Notes from the Pepperdine Bible Lectures – part two of Tim Spivey’s class on church revitalization/renewal.
“All We Are Meant to Be: Reviving and Sustaining Growing and Healthy Churches” pt. 2 by Tim Spivey
- Begins by reviewing the principles from the first class.
- Key to remember: “Decisions must be made from principle, not pain!” Too many church leaders base decisions on an avoidance of pain instead of solid principles.
- “Do not structure your church to be the same size it is.” Churches should be structured as if they’re three times the size they are.
- Idea for churches whose facilities are currently at 60-70% capacity on Sunday morning: switch to two services – one at 9am and another at 10:30am with Bible classes running simultaneously during each. Get members to serve in a class at one time and attend the worship service at the other.
- Simplify your church’s schedule! Focus on making your Sunday morning assembly the best it can be, have excellent small groups that meet Sunday evenings, and excellent mid-week meetings on Wednesday nights. Simplifying makes you leaner and meaner. Focus on doing just a few things, but do them very well. Shoot for excellence, not “good enough.”
- Sunday mornings must be consistently vibrant and meaningful. If you’re not consistent – if your meetings are only meaningful every once and a while – members will not bring their friends.
- What’s really going on in the minds of your members: “I want to bring my friends, but I don’t want the assembly to embarrass me.” Church leaders must organize assemblies members can be proud of – not embarrassed by.
Practical steps to having consistently vibrant/meaningful assemblies:
- 1) Plan! Put the time in on the front end. Do not throw assemblies together at the last minute. Know what songs you’re going to sing ahead of time, practice them.
- 2) Be on time! Create a culture of expectation that says, “What we’re doing here matters.” On time for staff = well before the assemblies are scheduled to begin (like an hour or two). Get the janitor to turn every light in the building on early.
- No staff shows up later than a volunteer. If you want your volunteers to give it their best, leadership must go the extra mile and serve as models for everyone else.
- Tim shows up at 5:30AM on Sunday mornings at his church. The first assembly isn’t until several hours later. Sunday is the longest work day of the week for him, and the most important.
- You’ve heard the old saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” In church leadership as it pertains to Sunday assemblies, “Earliness is next to godliness.”
- 3) Take care of your volunteers! Create a culture of encouragement. Tim writes at least one thank you card per week to someone serving the church. He makes it a point to go from classroom to classroom thanking all the volunteers.
- Principle to remember: “Volunteers are more important than the people they serve!” If you treat volunteers poorly, everyone else suffers. Take care of your volunteers – they make up the backbone of your church!
- Sideways energy describes what’s created when some church programs/assemblies work against others. For instance, at Tim’s church, the youth group met on Sundays, Tuesday nights, and Wednesday nights. The Tuesday night meeting was student led and just for the youth group, while the Wednesday night meeting was the normal youth group class that met while the rest of the church was together for mid-week assembly. They found that the Tuesday night meeting was working against the Wednesday night meeting because families didn’t have the time to do both. Tuesdays were valuable because they were student led, and Wednesdays were valuable because the youth were together with the rest of the church. Solution: eliminate the Tuesday meeting, and make the Wednesday meeting student-led. This eliminated the sideways energy.
- If there’s a program or assembly that causes sideways energy to occur, look for a way to make that go away. The solution likely involves eliminating something or combining it with something else.
Big Idea Teaching Method
- Most churches send too many messages at once. There’s a topic for Bible class, another topic for the sermon, another for small groups, and another for Wednesday nights. It would be better if teaching were focused on a single lesson presented in different ways so people can really internalize it.
- Tim’s church did a series on the topic of rest. All the kids that morning showed up in their pajamas. All the Bible classes, small groups, sermon – everything was on the topic of rest during that series. The kids all got little plants in their classes with instructions on caring for it (give it sunlight, water, care) to illustrate the principle everything else centered around. Entire families got the lesson together – this is “Big Idea” teaching.
- Tim did another series called, “Old School: Messages from God.” They designed a set for the stage that had lots of memorabilia from school, Tim told stories about his schooling experience as a child. Topics on things like, lunch money (what the Bible has to say about finances), dealing with bullies, etc. Everything from the childrens’ classes to the church bulletin was built around this theme.
- With Big Idea teaching, all the messages a church is sending/lessons they’re teaching center around the Sunday morning sermon. This is a great way to help people learn effectively.
- Big Idea = everyone works together.
- Books to check out on this subject: The Big Idea: Aligning the Ministries of Your Church through Creative Collaboration by Dave Furgeson along with Sticky Church and Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership and Church Staff on the Same Page by Larry Osbourne.
If you’re interested in ordering audio or video recordings from the 2010 Pepperdine Bible Lectures, go here.
You might also be interested in checking out Tim’s reflection on his time at the 2010 Pepperdine Bible Lectures here.