Archives For Leadership

The prophet Jeremiah once encouraged the people of his day to, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16 NIV).

Rest. That’s the promise.

Why do you do what you do in ministry? What’s driving you? Better yet, how do you understand what you are doing in ministry? What is your sense of what faithfulness to Jesus looks like in the context of your efforts in the local church?

We live in a time when fewer and fewer ministry leaders have a clear idea of what it is they’re supposed to be doing. As a result, we run this way and that, breathlessly trying to keep pace with our peers. We go from one fad and fashion to the next, from one movement or ideology to the next, from one book or conference to the next, desperate to find the elusive holy grail of effectiveness. There’s a reason many leaders struggle with chronic anxiety, depression, and fatigue.

Be honest now. How many times have you read a book, attended a conference, or…

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Thinking

When Christian leaders become ambitious, things get tough. Often other people will mistake our ambition for pride or presumption. But Jesus was ambitious about building his church. Paul was ambitious about pressing toward the prize. Joshua was ambitious about taking the promised land. The fact is, God responds to bold, audacious vision and ambition in a leader.

So what could be holding your ambition back?

We tend to confuse humility with fear.

Humility is not denying your strengths. Humility is being honest about your weaknesses. All of us are a bundle of both great strengths and great weaknesses; humility is being able to be honest about both. Paul was able say, “Follow me as I follow Christ,” because he was honest about his weaknesses. In addition he said, “I’m the chief among sinners.” So he writes down both his strengths and his weaknesses.

God wants you to be humble, but he does not want you to be fearful. And to not accomplish anything is not humility, but fear. Don’t worry about God humbling you. He has plenty ways to do that. Worry that you might not be all that he wants you to be because of fear.

We…

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Charts

Instead of counting Christians, we need to weigh them. – Dallas Willard

Clear vision requires clarity about the results you are after. Any result you might desire for your ministry will fit into three broad categories – input results, output results, and impact results.

Input Results

Input results in the church focus on the number of people and dollars that come into the church. Input results are important. You don’t have a church without them. It’s also important to measure input results. You can’t lead well without knowing them.

Common ways we talk about input results include the ABCs (attendance, buildings and cash) or “nickels and noses” or “butts and bucks.”  Every week, thousands of churches across the land will print their input results on a worship bulletin or review them in the next elders meeting. Input results inform the functional dashboard of the American church.

Output Results

Output results refer to actual life-change outcomes that God intends for followers of Christ individually and together. Examples of output results include the quality of a believer’s prayer life, the skillfulness in sharing the Gospel, or the development of patience as one of the fruits of the Spirit.

There are hundreds of biblical phrases and…

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One key? Is that even possible?

Many of the books I’ve read and the speakers I’ve listened to have listed out way more than one key. Napoleon Hill’s Keys to Success offers 17 principles of personal achievement. Grant Cardone teaches about a dozen rules for success. Jim Rohn, in this classic 90-minute talk, gives way more than one key.

I don’t want to argue with any of those people. They, and so many more leaders like them, are smarter and more experienced than i am.

But I’ve discovered a principle in the Bible, in business, and even in my own life that has me convinced there is a pattern to be observed. There is one principle of success I see repeated time and again. So here’s my assertion . . .

The one big key to becoming a successful person is giving your life to making the lives of others better.

If you decide today to give your life – and by “life” I mean your time, your attention, your resources – to making the lives of other people better, you will discover success….

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Success

Success can ruin a ministry. I’ve seen it happen too many times. It sounds strange. We plan for success, we dream about success, and – most importantly – we pray for success. Yet when it comes, we often self-destruct.

God blesses our ministry. Our church grows. People respond to our preaching. Hurting people are helped. At first, we’re just excited to see God work. We’re just pointing people to him. But then we’re tempted to turn our eyes off of God and put them on ourselves. In a matter of time, success can erode our ministry.

It doesn’t just happen to senior pastors of big churches, either. Whether you’re at a church of 20 or 20,000, you could be next.

I understand the temptation. When I came to Orange County to start Saddleback in 1980, I dreamed big. You can read in The Purpose Driven Church about the vision I presented to the church on the very first Sunday. God gave me a vision of a church with tens of thousands of people in it. In the first 25 years of the church, God fulfilled every promise he gave me before I started…

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Windmill

If you’re human, and over 40, you’ve probably thought at least once, Are my best days behind me? (If you’re a pastor, you struggle with this just about every Monday morning!)

I’m not suggesting you need to be middle-aged or old to wonder about this question. If you felt like your high school or college years were some of your best, then you might have faced this disheartening question early in your life.

I know a guy who was a football star in high school, and he frequently talks about that time as the best days of his life – and he’s my age. It’s sort of sad. Especially since high school was over for him 40 years ago.

Recently I was at a retirement party for some friends. I’ve known them for about 20 years, and we worked together on a large church staff for five years. At this gathering, the staff said some very nice things about my friends, and there were quite a few honoring and funny stories told.

I was sitting there, listening, smiling, and remembering, when a question hit me hard. Were those years with them my best years in ministry?

Then I nose-dived into thinking…

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What I am about to share with you is the single most important church growth principle I have ever learned for senior pastors of churches under 1,000 in size. I call it Leadership Evangelism.

