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Tagged with “church” (38)

  1. The Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast - Ep 011: Interview with Gordon MacDonald Part 2 | Listen via Stitcher Radio On Demand

    Listen to The Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast episodes free, on demand. Don’t forget to leave reviews and share on social media!

    We want to hear from you! Email for any questions or comments you may have.

    Activate Conference is coming up on Wednesday, September 16 at Next Level Church in Somersworth, NH! You can get more information and register for tickets at Register before July 31 for special early bird pricing!

    Watch out for our next episode featuring Ben Dubow, an openly gay man who had previously attended Next Level Church and has since then gone on to be a pastor and a church planter. You can expect this episode to be extremely eye opening as Ben shares his story, as well as how he has seen the church deal with the issue of homosexuality and where he thinks the church is missing the point.

    This episode is a continuation of an interview Pastor Josh had with Gordon MacDonald. If you have not listened to part 1, please do so before continuing this episode!

    Here are some of highlights from this episode:

    Some of the disciplines Pastor Gordon has developed over the years that bring depth to his life both personally and as a Christian leader:

    Being a man of the Word. We must be committed to God’s Word by absorbing and memorizing it.

    Reading biographies of past Christian leaders


    Accountability to a mentor and close friends

    Asking questions. Few people know how to ask questions.

    As leaders, we must pry into people to help them grow spiritually.

    “Your peers help you to create, but your mentors help you to go deep.” – Gordon MacDonald

    “Asking questions is a powerful key to spiritual development and growth.” – Gordon MacDonald

    Every person has a story. Asking questions engages people to truly think about their honest answers. Hard questions force you to account for the depth of your life. Be the leader who doesn’t just ask surface level questions, but who reveals their motives by the first question they ask.

    “The questions you ask will reveal the motives of your heart.” – Josh Gagnon

    The best piece of advice Gordon ever received for his marriage was, “God means to say many things to you through [your wife]; listen to her.” For any men in ministry, it is important to remember that your wife will have many things to say to you that you need to hear. Treat your wife with dignity and respect and help her recognize her spiritual gifts, then draw upon them.

    “Your job is to help your wife to become everything God wan. Listen to over 40,000 radio shows, podcasts and live radio stations for free on your iPhone, iPad, Android and PC. Discover the best of news, entertainment, comedy, sports and talk radio on demand with Stitcher Radio.

    —Huffduffed by theprd

  2. The Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast - Ep 010: Interview with Gordon MacDonald Part 1 | Listen via Stitcher Radio On Demand

    Listen to The Joshua Gagnon Leadership Podcast episodes free, on demand. As young church leaders, we are often so quick to flock to the hip, influential pastor of the biggest mega church. But what we desperately need is to seek out the priceless wisdom offered by generations of leaders who have gone before us.

    In this episode, Pastor Gordon MacDonald shares his experiences as a pastor of more than 40 years, as well as his insight for where he believes church leadership is headed.

    Here are some of the main ideas from this episode:

    When faced with new situations, learn to decode the culture and understand what is important to people. Otherwise, you’ll miss them by a mile.

    In the context of ministry, New England is unique in several ways:

    Connectedness to the local community – this same connection is expected in church

    New Englanders are not impressed with size – they don’t want church to get too big and impersonal

    There is an edge of arrogance to New Englanders – they uphold education and history

    We are being brought up in a culture that says the more influence you have, the more successful you will be. This way of thinking is different from the past, where people were taught to be humble and grateful with what they had. The message we hear today is that when we trust Jesus, he will make you successful, but we cannot forget that real success can also come in the form of persecution. This truth is becoming less relevant in today’s culture.

    Today’s generations crave personal attention. The only way to reach a broken people is through transparency. People don’t want to run from tradition because there is a richness in tradition. We’re going to miss something if we chase after new and forget the old. Generations today are lacking personal and as a result, they are looking at the past and how things were done then.

    Gordon MacDonald is the Chancellor of Denver Seminary and has previously served as spiritual advisor and mentor to President Bill Clinton. He has written over two dozen books, including Ordering Your Private World and Going Deep: Becoming a Person of Influence.

    He and his wife, Gail, live in Concord, New Hampshire.

    Be sure to tune in for part 2 of the interview! Listen to over 40,000 radio shows, podcasts and live radio stations for free on your iPhone, iPad, Android and PC. Discover the best of news, entertainment, comedy, sports and talk radio on demand with Stitcher Radio.

    —Huffduffed by theprd

  3. Alan George from Life.Church talks Hubspot, MailChimp Automation, Mobile, & Apple TV: Episode 146 — Social Media Church Podcast

    Jay and Nils talk with the Church Online Pastor at Life.Church (Alan

    George) about Hubspot and MailChimp automation. The idea to use

    Hubspot/MailChimp was sparked after Alan rented a DVD from Redbox. They

    briefly talk about the future of mobile, Apple TV, and Life.Church’s change

    away from LifeChurch.TV.

