Tuesday, 29 September 2009

High Sundays 3

Integration – a lesson well-learned!

Seven years ago I visited Willow Creek and it was there I met Marge Anderson. Her responsibility was for the integration of new people into a church which then had 20,000 attending. It was fantastic to find someone so committed to helping new people connect with the local church.

We learnt much from that visit which has helped us to connect new people to Kings. We have discovered that people fall into a number of different categories. Unbelievers we direct to Alpha; Christians who are generally looking for help, in other words, they are hurting and need pastoral care; people looking to connect through serving, and lastly those looking to connect relationally through a small group, or community life.

We can spend hours of time and thousand of pounds on mission activities or just pulling off a great Sunday and not have a way of pastoring the new person into the church.

The model we discovered at Willow Creek was that a phone call and some tracking of the new person increased our connection rate by 100%. Before we started to provide a way of connecting people we would keep about 25% of the new people who showed interest in Kings, since we started phoning and following up more intentionally this has increased to about 50%.

For more useful information on this topic go to:

Friday, 25 September 2009

High Sundays 2

We have also learned to integrate our High Sunday strategy with our overall programming in the life of the church. Our analysis shows that there are more visitors and people looking to join Kings in January and in September each year. Therefore, now we normally have FOUR high Sundays in a row in those months – Vision Sunday, baptisms, an invited guest speaker and dedications – all these would lead to and be integrated into our mid-week programme which would include a next step into Alpha, so we integrate our Sunday programme with our midweek programme.

We would always put up a strong worship and preaching team in the key growth moments on such Sundays and I try to ensure that I am in attendance at all these meetings.

We found that as the church gets larger it’s very important to publicise well in advance with high quality literature and we have realised, for the first time, that we need to publicise both internally within the church and now externally too.

We have done this most recently by having an integrated advertising campaign. Billy Graham used to say to his team that whenever he came into a city, if he did not see his picture often enough as he drove in from the airport, then he would be concerned! So, we’ve taken this principle and for the first time invested extra money in such a campaign, which involved high quality billboards, 10,000 leaflets, radio adverts and bus stop ads. We actually put this in place all around the launch of our third meeting and the visit of a guest speaker (Lex Loizides).

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Together at Butlins - Jan 2009!

Time is running out to book in at Butlins before the first cut off date of 30th September! We had a great time at this event last year with positive feedback from those who went, so we anticipate increased demand for next time. Book before Sept 30th for the cheapest price!

Billed as a weekend of ‘worship, teaching, vision and encouragement’, we look forward to hearing from Dave
Devenish and David Stroud as our main speakers, while there will be time to use the Butlin’s facilities and for fellowship with friends from our churches. Our
children’s and youth ministries are in the hands of those who will make sure that it’s a memorable time for everyone.

Last year we know there were those who were disappointed when they tried to book later in the day so we have increased the capacity to make sure that no- one is turned away this year! This is why we have taken two weekends for our region’s churches, with the first Butlin’s Bognor event from Jan 8th – 10th and the second from 23rd – 25th. Don’t miss out on a great weekend!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

High Sundays 1

One of the key growth strategies that we have employed at Kings is something we call a ‘High Sunday’. It is a growth engine aimed at creating momentum.

Our strategy is simply to build to a Sunday where we will pray and invite as many people to attend and trust that God will meet with them – that they will experience God and then we provide them with a next step to connect with us.

We have run this system or strategy for the last 10 – 11 years and when I first arrived at Kings we would probably only do a few of these Sundays a year, or more likely, one or two a term. I remember when Terry Virgo came to speak in the first couple of years of my time here - this was an encouragement to gather the whole church as well as any visitors - 205 attended. Last Sunday we had over 1000 in three meetings and we are now regularly seeing this level of attendance. The first time we hit the 1000 mark outside of the Christmas season (in September 08) was a Very High Sunday for us! After that Sunday we had 70 people to follow up who had all connected with God or had provided us with an opportunity to follow up and link them to a next step.

Simply put – examples of High Sundays are Christmas, Easter, Mothering Sunday, a dedication of new parents, a baptism, a guest speaker, a themed issue or a healing service. Actually, what would happen now is that we would be running – probably every other week – something which we would describe as a High Sunday. It is an event which will attract more people.

Friday, 18 September 2009

London Churches Update

I always enjoy meeting up with Newfrontiers leaders from across London at the start of a new term and at our recent morning together I spoke about the key leadership lessons I had learnt in the past year – which seemed to be well received!

The highlight of the morning for me was hearing of the on-going success of the church plants in Camden (led by Stef Liston) and Greenwich (led by Stu Gibbs). Both these new churches are flourishing – praise God! It was also exciting to hear that our church planting agenda for London continues to progress, with plans to plant 4 churches in the next 2 years.

Roger & Elizabeth Smith are moving to Richmond-upon-Thames and are already gathering a small group.
Clive & Debbie Sharp are planting in Islington, while
Mark and Jen Waterfield are planning to start Sunday meetings in Newham around Easter 2010.
Plans for a further church plant for North London will be confirmed in due course.

