Scripture points us toward a loving God who is willing to forsake the 99 in order to go after the one who is lost. Who is willing to go to the ends of the earth to draw the lost back to Him. The same should be said for your church. But unfortunately, it’s so easy for us to cater and create a church for the people already inside, the 99. So today we are looking at some of the warning signs to see if your church is focusing on the 99 over the 1.
Sam DeZeeuw: What’s up everybody? I’m Sam DeZeeuw and this is the Church Today podcast where our goal is to help you and your church communicate the Timeless Gospel in the 21st century. Today I am here with Matt Vollmar and Brian Caringer. Welcome back guys. I know you guys had a week off of youth camps and such. I hope that all went well.
Matt Vollmar: It went awesome. We’re just tired.
Sam DeZeeuw: I bet you are, and wet from all the rain?
Matt Vollmar: A lot of rain.
Brian Caringer: My goodness.
Sam DeZeeuw: Yes. So today we are talking about reaching the unchurched and I’m sure you guys had a lot of experience with some of the unchurched people at Camp, so you guys are kind of coming off of a camp high. Um, so this will be fun to talk about, but before we dive into that, I want to tell you one group that I’m a huge fan of and that is Church Media Squad. Church Media Squad is an awesome company that focuses on helping churches like you create unlimited graphic design. So whatever your church needs, whether that’s banners, social media stuff, sermon series design, whatever that might be, they can make it for you. And they’ve got plans starting at a $197 a month, which is actually super affordable when you compare it to the traditional format of getting a graphic designer, hiring a full time graphic designer. I mean $197 a month is a steal. So I mean, even just to check out more information about that, I highly recommend you go ahead and check them out SmartDeZign.church/squad. You can check them out at SmartDeZign.church/squad. All right, so let’s talk about those early warning signs. These are the signs that tell us, hey, maybe we’re not focusing so much on the people outside of the church as we are in the church. And like I said earlier, we don’t want to not focus on those people in the church, but they should not be dictating our decisions. It should all be about how do we reach the people outside. So let’s talk about some of those warning signs. And the first one that we have you kind of have to look at it from a certain lens because it’s, how many first time guests are we getting in the seats? And like I said, I want to be careful about this one because butts in the pews is not our goal.
Brian Caringer: Church is not all about numbers.
Sam DeZeeuw: Right.
Matt Vollmar: And a lot of churches don’t like when you say, butts.
Sam DeZeeuw: Tushies in the seats!
Matt Vollmar: That’s better. Let’s go with that.
Sam DeZeeuw: Whatever church appropriate. Yes. And our goals, our goal should be what? Discipling and helping people grow in their relationship with God. But in my opinion, I feel like this is at least a good starting point statistic to see are we getting people…
Brian Caringer: Are you, are you reaching people that are outside the walls of the church? Yeah. And that is, it’s a good metric to use over you getting New People in. Are you seeing new faces? That would be you being able to reach beyond the walls of the church. Because if you never reached beyond the walls of the church, eventually everyone, grows up, grows old dyes and the Church dies with them. So you always need people that are beyond the walls of the church coming in, getting to know Christ, getting to serve him and becoming the future leaders in the church.
Matt Vollmar: And just to acknowledge that it’s a different day in an age now. So back in the day, probably my day more than their day.
Sam DeZeeuw: What do you like, 50 now?
Matt Vollmar: 87. But I think back then, then more people would step foot in a church. I had a conversation with somebody the other day. We’re like, the last thing someone would ever do is steal from a church. No one would do that. They’d steal from everybody. They’d never steal from the Lord’s House. Now no one cares. And so it’s a different culture. So even going, “well we think they’ll come here.” They, they just don’t.
Brian Caringer: It’s on the radar.
Matt Vollmar: No, it’s, they’re not even thinking of church or why I should go to church. So when you said to reach outside of the walls of the church, that’s it. Then if you can get them in here, you know, then the next question, which I don’t know if this is where we’re going, is then how do you retain our guests? And that is what most churches, I know that’s the problem. How do we get New People here? And then how do we keep them coming back?
Sam DeZeeuw: With the goal of making disciples. Again, not butts in seats, not to keep them here just to make ourselves feel good and have that pride. But to make disciples and help them grow that our relationship with God. And I think that that’s kind of almost all we’re talking about it as a two step thing where first you got to get them in and then you have to make disciples. But right now we’re just talking about getting them in and this I feel is a good metric just for that. That shouldn’t be the end all be all.
