Monday, December 28, 2009

Charlie Chaplin Eats Sacred Cows

One pastor (Steven Furtick) said that all churches need to go "cow tipping."

Every church, ministry or organization has "sacred cows." These can be defined as ways we enjoy to do ministry or is the norm to perform a task that is ineffective and slows the organization down.

For us who want to start a movement, we must evaluate and see what we are emotionally tied to that needs to die because there is no real fruit.

Every week our staff evaluates our services. We grade the media, guest services, worship, children and preaching. We each give one win and one "bomb." This keeps us fresh.

I read a great article on the actor of the 20's named Charlie Chaplin. Charlie worked hard to be great at what he did. He would evaluate his movies by seeing what people laughed at the most and what may have triggered this. He also looked at skits that he thought would have went over well and didn't. He tore them apart and sought to get better. How many other actors of the silent movies can you name? Yeah, me too, not any.

Sit down and crucify sacred cows that are keeping you in mediocrity. Devour your sacred cows by tearing apart all you do. Make your leadership environment conducive to criticism, constructive criticism.

Preachers.... who, other than your wife, gives you honest feedback in your ministry?

Charlie Chaplin ate His Sacred Cows.....will you?

Personal Blog...

Hey guys, I launched another blog that deals with my personal walk, ministry and well...anything else.

I hope you enjoy it. It is real and down to earth.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wearing Blinders

Horses that are used in parades or other events have blinders put on them. These blinders hinder the horse's periphial vision. They are not able to see those around them. When the horses do not have blinders they are usually frightened and get off course because of the distractions of what others are doing.

Leaders who start movements have to wear blinders.
The Apostle Paul of the New Testament even said, "It is not wise to compare ourselves with ouselves or to compare ourselves with others."

It is easy to get distracted by those around you. It is great to have an awareness of the things happening around you, but you cannot focus on that. Leading an organization or ministry is filled with periphial distractions. They are other horses around you that are going faster. There are prettier horses and there are slower horses.

If we don't wear blinders and stay focused on the path and mission, we will start to try to be like the other "horses" around us.

When are you most discouraged?
Do you always think others are doing better than you?
How do the "horses" around you affect you?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sent to Change Culture

I have had some "revelation" this week. God never sends those people who are called to change culture to a culture where no change is needed. When we look at our city, our jobs, our homes, and yes....our churches and say, "Man, these guys just don't get what I am trying to convey. They think totally opposite." That is the point you realize that you have been sent for a purpose and such a time is this.

I respect and love all denominations. I have studied the teachings of their fathers in the faith. I glean so much from them. I personally am from a Pentecostal/Charismatic denomination. I love to enjoy and connect to God through worship. I enjoy seeing healings taking place. It is great to see people seeking God with their whole hearts during a worship service. I am glad to be where I am at. It is not better, just where I am called.

Pentecostals/Charismatics are notorious for a "childish" faith instead of a child-like faith. They are also notorious for lack of planning and structure. They are also known as too "heavenly to be any earthly good." If a Pentecostal talks about "God moving" they think of tongues, people jumping pews, and someone going to an altar. They don't believe that God can move when someone is silent and reflective.

  • It has been a battle for me try to teach Pentecostals to be mindful of unbelievers in our services.
  • It has been a battle for me to try to teach Pentecostals to develop a strategic plan.
  • It has been a battle for me to try to teach Pentescostals to set up parking lot attendants, greeters and ushers. To help them develop a system to help someone move from the door to the core of your ministry.
  • It has been a battle to teach them that Biblical favor is not some "mist" that comes down on them at revival, but favor is directly to your obedience to God AND your ability to relate and serve someone.

In the midst of this frustration..... I have realized that I have been sent. If there is no resistance or change needed, there is also no reason to be sent.

What is frustrating you?
What you see the most backlash against?
What drives you?

Don't let these things discourage you. Rather look at this as your assignment. You have been sent to change the culture....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Big Babies Don't Start Movements

Big babies don't start movements.....

I recently had a situation occur in my life where a mentor/spiritual father had to correct me and give me perspective. He literally told me, "No, you are wrong and have the wrong attitude. If you go act on this, you will cripple your ministry." Now of course, he did not say it that way. He was much more diplomatic. At the end of the conversation I realized that I had a faulty perspective.

As I view leaders who attempt to start movements I have seen that many fail because of not allowing someone to say, "You are wrong. That is stupid. You cannot do that, or treat people like that." We need someone to look at us and tell us that we are wrong. In America pastors don't have spiritual fathers, they have conference superintendents who for the most part don't know them enough to speak into their lives. We have independent churches and pastors who have no voice.

One of my close friends recently had an idea. I encouraged him to go someone who he considered a spiritual father and let that person tell them what they think. I personally will not move forward with an idea, notion, or decision if all my mentors think it is not a good idea.

Too many leaders want someone who will tell them they are okay and are right in every situation. The greatest times of growth have been when I have submitted decisions and actions that I am "married" to unto my mentors.

You know you have a voice when you allow someone (on a regular basis) to:
1. Challenge you to reconsider your decisions.
2. Tell you to go and say you are sorry.
3. Evaluate your ministry and help you (with no excuses).
4. Correct you and you submit.
5. Challenge your relationships or if you are married, challenge you to treat your family better.
6. Speak to your character issues. "They can tell you that you have pride."
7. Ask you about your private life and you are honest.

Great communication skills, leadership skills or abilities are not the "determining" factor of success. I see so many leaders who are very full of themselves and are too prideful to receive.
When is the last time you allowed someone to challenge you personally to your core about your actions, attitudes or decisions?

