Gary Lamb, What’s Working For You?
Gary Lamb, or better know as Mad Babble From A Church Planter... has an amazing blog. If you remember, I introduced you to him last week, and sang his praises. Gary is the Lead Pastor of Ridge Stone Church in Canton, Georgia. Gary does have a great blog, but more importantly Gary has an amazing church. Unfortunately, I have not been able to see it personally, but those who have say it is wonderful. Here’s Gary
In the 10 months since we started Ridge Stone Church, I feel much more qualified to write about what is NOT working, then what is working. However, Terry asked me to write about what is working, so I will stick to the subject at hand. There are several things that I feel have really worked and helped us to see the success we have seen in the last 10 months. I could write about several different things but the biggest thing that has worked for us is simply this:
WE KNOW OUR COMMUNITY!
Before we started RSC, we made it a point to get out and learn every detail of our community we could. We made sure the community fit who we were as a staff, we made sure there was a need for our style of church, and we made it a point to be seen everywhere.
Canton, Ga. is one of the fastest growing cities in America and because of that there are church plants all over the place. However, very few of them are seeing growth and several of them have shut down. The only difference I see between us and them is we know this community. The average age of Canton is 29.7 years old and the average family has 2 children. Our staff IS Canton. Because we knew the area so well, we didn’t have to pretend and be something we weren’t. We were able to move here and instantly connect with people.
Some of the things we have done are still doing to get to know our community:
1.) Found the young entrepreneurs - Every growing town if full of young, visionary people who are ready to become successful. In our area, this people can be found in the downtown district. Canton has revitalized its downtown and because rent is so affordable, it is full of young business people trying to make it big. These people were our target so we immediately rented office space downtown. This one move plugged us in more then anything else. Our church is full of young entrepreneurs from the downtown area. I am actually now on the Historic Downtown Canton Association. Not sure what that means, but it is cool.
2.) We have kept business local – As long as the price is somewhat comparable, we have kept all of our business dealings local. It is easier to do it online, it is cheaper to go to some of the bigger cities but, by keeping business local we have learned more about the area and our network grew quickly.
3.) We went to the people – We went out and met people and asked them what type of church they would attend. I used to sit at Applebee’s and pay the waitress a dollar for every person she would sit in a booth or table next to me. I would then strike up conversations with the people. I would ask about the area, what the liked the most, what they liked the least, where they went to church, what they were looking for in a church, etc. It is amazing what you can learn about an area just by listening.
4.) We are part of the community – I don’t understand how you can plant a church and not live or be part of the community where you church is. We are part of Canton. Our doctors are in Canton, our insurance people are in Canton, my daughters dance class is in Canton, we shop in Canton, we eat in Canton and by doing so, we are able to keep up with the heartbeat of the town.
5.) A large majority of our relationships are with the unchurched – No one does a better job of being around unchurched people better then our staff. We make this a point and keep each other accountable on this. It is too easy once in ministry to never be around the unchurched. If you want to know the true community, then get away from the Christians, as they will see things totally different then the rest of the community. Our guys are required to do things with unchurched people.
I could list several other things we do but you get the idea. I have written about this on my blog before, but let me say it again. Planters or pastors that are used of God to build large churches know their area and they make sure their church matches their area. I love Rick Warren but, a Hawaiian shirt and sandals isn’t what Canton is about. But so many guys see Rick, Ed, or Andy and instead of learning from them, they have mimicked these guys and have failed. They are the way they are because of their personality and because it connects with their community.
We have modeled our church after some of the great churches out there. We don’t apologize for that but, because we knew our area, we were able to look at those great churches and eat the meat and throw away the bones. In another words, we were able to put into practice what would work in our area and scrap what wouldn’t have been relevant.
We know our area so well, we have actually had people looking at starting businesses in Canton, call us and ask us to show them around and give our thoughts on location, need, and if their idea would work.
So what’s working at RSC? Very simply, knowing our area better then anyone else.