Blended Families

Here are the latest improvements (v0.5935) to the Church Admin plugin for Church websites using WordPress…

  • I’ve finally updated it to display blended families better.
  • There’s now a first name next to a mobile number or email address, where a houshold needs that clarity!
  • All phone numbers are clickable for dialling on smartphones and tablets (for the geeky “tel:” works that magic – bit like “mailto:” for email addresses.)
  • The rota pdf is now formatted in columns month to view


How welcoming is your church?

Being the most welcoming church in your area is not rocket science and pretty easy to achieve.

I’ve had some awful experiences visiting other churches over the years, from the large church with multiple services to the small baptist church that just haven’t taken the time to make sure they are welcoming new visitors.

Think about it – if you have a congregation of 100 currently and get 5% visitors but manage to get only 5% of those to stick – your church will grow by at least 10% a year and double in 7years!

So how welcoming are you? Why not use this welcome audit tool next Sunday? Get a few people to fill it out with the eyes of a visitor. Better still get a non Christian friend to come and do it!

Your church at a distance- website

Your website is the primary shop window for first time visitors, who haven’t been invited by someone.
How clear is it for the first time visitor? – the who, the what, the where, and then when – should be right on the front page!
Does it communicate who you are? Or is it a bit corporate, or a building?
Have you signed up for google places, so your venue appears on the map and a google search for “church your town” gets you above the fold by the map?
Does it work in all browsers and on mobile devices?

Your meeting place

Can people find it easily? Is there good signage, both outside and inside the building you use.
Are the toilets clean and nice enough? One hired venue we use for a very short time, we took a bottle of bleach with us! (we moved to a better venue pretty sharpish)

Your people

Do you have a good welcome team who know they are there more to welcome people than give out a notice sheet?!
Do the regulars turn up early enough to talk to visitors. A first time visitor at The Gateway last week, emailed to ask if they should get ther 15mins early – that’s what visitors do, because they are nervous about finding it, parking and getting a seat.
Do you have a welcoming culture – or are the people cliquey and ignoring of visitors.

Your systems

Do you have a welcome pack – please don’t embarass visitors in the way you give it to them, by making them stand up! I don’t want to be applauded, that is embarassing not welcoming!
What’s your follow up process? We track visitor follow up with our church admin plugin (for WordPress sites) – we used to use this visitors spreadsheet to track our welcoming process.
How do you get address details? We currently use a guest book – nice old ladies are great at getting people to sign it with an address!
Are visitors getting chatted to by lost of people and invited out for coffee, back for lunch, to multiple small groups?
Visit your visitors quickly – Herb Miller’s “Magnetic church” gives some stats on how many return if visited quicly. More on that here.

What others ways do you make visitors welcome?

Secret Sound Finally Guessed

Our local radio station KLFM’s secret sound has finally been won at £2790. What we heard on air, every day for months, was only part of the story, part of the whole sound, which made it very hard to guess.

KLFM’s hard secret sound!

There were hundreds of attempts at answering, all wildly wrong. It wasn’t a stapler,A ring binder, someone clicking their fingers, or a stapler!

Here’s the full sound…

It was cheque being torn from a cheque book (an increasingly rare thing these days!)

It got me thinking about the times when we react when we only know half the story. Very often we get it wildly wrong too! That is why James 1:19 tells us “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” – we have two ears and one mouth. James is telling us to use them in correct proportion! When we take the time to listen well, we get the whole story and very often won’t end up saying somthing rash or that we will regret!

What tips do you have for listening well, to avoid sticking your foot in it?


I’m so excited, this just arrived from ICMBooks Direct who trade on Amazon and with their own website (Their Amazon store is often slightly cheaper).

“The Gospel According to John” by D.A. Carson is the definitive commentary on John. I’m looking forward to spending the first half of next year digging into John at The Gateway Church – it’s all about Jesus! Along the way we’ll get to dig into prayer, grace, heaven, the Church, the Spirit, the trinity to name a few highlights. Can’t wait!

ICMBooks is a gem of bookshop in Northern Ireland. It’s based in a purpose built warehouse on a farm in the middle of nowhere! Last time I was across the water, a friend took me down there. It’s piled high with quality Christian books and cheap prices.

They have over 10,000 books in stock and are open Monday to Saturday from 9.00 am until 5.00 pm with late night opening until 8.00 pm on Thursday evening. It’s well worth a visit!

Their address is ICM Books,115 Dunkirk Road, Lurgan, Craigavon, BT66 7AR. Northern Ireland.

If you can’t get therr in the flesh, please use them on Amazon when you buy Christian books to support an outstanding Christian run bookshop and enjoy the best price (usually!)

Not sure why you are called to King’s Lynn?

I’m pretty sure God has called people to move to King’s Lynn, perhaps you are one of them, but you are not sure why. Well done for obeying God – Abraham did the same in Gen 12.

You are not alone either! The first time I drove under the South Gate was in 2006. God spoke to me clearly “Call it The Gateway and it will be a gateway for the Gospel to go to the nations.” I was on my way to a Norfolk Newfrontiers Leaders Prayer meeting, where we would be praying about whether to plant a church in this great town. It was clear that God was calling me privately in the car and then at the prayer meeting, there was a prophetic ambush for the public call.

