Feedback: Friend or Foe?

feedback-discussFeedback is a fact of leadership. Every leader is aware everyone around them has an opinion about the decisions and actions of a leader. That’s why a leader must be “thick-skinned” or they will never accomplish much. Too often, leaders run and hide from feedback rather than look for and even solicit honest and sincere feedback.

For a leader to grow, feedback must be seen as a welcomed friend not a fearful foe!

In the church, there are a number of ways to proactively seek feedback. Because I get the opportunity to preach the same message multiple times each Sunday at VALLEY Christian Church, after our first gathering, I invite 5-6 people into my office and we evaluate the message together. This practice, over the years, has been an incredible tool and help in my growth as a communicator. In the previous two posts (“How To Communicate Vision”, part 1 & 2), I shared the importance of communicating vision, feedback is the “next step” a leader will take to ensure they have effectively communicated that vision.

Recently, we hosted a dinner at our church for 70+ people, for the express purpose of inviting feedback. Each table was given three critical questions to discuss and answer (give feedback). It was an awesome and humbling experience for me, as well as all of the leadership at VALLEY. Below is a sample of the compiled feedback we received from 70+ adults in attendance to the future vision of our church:

What inspires you most about being a part of “The VALLEY Family”?

1) The genuine relationships and community in the VALLEY Family.

2) The friendly environment where ALL people feel welcome and excited to bring their friends.

3) Watching people who attend VALLEY transformed by the power of the Gospel.

4) How VALLEY is a place where relationships, with God and others, are emphasized.

What do we need to continue to do in order to reach the unchurched in our community?

1) Keep our Sunday experience current and relevant.

2) Continue to have outreach campaigns that appeal to those in the church and the community.

3) Keep our standard of excellence and consistency with the children’s and student’s ministries.

4) Consistently have events that are exciting and encourage those who are unchurched to attend.

As Dr. Greg discussed the future vision, what jumped out and has you the most excited about where we are planning on going?

1) We are excited that VALLEY is fulfilling the Great Commission by going out into our community to reach the unchurched.

2) The new volunteer positions that provide opportunities to serve others and partner with VALLEY.

3) The generosity of those who came before us, as we will continue to be generous and expand our investments in our community, our country/world and future generations.

4) Not going into debt to get a new building because we are focused on people instead of property.

You may be wondering, “What do you do after receiving this much feedback”? That will be the subject of my next post, “Feedback FaceTime“.

QUESTIONS:

1. Leader, how are you regularly and consistently inviting input and feedback from those you lead?

2. “Leaders know feedback is an inevitable fact. Invite it and your heart will be prepared to hear it. If not, you’ll always be defensive & run away from growth.” Agree or Disagree? Why?

How To Communicate Vision – Part 2

(Here are my notes from our second V3 (View of VALLEY’s Vision) gathering where we shared about the future of VALLEY Christian Church. Notice the “How Can I Help” section. It is so important for a leader to give action steps after sharing BIG PICTURE stuff!

I hope these two posts help you as a leader, with some of the “nuts and bolts” the next time you share long-term vision in your church or ministry.)

Here’s a quick recap of the night…

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 (NIV)

1. The Promise? Power to His followers.
2. The Purpose? To fulfill His mission. (Matthew 28:18-20)
3. The Proximity? Beyond ourselves.

There are tens of thousands in our community who have never heard the good news of what God has done for them through his Son, Jesus Christ. We’re NOT okay with that. We are compelled to go beyond ourselves for those who have never heard.

Where is the Poughkeepsie Campus Site?regal-cinemas1

Regal Cinemas at the Poughkeepsie Galleria Mall

After looking at numerous pieces of property and existing buildings, we’ve concluded, for VALLEY, if we are going to fulfill our God-sized goal (5K for ’25), it is important that we prioritize people over property.

What are some of the benefits of launching our Poughkeepsie Campus in Regal Cinemas?

- 700,000 people annually attend movies in this venue
- Lease agreement is for just 12 months at a time (in contrast to long-term lease)
- The Galleria is truly the center of Dutchess County
- LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
- VALLEY will be the only church with a food court & reclining seats in the auditorium with cup holders!
- 377 seating in main theater to be used (Hopewell Campus currently has 330)
- Unlimited parking
- Our lease includes use of lobby, 3 theaters, and Party Room in order to provide the consistent quality of ministry to VALLEY adults and kids that so many have become accustomed to over the years.
- 50 ft. screen in main auditorium
- All of this, for a fraction of the cost to purchase/build or renovate another facility.

