I’m Closing The Church Ninja Store

The title of this post is not a joke.

Yes, I’m closing the Church Ninja store.

Why?

Simply, because leading a growing church is taking too much time and I want to focus on coaching pastors in our coaching programs.

When I started Church Ninja 7 years ago, all I did was create resources for the store and it was great.

What I’ve noticed is that Pastors want face-time and not just content.

We still give tons of content in our coaching programs, but it’s coupled with done-for-you resources and one-on-one coaching to help implement the strategies.

So for that reason I’m going to close the Church Ninja store.

But…

If you’re interested in picking up a resource or 2 or 3 before the store closes, now is the time.

I’m going to be “turning off the lights” in May, so pick up the resources you want before it’s done.

In fact, here’s a coupon code to get 30% off any resource in the store. The code is churchninja30

Add that code during check out and the discount will apply.

Here’s a direct link to the Church Ninja Store.

Even though the store will be closing, I am more committed than ever to invest in pastors and help them succeed and reach more people.

We will still be doing a couple of events each year and offering our coaching programs for churches that want to break 200, 500, or 1000 in attendance.

Enjoy!

P.S. Believe it or not, it’s takes a few days to close a online store. So if you ant to grab a few resources before they are gone, now’s the time. Here’s the link. Remember to use the code churchninja30

Why Churches Stay Small (and Never Break 200)

This year Calvary, the church I pastor, was named the 5th fastest growing church in the United States by Outreach Magazine. There was lots of clapping by our congregation, congratulations by ministry colleagues, and even a cake from my staff. However, I remember when Calvary was a struggling church of 50 trying to reach people and get into triple digits. Over the last year I’ve been many times to explain how Calvary went from a church that reached new few people to a vibrant congregation. However, that’s not the real question people are asking. They want to know how their church can start growing and reaching people.

As I’ve coached more than 2,500 pastors in the last 4 years, I can say that the path to breaking the 200 barrier in attendance isn’t difficult. However, it takes courage to do things that are next to impossible in some church settings. But for those who wish to make the bold decisions needed to reach people far from God, I believe there are 5 reasons churches don’t break 200 in attendance….

#1 – There’s No Bigger Vision Beyond Current Circumstances

A few years ago I was consulting with a church that wanted to break 200. I arrived at the church and found a sanctuary which sat only 100 people. While they were doing 2 services on Sunday, the church could not exceed 200. The diagnosis was easy. The remedy was far more difficult. The church needed to move so they could keep growing. This is why churches need to be careful when picking meeting space early on and building auditoriums later on. If you aren’t careful, the shoe will tell the foot how big it can grow. If you want our church to grow beyond your current size, there needs to be a God-sized vision, not a survival mode mentality.

#2 – There’s No Commitment to Reproduce Leaders

I tell our leaders at Calvary that you cannot build a 20 story building on a 10 story foundation. That means, for the church to further grow, we need to continue investing in leaders at every level of the organization. Everyone who serves at Calvary receives investment. The individual’s level of commitment determines what level of investment they receive. The reason is because we want to give the most training and time to those who are the most committed. Churches who want to grow beyond 200 can start this today. Gather a group of leaders and potential leaders and start investing in them. Do some teaching. Read a book together. Rub shoulders with them. Investing in leaders always returns a huge dividend.

#3 – There’s No Strategy to Reach the Community 

Growing churches know that the community isn’t going to just come to them. Churches need to get out in the community and start serving, inviting, and sharing the Gospel. Churches also need to recognize that they need unique strategies to reach those who have friends who at you church versus those who have no idea your church exists. Obviously, word of mouth costs nothing and servant evangelism costs next to nothing. So if you can’t spend money on postcards, billboards, or Facebook ads, do the things that don’t cost anything. We do an entire module in our Breaking 200 course about the Bootstrapper’s Guide to Church Outreach.

#4 – There’s No Commitment to Excellence on Sunday

Too many pastors are putting together their sermons on Saturday night and wondering why the service on Sunday doesn’t run on all 8-cylinders. I tell pastors to make an appointment with themselves during the week to study and get Sunday’s message ready. Because here’s the reality: people are judging your church based on the Sunday experience. You can have exceptional small groups, but no one will get that far unless Sunday grips them. Pastors need to understand that their greatest contribution to the church comes in the form of casting vision and preaching. I want people who attend Calvary to have the best experience possible on Sunday because that is where they are making decisions to stay or go.

