Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rest

Perry Noble recently quoted his counselor by saying, "Those who don't work are considered lazy by the Bible, but those who don't rest are considered disobedient."

I remember talking to a guy who was the epitome of this statement. He proudly told me that their staff were so busy that they never took a day off. I replied, "Wow bro, you would not have been allowed to work on Jesus' staff because even He rested."

We all want to change our world. Hopefully inside of you is a big dream. If that is the case, you will have to learn to rest and have down time.
*Note: Some people are lazy, never meet deadlines and do not work. My only advice is- step up your game. This blog is not for you.

Here are some questions to help you see where you are at.
1. How often do you have time for fun and recreation? What do you do for fun? (writing sermons or reading theology books DON'T count)

2. Do you feel guilty for taking time off? Why?

3. What do your wife or friends say about your balance? Have you asked them to honestly tell you if they think you work too much?

Burnout is real for everyone. Learn to rest properly. Ask your spouse to help you have time to recharge. Help your spouse as well. Fight guilt. It is mostly internal, self-imposed guilt. The people you serve want you rested, in a good mood and refreshed. If they don't, change positions, jobs or churches immediately.

Let's go for the long haul!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2012 Means Again

While preparing for 2012, I felt the Lord place on my heart the theme of, "Again." Many will proclaim (in the spirit of being generic) that this will be your best year yet. They will tell you it will be your most "blessed" year yet. Many preachers will proclaim this because they want you to feel better. I don't know about you, but 2011 was rough. I mean, a lot of it was devastating. Let me be real. I have never been as hurt by people in the church world as I was this year. I was cursed out, given a rubber check as a donation for my family (intentionally bad-it bounced), had people tell me that we don't believe in the Holy Spirit and other churches intentionally lie and attack me.

I said all that to make a point. As rough as 2011 was, I believe my assignment is to encourage others to give it one more shot. 2012 may not be your most "blissful" year, but it can be your best year. It is a year to restore hope and give it one more shot. I am not preaching at you, I am walking with you. I will be going into 2012 with some serious challenges. My mom is battling serious, life-threatening cancer. Our giving was down at church almost 25% over the past three months. I did not see the fruit I expected with some outreach ideas we implemented. So- I am with you.

There are two stories in Scripture that come to mind. The first is Peter and the empty nets. He fished all night and even came back at the right time in the morning and....nothing. You been there? Jesus shows up and asks him to give it one more shot and he told him, "But I tried..." Felt that way? Maybe it is your marriage. Maybe it is ministry. Maybe it is your career. At any rate, Jesus is calling us to give it one more shot. Peter, in the same sentence, says, "Nevertheless, at thy word." He obeyed and great blessing followed.

The other story is a short parable in Luke about a man with a failing fig tree. The master wanted it down and the man convinced him that he needed one more shot. He cultivated the tree and gave it "special attention." It produced. 3 years of no figs and he gave it one more shot.

I want to encourage you to cast your nets out again. Cultivate your situation. Use the "cr_p" of life to be your fertilizer. Believe once again. Give it one more shot. This may be the time that breakthrough comes. Hope is the greatest weapon you have against the unknown of the future.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Distributing Culture

The culture of an organization is the most important aspect of that organization. It answers the question, "Why do we do what we do?"

Leaders are the protectors and providers of the culture. Whether you are a ministry leader or a manager of a department, culture matters. Culture is the unwritten code of a group of people that determines how they speak, interact and dress. Everyplace has a culture. The culture is the expression of the values of that group of people.

Leader, you are to be the one who sets the guidelines for what culture will be present in your ministry/organization.

Look at this:
Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. (Luke 9:16 NLT)

As a leader, you can model and teach culture, but the people around you have to distribute it. They have to be carriers of the cultural values of that organization. If the transfer doesn't happen, you will be very frustrated that people are not getting it. It has to become viral. How does this happen?

Let's look at what Jesus did in the above verses of Scripture:
1. He Interacted with Heaven:
-Jesus looked to heaven and a miracle happened in His hands. The vision for your ministry has to come from heaven. It cannot be copied and pasted.

2. He Gave it to the Disciples:
-He transferred what He was given from heaven to the disciples. He shared it with them. Share the culture of the organization with your people. Get it in their heads and hands.

3. They Gave it to the People:
-Jesus did not take on the task of being the primary vision caster on the culture. The disciples gave the bread and fish out. They distributed it. Culture usually gets diluted from the head down. It multiplied with Jesus. Why? He put that responsibility of distributing in their hands.

Let your leaders know your values of how culture will be formed. Encourage every department head to share those values regularly with their team.

The point is: the leaders AROUND you have to be the primary distributors to the people. The people on this story all got a piece of the miracle in Jesus' hands because the disciples distributed it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Shifts in Leading Staff

My generation been consumed with "leadership" and all the great books that have been published. I even published a book on leadership back in 2007. I believe that leadership is vitally important. I believe that we should learn how to grow as leaders. But we are in a huge transition and shift with leadership styles. There are some very important principles to leading staff, whether volunteer or paid, that go overlooked. Our generation is full of hurting and insecure people. Because of this truth, our approach must shift in order to see staff grow to their fullest potential.

Here are a few of my thoughts:

1. They Need to be Lavished with Encouragement:
-Go overboard. Text it. Post it. Tweet it. Send cards. Never assume they know. Remember, "What you fail to celebrate will leave your life."

2. They Need Permission to Lead without Fear of Failure:
-Because we are trying to build these "perfect" ministries, we don't allow staff the permission to attempt and.....fail. We scold and punish this because elder boards don't want to "waste" money. I don't know of any idea that works perfectly the first time. If it did, then it was TOO safe.

3. They Need Authentic Relationships:
-Staff need to have a real relationship with you. A virus spreads by proximity. Whatever you are trying to accomplish cannot be done at arms length.

4. They Need a Cheerleader and a Coach, not a General Manager:
-We usually think that staff need a General Manager or Coach. Not really. Put on your Pom poms and do some cheering. They need to be encouraged and constantly reminded that they are making a difference.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hulk Out

My favorite superhero is the Hulk. I loved the 80's tv version with Bill Bixby. I waited in excitement for that point where his eyes turned and he became the Hulk. He was pushed to the point of extreme anger.
I was reading through my one year Bible plan and came across the story of Moses hitting the rock. God told Moses to hit the rock and water would come out. Moses was so frustrated that he struck the rock in anger. The people's complaints drove him to the point that his frustration manifested in anger. God told him that he would not be the one to lead the people into the promise land because of this.
Many leaders have this "frustration point." That point is where frustration turns to anger.
Moses was banned from the promise land. David Banner had to roam from town to town.
We will also limit ourselves when we allow frustration to turn to anger. You can tell when this is happening when:
1. You Resent People's Complaints and Problems
2. You Don't Have a Desire to Develop People
3. You Say Offensive Things to People
4. You Have No Patience for Mistakes
5. "Calmness" is Not How People Around You would Describe You

Before you strike the rock in anger or turn to the Hulk, take a timeout. I do this by first of all practicing thankfulness. Secondly, I take time away. Learn to get away and have fun. Finally, talk and think about ALL the good that is going on. Frustrated leaders cannot lead their people to a place of promise. It takes patience, calmness and peace.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bad Investments

We just finished a series at The Well called, "Healer." It dealt with healing emotionally from past hurts. One message was on insecurity. We are all affected by it. The first symptom of the disease called sin was insecurity. Adam and Eve were ashamed and hid.

