Category Archives: church

“We have a large responsibility representing Christ and our church”!

Here is a story from Jeremy, one of our parking volunteers at New Life Church:


Saturday evening, just prior to service, I had a mom in a mini van pull up at the entrance and open her door.  She let me know it was her first time visiting, she had her two children with her, and where should she take them.  I gave her the quick run down and she drove on in.  I alerted the other team members, “we’ve got a first timer with a couple kids!”  Excited waves from Lars and Dave directed her to a proper parking spot.  Steve pulled up promptly with the offer of a cool ride in the golf cart to church.  The kids were slightly apprehensive at first, but then hopped on in and loosened up.  A high five from Lars as they passed by brought another smile to both the boy’s and mom’s face.  They were safely delivered to the doors of Kidtown.  I know we were all excited by this brief event, and we realize we can make or break their experience coming to New Life.  We have a large responsibility representing Christ and our church.  We don’t know if they will return next week, but if they do, we will be out front with smiles, waves, and high fives!

How are you serving practically to make a difference eternally?

Calibrate…November 15-16, 2009….Seattle!

16on16Calibrate, an event to help leaders realign their picture of the Church with Jesus’ picture of the Church, is coming November 15-16. We are hearing about countless leaders who are horribly depressed because they missed the early registration rate on Calibrate. In our tireless efforts to empower leaders we have come up with the perfect solution…a sale.

For one day only, October 16th, save $16 on Calibrate registrations. On October 16, go to to register and you will pay $69 instead of the current price of $85.

This is for one day only – don’t miss it!

More on Calibrate 09?  I could type a bunch of stuff about it….just go to the site!

It’s easy to find a reason not to join a community group. Here are some of mine:

Posted from the Buckhead Church Blog.  This is the experience of Amber Blossom.  I’d love to add to the story but I really can’t.  This is truly the experience of multiplying your group and starting a new one.  Amber summed it up very well.  Enjoy…

It’s easy to find a reason not to join a community group.  Here are some of mine:

·      I have enough friends.

·      I hate the idea of mingling with strangers.

·      We’ll find our own community naturally.

·      I don’t want to have a commitment every week.

·      I just had a baby…ok, two years ago but time flies!

·      I’d rather do something more fun.

·      I’m lazy.

·      I’m tired.

·      I’m scared.

Sound familiar?  And these were my thoughts even after a great group experience. I still hesitated to jump into another group.  We had such great connections with our first group, how would a new group ever compare?  I started thinking of all we’d been through with our last group.  In the 18 months we were together, we had seen each other through four babies, one wedding, mission trips, family illness, home buying, home renovation, quitting jobs, starting new ones, and countless other every day experiences.  How do you even begin to match the natural chemistry of a group that has been through so much?  Was that group just a fluke?  Does “doing life together” really work consistently?

Well, after a few months off, my husband and I decided to find out.  We connected with our new group at GroupLink.  I love the video promos for GroupLink that compare it to a middle school dance—awkward but worth it.  We found that to be a perfect description of our experience.

We met as a group of strangers.  There was no telling how this was going to pan out.  We started meeting, getting to know each other, hearing each other’s stories.  We are each very different, from different backgrounds and paths that led us to where we are.  But within a few weeks, it was apparent that we all had a common thread.  We connected around a living room in an authentic effort to support, encourage and love each other and grow in our relationships with the Lord.  Being in each other’s lives multiplies our ability to see God at work in the big and small stuff of all our lives.

I don’t want to stop with that thought, though.  I know how easy it can be to write my story off.  Lucky me, lucky us, it just happened to work out.  But let me be real with you.  It’s not always perfect or easy. I don’t always want to go to group.  Sometimes I’m tired, lazy or didn’t read the book we’re talking about. We are not all best friends calling each other every other minute, taking vacations together and agreeing on everything. I do think we have a unique chemistry, but this isn’t a fairy tale.  We are real people with opinions and circumstances that complicate life and build walls up. But we all want to be in this group.  There’s no doubt about it.  And commitment says so much!  It says, “I care.  I’m here.  I don’t always know why or what to say or do, but I’m here because I know this is a good thing.”

In our experience, being in community is always worth it.  We never expect it and we often doubt it, but that makes it all the better when God shows up on Monday nights in a living room.

Do you have a unique group experience?  Or maybe you haven’t yet joined a group?  What makes you hesitate?  Tell us about it!

Amber Blossom

Who are you doing community with?

