Friday, August 31, 2007

Consumers or Contributers

There at least 2 type of people who attend church. They are either consumers or contributors.

Consumers attend and receive and take. They judge the worth of attending on factors like were they welcomed. Were they blessed during the worship. Were they Fed during the preaching. Were there kids looked after.

Contributors attend and serve and give. They judge their worth of attending on assisting on bringing people closer to God. They did this by driving a bus to bring people from the car park, setting up the auditorium, welcoming people to church, serving tea and coffee, playing a music instrument, singing in a choir, cleaning a toilet, working a computer, stacking chairs, teaching kids.... the list goes on.

Read this article from Craig compared how a visit to our churches should be like to a hotel he visited that showed him the most incredible customer service he has experienced.

After a few days at this luxurious resort, Amy and I agreed that we’ve never had a better experience. How did they do it?

Here’s what I learned from interviewing some staff members:

Their goal in everything was to exceed our expectations. In every way, they did. Whether it was putting down a towel for us on our chairs by the pool, remembering our names, folding down our comforter at night, leaving a handwritten note, or neatly arranging our shoes by the foot of the bed, details obviously mattered.

How did they do it?

* They were intentional. Each new staff member attends a three-day event to learn to culture of the resort. Then everyone attends a two-week customer service course.They had a large staff. This resort had 250 rooms.

* They had over 1000 staff members. If each room averaged two guests, the resort had a better than 2:1 staff-to-guest ratio. In our churches, if we have 100 members and have 5 guests on a weekend, we have a 20:1 ratio. Think about how we could better serve our guests!

Businesses should never exceed the hospitality of ministries. We must be intentional. And we must train our members to see themselves as “unpaid staff” or ministers to welcome those who don’t know Christ and invite them into our family.

Non-believers should feel more loved by the church than by any institution in the world.

If you are not already in the game its time join in and make your church the most incredible place on earth to visit.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

What its all about .. continued

Just read this story from Steven Furtick. All I can say is amazing. Its half way around the world, in a place I have never been, with people I do not know but I can not help be moved when I here 1 persons story of connecting with Jesus. Way to go Elevation.

I will try to make this short and sweet, but I’ll probably only be able to follow through with latter the of the two. I am Teri Miller. I am 33 years old and I have never gone to church. Never known Jesus. Never known God.
Definitely don’t know the Bible.

I have a friend, Kirsten Bynum. Kirsten and I have been friends for almost 20 years. Kirsten has always gone to church. Known Jesus. Known God.
Kirsten has always, always asked me to come to church with her. I’ve always put her off, coming up with different excuses each time. Who needs church?
It messes up my Sundays.

Several months ago, I noticed a wedge developing between me and my friend of 20 years. Concerned about this, I asked her if she noticed what I was noticing. Not only did she notice it, she said it was intentional. Scared to death of what was going to come out of her mouth, I asked her why. Her response? “Teri, I have been waiting for the right time and the right way to approach you with this. I love you and that’s why I need you to know Jesus. I need to know that you are saved and I need to know that I don’t have to worry about your salvation. I am not doing my job if I don’t help you.”
There was a different tone to her voice than in the past, so I knew she meant business. This was more than just “come to church with me.” I thought to myself “wow, she really cares about me - that’s pretty cool”. Let me just tell her I’m going to church with her to appease her. That will get her off my back about going. Because who needs church? I’ve been just fine without God.

Then, I realize that we have to haul ourselves all the way to Porter Ridge High School in Union County. At a high school? Really? You want me to come all the way over there for church? I’m in the University area in Charlotte and you want me to come all the way over there? To watch a preacher on a screen? Really? I definitely don’t need this church.

I used to laugh at Kirsten because she would say that she didn’t want her son to be born on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday morning because she didn’t want to miss church. Miss church? What’s the big deal? Church is boring. If you need some churching - turn on the tv and find a preacher - open your bible and read a couple of pages - but who cares if you miss church one Sunday morning? Who needs church?

