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June 2009
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August 2009

First impression matters

I read Seth Godin's blog everyday. This week, he did a post called "Welcome to Island Marketing" that set-up pretty well one of the things I wanted to share about church planting. You need to read it. And since I live on an Island, it was very fitting. Here's an excerpt below. I inserted ministry terms...

"If you run a business (church ) on a small island, every interaction matters and every person is precious.  There's a finite number of people you're going to be able to sell (minister) to, and every person you interact with knows everyone else, so you always have to be on your best behavior. You can't say, "tough" and then go on to the next person. You can't run ads that churn and burn through an endless supply of naive prospects. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and on the island, that impression matters..."

Introducing yourself to your community is a big deal - on or off an island.  You get one shot. Sure, you can tweak here and there and change formats and stuff, but the OVERALL impression starts with the 1st thing you do.

As I said earlier, I have been a part of various types of church plants. The church we are a part of now is a church campus plant. Our core campus is 25 minutes away off the Island in Bluffton. They originally started on the Island and then moved off the Island toward the new growth that was happening in Bluffton, and re-branded themselves with a new name -LowCountry Community Church.  The DNA of LCC was there and established, but it was our responsibility to transfer that DNA to a different community and new people.

We cooked breakfast at our local middle school for the teachers BEFORE we even had our 1st service.  We invited everyone we could to "Meet and Greet" opportunities throughout the summer BEFORE we had our 1st service for people to get to know one another and to share our vision.  We did not do a mass mailer to our community. We wanted people to hear of our church through the way we served the community and from people inviting their friends. We wanted our overall first impression to be true to the DNA of LowCountry Community Church - community-focused and people-driven.

You may be planting a church with no help from another church.  I have been there. Your resources DO NOT set the bar on the quality of your 1st impression. You can argue with me about that if you want. If you have to chose, do you spend money to do a breakfast for teachers or to mail postcards to invite people to services? Both ideas are awesome and needed, but if resources are limited, what is your DNA? How do you want to brand yourself? I'm not saying one is more important than the other. I have served at churches that would have chosen the mail piece over the breakfast and that fit our DNA. The point is this:  you must know your DNA and make sure your first impression reflects it.  OK, your turn.

Sunday Recap - not from stage :)

I was an attender today at LCC- Hilton Head Island. I came to our 11:00 service and just was awesome! I started the morning with coffee and the paper....then I road my bike for about 5-6 miles. I got dressed and came to church!!! It was so weird! Emily (my intern) led today and did a great job. This is the 1st time in a REALLY long time that I have been able to just attend a service and take it all in...this is so important to do (if you can - I know that feeling of not being able to!) Todd (my hubby) did Part 2 of our series "Got Questions" with today's message being "What does the Bible say about the End Times?" Yeah...from alcohol last week to the apocalypse...easy stuff :) It was a great overview message on the four main events of the End Times. You can HEAR OUR MESSAGES ONLINE now as I got our podcast up and running this week. Here was the service order...

"Come Now is the Time to Worship"
"Awesome is the Lord"
"Everlasting God"
Video Bumper
Time of Response - prayer, communion, giving stations open
"We Cry Holy" - Emily wrote this :)
Benediction - Todd

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed our Time of Response today. I was able to take communion and pray at our prayer station, write some things to God and place them on the was so rich and refreshing to my spirit. I walked away today and said I would totally come to church here! The entire experience from the parking lot (well, I almost hit somebody - not used to traffic coming into the church parking lot!), greeters, the ambiance in the worship center, the people - it was so warm and inviting. What a great Sabbath! To my team, you guys are amazing!!! Your heart of excellence was so evident in everything I saw and heard. THANK YOU for serving and allowing me to just participate guys rock!

Join me at Fred's for our 1-year anniversary party!!!!

Sunday Recap- July 19, 2009

We started a new series this week entittled "Got Questions?" where we asked people to finish this phrase..."What does the Bible say about_______" We had great response and we chose 4 specific questions that seemed to come to the surface a lot. The rest of the questions,Pastor Jeff is going to answer on his blog over the next few weeks. So, we started with a softball...alcohol...Yeah. I told Todd that since he has had to preach on both sex and alcohol in the last 3 months, it's pretty much just all cake after this! He did a great job, really. I am working on getting our podcast up and running very soon so you will have to check that one out! My new iMac made it's debut so it has freed up my MacBook Pro to record the messages. ProPresenter is running great and video playback looks awesome. I was down to 6 gig of free space last week on my MacBook Pro...not good. As I was preparing the message slides, I was so overwhelmed at how clear the Bible is on this issue...however, we in church have not wanted to accept sometimes truly what Scripture says about alcohol and drinking. Todd did a great job of every now and then saying," How are we doing?" "Everybody still breathing?" "Anybody ready to just skip this and go to brunch?" (That was my favorite!) A very wise worship leader taught me that when your pastor is preaching on a subject that is...well...heavy...that you should make every other element in the service as familiar and comfortable as possible (thanks, John Jones!) I did very familiar worship and the room was so alive both services. I wore ony 1 in-ear monitor this week so I could really hear them was so cool. We installed 3 new elders between the 2 campuses and prayed over them. John did a great video bumper for this series. We had a lot of new faces this week which is typical in the summer with vacationers,but this week it was Islanders ( i.e. - people who live on the Island :) I was pumped about that! Here was our service order.

