by Lead Pastor Mark Beeson

Back in the day, when visitors came to the Houmas Plantation, they sometimes stayed for weeks. They often stayed for months. It was a big place (300,000 acres) and it was a busy place (producing 20,000,000 pounds of sugar each year).

To get to the plantation, travelers braved brutal people and brutal challenges: the turbulent Mississippi, swamps filled with gators, outlaws, poisonous snakes, impenetrable undergrowth and mosquitos carrying a deadly Yellow Fever virus. Some died trying to make the trip. There were settlers, pioneers and merchants among them. They were slaves, refugees, wholesalers and traders.

Most visitors expected something upon arrival.

Some hoped for a little food, shelter and rest. Others expected to stay with the family in the main house. They assumed they would dine at their table, drink their rum, smoke their cigars and be treated as part of the owner’s family.

It’s easy to see why expectations developed. You can imagine the expectations you would have if you were arriving at this incredible plantation after a long, grueling journey.

It’s almost Christmas. People are on their way and they’re bringing their expectations with them.

The question isn’t whether travelers will arrive at our place with expectations. The question is what we expect when they get here.

Continue reading on Mark’s Blog...

by Lead Pastor Mark Beeson

When I braced my camera against this old fence, I noticed it didn’t move. Upon inspection I surmised the fence didn’t wobble because new screws were holding the weathered rails against its well-worn pickets.

An old fence like this one will stand as long as its connections hold fast. And its connections are more likely to hold when they’re maintained. The integrity of the whole structure depends on what holds it together.

What holds you and yours together?

Who secures your life when life gets difficult? How do you and yours stay together when it feels like everything is falling apart? What keeps you connected in a loose and shaky world?

It’s time to ask the One who holds absolutely everything together to hold us together too. Our Savior has come and He is far more powerful than any of the trials threatening to wear us down, shake us up or tear us apart. It’s not time to give up and let go. It’s time to get a grip. Jesus is leading His Church into very difficult fields of ministry, and in a world where folks will publicly behead young children because they refuse to renounce Jesus as their Lord and Savior, this is not the time to get wobbly.

Continue reading on Mark’s Blog...

by Elkhart Campus Pastor Gene Troyer

Fall baptisms happened this weekend at Granger Community Church as we closed out the Game Plan series with 165 people taking their next step and going under the water. It was an incredible time of celebrating the work God continues to do in His people.

Here is an excerpt from my sermon:

“This life of following Jesus is a discovery of God’s holy standard, striving towards making it our own and coming to the realization that we cannot do it by our own efforts. ‘Taking up our cross daily’ is a constant reminder of the nature of Jesus’ atonement. Our belief is that the sacrifice of Jesus is the basis of our repentance and the motivation to be more like Him. As we become more like Him we have a change in mind which causes a change in behavior, and this results in a life of grace and service. But the daily taking up of our cross, this struggle against the challenges and temptations of personal sins can seem overwhelming 15baptism1at times and so, it is good for us to remember the gospel.

“Feeling proud? Remember the gospel: Jesus substituted Himself for you personally and died painfully in your place.

“Feeling discouraged? Remember the gospel: Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic Law by permanently removing the cause of God’s wrath (expiation) and making you favorable to Him (propitiation).

“Feeling self-righteous? Remember the gospel: Only Jesus could redeem you by paying the judicial penalty of your sin and liberating you from its penalty.

“Feeling afflicted? Remember the gospel: Jesus cancelled your ‘certificate of debt’ and took away the force of your accuser.”

Continue reading on Gene’s Blog...

by Teaching Pastor Jason Miller

Our bodies and souls are connected. Holy encounters are waiting for us in the things we taste, touch, see, smell, and hear. A table can be a temple. But how does that happen?

When I was in middle school, my mom had cancer. It shook me pretty hard. It shook all of us. It was the first time I remember feeling how fragile things can be, how one day your biggest fear is that you’ll get stuck next to the weird kid on the bus, and the next you find out your mom has this thing that could kill her.