    —Huffduffed by theprd

  4. First Time Guest Gifts: 26 Lessons from 33 Churches | unSeminary

    Podcast (audioblog): Play in new window | DownloadRecently I connected with church leaders from 33 churches from across North America and asked them to share with me what they are doing for gifts for their first time guests. This continues in a series where I’ve asked other church leaders to help us learn what is happening at their church … earlier I’ve done posts on church bulletins, adding new services and the “other holy days“. I’m thankful for the leaders who took time out to help us all learn!6 Reasons Your Church Should Give Guests GiftsShow’s Guests That You Expected Them! // Think about the last time you were invited over to a friend’s house … did they get their place ready for you to arrive? Good friends do! We set out a few snacks, have the drinks cooled, light some candles … all signs to our guests that we expected them. You are inviting guests to come to your church and a great way to indicate to them that you expected them is to have a gift ready just for them. As a thank you for taking the risk to come and visit you!First Impressions Count // When people are new at your church they notice everything … the grass growing up in the parking lot, the unclear signage, that funky smell in your kids space … a well thought out gift creatives a great initial experience for your guests. It creates a “moment” that has potential to say a lot about your church. Think through what first impression you want to give to your guests and build your gift around that.Extend the Experience Beyond the Weekend // Why do you people buy t-shirts at a concert when they could probably get the same t-shirt for much less online? Why does every major ride at your favorite theme park exit out through the gift shop? People are looking for souvenirs from experiences that matter to them. It’s a way for them to take a piece of the experience with them back into their “normal life”. When you give people a gift to take home it has the potential to help them recall the positive time they had at your church and implicitly invites them to return.Clearer Explanation of Who You Are // Although when people come to your weekend service they will get a good idea of what it’s important to you … chances are every weekend doesn’t represent the entire picture. A gift for your guests gives you the opportunity to explain what makes your church tick … you can give them an inside look at what it means to be a part of you community. It’s a perfect opportunity to define the “next step” for them as they are just entering community.Invite them to come back! // One the realities of growing churches that they are just better at getting their guests to come back. In fact, the difference between a stagnant church and a growing church is often that stagnant churches only have 1 in 10 guests return while exploding churches are getting 3 in 10 guests to come back. The gift for your guests is a part of asking your guests to come back. In fact, some of the churches studied actually have two tiers of gifts … one for “first time guests” and then a second for “returning guests”. Make sure your gift asks people to come back for whatever it coming up next at your church!Slows Down the Weekend Experience // If you give the gift to your new guests as a part of the weekend service experience then it slows that experience down and ensures they need to interact with someone. They shouldn’t just pick up the gift up off a table somewhere … but they should to interact with some amazing members of your volunteer team who are particularly skilled in working with new guests. This “speed bump” ensures that new people are interacting with even just a few people at your church before they escape out the door and into the parking lot.Quotable Quotes from Church Leaders on First Time Guest Gifts“egifts are often not opened. Not sure if they are going into spam or why. We are looking into a tangible gift card and are open to other ideas.” – Chris McCombs“The first time guests enjoy receiving a gift. We find that the gift needs to have our information on it. We have seen more repeat visitors since we give them all our contact information and not just a random gift.” – Nichole Brown“Our rate of returning guests definitely increased when we got serious about recognizing them with a gift. But truth is, while people seem to appreciate the gifts, I get more comments on my handwritten note.” – Scott Gamel“People are blown away that they have been “mugged” before they get home.” – Doug Bedgood (This church has their guest services team take coffee mugs to the guests’ home during the service.)“What we discovered is that people don’t usually return because they got some cool swag. They come back because of the quality of the service (preaching, music, kids, etc.) and the warmth of the welcome they received. Best thing for us has been the establishment of a VIP reception area for guests. They connect with staff and volunteers there and receive personal follow-up from the volunteers they meet. Our returns on this have been very good.” – Dave BowmanWhen is the best time to give the gift?As I researched the churches that give gifts to their new guests I found that there seems to be three times that churches give gifts to first time guests. Here is a run down of the three times to think about:During the Sunday Experience // Some churches use first time guest gifts as a thank you during the actual Sunday they attend. These churches generally have guest go to a welcome desk or dedicated first time guest area. The advantage of this approach is that the guest leaves with the gift in tow after their experience and they’ve met some members of the church’s team.As a Follow Up After the Experience // Other churches send the gift in the week following the guest’s visit. Sometimes these are mailed or in some cases hand delivered by a follow up team. The first church I served at did this … we had a team of people that delivered home baked cookies the week after the visit! This approach implicitly asks people to come and visit your church the following weekend.A Promised Gift for a Second Visit // Another time that churches will give gifts to guests will be as an incentive to return that second time. Sometimes these gifts are given in combination with the “first time gift” and sometimes they are just offered to the second time guest. By rewarding these guests for coming to your church another time you are rewarding the behavior you want … people to return!From my perspective, the best time to give a gift to a someone new at your church is as a part of their experience. We give our gifts for everyone who is new and hands in a “new here” card. We have a specially trained group of volunteers that help these guests feel extra welcome to the church. We go out of our way to ensure they know what they need to know about our church … and take some first steps to seeing get connected. We want that first experience with us to be a super positive one … first impressions matter!8 Examples of First Time Guest GiftsRather than just talking about what churches give to their guests I asked some friends to send me what they give away. Here are samples from 8 churches … be inspired! You can download high res versions of these images in the unSeminary Members Only section … if you aren’t a member you can join now for free.Christ Community Church // Chicagoland  A pen. Welcome brochure. Free coffee at their coffee bar. Explanation of the gospel.    Cornerstone Church // Moulton, AL  Water bottle full of candy! T-shirt. Book written by Pastor. Note pad. Highlighter. Welcome pack with all kinds of information about the church. // 18 Campuses … mostly in Oklahoma  A Worship CD. A Welcome CD about the Church. Clear directions on how to get plugged into the church. A New Testament. Flyers on various ministries of the church.   New Covenant Church // Brantford, Ontario  A church branded travel coffee mug. Welcome CD about the church. Welcome brochure.    Shelter Rock Church // Long Island, NY Andy Stanley’s “How Good is Good Enough?” Book. Chocolates! Letter from the pastor. Flyers about the ministries of the church.    Triad Baptist Church // Kernersville, NC   A church branded travel coffee mug. A pen. Welcome flyers.   Victory Church // Austin, TX   $5 gift card for their store. Various brochures about their ministry. CD from Pastor.   Tuscaloosa Vineyard // Tuscaloosa, AL   $5 Starbucks card. Hand written note. CD from Pastor.   Conclusions //Start with What Your Guests Would Like! // Remember when you were a kid and your dear Aunt Lucy gave you that out of date sweater that was two sizes too small … you started calling her Aunt Lousy. Don’t do that to your guests! Make your gift something that other people will really want to get! Be creative. Create a WOW! moment for them.This Will Cost Money. // The average spent across all these churches for their gifts was $4.88 … the lowest was $0.75 and the highest was $15.00. First impressions are important as a church and this is strategic resources for you to invest. Figure out what you would be comfortable spending on these items … then budget 20% more. Your guests deserve it … they risked a lot to come to your church and you should reward them.Leverage it to gather contact information. // How can you follow up with your guests if you don’t have their contact information? Use your gift in an exchange to collect their contact information. The fact that they are giving you their contact information means they are giving you permission to follow up with them. Make sure your best people do the follow up with these guests. {Bonus: Check out how one church uses the contact information from first time guest gifts to follow up guests with an email sequence.}Give Guests a “Next Step” // Across the board the churches that seem to leveraging first time guest gifts the best are giving them a clear next step to take. They have a new comers class … or a reception with their pastor … or even just a group of people dedicated to helping first time guests get connected to the church. It isn’t random … their is a clear communication on what guests are suppose to “do” next.What are you learning about first time guest gifts? I’d love you to join the conversation leave a comment!

    —Huffduffed by theprd

  5. Using Technology to Automate People Flow from Unconnected to Core Members: Episode 125 — Social Media Church Podcast

    Jason Morris and Jay talked about using technology to automate people flow

    from becoming active weekly attenders to core members of your church. Jason

    shares how uses in an

    creative way.

    —Huffduffed by theprd

  6. George Mekhail on sexuality, inclusivity & the future of the church | unSeminary

    Podcast: Play in new window | Download

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    Today I’m excited to have my friend George Mekhail from EastLake Church again. He’s talked with us before on opening multiple campuses, and today he’s back to talk with another topic his church has recently faced.

    About EastLake

    George is always thinking about what’s next in life, society, and church. He’s been with the team at EastLake for four years now and has helped the church face one of the biggest issues in today’s society—accepting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people. EastLake was recently featured in an article in Time Magazine about this topic. Through this process, the church has strived to make themselves known as “church for the rest of us.” Everyone is welcome and you can come as you are. EastLake currently has five locations in the Seattle area.

    But this has not been an easy issue to face and George admits that the church has made a lot of mistakes. Here are some of the things they’ve learned along this path:

    Follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. // The biggest question was how to get people connected to the message of Jesus? The wake up call for George came when a friend of his and member of EastLake told him that she was dating a woman. He could see the fear in her eyes as she told him this and he realized she was afraid to be herself at the church. The church was creating hurt and pain, and he felt the Holy Spirit telling him that they had to change this exclusive mindset. The Holy Spirit led them to move forward in letting people know they could come to EastLake and be who they were without hiding behind a mask.

    Church has to be a safe place. // Whether it’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” or exclusion, church has created a lot of baggage in people’s lives. At EastLake, they felt that wasn’t part of Jesus’s message of love.

    It is a very polarizing topic. // During his experiences with EastLake, George has seen how divisive the topic on sexuality is within the church. Once they came out with their stance on being open and loving to everyone regardless of sexuality, there was a lot of feedback both positive and negative. The major point that EastLake has tried to spread is that people aren’t allowed to be hateful, even if they disagree with homosexuality.

    There is no formula. // George admits that EastLake made some mistakes in how they moved forward in this topic. He’s also talked with other church leaders whose churches have also gone through this and heard about their mistakes. They’ve learned that there is no perfect formula to follow. The church can make their own expectations about how they want everyone to react, but nothing is going to go as you think it should. Through it all, just keep moving forward and follow where the Holy Spirit is leading you.

