Archives For Brian Jones

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For Senior Pastors to thrive they must discover, and then operate within, the framework of their unique God-given style of doing ministry; in what I call their “Senior Pastor Archetype.”

Most leaders, I’ve discovered, spend years fighting against their natural archetype because (a) they’ve never taken the time to discover who they are, (b) the way their mentors modeled ministry for them was decidedly different than how they’re wired, and (c) people in their churches prefer the style of ministry of the leader’s predecessor (or the style of the pastor of their most recently attended church).

The secret to thriving in ministry is to figure out how God wired you for ministry and stop fighting against your natural style. Discover who you are, accept how you are wired as valid, and then shape the church you serve around who you are as a Senior Pastor. You do this and you’ll drive congregational impact and experience personal fulfillment.

After coaching dozens of people from every denomination, age, personality type, and theological perspective, I’ve found that Senior Pastors fall into one of twenty-five different Senior Pastor Archetypes.

Steps To Discovering Your Senior Pastor Archetype

There are six steps to…

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I procrastinate on writing my messages.

I plan lots of time at the beginning of my week to study and write my message but inevitably something arises leadership-wise that causes me to take the time I planned for sermon development and devote it to some other worthy cause.

Why do I keep doing that? Let me pull the lid off this thing and examine it.

The Cause of Procrastination

First, I think I do this because writing sermons is tough work.

It is grueling. Sermon crafting is like having a baby – some come out with one push, others come out breach. Having a baby 48 times a year is tough. Sermon writing is just tough work. To do it well you have to be disciplined and sit at that desk whether or not the inspiration comes.

Second, I think I postpone sermon writing because I like to gravitate to something that is more fun to me – leadership challenges.

Leadership challenges energize me. They are reflexive. Leadership comes naturally to me. I know I have the gift of teaching, but it ranks second in my gift mix. Having the gift of leadership and teaching is a wonderfully troublesome combination.

Third,…

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One of the most common complaints I hear from churches is how they wish their introverted Senior Pastors were friendlier and more approachable.

The good news is this can be very easily addressed, without Senior Pastors running themselves into the ground.

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years to help introverted Senior Pastors practice being more relational:

1. Don’t focus on friendliness. Focus on displaying the fruit of the Spirit.

Nowhere are we commanded to “be super friendly and outgoing” in Scripture. But we are commanded to be joyful, peaceful, patient, and kind. The former is an unrealistic expectation for anyone, introverted or extroverted. It is perception-based. Trying to play to people’s perceptions is a fool’s game. Focus instead on exuding the fruit of the Spirit in every encounter you have.

2. “Many light touches, few deep touches.”

Years ago Steve Sjogren, former pastor of the Cincinnati Vineyard and author of Conspiracy of Kindness, told me the way he survived being a Senior Pastor in a thriving, chaotic church, was to be strategic about how often he’d do a “deep dive” with a person. His goal was to physically shake hands…

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If you want to initiate change, the best place to start is by creating a captivating sermon series. Preaching is the single greatest contributing factor to church-wide growth. It is also the one thing we have total control over as Senior Pastors. If we want to change, nobody is stopping us.

The most common thing I discover when I begin a new coaching relationship is not that they don’t know how to preach. All are exceptional communicators. The common struggle they face is “putting all the pieces together.” This includes prioritizing, creatively planning, studying, writing, promoting, and executing the task of preaching week in and week out.

Oddly enough, what I find is that all the guys I coach have a home run sermon at least once a year. People love it. But when I ask what happens the following week, they tell me that they strike out. And the next week they barely get a walk. And the next week they get depressed, eat too much, and want to quit.

Great Preaching Begins With Consistency

As a fellow preacher, I’m not interested in home run sermons. Home runs are flukes. Home runs are statistical anomalies. Given enough time, everyone hits a home run. My goal in preaching is to…

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If you‘d like to get more done in less time, here are a number of my favorite time saving tips, tricks, apps and hacks for Senior Pastors in the trenches.

Brian’s Productivity Rules

3 Sentence Email Rule – Except in rare circumstances, I never respond in email with more than 3 sentences. If something warrants a longer response I’ll say, “See me Sunday” or “Bring this up at staff meeting.”

“Can You Email Me?” Rule – Stop telling people before/during/after services that YOU will contact them. Put the burden on them. Stop allowing yourself to be the revolving pinwheel of personal contact request keeping. Better yet, see below…

“Just Tell Me Now, Please” Rule – I can’t tell you how many people will approach me after a service and say, “Can we get together and talk?” I get asked this five times a weekend. The answer is, “No, just share with me now.” 99% of the time its something that can be answered in 3 minutes, instead of going to all of the trouble to schedule a meeting, carve out time, go to the location, sit down, and then hear the situation they’d like to discuss.

“No More Meetings” Rule – This has become a mantra for me. The…

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I believe churches only grow when their Senior Pastors have a crystal clear vision of where God wants to take their church, and that vision is broadly shared, and owned.

Below is a three-year snapshot of a twenty year plan we believe God has set before us as a church. It contains specific, actionable shifts that must be made and opportunities that must be capitalized upon to become the church God has called us to become.

Notice that while we’re keeping our twenty year focus in mind, this is only for what we must address in the next three years.

If you’re not operating off of a crystal clear three year strategy as a team, I would move heaven and earth to make sure you have one in place by the Fall.

I believe that you’ll find the process of identifying areas that need addressed, and formulating the strategy to make those changes a reality, both enriching and exciting.

