The New Year is upon us! Happy New Year, LLC!

2017 was an exciting year of growth and opportunity for our church, and we anticipate God doing even greater things in 2018.

With the start of a New Year, our church is moving ahead with some new and exciting plans. These changes are all to align our ministries to the vision, which is “For all to receive and live out the love of Christ.

I’m so proud of our leaders as I’ve had a front row seat in seeing how much they love the church. Your ECC (English Congregation Committee) leaders have been working hard this past year in reviewing and improving our ministries. In fact, we are kicking off January 5-6 with a two-day prayer and planning retreat. (Please pray for us!)

From our last Family Meeting in November, there are some important questions to be addressed. I will try to group and answer them succinctly. But buckle up because I’m going to start off our church blog with the longest post.

There are three topics that need to be addressed:

1. Improvements to Church-Wide Communication

Communication is key to a thriving relationship.

This is true with friendships. This is true with your coworkers. This is true with your girlfriend, boyfriend, wife or husband. This is true with your family.

This is also true with your church.

After all, what is the church but a group of people connected by the most important relationship of all – Jesus.

Despite attempts to communicate during family meetings and announcements, we learned our ideas and thought processes don’t make it very far out of the meeting room.

Why?

We have identified a few of these shortcomings in communication and we have no one to blame but ourselves. It has nothing to do with hiding information, but everything to do with the presentation. It’s not about misinterpretation, but about presenting the necessary information in a timely manner.

Communication does more than give information, communication can also build trust.

Communication is an ongoing two-way process consisting of both a sender and receiver. The sender sends the message, and the receiver receives by message by also sending feedback. When a message is sent only in one direction, it is not communication.

It was George Bernard Shaw who said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” I believe one of the greatest mistakes of a church is mistaking presentation of a plan with communication to the people. Our greatest desire is not for you to only know what is going on, but why and how it is happening. Furthermore, we’ll be leaving room for feedback and dialogue – but that means you, as the church, will need to speak up too!

For example, we have said we’re boosting our communications by setting some goals (what). But we never fully explained we’ve set some SMART goals such as 52 social media posts and 12 blog posts this year (how) because we care and love our church and want people to be in the know (why).

After all, people don’t champion the what when they don’t know the why.

Therefore, this year, our goal is for all to understand as much as possible what is happening at the church – starting with the vision and values.

You’ll see it on the walls. You’ll hear it from the platform. You’ll read it on the announcement slides. You might even see it in the washrooms (Just kidding…) All this is not to blast you with information, but it’s to intentionally and carefully empower you and communicate our God-given vision.

Along with our usual Sunday morning announcements and bulletins, we will be improving our communication in the following ways:

  1. Posting a blog to provide updates. (Starting January, there will be a few posts regarding updates to specific ministries.)
  2. Weekly and constant social media updates. This will help build church family life, as well as to know what’s going on. (You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook)
  3. Updating our website even more regularly than we do now.
  4. Posting our monthly meeting minutes online and allowing access to church members.

How will we do this and why haven’t we done this in the past? I can reassure you people are moving into place as we speak. But allow me to ask, how do you steer and adjust the course of a 1000-foot aircraft carrier? With foresight and time. It doesn’t happen instantly.

Are these going to solve all communication issues? No. But with your help we can close the gap.

LLC, I urge you to be active in seeking out what’s happening at your church. Look for yourself and see how God is moving in His church. Take ownership and be involved. If you have questions, ask. If you see a problem, pray and see how you can be part of the solution.

We are called to live from our potential, not in our problems.

The age-old question of does a tree make a sound if no one is there to hear it applies in this situation. We can post and attempt to communicate all we want. But if no one is there to listen then it would never truly be communication. (By the way, the answer is no to the tree question.)

Our leaders are always available to have a chat and never farther than a message, email or call away.

2. Our Church Ministry Structure

There have been questions regarding how ministry is done at LLC.

These questions include:

  1. What is the leadership structure of ECC? What is the commitment level for ECC? How are decisions made at the meetings?
  2. When our congregation reaches a certain capacity, it seems our current structure collapses, how will it be different this time? How has the leadership and the church prepared for these changes?

I can’t answer all the questions as in depth as I’d like to in this post. This will be saved for another post on leadership.

