michael larkin

voices in my head… by Michael
October 2, 2008, 1:05 pm
Filed under: Voices in my head

it – Craig Groeschel

“I’d argue that people today aren’t rejecting Christ so much as they’re rejecting the church.  Once, I asked a guy why he didn’t go to church.  He responded without hesitation, ‘Because I’ve already been.’

He came.  It didn’t happen.  So he never returned.”

  • How can we make sure Cinema Church helps change the way people view church?
  • How can we make sure the church isn’t a stumbling block to people finding life in Christ?
  • How can we provide an environment that ensures no one ever attends Cinema Church and claims they won’t be back because “they’ve already been”?

(PS-I am hoping this gets as much of a response as an entry about a logo option.)


best practices (6 of 7) by Michael
September 29, 2008, 11:53 am
Filed under: Church Launch Team, Cinema Church

We aren’t just about preparing to launch Cinema Church.  One of our best practices is that we are the church.  We don’t just talk about the vision.  We are the vision.  We don’t just dream about what the church could be and should be.  We are doing what we should be doing.  We don’t just talk about impacting a community.  We reach out to our community.

This Halloween, with the help of our students, Cinema Church will host our biggest outreach yet.  Just last night we received confirmation that we will be able to host a Trunk-or-Treat at McKenna Drive in Middletown.  We are going to provide safe and fun ways for families to have a positive experience on Halloween.  We are inviting anyone to stop by McKenna Drive this Halloween.  Upon arrival people will find several theme vehicles with trunks full of candy.  We will also have a tent with things like hot chocolate for the parents.  We want this to be fun.  We want this to be safe.  We want this to be a good experience for parents and children.  We want to make this an easy opportunity for parents.  And we want to meet people in our community.

Here are some of the theme vehicles we already have lined up:

  • My family and our truck will go with the Batman theme.  I have some crazy things up my sleeve so I think it will be a good one.  I’m Batman and Aidan is Robin.  For the rest you will just have to come see.
  • Faith and her car will go with a race car/nascar theme.  I’ve heard a few ideas she’s throwing around.  This should be fun.
  • Sarette and her tiny yellow car will go with a bumble bee theme.
  • Danielle may go with a lady bug theme.
  • I have heard that Donny and Dennis with their green vehicles are going to do something crazy around the theme of Crocodile Hunter.
  • Stacey and her blue truck is going with an underwater theme.  I hear there may be a pool and a Mermaid.
  • Rob…I cant tell you just yet.  It has to do with politics and Hockey moms.
  • Someone (possibly Dennis or Kyle???) may go with THIS THEME.

Our directional team just decided late last night to move forward with this.  Most at Cinema Church haven’t heard about this…until now.  So, I am sure there will be many more vehicles and crazy themes.  If you would like to help we could use the following:

  • More theme vehicles
  • People to come and hang out/meet families
  • People to help with constructing and building the themes
  • Donate tons of candy for us to give away
  • People to help us hand out fliers advertising the first annual Cinema Church Trunk-or-Treat

If you are willing to help with any of these please leave a comment below.

best practices (5 of 7) by Michael
September 25, 2008, 12:10 pm
Filed under: Cinema Church, Random Goodness

Time for another one of our best practices.  This one also has to do with money, and the fact that….We talk about money A LOT!

Our first series was all about money.  We found out that the average person in America spends $1.22 for every $1 they earn.  We are beginning to realize that we are entrusted by God with resources.  One day we are going to give an account for how we handled all of the resources that he has entrusted to us.

If you were fortunate to attend Liberty University, or Thomas Road Baptist Church, during the lifetime of Dr. Jerry Falwell then you are well aware of the fact that Dr. Falwell talked frequently all the time about money.  During one of my theology classes this particular issue was brought up by a fellow student.  I will never forget the professors comments.  He said one of the most profound things I have ever heard, “The most spiritual thing a pastor can do is to teach people about giving.”  It has taken a while for this to sink in.  I’m not sure it is the most spiritual thing a pastor can do, but it has to be right up there.

Here is why we talk about giving…

  • Where your treasure is there your heart will be
  • Giving is a very spiritual issue, and if we want to impact people and be the hands and feet of Jesus we cannot afford to ignore any spiritual discipline
  • We are asking many people and churches to come along side and help us launch Cinema Church.  But, we are sacrificing and learning generosity before we ever ask anyone outside our church to give
  • It takes a tremendous amount of money to launch a healthy life-giving church
  • It takes a tremendous amount of people with the right heart to launch and sustain a healthy church.  Trusting God with our finances, and obeying him will help to ensure that our hearts are in line with his
  • God can do far more if we trust him with 90% than we ever could with 100%
  • The average American spends $1.22 for every $1.00 earned.  Most family arguments and divorces come back to one issue…finances
  • If we want to be a church that changes a community, enlarges eternity and brings healing to lives and marriages….we have to talk about money A LOT!

best practices (4 of 7) by Michael
September 23, 2008, 10:09 am
Filed under: Church Launch Team, Cinema Church

So, these are OUR best practices, in no particular order.  The next couple have to do with money.  Ed Young says that people get funny when the church talks about money.  We have some very detailed systems and procedures for how we handle money.  It takes big money to launch a church.  We talk about money a lot.  People don’t just get funny, they get crazy when you talk about money.  So, we go overboard.  Again, these work for us, and may or may not work in other contexts.