So…..on Sunday, June 10th me, my husband and our two children packed up for our long haul to Union County for church. A parking crew? Smiling people at church? “Hi! Welcome to Elevation” screamed at us from every direction.
What? People want to be
here? They’ve got to be drinking the kool-aid.

Sunday, June 10th changed my life forever.

The sermon we heard was week 4 of Deep. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the worship and sermon, I was still skeptical. I’ve never needed church, why do I need it now? So I came back the next week to see last week was a fluke. I felt the same way this week. So I came back the next week. And the next. And I haven’t missed one since.

This Sunday morning, August 19, 2007 I accepted Jesus Christ into my life as my personal Lord and Savior. There was no pomp and circumstance - so I hope it’s official! I was alone in my car on the way for my first day of volunteering for the first time guests. I was playing “The Sound” cd and a song began.
It was a song that I’ve heard over and over again, “Restored” - but just like page 23 for you - this song touched me in a way that I did not expect.
Tears were streaming down my face before I knew what was happening.
“Healer, come and make me whole. Make me over. Here in this moment.
Abandon my will. I am broken and poor…ready to be restored” It was at that moment, sobbing, that I said a prayer out loud in my car asking Jesus to enter my life and my heart and help me to be more like Him. At our small group tonight, I asked Kirsten to pray out loud with me about my decision - so as to make it a little more “official”! I also wanted her to know that she didn’t need to worry about my salvation any more.

Well, as it turns out, Kirsten’s son was born on a Tuesday, so she didn’t miss church! And you know what - now I know why she didn’t want to miss it!
Not only do I not want to miss it, but I crave it. My husband craves it.
My children love it. My two year old, Sophie, doesn’t even whimper when we take her to her class now!
My four year old, Whit, is constantly singing “Oh no, you never let go, through the calm and through the store” - we’ve tried to tell him it’s “storm” but he insists it’s “store” - fine with me, you keep singing it baby!

I am so excited about what is happening in my life, I want to shout it out loud to everyone. That is why I shared my story with you. Pastor Steven, you may not like to take credit for saving people’s lives - but I have to give credit where credit is due. Did you catch me from falling off a building? Technically, no. But your preaching saved me from falling into a fiery pit. So at least take a little credit. You can preach. Boy, can you preach. You preach it like I’ve never heard and you preach it in a way that teaches people and the way you teach it reaches out to people. (There’s something there - a new slogan or something - Preacher, Teacher,
Reacher!?!) Anyway, thank you. Thank you for delivering a message every Sunday morning that gets me through the week. You have a true gift that touches thousands. Thank you. Chris, because I attend Union campus, I wanted to share my story with you. Everything you’re doing there - keep it
up - it’s working! Kirsten, you deserve to know that you are a huge
“turning point” throughout my entire life which is why I shared this e-mail with you.

I’ve cried to Kirsten about finding Jesus so late in life - because I’ve missed out on something so big for so long. She has taken some of the blame for that, thinking that she should have done more earlier in our friendship to get me to church. I disagree. Elevation is what I needed. I think her timing was perfect.

After 33 years of life on this earth, I’ve finally realized that I DO need God in my life. Not only that, but I WANT God in my life.
I bought a Bible and I study it every day. My husband and I both are volunteering. We’re tithing. We’ve joined a small group. I’m watching old
sermons online almost daily. I’m a faithful blog reader. I think I’m

I’ve still got question upon question and sometimes I’m still a little scared, because this is a new way of thinking for me. But with my husband, Kirsten and her family and the rest of my new family at Elevation, I’m going to make it! Elevation’s got something good going on and I’m so proud to be a part of it.

So - who needs church? Me. That’s who.

What its all about

Had a great time on Sunday. Carrying on our series Indescribable. Our subject The God Who Leaves you Speechless. It was on my favourite subject - Grace. I had a ball. Even though I had been a Christian for years I feel like I only came alive to God's amazing grace a few years ago. There is now nothing I enjoy more than introducing people to God's grace our helping Christians discover a God that they never knew existed.

To see people emerge from a life of condemnation and guilt into a new relationship where they have discovered the true character of God is just the best feeling ever. As I said on Sunday there are two reactions to God's incredible grace.

