June 2, 2021 Tony Morgan

Re-Engage Your People in WEEKEND SERVICES – Episode 195 | The Unstuck Church Podcast

Reopening and Re-Engaging Our Churches in the Mission (Part 2)

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After many months of watching services online, it’s good to be serving in-person at churches again. There’s been a lot of speculation about how people will or won’t reemerge once their comfort level increases. That’s led a lot of church leaders to wonder if people will come back to their church services in the same numbers that they were before.

I’ll say at the outset: You just can’t turn on the “We’re Open” sign. It’s not that easy.

Churches that reopened months ago are still not back to pre-COVID attendance numbers. What we experienced in the last year didn’t change the declining attendance patterns that we’ve been seeing for many years prior.

For good or bad, the days of just expecting people to show up every time the doors were open are behind us. Churches are going to need a more intentional strategy about how to re-engage people in the weekend service.

REOPENING AND RE-ENGAGING PEOPLE IN THE MISSION

In Part 1 of this series on re-engaging our churches, Amy and I interviewed the leaders at Quest Church about the best practices from their experience trying to re-engage people in serving.

In this episode, I interview lead pastor Matt Manning from Crossroads Church in the Denver, CO area to get their amazing story of engaging new people and growing, even during this crazy year. There are some really practical takeaways to help you re-engage people in weekend services.

Here’s what’s interesting about Matt’s story: He actually started as the senior pastor of Crossroads Church in January of 2020. That’s right. Just a couple months before COVID hit. Even in the midst of the chaos, they decided to move forward with several transformative changes in their ministry.

What’s so fun about the things happening at Crossroads Church right now is that they’re growing again. For the first time in more than 10 years, they’re reaching new people. They’re seeing life change. People are going public with their faith through baptisms. It’s been an amazing transformation—but I’ll let Matt tell you about it in the episode. We talk about:

  • The intentional strategic shifts that Crossroads Church made over the last several months to re-engage people in their church
  • Why they’re sticking with their digital-first approach to formatting the weekend service
  • How they’ve overhauled their approach to engaging people in first steps and in next steps, and the accountability structure they’ve implemented to tear down ministry silos and drive movement
  • 5 practical strategic ideas you can learn from Crossroads and apply at your church
You just can't turn on the "We're Open" sign. Churches need a more intentional strategy to re-engage people in the weekend service. #unstuckchurch [episode 195]Click to Tweet Churches that reopened months ago are still not back to pre-COVID attendance numbers. For good or bad, the days of expecting people to show up every time the doors were open are behind us. #unstuckchurch [episode 195]Click To Tweet

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Transcript 

Sean (00:02):

Welcome to The Unstuck Church Podcast, where each week we’re exploring what it means to be an unstuck church. Here’s the truth. None of us have led through a transition out of a pandemic. And there’s been a lot of speculation about how people will or won’t reemerge once their comfort level increases. But that’s led a lot of church leaders to wonder if people will come back to their church services in the same numbers that they were before. Today on the podcast, Tony and Amy shared the story of a church that’s leading through the tension and seeing their church re-emerge with great results. If you haven’t yet, be sure to subscribe to get the podcast show notes. Each week, you’ll get resources to go along with this week’s conversation, our leader conversation guide and access to the podcast resource archive. You can sign up by going to theunstuckgroup.com/podcast. Now let’s join Tony and Amy for today’s conversation.

Amy (00:55):

Well, Tony, I’ve really been looking forward to this conversation. Today, we’re going to talk about how to re-engage people in weekend services. And Tony, I was finally back on site with a church this past week, and it was so fun to be in the weekend service. You know, honestly, a lot of people didn’t have masks on. I don’t have any opinions on that, but for me, I didn’t. And it was just a great time to be with people in church. I forgot how much fun it is to have a large gathering.

Tony (01:24):

I share that. I mean, it was after many months of watching services online, it’s just good to be back in churches again. That’s for sure.

Amy (01:33):

And I, you know, I would guess it’s probably not just as simple as, you know, throwing on the neon lights, we’re open. Now open. To get people back to church. So there’s probably more to this re-engagement strategy that we need to learn about.

