Blog Archives

Easter, Word of Mouth and the Invite Card

Invite at Easter

At Easter - Word of Mouth is Still the Best Invite Tool

I came across this article by Executive Pastors Online, and it truly could have been written by someone here at South Hills

The #1 Cause Of Church Growth

Over our almost 12 year history, we’ve had the following measure in place: How Did You Find Out About CCV?

You would think our website, visibility from the major highway running through our target area, or direct mail advertising would be The #1 Cause Of Church Growth. Nope. Not even close.

Are you familiar with the use of Pareto Analysis as part of any continuous improvement process? I know, it sounds technical! It’s pretty basic, though. It’s a bar graph, arranged from highest bar to lowest bar. The purpose of the analysis is to determine and illustrate the “highest contributing cause” of something. In this case the graph shows the highest contributing cause of church growth.

By far and away it’s “Invited By A Friend Or Family Member.” Surprised? Sometimes I think we underestimate the significance of “a person with skin on them” personally inviting their friend or family member to church.

OK. So now what? What do we do with this knowledge? The first step is understanding that the people who are attending our churches are our best tool for growing our church. Now, we must do a number of things to equip them and help them succeed.

First, we must put a service together that our people wouldn’t be embarrassed about asking someone to attend. In addition, we must create a warm and welcoming environment. The list is long and requires us to re-think everything about our churches. And, in most cases the stuff we must do is difficult and takes a significant amount of time to get in place.

But there’s one thing we can do that’s pretty easy. The Invite Card. Yes, it’s a simple business card sized tool that we can print for our people that equips them to simply hand someone a card that provides the needed information. Here’s an example:

CCV Easter Invite Card Front The #1 Cause Of Church Growth
CCV Easter Invite Card Back The #1 Cause Of Church Growth
We print a whole bunch of these cards and hand them out at church services for several weeks leading up to Easter. It’s that simple.

The Invite Card we have at South Hills for Easter looks like this…

Easter invite cardEaster invite
We also have coordinating invites for Good Friday and  our community Easter Egg Hunt. We create invite cards or flyers for nearly every new sermon series and special event. It is just a simple way for people to invite friend, family, or the person they just met to come to church. It is also helpful that they have all of the details such as service times right there on the card.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


80% of people surveyed said they would attend church if invited. – Barna Research


Kidmin Take Over!

Kidmin Children's church

Kid Nation at South Hill's Church

For the past two weekends our Children’s Ministry (Kidmin) has taken over our church…and it has been fantastic.  Last weekend Pastor Justyn Smith and his team took over our extended campus and this weekend they took over the main campus. From the Kid’s worship team leading songs with bubbles and confetti, to Pastor Jesse and the comedic antics of Cowboy Curley Joe bringing the point home. From the story telling sound effects of  Timmy to the powerful message from Justyn… it was truly amazing!

Why would we do that? Why would we allow the Children’s Ministry to take over the main service. The primary reason… Kids are important! Very important!  The two secondary reasons are one, to highlight what an amazing Kidmin team we have, and to allow everyone to see what their kids get to experience every week. Second, volunteer recruitment. When people see what an amazing ministry this is, and how exciting and rewarding it is to help in that area, they are much more likely to come on board than with the typical “sign up table” or announcement in the bulletin.

I know what many of you are thinking “that’s great for you, but we don’t have those kinds of resources.” Even if you are at a smaller church, you can still have a fantastic Children’s Ministry. There are great resources available too, if you just know where to look. Join a Celera Kidmin group, check out the blogs of the Kidmin Coaches, many of them have free resources and great ideas. Kidmin should never be an after thought, it should be at the top of the list. When a Children’s Ministry is strong healthy and growing, then chances are much better that your church is strong, healthy and growing.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God!”

