Archives For Leadership

As a teenager, there were countless times I felt as if I were backsliding. In other words, there was something I knew I should do, I committed to doing it, and then 1 month, 1 week, 1 day, 1 hour later I found myself not doing what I thought I should do (see Romans 7:15).

Those “backsliding” moments were so frustrating as a young person. I felt as if it were impossible to get it RIGHT for any length of time. Every time there was a chance for recommitment, I thought to myself, Why would I do that? I will just mess up again.

As you grow older and mature in the faith, you begin to realize that with every recommitment, you don’t start at zero. You are actually stronger than you were before. You also realize that it wasn’t so much backsliding as it was the process of becoming.

That is a backdrop as I write about the same cycle I feel on my eternal quest for the greatest productivity system. Instead of calling it backsliding, it is more commonly known as falling off…

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Rearview MirrorI’ve visited a lot of churches. I’m always looking for ways that we at Grace can improve.

It’s amazing what a fresh set of eyes can find.

It’s one thing to get people in the door once. But to get someone to visit again, and begin to call your church their home? Much tougher.

We’re still trying to figure out ways to ensure people stick, but there are a few things we’ve learned that will guarantee someone won’t come back.

10 Ways to Ensure I’ll Never Revisit your Church

1. Offer no easy way to plug in to community.

Don’t tell me about small groups. Make me wait forever to plug in…or make me do extensive work to even figure out what kind of groups you offer.

2. Don’t be welcoming in the parking lot.

Just do your job, don’t speak to me as I walk in, and offer a bit of a “it-is-early-on-a-Sunday-morning” scowl.

3. Don’t acknowledge I’m in the service.

Give no head nod to “first timers,” “visitors,” or “folks just checking us out.” In fact, just speak to the inner core, the “members.”

4. Acknowledge me too much.

Call me out and have me stand up….

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When I meet someone, I often wonder who can this person benefit from knowing and who can benefit from knowing this person? Because of this obsession, I have a great network of incredible leaders. People often ask how I do it, so here are five thoughts on connecting with people.

1. Learn more than you teach.

I remember hosting the great mentor Earl Creps at The Oaks. A couple of us took him to IHOP after the service to spend some time with the wise one and learn from his vast knowledge. Instead, we found ourselves answering his questions and teaching him about technology. Earl learned how to send a text message. He later went onto write Reverse Mentoring. The best leaders learn all they can from others.

2. Listen more than you talk.

Nate Ruch is one of my spiritual fathers. As I was about to finish my sophomore year at NCU, I was planning on leaving my role as a small group leader to travel the country with an evangelist. Nate met with me in the school cafeteria, and I…

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One of the most powerful aspects of small groups is the opportunity to offer prayer requests, to pray together, and then to see how God follows through on those prayers.  It’s amazing to see how God works over three months or six months or a year.  Prayers get answered, situations change, hearts change – your group sees God work in mighty ways.

Just as powerful as the group dynamic of prayer is the impact that a praying leader can have on his or her group.  A praying leader ministers to the group not only by showing how much he or she cares about their needs but also by modeling a life of prayer.

As with most things, becoming a small group centered on prayer doesn’t just happen.  Here are 7 tips on how you can minister to your small group through prayer:

  • Dedicate the last half hour of each bible study to “personal prayer needs” time.
  • Write each member’s prayer requests down on 3×5 cards.  Bring the cards to every study so you can check back on their requests.
  • After the requests are given, pray immediately with your group.

Any pastor — no matter how small his church — can have a research team.

No matter what size your congregation, there are people there who like to read and research. They’ll be thrilled to help you, if you just give them a list of your sermon topics.

I meet with my lay research team every few months, and I explain to them the direction I’m going to take with my sermons, including any sermon series that I’ll preach. I then tell them what to look for: quotes, illustrations, articles, statistics.

There are two rules for the research team:

First, whatever they give me, they won’t get back. In other words, give me a copy, because I don’t want to be responsible for returning an article or a book, etc. If I don’t use it, then I’ll file it for future use.

Second, I tell them to not get their feelings hurt if I don’t use what they’ve given me. I always get more material than I could possibly use, and I don’t want someone saying, “Gee, I did all this research, and he didn’t use it.” Their research may have…

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By Guest Contributors Don Graham & Barbara Denman

Bible storying holds the key to evangelism in the U.S., with 50 percent of all Americans being functionally illiterate.

Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to reach two-thirds of the world’s population who “learn through stories or music, drama or poetry.”

“If you hand them a book to read, they either can’t read it or they won’t read it,” International Mission Board worker Annette Hall said of chronological Bible storying’s impact.

Hall, who has worked for nearly 40 years with North African and Middle Eastern peoples, said chronological Bible storying also holds the key to evangelism in the U.S., with 50 percent of all Americans being functionally illiterate.

One recent news report, for instance, indicated that 30 percent of children in the third grade in Richmond, Va., cannot read on their grade level, Hall said, noting that they most likely come from families of non-readers and never will be active readers.

The process behind chronological Bible storying is simple, Hall said, explaining that she often uses a set of 20 individual stories that move listeners through the Bible from Genesis to the second coming of Christ.

