Monday, December 10, 2012

The One Person that Can Ruin it All

Luke 15:29-31
29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
 31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.
I just finished a tremendous book called, "The Prodigal God," by Tim Keller. My friend Keith Decker gave me the book as I left FL this year. He served on staff there and told me that this book reflected a lot of the culture we dealt with in South Florida. I wondered what he meant by it. The book delves deeply into the psyche of the elder brother.
As I read this book several thoughts occurred to me about ministry. We are in search of the prodigal sons (seeing the lost saved), but it is the "elder brothers (those in positions)," that will destroy your ministry, relationship or organization. Elder brothers are hard to deal with but easy to notice. We often put a lot of emphasis on discipling the "prodigal son," but the prodigals will not cause problems; it is the elder brother that will cause the most problems.
Elder brothers will destroy the movement.
Elder brothers are those in your ministry or organization that have attitudes which will eventually become a cancer to the whole.
They are marked by:
1. Jealousy: The elder brother was jealous that his younger brother had a party. "Elder brother's" will always want you to do for them (or more) what you have done for someone else. They need the same or more attention. They secretly despise those who may need your time or who you choose to spend time with. Jealousy is a prime attitude.
They are also very jealous about position and gifting of others.
2. Entitlement: The elder brother felt entitled to what the younger brother had. He felt like the father owed him a party because he had been there and been faithful.
Elder brothers in your organization will show symptoms of entitlement. They will bring back to you what you did for someone else and how they "deserve" that as well. They will use tenure as a motivation.
3. Competitiveness: The elder brother felt like he was "competing" for the love of the father. It was a big competition. Elder brother's will often compete with other leaders in your organization. They constantly compete for attention, love and affection. They are on a path to be the most loved and adored. Their service is "tainted" by this skewed motivation. They don't want to live in anyone's shadow.
You have to deal with the elder brother the same way this father did. He simply stated the truth in love. Elder brothers are in desperate need of love and approval. They are trying to get love and approval from everything else. Keep reminding them that you love them and they are unconditionally loved by God. As you do this, call out these 3 symptoms. Help them by showing them what attitude they are displaying as well.
How do you identify and deal with elder brothers?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Effective Service and Powerful Adversaries

...for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. (1 Corinthians 16:9 NASB)

Paul told the Corinthians that he would stay in Ephesus until after Pentecost (May) because a great door had been open for "effective" service even though there were many or great adversaries. If you read the history of Paul's time in Ephesus you will find that it was VERY difficult. He was in a stadium where everyone was shouting louder than he could talk, "Great is Diana our goddess (paraphrased)." He was beat in Ephesus. This was physically. Even though he seemed to face rejection and physical harm, he stayed. Why? That's the worst church planting or ministry deal ever!

He had "effective" service. Paul was seeing people come to Christ despite them losing everything. Despite the loss, they were in love with following Christ. Everything centered around Diana or Artemas in Ephesus. Your job, your friends and religious upbringing. They lost it ALL. He was seeing "effective" service.

I believe the key to overcoming "adversaries" is seeing "effectiveness." If someone is able to see progress and effectiveness they will be able to withstand adversaries as well.

So, look at this for a moment. Where does your greatest frustration lie? I bet it is not fundamentally in your adversary, but in the lack of effectiveness in accomplishing your mission. Adversaries look bigger and more intimidating when effectiveness of mission is lacking.

Focus on:
What excites and motivates you?
What drains you emotionally?
Why are you discouraged or depressed right now? What is the root cause?
What do you need to see happen in the next 3 months that would bring a "spark" to your organization?
Where will you start hunting for new ideas?

The key to finding effectiveness, if you are stuck, is embracing empirically tested ideas that can help you fulfill your mission. When I survey pastors, and leaders in the church world (that's where I work), their frustration doesn't come from a lack of prayer or Bible Study, but rather ideas that can help them become effective.

I spoke with a friend recently that was excited to help a pastor set up a "tent revival." I am not saying that is bad. Hear me. What I am saying is that we are in the 21st century and that was a great idea 60 years ago. With over 3,000 doors of churches shutting each month, is that the best idea? My point is this: We can't live off ideas from 60 years ago to succeed. No business would do that. Why would people who serve the Living God do that? Effective service is the key. Ask the question, "Is this the BEST way available to us to accomplish our mission or are we regurgitating ideas from the past in an effort to try to be effective?"

Pray that God would help you see the REAL, Kingdom impact you are making now and that He would lead you to the right resources to help you become more effective in your mission. Adversaries look a lot smaller with the effective service happening.

RESOURCE OF THE MONTH: "Right Message, Wrong Method," by Craig Walker of

Full if great ideas for church leaders

Friday, October 12, 2012

Don't Steady the Cart

And when they came to Chidon’s threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. (1 Chronicles 13:9 NKJV)

This is probably the most preached verse in revivals I have ever heard. I have several different sermons from this passage myself. The other day I was journaling through the Bible and came to this passage. I was like, "Really? What could I possibly get from this that is new?"

