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the Reaching hing Reac Lost by the Home





THE INSIDER’S GUIDE TO BECOMING A HOME IMPACTING PRO © 2010 by Brian Carlson. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical,photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed review, without the prior permission of the publisher. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version® , NIV® . Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved.

Cover and interior design by: Brian Carlson

To Beka, for putting up with me all these years, and for having such a heart to pass on a relationship with Jesus to our children.

Table of Contents N RUCTIO T S N O C PREion Introduct .8 g P 1 N rGE TIO ove val A A he vi T S ND is t o re U t FO ome ey h k e d th oke lo

STAGE 3 ESSENTIAL SYSTEMS Pg. 42 creating a system for authentic connection in homes POST-

Pg. 6

STAGE 2 FRAMING Pg. 24 how to build the back door to any home (even non-Christian ones!)

STAGE 4 PAINT & TRIM Pg. 54 painting vision that draws homes into transformation


Pg. 81

Introduction This brief book is the combinations of two great passions. First, my passion to see lives transformed through Jesus Christ. Second, my passion for the home as the ultimate system to experience that life transformation. These two passions have been lived out in my own experience as a pastor for the past seventeen years, and in my current role leading The Year of Evangelism project for Colorado Christian University. In the age of iGeneration and on-demand lifestyles, the individual reigns supreme. As a result, most ministry efforts target the felt needs of individuals as the gateway to salvation in Jesus Christ. Individuals find Christ, but often return to extremely dysfunctional homes. Our methodology focuses on transforming individuals rather than transforming the broken system in which that individual lives. Much of the principles and ideas shared flow from my experience as a youth ministries pastor at Woodmen Valley Chapel, a church of 7500 members in Colorado Springs. My hope is that the strategies and ideas shared will challenge those with a heart to impact lives to evaluate current strategies for reaching the lost. Our target will no longer to merely reach people with the gospel, instead our goal elevates to transform entire homes through the wonder and grace of Jesus Christ.

The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Home Impacting Pro will focus on changing the lens through which we look at ministry and evangelism. To do this we will journey through stages by which a home is built. We will walk through the four construction stages as a 6

strategic picture conveying principles of reaching the lost, through reaching the home. • Stage 1—Foundation. • Stage 2—Framing. • Stage 3—Essential Systems. • Stage 4—Paint and Trim. This book is intended to be descriptive, not prescriptive. Thus, it describes ideas and principles that effectively reach people with the gospel through the home. It is not intended to be prescriptive, as in prescribing what to do. Instead, my hope is that principles behind these ideas and strategies will be abstracted, adapted to fit your unique ministry context, and applied to affect life transformation in your unique environment.


1 e g a t S


The Home is the Overlooked Key to Revival

The foundation key to any structure. Foundations provide the base upon which any home is built. When the foundation is true--the home is secure. A poor foundation leads to structural nightmares. To see the home as key to revival is a foundational understanding potentially impacting everything we do. It may change strategies. It may redirect programs. It might even change the lens through which we view evangelism.


Once I mention home-based ministry I immediately turn-off half of you. Home-based ministry conjures up images of a dad in suit, a tired worn-out mom, nine kids wearing thick glasses, and a white-conversion van with eleven ixthus stickers on the back. In effective, cuttingedge ministries the home has seems as relevant as overhead projectors. After all, the home lies in ruin. We live in an age when half of all marriages end in divorce. Children often spend Christmas pulled between multiple parent homes. Teenagers spend the week at one parent’s house, and the weekend at another’s, and two weeks with their dad and step-mom in the summer. What value could a home-based outreach strategy have in post-modern day America?

A few years ago I was a part of the Strong Families National Innovation Alliance. This was a group of 15 leading churches from around the country who came together for a two year project to develop family-based models of ministry. During our first meeting a turning-point came in a discussion on language and how words matter in ministry. The terminology we use has great bearing on our ability to effectively communicate vision. The turning point of that meeting came when we discussed


the word “family. “ Family is a tough concept to relate to in the new millennium. The idea of “family” has disintegrated beyond the experience of many in younger generations. Most have never known family life outside of brokenness. The term “family” equates to the painful heart exercise of complicated family trees full of removed and grafted branches. The key moment of the discussion arrived when we realized the great difference between the terms “family” and “home.” Tim McDonald, the former Executive Pastor from Woodmen Not everyone knows Valley Chapel, summed it up best, “Not who their family is, but everyone knows who everyone has a place their family is, but everyone has a place they call home. they call home.” Actress, Jennifer Aniston, emphasizes the confusion. Recently Aniston fired back at Fox News commentator, Bill O’Reilly, after O’Reilly criticized lessons Aniston’s character in the movie Switch teaches young girls. In the movie Aniston’s plays a woman who decides to take on life as a single mother through artificial insemination. I happen to agree with O’Reilly’s comments that “She’s throwing a message out to 12-year-olds and 13-yearolds that, ‘Hey you don’t need a guy. You don’t need a dad.’ That is destructive to our society.” I believe that God’s design for the home is ultimately experienced when kids are raised in a family in which a father loves his wife as Christ loved the Church. This is a home


in which kids grow up seeing their dad willing to lay down his life for their mom. Regardless of how people feel about lessons from the movie Switch, or even O’Reilly’s comments, it is Aniston’s response to O’Reilly’s criticism that captures how culture’s understanding of “family” and “home” gets messy. Listen to the interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s Good Morning America,1

STEPHANOPOULOS: “But usually you don’t respond to this kind of thing, why did you decide to respond?” ANISTON: “I just felt it was needed, it was begging for a response. It was just an unfair statement that he made against me. And you know people say things about me all the time and you just kinda go ‘oh whatever.’ But his was not just about me, it was also saying something, insulting women that are out there doing this on there own. I was raised, my mother was single. You know? I mean it doesn’t always start off that way but sort of life, it happens.” STEPHANOPOULOS: “And you’re right, the movie is a celebration of family.” ANISTON: “It is! It’s family…home is where the heart is!” Family is complicated in the early 21st Century. Imagine if the child from Switch drew a family tree for his first grade class. He’d have his mother on one branch, but would not know who’s name to write on his father’s 1

Aniston’s interview on Good Morning America August 19, 2010.


branch. His grandparents would be fuzzier with one or two sets of grandparents from his mom (although there could be more or less grandparents if his mother came from a single parent home). Ultimately, would he ever know that his biological father was actually a donor at a fertility lab? How would he draw that on his family tree? Perhaps Stephanopoulos is right in calling the movie Switch “...a celebration of family.” It is a celebration of family in an era of overwhelming complication. In the mist of potential confusion, Aniston brings simple clarity. She identifies the source of home, “...home is where the heart is.” This quaint old phrase rings truth in post-modern culture. Home is where the heart is. After the child from Switch completes his family tree drawing, ask him who his family is. His answer would likely be messy. Then ask him where home is? This same boy would have no problem with this answer because his heart clearly is found with one person. Home is wherever his mom is.

Home is the primary system in which we live out life.

Not everyone knows who their family is, but everyone has a place they call home.”

Home is more than where our heart is found. “Home” is the primary system in which we live out life. That system is the primary shaper of character, belief, values, desires, and dreams. The dynamics of that system affect every aspect of lives. If that system is broken, the affects can have a detrimental affect on every relationship we engage with throughout a lifetime. Conversely, a system built upon


biblical principles is a precious gift that infects every aspect of life. Regardless of individual decisions or beliefs, that individual lives within a home system. The mistake of targeting ministry exclusively towards individuals is failing to anticipate the dramatic effect that home system has upon the individual. For example, take a typical first-time visitor to a middleschool student ministry. She is invited to an event by a friend. She attends and has the time of her life. The youth pastor shares a biblical message that God uses to draw her in. The night ends with an alter-call. She goes forward to accept Jesus as Lord. Let me stop here and say, that girl is saved. She has encountered Jesus Christ and in that moment she is transformed. However, when that girl goes home that night, she returns to the established system of a nonChristian home. She is a changed individual who’s heart transformation changes the dynamics of the family system. Her decision to follow Jesus not only change her life, but changes the system she calls home. Kelsey’s Family System Non-Christian, single parent home with unique relational dynamics, moral structure, rules, and policies. Non-Christian Older Brother

Non-Christian Younger Brother

Non-Christian Single-Parent Mom Non-Christian Older Brother

Non Christian Kelsey

New Believer Kelsey Kelsey Finds Jesus Kelsey accepts Jesus as her Savior at a middle school youth ministry event.


In the idealism of pastors, this girl’s impact on her family will lead to mom, dad, brothers, sisters, uncle Fred, great aunt Ruth, and three long lost relatives finding Jesus for themselves. This does happen, and I don’t underestimate the influence a new believer has upon their home. However, most churches do not provide support for such a situation. Kelsey Returns to her Home System Non-Christian Non-Christian Kelsey has been transformed, but she Older Brother Younger returns to the same system. Because Brother she has changed, relational and system dynamics have changed. Yet because the middle school ministry Non-Christian New targeted her only as an individual, Single-Parent Believer she returns to her home system Mom Kelsey unsupported as the only believer in a Non-Christian Non-Christian system. Older Brother

More commonly, the girl returns to her non-Christian home and struggles for years in a broken system leading to a constant battle between her flesh and her new life in Christ. Many in this situation never discover a thriving relationship with Jesus. Too many, as Jesus described In Matthew 13, end up “like seed thrown on rocky ground.” They receive Jesus with joy, but as trouble or persecution at home comes they “quickly fall away.” Systems thinking is the process of understanding how parts influence one another within a whole. In nature we find ecosystems. Every element of that ecosystem including organisms, atmosphere, and climate work together to thrive, survive, or die.