Insecurity is a feeling of vulnerabilities, characterized by a low sense of self worth. It manifests in anger, defensiveness and isolation.

As leaders, we must allow God to minister to our own insecurities as we minister to other people's insecurities.

Warning.... When ministering to insecure people realize that: no matter how much time you give them, they feel like it isn't enough. No matter how many "thank you's" they get, they are not appreciated. It is kind of like pouring sand into bags with holes in it. You can also call it, "bad investing." There is very little return on investment.

This may be your story as a leader. You are continually discontent because insecurity has created holes in your emotional tank. You may be dealing with people like this. Whatever the case may be. Don't beat yourself up. Continue to love and reassure them. Finally don't give up, but keep the perspective.

When dealing with insecure people you are only as good as your last ____________ (fill in the blank.)

Remember, Adam and Eve were naked and ashamed, but God clothed them. God has provided a covering that assure us as well. Sin may have birthed insecurity, but the cross provided a covering that creates security.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Cancerous Leader

This is probably the most important lesson I have had to learn as a leader. If we don't get this our ministries and families will be miserable. Needless to say that we, the minister, will be miserable. The reason many may stop reading here is because this deals with our heart instead of creating systems for growth.

I have had the Lord check my heart in a major way lately. I have had spiritual CAT Scans and MRI's done. I felt God really speaking to me that I have "entitlement" issues. Ministry seems so selfless and great, but the truth of the matter is that inside of all us there is a "self-serving" piece of our hearts. We can tell how much of this cancer we have when we face thankless situations time and time again.

I realized that I was upset because people were not giving back as much as I was giving them. I figured that if I poured my heart into them then they would become committed and stable. WRONG. I found discouragement creeping in. It was during this time that I felt the Lord say, "Kevin, as long you feel like people are here for your pleasure you will always feel that way. You are here for THEIR purpose, they are not here for yours."
I realized that God will allow us to be put in seeminlgy thankless, obscure and emotionally draining situations to show us what is really in our hearts. Are we leading because we need the people to approve and we need them?

Here are some observations on this issue:
1. People will never give back as much as you put in.
I put in like 8 hours on one situation a few weeks ago. I am not sure how your time looks, but for me that is a lot of time. None of the folks that took up those hours showed up to our worship experience. You have to be selfless when ministering. You don't put in to get back. You put in because you are being faithful.

2. Entitled People Get Easily Offended AND Frustrated
If you are the least bit entitled then you will find yourself perpetually frustrated. If you have the "deserving" mentality then you will never find fulfillment. The ability and call to lead is a privilege. It is an honor. It is a blessing. The opportunity to be hurt and abandoned in the process is also an honor, privilege and blessing. The only thing we are entitled to is to share in His sufferings.

3. The Pity Party Leader Never Throws Parties
The pity party leader is like the donkey, Eor, from Winnie the Pooh. You are like, "Hey bro, how is it going?" They are like, "Well, no one cares. Half the people did not show up this week. I did not get anything for Pastor Appreciation. If I jump off a bridge, no one will notice."
This mentality is also a cancer. It hinders us from being able to have fun, be free and enjoy the ride. No matter how many people you have or at what stage you are at---- you will always "need" more. You will need more attention, more people, more offerings, more influence and more love. Learn to be content and throw parties. Celebrate and be grateful for every small thing that comes to your life. Throw parties!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Self-Imposed Pink Slip

(I wrote this blog originally for my friend's Pastor Ben and Jessica Miller from Redemption World Outreach Center in Asheville, NC)

Yep. Every pastor and leader goes through it.....You deliver yourself the PINK SLIP.


Something happens on Sunday. There is anticipation and anxiety on delivering a great Sunday Worship Experience in which people are transformed. We pray all week. We prepare messages, worship sets and ministries for this impact. Somehow, no matter how good Sundays are you still have this “hangover.” I believe it is a combination of the anointing and adrenaline. It also is when expectation marries reality.
I quit every Monday. Really. I go through the “holy hangover.”


You may or may not be a pastor, but you have these hangovers too. Whenever expectation and reality collide, you will have a hangover emotionally. This may be true of your marriage, job or perhaps ministry. You probably had or still have lofty expectations of all of the above. The problem comes when we allow discouragement to linger and learning to have “right” expectations. I have lofty expectations. That is my downfall. I am too hard on myself and expect too much of myself. This causes my crash most times.


Here are my daily reminders about Discouragement:
1. Discouragement is a matter of perspective.
Get advice from people who have a better perspective. Have people who are “God in skin.” Allow mentors and trusted friends to speak into your life. The greatest perspective is God’s perspective. As you are reading His Word, take time to listen and journal what you feel God saying.


2. Discouraging times are part of natural seasons of life. There is no one who ever avoided discouragement. However, you cannot let discouragement debilitate you. I had a mentor who told me you can go through discouragement, but don’t be discouraged. One is a passing season while the other is a state of mind/being. Prepare mentally for discouraging situations. This may sound weird, but you cannot be blindsided. That is the test of maturity. Don’t be na├»ve and think you are the exception. This form of arrogance allows discouragement to feed.


3. Discouragement is deadly when combined with exhaustion. I love the Snickers commercial that says, “You are not you when you are hungry.” I believe the same can be compared to discouragement. You are not yourself when you are exhausted. I remember this young, arrogant guy at college that told me, “Day off? Dude, we are so busy doing Kingdom work that we can’t take a day off.” I responded, “Wow, you guys are doing it much different than Jesus and God Himself. They both took days off. I am glad you are not on my staff. You would take a day off or turn in resignations.” Needless to say, we are not Facebook friends. And that church does not exist today. Pastor Tracy Reynolds often says, “Come apart (and rest) or you will come apart.”


Don’t let unreal expectations come in and cause discouragement. This has been the biggest lesson in church planting I have learned. I am called to be faithful and prepare the best worship experience I can. God brings people. I cannot control people. And…. people are people. The one key I use to fight discouragement is to look upon the providence and sovereignty of God. Remember, God is ultimately in charge of all the results. You can gain encouragement when you thank Him for the results He has produced. You can gain encouragement when you pause and say, “Our Father who is in the heavens….” He is your loving Father and He is in the heavens. He is seated on the throne. As Ron Carpenter jr., has said before, “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing occurs to God?”
Yep. I quit every Monday. I just have to start back every Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our Group



Sundays in the fall are about competition. You see football teams plan each week to out do each other. They plan, they scheme and at the end of the day one of the teams have to go home as a loser. Serious competition.



