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Earl Marshall

Month: August 2011

Did They Hand Out Bulletins at Pentecost?

I was doing an internet search trying to figure out the history of the church bulletin but unfortunately I couldn’t come up with anything. The bulletin has been around for a long time. I am not sure how long they have been around but it is a long time. I can remember going to the church on a Saturday afternoon as a child with my father and printing the church bulletin off of the old Gestetner machine. Today instead of all that ink we laser jet them into existence every single week. And we do all of this at quite the expense.

I wonder if it is time to rethink the communication value of the bulletin.

This past July we decided to try not having a bulletin. We did a random survey in August to evaluate whether or not people missed it at all. It turns out, not surpisingly, that people did miss it. 58% of those surveyed indicated that they always read the Sunday bulletin (I was on vacation and thus did not bring the average down). 34% said that they usually read the Sunday bulletin (as I said I was on vacation and thus did not bring the average down). Only 3% of those surveyed said that they rarely read the Sunday bulletin. During the month of July 70% of those surveyed said that they were able to find the information they needed about the church from other sources. 18% agreed that they felt disconnected without a Sunday bulletin whereas 53% disagreed in various forms saying that they did not feel disconnected. When it was all said and done 24% agreed or strongly agreed that the Sunday bulletin not necessary whereas 55% disagreed and said that the Sunday bulletin is necessary.

Not surprisingly those under that age of 40 are not as tied to the bulletin as those over the age of 40 but the gap isn’t as significant as you might expect. I think that people like what they are used to. 40% of those under the age of 40 agree or strongly agree that the Sunday bulletin is not necessary whereas only 20% over the age of 40 agree or strongly agree. 20% of those under the age of 40 agree or strongly agree that the felt disconnected without a Sunday bulletin whereas 32% of those over the age of 40 agree or strongly agree.

For me the issue is two-fold. First, I wonder about the stewardship of our resources dedicated to creating a Sunday bulletin. It isn’t cheap financially and it takes a significant chunk of time each week to develop a print bulletin for Sunday mornings. Second, the main issue is communication. We use a variety of communication tools and I certainly understand that not everyone has on-line capabilities. We need a blend of verbal, print, and electronic to communicate to our church family. Even with the use of all of these tools we still miss people. The bulletin, while not as old as verbal, has been around a while and its effectiveness is beginning to wane.

What are you trying at your church to improve your communication?

I did find one great article on line by a church that has modified there bulletin process.


Hiring of an Associate (Executive) Pastor

On September 11th we will be asking the members of our church to vote for a new pastoral staff member (part of our form of congregational government).  Last November our elders spoke to the need of hiring for this position and finally this is coming to fruition.

No one is more excited about this than I am, let me tell you why.

For the past ten years we have been blessed with an amazing ministry staff team.  I still marvel at how God has brougth together each of the parts of this team.  We are a group of different personalities and giftings.  We are committed to seeing the kingdom of God advance across our region and around the world.  Presently, however, we have a glaring gap at the level of senior leadership.  I am a big proponent of partnership in ministry and our elders believe that this is needed at the senior level of leadership for our church to move forward.  No one person can provide the right kind of oversight leadership that is needed for our church.  I am thankful for the elders of our church who continue to be a great source of godly wisdom and leadership. I am appreciative of the affirmation I have received over the years from many in our congregation about my leadership.  I am thankful but I know better than anyone that my giftings are in vision and teaching/preaching and that we desperately need someone who can work with key leaders to make sure that we are effectively implementing the vision that God is calling us to as a church.

This is a proactive step for our church.  We aren't suffering through massive internal problems in our church and we aren't waiting until we become super big to do this.  In fact we are enjoying great times right now. For some a hire like this would be easier if the entire system was broken and falling apart but that is not the case.  I am so impressed that our elders recognize that if we are going to take the next step in our vision we will need someone overseeing the details of ministry plan implementation.  We need someone who can work more directly with our ministry staff and management team ensuring greater organizational leadership.  

As I have reflected on this process I have become acutely aware of a very real challenge.  In so many ways hiring this person is going to be a great personal help to me but I am also aware of how much I am going to have to let go of things.  I want to do that so that I can concentrate on some other things that I believe will help us as a church.  I am hopeful that I will be able to transition well.  

The biggest hurdle for me has clearly been the ability to trust.  During the interviewing process I really had to balance in my mind and heart the issue of "due diligence" (when do you know if this is the right guy) and placing my faith in the sovereignty of God as expressed through the team that was processing all of this.  So we took our time, interviewed often, talked to as many references as possible, and prayed.  We understood clearly how critical of a hire this was going to be.  I am glad that I had the privilege to work with a group of very wise and godly people who want the best for me, our ministry staff, elders, and the rest of our church.  I am blessed.

Praying for the beginning of the next phase of ministry here at OBC.


A New Start

It has been a while since I last blogged about anything. Tomorrow is the beginning of a new start for me. After a month off from church leadership I am ready to start another year of ministry. I am so grateful to God for a church family that allows me to get a break and I am energized about what is ahead.
What am I looking forward to?
Tomorrow I am excited to see the people I work closely with again. Staff meeting tomorrow will feel a bit like a family reunion (without the crazy aunt or uncle – well maybe not). One of my biggest highlights is going to the church office everyday and working with people I care for and about. It is a real privilege.
Tomorrow night Brenda and I will spend some time hanging out with our Elders and their spouses. This group is a unique collection of godly individuals who take their leadership roles seriously but don't take themselves too seriously. I am looking forward to laughing together.
Tomorrow starts the beginning of a new chapter at our church. This year we will be engaged in discovering what our next steps for church multiplication will be. I am thrilled to be in a church environment where we are on an adventure of discovering what our part is in God's work of transforming our region. Working towards a change in the name of our church and considering church multiplication is going to be a very rewarding experience this year.
Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will wake up and have the honor of seeing people I haven't been with for the last four weeks. The time away has been good. Our time together is going to be fun and very rewarding. I am looking forward to it. See you soon.

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