Organizations are systems made up of people, structures, and policy. A home is an organizational system with a unique set of people, living in a unique structure with unique policies and rules. System thinking approaches problems in organizations, such as a home, as part of an overall system. A systems problem ministries must address is individuals finding Christ and returning to nonChristian homes. Ministries focusing on the individual’s personal journey, while returning such new believers unsupported to home systems Systems thinking is the hostile to Christ is process of understanding not only foolish, but antithetical to how parts influence one producing fully another within a whole. devoted followers of Jesus. A parallel systems problem ministries must address is the mass exodus of teenagers who attend church during their teenage years. Of those who attend church during their high school years, around seven out of ten exit the church upon graduation.2 That is a systems problem resulting from age based strategies focusing upon individuals rather then upon the systems in which those individuals live. At the root, these system issues are the result of ministry strategies prioritizing individuals over the primary system in which the individual lives. The children’s director is pleased as long as 82 children receive Jesus at 2,1703,A=165949&M=200%20 906,00.html.


VBS. The youth pastor shines while leading an exciting student ministry with hundreds of teenagers showing up Wednesday nights. The Women’s Director is on top of her game with the overflow rooms needing to be set up for the Beth Moore bible study Tuesday mornings. The Men’s Pastor is doing handstands over the 300 men showing up for the Saturday morning men’s breakfast. The Senior Pastor is thrilled that everyone on staff seems to be thriving in their job. The yearly reviews are an out-of-body experience, attendance is up, and giving is through the roof! One problem: the The church is thriving at above described ministry targeting age- church is “thriving” at ministry targeting specific individuals without age-specific strategies designed to individuals without designed impact primary systems strategies to impact primary people actually live in. systems people actually live in. Are they truly accomplishing their mission statement that deals with transforming lives? Or, are they accomplishing the unspoken North American mission statement of “Bank and Butts”(the more money in your budget, and the more people showing up on weekends, the more successful your ministry). The Church has never had so many resources at its disposal. The facilities, staff, teaching, worship, and creativity work together to prepare an amazing symphony of programs and worship experiences that grab the heart of every believer and never let go. Yet, despite these cutting edge ministries:


• A “Christian Marriage” is just as likely as a “nonChristian” marriage to end in divorce.3 • A “Christian” teenager is more likely than a “nonChristian” teenager to cheat on a test at school.4 • 2.8 million+ children enroll in VBS each year with over 88,000 making professions of faith, yet churches do not see a major influx of new families in the following year.5 • Youth ministries are full of new-believers who find Christ through the youth ministry, but exit the church upon graduation from high school.6 The effectiveness of our ministries is not measured by “Bank and Butts.” Rather the effectiveness of our ministries is determined by what occurs where a majority of life is lived--at home. The success of our ministries is not determined by the size of our children’s wing or the sound system in our youth center. Rather, the success of our ministry is determined twenty and thirty years down the road: • Do they grow into godly husbands and wives? • Are they parents who raise their kids to follow after the heart of God? A different metric is needed. One that doesn’t measure via “Bank and Butts”, rather it targets the ability of a ministry to influence, not merely the individual, but the 3 4 5 As shared by Danny Kirkpatrick in his presentation How to Lead Children to Christ. 6 252526M%25253D200906%2C00.html?.


systems in which individuals live. Imagine, different lenses for evangelism. What could happen if we changed our sites? Instead of developing strategies to impact age specific individuals, what if we targeted the home system? What if a youth pastor’s ultimate goal was not to reach the teenager for Christ, but to reach the parents behind that teenager? What could happen if every ministry in a church stopped functioning according to the silos of age specific strategy, but rather developed an over-arching strategy to work together towards transforming entire home systems? Let’s take our earlier situation with Kelsey. Remember, she’s a typical first-time visitor to a middle-school student ministry. She was invited to an event by a friend where she ended up going forward to accept Jesus as her Savior. Remember, she is a changed individual who’s heart transformation potentially changes the dynamics of the family system. Her decision to follow Jesus not only change her life, but changes the system of her home. What if the senior pastor, youth pastor, and the church that youth pastor worked in, anticipated this dynamic? For this youth pastor his strategy was not to merely reach Kelsey, but ultimately it was to reach Kelsey’s entire family. This youth pastor worked together with the Men’s and Women’s Directors to develop a tool to connect the parents of non-Christian teenagers who accept Jesus. Suddenly, that student is not merely sent back as a lone Christian into a non-Christian home system. Instead, they send Kelsey back into her home system with a tool designed to engage her mother with


a journey towards Jesus Christ. Kelsey Finds Jesus The youth pastor equips Kelsey with a CD for her mom. The CD is called,“My Kid Went to Some Church and Found Jesus, Now What?” The CD is a podcast style audio CD featuring the Youth Pastor, Men’s Pastor, and Women’s Director explaining the basics of Christianity and what it means that their teenager accepted Jesus. The CD ends with the Men’s Pastor and Women’s Director inviting parents to call or e-mail them with questions or concerns. Later that week, the Women’s director will call Kelsey’s mom and ask her if she has any questions and invite her to the Beth Moore Bible Study (if a father was involved the Men’s Pastor would call and invite him to a men’s breakfast).

New Believer Kelsey

The above is a simple strategy that could be implemented by any church. An Audio CD is easy to produce on any Mac or PC. The CD’s cost $1 or less to produce. Yet, the potential value of impacting, not just Kelsey, but her mother is immeasurable. Ever youth pastor hopes their students will influence their families towards Christ. Kelsey’s church has a strategy to see it happen. Kelsey’s Introduces Christ into Family System She is still re-entering her non-Christian family system. But by giving the CD to her mom, her mother is introduced to the reasons behind her transformation.

Non-Christian Older Brother

Non-Christian Younger Brother

Non-Christian Single-Parent Mom Non-Christian Older Brother

New Believer Kelsey

Kelsey Mom Finds Jesus In a phone conversation with the Women’s Director, Kelsey’s mom breaks down in tears. She ends up scheduling a counseling meeting where she finds Jesus as her Savior.

New Christian Single-Parent Mom


The power of the strategy is evident. First, it forces Kelsey to share with her mother that she made a decision for Christ. Second, it allows Kelsey’s mother to process the decision Kelsey made. Third, Kelsey’s mother has the opportunity to hear the Non-Christian Non-Christian Older Brother gospel (possibly for the Younger Brother first time in her life). Finally, Kelsey’s mother has the opportunity for Non-Christian New Single-Parent personal contact from Believer Mom Kelsey the pastoral staff of the Non-Christian church which leads to her Older Brother finding Christ for herself. Suddenly, Kelsey is not a lone Christian in a nonChristian home system. Instead, her there are two believers in the home. All the dynamics are changing. This brings a whole new reality to Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” Why stop with two? A ministry that embraces systems thinking is able to develop strategies to equip the mother and daughter to reach the two older brothers, the younger brother, and so on. The entrenched patterns of family generations can be transformed in homes in introduced to the gospel. The alternative is to continue the entrenched pattern of ministry strategies focusing on one individual at a time. Unless we address the transformation of lives from a systems’ perspective we will continue to see discouraging results. Without home systems experiencing the transforming power of Jesus Christ


we will continue to see individuals within such systems become disheartening statistics. It’s been decades, if not a century, since the last great revival. Most of us long to see genuine spiritual renewal take hold of hurting people in this country. Family life, in the 21st Century, is a brittle, complicated disaster. When we are weak, He is made strong. Perhaps we are at the crossroads of seeing God use the home to bring revival.

Without home systems

Reggie Joiner, author experiencing the and former Family Ministry Director at transforming power Northpoint Church of Jesus Christ we in Atlanta, has a will continue to see brilliant illustration for the power of the individuals within such home. In speaking systems become at The Orange disheartening statistics. Conference7 Reggie brought out a basket full of 30 ping pong balls. He declared, “The average church has about 30 hours of direct influence on a child each year.” The ministry strategy of most churches is to make those 30 hours the best they possibly can be. After all, if we have the kids for 30 hours, we want to make sure those 30 hours impact them in powerful ways. Then Reggie brought out baskets full of 3000 ping pong balls. He said, “The average parent has 3000 hours of direct influence on a child each year.” Reggie was speaking directly to the home system that kids live in. Reggie went on, “What we need to do is to use our 30 7

Reggie Joiner, Think Orange (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2009), 85.


hours to influence the 3000 hours.” Reggie could not have said it better. 30 hours of influence in a child’s, or teenager’s, life are a doorway into the system dominating the home that child lives in. This is more than an opportunity to equip parents in parenting skills, or to have a powerful children’s, or student ministry. This is an opportunity to leverage the home system as the foundation for evangelism and discipleship. We have the opportunity to unite various departments of the church in a master plan to reach homes rather than individuals. The home truly is the overlooked key to revival. This foundational truth potentially infects every aspect of ministry. Some are reading this and experiencing a slight panic attack It is a philosophical over any thought of transforming every underpinning that the aspect of ministry. home is the primary Ministries tend to system in which people be complex systems made up of programs, live and ministries traditions, dogmatic have a unique ability to ownership, and influence that system. politics—none of which is changed easily. Please hear me, the foundational understanding that the home is key does not necessarily mean fundamentally transforming every program and department in the church. Instead, this understanding can be subtle. It is challenging ministry leaders taking a hard look at their current strategies, programs and resources, and asking the simple question, “How this be used to reach home


systems for Christ?” It isn’t taking a wrecking ball to the church, instead it is changing the lens through which we view ministry. It’s a philosophical underpinning that the home is the primary system in which people live and ministries have a unique ability to influence that system. We are stewards of this influence.


