Archives For Brandon Cox

Leadership EbookI’ve collected together 21 of my favorite posts (from now almost 1,500 blog posts over seven years) about leadership and I’ve issued this free ebook. Normally, I argue that there is no such thing anymore as “ebooks.” Rather there are simply books that start with “e.” In other words, the walls between traditional and online publishing are crumbling rapidly. But for this particular project, I have purposely left these blog posts, for the most part, unedited. They are raw, still in the form I originally shared them in, and each was written within the context of my experience at the moment.

Therefore, I call these “lessons from the trenches.” They often represent my gut reactions in the moment to an issue I was facing at the moment. Please help me spread the word! Hit the “Like” button, the “tweet” button, share it on LinkedIn, etc. It’s wisdom, free of charge!

Visit the source to download this free ebook on leadership.

Download the eBook From the Source

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Ted WilliamsI’m a big fan of baseball – especially the way it used to be – such as 1941, when Ted Williams finished the season with a .406 batting average. He was the last player to break the elusive .400 mark. In 60 years, nobody else has done it. Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, and a few others have come close, but the best players in baseball today can’t quite break through this ceiling.

Do you realize what that means? It means that the best hitters in baseball fail 60% of their times at bat (if we don’t worry about walks). When you hit the ball and get on base one out of three times, you’re one of the best in the league. But sometimes, in my relationships, I expect others to bat 1.000. I expect a 100% performance. Ted Williams was a scientific hitter. He could see which way the seams on the ball were turning and could tell how the ball would move as it approached the plate. Ted Williams was one of the best, but he was far from perfect.

We all tend to “perform” at different levels in life, but even the…

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Stephen OlfordThere various viewpoints on the bestchurch planting model. Some launch fast and large to attract the masses. Others launch slowly and intentionally with more of a one-on-one disciple-making mentality. There are probably cautions with any approach to planting, and one of the cautions I would raise is simply don’t neglect the power of preaching, even in a brand new church plant.

When we began the work of planting Grace Hills, I was reading everything I could and consulting every church planting leader I could reach about the best strategies for beginning a new church from scratch. I learned plenty about starting small groups, structuring our new church’s systems for leadership and communication, and gathering a launch team to carry out the ministry and mission of the church. What I didn’t hear much about was the role of preaching.

There is an eternal principle to be remembered when planting a new church: “Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those…

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manyhands Everyone needs a Paul and a Timothy (or several of each). That is, we all need to be learning from mentors and mentoring learners. There is always someone ahead of us and always someone just behind us. It is the role and responsibility of a leader to give another leader a lift.

So how can we, in a practical way, give another leader a lift?

1. Call a fellow leader on the phone and mentor them without even telling them you’re doing it. Just ask them a ton of questions about how things are going in their soul, their family, and their realm of leadership. Then offer encouragement and perhaps a little bit of advice. And pray with them.

2. Connect a fellow leader into a valuable relationship. I’m forever saying, “Oh, you need to know so-and-so.” It’s my way of putting people together when I think they need to learn from one another. How many connections is too many? I’ve been connecting with leaders and connecting leaders to other leaders for years now and my capacity to learn and be led by others…

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FaithFundraising is no fun. Most Pastors I know say it’s the one aspect of supporting a church’s ministry they find most difficult. Having launched into church planting, I tend to agree. The least pleasant task I have is asking for money. So let’s just stop it. We don’t have time to raise funds. But we do have time to raise faith.

Instead of asking for money, help people grow. You can ask for money and if you do it well, you’ll probably receive it. But if you raise the faith of others, you’ll help create kingdom-minded givers who understand that stewardship is what the Christian life is all about. We each have time, talent, and treasure. And as our faith increases, so does our willingness to offer ourselves and all we have on the altar to be at God’s disposal.

Raising funds is about collecting donations while raising faith involves offering kingdom opportunities. Raising funds puts us at the mercy of givers while raising faith connects giving to the mercy of God. Raising funds grows organizations while raising faith grows people.

When we began planning to plant a church, asking for financial partnerships…

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The biblical text should be the grand centerpiece of every sermon. But we often take what should be the centerpiece, and move it to the front of what we have to say. In most cases, reading the text should come first in importance, but not first in the order of a message. Whether you’re looking back at Plato or Jesus, virtually every culture has had great communicators who realized the power of attention-grabbing hooks.

fishhook1. Start with a deep, human need instead of jumping right into the exegesis and historical-grammatical analysis of the text. When you move from the need to the text, people have the context of its meaning for their lives.

