The Magic Bullet of Recruiting

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Every church and ministry team needs more volunteers. There is always a shortage, whether that is for a sound team, set up and tear down or kids ministry. There is never enough people.

When this happens, people in churches begin looking for the magic bullet of recruiting.

What most ministry team leaders think is the magic bullet is, an announcement from the pulpit.

It makes sense because the thinking is, “if people knew of the need, they would serve.”

This is faulty thinking. The reason it is faulty is because the ministry leaders are often high capacity people with a servant’s heart who see a need and meet it. This is a small percentage of people in any church. Most people see a need and think, “someone should do something about that.” The reason someone is a ministry leader is because they are doing something about it. 

Here’s another problem with the pulpit announcement: the perception.

Let’s say you make a plea for kids ministry volunteers. You have to say yes to whoever signs up then. You can’t deny the creepy guy or the unqualified person who hates kids. You are also telling every mom who does not know the church well, “they will let anyone back there with the kids.” The other perception you give when you make plea’s from the stage is you communicate to your church, no one serves around here.

So, what is the magic bullet of recruiting?

Ready?

It will seriously blow your mind.

Here it is.

Ask.

That’s right. Ask someone.

One of the main reasons people don’t serve in a church is because they don’t feel like they are qualified. They don’t know enough, aren’t talented enough, don’t have enough time or any number of fears.

When you ask someone, you are able to tell them, “I believe you can do this and I’m going to help you.”

The vast majority of people who serve every week in any church do so because someone asked them.

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Other People Determine Your Success

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The longer I’m in ministry and the larger Revolution gets I’m more and more convinced that those who can work well with others go farther and are more successful.

Often, the goal for many leaders or people is to show they are the smartest person in the room.

I worked at a church who had a talented graphic artist. He knew more about graphic design than anyone else in the church (and it was a large church). He also let it be known that he knew more than anyone else. He always complained to pastors about the ability or lack of ability of others. Put down what other people did, etc.

Whenever he talked about a situation he disagree with, he always made himself sound like the martyr or the only person who cared.

What was interesting about all of this was that he was not a nice person. He didn’t play well in the sandbox. Behind each ministry team he was on were a sea of bodies. All people he just couldn’t work with. People who did not understand he was smarter than they were, had more experience than they did and all around, did their job better than they did.

Why didn’t people see this? he would complain.

The reality was, people did see this. They saw how talented he was, how much experience he had, but no one cared because ministry is a team sport.

When we decide that we are smarter than the team we work with or the people around (and you may be the smartest person), you keep yourself from growing and becoming all that you could be, but you keep others from it as well.

How do I know?

I used to be this way and still struggle to fight against it.

Here are a few ways to know if you are hindering yourself:

1. You are the only one that cares. People with this elevated sense of themselves are the only ones who care. They are the only ones who are passionate. You may never say this, but your body language or attitude communicate to everyone else, “you don’t care as much as I do.” When a team or volunteers sense this, they check out. Why? Because they do care. As much as you? Maybe not, but they care. Your job as a leader is to help them care. Also, if you are on a ministry team at a church and not the leader, your leader cares even though you might think you are more passionate than they are.

2. No one does it as well as you do so you can’t let go. This is a struggle every leader has. Sometimes, this is a struggle people on a team have because they think (or they know) they are more talented than the leader. It takes humility to be on a team and be more talented than the leader. It takes humility on the part of the leader to have people on their team who are more talented than the leader. If you are a leader and someone can do something 70% as well as you can (or better), give it away. Stop holding them back, stop holding yourself back and stop holding your team back. If you are on a team and you can do something better than your leader, don’t passive aggressively tell them, be honest with them.

3. You think others are ruining the ministry or your work. Unless a law is broken, one incident or weekend at a church will not destroy all the work you’ve done. Often though, the smartest person in the room (which is the person we’re talking about, who thinks they can get by on talent, hard work and knowledge) thinks others are ruining things by what they do. Yet, they aren’t. They are simply doing things differently. This is one reason most churches stay small, they are led by people who are not willing to allow others to use their passions and gifts.