Babies want their way. They fight and complain. Babies need discipline through love. Big babies do not start movements....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Leaders are born in times of crisis

On September 11th, 2001 an unlikely leader emerged in a time of crisis. A group of bankers were finishing a billion dollar merger plan in one section of the twin towers. They had the versacci (think it is spelled right, never had one) suits, alligator skin briefcases and rolex watches. After their meeting they were traveling from the 102nd floor down to the 1st floor when the first plane struck about 10 stories above them. They had no clue. The elevator stopped, lights went out and they began to take out their cute blackberries and try to find personal assistance. The janitor was on the elevator with them. He knew they were between the 75th and 77th floor. He also knew there was an air vent in the men's bathroom here. He used his mop handle to pry open the air vent. He convinced the bankers to climb out of there. He then directed them to a hidden staircase where they exited at the 1st floor. About 5 minutes later as they were walking down Wall Street, the building collapsed.

That day the hero the was not men in thousand dollar suits. The hero that day was a janitor.

Whoever emerges in a time of crisis will be the leader.

We can start in Genesis and go to the book of Revelation in the Bible and find leaders who emerged in times of crisis.

Think on this:
  • People are watching you in times of crisis in your personal life and organization.
  • They are watching for your attitude and approach.
  • People will ultimately deem you as their leader when they see you handle adversity correctly.

Leaders who start movements usually started these movements in the worst of circumstances and in great adversity.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What the USFL Teahes Us...

Last night I watched the ESPN 30 for 30. They highlighted the USFL. It was a start up football league in 1981 that was going to rival the NFL. They enlisted Herschel Walker, heisman winner from UGA, among other notable players that are now in the NFL hall of fame. They met and exceeded all their goals for the first year. The television viewing audience was high, their attendance was record at games was also high. They did this by having a "fun" league that was high energy and added great entertainment. Fans had fun at the games. It offered something different from the NFL. Their first championship was a sellout audience and excitement was building.
But I had to keep watching to find out how the USFL failed.

In the midst of excitement and growth they attracted Donal Trump who bought the New Jersey Generals, which was the team Herschel Walker played for. He brought in NFL stars to the team and pushed the league forward.
In the midst of the excitement, they added 8 new teams to the league their second year.
They also made the decision in 83' to attempt to move into the fall and compete with the NFL.....

So, that was the story of the USFL. They disbanded in 1983 with millions of lost dollars, hopes and dreams.


Apply this to starting a movement. Here are some principles of why they failed:
1) They got caught up in the emotion as growth came. They were not able to stick to a viable plan for sustaining growth. There will always be seasons of growth and their will always be seasons of decline.
2) They expanded too quickly. Many of the league officials will tell you this diluted and destroyed them. Do not outgrow your resources that fuel the system.
3) They got conceited and thought too much of themselves. They went up against the NFL. They lost. Don't think you are that good. Those who have success worked for it. You will too.

Applying it to Starting a Movement:
It is not how good we look when we start. The key as leaders is to be able to make a viable, God-led, plan that we stick to. Emotional fervor cannot make decisions for us. We must not get "too big for our britches." We must slowly grow into what God has for us. Don't jump out too soon. I have never heard a leader say, "I took it too slow. I waited too long. I saved up too much money." But you will always hear the opposite.

Let's learn from the USFL. Look it up on the internet.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Men in Black on Mentoring

Leaders who start movements mentor those with potential and position them to take their place.
I love the movie Men in Black, namely the first one. You have this young, energetic man that they bring in for an interview to be on the Men in Black team. He is picked because he is sharp, can find creative ways to solve problems and gets the job done.

During one of their first elevator rides, Will Smith looks at Tommy Lee Jones and says, "Hey, I know I am young, but I don't want to be called 'sport,' 'kid,' 'junior,' or 'slick.'" Tommy Lee Jones looks back and says, "Alright Slick, have it your way."

As a young leader (30 now) and a lead pastor, I am often times talked down to by leaders that are older than me. I was told this week that I have a lot of great ideas, but have never worked them out in ministry. I did not stop to tell the guy that everything I am doing, I learned by doing it! It can be very frustrating when you have a vision and know you can lead then you are talked down to and told that you are too young to lead (in so many words).

Men in Black is a great story of mentoring. Will Smith is trained and developed. Tommy Lee Jones knows that Will can and will out do everything he has done. He lets Will make mistakes. He gives opportunities and experiences. The greatest part is at the end when Will takes over.

Here are some questions for you....
1) Who is actively mentoring you now? Do they speak to your potential or do they see age/limitations?
2) If you are mentoring someone, do you speak their potential? Do you treat them as "sport," "slick," or "junior?" I once gave my new book to some denominational leaders. They responded by saying, "cool dude." They never read it. I am no longer with their conference.
3) Are you positioning the next generation to move into their rightful place?

We need to know this...
The next great leaders of the Church are in elementary, middle school or high school. You may have experience, but experience is not the best teacher. Evaluated experience is the best teacher. Being married for 30 years or pastoring for 30 years means nothing. Are you better or still making the same mistakes? Don't judge them based on their experience. Learning things the wrong way can be a bad teacher.

The youth music you hate. The way they dress. They way they talk. Their views toward spirituality and your traditions will be leading the church of tomorrow. Look at the most innovative and fastest growing churches in America. They look a lot youth ministries from 5-10 years ago.

You can talk down to sport, junior or slick, but they will be leading your denomination, organization and church in the years to come.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Enemy of a Movement Part 3

The ones who started yesterday's movement are usually the enemies of today's movement.

