Archives For Leadership

Baptism is the outward sign of an inward change in a person who has placed their trust in Jesus. We don’t save people – Jesus does that. We just have the privilege of helping them make their big outward profession of faith in the form of baptism.

While I don’t believe we should manipulate people or manufacture results for the sake of numbers, I do believe it’s significant that the Bible records how many people trusted in Jesus and were baptized on the day of Pentecost. The Bible says in Acts 2:41, “Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.” (NLT)

We ought to do all that we can to share the gospel well, to make it very clear what the new believer’s next steps are, and celebrate the results of more people on their way to heaven. At Saddleback, we’ve baptized over 47,000 people in the last 36 years, and I’d…

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Vision

Vision is imperative. Senior pastors and church leaders need to know where they’re leading the church. A clear vision provides direction, motivation, and filters decisions. Clearly communicating the vision fuses incredible momentum into a church.

However…

Have you ever seen a vision become an idol?

Not enough cash flow to fund the vision and no plan to get there? We can’t slow down to make a plan, so just keep pressing onward. 

Are staff members exhausted from consistently working evenings and weekends? Are families suffering from not having much time together? We value our staff members and their families, but this is the price we’re going to pay to make this vision a reality. After all, we’re reaching people with the Gospel.

Is this choice a bit questionable or on the edge of being unethical? Well, it’ll get us more influence or will open doors and we’ll reach more people so it’s worth it.

Unfortunately, these examples are based on real-life situations.

I’m convinced those involved had good intentions. They wanted to reach people with the Gospel and do what they felt God had placed on their hearts. Their efforts bore a lot of healthy fruit. Unfortunately, their efforts bulldozed over and…

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Many years ago when our church began revitalization, we prayed and asked God whom he was calling us to reach.

The answer we felt God impressing upon us then was to focus on unchurched families.

So we created strategies and programs designed to reach out to these families.

God showed up and we began making inroads to reach these families, but then something unexpected happened.

They changed.

In fact, while we were busy perfecting the plans and programs we had used to reach the average unchurched family, the entire culture shifted.

Here we are 16 years later and we have found that we needed to reevaluate everything in light of these radical cultural shifts.

As we stepped back and took a fresh look at the average unchurched family that God is bringing to us, we have noted some characteristics that have become the foundation for reinventing our structures, strategies, and programs.

So, what does the “average” unchurched family look like today?

1. They are a blended home.

43 percent of all marriages are remarriages and 65 percent of those involve children from a prior marriage. Blended families are becoming the norm.

Not to mention that nearly 41 percent of children are…

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In a few days, we’ll sit down to a Thanksgiving meal. Some will travel to see extended family while others may enjoy the celebration at home. As we prepare the turkeys, pies, and way too many side dishes, I wanted to share several tools I’m grateful we have at our disposal. These help us share the Gospel and make disciples in our communities and around the world.

#1 – The ability to communicate to so many

We can send mass emails out to those in our congregations, post a sermon video on our website and promote it via social media, receive prayer requests through our church’s mobile application, and much more.

We live in an age where we can, in an instant, send a message that can reach people around the world. That provides both an incredible opportunity and a great responsibility for how we leverage those communication tools.

#2 – The wealth of information and ideas online

I often conduct research for an article I’m writing or program I’m developing. With so many church and business leaders now having their own blogs and podcasts, we can quickly learn from those who’ve been there/done that in…

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The quickest way to destroy a team is to burn them out. And you don’t have to look around the field of ministry very long to realize that the ministry is filled with burned out leaders. But it’s possible to find a healthy working rhythm and ultimately increase the effective energy with which your leaders serve without causing them to burn out.

Every minute of every day we are using up energy, and every person has a limited amount of energy. If we keep the pace high all the time, we use up the energy people have to give like the way a car with its lights left on will wind up with a dead battery.

This is especially true in times when your ministry is growing. Growth brings change, change brings problems, and problems consume a lot of emotional, physical, and spiritual energy from your leaders.

Here are seven ways to discover a good working rhythm and raise the energy level of your team.

1. Don’t expect every leader to work at the same energy level all the time.

We are all unique, and every leader serving in your ministry is wired differently. Some need more quiet and…

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Last night I walked out of the room shaking my head.

God, I don’t know how you pulled this off, but this team is simply amazing.

