Archives For Leadership

As leaders, we all have bad days.  Days when nothing goes right and everything we touch goes sour.  All leaders have been there.  You simply cannot be a leader and not have bad days.

The question then becomes what can we learn from the days we wish would simply just end.  The following are 10 Lessons Leaders Can Take From Bad Days:

  1. Bad days are normal.  You are not alone.  We have all been there.  Many reading this post are there right now.
  2. Bad days remind you the task is not easy and never will be.  If you read the Bible from cover to cover, you will not find an instance where God ever called a leader to an easy task.
  3. Bad days remind us we are leaders.  It sounds counter-intuitive but it is true.  If you feel you are constantly being kicked in the backside, it simply means you are out front leading.
  4. Bad days are why leadership is desperately needed.  It is when things are difficult or unclear that leaders are desperately needed.  Leaders are the ones who help individuals navigate these times.
  5. Bad days are times for personal development.  Sometimes events take place as a…

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Leaving“It’s my church home. I will never go anywhere else!” I smile when I read those words on our church’s Facebook page, but I know differently. Nobody stays forever. In fact, I’m pretty sure the only person not eventually leaving is my wife.

People come, and people go often for all the wrong reasons.

  • They grow bored with your teaching. “I’m not getting fed any longer.”
  • You’re not new and exciting anymore. “We feel called to support a new pastor in town.”
  • They don’t like the music. “We don’t do my favorite songs enough and the music is too loud.”
  • They’re struggling relationally. “I’m having some issues with Bob and feel it’s best to just move on.”
  • It seems like you’re all about numbers and reaching new people. “What about me?”

Of course, there are a hundred other reasons given, but they always boil down to one: they don’t love you anymore or at least not as much as they used to. Let’s face it, people rarely leave what they truly love.

They don’t leave a dream job that they love.

They don’t leave a spouse whom they love.

They don’t leave a church that they love.

It just doesn’t happen. We…

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Basic RGBHere’s something you don’t hear at most conferences and seminars: Behind every opportunity are obstacles.

In 1999, I was installed as pastor of the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago.  However, as is so often the case, this opportunity came disguised as a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.  I succeeded my father, Dr. Clarence E. Stowers, Sr. as pastor.  I inherited a traditional baptist church that had plateaued.

Based on almost every metric available, I knew I had to do something fast or else our attendance would decline. The optimistic side of me was determined to turn our church around. Therefore, in 2000, I attended the Purpose Driven Church Conference and worked hard to formulate and cast a new vision for the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago.

I restructured our church, hired staff, and with fresh enthusiasm, we were off to a great start. I anticipated smooth sailing ahead.  What I didn’t anticipate is that everyone wants change until it affects them personally.  Why?  Growth is uncomfortable and requires change.

Those Who are Comfortable Do Not Grow

Most people are creatures of habit and like predicability.  They may preach the need for change and rally support…

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Leaving

Staff, just like members, come and go in the normal rhythm of church life–20% of Americans move every year and that one factor alone affects all churches and staffs.

This may alarm or even scare other staff or members of your congregation. They may wonder, “What went wrong?” Was it a result of sin or incompetence or conflict? Yet, this is rarely the case. In Saddleback’s history only a very small handful of staff have left for negative reasons. Instead we rejoice as staff members step out in faith to follow God’s will into new areas.

Why Staff Leave:

1. A Stage of Life

Sometimes staff leave because of a change in their life or family: having a baby, kids entering school, spouse changing jobs or being transferred, having to care for an aged parent, getting married, needing greater income, going back to school, or retirement. These are just a few of hundreds of valid stage-of-life reasons.

2. A Stirring of God

Sometimes staff leave simply because they sense God wants them to do something else! They feel a “stirring” or restlessness in their spirit, which often indicates that God has other plans in mind for them. Some people…

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dryBe honest.  Have there ever been a time when you could not hear God’s voice?

Have you ever experienced a period of spiritual dryness?  A place some call the desert.  Let me be honest with you…the desert IS NOT a fun place.  It is dry, lonely, and HOT!

If you ever had a desert experience and are now past it, stop what you are doing and praise God.  If, however, you are approaching or are in a desert season, then maybe today’s post can help you get through it.

Everyone goes through desert or spiritually dry seasons. Be honest, you can recall times when you did not feel “spiritually connected.” You attend church weekly, go to a Bible study or your small group, perhaps you even study your Bible, but God feels a lot more like a distant relative than somebody you are connected to.

The toughest season, and one that so many Christians seem to fight through, is the spiritually dry season–the desert. During this season our relationship with God feels distant but lifeless. Again I repeat, everyone goes through desert seasons.

When I sense God is distant, I cringe when people tell me…

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TeamsThatThriveHealthy conflict is the catalyst of extraordinary performance. If your church leadership team never has conflict, then something is wrong. Effective teams welcome healthy conflict – and they manage it in such a way that it actually aids the team.

Numerous studies overwhelmingly suggest that task conflict is good, whereas affective, or relationship, conflict is bad. In other words, team members should challenge each other’s ideas, interrogate one another’s beliefs and values, and willingly offer different perspectives while refraining from attacking others in the process, or making snide, sarcastic comments in the process.

Based on our recent study of nearly 150 church leadership teams, we encourage you to cultivate the kind of conflict that fuels great team performances. We found that thriving teams engaged in challenging dialogue. They also cultivated (rather than squashed) healthy conflict significantly more than under-performing teams.