#5 – There’s No Glue to Keep Those You Reach

There are few things more frustrating than reaching people through the front door and seeing them walk out the back door because there’s no process to help them stick. Unchurched people don’t know the drill when it comes to church. They attend, enjoy the service, but it’s up to us as church leaders to help them their next steps with God. That means we need to make these steps easy and strategic. That means we need to follow up with those who God brings to us. I have long said that the greatest stewardship we are given is the stewardship of people. Treat people like the gifts they are. Help them grow. Crete a process that leads them from infancy in Christ to maturity. When you do, breaking 200 won’t be a problem for very long.

“Can You Teach Through the Bible and Reach the Unchurched?”

“Bob, can you talk about how you teach through the Bible and still reach unchurched people?”

I get this question pretty regularly. The reason is, many guys who teach the Bible verse by verse aren’t interested in reaching people far from God. On the other hand, a majority of the Pastors who take evangelism primarily teach topically and believe this is the best way to reach unchurched people.

This question hits on 2 things that are very important to me:

1. Preaching verse by verse through the Bible

2. Reaching people far from God

By answering this question I have to deal with a misconception: that expositional preaching is primarily a tool to reach believers and topical/ felt need preaching is what reaches unchurched people.

I don’t buy this idea at all. I am thankful to the Lord that we’ve seen close to 1,000 new believers at Calvary in the last year and the whole time we’ve seen preaching through books of the Bible (including Ephesians and Judges).

The key to teaching expositionally that connects with unchurched people is to teach with a point. Working through a section of Scripture, explaining the meaning and giving relevant application.

I believe expositional teachers have an advantage over primarily topical teachers: unchurched people sit and watch us work through a chunk of Scripture and they say, “That’s what the Bible says.”

The purely topical teacher hops around and pulls a random verse here and there and the unchurched person wonders if that’s what those verses really mean because they aren’t in context.

Obviously, I’m making generalities but the point is that teaching through a chapter or paragraph of Scripture assures the listener that there’s no “funny business” happening with the text as it’s being preached.

Once again, I know there’s guys who live and die by topical preaching and to them I say, “God bless you. Do what God has led you to do.”

For me, I am sold on teaching the Scriptures verse by verse (although I believe there are topics that are better handled in a topical manner) because it’s the best way to disciple a congregation. Plus, it’s a great way to reach unchurched people who are skeptical about the Bible.

More thoughts on this later this week…

 

Sunday Stuff (Week After Easter Edition)

Here’s my week in review post (and a recap of Sunday)…

– Solid Sunday at Calvary.

– Lots of new faces and lots of people making decisions today during the invitation.

– I’m loving this “Faith, Hope, and Love” series that we’re in. When you teach on love, you’ll never run out of material.

– I’ll be teaching this series until we move into our building.

– Speaking of our building, the May 3rd Grand Opening isn’t happening. It’s going to happen sometime in May, but the 1st week won’t be it.

– One of the biggest challenges for me in this entire building project has been moments where I feel completely out of control. I know that I’m a capable guy who knows a lot of people, but there have been a lot of moments where I’ve been completely helpless. That’s a naturally hard place for me. God has used this entire process in my life and I’ve growth so much, but man has it been painful. (This might not make sense to some. I’m not a control freak. I trust the people around me, but I’m a guy who’s always available to step in when my staff has a problem. However, sometimes things are totally out of your control and you just have to wait. That’s tough for me.)

– I think the stat is that 70% of pastors who build buildings quit within a year of the building’s completion… I totally understand why. It takes everything you’ve got and then some to it done.

– I’ve never been much of a fiction reader, but I absolutely love the Harry Potter books. Just started The Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3). Totally amazing. Such good writing. Very inspiring.

– Here’s rule #1 if you want to be a writer: Read good writing. (Rule #2 by the way, is… start writing).

– By the way, if you’ve seen the Harry Potter movies, the books are far and away superior. I loved the movies, but the books make me cry.

– We’re trying to post great content on the blog every week. Typically, we write 3 new posts a week. If there’s something you’d like to me to talk about, put in in the comments and I’ll see if we can address it.

– I’m going to do a totally live event in the next couple of weeks to help prepare churches for Mother’s Day. I want to find a new venue outside of webinars. Something that has a Q and A component and addresses the actual questions people have.

– On the Church Ninja front, we brought 2 new team members onboard. I’ll talk about them in the next week or so. These are top shelf ninjas in their own right. I’m blessed they are joining the team. They are going to take what we do at Church Ninja to a new level.

– If you want to see a picture of a real tribe, go to www.pottermore.com. This is the online community for Harry Potter fans. JK Rowling posts short stories on the site. This is the only site I know of that Amazon directs you to them to buy the Kindle versions of the Harry Potter books. Very impressive.

– After being a portable church for almost 15 years, it feels weird to think about having a permanent home. I’m guessing it’s like having kids. It seems so weird to imagine what it would be like to have children. The once you have kids, you forget what life was like without them.