    It will be painful. // This isn’t an easy subject to face. As George tells us, you don’t know how deep rooted this issue is until you start facing it head on. People will walk away, friendships will be broken, and churches will lose membership and money at first. But George believes that in the end, churches that are exclusive will be the ones that get hurt the most. And Jesus taught love, not hate, so that’s the message we need to follow within the church as well.

    For pastors or other church leaders wondering how to move forward in spreading Jesus’s message and opening the hearts of their church, visit EastLake’s website on this subject at, which contains helpful videos and resources. You can also reach George by email at or visit EastLake Church’s website.

    Episode Highlights

    00:33 // Rich introduces George and welcomes him to the show.

    01:08 // George introduces himself and talks about EastLake Church.

    02:38 // George tells us the average attendance at the church’s locations.

    04:36 // George talks about the church’s journey in relation to the Time Magazine’s article.

    11:18 // George talks about the resources available – Together In This.

    12:38 // George talks about the process they went through to change as a community.

    16:15 // George talks about the challenges experienced during the changes.

    18:21 // George talks about expectations, learnings and the impact of the changes.

    21:07 // George encourages churches to act on their convictions.

    24:03 // George talks about the impact these changes had on their staff.

    26:06 // George advises church leaders to “Be in a relationship with people.”

    28:05 // Rich makes reference to Jonathan Merritt and his book A Faith of Our Own.

    29:16 // George offers his contact details.

    Episode Transcript

    Rich – Well hey everybody, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. My name’s Rich, the host around these parts, I’m so glad that you’ve decided to spend some time with us today. We are in for a fascinating conversation, one that I’ve been looking forward to for a few months, super excited to have George, a friend of mine from EastLake Church on the left coast with us. George welcome to the show today.

    George – Hey thanks so much for having me again Rich, it’s good to see you.

    Rich – Yeah. George has been on the show in the past and recently, well I guess it’s not recently anymore, I saw their church popup in Time Magazine, in an interesting article and so I wanted to get George’s thought on that and here we are in the summertime talking about this. But George, before we jump in, I thought you could give us kind of, for people who haven’t listened before, a bit of a history of EastLake, kind of your story, what’s your piece in the puzzle and then give us a sense of who EastLake is.

    George – Yeah sure. So, let’s see, I’m married, I have two amazing children, one’s actually turned seven today and one’s five. So yes, most of my passion is spending time with them obviously but I’m a futurist at heart. I love to think about what’s next, what’s next for the church, what’s next for society, working, where is all of this going, what are we doing here? That’s where I spend a lot of my brain space, but I’m the Executive Pastor at EastLake, I’ve been on the team for about four years. My wife and I have been a part of the community for about nine years and it’s been an incredible place for us, it’s an unbelievable community. A lot of our friends we’ve met through EastLake and it’s just been a fun ride.

    So ten years now it’s existed. EastLake is a place where we like to say that it’s a church for the rest of us and it’s a place where everyone’s welcome. What we try to replicate is just an authentic place where you can be yourself in the truer sense and not have to put on your smiley church face on Sunday, but really just come as raw as you are and as broken and vulnerable and with all the mess of life. So that’s, I think, the best descriptor of what’s the essence of EastLake I guess.

    Rich – Nice. So you’re a multisite church, I know some people are always nickels and noses, they want to count all of that stuff, so give us a sense of the scope of your ministry, that kind of thing as well.

    George – Well, if you’re asking about current reality?

    Rich – Yes.

    George – We’re five locations all in the Seattle area. Combined, today we’re averaging 23, 24 hundred people combined at all locations. At our peak in 2013ish and even before we were multisite we were touching 5 thousand people on a Sunday itself.

    Rich – Nice.

    George – Things have changed quite a bit.

    Rich – Cool. Well this is going to be great. One of the things I love about EastLake and I said this last time you were on the show, I think Churches from across the country need to be learning from churches like yourself that are in communities like Seattle, around that part of the world, that are decidedly post-Christian in communities. Nobody wakes up… my impression, I feels a certain amount of kindred spirit because I feel the same thing here in Jersey, people don’t wake up on a Sunday morning feeling guilty that they’re not going to church, it’s just outside of their radar. It’s not even a category that they consider and so EastLake is one of those churches that for years I’ve been a fan from afar and said, “Hey you should really follow them, I think they’re doing a great job.” You’ve really been a welcoming community to folks and I’ve seen that and it’s been encouraging to see and so I’m excited to jump in today.

    Really recently I would say, in the last year or so, you’ve taken a stand as a church, a more overt stand, of welcoming people regardless of their sexual orientation and today I want to jump in and talk about that, because I think you’re one of the few kind of churches I would label evangelical, not in the like gun-toting, rightwing, evangelical sense but in the sense of people who want to tell others about Christ, who are passionate about, how do we get people connected to the message of Jesus. It’s been interesting to watch from afar, kind of that process as you’ve reached out, specifically to try to articulate being open to people regardless of where they’re at from a sexual orientation point of view. So tell us about that, give us a bit of the story of what’s happened at your church.

    George – Yeah I mean it has been a journey for sure and it’s a journey that continues I would say, as far as what we’re continuing to learn and what this topic means right now and then the church specifically. But ever since I’ve come on staff four years ago, this has been an unresolved, I would say, conversation among our team and our Senior Pastor Ryan, he’s been processing for like five plus years now.

    So it’s one of those things that has liked emerged out of who we are. I wouldn’t even describe it so much as like a decision point necessarily, as much as it was a revelation. We really do believe that we’ve been following and continue to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit in this, not just in some like mythical weird way, but in an actual like, what’s unfolding right before us, the humanity that we’re seeing, the people who were called to pastor, the pain that we see that the church has caused that we’re not and haven’t been exempt from, just sort of came to a head in the last six months or so.

    So that’s been like the big picture journey, as far as what’s happened. Recently, so you mentioned the Time article came out in January and even before that, a couple of months before that, a gal at our team, who had become a very good friend, she let us know that she was dating a girl and I think that was the thing again. We’d had conversations years and years before but I think that was the moment of like, “Okay, this is over, this is done,” because really what it came down to was her having been a part of those conversations and having close friendships with myself and with Ryan and with a lot of our senior leaders, but when she came out to me specifically and her life, she was terrified, she was afraid that I was going to fire her.

    She leads music at one of our locations and this was a Saturday night that she came out to us and she literally thought in that conversation that she wasn’t going to be singing the next day and that broke my heart, that was a wakeup call for sure. If my friend doesn’t feel safe to be who she is here and knowing her and seeing the fruit of her life, it makes the issue pretty clear, I guess is the way to describe it. I know for people that come from a traditional background, like myself, I grew up Coptic Orthodox, which is about as traditional as you can get.

    Rich – That’s traditional with a capital T.

    George – Yeah exactly, it’s a hard thing, like you know, “What about the bible? What about these versus?” [Inaudible 00:07:20] and all those questions are important and they’re ones that we have worked through and come to a sufficient place of conviction and repentance really. I think that’s where the conversation really gets lost, there’s no one who really spends time talking about that piece. It’s not a matter of, “Okay I guess this is where culture’s going and this is what we needed to do as a church,” at all, we need to be really, really thinking about our biology between brothers and sisters, the harm that we’ve done, and be in a state of repentance right now and that’s where feel like we’re at.

    Now this isn’t something like, yeah we’re over that now and we have all the answers and this is the future, as much as it is like, no this is a problem, like we’re creating hurt and pain. So that’s where we’re at.