-Dwight L. Moody

Growing with Multiple Church Sites

satellite church campus

Satellite locations can be a great way to expand your church

There are many great reasons for using a multi-site approach when it comes to church growth.  Satellite campuses can be a great way to plant a church in a new community without starting completely from scratch. Satellite campus are also a great way to expand when you have outgrown your main church campus. For example, at South Hills we were maxed out in our Sunday services, so we launched a satellite campus at a local high school.

There are also many ways to conduct a satellite campus. Currently, the high school is close enough that we staggered our service times, and I speak at both locations.  When our satellite location was further away, we recorded the message given at our Saturday evening service, and that was shown at the satellite on Sunday morning.  Mark Batterson has been a forerunner in the multi-site church approach, and I have included some incites from his blog regarding the why and how his church approaches the multi-site model.

Multi-Site Model

We continue the Gospel series this weekend. All of our campus pastors are teaching live! Two of them are teaching for the first time at NCC!

In our multi-site model, we have have one teacher each weekend. We have 3-4 live messages and 6-7 video messages. I preach about 36 times per year. Joel Schmidgall and Heather Zempel, our Executive Pastor and Discipleship Pastor, form our teaching team and they teach about 10-12 times times collectively. And our Campus Pastors teach live once a quarter. We honestly don’t have many guests speakers, though we do try to get my friend and mentor, Dick Foth, in the pulpit whenever he is in town. In fact, he is an ad hoc member of our teaching team.

For what it’s worth, I used to teach 48-50 times per year in the early days, but I didn’t feel like it was a sustainable pace for me because of my various callings and commitments. I also think it’s valuable for our congregation to hear different voices. A teaching team is more stereophonic.

Your Responsiblity = Their Opportunity

I think one role of leadership is creating opportunities for others. If you do everything yourself, your potential is limited to your abilities. I know that sounds obvious, but the obvious eludes us! If you’re doing things that others can do 80% as well as you can, then you are not just wasting your time. You are wasting other’s gifts! Think of it this way: your responsibility = someone else’s opportunity!

If you learn to unleash others and create opportunities for them to step into their gifts, then your potential for impact multiplies exponentially. That’s one reason I love multi-site. It forces us to raise us six times as many people to use their gifts.

I think today was such a great example of that principle. Mike Whitford, our new campus pastor at Ebenezers, preached for the first time. Kurtis Parks, our new campus pastor at our Potomac Yard location, preached for the first time. And Travis Mason, a new NCC protege, led worship for the first time. So proud of them. Few things are as emotionally rewarding to me as seeing people step into their gifts with holy confidence and letting God use them!

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.

-Andrew Carnegie

Mixing it up…”Electric Guitars and The Apostle’s Creed”

apostle's creed church growth

Sometimes we need to switch things up in our weekend services

When was the last time you and your team stopped to ask, “why do we do what we do in our weekend services? Is what we are doing effective at reaching the community, or is it only appealing those who have been here for ages? Do we have traditions that we preform week after week just because we always have? Is our music relevant? Is it dated, is it too loud (loud does not automatically equal good)?”

Don’t get me wrong, traditions are not automatically a bad thing. Older music, loud music, no music, drama, dance, congregational readings, none of these things are good or bad. My point is this, if what you are doing in your services is truly effective at reaching your community as well as feeding those who already attend… great! If not, maybe it is time to change some things. And sometimes you just need to switch things up in order to let some fresh air in.

Following is a recent blog entry from Mark Batterson, (lead pastor at one of the healthiest, fastest growing churches on the planet) regarding this very thing.

Electric Guitars & The Apostle’s Creed

We continued the Sabotage series this weekend. Talking about heresy. I thought you’d enjoy a study I cited. Churches founded before 1945 are more likely to recite creeds as part of worship. That isn’t surprising. But here is the part of the study I loved. Researchers found an inverse proportion between churches that use creeds and those who have electric guitars in their worship bands. We broke the trend this week by reciting the Apostle’s Creed together.