– I’m ordering 2 new movie posters for my new office to go with my Empire Strikes Back and Wrath of Khan posters. Movie posters are my favorite kind of “art” because they look great and they’re great conversation pieces. I’ve narrowed the possibilities down to 4-5. All in the sci-fi/ fantasy/ action genre.

– The Red Sox are off to a great start!

– I’m taking a couple of days off later in the week. I’m wiped out. Leading a church, building a building, and running Church Ninja are 3 full-time jobs. I’m looking forward to disengaging… by attending a writing seminar 🙂

– Have a great week.

Sunday Stuff (Easter Edition)

For many reasons, this is a week that I will never forget. I’ll try to give a few of the highlights…

– Legendary Easter weekend at Calvary!

– It started with a Good Friday services that was probably my favorite service of the year.

– I typically teach one of the seven statement from the cross on Good Friday. This year was no exception. I taught, “I thirst” from John 19. So powerful. Very moving. It was amazing to be many people respond to the invitation and come to know Jesus as Savior.

– Our Easter services were incredible. I don’t have all of the numbers yet (we’ll get those tomorrow morning), but I can easily say it was the biggest Easter in our history. We had more first time guests than at any other service in our history. It was amazing.

– We tried several new outreach strategies and they all worked! That never happens 🙂

– This is the kind of stuff we teach pastors in our Evangelism Ninja coaching. We’re always trying new things and this year we hit on all 8 cylinders.

– The responses to the invitations in our services were so powerful. We’re never seen that many people respond over the course of 1 weekend.

– On Thursday, about $10,000 worth of equipment was stolen from our construction site. The biggest issue for us is the loss of time more than the equipment. Every week we get delayed hurts because we’re still a portable church renting several facilities to make ministry happen and we’re financing a construction project. We know God is going to use this, we just haven’t seen the end of the story play out yet.

– It was moving to have so many people reach out to me and my staff. We were very blessed to see leaders and members from churches all over the world encourage us through email, text, phone, and social media. In the midst of a difficult week we felt very loved.

– I must say that the Miramar Police Department has take this situation so seriously. I have tried to thank every police officer I run into. They all know about what happened at our church site and they are all stopping by the property on a daily basis to check up and make sure there’s no repeat offense.

– I thought I would flip out if something like this ever happened. I can’t even explain how calm I’ve been throughout this situation. Let’s just say, that’s not like me. I’m Cuban, I can’t help it 🙂 But I’ve felt nothing but peace during this time and I know God is doing to use this somehow to glorify Himself. Philippians 4 really is true.

– I realized this week that it’s been a year since my former Pastor, Bob Coy stepped down from ministry. It still doesn’t make sense to me. The strange part of it all is that everyone has just moved on. Everyone is supposed to move on, but it was a bit surreal to me. We were shocked. We got mad. We cried. We tried to figure out how something like this could happen. But in the end, everyone moved on. It teaches us that the kingdom of God can never be about 1 person. It’s about Jesus, period. We’re all temporary; fulfilling our calling and moving on into eternity. I pray this helps all of us as pastors to be faithful and finish well.

– In the great news department, Mia and Xander both earned their yellow belt in karate this week. I’m so proud of them. They worked very hard to prepare for their tests. They passed with flying colors. The Sensei came up to me and expressed how well they did. It’s a wonderful thing to see your kids excel.

– Pastors, preaching on Easter was the easy part. The hard part is the follow up as we help people take their next steps with God.

– Another word to Pastors: buy your staff lunch tomorrow. They’ve earned it.

– Our staff was exceptional this weekend. This amazing group of men and women are unstoppable. It doesn’t matter what you throw at them, they simply will not stop until the job is done. I couldn’t be any prouder of them.

– The good people who serve at Calvary are the unsung heroes of our church. I am in awe of their dedication and selfless service every week. This week however, they took it to another level. They served thousands of people with joy and enthusiasm. Your service is changing the world and I’m honored to be your pastor.

– Lastly, I have the privilege of coaching a few hundred pastors every month through Church Ninja. I’ve been getting amazing resorts of record-breaking attendance, salvations, next steps, and baptisms. To be able to speak into the lives of these leaders is a sacred trust that I do not take lightly. Guys, I’m honored to be your coach and firmly believe the best is yet to come.

– No matter how brilliant Sunday’s message was… Monday we start with a blank page again. I used to hate that feeling. Now I love it. The work of writing sermons is part art, part science, all joy. To be able to speak into the lives of people who trust us to feed them God’s Word is an honor. Never take it lightly.

– Thanks for reading. Happy Easter!