Archive for the ‘Encouragement’ Category


Posted: September 19, 2013 in Encouragement, Granger Community Church, Team

After about a half dozen summer team gatherings, I’ve been reflecting on the bond that holds teams together.  If you thought that bond is Jesus- that would be the Christian thing to say-but I’m not sure it’s the correct answer for everyone.

What I’ve seen are teams gathering and sharing in community.  They’re having fun getting to know one another in a setting where they don’t have to look at their watches in order to hit their next mark. They’ve been taking boat rides together, eating, playing games, laughing and getting to know each other’s stories.

This might be shocking to you, but not all of our team members share the same love of Jesus that you or I might. They’ve been invited into a community of Christ followers who share that common bond; but for now, they’re just happy to be invited to something outside of their isolation and on to a team where they can help, where someone knows their name and will listen to their story.

They’re taking steps, we pray, that will lead them to this relationship with Christ that bonds many of us. For now, we’re celebrating that they’ve taken a step. The funny thing is that eventhe convinced” need this community to stay engaged.

I was reminded recently of a teaching that our Senior Pastor spoke on several years ago. Take a look and I’ll wrap this up:

So, are you making time for this connectivity to happen? Are you allowing those who serve in your ministries time where stories can be shared-where volunteers know they matter and their journey matters? Are we making room for the conversations that could lead to life change?

I’m paraphrasing from my Pastor but he said something like:

People join our teams because they value the task or they buy into the leader; they love working with you. You’re inspiring, encouraging, trustworthy, successful and fun. They join because they’re invited, but they stay because they’re valued as a person. Who they are matters and they know that because of the care, encouragement and community that is at the heart of every team.

I recently asked an uber volunteer when and why he decided to get involved at the extreme level he does. (I’m talking tons of hours a week serving and sharing Jesus with underprivileged kids.) Without a second of hesitation he shared that it was at a team gathering where his wife served. He wasn’t involved at all, but he said God spoke to him through the community he was witnessing.

Our teams need this. People need this. If it helps, look at it as ministry wrapped in koinónia


Looking back on 2012, I am left amazed beyond words at what God has done through the ministries of Granger Community Church. If there’s one thing I don’t want to get lost in all of this is that very little could happen without the collective efforts of well over 2,000 volunteers. Teams of volunteers led by hundreds of leaders across the body of this church have been instrumental in accomplishing what no one would have thought possible a very short time ago.

To just run effective weekend services (52 times a year) that offer incredible arts, awesome teaching, care for students and kids, guest services that consistently rock our visitors, technical arts that are second to none and all the support ministries that accompany every weekend service so that guests have the opportunity to take steps towards Christ is a monumental accomplishment on its own. Not only here on the Granger Campus, but volunteers who minister with the same diligence throughout the region, campus wide and around the world through hundreds of your ministries.

I’ll only refer you here: 2012 Volunteer Ministry for the partial list of what has been done through this collective Body for the cause of Christ in the last year. This is Granger, Indiana, friends. Although Granger has a post office, not much would be known about this place on the planet apart from the association of a church body that has changed so many lives. This visionary church, your church, would not even be known were it not for God working through His people, on Mission to impact thousands of church leaders and countless thousands of individuals — all impacted by the ministries you serve. Just amazing.

The privilege will continue in 2013. We’ll look back, God willing, and say much of the same. Not what “we have done” but rather, “look what God has done through His people.” Look again at the lives changed, look at the stories of God’s faithfulness through your impact in this last year. Re-visit these events and look through the videos on the new and expanded website here. Explore this new site and examine for yourself what happens every week.

Look at what God is doing as His people in Granger value core principles: Love, Steps, Truth, Impact and Team. These aren’t just slogans on our windows, rather a path to fulfill our 2016 Vision. These values, as they are applied to you, your teams and your ministries, will help us to help others take their next step towards Christ. It’s been an incredible year — it’s going to be an incredible year.

Thank you for your tireless efforts, for your intentionality to serve on mission. Thank you for giving time, for putting aside self for others. There is no better definition of Love than when one serves. Thank you for leading and for your impact — much of which you don’t even know about. This could not happen without God’s purposing through you.

Your staff is honored, your church is blessed, but more than anything, Christ is being made known at all of these touch points because of the ministry of His people — you.



