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I recently began a new role at Rancho Community Church as Executive Pastor of Worship Arts & Communication. As usual, I like to jump right in and see what’s working and what’s not when it comes to the weekend worship service. One thing that we’re working through right now is answering the question, “What are we doing?”. What are we aiming at, or what do we define as a “win”? From there, we can move into roles & responsibilities, and then figure out how we’re going to reach our goals. If this all sounds really smart, you can blame Rich Kirkpatrick, who gave me a lot of advice in this area.
So last week we opened up this discussion and put a few ideas on the white board, such as:

  • A good balance of elements (timing, transitions, speaking, music, lighting, backgrounds, stage design)
  • Less focus on the elements / more focus on Christ
  • Good communication from the stage / invitations to engage & participate
  • Correct lyrics
  • Good transitions
  • Least amount of distractions as possible (audio, visual, facilities)
  • Church engagement / participation (singing? visual signs of participation?)
  • Band playing the correct music / tempo / charts
  • Tech / band cohesiveness
  • Who actually defines the win? Lead pastor? Me? Feedback cards? Our team?

I’m not sure those bullet points actually answer the question or define the win, but we’re circling closer and closer to the answer. Also, we’re acknowledging that a large part of the “win” is God’s Spirit moving through his church – these are the more practical things – things we can attempt to measure.

So the question is: How have you defined what a “win” looks like at your church worship service?

Designer. Communicator. Solutions Architect. Husband. Father of 4. Friend of God. I've dabbled in building, graphic design, worship, music, media, communications, connections, leadership, and now I'm an executive pastor at Rancho Community Church in Southern California.

11 Comments

  1. Chris Stout

    Alex,

    Those look like the regular list of things. I started typing up a reply to each of your bullets, then re-read your post. To answer your question,

    IMHO, it would come from the feedback cards and growth in attendance. But you’re the one getting paid the “Big Bucks” my friend. Love the new site/blog! See you soon?

    • Chris Stout

      Alex,

      Those look like the regular list of things. I started typing up a reply to each of your bullets, then re-read your post. To answer your question,

      How have you defined what a “win” looks like at your church worship service?

      IMHO, it would come from the feedback cards and growth in attendance. But you’re the one getting paid the “Big Bucks” my friend. Love the new site/blog! See you soon?

  2. Will Young

    Alex…

    I love you bro, you’re an excellent CEO and leader type fella. While I appreciate what you’re doing it’s this type of “Defining the Win” attitude that keeps me out of churches these days. I appreciate you acknowledging the movement of God but, what else really matters?

    I guess I just became so obsessed with the idea of church being this realm of pure spirituality that when I realized after going to school with people training to become pastors and being involved with large churches that a “church” is in essence a form of an entertainment business and the success of the venue is based on more than the idea of pure spirituality.

    It’s something I’ll never really be able to wrap my hands around because I can not find what we’ve turned “church” into anywhere in the scriptures. :-)

    BUT…not to be all Debbie Downer…RCC has the right guy for the job, in the few years I’ve followed you know one is better at the “business” that goes into church than you!

    Best of luck in your new role and in 2011.

    • Alex McLean

      Will, thanks for the comment & kind words. I totally feel you on the “bad taste” this may leave in one’s mouth. In a perfect world “the church” would be a place where people would come to worship, seek help, encourage each other, and be taught from God’s word. Everyone would share with everyone, “staff” would be fulfilled as they served those in the church and outside its walls.

      Unfortunately we live in a broken and dark place. People are distracted, busy, and God is left to the gaps of life (Pews, Christmas, Easter, tragedy, funerals, etc.). That means the church has changed. It has to stay true to the original calling (expand the Kingdom, fight injustice, rally for the least, last & lost), but in order to do those things it must be relevant, staffed well, and have clear goals.

      It’s easy to say something like, “Our church is all about preaching the Word”, or “Our church is all about serving the community”, or “Our church is all about worshiping God” – but what does that mean? What does that look like? How do you measure that? How do you know if you’re actually successful at what you say you are doing?