Tony (01:47):

Yeah, that’s right. You just can’t turn on the we’re open sign. It’s not that easy. Churches that have reopened months ago are still not back to pre-COVID attendance numbers, Amy. And what we experienced in the last year didn’t change the declining attendance patterns that we’ve been seeing for many years. So you’re right. We just can’t turn the light on and unlock the doors on Sunday morning and assume people will show up. For good or bad, those days are behind us. And so there’s going to need to be more intentional strategy about how we re-engage people in our weekend service.

Amy (02:21):

Yeah. And throughout this series, you’ve been interviewing other church leaders who may be a month or two ahead of us, the rest of us, as we hope to re-engage people. Tell us a little bit about the pastor you interviewed for today’s topic.

Tony (02:34):

Yeah, I think you’re going to love this conversation. Matt Manning is a sharp senior pastor. A sharp leader from Crossroads Church, which is out in the Denver, Colorado area. Here’s what’s interesting about Matt’s story. He actually started as the senior pastor of Crossroads Church in January of 2020. That’s right. Just a couple months before COVID hit, and what’s interesting is they had just decided to move into our Unstuck process around that time. And unfortunately COVID hit, and I reached out to Matt. He was actually one of the first pastors I reached out to after everything began to shut down. And I said, “Matt, I would completely understand if, given the circumstances, if you just want to push the pause button.” And you know, at that time we had no idea how long this was going to last, Amy. But Matt, I think recognizing I’m new in this role, there’s some transformation that needs to happen in our church, decided we’re going to move forward. And so they were the very first church that I worked with through our virtual process back in March of 2020. And it’s been fun. I just caught up with Matt again, obviously, for the conversation we’re about ready to listen to, and he and his team and his church, the elders at his church, they’ve moved forward with several transformative changes in their ministry. And this is what’s so fun about what’s happening at Crossroads Church right now. They’re growing again. For the first time in more than 10 years, Matt said, they’re reaching new people. They’re seeing life change. People are going public with their faith through baptisms. I mean, it’s been an amazing transformation. So rather than me sharing the story from Crossroads Church, I’m going to let Matt explain some of the intentional strategic shifts that they’ve made over the last several months to re-engage people in their church.

Tony (04:43):

Well, Matt, I’m glad to have you join us for the conversation today. And before we dive into the specific topic, which is engaging more people in weekend services, you and I were chatting a bit about just the challenge in your community when it comes to local churches and engaging ministry in this season. Can you share again what you’re seeing in your community?

Matt (05:04):

Yeah, it’s good to be here, Tony. Yeah. When it comes to our community, I’m in the Denver area here in Colorado. And when it comes to church coming out of COVID, it has been a pretty tough season for most churches. I think that when it comes to a lot of pastors here, in at least the area that I’m around, is that church looks so much different post-COVID than it had pre-COVID. And for a lot of pastors, you know, they spent decades building their church. And when COVID hit, all of a sudden, all of that dissipated almost overnight, right? And the questions of were we discipling people well, and how are we discipling? And all of that suddenly just came to the surface. And I think that what it’s led to for a lot of pastors, at least in this area, is a questioning of like their calling in this space. The region that I work with here has seen a number of pastors step out of the pastoral ministry. I know of several friends who are currently on sabbatical, praying through and wondering if their calling is still in ministry and in the church world. And so as we’ve gone through this season of COVID, and as we’re starting to come out of it here in the Denver area, it’s certainly taken its toll on ministry people and on ministry leaders.

Tony (06:18):

Well, I’m glad you share that because I know that, you know Denver, but what I’m hearing is this is actually actually a reflection of what we’re seeing in all parts of the country and really around the world in the different regions that we’re working in. So, you’re seeing it firsthand though. And so thank you for sharing that. It’s a good reminder for me, and I hope for everybody that’s listening, we need to be praying for pastors for church leaders. This is a season none of us have ever experienced in our ministries. And I do think all of us are just reflecting on the calling God’s placed in our lives and reassessing that. So it’s good to be reminded of that. Kind of related to that, it was interesting. I heard some pause in your voice when I invited you to be a part of this conversation. So, you eventually said yes. Otherwise we wouldn’t be chatting today. Why did you have that pause?