4. You find yourself bouncing from one job or ministry role to the next. Often, when someone doesn’t work well with others, they have a history of changing teams, ministries, churches and jobs. It is always “the other people” or “the situation.” You’ll hear things like, “They didn’t appreciate me.” “I wasn’t challenged, I was bored.” “They didn’t understand me.” You’ll hear about office politics that kept them from advancing or how someone was jealous of them. You’ll hear a lot about the fault of other people and nothing about what they did to leave a trail of short stay’s in jobs. At some point if you are this person, you have to admit that it isn’t them, it’s you that’s the problem and the unhealthy one.

5. The same problems follow you. What is amazing about life, jobs and teams is that a problem that you have on one team has a miraculous way of following you to your next team because, wait for it. You’re there. I knew one leader who changed teams and jobs numerous times in a short period of time and was so frustrated, yet she couldn’t see that she was the consistent piece in every situation. Each team she was on it was the same story, she couldn’t get along with anyone and she never understood why she kept running into the same problems. If you find yourself running into the same problems wherever you go, look in the mirror and see what is there.

In many ways, this blog post is are the lessons I’ve learned over the last 10-12 years of leadership. I was the guy in all of these points. I thought I was the smartest person in every room I entered and I made sure people knew it. I thought I cared more than others, that I could get by with my knowledge, talent and hard work and that would lead to success, but that is a lonely way to live because eventually you get passed over for promotions or leadership opportunities and no one wants to work with you.

In their book Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, the authors use a phrase for healthy leaders and healthy groups (they call them tribes): I am because we are. For you or your team or church to reach its potential, you must be able to work and play well with others. You must grow in your “relational intelligence.”

But I’m an introvert, or I’m a strong personality you might say. Doesn’t matter. If you want to be all that God has called you to be, you must grow in this. Or else, you’ll never get as far as you could.

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How to Ace an Interview

Four candidates competing for one position. Having CV in his hand

Over the past 6 months, I have sat through countless interviews for our church. While interviewing with a church can be different than interviewing with a school or hospital, or any other company, there are some similarities.

If you are about to interview for a job, here are some things I’d suggest you do and don’t do so you’ll get the job:

1. Be alert. When you are interviewing, be alert and prepared. If you are tired, don’t interview. Remember, the interview is your best impression you are giving to someone. Don’t look or sound sleepy. If you don’t sound excited, I as the person interviewing you won’t be excited about you.

2. Ask them questions about the church or job. I am amazed at how many people ask me no questions about the church or myself. I realize you can learn a lot about a job online, but ask questions you know the answer to. If only to see if they will tell you what you read online. This shows me you are interested in the church and vision and not just a paycheck.

3. Ask them questions they ask you. If they ask you about your strengths, weaknesses, experiences, ask them the same questions. Remember, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Your immediate boss in any job will determine the level of joy and excitement you have, not to mention they will determine how much you advance in a job so be sure you like them and know them before saying yes.

4. When they ask about your ideal job, be sure your answer includes the job you are interviewing for. I asked someone to describe their ideal job on a church staff and they didn’t mention anything about the job they were interviewing for. Seriously. If your ideal job isn’t the job you are interviewing for, look for something else. If the job is a place holder until you find your dream job, any interviewer worth their salt will know.

5. Don’t speak poorly of your previous job or employer. One of the biggest things that will make me stop an interview process has to do with how an applicant speaks of their past employer. I know, you are leaving the church, which means there is a chance you have anger or hurt. If you haven’t dealt with it yet, you aren’t in a good place and would not make a good person for a church staff. Deal with those issues and let go of them. Want to impress someone interviewing you? Speak highly of the place you are leaving.

6. If you are sending the church or company anything (video, resume, picture, materials) make sure they are the highest quality. When we hired a worship pastor I put in the job listing to send me a video of you leading worship. I was blown away by the caliber of every video I got. Some were incredible, some looked like my 7 year old made it. What you send to a job says, “This is my best work.” If it isn’t, don’t send it because I will believe it is your best stuff.

7. Let the church or company bring up money. I had a mentor in college tell me, “If an applicant brings up money before we do, I take them off the list.” I know, money matters and determines a lot. At the same time, I don’t want you on my team for the money, but because you believe in it. Also, salaries and benefits are always negotiable. Most places post a low offer, so negotiate it to your needs.

