Keep it simple, Smartie!

We know. We have the same tendency to wax poetic when we’re talking about our ministry in the bulletin too. But no one needs to have the whole history from A–Z of the Women’s Noteworthy Chorale Bible Study in their announcement. Remember to just give people the basics of what they need to know: 1—Who is this event for? (e.g., women, age 18 and up.) 2—What’s the experience going to be like? (Join the choir director for a six-week breakfast and book discussion.) 3—When and where is it? (Meets March 1 at 6 a.m. in the Great Room.)

In almost every environment now, everyone is inundated with messages (even in church) and people are going to get lost in the minutiae if you can’t give them the basics in a simple, direct way. The goal is to get them to come to your Women’s Noteworthy Chorale Bible Study—and then, once they’re in, you can share all the details. As a helpful tool, check out Granger’s sample Communication Values and Priorities, which helps us decide what gets promoted and where.

Excerpt from | by Mark Waltz, Executive Pastor

1. “That’s Not My Responsibility”

This comment may cause team members to feel as though they’ve covered themselves, but the guest doesn’t care who is responsible. The guest merely wants the question answered or the request filled. The risk of dropping the ball increases each time a request, question or need is passed on to another person.

2. “I Don’t Know.”

If a team member doesn’t have an answer, he or she must be resourceful enough to find it. It’s OK not to know an answer; it’s not OK to leave it there. The team member must take the initiative to find the answer. “I don’t know” must always be followed up with “but I’ll find out.”

3. “No.”

Yeah, but sometimes the answer is no. Why would we not say no if the answer to a question is no? Simply because, when you’re the guest, you expect the answer to be yes. You want to be satisfied. When you hear no without an alternative or an explanation, you’re unsatisfied.

4. “They,” “Them,” and “You Guys”

Everyone wants to appear competent. When we don’t have the answers or the rule is difficult to explain, the temptation to blame someone else is tremendous. It can be difficult for people to recognize this temptation in themselves. But when the team member says, “They said” or “It’s up to them” or “You guys had better,” he or she is communicating a lack of ownership. When guests overhear this language or pick up on this attitude, they doubt the church itself.

5. “I’m Just A Volunteer.”

I always ask sales associates or clerks, “How are you?” It’s amazing how many times they respond, “I’ll be doin’ much better when I can leave this place! Only two more hours to go.” Too many people are unhappy working day after day in the same, grueling job. That should never happen in the church. Those who plug in to a ministry should do so because they fully embrace its mission and vision. If they do, no one will ever hear these words from them.

Want to hear more from Mark and how to keep guests coming back again? Pre-register to get the $20-discounted rate of $99 per person at the First Impressions Workshop. Includes materials and lunch.

Where & When: Granger Community Church campus, 90 miles east of Chicago, Wednesday, May 18, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Attend both days of workshops (there’s a second day of additional workshops on Thursday, May 19) and get a further discount: $20 off per day! Use the code: twoday20.

Be a hoarder (of good ideas).

Maybe for you it’s a drawer in your desk where you stash great print pieces from other churches or organizations that caught your eye, or a folder on your computer desktop where you dump song and video ideas. Maybe it’s a bulging cabinet about ready to overflow with stuff that inspires you. Maybe you create more Pinterest boards than what is considered healthy.

Whatever works for you—whether it’s digital or analog—you need a place to store good ideas. Stuff to look through when you’re stuck and can’t figure out how your next message series should look. Things to toss around when you’re coming up dry on ideas for how to explain something or craft a presentation. At Granger we have a few drawers and cabinets, both real and virtual, where we store stuff. Go to wherever your pile is, and you’ll be able to pull something out that will spark a new direction.

Looking for some ideas to get you going? You’ll find a variety of series graphics and other sermon materials at Let the hoarding begin!

Get yourself a proofreader. Or two. Or three.

Whether you’re preparing sermon notes, a video presentation, a postcard for the weekend or a T-shirt, you gotta get your stuff proofed. At Granger, our rule of thumb is that before anything goes up on slides, out on the screens or off to the printer, at least 2–3 pairs of eyes on the Communications team have seen it, as well as a few trusty volunteers who proof everything by email.

