Archive for the General Advice Category

Who’s in Your Bullpen?

Posted in General Advice, Waypoint Events on August 22, 2016 by Waypoint Church Partners

Johnny Bench,
Cincinnati Reds legend

I grew up a big baseball fan. My heroes were players on the famed “Big Red Machine” like Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Pete Rose.

With the dog days of summer having already arrived, any serious fan of America’s favorite past time knows that one of the critical factors that makes an average team really great is a strong “bullpen.”  The bullpen is the group of 6 or 7 pitchers on the team ready to step in when one of the starting pitchers is lost due to injury, fatigue or ineffectiveness. Without them, a good team fades into mediocrity as the season progresses.

Who’s in YOUR bullpen?

The same is true for the church. One of the critical factors that makes an average church really great is a strong bullpen. Your “bullpen” is the group of 3-4 members fully ready to step in when one of your Elders is lost due to transfer, fatigue, ineffectiveness or death. Without a strategic, intentional plan to develop your church’s bullpen, even a good church will eventually fade into mediocrity (or worse!).

Waypoint is offering a great opportunity to help develop your bullpen this Fall. The E2-Effective Elders Conference in October is an ideal venue to bring not only your current team of Elders but also those who should be in your ‘bullpen.’  They’ll get to see and hear first-hand what it looks like be part of a healthy Eldership team and how that translates into building a strong church.

We hope to see you, your Elders and your bullpen at the E2: Effective Elders conference in October! Check out our events page to learn more and sign up today.

Tim Cole headshot - circle smTim Cole
Executive Director
tcole@waypointchurchpartners.com

This article was originally published in The Waypoint Endeavor: Summer 2016 edition. If you would like to receive future printed editions of The Waypoint Endeavor, please send your name and mailing address to rwoolard@waypointchurchpartners.com

 

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“The Away Team” Preaching Series

Posted in General Advice, ICOM on September 1, 2015 by Waypoint Church Partners

Created by Rick Raines, Minister at Fairmount Christian Church, Summer 2015

With the International Conference on Missions in Richmond on the horizon, our preaching staff wanted to prepare the hearts of our congregation for this exciting event. Fairmount Christian Church is located in Mechanicsville, Virginia just outside of Richmond, and we knew that with our proximity to the Conference we would have many of our folks in attendance at the Conference and we would have many who would be volunteering.  That’s why we decided to focus our entire summer to the theme of ICOM 2015: “The Away Team.”

Fairmount’s practice is to walk together through one book of the Bible over the course of the summer.  We alternate between an Old Testament and New Testament book each year.  As we began to consider the “Away Team” theme, it became powerfully obvious that the Book of Acts was going to be our summer reading focus and would be a great springboard to talk about the church as “The Away Team” in the world today.

We developed 13 unique, but interrelated, topics to carry us through June, July, and August.  Perhaps another congregation would consider using Acts for their springboard into ICOM or as their follow up to this great event.
Jim Tune, ICOM’s president this year, writes on the ICOM website:

The Away Team is a sports metaphor that illustrates how times have changed.  There was a time when the church had home field advantage in the USA, Canada, and other parts of the world.  Christians were the majority, influenced culture and enjoyed political privilege.  In other words, we had the equivalent of home field advantage.  But times have changed.  To be victorious today we need to adopt strategies that reflect our position as visitors to our own culture.

Those strategies are given to us clearly and boldly throughout the Book of Acts.

Below is our outline of Acts, highlighting the strategies and the reminders that the Away Team needs to always keep in mind:

  • Acts 1 – Commissioned – the Away Team is commissioned by Jesus to be witnesses throughout the world.
  • Acts 2 – Anointed – the Away Team is anointed by God’s Spirit to accomplish everything He has called us to do.
  • Acts 3-5 – Persecuted – the Away Team should expect persecution locally and globally.
  • Acts 6-7 – Serving – the Away Team has the greatest impact by touching the world through service.
  • Acts 8-9 – Obedient – the Away Team is obedient to the will of God and the direction of the Holy Spirit.
  • Acts 10-12 – Accepting – the Away Team accepts others the same way that God accepts others.
  • Acts 13-14 – Sending – the Away Team sends its people wherever there are folks who need the touch of Christ.
  • Acts 15-16 – Uncompromising – the Away Team will be uncompromising in its commitment to Christ and His Word.
  • Acts 17-19 – Persevering – the Away Team will persevere in an often-hostile culture.
  • Acts 20-21 – Devoted – the Away Team is firmly devoted to God and to the body of believers.
  • Acts 22-23 – Bold – the Away Team is bold in word and in deed.
  • Acts 24-26 – Blessed – the Away Team never forgets that they are richly blessed by God.
  • Acts 27-28 – Ready – the Away Team is constantly ready for whatever comes their way.

