19 May 2009

Confession Time

We just finished the most successful series in the last 12 months on Mother's Day. So why do I feel like we are still dealing with issues that existed long before I arrived?

I've had two enlightening conversations in the past 24 hours and I have a feeling that both of them are right and I am misguided. (I remember saying something about "having a Nathan, aka Editor (read: butt-kicker)" back in November from the pulpit.) Those two conversations put words to the feelings I was having during the latter part of the Sound Vows series - this isn't my material, I just borrowed it because it worked somewhere else and tried to replicate it here.

In an era of ministry where I can (try to) absorb the best practices of churches all across the globe from my desktop, Mark Batterson rightly points out that "one God idea is better than one thousand good ideas." He expands his thinking on that concept here, here, here, and here.

I now realize that Granger's "God idea" became University's "good idea" and the impact here was perhaps less than it could have been. Therefore, I have spent a few days re-evaluating the preaching schedule for the rest of 2009 and trying to find more ways to seek God's direction for worship here at University, not adopting other church's success in order to try and make it our success.

I covet your prayers during this season of discernment and apologize for not taking my own advice until now.

Update: Read this post from MarkB - it's like he's writing just for me this week!

18 May 2009

Thoughts on the Worship Surveys

It's official! I completed my analysis of the Sound Vows Surveys this afternoon.

I must say that I was surprised by a few things:
  1. the relatively low view (3.51/5) of an increased amount of time for people to talk to each other before worship
  2. the number of married people (9/44, or 20.5%) who indicated a series on marriage had little to no application (N/A, 1, or 2) to their life
  3. the number of people in worship (13/63, or 20.6%) who wanted to take less time to prepare our hearts for prayer during worship
Now, I know I asked for the feedback, so I shouldn't be upset when someone launches a missive at me or the way we plan worship at University, but my pride took a hit reading the responses. I also discovered that I did not communicate well about the reasons behind the choices made for worship during the series. I apologize for that - that is poor leadership on my part.

Overall, the results were positive. I will need to do some more reflection, prayer, and discernment about how we can incorporate this feedback into future message series here at University.

More later!

13 May 2009

Sound Vows Surveys

When I decided to hand out surveys to the congregation as a feedback tool after the Sound Vows series, I was not sure what the response would be. I knew there would be people who would shout about the band (both positively and negatively) and I knew there would be people who would shout about the longer services (we averaged about 70 minutes each week for the series).

I have intentionally not looked at any of the surveys yet because I only want to look through them one or two times as a collective group. I don't want to spend the entire week fretting over comments made by people who complain about the sun coming up and the sun coming down. I just didn't want to do that to myself - for sanity reasons.

If you were not in church on Sunday and would like a survey, you can stop by the church office to pick one up or email me for a .pdf copy of it and bring it with you on your next trip to the church. All I ask is that you please turn it in by Sunday, May 17th so that the worship staff (and the rest of the staff) can begin to work through the data. Thanks!

11 May 2009

Message Sets for Sound Vows

If you would like a copy of all the sermons from "Sound Vows" (or know someone who needs to hear them) send an email to support@uumcwf.org with that request. Or you can visit the website and download the files to iTunes for on-the-go access!

Sound Vows Celebrations

Yesterday we finished our "Sound Vows" series with a flourish on Mother's Day.

I want to go on record to say that I felt like this was our best series since I have been at University! This series had an energy and a "feel" that has not been palpable since I came here in June. I really felt like people came to worship anticipating what would happen, rather than settling in for "what we've always done."

Each week I track our stats in several key areas - not the least of which is worship attendance. I was amazed to compute that our average weekend attendance for this series was 167! That's 38 people more than we averaged during all of 2008! That's 45 people more than we averaged during the same time period last year! AND it's 27 people more than we were averaging so far for 2009! Praise God!

I am not ashamed to tell you that I am a numbers guy. Because I know that each of those numbers represents a person who gets to hear the gospel message and has an opportunity to know that God loves them right where they are.
  • I am excited that we have more people in worship right now than we did a year ago.
  • I am excited that we had more people in worship during this series than we did prior to this series so far this year.
  • I am excited that University is moving up and to the right again!
I pray that the momentum we are building right now continues to bring in new faces and continue to spread buzz around town about what we are doing here at University UMC. I also pray that we can find ways to learn how to assimilate the new folks who have become part of our church over these past five weeks. I want this series to be a "shot in the arm" for this congregation!