      That’s what I’m trying to get at. What is my “department’s” responsibility within the overall vision of our church? And how do I hold my staff accountable, and lead them, grow them, and be successful? To me, that’s some serious “spiritual” growth. We relegate spiritual growth, and spiritual things to a) reading the Bible, and b) praying, and sometimes c) leading someone to Christ. What about personal development? Learning how to manage time? Lead your family? Speak words of encouragement? Lead teams? Create? Serve others? Take criticism? Learn obedience? Play excellently?

      Without some targets, we’re simply guessing every week… This wasn’t meant as a rant, just bringing up more “stuff”.

    • Will. Purely being spiritual is not biblical, is it?

      For instance, if we use a structure and CEO energy to feed the poor we are accomplishing what people do as redeemed, Holy Spirit empowered people. Why can’t worship services be the same? Just because “business” is not spirituality, does not mean it should be rejected as a human tool in our ministry whether it is in trying to defend the defenseless or lead our people to engage in worshiping God in a corporate way. It is spiritual to say “we can feed more people”! And, it is spiritual to say “we can engage more people’s attention on Jesus” on the weekend.

    • Jason

      In response to you and Rob (and to throw more fuel on the fire) I would say those are just excuses. Looking purely at the fact that guys, like Alex, try to make the weekend services as engaging and hassle free as possible as a reason not to go to church is looking off the mark. What I feel Alex is talking about is removing as much of the “junk” that can happen during a service, which gives people distractions, as possible. I have been thinking about how we do church these days for a long time, but this kind of thing is not where the problem lies.

      Yes, you can make all the arguments you want about God being the one who moves people and the heart (and you would be right) but isn’t it our duty, as the bride of Christ, to make our house of worship as spotless and presentable as possible. And that “as possible” has a million variables. If you’re a home church, making sure that sun doesn’t shine right in the face of the attendees in your living room. If you meet in a school, make sure the floors are swept and the chairs are clean. If you’re a large church, making sure the graphics and production values are clean and polished. Isn’t it all the same thing?

      While some may be able to sit through service after service of incorrect words on the screen, awkward transitions, bad musicians/sound quality, getting lost on campus trying to find the children’s minsitry, etc. It provides a myriad of obstacles and excuses for those that aren’t as mature. I’ve been there, I know from experience. God’s power can move mountains, but I believe we need to do our best not to obstruct that movement.

    • Alex McLean

      Jason, I think Rich explains this as this as the “empathy factor” – check out his post here under “3. Poor execution keeps people from worship and coming to church as much as inauthentic people do.” http://worshipmythbusters.com/2011/01/01/episode-1-are-our-worship-services-too-%E2%80%9Cspiritual%E2%80%9D-or-not-human-enough/

  3. Rob Johnson

    Alex – you are working it as usual – props. I do agree with Chris & Will though that this is exactly what keeps churched people from church —- the “why” has to be the most important — “to bring people to a saving faith in Christ.”. All the other stuff we dream up to make church some kind of ethereal experiment tends to drive people away at some point and good leaders who love Jesus seek to do more outside of the church as it becomes more fulfilling.

    I do believe that you are on the right path – but less is more – less show and production and scripts and moe genu-wine!

    • Alex McLean

      Thanks Rob – I agree with you… check my comment to Will.

    • Jason

      I would say it’s less about making it some kind of ethereal experience and mainly about making sure the focus stays on the message and purpose of the service.

      It’s like any kind of design (graphic or industrial. ). The audience/user shouldn’t notice the design itself, they should only notice the message the design is meant to convey. If you have too many “gradients and drop shadows” the design becomes the focus and not the message. On the other hand, if you don’t put enough thought and effort into it, it’s clumsy and really easy to misunderstand. It’s a difficult balance to strike and that’s the whole point. How do you reach that balance, or “win” as Alex put it?

    • Alex McLean

      Good stuff Jason – I’m more and more thinking that you might not really be able to define or even measure a win. But you can define and measure the things that cause you to lose… I love the analogy of the graphic design – it’s all about the message, and everything should support and help communicate that message.

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