Archives For Shawn Lovejoy

VisionYesterday in our Pastor’s Virtual Coaching Network, we talked about the importance of protecting the vision in our churches.

Proverbs 29:18 (NIV) Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.

In other words, where there is a lack of vision, there is less focus and more chaos. However, here’s the scariest thought: If the followers don’t get the vision, or aren’t living t out, it’s usually because the leader has not gotten it across!

So the question as leaders is:

How can we help people in our churches and ministry organizations understand, embrace, and live out the vision? 

* Make sure our vision is from God. Gods vision comes through God’s revelation.  We don’t invent the vision, We just discover it.

* Be willing to die for the vision. If we really believe the vision is from God, we must be willing to die for it. If not, we’ll relent or quit when fulfilling His vision gets difficult.

* Over-communicate the vision. An annual vision talk is not going to get this done. every day, ever week, and every month we must look for creative ways to talk about the vision. Celebrate the…

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So pastors aren’t perfect, it seems. We do make mistakes. Lots of them, actually. So what could possibly be ranked as the #1 mistake Pastors make? Through churchplanters.com, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with thousands of pastors around our nation and  world, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the most common mistake pastors make is not: having an affair or stealing the offerings, or even neglecting their relationships with God. The most common mistake I see pastors make is getting isolated. All the factors are there that make this the gravitational pull for us. Sunday’s always coming. The message has to top last week’s message. There are tons of meetings needed to pull that off every week. There are staff issues, congregational issues, weddings, funerals, counseling and crisis. Oh, and then we’ve got to get home at some point and pull our weight. If we get two minutes of free time, we feel like we need to be there and make up for lost time with our families.

All the while, guess what happens?  We look up one day and we don’t have any friends. We feel like we have no one in our life that…

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My family and I have been away on a Ministry Sabbatical. Why did we need a Sabbatical? The word Sabbath, of course, means rest. That’s what we needed this month. I actually do believe that Senior Pastors need MORE of it, because of the tireless schedules and demands on us. Every year, as soon as school is out, my entire family pulls back a good bit for a few weeks. We use this time to rest, replenish, and reenergize for the Fall!  What did I do on Sabbatical?

  • I rested. Truly rested.
  • I played with my kids.
  • I hung out with my wife.
  • I read. A lot. I read three books while I was away and started two more.
  •  I still did some work. It was just more of the Strategic and futuristic stuff. I worked ON IT, not IN IT. This kind of work inspires me, not drains me!
  • I actually exercised some!

What made it replenishing?

  • I didn’t teach for three weeks in a row. I finally miss it!
  • I got away from home. When I’m at home, I can’t relax like I want.
  • I went to places where I…

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Vision is indeed powerful. However, for those of us who are Christ followers, we don’t believe in vision as much as we do “revelation”. The vision we have for our lives, comes from God! We don’t make up the vision for our life. We get it from Him! It’s a revelation from Him!

Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Proverbs 29:18 (NIV) “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint.”

When we started Mountain Lake Church, He gave us His mission from His Word!

Our mission: “Giving people a place to belong in a healthy relationship with God and others and become more like Jesus Christ each day.”

This mission comes straight from God’s Word! He said the most important things in life were loving Him; loving each other; carrying His message to others; baptizing people into the family; and helping people follow Jesus daily! (See Matthew 22:37-40; and Matthew 28:19-20).

When we begin to discover and then live out God’s vision for our lives, it becomes the most powerful force in our lives!

1. God’s Vision sustains us. When we want to quit (I want…

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Leadership and vision go hand in hand. Therefore, leadership must begin with a clear vision: whether it be for our personal life, our family, our church, or organization.  If people around us don’t know where we’re going and where we’re trying to take them, they will have a hard time making the journey.

A clear vision communicates three things:

1. Why we’re here: our purpose.

What “business” are we in? Why do we exist? Why am I married? Why do we have children? What is the purpose of our parenting? Why is our church here? What is the ormiary goal of this company?

A clear vision should express a higher purpose for a greater good that gives meaning to each person’s efforts. A clear purpose provides direction.

2. Where we’re going: a picture of the future.

Where are we going? What will our future look like if we accomplish our purpose? A clear picture provides motivation.

3. What guides us along the way: what we value. 

What do I stand for? What’s important around here? What governs our character and relationships?  Values protect and provide guard rails.

Without clear vision, we’ll never end up where we want to be, much less where we need to be; and neither will anyone else!…

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BusyChurches are busy—and proud of it, aren’t we? We love to boast about all we’re doing: whether it be on the Web, in worship guides, or even billboards. We’re often proud of “all we offer” to our community. One church I know of has boasted “over 152 ministries for you and your family.”

Most of us don’t go to these lengths to be a “user-friendly” church. However, if we’re honest, we all feel the tension to seek to provide ministries and programs for all ages. Everyone wants to know about our Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, our College ministry, our Singles Ministry, our Senior Adult Ministry, our Bible Studies, and of course, our Men’s and Women’s Ministries. Parents want to know about our VBS, Awanas programs,  camps, and youth activities we offer. Before you know it, if we’re not careful, to meet the needs, we have our calendars stuffed with dozens of programs offered  every day of the week.