    Rich – Now before this would you describe… now I feel like there’s a position that a lot of churches are in where it’s almost like the old ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ kind of mentality, where there’s just a certain vagueness around what either our practice or our belief on this particular front. How would you describe before your took some steps, leading up to this day, obviously she knew, this is a perfect example of here’s a young woman or a woman in your leadership community who clearly saw up close the ministry of your church, knew that you were a grace filled community, a loving community, but there was something that was being articulated that got her to the spot of believing, “Now this could actually go really bad for me.” So how would you articulate kind of how you were before this shift?

    George – That’s a good question. I wouldn’t say don’t ask, don’t tell was our operative, though as a bummer as it is right now for me to admit that was a part of what existed. The way that it ended up playing out was case by case for us and frankly there just weren’t a ton of examples. There were a couple that I feel like we handled them gracefully in the sense like, we brought on an intern who identified as having same sex attraction prior to this, but yeah, it was always in conversation, it was always in relationships. There was no policy statements, there was nothing that was like articulated on our website about like our stance or whatever, so this shift was sort of confirmation of what’s always been there.

    I think that what’s important about it is that it’s not enough to not say anything, as far as we’re concerned. It has to be said that this is a safe place because people… there’s just so much baggage that the church carries, the unspokenness of like, “Hey you can lead, you can come here, we love you but here’s your lead and here’s how much you can do or you can’t work here, you can’t lead a group,” you know, all these sort of, whether it’s don’t ask, don’t tell or it’s, you know in some of the more conservative churches, more of just an exclusion. The opposite of that I guess is saying out loud the opposite, “You’re welcome here fully affirmed, you can lead just like anyone else can lead.” There’s no limitations on her leadership and so that was sort of the necessary next step that we saw, which is what lead to our first statement in January.

    Rich – Okay so now I’m sure there’s people who are listening in who are like, “Rich but you’ve got to ask about all of the theological distinctives,” and would love us to dive into that conversation.

    George – Sure.

    Rich – Today what I want to focus on is how you processed this change as a community, so what you did. This is a significant shift and kind of the impact from that, but if people want to dig into that conversation, is there a resource on your website or a particular message that you could point people towards? We’ll link this in the show notes, but where would I point people if they want to dig into that particular issue?

    George – Yeah, no it’s great. So after we made the announcement in January we hosted two different events called Together In This and we created a website that has all the resources, books, articles and even the video talks from both of those messages. It’s actually a phenomenal resource, it’s So if viewers want to go there I think they would be very well resourced.

    But specifically for church leaders, I guess if there’s a church leader who is sort of in the throes of this conversation, trying to figure out how to lead their community and there’s a lot of them is what we’re finding. One of the things that we’re learning is that there are a lot of pastors who are privately wrestling with this and trying to figure out sort of what’s next, but I would say to those guys or gals call me. I’d love to talk to you, it’s an important work that you’re embarking on and Iove to help however we can. Shoot me an email, give me a call and I’d love to have a chat.

    Rich – Very good. I hope people take George up on that, he’s a very generous guy for sure and I will link to that resource in the show notes so people can, you know, just to dig in a little bit deeper if they’d like to process that side of the equation, but let’s get back to what actually happened.

    So you have this, you know fairly dramatic kind of coming out experience with a key staff member, what happens next? How do you kind of… what steps did you walk through to process this change as a community?

    George – Yeah so it came really before that. I think in 2014 we did several messages just about a general theological shift. I mean, a lot of this frankly is centered around the bible and how you approach the bible and so we did several talks around, a lot on just how to view scripture through the lens of Jesus and the crucified Christ, being the ultimate revelation of the holy and loving God. God’s not angry with us, that God is for us, that God wants to see things renewed here on earth as they are in heaven.

    It seems subtle and it seems like Christian language, all that kind of stuff, but it’s a radical shift. When we start really, really thinking about the implications of that, what does that do about how we view war and violence and how we view the other and how we view even other religions.

    So that was a journey that was started in 2014, and even a little bit before that, but really sort of more directly in messages that we just put out in 2014.

    That was one thing, the other thing was we released a video, an ethos video that we started to play before every message on a Sunday in the Fall of last year, that had things like, you know, married, divorced or single here, it’s one family that [Inaudible 00:13:56] a beautiful ethos statement that we borrowed from a church in Denver called Highlands. But one of the lines in it is, “Gay or straight here, there’s no hate here.” So that was kind of the best subtle like indication of like, “Our leadership is sort of here and so on.” Then private conversations with key leaders that are in our community.

    So there’s a multifaceted approach to this, but I say all that and I guess I would cap it off with, we did not do it perfectly in every way, far from that. I mean the Time article, the way that ended up working, it’s like we put out a press release and then surrendered to do an article.

    Rich – Right.

    George – They called us and we gave the interview. After the interview it was like, “Hey this is going to go out on X date,” or whatever and it actually ended up getting ahead of us. So by the time our article ended up coming out, a week before we were able to do a message for our church.

    Rich – Oh well.

    George – So I probably wouldn’t do it that way again if I had to do it over but there’s a lot of second guessing and like, “Oh we should have done this,” and all that kind of stuff. But at the end of the day I think what we’re learning is that there’s people who care a lot about this topic specifically and it’s very polarizing and it’s actually one of the sad things that I’m seeing in all of this is just how intense it is and how dividing it is. I don’t think it has to be that way.

    We didn’t say to our churches, “Hey you either need to agree with us or you need to leave,” that would sort of be disciple to the point of inclusion. It’s like we need to include people that we disagree with and they’ll disagree with us too. So we’ve tried to make it a point that you’re welcome here regardless of how you view the bible, how you view scripture, what your opinion is on this specific topic. The only thing that you’re not going to do is be hateful, you know, we need to journey together and we need to have space and dialog and respectful conversations. So that’s been the shift.

    Rich – Now I would suspect that there was, and maybe I’m wrong, but I would suspect… So this Time article comes out and then Ryan ends up getting up, you know unfortunately sometimes it happens with the press right, you know, stuff can get away from you pretty quickly, but Ryan gets up and preaches, I’m assuming that there’s somewhat of a tsunami of feedback that comes into the church. Tell me about that process and how did you deal with it.

    George – That’s a good way to describe it, I would say it was definitely a tsunami of positive and negative. I think the people who are most supportive are really loud and the people who are most against it are really loud, then there’s this big subset of people on both sides, in the middle that just sort of don’t say much, you know, they leave quietly or they stay quietly. But the extremes are intense, that’s for sure, the feedback both from within our community and outside our community was at times overwhelming, I mean on both ends of the emotional spectrum.

    So it’s been a very challenging but fruitful and rewarding season, you know. One that I don’t regret, I wouldn’t trade for anything. I wouldn’t want to do it again, I would want to like start from the beginning and do it again but I think it’s been the most life giving season of my life and of my ministry and I think our leadership team would echo that.

    So has it been difficult and challenging? Absolutely, it’s been trialing, there’s been times when we’ve been like wanting to give up and throw in the towel or whatever, but it’s definitely worth it and where we’re headed and the church, the people that are still here and the people that want to continue to build this community with us are what motivates us to keep going.

    What we didn’t do is put out a rainbow flag out front and become a gay church, right because our gay friends don’t want that either, they just want a church what they can go to and be normal and be with other people worshipping and trying to figure out what it looks like to join in the renewal of all things here and now. So we’re excited to build that community with these people and hopefully be able to partner with other pastors who are trying to do the same. So it’s a beautiful time, we’re excited.

    Rich – So if there were a few things, you know two or three things that you would say, “Okay there’s maybe some stuff I would do different next time,” obviously thinking there’s probably people listening in today that are trying to think about what they would do in this scenario, what would you have done different?

    George – Yeah, it’s hard to say because through this journey we’ve gotten a chance to meet a couple of other great leaders who have gone through this process and sort of exchanged notes with them and the things that we said, “Hey we would have done this differently,” we actually did but the result was the same.