Leadership Evangelism is the process by which senior pastors single-handedly ignite a movement within their church that will cause it to double in size in three years or less.

Here’s a common occurrence:

A senior pastor leads a church that hasn’t grown in five years. Funding is tight. They have board members who don’t really get the larger vision. Their staff, if they have any staff, are underpaid, overworked, and just as frustrated as their leader. The senior pastor has tried everything to catalyze growth – drafting a new vision statement, tweaking the worship services, starting a new outreach program, trying to get people to invite their friends – all on top of working to the point of exhaustion. Yet, nothing to date has worked.

The majority of evangelical churches in English-speaking countries around the world are in this exact same boat.

“What would you do if you were me?” some have asked.

That’s when I tell them about Leadership Evangelism.

All senior pastor can lead their church to grow. Regardless of age….

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One of our core values at Grace Hills is, “We stay fast, fluid, and flexible. There are no sacred cows. We embrace the pain of change for the win of seeing more people meeting Jesus.” I wrote that one knowing that of all of our other core values, it would probably be the hardest to honor over the long haul. It addresses the crossroads where theology meets psychology, where truth, mission, and fear intermingle. Change is hard.

The American evangelical church is in a rather desperate condition. You’ve heard that America is a “Christian” nation and that Christianity is dominant. Perhaps it’s the popular religion, but far fewer people are attending church than we realize. And we’re only planting one-fourth of the number of new churches needed to keep pace with America’s current population growth and rate of decline in existing churches.

So churches absolutely must change and adapt if they will remain relevant to the culture.

I realize many Christian leaders don’t like that terminology, so let me clarify that God’s Word, the Gospel, Jesus,…

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Photo Credit: Aaron Burden

If you want your church to have the impact of the early church, the New Testament shows us eight essential characteristics we need in our congregations.

Rely on supernatural power

“Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability” (Acts 2:3-4 NLT).

We don’t just talk about God; we experience him. This is what makes the church different from every other organization on the planet. We have the Holy Spirit.

Microsoft doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. The United States government doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. The Red Cross doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. No other organization has the power of God in it. God promised his Spirit to help his church.

Use everybody’s language

“And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability” (Acts 2:4 NLT).

This passage isn’t about speaking in tongues. It’s about the Gospel being communicated in real languages. People actually heard the early Christians speak in their…

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It seems the church world has gone leadership crazy.

Everywhere you turn, there’s an article on leadership:

  • How to Spot a Leader
  • How to Be a Leader
  • How to Build Leaders
  • How to Lead Leaders
  • the list goes on and on

One would think that the Great Commission was, “Go into all the world and make leaders!”

Now don’t get me wrong. Leadership is absolutely essential. Every pastor knows that everything rises and falls on leadership.

However, with a never-ending tsunami of articles telling us we need to develop leaders, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and underachieving.

Every pastor knows they need to be mentoring new leaders, but the problem is, how?

I don’t know about you, but I need mentorship boiled down to a few simple basics.

So, where can a pastor turn for a simplified approach to mentorship?

We turn to the master mentor – Jesus.

When I read the gospel, I see Jesus focusing on three essential mentoring elements that raised up a powerful procession of leaders: caring, sharing, and pairing.

 

3 ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF MENTORING

1. Caring

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11, NIV).

When Jesus wanted to build leaders, he called…

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Slow

You don’t have to be a prophet to know that technology has ­­made the world smaller, more complex, and faster. You live a much faster lifestyle than your parents did. Your children will live an even faster lifestyle than you do.

As you and I know, pastors aren’t immune to time pressures. With meetings, ever-shrinking sermon preparation, and a crowded pastoral care schedule, our office calendar can stay full if we’re not careful. Then we get home and rush our kids to after-school events, grab a quick dinner, run to the hospital, go home, jump in bed, and hope there are no late-night phone calls.

We can identify with what a USA Today article said about life for many people. “Today people are souped up, stressed out, and over scheduled. In this brave new world boundaries between work and family are disappearing. Everybody is mobile and every moment is scheduled.”

The Bible tells us that hurry and worry and scurry have dramatic negative effects on our life and ministries. If you’re serious about slowing your life down to a more humane pace of life, you’re going to have to make five countercultural changes in…

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Calendar

You’ve got a big event coming up. It involves multiple ministry departments, the whole church is invited, and you’re the staff member charged with organizing this whole effort. You know this will require lots of coordination and communication. You might use email, Slack, RocoCPM, or another planning tool, but you’ll still need a few event-planning meetings.

Ugh. Meetings.

Now, before you get too discouraged – it is possible to have productive meetings.

Imagine a meeting where you walk away energized, enthusiastic, and ready to make some serious progress. No, that’s not a mythical scenario. In fact, I’ve experienced this type of meeting myself.

So, what’s the secret sauce to a successful meeting? Here you go . . .

Ingredient #1: The Facilitator

Not to be confused with The Terminator, a skilled meeting facilitator has a few tricks up her sleeve.

She prepared for the meeting.

This sounds simple, but I’m often surprised by how many people show up for a meeting and expect to magically be productive.

This isn’t the mindset of a good facilitator.

Instead, she . . .

  • Knows the purpose of the meeting
  • Developed and sent out an agenda beforehand
  • Made sure each person needed to accomplish…

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