8. Look presentable. If you are doing an in person interview, dress for the job. If it is a video interview or on the phone, check your equipment. There is nothing worse than talking to someone and having equipment fail. You look unprepared. When going to an interview, dress a level above the job you are applying for, goes a long way.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

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  • It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve done a mind dump, so here goes.
  • A ton has happened in the last 2 weeks.
  • I got to spend some time away with Katie and the kids in the mountains.
  • So relaxing.
  • I love being in the outdoors and in creation.
  • So refreshing.
  • I got to speak at Exponential West this last week and do a breakout on planting a church and not killing your marriage, and one on building a strong team.
  • I love being around church planters and encouraging them.
  • Their passion for evangelism and seeing people follow Jesus is inspiring.
  • It was also great taking our new worship pastor Jerad with me.
  • Katie got to help shoot another wedding this past weekend.
  • I love seeing her photography grow and see others affirm her talents and gifts.
  • We announced yesterday that we hired a new Kids’ Pastor at Revolution.
  • After a long 6 month process, God had someone right in our church waiting to step up.
  • So excited about having Bill Rozier join our team.
  • He brings a ton of wisdom, passion and leadership that is sorely needed in our kids ministry.
  • If that wasn’t enough, Revolution is going to 2 services this Sunday!
  • Such a good season in our church and my life.
  • Makes up for how terrible my Steelers looked yesterday.
  • Besides my Steelers, I could not be more excited about life and ministry right now.
  • Time to get back at it…

When You’ve Been Betrayed

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All of us have been betrayed. A spouse who walked out, cheated. A parent who left. A child who hurt us. It might be someone you work with or a member of your church. It could be someone who changed the details of a deal that you agreed to.

All of us have been been betrayed.

And when it happens, it hurts.

The reason is simple. The only way to betray someone means you have to be close to someone. While you can feel let down by a national leader or role model, betrayal only happens in close proximity.

Ministry is a major place for betrayal and when it happens in a church context, it hurts.

A lot.

Last week I spoke at Exponential West and at each of my breakouts I talked to several people who were in the midst of betrayal or just walked through it. Here are some things I reminded them that may prove helpful to you when you find yourself betrayed:

  1. Jesus was betrayed. While this sound trite and Christianese when you have been betrayed, it should provide us comfort. Jesus knows what it is like to be betrayed. He knows what it is like to have friends fail him, walk out on him, lie and abandon him. This has helped me to walk through betrayal and misplaced trust.
  2. Their true colors will be seen. Our first inclination when we’ve been hurt or betrayed is to get back at someone. We want people to know that we are hurt, that they lied to us, we want to ruin their lives and name in the way they’ve ruined our lives. In the end, if someone doesn’t have character, it eventually comes out. If someone is lazy, eventually everyone knows. While they may not know as quickly as you’d like, everything comes out.
  3. It’s for your goodIf Romans 8 is true, and I believe it is. Then when we are betrayed, God is and will use it for our good. In the moment, this does not always provide the comfort that it should, that’s more about us than God though. It is true and it does bring comfort for us. When you are betrayed, it is an opportunity for you to grow. You are able to see blind spots, or places you didn’t pull boundaries, or situations you didn’t give enough oversight to. Regardless, when you are betrayed, it can be a wake up call to get better at something and this is good.
  4. Take the high road, your true colors will be seen. In the same way that their true colors will be seen, so will yours. Again, not as quickly as you’d like, especially if you are in the right, but they will. If you have character, that will be shown, if not, that will as well.
  5. Don’t be bitter. Bitterness is waiting you when you are betrayed. Don’t give in to it. While God is working in all things, pray against bitterness, let go of the person and situation as quickly as you can (even though this may take months or years). Start. Ask people to pray with you against a hard heart. For Katie and I, when betrayal happens we pray Ezekiel 36:26 for our hearts, that God would replace our heart of stone so that it does not become hard.

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The Relational Soul: Moving from False Self to Deep Connection

Most of the books I review tend to be helpful and provide good insight into a topic I find interesting. A few books I read would fall into the truly life changing, life altering category. Books that shape me and my preaching, marriage, leadership or life. To fit into that category, it must be a book that I think everyone should read. Tim Chester’s book You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions was one. The Relational Soul: Moving from False Self to Deep Connection by Richard Plass & Jim Cofield is another one.