But here’s a snapshot.

Under our vision are the four values of love, connect, reach and build. (Love God, connect with community, reach out and build the church) ECC consists of nine members, each overseeing a specific ministry which falls under one of these four values. These areas of ministry include worship, fellowship, spiritual disciplines, discipleship, outreach, service, youth and children. Each of these key areas are then broken down into tangible and specific ministries.

Why do we have such a structure?

A schematic diagram gives an overall picture of a system by using graphic symbols to represent certain parts. There is too much detail to mention here, but by having this diagram or flow chart of our structure, we’re able to better identify the strengths, weaknesses and needs for each ministry.

All of this is really to make sure our church, ministry and people are supported.

With this process, we are able to see a need of worship team members while not neglecting the needs of the children’s service and Sunday school for teachers or a lack of small group leaders.

Some of you may notice children’s ministry is a new addition to ECC. If you have been at LLC for more than a few months, you’ll know that children’s ministry is a separate department that falls between the three congregations. However, God has placed in us a burden for the next generation.

Though it will still be done in partnership with the other congregations, starting in 2018 the children’s ministry will be lead by the English Ministry. This has been deemed necessary from the deacon board, since our children are raised in an English-Speaking context and culture. In mid-January, a visioning process will be underway, and there will be adjustments to the Awana, Children’s Sunday Service and School programs.

Furthermore, this structure helps us in two ways: clarity and sustainability.

Clarity: We know the purpose for each ministry and why we have it. If it doesn’t move the vision forward, then it is not needed. This system also allows us to know who is overseeing what and to communicate effectively between the different ministries. Well planned systems don’t restrict freedom but free people to be more effective.

Sustainability: We’re in this for the long haul. There must be stability before their is growth. Given the number of people we have, is the current ministry sustainable? Our passion and gifts must match with where we are serving. Discipleship is important, so are people’s gifts aligned and used in the right ministry? What needs to be added or subtracted to make this work? Our leaders are constantly asking what works and what doesn’t work, and more importantly: why?

Maybe we can go at it from another angle.

I was at the Shoppers Drug Mart across our church and noticed an employee taking inventory. Why do stores do this?

I’m no business guru, but one would assume for a few reasons: 1) To know how many of a certain product you have, 2) How much of a product is being sold, and 3) To see if any inventory is disappearing.

When translated over the church setting, it may sound something like this: 1) How many ministries do we have, 2) How well are the ministries doing and 3) How are the leaders doing.

Having this system allows us to check the inventory of the church. To see how we’re short on worship team members or small group leaders. If we never designate time to look around, we will miss what’s going on 100% of the time. This allows us to check the vitals of our church body. We’re able to check the engine to see if it’s running properly. Due to our structure, we have been able to identify needs from internal processes like discipleship and leadership, to outreach methods to building maintenance.

Everyone in the body of Christ has a role. But we’re not meant to be the hand and the feet and the eyes all at the same time.

If the cashier checks out items at the counter, and counted and restocked the inventory, while putting together the prescriptions at the pharmacy and mopping the floor, you can see how the store will struggle. In fact, if it all depends on one person, the system will fail.

We have learned if an entire system and structure is built upon one person, it will collapse.

3. Sunday Service Time and Space Change

If you haven’t yet heard, our English Ministry Service is changing times from 9:30 am to 11:15 am, with plans to move into a renovated Main Sanctuary in September 2018.

Some of you are leaping for joy, while others aren’t so sure – that’s okay. We’re all in this together. You’re all important to us and we don’t want to leave anyone behind. Though changing service time and space may seem like a tweak in the grander scheme of God’s Kingdom, we fully understand fully change is difficult. Change is especially difficult when it alters a rhythm.

However, I’m hoping by the time you finish reading this, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of why we’re doing what we’re doing.

First, why the change?

This was not an easy nor a hasty decision.

As I shared in a recent sermon, when left to ourselves the natural human inclination leans towards complacency and comfort. So believe me that it took some stirring, discernment and courage for our entire leadership (including me) to jump onboard.

Now, are we moving times just to shake things up? No. Changing time and space will not cause growth but will allow for it.

We believe great initiatives start with God-given ideas.

If we didn’t believe this change moves us towards our God-given vision and fits within our four values, then we wouldn’t do it.

