Archives For Leadership

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?

  • How will you use social media?
  • How…

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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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If you are going to attempt to lead your church in growth, you will be criticized. Period.

If the Apostle Paul was ruthlessly criticized at every step of his journey, you can pretty much assume that you will be too.

What I tell Senior Pastors that I coach is that the good news is that criticism and leadership pretty much go hand in hand, so no matter what you do you’ll be criticized.

Try something new and you’ll get criticized.

Try to keep things the same and you’ll get criticized.

Try to avoid being criticized and you’ll (you guessed it) get criticized.

As a Senior Pastor, your job is to stand up and take the hits.

Criticism is the one thing that that will come your way no matter how kind you are, how effective you are, or how godly you are. Criticism is no respecter of persons.

Holy Spirit Inspired Change

Years ago when our church was trying to grow beyond 300 I felt a crystal clear call from God to lead our congregation through three difficult changes.

I knew going into it that the changes would be immensely difficult on our church, our staff, and ultimately me. However, I…

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I first began to understand the importance of teams as a seminary student when I did a study of the 100 largest churches in the United States. I asked them a series of questions related to staff and ministry, and the study showed strong churches have a strong team spirit.

These churches created a strong team spirit by combining two things: a common goal with good communication.

As you build your ministry team, you need to make sure both of these elements are present, because …

  • You can have people working on the same project but not communicating with each other: they are not functioning as a team.
  • You can have people who communicate well, but are not working toward the same goal: they are not functioning as a team, even if you call them that.

Let me give you some foundation on why I think this is important:

First, the body of Christ functions as a team ministry.
Romans 12:4-5 says that, just as there are many parts to our bodies, likewise there are many parts to Christ’s Body. Essentially, God designed it so that we all need each other to have a fully functioning ministry and EVERY ONE of…

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Dear Pastors,

I am one of you. For 39 years I have served as a pastor of a local church. The last 29 of these years I have served the same church. Even though I began when I was very young, God was and has been faithful to protect me all the way.

In the past few weeks, I have felt compelled to write you this letter. These are words that any local church pastor can identify with in life and ministry. Please consider these words, place them before the Lord, and then apply as needed or as He desires.

First, put Jesus first in your day. Start your day early with God and if early is not your deal, at least start your day with God first. Yes, first things first. If we do not begin our day with Jesus, then we forfeit the privilege to lead His people. Please begin your day with God; otherwise, defeat in life and ministry will become normal for you.

Second, renew your belief in the power of God. He can do anything, anytime, anywhere with anyone. He can do this with you and through your church. Refuse…

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Editor’s Note: This is the second part of an interview originally published in 2002. Click here to read part 1


81IKhq3H3xL._SL1500_Walker: It took you a long time to get a building erected at Saddleback and it’s an unusual one at that. Tell us about your building philosophy.

Warren: First, buildings are to be instruments, not monuments. We would never build a building we couldn’t tear down – if we needed to in order to reach more people – because people are the priority not buildings.

Winston Churchhill once said, “We shape our buildings and then they shape us.” Most churches build too soon and too small. Then a permanently small building shapes a permanently small future. That’s why we postponed our building as long as we could. That meant, in order to keep growing, we used 79 different buildings in 13 years. We often joked, “We’re the church that, if you can figure out where we are this week, you get to come.”

Walker: You also have a strong opinion that churches should not try to mix traditional with contemporary worship styles.

Warren: Absolutely. If you try to please everybody you will end up…

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It was the late 1980s. Our church was buzzing and growing. God was moving powerfully. We had just moved into a new Worship Center and all of a sudden, transition was inevitable. While our numbers gained greatly, we also saw a few individuals and families depart. As any pastor would be, I was troubled.

This Was an Important Moment for Me

God had raised up a man to walk with me through those days of transition. His name was Ron Lewis. He joined me on the journey to help the church as we advanced toward reaching our region with the Gospel, and he listened to me share about a few individuals and families who had departed our church. As a pastor, you know what it is like: we do not want to lose anyone and while God is bestowing our church with countless blessings, Satan sidetracks us with one little issue.

I will never forget what Ron Lewis told me that day.

Ronnie, Never Let Anyone Outside of Your Circle of Love

Sitting in a Bonanza restaurant, we were working through how we could sustain momentum in our church. Ron looked at me and said, “Ronnie, never…

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