Archives For Leadership

Church health is the result of balance.

Balance occurs when a church has a strategy and a structure to fulfill the five New Testament purposes for the church: worship, evangelism, fellowship, discipleship, and ministry.

If you don’t have a strategy and a structure that intentionally balances the purposes, the church tends to overemphasize the purpose you as a pastor feel most passionate about.

We tend to go to seed on one truth at a time. You attend one seminar and hear that the key to growth is small groups. At another, it’s volunteer recruitment, or dynamic worship, or creative outreach, or strong preaching.

The fact is, they’re all important.

When a church emphasizes any one purpose to the neglect of others, that produces imbalance — it’s unhealthy. And being unhealthy stunts a lot of churches.

To keep things balanced, four things must happen. You’ve got to:

  • move people into membership
  • build them up to maturity
  • train them for ministry
  • send them out on their mission.

And you need a clear discipleship process to be able to gauge whether you’re doing these things effectively or not. Just as our vital signs tell us whether our physical bodies are in good health or not, the health of a church is quantifiable. For example, I…

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I’m a church planter, and most of what I’ve learned about the church has come the hard way.

Thirteen years ago, on the first Sunday in January, I launched Eastpoint Church. In the 25 or so years before that, I had helped start or reboot six other churches.

None of that makes me an expert, just experienced. I’m still learning. My most recent lesson is one I didn’t especially like, but I needed it nonetheless.

Here’s my latest discovery: At some point in your pastoring journey, you may end up in the land between “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” and what you do then matters—a lot.

In this in-between season, things aren’t necessarily all bad. In fact, you might have much to be thankful for in your church. The bills are paid. The staff are gifted, capable, and faithful. People are showing up and still getting saved.

But the land between often means . . .

  • The buzz has faded, and you aren’t the hot new thang in town anymore.
  • The faithful are still with you but are much harder to inspire to sacrificial greatness.
  • When you announce a new series, the old regulars suspect it’s not…

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The question often comes up: How can a service be both worship and seeker-friendly? At Saddleback, we believe you can have both without compromising either.

When we speak of worship, we’re talking about something only believers can do. Worship is from believers to God. We magnify God’s name in worship by expressing our love and commitment to him. Unbelievers simply cannot do this.

Here is the simple definition of worship that we operate with at Saddleback: “Worship is expressing our love to God for who he is, what he’s said, and what he’s doing.”

We believe there are many appropriate ways to express our love to God: by praying, singing, obeying, trusting, giving, testifying, listening and responding to his Word, thanking, and many other expressions. God – not man – is the focus and center of our worship.

God is the consumer of worship

Although unbelievers cannot truly worship, they can watch believers worship. They can observe the joy that we feel. They can see how we value God’s Word and how we respond to it. They can hear how the Bible answers the problems and questions of life. They can notice how worship encourages, strengthens and changes us. They…

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Is God calling you to serve Him in ministry?

First of all, it’s a big YES.

God draws lost people to himself to save them, and his desire is that all saved people serve people. So, if you’re a believer, you are called! Obviously, however, there is a kind of “calling” that sets certain individuals apart for positions of ministry leadership. The New Testament refers to some people as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. And they are given to the church to teach, preach, shepherd, equip, and instruct.

It should be noted before moving any further that everyone within the body of Christ is of equal worth and importance. We may serve different functions, but the gap between “clergy” and “laity” is an imagined one. All believers are “ministers” even though a few may receive a special calling to lead and to take responsibility for the health and welfare of the flock as undershepherds who follow Jesus.

Some of these leaders are paid and some are not. Some work for churches full-time, some part-time, and others on a volunteer basis. Regardless of their formal relationship with a particular church body, they are called to a…

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We put in long hours, we experience a unique form of loneliness, and we face difficult decisions everyday. It’s easy to get discouraged.

And I think discouragement is one of the most deadly of diseases. Everybody can catch it, and you can catch it more than once. It’s highly contagious and spreads easily and quickly.

But here’s the good news: Discouragement is curable. Whenever I get discouraged, I head straight to Nehemiah. This great leader of ancient Israel understood there were four reasons for discouragement in ministry.

First, you get fatigued. You simply get tired as the laborers did in Nehemiah 4:10. We’re human beings, and we wear out. You cannot burn the candle at both ends. So if you’re discouraged, it may be that you don’t have to change anything. You just need a vacation! Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to bed.

Second, you get frustrated. Nehemiah says there was rubble all around. So much that it was getting in the way of rebuilding the wall. Do you have rubble in your ministry? Have you noticed that anytime you start doing something new, the trash starts piling up? If you don’t…

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By Lisa Cannon Green

No sabbatical. No help with counseling. No clear picture of what’s expected.

