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Taking It To The Next Level

The “next level”… there is always a “next level” but the key is how to get there. How do we move our church forward into what God has for us? While there may be a variety of answers that will work, when I think of moving to the next level – moving anything to the next level – I think of three things.

  • Count – What you count will increase in quantity. That’s a law. Try it for 6 months and you’ll see that it’s true. And not just you, it’s what you and your staff or leadership team counts. At Manna Church, we count everything, but we specifically count salvations, baptisms, attendance, small groups, guests, children, members, leaders, and money. By 5 PM on Sunday I receive a text message that includes the attendance figures from every service at every site. By Tuesday, I (and all the staff pastors) get an email that outlines the number of guest packets passed out and received, the number of salvations, and how many people joined the church, all broken down by site and service. Later in the week I (and the Lead Team and Elders) get an email with two comparison charts outlining numerous financial snapshots along with 16 week, 26 week, 53 week rolling averages and the average attendance year to date. Don’t be intimidated by this; we didn’t get here over night. Decide what is important to count (and make sure that salvations are among the important stuff) and start counting now. Some things you can’t count, like increasing maturity, improving marriages, people’s deepening passion for God. But count the stuff you can count and watch it increase.
  • Celebrate – What you celebrate people will value. That’s a law. Try it for 6 months and you’ll see that it’s true. If you celebrate breakthroughs in devotion to Christ, people will value the Word and prayer. If you celebrate the new birth and folks coming to Christ, people will value evangelism and more readily share their faith and volunteer for outreaches. If you celebrate life-change, people will give more attention and honor to discipleship. If you celebrate small groups, people will join them. Decide what helps you accomplish your mission from God and celebrate the “wins” in those areas and watch the testimonies pile up.
  • Critique – What you regularly critique will increase in quality. That’s a law. Try it for 6 months and you’ll see that it’s true. Having a critical spirit is a bad idea but regularly critiquing your services, systems, and structures is a great idea. And this may be hard to swallow, but “structures” includes the human structures too, as in the people that make stuff work. Every Monday, our Site Pastors and I review what went on in our sites during the previous week. Every Monday, our Creative Team critiques the services from the week prior. These sessions can be tough, even on me, sometimes especially on me – perhaps I went too long in the message or some illustration didn’t work. Just this last week, the Creative Team had me throw out a piece I had written for a series and had me start over! Quarterly, our employees are evaluated. Nothing should be above and everyone should be open to critique. We are in the service of God Almighty and we want to offer Him our best, but we’ll never be at our best if we don’t evaluate how we are doing from time to time. If it’s true that what you regularly critique will increase in quality, then the converse is also true – what we fail to critique will decrease in quality over time. As the old saying goes, “People don’t do what you expect; they do what you inspect.”

So, whether you lead a church or a small group, count, celebrate, and critique and take it to the “next level.”

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