2 e g a t S


How to Build the Back Door to Any Home (Even the Non-Christian Ones!) This is when your house starts looking like a house. During this phase, all of the home’s interior and exterior walls and the stairs are framed. The foundation of seeing the home as key to evangelism has been poured. Now it’s time to build a frame on top of that foundation. To impact that home we’re going to focus on framing a “back door.” Why the back door? The front door is where guest enter, the back door is where the kids run into the house. Here we’ll discover three secrets that reveal why the back door is a powerful entryway into reaching any home system.


I’m about to reveal lost secrets that could revolutionize the way you approach ministry. The church has blinded itself to these secrets as seen in programs and strategies that ignore or neglect their implications. The weight of these secrets are so deep they seem impossible. Their reality appears too easy to implement. Yet, the truth of these secrets ring true. Here they are... Secret #1: Children and teenagers crave significant relationship with their parents. Secret #2: Parents crave significant relationship with their children and teenagers. Right now you’re tempted to throw away or delete the copy of this book from the awe-inspiring obviousness just stated. Of course kids crave relationship with their parents. Of course parents crave significance with their children. You might even agree that deep down teenagers crave a relationship with their parents. The problem is people in our culture have lost the art of healthy relationships within home systems. Parents are desperate to connect with their children and teenagers. Our culture is full of parents whom have spent a lifetime substituting superficial over-activity with their children for genuine authentic relationship. The kids feel it too. As they grow into teenage years, resentment grows knowing something is missing. The


desperation can be thick and has led many mothers (father and teenagers too) to tears. As a culture we have so embraced this dynamic that we have labelled it “teenage rebellion” and consider it a natural passing phase. But does it have to be this way? Does there have to be a growing gap that begins with childhood and ends upon graduation into adulthood? Or have homes embraced relational crisis because they have lost the art of connecting in significant ways?

Have homes embraced the relational crisis because they have lost the art of connecting in significant ways?

I’m about to do something I must apologize in advance for. I’m going to quote Rahm Emanuel. Honestly, I never thought I would quote President Obama’s Chief of Staff, but in this case what he said contained a kernel of wisdom (right now my liberal father is doing hand-stands). Emanuel caused great controversy in his comments about the financial crisis facing the nation while speaking to The Wall Street Journal. In the interview Emanual stated, “You never want a serious crisis go to waste and what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you didn’t think you could do before.”8 The statement set off a fire storm in Washington. In the midst of what many call “the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression,” Emanual was revealing that he saw the suffering of the American people and companies as a political opportunity to implement an 8

Wall Street Journal video CEO Counsel, November 19, 2008.


agenda. While I cannot support politicians who use suffering and crisis to gain power, there is wisdom in Emanuel’s statement. If political agendas are stripped away, and Emanuel’s words are taken in the context of personal growth, then we find helpful application. At some point, everyone faces serious crisis. It may be a work crisis, emotional crisis, You never want relational crisis, or home crisis. In the wisdom of Scripture we a serious crisis to learn that God allows crisis got waste... in our lives because it is his primary tool to shape our hearts. This biblical principle is summarized in James 1:2-3, “Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” In other words, “You never want a serious crisis go to waste.” Okay, I know I’m stretching it a bit, but hear me out. In life, we face trials and crises that test our faith. As followers of Christ we have a choice, to avoid crises with all our strength, or to embrace crises with all our heart. Instead of wasting the struggle of a crisis we can allow God to use that trial to shape us and mold us to build perseverance so that we “...may be perfect and complete, not lacking anything.”9 The home faces crisis like never before. The Church has the potential to embrace this crisis as a gateway into the heart of every home in America. Listen to the rest of Rahm Emanuel’s statement on embracing crisis, “ 9

James 1:4.


is an opportunity to do things that you didn’t think you could do before.”10 The home is the overlooked key to revival. For years the Church has been trying to reach the lost with the Good News of Jesus. We’ve prayed for revival, yet our culture only deteriorates. Perhaps the crises facing homes is an opening to do things we didn’t think we could do before? In the face of the most serious In the face of the crisis in our greatest family crisis in family history, perhaps we our history, perhaps we stand at the greatest opportunity to stand at the greatest impact our culture opportunity to impact our with the wonder of the Gospel. culture with the wonder

of the Gospel.

How can the Church embrace this opening? What I would suggest is that as ministries we embrace the chance to not let the serious relational crises facing homes go to waste. Seizing this opportunity is a third secret: Secret #3: When the church builds bridges between children or teenagers and their parents, it opens the door for the gospel to transform home systems. Remember secrets #1 and #2, both parents and their children and teenagers are desperate for significant relationship with each other. We hold a resource no other organization or program offers—the transforming power of Jesus Christ. 10

Wall Street Journal video CEO Counsel, November 19, 2008.


Do not check out at this point with the excuse, “Not everyone in my ministry belongs to a home. Our church is full of single professional adults.� Obviously, the principles of this chapter are most applicable to homes with children and teenagers. However, do not make the mistake of underestimate their application to single adults, DINKS (Dual Income, No Kids), or people of retirement age. My good friend Kurt Bruner, best selling author and Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Lake Pointe Church, performed a significant study analyzing the demographics of his 15,000 member church. Kurt and his team gathered demographics through questions designed to discover the various structure of the homes and people making up their congregation. What they found is that the vast majority of their congregation found itself currently a part of home with more than one person living in that home with them. Of those whom were single, most had children, or hoped to have children someday, while a majority desired to be married at some point. Kurt and his team made the safe conclusion that over 90% of their congregation of 15,000 people would currently be affected by ministry designed to impact the home, and the bulk of the remaining 10% would find relevance in the opportunity to prepare for their eventual goal of marriage or children.11 These are demographic results of one church. The demographics and dreams of churches and 11 These statistics shared in a presentation by Kurt Bruner as a part of Lake Pointe Church’s Spiritual Formation at Home Strategic Initiative, 2007.


congregations vary as much as Colorado weather (we say “if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes). However, I would challenge anyone serious about impacting the Kingdom and finding significant doorways into the lives of unbelievers to perform a similar demographic study in your ministry. If your church is full of single adults, ask them how many plan on The Church is uniquely marriage. If your church is full of situated to become a DINKs, find out bridge-building agent in how many dream of one day having home systems. kids. If your church is full of retired people, ask them how many desire to influence their grandchildren. What a study will reveal is the relevance and desire most people have to rediscover the art of significant relationships at home.

The church is uniquely situated to become a bridgebuilding agent in home systems. The fragmented relationships in the home lead to the members of that system craving significance. They feel something is lacking. That felt missing piece in their relationship is the power of the Gospel. This great felt need and desire to connect with each other in relationship is a wide open doorway into home systems that we must embrace. Before I move on I want to pause and point out that this gap can be felt in Christian and non-Christian homes. In non-Christian homes it is felt because the members of the home have not found Jesus. In Christian homes the


gap results when members of the home system are not applying the power made available to them on the cross to their relational interactions. So, how do we do it? How do use the relational crises in homes to open the door into non-Christian homes? Most of our strategies focus on the front door into homes. Front door strategies are those strategies that focus on the reaching adults. Take a look at the budget and resources of a typical church, you will find that the majority of resources are designated towards ministries that target adults. In most churches, its success rises and falls upon the weekend service. Why do we poor most of the resources into ministries geared towards adults? Again, I refer back to the unspoken North American mission statement of “Bank and Butts”(the more money in your budget, and the more people showing up every weekend, the more successful your ministry). Adult ministries are important and I’m all for quality weekend services with engaging worship and teaching. In fact, one of the most significant things a Christian parent can do to build their child into a life-long follower of Christ is to attend weekend services with their children. A primary reason many students leave the church upon graduation is that they go off to college and have no idea how to be fed from a weekend service (How could they? They’ve only attended youth group for the past six years). However, targeting adults to impact home systems with the Gospel is an ineffective strategy. First of all the vast majority of studies show that the vast majority of Christians find Christ before the age of 18.12 But there’s 12


a bigger reason front door strategies are ineffective. Simply put: teenagers and children don’t like to get dragged into anything. Unless the children are very young, it is extremely difficult to start with the parent. Take a typical non-Christian dad who gets excited about going to Church. He and his wife are concerned about their fifteen-year-old son, Jake, who never seems to leave his room and is always playing games with friends online. Dad hears about a church with a great service and a cutting edge band in their youth ministry. Mom and dad get up Sunday morning and get ready to go, except for the Jake who refuses to come out of his room. He has no desire to waste a perfectly good Sunday morning of sleeping in. Finally, dad drags the son out of bed by threatening to take away his computer. The fight on the way to church reveals the son has no intention of engaging in anything having to do with God. Mom and dad drop off Jake under full protest. He sits in the last row in the youth service with arms folded and mind crossed. Jake sleeps through the service and at the end is woken up by a volunteer. He return to the car to meet his parents. The scowl on the 15-year-old’s face reveals they had better not drag him anywhere again. Okay, this is a pretty extreme example, but I use it to emphasize a point. Imagine the power of this story if the situation were reversed. Where instead of the dad dragging the kid to church we found the kid dragging the parent to church. most-effective-among-kids.