Who Has VALLEY Been Looking to for Help and Guidance Preparing for All of This?

Will There Be Additional Staffing?

- Mike Tallerico; joining the VALLEY Staff on 8/10 as Tech Director (Audio, Video & Lighting)
- Jordan McDaniel; Graphics (Out-sourced) recent Liberty University graduate
- Others joining the staff team over the next few months and year

How Can You Help?

  1. Prayer (21 Days of Prayer coming this FALL)
  2. Volunteer to serve (we haves needs for both campuses – Hopewell & Poughkeepsie)
  3. Tell all your friends and family. “We’re COMING for them!”
  4. If you are interested in being involved in Poughkeepsie, but want more information and want meet some other people in the VALLEY Family involved in Poughkeepsie…Sign up for one of our Poughkeepsie Campus BBQ’s – Email Campus Pastor Josh Brossia for more information – Josh@valleychristianchurch.net

How To Communicate Vision -Part 1

At VALLEY Christian Church, we are rolling out our vision for ministry for the next 10 years. After countless hours of prayer, study and discussion, we began holding a series of gatherings for anyone and everyone who was interested in hearing more. We called these gatherings V3 (A View of VALLEY’s Vision). This post, and a few subsequent posts, are shared with the hopes of being examples to help other church leaders in communicating vision in the churches they serve as well.

Our Future

God has really blessed VALLEY Christian Church over the last few years with unprecedented growth (average of 20% a year over the last three years). Currently, over 1,000 people call VALLEY their Church Family. In response to this growth, and with the continued desire to reach people in our community and beyond, our 10 year “God-Sized” goal and strategy to reach more people is explained below:

OUR GOD SIZED GOAL:
5,000 people weekly in attendance by 2025 (or 5 for ’25)!

THE STRATEGY:
Multi-Site

THE LOCATION:
Poughkeepsie

THE SITE:
Regal Cinemas in the Poughkeepsie Galleria
(Click here for more details)

Frequently Asked Questions about Multi-Site Churches:

What is the definition of a multi-site?

A multisite church is one church meeting in multiple locations–different locations in the same region, or in some instances, different cities, states, or nations. A multisite church shares a common vision, budget, leadership and board.

Why is VALLEY choosing to launch multi-sites?

VALLEY wants to leverage our church’s strengths and maximize our potential to impact local communities around the region. Launching multi-sites helps to develop an intentional, region-wide strategy that is unique to each community while minimizing expenses. VALLEY’s new sites will not be separate churches but multiple locations of VALLEY Christian Church. We will operate as one church with one lead pastor, one group of Elders, one staff and the same message each week. One diverse church in multiple locations for all generations.

What is our reason for adding multiple campuses?

Statistics show that people prefer to attend a church within a 15 minute drive of their home. When people are required to drive more than 15-20 minutes to church, it becomes a challenge to attend gatherings regularly, volunteer, invite friends and experience deeper involvement in their church community. In addition, we want to see VALLEY Christian Church multiplied into different areas around the region so that we can have a greater ability to reach people right where they are.

Are other churches doing this?

Yes. There are over 8,000 churches currently using this strategy across the United States with over 5 million people worshipping in multi-site churches each weekend.

What are the advantages of having multiple sites?

  • Assists in reaching friends and family unwilling to travel a great distance to church
  • Brings together the best aspects of larger churches and smaller churches
  • Increases the total number of available seats during optimal worship times
  • Overcomes geographic barriers when a church facility is landlocked or tightly zoned
  • Enables untapped talent to emerge each time a new venue or site is opened
  • Mobilizes volunteers through an added variety of ministry opportunities
  • Improves a church’s stewardship of funds and resources
  • Provides a pipeline for the development of emerging leaders and future staff

What is the difference between church-planting and multi-site?

A church plant is usually a small delegation of people who leave a church to go develop a brand-new church. Typically, church plants have their own teaching pastor, their own leaders, and their own budget with some financial help from the “sending” church or denomination; otherwise, they are a new and independent entity. Multi-site campuses are new but extended, fully-functioning congregations of a sending church but not independent churches.

Why add more sites and not just plant another church?