We’re always trying to mix it up and disrupt the routine. We did that this weekend by going into communion with a contemplative reading that was on the screen and coming out of communion reciting the Apostle’s Creed. Pretty cool to hear people not just recite it from left-brain memory but proclaim it because they believe it.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.

– Gail Sheely

Inspiring Creativity from Your Team

Throwing Ideas

Get your team together and throw some creative ideas around!

Your team is a lot more creative than you give them credit for.  As a matter of fact, you are probably a lot more creative than you give “yourself” credit for.  Most of the time we do not realize our creative potential because we never take the time to truly be creative.  We rarely set aside a few hours with our staff, key leaders or team and simply “create.”  Stand in an empty room with a white board and say “what could we do that we are not doing now?”

One of the greatest joys I have is when I get to create with my staff.  When we begin to brainstorm and let ideas flow.  The process is thrilling as I watch my team begin to create, think differently and come up with ideas that have never been exercised in our organization.  A free flowing environment is a joy to be in and to lead. One of the greatest things you can do is to begin hosting monthly creative meetings, where you and your team are allowed to create in a non-threatening strategy session.  But if you are going to have these kinds of meetings you will need to have the following “rules of engagement” in order.  These rules are adapted by Craig Wilson from his talk on “Recapturing your creative spirit.”

1)  No blocking
When your team is having a creative strategy session there can be “no blocking.”  This simply means that you cannot continually put up roadblocks for the other person’s idea.  For instance if someone says “Lets do this or that.”  You don’t say “Where will we get the money or we don’t have the personnel.”  That is critical thinking and that is a step you take later.  Let people flow with ideas and don’t block them with reasons “why” it won’t work.

2)  Yes and…
When someone is flowing with ideas help the idea to grow by saying “yes and…”  In other words if you were working on putting together a banquet and someone had an idea, instead of blocking their idea say “yes and…we could also do this.”  When you use the principle of “yes and…”it helps to initiate creative momentum.

3)  More ideas
Take your ideas and have your team write them down on small post-its and put them all over the walls.  This will allow people to see the ideas that are flowing.  But once you have begun working on ideas, don’t stop; come up with even more ideas.  Often people get into a box and they begin to think only in beige.  The people on your team need to think in color.  As I said earlier, “your team is a lot more creative then you think.”

4)  Wild ideas
These are the kind of ideas that are almost embarrassing to speak out loud.  But they may be the ideas that your team needs to hear.  Encourage the people in the meeting that everyone has to be open about every wild idea.  You need the kind of ideas that others have thought before but were too afraid to voice.  Help your team to see the value of these crazy and wild ideas.

5)  Critical thinking
This is where you begin to take all the ideas that have been voiced by the team and begin to work them out into a plan of action.  The thing you will notice is that you don’t need to say “this idea won’t work,” or “that was a dumb idea.”  You won’t need to say this, because the team will just naturally begin to discuss the ideas that resonate in each of their hearts.  The process of elimination will happen without you having to push for it.

Why don’t you schedule a time with your team right now.  Set aside a couple of hours and work on a project together or some goals for the future.  Have a big white board to write on and a pad of post-its for everyone.  Let them begin to write ideas out, place them on the wall and let the creative session get big and wild.  You will have a blast and your team will begin to realize their creative potential.  The end result will be that the floor of beige will open up in your organization and loud, vibrant colors of creativity will come bursting through.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“Creativity is a lot like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. You look at a set of elements, the same ones everyone else sees, but then reassemble those floating bits and pieces into an enticing new possibility. Effective leaders are able to shake up their thinking as though their brains are kaleidoscopes, permitting an array of different patterns out of the same bits of reality.” –  Rosabeth Moss Kanter

The Importance of Having a Good Website

Good Website for church growth

Realize the potential of a good website

Early in the life of South Hills we realized the need to have a good website, and as our church has grown, so has our website adapted to meet our needs.  Our website is a priority to us at both South Hills and Celera Group, as a website will often be someones first impression of your organization.  If you have a poor web presence (or none at all) it could be a huge detriment to your church.  The following is an excerpt from an article found at I encourage you to visit their website, as you will find much more detailed information there.

