michael larkin

our best practices (1 of 7) by Michael
September 18, 2008, 10:12 am
Filed under: church launch, Innovative Churches

OK, so it may sound very odd that a church that still hasn’t launched is listing their best practices.  I know, it is a little odd.  With that said, here are a few reasons that I decided to post our best practices.  First, we are learning.  If what we are learning can somehow help anyone, that would be awesome.  Second, we are just starting, BUT we have still managed to find a way to be the church and be the vision (not just talk about vision and what will be).  Third, this blog helps me.  So, if no one else benefits from this it is good for me to write things down, and to be able to look back at all this craziness once our church does launch.

A huge disclaimer…these are OUR best practices. Some of these things definitely will not work in other church plants and other contexts.  They just happen to have worked really well for us.

So, our first best practice (but really not in any particular order)….

Devour blogs, attend conferences, enroll in coaching networks!

We devour everything worth watching.  If a church or a leader is getting it done…I watch them religiously!  One of the best resources is…blogs!  They are free, frequent, and immediate.  Books are good, but blogs are real, and usually give a great look at the day by day journey.  It is awesome to watch what others are doing.  Blogs have helped our church learn strategies, have stretched me in so many areas, have increased vision and increased faith.  In fact, one of the things that started me down this path was a blog.  While at Thomas Road Baptist Church there was a guy I shared an office with.  He worked with the high schoolers and I worked with the middle schoolers.  He recently started a church in North Carolina.  Since then that church has exploded!  He has been on NBC Nightly News.  More importantly this church plant, that just recently celebrated its one year anniversary, is reaching a community.  I have learned a ton from his blog.  In fact, I think what Tadd is doing was one of the first things that God used to begin to move in my heart about launching a church in Connecticut.  I love to follow blogs written by church planters who are getting it done!  Some of my favorite blogs are written by: Gary Lamb, Michael L., Tadd Grandstaff, Nelson Searcy and Buddy Cremeans.  All have recently launched churches, all changing their community!

We go to every conference that we possibly can!  We have partnered with ARC.  We have already been to some coaching and teaching events, and will continue to go through ARC for coaching and teaching.  There are other coaching networks that we are planning to be a part of.  Some of our team took a huge trip to Georgia for the Evolve Conference.  In a few weeks 10 of us will be going to Catalyst.  Some of our team was able to go to the Fusion Seminar when it was right here in our backyard.  After we get back from Georgia we are going to C3 Conference in New York.  There are other conferences that we will definitely go to.  I feel conferences are crucial.  I love that so many of our people are going with us to these conferences!  I can’t wait to see the vision of our team increased.  I am anxiously waiting to be able to apply some of the practices we learn as a team to our unique environment.  I can’t wait to continue to learn together.


from out of no where by Michael
August 28, 2008, 7:00 pm
Filed under: church launch, Innovative Churches, Random Goodness

Today God has answered a huge prayer request!

We have several ridiculous things that we have been courageously asking God for.

One of the things we are desperately in need of is office space.  I know it doesn’t sound like much, but to get people more involved, and to be more organized, an office space is crucial.  A huge mentor of mine recently told me that an office space was what took his leadership and church to a whole new level.  Since that meeting we have been praying even harder for our own office space.  BUT not just for any office space.  We have been praying a huge prayer, and asking God to give us an office space… for FREE!

Today, I went over to East Hampton Bible Church…to look at our new office space.  SERIOUSLY!  What an amazing church with a Kingdom vision.  They have designated a room and given it to Cinema Church.  I am blown away at the generosity of this church.  It is clear that God’s hand is all over this church, and it is obvious why.  They have a huge heart for people, the church, and the Kingdom.  East Hampton Bible has also just recently announced that they are selling their property and going portable to reach more people.  That is crazy courage!

A huge thanks from Cinema Church to East Hampton Bible for their generosity, Kingdom mindedness, and courage.  And a special thanks to all of you who have been giving up part of your Saturday morning to meet and pray audacious prayers.

It is awesome to be on this journey WITH you.  I can’t wait to see how God continues to work in and through you.  I love our church and how God is moving.  I also love that God is working in the Central Connecticut area.  We have recently found two churches that I would, without hesitation, recommend to anyone currently looking for a church:  East Hampton Bible and Calvary Fellowship.  Thanks for leading the way and we hope to partner with you soon to help change Connecticut.

Cinema Church Golf Tournament by Michael
August 20, 2008, 9:23 am
Filed under: church launch, Church Launch Team

Hey everyone, just in case you don’t know yet…Our first annual Golf Tournament is coming up!

Here is some important information:

  • Saturday October 4th @ Lyman Orchards Golf Course
  • See Faith if you would like to help (especially if you are out going)
  • Invite everyone, and anyone, to the golf tournament (Seriously, if they look like they have ever golfed, their grandparents may have golfed, they know someone who golfed, they saw a movie with someone golfing, or if they look like they know what a golf ball is…INVITE THEM TO PARTNER WITH US AND JOIN OUR GOLF TOURNAMENT!)
  • If you need invite cards and brochures, let me know and I’ll mail you some
  • If you can’t help, or golf, you can still come to the dinner and support the Golf Tournament
We are out of our minds with what we are taking on here.  We need everyone to do everything possible to make this Golf Tournament a huge success.  Thank you in advance for making this the best Golf Tournament that it can possible be.