There is another huge competion on Sundays. It is the Church.



Mark 9:38, John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone using Your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn't in our group." "Don't stop him," Jesus said.... Anyone who is not against us is for us.



We all have "our groups." Maybe it is your denomination. Maybe it is your church. Maybe it is your friends. Jesus made it clear that if someone is serving under the banner of Him, then they are on our team. Sadly, we see other churches as a competition. If they grow and are successful that must mean that we cannot be successful.


I see this all the time. Denominations building their kingdoms. Pastors building their kingdoms. Church people building their own kingdoms.



I am blessed and privileged to be a part of a group of pastors and leaders called, "PSL UNITED." We are the City Church. There are about 8-10 churches who are a part of this. We don't preach at meetings. We don't talk numbers. We don't talk theology. We pray for each other. We encourage each other and we give to each other. Billy Mitchell started this before he took another assignment outside of Port Saint Lucie. Now Tim O'Carroll and Paul Phipps help champion the cause. I am very thankful for their friendship. Our ministry has been enhanced and I have been strengthened.



Leaders, remember, movements are not about you. You are not starting a movement, but rather you have joined the movement Jesus started over 2,000 years ago called the Church. He prayed in John 17 that we may be one as He and the Father are one. We often spend our whole lives asking God to answer our prayers, but we never take time to answer his prayer.



Take time to cultivate unity in your city. God sees the church of ____________(insert your city).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Review- "Outliers"


Okay, I am going to add a book review to the blog from time to time. I love to read and analyze what I am reading.



This week's book review is, "Outliers," by Malcom Gladwell. I am a huge Gladwell fan. I heard him at Catalyst in 2005. I read "The Tipping Point" as well. Wonderful book.



This book is very interesting. Gladwell does a great job, as he did in "The Tipping Point," at studying facts of culture through intense research and revealing those principles to us. "Outliers" is all about extreme stories of success and failure, and the principles behind it. Gladwell studies some of the richest people in history, the success of pro hockey players and plane crashes. He gives you transferrable principles of success and failure.



The Good Stuff:

This book is not one of thoughts and opinions, but facts. From the research on the Beatles to the Plane Crashes of Seoul, it is tethered in facts. I would read through, write down the principle and memorize it. These principles have given me a new perspective on ministry.


-If you hear of a phenomenal success story; study the principles of how it happened. There are advantages and opportunities that the person had that another person will not have. Success stories are WAY MUCH MORE than hard work and determination. They have breaks. They have support. They have advantages that another person in their situation may have not had. (Pastors- please here that. Don't go to a conference and hear this crazy success story and then put that as your goal.) It is phenomenal for a reason.



The Okay Stuff (don't want to say bad):

This book is a hard read. It is very involved and you cannot skim read it. You cannot zone out and still get it. You have to hunker down and read it. Sometimes Gladwell belabors the point. At points there is too much information.

'The Tipping Point" was a little more interesting to me than "Outliers," but Gladwell's style is: A lot of research and information; then a small principle to cap it off.



I would recommend any leader to read this book for the fact that we have a warped view on how people reach successful statuses. As a pastor, it freed me up. Our denominational leaders bring in these talking heads with the same story; started with no people, no money in the account, did not know how to read the Bible, everyone in the town were atheists, they had a vision and boom----- 5 years later, 16,000 people. We go with these stories of non-sense and are not told the "unseen" factors that contributed to their success. They had advantages. They had key relationships with important people. They had financial support. The stories are tainted.

Gladwell shows you the story behind the story.



*All commentary is Kevin's opinion and does not really count in the scheme of things.....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On Fire and In Order

I was talking with a mentor recently and he gave me a great perspective on the role of every leader, especially those in pastoral roles. He said that God has given him a mandate to strive every day to progress his ministry to a place where it is increasing in two areas: 1)On fire and 2) In Order.

He was quoting the pastoral espistles where Paul told Timothy to stir up the gift inside of him and Paul told Titus to "set things in order at Crete." I believe these are two areas that must give us perspective of a bigger picture of daily activities.

As leaders, we can ask ourselves every day, "Is this ministry fervent with a fire and love for God and is it increasingly having more order? Did the tasks and appointments today work toward that or against that?"

The Two Goals:
1) On Fire: As leaders we must make sure daily we are stoking the flames of love for Christ. Without a relentless love for Jesus and what we call "fire," we are nothing more than whitewashed tombs and talking heads. People desire to follow a leader who is full of God's presence and power. Are you projecting that on your people? Are you congregants more on fire for God than when you first met them? Or are they just working harder, giving more and doing more stuff? That is not on fire.

2) In Order: Paul told Titus that the reason he left him in Crete was to set things in order. People may not like structure, but they sure appreciate what it produces- order. Our job as leaders is to continually raise up leaders and set systems in place so the ministy can out live us. If you left today would it fall apart, or are setting things in order? What did you do today to "set things in order?"

Thanks to Pastor, Dr. and Awesome Guy- Brett Cooper.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness



In South FL we are in the height of "hurricane season." We know that this season brings a possibility for hurricanes. Because of this season we have seminars and workshops in the area for hurricane preparedness. They give you a list of what you need and all the tips of what you need to know. Pretty cool.



Even with all these seminars, workshops and information, some people still get caught by surprise. Some of the reasons is because they did not know and are new to the area. Others underestimate the power of a hurricane. Some are just lazy and don't take time.



How does this apply to you? Maybe you live in the midwest and you are like "hurri-what?" Maybe you don't have to worry about hurricanes. But we do here in FL. No matter where you live, this can be used a spiritual principle of life: There are seasons when strong storms are likely to hit you and you have to have your "preparedness kit." Storms, strong storms, will pummel the coast of your life and ministry. There will be seasons when you wonder if you will be able to survive the beating of that storm. Afterwards there is plenty of debris left from the storm and damage to fix.



Here are some thoughts on storms and hurricanes:


1) You have to be prepared. Emotionally prepare yourself before the Lord. Ask God to fill you with His power to withstand the storms that will come. Don't be blindsided. Some theology tells you that if you are doing God's will- everything will be perfect. That is not the case for any of our examples from the Bible. Be prepared that if you are doing God's will- storms will it.



2) You have to "wait it out." When hurricanes hit, you have to wait for them to pass. Even if you evacuate, you still have to wait the allotted time. You cannot rush a hurricane. There is the initial impact, the stillness of the eye and then finally the last bands. When spiritual storms hit, you have to just make it through them. Just buckle down until they pass.



3) Finally, you have to fix the damage and clean up the debris. There will be debris of all sorts. When you first see your yard after the storm, you will be overwhelmed. You may even have damage to your home. It's okay. It happens. Start the process of picking up debris and fixing the damages.


No one will escape storms and spiritually speaking- EVERYONE will get hit at some point and time. Don't buy into the lie that you are all alone. Don't think that this season will last forever, because it won't.



