by Executive Pastor Mark Waltz

I headed to the gym recently with Romans 8:31 on my mind: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

As I let the treadmill dictate the slope necessary to get my cardio peaked out, I looked up at the wall of monitors streaming morning news updates from at least three different stations. Troops back to Iraq. A driver identified in the death of a young mom. Tornadoes that ripped through Nebraska, taking two human lives. 

Watching my heart rate rise, I said to God, “What am I supposed to do? What effect can I have on this pain and chaos in our world?” The truth is, I’m praying for God’s hand to move within my own family. We all have our personal “prayer lists” of things we’re believing God to act on. But Nebraska? What can I do? The other side of the planet? 

I felt small. Insignificant. And it didn’t take long until the focus was on me

How did that happen? These stories aren’t about me; they’re about other people. And now I’m back to me? Really?

“Okay, God, what are you supposed to do? How are you going to intervene? How long does this chaos and injustice and pain go on? What about the boys and wife who lost their dad and husband last week? What about the woman who called yesterday, looking for anyone to understand the pain of her wrecked marriage?”

So, as I felt my heart rate climb, I asked again—maybe rhetorically—“What am I supposed to do?”

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by Executive Pastor Mark Waltz

I admit it. Sometimes I’d like to vent and spew my opinions—without my name. After all, it’s easier. No one can challenge me. No one can offer a rebuttal. It’s a lot easier to be anonymous. And it’s also more cowardly.

Several times a month I read anonymous comments from someone who attended a service at our church. Often the comments are prayers for a friend or family member. That’s okay. No harm done. Although I’d love to pray with more specificity. And it’s impossible for us to reach out to an anonymous person to offer support. It’s a bummer, but we still pray.

However, the stabbing, unkind, self-righteous, all-knowing criticisms and complaints that come from Mr. or Ms. Anonymous demonstrate a lack of willingness to dialog and a spineless mockery of courage. Most every time, these anonymous commenters, by their very content, reveal they are “insiders,” “Christians,” people who regularly attend worship services.

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Courtesy Netflix
by Executive Pastor Mark Waltz

You can always tell when the script is being used. You know what I mean. You’re engaged in lively conversation over a meal and your server interrupts with the scripted dessert monologue. Or your talking with customer service on the phone and you don’t feel heard at all, because the same script is repeated over and over regardless what you say.

I hate the script. It’s annoying and sad. Annoying, because I feel insulted. Sad, because the service representative isn’t empowered to think and interact like a person.

Netflix customer service rep Michael wrote his own script. Maybe you heard about it. If not, I’ll brief you. (If you already know about this, you’re already this far into my post—you might as well finish it out. Humor me.)

Customer Norm entered an online chat to find a solution for a non-stop, repeating cycle of Parks and Recreation. He got more than a chat. He was welcomed into a conversation with “Captain Mike of the Good Ship Netflix.” Norm played along and introduced himself as Lt. Norm. Here’s a portion of their chat:

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by Mark Waltz, Executive Pastor


We’ve done some informal surveys and discovered that when people decide to go to church for the first time, or they decide to go to church again after years of not attending anywhere, they often do so with a fair amount of fear. They have not-so-fond memories, or they’ve heard stuff through popular media, and they enter our church—or any church—with a fair amount of hesitation, even fear.

  • How will I know where to go?
  • Will they ask for my money?
  • How will I know when to sit, stand or kneel?
  • Will I be the only “normal” person there?

We want every person who decides to attend our church—especially those filled with fear and apprehension—to feel “at home," welcome and accepted. We want them to know we expected them; we’ve prepared for them.

Remember: we want our guests to feel “at home.” We want them to experience “familiar.” We want them to be able to drop guards and fears that keep them from experiencing the wonder of God’s love through the message of Jesus Christ.

Continue reading on Mark’s blog...

Article adapted from How to Wow Your Church Guests: 101 Ways to Make a Meaningful First Impression.

So you’re just dying to get to Granger, Indiana this summer for a workshop, but it’s not in your budget. You’ve got a few burning questions to ask and want them answered by someone in your ministry field. The answer? Webinars.

These FREE one-hour, online sessions with a Granger ministry leader will be open to up to 100 people per session. You’ll need a computer with speakers and high-speed internet access. The price is $0, but you still have to register so we can send you instructions on how to access the webinar when it’s time. The hour will fly by, but bring one or two questions you’re wanting to ask, and be prepared to enjoy some Q & A and learn from others’ questions.

Webinars that will be available, starting August 7:

  • Series Development and Programming – August 7
  • Communications (Prioritization) – August 28
  • Student Ministry – September 11
  • Kids’ Ministry – September 25
  • Developing Guest Services Culture & Training Volunteers – October 9
  • Multisite – October 23
  • Human Resources – November 6
  • Finance – November 20
Register now. See you online!

by Mark Waltz, Pastor of Connections and MultiSite

Don’t go out of your way to pat volunteers on the back. They’re doing exactly what they should be doing—giving their life away. They should be sacrificing. They should be tired. Don’t acknowledge or celebrate them. The last thing you need is puffed up volunteers.

Some would claim this is biblical. I’m not sure what Bible they’re reading. The scriptures teach gratitude, mutual respect and personal value. It’s how Jesus lived his life. It’s how Paul encouraged the Church.

Live by this worst practice and you’ll be looking for volunteers—’cause they’ll be G.O.N.E.

Hear more from Mark about the importance of using volunteers to create great First Impressions in your church at his workshop at Granger on Friday, July 11. Register your team now for this or any of the workshops coming up next week:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

by Mark Waltz, Pastor of Connections and MultiSite

I’m still processing a question posed to marketplace businesses in a recent Inc. article. Senior writer, Ilan Mochari, suggests we ask ourselves, “What business am I really in?” He writes:

Had Starbucks, at any point, convinced itself that it was strictly in the coffee business, it might never have ventured into the realm of music. Likewise, had Apple, at any point, convinced itself that it was solely in the computer business, it too might never have ventured into the realm of music. And Amazon, as we all know by now, has become far more than a book retailer. In fact, the Wall Street Journal has reported that Amazon is working on a pilot program to do its own deliveries in the so-called “last mile” from distribution centers to consumer/business addresses.

I know, I know. The local church is not Starbucks, Apple or Amazon. I also know we are criticized for adopting “business” practices, but that’s another conversation. (For now, I’ll just say—get over it. If similarities result between church and business because we strive to be responsible to God and people—well, leadership is leadership.)

Back to the question.

What if what we do as the local church is actually more than growing the local church?

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by Mark Waltz, Pastor of Connections and MultiSite

Sequencing matters. Service matters. Systems matter.

And so do people.

When sequencing and systems fail to help our guests effectively experience quality service, or take practical steps toward desired outcomes, people are not valued. We don’t communicate that they matter. At least we fall obviously short.

Our connections team has been assessing processes, systems, staffing and teams that most effectively help our people take their next step toward Jesus—particularly, new guests to our church. Although someone’s very next step after an initial weekend service may be to come back the next weekend, we can’t assume that is the only step a guest may want or need to take.

How do people meet others? Find a sense of belonging? And in doing so take a step on their journey toward and with Jesus?

Continue reading on Mark’s Blog...

Have you heard about our One-Day Workshops? These are intense and focused, interactive learning environments that your whole team can take advantage of. Get away for one day and join us at Granger Commons on Friday, April 25 to learn more about First Impressions, Communications and Kids’ Ministry. Then stay with your team for the Arts All-Access workshop on Saturday, April 26 where you’ll go behind the scenes and attend the Saturday night service.