Does God Still Part Red Seas? Absolutely! The Story of The Experience Church in Bridgeport, OH

Wheeling, WV, and Bridgeport, OH are two neighboring towns located on the Ohio River at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Bridgeport is a small town with a population of 1,195 people and is the picture of abject poverty in the United States with median household incomes of $37,692 per year.

Pastors Tim and Linda Seidler

Pastors Tim and Linda Seidler

But tucked away in this Appalachian Valley is a church, two pastors, and a move of God which is as miraculous as the parting of the Red Sea. Don’t believe me? Allow me to introduce you to The Experience Church and its pastors, Tim, and Linda Seidler.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Pastors Tim and Linda and hear their story. These two are delightful individuals every Christian leader should know.

A Wife’s Prayer

Tim and Linda were high school sweethearts who are now entering their 30th year of marriage. But early on, Linda had a relationship with Jesus while Tim did not. He was a talented musician, highly-driven, his company’s top salesperson, and hugely successful, however, Tim would see Linda taking their girls to church each Sunday. Even though he did not have a relationship with Christ he wanted to be the best husband and father he could.

Linda would lay hands on Tim and pray, “God, I know how you designed him. Please let him do in the Kingdom what he’s doing in the world.” Tim began attending weekly services, and God answered her prayer and then some. Tim became a modern-day Saul-to-Paul story. He was not knocked down with a bright light, but he was a person of enormous capacity, talent, and influence who was now using those gifts in a ministry context.

As a result, The Experience Ministry was soon born.

A Christian Happy Hour

Tim and Linda soon discovered the people in the Valley did not have a problem with Jesus, but they had a big problem with the church. God birthed in them a desire to start something fresh and exciting for people far from God. So in 2010, they began a service called Happy Hour which included music, coffee, and preaching. Forty people were in attendance that first Sunday but everyone knew God was up to something. This small gathering grew, and grew, and grew some more.

Why The Experience Church Was Growing So Fast

I asked Pastors Tim and Linda why the church grew so rapidly (other than the goodness of God of course). The following were their answers:

  1. A Passion About The Power Of Invitation – Allow me to paraphrase Pastor Tim’s words, your invitation can cause a conversation which leads to transformation and can change someone’s eternal destination. The church is passionate about inviting people into conversations and to church.

  2. Social Meda – The church has a very successful social media presence.

  3. Authenticity – The Experience Church is the perfect place for imperfect people. 65-70% of their church were truly unchurched people – not de-churched, so they had no church background and brought all of those issues with them.

  4. Not Authority But Relationship – They honor up (those in ministry positions), down (the broken and hurting), and all around.

  5. The church is a place of excitement.

  6. Diversity – All demographics are welcome. Women are also empowered.

  7. The Next Generation – A tremendous amount of resources are dedicated to families and especially children.

The Experience Church Hits A Lid

By 2018, the church had purchased an old Catholic school to meet in. However, the facility had no parking. In a town of 1195 people, the church had an Easter attendance of 1,800!!! The church leadership then decided to be smart but also walk by faith. Fifty acres were purchased just off the interstate as you can see in the video above.

Pastors Tim And Linda Seek Wise Counsel

Pastors Tim and Linda are continual learners. They are always picking someone’s brain. Facing a need to raise more money than at any time in the church’s history and living in a city with mostly broke people, Tim discovered INJOY Stewardship Solutions. Understanding a partnership fee would be required to work together; he leaned on his Sales background. Tim reasoned if INJOY Stewardship helped them raise $1 more than the cost of services, the partnership was worth it. As Tim said, “I looked at the potential more than the cost.”

The Results – God Once Again Parts The Red Sea

With the help of their consultant Chad Aukland, the church set a faith goal of $850,000 which was a HUGE number!!! On the day of their commitment event, Tim and Linda went home, each got out a calculator, and began adding up the commitment cards. Linda said, “We were literally watching the five loaves and two fish multiplying.” Card after card. Commitment after commitment. Once compiled, the church received pledges of $1,129,000 in one of the most poverty-stricken areas of the country!!!

Pastors Tim and Linda pointed out there were only two rather large gifts. The congregation merely all participated in the vision and what God was doing. The results were not a result of the sacrifices of a few wealthy individuals but rather the commitment of many which was a great win for their entire city and church.

The First Miracle Many People Had Ever Seen

There has now been a new excitement and expectation in the air since the church announced its results. The church became the church. People, many with no religious background, saw the fruit of a God who can do anything. People stopped saying, “The church….” and began saying, “My church….” Greater ownership has taken place. People now see The Experience Church as their house.