I felt The Lord say to me, "Stop trying to steady my cart." I knew exactly what He meant. If you are like me you probably feel the need to control certain aspects of life. For me, it is pastoring a local church. I feel like I need to make it happen sometimes. If I feel the "cart" is falling I try to step in to fix it.
Uzzah failed to realize that the cart was God's. The ark of the covenant was where His presence dwelt in the Old Testament. God did not need Uzzah's help. God had it under control.

My cart is the local church. I have had to stop trying to "steady" the cart. The local church belongs to God, not me.

I am not sure what your cart is. Maybe it is a relationship, job or a church. At any rate, here three things that this passage inspires me to do:
1) God is Sovereign and in Control
2) I don't have to control everything
3) Train others to think this way

I love football. One truth about football is that there are many plays in a game. Every down is not 3rd down. Some possessions will end in punts. I don't have to score a touchdown every time. I don't have to steady the cart. The cart will be fine....

Monday, October 1, 2012

Is your Ambition Selfish?

As I was meditating on the Word of God the other day I had the idea come to mind about the difference between being driven or living with selfish ambition.

Now let me give a disclaimer: Don't go "organic" and say that you don't care at all or that it doesn't matter. Don't pull back to one extreme or the other but take time to search your heart.

I have broken this idea down to: selfish ambition, being driven or living in purpose.

1) Selfish-Ambition: This is the part where someone needs to succeed for a deeper internal purpose. They want to prove others wrong, have to "out-do" someone else, or need the success because of insecurity. This is the lowest level of attempting to fulfill purpose.
This leader simply uses people as tools for his/her creation. They will hurt other people to get to their goal in the process. Their personal success is more important than the organizations success. They personalize and take ownership by calling it "my" church, team or organization.
They usually have temporary, short term success with long term detriments.

2) Driven: This is where most of us fall into. Being driven includes having strong goals, striving to succeed and putting the organization as the top priority.
Being driven is not a "bad" thing but it can become bad for the leader. This drive can make you utilitarian and seem aloof to those who are not directly tied to the organization. You view those who leave as the enemy. It is almost an obsession to succeed. Driven individuals are often insensitive to others and view things in black and white against the goals/success of the "vision."

3) Resting in Purpose: All leaders usually go through this process of 1-3 through a series of hurt, disappointment and failure. I have seen that this is almost the only way to go from 1 to 3.
Someone who is "resting in purpose" is not lackadaisical but they see all of life and all people as part of the purpose. They view failing as a part of the purpose. They don't become irate or angry when goals aren't met. They don't use people but rather see the person as an intricate part of purpose. They are usually driven but easy going as well. They don't have strict judgments on other organizations and love to partner with people.
They simply rest in their purpose. They understand the sovereignty of God and rest in His grace.

All of us need this check-up from time to time.

Hope this helps you in your leadership journey.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Exit Ramp

I remember Dr. Sam Chand teaching us in a class at Southwestern Christian University on leadership where he taught us about people exiting your organization. He told us to help teach people how to leave correctly.

What I have seen is that most people exit jobs, marriages, pastoral positions and churches wrong. This is a matter of character. I have also seen that the people who leave wrong have very inconsistent lives. They struggle keeping jobs and relationships.

We have all taken an exit ramp at some point while driving. There are keys to exiting properly. Here are the keys and parallels to exiting a situation:

1. Is this our exit?
You have decide if this exit is your destination point. You do this by consulting a map. A map is an objective standard that helps you decide.
Most people exit at the wrong place. They exit because of compulsion or temptation. There are some great exits with awesome stores, but it may not be the right place. We need people to speak in our lives to help us be objective. Mentors are like maps. They have already been down that road. When someone doesn't want wisdom, they don't ask a mentor. Eventually they pay for it dearly.

2. What is the exit ramp "speed?"
As you make an exit you have to determine the required speed of the ramp. Some ramps are 45mph, others are 35 and you have some that are 25mph.
Most of us like to speed up once we feel called out or a season ends. This is serious. If you do this on an exit ramp, it could harm you and your passengers. If you do this in life it could harm you and the people you are with (family, church family).
Take it slow when exiting. Prepare and plan. Don't rush it. Rushing it is a sign of immaturity and impulsiveness. Slow down when exiting.

3. Do You Know the Traffic Flow?
Finally you have to yield to traffic and merge correctly. It is easy to get sideswiped when exiting or sideswipe someone else.
The final act of exiting is merging. Make sure you are being sensitive to what God is doing and how your exiting and merging is impacting others. Be sensitive and aware to God and people.

The organization I lead is a church. I wish I could say that people do it right, but it is often here that I see the most train wrecks and trouble with exiting.

Remember, you don't have to work up anger to leave. You don't have to be mean. Finally: the way you exit one season will determine your success in the next season.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Keep the Main "Thing" the Main Thing

2nd Kings Verses 34-35: He did not tear down the high places. However, he did build the upper gate....

I have been journaling through the Bible this year and came across this passage. I felt like God pricked me in the heart (in the loving Father way). So many times we lose focus on what is the MAIN thing in our lives. We usually lose it when we experience a level of success or when we are searching for the wrong kind of success.

