Tag: outreach magazine

Get Your Own: Outreach Magazine’s “Small Church” Issue

Outreach magazine’s annual small church issue is on its way to subscribers right now.  For those of you who don’t subscribe, you can order this single issue from Amazon. That’s right, the entire issue is available to you today from the friendly folks at Amazon.com.

After you check out this one issue, you’ll want to get your own subscription so you won’t miss any of Outreach, including my column – Small Church, Big Idea – in each issue.  Let me know what you think.  End of commercial.

A New Reputation for An Old Church

This article first appeared in Outreach magazine in July/August 2009, in my Small Church, Big Idea column.

A New Reputation For An Old Church
by Chuck Warnock

When the doorbell rang at Cradock Baptist Church not long ago, the staff buzzed in a man who announced, “I’m Mike, and I’m homeless. I heard you help people here.” With that, Pastor Rob Edwards knew his small church again had become a vibrant witness to its struggling community.

Cradock Baptist Church was founded 90-years ago in the Portsmouth, Virginia community of Cradock, the first planned community in America. In 1918, the U. S. Housing Corporation built Cradock to provide housing for shipyard workers. Today Cradock’s high-density, urban culture reflects typical big city problems of low income, high unemployment, and struggling families.

Like many churches of its era, Cradock Baptist Church has large buildings, declining membership, and an aging congregation. But Pastor Rob Edwards has led his congregation in new ministries to their multi-ethnic neighborhood, and in the process the church has benefited, too.

Historically, the church has reached out to those with special needs. The Robin Class has taught the developmentally-challenged for over 40-years. Pastor Rob has built on that concern for others, leading the church to reach out to its neighborhood. This summer 250 volunteers from World Changers, Southern Baptists’ volunteer workforce, will rehabilitate homes in the community. A partnership with the city and a grant from HUD for materials will enable the church to help revive its historic neighborhoods. That’s just the beginning. Pastor Rob envisions hiring a housing counselor to help prevent foreclosures among the financially-struggling.

One program, however, really kicked the church’s community engagement into high gear: a coop food ministry where combined ordering doubles a family’s grocery purchasing power. At their last food distribution, over 1,000 families received 27,000-pounds of food, with the help of 50 volunteers from eight different congregations.

Cradock Baptist Church changed their focus from self-service to community engagement by:

Spotlighting established ministries. The Robin Class for the developmentally-challenged joins the congregation for worship frequently, giving higher visibility to this longstanding ministry.
Touching people during the week. Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs meet in the church 7-days a week. In turn, the church and staff have gotten to know many by name, caring for them in times of grief, and sharing in their moments of joy.
Believing community renewal creates church renewal. By banding together to help revitalize the community through housing projects, feeding programs, school supply give-aways, and weekday ministries, church members found a new sense of mission.
Creating new worship experiences. The church retains its traditional worship at 11 AM on Sunday morning, but voted unanimously to create casual worship at 5 PM on Sunday evenings to reach their younger, unchurched neighbors. Special, one-time events also have drawn neighbors together at block parties, and musical presentations.
Celebrating the church’s weekday ministries on Sundays. While Sunday morning worship attendance hasn’t grown much, Sundays have become the celebration for what the church is doing during the week.

Today Cradock Baptist’s small Sunday morning crowd of 60 touches the lives of hundreds each week. One family called asking for prayer recently. “We’re one of your food box families,” they said. “Please pray for us.” To many of these unchurched families, Pastor Rob is their pastor, and Cradock Baptist Church is the only church they know. In the process, the church’s spirit has been revived and their reputation in the community changed. Now people in Cradock know when they need help, one small church won’t turn them away.

Over 300,000!

international_fireworks_2_bToday Confessions of a Small-Church Pastor passed 300,000 page views!  Readership has grown by 50,000 page views per year since I started this blog in December, 2006.  Thanks for reading and commenting and sticking around for three years.

You can help spread the word about this blog, which is devoted to churches under 300 in attendance, by telling your friends, fellow pastors, church leaders, and others interested in small church ideas and issues. When I saw Ed Stetzer at the National Outreach Convention again this year, he commented, “I like the blog.”  Ed had told me last year that Confessions was the largest small church blog around, so I took it as a compliment that he still likes it.

A couple of interesting things have happened as a result of the reach of this blog:

  • Outreach magazine has just named me Contributing Editor for small church concerns;
  • a major Christian publisher is talking with me about a small church book;
  • and, I’ll continue writing the Small Church, Big Idea column for Outreach, in addition to other articles I’m working on about small church ministry.