Be prepared.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Rebuilding the Walls

In a matter of a week I heard two messages and had one prophetic word come in to my desk on Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the walls. I have taught this book before and Nehemiah is one of my favorite leaders, but I did not ever have to go through a "wall rebuilding," experience like what I have had to face recently.

Maybe you were at ground zero after the tragedy, but I was only able to see pictures. What devestation. What destruction. There was so much work to be done. I could not imagine. I wonder if Nehemiah felt the same way about the walls of Jerusalem. The situation caused him to weep for months. He left a secure job and life to go take on this task full time.

There will come a point in time and sometimes multiple times when you will feel like Nehemiah or feel like you are spiritually standing at ground zero. Things you have built have been attacked by the enemy and now they look like they will never live again. You worked hard. You believed. You pressed and now it looks like there is just shambles and ruins left. This is where leadership is tested. This is where the rubber meets the road. Leaders arise in times of crisis. The true leaders show up when crisis hit.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1) It can be done.
-Your first thought is, "Wow, do I have the energy and time to do this. This looks like impossible." It can be done. It will be hard. It will be a process. But it is has to be done and it can be done- by you.
2) With God's help it can be done in record time.
Nehemiah rebuilt the wall in a record 52 days. This should have taken a few years. When you submit this rebuilding to God, He will come along side of you and help you do it in record time. What takes years for man can takes just days with God. Lay this rebuilding project down to Him.
3) It will energize people and unite them.
We usually think that people will be burned out and not have the energy to go through with this. Nehemiah united and organized the people at different stations. There are people waiting to step up during this time. They were hidden before, but will be heroes now. The people were full of strength and fought together.
4) Have a vision of what the rebuilt "wall" will look like.
You have to stand in the midst of your devestation, no matter how big or small, and have a vision of what it could be again. You have to let God be the Master Builder. Ask Him for fresh vision of what it could be and what He sees it as.
Nehemiah did not imagine this. His vision was built upon the prophet's writings on the restoration of the wall and temple. He knew this was God's heart and desire. It was not Nehemiah's plan, but God's plan. Be assured that God wants the walls of your marriage, ministry and life rebuilt. It is His plan and desire.

It can be done. It will be done and it will be done in record time.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Developing People = Messy

I have been reading through the Bible in the One Year Bible Plan on the YouVersion App (plug for them). I am in Leviticus and to be honest I was not thrilled about this when this book came up. No powerful miracle stories. No great preaching material. No....well not very interesting except for brushing up on Jewish history and traditions.

I was reading Leviticus chapter 14 and I felt the Lord speak to me. The priest had to sacrifice animals for people's sin. It was messy. This was all done so they could be presented unto God as pure. This was before the time of Christ, so the priest was their only hope. He had a very, very messy job. If they had a skin disease- he had to sacrifice an animal. I am not sure I would have signed up to be a priest in that day and time. I am not about blood and guts. My wife is a Physician Assistant. She loves that stuff. I get queasy.

I felt God impress upon me that this is what developing people is like. It is messy. There is blood and guts (not literally). There are people with issues. There are people constantly messing up and in need of restoration and forgiveness. This is what starting a movement is all about. I am glad that I had "priests" that dealt with my issues by sacrifice. They sacrificed time and energy to make sure that I could be all I could be before God.

As a leader who is starting a movement, keep that in mind today. It is messy. If you don't like messes and want everything to be neat; find something else to do.

Your homework is to read Leviticus 14 now.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Much Better

Everyone who is in ministry will tell you about this principle: "At some point in time you will have a death and ressurrection experience in your ministry (maybe even multiple times)."

I have had this happen to me before as well. It can be comparable to Abraham offering his son Isaac up at the LORD's command. This process can feel like the worst pain ever at the time, but afterwards there is growth and perspective that comes from it.
Abraham was given a dream by God. He did not ask for his assignment. He did not ask for a son or for his son to be the one where the Covenant promise would come through. He was merely minding his own business and God interrupted his life. He was given a dream whereby God allowed it do go through a process of death. Abraham carried his son onto the altar and was ready to whatever God was asking.

Many of us have a hard time with that. The reason is that we live with expectations. We have formulated certain expectations of a dream's outcome should look like. These expectations are what makes this ordained death process look so bad. God ordained that Abraham would have to offer the dream up.

Take the life of Jesus Christ for example. His disciples had an expectation that their calling to follow Messiah would result in governmental rule and reign. Their earthly expectation of their dream literally died. When Christ went to the cross, all of their dreams and desires went there too.
I wonder how they felt? I wonder the disappointment. I wonder the embarrassment they felt from family and friends. I wonder what it felt like the first day back to their old jobs.

The crazy thing is that the dream wasn't dead. God had a much better plan. They did not even recognize Jesus when he rose from the dead. It was like nothing they had expected and was MUCH better. Trust God even when it looks like death may be occurring because it is. Your dream will die so His can live. Beware.... you may not recognize it when it does rise again.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I Don't Have Any Blindspots

I enjoy our men's Community Group on Wednesday nights. We have great discussions and powerful times of prayer.

Recently our group leader asked the men, "What is the main issue you are trying to overcome?"

Every dude in the group totally danced around the question. They explained every mystery known to mankind but would not share their "thing."

One of the greatest problems is when we cannot honestly sit down and share our weaknesses, limitations and issues as a leader.
If you really want to know what they are. Ask you wife. Ask your best friend. Ask the people you lead (in a secret survey).

What are your blindspots and weaknesses?

Mine are:
1) I am very defensive. I have insecurities. I know this and I have to learn to not answer people back in a smart-ellic way.
2) I am too task oriented. I am all about the bottom line and getting the job done in the most effective manner. That sounds really good at first, until you realize that I will do this at the cost of relationships. My strength can also be my greatest weakness if not checked.
3) I am also really afraid of "failing." I compare myself to others a lot and hold my self to stupidly ridiculous high standards. My greatest fear is failing and being mediocre in God's call for my life. I have to learn that when I am following Christ- there is no failure when it comes to meeting expectations. He met them all for me.

Take time to inventory your blindspots. Let people around you help you and speak into your life.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

This Guy Named Nick

Recently I met with an employer that wanted to take his business to the next level. He had 90 clients and was doing a fabulous job, but he was doing all the work himself. He was the secretary, sales and admin. He is young and charismatic. He has a lot of energy.
He sat with some of the Business Services leaders of our company and was sharing his plan. We have one guy on staff that consults multi-million dollar companies. Nick did not know this. This gentleman we will call "Michael," began to ask questions. Nick had not done any research or planning. He did not know how many businesses like his had been started in that area, their gross profit or how long they last. He had no clue of their prices or anything.
As Michael was talking, Nick was just looking at him with a somewhat blank stare. Michael asked, "Son, are you going to write this down?"

Here is what I learned from that meeting about leadership and starting movements.