This passage dealt with the building of a gate. The king also allowed the high places to exist. The high place was where they had erected a golden calf to worship. For generations the people of God had lost focus. However, he did build a gate. Did you catch that? He built a stinking gate. Was the gate beneficial? Yes. Was it a worthy accomplishment? I guess so.

BUT, the building of the upper gate was secondary to the fact that people were not in full devotion to the Lord. This is corporate and personal. What we build in ministry or at a job is never as important as being fully devoted followers of Christ. Christ did not die so we could build gates! He died so we would stop worshipping stuff we build and put the focus back on the cross. Our building of things will not pass to the next life, but our building of people will.

The job and goal is to make sure that our fuel and motivation is the love of God that was given to us by way of the cross. This may sound like an 80 year old man is writing this blog, but we have to keep Christ and His saving work central to all we do.

Church leaders, think about this...
1. Are you more interested in building a great "church institution," or in building disciples?
2. Do you "drive" people by the cross everytime you speak?
3. Do people know that EVERYTHING they will ever need was done on and through the cross?
4. Do you train people to chase blessings with works righteousness or challenge them to soak in the fact that they have every blessing already because of the cross?
5. Do you care as much about mentoring individuals as you do "performing" sermons each week?

Don't build gates your whole life and never deal with the high places. There is no substitute for it. Direct people to simply love Jesus, receive His work and then help them as they walk this journey. That is what it is about.

We have to keep the cross the priority, Christ central and everything else is just the "high place."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Foundation of a Healthy Church

As you many of you know, I am the Lead Pastor at a church in Richmond, VA. Dayton Birt of Redemption Ministries contacted me when he knew that I was going to be transitioning. There was a church in the conference that was once very predominant, but over the past several years has declined rapidly.

My wife, Dianna, and I found a group of people who wanted to touch their community with the Gospel. They had raised the white flag. I am not speaking of surrendering to Jesus (which they have done), but rather they had surrendered their past traditions, failures and successes. We feel that there is a great group of core people left to see this church "thrive" in their community.

During this revitalization project we have renamed the church to Thrive Church. We have retooled our Core Values and mission. Right now on Wednesdays we are looking at what a "healthy church" is made up of. Our goal is not to grow as fast as possible, but to become a healthy core that can grow healthy with God's timing. Unhealthy people need a healthy environment to flourish in. They will either want to become healthy, or leave.

Last Wednesday I introduced the core team at Thrive Church to the 10 Commandments of a healthy church. Dr. Sam Chand said this, "What is more important than strategy or vision? Your culture." The culture of an organization must be inspiring and encouraging, yet it must also have accountability. These 10 commandments are just guidelines to help us to remember what creates an inspiring and desirable culture.

The 10 Commandments of a Healthy Church:

          1. Thou Shall Worship God and not a Ministry Style or Tradition (past, present or future).
          2. Thou Shall Not Gossip about Others and Spread your “Opinions” to Other people about them.

          3. Thou Shall _____________________________. (Let this be open) 

          4. Thou Shall not Desire Positions but rather just be People of Production.
          5. Thou Shall not Run People off from the Church by being Mean to Them.

          6. Thou Shall be Willing to be Flexible to Find the Best Way for the Health and Growth of the Church and its People. (Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape)

          7. Thou Shall Embrace Other Races and Cultures. (racism and prejudice are  condemned by God and a mark of an immature disciple or worse, an unbeliever)
          8. Thou Shall not GET OFFENDED or STAY OFFENDED, but will act like mature adults when conflict arises. 

          9. Thou Shall work with others in a team ministry format to see the 8 systems come to pass. (speaking of Nelson Searcy's 8 Systems)
          10. Thou Shall be Generous with Lavishing Love on Others, Serving and Financial Giving.

I know there are HUNDREDS of these we could come up. These are just 10 that go along with a healthy church. You can use these with your leaders or come up with your own for your church, business or even your family.

All these commandments represent are "non-negotiables" that we must attend to.

www.ThriveChurch.ME Chesterfield, VA

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Potential Over Problems

I was recently sharing with our congregation from the Book of Acts Chapter 3. This is a powerful account of Peter and John healing a man who was lame. This man sat by the temple gate everyday begging for money. This man had an apparent problem. The religious people of that day recognized his problem and had figured that he would ALWAYS be like that. Peter and John saw a man, by the power of Jesus, that would be able to walk.

The key is that one group saw potential in this man while another saw problems.

If you are going to start a movement and see God move in the lives of people you have to be able to see potential in people. People will show up with very apparent problems. As a leader you have to see potential in them.

Peter and John saw potential. They also prayed for him. Finally, they helped the man to his feet.