These are the themes that we developed.  If you would like more information about this series and if you would like to receive our outlines, feel free to contact Rick Raines at rraines@fairmountchristian.org.

Rick RainesRick Raines
VEF Board of Directors Vice President
Preacher at Fairmount Christian Church

Prayer is on the Rise!

Posted in General Advice, Prayer Request on July 28, 2015 by Waypoint Church Partners

prayer wallIn Mark 13:18 Jesus offers a concise description of the Temple, His place of worship. He says, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” But the question churches must wrestle with is this: If Jesus were to visit your church this Sunday, would prayer be immediately visible to Him?

While one recent study found that less than 5% of churches have a significant mobilized prayer ministry, that trend is changing in churches across Virginia:

  • One church recently added a Prayer Wall to their worship room where people can leave the names of lost friends on note cards so others can intercede.
  • Others have strategically placed Prayer Rooms where people can go to pray during worship services.
  • Some are Prayer Walking neighborhoods, schools, or high-crime areas.
  • Sill others are re-visiting mid-week Prayer Services, where the only agenda is intercession.
  • Some have scheduled the Great Wall of Prayer from Team Expansion to offer a weekend prayer focus on unreached people groups.
  • Others are finding ways to pray for the ICOM 15 Church Plants.
  • Some are increasing the face-time of prayer during Sunday worship by finding creative ways to have people pray for key weekly themes (children, missionaries, etc.).
  • And many churches are offering intercessory prayer as one of the options during the end of the service response time.

How is the Prayer Ministry of your church growing? Please let us know and we would love to encourage other churches to pray through your story.

Don’t know where to start? Drop me a line; I would love to help you take your prayer ministry to a new level.

neil wheeler - circleNeil Wheeler
Director of Leader Care
neil@vef.cc

This article was originally published in the VEF Quarterly: Spring 2015 edition. If you would like to receive future printed editions of the VEF Quarterly, please send your name and mailing address to rachel@vef.cc

5 Surprising Side Effects of a Sabbatical

Posted in General Advice on September 24, 2014 by Waypoint Church Partners

Sharing their lives with each otherThis summer I was given a month-long sabbatical by my Board of Directors after a difficult 9-year stretch of ministry.

It was needed. Truth be told, I was out of gas at the seven year mark, but continued to drudge along while too few week-long vacations seemed to barely help, and rushed trips to visit family over the holidays never seemed to adequately recharge my batteries.

Having worked with church planters and ministers for the past couple of decades, I’m starting to recognize a similar, common timeline. Somewhere into a leader’s ministry, usually 5 to 7 or 8 years in, he or she hits a wall spiritually, emotionally and often even physically.

It really should come as no surprise for those of us who claim to know our creator well and teach others about Him. There’s a Divine brilliance to the sabbatical’s rest prescribed by God in His word. He knew. Seven days, seven years, forty nine years. He knew. Even God, after six hard days of work took some needed time off.

We know taking a good sabbatical puts gas back in our tank, the wind back in our sails, and the “mo” back in our mojo. But maybe we didn’t know some of the other surprising side effects that taking a sabbatical can produce:

1. Recognizing Independence
Taking a sabbatical allows other leaders in our church to remember or even recognize for the first time that the church actually can exist and operate without us. That’s not something to fear – it’s a healthy thing.

2. Building Up Leaders
Taking time away allows the younger disciples that we’ve been training to see for the first time that the church can flourish under their leadership and direction. Letting the church see our younger leaders step up and take charge when we’re gone can change the way they see the church in action. It could give legs to your next “every member is a minister” sermon. The church at its best is member driven, not clergy driven by a chaplain who does all the work.