    Rich – Okay.

    George – I think the biggest thing that comes out of the lesson there is that there is no formula really to this that’s clean.

    Rich – Right.

    George – I think that’s how you know that it comes from a place of conviction versus strategy right? The big accusation is, “Hey you’re just capitulating the culture,” or “You’re trying to be politically correct,” or whatever and it’s like that’s dumb, because first of all, in order to be politically correct there has to be a benefit to you right? Politicians don’t flip flop on issues because of any reason other than they’re going to get more votes or they’re able to raise more money.

    So it’s not like by doing this we’ve made a ton more money and we’re growing, no the opposite in fact, the church is down about 35%-37% budget wise and around the same number attendance wise. So there’s no direct benefit to this other than it’s right, other than we believe like we’re following our convictions.

    So I think by the very nature of that truth, there is a just a realization that there’s no formula. So I think I would have done that differently in that I think we tried to sort of control it, the outcomes and have certain expectations at the organizational level, the staff level and even at the congregational individual levels, like there’s certain people you know that, it’s like, “Hey I think this guy will do,” or whatever.

    Rich – Oh right, right, right.

    George – So I would say having those expectation of anyone or anything to fall into place or not fall into place was probably the biggest mistake, because you’re just going to be let down, because you just don’t know how deep seated this is for a lot of people and people will surprise you.

    Rich – Yes so you kind of hinted on there a little bit, it sounds like you’ve had a bit of erosion of attendance and finances and you talked through that piece. I think we can live and I can be accused of this, you know I sometimes wonder, I think when I get before Jesus he’s going to sit me down and say, “Hey so you spent a lot of time worrying about getting more people to attend your church,” and you know, I think there’s going to be part of it, I can picture him saying in my imagination, “You know there’s a part of that that was really good, I appreciate you trying to reach people and then there’s some of them that maybe wasn’t so good.”

    So I have the humility to realize that but I think there’s some church leaders that are listening in, they hear that, they hear you throw out that stat and for that alone they would say it’s just not worth the risk. So could you talk through that a little bit for us?

    George – Yeah and this is something that I think about a lot because it is such a bummer because it is a reality and it is a hesitation for a lot of the folks that we talk to and the intension and the motivation behind it is pure right? Like these guys are thinking about their livelihood, their families, their staff and their families and the implications and the stakes, the stakes are high. So on one hand I get it, I understand that it’s a huge risk.

    So on one hand it’s like how deep is the conviction, what is the motivation and how well are you pastored to sort of weather a storm that will come? Because a storm is going to come, you’re not going to grow, you’re budget’s not going to grow, certainly not immediately. What’s going to happen immediately is that it will be painful and people will lock away and people will accuse you of things that you didn’t do and people will speak poorly of you and you’ll friends and you’ll lose money and all that and that sounds terrible right? Like on the surface it’s not a very attractive… which is again why the whole notion of political correctness is hilarious.

    Rich – Right.

    George – But if there is conviction there, I think first of all that has to trump, which isn’t to say, “Hey just shoot from the hip and be like, “Oh I’m convicted, I’m going to go,” it’s to say still figure out what strategically you can control at some level, you know, have money in the bank and make sure that you’re staffed appropriately as is, all that kind of stuff. They’re all practical things that you can do to prepare for this and I think and I think it’s optimistic view and a long vision, I said I’m a futurist. So looking ahead I think that eventually churches that are exclusive will be harming themselves more, it will cost more essentially to be exclusive than less versus. So there will be a tipping point right, and actually after that tipping point happens I think it will be a lot easier to accuse churches that have come out as affirming after the fact of cultural capitulation because it will actually be beneficial at that time.

    Rich – Right.

    George – So I guess I would say, don’t wait for that. If it’s conviction it’s conviction and at some level, if you have good leaders around you and you have people who are doing their best to follow Jesus, they’ll come. That’s been one of the most encouraging things about this, is our incredible team and how inspiring it’s been to sort of watch them lead in this season.

    Rich – Yeah just on the practical side, one of the things that’s so… This comes a bit from an Executor Pastor point of view what I’m about to say, because I had heard that there was maybe a bit of contraction there. So I went on your website and looked at your staff listing and I’m like, it seems like they still employing a lot of people.

    George – Yeah.

    Rich – Did you end up having to contract a little bit or where you able to kind of weather the storm financially so far?

    George – Yeah, so we’ve had to cut in a lot of different places. One of the big implications of this, just on a practical level for us is that we’ve had to close one of our campuses in Monroe and for a couple of different reason.

    One, it was already sort of in our most rural remote communities, a beautiful community, amazing people were a part of it, but it represented an asset that we had equity in and so we are in the process of selling that, so that we have a little bit of cash to function with and our campus pastor at that location was transitioning.

    So it was sort of in the midst of this season, where we were trying to hire someone and sort of reboot any sort or energy and that just seemed untenable. So as a result of that our… a couple of other things, two or three other staff, who were either offered other positions or I think one of the positions ended up being eliminated. So that was really the most negative staff implication that we’ve had to move through, through this transition.

    Other than that though, things have a little bit self-corrected. We’ve had just like random things. A couple of members of our team got opportunities in other places, other states, just sort of disconnected from this issue. So things kind of worked out in that sense from a staff perspective where we’ve been able to [Inaudible 00:25:29] amazing people on our team came forward and took voluntary pay cuts to weather this, which is just unbelievable. It’s really, really inspiring to be around these people. So we really feel like we’re doing this together.

    Rich – Right. Well just two last questions. What would you say to another church leader, we’ve kind of talked a bunch about this, who is maybe wanting to be more open but is feeling caught in that zone? You know, I’d say reach out to you, that’s a great thing to do, listen to your story. Anything else you’d say to a church leader that’s out there today who’s thinking that?

    George – I think the more that you get this “issue” out of the clouds and out of hypothetical and out of like the talking about it or them, even worse and the more you can humanize and just be in relationship with people and ask them their stories, that’s really where the change happens, that’s more than any like book or video that you watch on that Together In This website or whatever, those are going to be helpful resources and tools and they’ll give you handles. But the relationships that you have with real humans, who are doing their best to follow Jesus and to look them in the eye and sort of, I guess, decide what as a human, what do you do with this person? The answer becomes pretty clear as a follower of Jesus, it’s you love them and what does that actually mean, how does that play itself out?

    So for me, I guess the moment in which that reality came to a head was when, I think the perceived decision, like in hindsight, as my friend tells the story, is that she was feeling like she was going to be fired and that didn’t even cross my mind, like I was going to fire her, it’s ridiculous to think about, but the fact that she was thinking about it shows that there is an impasse there right?

    So I guess most people don’t have to come to that place of decision, they can have a theological idea about something that doesn’t have any practical implications in their real life. So for those people it’s a lot easier to sort of have a traditional view on this, but it gets really messy once you’re in a real loving relationship with people.

    Rich – Well George I really appreciate you coming on the show today and talking through all this. It’s been super helpful and hopeful insightful to people who have been listening in. A couple of years ago we have Jonathan Merritt, he’s an author, come and speak at Liquid, it was a great day and we got talking about this particular… he wrote a great book, A Faith of Our Own which is a fantastic book, if you haven’t read it you should read that.

    One of the things he said that stuck with me from that day, because he’s kind of a polestar, he is kind of a cultural, he’s trying to kind of take temperature of the culture and one of the things he had said when asked about this particular issue is he said, “You know, in 30 years from now people are going to look back at exclusionary churches in the same way that people look back at folks on the side of the civil rights argument that didn’t end up prevailing in the end and saying why were those people even there? Where there were Christians that actually didn’t want civil rights to pass through, who are those people and what were they thinking?”