To bring people to potential we have to be reminded of these principles:
1. Look at the potential.
-Don't gossip and talk about what they are, but talk about who they are in Christ and the plans he has for them.
2. Pray for their issues to be healed.
-They recognized and affirmed that he had an issue. Instead of talking about it, they spoke to him directly about it. Many times we dance around people's issues because we have turned the church into a popularity contest. I was once at a church where one of the main deacons would curse his employees out consistently. I don't believe that God sees that as cool to do to people. But, no one has ever sidelined that guy.
Pray for them and speak to their issue to bring wholeness. Learn to speak the truth in love. Speaking the truth in love brings them to maturity.
3. Help them get to the place they need to be.
-Finally Peter and John helped the man up by his right hand. They helped him. We cannot just see potential and pray, but we must get involved with them.

This blog is key to me because when I got saved I was delivered from drugs and alcohol. I needed people to walk with me, pray with me and see more in me than I could see. I had a local church that did that. I am here today because of

Monday, July 2, 2012

Leading by Fear of Loss

But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin. (2 Kings 10:31 NKJV)
---He set up golden calves so the people would not go to Jerusalem to worship God because he was scared to "lose" those people.---

As I am journaling through the Bible, I continue to find great examples of bad leadership. I researched the passage above to find out, "What was Jeroboam's sin?" I tried to over-spiritualize it at first, but really it came down to competition of keeping the people in his kingdom versus going to his brother's kingdom. So, he set up some golden calves.

I am not sure if I have blogged on this before, but it gripped my heart this morning. Many leaders are so scared that people will leave them that they begin to lead by fear and insecurity. I have seen this first hand. If you are under this tyranny, it can be very hurtful.

In 2004, I felt God leading me to go be the youth pastor at another church. Our church plant merged with another church and they did not have "room" for me. I prayed, fasted and sought God. My wife and I felt God's leading. When I went to visit my pastor, I did not get what I expected. I asked for prayer, counsel and blessing. He brought his prophetess in to give me a "word." They said I was leaving for money and control. That was awesome because I was a college student and the church could not pay me very much. He went on to trash that church and promise me I was making a big mistake leaving him. He also stated that a prophet just spoke at his church and told the congregation that anyone who leaves will be cursed. Long story short: best move I ever made; their church shut the doors and by the grace of God we have a cordial relationship today.

I shared that story for this reason; Don't let fear of people leaving inspire you to heighten your level of insecurity and scare tactics. Don't trash them. Bless them and love them. Create an environment where people can seek God and make their own decisions.

One final thing.... Don't play "God told me to tell you" tricks. Let people follow God and if it's wrong, He is big enough to speak to them. You can disagree with someone and still walk with them through their decision.

Don't walk in the "sin of Jeroboam."

Monday, June 18, 2012

Building Takes Time

And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its details and according to all its plans. So he was seven years in building it. (1 Kings 6:38 NKJV)

We live in a society that is addicted to convenience. Honestly, I love it too. We have our smart phones that do everything. There is no more need for TV guides, looking in the newspaper for movie times, watching the local weather or home phones. We have it all. Quick, easy and convenient.

The sad thing is that we have tried to convey this to starting movements. We all pack up in a car and go to the big church that found the secret to doing it faster, quicker and apparently, convenient. We read books, go to conferences and attend webinars looking for the faster way.

The passage above gives us insight into Solomon's building of the temple. It states that it took him 7 years in all. From the moment he was called to start it, it took 7 years. It took time.

Jesus called the disciples in Matthew 3, but did not commission them until Matthew 28. Time.

To build anything significant will take time. Time is the one element that everyone underestimates. I have said it before and will say it again: It's going to take more time than you anticipated and will be harder than you imagined.

Building takes time.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Success Can Be Your Greatest Enemy

But Peter lifted him up, saying, Stand up; I myself am also a man. (Acts 10:26 NKJV)

Success can be the greatest enemy to some of us. Success means the accomplishing of goals and the achievement of a fulfilled plan, but the goals achieved may be really bad for you.

Success and prominence can awaken a part of us that is dangerous. We all want to be admired. We all want to be known and heard. We all have a need to be needed. This can be dangerous if we have not been broken before the Lord. If we have not been broken before God then we will desire more and more success for the sake of success.

Peter faced a huge dilemma in the passage above. He had just touched success. He was at a place of fame. In that place he deferred back to God. This is much more than saying, "No, it was all God, not me." He deferred the fame and stardom that was being attributed to him.

We live in a personality driven generation. Spiritual leaders have to learn that God has to break us so we don't hunger for success but rather to have a life that makes a true difference.

How do we do this? There are no answers. You have to search your own heart.

1. Why do you want to be heard and known?
2. Do you always feel you are not appreciated enough?
3. Does the dream of success drive you or the desire for true impact?
4. Does more and bigger mean better to you?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cart Before the Horse- Missional

You have all heard, "Don't put the cart before the horse." The idea is that we can get key priorities mixed up that will prevent the forward motion that was originally intended.

In the Gospels we find a very significant principle. Before Jesus released the disciples into ministry, He called them to "be with Him."

I am part of, excited for and a proponent of the Missional movement. It is a great thing God is doing in our midst. Everyone is called to a ministry. Everyone is called to serve. Everyone is called to "live sent." I believe all this, but the Missional movement cannot START with these statements and sermons.