1)Many leaders have a hard time transitioning from the "do-it-all" or "go to guy" to truly empowering others. There is a reason for this. When they first start a movement they are required to get the business or ministry going by sheer energy and everything falls back on them. It is hard to hand over something that you worked so hard for. The people you are handing off to will NEVER have the same passion you do. But they will have more TIME and ENERGY to do it. Nick may have been a great sales guy, but can Nick actually transition to being the "Empowering/Administrative Leader?"

2) Energy is Limited. I am still a relatively "young leader or pastor." At the time of this blog I am 32 years old. I have started a church in a city with two families and have no previous ties here. I also work 50+ hours a week at Workforce Solutions as a Recruiter. The energy it has taken has been enormous. It is the most energy consuming endeavor I have embarked upon. But here is the thing; energy is limited. I have to rest a lot. I mean a lot. The older I get, the less energy I will have. Nick has a lot of energy and can do all he is doing right now, but his energy reserve is getting smaller and smaller. This is how burnout occurs. You get a bunch of stuff going while your energy reserve is high, but you have to continue to sustain it. Don't build your movement on energy you will not have in 10 years, but rather "invest" your energy into building people coupled with proper structures.

3) Research and Planning was too Much Work for Nick. Nick did not want to have to do all the research and planning. He wanted to get some grant money and get rolling. He did not have time for all this stuff. I could tell by his glazed over look. My movement is church planting/pastoring. I see the same glazed over look on pastor's eyes as they go out to start a church. They have a word from God and do not have time for all that research and planning. They are going to go in God's power and do His work, right? I have seen 6 friends close the doors of their church plants since I have started. I am officially two years in this city and 6 months after launching. Research and planning will save you from costly mistakes that young leaders usually make. Learn from others. Interview them. Develop a strategic plan (in pencil of course).

I think I learned more from ole Nick than he learned from me.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hurt People can Hurt People

Genesis 31:7, "but he (Laban) has cheated me, changing my wages ten times. But God has not allowed him to hurt me."

Jacob was done wrong in the most amazing way. Worked 7 years for a lady he did not want to marry and then was cheated into working another 7 years for the wife he wanted. Despite this, Jacob carried a godly perspective and did not allow the hurt he experienced to shape him.

We will never escape life without experiencing hurt and pain. Realize that hurt and pain from a sickness or disease is much different than hurt or pain from relationships. I want to talk to you about that for a few minutes.

In life and especially ministry, you will get hurt from and by people. You will also, hopefully unintentionally, hurt others as well. The way we respond and react will utlimately determine how we proceed in our lives.

To be totally honest, I have been taught all the proper techniques of planting and growing churches. The books I have read and mentors I have sat under address all the hot topics and trending movements. I was aware of all the church growth stuff. I was aware of all the newest teaching. However I was not aware and was never taught on a real level how much people can hurt you.

You have two options when you are hurt by someone. The first option is to internalize it and promise yourself this will never happen again. You can live in a false trust of others and react out of that pain the rest of your life. The second option is to process the hurt and pain in a positive manner. The first step is to realize that people are people. Allow yourself to grieve the relationship and the hurt, but ultimately allow God to speak to you, give you perspective and then encourage you.

I have been active in ministry for 10 years now. Only the past two years have I met some of the most faithful and trustworthy people and literally, crazy folks. Yep. Crazy. I have heard, "I got your back man. We are going to do this together." Or my favorite, "I am here to serve you. God has called me here." After these statements, the same folks have cursed me out (and I am still trying to figure out why), left me and never returned a call, attempted to sabotage our ministry when we supported them in difficult times and one dude even gave a check and then stopped payment without telling me (you know that story).

I love our church and this city. God has taught me how to discern who the true leaders are. God has taught me to love those who have done me wrong. God has taught me how to love and most importantly He has taught me how to process pain and hurt from relationships.

Here are the steps to take when a relationship ends painfully:
1) Extend love and grace to that person. People are people. We are fallen and broken.
2) Spread that love and grace to your leadership around you. They may have to know the facts (or they may not), but teach them how to operate in love and grace.
3) Allow yourself time to grieve. It hurts. You will experience shock and awe in some of the stuff that is done to you and your family. Cry. Cry out to God. Have a friend to vent to.
4) Gain God's perspective on the situation. Let Him speak to you about the situation.
5) Finally, do not react in an email, text or even a call. If you feel that you absolutely must talk to that person, do it face to face and get someone to be your filter and see if it is worth it.

Jacob was hurt deeply. He had huge disappointments, but he did not allow that hurt to run his life or dictate his calling. Neither should we. Process the pain positively.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lesson from the Oklahoma City Thunder



I was watching the NBA Western Conference Finals and saw some interesting things happen.




There was the young, inexperienced Oklahoma City Thunder and the veteran, Dallas Mavericks playing against each other. One thing that spoke to me was in the final game where OKC had a huge lead and ended up blowing the lead in the 4th quarter. The reason they lost that game and ultimately the series was because they were easily shaken.



They were up by 15 points in the 4th quarter, but when Dallas made a push and things were not going so well, the OKC Thunder reverted to a passive mode of basketball. They stopped attacking. They stopped being aggressive. They started playing not to lose and instead of playing to win.



This is the story of many of us in leadership. If we hit a bad streak and people start acting crazy (pastors, you know what I mean) and things are not going well, we revert to a passive mentality. We lose our edge and aggressiveness. We back down from the vision we have and let our thoughts become dominated with the bad that is happening.


If the OKC Thunder would have realized they had the lead and the upperhand, they probably could have cruised to victory, but instead they moved into a "passive mode."



When you hit the "slump," make sure you re-focus on your vision and calling to the ministry you are at. Make sure you plan some "active" ministry for your ministry and keep moving forward.



Play to win; not to 'not lose.'

Friday, June 10, 2011

Self-Deception: The "Tressel" Rule



I was listening to the Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radio last week and heard something that really shocked me. (ESPN is the perfect place for God to speak to you.)




Scott Van Pelt was talking about Jim Tressel and his resigning as the head coach of Ohio State. Over the past several years Tressel has helped Ohio State regain national standing and become a dominant powerhouse. The issue is the past year. OSU was slapped with NCAA recruiting violations and will start the 2011 season with key team members suspended. If Tressel remained at OSU, he would have been suspended for a few games as well. Recently he resigned as head coach.






The shocking part was Scott Van Pelt was flabbergasted that Tressel could teach kids Bible verses in the morning and motivate them to do the right thing and then scam them in the evenings. He had a camp and rigged it where only the best athletes could attend when all kids paid to go (a little confusing, but it was a scam). He also knowingly violated NCAA rules in recruiting..... for the second time. 10 years ago he did this at Youngstown State.






This is an important leadership principle. Self-deception is the ability to be so convinced that you cannot be wrong.... that you are actually wrong and convincing yourself you are right. This happens through justification of compromises.






To Scott Van Pelt- How could Tressel do this? Simple. He was self-deceived.






We have to do diagnostic checks as leaders. We have to guard against self-deception. Remember, self-deception is the ability to live a complete lie while you have convinced yourself that it is the truth.