The authors walk through why we fail at relationships so often and show how that begins the before we are even born, but then our inability to deal with what our lives have been like and how to move forward. Many people cannot work well with others, can’t engage in their family or marriage, struggle to make work connections and all because of something in their past that has not been deal with. This isn’t to say that it is easy, only that, to live in true freedom and be our “true self” as the authors put it, we must deal with those things.

For me, this book was incredibly eye opening into my own heart and relationships.

Here are some things I highlighted:

  • Loneliness is one of the most universal experiences.
  • We are designed for and defined by our relationships.
  • We are structured by and for relationships. Our relationships determine whether we have and enjoy life.

  • To be appropriately close in relationships flows out of our capacity to trust others and ourselves well.
  • how important people in our life feel about us is remembered not “in words, but in our emotions, body, and images in our gut-level way of knowing.”
  • Not every emotion needs expression, but every emotion needs recognition.

  • God chose to create us with the capacity for relational connection. God also chose to develop and nurture this capacity by relational connection. Reflect on that for a moment.
  • It’s impossible to change what is false if we don’t take responsibility for it.
  • We are masters at creating an image, but we are novices at recognizing and repenting of the image we have created.
  • God longs for us to express our giftedness and to believe that he delights in us.
  • We do not find our true self by seeking it. Rather, we find it by seeking God.
  • Our truest identity is not a self we create but the self that God creates and freely gives to us in Christ.
  • The greatest gift any of us can give another is a transforming, receptive presence.
  • True-self living requires the willingness to embrace and tell our story. All of our story.
  • Our story is composed of three things—events, emotions (surrounding the events we experienced) and interpretations (what we think we learned from the events and emotions of our lives). Events and emotions don’t become a story without an interpretation. Our interpretation is the script of our lives. It becomes my identity, and I become my interpretation.
  • Whatever we do not own will eventually own us.

  • God sees and knows us more fully than we can see or know ourselves. His interpretation of me leads me into a truer way of being me. His interpretation of me reinterprets my interpretation of me. What we discover from God’s story is that God longs for me and I long for God. We discover our true self in Christ.
  • We cannot make peace with others without making peace with our past.
  • we are nurtured by relationships. In the community we learn what it means to live out the story of redemption. In the community the Spirit of God resides, encouraging, teaching and guiding its members into a deeper love for God and others.

  • Soulful relationships are a gift that requires our intentionality.
  • Strong relationships are the fruit of doing certain things well.
  • We learn to give love by first receiving love.
  • We cannot engage well with others without accepting our limits and losses.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. This is one of those books that you should stop reading what you are reading and buy this book.

Being a Pastor’s Wife

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Many churches (and pastors for that matter) do not know what to do with pastor’s wives, how to treat them, what role they play or how important they are. It is a hard role to live in and stay in. Everyone has a lot of their own expectations of what the wife of a pastor should be like, yet, they are all different.

While Revolution (and myself) has struggled just like every other church to figure this out, I believe Katie and I have figured some things out that we have put into place which will prove to be invaluable in the future. While this is not exclusive to pastors, any leader in a church and for that matter, any husband can do better in understanding their wives and how to engage them.

Below are 6 things Katie and I have learned that I hope will be beneficial for you:

  1. Pastor Your Wife as Much as You Pastor Your Church
  2. Without Her, You Fall Apart
  3. What Role a Pastors Wife Plays in the Church
  4. Spiritual Warfare in the Home
  5. “Just” a Wife & a Mom
  6. Handling the Loneliness

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Discipleship in Daily Life

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Discipleship can be one of those tricky words. It carries the idea of becoming more like Jesus, but how do you know when you’ve reached it? I think this is one reason so many churches create discipleship classes because then you can at least cross things off your list.

The problem is that you can attend all the classes, read all the books and still not be anything like Jesus.

The question a disciple needs to wrestle with is: When people see me, do they see Jesus in my life? Do they look at me and think, “That’s probably what Jesus would be like at the soccer game, at Starbucks, around the dinner table or interacting with a cashier after a long day.”

In this way, discipleship takes on a daily meaning in addition to having applicability.

I think one of the failings of the church has been our ability to separate discipleship from life. By doing this, we’ve allowed people to think they can’t do it or that it isn’t for them. It is for spiritual people, women, kids, pastors, or theologians.