Strategies that focus on targeting kids and teenagers to impact homes are back-door strategies. Why do I call it the “back door?” The front door is more formal. It’s where guests enter the home. But the back door is where teenagers and kids run into to a home (easiest access to the food!). Take the same non-Christian fifteen-year-old with concerned parents over their video game hermit. One of Jake’s online buddies is a kid from school who invites him to a video game tournament at his church. Jake is excited to go because he hears they’ll have over twenty PS3’s hooked up to HD Projectors. Jake goes with his friend and has the time of his life. At the end of the night, his friend gets up in front of the entire group and shares his story. His friend’s story really pulls on Jake’s heart because it is so similar to his own. When his friend describes the difference Jesus has made in his life, something in Jake snaps. He suddenly realizes his hunger to know Jesus. His friend leads a prayer at the end and Jake gives his life to Jesus. Fortunately, the youth pastor has a plan to not merely reach Jake, but to reach his home. After Jake prayed to receive Jesus, his friend gives him a brochure for a class called “Wired.” It is a class on Sunday morning for new believers to discover who God “wired” them to become. The catch is that this is a “no-drop off” class that takes place during the first hour. That means students can’t be dropped off, but that they need to bring their parents.


Jake comes home and gives the brochure to his dad and says, “Dad, on Sunday we’re going to church!” Suddenly, Dad has hope for his video game hermit son. What the dad doesn’t know is that the first thing he’ll hear at “wired” his fifteen-year-old son sharing his story about how he found Jesus. Can you anticipate the power of the back-door verses the front-door. The front door leads to potential resentment and tension in relationships. The back door leads to non-Christian parents witnessing the transforming power of God at work in their kids. Here’s a question, what kind of impact will it have on Jake’s dad to hear his son’s story? Imagine if after Jake shares the youth pastor gets up and says, “God changed your kids lives. This morning your life can be transformed too” and then proceeds to explain the gospel. Remember Jennifer Aniston’s words from Chapter 1, “...home is where the heart is.”? Regardless of the most Non-Christian parents relationship, parents reserve love their children just the deepest place like Christian parents. in their hearts for their children. Their children hold the key to their heart, and thus unlock the doorway to their home system. Non-Christian parents love their children just like Christian parents. They often desire to see their kids involved in church. In fact, my experience reveals that non-Christian parents love seeing their children involved in ministries (church beats smoking dope and being sixteen-and pregnant).


They will allow their kids to participate in church activities. However, strategic churches will see this participation as an opportunity. The key to back-door ministry is to not merely offer attractive children and student ministries, but to have an intentional mechanism to equip children and teenagers to engage their parents and homes with the resources of the church.

Principles to Build the Back Door 1. If you bribe kids and teenagers, their parents will come. Alright, I apologize again because I’ve just offended half of you (yet again). Yes... I did just suggest bribery as a ministry strategy (thank goodness for the grace of God). Bribery may not be the best word, maybe we should say “reward” such as “rewarding” kids with trophies named after apostles for memorizing verses in programs that rhyme with “marijuana.” Bribing kids work. We do it all the time. Schools reward kids for good behavior. We reward kids for good grades. Awana (in case you missed it) has mastered “bribing” kids to memorize Scripture. As an example of back-door strategy that “rewards” kids for engaging their parents, let’s take the usually uninspired event of a parent meeting. Typically a parent meeting involves a youth pastor sending out emails and flyers to parents inviting them to come to a meeting to be updated on what’s happening. Pretty uninspired. Parents come, but its usually a core few who are so involved they already knew the information before


they stepped through the door. What a waste of an opportunity to engage non-Christian homes. Now, consider the same opportunity using the lenses of strategically opening the back door: Instead of sending letters and emails out to parents, the youth pastor decides to target the students (note: probably a good idea to still communicate with parents, but not as a primary target). The youth pastor starts by painting the vision of engaging the home to the students (note: this generation responds to challenge. The embrace it). The youth pastor paints the picture that the ministry is not merely about reaching them as students, but the ministry exists to impact their homes. Then, the youth pastor announces that next week, during normal youth group time, students should bring their mom or dad. He explains the upcoming meeting with parents is key to impacting their home. On top of that everyone who brings their mom or dad with them will be entered into a drawing to win a “Dream Car Pick-up. If their name is chosen, they’ll be picked up from school with three friends in a brand new Corvette (and a convertible Mustang) to be taken by the youth staff to Red Robin for Mud Pie Ice Cream desert. Imagine the attendance at this parent meeting. When I was a youth pastor at Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs, we used “Dream Car Pick-up” all the time. We found people in our community with


nice cars and invited them to help us “reward”... um... I mean...”bribe” kids. Some of my best memories from Woodmen were seeing the looks on kids faces when we pulled up at school to pick them up with three friends. They were kings of the school for the day. Check out the differing results between the front and Primary back doors:

Front Door Target Parents

Primarily Target = Parents. Communication (e-mail, mailing, phone, etc...) to invite parents to come to parent event.

Typical Results: • Poor attendance • Draws the committed

Back Door Target Students

Target = Students Find enticing hooks to “bribe” students to drag parents to parent event that occurs during normal student program. Typical Results: • Huge attendance. • Draws the committed and the fringe

Notice that both the front door and the back door draw the committed. However, the back door draws the committed, and the crowd. The back door understands that students will drag their parents to anything if a proper reward is involved.

2. Grab parent’s hearts with the reality facing homes. Getting parents through the door is one thing, engaging their hearts in the deep matters of life is another. We are stewards of the influence God entrusts us with. If a non-Christian, disengaged parent attends a meeting because their child invited them, we are stewards of that opportunity to impact their heart. We must make that most of that open door to grab the heart of that parents with the reality


of the Gospel rather than merely downloading information about the next big event. Take the above example of a parent meeting. Envision the chance the youth pastor has to engage the hearts of non-Christian. Because of the “Dream Car Pick-Up,” the youth room is packed with students sitting next to their parents. The students that forgot are on their cell phones begging their parent to come. At least 20 of the parents have never stepped foot in the youth room before, let alone the church. For the first half parents get a glimpse into why their son or daughter attends. They get to hear the student worship band play, take part in a parent/ teen version of The Newlywed Game, and catch a powerful drama by the drama team. Then the senior pastor takes the mic and describes the purpose of the night. He lets parents know that this ministry is about so much more than fun and games, but about transforming lives. He describes how so many of these teenagers have had their lives transformed by Jesus through this ministry. But that this church is interested ultimately in seeing God transform homes. The youth pastor stands and shares a message highlighting resources the student ministry and church offers homes. He titles his message “Do You Recognize the Three Warning Signs of Drifting Away from Your Teenager?” Parents and teens hear the message side by side with specific resources and programs the church offers to


counteract each “sign.” Suddenly, a parent meeting has a bigger purpose. Parents and teenagers are exposed to the bigger vision of why the church exists and how the church can impact difficult relationships in their home. 3. Share stories and the gospel at every meeting. We never know the number of non-Christians attending a meeting or program. Anytime we have the opportunity to influence someone towards Christ we must take it. This is why it is important to make a commitment as ministry leaders to share gospel at every meeting. Regardless of the topic or passage, find a way at some point to draw it back to the Gospel. For a great example of a pastor taking this challenge and doing it in a Evaluate each smooth way go listen to old Charles Swindol messages. program through Charles Swindol was a the lens of “How master at ending with the gospel regardless of the can we use this topic he was teaching on. ministry to impact

Let’s take our parent home systems, not meeting example. A just individuals?” parent meeting is too big of an opportunity to waste on just sharing ministry events. It’s a wide-open door to share the gospel and transform a home system. When the youth pastor reaches the third “Warning Sign of Drifting Away” he invites a core parent and teenager up to the stage to be interviewed by him around a table. The interview


gives this parent and teen the opportunity to share their story of the struggles they had in their relationship, but how finding Jesus helped them not only to find salvation, but to connect together. They share that they still struggle to communicate at times, but they also have been meeting once a week to go through a book together and deal with issues. After they share they leave the stage and the Senior Pastor stands to describe how Jesus can impact each person and home in the room. He shares the gospel and gives the opportunity for parents and teenagers to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior together. This is an example of a church dedicated to transforming home systems. This is one example, one strategy, using a parent meeting as an opportunity to build the “back-door” of a home to the gospel.

Any ministry willing Framing the back-door isn’t limited to student to pursue back-door ministry. The key is to ministry will open always look beyond the target to the home itself to a new level of obvious system that target lives impact and influence. in. Just like in “pouring the foundation” evaluate each program, event, and ministry through the lens of “How can we use this ministry to impact home systems, not just individuals?”