Allow me, if you will, to put on my Director of Volunteer Involvement hat and share a few thoughts with you that I’ve just shared with some staff members. I’ve asked them to consider again, how to build into their leaders so that those same leaders will lead with strength. Here’s how it went:

Recently, I’ve been reminded to look at a few important things to keep in front of any team leader you’ve entrusted to lead. Perhaps you’ve nailed all of these- we’ve heard them all before. Maybe this is just an exercise for me but I figured I’d send it along to let you assess how you’re doing with it too.

As for me, I’ve once again learned that there is nothing more important than keeping the vision of your ministry in front of your leaders and requiring them to keep that in front of their team-your teams. How do you do that? You have to communicate with them….and often. What do you communicate? Things like:

  • Clarify the win for your team, your ministry. Share with your leaders what really matters as they lead those God has entrusted them with. Make sure your leaders know that what they’re doing is making a difference-more importantly, make sure they communicate that to their team members
  • Communicate your expectations with your leaders so they know what’s required of them as they lead those who make your ministries a life changing force. Things like follow through, like best practices for your ministry. Develop a set of expectations for your leaders and ask how that’s going
  • Encourage your leaders, build into them so they will model the same for their team members. Set the example by sending them the notes, by calling them without an “ask,” by sharing stories of impact that happen because of their ministry, by knowing their spouse’s name or their cats name
  • Care for your leaders in their time of need, again, so they will care for their teams. Pray for them, let them know you’re praying and ask them to do the same for their team members
  • Be present for your leaders and their teams, make the time to be social and expect them to offer the same for the team they lead

As you know, I didn’t come up with this stuff, I just know that when applied, it works. You’re teams will rock when these things are happening and when a team rocks, our ministries impact will rock, and when our ministries rock, changed lives happen-not only those we intend to reach with our ministry but for team members on the journey with us.

Inside a four-week series entitled “Remix,” we took time to celebrate volunteerism at Granger Community Church.  There’s a ton of value added when we commend ministry efforts, cheer the accomplishments of our teams, remind people of the reasons we serve and, yes, cheer on the volunteers who make ministry happen.

Again this year, our Senior Pastor, Mark Beeson, handed out what he has termed Smooth Stone Awards. Based on the Old Testament story of David and Goliath, they are given out to heroes serving above and beyond in ministry. Mark does such an incredible job with these that I’ve included a clip from one of the services below.

Since “Remix” incorporated volunteerism, our leadership team thought it best to present these awards during the final week of the series. It was a great addition to the weekend message to celebrate volunteerism and recognize the vast scope of ministry within the body of this congregation.

Other elements of celebration included video testimonies from attendees and volunteers thanking other volunteers, a ministry or ministry team. What an amazing way to say thank you publicly and incorporate so many members of the body of Christ in the weekend celebration. You’ll find that video below, too.

Encouragement, testimonies and recognition of both the ministry and the people who serve in them are worth celebrating. It’s not the reason we do ministry nor is it even in the playbook. It’s a way of honoring both the people and the accomplishments that happen as darkness is pushed back and hope and light are given to a world in need.

So you might be asking yourself, “How many people took a next step and signed on the dotted line from the two weeks of Expo?” There’s still a lot to be done. Cards are still coming in and follow through will continue over the next few months.  Here’s what we do know: Over 735 people filled out a card.  Dozens have already served their first weekend and are experiencing “team” for the first time in a local church.

We’re seeing first-steps sightings across every part of the way we do church at GCC and hundreds more will join them in the coming weeks. Good things happen when people decide to do life together and when all is said and done, lives will change and people will be moved closer to Christ because of the selfless efforts of many.

Hopefully you’re more confident about trying an Expo at your church. Remember: Think it out and follow it through.

Enjoy the videos.


In my previous post, I developed the reasoning for what I believe to be the most effective way to utilize an expo. Take the time to develop the clear call for inviting people into ministry. In other words, wrap this expo around a series of messages that look at the benefits of volunteerism. Celebrate volunteerism, “show off” what gets accomplished in your church by volunteers and talk about the importance of using the gifts God gives us.  Below are a few more keys to help launch a successful expo.

Brief “ministry descriptions” prepared.

As I mentioned, we have six “big buckets” at Granger Community Church.  For instance, Guest Relations and Care is one of these six buckets. That bucket incorporates three sub-categories: Retail, Guest Services and Support. Each of those three sub categories has their own ministry teams.