Some reports reveal the failure rate of a new church planted as high as 70 to 80%. However, churches already possessing ministry momentum such as VALLEY are more likely to breathe new life into older communities. Both are viable strategies for reaching more people for Christ and neither is right or wrong. It’s a matter of how we believe God is leading VALLEY to most effectively reach people in our community.

Are we competing with other churches in other communities?

No, not at all. VALLEY Christian Church has a vision to reach Dutchess County and beyond. We are interested in the lost and those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. Some people may attend from other churches, but our goal is not to empty other churches; it is to assist each other in reaching the community for Jesus.

5 Reasons I Need Coaching and You Do Too

coaching1I’ve got to just come right out and say it. It’s become a major conviction in my life over the years, and it is too important to stay quiet about any longer. So here goes, “I need coaching and you do too!” It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do for a career, hobby or life in general, coaching is critical no matter what stage of life or ministry we are in. If we are going to fulfill the purpose and plan God created each of us for, from time to time, we must reach out and get some coaching. Without coaching, each of us are doomed to be underachievers in this life! Here are “5 Reasons I need Coaching and You Do Too”:

1. Coaching keeps us learning.  When we stop learning, we stop growing. Period.

2. Coaching reveals our blind spots. You and I need trusted people in our life to challenge our false assumptions, foolish decisions, wrong emotions and opinions. The more influence and responsibility we have, the less likely people are to challenge these things in us. Therefore, it’s important to intentionally invite others in and give them the freedom to do so.

3. Coaching reminds us we don’t know it all. Nothing gives us a greater “reality check” like hearing from someone a little further down the road, with a little more experience, wisdom and expertise.

4. Coaching confronts our tendency to “coast”. It’s all too easy to hit some magical place where we believe we have all we need to continue on for the foreseeable future. A good shot of coaching reminds us, there is always room for improvement.

5. Coaching causes us to humble ourselves. This is probably the biggest need for and greatest reward of receiving coaching. Why? Because, God opposes the proud but favors the humble” (James 4:6b). It just doesn’t get any clearer than that. If we want God’s favor (grace) in our life, we must intentionally place ourselves in a place of humility. Opening our life up to a coach does this in a practical and tangible way.

So how about you? What area of your life are you coasting in? Where do you want to improve? Maybe it’s time to find a coach to “Coach you up”. You’ll be glad you did!

5 Signs Your Church Is Reaching The Unchurched

Familyshutterstock_14597167Recently, in a conversation in our staff meeting, we were sharing some awesome stories about what God is doing in our church. We’ve seen 97 people receive Christ in their heart for the first time, in a period of less than 18 months and are thanking God for every one. So, the staff at VALLEY Christian Church and I, came up with a list of “5 Signs Your Church Is Reaching The Unchurched” from our experiences. Check out the list below:
1. Use of “Four Letter” Language

This is kind of crazy, but I’ve learned not to get all flustered when someone’s thinks nothing of dropping words in a conversation that “church people” would never say. A couple of weeks ago, someone actually told one of the leaders in our church after the service, “What a &%$#ing great message! It really kicked my @##!” The truth is, this is refreshing on many levels. That’s not to say that we don’t expect to see people grow past this stage, but it’s great to see people truly ‘come as they are’ and be themselves when experiencing Christ for the first time ever or in a very long time.

2. Okay With Change

You hardly ever hear unchurched folks say, “That’s the way we’ve always done it”. This mentality cripples many churches today. The unchurched seem to say, “Why not” a whole lot more than “Why”. It’s really amazing how passionate people are about change in order to reach others, when they were one of those “others” just a few short years or months before.

3. Shorter Services (and Sermons)

That person who came to church looking for a way to connect with God or explore who Jesus really is, wasn’t expecting they would have to give up the better part of Sunday just to find out. A three hour service is fine for Christians, but the unchurched will simply never come back again. When you think about it, it’s rare to find a feature film that is even more than two and a half hours long. We’ve seen the closer we keep our Sunday services to one hour, the more our church has reached the unchurched. A shorter service takes much more leadership, discipline, planning and focus than one that just goes on and on. It’s a challenge, but well worth it. The unchurched also don’t understand the whole “singing for 45 minutes” thing either, but that’s for another post.