Any ministry willing to pursue back-door ministry will open itself to a new level of impact and influence


in their community. Such ministries potentially see people’s walks with God aren’t driven by a church’s weekend service. Instead, people’s relationship with Christ is lived out and driven at home.


3 e g a t S

ESSENTIAL SYSTEMS Creating a System for Authentic Communication in Homes

Essential systems make homes function. These systems include electrical, heating and cooling, water, waste management, insulation and finally drywall. As each essential system is carefully installed they are carefully inspected to assure smooth performance. The FOUNDATION of seeing the home as the key to evangelism has been poured.. The FRAME of building a back door into homes has been built. Now its time to install ESSENTIAL SYSTEMS of the home. Here we’ll equipping each home with a simple system to create open, authentic communication that draws the home system closer to Jesus Christ.


One morning a man dressed in common clothes puts on a baseball cap and carries a small case into a Washington DC subway station. The man finds the ideal location—a great spot near the main entrance to the facility where thousands of people will pass by on their way to the trains. Unnoticed, the man bends over and opens his case. From it he pulls an ancient violin and bow. He is a street performer who sets his case open in front of him for spare change. He takes time to tune up his instrument and begins to play. The notes fill the air in a symphony of sound echoing off the hard walls of the station. No one takes note. Hundreds of people pass by on the way to their busy days failing to notice that this violinist is a man of superior ability. His fingers fly up and down the fret board with amazing dexterity and the skill of a master. No one stops. The man continues to play. Occasionally, a passing person will drop in a coin or a dollar, but no one stops. With complex technique the notes fill the vast room. The man is nothing more than background music to people with far more important things to do with their day than to stop and listen to a mere street performer.


Suddenly, one woman stops. Hundreds pass behind her as she stands in the center of the room soaking in the beauty and the wonder of the sounds coming from the instrument. The man continues to play and wrap up the incredible masterpiece. The man finishes his last line of notes and ends on a gentle crescendo. The woman walks up shyly to the man and says, “I saw you at the Library of Congress. It was fantastic.” The man is no mere street performer playing for coins. This is Joshua Bell, one of the top rated violinists walking the planet. In the past year Joshua Bell has played to sold out crowds in vast symphony halls around the world. He regularly plays to standing ovations in places such as the Carnegie Hall and with the London Symphony Orchestra. The “old violin” he was playing is old—it is a $4 million Stradivarius violin he recently purchased after selling his $2 million Stradivarius. Recently at a dinner fund-raiser in Aspen Colorado people paid $100 a plate to hear him play. Still, one ordinary morning people walked right past the experience they would never forget of hearing one of the world’s master musicians performing a free concert in a Washington DC subway station. As I watched this video for the first time on YouTube,13 I was amazed. The video is edited to play fast-forward so hundreds, if not thousands of people over a forty-five minute period of time walk right past the treasure (that is until the end when one woman recognizes what is happening). 13

To view this video go to


As I watched, I couldn’t help but be convicted. I thought back and wondered how many times have I passed right by a treasure without taking notice? How many times have not recognized the unmistakable sounds of something special going on? How many times have I been so consumed with myself, my goals, and purposes that I failed to notice the opportunity to experience something I would never forget? Our culture is walking past a treasure without Our culture is walking taking notice. We past a treasure are so focused on our without taking notice. building careers, global warming, and making it to soccer practice that we fail to seize the opportunity to experience something truly meaningful. Yet, the Church can be that lady recognizing the significant. We have heard the unmistakable sounds of authenticity, that only results from a relationship with God, and we have the ability to wake people up to experience that reality for themselves. I wonder: did the woman in the video recognize Joshua Bell’s face, or did she recognize his music? My gut is that as she passed by on her way to the trains she was quick to notice the unmistakable sounds of a master musician playing an instrument she loved. Imagine the woman crying out to the crowd, “Stop and listen to the music! This is a once in a lifetime chance!” Would anyone have stopped? What if there was a way for the crowd to truly experience the significance? What if, like the woman,


the crowd had been to Carnegie Hall the night before and listened to Joshua Bell play with the London Symphony Orchestra? What if they had learned what made Joshua Bell a master or had been learning to play the violin for themselves? Then imagine the crowds’ response walking across the subway system hearing and recognizing the notes of the master. Can we wake up homes in our culture to the treasure they walk past every day? The treasure resides in their deep longings, in the secrets discovered in the FRAMING stage: Secret #1: Children and teenagers crave significant relationship with their parents. Secret #2: Parents crave significant relationship with their children and teenagers. The treasure homes walk past is the resolution of these cravings for significant relationship. The treasure results when parents, and their children (even teenagers), authentically connect in a meaningful way. The church holds the untapped ability of launching individuals to experience the treasure of authentic connection in the home. This won’t happen by merely crying out, “Stop and listen to the music!” Instead, we need to create environments in which homes (even non-Christian homes) truly experience this significant treasure for themselves. It is important to stop and recognize that what I suggest must be built upon the initial stages of “construction” described in the first two chapters. The FOUNDATION of seeing the home system as the primary must be understood. The FRAME of using the back-door to


target kids in order to reach their parents must be implemented. The moment the primary home system has opened itself to the resources of our ministry it is an opportunity to install in homes an ESSENTIAL SYSTEM to experience the treasure of authentic connection between parent and child (or teenager). In the relationship between parent and child an “essential system� implies a basic method for sparking meaningful connection. The communication level in homes varies widely. The tendency in most homes is for drift and distance to grow as a child grows older. This drift grows more palatable and painful through the teenage years resulting in deep, often unspoken, longings for connection. Remember the third secret from the FRAMING stage? Secret #3: When the church builds bridges between children or teenagers and their parents, it opens the door for the gospel to transform home systems. The essential system I would suggest is a powerful mix of a challenge and resources given to parents and students to intentionally connect. The system is simply diagramed as:

und o B

e ari

Authentic Connection Experience





Challenge Begin by challenging parents and their children to do one intentional thing to connect together in a significant way. Again, challenges thrive by applying “back-door” principles shared in the FRAMING stage. If parents are challenged to invite their kids to an intentional activity, the challenge will not work—kids hate being dragged into anything (especially spending time with their parent). However, if a ministry paints the vision to the students and challenges children or a teenagers to invite their parent to an intentional activity, suddenly the challenge packs a punch. Remember, all parents crave significant relationship with their children and most would embrace an invitation from their child to engage in something significant.

Boundaries There is great fear in authenticity. There is fear on the kid’s behalf that a parent might open up about all of the issues and failures of the child. There is fear on the parent’s behalf that their own failures, that are often well known by the child, might be dragged out onto the table. Don’t just expect that homes know how to communicate. In fact, expect they don’t. Homes are often saturated with shallowness in relationships. There is great risk when relationships are pushed from shallowness to deep waters.

Spark The spark is where the challenge and boundaries lead to


authentic connection. The spark is simply a tool to spark conversation. To merely challenge parents and students to connect with boundaries will not result in deeper conversation. There must be a tool to spark dialogue and interaction. The key to this tool is to find something that will cause spiritual discussion. Here are two examples of how we’ve applied this “essential system” in building authentic connection experiences in homes. 1. The Amazed Race — The Amazed Race is based upon the CBS Reality TV Show “The Amazing Race.” Parents and student show up at church Friday night with a car, their luggage, and a tank full of gas. We hand them their first clue, which could say, “Drive to the Fun City Mini-Golf. Play any of the four holes to receive your next clue.” They spend the next two days chasing clues all over Colorado having the time of their lives. The first team to the finish line Sunday morning wins a ski vacation for four in Telluride, Colorado (an easy prize to get donated for a church based in Colorado). First of all, imagine how attractive this experience is to non-Christian kids. This puts into practice the back-door principles of the FRAMING stage. Kids drag their parents to this event. But watch how we use this experience to build an “essential system” in the relationship: • Challenge At the beginning of the race each team is challenged not to waste the time. Instead, they are challenged to use every moment, even the time driving between clues to talk and share


about life. • Boundaries Guidelines for communication are shared by the Senior Pastor as he teaches every evening during “pit stops.” His messages focus on how parents and kids can connect together in significant ways. • Spark While they are driving from clue to clue, each team is given the book Questions for My Father by Vincent Staniforth.14 Staniforth wrote the book after his own father died. The book is simply a list of questions he wishes he would have asked his father before he died. Imagine the authentic connection that happens between parent and child driving in their car three days, having the time of their lives, while sharing heart-to-heart through questions that dig bellow the surface. Now, imagine that half of the teams on the race come from non-Christian homes. Suddenly, a ministry isn’t just reaching individuals, the ministry is reaching entire home-systems. 2. One11 Challenge — The One11 Challenge is simply a term we’ve used to describe a connection experience we desire for every home. The One11 Challenge is simply, once parent and one child for breakfast intentionally. This challenge certainly doesn’t have to take exclusively at breakfast. It could be dinner, over hot-chocolate, etc... The idea is for parents and kids to connect intentionally on a regular basis. 14 Vincent Staniforth Questions for My Father: Finding the Man Behind Your Dad (Hillsboro, OR: Beyond Words Publishing).