    That stuck with me where I’m like, that is something we need to wrestle with for sure. So my hope in today’s interview, as people have been listening in, that it’s been thought provoking and you know, even just what you said there at the end, that we would put a face on this issue even if it’s just, “Here’s another church leader who’s trying to wrestle with this.” So George I really appreciate you being on today.

    If people want to get in touch with you or with EastLake, how can they do that?

    George – Yeah, shoot me an email, and I’ll do my best to get back to you and support you. So if you’re on that journey definitely don’t hesitate to reach out, I know it can feel lonely in that place, so we’d love to be a resource if we can.

    Rich – Thanks so much, I appreciate that.

    George – Thanks for having me Rich.

    —Huffduffed by theprd

  7. The Leadership Momentum Podcast - Stewardship Central

    Episode Notes

    Craig Groeschel has a lot on his plate: Pastor of (22 locations and more than 100 weekly worship services), New York Times best-selling author, innovator of YouVersion, devoted husband, and father of six children. With all this responsibility, how does he manage his time, steward resources, and protect the culture of his church? Craig shares some insights every leader needs to hear.

    —Huffduffed by theprd

  8. Mike Linch on Mobilizing Your Church To Impact Your Community | unSeminary

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    This week I was blessed to have Mike Linch share with me his take on the importance of churches forming relationships with and staying connected to the people in their communities.

    Mike is a pastor in Kennesaw, Georgia. His church, NorthStar started as a church plant a little more than 18 years ago. Like most churches that begin as “plants,” their goal was to reach people who were not attending church. He recalls being told at that time by Steve Sjogren, who launched Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio,

    “Don’t go to plant a church, go to reach a city.”

    Mike and his team made a commitment when NorthStar was planted that everyone in Kennesaw would know who they were. How have they accomplished their vision?

    Grass Root Model

    Mike reports that NorthStar chose to make their presence known in Kennesaw, not through great gorilla marketing and advertising, but through a “grassroots” model of serving their community. They made service part of the very fabric of who they are, even before they held their first worship service.

    In the early days of NorthStar, like many church plants, they had a limited budget to work with, but God opened the door for them to get started. The local high school, where NorthStar was to begin holding services, was hosting a Christmas basketball tournament. Mike and his team asked the school what their biggest need was, and they filled it. NorthStar ran the tournament hospitality room for the coaches, officials and visiting teams.

    What that initial act of service was all about was beginning a relationship. It taught NorthStar they exist not for themselves, but for others. And not just one time. All year. All the time.

    Over the years, NorthStar’s relationship with the schools of Kennesaw has continued to develop. Trust and friendship have grown. For each of the schools in the area, they have helped with hospitality-related events. Some examples:

    Football concession stands: Football is big in Georgia. Concession stands are typically staffed by parents of the band, cheerleaders and players. NorthStar volunteers run the concessions so parents can be in the stands, watching their kids.

    Special Needs: Kennesaw has a large population of special needs kids. Mike’s church has volunteers to sponsor these children and helps provide hospitality and supplies for dances and other events. They provide meals for bus drivers who help route the kids where they need to go.

    Volunteer Pastors: NorthStar provides pastors to serve as counselors on school campuses and on call for the schools.

    Many, if not the majority of churches today, have enough trouble filling their own volunteer slots. Pastors may have enough to do just getting their weekly services off the ground. It most likely goes without saying that love for Jesus is the over-riding motivating factor in serving this way, but apart from that …


    Strategy: Mike explains that outreach and service are part of NorthStar’s strategy. It’s what makes them stand out. He puts it like this:

    If you’re not remarkable, you’re invisible.

    It used to be that churches could be set apart by other things. Maybe a contemporary style of worship made your church different. That’s no longer true. Most churches today offer praise bands and some sort of alternative worship. People don’t wake up on Sunday morning and decide to visit your church for reasons like that. We wanted to be remarkable in our service. We wanted to let people know we care.

    A.R.: This is part of NorthStar’s strategy. This is an acronym they borrowed from “Coke” and it means “within arm’s reach.” Mike sums it up like this:

    We wanted to throw down a flag and say,

    “We’re here until you need us and we’re staying until you do.”


    Mike is willing to bet if you take a gifts and talents survey of your members, 80% of them will have the gift of helps and service. Not everyone is able to teach or administrate, but many people can serve others and they truly want to channel their gifts in service to Jesus. This opens up a way for them to do that.

    A by-product of making a commitment like this is that you need to realize that you can’t be doing big events on your own church campus every day or maybe not even every month.

    For their bigger events, NorthStar advertises their need for volunteers in their services. Sometimes, the need for help is passed down through their small groups. All of the sign-ups are done on-line.

    Mike’s church is doing whatever they can to make their community the greatest place on earth to live. He paraphrases the words spoken by Jeremiah:

    “if the city prospers, we all prosper.”

    To learn more about NorthStar’s vision of serving in the Kingdom of God, visit or you can email Mike at or find him on Twitter @mikelinch.

    Episode Highlights

    00:33 // Rich introduces Mike Linch and welcomes him to the show.

    01:08 // Mike tells us how NorthStar Church began.

    03:31 // Mike gives examples of how NorthStar Church supports local schools.

    05:51 // Mike talks about NorthStar’s strategy.

    08:40 // Mike talks about the process of signing up volunteers.

    09:53 // Mike talks about other organizations NorthStar supports.

    12:23 // Mike talks about the vision of NorthStar – “The fiber of the community”.

    13:08 // Mike talks about the roles of the community pastors.

    14:53 // Rich shares his thoughts on community outreach work.

    16:03 // Mike and Rich discuss the impact of churches.

    17:36 // Mike advised people to start small and offers an example of a volunteer who started a ministry called HOG.

    20:12 // Mike offers contact details.

    Episode Transcript

    Rich – Hey happy Thursday everybody, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. Thanks so much for listening in, honored that you would take some time out as you prepare and get ready for this weekend at your church.

    We’re super privileged to have Mike Linch with us today, a pastor from NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Georgia. Mike welcome to the show.

    Mike – Thanks Rich, honored to be on here and glad to be back with you.

    Rich – No I’m so glad to have you here. Now one of the things I love about NorthStar is I think a lot of churches talk about kind of being engaged in the community but Mike and his team at NorthStar, really for their whole existence, really even before Mike was there, really has been so committed to connecting with their community. So we’re looking forward to digging into that today. Why don’t you give people a sense of NorthStar? Kind of tell us the story there, a little bit about your church.

    Mike – Sure absolutely. We began like most church plants, we began as a church that wanted to reach people who didn’t go to church and that’s sort of the mantra of all church planters and we’re embarking on the journey. We’re a little over 18 years old. When we started 18 years ago there weren’t a lot of guys out there doing it, but one of the things that was told to us early on by a guy named Steve Sjogren of the Cincinnati Vineyard, Steve said, “Don’t go to plant a church, go to reach a city,” and I’m telling you, we really sort of bought that heart and we made a commitment that nobody outside our [Inaudible00:01:40] Kennesaw [Inaudible 00:01:40] County Atlanta may know who we are but we’re committed that everybody there does know who we are.

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – And we chose to do it, not through great grower marketing and advertiser, we chose to do it through serving, sort of a grassroots model of serving our community. So it’s something that we stuck with, even before our first worship service, we started doing it and it’s become part of the culture of who we are.

    Rich – So in those early days, what did that look like? Even before you started services or right when you were just starting out, what did it first look like and then obviously we’ll kind of talk about where we are today?

    Mike – Absolutely. Well you know back then, for all of us in church planting you have no money.

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – So whatever you do you’ve got to have it built with zero cash.

