Elevation Church // Fervently Focused

A couple weekends ago it was my privilege to spend a weekend with Elevation Church.  It was stretching experience on many levels.  This week I’m blogging about a few things that I experienced that I don’t think get covered enough about this church.

Elevation is amazingly focused for a church of 11,000 people.  I’ve worked in a few churches that talk about being “simple” in their approach.  We we say is the we do Sunday experiences, groups and teams.  “That three legged stool is the core of what the churches offers . . . we don’t do anything else.”

That sounds great . . . really focused and easy to understand.  It’s simple for people to take “next steps” because it’s obvious and clear what to do next.

But overtime . . . we drift to complexity.  We start a class to help people read their Bibles . . . who would be against that?  Then we realize that we need to offer some counseling so we set up a small care ministry . . . that quickly blossoms to have 4-5 different sub ministries.  Then we have a group of guys that want to get together on Saturday mornings to encourage each other . . . who doesn’t want to encourage the guys of the church?  So we start a men’s ministry with camping trips and basketball clubs and lots of ways for guys to avoid connecting with their families.  (Ouch . . did I just say that?)

Elevation Church is fervently focused on what they don’t do. It’s so refreshing to see.  Clearly as a leadership team they are saying “no” to more things than they are saying “yes” to.

Here are some of the places that I loved seeing how simple and focused their approach is:

  • Hyper Weekend Focus. I remember years ago hearing a great podcast by Ed Young talking about why it’s so important for churches to focus on the weekend. [Click here to listen to “It’s about the weekend, stupid” by Ed Young] One of the great ironies of working in a church . . . is that the weekend service can easily get lost in the shuffle.  There is a sense of that other stuff is “more spiritual” or “more important” than what happens during those services.  Elevation has clearly kept the organization focused on hosting amazing weekend services . . . I mean “worship experiences” . . .they even call then something special.  (I was gently corrected a few times what to call them.)  In the 5 campuses we visited . . . from permanent to portable . . . from old to brand new . . . the quality of the experience was crazy consistent.  [They clearly train their weekend teams thoroughly.] A large percentage of their staff team (that small staff team . . .remember?) is dedicated to creative services.  It shows. . . what happens on the weekend is compelling.
  • Clear That It’s about New Guests. When you walk into an Elevation Worship Experience . . . it’s clear that first time guest are given a high priority.  They’re greeted on the way in and given a “what to expect” information package.  During the service they are celebrated . . . but not centered out.  Right before the end of the service they are invited to drop by the black “VIP” tent to pick up a free gift (a snappy t-shirt).  [Check out Tim Schraeder’s post that talks more fully about their VIP experience.] Elevation is obsessed with welcoming first time guests home.  It shows.
  • Service Teams. When a first time guest connects with the church they are invited to a “First Experience” orientation that runs every other week at each location.  This 4 hour experience is all about learning what Elevation is all about and helping people get plugged into a service team.  Every church is looking for ways to get people connected . . . Elevation makes it über clear . . . you are invited to join the revolution by joining a team.  Every weekend people are reminded that those bright orange tents they saw on the way in is where you are suppose to do to get connected to a service team.
  • EGroups . . . the last piece. No classes.  No clubs.  Elevation has put a lot freight on their EGroups.  Every Sunday you can find out how to join an EGroup by dropping by the “Orange Tent” in the lobby or in the parking lot.  Again . . . making it visible and clear how to take the next step.  If we really believe that groups are as important as we say them are . . . are we making it really easy for anyone to connect at any time?  Or are we waiting until it’s convenient for us to plug them in?  I was humbled by how straight forward an simple Elevation makes getting plugged in.

It’s not rocket science.  Their are thousands of churches across the country that have structured themselves in a similar way to Elevation . . .but the beauty of what they’ve been able to do is to stay focused and not keep adding to their ministry.

Years ago I remember visiting another fast growing church that also talked about narrowing the focus and keeping the approach to ministry simple.  Today that church has over 50 items listed on it’s website that people can get connected with.  The challenge for Elevation will be to keep saying “no” and focusing people through the existing ministry structure.  I found their approach refreshingly simple and challenging to consider.  [What about you? Where do you see complexity creeping into your ministry context?]

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