Making church sites into evangelistic tools

1.Most church websites are designed entirely for their members, or unwittingly exclude non-Christians because of their choice of language and content.
2.A good church site must communicate with three very different target groups:
3.This ‘three-way stretch’ is a challenge, but can be achieved.
4.Take time to consider the needs and viewpoints of non-Christians.
5.Avoid all ‘churchy’ jargon and ‘Christianese’ language throughout the site, especially on the homepage.
6.Non-Christians may have negative images of Christians: boring, killjoys, judgmental, etc.
7.Christian outreach often fails because Christians do ‘megaphone proclamation’ from behind the protecting walls of their ‘ghetto’.
8.A primary task of the website is to convince non-Christians of these four things:
9.Do not think of your church site in isolation, merely as a stand-alone online brochure.
10.Church is people: the home page should have at least one photo of a church member. This is absolutely foundational to good communication, yet infrequently done.
11.Internal pages on the site can include photos of both outside and inside of the church building.
12.Include some ‘meet our members’ pages.
13.All links, page titles, and sub-headings should sound enticing.
14.If testimonies are used, they should be completely free of religious jargon, exaggeration and sentimentality.
15.Consider a ‘New to this site?’ visitors link on your homepage. This enables you to offer a particular welcome to an outsider.
16.Games and fun stuff are attractive and make a site sticky.
17.Consider adding some ‘bridging’ pages to the site.
18.Involve your church members in praying and supporting the web design team, and ‘owning’ the site.
19.Demonstrate a specific welcome for people with disability.
20.Summing up: the overall impression of the site must of a gentle, loving, enticing welcome. But…
21.Sadly, it is this issue of welcome and assimilation that frequently breaks down.
22.The context of your country, area and culture may lead you to apply these principles in different ways.
23.Church websites are not the only form of web evangelism.


24.Your church site will be the first point of contact for many people in your community. First impressions count.
25.Do not place too much information on your homepage.
26.And all important information should be ‘above the fold’.
27.Avoid ‘churchy’ graphics – open Bibles, stained glass windows, doves, candles. And appeals for money.
28.Use at least one graphic of a person’s face on the homepage.
29.A 3-column layout is often the most suitable for a church site.
30.Never use an introductory ‘splash page’.
31.Every page should display the same overall appearance, with the same navigation options in the same place.
32.All links, menu options and buttons should be clearly identified as ‘active’ – they should change color when hovered.
33.If you use Javeascript for any effects, ensure everything on the site still works for those with Javascript disabled.
34.Don’t use frames for site design.
35.Learn how to use ‘include’ files – a great time-saver.
36.Also learn how to use CSS.
37.Use colors correctly: understand how to choose a color scheme, how colors relate to each other, and what mood they communicate.
38.Don’t use patterned graphic backgrounds behind body text.
39.Consider a ‘liquid’ page design: the content should flow naturally and fit together, at any screen resolution (i.e. size of the monitor screen measured in pixels) or reasonable font resize by a user.
40.And don’t put ‘best viewed at resolution’ or ‘best viewed in browser Y’ on your website.
41.Don’t include ‘mailto’ email addresses in plain coding on the site.
42.Your site need not be large or complex.
43.Don’t leave out-of-date content online.
44.Use several people to proof-read for typos and poor grammar.
45.Make your pages printer-friendly.
46.Take time to assess your target audience, their interests, needs and circumstances.
47.Not least, pray – both for planning and implementation.

