Archives For Brian K. Dodd

IMG_0046A dark reality exists for many Christians that deep down they don’t talk about at parties.  Many Christians, if they would be totally transparent, are extremely nervous to bring their unchurched friends to their weekend services.  This concern comes from a variety of things.  Lack of excellence, outdated music, rude members and boring sermons are just a few of many hurdles Christians must overcome before inviting their friends who are unchurched.

This past Sunday my wife received a phone call from a friend who joyfully said, “The young couple we just met came to church today.  They had a great time.  I am so proud of our church.”  I immediately followed up to find out what were the key factors in this young couple, who also had a newborn baby, having such a great experience.

The following are 11 Practices Of Churches You Are Excited To Take Your Unchurched Friends To:

  1. Churches You Are Excited To Take Your Unchurched Friends To Act Like They Are Expecting Unchurched People To Show Up - This church had clear signage upon entering the property which directed them directly to easy-access Visitor Parking.
  2. Churches You Are Excited To Take Your Unchurched Friends…

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WritingTo all pastors and church staff,

I want you to know that I know being a pastor or church staff member is the most difficult job in the world.  While it has unbelievable highs and on its best days is the most rewarding occupation/calling in the world, it is also the most difficult.  Unlike us in the marketplace, you lead volunteer armies and face an enemy (Satan and his demons) we may or may not encounter on a regular basis.

You have given your lives to serve people like me, my family and friends.  As a result, the two most important words I and everyone else under your leadership can ever say is “THANK YOU”.

  1. Thank you for going to God on our behalf and praying for us daily.
  2. Thank you for studying God’s Word and communicating its truths to us in a compelling fashion.
  3. Thank you and your family for being willing to live in a fishbowl.
  4. Thank you for demonstrating grace, love and patience when people question your motives and competency.  Sheep may be dumb but they bite.  And they have a taste for pastors and church staff.
  5. Thank you for putting in countless hours.
  6. Thank you for…

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Baptisms on Easter

Troy Page recently noted on, “Remember that the win is not how many people show up for Easter –  it’s how many people come back.Shoot for 75% of your Easter crowd.”

This morning I was sitting in our church parking lot waiting on my daughter to get out of her high school small group.  Waiting gave me a great opportunity to listen to the conversations of those leaving our church service.

The most impactful conversation took place between a father and his young daughter.  He asked the following questions:

  1. “Did you have fun today?”
  2. “What did you learn about Jesus?”

These two questions were a reminder of Page’s comments above and what constitutes a win for churches on Easter Sunday.

Whether you are a seasoned Christian parent(s) such as the father above or have little or no church background, most parents generally ask the same two questions of their children when they get in their car after church:

  1. Did you have fun?
  2. What did you learn?

Churches do a great job of putting significant effort into their Sunday worship services.  I would like to challenge all churches to put an equal amount of effort into your children’s classes…

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Growth ChartI have been involved in a number of conversations lately about church growth. What should growth look like? How does it look different for various sizes of church?  Should you add services or multi-site?  Are the measurements for success primarily attendance and budget?  Can you be successful without numerical growth?  If not, what is a healthy rate of growth?  What about the growth within your people and the making of disciples?  And on and on and on….

In the March edition of Inc. magazine, Leigh Buchanan interviews Stanford professors Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao about the practices of companies who successfully grow and scale.  I found their insights quite applicable for some of the things needed for churches to grow.

While this is obviously not a fully-inclusive list, the following are 7 Practices Of Growing Churches I gleaned from the article:

  1. Growing Churches Focus On Church Health More Than Church Growth – Intuitive church leaders know attendance and budget only tell a portion of the story.  Rick Warren introduced us to the concept of church health.  Rick reminded us healthy things grow.  Therefore, focus…

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Do you want to be a successful leader in 2014?  It is a rhetorical question isn’t it?  Of course you do.  A better question may be do you have a strategy or system for success?

If not, I want to point you to the December 30th edition of Sports Illustrated.  The incomparable Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson was profiled along with additional mentions of some the greatest receivers of all-time.

As I read the article, I gleaned the following 13 Practices Of Successful Leaders In 2014:

  1. Successful Leaders Decide Early To Pay The Price Needed For Success – As a freshman wideout at Georgia Tech, Johnson was outplayed by then-Miami Hurricane All-American Antrel Rolle.  Johnson confessed, “It made me understand that I was going to have to work harder, get stronger, and improve my technique a lot if I wanted to play with the big boys.”
  2. Successful Leaders Are Recognized Publicly For What They Do Privately – Johnson does much of his training alone.
  3. Successful Leaders Are Diligent – Johnson quotes one of his trainers as he strives to ”be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and…

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On Friday, November 29th Pastor Ed Ryerson of Vineyard Church of Naples died as a result of cancer. But as you can see in the video above, 5 days before his passing God honored his life and gave him a glimpse into the life to come.

Ryerson’s life was about to intersect with Senior Pastor Kevin Fisher and the Miami Vineyard Church who were literally on a mission from God.

Miami Vineyard Caravan To Naples Vineyard

In an act of extravagant generosity, the members of Miami Vineyard loaded up in cars and in a scene which looked straight from the movie Hoosiers (see picture), drove the 120 miles from Miami to Naples to financially bless Pastor Ryerson and his family.

