Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Over these 30 years at Memorial Drive I've seen a few things work well. Some didn't. I share ideas in hopes that some of them might shed possible light on encouraging/improving your work.
  1. We moved to small groups on Sunday night. We felt Sunday evenings were simply Jr. Church. Our small groups have not captured the hearts of everyone in the congregation. We do find them attended better than Jr. Church. And, the fruit of the small groups enhances the family atmosphere a church of 500 needs to assist in maintaining close relationships.
  2. We ended the Wednesday evening devotionals consisting of a prayer, a mini-sermon, and an invitation song. We were simply going through dullifying motion. A few balked at it's dismissal; not very many. It gives us fifteen more minutes for classes or an event we have every other quarter for adults called PowerSurge.
  3. The elders formed a finance committee comprised of accountants. No one in the church, on the staff, among the elders can spend money unless the finance committee okays it. The elders shed control over the money. They successfully empowered very capable people to handle this important role. It has been a powerful move.
  4. The elders ended their weekly and often agonizing meetings which went unnecessarily well into the night hours. They meet with the four male staff members every Monday morning from 6:30 to 8:00. No agenda. No old business. Just random talk which may cover old and new business. We get together for an informal time of listening to our hearts. It's a great part of my week.
  5. Four to six of us get together every Sunday morning at 7:30 for 45 minutes to an hour of prayer. I used to do this by myself. I don't recall how it shifted but others began to join me and now this "is" the best part of my week. We pray regularly for God to be honored an praised seeking His participation and leadership in our day, thanking God for those who are moving to Memorial who don't know we exist but are so burdened over finding out they have been transferred, for the next elder(s) He chooses to add to our guys in His timing, for the one(s) who will eventually replace me tomorrow or years from now, and for special needs we know of among the flock.
  6. We let everyone place membership. This changed things at Memorial. Membership isn't a Bible term. Someone made that up somewhere in our past. We have seen denominational friends as well as Catholic ones eventually be buried into Christ as He touched their hearts while being in friendship, workship, worship and fellowship with the small portion of His worldview body at this place. How we celebrate how God moves among us!
  7. We celebrate! Some raise their hands. Some don't. There are no rules. Some applaud. Others don't. There are no rules. Some stay an hour after services. Others race for the doors. There are no rules. Don't criticize. That is a biblical rule. We simply urge everyone to celebrate God....that is our goal.


Tim said...

Thanks, my friend, for sharing some success recipes from Memorial Drive's history... We have modeled several of these at Riverside, and I have to affirm them, and add one or two, if I may be so bold:

we have a greeting time right smack dab in the middle of 'worship'... quite possibly the most empowering, congregation-changing nuance at Riverside.

We don't apologize for the length of our family news (announcements)... they are 'sprinkled' throughout our assembly time. And I believe they are a part of our worship/fellowship experience.

Our life groups took a slightly different direction this season. We are studying 'Outflow' in our Wednesday evening adult class (which serves, incidentally, as the foundation for our Sunday night life group discussion), and have asked each life group to adopt a mindset of serving others to bring them to Christ... each group has ongoing 'projects' which they sponsor and carry out.

We resolved, 6 years ago, that at least 25% of EVERY dollar which is contributed to the Riverside 'coffers' will be used for benevolence and missions. period.

oh, yeah, we don't have any full time staff... as we near the 300-on-Sunday-morning mark, that is more and more challenging...

God Bless you and Memorial Drive for your foresight and wisdom and example.


Cary said...

I think the staff and elders here in Manhattan may be getting tired of getting emails from me with your latest blog post - but you just keep saying incredibly relevant things to our situation. Keep it coming.

Brenda said...

What??? Powersurge is only EVERY OTHER QUARTER??? Say it aint so!!!

Seriously, going to powersurge is the HIGHLIGHT of my week. I could do it everyday!

I agree with the small groups. We haven't been in one for over a year as it's hard to find one that is not full or one where we fit. It's just hard to even get invited to one. For that matter, I miss Sunday night church, but really I miss small groups more than anything. I love the connection.

Mary Lou said...

I am not a person from your church or that you'd know. I read your blog often and you have good insight into what the Church is all about. This is an excellent post and I'm forwarding the link to some from my congregation. I especially wholeheartedly applaud the last one..."no rules". That has GOT to be the way Jesus intended our worship to be. Free to celebrate, worship, praise our Lord and not be wary of what an elder might say.

God bless your changes for Memorial Drive. They are inspirational.


Those are such "healthy" things.

Greg said...

I enjoy seeing where you are considering where you were, Terry! Thanks for your honesty and sharing.

craig said...

Yeah Terry! Go Memorial Drive! These things bless you, lift Christ up, and bring glory to the Father. Yeah!

Falantedios said...

Small groups are a huge key to success in the world today, so much so that I believe they should be the foundation of the larger Sunday assembly rather than a program OF that group. The Sunday AM assembly should derive its identity from the small churches that gather together, rather than vice versa.

Brenda, I guarantee there are other people in your area who feel like you do. If you can't find a group, START a group :) Renovare Spiritual Formation resources has a couple of great resources on it, including one called Living the Mission that I'm in love with.

I've been praying that our assembly would make a choice on Wednesday nights - either take the devo seriously or do away with it. Let there be a REAL devo half an hour before or after Wed PM assembly, or just get rid of it.

I'd like to learn more about how your finance committee progresses.

Pre-worship group prayer is one of the most stellar ideas anyone has pointed out to me.

I'd gush more, but it'd be embarrassing :) Great work!

in HIS love,