Rick Warren is praying at the inauguration!

rick-warren1Wow, it shocks me the amount of uproar in the liberal community specifically the gay & lesbian community over Rick Warren praying at the inauguration.  One of the greatest political things to happen for the GL community is the election of Obama to be president.  Reality is, this is a very good political move by President-elect Obama.  This is his way of stretching across the proverbial aisle and embrace the other half of the country (that didn’t vote for him).  How would the GL community feel if Obama put someone like Warren on his cabinet?  Yea….think about that.  You’d think they’d be happy that all Pastor Warren is doing is the invocation at the inauguration?  Remember, Obama is (by his own admission) a Christian.  He & Pastor Warren are basically on the same page here.  Why wouldn’t he have Pastor Warren say a prayer of blessing at this historic event.  Obama is certainly not going to have Rev. Wright?  Yea?

As a person who cast my vote for McCain, I’m more and more impressed with President-elect Obama.  I still disagree with most of his policies…but I will pray for him and support him as my president.  Also, Obama & his team has done a fantastic job embracing technology during this transition and truly reach out to the people to communicate the process.  I feel almost as close to the process by subscribing to their blog as if I were there in person.  In a world where people struggle to trust our leadership….I appreciate the level of communication by the President-elect to me personally.

Question.  Is Rick Warren the new Billy Graham?  How would Joel Osteen feel to hear that?…move on…

So….to the Obama supporters who are upset about Pastor Warren praying…chill out….it could be worse.

….to the conservatives who think that Warren should get up at the inauguration and try to prove a political point….you don’t have a clue.  The simple fact that he’s invited to the party is enough.  The love of Jesus will be communicated simply by the mere presence of Pastor Warren.

Father – Please bless President elect Obama, his family, & his team who are working very hard to turn our country around.  Keep them safe and bring our great country closer to you.

What do you think about Pastor Warren praying at the Inauguration?

Read people before you direct them

(continuation to the Defining Statements series)

crazyOne of the things we find ourselves doing in professional vocational church work is putting together a set of well designed programs then pointing people toward our programing so they can walk the yellow brick road of discipleship and we can walk away with the feeling that we’ve done our job.  The problem is….many of the people we set off in the direction we think they should go….don’t necessarily need what we just offered them.

Example….The other day I was working in our NEXT environment and 5 minutes into the conversation I had to ask a couple if they were married.  I was just about to point them toward our singles events and our men’s/ladies groups because all signs pointed toward them being single….when in fact they are married.  (Don’t get me started on trying to figure out the couple who defines themselves as a couple and want to be in a married group but they’re not married?)…probably another post.

One of our defining statements at New Life is, “Read people before you direct people”.  If we truly want what’s best for the person we’re talking to, we will read them and find out about them before pointing them in the direction we think they should go.  If we care more about our program and the environment we created…then we’ll simply shove them into the mold we made and hope for the best.  Side note…any environment that you have to shove someone in….will NOT last for them.  It must be natural.  There needs to be an urgency for them to want to move in that direction.  You need to ask some key leading questions that open up the conversation to learning more about them.

Example: How long have you been coming to New Life?  What did you like best about the service today?  Describe some of the church environments you’ve experienced before?  Why did you come to church today?  That last question might seem a little direct…but asked at the right time is a very powerful question.  Likely, everyone who is at your church….made a very conscious decision to get up, get dressed, & drive down to church today.  Let’s ask what they’re looking for?  Maybe we can help them find it.

Final point:  If your going to work on reading people before directing them…make sure you have somewhere to direct them once you discover their need.  If a single mom is standing in front of you with a desperate need to have someone watch her 4 year old for 60 minutes so she can have 60 minutes of peace while listening to your pastor…..make sure you have the absolute best environment for her 4 year old.  It would be despicable if we dropped the ball at that moment.

What are some questions you lead with when trying to read people?