Your church webmaster/team

48.A church webmaster or team needs a clear job description.
49.What if there is no-one technical in your church, to take on the webmaster role? You can use a pre-designed template system. These also answer the problem of what to do if the only technical person in the church moves on, leaving a website that no-one really knows how to update. Follow ‘Extra’ for a listing of providers and how to assess the features they offer.
50.A larger church site can benefit from ‘CMS’ – Content Manegment which enables multiple users to keep the site updated.
51.Learn from others. Help is only a mouse-click away.


52.For normal body text, use black font on a white or near-white background.
53.Do not used fixed font size in your coding.

54.Therefore make all font sizes relative, so that users can resize text if they wish.
55.Choice of fonts is important. The Verdana font is designed for computer monitors, and is widely perceived as the most readable for body text.
56.Understand how to make your site user-friendly to color-blind and visually-impaired visitors.
57.Test your site from a technical viewpoint in different browsers, and at different screen resolutions.
58.Also test your site with real first-time users. Remember, you know your site backwards. They do not.
59.Find non-Christians to critique your site. Yes, non-Christians! They are your primary target audience.

Navigation and usability

60.Good navigation allows a first-time non-technical visitor to move round your site easily.
61.Good navigation gives visitors constant clues to fulfill the vital requirements: ‘Where am I, where have I been, and where can I go’. Many websites, of all types, fail to be effective because they lack a good intuitive navigation system.

62.Do not offer too many links in your navigation menu.

63.You can use ‘paper prototyping’ to plan different ways of structuring links within the site.]
64.Make sure your pages download quickly.
Being found – online and physically
65.The title tages  in the head of your homepage, which should contain the full name of the church, plus town, state and country.
66.Your church name, street, town, area/state, country and phone number should also appear in unabbreviated form in a small font in the footer of your homepage (or preferably every page).
67.Submit your church site to main search engines and secular directories.
68.Make every page of your site a logical entry point to your site.
69.Framed Pages present problems to being listed in search engines.

70.Ensure the church URL is easy to remember. Take every opportunity to give it a high profile.

71.Make full use of press releases to local newspapers and radio stations. These should always include your URL. Larger churches can consider publishing regular news using an ‘RSS’ feed.

72.Include clear directions for finding the church. Give details of parking, public transport links, and a map.

Responding to emails

73.Ensure that every day, someone reads incoming emails to the church.
74.Some people may be emailing for help on serious life issues.
75.It need not necessarily be the pastor or pastor’s secretary that does this, especially out of hours.

One last thought… A good website does not have to cost a fortune. A good website can be very simple,and there are great website templates out there, and designers who will give a church a break. Remember, since it is the web, you don’t have to limit yourself to designers in your area.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“Visitors are increasingly checking out churches online before walking into a service.”
– Tom Harper of

Connecting to Your Church through Social Media


Facebook and Other Social Networking Tools are Great Resources.

In today’s world we have so many amazing technologies at our fingertips to help in growing our churches and staying connected to those already attending our church.  My church (South Hills), Celera Group, and myself are all staying connected with people via Twitter, and Facebook. There are other great ways to get and stay connected such as Yahoo groups and blogs. Following is an article written by Bob Mayfield called “Facebook and Sunday School” found at The principles here can easily be applied to a small group scenario or even to your church as a whole.