Matt (07:12):

Yeah, I think that, you know, we’ve gone through the COVID season like everybody, and a little bit about my story is I became the senior pastor at Crossroads in January of 2020. And so we did the math. Like my first 300 days of being a pastor, 250 of those, I pastored a church that didn’t meet. And so we went through The Unstuck Group, and it was a great experience for us in that. And we’re just getting started, and we’re seeing some success this year as we’re starting to reopen and God’s blessing all over that. And yet I don’t feel like the expert. And so when you reached out and said, Hey, this update is great. Can you share some of this with me on a podcast? I sat back and had some anxiety of going, man, I don’t know that I actually know what we’re doing. Like I kind of feel like we have 10 fishing poles in the water. Each one has different bait on it. And when one grabs, we just start reeling that went in and focus on that. And so, what we’re doing right now certainly is working. I don’t know if it’s going to work in six months from now, but I think we’re asking the right questions and going down the right road. And so when I met with my team and really kind of talked with some of them of whether I should do this or not, they just went back to our values, which is one of the values is that we’re about the big C church. And so they just said, how can you hold that value and not jump on this podcast? And so with fear and trepidation, I said yes.

Tony (08:31):

Well, I’m glad you did. And I’m glad you’re acknowledging you’re not an expert, but Matt, there are no experts right now in this season. None of us have come out of a pandemic before. But I think what you can offer in this conversation is you may be a week or a month ahead of where maybe some other ministries are as you’re engaging your community and your church in this season. And so in today’s conversation, it actually comes out of an update that you shared with me maybe a month or two ago. And I liked that illustration of it’s like fishing poles in the water. And so we’re not going to talk about 10 of them, but four of them today, I’d like to unpack a little bit because it sounds like four of these kind of intentional strategies that you’re engaging are actually impacting, now, the number of people that are engaging with your weekend services, and you said you’ve actually seen an increase as far as those numbers are concerned. Is that right?

Matt (09:28):

Yeah, we have, we have grown, you know, when you take our online and in-house attendance now probably like most churches, we’ve only seen about 40% of our pre-COVID attendance come back in-house, but overall we’ve seen our numbers grow both online and in-house, and we use some pretty conservative numbers when it comes to counting online stuff, because we don’t want to over-exaggerate what we’re doing. And so we want just a baseline of where we’re at through COVID, and it took us a long time to figure out how to count people in that space. But yeah, we’re seeing growth in our services, both in-house and online, and we’re seeing really deep connection or significant connection when it comes to guests who are walking in, and we have more guests coming to our church right now and notifying us online than we have in any time that we’ve ever recorded this over the last decade.

Tony (10:22):

Right. Well, that’s exciting. And that is very different than the data that we’re seeing in other churches, Matt. So there’s something that’s happening at Crossroads in this season that’s unique. And I do, I think it might be related to these, like I said, these are four intentional strategies that it appears you and your team are engaging to try to increase the number of people that are connecting to your church, and we’re praying, eventually connecting to faith. One of them, and by the way, this is about engaging more people in services. But I almost think this is more about engaging more people in the mission, and it begins with this intentionality of ramping up your outreach efforts. And it sounds like a lot of the focus has actually been around one of your regional hospitals. Is that right?

Matt (11:06):

Yeah, that’s totally it. And so we had this really cool opportunity kind of fall on our doorstep in December. So we’re right near a huge regional hospital, 1400 staff. I mean, I could throw a baseball from our church into that medical facility. And they were sitting around as a board, and they were having the conversation that early on in COVID, the community really supported medical teams, medical staff, nurses, doctors, so on and so forth. But as COVID went on, people moved on with their lives and found other things. And so in December, they were looking at their staff and their staff was literally just burning out, melting away. And so they’re sitting in their board asking the question, like, how do we bring hope to our staff? How do we help with the burnout? And someone said, well, don’t churches, aren’t they pretty good at hope? And they said, yeah, churches are good at hope. Anybody know a church that’s good at hope. And it just so happened that one of their board members comes to Crossroads, and he raised his hands that I think my church is pretty good at hope. We love to serve the community. So that relationship began and really where it began was they wanted us to give them $25,000 to do some things. And we said, we certainly can do that, but give us a week. We’d actually like to dream bigger than this. And we’d like to actually engage your people, not just physically and emotionally and mentally, but we believe that people are whole beings and that spiritual is a huge part of wellbeing. And so we put together this plan. We said, we don’t want to just to be a splash in the bucket. We want to walk with you for several months, five, six months. And so we presented this plan to them, and they went all in on it. And the fruit of that has been so cool, not just from the way that we’re impacting that hospital and caring for the people in that hospital. But one of the things with the outreach is we’ve actually invited our neighborhoods around the church, neighborhoods that we’ve sometimes had a hard time getting into, and just invited them to come alongside us. And we weren’t inviting them into seats in our auditorium, our worship space. We were inviting them into serving the medical people and the medical staff at this hospital. And they’ve shown up in huge ways. And right now currently, what we’re seeing behind this and it was intentional, but somewhat unintentional as well, is that we never knew that that would actually lead people to showing up at church. And so for the past three months, almost every week for the past three months, somebody out of that neighborhood has come to the church to check out what we’re all about when it comes to Jesus and the church and the Bible and everything else. And so just that invitation of them, the invitation wasn’t to come to church, the invitation was to serve, and it’s resulted in people coming to church.