Here are my challenges with this approach to ministry in our churches. First of all, when it comes to discipleship, busyness doesn’t equal effectiveness. Even pastors have bought into the myth that busyness = value. We love to feel…

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BoastingThis is what the LORD says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken! Jeremiah 9:23, 24 (NLT)

There are lots of things we could boast about. There are lots of things we could be known for. God lists three of them here in Jeremiah. Most of us would love to be known for:

*our intellect, wisdom, or problem solving abilities;

*our strength, resolve, or power;

* our achievements, accomplishments, or possessions.

When we want to be known for these things more than we want to be known as a Christ follower, these things become idols in our lives! God says here that if there’s anything we should want to be known for, it’s our passion to know and serve Him.

Here’s my simple question for you today: What do YOU want to be known…

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The Measure of Our SuccessAmbitious. Self-starter. Entrepreneurial. Strong work ethic. Discontent with the status quo. Big vision. Change agent. Strong leader and communicator. Get-things-done type of person. Driven. All of these describe me.

For years I have held these traits up as a badge of honor. The church has so much work to do. Our mission is monumental, and our tasks are unending. Jesus told us to go. People need to be reached. Ministries must to be launched and stewarded well. Ministry must be done with excellence. I think pastors ought to be the hardest working people in the world, because our mission has so much on the line!

However, let’s be honest: we probably have the best of intentions, but sometimes our drive overrides God’s plans. Many times we unconsciously run ahead of him in our desire to be successful in carrying out the Great Commission. I have told our church many times that the greatest temptation I face is not stealing the offerings or having an affair; it’s substituting what I do for God for what I am with God.

One of the…

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TypingI am writing a lot these days. I am speaking a lot these days. A TON is going on at our church these days. Therefore, I am cranking out a ton of content. In every document, on every page, and with every keystroke,  however, I have to remind myself of one thing. I should’t be writing at all. I should be transcribing. Everything I write should come from my Lord! I must be hearing from Him! I must be dying to myself. I must be dying so He can live through my life and my words. If I write or speak in the flesh, it will cost me. It will cost my ministry and my church!

Pastors, are you slowing down long enough to listen to God? Are you hearing Him speak to you BEFORE you write and speak? Following Jesus requires that:  “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me.” (John 7:16 NLT).

Leading our ministries in the flesh, on the other hand, will kill us, our ministries, and our churches faster than anything else. Don’t let this happen to you! Get still and listen! Before…

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“How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psalm 84:1–2 NIV)

“Getting ready to go to church.”

What emotions does that phrase evoke in your family? In your heart? Your mind? The psalmist yearned for the next time he could be in God’s house, worshiping with God’s people. Do you anticipate meeting with God this weekend at church? How are you getting prepared? You do know, of course, that if you’re not in church, you can’t meet with him there. So first of all, get to church this weekend! God set a day apart every seven days not just for physical rest, but also for worshiping God with God’s people because he knew we needed it! He also commanded it.

Second of all, where’s your Bible? I hope you have already done so by now, but if you haven’t, go find it! Dust that thing off. Take it with you to church. The Bible calls itself “God’s Word” and also “the Sword of the Spirit.” Who would want to leave home without that?

Third, begin to get spiritually prepared. Spend a…

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Fruitful DiscipleI discipled my daughter this morning. Not about Jesus; about oranges. In our household these days, we are trying to eat a little healthier. After finishing her cereal this morning, my 12 yr old Hannah said “I’m still hungry.” “You can have an orange,” I said. “OK…”( I could see the disappointment); “but I want to peel it,” she said. She tried. She couldn’t. I offered. She accepted.

However, here’s what I told my daughter: “Hannah, today I’ll show you how to peel it. Tomorrow, though, I want you to give it a try. you can give it a shot and I’ll watch; after that, you should be a professional orange peeler.” “OK,” she said. She smiled. I did, too. A “healthy” disciple is in process!

Every day, you and I are to be about making disciples. Not of oranges; of Jesus! Healthy disciples of Jesus! Fruit-bearing disciples! We are to be helping people know Jesus; look like Jesus; serve Him; and share Him. Spiritual leadership is healthy discipleship. Just like orange peeling, however, the healthiest discipleship looks like this:

Lessons LearnedIf you haven’t already, read part one first.

7. Change the way people think about church: In the first year of our church, we made a decision. In everything we do, we’re going to seek to change the way people think about church. This is so much bigger than the type of music we do, or our dress, even though they are parts of the equation! It affects everything we do. Examples? Folks don’t have to be “Christians” to go on a mission trip. They might become one by going! They don’t have to be a “Christians” to volunteer at our church, much less, be a member!  Our small groups are always not only open to new people, but are going after people who don’t go to church and inviting them to be a part! Every group is responsible to “get off the couch” and serve and care missionally for people groups in our community. Just small simple examples of how we’re changing the way people think about church both inside and outside our church in our community.

8. Go after unchurched people: We’re not worried about…

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