Archives For Leadership

Clutter

I have a friend who’s life is defined by “busy.” He doesn’t really accomplish much, and I think that’s why he’s embraced an identity of always being busy.  He can’t talk without complaining how busy he is, he starts most of his emails with “I’ve been so busy recently that…,” and he never seems to have time to read a book, reflect, or think. It’s another symptom of this disrupted culture we live in. So if you occasionally feel overwhelmed and can’t really define why, here’s a few new rules for living in the constant “on” culture:

1) Turn off your computer and mobile device notifications.  Every app these days wants to be able to notify you of discounts and special deals. I looked at my wife’s phone recently and she had 22 apps that all had notifications turned on. It was pinging all day long. And that’s not counting email, text, and social media notifications. Just turn them off. Do you really need to know the moment a person responds to your Twitter post? Do you need to be alerted the exact second every email arrives? Talk about overkill. Let it rest.

2) Schedule 2-3…

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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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No one’s life is an unbroken chain of victories. We all experience setbacks, defeats, losses and failures. Consider the example of baseball – not even the greatest of players bats 1,000%. The same is true in ministry – we all make mistakes, even as we seek to serve God.

Since failure is something every one of us will, at some time, experience, one of the most important skills you can acquire is the ability to respond to it in a godly fashion. It has been my observation that successful ministers know how to turn every failure into a learning experience – creating a stepping stone for future success.

The first thing to do when you’re faced with any failure is to analyze why it happened. Although there may be a variety of reasons – many out of your control – here are five common causes of failure:

When you don’t plan ahead

As the old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, then you’re planning to fail.” Proverbs 27:12 says, “A sensible man watches for problems ahead and prepares to meet them” (LB). Moving your church towards greater growth and health requires a lot of planning. You not only need to plan how to…

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Providence is God’s guidance and protection in our lives. Pastor, I know we teach about God’s providence to His people regularly. We counsel people with a deep belief and conviction about God’s guidance and protection through life. Yet, when it comes to our own lives and ministries, do we believe it with the same level of conviction and operate our lives accordingly?

God Knows What is Best for Me

I have often struggled with understanding many things in my own life and ministry. I have wondered why certain doors have closed when I thought their opening would be the will of God. Conversely, I have often been overwhelmed with God’s gracious blessing of opening doors for me that I knew I did not deserve. After all these years it is still hard to write them in confession to you: but I understand that God knows what is best for me, even when I do not know what is best for myself. Yes, He protects me from things I may want or believe, when in reality, they are not best for me.

Trusting the Providence of God

The Lord is always working around us. He desires to work…

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Leading WomenI led the worship department at Parkview Christian Church for 20 years, where I started on staff with me, myself, and I. But as the years progressed and the church grew, the worship staff did also and in my final years, I was leading a staff of 11 paid staff plus interns, and over 300 volunteers. I’ll be honest, I had no management training in college. Unfortunately, most people who are educated for Ministry are not taught these things, and they should be.

Some of you lead a department at a ministry or church, some of you lead volunteers whether a serving team or a small group, and some of you lead other moms or even just your own family for now. But you ARE a leader. And how you lead truly influences others and their perspective of Jesus. And, Ephesians 6:7 says “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people” (NIV) so our attitude when leading others should be about doing our very best.

So, as a leader, I wanted to share some tips I have learned along the way to help you (as well as my…

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Money

Some time ago, I received a call from The New York Times. The reporter was curious if I knew of any pastors or ministry leaders who were changing their tune because the economy wasn’t going so well. That call reminded me how much the world looks at our message as adaptable, changeable, and flexible. When it comes to those pesky issues like absolute truth, can’t we just change God’s principles to accommodate a changing culture, financial problems, or difficult circumstances?

So if you’re facing financial challenges with your organization, here are some suggestions:

1) Be Confident in the Validity of Your Message.  If you really feel God has given you a message for this generation, outside circumstances shouldn’t impact the essential truth of that message. In other words, don’t pull back on your core message – in fact, it probably should be stronger than ever. You can re-think the way we package the message, or how you present it, but don’t pull back from the message itself. Be confident in your calling, and bold in your message. You have this platform because your voice matters. Don’t allow fear to hold you back.

2) Keep…

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Through the years, I have been able to observe many things as I’ve watched pastors navigate through their future. I believe pastors and ministers need to consider these five things as they navigate through their future.

1. Know Your True Calling

Many leaders think they know their calling, but may not know what they’ve truly been called to. Their personal aspirations often times do not connect with their genuine calling of God.

Because a person likes to preach does not mean he is called to pastor a church. Preaching every now and then or to a certain segment of the church consistently is not the same as ministering the Word of God to a church weekly as the lead pastor-teacher.

Self-awareness of your true calling will keep you from a multitude of sins and preserve you from misery in ministry. Otherwise, you will operate in ministry by attempting to do what you are not really called to do. Blessing, joy, and anointing follow you when you are loyal to your genuine calling.

2. Fully Experience Where God is Moving

When God rains down His supernatural blessings on a ministry you are leading and experiencing, refuse to get caught up in thinking…

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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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