4. Kids Dragging Parents to Church (Adult Children too)

So many times we’ve heard parents tell us that they really wanted to stay home, but their children started pitching a fit because they were going to miss out on our Children’s Ministry. This thrills me to no end to hear as a pastor. Also, it’s been wild to see parents of adult children (in their 20s and 30s) begin to attend our church after seeing their adult children’s lives transformed since beginning a relationship with Christ. As a result, not only are we reaching 20 & 30 somethings, but also 50 & 60 somethings who come to check out what has happened to their kids. That is just plain AWESOME, seeing generations growing in their relationship to Christ together!

5. Lots of Men

I never saw this one coming, but unlike most churches in America where the make-up of the church is almost 65/35% women to men, we’re seeing unchurched couples (and single men) coming to explore faith in Jesus Christ. The net result is our church is almost a perfect 50/50 split between women and men. There’s been lots of great books written addressing the strange ratio of women to men in most churches that are well worth the read. If you’re interested, check HERE, HERE and HERE. It’s been said, “If you reach the man, you reach the whole family” and we are definitely experiencing that reaching the unchurched in our community.

Do these 5 signs make you uncomfortable? Perhaps it’s time to rethink what churches are doing with our time and to retool to reach the unreached right outside of our door. It’s a challenge, but I really wouldn’t want it any other way!

8 Reasons Most Churches Never Break the 200 Attendance Mark

churchTRADITIONALMany pastors struggle with the question, “Why is the church that I pastor not growing?” This is especially the case in churches under 200 in weekly attendance (Nearly 70% of Protestant churches in America). The answers are NOT: a lack of desire, lack of prayer, lack of love, lack of facility or lack of technology.

If you’re looking for the right answers to your question, check out the excellent and insightful post, “8 Reasons Most Churches Never Break the 200 Mark” by Carey Niewhof. You’ll be glad you did!

While social media and even traditional media are still preoccupied with mega churches and multi-site churches, the reality is that most churches in North America are quite small.

The Barna group pegs the average Protestant church size in America at 89 adults. 60% of protestant churches have less than 100 adults in attendance. Only 2% have over 1000 adults attending.

- See more at: http://careynieuwhof.com/2013/09/8-reasons-most-churches-never-break-the-200-attendance-mark/?utm_content=buffer747a8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.yRAE0lC7.dpuf

While social media and even traditional media are still preoccupied with mega churches and multi-site churches, the reality is that most churches in North America are quite small.

The Barna group pegs the average Protestant church size in America at 89 adults. 60% of protestant churches have less than 100 adults in attendance. Only 2% have over 1000 adults attending.

- See more at: http://careynieuwhof.com/2013/09/8-reasons-most-churches-never-break-the-200-attendance-mark/?utm_content=buffer747a8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.yRAE0lC7.dpuf

Ready 2 TRANSFORM?

TRANSFORMEDlogoSo excited about this week’s message at VALLEY Christian Church, “7 Habits for Spiritual Health“. It’s part of our “TRANSFORMED” series. Click on the highlighted link to see the bumper and to learn more. I hope to see you this Sunday at 8:30, 10:15 or 12:00!

Here’s a brief overview from last week “Setting Personal Goals By Faith”:

Romans 12:2a (NIV)

Why are goals important to changing my life?

1. Goal Setting Is A Spiritual Responsibility – Philippians 3:12-15a (ERV)

2. Goals Are Statements Of Faith – Ephesians 3:20 (The Message), Matthew 9:29b (NIV)

3. Goals Focus My Energy – 1 Corinthians 9:26 (NLT)

4. Goals Keep Me Going – Job 6:11 (NLT)

5. Goals Build My Character

6. Good Goals Will Be Rewarded – Proverbs 11:27 (GNT), 1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT)

Will this goal honor God?

Is this goal motivated by love?

Will this goal require depending on God?

Proverbs 16:9 (The Message)

God provides three helps for change:
1. I need God’s spirit to empower me
2. I need God’s word to guide me
3. I need God’s people to support me

(If you’d like to view this entire message click HERE.)

 

This Week Has Power

Easter14John Cassetto, Pastor of Worship at Saddleback Church wrote this. I could not have said it better myself Valley Christian Church Family!

“It has been my joy to have many friends who have begun their journey of faith at an Easter weekend church service. Right now, local churches all over the world are in the process of preparing great music, Spring cleaning to make sure the house is in order to receive guests, laboring over word choices in sermons, printed materials and songs with the hopes that people everywhere would know that there is a God who loves them and has a plan and a purpose for their life.

This week holds long evenings and early mornings, budgets and nerves will be stretched to the limit, fingers and voices grow weary from rehearsing to get it just right. But we do it because it matters.