From this point, I will let Pastor Kevin tell the story:

“The Naples Vineyard is a church of approximately 75 people and is roughly five years old. It’s actually a restart/relaunch and Pastor Ed was just hitting his stride when he discovered he had cancer earlier this year. Doctors thought it was treatable, but his body did not respond to the treatments — in fact, the cancer spread more aggressively.

As I was jogging recently, and thinking…

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Today Nobel Peace Prize winner and iconic symbol of hope and freedom Nelson Mandela died at his South African home.  South African president Jacob Zuma made the announcement in a nationally televised address and said,” Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father. Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss.”

We use the phrase “change the world” very liberally.  The following are 20 Leadership Quotes From Nelson Mandela, a leader who truly did change the world.

  1. “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”
  2. “My people, Africans, are turning to deliberate acts of violence and of force against the government, in order to persuade the government, in the only language which this government shows by its own behavior that it understands.” –…

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What are the volunteers serving in your church thinking?  What are their hopes, dreams, and needs?  During the last 26 years, I have had to privilege of serving on two church staffs but the vast majority of my time has been as a volunteer.

To assist pastors and church leaders in better connecting with those who have made the strategic choice to leverage their marginal time and talent to serve others, the following are 10 Things Volunteers Wished Their Pastor Knew About Them.

  1. We desperately want to make a difference with our one and only life.  Everyone wants to live a life of significance.  We have decided the best place for that to take place is our local church.
  2. Our time is valuable so be organized and tell us what to do.  We live very busy lives.  When we show up to serve, please have us something important to do and be well-organized.
  3. We want to serve in context of community.  People begin serving at a church for two reasons.  First, to do something significant.  Second, we are looking for friends.  Pastors and church leaders need to always build a time of community into every volunteer effort.
  4. Our opinion matters.  We make important organizational decisions in…

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During my 20′s two nationally-recognized churches resided in my hometown just five miles of each other.  Because of a demand for new worship styles, a changing community, and an inability and refusal to engage the next generation, these two churches are still in existence today but have limited impact.

These congregations have aged dramatically and their best days are seemingly in the past.  This could have been avoided.

I wondered, “Are there success links churches can implement to ensure on-going generational success?”  With the World Series starting tomorrow, I wanted to take a look at the St. Louis Cardinals for answers.  This organization has had success decade after decade after decade.

I went back into my archives and uncovered a May 27th Sports Illustratedarticle written by Ben Reiter on The Cardinal Way.  As I read Reiter’s profile I gleaned 18 things about The Cardinal Way that all churches can learn from to have sustained success.

  1. Churches Who Have Sustained Success Are Willing To Change With The Times – The Cardinal Way is an ethos for one of the games most enduring organizations.  However, the team is flexible enough to…

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I don’t know where I would be without a man named Lenis Black.  With the trajectory I was on, I certainly would not be the person I am today.  Who is Lenis Black you ask?  Lenis was a volunteer at Acworth United Methodist Church.  He was my first Sunday School teacher when I began attending church in 1980.

I was talking today about the practices of the best church volunteers.  The conversation caused me to go back 33 years and remember the incredible impact Lenis had on my life.  Before reading the 7 things I learned from Lenis, make sure you read about the FREE online conference called Get More Volunteers 2013.

  1. The Best Volunteers Provide Stability And Security – After my parents divorced, my mother began taking her three children to church hoping the environment of Acworth United Methodist Church would provide her children some level of stability.  Thanks to Lenis and others, my mother made the correct decision.
  2. The Best Volunteers Make Church Interesting – Lenis was a great teacher, humourous, and very interesting.  He talked about things teenage boys appreciated and made the…

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Old YoungThis weekend I have the privilege of teaching and equipping over 60 pastors and church leaders.  As I was preparing this evening for that time together, my mind kept going back to 1980.  You see, it was in August 1980 that I became a Christian at 14-years-of-age while attending Acworth United Methodist Church located just north of Atlanta.

I had a wonderful Sunday School teacher named Lenis Black.  Mr. Black was an incredible teacher and one of the most influential Christian leaders I have ever had.  To read more about his impact on my life, click here.

On one particular Sunday morning, Mr. Black said, “Brian, we’re going to pray with Jim (our pastor) just before the service.  Why don’t you join us?”

Now remember, I was a 14-year-old teenager who was a Christian less than one month.  I did not even know how to pray.  But since it was Mr. Black making the request, I said, “Sure”.  We then entered Jim’s office and to my horror it was just the three of us.  There was no place to hide.  Everyone was going to pray.  Mr. Black went…

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Reaching MillennialsI recently had a conversation with a church leader about how to reverse the declining attendance of their 20-somethings audience.  This same conversation is most-likely happening at thousands of churches across the globe.

There has been much information written on this subject.  Most solutions to retaining this generation fall into four categories:

  • Creating a new type of creative and more relevant worship service.
  • Becoming more cause-minded.
  • Incorporating social media.
  • Being authentic and real.

While I agree these four solutions are necessary, we need to look even deeper into millennials and how they are feeling.  Many experts feel 20-somethings are apathetic.

I want to propose to you that millennials are not just apathetic.  Millennials are angry.

This theory flows from a September 2013 Fast Company article featuring comments from Nancy Lublin, CEO of, and Umair Haque, director of Havas Media Labs.  They are experts in helping companies adapt and better understand social change, causes, the needs of millennials and how to more effectively engage them as customers.

Their insights are something all pastors and church leaders can learn from in creating churches angry millennials love to attend.

  • Angry Millennials Will Love Churches Who Admit The World Is Broken – Whether it is…

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