How To Grow A Generous Culture

One of a lead pastor’s chief responsibilities is shaping the culture of the local church they lead. Inside the heart and mind of every pastor lies a myriad of characters they hope mark their church. Seeing these things come to fruition demands an immense amount of work. The culture you want doesn’t happen. Culture must be cultivated.

Never is this more true then when it comes to generosity. We’ve never met a pastor that who does not want their church marked by the same generosity personified in God Himself. But again, generous cultures don’t just happen, they must be built. Here are three reoccurring themes we see in the local churches with the most generous cultures. 

1. Be a model of generosity.

It’s been said you can’t lead people where you’re not willing to go yourself. If you don’t live on mission, neither will your church. If you don’t practice private prayer, you should not expect it to be a defining mark in the culture of the church. Furthermore, if you’re not giving faithfully, forget anyone else following a path you’re not taking. 

The first step to growing a generous culture should start with an honest assessment of your own stewardship. I’m not saying you should herald your own generosity from the rooftops, but I am saying we’re Pharisees if we’re calling people to things that are absent in our own lives. You want to grow a generous culture? Make sure you’re modeling generosity in your own life. 

2. Be a church known by others for generosity.

A generous church will be marked by more than mere individuals who tithe faithfully. A truly generous church will be known for it’s generosity within the kingdom of God and the city’s in which they minister. 

This means as churches we give to direct needs within our cities. We look for ways to bless others churches we have relationship with. We contribute to the work of church planting. We support the work of gospel expansion cross-culturally. If we’re going to grow generous cultures in our churches, we have to be churches who are known by others for our generosity. 

 3. Be a teacher of generosity.

I heard someone joke recently that the last thing converted is a person’s giving. The point is, faithful giving is a massive step of maturity for many and people need thoughtful, careful and regular teaching on the topic. 

Much of the teaching on this topic hasn’t been great and has left most people confused and cynical. As a result, many pastors are reluctant to teach on giving. The remedy to lousy teaching is not to avoid the subject, but to lean in and teach faithfully. We’ve written elsewhere regarding some of the pitfalls to teaching on generosity (click here to check that out), but the good news is that it can be done well! If we want generous cultures, we have to teach our way to them.

Stewardship is such a significant issue of the heart. We can’t neglect it. By God’s grace, we can work to grow generous cultures that accurately reflect the God we serve. Be a model of generosity, be a church known by others for it’s generosity and be a teacher of generosity. With prayer, time and consistency these three things will grow generous churches.

 

We’d love to help! Schedule a free connect today and let’s discuss how we can work toward this important goal together.

3 Money Mistakes

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If there is one topic most pastors don’t look forward to teaching on, it’s probably money. Thankfully for us, this wasn’t the case with Jesus. A tremendous sum of Jesus’ instruction in the Gospels pertained to the resource entrusted to His listeners (more on that in a second).

This should have some clear implications in our own teaching ministries as well.

At myXP, we spend a good portion of time in the weeds of church finance. We see it as a high responsibility to have a hand in stewarding every penny God has entrusted to His people. Through this we see three common mistakes many pastors make when it comes to teaching on financial stewardship.

1. Many don’t talk about money enough.

We should not only shepherd surrounding issues we ind comfortable, but also the ones that push us beyond our own comfort as well. This includes the issue of generosity. If the Bible speaks to an issue, so must we.

Howard Dayton Jr. does the math and reports that “Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions. In the Gospels, an amazing one out of ten verses (288 in all) deal directly with the subject of money. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions.” (source)

Clearly money matters to God, so we have to talk about it.

2. Many talk about money too much.

Yes, Jesus talked a lot about money. But you’re not Him, so you may want to meter the amount of time you spend teaching on “giving” in particular. Just like you can talk about it too little, you can also talk about it too much. If every sermon comes around to you pounding a pulpit and pushing people to tithe, you’ve missed God’s heart on the issue and your church will as well.

You have to prayerfully determine the most fruitful frequency for your context, but somewhere in the realm of a couple times a year has been effective in our own ministries.

3. Many only preach on money when there’s a problem.

One of the factors that helps shape your tone when teaching on money is trying to do so when finances aren’t abnormally tight. Now, if you’re a church plant, or in a difficult season, that time may seem less likely than finding a unicorn at the local zoo. We know first hand that finances are regularly tight in many churches. That’s not what we’re talking about necessarily.

We’re talking about pastors only teaching on giving in a reactionary manner. Waiting until you may not make payroll to teach on money results in an often unintended panic in the pulpit. If people feel that you’re teaching on the topic for personal gain, it will further damage the already complicated relationship people have with money and the local church.