2. Launch with a relevant story. We remember stories that are vibrant, funny, and powerful. And stories connect my heart to the text before my head grabs hold of it.

3. Tell a joke. That is, if you’re funny. I know a fellow Pastor who served a very discouraged congregation, but after years of opening with humor, they experience joy together every week.

4. Use an object lesson. You may not be able to match Ed Young’s capability to drive a…

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seven-eleven Michael Cheshire had me at the title! I like to laugh, and I enjoy comedy, but there are admittedly very few books that can actually make me laugh out loud. But within the introduction to How to Knock Over a 7-Eleven, I knew I was in for a delightful read!

Michael’s story is a pretty great one. It’s a success story in the church planting sense (just check out the Journey Foothills website), but it’s also a Cinderella story. You’ll be rooting for the underdog from page one (especially the moment the Journey staff are literally running from some ominous dogs after a failed door-to-door canvassing attempt). It’s an honest story. It’s a picture of what it is to take a leap of faith with few resources and no guarantees. It’s exactly what I needed to be reading at the outset of planting a new church in northwest Arkansas.

What is How to Knock Over a 7-Eleven about? According to the book’s website

true underdog story. Journey with these young leaders as they do church their way. A diner, driving school and an odd jobs company are just…

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weirdI’ve just finished reading the weirdest book I’ve ever read – Weird by Craig Groeschel… and I’m glad I did. I don’t ever want to be normal again. As Craig puts it, “normal isn’t working.”

We’ve used various terms for the kind of lifestyle Groeschel is calling us to live – sanctified, set apart, separated, consecrated – but the bottom line is that believers should be choosing to live differently than the surrounding culture. Why? Because being “normal” means settling for society’s status quo.

Normal finances would include being over-extended, stressed out, and failing to give generously. Being weird with our finances means we’re going to be generous givers, smart savers, and sensible spenders. The normal marriage today is either falling apart or may as well be, but a weird marriage is one in which husband and wife love and date each other and are in constant pursuit of deeper intimacy. Normal parenting is permissive, absent, or even neglectful. Weird parenting is when we get thoroughly into our kids lives and influence them for Jesus.

Normal people are falling apart. Normal is a broad path. Normal really isn’t working. So I agree…

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sleepinginpewNo, this is not a post about the loss of our religious freedom – it’s a reflection on a quote I’ve looked at many times since I first wrote it down about nine years ago at a conference on preaching…

If you think the gathering of biblical facts and standing up with a Bible in your hand will automatically equip you to communicate well, you are desperately mistaken. It will not. You must work at being interesting. Boredom is a gross violation, being dull is a grave offense, and irrelevance is a disgrace to the gospel. Too often these three crimes go unpunished and we preachers are the criminals. ~ Charles Swindoll

Over the next two or three weeks, I will finish preaching from the first five books of the Bible and will move on into Joshua. I began preaching through the entire Bible two years ago and am committed to continuing the series all the way through. One of the biggest fears people had when we began this journey together was, “aren’t some parts of the Bible boring?” Yes and no.

Yes, parts of the Bible can be boring if we don’t…

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Pastor Rick Warren has often said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and an ounce of pretense is worth a pound of manure.” Fake faith is a pet peeve of mine, and it is certainly an issue God addresses rather directly in Scripture. I believe God is serious about it because ultimately, Christianity with pretense hurts the reputation of the gospel. So, it’s a huge relief when someone comes clean and speaks with brutal honesty about the Christian life.

Brutal honesty, plus hilarious anecdotes and some inspiring stories of redemption at work changing lives is what I encountered when I read Ir-rev-rend: Christianity Without the Pretense. Faith Without the Facade. by Greg Surratt.

ir-rev-rendAs a church planter who is trying to figure things out on a week-by-week basis, I loved Greg’s opening chapters in which he relayed plenty of advice about how NOT to plant a church, all learned in the laboratory of his own experiences planting Seacoast Church in the Carolinas. Greg would almost have us believe that the church came into being in spite of his ministry there. Nothing could be further from…

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