As we see different expressions of the church today, let us becareful to judge or be dogmatic about what is "right" and "wrong." We must judge movements based on principles, not on methodical preferences. Realize we may have a blindspot while accusing and tearing down methods. A lot of times these blindspots comes from our insecurity and lack of serious inductive study on the topic.
As you see new movements here are some questions to ask:
1) Why do I fear this?
2) Am I personally offended because I am not seeing a true movement in my own organization or ministry?
3) Are there blindspots or preconceived notions that cause me have a certain disposition toward this?
4) Are there any major, black and white, principles that are violated and "sinful"? (hate to use that term, but it is the only way I can put it).
5) Is this effective in reaching people, helping people and Kingdom minded?
6) What are some things that can help this movement become more effective?

We have a saying in the real south, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater..." Every movement is extreme at first. Extremist start these movements. Some of the teachings and practices are a little overboard (see list of movements in previous post). But we have to see the heart of God in these things.

Do you realize what you may be accusing someone of, you may be doing on a different level?
I have heard people pop off at leaders of movements and when I look at their life, they have the same problems. One guy said, "Every one wants to be an apostle in this day and time, and that guy, Apostle... (can't give his name) just wants to be a superstar." This same guy idolized Andy Stanley and Erwin McManus. He never stopped to think that maybe he is trying to be just like them.
The seeker sensitive movement was a huge movement that was criticized and still is by many.
Those who criticized the home church movement were usually pastors who were mad that people did not want to come to their church. The home church movement would endanger the local church as they knew it. Multi-sites are now the topic of discussion. Many of the ones who oppose this are "pastor/teachers" who want a small fellowship and feel this is most effective. They believe pastoral care has to be done by the main communicator. Insecurity can lead those who cannot grow their church to attack what is being fruitful.

Use these posts as a prophetic warning to all of us who are helping lead movements or have led them. We must not become enemies of the next movements.

The Enemy of a Movement Part 2

The ones who started yesterday's movement are usually the enemy of today's movements.

Let's continue with the movements of the 1900's and how they were viewed.

1950's: Healing Movement- There was a great movement of divine healings from tent revivals in this era. Oral Roberts was one of the forerunners of this movement. They were called fakes, frauds and heretics. Thank God that today we see this as a norm in the church because these men moved forward.

1970's: Jesus Movement- Hippies began to get saved and start going to church, at least for a little while. The leaders of the day viewed their dress and manner of life unworthy of the church. Do you wear flip flops today while you preach? Do you dress down?

1980's: Choruses Introduced to the Church- This is a time when choruses began to enter in to the modern church. Hymns had been the standard for years. Do you sing choruses now at your church?

1990's: Spiritual Warfare/Prophetic Movement- There was a great emphasis on spiritual warfare in the church. You began to see "experts" birthed in this movement. A large emphasis was placed on corporate prayer gatherings. This was also a time when the prophetic arm of the Church was restored. There were some great revivals during this era, Toronto Blessing and Brownsville to name a few.
Do you see spiritual warfare as a norm today? Your denomination fought it tooth and nail.

2000's: Apostolic Movement/Kingdom/Multi-Expressions of the Body- In the last ten years we have see a rise in the number of apostolic ministries and ministers that have been birthed. Their heart to see a city infiltrated with the gospel. Leadership development and church planting have been a focus. Miles Monroe and the Kingdom teaching have permeated our churches. We now see the birth of multi-site campuses, churches in bars, coffee shop churches, home church movement and the focus of outreach.
What are you becoming the enemy of in this movement?

My journey:
Who knows what movements we will see in the next 20 years. I am trying to re-adjust my perspective so I can receive and encourage young ministers as they pioneer these things. I am looked at by many of my own denominational leaders as, "sport," "kid," "junior," "little buddy," and so on. I want to make sure that as the new movements come I am open to a broader perspective of ministry.

READ NEXT BLOG, PART 3 for conclusion...

The Enemy of a Movement Part 1

The enemies of the future movements were the ones who usually started the last movement.

Movements are by nature hard to understand. There was a book by Malcom Gladwell that tried to explain movements. This book "The Tipping Point" was a great study on the history of movements. Even though we have head knowledge about this, we cringe when ground breaking ideas come to the surface. Movements do not have kinks worked out, they are hard to explain and "doctorinize," and usually challenge our emotional ties to the way we do things. That is why you usually have two types of enemies against movements: Those who feel, think and believe why they are wrong, and then you have those who cannot logically or theologically turn it into a doctrine.

When I see new ideas or models being used that are "out of the box," I usually stop and ask questions. I will say that I am a very pragmatic person, meaning that I wonder, "Is this the BEST way to accomplish the goal?" I try to put aside what I have been taught, what I feel and any personal offenses.

The last 100 years has been a year of movements, especially in the Christian Church.
1906- Azusa Street Revival: Mainline, Evangelical Denominations called it "demonic," "non-biblical" and ex-communicated these people. Pentecostal/Charismatic churches are the fasted growing world wide, especially in missions.

1920's- Educational Institutions: Some major Christian and Ministerial Institutions were founded. Preachers who were not educated actually taught that it was unbiblical to go to these institutions. We now have Oral Roberts Univ., Southeastern, Liberty Univ., Emmanuel College, Southwestern Christian University., Fuller Theological, and the list goes on.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Personal Formation is Goal

Leaders who start movements focus on personal formation first and foremost.

I spend time in three areas developing myself:
1) Spiritual Formation
2) Skill Formation
3) Strategic Formation
Imagine a baseball field and these are bases. I make sure I am "tagging" each bag every week.

One of the saddest statements I hear from failing leaders or thier spouses are, "I have studied all that already (or their spouse says this about them)." Okay, my answer is, "Do you want a cookie?" Look at the usage, "-ed." They did that at some point and time. Development is not about what you used to do.