No matter how good you are, even if you’re a proofreading natural, everyone makes mistakes. And having someone else proof for spelling, accuracy and consistency with your style guide can save you from some big mishaps. Not sure how to get a proofreader? Ask that friend or new person at church you just met, who is whip-smart and wouldn’t mind taking five minutes to read and review stuff for you over email. Asking a new person in your church to help you proof or review your materials can also provide fresh insight on how things really sound to new guests.

Through the years we’ve had our own bloopers still sneak through, and it’s never fun. When things are proofread and easy to read, it eliminates distractions for your guests, so they can focus on hearing more about Jesus. Want a sample of how to help address clear communication for your staff team? Check out Granger’s Communications Playbook to help you get started.

When it comes to keeping your team organized, free tools are your friends.

Whether you’re a white-boarding fiend, a sticky-note aficionado or a fan of keeping lists and schedules in Evernote, it’s important to find a way to keep your team on task and on the same page. At Granger, each department implements a different system that works for them. For example, Creative Arts uses an online organizational tool called Trello.

It’s where they keep bulletin boards of upcoming series ideas and arts elements, organize what new events need to be promoted and keep everyone aware of deadlines. They have found it to be a great, free tool for staying on track. What sort of free tools are you finding helpful?

Did you know we have several free resources for you and your church? Browse the free items on to see our selection of story videos, stage background videos, an ebook and even an original song!

We get a lot of questions. “How does Granger do small-group ministries?” “What do you give (if anything) to first-time guests?” “How do you handle parking?” “Where do you start when you want to build or redo your church website?”

To address these and many other excellent questions, is offering several one-day workshops this May. These one-day events offer an overview of a variety of ministry areas and how those ministries function at Granger. They’re practical and laser-focused. You’ll also get a chance to rub elbows with other ministry leaders from churches all across the country who are asking the same questions.


If you’re wanting to learn more about how to launch and sustain effective group ministry, join us on Thursday, May 19. We’ll be talking about:

  • The role groups play in discipleship
  • Understanding group structure
  • Recruiting and training healthy group leaders
  • Organizing group curricula and yearly schedules
  • Overseeing group growth (numerically and spiritually)

Registration is simple: pick one workshop or event, register through, download your Welcome Packet (full of all kinds of helpful information about your visit to Granger) and hop on the road. We’ll be waiting to say hi and shake hands!

by Executive Pastor Mark Waltz

I’ve been trying to find the rhythm that honors the way God wired me. I’m an introvert. But I like people. Love people. There’s nothing fake in the way I interact with people, particularly around our gatherings as a church.

But as an introvert, I need down time. Alone time. Time to be, to think, to create, to rest. (Of course we all need this time—it’s what Sabbath is about—even for extroverts.) I refuel by being away from people, especially lots of people. And it’s helpful to my spiritual maturity thermometer to see my inclination toward introversion as contemplative. It is what it is, I suppose.

In addition to the challenge of intentionally focusing our quiet on God, I’m realizing there are a couple other cautions for those of us who find meditation to be a comfortable and engaging connection with God.

First of all, we must be careful to not continually be seeking one more experience. One more time of feeling spiritual. One more time of feeling. We must remember that it is God we seek, not merely an emotional experience.

Secondly, we must not love the monastery so much—wherever that is for us—that we neglect experiencing relationships with those around us. God created us for each other. There is a sacred experience, a holy exchange between two or more Christ followers who lean into each other’s lives—calling out the image of God, the formation of Christ in our lifestyle.

Relationships are an encounter with God that must not be missed—even for the contemplative seeker.

I want to create space and time for God’s Spirit to work deeply and gently within me. How about you?

by Teaching Pastor Jason Miller

Resolution talk exhausts me. It’s everywhere in the weeks surrounding New Year’s, and with the proliferation of life-hacking websites comes the threat that all this life-skills stuff may be like oars in the canoe without a compass.

“We can help you get where you’re going!”

But how do I decide where to go?

So, wary of how superficial the resolution thing can be, and because we’re fans of good questions here at the blog, I’ve foregone most of the typical New Year’s resolution making in favor of New Year’s question asking. And this year I’m asking two questions:

What’s the difficult truth about me?
What’s the hopeful truth about me? 

(If these questions seem narcissistic to you, you’re probably right. But maybe that’s part of the difficult truth about me. [See what I did there?] And I think the truths about us are often the hardest truths for us to see, so I figure starting there will hopefully lead to the discovery of lots of other truths about God and others and the world around me.)

Continue reading on Jason’s Blog...