1. People just get offended by it. It's not fair. Why should someone who has worked 1 hour get the same as someone who has grafted for 12. (Matthew 20) Its not fair.

2. You can be absolutely captured by the heart of a gracious God. Realising that there is nothing God loves more than showing mercy and that God dispenses gifts not wages.

The high was that 5 people started a journey with God for the first time and were captured by His grace. Many more people who already knew Jesus started to see a side to His character that somehow they had forgotten or never really discovered.

That's what its all about.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Soil Investigation

Today saw us progress a little more with our building project.

Our contractors URS came on site to make some soil investigation on the adjacent piece of land. This consisted of digging 5 large holes in the ground to a depth of 3 meters. Take a look at some of our photographs.

We also have hosted 2 Public Consultation meetings for our neighbours in Oldbrook. It was great to hear their feedback. They have highlighted some things that we need to look at but they were all very much pleased with our proposals.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Thoughts on Sunday

  • Preaching at 3 services is hard.
  • I love doing what I do.
  • Chris Tomlin writes stonkin songs - check out indescribable.
  • These lyrics rocked my world: " You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same
    You are amazing God" I know whats in my heart sometimes and you wouldn't want to know me let alone love me. Thank you Jesus.
  • It's an adrenaline rush when people start following Jesus.
  • For 5 people this Sunday was the start of that journey.
  • Considering its a holiday weekend we had a good crowd in.
  • It was great to see the young people back stoked from Soul Survivor - they didn't seem to want to leave.
  • Had some good news on developments in Ultimate Events which will mean a more balanced life for me and more focus on Ultimate. More of that in the next couple of weeks.

Friday, August 24, 2007

30 Days to live are currently in the middle of a series called 30 Days to live. It is a very powerful message.

This last week they showed a video of Larry Damerval. Here is what Bobby says about it on his blog.

"Larry was diagnosed with ALS in 2005. He went from a very normal and healthy life, to being essentially a quadriplegic today without the ability to take care of himself. He is not currently expected to have much more time here on Earth.

I just had the team put this video segment on YouTube. I wanted you and others to have an opportunity to watch this brief, but powerful message about what he values at this point in his life."

Please watch the video below. It truly rocked my world and share it with your friends.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

America's Most Inovative Church

Outreach magazine is developing the second annual America's Most Innovative Churches list, coming in the January/February 2008 issue in conjunction with Tony Morgan. Click on the link below to review the churches nominated so far. Being from the UK I have only visited a handful of the churches listed and only experienced others though the wonders of the Internet.

The ones I would have listed are actually already nominated.
Granger Community Church.
Willow Creek Community Church
New Spring Church.

Describing God using Dog Food

I am sure this has been done many times before but Steve one of our teaching pastors at MKCC used a very gross illustrating to introduce us to our brand new series - indescribable.

He started by opening a can of dog food and proceeded to eat it. It had most of the audience screaming and feeling quite sick. He then got someone out of the congregation to join him in eating from the tin. Unbeknown to the congregation inside the can was actually chopped up mars bar - chocolate.

Somehow he tied it into "taste and see that the Lord is good." Certainly a different way to introduce a teaching series which is looking at the doctrine of God.

The main points were.

1. God knows all about your situation - God is omniscient.
2. God is with you in every situation - God is omnipresent.
3. God has the answer to your situation.- God is omnipotent.

Apart from Steve's teaching the highlight for me was the song - Indescribable - by Chris Tomlin.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Erik Mongrain

As an introduction to one of the sessions at the Leadership Summit last Willow Creek hosted an incredible musician - Erik Mongrain. Watch him below and be prepared to be blown away.

Granger rocks

I have had limited access to the Internet over the last week or so on my visit to the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. It was truly an incredible experience. It overwhelmed, inspired and challenged me all at the same time. It also equipped me to go on a journey to become a better and more effective leader. More of that in forthcoming posts I am sure. If you are in the UK do not miss the UK version - the Global Leadership Summit taking place all over the UK in September and October. Make sure you and as many people from your church attend. The return on your investment will be huge.

