When your Church Should Move

church move

When it comes to real estate, the old cliche of location, location, location is king. Your location matters. There is a corner near my house that no matter what restaurant goes into that corner, it never survives. I’m sure you have something like that in your city.

The same is true for churches.

Location matters.

Not only in terms of space and what kind of ministry you can do, but what and who is around you.

If you attend or lead a church, I want you to think for a minute about where your church is located and who is around that location. The people who live there, are they old or young? Hipster or middle age? Are they wealthy, middle class, below the poverty line, or a mixture? Think in terms of nationality and ethnic backgrounds.

It is easy to overlook this as a church and keep humming along.

A good missionary, though, thinks about who is around them.

Now the second question: Who are you as a church and as a leader best suited to reach?

This is a hard question and can feel like you are picking and choosing who to reach (which you aren’t). You are simply asking who you are as a leader and who your church is.

Often God lines up who we are with where we are.

I have a friend who planted a church in a bilingual community where almost everyone lives below the poverty line. Why? He grew up in a community like that and understood the struggles. I have another friend who planted in one of the most suburban places in America. Why? He grew up in one of the most suburban places in America and understood the idols and struggles of that community.

Here is the tricky part: What if who you are best suited to reach is not where your church is?

This happens to older churches who watch a neighborhood change around them.

You have two options at this point: one, change things to reach those around you, or two, move to where those people and cultures live.

The question a leader and a church must answer is which path to take. Both can be right.

While this is something church planters and missionaries think through as they embark on their leadership, this is something churches and pastors must continually consider as their church grows and ages. This is being a good missionary as a leader, and as your city changes it will mean some changes to your church and maybe even some hard decisions.

Highlights from Rethink Leadership on Team


I’m at Rethink Leadership Conference in Atlanta, which has been like drinking from a fire hose of leadership wisdom. The fourth session was on team, which is always a challenge in a growing church and one that I really appreciated. Here are some highlights:

Brad Lomenick & Heather Larson
  • Everybody around the table needs to be known and recognized for what they bring.
  • One of the best things that everyone can do on a team for the lead pastor is get good at leading up.
  • It is important to know what is the lead pastor’s passions in the local church to know how best to help him.
  • Influence matters far more than position.
  • What someone grows up is very different than what someone walks into.
Jimmy Mellado
  • The most important thing you will bring to your team is your soul.
  • The reason teams break up is the inner stuff, not the skill stuff.
  • Great gifts will take a leader to a level, but an absence of strong soul and character won’t keep you there.
  • Hell is not just a destination but can be a diagnosis of where your soul is today.
  • A good or rotten soul never stays to itself.
  • Do people want to be around you because of your soul?
  • What is running your life at any given moment is your soul. -Dallas Willard
Cheryl Bachelder
  • What are the convictions about leadership that are evident to the people who are entrusted to your care?
  • Why do people work?
  • Why do we lead?
  • Where are you taking the people you lead? How do you think about the people you lead?
  • A leader needs to take people to a daring destination with the humility to serve them along the journey.
  • A leader needs to choose to lead people to a daring destination.
  • Taking people to a bold destination is serving them well.
  • A leader must choose to love the people they lead.
  • A leader has to deliver results.
  • No one wants to hear your convictions about leadership if they don’t work.

Highlights from Rethink Leadership on Momentum


I’m at Rethink Leadership Conference in Atlanta, which has been like drinking from a fire hose of leadership wisdom. The second session was on momentum, which is always an elusive thing for a leader. Here are some highlights:

Geoff Surratt
  • We are on the cusp of a new way of doing church and that’s exciting.
  • Churches that are winning with Millennials…
    • Transparency. They don’t care about outside accountability. Millennials want to if you are the real deal.
    • Collaboration. Boomers want to know what happens at the decision making table. Gen Xers don’t just want to be in the loop, they want to be heard at the table. Millennials don’t just want to know what’s happening, they want to be a part of deciding what’s going on.
    • Learn to let Millennials lead. Our job stops being the mentor job but letting them get out in front.
    • Make failure an option.
    • They have figured out mission in a different way, they are living on mission(al). How are you on mission everyday, in everything you do?
    • Is your organization the real deal? Is there fluff going on here?
    • They learn to live in the mess, to do ministry that is messy.
Interview w/ Josh Gagnon
  • See the need and communicate the why behind the need gets people on the same boat headed in the same direction.
  • Staying consistent even when you feel like you are making no movement.
  • You gain momentum when you stay true to who you are.
  • You can find momentum in seasons on the calendar. Don’t fight the calendar, live in it, work in it.
  • People who create momentum are teachable, thrive in a culture of change and openness.
  • Momentum is killed when you do it at the wrong time with the wrong people.
Kevin Myers
  • A powerful force is the momentum of the soul of the leader, when Jesus is changing the life of the leader.
  • Keeping our calling current is critical to keeping our momentum, don’t let the fire go out.
  • Main thoughts: smoke what you’re selling. Sell what you’re smoking.
  • Questions to keep wood on the fire of my soul for momentum on the inside:
    • What’s my current word from the Lord? It’s not new, but what is God whispering to you lately.
    • What’s my current obedience to the Lord? There can be sacrifice without obedience, but there can’t be obedience without sacrifice.
    • What is my current awe before the Lord? Will I get on God’s agenda and trust Him to take care of my agenda?
  • How to move momentum as a church:
    • What’s your current territory?
    • What’s your current risk?
    • What’s your current discipline to afford the risk?