So, we have to teach on stewardship, we should be careful to pace our frequency well, and we have to ensure we teach on it with the right tone and in the right way.

 

This is an area in which we at myXP have an immense amount of experience and we’d be proud to partner with you. We’d love to help you cultivate a generous culture in your church, as well as help you adopt some best practices as you seek to manage what God has given you faithfully. Schedule a connect today and we can get to work!

The Power of First Impressions.

  

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First impressions matter. A good first impression immediately opens a person up to you. A negative first impression causes a person to be guarded, skeptical, or uncertain about you. This isn’t just true in a personal connection, it’s also true for those visiting our churches.

Before people ever hear one note of music, an announcement, or a sermon, they’ve most likely experienced multiple impressions and interactions that inform the way they process all these other elements we work on so diligently. Every negative impression we create is a hurdle we have to help people over. This why we want to think about every impression we create from the parking lot to the pulpit.

Here are three ingredients that are often overlooked, but together tend to make up a person’s first impression of our churches.

SIGHT.

What people see when they walk into our gatherings is critical. Managing this can be most difficult when you’re in the early stages of church planting. Often, we’re in rented spaces we don’t have control over. One Easter morning at Redemption Bible Church, our first church plant, we walked into the school theater we rented to see the entire lobby, auditorium, and stage decorated for the upcoming “Zombie Prom” musical. Not exactly the Easter “vibe” we were after.

So it can be difficult to say the least, but just because we can’t control everything doesn’t mean we can’t control anything.

Two things I believe are critical for people to see when they get anywhere near our worship spaces are signage and people. Few things make me more anxious than pulling up to a church for the first time and not knowing where to go because there are no signs. It’s equally off-putting when there are no people are around. You start to wonder if you’re in the right place, or maybe missed the rapture. Our spaces need lots of clear, helpful signage, as well as people assigned to welcome others into the space. 

SOUND.

I love almost everything about Target - their branding, design, products, and marketing are all spot on. My one complaint about Target (other than the Target card bill we have to pay each month) is that they don’t play any music in their stores. We’re early risers, so we tend to be at Target before most and it’s always eerily quiet. Some may find this relaxing, but I find it unnerving. It makes me feel as though I’m in a library and should whisper. I know we want to be reverent when we gather for worship, but we certainly don’t want our celebration of Jesus’ resurrection to sound like a funeral.

We want our lobbies filled with music and the voices of God’s people gathered in God’s presence. Music helps set the tone and prepare hearts for worship. Hearing people talk, laugh, even cry, communicates the community we’re trying to create. Depending on the size of your space this may take little more than a small Bluetooth speaker, a Spotify account, and maybe some decent coffee to lure people to the lobby. Don’t neglect what people hear when they enter your space.

SCENT.

My wife says I have virtually no sense of smell. There could be a dead animal in my car and it would probably still take me a beat to have any idea. That being said, most people are very sensitive to smell and in my experience, this is a sense we tend to neglect. Maybe you meet in an old building of some kind. Old buildings with old carpet tend to smell like, well, old buildings with old carpet. Maybe you’re in a movie theater. If so, it probably smells like popcorn. At Ridgeline, we meet in a space that throws parties on Saturday nights, so it smells like spilled beer and bad decisions on Sunday mornings.

Again, you may not be able to control all of this, but we have to at least be mindful of it. Get the carpets cleaned, burn a candle, flush the drains . . . do whatever you can to make it as pleasant as possible.

I can hear some critics saying, “We’re not businesses. Why does this matter?” It matters because we’re called to practice hospitality (1Tim.3:2; Titus 1:8). It’s our Biblical responsibility to welcome guests into both our homes and our churches. Being a good host means being mindful of your guests. So give some thought to sight, sound and scent. Walk your space with fresh eyes, a fresh nose, and fresh ears and ask, “What do people see, hear and smell?” God will be honored and your guests will be grateful.

To explore more ways myXP can help you in the areas of first impressions and hospitality, visit our website at myXP.church.

D3 Leadership: A Process For Problem Solving.

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At myXP we work hard to evaluate everything we do and to help our partner churches do likewise. The underlying conviction behind this is the belief that everything can always be better. We can always lead more effectively, execute more efficiently, and create with more quality - all for the purpose of building the most faithful disciples possible.

We've created a simple strategy that we filter every aspect of every ministry through and we call it D3 Leadership. Here's how it works.

1. Diagnose what's Broken

When you're not feeling well physically and unsure why, you go and see a doctor. The doctor then goes to work asking questions and running tests, all with the goal of providing you with an accurate diagnoses of what's not working. We practice this same discipline in every area under our leadership. We're always on the lookout for something that's broken (and something is always broken), or not working as effectively as it could. Once we've correctly diagnosed what's broken, we...