Why? Jesus did not start with these statements.

Before he called his disciples to go, he called them to simply "be with Him."

The Missional movement has to flow from a heart that is saturated and motivated by an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. People have to be encouraged to activate a living, vibrant relationship with Jesus FIRST. If we get this part right, then people will sense the prompting of the Spirit of God. They will be energized. Their ministry in the market place will not flow from a self-energized strategy, but rather it will be energized from heaven. Love will motivate their action instead if a sense of duty.

The key is not to teach people FIRST to serve more, do more and become Missional. The key is to teach them to be with Jesus intimately and personally. If this happens, we will see a people who possess the heart of God that burns for those don't know Christ.
If we bypass this foundational teaching of "being with Him," then we will see tired pastors teaching tired saints to do more, serve more and give more.

The Missional movement should flow from disciples who have hearts gripped by their Savior. The key is to intimately connect with Jesus. He is our source and strength. Let ministry flow out of relationship. Let our "being with Him" produce a doing "with Him." (we don't work for God, we partner with Him.)

If we get this mixed up we will see a certain fad that died because people were trying to model a Book of Acts life without the intimacy of being with Him in the Gospels.

Put the horse before the cart.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bitter-Birthed Movements

Jonathan Martin of Renovatus Church in Charlotte, NC sparked this topic in one of his blogs on church movements. I can't take all the credit for it.

I am all for different "expressions" of the church; example: home churches, traditional churches, Gen-X and even Messianic churches.

However, the problem that I do have is when an expression of a local church is being birthed out of hurt, bitterness and simply to prove a point against another expression. It's a huge problem when all their teachings is to prove someone else wrong. (might be the formation of a cult)

One of the prime examples in our modern context is the house church movement in America. I think the theory and practice of house churches in the right context can be a powerful expression. In China, where they are not allowed to meet corporately, the house church expression is a movement of evangelism and discipleship. It's very effective. The key to this movement is that it is birthed out of a passion and desire to see people saved and to become fully devoted followers of Jesus. They are not mad at a local church or hurt by a church. They were not voted out of a church or out to prove a point in which expression is better. They are not isolating themselves from mainstream Christianity. Their expression is the ONLY expression they can operate in due to government restrictions.

Any expression of the local church has to be birthed out of a God-ordained passion and calling. It cannot be birthed primarily out of being hurt by another local church expression. Neil Cole has done a terrific job of birthing house churches in California. He even states that was the strategy for THAT region and it may not be God's strategy for every region or everywhere. The expression depends on God's calling and the gift-mix of the leader.

We live in a generation who have been wounded by the church. Because of this (and I have been guilty) we seek to birth an expression that shields us from that hurt.

Here are a few thoughts:
1. Let passion, calling and not pain (hurt) be your driving force.
-Don't build something based on what you are against. I saw a Messianic guy post on Facebook this statement, "Many professed believers..." Wow. You just stated that you have the copyright on the perfect way to Jesus. Build something based on God's call. This will allow you to celebrate other expressions of the church and join in unity.

2. Don't birth an expression to prove a point on the best way to "do church."
-How many times have we seen this? The youth pastor at the traditional mainstream church gets discontented with the way things are done, he gathers his youth workers (while still taking a salary from the church he is at) and starts the beginnings of a new church. I can say this because I have been guilty. The whole premise is that we won't do it like "them." The mission can't be negative in nature instead of positive. If you can't celebrate the place you were birthed from, then you probably birthed it out of negativity. The other test is this: Are you in good standing and relationship with that church?

3. The expression should have some semblance of effectiveness.
-If you birthed an expression out of pain and hurt, and there is no effectiveness; you may be just "acting out" due to pain. As Gamiliel said about Paul, "If God is in it, it will succeed." The problem with some of the house churches in America is that they are 3 people who got mad at a church and meet in a home to go "deeper." There is no desire to see lives changed or desire for evangelism. Their is little effectiveness and pain is everyone's common denominator. Therefore, the result is an isolated, angry, small group.

The writer of Hebrews warns us, "The root of bitterness will defile the whole body." (Kevin's paraphrase)

Discontent coupled with God's calling should be a motivating factor to birth local expressions. Hurt, bitterness and wounds should never be.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Transition Problems

The key to sustaining a movement is succession. There were no pulpit committees needed in the early Biblical days because they understood development and training.

I am getting ready to transition from my current church; The Well. We have seen God do great things since we have been here. I would LOVE to stay here forever. God prompted me and confirmed through my presbyters that I am to raise up our associate pastor. We have other issues with my mom's health that is working in this situation too. (see video on facebook)

Many times transition is ugly, messy and has an element of death.
Transition doesn't go well and maybe never happens when:
1. The Leader Seeks Comfort and Security.
-Some leaders are more concerned in being comfortable rather than the calling of God. The paycheck is the voice instead of God's voice.

2. They are Insecure.
-Development will NEVER happen if you are scared the guy under you is going to replace you. They should!!!!
Your plan should be to develop and set someone up for success under you. Give them the spotlight. Believe in them.