She had a major surgery to remove the cancer. My grandpa took me to the hospital while she was recovering and left me alone in the room with her so she and I could visit. While I was in there, her lunch was delivered. Because of her operation, my mom couldn’t lift her hand to eat, so she asked me to help. I walked over to her bed, picked up a spoon, and began to feed her whatever passed for a meal in the hospital that day.

That was the moment when I lost my grip.

The whole cancer experience was one long encounter with my mom’s vulnerability. It was an extended confrontation with the fact that her body, like everyone’s, could be weakened or even destroyed. I had been doing everything I could to avoid that confrontation, but finally, after the surgery was done and she was essentially healed, it was the act of feeding her that finally overwhelmed my capacity to pretend I hadn’t been shattered by the experience. It wasn’t the diagnosis, the prayer times, the knowledge of what was happening in the operating room, or the worst case scenarios of what the cancer could do that brought me face to face with reality. It was a meal.

Whatever we eat, whenever we eat, we are faced with our need. Our contingency. Eating exposes our dependence. We can make ourselves strong and fit. We can shelter ourselves from the elements or build up endurance to face them. We can pad our checking accounts and build up our résumés and make ourselves impressive in so many ways. But then we have to eat. We can lie to ourselves about whether we need love and community by burying ourselves in isolation. We can live in myths about sex and work and a lot of other aspects of life, and we can persist in those myths for years without being confronted with their true nature. But our bodies will quickly disabuse us of any deception if we think we don’t need to eat. Every time we sit around a table eating together, we are acting out a shared confession: We are in need.

Continue reading on Jason’s Blog...

Because People Matter

by Executive Pastor Mark Waltz

We know it; no one needs to remind us. Or do we need to be reminded? The volunteers and staff who make up our ministry teams matter as much as the people we’re serving. Our teams are people too.

As I’ve had conversations with volunteers and staff on various teams, I’ve been reminded. People matter. People need value. These people are my first “customers” or “guests.” They will experience value when:

  • I ask how they’re doing—specifically, remembering the life experiences they’re facing (death of a family member, challenging season with kids, disappointment in ministry, etc.)
  • I listen to their take on the ministry they’re leading. All of it. The highlights and the low spots. The victories and the frustrations.
  • I state expectations clearly. What’s expected gets inspected. Stated objectives and goals within the mission and vision define success.
  • I invite them to view the opportunity/challenge as though they are in my seat (if they’re a good leader, they’re already thinking about what they’d do if they were in my chair) and tell me what they’d do next.
  • I initiate conversations before they begin to question if the person or their contribution matters to me or the work of Christ in the local church.

There’s plenty more to valuing volunteers and staff who make up our teams. These are reminders that I’ve experienced personally.

I’m grateful for the hundreds of volunteers who make ministry happen every week at our Elkhart and Granger campuses. They’re the real deal. Relentless. Solid. Joyful.

How do you value your team of staff and volunteers?

by Executive Pastor Mark Waltz

People are people and value is value. Pay attention to what businesses and service organizations are doing well.

  • Read books: anything from Disney, Nordstrom, Starbucks.
  • Read magazines like Fast Company, Forbes and Wired.
  • Visit airports, museums, and shopping malls—places with high traffic. Study signage and traffic flow.
  • Pay attention to quality experiences in restaurants, hotels, airlines and banks. What made it an exceptional experience?
  • Play at Disney and other “experiential” venues. Pay attention to value-added touches that make the experience unique and surprising.
Maybe one day it will all be right-sized and the marketplace will look at the local church and say, “We must study, watch, learn from the local church. They understand people. They get relationships. They communicate authentic value. They are our model.”

Until then, continue to find truth wherever truth exists. Model personal value where it’s excellent. Don’t be afraid to learn from any and everyone.