We don’t want to overwhelm our guests with information, so there are only three pages of print distributed at the expo for Guest Relations and Care.  Since Guest Services is a sub-category, there is a one-page sheet of information to cover the six teams that we hope guests will consider – usher/greeters, kids check-in, traffic, bulletin assembly, campus guides, security and medical.

 Have “next step” opportunities in place.

Every guest who visits a booth, makes a decision in their seat or shows an interest online or throughout the days to come will be given a next step.  Every sub-category has a next step.  Depending on the ministry, our guests will be asked to attend an orientation where they will get a global view of the “big bucket” they’ve taken interest. This could be followed by a breakout where they might get some brief training and be scheduled for their first weekend event or opportunity.

Have an amazing follow through plan in place.

The bottom line:  Without follow through it will all come to a halt. Worse yet, you’ll loose credibility and the opportunity to connect with those whom God has prompted to get out of their seats. An entire post could be written regarding this step but I’m simply going to say this: It’s just good manors! Have well-defined “in-house” expectations and communication, then process ruthlessly how that follow through happens within your system … then follow through on the follow through!

Offer a second chance.

For a lot of people, a second week of expo will be just what’s needed to get it.  Perhaps they left the first week’s event considering it. Maybe God used that time to speak to them. Maybe they just missed the event all together! Too much work goes into these events to make it a one-shot deal. Things are already in place; give it a second chance!

 Add some service elements

Do you want to add value and capture the attention of guests you hope to engage in ministry with through your volunteer series?  Add some arts!  This will take some planning but when you add arts in conjunction with all the other expo planning, people get it.  They really do.  Below is a video that my boss and good friend, Mark Waltz hosted-and an amazing producer and friend, Ben Sanders, created. Enjoy 

Last week, I returned from the LifeServe conference in Louisville, KY. It seemed to me that since this conference was focused on the ministry I’m charged with, I thought this might be worth attending so I could learn from and connect with others about this whole “engaging” process.

Six months ago – when I investigated the conference – I discovered that my boss, Mark Waltz (the guru of Guest Services himself), would be one of the conference leaders teaching. So, it seemed only natural to make the trip with him. On a side note: His teachings were amazing! If I could have given each attendee a collection of his books, the world of Guest Services in our churches would be changed forever.

Here’s what I’ve been convinced of over the last 10 years. Granger Community Church has always been a leading force in creating a culture of volunteerism and leadership. We’ve learned from the very best around the country and have developed our share of inspiration over the years as well.

So here’s what I sought God for before leaving on our eight-hour flight to Kentucky – and if you’re doing the math, you’re realizing that there were flight issues from Northern Indiana. That may be a post for another time 🙂

I sought God for three things:

Let me gain from the wisdom of others

Allow me to speak into the lives of a few ministry attendees

Help me to leave with a few new friends in ministry.

Photo Credit: Tim Bath

God is so good. He inspired me once again from the incredible ministry and teaching of others on this journey. He spoke to me through much of what I’ve always known. He spoke to me through others as they shared insight on their strategies to engage volunteers and guests who attend their church. God allowed me the incredible privilege of sharing principles that have worked so well in our culture with others who are on the journey.

I left knowing that although I have a bunch of head knowledge when it comes to practices and principles, I have yet to go so far in the application realm. I’m grateful for that challenge and awareness. It will make me a better leader and it has encouraged me to push even harder toward obtaining goals, creating environments of growth and establishing opportunities for communicating vision to those engaged in the process with me locally.

God allowed me to meet others whom I’ve followed or have followed the path Christ has led our church leadership on for almost 25 years. These great leaders I met have a fresh vision and passion for their ministries. They refreshed me through engaging conversations and enthusiasm that could not be bridled.

Once again, I’m focused and grateful to God – the creator of the universe – who spoke into me through the Church across the country where He is at work.

I’m blessed. So blessed.

Bottom of the Ninth

Posted: July 9, 2011 in Encouragement, Heart, Team

Last Wednesday, Claudia and I had the opportunity to take her dad to see the Cubs for his 87th birthday. Our two sons and their ladies joined us for the evening adventure to the “friendly confines”. It was an amazing outcome, leaving me pondering, “how could this relate to teams of great volunteers”? I know that sounds a little strange-but this is how my mind works now days.