3. Personal Humility
It allows US to remember or even recognize for the first time that the church can exist and operate without us there. That’s an even healthier thing! Like the first time you reluctantly left your toddler overnight with a babysitter or grandparent, you realize life will go on and others can just as capably care for your baby. Leaving your church for several consecutive weeks will force you to the same healthy realization.

4. Changed Perspective
It allows us a glimpse of what we’re missing when we’re focused on ministry all the time. Just as taking a multi-day fast reminds how fixated we’ve become on food, taking a break from ministry allows us to see those other things blurred in the background by our focus on ministry. Things like our hobby (or lack of one), our family (locally and extended), our neighbors, and even our own spiritual health.

5. Growing Relationships
It allows our family to experience us unencumbered by the weight of ministry responsibility. For those of us who’ve been ‘called’ into vocational ministry, we know that we rarely clock out at 5pm. Ministry is a lifestyle, not just a job. Sabbaticals can benefit our families as much as it does us. They get to experience Saturday evenings without the lurking reality that waits for the upcoming mornings.

God was fully aware when He instituted the seven year sabbatical what the side effects would be at levels deeper than can imagine or appreciate. Maybe it’s time you took one? You need it. Your family needs it. Your church needs it.

If you need someone to honestly share with your leaders the benefits of you taking a sabbatical let the VEF know. We’re happy to come alongside you and your church to help create a healthy plan to make it happen.

Tim Cole headshot - circle sm
Tim Cole
Executive Director
tim@vef.cc

Old Church, New Design

Posted in Church Planting, General Advice on September 17, 2014 by Waypoint Church Partners

openingdayOn September 7th, Forefront Christian Church in Virginia Beach, VA proudly opened the doors to their brand new building. Well, it was at least new to them.

You see, the church building was originally built in 1999 for an Episcopal church. And here’s my favorite part of the story: When Forefront was tearing down the walls to start their reconstruction, they actually found writing inside the walls from volunteers from the community who had helped construct the building originally. Amazingly, they found the names of several volunteers from Forefront Christian Church who had come out to serve the community 15 years ago! Little did those Forefronters know, they were actually helping to build the future home of Forefront itself. And if that doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will.

When Forefront purchased the property the church was in many ways your typical, run-of-the-mill, outdated eyesore. But Jason Bedell, Lead Pastor, and the rest of the Forefront staff had a vision. Jason recalls, “Our contractor (also a member of Forefront) kept telling me ‘I’m not sure we’re able to do that Jason’ on a number of the design changes. I just kept telling him, ‘Let’s just do it and I promise it will make sense in the end.’

“The day before our open house he and I were sitting there about 2 in the morning, just talking. He said, ‘I didn’t know what you were thinking. I couldn’t see it. But man, this place is really an extension of our heart. You can see it every where you turn. People are going to love this place.’”

The Forefront staff was in charge of the entire redesign, with Jason at the helm of the overall concept. He designed the main building, and Becky, the Children’s Director, did the design for the children’s modular rooms. It wasn’t easy. Jason says, “The challenge was trying to do everything we wanted to do on a budget. We changed things dozens of times to make sure it all happened. If we had to spend more in one area, we’d make another area work with less. We knew money wasn’t going to stop us from having a place for people to feel immersed in God’s love and grace. We haggled with carpet people, price matched EVERYWHERE, and spent a ton of time finding who could do it the best, and trying to get a fair price for the work. We couldn’t have completed it without our volunteers. Everything outside was done with volunteers. Staging the spaces, everything audio/visual, assembling TONS of IKEA furniture… volunteers.”

The entire process, from purchase to opening day, took about 3 months. During that time they knocked out walls, built new ones, painted almost EVERYTHING, ordered furniture, designed wall art, landscaped, expanded parking, and the results are pretty incredible. The building feels fresh and modern without going overboard. They were intentional about adding natural elements to the space, which Jason explains, “There are things we (our generation) loved about older churches. The architecture, wood work, open feel, warm, etc. Many new places skip the plants, wood, and what not for a club like feel.” They intentionally added a huge wall with wood panelling. The feature cost them an extra $800 in materials, but they all agree it was well worth it.