To spur healthy “task conflict” on your team, we suggest that you and your teammates:

  1. Vigorously solicit critiques of plans, decisions and assumptions guiding decision making.
  2. Model respectful, assertive, thoughtful and honest critiques of ministry ideas and plans, and invite others to do the same of your own ideas and plans.
  3. Celebrate group members who say the…

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magnifying-glass-detective-magnifying-glass-flippedMicro-management is a bad word in business today.  Leaders and managers alike are disowning the word like it’s a bad disease.  It’s a common word that disgruntled employees will use when leaving a company.  And, in reality, it is a bad thing….mostly.

But, I want to submit to you that there are some times that a leader should utilize this technique to leading those around him/her.  I would never go as far as to say that it’s ok for a person to micro-manage the team.  In fact, apart from the times listed below, I would say that it is never ok for a leader or manager to micro-manage and it actually leads to a lower-quality product and a dis-enchanted team.

I have found 3 distinct times when it’s important to micro-manage someone. They are:

  • When a person is new to the organization.  A person new to the organization doesn’t understand organizational culture.  He/she doesn’t know the best way to get things done.  The new person will need someone to come along side them and help them understand the norms and processes of the organization.  Also, a person that is new to the organization is…

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do lessWhen is enough…enough?

Recently, I asked several people to explain to me exactly what they wanted. Guess what – NOT A SINGLE person could answer.  Knowing what you want is the best way to avoid the temptation to pursue several things at the same time.  That takes focus.

I’ve seen people get frustrated by their ministry, business, and careers because they know that they want something but they don’t exactly know what. The main reason people struggle professionally and personally is simply a lack of focus. This lack of focus can be costly because there is a subtle push to pursue more.

There Will Always Be a Subtle Push to Pursue More

There’s a subtle and (if you’re not careful) sinister push that we should devote more time to building our brand/platform.  Although I’m a pastor, a writer, mentor, and speaker, I’m not exempt from this subtle push. A few years ago I discovered that there was a danger to my soul in pursuing more exposure, more name recognition, more money to be made from thinking, writing, and speaking about ministry issues. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up like King Solomon and lose focus.

King Solomon’s Dangerous Pursuit of More

King Solomon wrote an entire book (Ecclesiastes) on…

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GrowthThe discipleship process at Saddleback Church is based on the belief that if we focus on building people, God will build the church. Through a study of how Jesus helped people grow spiritually, Rick Warren developed these eight laws for spiritual growth.

Spiritual growth is intentional.

Spiritual growth is not accidental. You must intend to grow; you must make a choice to grow.

This means that we grow by making commitments. People in churches are at one of six levels of commitment: community, crowd, congregation, committed, core, or commissioned.

The community is anyone within driving distance of Saddleback Church. There is no commitment at the community level.

We want to get the community to come to a weekend service; we want to move them from the community the crowd. What’s required to be in the crowd? One commitment: show up at church. Next, we want to move people from being an attender of the church to being a member of the church — from the crowd to the congregation. At Saddleback, you do this by coming to know Jesus as your Savior, being baptized, attending our membership seminar (CLASS 101), and signing the membership covenant.

Then people…

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Dirt Matters, Jim PowellA few years ago a local church sought my advice in reversing their decline in attendance. As our conversation unfolded, I noticed all of their questions were programmatic ones—What kind of music does your church play? What do you wear on Sundays? How do you present announcements? Do you serve coffee and donuts?

All this church seemed to be looking for was the right superficial tweak or change in methodology that would attract people. They wanted a silver bullet…and there is no silver bullet

While methods can make a difference in contextualizing the Gospel for this generation, programmatic changes alone are not going to turn a church around and move it forward. When a church is in decline, the problem has a much deeper root. So, I told that church what I’m about to tell you…what really needs to be addressed is not a program, a method, or a ministry, but the church’s culture.

Culture is the somewhat nebulous and complex blend of norms, beliefs, attitudes, traditions, and practices that define a congregation. Every church has a culture, and though it can be tough to grasp, it has a tremendous…

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Saddleback Church Staff

The success of your ministry depends largely on developing a strong team with a deep sense of team spirit. I’ve witnessed the incredible power of a unified team to create growth and have counseled many churches who weren’t growing because their team members worked as individuals and not as a team.

A team spirit is never accidental; it is always intentional. Teamwork is built on three factors:

  • a compelling purpose,
  • crystal clear communication,
  • and a code of commonly held values.

At Saddleback Church, we express the eight values of teamwork in a simple acrostic, T.E.A.M.W.O.R.K.:

T – Trust

Trust among your team is the emotional glue that binds them together; it’s essential to producing true confidence in each other. There are three factors that create trust within a team:

  1. Consistency – People will trust you if, time after time, they see you responding in a consistent and reasonable manner. You also need to be readable, in the sense that they need to know where you are coming from in your decisions and responses.
  2. Loyalty – Defend members of your team when they’re criticized and then check the facts later in private, always assuming the best until there is…

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Work ToolsChurch members and the American public have various perceptions about ministers. Some believe that ministers are not hard workers. Those of us who serve in local churches hear people say: “You guys only work one day a week!”

Ministers have challenging jobs. In many ways, ministers are never truly away from the office. Technology has only raised the intensity of their never-ending job. Weddings, funerals, emergencies, and responsibilities on Sundays prevent ministers from having weekends. Yet, with these realities and many more that I did not list, ministers should never be excused from working hard.

Three reasons why I believe ministers should be hard workers:

1. The Bible Charges Ministers to Work Hard

When Paul was instructing Timothy on the life of being a minister, he talks about the minister being like a soldier, an athlete, and a hardworking farmer. (2 Timothy 2) Unquestionably, we must be equipped like soldiers for the battles of ministry and persevere like athletes as we lead people, but we must also be like a hardworking farmer who works until he sees the harvest.

Humbly, ministers should be known to be hard workers. We cannot claim to be spiritual men if we…

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