Year: 2015

The Leaders Top Priority

As leaders we need to be competent in our craft but it’s not our first priority.

What are your thoughts?

Post to Twitter

Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Discipleship, Leadership, 2 comments

Build Big People

Big People

Several years ago I was blessed to be at a pre-conference event with Jack Hayford. The event had not been well advertised so there were only a few of us in a small room with Jack Hayford. I count it as one of the most valuable days of my life.

I have always admired Jack and what he has done. It was incredible to hear him talk about the early days of the his church plant and being all alone in the chapel asking God to send people. He said something that day that has impacted significantly.

“We never set out to build a big Church, we set out to build big people”

Acts 20:28 instructs us as elders to take heed to ourselves and to the people Jesus bought with His blood. We must not use people to meet needs and serve events. I have never met a leader who would say that is their goal however the way many leaders do things has the end result of using people to meet needs and serve events.

We must always treat people as those who Jesus bought with His own blood. We must be gift based leaders. We must value those entrusted to us as an end in themselves not a means to an end. Until we start stewarding God’s people, His most valued and cherished creation, we should not expect our organizations to be healthy and prospering.

Are you leading with a priority to those you lead or are you merely viewing people as a way to accomplish something; even Kingdom things you feel called to address?

Would love your thoughts.

Post to Twitter

Posted by Gary, 0 comments

Do We Need Something New?

Back to Basics

I attended a state college in Nebraska as a brand new believer where the campus ministry was all about discipleship. Their hearts cry was II Timothy 2:2:

You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. 
II Timothy 2:2 NLT

Very simple but not easy. One of the leaders carried around a copy of The Master Plan of Evangelism in his back pocket and if you invited him to dinner you better set at least two other places because he was bringing “trustworthy”, or what he called “FAT” people (Faithful, Available, Teachable), with him. What he was doing was simple. He was simply sharing life with faithful men. But not easy, they were with him all the time.

If you have followed this space you know I love technology and I love systems. However my rule #1 is “always default to relationship”. People are the point of everything we do. Consider what Paul thought would be his final conversation with the elders at Ephesus.

So guard yourselves and God’s people, Feed and shepherd God’s flock-his church, purchased with his own blood-over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders. 
Acts 20:28 NLT, emphasis mine

When we get a revelation of this it changes everything we do. Jesus bought His people with “His Own Blood” and then appointed us as stewards of His greatest treasure. Don’t get caught up in the word “Elder”. If you are a leader in the church, or in any organization, you have been “appointed by the Holy Spirit” (see Romans 13 if you’re not sure about that) to “shepherd” them.

We are always looking for a new idea, a new tool, a new system, a new book, a new revelation. Not saying that’s a bad thing we should use every tool at our disposal to complete the call God has put on our lives. However:

Hans Ur von Balthasar wrote in his book Prayer:

we think that God’s Word has been heard on earth for so long that by now it is almost used up, that it is about time for some new word, as if we had the right to demand one.

James Clear wrote today in “Do More of What Works Already“.

There are many examples of behaviors, big and small, that have the opportunity to drive progress in our lives if we just did them with more consistency. Flossing every day. Never missing workouts. Performing fundamental business tasks each day, not just when you have time. Apologizing more often. Writing Thank You notes each week. Of course, these answers are boring. Mastering the fundamentals isn’t sexy, but it works.

We definitely need revival in the church but in my humble opinion we will bring revival by returning to the fundamental things of the faith ourselves and bringing as many people along with us as will go.

Do something simple today. Spend 20 minutes in the gospel of John, call an old friend and thank them for what they have contributed to your life, invite your neighbor to Church this Easter Sunday. Simple kindness is a game changer.

Life naturally becomes more and more complicated and we must fight to keep things simple. Make a decision today to be a people focused leader. With the empowering of the Holy Spirit look for the gifting in those entrusted to you, call it out, equip it, and release it. That is how we will change the world.