3. Their Identity is Consumed by the Brand/Organization.
-I am a brand "king." I love to develop a brand and "own" it. Most leaders don't know how to separate their identity from who they are. They ask, "What would I do if I wasn't here?" They lose their identity with the thing they have built.

4. They Care too Much What Others Think.
-I am not advocating to not care what people think. That is bad. You can become arrogant and live life "proverbially flicking the world off." But do what is calling you to do and let people have opinions. The best way to handle the "Eliab's" is to say this, "I am sorry you feel this way. I trust when the time comes for you that you will attempt to follow God like I am trying to. Please pray for me."

We are building our organizations and ministries for ourselves, but rather for the next generation. Will your ministry outlive you?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Greatest Flaw of Most Leaders

And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its details and according to all its plans. So he was seven years in building it. (1 Kings 6:38 NKJV)

My point is, "Building anything worthwhile and sustainable takes time."

Most leaders who go into a ministry or organization and expect to see amazing things happen greatly underestimate this principle. Time is the one element that has to be in the equation of a solid ministry.

Over time most leaders feel defeated because they feel things should be happening faster. That is where my biggest source of discouragement comes. Don't lose that element, because that is what makes you a leader. The key is to continue to march toward the destination of your goals on a daily basis. Do something daily moves you toward your goals. This is where you can manage your drive and respect the "time" factor it takes in a vision.

With any project or ministry you walk I to, you have to say to yourself, "This will take much more TIME than I planned and will be much HARDER than I imagined, but the end goal will be WORTH it all."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Everyone Loves Back-Up QB's

I heard an NFL commentator make a profound statement on ESPN the other day. He said, "The most popular guy in a town is the back up QB." He was asked, "Why is that?" "Simple. He doesn't make any mistakes (as in interceptions) and gives the city hope that it can be better."

I have served as a back up QB most of life. Not in the NFL but in ministry. I held the clipboard and watched. And criticized. And dreamed that I could do better. When I had the chance to preach once every six months I looked pretty good. I heard the fans saying that the back up may do better.

Here is the reality. It looks real easy until you get in the game. I watched the NFL NETWORK'S biggest QB busts. Most of the busts were back up QB's who played good in a few games and signed for a big contract as a starter only to fail.

So, here are the takeaways:
1. If you are a back up QB be patient and understand that practice is easier than the game.
-Go through preparation and be supportive. You have NO idea what pressure the starting QB is facing; ex. Lead Pastor, CEO, etc. Don't believe the hype. There are always a group of people that will walk up to you and tell you that they wish you would preach more.

2. If you are a fan then don't create a QB controversy.
-He is the back up for a reason. It may not be better with him and realize that ALL teams or QB's have a bad streak. If you preach twice a year then you should look pretty good. If he plays one game a year, he should look good. Why? The starter throws 500 passes and you throw 20 a year.

3. If you are the starting QB then prepare the back-ups, work with them and ignore the fair weather fans.
-The greatest work you can do is mentor and train someone to take your place. Teach the back up QB. Give him opportunities.
-Ignore the fair weather fans. There are always those people who think a new QB will solve all their problems.
Granted, it may take a new QB, but it is the way it is handled.

Monday, March 19, 2012

When Expectation Meets Reality

As many times as I have tried to introduce these strangers called, "expectation" and "reality," they never seem to get along.

I have the privilege of coaching some church planters as well as doing life with pastor friends of mine. Somewhere along the line this conversation happens, "I thought we would have been a lot further along by now." This pertains to the number of people attending the church, finances or leadership.

When someone is preparing for ministry, things are pretty linear. There is a starting point and finishing point. The prime example is going to school. You have assignments and success is pretty easy to calculate with those assignments. You work toward a goal and achieve it through grades. You also are interacting with professors and students who, for the most part, think logically.

The hard part is when you leave the linear, logical method of expectation meeting reality and come to a place where you are playing a new game. Goals may be met or not. People may interact logically or not. There are no graded papers to tell you how you are doing. There is no "finish" line in site. This can apply to marriage, a job and ministry. Most people during this transition begin to experience depression and loss of focus. The main reason is because their dreams/expectations of something does not match the reality they are facing.

A marriage is a great example. I have seen dear friends experience divorce. I guarantee that one part that led to the divorce was their expectations did not meet reality. There are arguments. There are dishes. There are bills. There are bad days and good days. It is not a walk in the park. Working at a job is similar. The interview goes great. They really NEED someone like you to help their company. You discuss the salary package, sign the contract and the company is elated to have you as their new employee. About six months into it you find out that expectations don't meet reality. You are not appreciated as much as you thought you would be. You work longer hours than expected and you are not the great savior or asset you thought you would be.

A good example from Scripture is when the disciples were in the middle of a lake and a storm arose. They had left the shoreline under Jesus' command. They weren't at the shore anymore, but hadn't reached their destination either. They were in the middle of two realities. In the middle is where the storm arose. That is what happens with us as well. I don't think they expected a storm to rise up in their journey. The great news is that Jesus showed up in the middle of that storm.