"Sing Sing Sing"
"Marvelous Light"
"O Praise Him (All this for a King)
Video Bumper
Time of Response (communion, giving, prayer stations open)
"Amazing Grace(My Chains are Gone)"
Installation of Elders
"Counting on God"

Meet me at Fred's!

Church Introduction

I'm beginning a series of posts here at cheval glass about church planting over the next few months. As I begin this dialogue, I want to give some perspective to what you will hear from me on this subject. I am the daughter of a church planter. I have been a part of 3 other church plants as a staff member. I have also served in 3 established churches. All 4 of the church plants were different from each other in the way they were launched.  All 4 churches are still serving their communities. With 80 percent of new plants failing in the 1st year (CLICK HEAR to read about it), I consider it an amazing privilege to have experienced what I have.  I will hit all the highs and lows of the experiences, but before I begin, I want to share this statement. Church planting is not a higher or better calling than any other. You are not less of leader, Christian, or servant of God because you have not done this or been a part of it. Sometimes as church planters, we can be a litle full of ourselves about our "stepping out in faith" to do a new work. I've been there. I have a lot of respect and have learned so much from those ministry friends in my life who have been faithful to "bloom where they are planted." As we begin this dialogue, hear my heart. I want to encourage church planters, empower "soon-to-be" planters, and affirm all who are doing this great work called local church ministry. 

Sunday Recap

Todd (my hubby) and I have finished the first five (of many more, I'm sure) weeks of planning services together.  I am happy to report we are still married and we still like each other :) Honestly, it has gone very well making this move to live teaching...better than I thought.  Todd and Pastor Jeff work on their messages together and then share the same outline. The service planning has been fun for me to see this side of my husband and the inner "creative" coming out of him.  Emily, our Worship Arts Intern, has done at great job of choosing worship songs for our services and creatively contributing to the team with other elements. She is taking the reins on her own for a couple of Sundays coming up here soon. We had a new bass player, Sam, start with us this week (he is also our viola player) Not bad for a kid! (he's in high school) His good friend, Rob, is our cellist, so I just told them to work out the rotation (cello one week--bass guitar one week) and let me know. I think they liked that :) It was cool to see Rob sitting in the congregation this week just worshiping and cheering on Sam. I am so blown away at the community that we have on our team with each other. Bryan, one of our audio guys, made a GREAT call in between the services on a stage volume issue we were having.  Man, it made a huge difference!  I love the ownership that our team takes with executing services. I love it that they want it to be THE BEST it can be for God. I feel really blessed to be where I am. Here was our setlist:

"Trading My Sorrows"
"All Because of Jesus" - Fee
Desert Song - Hillsongs
"Still" - Hillsongs
"Your Name" - Baloche

Our Time of Response was really worshipful...people REALLY sang out on "Your Name." It has kind of become the culture here that people just stand or sit on their own during the response time to sing.  As a worship leader, it is SO meaningful to just lead people and not tell them that they should stand now, sit now, do this, do that. Our people have really learned to respond during that time as they feel led. The whole room doesn't stand every week... it's a personal response and I love that and will always encourage that.  BTW, I took my ears out to listen to them sing...yeah, I just about lost it. It was such a great day.

Go to Fred's for more great setlists!

Look for some upcoming posts about what I think are THE MOST Important tools you need as a Worship Arts Leader in church planting.


image2100338945.jpgI love to read. I remember going to the library every summer and checking out as many books as they would allow me to take. I could not wait to get home and start the next book. I loved being taken to another place and maybe another time. Today was a big day for my 5 year old. She got her 1st library card. We have been reading books together since she was a baby, but today was different. She did it all herself. She picked out her 10 books (my limit!) and her 5 DVD's ( their limit!) & checked them out. I want desperately to give my children a passion for reading like I have had all my life. I love fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction biographies, historical non-fiction (my favorite author is Henry James... my favorite book is REBECCA by Daphne Du Maurier... that was free!) In those awkward seasons of life (all of middle school & most of high school!) when I felt socially "not cool", I could always escape through reading to another place where there was no pressure. It was my retreat and still is to this day. Now, I spend most of my time in the non-fiction world, but I still love reading a well-written novel more than anything. Reading has made my life so rich and has helped me see the beauty of the world around me in a way that reality distorts. I can't wait till Sydney can read her first book on her own, but for now, I am REALLY enjoying the fact that I still have to read to her. I have a week of vacation coming and a stack of books with my name on it. I cannot wait! Is reading a big part of your life?

Wasbi Gospel Book Bomb - TODAY!

