Archives For Craig Groeschel

prayer The other day I wrote about what magazines I had read lately. I mentioned that I wanted to come back and talk about Outreach Magazine. This issue was their 100 Largest and Fastest-Growing Churches in America edition.

There is a great interview in the magazine with pastors Rick Bezet and Chris Hodges – pastors of the fastest growing church in America (’09 & ’08). It’s a great interview and knowing how humble and sincere both pastors are, I thought it gave glory where glory is due – to God.

An interesting thing though that many may not realize is that not only are Rick and Chris (and their churches) ARC churches, they both serve on the board of ARC (Association of Related Churches). Not only that, Rick and Chris’ churches were the first 2 churches that ARC planted 8 years ago when ARC was birthed.

So ARC launched 8 years ago with Church of the Highlands (Chris Hodges) and New Life Church (Rick Bezet) and then fast-forward: Church of the Highlands is the fastest growing church in the US in 2008 and New Life Church is the fastest growing church in 2009.

I point this out because I believe in ARC and think they do a good job planting churches. It’s worth noting that this year’s and last year’s fastest growing churches are both ARC churches. I wrote THIS blog post a while back and mentioned all the great churches that you may not realize are ARC churches. If you didn’t read it, it’s worth checking out. You’d be amazed at how many great churches and pastors you’ve heard of are ARC churches.

Why do I do a blog post on “ARC and Church Growth”? Because as an ARC coach of church planters, I can personally tell you how much I talk about the importance of prayer in leading and growing/strengthening your church. I’ve met with church planters and pastors and begged them to make prayer a priority. I’ve begged them to gather on Saturday to pray for Sunday (like Chris Hodges has always done). I’ve begged pastors to begin an intercessory prayer ministry that prays throughout their morning worship services.

Fortunately, I’ve had the privilege of hearing both Rick and Chris teach on the importance and power of prayer. The very first thing ARC teaches at their CPR’s (Church Planters Roundtable) is that you must “win the war in the spiritual”. As Billy Hornsby says, “Prayer is a non-negotiable”. I heard Chris Hodges once say, “You can’t delegate prayer.”

I write this blog post because every “fastest-growing” list that comes out has a story behind the names on the list. There are some amazing churches listed on this year’s list. I know most of the churches. My word to you is that knowing these leaders, I know they wouldn’t point to a cool technology or church growth fad, but to the power and presence of our Almighty God.

God is using ARC in a mighty way and I’m thrilled to be a small part of it and not only contribute and consult, but I grow and learn all the time by hanging out and talking with the ARC team. Billy Hornsby is a new mentor in my life and I appreciate the investment he’s making in my life.

My encouragement to you is for YOU to get to know the ARC as well. If you’re a future church planter, look into planting through ARC. Contact me and I’ll get you started down the path. If you’re an already existing church, you can join ARC (like Craig Groeschel and LifeChurch.tv and Mark Batterson and National Community Church) and begin to see your missions budget go straight to planting churches here in the United States. I’d be glad to talk with you about how your church can join the ARC and begin actively supporting church planting.

All Glory to God!

From time to time I’ve referred to the ARC (Association of Related Churches) – a church planting organization that I’ve been working with a lot lately. I just returned from speaking at their BUG Conference. What you may not realize about ARC is all the great churches that partner with them.

What do Craig Groeschel and LifeChurch.tv, Mark Batterson and National Community Church, Chris Hodges and Church of the Highlands (remember they are the fastest growing church in the country), Greg Surratt and Seacoast Church, Jonathan Falwell and Thomas Road Baptist Church, Dino Rizzo and Healing Place Church, Matt Fry and C3 Church, Stovall Weems and Celebration Church and Rick Bezet of New Life Church all have in common? They are all ARC partners and choose to plant churches through the ARC.