A Consistent Thread From Pastors Tim And Linda Starting With The 20 People In Their Living Room To Their New 50 Acre Property

As I talked with these two incredible people, I felt the consistency from day one of The Experience Church until today. It has always been about the empty seat. The church has always been about unselfish people providing opportunities to reach more people. New people will come to a new location, and new open seats will be available for them to sit. The Experience Church has always been about inviting someone else in. As they have gotten bigger, they have also gotten smaller. An open seat is always available for a broken person to sit in. The capital campaign just helped them get further faster.

The Disease Of Comfort. When Is Enough Enough?

Pastor Tim concluded with these words, “These (capital campaigns) are hard. There’s a lot of prayer and a lot of effort. But when is enough, enough? When are we happy and comfortable? We’re uncomfortable if there is one more who doesn’t know Jesus and for them, we have a seat.”

Pastors Tim and Linda Seidler are two of the greatest Christian leaders I have spoken with in a long time. They are some of the kindest, most compassionate people I've ever had the privilege of speaking to. If you are not following them on Twitter, I would recommend you do so HERE and HERE. You can also follow the church HERE.

Finally, if your church is looking to raise significant capital in the next year and want what happened at The Experience Church to happen at yours, submit a contact form below and we will be glad to follow-up and have a conversation with you.

Creating A Culture To Consistently Reproduce Leaders

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Welcome to another episode of The Ship Podcast! Our guest today is Adam Barr, the pastor of Peace Church in Middleville, Michigan. Over the nine years that Adam has been at Peace Church, the church has nearly tripled in size and their budget has done the same! Many critical decisions were made during this time and having a unified team was essential. Adam is here today to share his experiences at Peace Church and how that led to a partnership with INJOY Stewardship Solutions.

Key Points:

  • Adam shares the mentors that have impacted his life and shaped him into the leader that he is today.

  • Hear how quarterly leadership training meetings in the early days at the church have created a culture that consistently reproduces leaders.

  • A facility was eventually required to accommodate the growth of the church. Adam shares his experience in a capital campaign initiative with INJOY Stewardship Solutions.

Guest: Adam Barr
Website: https://peacechurch.cc/
Facebook: Peace Church
Instagram: peacechurchmi
Twitter:Peace Church

A Way You Can Know How Much Your Church Can Raise

Do you want to know how much your church can raise in its upcoming capital campaign or generosity initiative? Would you also like to know the giving capacity of those sitting in your church each week? Would you like to know what a potential weekly offering could look like?

If the answer to any of these three questions is “Yes,” we want to help you. Simply click HERE, answer a few questions, and we will send you a report of our findings.

At INJOY Stewardship Solutions, we want to help you have a fully-funded ministry. Reports like these help us define current reality and full potential. Click HERE to start a conversation with our team today.

How God Changed A Husband And Wife And Then An Entire Church

Have you ever experienced a miracle of God? Has there been a moment in your life when your jaw dropped to the ground because you were in awe of what God did in your life and in the life of your church?

Such a moment recently happened to the people of Immanuel Church in Gurnee, IL. Led by their incredible lead pastor, Josh Petersen, this church is changing thousands of lives on a weekly basis. They recently embarked on a capital campaign which not only exceeded all financial expectations but has transformed the church spiritually. I recently had the privilege of speaking with Josh about their experience. Here’s the story:

Immanuel hired INJOY Stewardship Solutions to assist in raising funds for a new facility. Chad Aukland, INJOY Stewardship’s Director of Consulting, kept talking about how this would be a spiritual journey and biblical process, not a fundraiser. Josh thought “this feels like sugar-coating something not delicious.” But as time passed, he began to feel differently.

Josh Peterson - Immanuel Baptist Church

Josh Peterson - Immanuel Baptist Church

Josh felt God calling him and his wife Heidi to sacrifice. During the campaign they were just seeking God, listening, obeying, and saw this was a chance to grow in the Lord. Rather than focusing on their checkbook, this became an ongoing conversation with God.

This continual dialogue was not about the building or money. These were merely tools to help Immanuel fulfill its mission of helping people to know Jesus and be more like Him. Josh and the church leadership became serious about the spiritual journey and what this would sound like. The term “spiritual journey” was no longer pastor-speak for “capital campaign.” This spiritual journey was about seeking the Lord and in turn, seeking their neighbors for Christ.

But for anything great to happen in your organization, something great must first happen in the lives of its leaders and this was true for Josh and Heidi.

In one of their first meetings, Chad told Josh, “Pray for your family. You’re the leader and there will be a target on your back.” I was incredibly impressed with Josh’s humility when he said, “We followed (the INJOY Stewardship and biblical) model to the letter. We did exactly what Chad said.” Not only did Chad and Josh have a great professional relationship, but they also developed a great friendship as well. Josh said, “Chad is amazing. Being with him doesn’t feel like work. It feels like hanging with a friend.”

