the same question. How do we get our church people back to in-person attendance? Sure, there are some people who are high risk and should not attend in-person. But what about those who are simply not attending because they have fallen out of habit? 
Before the pandemic, the focus for churches was always reaching unchurched people (and it still should be, by the way). However, churches that have re-opened are struggling to get their pre-pandemic attenders back in the building. 

Christians have found a new rhythm. Many have spent the last several months watching church online. They have the luxury of watching on Sundays or a different day that’s more convenient. In some ways, people almost feel like they have a permission to stay home and not gather as a church. Since about every church in the country…

Is Your Church a Fallout Shelter?

One of my favorite movies is Blast from the Past starring Brendan Fraser. The movie follows the Webber family, and is set in the 1960’s, when everyone thought that a nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union was possible. The father spends months building a fallout shelter in preparation. Eventually, a plane crashes into the Webber’s home, causing him to believe the end has arrived. In his mind, it’s the beginning of a nuclear war, so he takes his pregnant wife to the fallout shelter. The massive steel doors to the shelter are armed with time locks that, once engaged, could not be unlocked for thirty-five years. No worries of anyone getting in…or out. The family is secured in their shelter while the world above continued as normal. During the first year, the mom gives birth to their son Adam. While sheltered for safety, the world above drastically changes without the Webber’s knowledge. Then finally in 1997, the timer releases and unlocks the doors. Adam finds himself immerse…

Building a Strategy for Church Re-Opening

I am hopeful (and cautiously optimistic) that we are on the other side of the pandemic. I am not sure how far on the other side, which makes me a bit anxious. 

Many churches have already re-opened. Some were opened too soon and without a plan. Others had a plan, but still resulted in a negative outcome. As a result, people became sick and died. You can read about a few of those churches here. 

After California Church defies state orders, 180 congregants are exposed to COVID-19

North California Church sees two Corona Virus Case after Second Gathering

Texas Church cancels Masses after death of Priest

Be prepared for a COVID-19 outbreak in your church

It would be foolish to think any church is exempt from this happening, regardless of planning. I can assure you, none of the churches mentioned above planned on seeing an outbreak in their church. 

Tony Morgan sent our team a memo yesterday saying, 

 "Business, universities and schools are developing plans if cases occur after they reopen. I&#…

Opportunity on the Other Side

Every adversity comes with opportunity. In the recent weeks, we have seen our share of adversity; we have also seen people step up and embrace opportunities to help others.

By the second week of March, the COVID-19 pandemic took every news station hostage and our world drastically changed. In what seemed like an instant, the entire world experienced a paradigm shift that no one, not even the oldest generation, has ever seen before. 
The pandemic has pushed every church on the planet to a new place. Not a comfortable place, but certainly a place we have never been before.Recently, The Unstuck Group surveyed more than 500 churches with 100 - 20,000 in attendance. Out of those churches, only half (mostly larger churches) offered an online worship experience. 
Many churches (pre-Covid-19) didn’t see the value of a virtual worship experience. That same survey reported that almost every church is now streaming their weekend experience. Only 5% are not. Many churches that have been change avers…

The Toxicity of Religion

Religion is toxic. It breeds sacred cows that weaken and sometimes completely paralyzes the mission of the gospel. The toxicity of religion infects people with self righteousness that results in church rules that aren't biblical. These kind of churches are very inward focused, protective of their traditions and will resist anyone who attempts to change them. They rarely see new people meet Jesus; actually they rarely see new people. Jesus constantly countered religion in the gospels while dealing with the Pharisees, as did the apostle Paul while planting churches. In today’s world, religion has resulted in churches designing rules and beliefs that cripple the objective to reach people with the gospel. Here’s just a few examples...and by the way, they are all unbiblical.
You can’t serve or get involved in church until you become a church memberYou have to use a particular translation of the BibleWomen are not allowed to serve in leadershipYou must be baptized into a particular denom…

The First Step onto the Discipleship Path can be the Most Critical

I recently wrote an article on Polishing your Discipleship Path, where I shared three main ideas to make your path better. In this article, I want to drill into best practices around the first step onto the discipleship path. In my experience of working with many different churches (including my own church), the first step(s) onto the path can be the most critical and can determine retaining guests and making disciples. 
A discipleship path should be built and customized for returningguests who aren’t Christians and/or those who may be brand new to the faith. These are people who aren't church or Bible literate. They aren't sure what it means to have a spiritual gift and certainly don't want to be tested. This is why the first step(s) are super important. Here is a principle that I have seen hold true over and over. For every step someone takes, it gives them courage to take a (deeper) next step. At the end of the day, we want people to meet Jesus, grow in their faith and b…

A Follow-up Strategy for CEO's (Christmas & Easter Only people)

I was recently talking with a pastor about the importance of building a strategic calendar and good invite strategies around the “big days” (Easter, Christmas, etc). During our conversation, he said something I have heard countless times before. “The big days are for the CEO's.” And by the way, he didn’t mean that his Easter Sunday was filled with corporate CEO's. Instead, he was using CEO as an acronym for Christmas-Easter-Only people. We have all seen it. We see it every year because Christmas and Easter happen...every year. 

As a former lead pastor, I can certainly remember the Sundays following Easter, Christmas or some other big day. The services were usually low attended and lacked the energy that was experienced the previous week. Those were usually the Sundays where the number two guy or the youth pastor was scheduled to teach. I've been there too. 
I have talked with churches that said they have pulled back the energy and efforts in trying to follow up with CEO peop…