You’re not reading the title wrong. She really does want to bulldoze Mt Vernon. But it’s for a good reason. Watch this incredible life change video and celebrate what God has done in Hollye’s life!

4.23.14Impressing young parents in your church begins and ends with the nursery. It always has, it always will. If your nursery area is clean, secure and professional, then you’ve just won huge points with the safety conscious parents coming into your church.

At Mt Vernon, that means we put a ton of effort into making sure we have a first class DiscoveryZone (nursery).

  • We have a check-in desk where every parent checks in their child and gets a printed ‘receipt.’ You have to have your child’s matching tag to pick them up. That provides an incredible layer of security.
  • We have a door monitor that ensures that only volunteers and parents dropping off kids can get into the DiscoveryZone area. If you’re not supposed to be back there, you don’t get back there.
  • We have an overabundance of volunteers to ensure that each room has enough adult supervision, and we have a continuity of volunteers, so the preschool children see the same faces every week.
  • We even do the little things like airing out the rooms during the week and using air fresheners so DiscoveryZone doesn’t have that ‘church nursery’ smell.
  • To top it all off, we have an incredible team of volunteers up front that know how nerve wracking it can be to drop off your kids with strangers and exude an atmosphere of warmth and safety.

I’ll be honest, it’s a lot more work then simply ‘keeping kids’ during services. But is it worth it? Absolutely. Here’s an email we received from a new mom just a few weeks ago:

First, I just want to say what a friendly place Mt Vernon is! We have been [out of state] for the past three weekends and so we haven’t been at church. But today, everybody was so friendly and showed they cared about us even though we haven’t been around much. That is special and means a lot. 

I left [my baby] in the nursery for the first time today. I want to pass along how impressed I was! The room was clean, nice and the four ladies were awesome! I felt very comfortable and at ease. I was able to feed him in the nursing room between services and that was great. I hope you know how much the nursery and nursing room are appreciated!

Do you want to make an overwhelming impression on the young parents coming to your church? Upgrade your nursery.

In John 3, Jesus gives us one of the most commonly used terms to describe a Christ follower: “born again.” But what does it really mean to be ‘born again?’ Watch this short video as my daughter helps me explain.

The Easter Hangover

April 21, 2014 — 3 Comments


originally posted on April 1, 2013

It happens every year to pastors: the Easter Hangover. It’s the fog and haze of leaving it all out on the field Easter Sunday and then still having to go back to work the next day. Pastors work hard for Easter. It’s their ‘Superbowl.’ When all is said and done, they’re wiped out. Here’s how their next day typically goes:

8:00 am – Extra big pot of coffee. The pastor walks around an empty church building that looks like a parade just went through it. The place is trashed.

9:00 am – Still haven’t quite woken up yet. The pastor talks with the other staff, but keeps intentionally directing the conversation back the large crowds yesterday, in an attempt to bask in the glory of Easter Sunday a little while longer.

10:00 am – Now the pastor has moved onto church gossip with the secretary. “I saw the Smiths back yesterday.” The pastor is convinced that his witty illustrations from the day before will bring those wayward souls back next week.

11:00 am – The offering numbers came in from Easter Sunday. The pastor now entertains visions of grandeur, imagining a life where Easter attendance and Easter giving happened every week.

12:00 pm – The pastor goes to lunch planning the next building campaign for his church.

2:00 pm – After a two hour lunch (if he deserves an extra long lunch, today is the day), the pastor comes back to encounter his first complaint: Sister Mary thought there were too many people yesterday. She couldn’t get her normal pew. She demands a call back.

3:00 pm – The pastor learns that his bump in attendance numbers were mostly out-of-town guests who came in visiting family. None of them will be back next week.

4:00 pm – A creeping dread begins to settle in when the pastor realizes that next Sunday is coming up and he has no idea what he’s going to talk about.

5:00 pm – Only 364 more days until next Easter.


five red button Happy Easter! Here are five links to keep you thinking throughout the weekend.

The “15 Second Kiss” Experiment – Married with kids? This article is for you!!!!

Do We Really Need More Churches in America? – Great perspective!

3 Big Questions Kids Ask on Good Friday – great perspective for those with curious kids.

Heaven is For Real – Good review if you’re considering watching the movie.

Saved From Hate – An interview with the son of deceased pastor of Westboro Baptist Church.

4.17.14I recently talked to a lady whose husband hasn’t been to church in fifteen years. The last time he came was on an Easter Sunday, and that Sunday the preacher decided to ridicule those who only showed up for Christmas and Easter. It reinforced his negative stereotypes of church, and he hasn’t been back since.

This Sunday is going to be a big Sunday. Friends and family are going to come. Folks that only attend once a year are going to attend. Even the guy that’s not supposed to show up at church will show up at church this Sunday. It’s just the thing to do on Easter Sunday.

Your pastor is going to love this Sunday. He’s going to look at the crowds and soar on the inside. All of his dreams and visions are going to dance in his head as he takes the pulpit. Everyone will look nice and be cordial. But here’s the danger of Easter Sunday: that church will reinforce all the negative stereotypes that have driven the unchurched (or dechurched) away. All the guests, all the outsiders, are going to feel just like that: outsiders. Your church has one shot to overcome the reasons why they got burned by church in the first place. If your host team goes out of their way to welcome them (even in the parking lot), if your childcare facilities are professional and clean, if your services are excellent yet engaging, you’ll have a shot at winning over your guests.

But if the members keep to themselves, choosing to compare Easter outfits rather than engaging the newcomers, if the only time people shake their hands is when they’re forced to during the “turn and greet,” if the songs sung don’t resonate with the outsider as well as the insider, and if the pastor’s sermon is chocked full of religious lingo and insider language, then it will simply reinforce to your guests why they haven’t been to church in the past year.

This Sunday, your church has one shot to overcome the negative stereotypes and experiences that have kept your guests away for so long. If not, the week after Easter your church will be back to “normal,” your pastor’s hopes and dreams will be dashed, and you’ll have to wait another year to see so many guests at one time. Make the most of Easter Sunday!

4.16.14For churches, Easter is the “Superbowl” of Sundays. The bushes are spruced up, the pile of old bulletins is finally cleared out. We’re getting ready for the onslaught of guests that are expected to pour onto our campus this coming Sunday. But what determines whether guests will come back again or not after Easter? Will it be the biblical soundness of the preaching, the quality of the music, or the cleanliness of the nursery? I believe all of those are important, but not the determining factor. That is something far simpler.

Yesterday I took a survey of our staff to ask what they would consider as important if they were to visit a new church. The primary response is what I’ve experienced for years as a pastor: the overwhelming thing guests look for when they visit your church for the first time is whether or not they’ll feel welcome, whether or not anyone will talk to them. All those hours spent crafting an evangelistic sermon will be for naught if your members scare all the guests away. All those hours practicing that beautiful Easter cantata will be wasted if no one talks to the guests. It’s as simple as that.

A host team is a big deal. Making sure that your members are conditioned to make newcomers feel welcome is a big deal. Lead by example. Make it your goal this Easter not to talk to anyone you know, only engaging with folks who look like they’re new. I guarantee you, you’ll make an incredible first impression on someone.

I received two notes this week from recent first-time guests who have decided to make Mt Vernon their home. The thing both of them mentioned the most was how welcome we made them feel. We learned their names. We talked to them. We called them by name the second time they came. They felt welcome. They felt like they belonged. So they’re sticking around.

Want to make Easter a success this year? Don’t just preach at them, engage with them. Make them feel like they could belong at your church. Who knows? They might just decide to stick around.