New Life is defined by our frontline volunteers

Believe it or not, this is a statement that causes some discussion.  Many people think that a church should be defined by the people who have attended there the longest.  Some think it should be defined by the person who spends the most time presenting behind the mic.  Some think that the church should be defined by the family who holds the most power.  We don’t believe this at New Life.  We truly believe that we are defined by our frontline volunteers.  Think about it…we can do all the strategizing and planning to create irresistible environments….yet if the person who meets the guest first…gives a wrong impression….that is how we will be defined.  Our fronline volunteers are people like Mike & Abby Durrett.  They lead our host team.  They carry themselves very well and challenge our host team to strive for the best care to everyone who walks through the door.  Guests make comments like, “I really felt like they were pleased to meet me”, “I felt very welcomed when we came in”, “the people seemed genuinely happy”.  This is our host team.  They make a difference by making people feel welcomed.  Others on our frontline are our volunteers in Adventureland (nursery) and Kid Tough (elementary kids).  Again, we can create the best environments possible for adults….but if we suck in the area of reaching kids…the parents would not come back.  The final group that I define as our frontline volunteers are all the people who trust us by bringing their friends who are far from God.  Think about it.  You’ve built a relationship with a friend/neighbor/co-worker and now you’re going to take the risk of inviting them to one of the most important areas of your life….you church and relationship with Christ.  We’re honored and humbled to have great people who trust us to bring their friends to the environments we’ve created for the sake of eternity.  New Life is defined by our frontline volunteers.

What defines your organization/church?

People attend because they are invited, they stay because they are included.

We have found that one of the areas that we are NOT weak in is having new people come visit our church.  We don’t have an “evangelism” problem.  The people in our church have really embraced the environments that we’ve created and church has become irresistible.  People attend because they are invited. The question we need to ask and the tension that’s created is, how do we get them to stay?  Why do they stay?  What keeps them connected?  We believe that they stay because they are included.

My friend K (yea that’s his name) has been coming to New Life for just over a year.  When he first walked in he had the look of someone you should be afraid of.  Someone who might hang out with gangsters.  He came to church with his wife & kids.  I got the impression that he was coming for his wife.  K’s total involvement was whatever his wife wanted to do and whatever his kids needed to do.  Over time, he went through Starting Point, Crown Financial, he’s joined our Host Team, and he’s one of our key leaders for setting up our “Well” service.  Not that it matters, but he just cut his hair last week and he’s dressing different.  I asked him why he did that and he said, “to show respect to my elders and be an example for my kids”.  K is a perfect example of someone staying because they’re included.  Yea, he could still be coming and experiencing church with his family just because they want to come…but he wanted more.  He noticed something different.  He’s now included and he’s part of the family.

I’m so glad that I’m part of a church that allows people like K to come and be accepted for who he is and not require that he changes before he belongs.

People attend because they are invited, they stay because they are included.

Why do people stay with your company or stay at your church?

Our steps and systems





Over the next few days I’ll be blogging about ten statements from the initiative we’re doing as a leadership team here at New Life.  These statements are from the booklet that Pastor Troy is creating (and he’s really good at creating booklets) called “Our steps and systems”.  I’ll be commenting on our defining statements.  These are the statements that define how we treat new people.


Cutting edge choir….

Thanks to my buddy Pete for exposing me to such cutting edge choir moves.

You ask….I answer!

Occasionally people will email me with a great question.  Rather than just sending the info back to them…I’m posting it.  Here ya go.


Subject: SG Trainings

Hey Loran:

When do you do your SG Trainings?  I believe you did yours during the services, and asked them to attend one of them, true?  Has this worked well for you?  What are the pros and cons of this?


Since we don’t ask people to stay for both service & Sunday school…it works well. I get about 65% attendance to the training. Typically the majority of those who don’t attend are either serving somewhere in ministry or out of town. I find it very successful.

Here’s what we do (Pro’s I guess….):

S2 training (Shared Skills)

Services: 9AM, 10:30AM, 12 Noon

Training 10:30AM & 12:15PM.

This way they can attend their service and then come to training.

It forces me to keep the training down to 1 hr 20 min.

We have six essentials and rotate the topic.

Lots of table discussion

We feed them brunch/lunch

I give out free stuff.

I ask the leaders to invite their co-leaders/apprentices to come.

I repeat the training on the Tuesday after the Sunday training for the Pastors (They typically can’t attend the training on Sunday). I have them invite their spouses to the Tuesday training. We typically have a Pastors staff meeting every Tuesday at 8:30….so for that Tuesday we do Group Leader Training.  I also host a Grouplife leaders conference in October.

Con’s…..overall vision. People that attended one training think they’ve been there done that and don’t need more. I need to continually cast the vision for ongoing training. Side note: people want ongoing training…. They just don’t know how to package it and value it when it’s offered. I can directly point to the successful groups and failing ones and tie that into their involvement in ongoing training.

Limited time?

Can’t get too specific due to time & audience. I invite all leaders (men’s, ladies, marrieds) to this training at the same time. (future, I might split up the weekends and do marries one weekend and men/ladies the next…..not there yet).

People might choose training over service….not good.

Believe it or not…room availability.

That’s it for now.


Ask Another?