Let me know how it goes.

Post to Twitter

Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Discipleship, Leadership, Pastoral Care, 0 comments

Walk In Your Gifts

“We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are”
Anais Nin

Are you ever frustrated because people don’t behave in a certain way? Do you ever get angry because someone didn’t respond the way you would have?

The right way.

We tend to be a self-centered bunch. I don’t mean selfish I mean self-centered. It’s something we have to constantly stay vigilant about. We are all uniquely made by God with specific gifts, talents, and bents. This is how a community is built. This is how a church is built. We all bring something unique and valuable to the community.

We must constantly be on guard against expecting others to behave in a certain way or respond to things the way we would.

This morning I was looking through my Strengths Finder results and realized I have put expectations on people based on my personality and my priorities. I haven’t been fair.

I’m reminded of a song by the band DOWNHERE called “The Problem”

Today I repent of my judgmental spirit and my expectations on people that have been unreasonable. I will walk in my gifts, not someone else’s, and I will not expect others to walk in mine.

Will you join me?

Post to Twitter

Posted by Gary in Church Growth, Leadership, Personal, Practical, 0 comments

Are Results All That Matter

We are a results oriented culture, but are results really the only thing that matter?

For several years I was a Pepsi route salesman back in the day when the driver did everything. Sales, delivery, merchandising, the whole thing.

My first route was a full service route which meant I serviced machines with no real time to grow my route. I was on a dead run from 5:00am to 5:00pm every day filling pop machines all over the city of Lincoln NE.

I didn’t have much opportunity to win sales contests and get the trips or the swag the other drivers got. So when Barqs root beer had a contest I saw an opportunity. Over the next two months I filled every pop machine on my route with Barqs root beer. Both the slot where it went and every nook and cranny in the machine. When you opened the doors of my machines all you could see was Barqs root beer stacked to the top.

When the contest was over I had won a trip to Kansas City where my wife and I stayed at the Adams Mark hotel, went to a baseball game, and a dinner theatre over a weekend and had a great time.

I didn’t sell a another case of Barqs root beer for a year.

Are the results really the only thing that matter?

What was the goal of the contest? To sell root beer right? which we did. My question from a leaders perspective is; was the spurt in sales over two months enough to offset the lack of sales over the next year. I know I wasn’t the only one who engaged in this activity. Maybe Barqs saw some value, I’m pretty sure our local bottler didn’t.

If we as leaders only help people who are producing are we really leading and building people or are we just helping ourselves? I would submit to you that if your only recognizing results your not building anything, or worse yet anyone. If results are our only metric what things are going on to get the recognition, or the bonus, or the office, etc.etc.etc.

We should be looking for capacity and consistency, not results alone, and coming alongside those people to help build the right skillset to get the right results.

If we work with people of character and capacity the results will come. The reason we have problems in our organizations is we focus on the wrong things. Only recognizing high capacity doers is a big problem in lots of churches and organizations. We get the end result but often at a price that is unacceptable if we will stop and consider it.

Results certainly do matter as a metric for evaluating how things are done but be careful how you interpret those results.

You will get more of what you reward.

Do you want results no matter the cost or do you want consistency that will lead to greater, longer lasting, and more ethical results.

Post to Twitter

Posted by Gary in Discipleship, Leadership, 0 comments

Lights, Smoke, Worship?

Lights and smoke do not make what we do on Sunday a show, and the lack of lights and smoke do not make what we do on Sunday worship.

Lot’s of digital ink has been spilled recently about the “look” of worship in a lot of churches and why it either hinders or helps “worship”.

Many writers and leaders have diagnosed a problem. That problem being the congregation is not engaging. I believe they have correctly diagnosed the problem. However I believe the wrong solution has been prescribed. What has been missed IMHO has to do with the presence, or lack thereof, not the presentation, necessarily. The presentation can be the reason there is no presence in some settings but let’s start somewhere else. Let me give examples as explanations.