Facebook and Sunday School

Years ago, Bible study leaders discovered a new way to connect with the people in their class… the telephone! Yes, Bible study leaders discovered that they could call every single person in their class in about one evening if they wanted to. They might receive a prayer request from a group member, and then call the rest of their group to share the request. A teacher could contact absentees to see how they were doing. The telephone became a vital part of Sunday School ministry.
Today, another powerful method of communication exists. The tool is the internet and one of the fastest growing ways to contact others and stay in contact is through a social network, specifically Facebook. I am going to take few moments and encourage you to seriously consider using this tool to connect the people in your class. We will also look at some practical ways to use Facebook in your group’s ministry.
How can Facebook help your class or small group? First, it provides a central point where people can go for information. Have a fellowship this Friday and a class member has forgotten what time it starts? Go to your group’s Facebook page and look it up. A Facebook page can be a great place just to put information about your group.
Use Facebook to help you teach the Bible. Do you want your group to do some study or some work before this week’s lesson? Put your questions or requests on your group’s Facebook profile. Perhaps you want the group to follow-up on this week’s study. You can post follow-up assignments on Facebook. You can post some preview information about the week’s study so that your group will be better prepared. Bible memory verses can be shared with your group too.
Post discussion questions on Facebook. You might want to generate some discussion about a particular topic. Post the question and then let your class members interact with it during the week. The people in your group will not only interact with your question, they will also interact with each other’s responses.
Post prayer requests. Using some reasonable restraints, you can post some prayer requests and also answered requests on Facebook. A class member who has been unemployed has found a job. He can put that answered prayer on the group’s profile himself! A parent of another member that the class has been praying for made a profession of faith in Christ! That member can share this great news and answered prayer with the entire group with just one post.
Email everyone in the class at once. A feature of Facebook is the ability to email all of your members with one simple email. Reminders about the upcoming class breakfast before Sunday School can be sent, as well as other needs or reminders. The emails you send are not part of your group’s public profile, so non-group members cannot see them.
Write on your wall or in your group’s discussion box some encouraging notes, meaningful Bible verses, etc.
You can choose if you want your group to be open, public, or closed. Which you choose is determined by how you want to use Facebook. An open group let’s anyone post on the discussion board. A public group lets others view the group’s posts, but only members can write a post. A closed or private group means that only group members can view or write on the group’s profile. If you want to use Facebook as an evangelism tool, obviously the private option is not the best.
Facebook is not perfect, but neither is the telephone. Facebook can be a powerful tool to help you quickly communicate with your group and also provide a way for them to network with each other. By the way, although Facebook is heavily used by young adults, research is showing that the largest growing segment of users on Facebook is women, ages 55-65!
An essential thing for you to remember: if you really want to use Facebook to help network your group, then you must make posts on it frequently and often. The more you use it and refer your group members to Facebook, the more valuable it will become.
A great e-book that you can download for free is: Facebook for Pastors. Yes, it is written to pastors but you can peruse this e-book and learn how Facebook works and also some practical ideas about how to use it.

Until Next Time,

Chris Sonksen


“The best ideas are common property.”
– Seneca (5 BC – 65 AD)

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing – part 2

Build Creative Teams

Build Creative Teams

As I pointed out in part one of “Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing,” weekend services are where your vision comes to life, team efforts are seen, are catalysts to life change, and the a weekend service is usually a visitor’s first impression of the church.  Creativity is often the missing piece in making predictable weekend services memorable, inspirational and impactful.  I know this can seem like a huge overwhelming task…


Some of the benefits of creative teams are they:

a) Make you better than you are
b) Keep you from getting in a rut
c) Reduce stress
d) Reduce your work load
e) Multiply your talent base
f) Give you greater buy in
g) Expand your knowledge of the audience

Two teams you can build to help keep your services creative are:

Team #1 – Teaching Team

Purpose:  To create the monthly themes for each weekend series and the
outlines for each week’s service.  They assist in providing illustrations,
examples, scriptural insight and creativity.

Participants:  Lead Pastor, few key staff/leaders – size of team can vary from 3-5

Step 1 – Mapping out the year

·3-4 months prior to the coming new year the team will meet for prayer and discussion on monthly themes for the following year.
·There will be several meetings before the themes are finally decided
·Various themes become staples for the following year.  (Family Month, Spiritual Emphasis, Vision, etc…)
·The goal is not to create working titles, but general themes.

