Archives For Brandon Cox

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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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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Bible and Marketing

Okay, content marketing might be a new term for you. Here’s a definition from Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Two Observations About the Church and Content Marketing

Let me make two observations about the relationship between the church and content marketing.

First, I believe that the church was the first great content marketing institution. How do I know? As I pointed out in my book, Rewired, the early church used papyrus for publishing, the Roman roads for traveling, and the Greek language (almost universally used for written communication) to get the Good News about Jesus out to the ends of the earth.

Then, the church used the printing press to distribute Bibles. The Bible was the first book printed, and is the most widely published book in history for a reason.

My second observation isn’t quite so positive… we’ve fallen behind.

Where once the church was innovative in finding new means of spreading the gospel, now we’re skeptical of technology, scared to engage the…

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Social media is here. It’s not a trend. It’s not a fad. It’s part of the atmosphere we breathe in, like oxygen. Like it or not, social media is here.

You and I who are parents of teens and preteens grew up in a very different world. I remember the first broadcast day for MTV. Remember the first video? It was “Video Killed the Radio Star.” And it was prophetic.

We also grew up at the advent of the Internet for home users, email, and social networking when it wasn’t cool.

Email started out as a kind of inter-office instant messaging system. Now, seven out of 10 people check their email a minimum of six times per day.

In the first internet generation, we would “dial up” and then “disconnect.” You could hear the modem scream and then hope for a “You’ve got mail” announcement.

Now, it’s always on. We’re absorbed in it.

I have a daughter and, as of this writing, she’s about to turn 15. I couldn’t be more proud of her maturity when it comes to social media and technology. But it’s something I think about every single day. I have two boys – currently 7 and 4 -…

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pastor

Truth: Your pastor is weak. He’s flesh. He’s human, frail, and doesn’t always have it all together. He may be faithful to God and thereby filled with the Holy Spirit, but there’s always a secret side to him. He will probably never mention it in a sermon or a deacons meeting. Chances are, he won’t even tell his wife, but he endures battles.

I’ve been a pastor since I was 19 years old, and I’ve fought these battles for all that time. I want to advocate for your pastor today to tell you a few things you probably weren’t aware of.

Your Pastor Battles Loneliness

Pastors are surrounded by people who love them, but who often don’t know them intimately. They are celebrated on Sunday, but wonder on a slow Friday morning if they’ll ever enjoy a deep friendship with anyone. Call him and encourage him.

Your Pastor Battles Feelings of Inadequacy

Most pastors today are expected to be great preachers, teachers, counselors, hospital chaplains, advisors, financial managers, publicists, apologists, scholars, organizers, recruiters, and sometimes maintenance men. That’s a lot of pressure. Most pastors are hardwired to do one or two of those things well, so it’s a virtual…

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Culture

“The modern Church is so consumeristic!” It’s a common line uttered by the religiously fed up, and of course, there’s a lot of truth in it. Some churches in America do tend to cater to the consumeristic mentality of our culture. But I think, on the whole, most churches don’t, and that’s actually part of the problem.

The modern Church has a perceived problem of consumerism. And it’s very popular to speak and write on the topic, preaching to the choir and an angry chorus of amens. The insinuation is that churches too often go out of their way to please seekers and make the Gospel palatable to nonbelievers, watering down the message and skirting hard truth in the process.

Does this happen? Sure it does. Some leaders, choosing the approval of people over the fear of God, invite people to an easy version of Christianity that never makes the invitation Jesus made to “come and die” with him. But let’s be honest for a moment. For every “six flags over Jesus” fun house version of church, there are dozens of churches that really couldn’t care less about what the average consumer thinks. And that may be the…

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168. That’s it.

You and I have exactly the same amount of time. Rich or poor, young or old, we each get 168 hours in a week’s time.

With some of that, we need to rest, or we’ll get fewer total weeks in our short lives. With some of that time, we need to spend quality time with people, building friendships and relationships.

And with some of that time, we work. Actually, most of us work during a lot of those168 hours, proportionally speaking.

How many times have you gotten to the end of the day, or the week, or maybe just Monday morning and said, “If I just had more time, I’d . . . ”

Reality check: You can’t get more time.

But what you can do is expand your capacity. You have the ability to be more fruitful with the same amount of time you’re working now.

I recently wrote on another website about the difference between bandwidth and capacity, and how we often confuse the two.

Bandwidth pertains to how much time we have for a given area of life, such as family, work, or volunteering. And capacity refers to how much fruit I am able to bear in…

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Warning

Can you really become an overnight success? No. Let’s be real. Actual “success” is the sum of all kinds of effort and energy over periods measured in years, not nights.