Whilst in the US I decided to travel to visit Granger Community Church. I have connected to them through Tim Stevens and his blog so thought it was time to connect in person. Tim unfortunately was on vacation but he arranged for us to have a tour of their buildings and facilities. Thanks to Shelly and John for putting up with us and all our questions. It was great to see what God is doing in Granger though this church. Their Children's ministry was amazing. Don't tell our Children's Pastor (actually my wife Nicola) or our budget in that area could increase.

It was great to be part of one of their services and see so many people connecting to God. I love it when church a church realises that its mission is to reach out to people who don't know God yet instead of focusing on meeting the demands of those who already know the God of the universe already. Everything about what they did seemed to have connecting to the unchurched. After all that's what we are here for isn't it. If you want you can watch their service on line.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Marcus Buckingham

Notes from session 4 at Willow Creek Leadership Summit.

• Build on my strengths and manage around my weaknesses.
• You do not learn about good by studying bad.
• Example of a strength based school Purnell School. – affinities programme
• People are not our greatest asset, people strengths are our greatest asset.
• 3 myths:

Myth 1: As you grow your personality changes.
Truth 1: As you grow, you become more of who you already are.

Myth 2: You grow most in your areas of greatest weakness.
Truth 2: You grow the most in your areas of greatest strength.

Myth 3: A great team member puts their strengths aside and does whatever it takes to help the team.
Truth 3: A great team member volunteers his strengths to the team most of the time.

• We are living in a day where our children are being characterised as what they are not by the people who love them the most.

3 skills

1. Identify your strengths.
2. Change something – push towards your strengths.
3. Talk about your strengths without bragging and your weaknesses without whining.

4 Signs of a strength.


Carly Fiorina

Some thoughts from the Willow Creek Leadership Summit session with Carly Fiorina ex CEO of Hewlet Packard.

• Don’t blame others for you not developing as a leader.
• I was not a gifted child but my parents were a gift to me.
• What you are is gods gift to you what you make of yourself is your gift to God
• Learn about the things that interest you.
• In logic taught me the power of asking the right question.
• Asking the right question forces people to learn.
• I must do what I am passionate about.
• Nothing worthwhile happens with a person working alone.
• Celebrate victories as a team.
• Many fears are stupid but they are real. Once you overcome them you are no longer afraid of them.
• Look past the fears and prejudice and reach for common ground. The problem we are trying to solve is common ground.
• Don’t letter other people smaller ideas and prejudices of me define me.
• Give people a vision that’s more compelling than what they are afraid of.
• Couple a vision with the hard reality of what it’s going to take. You can’t fake people out.
• Leadership is about seeing and unlocking potential in others.
• Every time a person took a chance on me it motivated me.
• There is an opportunity to learn from everyone and everything.
• You don’t learn inside your comfort zone.
• Passion can blind as well as motivate.
• At its core leadership is about character.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Rain Down

Settled in at our host home for our visit to the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. It is wonderful that the willow members open their homes to vagrants like us. It really adds to our experience. Instead of living in a sterile hotel you get a chance to learn up close and personal about their actual experience at willow. How does normal every day people connect with this local church? You learn so much the good bits and the difficult bits.

We all went to downtown Chicago. It really is an incredible city with so much incredible architecture both the new and the old. It was extremely hot – 95 degrees. At one point Phil and Steve decided to join the many children enjoying splashing about in one of the fountains in Millennium Park. The highlight being when the water would fall like a waterfall from the top of a tower. The result 2 very wet people. They did however dry out after walking around in sun for a couple of hours.

Made me think of the Delirious? song rain down. “Can’t you see the earth is singing, Rain Down. God refresh my life again so I can refresh others with your “living” water. I am thirsty for your rain Lord.


Arrived in Chicago after a long day travelling. 8 hours to Cincinnati then another shot flight into O’Hare International Airport. One of the benefits of this 2-legged journey was the quick transition through US immigration. Having travelled into Cincinnati on Delta the vast majority of the passengers were Americans so the line of visitors was really short so it only took 10 minutes or so to get through.