Actually, in a way, it feels like they’ve finally come home.

snow_cone_greenelectric_orangeshaker_graypebble_beach

The colors have been a part of Forefront’s DNA for years, and were the obvious choice for tying the decor together. They color matched their branding with Benjamin Moore’s paint selections and came up with the following palette: Snow Cone Green (2026-30), Electric Orange (2015-10), Gunmetal (1602), Shaker Gray (1594), and Pebble Beach (1597). The outside of the building was painted the darker Shaker Gray, with the inside walls in the lighter Pebble Beach. Pops of color were added throughout the space in green and orange. To add a modern ambiance, they painted the ceilings and wings of the sanctuary in Gunmetal black.

10592712_10152692261668361_2042993035209650444_nOne money saving tip? Jason reveals the secret to that awesome, huge wall art: “All signs other than the big hanging ones in the lobby were done on corrugated plastic. Designed in house and printed by Bizport. A 24×36 sign is $20 delivered to our door. They have a place here and in Richmond area.” So if you live in the Richmond or Virginia Beach area (or don’t mind driving to pick them up), there you go!

The initial response to the new building has been phenomenal, and the numbers reflect the excitement surrounding the change. Before moving, Forefront had settled to around 300-325 guests on Sundays. Opening Sunday, they doubled that number! This past Sunday, they think they had around 550, but there are so many people that it’s hard to get an accurate count. They are anticipating adding a third service soon.

All the same, while having a new building (or drastically revamping an old one) is really great, it’s not the point. The point is sharing the gospel. Forefront has lived the past 20+ years in rented space, setting up and tearing down completely each Sunday. They have had amazing volunteers who were committed to the vision and served faithfully in that area, but having a dedicated space will save a lot of time, allowing those volunteers to serve in other areas. Ultimately, they are hoping this building is an open door (literally and figuratively) to members of their community who haven’t been to church in a while. Their real passion is sharing the gospel with people who are hurting, lost, broken, and wounded, and this building is a tool they are using to help accomplish just that.

Here’s one last word from Jason: “From day one we’ve repeated, almost like a broken record ‘We are the church. It’s not some place you go, it’s a group you’re a part of.’ The building is just a place. While it will be a place to find healing, learn about love, experience grace… it’s still just a place. So, we want to have a place that 24/7 can be used for the mission. To be People Helping People, Find & Follow Jesus. That can happen anywhere, but this every day exposure helps to show the community we aren’t going anywhere. We’re here with you and for you.

“One of things we saw a lot of these past two weeks on connection cards was, ‘This is my first time. Was driving by and wanted to check it out. I’ll be back.’ We didn’t have that in rented facilities. We couldn’t put signage up all week. So, the benefits of having a space allow us to mold the environments and experiences people enter in to when they are learning about God. If we can take away the distractions and make people understand we thought about them before they ever walked through the door, we have a better chance of them being open to learning about God’s love and grace.”

And just because we know you’re dying to see it, here are the before and after photos:

Still want to learn more? E-mail questions to jason@forefront.org
Or contact Tim Cole at tim@vef.cc to see how the VEF can help you with your own church redesign.

Rachel Woolard headshot - circle sm
Rachel Woolard
Director of Media
rachel@vef.cc

PCShare the Gospel

Posted in General Advice on May 27, 2014 by Waypoint Church Partners

Over the last few months I have been haunted by two questions every time I back out of my driveway and head down my street. Why do I live on my street? And how can I reach my neighbors who don’t attend anybody’s church with the gospel of Jesus Christ?
You see on my street there are twelve houses and as of a couple of months ago ten of those houses had no one attending anybody’s church on any given Sunday. In those ten houses live 20 adults and 12 children; 32 people who are either lost or, at best, prodigals who’ve separated themselves for some reason from the Lord’s Church.

Now some are probably thinking: “Hey you dunder-head, just go down the street, knock on some doors and start inviting your neighbors to come to church or start up a spiritual conversations by asking, ‘If you were to die tonight, do you know where you’d spend eternity?'” Simple – right? Well maybe for you, but if you promise not to tell anyone, I just don’t have what Scripture refers to as the gift of evangelism. That may sound strange to you given the fact that I am a preacher. I can preach to a crowd and I can even sign up for a mission trip to Honduras to do street evangelism through an interpreter to people I’ll likely never see again. But to walk across the street and knock on my neighbor’s door to talk to him about Jesus sounds to me about as exciting a prospect as scheduling a visit to the dentist’s office for a root canal.