    Rich – Yes.

    Mike – So we went to a local high school that we were going to be meeting in and just said… they were having a Christmas basketball tournament, I’ll never forget it and we went and said, “Listen, what’s your biggest need during the tournament?” They said, “We need somebody to run hospitality for us, the hospitality room for coaches and officials and visiting teams.” So we volunteered to run that and that was how we got in.

    Rich – Fantastic.

    Mike – At the end of it I remember them going, “Why would you guys do that?” and the answer was, “Well you said you needed help.”

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – It began a relationship that goes on 18 years later that’s much deeper and stronger now than running a Christmas basketball tournament, but it taught our people, we are not here for us, we’re really only here for other people and this isn’t something we’re going to do once a year, it’s going to be something we do all year, 365.

    Rich – Kind of keeping with that school example how has your relationship, because I know it’s grown and developed over the years, how has that grown from something simple as, “Hey we’ll help run the hospitality room,” how has that continued to develop over the years?

    Mike – It’s a great question Rich. It’s developed in big ways, it grows like a child. There’s trust developed, there’s friendship developed. Now for each of the schools we do things with hospitality, we’ll go in during football season, which is big in Georgia on Friday nights, we go in and run concession stands, so parents can go and watch the game.

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – Usually it’s the football player, cheerleaders’ parents/grandparents that are running the concessions and they miss their kids’ performance. We go in and say, “Look we’ll take care of that, you guys go and enjoy the game.”

    Rich – Wow.

    Mike – It’s goodwill, it’s friendships that are built. That to hosting special needs dances for the local high school that we help raise resources with cookies and drinks and things like that for the school and they have about 600 special need students and we help sponsor that dance and we feed all the special needs bus drivers to mentoring to being on principal search committees to volunteering in classrooms to having a dedicated student pastor at each campus, we call them Tribe Leaders that serve that campus. Rather than just saying we do a bible study there, the school knows they can call that person as a person that can come in and come alongside to help them with events and projects and things going on.

    So whatever the school needs, like in a few weeks we’ll be hosting a fifth grade carnival because who works it? Fifth grade parents work it. Fifth grade parents want to be with their kids, so we provide all the volunteers to come in.

    We have the volunteers, they have the people in the community that may not go to church anywhere, so it’s a great bridge for us to go and meet people. We don’t hand out flyers, tracks, we’re there with a smile and serving until somebody asks why. When they ask why we get to give them a great answer.

    Rich – Now, so this is the cynical side of me and there is someone else thinking this, I don’t actually think this, but why would you do all of that? That’s a tremendous amount of external work. I know a lot of church leaders are listening in and they’re like, “Gosh I’m having a hard time running weekend services, the thought of running a fifth grade party at a local middle school, I’m not sure I could do that, why would you keep doing that?” I understand because we love Jesus…

    Mike – Right.

    Rich – But tactically or outside of that how have you seen that impact your ministry?

    Mike – Well I totally understand that and we wonder the same things sometimes. So I think we would all follow that boat.

    Rich – Yeah.

    Mike – I would say it’s a strategy for us and it’s our strategy to reach our community. Everybody hits mailboxes with flyers. We’ve got a church in every school in Kennesaw, Acworth, Northwest [Inaudible 00:06:09] there’s a church in every school.

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – So the question becomes, it’s a Simon Sinek question or a thought. He said, “What makes you remarkable…” His statement was, “If you’re not remarkable you’re invisible.” For us it’s our remarkable. It’s what makes us stand out because we realize what most other church leaders realize, people don’t get up on Sunday morning and go, “God I think we might try a new church today.” They usually try a new church when their life hits a wall.

    Rich – That’s so true.

    Mike – When their life hits a wall we want to be the church that they go, “You know, I don’t know much about them but I know this, I ran into them at the school, I ran into them at the ball field.”

    [Inaudible 00:06:52] we had a guy that was a consultant with Coke Cola meet with us and he said the early strategy of Coke Cola was, they called it WAR, within arm’s reach. Wherever you go in the world you run into a Coke product and you run into a Coke machine which is true.

    Rich – Yeah.

    Mike – He said to us and this guy was not a believer, he said to us, “I would think you would want to, in this community, be so well represented in every facet of the community, whenever someone turned around they ran into NorthStar.” For us, we identified those areas as schools, businesses, ball fields, local government. In those four areas we wanted to throw a flag down and say, “We’re here until you need us, but we’re going to serve you until you do.” It’s been a model of… and what we found out Rich and I think a lot of church leaders found out, you know, if you do a spiritual gift survey of your people, 80% had the gift of helps and service. So for a lot of people it unleashes them to do a method of evangelism, they’re not going to do by knocking on somebody’s door and they’re not going to do by handing out a track.

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – But they go and can serve somebody and love somebody. Now the by-product of that is, you can’t put on a gazillion church events.

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – You can’t do something on your campus every day of the week.

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – It’s got to be something that you say, “We’re committed to doing this,” and people love it, people love it and we love doing it.

    Rich – What does the structure of that look like? So let’s say you’re going to help with an event at the local school, how do you actually structure getting volunteers and mobilizing them? People can get a sense of what that looks like within their own church, but what does that look like when you’re doing this kind of ministry?

    Mike – It’s all pretty much… we’ll advertise some of the bigger ones, we’ll advertise our services, but a lot of the smaller things that we do during the week is for instance, we do special needs buddies. There’s a local field called Horizon field and they do kickball and baseball for special needs kids. We provide a set of buddies, we don’t provide the whole thing, but we provide a set of buddies that go every week. We do all of our signups online.

    Rich – Okay.

    Mike – So they’re all on our website at and I believe it’s /community and you can see. So people go to our website and they sign up there for all these different opportunities that we have and people signup and volunteer and there’s a database that we have of volunteers our community staff or email saying, “Here’s our [Inaudible 00:09:24] if you’re interested go to the web and signup. Sometimes we do it through small groups, sometimes we do it through our student ministry, our children’s ministry. So each one’s a little different but they’re all web based, everything is based off that and that’s how people get signed up for it.

    Rich – Okay very cool. Now you had mentioned schools, I can see lots of opportunity there, that one seems real straight forward to me, I can understand that. You also mentioned businesses and government, any other examples of how you’re serving in those domains?

    Mike – Sure, we partner, just recently, our Acworth Police Department, which is a neighboring city to us. They were hosting a get together to open their new police station. Our community pastor called them and said, “Listen, let NorthStar come in and celebrate with you and we’ll provide all the snacks and drinks and man the hospitality tables as all the local officials come in.” That was one way.

    We host the local business organization, Acworth Business Association. We host that on our campus. We talked last time about leveraging your facilities.

    Rich – Yeah.

    Mike – So we leverage facilities for them to meet, we’ll also partner with them. A local this weekend is a big festival in Downtown Kennesaw. We provide resources and we’ll provide people to go in and work with that and help with that. So our goal Rich is to do whatever we can to make our communities the greatest place in the world to live.

    You know Jeramiah said, “If the city prospers, we all prosper.”

    Rich – That’s so true.

    Mike – So more people move in, the school’s test grades are better if we provide mentors, which means our community becomes more attractive for people to want to live in and serve in.

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – So by doing that I think it’s a way that we can make everybody better.

    Rich – Yeah, part of what I want people to kind of hear, just even on the tactical side and we found this at Liquid. We do a number of community outreach events and over the years we’ve done a number of these renovations for community service organizations, where we’ve gone into soup kitchens and battered women shelters and transitional housing and it’s funny because I’ve joked internally, I’m like there’s like a team of people that have the gift of interior design and then we kind of spend a weekend and do an extreme home makeover there and that’s been incredible for us. That skill, we’ve transferred from kind of a bunch of different community service organizations and built up all kinds of goodwill, it’s been fantastic and the interesting thing there is, those volunteers, those groups of people, they learn how to do that, they understand what that looks like, and then you could take that and move it to multiple locations.