Remember, it is what you daily, not occasionally that shapes you as a leader.

This is where you spend time journaling, reflecting and praying. Disciplines such as prayer, fasting, meditation, silence and study are at this base. This is where "Christ is formed in us."
We must take care of this base and make sure we are not the proverbial "Starving Baker." The Starving Baker feeds everyone else but himself.
Ask yourself, "How are you growing yourself spiritually?"

The second base: SKILL FORMATION
This is the base where you learn how to get better at what you do. A mentor can help you learn your skill better. Reading books and exposure to ministries also help you see what can be better. I am a communicator and leader of a church, The Well Community Church in Port Saint Lucie, FL. I am constantly listening to all kinds of communicators. I study them and see what makes them unique. I am also leading, so I listen to cd's continually as I drive on skill formation of leadership.
Ask yourself, "How are you getting better at what you do?"

This is the base where you form yourself as a leader. You are not trying to get better at what you do (second base) or who you are (first base), you are trying form yourself for where you are going. This can be accomplished by pouring books on leadership in your life. Dr. Bobby Clinton's teachings on the Leadership Emergence Theory has helped me greatly. I know my gifts, personality, strengths and weaknesses. I am constantly preparing myself for where I want to go and what type of leader I want to be. It is about finishing well.
Ask yourself, "How am I preparing myself to finish every assignment well as a leader?"

Leaders who start movements are serious and strategic about personal formation.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Don't Be Defined

Leaders who start movements are not defined by their group of association. For churches this is their denomination and the traditions of that denomination. For businesses it is the product they produce.

I am ordained and work within the Pentecostal Holiness Church. They are a great and amazing group of people. I enjoy our heritage and our beliefs. But I realize if I am going to start a movement and do something significant where God has placed me, I cannot be defined by the IPHC. I see alot of pastors and church planters who are consumed and ultimately defined by their denomination. Some are consumed with their tradition and polity. Others are consumed by the flashy, hip preachers or leaders in their sect. Either way, they are being defined.

Here is a newsflash for pastors: The people in your city don't care about your denomination. They want to be a part of the most happening church in town.

Here is a great example of being defined: Baptists term of "outreach" and Pentecostals term of "outreach." Baptist use the term to mean an event, sermon series or small group resource. Pentescostals use the term and talk about Sidewalk Sunday School. Presbyterians; feed the homeless. The list goes on and on.

Most guys learn from their denominational guys and structures without "cross-pollenating." We are in a day where we must look outside and not be scared to overlook such issues as "Eternal Security" and "Tongues" inorder to learn what other denominations are doing. Don't let your articles of faith be a restraint to you.

I read a lot of the North American Mission Board's material. I draw from their leaders. One of my favorite preachers is in a very cutting edge Southern Baptist Church. I want to challenge you in this blog. If you are Baptist/Methodist/Presbyterian, then find out what are the most happening Charismatic/Pentecostal churches and what are they doing. What do their services look like? What are they doing to reach their cities? If you are Pentecostal/Charismatic group, then find the most happening Baptist/Methodist/Presbyterian Churches and find out what are they doing. Music styles, preaching styles, etc...The list goes on and on.

Dr. Garnett Pike said this, "If you continue to look for a wife at your family reunion, your offspring will come out a little slow."

Don't Be Defined by your association.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Architects versus Artists

Leaders who start movements are more like architects than artists.

Artists are able to paint a picture. This picture may be pretty, realistic, abstract or even far out there. I meet many leaders who are artists. They can tell you some great stuff. I mean they are so excited and paint a great picture of what they want. You actually get caught up in it. I knew a person once who could do this. He had a new idea for his church everday. One day it was this great idea and then it was another. Eventually, he folded and left town. He was an artist, but that is where the dream stopped, on paper. Like great artwork, it was oohed and aahed, but it still remained on paper.

Architects are those who draw a picture too. Their picture is not as pretty. It may not be oohed or aahed, but it is a picture. Architects draw with the anticipation of what it will take to build what is being drawn. They are dictating structure and need. You must ask yourself, "What will it take to do all this in my heart?" Do I have a strategy to go by as I build?

If you study successful businesses or churches you will find that the leader was an architect. They did not do a lot of talking, but they had a plan written down with goals and expectations of certain outcomes.

Realize that the leaders who fight this mentality are those who are usually in a small environment. Leaders who embrace this know that it will take planning, prayer and a lot of hard work to bring the building of the organization to pass.

Where are the blueprints for your dream? Can your people in your organization see it?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ambitious Movements

I was reading in my devotional time about love from 1st Corinthians 13. Bishop Garry Bryant gave me a book called, "Sparkling Gems from the Greek." I was reading about the part that love is not self-seeking or self-serving, nor ambitious.

Leaders who start movements love those they lead. I actually like to put it this way, they are in love with those they lead. A leader must believe that people God has put in their path are the greatest people on the planet and can do anything. It is a marriage.

When it comes to starting a movement, leaders must watch out for starting an ambitious movement. I see in young leaders, including myself, is great ambition for the quick return. In church planting especially. Church planters are driven by nature, ambitious and impulsive. These qualities can be good in certain situations, but can be detrimental also.

My greatest desire is for those I lead to know that I love them and will lay my life down for them. The greatest enemy of this is self-seeking ambition to build a large church. (Large churches are good, I hope that I am able to see multitudes saved). I will begin to view people as mere tools to fuel my ambitious desire. The ambitious desire must be to have a pure love for all those around me and find creative ways to display it.

Listening to John Maxwell's cds on leadership has revealed one thing to me. His people feel love, appreciated and empowered.