“We tell them the story, and then we have them…

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Like many of you I have been watching and enjoying this quadrennial sporting event.  We’re glued to the tube, not only because there are few other good TV options, but also because there is something about the Olympic spirit that also touches our spirits.  Watching the world’s top athletes at the top of their form encourages each one of us to be “the best me I can be.”  This year, instead of just dreaming about your physical potential, consider these 4 spiritual questions as well.

How is my team participation?  My favorite Olympic events are the ones that are played together. No matter how great the individual effort, the team depends on the ability of the individuals to play well together. God did not intend for us to live individual spiritual lives either.  He gave us the church not only so that we might worship together, but also that we might do life together!  The Bible describes the church as a body: “Together you form the body of Christ and each one of you is a necessary part of it.”  Ask yourself: “Am I living my spiritual…

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by: Brett Eastman

Most leaders who dream of “finding a shepherd for every sheep” find themselves a bit lost when it comes to starting small groups. You’re not alone.

At Lifetogether, we say,”Fall is to small group ministry, what Easter is to the church”—that is, if you want to launch a small group ministry, do it in the fall. You can also, of course, start one in January or after Easter, but there’s nothing like the fall to give you momentum for the entire school year.

Here are 5 steps to help you turn your dream of starting a small group ministry into a reality.

1. Pray for God to help you gather a few folks to help you. Okay, so that isn’t a profound insight. But you can’t do it alone. How many do you need? A handful or two … but they need to have the heart for small group ministry—as well as the gift of leadership. They also need a passion for reaching your neighborhood and community for Christ. One more thing: do this with people you like. Make sure you would enjoy having them on your team. This process should be both fruitful and fun.

2. Meet with the Senior…

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Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was known as “the republic of fear” among opponents — those who were still alive, that is.

The deposed dictator, who was hanged in 2006, so effectively instilled dread among Iraqis during his decades in power that the mere rumor of a visit from his henchmen was enough to make most citizens tremble and submit.

It’s an old tactic in the tyrant playbook: Rule by fear. Spill plenty of blood early on. Pit various social, ethnic and religious groups against each other. Crush any hint of resistance. Later, you can make a bloody example of the odd rebel here and there — or even a random victim plucked off the street — to keep the rest of your subjects anxious. They must believe that you have eyes, ears and knives everywhere. If you’re a good tyrant, you probably do.

Arab strongmen who have fallen from power more recently used the same methods to greater or lesser degrees, until their populations had enough.

“The Arab awakenings happened because the Arab peoples stopped fearing their leaders,” writes New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman of the Arab Spring revolutions. “But…

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Four basic principles for growing a healthy small group.
by Brett Eastman

When I first joined the staff at Saddleback Church. Rick told me he reserved seats for over 800 men on 7 different 747s headed to Washington, DC for Promise Keepers. I suggested we recruit leaders from some of the existing men’s groups to launch a few more men’s groups from the 800+ men going to the event. Over 300 men said they wanted to join a group, and half dozen men agreed to lead them.

We launched 32 groups from those 800 men; almost 300 men got connected. But there was only a 50 percent group success rate, which disappointed me. Rick Warren said, “That’s okay. At least 50 percent of them stayed connected.” Eventually, that rate grew to 72 percent until we had connected almost 8000 people in groups over a 3-year period.

From this experience, I learned that small group health depends upon the following four realities.

1. You need a simple picture of success. Small group ministries need to begin with the end in mind. When you begin with the end in mind you realize it is a changed life that matters—a life molded to glorify God and enjoy…

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Churches, organizations and businesses today have policies and rules from here to the moon and back. The rules are endless, telling employees, students, volunteers and pastoral staff how to act, react, interact and more. Originally these were meant to give direction and guidelines that support the mission of the organization. At one time all of these policies and rules were probably beneficial. But anymore, many are excessive and are hindering organizations, without leadership even realizing it.

They could be the secret creativity killer even in your church.

Here’s why:

Potentially unneeded and excessive policies contribute to the control factor. Under strict control, people often do less and aren’t willing to try new things. They stick with what works, doing things “the way they’ve always been done.” This makes people operate more out of fear, than out of willingness to contribute. Instead of offering brand new, innovative ideas, they timidly offer simple, plain, ordinary input, because they know it’s safe. Any leader that desires to make a difference cringes at the thought of having a “safe” organization. Additionally, morale drops. People begin to feel unhappy…

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Single WomanI have been single my entire adult life. Because I am single, I have had a front row experience of how churches are reaching and growing singles adults. As a result, I have found that most churches simply did not know much about us nor how to reach us. After several years of serving on various single’s ministry leadership teams as well as starting my own, God called me to help others do the same. Specifically to help reach the church, the pastors and staff; to educate and provide resources so that ALL churches would know how to reach singles.

While there are several large churches that have a singles pastor or director and are doing a great job in reaching and growing single adults, most churches do not. Most churches give various excuses such as:

We don’t have any single adults.
 Well this is because you either are not defining singles correctly or simply have not looked at your membership demographics (or the demographics of your area).  In most large cities in the US, single adults are out numbering the married’s. I know this might be a shock to you…

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