Here are some checks:



1) What compromises have you made against your conscience recently?



-Maybe you are married and have been flirting with a co-worker. Maybe you have been delving into inappropriate stuff on the internet. Whatever the case... ask, "Where am I compromising?"






2) Do you ask for forgiveness or permission?



-Self-deception happens when we make decisions, knowing they are wrong, and never consult the right people. One way to guard against your blind spots is to get advice. This leads us to the next point...






3) Who do you go to in order to find out if you are deceiving yourself?



-Who do you ask the hard questions to? Questions like, "What are my personality defects and character flaws?" or "Will this decision be a mistake?"



Also look at your past. How have you "crashed the ship before?"






Self-deception happens when you can't see ANY wrong in your decisions and cannot think through logical pros and cons of that decision.






This will now be called, "The Tressel Rule."

Monday, June 6, 2011

Grace-Filled Leaders

I have been doing a series called, "Cow Tipping." (thanks elevation church).

One message was about the Grace of God. Grace is God's free gift of salvation to us. The only thing we contributed for our salvation was our sin. He freely forgave us. We cannot worked to be saved or work to stay saved. He has fully accepted us in Christ. Once we have surrendered to Christ, God views us "in Christ." We are free. We are beloved. (I know there are many different theological view points. This is not my main focus in this blog.)

Most people can grasp this and say, "I can do that. I can dig that. That's awesome." Here is the twist I want to bring. Grace is not something just between us and God, but it should be between us and others.

Important Scripture:
2nd Peter 3:18, "But grow in the GRACE and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ..."
There may be 1,000 interpretations on how to grow in the grace of God, but I want to share my interpretations for leaders.

Growing in grace is two-fold. The first is understanding God's grace. (read Romans for a full understanding). The second is dispensing that grace to others. This is where I want to focus today.

As leaders, we must be "grace-filled" toward people. People are people. They are going to do stupid stuff. Rather- WE are going to do stupid stuff. We are going to fail. We are going to miss the mark of the standard that others set for us. We are going to disappoint each other.
I see people all the time who have very little grace and kindness toward others who do not do what they think they should do.
If we are going to see the people we lead come to full fruition then we must extend grace to them and show kindness. We must grow in the grace of God.
I can ultimately tell you how much have grown in grace by the way you extend it to others.

Here are a few thoughts on this.

1) "I don't think they should or shouldn't do that or make that decision..." Those statements are grace busters. One question, "Who made you the ultimate standard setter for the universe?" It gets worse if you share your concerns with them and they don't do what you think they should. The question is, "Can you extend grace and truly love them even when they make decisions that you don't agree with?"

2) Do you punish people by with holding love? Donald Miller spoke of this in his book, "Blue Like Jazz." It was a "revelation moment" for me. That is what I would do. If someone did something to me that hurt me or did not follow my prescribed standards for their life, I would withold love. Do you give them the cold shoulder?

3) Do you tell everyone else how they failed and did not follow your advice? Gossipy leaders are awesome. They build their case to everyone around them about how those people did not do what they thought they should do. They trash those people also to make themselves look better. If you point out everyone else's problems, you look like the leadership guru. Learn to protect and cover people.

4) Give grace because you will need it. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7, that the same judgment you give others you will be judged by. Becareful when you cast judgment on others. This is when you make your standard the standard for their lives. We make people live to standards that God does not even make them live to.
You will fail. You will make stupid decisions. You will have a lapse in leadership. You will need others to be graceful to you, so show grace to others. The amount of grace you show others, you will receive.



Monday, May 30, 2011

The Power of Small Things

These two quotes have shaped my life and the ministry I lead.

1) Don't build your reputation on what you haven't done yet.

2) A little job done is better than a big job talked about.

I am not sure who exactly wrote these quotes, but they have become cornerstones to my core values. It is very important for a leader to lead with vision and share what is not yet. We must have a vision for where we are going and what we are doing. This also must be balanced with doing what has been promised and following through on your current commitments.

As leaders we get bored easily with managing the status quo. There is nothing wrong with that. The issue arises when we have a new, big vision to unveil every six months and we have not followed through with the small things we have been promising.

Learn to master doing the small, mundane things with excellence. This will give you credibility and endurance to do the greater things.

Here are some keys to managing the mundane and leading with vision:
1) People want a consistent leader. They want to know they can trust you. Every idea you share, finish it before launching a new one.
2) People can only handle 20% of change a year. This is my biggest failure. I do it the other way around. I sometimes think they can handle 80% of change a year. Every ministry I have led has been this way. BUT- for me to be more effective, I must understand how much change my people can take. I can handle more emotional change than they can. I love it, most of them just go with it.
3) Don't be THAT guy. Don't be that leader who is always talking about what they are going to do. People will listen. Some will listen with awe. It makes you feel good. I have known leaders who have 7 people in their church and they are talking about these grandiose ideas but they never do the small thing they can do NOW. People eventually get tired of hearing it.
4) Don't overpromise and under-deliver. Be the opposite. It is better to not promise it and do it rather than to promise it and not do it. As leaders we want to impress and help people so we talk twice as much as we should. Learn to slow down and listen. Learn to slow down and not promise things you cannot come through on.

If you look at the Nehemiah blogs I wrote. This Jewish hero, who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, rode around at night and surveyed the problems. He researched. He planned. He prayed. He fasted. Finally, after a long time, he unveiled the idea.....after he had the resources lined up and a plan. Very important.

A little job done is better than a big job talked about.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Burnout

Burnout
As a leader who desires to start a movement in your church or organization there is a hidden enemy called, "Burnout."
I remember in 2007 sitting with Coach John (Chasteen), Dean of Southwestern Christian University, at an Applebees in South Carolina and he explained burnout to a friend and I on a napkin. He drew the picture of a linear graph and showed the signs and procession of burnout. He also shared his dramatic experience with this.
I work a full time, 45-55 hour a week full time job. I commute 2 hours a day to work. Then there is this thing I do on the side called, "The Well." We are a very active church in the community and we put all we have into our Sunday night worship experience. Recently I confessed to my wife that stress was getting the best of me. I know all this stuff, but as a man- you just push on. The stress of planting a new, growing church, counseling, leading the leaders of the ministry and the full time jon was overwhelming. Here are a few thought on stress....
1. Know the Signs: Anger/Frustration. Lack of joy in hobbies that once seemed fun. Marriage or close relationships suffer. Depression. Lack of motivation. Physically tired all the time. Withdrawal. Constant ideas on how to escape or quit.
2. Know the Reasons (personally): Stress comes because of being overwhelmed. This can come because of personal high expectations or meeting other's approval. This may come from conflict. Know what burns you out.
3. Act Immediately: The moment you think you are burning out- act. Take some time. Explain to your wife, leaders or denomination that you need a few days off. Begin to seek God fresh once again.
4. Set up Boundaries: Weekly have a time of personal refreshing. You need to do this spiritually and recreationally. Guard your time carefully.
Do you find ministry frustrating?
Have you lost joy and peace, internally?
Are you fatigued and lack motivation?
Are your sleep patterns changing?
Do you dream of doing something else (fantasizing)?
Have you lost gratefulness?
Talk to someone today. Be open, vulnerable and honest. Take some time away. Rest and recharge. Most importantly, let God speak to you about your situation. You were never mean to carry that stress.