Look inside today:
Do you find yourself manipulating the Sunday numbers or figures in your organization to look good in front of others? DO you find encouragement from large numbers or personal development of leaders?

Do you secretly trash talk people in your organization behind their back at something they have done wrong?

Have you looked at yourself lately from "outside" of yourself to see what type of ambition is driving you?

What do those closest to you say about your love for them?

Here is the point: Leaders who start movements have an ambition to grow their people personally more than a desire to see organizational growth. "Love is not self-seeking or self-serving, nor ambitious...."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Missional Mandate Part 2

I stated last that leaders need to be missional instead of "missions minded." I want to show the nature of Christ and how affected his culture and generation with this thinking.

The historical account of Jesus meeting a woman of Samaria at Jacob's Well is found in John chapter 4. Samaria was forever changed because of this. I want to outline 4 ways of thinking that are contingent upon us seeing transformation in our cities.

here is the point: Leaders who start movements see everyday as supernatural, extraordinary days full of opportunity.

1. Divine Transportation: John 4:3-6. Jesus traveled to Samaria by going out of his way. Usually the Jews went around this town because of their dislike for the Samaritans. Jesus must have listened to the Father in prayer that morning and knew what route to take.
He viewed his daily transportation or commute as divine.
We must view our daily routes as divine. If truly a righteous man's steps are ordered by the Lord, then our daily route is truly divine. When we know that our travels and interactions are divine, then we can look for....

2. Divine Conversations: John 4:7-9. Jesus sparks a conversation about water with this lady. God opened a door up for a divine conversation. We are surrounded by divine conversations on a daily basis.
Which conversations are divine? ALL. Matthew 12:36- By your words you are justified and by your words you are condemned. We will all give an account for every word spoken. God values our conversations.
When we realize that our daily transportation is divine and that God will fill our day with divine conversations then we can look for....

3. Divine Impartion: John 4:10-11. Jesus sees a "God moment" in the midst of this divine conversation. He takes time to impart or give to her a spiritual truth. In all of our conversations there is a point for impartation. I had this happen to me 11 years ago. There was a young man at ECU that told Jesus Christ loved me and could save me. I responded 6 months later by giving my life to Christ. This guy will not know about this impartation until we get to heaven.
When we are able to give Divine Impartion then we can see....

4. Divine Transformation: John 4:39. This lady's life was rocked! This is the whole mission of my church, "The Well Community Church." We want to see lives transformed. She encountered Jesus and then went in and told her whole city about this. One conversation could change your city. One meeting could transform your city. Are you aware that every day is supernatural and is filled with opportunities?

We are missionaries. We are on assignment. Be alert and aware. One conversation today could shake a city up.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Don't Give Up Territory

...from my devotion today.
Ephesians 4:27 "Neither give place to the devil."

Leaders who start movements stop strongholds before they are embedded too deep within themselves.

Catalytic leaders are usually people who are inspiring, driven and passionate. This also can give place to an "addictive" personality. Look at all the great men and women of God who have done amazing things. A lot of them had "hang ups" or "fatal flaws."

Paul is writing to the Ephesian church and tells them not give place to the devil.
The word "place" is from the Greek word topos. This words means a geographic location or zone.

The word "devil" is from a compound Greek word diabalo. Dia means through and the word ballo can mean "to penetrate."

The enemy of our souls wants to find an entry point in our life to penetrate and then begin to take over territory.

Adam's first assignment was to keep look over the garden. He allowed an entry point to the enemy.

Here are some things that will allow entry points:
When we....
Refuse to let go of old hurts and wounds.
Refuse to let acknowledge what we did wrong.
Refuse to forgive others for what they did wrong.
Refuse to stop judging others for their grievances.
Refuse to admit we were wrong too.
Refuse to say, "I am sorry" when we are wrong.
Refuse to lay down "our rights" for others.

Let us protect our garden today. Mark off every entry point of bitterness, resentment, anger and unforgiveness. Mark off entry points of addiction. Mark off entry points of harmful relationships. Mark off entry points of time wasters.

Leaders who start movements protect their garden.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This Kind...

Leaders all want to be unique. We all want to make our specific stamp on the world. We desire for people to see that we are different and are doing a significant work.

The problem lies when a leader is trying to produce something unique in their organization through works that do not match up with their private life. I recently posted a blog called, "Is your private life inspiring." I went into great detail about our private lives and our walk with God.

In the gospels, Jesus has a man approach him and the man is upset that his disciples could not cast a demon out of his son. The disciples are perplexed also. Then Jesus says, "This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting..." Now, we can have twelve theologians and preachers tell us twelve different opinions. I want to share with you, not what I think Jesus meant, but I want to share the story behind the story.

The disciples had seen Jesus working miracles. They had done some themselves. But they had not caught on to Jesus' prayer and fasting life. They had not caught on to the behind the scenes.

Here is the point: Stop trying to do something unique. Stop being so engulfed with what you are doing. Start becoming unique. You will never produce something that is antithetical to your personal seeking of God.

The disciples hit a personal empass. They tried to produce something unique without a unique devotional life.

I will hit this empass, you will hit this empass, those you work with and minister to will hit this empass.

Jesus literally was saying, "Boys, your personal seeking of me is not unique enough to handle this. Your old ways of prayer, devotions and fasting are too small."

Maybe you have hit an empass recently. Maybe you have hit up against something that your "winging it" and not seeking God could handle in the past. THIS KIND.... requires you step your game up or step out of the way.

