Archives For Leadership

Your church doesn’t need a new mission. God determines the mission. He defines the mission. And he’s been about the mission for thousands of years and simply wants your church involved in it. But your church is in desperate need of a vision that is informed by God’s Word, inspired by God’s Spirit, and applied passionately and brokenheartedly to your local context.

If you’re a lead (senior) pastor and you don’t have a vision for how your church will carry out its mission in your local context, here’s my advice: Get away with Jesus! Take a retreat. Meet with some mentors. Read the Word. Drive around your community and beg God to paint a picture in your mind of what could be if the Gospel took root and sprouted all over the place.

Every ministry leader needs to cultivate a vision for their ministry context, but lead pastors are out front, setting the pace. God has chosen you to lead his sheep on a rescue mission for other lost sheep.

Once you’re a leader with a vision from God of what should be, it’s on to step two. Get mean. 

No, this is not an…

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I’m often asked, “Is there any single common denominator that you can find in every growing church?” I have studied churches for many years, read about them, and visited them. I’ve discovered that God uses all kinds of churches, in all kinds of different ways, with all different methods and styles. But there is one common denominator that you can find in every growing church regardless of denomination, regardless of nationality, and regardless of size.

That common denominator is leadership that is not afraid to believe God. It’s the faith factor.

Nothing starts happening until somebody starts dreaming. Every accomplishment started off first as an idea in somebody’s mind. It started off as a dream. It started off as a vision, a goal. If you don’t have a goal for your church, your default goal is to remain the same. If you aim at nothing, you’re definitely going to hit it.

A church without a vision is never going to grow, and a church’s vision will never be larger than the vision of its pastor. So you as a leader and as a pastor must have God’s vision for your church. The…

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Calendar

One of the first things I do when I begin coaching a senior pastor is lead them through a process of redesigning how they schedule their week to ensure their highest ministry priorities get consistently accomplished.

It is the same process whether they serve churches of 50 to 5,000.

Here’s what that process looks like:

Draw a Weekly CalendarPastors Schedule

The first thing I have senior pastors do is pull out a piece of paper and turn it to horizontal view.

Then I ask them to draw six horizontal lines, representing a typical weekly calendar, and placing the days of the week up at the top.

Mark X’s on Friday and Saturday Slots for Your Days Off

Pastors Schedule

Your workweek is now Sunday through Thursday. No more work on Fridays and Saturdays.

This immediately presents two problems for the typical senior pastor. First, they’re still doing their sermons on Friday and Saturday. Second, they take Monday off.

Both of these will…

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Burning OutOkay, we’re already making our way through the new year. It’s now fully 2017 and we don’t need to talk any more about 2016. We can move on. Onward and upward, right?

By the way, how are you doing on your new goals . . . your resolutions? Are you on track or have you already given up. Either way, there’s grace here for you! Whether you set goals or not, whether you’re after some new plateau of your life like a tenacious animal or you’ve already limped away like an injured koala bear who fell off the top branch trying to reach that last leaf, and whether you’re expecting big things in the new year or you’re resigned to just handling whatever comes your way best you can — it’s all okay. No judgment here! Enjoy the new year and I hope that 2017 is the best yet for you!!

But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a phenomenon that happens to far too many leaders — and it often catches them by surprise. In other words, it’s a tragedy that most of us can only react to — rather than…

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RunningThese are five questions every pastor will answer in 2017 whether he addresses or neglects them.

Pastor, how will you answer each one of these five questions?

Question #1: Will I prioritize my personal walk with God daily?

This is not a question about whether you will study for sermons, but a question about prioritizing your personal walk with God. Your personal walk with God will determine everything else in your life and ministry. Therefore, prioritize your personal reading of the Scripture, your personal prayer life, and your personal spiritual growth in Jesus Christ.

Question #2: Will I devote myself to being the spiritual leader in my family?

This is not about functioning as the spiritual leader of your church, but it is a question about devoting yourself to be the spiritual leader of your family. The level of your spiritual leadership in your church will never go beyond your personal walk with Christ and the genuine spiritual leadership you provide in your family. In other words, you cannot lead your church spiritually if you do not lead your family spiritually. Therefore, determine now to operate with great intentionality as the spiritual leader of your family.

Question…

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If your church has spent more than five years in an attendance range of between 290 to 490, you are stuck at the 400 barrier.

In my experience, more senior pastors reach out for help at this size range than any other. That’s because the complexity of issues they confront at this size are fundamentally different from what had to be addressed to break the 100 and 200 barriers.

If you keep bumping up against this size range, consider these five most common reasons why this might be happening.

1. The Governing Board Still Operates a Small-Church Leadership Structure

As a church grows from 100 to 400, frequently the senior pastor has changed, and the church has changed, but the governing elder board has not. To move past this barrier, the board must evolve.

I’ve written elsewhere about the by-law shift that must take place at this size, so I won’t repeat that here. Governing board members must wrestle with this question: “Are we willing to change (and even lose our positions on the board) to reach people far from God?”

2. The Senior Pastor Hasn’t Shifted from Operating as a Hands-On Pastor to a Leader…

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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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light-bulb

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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