It was like I (Jeff) was a secret shopper. I was in my hometown visiting family, and I wanted to crash a church on Sunday morning I'd never been to before.
I remembered the sign I had seen about a year earlier in the strip mall across town - GraceLife Church. I thought at the time it was a great name for a new small church in my hometown. Mind you, this little town hasn't had a happening church in the 43 years I've been connected to it - so this was exciting!
I arrived 30 minutes late because I had read their website wrong (so much for being on top of it!). I sat down in the back row of the early service, about 65 in attendance, and listened to a man who loves Jesus, loves people, and loves to share the Kingdom message of grace.
I was encouraged, inspired, and challenged! And I realized all over again THE POWER OF THE SMALL CHURCH - and the AWESOMENESS of the small church pastor! I was brought closer to Jesus through my time at GraceLife Church.
After the service, I waited to talk with the pastor, Derek Levendusky. We talked for about ten minutes, and I left with an appointment to return in two days and record an episode with him. That was yesterday morning, and tonight the episode is now live. I love my podcast life! :-)
Jonny and I LOVE sharing these small church stories with you. I hope that you find yourself somewhere in Derek's story, and that you are again reminded of GRACE. That God loves you so, so much - and has completely forgiven you through Jesus. He loves you, and you are enough in Him.
Enjoy Derek's story. I did!
We are not sure who gave us the tip on Greg Curtis, we could probably track it down - but we sure are glad we followed up on that tip! Greg Curtis is the Director of Assimilation at Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim CA and our guest on this episode!
Jeff talked with Greg about the 4 things necessary to quickly and effectively assimilate 25% of your first time attenders. If you have a church of 100, and you have an average of 100 first time attenders each calendar year, and you have 25% of those people get connected in a group and on a ministry team - that would be 25% growth for the year!
So, if you started at 100 in attendance. And if you averaged 100% of one week's attendance in annual first time attenders, and if you assimilated 25% of them - at the end of year four you would have 243 people.
If you started with 50, you would have 121 people after four years. This is what you call solid, steady growth. Because at the end of four more years, the church with 243 people would have 590 and the one with 121 people would have 294.
So is this get rich quick? No! It is working a system that honors and values new people who attend your church. Now if you could average 150% of your average weekly attendance in yearly first time attenders, those numbers would be much higher.
Of course, as small church pastors, we understand that results may vary, depending on your location and context. But it's worth working a solid and proven system to help people without Jesus, or people without a good church family realize their spiritual and Kingdom potential.
So check out Greg's site, "Climbing the Assimilayas" at www.gregcurtis-assimilation.com and learn all the ins and outs to develop a great and effective assimilation strategy for your church. Remember, size doesn't matter, right?! Reaching more people for Jesus does.
Below is what you will see on Eastside's home page. That's right, their HOME page. So interesting!
Almost 5 years ago, way back in the summer of 2013, Karl Vaters made his first appearance on the then fledgling 200churches Podcast - and he has been a friend to Jeff and Jonny every since! Just back from a long break in Europe, Karl plugged in the mic and joined the guys for a conversation about what he is learning these days as he speaks to small church pastors around the country regularly.
He states that he has had the opposite of "writer's block" as he has produced scores of blog posts and a recent book on small church ministry. His books are practical and very encouraging to pastors of normal sized congregations.
He is the author of The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches, and the Small Thinking that Divides Us and Small Church Essentials: Field Tested Principles for Leading a Healthy Congregation Under 250.
He is also the founder of NewSmallChurch.com and the blogger for Pivot, a small church oriented blog on Christianity Today.
This episode will encourage and inspire you, especially if you pastor an ordinary size church! :-)
Jeff and Jonny finally got on the horn successfully with Reggie McNeal, from The Leadership Network! Reggie is a great friend, cheerleader, and supporter of pastors and church leaders. He has spoken and written extensively and shares some great wisdom in this episode.
You can find all of Reggie's books, including KINGDOM COLLABORATORS
Here is Reggie's bio from leadnet.org:
Reggie McNeal enjoys helping people, leaders, and Christian organizations pursue more intentional lives. He currently serves as the Missional Leadership Specialist for Leadership Network. Reggie’s past experience involves over a decade as a denominational executive and leadership development coach.
He also served in local congregational leadership for over twenty years, including being the founding pastor of a new church. Reggie has lectured or taught as adjunct faculty for multiple seminaries, including Fuller Theological (Pasadena, CA), Southwestern Baptist (Ft. Worth, TX), Golden Gate Baptist (San Francisco, CA), Trinity Divinity School (Deerfield, IL), and Columbia International (Columbia, SC).
In addition, he has served as a consultant to local church, denomination, and para-church leadership teams, as well as seminar developer and presenter for thousands of church leaders across North America. He has also resourced the US Army Chief of Chaplains Office, Air Force chaplains, and the Air Force Education and Training Command. Reggie’s work also extends to the business sector, including The Gallup Organization.
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