I’m also looking for stories of small churches doing exciting, innovative ministry.  If your church has a story of a successful ministry experience, I’d like to hear it.  Email me — chuckwarnock [at] gmail [dot] com — and provide a brief summary of your church story.  Who knows — your story might end up in Outreach magazine or in an upcoming book chapter. BTW, this blog is now available to Kindle owners through Amazon’s Kindle Store for the ridiculously low price of $0.99 per month.  Of course, it’s free here all the time.

Again, thanks for sticking with me for three years.  Slowly but surely, small churches are being celebrated for the incredible work they are doing in urban, suburban, rural, and small town settings, and you’re an important part of that story.

New name, same place

You may notice that the header now says, ChuckWarnock.com instead of Confessions of a Small-Church Pastor. I hope this change will make the blog easier to find.

Here’s the skinny:

  • When I won Outreach magazine’s blog contest in 2006, they picked the name, set up the header and turned the blog over to me.
  • The blog name was not the same as the URL, leading to some confusion at the outset.
  • The blog URL was and is https://chuckwarnockblog.wordpress.com — not easy to remember.
  • I didn’t want to change the URL or the feed, but I did want to make the site more accessible.
  • I bought chuckwarnock.com, pointed it to my blog address, and everything is fine.

DO NOT change your feed reader, because it is the same.  No need to change anything.

I realize that this is pretty close to shameless self-promotion, but the tagline still reads “Confessions of a Small-Church Pastor” and we’ll still be talking about small church issues here.

I just wanted you to know what happened and why, and hope you’ll stick around for more small church stuff.  Now all you have to remember is ChuckWarnock.com.

Of course, Warnock is not the easiest name to remember or spell, but it’s the only one I have!  Thanks for sticking around.   -Chuck

Ask Andy Stanley a question

If you could ask Andy Stanley any question about small churches, what would it be?

images-3Outreach magazine wants to give small church pastors the opportunity to ask Andy Stanley a question about small church outreach. Selected questions will be featured in Outreach magazine’s annual Small Church Issue later this year.

If you think Andy is an unlikely guy to know much about small churches, think again.  His experience as a church planter, visioneer, author, and student of church life uniquely qualifies Andy to coach small church pastors and leaders.

What are you waiting for?  Post your question to Andy in the comment box on this post.  Include your contact information — name, church, location, email, phone — so the editors can follow up with you should your question be chosen.  I’m looking forward to your questions and to Andy’s answers!

Join me at NOC09

Here’s the video promo I did for the fine folks at Outreach for the National Outreach Convention — NOC09 — in San Diego, November 4-6, 2009.  I hope you’ll join me and thousands of other church leaders in San Diego.  NOC is always a great event and this year I’ll be leading a couple of small church workshops, meeting with small church leaders, and hopefully signing copies of my new book (keep you fingers crossed on that one!).  Anyway, here’s the vid and excuse the production value (or lack thereof), I’m a newbie…

101 Outreach Ideas for Small Churches

I’m playing around here and this is the rough draft of  101 Outreach Ideas for Small Churches.  Any others you want to add?  I’d love to hear any stories you have about any outreach ideas you’ve used.  I’m working on a book, and would like to include real stories from real churches.  Time for your 15-minutes of fame!  Here’s a start —