I don’t know about you, but that’s an organization worth getting to know. I got to attend the ARC’s annual conference (All Access) back in April – it was awesome and can be seen on Daystar. I spoke at and attended their Bug Conference. I’m attending their CPR (Church Planters’ Roundtable) in September in Colorado Springs. I’m getting to see them real up close and personal and I like what I’m seeing.

I’ll share more about them in the near future, but I just wanted you to get to know them and explore some of their events and opportunities for growth. By the way, if you’re a church planter or about to plant a church: I want to hear from you! Give me a shout. If you’d like to know how your church can get involved and plant churches through ARC: Give me a shout.

Below is a post from my friend, DJ Chuang and the Leadership Network Digital Blog that I thought was worth repeating:

What the church looks and feels like is changing right before our eyes, and on our computer screens.

This article from The Gadsden Times (Alabama), “Now on your computer screen: Sunday services,” tells the story of how the Church Online of LifeChurch.tv is reaching people around the world:

… The 32-year-old [Bobby] Gruenewald is a pastor at LifeChurch.tv, an Edmond, Okla., organization that, with tens of thousands of followers, has created a virtual house of worship, with sermons, prayer and Bible study for an international congregation. 

… Gruenewald said the average “congregation” at any given time on a Sunday is about 3,000 visitors, but over the course of the 90-to-120-minute services, between 12,000 and 15,000 unique viewers will log on. The services incorporate live preaching, songs and sermons from the church’s physical locations across the United States through a live feed, while viewers can chat with one another or church volunteers.

Lifechurch-capTo further connect virtual users, the site also employs a chat function that automatically translates their language into a language of one’s choosing. Someone in Brazil can type a comment in Portuguese, for example, and it will be translated instantaneously to English for a viewer in Idaho. This feature, church leaders say, fosters a sense of immediate community among people with no other commonalities besides an abiding interest in Jesus.

And, Beliefnet blog entry “How Facebook, Twitter, and Google Might Affect the Church” links over to Mark Brown’s thoughts, How the Digital Revolution Might Affect the Church.

… we need to recognize the utter importance of powerful, transformational preaching. And we need to create systems by which those with such preaching ability and gifting can be widely available. Why restrict a gifted preacher to one community? Lifechurch.tv lead the way in making resources, including preaching, available to more than those who turn up in person for the service. 

We need to move from appointing leaders based on them completing the right degree to giving more weight to discerning their ability to complete the leadership task.

We need to create the opportunity for people to ‘be at church’ or part of a community at any moment in the day/week. Setting a special time on Sunday morning is artificial and limiting.

Mark also explores other issues affected by the digital revolution, namely, church governance, church leadership, and the institutional church as we know it. Read the full article.

From my vantage point, I’m guessing that changes to how we live out our faith as the church is only beginning. More changes are yet to come. Technology is only a part of what’s ushering in the change. (Aside: there are at least 27 churches with Internet campuses offering church online) What do you think?

// DJ Chuang, Director at Leadership Network //

I just returned from spending the weekend at LifeChurch.tv in Oklahoma City and got to witness this first-hand. It’s amazing what God is doing through them.

Yesterday I spent the entire day helping produce the Catalyst OneDay Dallas at Bent Tree. Thankfully I didn’t have my hands too full that I couldn’t enjoy it as well.

I must say it is a huge blessing and gift to the Church to have men like Craig Groeschel and Andy Stanley share their wisdom and insights into leadership. There are less busy pastors that don’t give back, share and build the Church (capital “C”) like these 2 extremely busy men. 

The thing that stuck with me the most is something that resonates deep within me. I preach it. I write about it. I’ve done articles and workshops about “less is more”. My favorite phrase came from Craig, who said “You can reach more by doing less.”

Years ago I heard Andy Stanley teach on “the blessedness of subtraction”. He also said “no ministry has a forever shelf-life” and that stuck with me all these years. 

I wonder if we, as Church leaders, are doing too much. I wonder if we haven’t killed something that should have died long ago. I wonder (like in their last session) how many ugly couches we have in our churches.