Wasabiweb2 I love the way Shawn Wood communicates. He is one of those rare people who I believe is an excellent verbal communicator as well as an author. Reading his books are like hearing him speak and I like that. TODAY is the Book Bomb at HERE to buy the book and I am telling you, YOU NEED to get this book!  It is difficult growing up in church, being around church, and working at a church my entire adult life to not become callous and "Yeah, I've heard that before..." The 1st couple of chapters of this book absolutely gave me the smack in my face that I needed right now in my life.  I like books that cut through the facade and say it. This is one of my favorite quotes from Sean in the book..." I like butter statements. I like the teachings of Jesus being churned down into an easy-to-swallow action step that I can add to the top of my already fat life as a spiritual topping. I guess sometimes I don't like getting slapped with the truth of what Jesus is really saying..." Wasabi Gospel  (pg.6) This is true for me. I don't want to deal with forgiveness, anger, bitterness...just give me a quick 3 points and an illustration so I can feel better...I hate to admit, but Sean is right. This is what we do as Christians - at least I do. I've been chewing on this "forgiveness" thing a lot. Last week's message at church was on this subject and then I have been reading this book.  This is what I need right now and Sean's book has just complemented what God has already been doing in my life. Need some water in your face? Get this book.

It started on a bike ride - Pt. 3

Today is my final post about my retreat day. I felt led to continue reading in Philippians 4...I had never read THE MESSAGE version of verse 13..."Whatever I have, where ever I am, I can make it through anything in the ONE who makes me who I am." I just kept reading that over and over again...memorizing it. I very quickly realized that this chapter was the passage of scripture that God wanted me to mediate on for the rest of my time. Here are the nuggets I gleaned...

  • Don't waver in Your dependence on me, Cynthia...Steady as she goes!
  • Get over offenses with others...grow up!
  • Celebrate me...delight in the fact that you are my child.
  • Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers (exact quote from THE MESSAGE)
  • My peace will take the center of your life..not your stress.
  • I will bring harmony to your life - all the pieces flowing together to make beautiful music.

I ended my time with Psalm 23 and this brought it all into focus. Verse 1 says, "God, my Shepherd...I don't need a thing." I began to write down all the things that I, clothing, shelter, health, children, love, family, job...I was so overwhelmed with God's goodness to me. I finished my bike ride, returned home, and then drove to my favorite beach, Islanders Beach, and walked about 4 miles and just enjoyed the sun. I spent that time thanking God for the morning, for some specific things he had taught me, and watching all the vacationers enjoy their time at the beach.

In conclusion, if you have never taken a few hours like I did to get away with God...DO IT! I caught my breath (Ps 23:3) & I cannot tell you how much I needed the refreshment. If you do it, let me know how it goes!

It started on a bike ride - Pt. 2

I took my journal and my iphone with me on my bike ride and stopped at Spring Lake to sit for awhile. My friend, Jan, really encouraged me to just listen for be be patient. I watched the activity on the jumping out of the water and birds dive bombing the lake to get them. I didn't know who to cheer for - the bird to get one or the fish to get away!  As I sat there, I just drank in the beauty of that lake and the peacefulness of it all. I really don't know how long I sat just watching the lake, but then my thoughts began to turn to how much I missed having time like this to sit....and then God starting speaking to me again. He said, "Cynthia, I have so much I want to say to you, but you are very distracted with noise. I am not taking about your kids, your job, or your responsibilities...I'm talking about your thought life." He brought me to Philippians 4:8. I love YouVersion. It is the greatest app for me because of the ability to view so many different translations of the Bible. I was drawn to THE MESSAGE version of this verse...

"I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse."

This is a familiar verse to me. I've always used this verse as a standard for information intake...I would call it "The Philippians 4:8 test." Honestly, I haven't "taken the test" in awhile with regard to my life as a whole. God began to reveal to me how much of the negatives of life I had been focussing on...the economy, my recent friends' marriages unraveling, our personal finances, raising the kids...pretty much all the big stuff. Then came the BIG hammer..."Cynthia, the noise I am REALLY talking your TV. You are filling what empty space you have with TV and there is no room for me to speak to you." Now, here's the deal. I don't watch a lot of TV. News in the morning...DVR old movies and Seinfeld...but I have an awful time falling asleep. I have Panic Anxiety Disorder so bedtime is the hardest part of the day for me. Mine is genetic and a generally mild case, but still something I deal with everyday. So I have the TV on at night when I am trying to fall asleep...not really watching, just on...noise. This is a bad habit I started when I was nursing Sydney 5 years ago. I would be awake with her, and then try to go back to sleep and the panic anxiety would hit me. So how do I stop? I'm canceling everything but basic cable (local channels.) No more DVR.   Now before you start thinking I'm freaking out, Todd and I had been discussing this for about a week. We are such internet people that we weren't using our cable very much. We have been trying to continue to cut our monthly expenses (Thanks, Dave!) and this is a HUGE expense. So, this was confirmation for me. Our cable gets cut off today, so it starts today. I'll let you you know how it goes.

But that was just the beginning of God revealing truth to me from Philippians 4...