You may be wondering why God called you to move here. There are three church plants, that I know of, currently here alongside some great Gospel preaching churches already working her. Humanly speaking, that is bonkers in a town of 45,000 people. But God gave a clear call to each of the church plant leaders and we often pray together because we are excited about what God is going to do. God is on the move and we are believing for a move of God here! So in God’s purposes 3 plants in a small market town is right on! There are 43,000 people drifting to a lost eternity and 130,000 living in the area with the same lack of destiny.

We have been here 5 years now and we are building a Gateway for the Gospel to goto the nations – I was really excited to see our first international convert a few weeks ago.

The Gateway Church gathers on Sundays and in small groups, does Healing on the Streets every week in town and runs a fortnightly International Cafe and International Youth club as outreach projects.

If you are not sure why you are called to come to King’s Lynn, then why not try us out and join in what God is doing with us? all the details are at


Friends on

Ouch! I’m reading a book “The art of Neighbouring” where the authors are writing about putting loving your neighbour into real practice. All very innocuous and nice until I got to page 36, where they have what is jokingly called the chart of shame.

The idea is to write a little a bit about the eight households nearest you.
a) their names
b) something you might know having talked to them once or twice.
c) some more in depth things you have found out by getting to know them – hopes and dreams, spiritual journey, what they would say about God etc.

The authors have done that exercise in many churches, so here are the stats…
About 10 percent of people can fill out the names of all eight of their neighbours, line a.
About 3 percent can fill out line b for every home.
Less than 1 percent can fill out line c for every home.

Ouch. For three of the eight nearest homes I’m a level b. Ouch.
I had better read on to learn how to improve.
Why don’t you join me reading “The Art of Neighbouring”

What level are you at neighbouring with your 8 nearest neighbours?

God is faithful!

God is faithfulOne of God’s promises that has sustained me over the last 12 years planting churches is Phil 1:6 “And I am sure of this that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

What God begins, He carries on, what He carries on He completes. A cast iron guarantee that is good for the ups and downs of life and plating Churches.

When things are a slog, progress is slow and when things are going great and momentum is happening – whatever you have in mind for your church, God’s plans are greater (John 14:12-14), His ways are higher (Isaiah 55:8-13) and He will build his church (Matthew 16:18!)

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Phil 3:13-14

How to build a magnetic church

Magnetic Church
Magnetic Church
I bought “How to build a magnetic Church” because I have quoted it often when talking about the importance of visiting visitors.

When laypersons make 15 minute visits to the homes of first time Sunday visitors within 36 hours 85% of them retun the following week. Make this home visit within 72 hours and 60 percent will return. Make it seven days later and 15% will return. A pastor making this call, rather than laypeople, cuts each result in half. The statistic, I have used, came from this little 1987 book by Herb Miller and often quoted by Joel Comiskey.

It’s a helpful little book for helping make your church more magnetic. Herb Miller reckons there are three types of churches – one is magnetic attracting more people than it looses through death, transfer and backsliding. Another is neutral attracting as many as it loses. The third kind repels, loosing more members that it gains each year. It’s a practical book, aimed at the US scene and a little dated now that we have added communication forms, but sprinkled with helpful gold nuggets.

By far the most helpful chapter is called “Visit your visitors” chocked full with ways to help visitor retention. The author reckons visitor visitation increases the percentage of visitors that become members from 7% to 30% -given that we have had 285 visitors in 4 years – that would be a great help!

When someone visits a church they communicate “we like your church, don’t know how much yet, but we like it some.” When someone visits we communicate “We like you to!” Herb Miller reckons only 6% don’t like being visited.2 8% find them somewhat helpful amd 66% find them very helpful – so he argues not to let people say that visitors wouldn’t like it.

  • Recruit a Terrific trio or Super Six to be the visitor visitors!
  • Have a way of getting address details from visitors -we have a nice person go round with a visitors book every week!
  • The Terrific Trio/Super Six drop by singly or in pairs the visitors from that Sunday – preferably the same day! Without phoning ahead – now there’s a Southern UK stronghold to break!!! “Hi, we are from ~ Church, so glad you came today. We just wanted to drop by and say hello – hope it is not an inconvenient time.” Most invite you in, if it is inconvenient, thank tehm again and invite them back.
  • If you get invited in. remember you are there to…
  1. Get acquanited
  2. Answer any questions about the church
  3. Find out about their background and needs
  4. Leave a brochure
  5. Invite them back next Sunday and to a small group!
  • Fifteen minutes is enough! Don’t stay more than 30mins

So “How to build a magnetic church” is a helpful book. How are you looking to improve visitor rentention?

OT saturated with Christ

Great article from Tim Challies about how the Old Testament is saturated with Christ

Here’s a sample to whet your appetite…
Israel needed a tabernacle and temple because God had not yet come in the person of Jesus Christ to make his dwelling among man…
Israel needed a land of its own, an actual land, because Christ had not yet shown that all of the world is God’s land and that his people exist beyond geography, extending to all nations and tribes and tongues.


Top 7 tips to avoid burnout for church leaders and planters

Saw this on Ed Stetzer’s morning round up by Bob Roberts Jr.

1. Pray. A lot.
2. Journal as much as you can.
3. Give up on the idea of Jesus bailing you out of the tough times.
4. Lose the idea that you’re Jesus. You’re not.
5. You have one boss: Jesus.
6. Be who God made you to be.
7. Do. Not. Cheat. Your. Family.

Great article – worth the read