Archives For Leadership

LightEvery great movement of God invites a challenge from sinful people. I wrote about this recently in a post entitled How to Stop a Church from Growing, and Pastor Titus S. Olorunnisola, who is planting Bethel Gospel Centre near Melbourne, Australia, asked the magic question: How, then, do we handle the legalists?

In the case of the early Jerusalem church, the problem was complex. Non-Jewish people all over the region were coming to know Christ, but some deeply legalistic Jews, known as the Judaizers, were demanding that all of these new believers go through the rite of circumcision and keep the ceremonial law in order to be both Jewish and Christian.

Paul, Peter, James, and others were of the viewpoint that salvation for these newcomers was by grace alone through faith alone, but the vocal minority raised enough of an issue that the elders had to gather for a discussion. They finally emerged from this first church council with some wisdom for churches everywhere.

Their decision was rendered as follows:

“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them…

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VisionOver the years, I’ve learned that – contrary to popular opinion – the bigger the vision, the easier it is to reach that vision, and, ultimately, the size of your vision should be determined by the size of God.

How big do you think God is? The issue is not who you think you are, but who you think God is. In your dreams for your ministry, don’t limit yourself by saying, “What can I do?” Instead ask, “What can God do in this place?”

How many people could be reached here?

When determining the size of your vision, you need to keep three factors in mind. The first factor is the ultimate population of your ministry area. Obviously, if a church planter is going to start a new church, he doesn’t plan a church of 2,000 in a town that only has 500 people in it. Be pragmatic.

I tell people: Go get a map of your community, draw a circle that would include approximately 15 minutes’ driving distance to your church, and find out how many people are in that area. Then you say, “Ultimately, we want to try to reach everybody. We know we can’t reach everybody. But we assume…

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An effective church vision has been described as many things. Bill Hybels calls vision “a picture of the future that produces passion and puts people in it.” Others say it is a picture of a preferred future. I say vision is what you see, feel, and hear on Sunday compounded over time.

Regardless of what definition resonates most with you, there are 10 things an effective church vision must do:

  1. An effective church vision has to paint a very clear picture of the future.
  2. An effective church vision must be measurable.
  3. An effective church vision unites generations and multiple constituents around Kingdom purposes.
  4. An effective church vision places short-term strategies into long-term perspective.
  5. An effective church vision rings with clarity of future direction. It must take the church somewhere.
  6. An effective church vision is memorable. People can repeat the primary elements.
  7. An effective church vision is inspiring. It excites and enthuses the people!
  8. An effective church vision is ambitious. It involves faith, courage, and risk. It’s so big that unless God is in it, it’s not happening!
  9. An effective church vision is relevant to people the church has reached and has been called by God to reach.
  10. An effective…

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A church that breaks barriers needs a leader that breaks barriers.

Dealing with sin is of the utmost importance for a leader. But there is another issue that isn’t often discussed, and for those in ministry it goes hand-in-hand with confronting sin: the importance of a strong work ethic.

With sin, we cannot work hard enough to make God happy. Jesus did that for us. But when we experience joy in our forgiveness and salvation, God empowers us to work hard and accomplish things for his glory.

A barrier-breaking pastor is driven to do the work God has given him. In the beginning of Genesis, God says a lot about our work. He has made us to do work, but sin has made it frustrating and difficult.

Sin can certainly lead us to be workaholics, and we burn out or the people around us deal with their own burnout. But it can also lead to the opposite: a poor work ethic.

As a church leader you often do a lot of the work outside of the view of your people, and…

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I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I became the old guy on our church staff. I don’t think of myself as old. I’m social media savvy. I text on my iPhone 7 Plus. I even have a Snapchat account (though I’m not sure why, because I don’t use it).

Of course, I don’t wear skinny jeans, spike my hair, have a long beard, or have the coolest eyeglasses. I don’t sleep more than 6 or 7 hours a night. I still say “dude,” and I enjoy a mid-afternoon power nap. I also now qualify for the senior discount at a growing number of places.

Okay, at almost 60, maybe I am old, but I’m learning some things about relating to Millennials. I’ll get there in a second, but let’s first attempt to describe who is what.

The generation breakdown is a bit difficult to define. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t classify the different generations except for Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964, who are roughly 52-70 years old).

The media, or some self-proclaimed pundits somewhere, have said that Gen-Xers are those born between 1965 and 1981, those…

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Youth MinistryI believe that every youth leader worth his or her salt wants to make the biggest impact possible in the lives of their teenagers and in the communities where those teenagers live. But how can that be done effectively?

The seven keys I’m about to share with you were the result of a research project, first among hundreds of youth leaders across the nation, and then throughout the book of Acts. These specific values popped to the top of every high performing youth ministry as well as on every page of the book of Acts. There’s really no magic formula or shocking surprise here. What’s shocking is that somehow most of us have missed so many of them in how we view and do youth ministry.

Here are the seven keys:

1.  Make intercessory prayer your numero uno priority.

It should be no surprise that the most effective youth leaders are the ones who prioritize prayer in their personal lives, in their leadership meetings and with their teenagers. They pray for their Christian teenagers and get them to pray for their lost friends. This is exactly what Paul told Timothy to prioritize in his church planting/strengthening…

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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 for 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…

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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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