The Weirdest Way I Ever Saved a Church Member $700

200294162-001I’ve got a guy in my church named Kenny. I wish every church had a Kenny. This guy is great! Super faithful, naturally evangelistic, always looking to bring the least and the lost to church. One of our core values at Mt Vernon is that we “embrace the messes.” Kenny is one of the guys that leads that charge. He works in “the mess.” He’s a bail bondsman.

Kenny is constantly using his platform as a bail bondsman to tell people about Jesus and Mt Vernon Church. He figures that if he’s bailing them out of jail, they’re definitely looking for something more. Almost every week Kenny has someone new with him that he introduces me to. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Kenny: Josh, I want you to meet Chris* and Brandon*.

Me: Great to meet you! Is this your first time to Mt Vernon? (The deer in the headlights look tells me this is the first time they’ve stepped into a church in years, but I give them the benefit of the doubt)

Chris and Brandon: Yes. 

(at this point I’ll make small talk, find some commonalities and make a few light-hearted jokes, usually at Kenny’s expense. But the conversation usually finishes like this):

Me: Let me guess. Did Kenny bail you out of jail?

Chris and Brandon (looking at each other like I’m a clairvoyant): As a matter of fact he did!

I love the fact that Kenny is so enthusiastic about inviting everyone to church. So here’s how I saved Kenny some money this past week. On Sunday, as usual, Kenny’s got two new guys with him. I introduce myself, make some small talk and welcome them to church. Later  on that day Kenny catches up with me and tells me this:

Kenny: You saved me some money today!

Me: How did I do that?

Kenny: Those two gentlemen who were with me today I met when I bailed them out of jail. And I made a deal with them to get them to come to church with me. I told them, “If you don’t like church on Sunday, you don’t have to pay me any of the money you owe me (their remaining bail).” 

After the service, they told me, “I wish we could lie and say we didn’t have a good experience, but we loved it! Don’t be surprised if you see us again next week!”

Kenny finished by telling me, “Thanks for helping me out today! They owe me $700!”

Welcome to a day in the life at Mt Vernon. I love it!

What’s in the ‘Secret Sauce’ at Mt Vernon

seo-secret-sauceThe DNA of each church is different. Every church culture is unique. Recently our staff got together and identified the defining characteristics of Mt Vernon. What makes us ‘us.’ This list is a continual work in progress, but here’s we think is in the ‘secret sauce’ at Mt Vernon:

We make everyone welcome. This speaks to our culture. It doesn’t matter your station in life. Whether you’re educated or uneducated, churched or unchurched, married or divorced, an outstanding citizen or a recovering addict, we’ll do our best to make you feel welcome at Mt. Vernon.

We embrace change. This speaks to the humility of our people. We have changed almost everything at Mt Vernon in the past decade, and we’re continuing to change and adapt to our cultural context of a post-Christian world in the 21st century. Our church embraces the necessity of constant change as the price of effective ministry today.

We’re all rowing in the same direction. This speaks to our unity. We’re united as a staff and body. There’s no dead weight. There’s no sideways energy. We’ve killed legacy programs that don’t contribute to our overall purpose. We all have our marching orders: creating contagious communities of hope. It’s amazing to see the synergy that’s created when we’re united behind the same purpose.

We teach timeless truths in creative ways. This speaks to how we communicate truth. Everything we teach is biblical truth, like most churches. Yet we go above and beyond to teach those timeless truths in the most creative ways imaginable. We want to engage all five senses. We think it’s a travesty to bore a child with the Bible. We have a standard of excellence when it comes to our environments that blows my mind.

We are serious about having fun. This speaks to our joy. A church service shouldn’t feel like a funeral service. You can be reverent without being depressing. We emphasize joy. We have fun. We laugh together. We celebrate the good things in life, and we make no apologies for doing so. We work hard at having fun.

We offer transforming hope. This speaks to our purpose. We offer the hope of the gospel. We expect lives to be changed. We invite people to a better way of life. We offer them the hope of positive change and the hope of eternity through the power of Christ.