2. Discern the Solution

Think about the doctor again. Once they've identified what's not working correctly they can prescribe the necessary solution to help you get healthy again. Similarly, once we've accurately diagnosed something that is broken in one of our ministry areas, or partner churches we go to work discerning the most appropriate solution. This is the step we find most people struggle with. Pointing out problems is easy, but actually doing the work of figuring out how to solve them is much more difficult.  But once we've done the hard work of discerning the solution, we...

3. Drive to the Finish

Imagine your doctor diagnoses your sickness, prescribes a solution, but then you don't do what they tell you to do. Identification without implementation is pointless. Driving to the finish is all about execution. It means doing whatever it takes to get it done. Most people can see a problem, many can even find a solution, but few follow through to completion.

D3 Leadership may sound simple, but we continue to find that most of our leadership headaches stem from a failure to execute one of these skills. So, we talk about it, coach against it, and strive for it. We want to lead a ministry and help our partner churches build ministries that solves problems and overcomes obstacles and D3 Leadership is helping us accomplish this task.


If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you in these areas, check out our website at myXP.church.

Doctrine & Devotion Podcast

A few weeks ago, I had the great privilege of sitting down with Jimmy Fowler & Pastor Joe Thorn for a conversation on their podcast Doctrine and Devotion.  We had the opportunity to discuss the roles of pastors, Ridgeline Church, & what we are asking God to do through myXP.  Follow the link below to listen in on our conversation.

The men of Redeemer Fellowship have been an incredible blessing and encouragement to me for many years now, and I am so thankful for the opportunity they gave me to be a part of this conversation.  If you don't have it yet, I highly suggest picking up a copy of Pastor Joe's book, "Note to Self."  

Don't Just Attract, Connect

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As pastors, we tend to focus much of our attention on how to best help people get to our worship services. Maybe we invite until we’re blue in the face. Maybe we use tools like social media and direct mail marketing. Maybe our strategy is to simply pray and hope people find their way to us. Regardless, our goal is to get as many people as possible worshipping Jesus on Sunday mornings.  

I have to say, that’s a great goal. Jesus wants people worshipping Him on Sunday morning for sure. But Sunday attendance isn’t our sole objective. We’re called to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). All the emphasis on getting people to our worship service is good and necessary, but we tend to be less intentional about connecting them to the life of the church once they're there. We tend to drastically underestimate how much work it is not just to attract people, but to actually keep them. This means we have to put a disproportionate amount of work into our connection ministries.  

You can’t disciple people you don’t connect, so here are two suggestions to get you started: 

1. Make it relational. 

It takes more work, but don’t put all your eggs in the basket of automation. No one likes to be followed up by a robot. People are automated to death in our culture so the best way to stand out is to make your follow up personal and relational. Send a handwritten card, make a personal phone call, type an individualized email. There is no shortage of ways to do it, but put in the work to make it relational.  

2. Make it repeatable. 

Consistency is critical to connection. Whatever method and means you use to connect people demands working the process again and again each week. This means sooner, rather than later, you’ll want to think about building a team of people with the passion and competency to help connect others to the church.  

 

Again, one of our most deeply held convictions is you can’t disciple people you don’t connect. Don’t forget about or "phone in" your connection ministry. Make it relational and repeatable. 

 If we can help you think through and implement your connection process, we’d be honored to help. Simply click the button below to schedule a time to connect. 

Why Numbers Matter

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Keeping careful track of “numbers” in the church can be a touchy subject. Measuring things like baptisms, attendance, giving, and various other metrics can derail in at least two directions. 

On the one hand, you have some who seem to only care about numbers. People cease to have faces and instead become nothing more than a figure on a spread sheet. This is a problem.

On the other hand, you have some who demonize numbers, as if keeping track of what God’s doing in our midst devalues it in someway. 

Both of these extremes are to be avoided. 

Ministry is more than numbers. Much of what God does can’t be reduced to a metric. God works in ways we can’t alway measure and track. 

But . . . 

God cares about numbers. The Bible keeps careful track of numbers. Days are numbered. People are numbered. Conversions are numbered. My goodness, God even inspired an entire book entitled, “Numbers.” 

I bring this up because much of what we do at myXP is “number” related. We help you track, manage and multiply the ministry God has entrusted you. But we’re NOT about numbers for numbers' sake. The reason we care about numbers is this:

Behind every number is a NAME.

Numbers are never just a mark on a page. Every number is a specific soul Jesus died to save. We want to be the most fruitful stewards we can be of everything and everyone God entrusts to us.

Numbers aren’t everything, but they matter. If we can help you better care for all that God’s entrusted to you, we’d be honored.