Sheep

If your church has plateaued it could be because you have tried to lead everything by consensus.

There’s a colossal difference between pseudo-leadership (leading everything by consensus) and biblically based, godly, unifying, strong, decisive, servant leadership.

The consensus trap in smaller churches

I see this occur most often in smaller churches where a leader has rallied around themselves a small group of men and women to plant or restart a plateaued church. The problem that occurs is that as they try to grow from one stage to the next, the leader looks around at the people who have sacrificed just as much as he has and feels that because of their sacrifices they deserve an equal voice in the church’s future direction.

That happens in part because in the early years the leader did in fact solicit everyone’s opinion in the group before making a decision. But at that attendance size and staff configuration that process was healthy and natural.

Along the way the leader was sure to measure everyone’s relational temperature, mitigating risk by putting out fires before they started. Everyone was in on every decision.

As time went on, that group, having been consulted in every decision early on, quickly developed…

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Achievers

Men are wired for achievement. Ultimately, God made us this way so that we would pursue and achieve his purposes for our lives.

But there are a lot of reasons why men struggle to achieve the goals for which God made them.

  • We’re easily distracted by both opportunities and threats.
  • We’re criticized when we choose to follow God’s plan at any cost.
  • We’re often overwhelmed by the responsibilities of manhood.

Here are some words of wisdom for men who want to fulfill their God-given destinies and achieve his purposes . . .

1. Keep on working in spite of the distractions.

There are multiple kinds of distractions men face. Some are subtle and some are obvious, but we manage, often, to fall for both.

Positive distractions come in the form of opportunities to do more things than we were made to do. Often, these are “good” opportunities, except that they aren’t the opportunities God has led us to pursue. We get busy. We get overwhelmed. And we start finding our identity in work and business and secondary pursuits.

Negative distractions come in the form of enticement to sin, to slack off from our responsibilities, or to substitute our own…

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Freedom

In John 8, Jesus made an incredible, profound statement. He said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free . . . So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:32, 36 NLT).

You’ll be really free. What was he talking about? What does he set me free from?

The Bible says that Jesus wants to set you free in three dimensions.

1. Jesus wants to set you free from the pain of your past.

That’s a good thing. I’ve discovered the number one cause of unhappiness is people who are stuck in the past. They’re holding on to hurts. They can’t relate to the present because they’re still reacting to the past.

I’ve discovered that there are two kinds of things that people have a hard time getting over – resentment and regret. Jesus wants to set you free from both of them.

First, he wants to set you free from the pain of resentment. Everybody has been hurt by other people. You’ve been hurt many, many times. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.

What you do with that hurt will determine whether you live freely or whether you live…

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Recently my church hosted a leadership conference to encourage and equip our lay leaders and staff. One of the speakers at the event, Nikki, impacted me with her engaging presentation. She spoke for nearly an hour training our leaders how to do ministry effectively in our context. About halfway through her presentation I had filled my page with notes and was eager for more. I started to think about what made the experience so captivating. I turned the page over and jotted down some notes that I want to share with you. Nikki embodied the four irresistible traits of speakers who connect with their audience.

Speakers who connect:

1. Relate to their audience. Irresistible speakers know how to relate to their audience. They understand the need people have to feel understood, and they make an effort to demonstrate to their listeners that they get them. When Nikki spoke that day it impacted me because I was convinced that she understood me. The subject matter was sensitive and controversial. She was speaking as an authority on the subject, so if I didn’t think she understood where I was coming from I wouldn’t have trusted her…

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By Danny Duchene, National Director CR Inside

Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times” (Mark 4:8 NIV).

When Ted asked the local jail commander for permission to start a Celebrate Recovery (CR) ministry, the commander pretended to relent. He said, “Sure, you can have 15 minutes every Friday.” But Ted didn’t even flinch at what was obviously a put-off. He said, “Sure, I’ll take it!” Walking out of the commander’s office, he prayed, “Father, thank you for this opportunity. But how am I going to do a CR Inside ministry with only 15 minutes?”

Over the weekend, the jail commander went to church and heard about Celebrate Recovery for the first time, with a testimony of a changed life. On Monday he called Ted back and said, “You now have two hours every Friday!” In less than a year, that time doubled.  Ted and his team now have a full CR ministry for both men and women in the jail.

When Ted told me his story, I thought of how Ted’s perseverance is an example of the qualities needed…

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Man

Life is about embracing the process that leads to our progress.

That is, living a bold life means embracing our circumstances, good or bad, as a vehicle for learning and growing.

I don’t grow courage unless I face some fears. I don’t become more loving unless I’m challenged by harder-to-love people. I don’t learn to lead people well when I isolate myself.

You get the picture. Personal growth for men is about embracing challenge. Sometimes, we need to look for trouble!

Here’s the problem, though.

Most men don’t grow.

Most men stay trapped in passivity, rendered anemic by their fears, haunted by their pasts, and caged by their insecurities.

You wanna know who did grow?

Jesus.

Whether you’re a Christian or not, you’ll likely see the value very quickly in this description of Jesus’ growing up years:

Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people (Luke 2:52 NLT).

Jesus grew.

In fact, Jesus grew into the single greatest influencer the world has ever known. The entire world lives by a calendar that works because of Jesus (even though we’ve had to make some minor adjustments for accuracy).