This week you have probably said to yourself, "Man, in the beginning, I thought we would be a lot further along right now and not fighting the same battles." Be encouraged. You launched out at Jesus' call. You are not where you used to be. You have made progress. You are on route (even in the storm) to the destination. And realize that Jesus is in the boat with you. Be content with how far you have come and be courageous on moving forward.

In life, expectation hardly ever, IF EVER, meets reality. We are all thinking the same thing. We are all going through it. Today, take some quiet time and invite Jesus into the boat with you. He is with you on the journey and in the storm.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Key to Destroying a Movement

I heard this the other day from a "Volunteer Central" blog. It is something God has had to work on in me.

Have you ever been part of a church where there is constant drama? Where no one can trust each other?

I have. I hate it. I refuse to entertain this anymore. Where does it come from?
-Assuming negative intentions in everyone's actions.

For instance, someone challenges you, the leader, at a meeting on a plan you have. You leave and tell your spouse, "Yeh, I bet he is trying to vote me out."
Or, someone doesn't come through on a task and you immediately think, "They never liked me and wanted to destroy me."

Here is the key: Assume positive intentions upfront. Never assume negative motivations in someone's part. Take time to dialogue and find out why this happened. Then, you have to trust them and assume positive intentions on their part.

All negative actions are not from negative intentions. Sometimes we intend well, but it doesn't come through like it.

If you want to stop drama in your ministry then:
-Speak highly of others
-Think highly of others
-Assume FIRST they had positive intentions
-NEVER get into the questioning of motivation. Just ask them WHY and then believe them.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Finding Purpose

Jesus told him (the blind man), “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing! (John 9:7 NLT)

This man found his vision when he went to a place called sent. Many leaders lose their vision along the way. Our vision deteriorates when we are trying to build man made institutions and impress people. We begin to score our effectiveness on the wrong scorecard. There are many leaders in church ministry who feel blind, helpless and hopeless. This happens many times because of stress. Stress is formed when you are misaligned with the wrong purpose. So. What should be my purpose?

The key is not to "discover" your purpose, but to plug into the mission of God. God desires that people surrender their lives to Him and grow in the Gospel of Grace. (there is much more, but this is a blog- not a novel)

When you "wash" in the pool called SENT, you plug into God's mission. This man found sight when he submersed himself in SENT. We find purpose when we live our lives on mission. Everything becomes an adventure. Pick up basketball games become a "God-mission." Going to Wal-Mart becomes a mission field (which I hate.....Wal-mart that is).
If you are looking for purpose in a job or building a church, then you will always feel like life doesn't matter.

Go today and wash in the pool called SENT and find your vision again.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lessons from Restaurant Impossible

Okay, so possibly my new favorite show is "Restaurant Impossible." Chef Robert Irvine comes into failing restaurants to revitalize them. He has only 48 hours and 10,000.00 to turn the restaurant around.

He comes in and identifies the problems. He acts with an extreme sense of urgency and confronts all issues that are causing the failing culture.

The major issues, among many, are:
-The Menu
-The Customer Service
-The Decor/Design
-The Leadership/Management

As I was watching the show one night, I thought, "Wow, what if he did this for churches?" First off, 99% of failing churches wouldn't allow someone to confront these issues. However, here is what Restaurant Impossible has taught me about church "checklists:"

1. The Menu: Is your menu tasty? When a first time guest looks at your menu, do they see great food? How is your chef? Is it prepared professionally or thrown together?
-Grade your messages, worship experience and kids ministries. Would Irvine tell you, "This can't be served to human beings?"

2. The Customer Service: Are guests met by a cheerful hostess? Are the wait staff cordial and informative? Do they know the menu?
-For a church this is your guest services. Would you consider these front door folks cheerful and informative or lethargic and lackadaisical?

3. The Decor/Design: He brings in a design team and totally redoes the WHOLE restaurant. Does your church look up to date? Do you still have banners from the 80's? Is there trash and garbage piled up? Is media and lighting up to par? Still using cheesy clip art and boring lighting?

4. Leadership: Chef Irvine confronts the leadership. He sits down with the owner and management team to see if they are COMMITTED to lasting change. He lets them know how bad off they are. Are you committed to leading change? Will sustain the changes? Do really believe that you need to change?

Take time to grade your ministry. Yeh, and take time to watch Restaurant Impossible!!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sacrifice is Never Overlooked

Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. (Ruth 2:11 NLT)

Sacrifice is never overlooked by God. And anything that is done great for God's kingdom comes with sacrifice.

Ruth sacrificed everything because of commitment and relationship to Naomi. She left comfort, security and familiarity.

All great movements come with great sacrifice. The issue is that we live in a generation that wants great success without great sacrifice. This generation, especially the "Generation X" wants the houses and cars their parents have- NOW.....without the sacrifices, so they get in debt.

Sacrifice is never overlooked by God. Anytime you sacrifice, view it as a seed. You will eventually reap a harvest.