James K.A. Smith just posted An Open Letter to Praise Bands this morning.

It’s a good article. In it he gives three criteria to evaluate whether we are leading worship or delivering a concert.

1. If we, the congregation, can’t hear ourselves, it’s not worship.
2. If we, the congregation, can’t sing along, it’s not worship.
3. If you, the praise band, are the center of attention, it’s not worship.

In his final paragraph he says “My concern isn’t with style, but with form:”

I’m not saying he is wrong. What I’m saying is there is another aspect that is more important than style, or form.

Doug Lawrence also posted 5 Ways to De-Professionalise Your Worship.

Doug gives us these tips:

1. Stop being a slave to glitz
2. Start seeing congregations as people instead of numbers!
3. Let people see worship as part of their offering instead of just yours!
4. Stop competing with pop culture, you’re probably bombing there anyway!
5. Shut it down instead of whipping it up!

Again I don’t mean to criticize this critique. Although it does begin with an assumption that I am confident is not true of many churches. Most Church leaders and worship leaders I meet are great people who love God and love Gods people. Unfortunately We don’t have many fathers in the church. Many teachers but not many fathers. Seems like Paul mentioned something about this in 1 Corinthians 4:15. So most of todays leaders have not been taught incorrectly. They think the magic is in the media, or the presentation, or the show. “If you build it they will come” is true but what are we doing with them once they arrive?

I am not against the media, the presentation, or the show, necessarily. The issue is deeper and bigger than all of these things in themselves.

Late last year Matthew Sigle at Seedbeed, a Methodist blog from Asbury Theological Seminary. nails the main issue in his post called “Misplacing Charisma: Where Contemporary Worship Lost its Way.”

Among other things he says:

it’s important to point out that this theology of worship, while undergirded by “praise and worship” songs, understood the entire time of singing (the pauses, instrumental solos, spontaneous prayers, raising of hands, shouting, etc.) to be part of the progression from praise to intimacy. The songs themselves are only a part of the complete picture of what is occurring in a Charismatic praise and worship service. Something much deeper is understood to be going on in worship.

This needs to be couched in the next point he makes:

What’s missing? The answer is found in looking at what happened when “praise and worship” was adopted by mainline denominations. During the 1990’s many mainline congregations began to import the songs, sounds, and some of the sights (like hand raising and clapping) of the praise and worship style. In many cases, what got lost was the robust pneumatology behind this approach to worship. In other words, many mainline churches brought the form, but didn’t bring the theology of praise and worship into their congregations.

That last point is the main point and the reason we’re in the fix we’re in and is not exclusive to “mainline churches”. We do need to be careful about what elements we bring into the worship service. That is a much bigger conversation than I want to get into here but I want to note that we must evaluate why each element is present.

The bigger issue as leaders is our why. If get the why of worship right the how will take care of itself.

The only way to evaluate the corporate time of worship entrusted to us as worship leaders is did the Bridegroom meet with the bride?

  1. Did I prepare a place for the two to meet?
  2. Did I approach our time together with a deep love for the bride as the one Jesus bought with His own blood? (Acts 20:28)
  3. Did I prepare as one laying down his life for the sake of unity in the body?
  4. Did I prepare myself and my team well enough to recognize when the bridegroom enters and then get out of the way when He does? (John 3:29-30)

Before you reply let me clarify. I understand sometimes the bridegroom does not enter (Read Song of Solomon). I also understand your tradition may define “His entering” differently than I would. We also need to be sure we are not trying to manipulate a feeling or an emotion, although I defy you to come into the presence of God and have it not be an emotional experience, what we do is not about a specific outward response.

Having said all of this let’s make sure we begin from the right premise before we begin diagnosing a cure. Let’s do all we can to prepare a place for the Bridegroom to meet His bride and then get out of the way.

Would love your thoughts.

Post to Twitter

Posted by Gary in Intimacy W/God, Leadership, Worship, 1 comment