I wanted to take a moment and publicly thank the officers, leadership and staff of the Lakeland Police Department. For the past ten months we have become close to many of the officers and have observed the work they do.  It is no secret that Impact! Church is in one of the most impoverished and crime-riddled areas of Polk County. As a result we get to see the work of the Lakeland Police Department up close and personal.  We have come to respect and value our city’s officers as law enforcement agents – and as people.  Even in some of the toughest situations, I have seen them handle people with grace and dignity.  I have watched them hold a battered woman as she sobbed uncontrollably. I have observed them giving water to a drunk man that passed out in the sun.  I have marveled at the way they diffused a potentially volatile domestic situation. I have experienced their life-saving measures when my own health failed me. Most of all I have seen them protect and serve our community with a level of professionalism that Lakeland can be proud of. They are quick to respond, fearless in the face of overwhelming odds and compassionate in their execution of the job. At Impact! Church the Lakeland Police Department are not only our friends, but also a partner in our mission to the Parker Street neighborhood.  We pray for them daily and are grateful to God for them.

Here are the twelve surefire steps I’ve found as a pastor to leading your church to lead people to Jesus.

1. Pastor, get up from your desk and leave your office. You can prep all week, but you’ll never really preach as good as Andy Stanley.

2. Ask a staff member or church attender that is walking around the church to be your ¨guest¨ for a ¨field trip¨.  Heck it could even be a stranger. They won’t be by the time you are done with this exercise.

3. You and your ¨guest¨ leave the church building. Congrats – you’ve now become a missionary.

4. Walk or drive to an area of town that is known for poverty or crime. DO NOT go to a coffee shop.  Only church planters and Christian college students are there.

5. Walk around said area and talk to people. Don’t carry a Bible, don’t hand out an invite card – in fact, don’t tell them that you are with a church!!!

6. Find a person or persons that look especially despondent or hopeless and ask them to lunch.  You are buying.

7. During lunch love on them, listen to them, cry with them, laugh with them…hold them if they need it. If they let you pray for them DO NOT speak in your secret prayer language as it just freaks people out!

8. Take them back to where you found them and make definitive plans to meet again.  It could be for church or just another lunch.  Again you will be buying and/or providing the ride.

9. Let nothing stop you from the follow up meeting – as building trust is HUGE. If you miss the ¨appointment¨ you will be added to the ¨People Who Suck National Registry¨. You will also make Jesus, the Church and Christianity look like liars.

10. Debrief about the ¨field trip¨ with your ¨guest¨ on your way back to church. Use phrases like ¨holy crap that was uh-mazing!¨

11. Instruct your ¨guest¨ to find themselves a ¨guest¨ and go on their own ¨field trip¨. This step is really fun if you use a ¨Yodda, Jedi Master¨-type voice.

12. Next week repeat this process again. If you make this a weekly thing eventually you’ll be able to do away with budget line items like ¨Special Events¨, ¨Outreach¨, ¨Discipleship¨ and ¨Benevolence¨.

BONUS STEP - As you continue to follow up with the person you met in Step #6 you will build a relationship with them.  That will eventually become a friendship and eventually you will be able to verbally share the hope of Christ with them. By that time you will have already shown them the love of Christ.

Recently I received an email from a church leader asking about a typical day for me.  He knew I was bi-vocational and highly hands-on when it came to ministry.  Once I responded to his email he suggested I blog about it.  So here goes.  This is what my day looks like today.  By the way – this is a fairly typical day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Tuesdays are date nights for my wife and I so my day stops around 5:00pm.  I don’t do any church “work” on Friday and Saturdays either.

WEDNESDAY – DECEMBER 10, 2014

5:30 am - Alarm goes off and I head to my easy chair for Bible study and prayer.

6:15 am - Wake my wife up and we pray together.

6:30 am - Breakfast and I read the local newspaper.

7:00 am - Give blood for lab tests at my heart doctor’s office.

7:30 am - Pick up cleaning supplies and paper goods for Impact! Church at Sam’s Club.

8:00 am - Drop by the South Florida Baptist Association office for a quick meeting with the new Director of Missions.

8:30 am - Meet with my assistant to clarify the rest of the week and respond to correspondence.

9:00 am - Return phone calls.

9:30 am - Meet with our video production volunteer to discuss the script of a new ministry support video we’ll be shooting.

10:00 am - Christmas Eve planning meeting to finalize details.

11:00 am - Lunch at my desk working on an upcoming sermon.

12:00 pm - Report to local Southwest Middle School for a half day of substitute teaching.

4:00 pm - Leave school and return phone calls on the drive back to the office.

4:30 pm - Answer emails (get 50-100 emails a day).

5:00 pm - Meet with possible new worship leader.

6:00 pm - My wife brings dinner by and we eat it in the conference room talking about our day.

6:45 pm - Quick “meet and greet” with our teens before their Bible study.

7:00 pm - Meet newest intern and take him for introductory walk-through in our neighborhood to introduce him to people.

7:30 pm - Counseling session with a recovering alcoholic.

9:00 pm - Home with my wife watching “Nashville” (one of our guilty pleasures).

10:00 pm - Go through my “daily review” to plan my day on Thursday.

10:15 pm - Shower and shave (I use a blade, brush and cream – relaxes me).

10:30 pm - In bed and read for 30 minutes.

11:00 pm - Lights out.