Plenary Session 3 (Last session)
The orchestra opened with a beautiful rendition of “Great is Thy Faithfulness”. All songs are led by a soloist/cantor.
We stood and sang “Holy, Holy, Holy”, read a responsive reading together, and then sang “Jesus, Lamb of God” accompanied by the orchestra, choir, drum kit, and bass guitar (for this song only).
A soloist sang “Lord, Have Mercy” while an associate pastor knelt at the altar rail in front of the communion table. The soloist had memorized the lyrics and there was no stand in front of him.
COR uses lighting masterfully in traditional and contemporary worship services. Only the featured speakers, soloist, etc is lighted while he or she is leading. The house lights are dimmed and are dimmed further during prayer. The choir is fully lighted or dimmed depending on whether or not they are featured.
The assoc. pastor led a prayer while kneeling with lit candles on the projection screen until the Lord’s Prayer appeared on the screen.
The choir sang one song- excellent camera work on the IMAG screens, and a drummer joined in for the end of the song.
A LI video bumper, or title package, preceded Adam as in all sessions.
Traditional worship popular even with young adults is the music is led well and is inspiring.
Adam does not stand behind the lectern. He speaks directly to the congregation with no barriers in between him and them. He also plants his feet in one spot while he speaks and does not move them much, just to turn slightly toward the left and right sides of the sanctuary. He doesn’t pace or shuffle his feet, so this eliminates distractions. This also makes it easier for the IMAG camera operators to follow him.
Adam joined the UMC knowing it was declining, but he believed that the UMC could be renewed. Adam believes about the UMC, “Something great could still happen yet.”
Zander speaks of 2 kinds of symphony conductors.
1. Is certain there is no future for classical music, and they exhibit downward spiral thinking. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. UMC pastors do this, and people criticize liberals and conservatives.
Adam said he felt like God was saying to him, “Adam, why don’t you be positive?”
2. Conductor radiates possibility. They both see the same facts, but the radiator says, “We have an opportunity”. Zander renewed the Boston Philharmonic. Be a positive Smart Mob.
Adam says he will keep saying the UMC has a future until it happens. Prophets, “But the day of comfort is coming…” The UMC has been in exile for about 44 years.
Pick up what we left out in previous sessions
During this past year, COR began testing worship services at Grand Ave. Temple in downtown KC. It is surrounded by a regentrifying community of lofts. Two churches sharing one building. 350 are now members, and 50 used to be at COR main campus. People still came in 110 heat with no AC.
Then a church in Blue Springs called to ask COR to take over the congregation. The church voted to close and let COR take over.
(I know this statement will be controversial… cloning Adam Hamilton is probably that best thing any UMC congregation can do right now. Since that’s illegal, video sermons are the way to partially clone him. Yes, I do realize that God has called leaders other than Adam, but you have to ask, “Who could more effective- a typical pastor or Adam?”)
Mediocrity is not going to attract worshippers. Who wants to give time and money to something mediocre.
Getting feedback would empower us to meet the needs of people. Businesses that don’t ask for feedback do not stay in business.
How does your church get feedback from people?
COR sends out an annual survey using surveymonkey.com. Ask great questions about details of your services, facilities, ministries, etc. Ask for specific suggestions.
COR uses this data every year to strategically strengthen these areas.
The executive staff and SPRC evaluates Adam ANONYMOUSLY. He tells them, “You are not helping me if you’re not honest. if I ever become a hindrance here, I’m begging you to tell me the truth. Give me a year to fix it, and then after one year, I need you to promise me that you’ll ask the bishop to send me somewhere else. I am a servant of the church.”
(I’m guessing that will never happen. Just a guess.:) I wish all pastors asked for feedback, however. I do ask, and it is hard to get constructive feedback. It seems to be either scathing from people who have an agenda or overly positive.)
He wants to preach the best sermon possible, so he receives criticism on after the Saturday service. The video editors are willing to give Adam honest feedback.
When Adam’s associate pastors preach, he watches the sermon together with the associate and offers constructive criticism asa well as praise. He wants them to leave being better preachers than when they came.