Tony (13:39):

Unbelievable. I love that story. And I love the responsiveness that you and your church are to God. I mean, it’s obvious, God was moving there, and he was opening the doors, but you guys responded to that. That’s just incredible. All right. So that’s the first one. The second one, the intentionality of this mindset of thinking digital first when it comes to your weekend services. Tell us a little bit more about that.

Matt (14:04):

Yeah, so like us, the whole world went digital overnight all the way back in March of 2020. And so as we went through that, we learned a lot of things of online campus, and we were not very good at the online campus before. Our music was awful. In fact, we kept stripping away our online campus, basically just to the sermons, because of how terrible it was. Well overnight, it forced us to get better. And so we jumped into that and…

Tony (14:29):

And let me just pause. My guess is the musicians, the vocalist weren’t terrible. It was just the process of capturing that, right?

Matt (14:36):

Yes, absolutely. That was what it was. Yeah. Our musicians are great, great musicians, but over time, the way that it was being presented online, I always said it was like a home camcorder that we just set up in the back of the auditorium, and then whatever came out, came out. And so it not pretty most days. And so we learned a lot through COVID and when we started to reopen, looking at the places that had opened before us, we knew that it was going to be a long time before people were going to be comfortable back in a building and, you know, our space seats about 400 people. And so we didn’t know how long that was going to be. And so we just made the decision that we’re going to try to think digitally first in everything that we do. And so where our cameras are set up in our worship space are not ideal positions if you’re attending, like they’re in the way. The way that we’ve set up our liturgy early on in COVID, we were watching the way that people, and they were trying to time the sermon and they were skipping the worship music and just trying to time the sermon. And so we just decided, well, let’s just put the sermon towards the front like unchurched people are familiar with TedTalks. They understand what that looks like. So let’s just change our entire liturgy. When we opened the building, everybody was hoping that we would go back to typical church world, right? Like songs at the beginning, a sermon and then closing announcements. And we just decided we were going to stay reaching the digital audience. At the end of the day, we haven’t always got it. Right. I made a huge mistake on Easter. I was so excited with how many people were in the building. I totally forgot about the online campus. And probably that was the one Sunday that probably, if you were viewing online, you would go, oh, they really do care about the people inside the building more than those watching online. And so we haven’t got it right all the time. I think one of the big things that we’re trying to pay attention to is that when it comes to church world, there seems to be like two different ways to go about online. One is create a total unique experience. I think the AR and VR world is coming to the church faster than we think, and that people aren’t going to be looking for different experiences. They’re going to be looking for an experience that makes them feel like they’re part of what’s going on in the building. And so a lot of the way that we’re trying to capture things is to make it feel like you’re sitting in the backseat of the room. Now we can’t do that all the time, but that’s where a lot of our focus is heading. We don’t want to create a unique experience. We want to create an experience where, where if you’re watching online, you feel like you’re in the building with us.

Tony (17:02):

I love that intentionality. That’s very good. Which then also leads to this third strategy. And this is, the way I read this, Matt, it’s really about expecting new people to show up, whether that’s in-person or online, and then being prepared to encourage them to take a next step.

Matt (17:22):

Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Tony (17:24):

So tell us about that.