Are you ready to start a movement?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Learning New Languages- "Missional"

Krissy and Kyle Missionary have raised the funds. Their home church has a budget for their world missionary endeavor. They are learning the language of the tribe they will be working with in another country. Their church is so proud of these missionaries and they hope that one day maybe they could work on the mission field too like Krissy and Kyle. They realize they have not been called by God to be a missionary, so they are to stay here in their town and work and support missionaries.

Leaders who start movements realize that everyone is called to be a missionary. They realize their city, job, home and personal friends are a mission field. They take time to learn their language of their culture and minister accordingly.

Their is a big problem with people today, especially Christians. It is self-centeredness. We go into our jobs like lazy slobs, ready to get off and go home the moment we go in. We complain with our co-workers and gossip just like they do. Our personal friends are for our personal pleasure. We go to a church or get education or information to make us feel good, but we miss the point of life.

The point is this: We are called, especially if you are Christians, to add value to everyone we are around. Our jobs are a mission field to share love, grace, mercy and the gospel. Our friends are people who need to be prayed for and fasted for. They need to be listened to and ministered to.

The term missionary is a term that should be done away with. We are all missionaries. If we put the prayer, time, money and effort into reaching our neighbors as we did Africa or the Middle East, the world would be changed. We should be missional communities that exist to minister to our community. We are all sent by God to bless and add value to our circles of influence.

Sure, go overseas, feed some kids and play kick ball with them. But please don't come back and forget that you are always a missionary. Everyday is an endeavor.

Learn the language of your community. Be involved in helping your community and seeing the needs of it.

Read Acts Chapter 2. "They all spoke the language of their communities." Realize that each one heard them in their own tongue.
That generation revolutionized their world. We need that mindset to return!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Constantly Consistent

Constant Habit of Consistency

Baseball great Willie Mayes once said, "Anybody can be good one time, the great ones are consistent at being good- all the time."

I don't have the most experience in ministry, I am a "young buck" to the older ones, but I do know this: People watch for consistency before anything else.

That is one principle we can take from the Apostle Paul's life from 2,000 years ago. Whether you believe in biblical principles or not, you cannot overlook that this one man changed the course of history forever.

As I was reading in 2nd Corinthians this morning I noticed that even though Paul was discouraged, the people he ministered to did not appreciate him and his life was continually in danger, he was still very consistent.

Now, here is your question: Do people around you see a consistency or "flightiness?" My good friend Keith Rowell and I like to call people who are not consistent- "shady."

Here is the point: Uncommon men do daily what common men do occassionally.

What you do daily you will be permanently. You do not decide your future. You decide your habits and your habits decide your future.

I recently sat with a young man on the 5th week of our mentoring sessions. I asked him how he had changed his habits. He had not. I asked him how his spiritual formation had been coming. I said, "Have you started journaling yet?" He said, "No, I am still praying at the same time, the same way when we first started these meetings."

The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine. Don't be great for 4 years of college and then become a sluggard. Don't get guilty and then read for 5 hours one week.

Be constantly consistent.

Destroying the Root of Bitterness- AUDIO Link

Message on the Root of Bitterness at a church I used to youth pastor at in Georgia, Celebration Outreach Center.
This coincides with the blog I wrote a while back.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Shaking Off the Snakes

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
Whoever made that statement did not serve as a pastor. They probably worked in the back of an office stuffing envelopes and not interacting with people.

Words do hurt. Words aimed at children literally shape their destinies. Good or bad.

Paul landed on an island in some of his final travels in the book of Acts. He was helping gather firewood when a poisonous snake bit him. The Bible says that Paul shook it off. Jesus said in Mark we will trample on serpents. Can I give you a different perspective of this? Maybe walking the in the power of God means that we shake off words from the people we work with and minister to. There are poisonous snakes in churches. They are coiled and ready to strike. They were this way before we got there and will be that way after we leave.

Many leaders have not learned the art of "shaking off snakes." They have let the poison seep into their system and affect the way they operate.

Here are two simple points:
1. If they are upset with you, realize it probably is another issue, not you.
2. Because of the first truth, treat them with love and compassion. Your maturity is determined by how you respond. To react is to speak out of hurt. To respond is to speak in love.

So....... When you have a poisonous snake bite you, you have two choices: REACT or Respond.

Leaders who start movements are not affected by the internal poison others have let build up. They respond in love and are able to say: "I am sorry and I love you."

Deal with the poison in yourself and you can respond to others who have poison built up in them.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Is Your Private Life Insipring?

Privately Uncommon

We all want to be people who are remembered for something. Our heart beats for success and signifigance. We try to accomplish this by doing something great. The secret to starting a movement that will be remembered forever is "being" something great.

Great leaders have inspiring private lives. They are uncommon in their pursuit of growth, knowledge and excellence. They rarely get caught up in doing a bunch of things. They stay focused on becoming through personal growth and sacrifice.

Here is the point: Uncommon men do daily what common men do occasionally.

I remember driving home from Dianna's house one night while we were still dating. I called my primary spiritual mentor up on the way home. He told me he was at the local airport praying. He said, "I was sitting at home eating cookies and watching CSI with my wife. I determined that watching CSI and eating cookies would not propel me to my destiny."
This conversation radically shaped my spiritual walk. I then began to make the same comment to myself about things that were not propelling me to my destiny.

Do the people around you catch you on lengthy fasts and in depth prayer? Do the people around you attest to what great lengths you go to in order to learn and grow? Are you trying to wow people by a great gift or inspire them by a great private life characterized by integrity? Are you busy coaching little league teams, hanging out at parties, surfing the internet for hours or maybe being lazy? What are your "cookies and CSI?"

Be inspiring in your private life and you will not have to work people up publicly to try to follow you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Danger of Being Impressed with Yourself Part 2

There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance.
Overconfidence is actually a very bad thing when people look at our lives for guidance.