Think about this. We don't celebrate heroes because of their status, but the level of sacrifice it took to get them there.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Anatomy of the Assignment

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT)

Your life is made up of many, "mini" assignments. The Apostle Paul had assignments in the book of Acts. We call these assignments, "journeys." Every assignment Paul engaged had two important elements; length and purpose. We can sound cool like T.D Jakes and make it rhyme by saying, "season and reason (in your best preacher voice)."

Every time you enter an assignment these two elements must be at the forefront of your mind.

Know that your assignment has an expiration date. There is a length to how long this assignment is. Enjoy it. Make use of everyday. Once you step into that city, the hour glass is going.

Your assignment also has a reason or purpose. Like Nehemiah, survey what your purpose may be there. What problem has God assigned you to solve?

People who look upon previous assignments in a negative manner did not keep the anatomy of the assignment at the forefront of their mind. Pray over it. Think about it. Journal. Don't leave this assignment not knowing this important principle.

Monday, February 6, 2012

As a Team Corporately

The last post talked about the importance of "team" versus "individual." The Giants have won the Super Bowl and it shows the value of the team mindset.
My last post was about the local church body. This post is about the Body of Christ as a whole.

Too many churches have the "individual" mindset. They see other churches as competition and view themselves as superior because of style or methodology. I experienced this first hand several years back. There was a church that split off from another church in a city. The bigger church that was split from offered me a position. The pastor that splintered off also wanted me to come and serve. Dianna and I felt the Lord leading us in this decision to go with the established church, not the splinter church. I had breakfast with Pastor "Split." He trashed that church and broke off our friendship in a professional manner when I accepted a position there. Funny thing is that I approached him for breakfast because he preached Kingdom. He just could not live it.

How are you connecting the churches in your community?
Do you make meetings about your vision or do you seek to help others?
Do you praise or trash other churches?

Jesus sees the churches in our city as one. Why can't we? We are a TEAM.

For more on this concept, read Jason Dukes new book- BEYOND MY CHURCH.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Team vs. Individual

Watching the Superbowl media day interviews of the 2 teams in Superbowl 46 was very telling of why they are there.
The players from the Patriots and Giants both had a "team" concept versus an "individual" concept. Eli Manning even said, "It's not about my legacy. It's about these guys and our team accomplishing all they can."

Why don't churches have this mindset? As individuals and church bodies. There are way too many people that are about themselves and their legacy. The reason many churches and cities don't win us because they are full of diva church members. They want what's best for them versus what is best for the team.

I have seen these type of folks spark up and spark out at The Well. They may preach a team concept, but the second they don't get the ball they start crying. They make it about themselves. They complain to other team members because they don't get their way. They don't get involved unless they can be the spotlight.
These folks are cancers and consumers.

Thank God I have folks at The Well that want the team to win and the body of Christ to win. They see what needs to be done and will take on any role to help the team. Team players don't have to tell you they are team players. Everyone knows it.

You can never start a God-honoring movement without those with a team mindset. Ask God to remove and prine your ministry of the Terrell Owen's type players. Start rewarding team players who serve and look for TEAM first.

You ready for the Superbowl?
(next post will be about churches in the body of Christ)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Secret of a Dark Season

Dark Season- Matt 10:27 Whatever I tell you in the dark...preach on the rooftops.
Os Hillman said in his book, "The Upside of Adversity,"
Songbirds are taught to sing in the dark. There are something's that only God can do in you in a dark season.

My last blog was on the topic of a dark season as well. God allows dark seasons in our lives for different reasons. One of those reasons is because there are only certain things God can speak to us in a dark season. It is then that we are postured to listen. Most people stop listening because of the intense pain and loneliness those seasons can bring. It is in those times God wants to shift your paradigms. We all set up these theological beliefs about our methodologies that God has to crush. We have methodologies that some guy on TV taught us, but it is not found in Scripture. God will allow these methodologies and mindsets to fail so He can reshape us. Most people get bitter and jaded when this happens.

God wants to share things with you in the dark so you can preach it from the rooftops (high places). If you allow yourself to get bitter, damaged and jaded, your revelation in the dark place will be of no use.

What methodologies is God trying to break in you?
What is God trying to speak to you in your dark season?
How will it help people when you "preach it from the rooftops?"

Thursday, January 26, 2012

God Allows Dark Seasons

But God kept them from recognizing him. (Luke 24:16 NLT)

I believe this happened because he wanted to hear their heart and their true feelings; not religious talk. Jesus wanted to have a heart felt conversation. They were 7 miles away from their destination. They just lost their leader and hope. Jesus wanted to walk with them through their toughest situation. He wanted to be present in their pain.

So many times we approach God with "faith" talk and Christianese. We try to wear a mask. God knows that the things we are telling Him, we don't even believe. God desires that we are truthful and pour out our whole hearts to Him. He knows you are hurting. He knows that you are scared.

Could it be that God allows dark seasons, times when we don't feel Him, so that we will be real and show our true feelings?

What I love about this is that Jesus walked with them on their loneliest journey. He loved them that much.

Be real with God today. Cry before Him. Share your heart with Him. Leaders who start movements are transparent before God and to others.