Matt (17:25):

Yeah. So what that looks like is we have intentionally connected all of our efforts from all of our core ministry to core ministry. And so our outreach is connected to our digital space. Our digital space is connected to our weekend services. Our weekend services are connected to engagement and engagement’s connected to care. And we’ve worked really hard at that. And so on all of our outreach efforts, we put a QR code on everything so that in those efforts, people have an easy way to find us when it comes to our digital space. And since most of our community, by and large through demographic studies, is made up of 30 to 45-year-olds, and we’ve made the commitment that we want to actually chase the 30 to 45 year old male. And it’s the hardest. But we think that if we’re going to actually change the community, we’ve got to aim for the men. And so that’s where we’re aiming. Most guys are on YouTube. And so everything that we do is driving people to YouTube. In that space and then going from there. And so if you were to attend a service, one of the things that we came up with is what we call “New. Next. Jesus.” And so it’s just three ways for people to get connected. So if you’re new and you just want to let us know that you’re attending or that you’re watching, and you just want to give us some information about yourself, you can text new to the number that we have. If you are ready to take a next step, whether that be baptism or growth tracks or getting into a community group, you can do next. If you have questions or you’re making a commitment to follow Jesus, then you text Jesus. All of it ends up going to the same person. And it’s the same number. And really it’s not church people who are filling that out. It’s all of our new people. Now for the first six months, it was dreadful. Nobody was using the text number and we had questions like should we continue to do it? And we just kind of held steadfast in that going man, all of the world operates on texts. Like we don’t need to go back to paper. This has to work. I don’t know why it’s not working. And then almost overnight, it just exploded. And so we have a couple of hundred people that have come through the “New. Next. Jesus.” And they’re all in a database. And we have someone who periodically checks in and says, Hey, you still a part? You ready to take whatever in that space. But once it comes, we have what we call a process and people meeting. And so everybody who’s in the “New. Next. Jesus.” Queue. There’s a meeting about them, of where they’re at and what’s their next step with our engagement team going down that road. And so on a given weekend, if you’re new, we throw the text number at the very beginning of the service, during our sermon we always speak to the Jesus part of the number. And then at the very end of the service, all three of them are presented “New. Next. Jesus.” And so minimally, three to four times every service, that number with “New, Next or Jesus” is on the screen for people to connect to.

Tony (20:11):

I love it. So much of that, I love. Number one, who knew you could text Jesus? That in and of itself, that’s fantastic. I want that number. But here’s what stood out to me is your church is so unusual, Matt, you probably don’t know this, but most churches have these silos of ministries. They’re great ministries, but they all kind of stand on their own. They don’t engage with each other. They don’t interact with each other. And because of that, people aren’t taking next steps along a spiritual journey. So the brilliance of what you’ve described is everybody’s working together to help people take their next steps toward Christ.

Matt (20:52):

Yeah, well, that was a real big emphasis of ours. As we came actually out of The Unstuck Process is to tear down the ministries, that sounded wrong, to tear down the silos that had been created in the ministries. I guess some ministries we tore down, but that wasn’t intentional. It was to really connect ministry to ministry, core ministry to core ministry, in that space. And we’ve created it in such a way that our team always leans on the person before and after them. And so the person who holds the responsibility for “New. Next. Jesus” is not our engagement team, but actually our worship team. And so our worship service team is responsible for getting the people into engagement. And so if it’s not working, we’re not talking to the engagement team of going, why aren’t you connecting people? We’re actually talking to the worship team and saying, what’s the deal? Why aren’t you driving people to the next level? And so that happens in every piece. So we’ve created a dependent system between each of our core ministries.

Tony (21:48):

I love it. I absolutely love it. I’d love to hear the full list of 10 fishing poles that you have in the water right now. But let’s go with this last one. And this is interesting because as the senior pastor, this is the one area that you have the most control over, and that’s the teaching that happens during the weekend services. And it sounds like you’ve kind of revisited how you approach your sermon series. Is that right?