Are you willing to invite feedback on your sermons?
The staff rates COR on surveys, and the first year rates 3.2- average. Then they have worked hard. Now, they ranked as the highest scoring church who took this survey across the country. If you have a demoralized staff, you are only getting 50% of their capacity.
We broke to discuss with those around us for 3 minutes. I like how Adam counts down from 10 to 1 when ending small group discussions.
Pastors are chief development officers. None of us like to talk about money, but you have to figure out how to do this well. If you never preach about stewardship, your church has 25% less funds than could be coming in. You’re underperforming You’re not dreaming big enough, and you’re not helping people experience the power of God.
The earliest worship in Israel was building an altar and offering a sacrifice. It was worship. Offerings are worship. Money reveals the state of your soul. It has to do with who you are and how you look at life.
In 2008, Adam realized that his members and community are in horrible debt, even those who appear to be wealthy. People in debt do not have joy, a sense of fulfillment. You can’t give because you’ve spent it all on yourself. Our whole society just ended up a mess, and our grandchildren are going to be paying for it.
This is where the Church can speak. Shame on us that we were too embarrassed to talk about something that could have saved their lives.
Ass a stewardship campaign, let’s preach pastoral care in relationship to money. That series is now the book Enough. it counters the message of our culture that is obsessed with stuff. Pray something like, “Lord, remind me that I have what I need, and I don’t need most of what I want. Help me to be generous.”
It helped the congregation to see money in a wise and healthy way and begin getting out of debt.
1. Worship every single Sunday that you’re ot sick or out of town.
2. Find a way to grow in your faith apart from worship- small group, Bible study, etc.
3. Give of your time in service inside and outisde the walls of the church.
4. Give in proportion to your income with the goal of the tithe.
Every time a new member turns in a commitment card the first time, the church buys them a study Bible.
In the early days of the church, Adam wrote a note to every person who turned in a commitment card.
Elderly members will give to the church, and their giving will benefit mission after they’re gone.
Adam tells them that undesignated money will go to 3 things 1. Changed lives, 2. renewed congregations, 3. transforming the world. A woman just gave $2 million. COR bought land for two new churches with it and set aside the remaining funds for 60 young people who go to seminary from COR. You have to ask.
Once per month, COR has a service for people with Alzheimers. A local nursing home brings people who can’t remember their names. one woman walked in and she didn’t know where she was. When she saw the cross, she said, “Oh there it is. Now I know where I am.” They remember the hymns and Lord’s Prayer. There is no offering taken.
One woman gave a package of cookies from the nursing home. She gave her cookies as an offering.
In many churches, people get into leadership in their 40’s and 50’s and get out when they die. After awhile, you have this rotating group of people who make decisions until they die. Serving on a committee is not the highest form of service in the committee.
You cannot serve any more than 3 years on any committee and no ore than 6 years total on committees at COR. At COR, 1/3 of members are under 35, 1/3 35-55, and 1/3 over 55. Multiple generations make decisions.
Reassure older members and raise the level of urgency and ask, “What is this church going to look like in 30 years?” We better have younger people making decisions. It keeps your church young at heart. Adam’s leadership will lessen over the next 20 years.
(See “80’s Hair Love Affair” for more about change)
Transforming the World
Change lives, renew the church, and transform the world.
Adam told about the person who made a video accusing him of preaching works righteousness. Adam stated that we are saved only by the grace of God and made that clear for a couple of minutes, quoting Ephesians 2:8,9 , “saved by grace…”.
Adam told about Ray Firestone, a mentor to him who was with Adam throughout the planting of COR. he passed away 6 years ago and gave Adam Wesley’s sermon book worth $5,000- $10,000. Imagine if Adam had offered to buy Ray’s book for $5. It would be insulting and demeaning to Ray and would be ripping him off. That’s what it’s like to try to work your way to salvation; we cheapen God’s grace. God saves us by grace. Paul, a Pharisee, realized this.