As we look to continue planting churches, the training of future leaders is a high priority in our movement. I am delighted to tell you that our London Training Base began this year’s programmes at full capacity with 40 trainees on FP Impact, 36 on Leadership Foundations and the exciting new Leadership Advanced phase being piloted in London with at least 10 trainees. The extension of the preaching training element within this course and the addition of a marriage in ministry module are very positive developments. This year we have had to turn away a number of later applicants on two of the courses – we anticipate that this rise in demand for training will continue and are already addressing the issue of future capacity.

On a more ‘personal’ note to King’s, I am excited to announce that Malcolm and Cathy Kyte are joining the team here at Catford. Malcolm has successfully led the church at Wimbledon for the last 15 years and is a valued part of the London team. He joins Kings at a time of accelerated growth as we look to build a leadership team to serve a church of 2000 and to fulfil our wider call. Malcolm will continue to serve on the Newfrontiers London team.

I look forward to seeing our London church leaders and their wives on 20-22nd November in Bedfordshire for a time of rest and spiritual refreshment.

Looking ahead to ‘Together at Butlins’ at Bognor – we received some excellent feedback from this event last year and would want to encourage as many as possible of the churches in London to be there and not miss out on a great event! We are looking for between 4500 and 5000 to attend, so please encourage your people to book early!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Vision, £5 Million... and Malcolm Kyte!

I once heard a leader announce that he was praying for his church to double in the next year. There was no doubt this was visionary, but I am not sure anyone in the room truly believed it. The church he led had not grown for the last 5 years, so the faith required to believe for a doubling in the next year was beyond me.

There is an important leadership lesson here. While vision is about lifting people’s eyes to the future, the credibility of the visionary and the future picture painted by the leader are crucially linked to the past. Therefore, whenever I present vision to the church here at Kings, we always look back and give thanks to God for His faithfulness before we look forward. We celebrate His provision up to the present and then from that foundation look to the future.

At our Vision Sunday at King’s last weekend, I shared more about our proposed £5 million new building project, and the news of additional members to our staff team, not least Malcolm and Cathy Kyte coming to join us at Kings from next April. I was very aware that the very encouraging response from the church is rooted in our history rather than my ability to describe an exciting new future together!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Building Missionary Churches 8 - Conclusions and the future

We still have much to learn, but I sense that in coming days we may see a shift in relationship between so called para-church organisations and new church movements like Newfrontiers. While we still have much to learn from their vast experience, the relationship - I believe - will be one of drawing from that experience rather than sending our people out through such organisations. We will not serve the vision of the missionary organisation; they will partner with new church movements.

A vision of the future would be church planters sent out from our churches, overseen by apostolic ministry, while partnering with existing mission organisations for aspects of training in cultural awareness and language. But when it comes to church building, foundations, and leadership appointments, this would rest with the overarching apostolic ministry.

In conclusion, I believe we must continue to look to a biblical model of church which in no way separates local church life and mission. Mission-based para-church organisations have sprung into life in reaction to impotent local mission effectiveness, but the result has been to weaken churches rather than solving the problem, making the church more pastoral as a result. The lasting benefit of such mission is limited because when evangelistic fruit ends up in local churches, and these are weak, then weak disciples will be produced.

As David Watson says in I believe in Evangelism, “If we fail to build individuals into the corporate life of the church we have missed the purpose of evangelism; it is one thing to reap, it is another to disciple and add.”

The local church must place the Great Commission central to its agenda, allowing the apostolic ministry to lift our eyes to the harvest field, and must model truly an integrated strategy of reaching the lost, caring for the poor and training and sending leaders, with such generosity that many who have given up on the church will return. God is looking for such communities to emerge in our generation. Let’s build them, to His glory!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Building Missionary Churches 7 - Training and resources

To build mission-focused communities, as churches and individually, we need to avoid ‘giving fatigue’. We will need to continue to raise millions of pounds together, to fulfil our vision of 1,000 churches in the UK alone, as well as releasing millions of pounds into our global mission.

To build mission-focused communities we need to ensure that we identify, recruit and train leaders to have mission focus and skills. Our training programmes should continue to be flexible in achieving our goal. Interestingly, Prof Leslie J Francis in an article in Quadrant magazine states “Once ministry in the UK becomes reconceptualised in terms of growing new churches… then the leadership qualities prized by the churches’ selection criteria may also need to be revisited.” I could not agree more.

As the family of Newfrontiers continues to grow (we now have churches in over 40 nations), we will increasingly begin to operate like a missionary society, in the sense that we will be an apostolic people, a sent community.
But rather than sending our people off to a particular para-church organisation, we will look to the over-arching ministry of the apostolic to provide direction to our ever increasing army of young disciples who have the nations of the earth on their heart.

Para-church organisations are aware of such a phenomenon, and Global Connections very graciously asked Dave Devenish to address them, as David records in What on Earth is the Church for? - p55.

“I was asked to speak about church-based mission. My brief was to be as controversial as possible and to raise the very real issue concerning whether there is a future for mission agencies, now that the local church is beginning to take on its responsibilities for world mission.”

His whole chapter on church-based mission is well worth a read.