Matt (22:13):

Yeah, totally. And this is all credit to you, Tony, in this. I’m a pretty avid listener of this podcast. And so I’m excited when I get to hear my own self in a couple of weeks or whenever it broadcasts, right? But one of the things that impacted me deeply in your podcast is the way that you and Amy talked about creating a sermon series. And so we adopted your A,B and C series. I don’t know if we adopted it quite the way that you spoke to it, but we look at our A series as intentionally outreach driven. How are we going to reach our community? How are we going to reach our target? How are we going to reach those young men in our community? And so all of our A series is geared towards that. And then we put all of our effort from digital to marketing to communication spaces behind those series. And so early on in February, every guy struggles with purpose and what is my purpose in this world? And so we just tagged that to sports and called it MVP and did a series on purpose. And it wasn’t anything new or exciting, right? It was passion and experience and gifting of the things that God’s given you. And how does that really result in purpose? But we packaged it in such a way that it would reach beyond church people and into the world. Then our B series we look at and say, we’ve got a lot to accomplish in these next years when it comes to vision. And so instead of just doing the ho-hum every year vision series, we started to think our B series is how can we help lift a particular core ministry up in a sermon series? And so with that this year, our engagement team was of those and connecting people. And so we did a whole series on holistic community. We called it “No Silver Bullets”. And really that drive was working with the engagement team and going, what are, if you had five weeks of sermons, what would you want me to say in order to help lift your part of the vision? And so we sat down, we developed that. We worked it out. We had one at the very end, that connection was into community groups. That’s how we do things. And we had one of the greatest sign-ups of community groups coming out of that series that we’ve had in a long time. And then C series are just those regular series that we feel that we need to preach. And so we walked through books of the Bible here alongside topical sermon series. And so we’ve been in Luke for two years. We take it in short eight week segments, and that’s a conviction of mine. And so that’s a C series. We feel like we need to preach Luke. We felt at the beginning of the year that we needed to address the anxiety that people were feeling, that everything was going to be different in 2021, right? The world was going to go back to normal. But what if it didn’t? And so that was just something we felt like we needed to preach. And so that’s what C series look like for us.

Tony (24:52):

So here’s what’s fun. This is, we’re talking about reengaging people in services, and as you’ve acknowledged, you have more people now engaging your services. You also have, you said, more new people connecting to the church than you have any time in the past. And then on the other side of all this, you have people coming to Christ and getting ready to be baptized, it sounds like as well, is that right?

Matt (25:15):

Yeah, we have about 20 people in our queue right now, since the beginning of the year, who have signed up to be baptized, who have made a profession of faith. And so not only are people coming to the church, but they’re also finding Jesus in this, and it’s exciting. And I look at it and what’s really cool about it is I give all the credit to Jesus in this space. You know, as a senior pastor, fairly new, like I said, we’re just kinda going with whatever grabs in that space. You know, I’m not the world’s most gifted senior pastor or communicator, right? I’m not Andy Stanley or Craig Rochelle. I’m just a regular guy. But the processes that we’ve put in place are working. I have a great team that’s making it happen, and we’re not a big church. I mean, we’re, we’re 12-to-1500 on a weekend. And so, I mean, we’re a medium-sized church, I guess, in that space. And so when it comes down to the road of this, it’s just like, we’re just putting our, you know, our feet to the ground and walking where God leads us. And when we see something work, we put our energies towards that and just go all in. And that’s really been what our succes is early in this season.

Amy (26:24):

Tony, that was a very inspiring conversation. There are so many learnings from their story, but I’d like to hear again, what jumped out to you in that conversation with Matt?

Tony (26:33):

Yeah. So from Matt’s words, it’s just fun to hear again, the transformation that they’re saying in their church and how that’s impacting people and how that’s impacting their community. They’re seeing more people re-engage their weekend services, but those results are really a reflection of their church re-engaging their mission. And that included as an example, ramping up their outreach efforts in their community. And then I love this. Not only is the church engaged in that outreach, they invited their community to join them. And Matt suggested they’re seeing people from their community that are connecting with their church for the first time because they participated in some of those outreach efforts. Secondly, Matt highlighted they think this is a new day. And because of that, they’re moving to a digital first mindset for their weekend services. And we’ve said it many times in the past months, our digital platforms, they’re now the new front door for our churches, and Crossroads Church is demonstrating that in the investment of time, resources, money that they’re making to prioritize their digital environments. Number three, they’re linking every core ministry together so that there are no ministry silos. Each ministry team is responsible for making sure people take a next step toward Jesus. They’re all working together. And because of that, they’re actually expecting new people to show up to the church and to take these next steps. And they’re working together to make sure that those next steps are easy and obvious. And then finally, I love the fact that Matt took this on himself to leverage a new model for sermon series, to make sure that the teaching is reaching new people in their mission field and helping believers also grow in their faith. It’s as if the team at Crossroads Church has really committed to that go and make disciples mission, Amy. I mean they’ve done some incredible things in the last number of months.