    Mike – Absolutely.

    Rich – What I hear you guys saying, even on the hospitality side, which is a number of the things you’ve listed, “We provide hospitality at this, at this, at this,” which is a similar task, it’s obviously different everywhere you go, similar though, so it becomes easier to replicate, easier to get people to plug into it.

    Mike – That’s correct and you unleash people and here’s the beautiful part for churches. It is a six, seven day a week reminder, it’s not about us.

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – It isn’t about your four walls, it’s easier to remember when you’re in school, but when you move into a building it’s easier to begin to think, “Well they’ll all come to us.” Really?

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – They’re not supposed to come to us, we are supposed to go to them and it’s a way to do that and we say, “We don’t want to be a part of the community, we want to be a part of the fabric of the community,” that if we were gone we would be missed, our influence would be missed. So that’s the way we’ve chosen to go.

    Rich – Now you mentioned a couple of times the community pastor, tell me about that role, because you have actually staff resources associated to this. Tell me about that.

    Mike – That’s correct. Yeah we’re so committed to it we said we were going to designate two fulltime staff members that serve the community.

    Rich – Oh man.

    Mike – So one of them also works in our men’s ministry but he works with government and businesses and schools. So anything in that arena falls under him.

    We have another lady on our staff that works anything on the social end. So she works with the local social organizations, she works with local foster the DFCS system, we provide socks and underwear. When a child gets taken into foster care, many times they’re taken from their home, they don’t have toiletry items, they don’t have socks, they don’t have underwear, they don’t have the diapers. We do a monthly big give as a church. One of my favorite things we do, a monthly big give that supports one of those organizations, so people can bring in socks and underwear one month and it goes to that DFCS organization or to foster care.

    The world that has opened to us, we didn’t even… as a pastor I didn’t even know it was there.

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – I’m not the guy leading it, we’ve got a whole other team of people leading it and coming up with the ideas but what it’s taught our people, for somebody who’s never given a financial resource to a church, they go shopping with their family to get toiletry items for Easter, for local children. Well they learn to give and it’s small but it teaches them to give.

    Rich – Absolutely.

    Rich – Then sometimes when that offering basket comes by or to the backdoor they go, “You know what, if I’ve given this and we didn’t miss it less, let’s begin to give another way.”

    Rich – Yeah.

    Mike – And the goodwill that it’s built in the community has been unbelievable.

    Rich – Absolutely. You know, I’ve had other church leaders and you know I’m from Jersey so you can sometimes be a little more forthright. I’ve had other church leaders kind of challenge and be like, “Gosh why do you do that stuff? Why do you do community outreach it’s a waste or whatever?” and I’ll say, “Listen, I think it’s what God calls us to do. I think the Bible’s pretty clear on it that we’re called to serve the community. We’re supposed to go out and make an impact.”

    But for a moment, and this is to other church leaders, for a moment let’s say you don’t go there theologically, for whatever reason you really are in the belief that, “No everyone should just come to us.” Put this in the same category as like fancy lights and good music because it literally builds bridges to the community, it literally is one of those things. It’s like, you know, like secret services in the ‘80s, it’s the kind of thing that engages the community at a level that you can’t… you know, there’s just no other way to get that. The reality of it is that most people in our communities aren’t waking up this weekend and saying, “I wonder what they’re talking about at our church this weekend,” they’re just not thinking that.

    Mike – That’s exactly right and here’s the other hard part for all of us.

    Rich – Yeah.

    Mike – When we started in ’97 we were very unique. We were contemporary worships, we were meeting in a school, there’s nothing unique about that anymore.

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – In fact the reality is 98% of the churches you walk into are going to look very similar. Either they’re going to be a more traditional model or they’re going to be the more contemporary, current, new model.

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – But outside that they look alike.

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – So really the question becomes, what do we do to look different and not only what do we do to look different, what are we doing to make an impact? If we were to disappear tomorrow would anybody even notice besides our church members?

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – And for a lot of us, the reality is nobody would ever know we’re gone.

    Rich – Right.

    Mike – We’d just close shop, our influence was never there anyway.

    Rich – Yeah absolutely. You know I had a friend years ago who said, I was asking him, “What’s your vision for the church and how would you know you’re making an impact in the community?” They were a multisite church and he said, “You know what would be amazing”, he said, “it would be incredible if, when we announce we were opening a new campus in that location, if the property values in that location went up, because the community recognized when that church is there it makes such a big difference,” and I was like, “Wow that’s a huge vision, that’s a huge vision for us to be thinking about.”

    Well anything else about kind of engaging our community before we kind of wrap up for the day? This has been an incredible conversation. Anything else we should be thinking about as we kind of embark on this?

    Mike – I would just challenge people to start small. If you’ve never done it start small and start by your church. I have yet to meet a group that says, “No,” when you go offer to help.

    Rich – That’s very true.

    Mike – And I’ve heard people say, “Well we’re an older church and our seniors won’t like that.” What we have found, our greatest volunteers and we don’t have tons of them because of the style of church we are, but our best volunteers are those people, because they have time. They’ve retired, they’ve created…

    We’ve got a guy, he got saved at 62.

    Rich – Nice.

    Mike – Unbelievable story behind this guy but he began a ministry called HOG and it’s helping one guy.

    Rich – Okay.

    Mike – So they’ll identify a man in the community that’s through cancer, lost his job, they’ve lost a loved one and he’ll put on a dinner in their honor. All the money that comes into that dinner he’ll charge everybody a donation of $10. That will give somebody at the end of the night $1500.

    Rich – Wow, so cool.

    Mike – And say, “We just wanted to do this to let you know God loves you, NorthStar loves you,” and that’s a guy who is all about… I mean he lives, eats and breathes, anytime we’re doing something, he’s got time now he didn’t have 15 years ago. So I believe for the young couple and the mom who’s wanting to teach her kids things, to a student [Inaudible 00:19:00] to a senior, there’s an opportunity for everybody to go, “It’s not about me.” We say this all the time Rich and I’ll finish with this, I believe the greatest definition of spiritual maturity is others. When we begin to see life’s not about us.

    Rich – So true.

    Mike – When we begin to see that it’s not about what I know and it’s not about how saved I am. I’m saved, I’m going to Heaven, that’s secure. Everything from here isn’t about me, it really is about serving someone who doesn’t know yet. If that serving opens a door which it has for us, why not do it?

    Rich – Absolutely. Well this has been great encouragement, even to start real small with what you said, you know, go to the local school board, maybe try to get a meeting with your mayor and say, “What can we do to serve? How can we help?

    Mike – That’s right.

    Rich – And really come with open hands and say, “Hey we’re willing to do whatever you need done,” and you’ll be amazed at what will take place in your community.

    Mike I really appreciate you being on the show today, you know we’re out of time unfortunately but if people want to get in touch with you or with NorthStar how could they do that?

    Mike – They could always go to our web, or they can email me directly Rich at or on Twitter @mikelinch.

    Rich – Great. Thanks so much Mike, I really appreciate you being on the show today.

    Mike – Thank you Rich. Have a great day buddy.

    —Huffduffed by theprd

  9. DWELL – Q and A with Dave Fairchild, Steve Timmis and Scott Thomas

    About Adrian WarnockAdrian Warnock is a medical doctor, a writer, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he serves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso. Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus.

    Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway.

    Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. **********************************You are warmly invited to comment on this blog. By doing so you demonstrate that you accept Adrian’s comment policy.

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