Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why People Quit

I heard an amazing quote the other day, "People don't quit an organization, ultimately they quit people."

Out of all the times people have left a ministry I was a part of or an organization I was working for, this principle rings true.

We often peg people as "leaving" our ministries. We hear their frustration about "things." At the end of the day, people quit people.

So, the question should be for us, "Why would someone quit me or you? What personality/character issue would flare up in us to cause someone to quit?"
(note: There are many times that you do all you can do and they are going to leave anyway. There are some people that you don't mind if they leave because they are constant headache)

Honest confession time. I really don't know how many, if anyone besides my mentor (Dr. Brett Cooper) and a couple of close friends read this, but I am going to be honest. My issues and the reason people have quit and will quit is because I am defensive, prideful and I don't back down from any fight. I am really seeking God and asking Him to pour His grace out on me so I can overcome these issues. I want the people at our ministry and those who are volunteer staff to have the best experience ever. I can thwart this by having to correct every issue and show that I have some knowledge.

So, if 20% of the people that leave are those who are the constant headaches and the perpetually wounded ducks, then 80% may rest on our shoulders. Take some time today to look introspectively and ask the question, "Why have people or why will they quit me?"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Guest Blogger: Brian Burgess- Making Hard Choices

Making the Hard Choices by Guest Blogger- Brian Burgess

Simply put, leadership is about constantly making hard choices. Rarely do we find ourselves in situations where absolutely everyone is on the same page as we are. The task of leadership positions us in the midst of various scenarios in which we are the final voice that decides the overall direction of our organizations.

I’ve heard it said that your level of leadership is directly proportionate to your threshold for pain. That is a truth that a leader will never fully know until they have experienced the body blows of being out front. Leadership brings with it a degree of pain and heartache, but we cannot let the pain of leadership stop us from the pleasure of progress.
The ability to make hard choices will be what separates you from the rest of the pack. In a time when strong leadership seems to be vanishing daily it is up to us to stand up for our vision and lead the charge into the future.
Vision is the driving factor giving leaders the strength and stability to make hard choices. Vision acts as an anchor to hold your leadership during the many storms that you will face.
Of course, this element of vision presupposes that you have a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish as a leader. If you know what you want to accomplish you will conversely know what you don’t want to accomplish. If you find the direction of your organization drifting away from your vision then you will have a guiding light to draw you back to your goals and desires.
Your vision helps identify what is really important to the health of your organization. Most of the hard choices you will have to make as a leader will deal with people and their response to the vision of your group.
Some people flat out will never get your vision. These are the people that rarely have anything positive to say. They are always attacking the changes that are being made around your organization. Unfortunately many times these people refuse to leave your organization. With this people group you have a few options: 1) you can ignore them and lead anyway or 2) you can address the issue up front and deal with it completely.
If you ignore them and lead anyway you must be prepared to constantly deal with their antagonism. There is a restaurant in my city that is interesting to me because when they built the building they intentionally built around a live tree. Now when my wife and I eat there we always sit next to the tree and comment on how amazing the construction is. If you ignore this people group you must be willing to build around the trees!

If you address the issue up front and deal with it completely you must be prepared to have a catfight. Know that this is a drastic measure and not recommended as the first option. This should only be considered if the person is so vehemently against your vision that they are causing extreme division among your organization. If the situation has gotten that bad it has become a cancer…cancer must be cut out.

Some people will get your vision but have their own interpretation of it. These are the people that like where you are ultimately trying to take the organization, but want to do it their way. Many times this people group is the champion of your causes as long as the causes pass by their front door first. Their motto is: your vision done my way.
Dealing with these people can be more challenging than dealing with any of the other people groups. They are the people that leverage their leadership talents and abilities for negative purposes. They are always having unofficial “meetings” and creating their own momentum in favor of their personal agenda.

Once again you must have a discussion of your vision with these people. Take the time to sit with them over lunch and share your vision and values. Let them know where they fit in, but have the courage necessary to stick with your core values. It will be difficult because many times these are the people that you feel a connection with and genuinely care about. Don’t hesitate. Stick with your vision.
I do want to point out that these people may not necessarily by “evil.” They may see something that you don’t see. These people are valuable to the fulfillment of your vision. Listen to them carefully because you never know what you may learn.
Always seek to understand before you seek to be understood. Don’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water.
Some people will get your vision but not know how they fit in. These are the people that like where you are going but are generally clueless as to how they can be involved. Leadership in general is the task of motivating people to tie into the vision of the group. Show them where they can be involved and how they can offer their uniqueness to the overall goals of the team.

This people group is in great need of a leader. They understand the vision just not what they can do to make it happen. Once again you can sit with them over coffee and talk about the opportunities in which they can involve themselves. Create opportunities and greatly encourage them to avail themselves to them.

Over the course of your leadership you will face many great victories as well as defeats but the common denominator is the ability to make hard choices. You are the change agent that has been strategically placed in your organization to make the hard choices. In the end you must rely on your vision and constantly point the people back to what ultimately matters. Your vision will guide you and sustain you in the good times and the bad times. Learn what you exist for and be prepared to deal with interpersonal conflict. It takes time and effort and is emotionally exhausting, but dealing with interpersonal conflict effectively is the small bricks used to build the house of your ultimate vision.