• Challenge Any time parents and students are gathered together we challenge them with the One11 Challenge. We say, “At some point in the next 48 hours, start by going to breakfast together.” Or, “Stop on the way home tonight at Starbucks®.” Find a way to get away together one on one and open up about what is happening in life. • Boundaries To ease fears equip the parent and student with boundaries. These are a set of ground rules to keep the conversation heading towards authentic connection. Here is an example of boundaries we’ve equipped homes with:

a. Before you start, pray and ask God to connect you during this time. b. Don’t abuse the information shared by using it against your family member in an argument later or as a guilt trip. c. Encourage each other to talk, even if your thoughts are weird. d. Don’t be satisfied with each other’s first response to questions, dig deeper with follow up questions. e. Keep up the pace. f. Remember, the goal is opening up and connecting, not finishing a lesson. • Spark We provide parents and students with multiple books and resources to choose from to spark authentic conversation. These resources are presented in an annotated bibliography complete with a short description of the resource and a


rating system to describe what we thought of the resource. One such resource to spark conversation is Global Short Film Network.15 GSFN is a resource provided by Campus Crusade for Christ. It is a website full of short, 3-7 minute long, films designed to spark spiritual conversation. The films can be Merely shouting out downloaded to a to homes that they laptop or an iPhone for free. The website also are walking past the provides question cards treasure of authentic for each film that can be downloaded and connection will not printed off. Imagine cause them to stop a parent and teenager and listen to the music. sitting in Starbucks, watching a short film to spark spiritual conversation. Imagine them talking through questions on the conversation card. Now, imagine a non-Christian parent opening up with their child about spiritual things. Imagine the child, who goes to church, leading their mom or dad to a relationship with Jesus. These are merely two ideas on applying an “essential system” into a parent child relationship. But the principles can be applied in multiple circumstances. The FOUNDATION is built of seeing the home as primary, The FRAMING is built with the question “How can we use this ministry to impact home systems, not just individuals?” The ESSENTIAL SYSTEMS of authentic communication can be installed into homes 15

Find this resource at


by equipping each program with a “challenge,” “Boundaries,” and “Spark.” Merely shouting out to homes that they are walking past the treasure of authentic connection will not cause them to stop and listen to the music. Instead, ministries can invite homes to experience this treasure in significant ways. As they experience new levels in their relationship they crave more. As they crave more the church can not only equip for relational depth, but expose them to the ultimate treasure of a home built upon the wonder of Jesus Christ. Remember, when the church builds bridges between children or teenagers and their parents, it opens the door for the gospel to transform homes.


4 e g a t S

PAINT AND TRIM Painting Vision that Draws Homes into Transformation

Paint and trim often sell a home. The exterior look of a home is the primary message presented to the outside world. A bad paint job can blind outsiders to the beauty within. The FOUNDATION of seeing the home as primary has been established. The FRAME of building a back door into homes has been created. The ESSENTIAL SYSTEMS has equipped homes with a simple system to create open, authentic connection experiences. Now, its time to communicate that vision through PAINT and TRIM.


There are two types of people in this world: those who own a Mac, and those who wish they owned a Mac. Unfortunately, I find myself on the latter side of that equation. Yes, I have “Mac-envy.” I am forced to live in PC world left to dream of the intuitive wonder ultra-hip Mac people live in every time they open their MacBook Pro. Apple’s influence upon our way of life is undeniable. More than a tool, they have become a cultural icon with tentacles influencing multiple facets of life. Apple sets trends other companies spend millions just to catch up with. The world tunes in live and online to watch Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, deliver Keynote addresses in which he unveils new generations of technology. Apple has a vision to do more survive as a corporation, their desire has been to leave a stamp of significance on the world. In 1997, shortly after he returned to the helm of the company, Steve Jobs raised the expectations of what their company stood for: Our customers want to know, who is Apple, and what is it that we stand for? Where do we fit in this world? And what we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done, although we do that well. We do that better than almost anybody, in some cases.


But Apple is about something more than that. Apple at the core, its core value, is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better. That’s what we believe.16 Jobs’ vision for Apple is bigger than business as usual. As a company, they have embraced this vision lived out in their famous slogan, “Think Different.” With passion, Apple truly has embraced its challenge to “change the world for the better.” This vision elevates the workday for Apple employees beyond “making boxes” to impacting society for the better. So, how a computer company become such a cultural force? Three words sum up their development strategy; “intuitiveness,” “power,” and “design.” 1. Intuitiveness: Macs are simple to use out of the box. Beyond simplicity the user interface lends itself to obvious steps to accomplish a task. 2. Design: The design of Apple goes beyond the cutting-edge aesthetic packaging of their products, design is seen in branding picture presented to culture. 3. Power: Despite simplicity, Macs pack a punch. Macs are the standard in several industries due to their processing and graphic power. As ministries, our purpose is significantly larger than “...making boxes for people to get their jobs done.” Our objective is far greater than even “...changing the world for the better.” Our vision ultimately draws people to 16 This speech can be viewed at


discover a life-transforming personal relationship with the God who created galaxies. The mere weight of our calling challenges ministries to consider strategies leading to cultural impact. Apple has found a way to impact multiple generations of the home. In doing so, the Apple phenomenon provides application principles for ministries to paint their vision to their community. 1. Intuitiveness: Is it possible to develop usable strategies that engage homes in a process with obvious next steps to grow in Christ? 2. Design: Is it possible to design an overall picture that clearly communicates vision while inviting homes to engage in the process in a compelling way? 3. Power: Despite simplicity, is it possible to develop resources, programs, and tools that engage people in the transforming power of the gospel?

INTUITIVENESS Homes are desperate for a road map. Ministries and churches uniquely hold truth, resources, and programs that could provide homes with what they crave. The problem is it is not always obvious to non-Christians (and even to churchgoers) on how to engage in ministry resources. Sadly, many ministries resemble my PC as a random collection of programs, resources, and tools (and junk) without a unified strategy to move people and homes


through a process. What such ministries lack is a solid user interface. To the community and the congregation the way to get connected in these ministries is not clear. These ministries are structured by arbitrary programs rather than a clear user interface process. In church context, a user interface is the system by which individuals and homes interact with the ministry. If we are to impact non-Christian (and Christian) homes we must develop user interface strategies that link homes to a clear process of growth. There are three qualities of an engaging user interface. An intuitive user interface is usable, communicates a clear process, and provides obvious next steps. • An intuitive user interface is USABLE. The design of a user interface affects the amount of time and effort the individual or home must expend to interact with the ministry system. Usability effects how difficult it is to learn how to do this. Usability makes the process of using the ministry resources effective, efficient, and satisfying. Simplicity and consistency create usability in ministry. Simplicity invites interaction A user interface in that it takes little time and is the system by effort to understand how to Consistency breeds which individuals interact. familiarity and confidence as and homes interact homes continue to interact with the ministry. with ministry programs and resources. In my time at Woodmen Valley Chapel we sought to create a usable “user interfaceâ€? for students and


homes that was simple to understand, and could be a consistent message of interaction with individuals and homes. The choice became obvious as in Colorado, most people are familiar with a “user interface” system used every winter. A ski trail-map. In Colorado, most people are wearing skis by time they enter first-grade. Even those who do not ski or snowboard are surrounded by ski resorts and are familiar with the trail-rating system. The ski trail rating Green Runs = Beginner system is fairly simple: green circle runs are Blue Runs = Intermediate for beginners, blue Black Diamond Runs = Advanced square runs are for Double Black Runs = Expert intermediate skiers, black diamond runs are difficult and for advanced skiers, while double black diamond runs are for experts only. This user interface is found all over a mountain to help skiers and riders discover appropriate runs that are designed for their skill and comfort level. In ministry, we adapted this system to fit our program. We began by ranking the various resources, programs, and tools we offered according to the ski trail rating system. We began calling each resource a “run.” As this “user interface” was consistently used across all aspects of ministry, we had a clear, usable, system to communicate vision. People understood how to interact with our ministry according to where they were in their journey with Jesus. Every ministry presents a user interface whether it


is intended or not. It comes down to the question of how clear it is for people to engage in the resources of the church. This is especially important in relation to first-time guests and new homes. Do they know where to start? Do they know how to plug-in? Are they challenged to explore deeper resources of the ministry? User interfaces do not need to be complex. In fact, the beauty of Apple computers is that their user interface is simple to use. A powerful user interface clearly communicates how to interact with ministry resources. Some churches use baseball diamonds. Some develop a user interface describing ministry environments analogous to the parts of a home. Many use or a 101, 201, 301, 401 system. It may sound simplistic, but have your leadership team put themselves in the place of a first time guest. Develop a user interface that paints the vision of your ministry with a clear image of how to plug into this vision at any level. • An intuitive user interface communicates a clear PROCESS. Andy Stanley, founding pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, Georgia, has a brilliant illustration to depict the importance of process in ministry. Andy walked into our general staff meeting on morning with a handful of construction paper. He took a blue piece of paper and placed it on the floor at one end of the room. Then he walked about thirty feet away and dropped a green piece of paper


on the floor. Then he asked us a question: “If the blue paper represents groups and the green paper represents our worship service...then how are we going to get people to move from the green paper to the blue?” Andy then selected one of our staff and asked her to stand on the green piece of paper. He then instructed her to step from the green piece of paper to the blue without touching the floor. The staff member said that obviously this was impossible. When Andy asked her why, she said, “It’s too big of a step.”17 Most ministries expect “...too big of a step” from the homes they are attempting to reach. People struggle to engage in ministry because the process of development is undefined, uncalled for, or unclear. To use Andy Stanley’s illustration, think about the girl stranding on the green paper. She is brand new to the church, possibly she has just accepted Jesus as her Savior. If the goal is to get her to the blue paper (small groups), then the ministry leaders must design steps that allow her to move easily from one piece of paper to the next until she has reached the blue paper. Remember, the target is not to merely reach nonChristian individuals, but to reach the home systems that individuals live in. If churches are truly to impact home systems, leaders must think through a process to walk individuals and homes from the green paper to the blue paper (their goal to engage homes in). 17 Stanley, Andy, Reggie Joiner, and Lane Jones, 7 Practices of Effective Ministry (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2004), 93.