So several months ago I decided to just start praying for every one of my neighbors every day, by name. Of course I had a problem… I didn’t know all of my neighbor’s names. So I began praying for the bike-guy until I learned his name was Rick. I began praying for the single mom who always looks so sad and her three ‘wild’ children. And I began praying for Gary and Carole, the guy on the corner, and the two sisters who I can never get to wave back even though I’ve been waving at them for the last ten years.
And as God always does when we begin to pray in earnest for something, my heart began changing toward my neighbors. I stopped seeing the children stomping through my flower bed and started seeing kids who Jesus loves. I stopped being annoyed at the guy on the corner who never cuts his grass and started seeing a life worth redeeming by the gospel. In short, God did a miracle inside my heart and I began to really care about each one of my neighbors.

I must admit, I still haven’t gotten up the courage to talk with any of my neighbors about the gospel. But I’m praying God will ripen their minds for the gospel and open my eyes to opportunities to share the good news with the people God has chosen for me to live near. You see it’s not by accident that I live on the street I live on. The Bible says God determines the times and the exact places where we should live, Acts17:26. God himself has placed me on my street to make disciples of each one of my neighbors and through the PCShare (Prayer – Care – Share) model of evangelism even a chicken like me can reach my friends for Christ.

To learn more about PCShare Evangelism I’d recommend Larry DeWitt’s book God’s Amazing Normal or Alvin VanderGrind’s Shine His Light. Or you can find tons of information on the Mission America Coalition website (www.lighthousemovement.com).
And if you’re wondering how it’s going with me reaching my neighbors for Christ, I wish I could say I’ve baptize all 32 of my unchurched neighbors in the past few months. But that would be a lie. What I can say is six of them came to my church on Easter Sunday, two have been back every Sunday and one returned another week with a friend. Prayer is amazing!

neil wheeler - circle
Neil Wheeler
Lead Guy at Chester Christian Church
VEF Board of Directors, President

Mobile Giving is Coming to your Church. Are you ready?

Posted in General Advice on May 20, 2014 by Waypoint Church Partners

Over the past 5-7 years churches have begun making the switch to online giving as a growing part of the regular contributions they receive from their members. Many of our recent church plants are receiving more than 50% of their monthly giving using online avenues. Hopefully your church is actively strategizing how to capitalize on this emerging trend in our online world.

Now the new thing on the block is the emerging shift to mobile giving. Morgan Stanley recently reported that during the 2014 calendar year the number of mobile devices will exceed the number of desktop and laptop personal computers worldwide for the first time ever.

The first huge implication for this trend is that your church needs to have a mobile web presence, not just a desktop version. That means a website that’s optimized for viewing from a smart phone or tablet device. Very soon more people will view your church’s website from one of these smaller platforms than from their ‘old school’ desktops and laptops. Hopefully your church is actively strategizing how to capitalize on this emerging trend in our online world.

The second huge implication that’s coming down the pike will be people’s desire to make contributions from their smart phones and tablets. In just the past couple of years we’ve become comfortable paying for things from our mobile devices. We’re paying for things like pizza, Redbox, Ebay, and many other things from a growing array of goods and services we once paid for with cash or by check. The same is true for your church. Sooner than later you’ll need to have a smooth, simple process for people to contribute from a mobile device. Hopefully your church is actively strategizing how to capitalize on this emerging trend in our online world.

Here’s a few ideas as you get the process started:

1. Align your online and mobile giving providers so it’s not two different services they need to become familiar with.
2. Create a special event that people will want to give towards to “prime the pump” for future mobile giving. Have them contribute during church to a short term mission trip or special local outreach event.
3. Refer to the mobile option often from stage. Saying it only one time will guarantee it won’t take off. Mention this new feature at least once a month, if not more often. Tell your new people during your membership class about all the ways they can give at your church.

If you don’t know where to start, check with your current church database or website provider about the options they already provide, or call the VEF for advice on where to look.

Tim Cole headshot - circle smTim Cole
Director of Church Planting