To hear more from Mark and get more practical tips for creating excellent guest experiences come to his First Impressions Workshop, one of the many workshops we’re offering next week at Granger Community Church.

9 a.m.–4 p.m.

First Impressions
Presenter: Mark Waltz, Executive Pastor
Learn how to make great first impressions with guests (old and new). Discover ways to:

  • Gain clarity and get intentional about the experience you desire for your guests.
  • Build your team—the right team—from the ground up.
  • Cultivate volunteer “wow-makers.”
  • Determine the “rules” your church has (even if you don’t know them yet) and learn what to do about them.
  • Experience hands-on training that will empower your staff and your volunteers.

Presenter: John Keim, Pastor of Granger Student Ministries
How do you keep students engaged and growing week after week? We’ll talk through planning and executing weekly programs and more! Be ready to collaborate and share ideas about:
  • How to build and train leadership teams.
  • Creative ways to get your message across.
  • How to get students out of their seats and serving in the community.
  • Planning life-changing mission trips, camps, retreats and events.

9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Creative and Communication Arts
Presenters: Sean Bublitz, Creative Arts Pastor, and Jami Ruth, Communications Director
Learn about Granger’s process for planning, promoting and executing weekend series through:
  • Timelines and brainstorming creative ideas.
  • Executing a series plan.
  • Q&A with your Granger staff/volunteer counterpart (in web, production and sound, worship, design, promotions, film and more).
  • An optional weekend rehearsal experience Wednesday evening.

Presenter: Josh King, Director of Discipleship
Life is better in groups. We’ll talk through a working strategy to keep people engaged and discipled through groups. We’ll discuss the challenges and practical framework necessary to:
  • Look at the role groups play in discipleship.
  • Understand group structure.
  • Recruit and train healthy group leaders.
  • Organize curriculum and a yearly schedule.
  • Oversee group growth (numerically and spiritually).

Presenter: Ted Bryant, Pastor of Family Ministry
A healthy kids’ ministry has enormous impact. This is for leaders and volunteers who want to learn how to:
  • Create environments that inspire kids at their level and encourage learning and relational connection.
  • Plan and develop curriculum, music and more to make the Bible and relationships come alive.
  • Find, keep and utilize volunteers to make it happen every weekend.
  • Incorporate a special needs ministry to help every child take steps toward Christ.

Come for one day or stay for both days to maximize your learning!


Looking to up your game or freshen things up a bit? Or is your task list turning into an epic novel? We hear you. We all could use a little help once in a while. No matter which camp you’re in, we want to help you get back on track and revitalize your ministry. Check out these top five resources, which have already helped dozens of people in churches just like yours, and get back on top of things:

  1. Guest Services | Creating “WOW” Experiences Training Videos. These videos will help your staff and volunteer teams deliver great experiences for your guests, from the parking lot to the auditorium.
  2. Communications Playbook. This “playbook” helps Granger Community Church have consistent, professional and effective communications. It includes a review of branding, Granger’s vision, how staff should work together with communication vehicles and the filters Granger uses to decide what gets promoted when and where.
  3. A Christmas Carol Total Resource Package. This package includes the resources Granger Community Church used to promote the weekend message series A Christmas Carol, including: Audio MP3s, Message Transcripts, Sample Bulletins, Granger Notes, Graphics, Service Orders, Message Intro Videos and the script for the musical element Christmas Carol (of the Bells) and the script for the production Granger did on Christmas Eve of A Christmas Carol.
  4. The Feed Video Announcement Bumper. Take your weekly announcements to a new level. This product includes the opener video, the ending video, the videos you see in the background and a few little videos of the Feed logo that you can use to create your own video announcements called The Feed.
  5. Guest Services Manual. This manual helps develop first impressions teams through forms such as: roles and responsibilities, scheduling, volunteer training, emergency response, usher assignments and more. It includes summaries of all volunteer team roles at Granger, as well as a copy of the Emergency Response Manual for Guest Services teams.