Super Faith by Michael
August 15, 2008, 8:49 am
Filed under: church launch, Church Launch Team, Entourage

As many of you will find out Sunday, or soon in subsequent blogs here…We are having our first annual Cinema Church Fund Raising Golf Tournament!  It is happening October 4th at Lyman Orchards.  Over the next week or so there will be a plethora (felt like sounding a little smarter than saying “a ton”) of information about the actual golf tournament.  For now I want to talk to you about the process…

I need to start by telling you that this has been the most encouraging experience for me so far at Cinema Church.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been several ups and downs.  In fact, just last Monday we were seriously considering canceling this whole thing!  It was looking like things just weren’t working out.  It was appearing that we would be at a dump (Portland West), paying more than a person off the street would, securing 72 spots, and paying $18 per person for the worst food menu ever.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I was not thrilled one bit.  

However, God completely rocked our worlds!  Lyman Orchards is like comparing McDonalds to Ruths Chris. And the best part is…We are going to end up paying FAR LESS to be at Lyman Orchards, we will raise far more money for Cinema Church, and everyone will have a much better time!  That is amazing!

But, I still haven’t gotten to the point of this post…

I want to talk about Super Faith.  I hope that this next part encourages you, in some way, to take another step in the journey toward being a disciple.

Everyone will see how awesome Lymans really is.  Everyone will experience how professional our Cinema Church Golf Tournament will be.  What most will never see or fully know is the amount of work Faith Wilson (Super Faith) has put into this to make it a reality.  This really has been the most encouraged I have been since starting Cinema Church.  At a time when literally everything can seem to be falling apart, God has used Faith to inspire me, encourage me, give me hope, and bring joy to my life.  And she didn’t do any of this for those reasons.  She was just doing her best, and being available to God.

I want to list some obstacles (some you and I share in common with Faith), and some of what encouraged me most: 


  • Faith knows ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about golf.  Seriously, in our meetings where we discussed the golf tournament it was immediately obvious she knew nothing about golf.  Im not sure she would know what a golf ball was if it landed in her lap!  Sounds like a great person to literally run a golf tournament, doesn’t it!
  • She has two full time jobs.  She “works” at Liberty Bank.  Im sure she is exhausted many nights, but somehow what is a huge obstacle for many (job), was never brought up.  Ever.  Not once.
  • Her other full time job…raising and caring for 3 awesome kids.  On her own! Now thats a huge obstacle.  I know they are older, but if you think it gets easier as they get older, you are in for a rude awakening when your kids are late teens, and going into and through college.  Somehow, this never became an issue.  Somehow she met all their needs, and blew this whole golf tournament up!
  • Life.  This is a major obstacle for most.  Things happen, things come up, things don’t work out like we planned or how we originally envisioned them.  I’m not going to get into her life, but I’m sure this has been one of the toughest years of her life.  This didn’t stop her from listening to God, and life happening  didn’t slow her down one bit.
  • Crazy obedience.  Even though she knew nothing about golf she did what she felt God was asking her to do.  I see this just like Noah doing something crazy. He knew nothing about building an ark, but he did it simply because God had asked.
  • Way beyond follow up.  Faith literally ran with this WHOLE thing.  Not once did I worry.  Not once did I wonder if she was behind.  Faith wanted to do this, and did the whole thing.  It was nice to be involved so little.  I really just showed up to a few meetings, and watched Faith put a team together and do the rest.
  • Her family.  She did this right. In a time when people forsake church and involvement under the excuse that they have to do whatever with family, Faith has lead her family by example.  There is a reason that Dennis, Danielle, and Donny are so awesome.  There is a reason those 3 are so committed to God.  There is a reason that those 3 are some of the most committed at Cinema Church.  There is a reason that those 3 will defy what statistics say about them.  The reason is found HERE.  So, while many forsake the bride of Christ, and hang out with their children, Faith has instilled something in her children.  She has allowed them to see a true disciple.  Because of that they haven’t graduated from church.  Disclaimer:: NO ONE is suggesting forsaking your kids for ministry.  That was a danger 20 years ago, today I think we have gone to the other end of the spectrum.  Your priorities need to be God, Spouse, Children, Ministry.  In that order, or mass chaos will ensue for all of your relationships.  All I am saying is Faith did this right.  She has obviously spent a lot of time with her children, but she has also shown by example what it means to be committed to Christ and the local church.  That is invaluable if you want your children to follow Christ.
  • Life didn’t slow her down.  She was running meetings, hosting Cinema Church prayer meetings, running small groups, organizing our connections on Sunday morning, and NOT ONCE was it ever apparent that she was burdened by these things.  She actually seemed to enjoy doing these things.
  • Not looking to be recognized.  There is a reason I can write about Faith.  She isn’t looking for me to write about her.  She wants no one to admire her or pat her on the back.  She did this for two reasons…She loves God and Cinema Church.
  • Faith is a rock!  When things were going wrong, not working how we had hoped SHE NEVER ONCE got negative.  There wasn’t even the slightest hint of negativity.  Probably one of the big reasons this is all working out.
  • She has raised the bar.  She is leading us in the right direction.  She took an idea, and has brought it to a whole new level.  I love that and can’t wait to see many more at Cinema Church follow her lead and do the same.

