Archives For Leadership

By Buddy Owens

Worship EnvironmentsI remember only two things about my college biology class: the broken clock that hung on the wall behind my professor’s desk and this definition of culture: “A colony of microorganisms or cells grown in a specially prepared nourishing environment.” Sounds like the church, doesn’t it? Each congregation is a colony — an outpost of the Kingdom (to mix metaphors) — that is grown in a specially prepared, nourishing environment.

Here’s another definition of culture. This one is from my sociology class, which, by the way, also had a broken clock hanging behind the professor’s desk: “The values, beliefs, ideas, customs, skills, arts, and traditions of a people that are passed along to succeeding generations.” That sounds like the church, too.

The church is a culture, in the sense that it is a living organism, and the church has a culture that is a reflection of its values and beliefs.

With those definitions in mind, let’s think about this: How can we as pastors and leaders create a culture of worship in our churches? How can we prepare a “nourishing environment”? How can we transfer our values, customs,…

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Here’s a simple way to evaluate how guests see your church building. Take the “5-Spot Test.”

CasualCoffeeStop at five specific places around your church site for five minutes and answer five questions.

Spot #1: Church parking lot. Just before worship, park in a guest space.

  1. How easy is it to find a parking space?
  2. From here, how enticing is the building’s appearance and landscape?
  3. Is the parking lot well kept?
  4. Is the church sign current and attractive?
  5. Is the main entrance inviting?

Spot #2:  Main Church Entrance. Walk inside at the most obvious entry.

  1. Is the front door clean, attractive, well maintained?
  2. What’s your first impression? Consider décor, lighting, music.
  3. Is the entry area perfectly clean?
  4. Does signage direct guests to childcare, restrooms, worship center?
  5. Are wall displays and printed materials attractive, positive, current?

Spot #3:  Back row panoramic. Sit on the third row from the rear, left side.

  1. Is your view unobstructed? Can you hear well?
  2. What is the overall atmosphere of the worship center?
  3. Are pew envelopes, books, pens or clipboards neat and current?
  4. Are seats, ceilings, walls and floors in perfect condition?
  5. Does worship center reflect careful consideration of décor, upkeep,…

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Hear from players during Super Bowl 47 Media Day – how they use the Bible App and what connecting with God’s Word means to them.

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Ways to LeadAll great leaders are great learners. But, sometimes we overcomplicate that process and leave behind the most foundational elements that make a great leader… great

I’ve found that a check of the basics is always a good place to start. If we have strong basics in place, it’s much more difficult to fall off as we move ahead.

Here are 5 basic, but powerful ways to lead…

#1 Godly

When we lead godly, we lead with a heart that is more concerned about empowerment and encouragement rather than self promotion. I have to constantly remind myself of Jesus’ words, “The least among you will be the greatest.”

#2 Simply

We over complicate things waaay to much! We may want to impress others or maybe we just think we’ve ‘progressed’ past simplicity. Whatever our reason, sometimes we just need to get back to simple. Sometimes, I have to remind myself, “Keep it simple stupid!”

#3 Timely

You can have the greatest plan and vision in the world, and not lead in a timely manner and kill a great vision and team. When you know, go… but don’t go until you know. Time matters.

#4 Actively

There can be no “absentee owner” of a vision. You…

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Most of us realize that the local church is called upon to meet and help those in need and we, as Christians, all feel that it is our responsibility to provide to the church so that it can do what it is called to do.  We recognize and understand what the Bible teaches us about tithing.  We want to be servants, however, before we give, we want to know and be assured that our funds are going to be used in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.

For this reason, it is important for a church to be financially accountable.  It should alwaysdemonstrate transparency and be a good steward of its contributions.

Here are some easy ways to provide Safeguards for Financial Accountability:

1)  Use a financial management software system for bookkeeping such as QuickBooks by Intuit.

2)  Nominate a financial committee or elder team on behalf of the church to review financial statements (at minimum) on a monthly basis.

3)  Establish policies and procedures – from how to properly count and record the weekly tithes and offerings, to how to handle an expense report for a church staff member.

4)  Use a…

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One of the keys to a church’s missional success is how its members are deployed. There are two approaches—one facilitates the church’s mission; the other often frustrates it.  Few in the church ever clarify this choice, but every church makes it, and every church lives with the consequences of its choice.

The institutional approach to lay ministry begins with the needs of the institution.  Every church needs Sunday school teachers, committee members, musicians, ushers.  In the institutional approach, when a job opens up, the response is to search for a person who seems most suitable to fill it and/or is most likely to say yes.  Success, in such churches, is when a member says, “Okay, I’ll do it.”  Hopefully the person is qualified, gifted, and motivated for that ministry; but there are no guarantees.  If it turns out there is a mismatch between member and task, the result is a job poorly done and a member mostly frustrated.  “Plugging warm bodies into ministry slots in a congregation,” says Pam Heaton, “tends to increase volunteer burnout, dissatisfaction, and departure.”  With the institutional approach to lay…

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CoachingConferences are good–they can be inspiring and helpful. They get you out of your environment so you have fresh eyes to learn. I’ve hosted conferences, and I believe in them.

Workshops or Seminars are also good–you have a bit longer to learn about a specific topic and even interact a bit with the other people who are learning. I’ve taught many workshops over the years.

But there is nothing like coaching.

A coaching environment is way different than anything else. A conference may have hundreds or thousands in attendance…a workshop could have scores…but the right coaching environment is personal and transformative for no more than 20 people. Everyone has a chance to be heard. Every story can be told and unpacked. Coaching happens over a period of weeks or months, so there is enough time between gatherings that life has a chance to happen. You have time and encouragement to roll up your sleeves and let down your guard with peers you grow to trust.

In a healthy coaching group, you find a safe place to discuss the unique circumstances you face without any fear of reprisal or judgment. You establish a network of new…

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headlinesThe writer of Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven sins the Lord hates, but new Barna research seeks to uncover the sins current mankind loves.

While the Lord is said to hate “a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren,” only a few of mankind’s most popular temptations fit neatly in the categories of the Proverb.

Among society’s top temptations, gossiping tempts 26 percent of Americans, and lying or cheating tempts 12 percent, according to research by the Barna Group chronicling “Temptations and America’s Favorite Sins,” conducted in conjunction with Todd Hunter’s new book, “Our Favorite Sins.”

“For most American adults, the things they’ll admit to being tempted by are related to work and productivity — but some of the age-old deadly sins show up too,” researchers wrote. “Though, perhaps unsurprisingly, the more serious the temptation, the fewer people admit to struggling with it.”

Regarding temptations that researchers considered “old temptations,” 60 percent of Americans admit to being tempted to procrastinate and worry, 55…

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Von MillerWhat makes you a successful leader today will not keep you a successful leader tomorrow.  The world is evolving too quickly.  Because of technology and the availability of information, things are changing too fast.  The old saying is more true than ever – you will either make dust or eat dust.

Though they have been eliminated from the NFL play-offs, 2nd-year Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller was arguably the finest defensive player in the NFL this past season.  In a recent profile in the January 14th edition of Sports Illustrated, writer Jim Trotter gives us a glimpse into how Miller improved dramatically from his rookie season until now.

The following are 10 habits that highly of continually improving leaders:

  • Continually Improving Leaders Have A Strong Work Ethic – Leaders who continually improve work very hard.  They never rest on their laurels.  During the offseason, Miller trained at Velocity Sports Performance in Irvine, CA.
  • Continually Improving Leaders Continually Get Smarter – Miller knows that the day will come when he can no longer rely on just his physical talent alone.  He is working hard to learn the mental aspects of the game so when the time comes, he can get by on his guile.
  • Continually Improving Leaders Continually Upgrade Their Skills – Miller…

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PlantsWill settled pastors of the future need to have the personal qualities of a church planter, the unique abilities of a turnaround expert and the specialized skills of an intentional interim pastor?

If the trends currently changing the face of American culture continue – and they seem to be accelerating – the settled pastor of the future won’t be “settled” and neither will the church. We’ve already entered into a period of churning cultural turbulence that is redefining the American church; mainline denominations face imminent extinction and evangelicalism is being transformed into something wholly new.

Churches, denominations, Bible colleges and seminaries will need to furnish our future pastors with precisely tailored skills that go far beyond exegesis and homiletics. Our future pastors will need to be trained to think like a church planter and mentored to operate like a turnaround specialist.

Fortunately, there is solid research to point us in the right direction.

The church planter

In the near future settled pastors will have to learn how to think like a church planter but without the headaches of raising support and funding a startup operation.

Charles Ridley, Professor at Indiana University and pioneer in church planting assessment, has…

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By Russ Rankin


“Pastors know they can’t take it with them when they die, but estate planning is really about good stewardship for your family,” said Warren Peek, president of the Southern Baptist Foundation. “Basic planning saves a lot of headaches and ensures that assets are not lost.”

According to the survey, pastors age 18-44 are the least likely to have durable power of attorney with health care directives (12 percent), a will (32 percent), or a living will (13 percent).

Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, said the survey reveals an apparent lack of education and awareness about estate planning and accompanying laws, which may contribute to pastors not having a plan in place.

Nearly two-thirds of pastors surveyed agree with a statement that the court decides who will care for a child if the last parent dies without a will. Twenty percent disagree and 15 percent “don’t know.”

Regarding assets, the survey reveals a slight majority of pastors (52 percent) agree that if someone dies without a will, their family decides what is done with the assets of the deceased. Thirty-seven percent disagree and 11 percent “don’t know.”

“The fact is, in…

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mentorMinistry isn’t meant to be a solo endeavor. Unfortunately, for many pastors, it is. A 2011 LifeWay Research survey said half of pastors in the United States experience loneliness in ministry.

Lonely ministry contradicts how God wired the universe. We need each other. You’ll find the phrase “one another” 58 times in the New Testament. We’re to love one another, care for one another, pray for one another, etc. Those references aren’t just for lay people. All of us — especially those in ministry — need other people to help us do what God called us to do.

Remember, even the Lone Ranger had Tonto! You weren’t meant to do ministry on your own. I wouldn’t be where I am in ministry without the help of others. For example, mentors have played an incredibly important role in my life. When I first moved to Orange County 33 years ago, Ray Ortland — from nearby Mariners Church — played a crucial role in my life. There were other mentors in my life before that.

And I’ve been able to mentor many young pastors during my ministry. In fact, mentoring is a driving…

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