Monday, April 4, 2011

What People are Hungry For....
 
Some people are hungry for a show. Some people are hungry for an emotional experience. Some people are not hungry at all. Others are hungry for authenticity...
 
The amount of people who have disconnected with the local church have done so because of the lack of authenticity in spirituality. There are groups that love the cultural idea of "church" and there are those who want a revival, emotional experience each week.
 
I struggle here folks. Really. I get turned off by pretention and "traveling evangelists" that bop people on the head and work them up in an emotional frenzy. I am also turned off by those who are cold, frozen and have no spiritual vitality. I crossed through the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement where I was pushed to the floor by the Super Hero of the hour. I was emotionally manipulated and part of the Super Hero's "ego show."
I have also been on the other side where the group is so scared of the Holy Spirit moving that they make sure there are no opportunities for Him to actively touch people.
 
I have found that there are people who need "authentic spirituality" from Christ. They need authentic leaders, who are emotionally stable, character driven and Holy Spirit consumed. As Maxwell says, "Everything rises and falls on Leadership."
 
If we have a need that we are trying to meet through the people that attend our church, then there will never be authenticity.
 
 If we need the emotional high for the moment and it drives our ego, then there will never be authenticity.
 
 If we need the approval of the people and their thumbs up, then there will never be authenticity.
 
If we have a pre-scribed religious approach to God and connecting with Him, there will never be authenticity.
 
Authentic leaders hunger for God. They have a strong personal devotional life and are emotionally secure. They model this for their church.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Signs of a Church Hopper

When you are an initiator, by nature you attract those who are initators as well. When you are starting a movement whether it is a church plant, revitalizing a ministry or kicking a youth ministry off, you will need to know very important elements about the groups of people that will come to your aide. Some people are initiators; others are anchors; others are stabilizers and some are plain out church hoppers. Yep. I said it. You have to be able to identify those who are initiators and those who are bonefide church hoppers. Initiators thrive on doing something new. They love the "new car smell." They are excited about a "brand new church," or new youth pastor, or maybe even a new ministry venture. Beware, because their excitement of that new ministry will wain after it is stabilized. You can easily re-direct an initiator to another ministry to start or help revitalize something. Church hoppers are a little different. You have watch a few things in order to spot these people. Here is what I call the seven signs and sayings of a church hopper: 1. Their first conversation with you is how bad their last church was. A church hopper will talk about all the things wrong with the last pastor and last church. I have a friend name Lee Holley from Calvary Chapel PSL. He said their policy is that if someone trashes their last chuch at your church, then you automatically disqualify them. The reason is that it will not be long before they do it to you. When someone leaves a church whether it is positive or negative, the conversation should be, "I was called out." 2. They get involved in "spurts" and go missing for a while. Church hoppers do not have the power to commit. Either they find fault or are scared of committing because they hop around. They will get really excited for a week or two, or even a couple of months, but in the long run they never commit long term. 3. They have a brief history with churches. Church hoppers have "spotty" church resumes. Mentally compile a "resume" in chronological history of how many churches they have been at, for how long and the reason they left. I have families who leave a church and they have been there 4 years, 6 years or 8 years. That is staying power. They have commitment and a ling term history. 4. They have been to EVERY church in town. Ask other pastor friends about "so and so." You can have an understanding of where they have been and why they left from an objective source. And here is the kicker- If those churches could not do it for them, what makes you think yours can? 5. They commit really fast and tell you, "I got your back pastor. I am here for you." The ones who left the quickest were those who committed the quickest and they made this statement over and over again at the beginning, "I got your back pastor. I am here for you." Now listen, I have core team members who are faithful, loving and supportive. They make this statement, but they back it up with actions. They are consistent in their actions. 6. They do not serve and give to any ONE local ministry. A big sign of a church hopper is that they don't give AND serve at any one local ministry. We have Sunday night church so we have people who go other places on Sunday mornings. I can honestly tell you that people who do not financially, regularly back the church AND serve will be hopping. People will stay where their time and money is invested at. If it is no where, then it will not be long before they are somewhere else. My philosophy is this: If you are a mature Christian who loves Jesus, then serve and give. If you are a mature Christian and attend the church because you need another church service, I have plenty of friends with more seats. We need your seats! :) Be planted and rooted somewhere, for the sake of the Kingdom, please. 7. They want to "help" your church by changing it to where they came from. Yes, church hoppers left a church they did not like, but amazingly enough want to change your church into that church. I have had people tell me that because I am not like Rod Parsley or T.D Jakes, then I am not a good preacher. They wanted to have us doing 80's Christian music as well. They were there waiting and hoping that they could change me, when they could not- they left. At the end of the day, the way to identify a church hopper is when they hop from your church to another. The best thing to do is to love them, know that is their gifting and keep moving on. So, can you tell the difference between and initiator and a church hopper? What is the major difference to you? Answer below....

Monday, March 28, 2011

When the Sun Goes Down

We have been reading Steven Furtick's book, "SUN STAND STILL" in our Community Groups this semester. We have seen great things happening in our midst and believing for greater things.

I am speaking from that book this week to our congregation on "When the Sun Goes Down." So many times we talk about, "breakthrough," "miracles," "walking in faith," and "deliverance," but in our experience we see the opposite. This can be confusing, hurting and demoralizing. To trust for a certain thing to take place and then the opposite happen can take the wind out of your sails.

The key to this is that Joshua saw the sun go down on a generation before he ever saw the sun stand still. Day after day he saw people rebelling and "locked" out of the promise land. Sometimes before we see the sun stand still we will see the sun go down. It takes audacious faith to continue to persevere and believe despite that. Here are three reasons God will allow the sun to go down in our lives:
These are from Psalm 42, when David was betrayed by his son Absalom and was seeing the sun go down.

God allows the sun to go down because:
1. It Creates an Opportunity to Get Closer to Him
David said that his soul "panted" for the living God. His sun gone down experience pushed him closer to God.

2. It Causes us to Reflect Upon the Goodness of God in the Past
Two times David says, "I remember...."

3. Our Hope will Remain in God- not a Vision or Positive Circumstances
David said twice to himself, "Put your hope in God." He was sad, depressed and worn out because his hope was in circumstances changing, not in the Unchanging God of the Universe.

As you have "Sun Gone Down Experiences" read Psalm 42 and gain comfort, encouragement and perspective.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Now What? The After Party

Okay, so we had our official Grand Opening on Sunday March 20th, 2011 @ 6:00pm. After months and months of praying, planning and promoting, we finally saw fruit from this. We had over 200 people show up for our Grand Opening. What a great day! It was encouraging, inspiring and exciting.