But, if my calling as a disciple of Jesus is to disciple my neighbor to Jesus, then I can do that by working on a car with him on the weekend. I can open up seats at my table and have people around it so we can spend time together, talk about life, our joys and sorrows and see how God is working. I can brighten someone’s day simply by showing up, giving a smile or saying hello.

Discipleship has then become something I can do and can see the tangible benefits for me and others from it.

What’s interesting in the gospels is how often Jesus helped people or served them or did something with them when he was discipling them. He didn’t sit them down and open a book, he walked, ate, laughed, cried, gave a hug or simply was there. He did things that we do every day, but he did them with gospel intentionality. 

The thing that I’m often telling my church is, “Look where you spend time, look at the places you go every day, every week. Look at the people you run into, the circles of relationships you are in. How can you go there with gospel intentionality? How can you go there knowing that God placed you and not someone else there?”

When we realize that, we begin to see divine appointments pop up and we see how God can use our lives and we see how God is using our lives.

All because, we live life with gospel intentionality. 

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Being a Pastor’s Wife: Handling the Loneliness

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Many churches (and pastors for that matter) do not know what to do with pastor’s wives, how to treat them, what role they play or how important they are. It is a hard role to live in and stay in. Everyone has a lot of their own expectations of what the wife of a pastor should be like, yet, they are all different.

While Revolution (and myself) has struggled just like every other church to figure this out, I believe Katie and I have figured some things out that we have put into place which will prove to be invaluable in the future. While this is not exclusive to pastors, any leader in a church and for that matter, any husband can do better in understanding their wives and how to engage them.

Over the next month, I’ll be sharing some of the things we’ve learned that I hope will be beneficial for you.

If you missed them, you can read Pastor Your Wife as Much as You Pastor Your ChurchWithout Her, You Fall ApartWhat Role a Pastors Wife Plays in the ChurchSpiritual Warfare in the Home and “Just” a Wife & a Mom.

Being a pastor or a pastor’s wife is a unique role.

Besides the expectation that people have as to what they should be like and do, there is the relational aspect that is difficult.

For a pastor and his wife, friends are hard to come by. For a few reasons: some people want to be friends with a pastor or his wife so they can be close to the power, they like the feeling that comes from being close to the center, they want the inside track or information. Many people expect a pastor and his wife to be at every birthday party, baby shower, wedding shower, or anniversary party (and bring a gift)!

I remember one person who got mad and left our church because I didn’t show up to help him move. Even though he had never asked, he was angry I just know he was moving and come help.

That is not a joke.

Every person has had someone stab them in the back, lie to them or break confidence and share something secret with a group of people. For a pastor and his wife, put on the expectation that people have that they will be perfect, not struggle in their marriage, not struggle in parenting, not have doubts and you see how this can be difficult. I’ve seen pastors get fired for ridiculous things they shared with an elder they thought was a friend. I knew one pastor who was fired because his wife talked to an elders wife about a struggle in their marriage, that quickly came before the elder board and he was let go. Mind you, this was not a disqualifying issue.

Many pastors and their wives decide, loneliness is better than the pain.

It isn’t. In the long run, it is harmful.

When we started Revolution, everyone we got close to seemed to end up leaving the church. Church planting can be incredibly lonely. We reached out to other pastors and pastors wives and got the cold shoulder. So we pushed through.

In our Acts 29 assessment, our assessment team told us, “You don’t have friends. You need to stop holding back and start trusting people again.” Mostly that was on me and my inability to deal with past hurts, but it was a wake up call.

This isn’t without risk. It takes wisdom and time.

You don’t just share your hurts with anyone. You must be careful and wise about who is your accountability partner.

I’m an introvert and so I don’t have a ton of friends and can be content with a few close friends. Katie is an extrovert and so I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone to make sure we have time with friends and are making that a priority. Men, make sure you are encouraging your wife to get time with other women. Get babysitting, give her space to have hobbies and fun. Encourage her in this way.

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Top Posts of September

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In case you missed them, here are the top posts for the last month:

  1. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  2. How a Wife Flourishes
  3. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  4. Waiting on God Through Cancer: Justin & Heather Bailes
  5. Thoughts from a White Dad of a Black Son on Ferguson
  6. Dear Worship Leader
  7. Vague Pastors
  8. 10 Ways to Know if You’re Putting Your Kids Before Your Spouse
  9. How to Win Men
  10. 7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse