Archives For Leadership

Each year, after the craziness of Christmas has passed, I like to take time to think through and pray about the things that God wants for me in 2013. Whether you call them resolutions or goals, there’s value in taking time to proactively commit yourself to becoming the pastor and leader that God has created you to be.

While your church members are making hundreds of different resolutions, there were seven fundamental commitments that I hope every pastor would make for 2013:

  • Inspire courage — Your church members could do incredible things in 2013, more incredible than you could ever imagine. It’s our responsibility as leaders to inspire them to take action. Will you inspire your church members to be courageous and accomplish amazing things next year?
  • Diversify your network — This is a topic I care a lot about. My hope is that you would take time this upcoming year to learn from leaders who are different than you. Trust me, you won’t regret taking the steps to diversify your network and learn from other leaders in your church.
  • Help the next generation — As leaders, I believe we’re mandated to invest in the next generation. Whether you’re…

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LatheOne of the greatest blessings in churches today and throughout history is the number of men and women who gladly and often sacrificially give of their time and energy to do ministry in local congregations. Indeed, churches across the world would not function as they do without the giving spirit of these lay volunteers. Paid staff alone are not sufficient to do all the work of ministry in any church.

Simultaneously, one of the greatest challenges for leaders in churches today is the recruiting and retention of these lay volunteers. Indeed I have had several conversations with church leaders who have seen significant successes and blessings with the mobilization of laity in their churches. I am particularly grateful for the insights given to me by Jess Rainer of Grace Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee, and Eric Geiger, who recently served at Christ Fellowship in Miami.

These two men, as well as several other church leaders, shared similar stories about their challenges and victories in lay mobilization. In this post, I share with you six insights I gleaned from several leaders who have been successful in recruiting and retaining lay volunteers.

  1. Training is critical. In one of…

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DashboardThe advances of technology have been amazing over the last ten to fifteen years.  This progress can be seen every day when you drive your vehicle.  The options now available on the steering wheel and dashboard of a car are amazing.  They used to only include; speedometer, odometer, water temperature, oil pressure, and a gas gauge.  Today you can answer your phone, manage the stereo, and set your cruise control from the buttons on your steering wheel.  The dashboard has a computer that can tell you when you have a low tire and when you need an oil change.  It can even calculate your fuel range, average fuel economy, and much more.

Even though these accessories are nice and make things much easier for us, the standard speedometer, odometer, gas gauge, etc, is still there.  These gauges or warning lights tell us how well the vehicle is running.  While it is very easy to become fascinated with all of the new bells and whistles you must keep your eyes on the gauges that matter.  Music can make a long trip far more enjoyable, and cruise control is awesome, but those advancements do not ensure…

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Cutting BackIn consulting with nonprofit organizations around the world, our team at Cooke Pictures has discovered that the most successful are deep, not wide.  In other words, they know how to focus on one big thing, instead of trying to do many things badly.  In this video I talk about why it matters, and how being lean and mean can make a huge difference.  If you know a leader of a bloated or ineffective organization, make sure he or she sees this:

Purchase: One Big Thing

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The church is the hope of the world. As church leaders we have the responsibility of communicating the greatest message known to mankind; the only message capable of changing a person’s entire eternity.

The weight of that responsibility is both profound and incredible. It moves us to action and demands that we communicate it well.

Yet oftentimes, churches have a difficult time communicating this message because they don’t understand the basics of church marketing and communications.

Think about it … Is your church clear on who they are and where they are going? Does your church use social media to nurture and grow relationships? Has your church spent unhurried time developing a brand that resonates with people in your church and community? Does your website accurately communicate the uniqueness of your church? Have you evaluated and observed what guests experience on a Sunday morning? Does your community even know you exist?

These things may not seem significant, but they are critical. In fact, they are essential.

At Sayge, we have spent years researching and identifying the 12 Essentials to Church Communications and have developed a resource that equips Church…

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For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV)

New Years ResolutionsHow are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Have you already given up on them?

One of my friends made these resolutions to guarantee success —

  • I won’t lose ten pounds this year.
  • I commit to watching the Super Bowl this year.
  • I will listen to my iPod at least four days a week.

There is one guy who I suspect played for keeps when he made New Year’s resolutions. You know him, the zealot who could never do anything half-way, the let’s-get-real-about-our-faith Apostle Paul.

My thought is Paul only had one resolution on his list New Year’s list – ‘This year I resolve to know nothing but Christ and him crucified.’ (1 Corinthians 2:2)

Paul’s message is radically simple: Salvation is in Christ alone.

  • It’s not Christ plus your call to ministry.
  • It’s not Christ plus your theological education.
  • It’s not Christ plus the size of your congregation.
  • It’s not Christ plus your powerful preaching.
  • It’s not Christ plus how many you lead to Jesus.
  • It’s not Christ plus your years of sacrifice.
  • It’s not Christ…

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What is success? Most people define it in one of three ways:

  • How many possessions do you own?
  • How much power do you wield over others?
  • How much prestige do you have among peers?

American Christians tend to blend right in. We even apply these standards to churches and church leaders. Which church has the biggest budget, the nicest building, or the largest weekend attendance? There’s nothing wrong with any of those things – money is good, influence is invaluable, and popularity is something God can use in huge ways. And we certainly need churches to grow exponentially in a world as lost as ours. The problem is, none of those factor into God’s viewpoint on success.

Jesus gathered a handful of followers in His lifetime, didn’t have a place of His own, and was despised and rejected by the social elite of his community. But He was most definitely successful. In fact, He was so successful that He could come to the end of His life and confidently proclaim…

I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.

– John…

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My friend Josh Craft showed me this chart of the steps people go through with innovation and I have to admit, it’s spot on.  I’ve seen this exact sequence play out so many times it’s not funny, but it’s worth repeating.  The next time you want to make real change happen in your organization, get ready to experience this sequence:

1. People deny that the innovation is required.
2. People deny that the innovation is effective.
3. People deny that the innovation is important.
4. People deny that the innovation will justify the effort required to adopt it.
5. People accept and adopt the innovation, enjoy its benefits, attribute it to people other than the innovator, and deny the existence of stages 1 to 4.

Anything out of place or something you’d like to add?

(Inspired by Alexander von Humboldt’s ‘Three Stages Of Scientific Discovery’, as referenced by Bill Bryson in his book, ‘A Short History Of Nearly Everything’.)

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Classic wisdom taught us that our mission or purpose statements are timeless. In many ways that’s true and its a helpful teaching concept. And in an ideal world, it works. But in reality, there are times when a leader should change or renew or recreate the sense of mission.So don’t let the classic wisdom freeze you and prevent a significant opportunity to create fresh meaning and new progress for God’s people under your care today. When should you rewrite your mission?

1) When no one knows the one you have

This happens when leaders have not been emotionally connected to the big idea of what the church is about; therefore they don’t use it as an everyday leadership tool. It never makes it into conversations, team meetings, volunteer recruitment or preaching. Usually this is the result of some ridiculous committee-based jargon that is way too long. Or it may be just a short over-generalization of the Great Commission or Great Commandment that has no real teeth for folks in the congregation.

EXAMPLE: Grace Presbyterian in Houston is in a two-year interim between senior pastors. The people of Grace…

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VolunteeringVolunteers are the life of our ministry. More than any other area in the church, volunteers are critical to the success of children’s ministry. Too often they are “recruited” and simply thrown in to the area they are needed. But if you truly want them to succeed, here are a few things that they need to know:

1. They are not babysitters.

Of course, most would agree with you about this. Unfortunately, many times they don’t act like it’s true. Volunteers need to truly understand that they are here to make an eternal impact in the lives of the kids they are serving.

2. Their ministry needs to flow from their relationship with God. 

Following on from #1, it’s important for our team to understand the importance of their own relationship with God. And it’s important for us, as leaders, to understand that children’s ministry isnot just about discipling children, but also about discipling our volunteers. Are you checking on the spiritual health of your individual team members?

3. The Gospel must be central to everything. 

Fun and games is good and great (a must in children’s ministry), but it’s not what we’re all about. Everything we…

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Money“Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; among whom you appear as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:15)

The worst time to preach on money is when you need some, pastor. The second worst time is when the church needs some.

The best time to preach on money is all the other times.

That said, here are a number of cautions for you to consider before walking into that lions’ den to tame the monster called greed.

1) Get your own house in order. Now, it’s possible to preach on prayer while knowing you have a long way to go in that respect. You can preach on good works and witnessing even if your record is spotty. You can do so because everyone has room for improvement in these areas. But when it comes to giving/stewardship, you can know when you are doing well.

The Christian is to be a giver. That means a hefty portion of his/her income will go into the church offering (whether you call it a tithe or something else), and believers will also be generous to the poor,…

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In my new book, Dirty God, I emphasize the humanity of Jesus’ life, the humanity of those he spent time with, and the inhumanity of the world we live in today.

Grace ties it all together.

I believe that having gotten grace from Jesus, Christians ought to be known – above everything else – as those who give grace to the world.

And grace is no clearer in the Bible than it is in Jesus’ own ministry, and it’s no clearer there than in the type of company he kept.

Jesus recruited brash, working class fishermen who were tough as nails (Peter, and co.). He intentionally invited a former tax collector (among the most hated people in the world), Matthew, and a member of a radical political party that believed in using terrorism to oust the Romans, Simon the Zealot.

Within this group of radicals, he also invited a frank realist named Philip (an accountant, always telling Jesus what he could NOT do with a few fish), and a guy with the spiritual gift of pessimism (Doubting Thomas). Then there was Peter’s little brother, Andrew, who – without a doubt – had serious issues from growing up in that bombastic shadow.

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