.....but then Monday came. I was really tired. I had to go back to my full time job. I am not "Pastor Kevin" at my job. As a matter of fact, I had two co-workers actively try to get me fired. I had to meet with management and our HR department about this. I had to work on next week's sermon. I began to work on our next events. Very anti-climatic. What now?

I am reminded of the birth of Christ. There were angels, traveling shepherds and God's glory that came that day. What a circumstance of miracles that led up to this event. I heard a message from one of my mentors, Dwight Dunning, who preached, "What Happens After the Glory?" He spoke on Christmas about the shepherds and all those involved in this event. It was probably pretty anti-climatic. They went back to "normal." They had this great experience, but what now?

After a Great Ministry Experience:

1. Take Time to Celebrate with Your Team: Have a party! Have fun. Thank them for their faithfulness and reflect upon the faithfulness of God.

2. Share with Them your Next Big Event: Shift their minds to thinking that was the end all. Remind them there is much more to come. Start working on improving your ministries. Use S-Curves for your advantage.

3. Make a Memory, but not a Monument: There are some preachers and even leaders in our denominations who talk about that "one experience," pastorate, church plant or book they wrote. They are experts of the previous 20 years, but have no clue how to shift for the next 20 years. Some guys say, "Yeh, son, I had 80 people at my church one time too." (gruff country old voice.)

4. Don't Try to Out Do the Previous Week: Ministry is tough. We have great nights where we progress and change and then we have MONTHS where nothing visually happens. It seems like we are plowing through concrete..... then BAM, we have a powerful week and so we work hard to out do the previous week. Don't focus on that. Growth is a process, not an event.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday's Thoughts: Kool-Aid

Why do people "drink the kool-aid?"
Why aren't people digging my "kool-aid?"
On Sundays, I am going to post thoughts about church and why false movements make it. I watch Jehova's Witnesses and Mormons go out in groups and spread their false gospel. I watch non-Christian movements about saving "pear trees" or something like that flourish and have followers.

Why is it that the church is so bad at starting movements? Only 1 in 10 church plants make it. Why? Why do pastors and youth pastors struggle to keep people coming?

The basic human need of every person is love and acceptance. The second major need on the "Bordeaux's" scale is "a sense of being a part of a greater movement to change the world."

Churches for the most part are lacking in these two areas. We thrive on superficial worship services with superficial relationships. We punish people by with holding love from them if they are not part of our standard or code. We also are so wrapped up in "doing church" and having Bible Studies that we don't have a vision to be a movement, sent by God, to bring tangible change to our communities.

People join false movements because they are accepted, loved and feel part of a movement that is greater than them.

Let's make a personal covenant to see potential and speak to the potential in people around us. Let's return to authentic relationships where people can be transparent. Let's also recover our lost mission and invite people around us to be a part of that.

So-
When is the last time you have told someone how much potential you see in them and called out gifts that you see?

When is the last time you sat over a cup of coffee, or hung out a while after church or a meeting and chatted about life with someone?

When is the last time you have casted vision beyond yourself?

Do people feel accepted in your ministry? Do people have the fire in their eyes about a vision larger than themselves?

Don't be mad if people ain't all up in your kool-aid. Maybe your kool-aid lacks sugar.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Is there such a thing as sheep stealing?

Okay, I have been turning this over in my mind for quite sometime.
I would love your feedback on this. The issue is what pastors call "sheep stealing." I have never understood the term or found it to be biblical. Recently, I had this accusation against me. I don't understand it because a pastor does not "own" someone and it is illegal to steal a person; I think that is called kidnapping.

So, here are my thoughts.
Biblically: As long as someone was in a household of faith that believed the major beliefs of Christianity, it did not matter. The only time Paul was concerned was if they were leaving the faith.
Ecclesiately: If one of my congregants feels led by God to go somewhere else, I honor that. We are the Church as a body.
Personally: If someone feels like it is time to move on or they are getting fed and connected somewhere else then no amount of convincing or manipulating is going to change that. I can't take it personally. I am not a super pastor. I have people who have left, who will leave and those who will come.

I had a gentleman talk to me the other day about his church and his desire to leave. My counsel was this, "I am going to give you the same instructions that I want someone to give a person in our congregation. First, seek God and hear from Him. Secondly, go to your pastor, face to face, and be real with these feelings. Thirdly, seek outside counsel before making decisions."

Finally, you love people unconditionally and encourage their faithfulness where they are planted. From that point they have to make their own decisions.

When you are starting a movement, you will attract people who are fans and those who are critical. Don't set out to prove critics wrong, rather continue on the mission and let the results of your vision speak for you.

So, is sheep stealing Biblical?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Some thoughts today on leadership from Stan Toler's pastor's devotional.

These points really gripped my heart on leading others effectively:

•know your limits
•consider the counsel of others
•don't let people put you on a pedestal.
•make sure you are transparent and confessional.
•learn the phrase, "I don't know the answer, but I
care deeply.
•encourage your spouse to keep you humble.
•listen closely to the deep still small voice of God.
•remember: Jesus loved all men, but obeyed his Father.

These are great reminders in our lives and in leading others.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Kingdom vs. Kingdom

Kingdom vs. kingdom

In my prayer time the other day, I felt the Lord say to me, "You are not building your kingdom to show off to mankind, but you are building MY Kingdom to see mankind transformed."

Often, people, leaders and pastors, have an expectation of what they are building. The leader or pastor will be consumed with "the work of the ministry." In all actuality we need other people's approval so much and are in the search to be significant that we are working at building something to show off to them.

We all have the need to be accepted and approved. I have mentioned this before, but we must allow God's Spirit to search our hearts and prod us. The question, as a leader, you must ask yourself is this, "If I walked away tomorrow from this ministry or job, could I still possess joy and a sense of significance from just "being" a child of God?"

Building God's Kingdom is surrendering to the path that He places us on. .

Building our kingdoms are marked by:
-Need to Control
-Source of Joy is Success from Our Kingdom
-Lack of Satisfaction with Current Situation (all leaders need to keep pushing forward, but "contentment with godliness is great gain")
-Starved for Someone to Recognize Us

Building God's Kingdom is marked by:
-Joy from Our Position as Sons and Daughters
-Releasing of Control (God is Sovereign)
-A Contentment that Produces Peace
-Thankful that God Recognizes and is INVOLVED.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

5 Questions to Ask Before Communicating


5 Questions to Ask Before Communicating

I recently listened to a talk by Andy Stanley and he outlined these 5 questions that guide his messages. Hope this refreshes and encourages you.
1. What do they need to know? This is your subject. One thought.
2. Why do they need to know it?
Educating them on the importance of your subject/thought.
3. What do they need to do?
Application.
4. Why do they need to do it?
Inspiration. "Imagine if..." "What if we all did this what would happen?" Paint a picture.
5. What can I do to help them remember?
Visual reminders, reiteration and point(s) easy to memorize.

I use this outline to help guide my weekly messages. It has made a huge difference.