As usual my passport was investigated. Even I almost don’t recognise myself from my near 10 year old photo! My photo taken and my fingerprints entered into the computer system. My visa waver form inspected and I was good to go. I entered the land of the free once again. Only temporarily of course.

One day my photo, fingerprints and passport will be inspected when I want access to a greater place the real home of the free. Only to find that my way will barred because of mistakes I have made. At the last moment Jesus will show up with my ultimate visa waver ticket. Thank you Jesus.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

USA Bound

Some of the Leadership Team of MKCC are heading off to Chicago for the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. Myself, Mark, Phil and Steve fly out tomorrow in time for the conference starting on Thursday.

We have used many of Willow's resources and visited many of their UK based conferences. In fact we ate taking around 25 of our leaders to the UK version of the Leadership Summit later this year.

We are going expecting to be inspired, challenged and built up.

We are also intending visiting Granger Community Church in Indiana. Its a little bit of a drive and as Tim Stevens of Granger pointed out goes through a time zone. Useful information for us Brits who do not have to think about such things unless we leave the country. We probably would have missed the service.

We also hope to visit Community Christian Church lead by Dave Ferguson author of the great book The Big Idea.

Three very important words: learn, learn, learn.

Check out the promo video below for the Summit.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Finally said goodbye to the kids this morning. They are off to camp for the next 2 weeks. Nicola finally got there this morning with the ministry team. They ended up being brought back by a low loader last night because the car broke down.

The M1 was closed which meant huge tailbacks and the car overheated and cracked the radiator. Drat.

They got there safe and sound in a borrowed car so I am sure they will have a great time.Praying that many children's lives will be changed.

Do I want to be called a Christian?

I had the privilege of hearing Erwin McManus at a conference in Bracknell a couple of years ago. He said something that really challenged me. He said that he didn't call himself a Christian anymore. In his world the tag Christian had lost so much of its meaning and was even viewed in a derogatory way. Instead of being synonymous with being Christ like, full of love, justice, mercy and grace it has been polluted by a different breed. Christian seems to have become a term for a person who is narrow minded, judgemental and intolerant.

I have read many notes about this over the last couple of years and thought about it many times. This post by Nancy Beech made me think about it again.

I may be going against too much of a flow. But I must remember that in the early church the term Christian was a badge of honour. People were called that by the unchurched because they saw something. They saw people that were Christ like. We need to try to reclaim this great word for the judgemental people who have claimed it. Calling my self a follower of Jesus is not quite enough. Following is the start of the journey but becoming Christ like is the goal.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Coal into diamonds

A post from Tim Stevens, Leading Smart on Real Worship reminded me of this.

I am a sucker for talent shows. I love X factor and American Idol. I know ts sad. So a few weeks ago I got into "Britain's Got Talent". Eventually Paul Potts a mobile phone salesman won. This very ordinary looking guy came on and literally blew everyone away singing opera. One of the judges said the experience was like turning coal into diamond.

I am so thankful that Jesus is in the business of making diamonds. He takes very ordinary people and invites us on an incredible journey to transform us into his likeness. The journey is full of twists and turns, of successes and failures but he is always with us encouraging and assisting.

The thing is he sees past the flaws we have and already sees the diamond we can become.

The following video surprised the judges and me. What have you inside you that God wants to bring out that will surprise yourself?

Home alone

Nicola leaves for 2 weeks today. She is off to Activate Children's Camp. The first week we have around 50 kids from MKCC with her and she is staying on to do ministry for some other groups the following week.

She is taking a great team of volunteers with her. They are all giving up a week or two of their holidays to ensure the children from MKCC and other churches have a great time and find out more about Jesus. Our offices have been a hive of activity all week. From powerpoints and DVDs to decorating a surf board the work involved is incredible. I pray it will be a life changing experience for many of the children who attend.

Abbie and Liam join the rest of the children tomorrow as they travel by bus to Sussex. They have gone for many years and love the experience with Abbie now 15 joining as a junior leader.

So I was going to have 2 weeks by myself at home. I was not really up for that so I have the consolation prize of heading off to Chicago for the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. Hard life!

Here is a photo to remind me of them for the next couple of weeks.