Sardis was a church that Jesus mentioned in the book of Revelation. Sardis was a city that was located on the top of sheer cliffs. The residents did not believe it could be taken captive by a foreign enemy because of the city's remote location. Because of this attitude they stopped paying attention to their foundation. Their foundation of the city's walls began to have big cracks. One night an enemy climbed through the cracks of the walls and hid in ambush. When the people of Sardis woke up, they were surrounded by enemies.

Being impressed with ourselves comes from an overconfidence in our gifting rather than character. This causes cracks.

I see many ministers who are so impressed with themselves that they think their church in their city is the only church God is speaking to or using. Because of this overconfidence many leaders fail to take care of what really matters....their character. Being over impressed with ourselves causes us to leave the foundational principles that change us.

We become to busy to spend long amounts of time in prayer. We become more focused on a performance instead of our private life. We don't value people. Our ministries are jobs instead of callings.

What cracks in your foundation are you overlooking?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Don't Be So Impressed with Yourself

I was talking with a pastor friend the other day. He asked me how things went at my last ministry time. I commented, "It was very powerful." I was speaking of God's blessing on the ministry time, but it seemed like he took it as me being arrogant. He responded, "I bet so, of course, you were ministering." I caught on and clarified what I meant and then we laughed. But I talk to some young ministers and they are so impressed with their messages and ministry times. All they talk about is themselves and how impressed they are with themselves. When someone ask you about your speaking engagement or times of ministry is it, "I....," or is it, "God...?"

Here is the point. Leaders who start movements are not overly impressed with themselves.

Leaders who begin movements know a simple truth. There are always those who are not as good as you when it comes to skill. There are many on your same level and there many more who are much better than you.

Catalytic leaders don't compare themselves with others or even themself with themself. They compare their work and ministry with the potential God has placed in them and the level of obedience they operate in.

Remember, you are only as good as the last time you spoke, ministered, performed or led. Find mentors who are not overly impressed with you and let them speak into your life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Movement before the Movement

Preparation Awareness

Great leaders, especially those who start movements, are aware of God preparing them for the next season of their lives. The Alaskan bull moose prepares for the coming fall by eating as much as possible. I would love to do that! He gains weight and become enormous. Why does he do that? He has to fight with others of his own kind in the fall. When their antler lock, the heaviest one will win by shifting weight.

I have faced some great temptation lately. During this time I began to call out to God to speak to me. I felt the Lord say, "You are preparing for the fall. You need to become 'heavy' in your spiritual life so you can walk victoriously in the battle. Don't wait for the battle to start preparing."

Leaders understand this principle: God is always interested in the next season of your life. Tests are not to learn. You never went to school hoping to learn during a test. You wanted to pass so you could advance. Tests are meant to see if you are ready for the next level. When you are facing tests and trials you can be sure that God is seeing if you are prepared for the next season or level.

Leaders who start movements are always living in the next season through preparation.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sluggish Movements by Sluggards

In my personal study last week I came across Proverbs 26:13-16. This is the most concentrated information we have on what Solomon calls a "sluggard." This interested me. I began to break this down and found 4 core values of sluggards. I have deemed this as, "The 4 Sayings of a Sluggard."
How do we remain in "sluggish movements?" Check out the 4 sayings of sluggards.

1. Blame Outside Circumstances for their Incompetence.
13 The sluggard says, "There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!"
So... The Sluggard says, “It is not my fault, I am just a victim.”
Commentary: The point is that the sluggard fabricates a crisis which prohibits him from doing what he didn’t want to do anyway. His reasons, while unsatisfactory to others, are compelling to him.
It is never the sluggard's fault. As leaders we take responsiblity for ALL that goes on. Don't blame your people.

2. Breed Procrastination in Every Opportunity.
14 As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed.
So...The Sluggard says, “Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.”

Procrastination is one of the greatest signs of a sluggard.

3. Brisk at Getting in Over Their Head.
15 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.
The Sluggard says, “I will be alright without a plan.”
The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
Think about your use of credit cards, your house payments, your hasty financial decisions.

4. Blows off (or refuses) all Wise Counsel in Making Decisions.
16 The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who answer discreetly.
So... The Sluggard says, “I will make my own decisions, I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do.”

You learn two ways: your personal mistakes or by someone elses mistakes. Find those who have been before you.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What Pressure do You Live By?

An airplane has to build the pressure on the inside to equal the pressure on the inside or it will implode. As leaders we are the same way. We have two pressures always hitting us. My question is, "What pressure do you live by?"

Many young leaders do not have a true "drive" to their life. They are lazy and lethargic. Whenever you look back in history and see leaders who started movements, you see that they were uncommon in all they set out to do. For instance, John Wesley would wake at 4:30am in the mornings to study the Bible and prepare. In his later years, when he was 83, he wrote in his journal, "I have become lazy now. I find myself sleeping in until 5:30am these days." Another famous quote by Wesley was, "I want to set myself on fire (passion for what he does) and let the world watch me burn."

I am not a Methodist and am not idolizing John Wesley, but he is one among many who shaped the destiny of a country. My point is this. Leaders live by two pressures and two motivators. Do you need a college, or military institution to set your goals for you? Do you need someone outside of you always motivating you to push harder and go farther? Or let me say it this way, "Do you need external pressure to motivate you to increase your internal pressure?"

Leaders who start movements are not laid back people who sit around and play video games and are consumed with Family Guy (tv show). The history books will not remember those people. However it will remember those people who had an uncommon drive and determination that pushed them to get up early and stay up late making a difference.

Simply put: Leaders who start movements live by an internal drive that keeps them from being dependent upon external pressure to get results.