This was the game status when this team analogy thing hit me: the Goliath team just tied the game on their end of the ninth. It’s now a one-to-one game in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and a man on third for the home team. Pinch hitter up for the Cubs with two strikes on him (OK-it was Aramis Ramirez pinch-hitting, but go with me).

Put that suspense on hold while I give you the history of my visits. Our family visits have yet to see the Cubs lose in Wrigley. Yeah, it’s the Cubs, so we’ve come close but we’ve always “sung the song”.

Hang on tight while I take this next turn.

There’s another team I admire, that “plays” with passion in “bottom-of-the-ninth” situations. This team always comes through in the clutch whether I’m there or not; for 10 years, I’ve never seen them loose. They’ve covered each other’s back and have always come through to raise the W flag at the end of a weekend.

I’m talking about the GCC I-Mag team and though the analogy might be a stretch, it gets the point across: these players aren’t just determined to be in full force on “game day,” they’re also committed to each other. They’re winners. They strive to make the weekend experience great and, in the process, to make each other feel great about being a part of a team. This team’s strength started months before the service, before the temperature hit 90 on a rare three-day holiday.

We’ve never had anything less than a full, team presence on game day for a full decade. The I-Mag team unexpectedly went to the “bottom of the ninth with two outs” last weekend, but team players stepped up to the plate – thanks Doc, Laura and Chuck for your willingness – to keep the perfect record intact. Like so many Cubs baseball games, we’ve come close a few times but we’ve always “sung the song.”

Speaking of the Cubs, Aramis came through, we sang the song and the undefeated record is still intact. It’s hard to imagine 39,000 fans cheering and singing for a club that’s 12 games below 500. That’s a post for a sports writer…or psychologist.

Now, here’s where I hope this post comes together. When you’re able to come through in a pinch like our team did, it can probably be credited to months or years before, when the intangibles were being built into the individual team members and when those members internalized the meaning of “team.” It’s the training, the encouragement, “coming to bat” for team members when needed and never giving up, even in the bottom of the ninth. It’s knowing the vision and executing it for your guests because you know the stakes.

I salute the greatest I-Mag team on the planet for their commitment and excellence. I salute the individual volunteers (all 37 of you) on this team who have been and are willing and able to pinch hit and come through in the clutch when unforeseen circumstances strike in the 9th.

You’re my heroes.

If you’re just joining the post, you’ll need to jump back here to get the context 🙂

(Guest Services, Leaders)

Are leaders taking their role seriously to lead volunteers or is it a status thing to be the head honcho? Leading teams of people is so much more than directing and dictating information to them; it’s the empowering, encouraging, building into them, creating opportunities for community, all because they matter to God. So, are you leading?

  • As a leader, because your people matter, do your team members know you well enough to call on you when life throws that curve ball, or are they just calling you to tell you they can’t keep a commitment. Worse yet, are they just calling for a commitment?
  • Leaders, do you know the prayer concerns, the hurts of your team members and is there a time you set aside (because your people matter) to seek God on their behalf? Is seeking God on their behalf seen as a privilege by you as their leader rather than a promise to keep?
  • Leaders, if your team members don’t have the opportunity to look at your eyes as you tell them that they matter, that their ministry matters, who then will convince them that what they give up their time for is making a difference?  Who’s telling them that what they’re doing is a link in the chain to guests who have yet to understand that they matter to God? Are you communicating the wins in your ministry to the team?
  • As a leader, would you notice if a team member has been missing for a couple of months and would you know why?
  • Leaders, are you making sure that great team communications are happening? Does the team know what’s happening, what they’re celebrating and what the needs of the ministry and the teammates are?

Leaders, you have the incredible privilege to “clarify the win” to teams of your awesome volunteers. You matter to God. Your volunteers matter to God. It’s the same message just translated a little different because of your responsibilities.  Tomorrow, we’ll look at how your volunteers translate the win to the guests that we all serve because, yes, they matter to God.

For a little over a year now, I’ve had the opportunity to lead point on the Volunteer Ministries of Granger Community Church. Most recently, I’ve been asked to lead our Guest Services team here on the Granger Campus as my boss, Mark Waltz, pastors the Elkhart Campus. The good news in this second challenge is that there are some great leaders in place who’ve sat under Mark’s tutelage (did I just type that word?) for a long time.  This additional responsibility has given me reason to revisit some basic leadership teachings on team development as it relates specifically to Guest Services here at GCC.