People matter.
Love matters.

This symphony of ushers, guitar players, lighting technicians, singers and Sunday School teachers playing their individual part to make one beautiful song. Together.

I’m so thankful for you, church person. The one who still believes in the power of the gathering. The one who labors over each cue. The one preparing the best lesson, snacks and crafts for kids. The one practicing that refrain repeatedly. I’m honored to be with you, by your side, and one of you.

This week has power. Let’s claim it. Together.”

Why Good Friday Is So Important

There seems to be a knee-jerk response on the part of some Christians to the idea of remembering or even acknowledging Good Friday. It usually sounds something like this:

“Why do we need to designate a day to remember the cross? We do it every week on Sunday when we gather as a church, right? We should be remembering Christ’s death as we read the Bible as individuals and families, right? After all, He’s not dead, He’s ALIVE!”

Sure.

But God gave his people celebrations, feasts, days of mourning and days of remembrance for a reason. While we may think that we’re really good at appreciating things consistently on a day-to-day basis, we really aren’t. We are creatures of habit and people of comfort who deem the day doomed if deprived of morning coffee/morning paper/morning whatever. We need holidays to break us from our routines. I never stop appreciating the cross, just as I never stop loving my wife. But on our anniversary, my wife and I take special time to remember the greatest day of our lives. We remember how much we mean to each other and mark the day as a celebration, not because we have been discounting our marriage all year, but because our marriage is worth celebrating.

In the same way, Good Friday isn’t about forgetting the cross all year until Easter weekend. It’s a declaration that the day of our atonement is a day worthy of special remembrance.

Here are some things to keep in mind as we come together this Friday.

Good Friday is Really, Really Good

The term “Good Friday” is a bit dated in that the word “good” used to have a definition more closely associated with “holy” in the English language. Now, while it seems almost irreverent to call the day our savior died “good”, it’s more like the biggest understatement of all time. Jesus went to the cross as the final and perfect sacrifice, taking our sins upon himself, so we could be could be clean and presentable before a holy God. That’s the greatest good that anyone has every done.

Good Friday is Really, Really Old

Christians have been celebrating this day since at least the fourth century. As we join together, we join with them and all other brothers and sisters in Christ throughout history and today who take time to worship and remember the reason why we have grace.

Good Friday Gets Us Ready for Easter

The Resurrection is the zenith of our faith, without it our belief is in vain. The excitement of Easter, though, is superficial without an understanding of the cross. Before Jesus conquered Death, he had to die and suffer in our place. We live out the Gospel when we worship together on Friday and Sunday.

Consider What The Scripture Tells Us

And I, when I came to you, brothers,did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.1 Corinthians 2:1-2

Interesting how the Holy Spirit doesn’t inspire Paul to squeeze in “He’s not dead, He’s alive” in his words here. Also, when explaining the reason and importance of The Lord’s Supper, Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes:

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26

All Christians agree on the importance of Communion as an ordinance or sacrament of the church. The Holy Spirit speaking through Paul makes it clear, The Lord’s Supper is meant to celebrate and “proclaim” Christ’s death! These are just two of the many examples throughout the New Testament that speak to the importance of focusing on Christ’s death on the cross.

So, join us Friday, April 18th at 6:00 or 7:30pm @ VALLEY Christian Church as we obey God’s Word and celebrate Christ’s crucifixion, death and sacrifice for our sins!


Singles and Sexual Atheism

Dating-Couple-800x600“In a recent study conducted by ChristianMingle.com, Christian singles between the ages of 18 to 59 were asked, “Would you have sex before marriage?” The response? Sixty-three percent of the single Christian respondents indicated yes. In my 30 years of youth and adult ministry experience, this is as unfiltered, direct and honest as a question and answer can be.

It is equally honest to say that nearly nine out of 10 self-proclaimed single Christians are, in practicesexual atheists. In other words, God has nothing to say to them on that subject of any consequence or, at least, anything meaningful enough to dissuade them from following their own course of conduct. It is the ultimate oxymoron. A person who at once believes in a wise, sovereign and loving God who created them and all things, can also believe simultaneously He should not, cannot or will not inform their thinking or living sexually. It reminds me of those famous red letters in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46, NIV). There is disconnect between identity and activity.”

Shocked? Read more of Kenny Luck‘s eye-opening post  HERE