While I think there are good male role models from all walks of life, I…

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Free

Hi, my name is Randal. I am a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with alcohol and drugs. I am the Celebrate Recovery Inside Regional Team Lead for the South Central U.S. region. I formerly served Celebrate Recovery in prison. Now one of my greatest privileges is to go back inside the prisons in Louisiana to share the love of God. I help the inmates with their Celebrate Recovery programs and help the men and women form their own Purpose Driven churches right where they are, inside prison. Recently, I was part of a two-week-long revival inside a prison. I could tell many stories about what God did, but this is one of my favorites!

It was the first night of the eight-week revival held at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. This is the largest prison by population in the country. Angola was one of the most violent prisons in the country. Although many positive reforms have taken place in Angola, much of the prison population remains anti-social and in need of a personal relationship with Jesus.

On the first night of the revival, many newcomers filled the seats looking like they had…

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VolcanoThe sound of the explosion was heard up to 3,000 miles away in Perth, Australia.

That is on the ground reports following the Krakatoa volcano eruption in Indonesia in 1883. Its “blast zone” was felt worldwide because of a strange event within the volcano which occurred as it was undergoing a “normal” explosion. So what happened you say?

The bottom line is this: something got inside it.  Tuck that thought away for now as  I give you a 20-second lesson in volcanology. Don’t worry. You can steal the illustration later at no charge!

As Krakatoa’s walls began to rupture after its first two explosions, ocean water entered the magmatic chambers of the volcano creating the conditions for a phreatomagmatic (pronounced free-atto-mag-matic) event. This was the secret power behind Krakatoa’s unusual force and displacement powers. In simpler terms: the mother of all pressure cookers was created, contained, and then carried outward at the moment when the power below overcame the pressure above holding it down.

The result: a super-explosion that, quite literally, rocked the world.

Sitting on a spiritual pressure cooker?

So what do phreatomagmatic volcanic events, Krakatoa, the Holy Spirit, and rocking the world have to do with God’s men in…

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Leadership is a battle, is it not? Not so much of a physical battle, as it is an emotional . . . and spiritual one! Every day we wake up to dozens of voices going off in our head about what we can do or can’t do and should or should not do. If we listen to the wrong voices, we’re tempted to retreat or even surrender to lies of the enemy. We only lose the battle if we retreat or surrender to the enemy in the battles for our mind. What do these battles look like? In my own leadership and now in my coaching hundreds of leaders, I have observed four emotional and spiritual battles we face as the most common:

Insecurity

When we become insecure, we’re tempted to measure ourselves in comparison with others. We begin to try too hard. We compensate to make ourselves look better than we are. We stop trusting people. We stop listening to people. When we’re insecure in our own skin, we’re tempted to put others down to make us feel better about ourselves. We’re tempted to criticize or even condemn other leaders and ministries simply because…

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Fast

In the movie World War Z, there is a moment when Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is trying to give advice to a couple about their need to change locations often in order to stay alive rather than staying barricaded in one spot like sitting ducks.

As he speaks through the young boy who is interpreting, he states it simply, “Movement is life.”

They stayed. It didn’t go well for them (sorry for the little spoiler – it’s not essential to the plot).

The moral is that zombies are zombies ultimately because of an unwillingness or inability to move fast enough.

Change and growth go hand-in-hand. When I talk about change among Christians, I always hear the same replies . . .

  • “But change for the sake of change isn’t good.”
  • “Change might be inevitable, but we should take it slowly and carefully.”
  • “We shouldn’t change if we’re going to leave people behind.”

My life and leadership changed dramatically when I joined the staff of Saddleback Church in southern California. I realized I had spent a dozen years pastoring churches in which I was too afraid of people to push for the change that would have been necessary…

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I’m not sure why the unexpected continues to surprise me, but it does.

After sixty-plus years of life on terra firma, you’d think I’d have this figured out: I should expect the unexpected.

On a regular basis, like weekly, something happens to me that surprises me. Sometimes it’s a good surprise, and sometimes it’s not, but I can’t tell you how many times something happens and I think, I didn’t see that coming at all!

But why?

Why do relatively intelligent people have to deal with a regular barrage of what is often seen as stupid surprises?

Why do most of us struggle so much with things seemingly out of our control?

Why do we humans have the ability to reason, to ponder, and even to plan, and yet we are forced to deal with the unreasonable, the unexplainable, and the unforeseen?

And perhaps the biggest why of all is why does God, who knows everything, allow his kids to confront the unknown and the unexpected?

Maybe, the answer is found in this mysterious reality: surprise is a special teacher.

Perhaps, when God brings or allows us an unwelcome event or experience, he doesn’t do so to frustrate us but…

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Before I came to my current church, they had been on a 15-year plateau followed by a near-death experience due to a leadership conflict. What was left was a building with about 100 seats, four Sunday school rooms and an average attendance of about 35. It was a real fixer-upper if you know what I mean.

I started as a bi-vocational pastor, which they really liked since they couldn’t actually afford a full-time pastor. I had a head full of dreams and a heart burning to make a difference. The only things I lacked were skill and knowledge! Ours is not a story of overnight success. We didn’t rocket to thousands by dressing cool and throwing in a band. We were a very traditional congregation that longed to see God come to life in our church. The only problem was, we didn’t know how to do this.

As I reflect back and try to understand how our church was transformed, I never land on any specific programs, strategies or methods that were the secret. I have found that it was a culmination of several factors over time. For what it’s worth, here are…

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