Matt Vollmar: Yes. And getting out of the mindset, and you’ve actually told me this story one time. Someone told you, “I will do everything I can outside of sinning to get people into the church.” And even making that statement, I can already think of five people who would be mad that I just said that. But I believe that’s where the mindset has to be. We’ll do whatever it takes. And so when people see some mega churches and different places that go, you know, they’re offering iPads and they’re doing all this stuff and they look at it judgmentally I think we have to get out of that mindset and go, but did they come to church? And then what you said, not just did they step in, did we do a good job greeting them? Did we do a good job making them feel welcome? How did, what did it look like when they walked in? I mean, this could go so many places.
Sam DeZeeuw: Yeah. And it’s all a balancing act because you know, if they’re giving them iPads, then are you kind of developing a sense of um, greed and desire to want more?
Brian Caringer: Jesus, the cosmic vending machine!
Sam DeZeeuw: And you don’t want to create that.
Matt Vollmar: Then what happens by step giving away stuff? Well, I’m not going right that church anymore!
Sam DeZeeuw: So that at least is a good starting metric to understand, you know, are we reaching out? So ask yourself, are you getting new people in or the people you see on a Sunday, is it the same people that you’ve seen for decades? Is it, is there any new people coming in and you can have connection cards and stuff like that to track that kind of thing. Just put those things in place to be able to track it. The second point we have is no one is complaining. If no one is complaining at your church. See that sounds like a good thing.
Brian Caringer: That sounds awesome.
Matt Vollmar: That’s amazing.
Sam DeZeeuw: It sounds like a heavenly place where, I mean it sounds like heaven!
Matt Vollmar: And unbelievable.
Sam DeZeeuw: It sounds like Heaven because it doesn’t happen here. No, but I mean if no one is complaining at your church, if everyone’s content with how things are going, that’s probably a red flag.
Matt Vollmar: What was that word you just said, Sam? Content?
Sam DeZeeuw: That’s probably a red flag. That means you’re not really doing anything to reach out. That means you’re not doing anything to be a little uncomfortable, and push the bar forward.
Matt Vollmar: Right. Because I’m pretty sure a lot of people were complaining about Jesus.
Sam DeZeeuw: I think that’s safe to say.
Brian Caringer: I would say that’s the best majority of what the Gospel are talking.
Matt Vollmar: I mean even his own people. So it’s like if you pattern yourself after Jesus, he was doing things that people were uncomfortable with. But is anybody gonna say, “and they were probably wrong.” No, he was the son of God. So I agree with that. People were like, I don’t understand this. What’s going on? They were asking questions. You know, I’m a youth pastor also and literally at camp this week. All of my kids are at this place now where they’re questioning things and they almost think it’s wrong. And they’re like, am I less of a Christian because I’m asking questions? I’m like, you actually might become a better Christian because you’re not taking everything in one. And it goes, that’s just it. And you’re exploring your faith and you’re asking questions about why is this? And God will answer those things. So it’s the same with people that are church. If they’re asking questions like, well, why are we doing this? You should have a reason behind what you’re doing. But also admit we don’t know everything. Some things we’re trying because we’ve been doing the same thing forever and getting the same results. So we’re just trying something new.
Brian Caringer: Yeah. And the people complaining and criticizing also allows you to look at stuff and go, is this doing effectively what it needs to do? And if it is, you’re able to then take a good hard look at that and be able to give the answers to those people. Yes. Here’s what’s happening. And then that gives you the reassurance we’re doing this right. Or maybe the opposite happens. You look at it and you go, yeah, this, this is wrong. This is not working well.
Matt Vollmar: Are you saying that churches make mistakes? How dare you. Get this guy out of here.
Sam DeZeeuw: So this one, this next, uh, thing is a little uncomfortable for me to talk out, talk about because I’m young. Because I’m young and I don’t want it to come across as bias. Um, but one thing that I think should be a red flag for your church is if you see a lot of the older generation criticizing or we’ll say criticizing for now criticizing young leaders. Um, because one thing that I think is so important to remember is all of the older generation who is leading now started younger and if the older generation then didn’t give the younger people a chance to lead and mentor them to make that, make them effective leaders, then they wouldn’t be where they are. And if you take so much ownership of your ministry or what you’re doing and you don’t, if you’re not constantly mentoring the younger generation, then who’s next? Who’s after you?