101 Outreach Ideas for Small Churches

  1. Sponsor a school or classroom
  2. Angel Food Ministry
  3. Family movie night
  4. Super Bowl party
  5. Resource center for senior programs, etc
  6. Host a music concert
  7. Block party
  8. community festival
  9. Halloween alternative
  10. Community heroes
  11. Christmas nativity tour
  12. community garden
  13. art show
  14. build a labyrinth
  15. free hotdog lunch
  16. school supplies
  17. parents’ night out
  18. mothers morning out
  19. partner to raise money for a local cause
  20. invite former members back — homecoming
  21. themed worship
  22. recognize special groups
  23. pulpit exchange or joint worship with other congregations
  24. community vbs
  25. community thanksgiving service
  26. thanksgiving for singles, seniors, and others
  27. trunk-or-treat
  28. day camps
  29. multi-generational groups
  30. crafting, scrapbooking, quilt-making groups
  31. day trips for seniors
  32. senior adult programs, lunch
  33. talent show
  34. church yard sale
  35. blessing of the animals
  36. free carwash
  37. make a difference day
  38. martin luther king day events
  39. english as a second language
  40. computer access 
  41. computer training
  42. grief workshop
  43. grandparents day
  44. mothers day
  45. fathers day
  46. advent activities, booklet, devotion guide
  47. milestone celebrations — anniversary, debt-free, etc
  48. achievement recognition — ball teams, championships, etc
  49. election day activities
  50. county or state fair booth
  51. tradeshow booth
  52. tourism booth
  53. homebound ministry 
  54. grief ministry
  55. nursing home ministry
  56. report card rewards
  57. skate park
  58. soundcheck like event
  59. lock in
  60. lock out
  61. youth service corps
  62. door-to-door food collection
  63. christmas parties for seniors, kids, families, target groups
  64. school recognition
  65. college day
  66. financial peace courses
  67. driving courses that target very young or AARP groups
  68. election forums
  69. non-profit helping agency fair
  70. volunteer recognition and thanks
  71. social services, community action partnerships recognition
  72. literacy program
  73. addiction programs
  74. single adult programs
  75. single parent groups
  76. special needs events
  77. health screenings
  78. diet and cooking classes
  79. book discussions
  80. neighborhood inventories and assessments
  81. prayer ministry
  82. open sanctuary or prayer room
  83. daily office
  84. taize services
  85. community celebration events
  86. community unity events
  87. community newsletter or bulletin board
  88. newborn gifts
  89. newcomer welcome baskets
  90. graduate recognition
  91. community music program for children, seniors
  92. helping resource inventory and volunteer directory
  93. home blessings
  94. weddings and funerals
  95. boy scout, girl scout, b&g club sundays
  96. second sunday fellowships
  97. personalized invitation
  98. Easter, palm sunday invitations
  99. food, clothing, and cleaning supplies pantry
  100. civic club sunday
  101. family skate nights

Innovation and churches

Outreach magazine is working on its “Innovation” issue.  In the past Outreach has focused on innovative churches.  But this year they’re focusing on the innovations themselves, and Outreach would like your input.  Click here to go to Tony Morgan’s blog and give Outreach your feedback.  Thanks.

Innovation’s Top 5 Traits

Outreach magazine publishes an issue each year featuring the most innovative churches in America.   These churches aren’t just big ones either, and the editors are looking for small churches that do things in an innovative way.  What makes the difference in an innovative church and everybody else?  These five things:

  1. New eyes.  Innovative churches see things differently.  They dissect situations, problems, concerns, and programs to get to the core.  They ask the difficult questions like “Why are we doing this?” and “How can we do this better?”  
  2. New opportunities.  Everybody saw the internet, and most churches built websites.  But LifeChurch.tv saw the internet as core to their mission, and developed a whole set of tools around the idea that people could actually connect to their church online first.  Maybe some other church did it first, but LifeChurch.tv created a model others could adopt.
  3. New approaches.  I’m reading Mark DeYmaz book, Building A Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church.  Mark shows others how multi-ethnic congregations are intentional, not accidental, and gives concrete principles to guide new or existing congregations toward inclusion and diversity.  
  4. New expressions.  Jonny Baker posts about new worship tricks” regularly.  Tall Skinny Kiwi writes about their new social enterprise called The Sorting Room.  Other churches are taking drama to the streets, living as neighbors with the poor, and expressing faith in new ways.  
  5. New permission.   Innovators give the rest of us permission to follow their lead.  They take the risk for blazing the trail, and the rest of us can follow or modify their efforts.  But innovators break new ground, chart new territories, and give the rest of us cover to try new things.  When Rich Cizik, vp for the National Association of Evangelicals, stuck his neck out to say that evangelicals should be concerned about the environment, too, he gave cover to a bunch of folks just waiting for someone to take the lead on that topic.   
What other traits would you add to “Innovation’s Top 5?”  And, do you know small churches taking an innovative approach to ministry?  If you do, let me know.  

Alltop.com features “Confessions of a Small-Church Pastor”

Alltop.com is a new blog aggregator from the minds of the same folks who brought you truemors.com. Alltops aggregates a huge amount of stuff in a variety of categories, church.alltop.com being one of them. I am happy to report that we made the cut, or the grade, or whatever their selection criteria is. You might want to check out the other stuff at alltops.com, read the about info, and browse around.

You can also find me at Outreachmagazine.com, SBC Voices, Moderate Baptists, ethicsdaily.com, and some other places. Happy surfing!