big announcement by Michael
August 14, 2008, 9:49 pm
Filed under: church launch, Church Launch Team, Innovative Churches

OK, so if you don’t like change, you must hate me, or you soon will.  Things are always changing.  As you probably know we missed our first class to Georgia. Because of this and the subsequent conversations, the guy who runs the class seriously thinks it would be a waste of time and money to go that far for this particular class.  I was wondering about the same thing, and even talked to a few people trying to figure out if the money would be better spent on things like marketing.  The leader of the school brought this up to me and suggested that the money would go farther in outreach and marketing. Needless to say we will not be going to Georgia for this church planting class.

I still have take a trip to Georgia to pick up our media equipment…
Catalyst Conference is in Georgia in October…
Needless to say, I am inviting everyone to take a trip to Georgia with me and attend Catalyst Conference. The video below should convince you that this is a huge opportunity for you, our church, and our community.   If you have the ability to run to Georgia and back this could be huge, and I would love it if you would at least consider trying to go with us.

schedule by Michael
July 23, 2008, 10:34 am
Filed under: church launch, Church Launch Team, Cinema Church

Below is a schedule of topics for the church plant school that Cinema Church has been accepted to.  If you would like to join me and go to any of these please let me know ASAP so we can figure out travel and lodging issues.

  • August 9 – Kingdom, Call, Prayer
  • September 13 – Administration, Funding, Vision, Values,
  • October 11 – Mission, Evangelism, Assimilation,
  • November 8 – Small Groups, Leadership Development – Using volunteers effectively, developing a staff team
  • December –  Strategic Planning, Event Planning, Worship Planning, Missions.

for Cinema Church…or WITH Cinema Church by Michael
July 21, 2008, 9:27 am
Filed under: church launch, Church Launch Team, Cinema Church

Last Sunday we talked about being for Cinema Church vs. being WITH Cinema Church.  There is a big difference between the two.  We will get into that in a moment.  But, first I must say that I am blown away by how many are WITH Cinema Church.

There is a big difference between the two.  The nation of Israel was for David when he went out to fight Goliath.  None of them wanted anything bad to happen to David.  All of them wanted for David to defeat Goliath.  They were all for David.  Sadly, none were really with David.  He was alone, and he was the only one who experienced what it is like to have God deliver and provide.  Big difference between being for something or someone and with something or someone!

Another story we looked at was Peter walking on water.  None of the disciples wanted to see Peter sink.  They were all for him.  They wanted him to walk on water.  They wanted him to survive.  They were rooting for him.  That’s great, but the reality is none of them were with him.  None of them stepped out in faith with Peter.  None of them had the courage to act with Peter.  None of them experienced God with Peter.  None of them were with Peter when he jumped out of the boat.  But didn’t Peter sink?  Sure did!  And none of the disciples were with Peter when he was sinking.  And the saddest part of all…none of the disciples experienced what it is like to have Jesus save them from sinking.  They were for Peter but definitely not with Peter.

I love that people are for me and for Cinema Church.  Really, I do.  I need cheerleaders.  Seriously.  I would love to see more churches and people for me and Cinema Church.

But I desperately crave, need, and desire for more people and churches to be WITH me and Cinema Church.  I want people to experience this with me.  I want people to go through all the highs and lows with me.  I want to celebrate with people who have been through the battle.

This past Sunday I began to realize just how many people ARE with me and Cinema Church!

For those crazy enough to still be reading this, I want to share some very specific examples of what for Cinema Church vs with Cinema Church could look like.

FOR: Michael’s church, Michael’s vision
WITH: My church, our vision

FOR: When I can, if I can
WITH: Whatever I can, however I can

FOR: When it’s not too inconvenient
WITH: No matter the cost or sacrifice

FOR: Tithe
WITH: Give above and beyond

FOR: I wish I could give more
WITH: I’m not going to movies, not getting that CD, limit expenses SO I can give more

FOR: Can’t wait for launch of Cinema Church
WITH: Can’t wait to practice so when launch time comes my gifts and abilities are at full potential

FOR:  Wish I could be there
WITH:  Told manager I ain’t missing Sundays no matter what

This past week we saw our 300 project receive more in one week than it had received in its entire existence, we saw our 300 project receive more than what we gave away last Sunday, and we saw our biggest offering ever!  Coincidence?  I think not.  God is honoring the fact that so many are WITH Cinema Church.  I just want to say Thank YOU for going WITH !