Which camp are you in?

Friday, May 15, 2009

How to STOP a Movement

As leaders we are always thinking of how to move forward with vision and grow the organization. How do we make it better? That is question that runs through our mind. By nature leaders are those who love to start movements. But I want to explore ways STOP a movement.

In the south we have the sweet nectar of heaven, as my friend Rylan Jones calls it, which is sweet tea. After playing golf one day I was parched. I ordered a large glass of sweet tea. I could see the beads of condensation running down the glass as the waiter brought it. My mouth watered. I immediately took a big gulp of this tea. I think I drank half the glass. I quickly found out that Satan had played a big trick :) This was UNSWEET TEA! I gagged and had a bitter taste in my mouth. My expectation was far different from reality.

As leaders we always go through times when expectation and reality do not line up. The bible describes this as, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." It is in these times we must not let the "root of bitterness spring up and defile the whole body." I have seen many leaders and people who have an expected outcome in relationships, circumstances and dreams of ministry. They find out that the hope gets deferred.

So, the quickest way to STOP a movement in your ministry is to allow a root of bitterness to spring up. How does this happen:
1. Disappointment in a person or situation.
2. Offense at the person, situation or God.
3. Disillusionment. Your overall vision is tainted.
4. Anger towards people or situation. (do not let sun go down on is like Gizmo, it will turn into a gremlin.)
5. The Root of Bitterness.

Someone who has a root of bitterness is cut off from people. They are wearing sunglasses all the time. No matter how bright reality is, they see it darker. They cannot truly connect with people.
We must recoginze when there is a root. We must repent and then reconcile with God and man.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Explosive Growth

The atomic bomb was made of two opposing elements. It was made of uranium 235 and unstable TNT. Tim Elmore uses the atomic bomb in his book, Habitudes, to explain explosive growth. The secret to the power of the atomic bomb was that it imploded before it exploded.

The secret to starting a movement in your ministry or organization is that you must first implode before you explode. Before your organization can hit explosive growth it must have implosive growth. The catalyst will not happen with the big group at first, it will happen within a small group of leaders first.

In previous ministries, I always saw the growth happen when a small group would get together and pray. We would seek the Lord for hours. We would come in on Friday nights and do Bible studies. Focus on getting a small group on fire first before you want the whole group on fire.

Think on this:
1. Implosive growth in your personal life: What small things can you do internally, such as spiritual disciplines, that would help you lead better?
2. Implosive growth with a group: What group are you meeting with where you are seeing an implosion take place?
3. Focus on the few first: As a leader, do not put all your focus on those who are falling away, put your focus on those who are on fire. Feed their fire. What group in your ministry are you focusing on?

The Atomic Bomb Principle

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Secret to Starting a Movement

I remember it clearly like it was yesterday. The Lord spoke to me in my prayer time and said, "Kevin, to start a movement YOU must become a movement." 

Pastors today are intoxicated with creating and growing organizations. They are engulfed with success. The world does not another creative "talk" or cool video. The world needs leaders who are in love and passionate for the Spirit of God. We are in the midst of a generation who have a laissez faire attitude toward their spirituality. The sad thing is, it is the leaders, the Christian leaders. We care more about being "hip" than we do impacting. 

The people in our churches are not their to help us build our little kingdom. They are not as concerned with growing your church as you are. They are desperate for a leader who is full of the Holy Spirit and transparent. Our congregations are starving for leaders who fast and pray. They are starving for leaders who have a Word from God on Sundays. 

My life was radically transformed when I read a book about a pastor who woke up at 5:00am every morning and walked the streets of the city to fast and pray. He said, "A little job done is better than a big job talked about." At 22 years old, I began to walk our city on Saturday mornings to fast and pray. I would lay hands on the sick and lead everyone I met to salvation in Christ. 

Here is the point. The King in You Will Awaken the King in Another. Let the greatness inside of you awaken greatness in your congregation. When Mary saw Elizabeth the baby inside of her lept. 

Start a movement. 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Jesus Invades a Leader's Life- My Journey in the Gospel of Matthew

This is a look inside of my private time with God. I took some time to journey through Matthew.

TITLE: Birthing the Generation to Come

Scripture: Matthew 1:1-17 (geneaology) Open the Bible up here and read.

Observation: Matthew uses Abraham and David when he opens up. He uses this for two reasons. The first reason is because He wanted to teach them that Jesus is first, the covenant promise and fulfillment of the never ending throne of David. He is the promised Messiah to the Israelites. He uses Abraham to show that Jesus is also the savior to the Gentiles. He breaks it down from universalism and particularism. He also uses 5 women through out the geneaology. These are not women of rapport. They have bad histories and were failures, but God used them.

Application: Everyone of these listed in the genealogy all believed God at His Word to them. They trusted that God would fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant and the Davidic Covenant. They lived their life to the fullest knowing that they played a part in the fulfillment. The Holy Spirit began to impress on my heart that I should move from a lifetime perspective to a generational perspective. If I will believe by faith and step out, then I will place a rung on the ladder when I leave earth that someone else can step up on and then they can place a rung on the ladder so someone else can step up on.
As I am writing this, Jason Upton is singing, “Every Word that is sent down from heaven will not return until it has succeeded what it is meant to do.”
Chuck Pierce had spoken about facing our greatest fears. If we do not then we will be restricted to the natural level instead of the supernatural level of faith.

Prayer: Lord, help me to have a generational perspective. Thank you for leading Matthew to inspire us from his genealogy. Thank you that you are not just doing something in me, but through me where people who have not been born yet will use my life to go to new and higher levels. THANK YOU!! Amen.