Step 2 – Mapping out the month

·The Teaching Team meets once a month, to create series titles.  (including titles for overall series and weekend titles)
·The Team works approximately 2 months in advance (this is necessary to help programming team in creating elements for the service)
·These meetings include the Programming Director and the Graphics Director (this allows them to gain insight for the series which helps the Programming Director prepare and the Graphics Director for branding)

Step 3 – Mapping out the weekend

·The Teaching Team meets approximately 10-12 days prior to the weekend services
·The meetings last approximately 2 hours and are held weekly
·The purpose of these meetings are to create the actual outline of the weekend service.
·The team provides scriptural insight, creative illustrations for the message, quotes, examples or anything that will enhance the message for the person communicating that weekend.

Team # 2 – Programming Team

Purpose:  The purpose of the Programming Team is to create and design the elements of the services.  Their responsibility is to enhance the overall experience that the audience has when attending a weekend service.

Size of group:  6-10 (take caution in making it too big)

Programming Team process:

·The Programming Director takes notes from the “Mapping out the Month” meeting and distributes them to the Programming Team.
·Individuals from the Programming Team are asked to come with 2-3 ideas for the services based on the themes.
·The Programming Team will meet 6 weeks prior to the start of the new series for the purpose of creativity.
·Ideas from the teams will include:  special songs, staging, branding, videos, dramas, life change videos, life change moments, and illustrations
·A white board is used a lot in these meetings.  The 4-5 week series is divided on the board and the ideas are placed in each week as they are presented.
·After all ideas are given, the team begins to narrow down the best ideas.
·Assignments are given out and the Program Director follows up with each person as the weekends approach to assure completion of the assignment

Programming sub/review team:
·Smaller group of the programming team meets each week.
·Team reviews the elements and services from the week prior
·Programming director reviews plans for the upcoming 2-3 weeks to assure we are on schedule for the upcoming services.

Pre and Post service process:
·Programming Director meets with those involved in service (sound, lighting, stage hands, worship team, drama team, anyone speaking from the platform)
·Meeting lasts 5-7 minutes
·Purpose of the meeting is to review plans for the service that is about to happen to make sure all bases are covered.
·This meeting happens before the first weekend service
·Immediately following the first service of the weekend 4-6 people (Tech Director, Program Director, Drama Director, Stage Hand Director and anyone speaking from the microphone) meet to review the service and make any last minute changes for the upcoming services.

With minor adjustments, these teams can work for any size church. While some of the specifics may change the principle will remain the same. Here’s how:

a)Find the most creative people you can (it’s ok if 1-2 of them don’t go to your  church)
b)Be flexible with the schedule (nights, mornings, weekends)
c)Be prepared (don’t waste their time)
d)Let the directors have ownership
e)Get the system in place (difficult up front, but will make life easier)
f)Start somewhere…but start
g)Have a lot of fun

Finally, you must remove your excuses. Excuses such as, “adding creative elements is too expensive.”  “There are not enough creative people around me.” “I/we don’t have enough time.”  I don’t work that far in advance.”  “The facilities we are in won’t work for creativity.”  Make a commitment to look for solutions to challenges and not give in to them. The ability to connect with your audience and have greater impact is too important to let these or any other excuses stand in the way of  having creative, inspirational services.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen

“Creativity, as has been said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know. Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.”
— George Kneller