Our next best practice….I AM CLUELESS!

OK, so that isn’t a surprise to most.  I’m clueless with a lot of things.  I’m am definitely clueless when it comes to who gives, who doesn’t give, and how much or how little each person gives.  I wouldn’t consider doing this any other way.  Giving is a highly spiritual act of trust and worship.  I want people to give generously, but even more importantly I want them to give to God with right motives.

Don’t get me wrong.  We are not sloppy when it comes to giving/managing our finances/being good stewards of the resources God has given us as a church.  We have very specific systems and procedures in place.  We have these systems in place to protect our givers, our leaders/overseers of the giving, and most importantly to protect the integrity of Cinema Church.  I would bet we have the most talented and brightest minds of any church managing our finances.  And we have systems of accountability in place.  We are tighter than Fort Knox I assure you.

Here is what I do know.  I know exactly what comes in every week.  I also get a print out with the word “NAME” and the amounts given each week for that person.  So while I don’t know who that “NAME” is tied to, I can see where our church is.  I can gauge our spiritual temperature in some ways by having this information.  The Bible says that where a persons treasure is there his heart is also.  We need to be a church family that chases after the heart of God.  I need to know if we have people giving consistently, this tells me a lot about our heart as a church.  I need to know where we are collectively as a church body.

Here is what this cluelessness allows:

  • you’ll find out tomorrow (best practice 5)
  • no one has to wonder if I’m looking funny at them because they didn’t give last week
  • better allows people to worship God out of a sincere heart and not guilt
  • never have to worry about giving someone leadership or a better chair because of how much money they give

best practices (3 of 7) by Michael
September 22, 2008, 1:08 pm
Filed under: Church Launch Team, Cinema Church, Random Goodness

Another of our best practices is…PRAYER

These are in no particular order, but prayer would be at the top of this list if there was an order.

We don’t just talk about the importance of prayer.  We pray regularly.  In fact, several Cinema Churchers meet Saturday from 8-8:45 a.m. every week to pray for our community, our people and our church.  Yes, you read that right….8 a.m. on Saturday morning!

We have also taken our entire Sunday morning just to pray.  Individuals pray for our church as well.  And we have even walked around our community praying!  That must have looked interesting to some…

We know that this crazy vision is so enormous that if God doesn’t show up and show off we will accomplish nothing.  We also know, and act on the fact, that nothing significant happens apart from prayer.

We are constantly changing.  Our experiences are changing.  Our times are changing.  One thing that has not, and will not change, is that we meet at least once a week, as a group, and pray.  I would encourage any church launches and churches to start praying every single week.  I love that our people give up time to pray for our church and for others inside and outside our church.  It is one of the reasons that Cinema Church is Cinema Church.  Thanks for the many prayers.  God is up to something big and I can’t wait to see how this continues to unfold!

best practices (2 of 7) by Michael
September 19, 2008, 5:52 am
Filed under: Church Launch Team, Cinema Church

Another of our best practices is… TEAM.

I love that this church has a vision so big that one person, two people, ten people, twenty people can’t possibly do this!  It is going to take the biggest, brightest, craziest, most courageous group of people ever assembled to pull this one off!

It has been said that 20% of the people do 80% of the work.  With some areas this is still true of Cinema Church.  However, we are working on this.  And, in most areas this just ain’t true of Cinema Church at all.

I love our team.  I love that we do things as a team.  I love that all of our leadership is structured around not getting things done, but rather building a team to make things happen.

There are some things that I don’t know a thing about.  Some things at Cinema Church!!!  And I love it!  I’m a control freak by nature.  I want things done yesterday, and better than they have ever been done before.  However, I am realizing that if I do most things… then quite frankly most things (if not everything) will suck!  Our CinemaKids Church is out of this world, our nursery ministry is perfect, our financial stuff is crazy amazing, our girls small groups is rocking, our golf tournament is mind bogglingly good, our music is going to be out of this world….I could go on and on.  All of these things happen with teams….teams that I really have absolutely nothing to do with.

To everyone on our TEAM and WITH Cinema Church… Thank YOU!  What you are doing is already helping us to change CT.

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.