Hundreds of former senior pastors say these were the crucial elements missing from the final churches they led before quitting the pastorate.

A recent study by LifeWay Research points to ways churches can encourage pastors to stay in the ministry, said Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of the Nashville-based research organization.

“Almost half of those who left the pastorate said their church wasn’t doing any of the kinds of things that would help,” Stetzer said. “Having clear documents, offering a sabbatical rest, and having people help with weighty counseling cases are key things experts tell us ought to be in place.”

LifeWay Research surveyed 734 former senior pastors who left the pastorate before retirement age in four Protestant denominations.

Trouble begins early, the survey indicates, with 48 percent of the former pastors saying the search team didn’t accurately describe the church before their arrival.

Their churches were unlikely to have a list of counselors for referrals (27 percent), clear documentation of the church’s expectations of its pastor (22 percent), a sabbatical plan for the pastor (12 percent), a lay counseling ministry (9…

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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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Most of the time, when the topic of leadership is brought up, we tend to immediately begin talking about how to lead “doers.”  By doer I simply mean the people that are there to do a job.  They signed up to volunteer in your ministry.  You hired them to work in a specific department.  They are on your team and are expected to carry out tasks.  They are doers.

This is in contrast to leaders.  And, if you are in leadership for any length of time, there will probably come a time where you will need to lead other leaders.  Leading other leaders is, in many ways, different than leading doers.  Leaders expect you to interact with them differently.  In fact, I’ve found 5 truths that I believe that all leaders who lead other leaders need to understand.

1. Leaders need resources.  This includes money, equipment, and people.  Nothing will frustrate a leader faster than firing them up with a compelling vision and then not equipping them with resources to accomplish the vision.  Leaders are goal-driven and the most important thing to them is reaching the finish line – without resources, you’re making it impossible…

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By Danny Parolee

I have yet to meet a church planter who hasn’t faced a growth barrier.  I also haven’t met a church planter who is ok with that barrier holding them back from what God has placed in their heart.  This is why I’m excited about the Breaking Barriers pre-conference event at Exponential East this year.  Church planters bump up against a number of different growth barriers (volunteer base, small group development, weekend attendance, finances, adding service & sites, multiplying plants, etc).

After coming to Christ in college, I ended up at a church plant that was all about planting more churches. There’s no doubt that God used this time not only to grow in my walk with Him but also forming my call to church planting. After finishing college and  seminary, my wife and I loaded up the U-haul and moved to Milwaukee, WI to plant epikos church in 2005.  We started in our living room, but even after 1 year post launch we were under 80 attenders, our annual offering was $40,000, and we were desperate for volunteers.  There were amazing stories of people coming to Christ and experiencing great life transformation.  There were also times of discouragement and…

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For thirty-five years, Saddleback Church has been making disciples through a very intentional, purpose driven process. And we’ve helped train tens of thousands of other churches to do the same. We’ve always been concerned with five big goals, and as we face another new year of ministry, we’re working toward these same five goals again.

As you plan your preaching, prepare your budget, and arrange your calendar, I’m convinced the following questions will help you to make more disciples, more effectively.

GOAL #1: We will increase our weekend service attendance.

The first step in our disciple-making process is drawing our surrounding community together on Sunday to be part of our crowd. Jesus drew large crowds and then challenged them to commit. Peter challenged the enormous crowd to follow the resurrected Jesus on the Day of Pentecost, and three thousand did so.

We want as many people as possible to be brought into close proximity to the gospel, so that they will hear about Jesus. That’s the starting point, for most people, on the journey to spiritual maturity. So what will you do in the upcoming year to increase your primary weekend worship attendance?

Recently, at a major CEO conference Lou Holtz, one of the most successful college football coaches in history, shared his insights about success, failure and leadership. His thoughts are worth hearing, and here’s a few powerful moments that stood out for me:

On Vision:

“This is what I believe: You have to have a vision where you want to go. Without a vision you have nothing. You have to have a plan of how you’re going to get there. And you have to lead by example. What holds a country together, what holds a family together, what holds a business together are core values. And core values are something you would not compromise.”

On Mistakes:

“The biggest mistake I see: You have so much success, the expectations get so great that winning is a relief. Losing is a disaster. And so, because of that, they fail to raise the standards. I went to Notre Dame. I took a program on the bottom, we took it to the very top. For nine straight years we went to a Jan. 1 bowl, the Sugar, the Cotton, the Orange, or the Fiesta. We took it on top and we…

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