Ephesians 2:10 gives the other half of the Gospel “for good works… our a way of life”. You were saved by faith for good (generous, kind) works. Adam quoted several verses from James from memory, “Faith without works is dead”. When we are saved and serve, we begin to find what we were made for. When we’re not serving, we begin to die.
Your job as a leader is to remind people that we were made for this. We’re called to heal the world if we’re followers of Jesu Christ. When Adam decided to focus on this more, COR’s passion rose, and the church grew after it had been plateaued.
People in Matthews Ministry (a ministry cognitively delayed and handicapped persons) want to serve and give back, as well. It is a requirement of membership in COR to serve.
COR provided backpacks to kids over every weekend who get free and reduced lunches. Matthews Ministry participants serve in this ministry on Tuesdays.
COR model of discipleship
Adam drew Rick Warren’s baseball diamond model of discipleship on the telestrator- linear.
That’s not how discipleship works today. It looks more like the baseball diamond backwards 1. Serving first, 2. grow deeper, serve even more boldly and courageously, come to faith in Christ, serve, grow.. and on and on.
People often serve at COR first.
A prominent Jewish leader said “if I wasn’t Jewish, I’d be going to COR”. Many Jews do go to COR.
Wouldn’t it be cool if people said, “Oh, COR, that’s the church that built 300 Habitat house, gave __ thousand pints of blood, give out backpacks, help clean up the Gulf Coast.”
This was Jesus’ method of evangelism. Jesus didn’t pass out tracts.:) He said, “Let your light so shine before others that they might see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
In the 1960’s the UMC forgot the other side of the Gospel, however. Without social justice, we become spiritual narcissists. On the other hand, if you haven’t experienced the saving love of God (Eph 2:8,9) , you have no power.
COR gives away their entire Christmas Eve offering to mission for children in poverty in KC and the other half in Africa. That was $230,000 at COR. The next year, the offering doubled and members still gave more on Sunday. So COR lost no money by doing this.
COR asked members to save for Christmas offering and to match whatever they spent on presents.
Adam showed the Advent Conspiracy promo video. It’s on the website. Download it, and use it.
Adam told a story about officiating a wedding for a young woman (the daughter of a UMC pastor), and she facebook messaged Adam about watching his sermons. She never thought she’d be interested in church again, but she said something was happening. She and her fiance live near downtown, near the downtown campus. Then they decided to follow Christ. Then they started serving. Then they got married, and they wanted James 2 read at their wedding.
They went on the church’s mission trip to South Africa to serve for their honeymoon! Adam played a video of their testimony. “The closest we feel to each other is being in church and serving in FaithWorks”.
Weddings, technology, being focused, loving non-religious people and accepting them where they are, knowing we’re called to serve Christ in the world.
COR picks 2 mission projects every year that they really focus on (they go on 500 mission trips total). Adam went to Malawi this past year. Adam introduced the district superintendent and his wife from Malawi. The rural villages were so poor. There is a UM church in the community (Adam stated that COR will be the ones who are blessed). The greatest need was fresh drinking water a mile away. The water was green. Children dies because of dirty water. They wanted a well.
Adam showed a video from the village, and half of the Christmas offering will go there this winter. The UMC dug the well.
There are 1,00o villages in Malawi who need wells like this. And then peopl eneed to be trained to repair them. One well costs $8,000. Every church could raise at least $8,000.
Then half of the Christmas Eve offering goes to paying for repairing and repainting schools in KC by COR volunteers. Installed new playground.
Adam showed a video about this and a lady’s tearful testimony.
You see what this begins to do to your church. You can’t be dying when you’re giving yourself away.
Adam invited us to dream and write them on the card we received when we walked in. Write down 3 thing we’re going to take away to our church.
Write one dream for each session- changing lives, renewing the church, transforming the world.
Adam prayed and we took 2 minutes to write dreams on post-it notes.
We then walked forward and posted our dreams on the wall while Chelle Wilkins Swanson sang.
Adam closed with the commission, “Let’s knock some holes in the darkness”.