Brian Burgess is the lead pastor at Carrollton Pentecostal Holiness Church in Carrollton, GA. He is married to April Burgess and they have a beautiful dog named Reno.
Follow Brian on twitter: @brian_burgess

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Price of Pioneering

The Price of Pioneering

We are in a generation where in the last 15 years there have been more attempts of new church starts than in any other generation. There have been more innovative ideas than ever before.

There is a "pioneer" generation that has been raised up. There is a generation who believe that they can steer away from the norm of church as usual and make a difference. This generation of pastors and leaders firmly believe that they can break traditional molds and do something "new." We have great models in this generation to draw from. We have the Rick Warren's for the late 40's and 50's. We have Andy Stanley and Erwin McManus for the early 40's, and Craig Groeschel and Steven Furtick for the 20-30 age range. Great examples.

The only issue with having models is that they are the "exception" and not the rule. Sometimes we believe that if we dress like certain pastors, preach like them and adopt their philosophy, then we can see the same results. As I stated before, we have more "church plant" attempts than any other generation. The reason we have so many attempts is because I don't think we fully grasp the idea of "pioneering." The idea sounds cool and cutting edge. The reality is that it is brutal and unthankful along the journey.

I sat with a pastor last night who is a pioneer model/hero to me. He does not run thousands of people or has he ever preached at Catalyst. He does not have the latest blog or newest book. He does not have a podcast (which he should!), or a video cast. He is a true pioneer. As we ate sushi last night he shared about what God was doing in their outreach program to the inner city. He shared with passion about prison ministry. He shared about the signs and wonders he has recently seen. He also shared the wounds that he has experienced in the past year.

As he was talking, I was thinking, "Who the heck am I?" Sure, I have good ideas and have done some good things, but man- I don't really get it.

Pioneers, please take this advice from a 31 year old. Honor the generation who went before you. Don't think because you have a better idea that you have arrived. Until you walk through the battle and live to tell the story, with wounds and scars, listen and honor the pioneers.

The "white steeple, white door, red brick" churches with pastors that are gray headed and wear ties have a place of honor. My friend Billy Mitchell calls them "Legacy" churches.


1) That church that you want to be so different from was the place (generally speaking) where your grandparents gave their life to Christ and began a godly line in your generation.
2) There are faithful preachers who will never be noticed and serve for years in these churches.
3) True pioneering is not glorifying, but crucifying. You are misunderstood, overlooked, under-appreciated and outcasted from popular groups.
4) You will experience a lot of failure before you see the great successes come forth.
5) Pioneering is not spiked hair (or bald in my case), graphic tees, LED lights and the newest music. Pioneering is not a cool church name or logo.

Pioneering is the cross. Pioneering is bleeding on the streets of your city. Pioneering is being underpaid and overworked. Pioneering is helping the hurt, not building a fantasy land for happy people. Pioneering is settling new land. Pioneering is being betrayed. Pioneering is feeling like God has forgotten you at times. Pioneering is reaching the least, last and lost of your city. Pioneering is totally worth it.

Let's gain perspective on the pioneering work we are doing. You may be pioneering a new kind of blog, ministry or organization. Let's also honor the pioneers of our previous generation and the crosses that they have bore.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Guest Blogger: Vic Pass- The Little Things

"Big Doors Swing on Small Hinges"
by Vic Pass

That is a saying that has been engraved in my life. It is all about the little things.

I remember this example shown so vividly as Pastor Jake Ishmael said this to 12 first year master commission students while watching their leadership of the church wash vans on a cold Colorado day. As I look back on it now, it is always about the small things. In order for God to bless you with big things in life, you must be a steward over the little things He assigns you to first. And as an emerging leader, "bouyancy" will play a huge role in your life. Taking care of the little things matters so much. There is nothing, in the Kingdom of God that is too small to be important.

Emerging leaders take initiative and do whatever possible to get the job done. Emerging leaders also take responsibility for their actions. Stepping up and taking ownership over the small things we do brings honor to God. Taking care of the small things makes you a "go to guy" for the leaders you are serving.
Pastor Brett, Lead Pastor at Emerging Life Christian Center, taught me that there is a time to be submissive and there is a time to become a leader. Bouyant leaders rise to the occassion; even in the small things.

Vic Pass is a Student at Covenant Bible College and Seminary. Vic also serves on volunteer staff at Emerging Life Christian Center in Denver, CO. I had the privilege of being Vic's youth pastor at Celebration Outreach Center in Elberton, GA (2007-2008). He is an emerging leader who is going to make a big impact in this world. (I also picked one of his goofiest pictures to use.) Love ya Vic :)

*Follow me on twitter: The pastors I lsited above: Pastor Jake, @jakeishmael and Pastor Brett, @1973life. Become the leader that God wants you to be; flourishing through every process to fully understand your God-given destiny.