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing – Part 1

Creativity is needed for a successful weekend service

Creativity is needed for a successful weekend service

In order for any church to be a healthy, thriving body, especially if your focus is church growth, you must keep “the main thing the main thing.” What is the main thing? In any church, the main “thing” is Weekend Services! Your weekend services are where your vision comes to life, team efforts are seen, and they are catalysts to life change. And in terms of evangelism a weekend service is usually a visitor’s first impression of the church. It has been said, “In the NFL there is one Super Bowl per year…in the church life there are 52 per year.” The problem is that we often treat the major thing as the minor thing. We think of the weekend services as business as usual. Therefore, there is often very little sermon prep. The planning is frequently last minute.  The services often lack creativity, and are predictable.  Following are some of the excuses I have been given for not having more creative and interesting services.
• I’m not very creative
• No one in our church is creative 
• I don’t have a staff to work with
• Can’t afford to be creative
• Creative services inhibit the moving of the Holy Spirit
 Now consider this… God made you as a creative being. God invented creativity. Jesus modeled creativity, and the Spirit empowers creativity.  If this is true, what is the real reason why we don’t have creative services? Some of the reasons and/or excuses I have encountered are…
a)   The planning takes too long
b)  Brings us out of our comfort zone
c)   Failure to see the value
d)  Too much work
Now that you are beginning to embrace your creative side, here are a few general suggestions regarding how to increase your creativeness in various areas of your services.
1. Creative Worship
• Life Change video
• Baptism
• Reading of a life change story
• Video images
• Utilize special music with creativity
• Dance

FACT:  Worship can be more than 3-5 songs week after week

2. Creative Communication  – the sermon
• Always ask: “What does the listener need to know and what do they need to do?”
• Less is more (try to find one driving theme)
• Use creative illustrations
• Stay fresh
• Give a good balance (spiritual depth, Bible, relevancy)
“If better is possible then good is not enough”
 3. Creative Elements

• Videos
• Special Song
• Interaction moments
• Drama
Before you start to feel overwhelmed, keep in mind that this is not and should not be all up to you.  You will need a team to help you in this process.  In part 2 we will discuss how to create that team and how to work with the team effectively.


Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have.”
 Maya Angelou

What every staff member wants from their leader – Part 1

If there is high morale among staff then high productivity is more likely.

If there is high morale among staff, then high productivity is more likely.

If you want to know the temperature of your organization you need not look any farther then your staff.  They set the climate for all those involved.  They are the pacesetters, the producers and the directors of your organization.  Success or failure rests on their shoulders.

If there is a spirit of harmony and high morale among the staff then there is likely to be a high volume of productivity.  If there is tension among the staff, division in the ranks or a lack of trust from staff member to leader then productivity and morale will inevitably be low.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. once said “I have long been profoundly convinced that in the very nature of things, employers and employees are partners, not enemies; that in the long run the success of each is dependent upon the success of the other.”  Knowing that your success as a leader is dependent on the success of your staff, here are some thoughts to help you understand what your staff wants from you.

1)  Your staff wants to be treated as leaders with high value and potential, not as “hired hands.”
The hired hand mentality is based on the premise of exchanging time for a paycheck, but if that is your mentality that is all you will get.  If you want a staff member who is loyal, committed and ready to win, you will need to treat them with value and respect.

2)  Your staff wants a commitment to “adult-adult”, open and mature communication.
Good communication is done with the heart as much as with the ears and mouth.  Communicate in such a way that expresses compassion and concern.  Refuse to be a dictator, who barks out commands expecting people to jump.  This intimidation produces shallow faithfulness to the leader and the organization.

3)  Your staff wants clear expectations.
Nothing is more frustrating for a staff member then unclear expectations.  They need to know what you expect from them or they will never know if they are hitting the mark.  Write out clear expectations and go over them together.  Review these expectations frequently, evaluating their progress along the way.

4)  Your staff wants to be rewarded for their work.
What gets rewarded – gets done.  It doesn’t always have to be money (though most of your staff wouldn’t complain) it might be something else.  It could be recognition publicly, affirmation privately or a few days off with pay.  Don’t be so “in the box” get creative and find out ways to reward your staff for any size job well done.

5)  Your staff wants training for personal and professional growth.
Whenever you make deposits into your staff members lives you will always reap a great reward.  It may cost time and money but it will be worth it.  Your staff will be better equipped to serve by your side and you will have displayed to them their value.  Invest in your staff, send them to seminars, buy them books, copy articles, do anything you can to resource the people of your staff.

Until Next Time,

Chris Sonksen


“People don’t want to be managed.  They want to be led.
Whoever heard of a world manager?”
– From an article published by : United Technologies Corporation