In the Student Ministries of Woodmen Valley Chapel our “blue piece of paper” is that parents and teenagers would engage in at least one intentional activity a week together to grow closer to each other and to Christ. Our most important “double-black” run is the One11 Challenge. This challenge for one parent and one child to have breakfast once a week intentionally. We could not launch this One11 vision and expect non-Christian parents and teenagers to jump right in. Instead, we developed blue, green, and black diamond “runs” that led homes through a process of engagement ultimately lived out in the One11 Challenge. Place a blue piece of paper at one end of a room. Place a green piece at the opposite end. Take a stack of paper and have your team map a clear path from the green sheet to the blue. Then integrate the user interface you’ve developed to communicate how homes engage in that process. • An intuitive user interface provides OBVIOUS next steps. I love old-school Bill Cosby comedy. One of my favorite stories he tells comes from the Bill Cosby: Himself concert tour. In the bit, Cosby shares how teenagers don’t seem to have their brains turned on. He describes sending his teen-age son up the stairs to take a shower. Cosby shares how he learned the hard way that unless told his son to, “...turn on the water...,” or “...use the shampoo...” his son would just stand in the bathtub, naked, staring at the wall in front of him. For most people, when we go up to take a shower the obvious next step is to turn on the water. To be intuitive


means we don’t really need to think something, it is just the obvious thing to do. Just because we have created a process with steps to take, it does not mean people will automatically take those steps. Next steps must be obvious and clearly communicated for people to take. At Woodmen, our user interface of ski trail ratings naturally lends itself to obvious action. For example. At any ski resort, the bunny slope appropriately fits its name. It is the run that everyone learns to ski on (unless you have my friends from high school who took me Regardless of down a black-diamond run strategies or the first time I wore skis).

processes ministry

Our primary “green leaders design, to run” was our weekend service. We constantly keep that system communicated that the intuitive means weekend service was making steps our “bunny slope.” We challenged everyone to natural and obvious. consider that everyone starts on the bunny slope, but no one stays there. At the bottom of the bunny slope, you can get back on to the “bunny slope lift” and keep growing from just the main service, or you can get on to the “next lift” which takes people to the blue (intermediate) runs. Regardless of strategies or process ministry leaders design, to keep that system intuitive means making steps natural and obvious. People are too busy, too distracted, and too focused on life’s issues to fully


connect in ministries that lack intuition. An intuitive user interface allows people to easily engage in the resources and programs our ministries offer. The more intuitive a ministry is for guests, the more non-Christian homes will naturally engage in ministry resources.

DESIGN Apple Macintosh computers are famously intuitive. But is an obvious user interface enough to create a cultural revolution? The Mac machine has much more too it than a smooth interface, it’s creative designed has thrust Apple to become a cultural icon.

Are you a Mac? The type of computer used at the coffee shop communicates who you are as a person. This is the clear message of Apple’s recent “I’m a Mac” campaign featuring the confident ultra hip young “Mac” guy verses the uptight nerdy “PC” guy. I admit, I tend to feel like old nerdy Bill Gates opening my PC at Starbucks surrounded by the young, effortlessly hip Mac users. In marketing terms, Apple has intentionally established a powerful “brand.” Branding is the personality of an organization. We all have a mental picture that comes to mind when we think of the Apple Corporation. The consistent story they communicates flows from advertising campaigns, to Mac stores and websites, to the look and feel of the very material they use to create hardware. Your ministry has an established brand in the


community. This brand exists whether you’ve been intentional about it or not. People in your community, and a part of your congregation, have a mental picture of your organization. Your ministry’s ability to engage non-Christian homes will be enhanced or hindered by the mental picture that comes to mind when people think of your organization. This is a much broader conversation than I want to get into here. However, establishing a vision to reach beyond the individual to the home that individual lives in is an opportunity to impact your “brand” in the community. Specifically, a key opportunity is found in a picture chosen to communicate strategy.

The more intuitive a ministry is for guests, the more non-Christian homes will naturally engage in ministry resources.

Most organizations understand that any vision needs strategy. Vision is a picture of the future. It paints destinations bigger than where we currently are. Strategy are plans intended to attain vision. Without solid strategy, vision will not be realized. Obviously vision needs strategy. But to the same degree, strategy needs vision. Regardless of how cutting-edge or effective a strategy might be, people do not naturally gravitate towards strategy. However, people do gravitate towards vision that grabs the imagination of mind and heart. Vision breathes passion, life, and motivation to engage in a strategy. Thus, as we communicate strategy we would be wise to communicate that strategy in a


way that paints a vision bigger than programs and resources. An essential brush to paint vision with is a strategic picture. A strategic picture is a picture that paints vision while communicating the strategy to realize that vision. A well designed strategic picture invites people to take part in a strategy by painting a higher vision. Design this strategic picture recognizing the potential impact such a tool will have on the picture that comes to mind when people think of your ministry. The ski trail rating “user interface” we developed at Woodmen Valley Chapel lent itself to the natural strategic picture of a ski resort. It came down to the questions of “What would happen if we pictured our entire vision and strategy as a mountain resort?” t















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The resulting ski trail-map became a powerful strategic picture to communicate strategy and vision. To draw the tool we tracked down James Niehues, the artist who has created the majority of trail maps for ski resorts world-wide. He generously provided an original artwork that fused favorite elements of ski resorts into an a unique mountain called “Dream Mountain.” He 1



allowed us to take this mountain and using Adobe Illustrator drew our own “runs” over the painting.18 Stop right now. Don’t check out. The ski trail map pictured may seem overwhelming or intimidating. However, this strategic picture fits the Colorado culture. The mountain is simple to understand for people who have skied since they were five years old. For those not from God’s country (Colorado), I’ll offer this explanation. There are four “peaks.” Each peak contains “runs” that represent the various programs and resources we provide. Peak 1 contains green runs for beginners. Peak 2 contains blue runs identified as intermediate. Peak 3 contains black-diamond runs for the advanced. The highest goal is Peak 4 with doubleblack-diamond runs for experts. As we rated each program or resources according to our trail rating “user-interface” it was easy to map out the various programs across the various peaks according to their rated target. The strategy is communicated by connecting each peak with “chair-lifts.” These chair-lifts represent the key strategy to move people from one peak to the next peak. For example, the primary run on Peak 1 is the green run labeled “Weekend Service” representing our weekend service. I mentioned before that we consider this run our “bunny slope.” Everyone starts out on the bunny slope, but no one stays there. At the base of Peak 1, people have a choice. That can continue to grow primarily from the weekend service, or they can get on the next lift which takes them up to Peak 2. That chair lift is labeled, “Freestyle DVD Lift.” 18

To view James Niehues’ artwork see


The Freestyle DVD is the primary tool moving people from Peak 1 (the weekend service) to Peak 2 (practicing spiritual disciplines). Most often, Peak 1 is where strategies are designed to reach non-Christian individuals and homes. This strategic picture clearly communicates vision that moves those homes past Peak 1 through a process leading to Peak 4 which contains runs such as the One11 Challenge (One parent and child meeting together every week for breakfast intentionally). The beauty of the trail map is that Peak 4 is the most inviting section of the mountain. Ask any teenager or child where they would like to ski or ride and they’ll most likely answer “Peak 4.” Any ministry can The double-blacks are the most design a strategic exciting part of the mountain. It’s above the timberline in the picture that fits the upper bowls and crags of the unique demographics mountain.

of their ministry.

The relevance of a ski-trail map to a church at the foot of the Rocky Mountains is obvious. But the principles behind this tool are applicable regardless of church location. Any ministry can design a strategic picture that fits the unique demographics of their ministry. I thought about not including the ski trail-map, in that I did not want to limit creativity. On the surface, this illustration does not easily translate to multiple ministry environments. However, I decided to share the illustration as an example to illustrate principles behind the unique strategic picture we developed. These


principles can be abstracted, adapted, and applied to develop a strategic picture that fits your unique ministry environment. • Design a process for growth using ministry resources and programs. This was addressed earlier when I encouraged your team to drop a blue piece (doorway for non-Christians into ministry) of paper at one end of a room, and a green piece (ultimate goal) at the opposite. Have your team identify a process that leads individuals from the blue piece to the green piece using various resources and program your ministry offers. • Design a strategic picture that communicates the strategy of that process. Think through a relevant strategic picture to your region and demographics. Have your team ask, “What would happen if we pictured our entire vision and strategy as a ? • Design a strategic picture that is flexible and does not force homes into a linear path. One of the things I love about the ski trail map is that it doesn’t force individuals or homes on a linear path. For example, many churches use a baseball diamond to picture their process. While this can be a powerful picture, a baseball diamond is linear. Everyone travels the same path. No two journeys are the same. Every life is unique. When communicating the Ski map strategic tool we say, “No one takes the same journey down the mountain.”