Digging through some early goals I set a year ago, I came across a notation to apply a simple Andy Stanley principle: “Clarify the Win.” That seemed like a great place to start when developing a strategy for volunteer care and connection.  In any organization, clarifying the win is not only different because of the organization, but also accomplished differently depending on the level of one’s leadership role.

For example, let’s say that the win for the Guest Services department is communicating in such a way that people know that they matter to God. That win is accomplished and communicated at several ways and at different levels of leadership.

In Part 1 of this post, I want to look at how the staff might “clarify the win” to their volunteer leaders. Tomorrow, we’ll look at how these same volunteer leaders can then translate the win – communicating so people know they matter to God – to other volunteers who serve so faithfully on their teams. On Wednesday, I’ll explain how these same team members go about bringing value to our guests so they know that they matter to God.

(Guest Services, Staff)

  •  As staff, are we empowering and encouraging our leaders because they matter or are we doing it because we’ve got to “get it done?
  •  As staff, are we building a sense of community among those we lead because we’ve been reminded to or because our leaders matter?
  •  As staff, are we praying for our leaders to just “get it off the list” or is it because we love them and are passionate about God’s best for them?
  •  As staff, are we continually communicating (verbal and non-verbal) the importance of the individual and the ministry?  Do they know we’re there for them and available to help them accomplish ministry goals for their team members?
  • As staff, have we communicated that our leaders matter to God by having the difficult conversations when our leaders are out of alignment with God’s will for their life?
  • This one’s going to hurt: As staff, have we led the way by setting aside time when we serve others outside of when our “official” staff hat is on? Have we purposed to serve others outside of our job description- so others know they matter to God?
  • As staff, have we communicated that people matter by the way we speak with fellow staffers about others? Yep, there are conversations that have to happen at a staff level but are those conversations tendered with compassion while honoring those who serve Christ through our ministries?
  • Finally, have we, as staff, communicated that our leaders matter by giving our time to minister to them?

In closing this first of three posts, I’ll confess that I’ve had to work through all of these and have yet to master any of them.  I’m aware of them and have made great progress so that my leaders will know without a doubt that they matter to God and, therefore, they matter to me.

Tomorrow, I’ll have some questions for our leaders that will help them communicate to their team members that they matter to God.

I’ve been processing what separates teams that are great from those that are just good (sounds like a book title, I know). To say you’re on a “good” team or you’ve got a “good” team sounds bland to me. It says the team is adequate. The identifier “good” in team even implies that there are better teams outperforming the team you, only moments ago, thought so highly of.  Is that your goal?

My goal is to find and be a part of some of the best teams imaginable. But whether it’s a staff team, a sports team, a team of camera operators or ushers and greeters, what separates them from just being good? What kind of goals does that team need to have to be the best at what they do? A great team doesn’t need to be number one, or even the best; they just have the intention of getting there.

I recently spoke at Woodside Bible Church in Troy, Mich.  Steve Coyner along with his tech crew from the Image Magnification team attended the sessions because they want to take over the title of “the greatest I-Mag crew on the planet.” You can imagine their surprise when I indicated that I had the incredible privilege to be the staff representative for the “greatest I-Mag team on the planet” at Granger Community Church.

This isn’t a post on the greatest I-Mag team on the planet – although I think they are – but, rather, it’s about what sets any team apart as the greatest. In some ways, it’s talent, and in others, experience and training. Becoming the greatest certainly includes the way team members are valued and encouraged as they engage in ministry. The way teammates take ownership in the team and respond to the responsibilities of being the greatest is another significant factor.

The reality is – and I may be telling you something you already know – you can and must have components of all of the above. But if you, as the leader of any team, are not casting a compelling reason for your team to engage, your team might be “good,” but it’ll never cross over to great.

Yep, it all comes down to vision. Even though you already know that, here’s my question: Are you casting a good vision (adequate) or are you casting great vision to inspire a great team? Do team members arrive fired up because they know they have the opportunity to help change lives because of their ministry?  Do they know that it’s even ministry? Do team members have the “mission from God” attitude? (That just sounds like vision)

As a leader, ask yourself this question: Are team members doing what they do out of obligation, compulsion or guilt, or do they have a passion to serve based on a compelling vision that’s been given to them?

As you communicate, add great vision to the equation and you will lead great teams.