Being a senior pastor can feel like being in a pressure cooker. Josh was Immanuel’s long-time youth pastor before taking over three-and-a-half years ago as lead pastor. As he soon discovered, if you are not careful, a church can become an adversary for your time and energy. As parents of four children, Josh and Heidi had to protect against this.

The campaign proved to be a spiritual journey for Heidi as well. For many years, she basically felt the work at the church was Josh’s work. Her role was to support him and make sure their children did not hate church and she did a great job. But during the campaign, her role began to expand. Heidi now leads a midweek student community group investing in the next generation.

For Josh and Heidi, eventually came the moment of truth. The time had come for them to sit down and make a financially sacrificial commitment to the church’s future. Josh and Heidi had been individually praying. Josh approached her about the amount they were to give. She responded, “I already know.” Like most of us husbands would be, he was put back on his heels in a good way. The number Heidi then gave was DOUBLE that which Josh was thinking!!!

Josh said, “I don’t know if we can afford that.” She responded with absolute confidence in God, “I have a plan” which she then laid out. In a moment of personal worship, Josh then had these words, “God, only you.”

As the time drew near for the congregation’s commitment, God had already been preparing the church in the following ways:

  • 93% congregational approval on the project.

  • 100% approval from the leaders Josh had been meeting with.

  • Attendance and baptisms were both growing in significant ways during 2018.

Josh said, “God, I need to stop questioning you because you’re showing up in profound ways.”

When millions of dollars were pledged and the church’s goals were blown away, Josh humbly stated, “For a guy who talks a lot, I didn’t have much to say.” The day the amount committed was revealed people were in awe of what God had done through this process.

For many people in the congregation, this was their first miracle moment.

The impact of the congregation since the campaign has been palpable as well. There is a fresh hunger in the church. Josh noted it “was insane how they are” at this new opportunity to reach their friends. His creative director pointed out how people are singing more and not getting tired of worship.

Josh has also observed that you can feel the Spirit. He said, “People are wallowing in it. We are celebrating who Jesus is.”

He concluded his time with me by reiterating, “Who He is doesn’t depend on our campaign number. We just have a desire to celebrate who God is.”

Josh Petersen is simply a Godly man and spectacular leader. It has been an honoring knowing and serving him.

If your church has a need to raise significant capital in the next year and would like to have happen in your church what happened at Immanuel, click HERE. We would be honored to hear your story and serve you.

Free Resource To Help Churches Win At Social Media

There are 2.32 billion people worldwide actively using Facebook. 326 million people are actively on Twitter. Instagram has over 400 million users! Simply put, the world is using social media. More to the point, those in your church are on social media.

Therefore, it is vital pastors and churches learn how to win at social media. This is why the team at INJOY Stewardship Solutions created a FREE resource entitled: How To Win At Church Social Media. This complimentary ebook will give you the tools and strategies needed to connect with those online.

You can win on social media. We’re here to help you know how!

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“Your Giving Doesn’t Matter” and Other Lessons From The 2018 Tax Season

Many people have heard the statement: “Your giving doesn’t matter” as it relates to filing their taxes this year. This statement creates a significant issue, and as leaders, we need to know how to handle it. The ability to fully-fund your mission and vision depends on it.

Here at INJOY Stewardship Solutions, we are committed to equipping you with right-now relevant information. We want to equip you to speak about the new tax bill in a God-honoring fashion. We've put together a short on-demand video explaining several steps you can implement TODAY.

How to Win at Church Social Media

There is a good chance you either left Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to read this post or you are heading there once you are finished. We are an online, social media culture. I recently heard a statistic that if you took all the information a pastor writes online in a year, it would equal the amount of content contained in a book.

Therefore, it is vital pastors and churches learn how to win at social media. This is why the team at INJOY Stewardship Solutions created a FREE resource entitled How To Win At Church Social Media. This complimentary ebook will give you the tools and strategies needed to connect with those online.

The Ship Podcast: Giving During Tax Season

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Welcome back to The Ship Podcast! On today’s episode, President and CEO of INJOY Stewardship Solutions, Joe Sangl will be discussing the tax reform bill and how it could affect your congregation during this tax season. He will share what you need to know in regard to the standard deduction change and how the majority of your congregation will no longer itemize their taxes. It is very possible that they will be told by their tax preparer that their giving no longer matters, in the eyes of taxes at least. Joe will share what you can do now in order to combat this by connecting tithes to the church to life change.

Key Points:

  • Joe will share changes to the standard deduction and what that means for the majority of people in America.

  • Hear how to equip your church to have a response when a tax preparer says their giving doesn’t matter.

  • Learn how to intentionally celebrate and connect how gifts given to the church lead to life change and missions work.