Brian Caringer: And I don’t even think we have to. Yeah, no one at all. I don’t even think we necessarily have to look at that in terms of like the older generation, like people that are much older than any of us. We get to going to look at that in our position. We can even look at that from like my perspective of I’m in my thirties to some people, I’m still very young to other people. I’m getting older. I can still look at that in the, I could easily be a part of that mentality of I want to just do my ministry my way and not train anyone, but that’s not what Christ has called me to. Even where I’m at. I still need to be developing younger leaders who are stepping up and doing stuff within the ministry that I’ve been given so it, it doesn’t just start and fall on the old generation do that. It’s whenever you’re in a leadership position, that’s what you’re called to is mentoring and developing younger disciples who are going to come up and take over those positions eventually.
Matt Vollmar: I have a pastor friend who said, as soon as you take your job, you should be training your replacement. And as soon as I heard that, I got a little like, “well wait a minute,” But he’s like, but it’s not about you. It’s about equipping the future. And I think a prime example is this guy right here [points at Sam] and Hailee who is also a worship leader in our church. Um, we went through a phase, uh, not to just bring it back to our church, but, but this is just the scenario where we, we had, when I’m not here, cause I’m the road a lot. We need other people to lead worship because it isn’t just about a worship putting. Yeah. And so we were um, Sam and Hailee were very young.
Sam DeZeeuw: Like Youth Group young.
Matt Vollmar: Yes. And, and they were our options. And so we had discussion after discussion of like, do we put them out there? Do we let them do this? And I think everyone could agree with this. The first few months were a little rough.
Brian Caringer: They were very rough.
Sam DeZeeuw: Hey!
Matt Vollmar: I’ll just be honest.
Matt Vollmar: Because it was, it was learning what it was like on the job learning. It was like, we’re not gonna let you like slow into this, uh, you’re up next week. But like now looking back at it, the two of you are so much further. Yeah, because we did that and we never would have known it if we wouldn’t have given you a chance.
Sam DeZeeuw: And speaking about those, those fears going into letting a younger generation or even just newer people kind of take over. Let’s talk about the next point. If nothing scares you, then maybe you’re not pushing the envelope enough. And let’s be clear about what we mean by scare, you know, because Jesus calls us to not fear, not be afraid. So we’re not necessarily talking about that, but we’re more talking about like the sense of being comfortable and if you’re always comfortable and you as leaders are always complacent than are you really trying new things or are you really focusing on bringing those new people in or are you just doing what your church has always done?
Brian Caringer: Yep. Done it this way for 20 years and it’s worked.
Matt Vollmar: Well and letting those fears like make your decisions, like not making your decisions based on “I’m afraid of this” and change is uncomfortable. Change is scary. So natural. So it goes back to that whole thing. Are you going to keep doing the same things you’ve done since the 60s and think that in 2019 all of those things will work and we’re not saying that none of them work. We’re saying we have to adapt things for a changing culture and a changing time, but taking a risk, it’s, it’s always scary to do that. But I mean let’s, let’s go non-spiritual for a second. Look at any fortune 500 company or any millionaire that was self-made. They took a chance and how many of them, if you do the research, we only see that they succeeded. And how many of them declared bankruptcy multiple times? Walt Disney was living on the street eating with rats who he later turned into a theme park. But they took chances and the chance reaped a benefit. So why is that any different in the church? Why shouldn’t we take chances on that?
Brian Caringer: And really with that, like we’re not just trying to sell, you know, things to make money too. And I, we’re not, we’re not just taking a risk on, I hope this works. Your, the spirit of God that created the university should be backing our decisions with that. So the caution and the timidity that you might experience with them with some of the decisions that you make really should come from, you know, are you spending time with God to make sure that you’re walking according to his will and doing these things based on what the Holy Spirit is telling you to do and where he’s guiding you for.
Matt Vollmar: “I think this would be great.” Yeah. Did you ask God?
Sam DeZeeuw: Yeah. And I mean something that God commends so much in his people is just the sense of faith. You even look at, you know, Peter Getting off of the boat and Jesus pulling him out of the water saying you of little faith. Why do you doubt? I mean faith is impossible to have if you’re not a little bit uncomfortable because there’s nothing to have faith about that.
Brian Caringer: Faith is being sure of what we hope for and then the things that are unseen.
Sam DeZeeuw: Exactly. So last week we talked a little bit about sermon series and how to bring your sermon series to life and get your congregation and church members excited about the message. So be sure to check out that episode and also be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode. Thank you so much for watching and listening to the church today podcast where we help churches communicate the Timeless Gospel in the 21st century. We’ll see you next week.