Amy (28:40):

They sure have. Well, last week, Tony, you helped us consider one next step that we should consider taking to re-engage people in serving. So let’s do the same thing this week. Based on what we heard from Matt, what’s the one next step churches should consider in the coming months to re-engage people in their weekend services?

Tony (28:58):

Here’s where I think you need to begin. I think you should follow the same advice that we gave Crossroads Church back in March of 2020. You should pull a team together and reconfirm your mission. That needs to be the first spot. So here you need to clarify who you’re trying to reach. That’s a definition of where God’s placed your church and what does your mission field look like? Who’s in your mission field? Talk about how your strategy needs to change to engage people in your mission field. So let’s not just continue doing church the way we’ve always done church. Let’s take a hard look at the ministry strategies that we’re engaging to make sure that we’re actually reaching people that God wants us to reach. We need to invite your congregations and our community to join us in that. What an opportunity and again, I just love the example that Crossroads Church is setting for us, that we’re going to be engaged in serving people in our community, pointing them towards Jesus, and we’re going to invite our community to join us in that as well. And then pray for and expect new people to show up. Amy, this is an opportunity I’ve been praying for months that this would be an opportunity for us to engage with people who have been isolated, disconnected from others, that this opportunity would exist for our churches to draw people in, to draw people, not only to our churches, but to connection with other people. And you know, one of my favorite passages from scripture, this is Luke 14:23. This is the call to go out to the roads and the country lanes and compel them to come in so that my house may be full. And this is that opportunity for us as churches, for us as Christ followers, to compel our neighbors, our coworkers, our friends, to come join us, to engage with what’s happening in our ministries, and Crossroads Church, they’ve demonstrated we can kind of set the table for what that engagement can look like in an intentional way. So the days of us turning on that “We’re open” light and waiting for people just to show up for church. Those days are behind us. We need to engage our mission field, and we need to compel them to come in.

Amy (31:18):

Well, Tony, any final thoughts before we wrap up today’s conference?

Tony (31:22):

Yeah, Amy, I do want to remind listeners, we’re going to do a free webinar on July 20th on this topic. It’s all about re-engaging your church. I’ve invited a panel of church leaders from various regions to come and give voice to the unique challenges that they’re facing and the practices, the best practices that they’ve discovered as they’ve re-engaged their churches. And you and your team can participate in this free webinar. Register at theunstuckgroup.com/webinar. But Amy, I don’t normally end our podcasts this way. As I was hearing Matt talk in our conversation about the unique challenges that churches are facing in the Denver area and pastors that he’s connected with, the challenges and the questions that they’re asking right now. I know that this is a reflection of what’s happening in churches and with pastors around North America and around the world. And so I would just like to finish today’s conversation by praying for you. So let me pause and do that. Lord, it has been a disruption, a challenge, certainly for all of us, but particularly, Lord, I’ve been sensitive to the unique that pastors around the world have been facing over the last number of months. And so, Lord, I just want to pray in this season that they would find renewal, that they would rediscover your love, your call in their life, that they would rediscover the mission that you’ve given them, and Lord, in some way, speak to them with encouragement through other people, even through this conversation today, Lord. Just encourage them in their calling and then help them to take their next steps toward you and their next steps in their ministry. Lord, I pray that you’ll protect pastors in this season. I think there’s a level of vulnerability because of the stress and the anxiety and the pressures that we have felt. And frankly, the division that we’re seeing in many churches right now. So, just protect them and their relationship with you, and then help them to lead strong in this season so that they can help their teams in their congregations engage the mission that you’ve called us to. We love you, Lord. And we pray all this in the name of Jesus.

Sean (33:51):

Well, thanks for joining us for this week’s conversation. As Tony mentioned, we’d love to have you and your team join us for the upcoming round table webinar on reengaging our church in this new season. We’re inviting you to join us in a few of our ministry friends for a candid conversation about the challenges and successes that they’re experiencing as they reopened and reengage their churches in the mission and moment that God has called them to. To sign up, just go to theunstuckgroup.com/webinar. If you found today’s podcast helpful for you, we would love your help getting the word out. You can share it on social media, subscribe on your favorite podcasting platform and give us a review. Next week, we’re back with another brand new episode in our series. So until then, have a great week.

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Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.
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