Andy specificially mentioned and joked about handbells. I, having been a worship pastor a long time ago in a traditional Baptist church, can totally relate to that and got a good laugh. Personally, I think today’s “handbells” or “ugly couches” are most dramas. 

Hear me out – I don’t have anything against the art of acting, I just think most of it nowadays should be done in-front of a camera. Use your drama team for in-house video clips like Granger does. Find creative and innovative ways to present the art of drama. Unfortunately, most of what I’ve seen over the years is tired and in need of retirement. 

Your thoughts? I’m sure I upset someone. What are areas or ministries that have had a forever shelf-life in your organization that you wish would end?

Things are busy around my church (Bent Tree). Here’s what’s going down:

  • Last month we had our Grand Opening (pics HERE). 
  • This month we have our annual Missions Festival. This years theme: GLOCAL. I’ve been using that term a lot lately. Our Visual Arts team is transforming our church for this yearly extravaganza! More info HERE.
  • Saturday, Oct 25: We host the Art+Music+Justice Tour. More info HERE.
  • In November we’ll host the “Hymns of Hope” featuring worship leaders (including our own) from 4 amazing churches. Click HERE to see a sneak peak of them on The Worship Network and hear our worship leader, Scott Dyer
  • In December we’ll have some sort of theatric/dramatic presentation in the early part of the month. I’m told we’ll do something “simple” for Christmas Eve. I’m counting on it!
  • In January we host Leadership Network’s Innovation 3 Conference featuring MANY amazing speakers. Be there!
  • Word on the street is that we’ll also be hosting Catalyst in May ’09.  Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel will be on the Bent Tree stage. Watch out!

Yesterday I (and my family) were home sick. I had already watched LifeChurch.tv’s Saturday night service online, but ended up worshipping with 3 other internet campuses while home sick. I actually saw a 4th internet campus, but was not happy with it and decided not to call them out. In the next 2 blog posts, I’ll share with you the 4 churches that blessed me this weekend:

LifeChurch.tv:

I think the “Mix & Mingle” Lobby Chat is fascinating and am amazed to see how God uses it. 2 weeks ago, over 50 people prayed to receive Christ through LifeChurch.tv’s internet campuses – that’s more than most churches see in a year.

No, that’s not Craig Groeschel. They had an awesome guest speaker. Of notice in this picture is their “Give Online” area of the screen. At the botton left, you can follow the message notes. Great experience. Most people think of LifeChurch.tv when they think of an internet campus.

Above, LifeChurch.tv always let’s you choose between 2 different worship leaders. This is cool, but I have an issue. What happened to Stephen Cole?? Stephen Cole is my favorite worship leader at LC and I’m thinking about starting a petition to bring him back as an option. He rocks!

Above is LifeChurch’s Internet Campus Pastor Brandon Donaldson. I need to get to know that dude.

Flamingo Road Church:

Above was a screenshot taken after one of their morning services. The red dots show you who was watching around the world!

Flamingo was having a baptism that day (they had a great video announcment about it – very cool). Want to participate in baptism? Just text the word: BAPTISM. Folks, we are literally watching the face of Church change before our eyes.

The thing that impressed me the most about my south Florida friends is that they know how to make church fun. This is a screen shot of beach balls being tossed around the auditorium. You’d have to be there to understand.

Above is Flamingo’s Lead Pastor, Troy. Flamingo was truly the highlight of my morning and a wonderful surprise. There is talk of the Church 2.0 Local Forum in Miami being held at Flamingo Road Church – shhhh!

Above is Flamingo’s Internet Campus Pastor, Brian Vasil. I was introduced virtually to Brian through my friend, Tony Steward via last week’s LifeShare. I was introduced to Flamingo Road’s Internet Campus through my friend, DJ Chuang.

More to come about these and other internet campuses this week on this blog! So… what are your thoughts? Does the thought of over 50 people praying to receive Christ via the internet freak you out? Do you praise God? Both? Is your church considering an internet campus? Are you philosophically opposed to one? Let me hear ya.