We walk towards the messes. This speaks to outreach. We’re not content to wait for people to come to us. We go to them. Our folks bring those that need hope the most: the broken, the dirty, the messes. We don’t judge them for not getting their life right before coming to church. We don’t condemn them when they’re standing at the entrance to our church and their mess is staining the carpet. We embrace them with open arms, just as Christ embraces us.

 

What’s in the ‘Secret Sauce’ at Mt Vernon

seo-secret-sauceThe DNA of each church is different. Every church culture is unique. Recently our staff got together and identified the defining characteristics of Mt Vernon. What makes us ‘us.’ This list is a continual work in progress, but here’s we think is in the ‘secret sauce’ at Mt Vernon:

We make everyone welcome. This speaks to our culture. It doesn’t matter your station in life. Whether you’re educated or uneducated, churched or unchurched, married or divorced, an outstanding citizen or a recovering addict, we’ll do our best to make you feel welcome at Mt. Vernon.

We embrace change. This speaks to the humility of our people. We have changed almost everything at Mt Vernon in the past decade, and we’re continuing to change and adapt to our cultural context of a post-Christian world in the 21st century. Our church embraces the necessity of constant change as the price of effective ministry today.

We’re all rowing in the same direction. This speaks to our unity. We’re united as a staff and body. There’s no dead weight. There’s no sideways energy. We’ve killed legacy programs that don’t contribute to our overall purpose. We all have our marching orders: creating contagious communities of hope. It’s amazing to see the synergy that’s created when we’re united behind the same purpose.

We teach timeless truths in creative ways. This speaks to how we communicate truth. Everything we teach is biblical truth, like most churches. Yet we go above and beyond to teach those timeless truths in the most creative ways imaginable. We want to engage all five senses. We think it’s a travesty to bore a child with the Bible. We have a standard of excellence when it comes to our environments that blows my mind.

We are serious about having fun. This speaks to our joy. A church service shouldn’t feel like a funeral service. You can be reverent without being depressing. We emphasize joy. We have fun. We laugh together. We celebrate the good things in life, and we make no apologies for doing so. We work hard at having fun.

We offer transforming hope. This speaks to our purpose. We offer the hope of the gospel. We expect lives to be changed. We invite people to a better way of life. We offer them the hope of positive change and the hope of eternity through the power of Christ.

We walk towards the messes. This speaks to outreach. We’re not content to wait for people to come to us. We go to them. Our folks bring those that need hope the most: the broken, the dirty, the messes. We don’t judge them for not getting their life right before coming to church. We don’t condemn them when they’re standing at the entrance to our church and their mess is staining the carpet. We embrace them with open arms, just as Christ embraces us.

 

BIG Ideas of 2013 – Part 2

big_idea.250w.tnMonday I shared six months worth of BIG Ideas, one sentence statements that captured the biblical truth I was conveying that week. Here are the second half of 2013′s BIG Ideas:

“Mission Creep” Series

Jul 6 – Mission creep begins when you fear man more than you fear God.

Jul 13 – Mission creep gets crazy when you become lazy.

Jul 27 – Nothing fuels the fire of mission creep more than money.

Aug 4 – The problem with the church is that we’ve made church for church people.

 

“Front Porch Gospel” Series

Aug 11 – The world is won through Christ’s great love.

Aug 18 – Winning the world starts with seeing a world that’s winnable.

Aug 25 – Your actions illuminate what you adore.

Sep 8 – Invest and invite is the way to win right.

Sep 15 – The Kingdom explodes exponentially when we’re united in purpose.

 

“Picture Perfect Family” Series

Sep 22 – Your family has issues; deal with it.

Sep 29 – Where do you find your value?

Oct 6 – Are you doing the work required?

Oct 13 – Are you being salt and light?

Oct 20 – Are you committed for the long haul?

Oct 27 – Whom are you serving?

 

“Blessed” Series

Nov 3 – You’re blessed with a need.

Nov 10 – You’re blessed with a burden.

Nov 17 – You’re blessed to tell your story.

Nov 24 – You’re blessed to be a blessing.

 

“Advent Conspiracy” Series

Dec 1 – Spend less.

Dec 8 – Give more.

Dec 15 – Love all.

Dec 22 – Worship fully.