Sundays are a place for all to grow their love for God. Worship services are all about encountering God and we believe renewal and restoration happens when one encounters Him. Coming together corporately in a bigger space creates opportunity for connecting. For many, Sunday Service is the first time they stepped into our church, so it is vital in terms of our reach. Lastly, it is an opportunity to inspire and remind the church at large we’re part of God’s redemptive work in building the church.

Simply put, we believe moving upstairs will move us towards this future reality for all to receive and live out the love of Christ.

After lots of prayer and discernment in the past couple years, we feel God is saying 2018 is the right time. Despite the spiritual reasons above, there are also practical ones:

  1. Moving into Main Sanctuary will change perception of the English Ministry Service.
  2. We have reached the 70-80% capacity of our current space in the Downstairs Sanctuary.
  3. Observing both past trends and our current state, we are anticipating for more growth. Space is one of the factors that limits growth, while structure is another – and we are making improvements in both.

So what are the plans for this change?

Our eventual goal is to move into the Main Sanctuary by September 2018. Our ministry map towards accomplishing this goal started mid-2017.

On the more practical level, the time change in January 2018 is part of a two-step adjustment towards this plan. First the time change, then the sanctuary change. This will allow us to monitor the change and adjust accordingly. Thank you to those who took part in the survey in the Fall. They were constructive in this adjustment process and in helping us move forward.

Sanctuary Space: Research and analysis of the Main Sanctuary are still underway by the committee. The aim to have changes done to the platform, pews, sound and carpet. (Please follow the renovation updates here.)

Family’s and Children’s Space: There have already been upgrades to our Family Room, which has a new live feed system. With the eventual move, there will be an expanded space at the back of the Main Sanctuary that should hold at least 10 families with babies and toddlers.

Discipleship: We have identified how the transition for someone between ministries has been weak (i.e. Sunday morning to small groups or Alpha, and on to other ministries). A discipleship flow chart has been created to tighten up these links, which will walk people through from the Welcome Team all the way through to small groups.

Scheduling: In January, the major change will pertain to the English Sunday Service. All other ministries remain in the same time and space.

Here is a full picture of what Sundays will look like:

January 2018 Schedule
9:30 am – 10:45 am | Children’s Service, Upstairs Chapel 9:30 am – 10:45 am | Cantonese Sunday Service, Main Sanctuary
9:45 am – 10:45 am | Community Learning, Library 9:45 am – 10:45 am | Mandarin Sunday School, Room 2
9:45 am – 10:45 am | Teen Sunday School, Kitchen 11:15 am – 12:15 pm | Cantonese Sunday School
11:15 am – 12:30 pm | English Sunday Service, Downstairs Sanctuary 11:15 am – 12:30 pm | Mandarin Sunday Service, Upstairs Chapel
11:15 am – 12:15 pm | Children’s Sunday School, Room 3 (Preschool-K), Room 6 (Gr.1-2) Kitchen (Gr.3-7) 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm | Cantonese Afternoon Service, Downstairs Sanctuary
September 2018 Schedule
9:45 am – 10:45 am | Children’s Sunday School, Room 3 (Preschool-K), Room 6 (Gr.1-2) Kitchen (Gr.3-7) 9:30 am – 10:45 am | Cantonese Sunday Service, Main Sanctuary
9:45 am – 10:45 am | Community Learning, Library 9:45 am – 10:45 am | Mandarin Sunday School, Room 2
9:45 am – 10:45 am | Teen Sunday School, Kitchen 11:15 am – 12:15 pm | Cantonese Sunday School
11:15 am – 12:30 pm | English Sunday Service, Main Sanctuary 11:15 am – 12:30 pm | Mandarin Sunday Service, Upstairs Chapel
11:15 am – 12:15 pm | Children’s Sunday Service, Downstairs Sanctuary 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm | Cantonese Afternoon Service, Downstairs Sanctuary

Your Turn:

We would love to hear from you. We are all the body of Christ and everyone’s thoughts are important! What are some concerns and comments you have from this post?

What topics would you like to hear about in future posts?

What are your gifts and passions? Where can you serve at LLC?

Got questions or comments? We would love to hear from you. Please contact Pastor Doug at pastordoug@lordslovechurch.com and he would love to get in touch with you.