• Find an artist who can shape your mental strategic picture into a reality. Remember, this strategic picture has the potential to shape the mental image people have when they think about your ministry. It is vital to create an excellent strategic picture. The Niehues Excellence is doing the best you can with the Principle = resources available. Find Sometimes its an artist who can create easier to ask the your strategic picture with world expert to help, excellence. Consider the Niehues Principle (the after all the worst principle coined after they can say is “no.” we tracked down James Niehues): “Sometimes its easier to ask the world expert to help, after all the worst they can say is ‘no.’” There are unlimited strategic pictures that can be shaped to communicate vision. The hard work lies in finding an image that fits your unique ministry and environment. Here’s some suggestions to get your team’s creative juices flowing: “What would happen if we pictured our entire vision and strategy as a... • ...White-water Rafting River?” What would it look like to identify the various programs and resources of our church as various classes of rapids. Entry level programs could be “Class I Rapids” leading people to discover “Class V Rapids” like our parent/child discipleship program?


• ...Rock Climbing wall?” How could we picture the various programs and resources we offer as rock climbing routes rated according the climbing rating system Class 1-5? • ...App Store?” What would it look like to picture various programs and resources as “apps” in an app store? Individuals and homes could “download apps” according to their unique needs and circumstances (To see an example of this check out what we did in a project for Colorado Christian University at • ...Race Cars?” Could we picture our ministries as various race track levels starting with go-carts and moving all the way up to NASCAR tracks? • ...Skate Park?” Could the various resources we offer be pictured as various elements and ramps in a skate park? The more difficult the ramp, the more important the resource. • ... Subway System?” What would it look like to draw out various programs and resources and various lines in a subway or light-rail system?

• ...Road Map?”


What would it look like to picture our ministries as various roads and freeways on a map? Would there be a way to offer various roads (resources) to that lead to and ultimate destination? • ...Building a House?� Did you notice that this book has been built upon the strategic picture of building a home? What would it look like to picture your ministries as constructing a home?

POWER Macs are intuitively designed. However, the most intuitive and easy to use computers in the world become worthless if they cannot deliver the power users need to get the job done. Regardless of how intuitive their user interface, or culturally relevant their marketing, if they fail to deliver on promised performance they’ll end up joining fates with the Commodore 64. The first reason Apple has become such a cultural force is because of the intuition of their user-interface. The second reason is due to their creative design. The icing on the cake for apple flows from the their product packs a punch. On top of intuitive design, Apple products deliver power to accomplish even the most detailed and complex projects. Fortunately our power and performance has nothing to do with gigabytes or terabytes, but rather our source is the power of God. When people encounter that infinite power, their life is transformed into a new creation.


When believers live dependent upon that power, God uses us to impact the lives of others. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are His primary strategy to engage non-Christian people with the power of God. It does no good to draw people into an intuitively designed ministry that fails to truly engage people with that power. Here we find yet another reason to target homes over the individual. Churches around the country are discovering that God has reveals unique power when we focus not merely on the individual, but upon the home. The home is the As followers of overlooked key to revival. Jesus Christ, we Remember, children and teenagers crave significant are His primary relationship with their parents. Perhaps to an even strategy to engage greater level, parents crave non-Christian significant relationship with people with the their children and teenagers. power of God. If you hear one message from this book, grasp this: when the Church builds bridges between children or teenagers and their parents, it opens the door for the gospel to transform homes. Chapter 2 went into great detail on the power of the opening the back door to homes. The back door is opened by not just targeting reaching the child or teenager, but reaching the parent and home behind that child or teenager. The power of the back door is it results in kids dragging their parents to church, rather than parents dragging their kids.


At Woodmen we developed a user interface of a ski trail-rating system that developed into a strategic picture of a ski trail-map. One way we used this system as a tool to reach disengaged and non-Christ homes was our Driven Conference. I share the Driven Conference not as a prescriptive of what every ministry should do. Instead it is a descriptive of what we did to strategically engage non-Christian homes in our unique circumstances. It was built upon principles of opening the “back door” to homes. I won’t spend too much time on the first three principles, in that they were covered in detail in Stage 2: FRAMING. Here’s what we did... 1. If you bribe kids and teenagers, their parents will come (Stage 2). We would begin by offering an incentive, “bribe,” to get students to invite their mom or dad to an event we called “The Driven Conference.” This could have been a “Dream Car Pickup,” a hot-air balloon ride, or highly coveted item like an iPad. The Driven Conference is a conference we hold on a normal student ministry night. We ask students to simply bring their mom, dad, or significant adult with them. If they bring an adult with them, they are entered into a drawing to win the prize (if I’ve just offended you by suggesting bribery as a ministry principle, please read chapter 2 before proceeding). 2. Grab parent’s hearts with the reality facing homes (chapter 2). The Driven Conference is a multi-media feast for parents and students featuring a mixture of video, teaching, interviews with students. Driven features


current information on the state of the family, teenage culture, and relational dynamics. 3. Share stories and the gospel at every meeting (chapter 2). Never miss the opportunity to share the gospel. The Driven Conference may have been the only time several of the parents stepped foot in a church that year. We made sure to be good stewards of this opportunity be presenting the gospel. There is power in the ability to say to parents, “Your teenager comes here every week, and their life has been transformed. But Jesus isn’t just for them. You too can have your life transformed.� The Driven Conference also provides the opportunity to display examples of what is possible in parent/child relationships. We bring parents and teenagers up front who have been intentional about connecting together through the One11 Challenge (a parent and teen meeting intentionally once a week for breakfast). 4. Share resources your ministry offers homes. On the surface, covering resources to drive faith at home may appear irrelevant to non-Christian parents. After all, they were likely dragged to Driven so their child could win an iPod. But we have found parents are desperate for resources that help them to connect in significant ways with their child. The church is uniquely positioned to provide tools, training, and opportunity to connect. Once again remember, when the church builds bridges between children or teenagers and their parents, it opens the door for the gospel to transform home. The Driven Conference provides an overview of the resources and programs that our ministry offers homes.


Using our ski trail-map, we go through each of the four peaks; green runs, blue runs, black-diamond runs, and double-blacks. We describe the various “chair lifts” (strategies to move to the next peak). We also spend significant time talking about the One11 Challenge and being intentional to drive faith at home rather than at church (hence the name “Driven Conference”). 5. Give them the opportunity to intentionally plan how to engage in ministry resources. The word that sums up the Driven Conference is “intentionality.” It is about helping parents and students to become intentional about connecting together and with God. It is about equipping homes with information, resources and tool to drive faith at home. However, we desired not simply to equip, but to give opportunity for application. The secret to the success of the Driven Conference is the opportunity for intentional planning. After every resource, tool, and program we offered was shared, parents and students were challenged to go through a strategic plan of what they would engage in. The plan was drawn directly from our ski trail-map. This allowed homes to intentionally plan what fit their life circumstances. We encouraged parents and students to consider that no two homes took the same route down the “mountain.” Thus, they didn’t need to engage in every program or resource our ministry offered. Instead, they could choose to engage in what fit their home’s schedule and needs. We also encouraged homes that while they did not need to engage in the entire “mountain,” they should consider engaging in more than one “peak” on


the “mountain.” One of the most thrilling moments in my years of ministry has been seeing disengaged, non-Christian parents sitting with their teenager at the end of the Driven Conference strategically planning how their home will engage in the resources of the church. Apple has found a way to Craft an intuitive, impact multiple generations of the home building a powerfully designed brand of intuitiveness, strategy that creative design, and power can paint your to accomplish any task. As ministries, our purpose is so ministry’s vision much greater than to a culture “...making boxes for people to get their jobs done.” Our desperately in vision ultimately draws need of it. people to discover a lifetransforming personal relationship with the God who created galaxies. Let’s be smart about this. The most effective ministry strategies are yet to be designed. Everything presented in this chapter is shared to spark creative thought. The ski trail-map description and how we engaged homes with it, is one attempt to design an intuitive system with the power to change lives. Again, these principles are descriptive, not prescriptive. Take time to create a ministry strategy that is intuitive, well-designed, and allows exposes homes to the transforming power of God. Recognize the paint and trim is the primary selling


point to those outside the home. Craft an intuitive, powerfully designed strategy that can paint your ministry’s vision to a culture desperately in need of it.







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About the Author Brian Carlson is the founder of brainTank速, a consulting firm dedicated to unlocking the creative brain of ministry teams. BrainTank specializes in leading ministry teams through a creative process towards unique strategies and vision. The resulting strategies help churches to maximize their influence upon homes and communities. Brian has also been a pastor for the past sixteen years. Recently he joined the staff of Colorado Christian University in order to lead a movement called The Year of Evangelism across Colorado. Brian is married and has four children. Brian and his family live in Colorado Springs where they are still a part of Woodmen Valley Chapel, the church at which Brian was a pastor.

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