 Host: Joe Sangl
Website: www.injoystewardship.com
Facebook: @jsangl
Twitter: @joesangl

36 Leadership Quotes From Opening Session at C3 Conference

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The following blog is from Brian Dodd, Director of New Ministry Partnerships for INJOY Stewardship Solutions.

For the next two days, I have been dispatched by INJOY Stewardship Solutions to attend and help sponsor the C3 Conference in Dallas, TX.  Hosted by Fellowship Church founded by Senior Pastor Ed Young,the C3 Conference is where leaders from around the world gather together for intensive coaching, inspirational teaching, incurable learning, and intentional relationships to advance the Church!

As part of my time here, INJOY Stewardship is offering a FREE Capital Campaign Calculator for your church.  If your church needs to raise significant capital in the next two years, this will be a wonderful source of information for you.

The event opened up with Pastor Ed speaking about .  The following are 36 Leadership Quotes And Information From Ric Flair (yes, that Ric Flair through a replay from earlier this year) and Ed Young’s Opening Session At C3 Conference:

Ric Flair

  1. WOOOOOOOOO!!!

  2. I feel very comfortable here.

  3. I’ve been to Japan 65 times.

  4. I didn’t look at what I was doing to my family when I was traveling so much.

  5. I didn’t go home because I wanted to be the champion.

  6. I had terrible self-confidence and anxiety.

  7. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. It’s what you did during the body of the match.

  8. People remember what made you different.

  9. WOOOOOOOOO!!!

Ed Young

  1. Everybody rassles with stuff.

  2. Jacob was a War In The Womb.

  3. Can I say that everything at Fellowship Church the last 28 years has been Spirit-led and Spirit-filled?. Heck-to-the-no!

  4. God is sovereign.  God is in charge.

  5. If you really ask pastors of large churches, most pastors don’t know why their church is big. It’s just the sovereignty of God.

  6. God’s soverereignty of God is not fair.

  7. Sometimes when you fish you come back to the dock with nothing.

  8. I’ve talked to so many people who traded their life in for a bowl of beans.

  9. We have Esau trading his fortune for flatulence, his gold for gas.

  10. I’m a preacher. I can live off a good compliment for three or four months.

  11. God often gives me pop quizzes to test me and test you rather than big exams.

  12. Being a pastor is a unique role.

  13. We, pastors, wrestle with the audience more than we know.

  14. I want to please the crowd. I’m that insecure.  I’m that guy whose self-esteem can rest on attendance and offering.

  15. Am I pleasing the crowd or pleasing God?

  16. At the end of the day you are you trying to please? I’ve spent too much time worrying about the crowd.

  17. We, pastors, gain more heat than cheers.

  18. I’ve done this for 37 years… The negativity that pastors process would blow your mind.

  19. We, pastors, wear masks and combat competitors a lot. I have to wear a happy mask, the encouraging mask, the “we can do it” mask,

  20. People don’t get saved and start tithing.

  21. People in the church believe rogue former staff members stories as opposed to 28 years of marriage, 28 years of purity, four for four with kids, and look at Fellowship Church, this God-church.

  22. When people leave it’s like a divorce.

  23. We have to take the shots. You have no idea the shots your pastor is taking.

  24. The greatest people I’ve ever met in the church.But also, we’re a place of grace and welcome people.

  25. We are always in Wrestlemania. Spiritual warfare is just a way of life.

  26. The level of intensity of spiritual warfare that pastors face…..

  27. A lot of stuff doesn’t come out in your life until your 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s.

Next up will be Ed bringing the second session of the morning.

Once again, don’t forget to take advantage of your complimentary Capital Campaign Calculator if you need to raise significant money.  Simply click HERE to get today!

#1 Objection to Online Giving

When it comes to online giving, the number one objection we hear at INJOY Stewardship Solutions is fees. No one likes paying fees. The average fee for online giving is anywhere from 2-4%. It feels like a loss of resources which could be leveraged for ministry and life change. But the question begs, is the fee worth it to begin online giving?

The truth is when you set up online giving, you are not taking 2-4% from people who are already giving cash. You are actually now getting 97-98% from those who were previously not giving at all. It is not a transition or removal of current giving. You're creating an onramp for people who are currently not engaged in the generosity and discipleship journey. The bottom line is would you rather have $97 or $0?

Ultimately, people give more money online than through the passing of the plates during the service. Think about it – how much cash is in your wallet right now? If you are like me, not much. Therefore, on Sunday mornings you are passing the plates to people with little or no cash on hand.

Paying minimal fees is worth it!!!

During our recent Complete Stewardship 1-Day Online Summit, we discussed the topic of online giving. Click HERE to access this free coaching session from Craig Fatt of GiveInJoy Giving Solutions, LLC. During this session, Craig discusses the different objections to online giving, as well as how to create generous givers at your church.