Unified. Visionary. Encouraging. Fun. Passionate. Gifted. Transparent. Gracious. These are just a few of the words I’d use to describe the people who faithfully serve on CCV’s Leadership Team.

Your church may use a different name – Leadership Council, Governing Board, etc. – we simply use the phrase “Leadership Team” to describe the group of people called to serve the function of what the Bible calls “Elders.”

Whatever you call them, my prayer is your group is as gifted and passionate as the volunteer servant leaders I have the privilege of serving alongside. I tell senior pastors that I coach that every church ought to know the joy of being led well.

Since these kinds of things rarely happen by accident, I’d like to share with you 10 reasons why I think this team is such a special group.

  1. I’m not the smartest person in the room.
  2. I’m not the best leader in the room.
  3. I’m not the most committed Christian in the room.
  4. I’m not the oldest

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A few months ago, a young woman I’ve known all her life looked at me and said, “What’s that on your face?”

She’s the bold, outspoken type, so her question didn’t shock me, but I said, “What particular blemish are you talking about?”

“The hole in your cheek!”

“Oh, you mean the pockmark?”

Suddenly it dawned on her; I just pointed out a pitted scar left by a pimple on my pastor’s face!

I chuckled and said, “It’s okay, I embrace my flaws.”

Awkward for her.

Not so much for me.

Why do we try to hide our imperfections? It’s a great question.

Perhaps it’s because we fear rejection. Maybe it’s that we think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Of course, we could just be afraid of scaring small children.

Whatever the reason, there is a freedom that comes in our relationships when we know we are loved regardless of our flaws.

Frankly, at my age, you do one of two things when it comes to your appearance:

  • Spend a lot of time and money on hiding your blemishes.
  • Accept the reality that you are far from perfect and it’s okay.

I choose to accept my imperfections.

One of my…

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As a leader, one of the hardest things to do is to lead people through the process of change. But, the reality is that change is happening around us all the time. And if we don’t change, we’ll be left behind. Change is a function of growth … things/organizations/people cannot grow unless they change. The paradigm that exists with all change as it relates to people is that the person must decide to change before they will.

A leader’s job is to inspire and influence the people they lead to create an environment where it is easy to change. As with most leadership principles, this one is easier said than done. I’ve found that there are really five reasons that change is hard for so many people … in fact I identified these in myself. So let’s learn and grow (and change) together!

  • I don’t want to. There are moments in time where we become obstinate. We just flat out don’t want to change. It can be vindictive because we don’t agree with the change or it can come from a place of bitterness because of a broken relationship. Regardless of where it comes…

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Deep in the heart of every man I’ve ever met lurks a daunting question that casts a shadow over every major challenge we ever face: Am I up to this?

When I went to take the test for my driver’s license… When I enrolled in college… When I bought the ring to propose… When my babies came along… Am I up to this? Or am I destined for failure? Since I’m probably not up to this, maybe I should go ahead and sabotage it.

Such are the thoughts that, at least subconsciously, go through the heads of us men as we make decisions in life. I’m sure women struggle with it too, but I’m speaking out of my own experience here. Some men sabotage by shirking responsibility and self-medicating through addictive behavior – drugs, alcohol, porn, gaming, etc. Others just go numb, becoming “yes” men to the tyranny of mediocrity.

For some who have already made the tragic choice of shutting down and checking out, this is a call to repentance and revival. For those still wrestling with the decision, it’s a call to arms.

As I coach ministry leaders, I hear it in…

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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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Ministry is not easy. It never has been nor will it ever be. Regardless of how you carry out God’s calling in ministry, at times, you will go through difficulty.

From the Voice of Experience 

Since my college days, I have served as the pastor of a local church. From the simplest setting to the most complex setting, I have never found ministry easy. I am thankful for God’s call upon my life to the ministry of the Gospel, and I find enjoyment and fulfillment in it. And though I have found ministry seasons filled with unity and purpose, it is impossible to serve in ministry very long without experiencing some very tough times.

Therefore, I want to encourage you to remember four things when your next season of difficulty comes in ministry.

1. God is in control

I have faced some days when I forgot that God is in control. In those moments, I internalized the challenges and difficulties in ministry. This resulted in me withdrawing from others and experiencing a sense of loneliness. Upon occasion, my “ownership” of ministry set me back from God’s intention for me.

Through God’s Word and the power of the Holy…

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