CCV’s 2020 Vision

Since the beginning God has called us to plant a church in the suburbs of Philadelphia, which would grow past 5,000+ and in turn plant 20 daughter campuses of 1,000+ each throughout the metro area. This will happen by the end…

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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 the false perception…

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Take advantage of the decreased church-wide activity at your church over the next six weeks to prepare your congregation for it’s best Fall season ever.

Perform A Church-Wide Evaluation

I’m convinced that the time between Easter and Mother’s Day is the best time to evaluate the overall effectiveness of you, your staff, and your church’s ministries. There are three reasons for that.

First, for most outreach-focused churches there’s a natural lull which affords the chance to step back and think. Second, for most outreach-focused churches their calendar naturally begins the weekend after Labor Day, not January 1st. Third, pausing between Easter and Mother’s Day affords a team five months to plan and execute.

Let me share a helpful exercise you can use to evaluate every aspect of your church. I learned this from my friends at Intentional Churches. They adopted this from business author and strategist Tom Paterson, who was influential in helping Rick Warren shape both his church’s strategy, and his personal life plan.

Pull your team together and for each specific area of ministry ask yourself the following questions. For instance, let’s ask your team to evaluate your preaching first.

Tom Paterson’s 4 Helpful Questions:

  • What’s right? (continue)
  • What’s wrong? (stop)
  • What’s missing? (add)
  • What’s…

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Senior Pastors typically underestimate the impact their building has on their church’s future growth.

Building Too Late

Church planters believe the lie that they don’t need a building to grow, ignoring the fact that your chances of survival begin to plummet drastically after year six outside of a permanent facility (whether owned or leased). We will always find growing church plants past that age in rented/temporary facilities, but those outliers are breathing rare air.

Senior Pastors of established churches, likewise, face their own unique challenges.

Expecting A Silver Bullet

Many assume that simply “rallying the troops” and building a new building, or relocating to another location, will automatically ignite growth. What happens, more often than not, is the increased debt and facility expansion doesn’t overcompensate for the fact that the church hasn’t addressed the underlying issues that stalled their church’s growth in the first place. As the old Buddhist proverb states, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Inevitable Bottlenecks

Others assume they can overcome the size limitations their facility places on their ministry. The rule of thumb when it comes to facilities is that there are three things that impact a church’s ability to grow: parking, seats in the auditorium, and…

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Executive-Pastor-768x509One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “At what point should I hire an Executive Pastor?”

This is an easy one to answer.

Let me briefly sketch the challenges that must be addressed at every stage of growth up to 1,000 so you can see the natural place this hire should occur.

200 Barrier – Senior Pastor and Congregation

Breaking the 200 attendance barrier is all about changing the relationship between the Senior Pastor and the congregation at large. Up to that point the congregation has essentially been one big group with the Senior Pastor in the center of it.

To break that barrier the Senior Pastor has to forcibly change the congregational culture by (1) creating multiple gatherings where people don’t see each other on Sunday morning, (2) drive hands-on pastoral care to other leaders in the church (by decreasing their personal accessibility and increasing systems for care), and (3) fanatically finding and raising up new volunteer and paid leaders to lead segments of the congregation.

400 Barrier – Senior Pastor and Governing Board

Breaking the 400 barrier is all about changing the nature of the governing board of the church, and the way it…

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If there’s one thing we know about Easter, it’s that many Senior Pastors go to great lengths to mobilize their congregations to get new people to attend on this day.

Many think this is a wasted attempt to pander to “Chreasters.” I completely disagree.

Increasing your Easter attendance is important, but not for reasons commonly thought. Here are four reasons why doing everything you can to increase your Easter attendance matters to the mission of your church.

1. More Than Likely 25% of All Your Visitors This Year Will Come On Easter

At CCV we know that roughly 50% of all newcomers will come at Easter and Christmas. The rest are evenly sprinkled throughout the year. That obviously means that half, or 25%, of all the visitors that come to your church this year will come this Sunday. Most outreach-focused churches have similar newcomer attendance and retention figures.

2. Only 10% Of Those Visitors Will Come Back

We also know that if 10 people visit our church, 1 of them will return and become a growing Christ Follower. Why is this important?

It’s important because if you are a church of, say, 150, that wants to break the 200 barrier and grow to…

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Here’s To the Pastors

By Brian Jones

Here’s to the Pastors.

The ones you’ve never heard of.

The custodians of 30 million secrets for 30 million heavy souls.

Those worn down by time and place.

Walking, no, limping besides those they are pushing towards glory.

Here’s to the Pastors who with futures uncertain, mark their days by tasks largely unseen.

To the ones who serve churches with stories rarely told.

No invitations to speak.

Or write.

And without worry.

For while they are happy some comrades are lifted towards public gaze, their eye is on the long play.

Here’s to the Pastors, targets of endless critiques by small souls.

From people they are called to love.

From people they call their friends.

From those called to pray for them.

From one hundred thousand Judas’ who’ve walked under the fountains of healing, grace, and time.

Taking the darkness in stride, they know if seats were switched, the tempter’s hand would surely touch them too.

Here’s to the Pastors who with muffled doubts and gnawing sin still find the courage to stand up among us.

To ascend the steps.

And to remind us of hope.

To believe for us, long past when we stopped believing in ourselves.

Who, while being neither trite nor resigned, find the strength every week to tell us the…

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