Can you lose your success overnight? Yep.

J. J. Watt said, “Success isn’t owned. It’s leased, and rent is due every day.”

When someone living is described as successful, we have to remember that we’re talking about someone living through the process of becoming successful. And one of the more dangerous decisions we can make is declaring ourselves successful based on yesterday’s victories.

This principle is illustrated well by the ancient King David of Israel. When he was a kid, he defeated a lion and a bear. As a teenager, he took down Goliath. And in early adulthood, he was anointed king in the place of Saul and led his nation in great military conquests, delivering them from the oppression of the Philistines.

That’s success, right?

But in midlife, a single decision nearly ruined it all. In fact, that decision was extremely costly for David, and even more so for the people he was leading.

Here’s the story . ….

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Facebook Like

I will never forget that one Sunday. We were launching a new message series called “Healing.” It was all about how Jesus’ Beatitudes are the ultimate pathway for recovery. We spent about $200 sponsoring a video advertising the series during the week leading up to the first Sunday.

The results? We had 74 first-time guests, and, literally, all of them indicated on their communication cards that Facebook was how they’d heard about us.

Two young ladies who had come because of the ad told me after the service that they were heading out to a party the night before, and our ad caught their eye. They decided to attend our services that morning, and both of them prayed to receive Christ.

That was $40,000 well spent. Let me clarify a few details about that amount . . .

  • It was actually Facebook AND Instagram.
  • It was over five years, not all at once.
  • It was, literally, our entire advertising budget for five years.
  • It has worked! Very well, in fact.

But that’s not all. Theirs isn’t the only story. We now see about 400 to 450 people gathering each week, and a majority of them have actually…

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Coffee Meeting

Somehow we’ve gotten a little confused about the essence of leadership. If you think it’s all about getting bigger, going higher, and commanding more respect and attention from others, you’ve missed the point.

Leadership is all about giving everything we’ve got to others. If we have knowledge, wisdom, and insight, we lead by giving it away. We grow by investing in others.

There is an entire generation of up-and-coming leaders who need elders. They need fathers, models, mentors, and friends. And leadership is, among many other things, the willingness to lead the next generation of leaders.

Becoming obsolete is easy. All you have to do is stay on the path of least resistance, pay the least cost, and think only about yourself and your own success.

To avoid becoming obsolete, try one of these tips for leading the next generation…

Grab Coffee

Can you lead from a distance? Sure. But if all you do is lead from a distance, you are severely limiting your opportunity to lead to your fullest potential.

And that’s why coffee is so important (and espresso is even better!). Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone makes a pretty excellent…

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Brokenness

When I served as a pastor at Saddleback Church, one of the things that impressed me most about the church was a hiring requirement Pastor Rick Warren laid down:

If you haven’t been through pain, you’re not ready to be on staff at Saddleback Church.

Pastor Rick understood the power of a broken heart.

Andy Stanley understands it, too. When speaking to leaders, he often asks the question, “What breaks your heart?”

Usually, knowing what breaks your heart opens the door to knowing what you should do with your life and how you should be leading others.

Nehemiah, of the Old Testament, is considered one of the greatest models of successful leadership in history. And his story started with a question: “How’s Jerusalem?”

When the answer was “not good,” Nehemiah’s heart was broken. He records:

“When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4 NLT).

Nehemiah’s burden drove him to lead the nation of Israel into a successful rebuilding campaign.

My wife, Angie, and I talk about this often. Her heart breaks for those in our community suffering with emotional and relational brokenness, so…

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Church communication is both art and science. You can use spreadsheets, but you also need finesse.

You can print bulletins, but few people will read them. You can use social media but few people will see the updates. You can send email but a majority won’t see it in their inboxes. You can even print a newsletter and use snail mail to send it, but why in the world would you?

Church communication leaders and church staff members hear it all the time: “I didn’t know that was happening.”

I’ve been a pastor for 20 years and I’ve been designing church websites for 15 years. I’ve worked in church communications for over a decade and in the last five years, I’ve watched our church plant grow from two families to 500 or so regular attenders.

We still struggle with all of the same questions every church leader has about keeping people informed:

  • What gets announced from the stage?
  • What gets put in the bulletin?
  • What gets posted on social media?
  • What gets passed along via email?
  • Who is in charge of all of that?

Signal-to-Noise

This matters so much because people are constantly being bombarded with noise. From work,…

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