Highlights from Rethink Leadership on Strategy


I’m at Rethink Leadership Conference in Atlanta, which has been like drinking from a fire hose of leadership wisdom. The first session was on strategy, which was incredibly stretching. Here are some highlights:

Reggie Joiner
  • It isn’t the vision that determines our success at a church, it’s your strategy.
  • A strategy is a plan of action with an end in mind.
  • You don’t have to work at getting misaligned as a team or organization.
  • Questions to ask: What do we want someone to become? If you could only get the people who come to your church for one thing, what would that one thing be?
Carey Neiuwhof
  • Is vision as important as we think it is?
  • The reason vision isn’t as important as we think is almost every church has the same vision.
  • Your problem as a leader isn’t a vision problem, it’s a strategy problem.
  • Mission and vision determines intention, but strategy determines direction. -Andy Stanley
  • Strategy initially divides, but ultimately unites, every organization.
Leonce Crump
  • Forms and functions change, but convictions never should.
  • How do you change your strategy without losing your core:
    • Can you measure your core? Do you know who your core is? Make sure they know your core convictions.
    • Vision is taught, culture is felt. What do people feel in our church?
    • Every person wants consistency out of their leaders more than anything else in the world. Do you know who you are and can you consistently communicate who you are?

Monday Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • Some days after preaching you have this high that you can’t explain.
  • Some days, you feel like you trudged through the mud of a passage and came out on the other side only to see the next verse waiting for you.
  • Today, I feel like the second one.
  • If you missed yesterday on “Do good people go to heaven?” you can listen to it here.
  • Romans 1 – 3 is an amazing set of verses that sets up the amazing truths that await in the rest of Romans, but they are hard passage to preach through.
  • Grateful for a church that wants to know what the whole bible says and sit under hard passages like ones on God’s wrath and judgment.
  • Those are humbling topics.
  • Got to celebrate with someone who kept inviting someone who finally came.
  • There’s nothing better than hearing someone say, “I have prayed and asked for years and they’re coming today.”
  • It’s a reminder that every Sunday is someone’s first Sunday. 
  • Since moving to our new location I feel like we have been doing a lot of work behind the scenes of our church to strengthen our discipleship and leadership development systems.
  • Right now, our staff is working through the leadership pipeline material from lifeway.
  • Such solid stuff.
  • Can’t wait to roll this out across all our ministries this year and how it will help people move on a path to use their gifts and talents.
  • Started reading You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K.A. Smith.
  • The book is not at all what I thought it would be about.
  • Not sure if that’s ever happened to you.
  • But I’m loving it despite that.
  • So there you go.
  • Took our kids to the fair last week.
  • Spent too much money on rides but made a ton of memories.
  • Went to see Zootopia with our kids and 4 of their friends yesterday, so yes, we took 9 kids to the movies.
  • Got some funny looks.
  • All in all, a good movie. Always interesting processing with our kids the messages of a movie and it was interesting the timeliness of the zootopia message about being anything you want to be as it relates to our culture.
  • I’m predicting some fun conversations at dinner tonight about it.
  • If you’re like me, you are excited about the NFL draft this Thursday.
  • If you’re not, you just found out the NFL draft starts on Thursday.
  • I love watching the draft.
  • Yes, I’m that guy.
  • I’ll be on a plane Thursday night so I’m hoping the airplane wifi is better than the usual airplane wifi.
  • Got a lot to do today.
  • Tons of follow up.
  • Back at it…

10 Ways to Beat Stress & 5 Other Ideas To Help You Grow as a Leader


Here are 6 posts I came across this week that challenged my thinking or helped me as a leader, husband and father (and athlete this week). I hope they help you too:

  1. 10 Rules for Beating Stress by Travis Bradberry
  2. 10 Rules for Upping Your Speaking Game by Nick Morgan
  3. What Happened When I Stopped Using Screens after 11 p.m. by Alex Cavoulacos
  4. 8 Ways to Slow Down & De-Stress Your Busy Life by John Rampton
  5. 5 Things Great Leaders Know about Emotions by Carey Nieuwhof
  6. 5 Reasons Church Announcements Cause Problems by Thom Rainer

Should I Leave my Current Ministry Position?


Too many pastors work at churches they would not attend if they didn’t get paid to be there. Think about this: If you work at a church, would you attend it if you didn’t get paid to be there?

The answer to that question will tell you a lot about your church and whether you should be working there. I talk to so many pastors who would not attend the church they work at. Bottom line, maybe they shouldn’t work there.

Over time your church will attract people who are like the people in leadership and on stage. So when you are planting a church or pastoring a church, do it with the mindset of, “Would I come to this church?” The easiest way to be passionate about your church and what is happening is if you want to be there.

I get asked a lot if I am really as excited about Revolution as I seem on Twitter and my blog. Yes. I love my church and what God is doing there. I can’t wait to get there on Sundays.

The question I started with, “Would you attend the church you work at if you didn’t get paid to be there?” was the impetus for us to leave the church we worked at in Wisconsin and move to Tucson to eventually start Revolution. The answer to that question says a lot. It is a scary question to ask and even scarier to look that answer in the face, but I wonder if more churches would be healthier and more effective if pastors and staff wanted to be there.

In Recruiting, Don’t Say No for Someone


One thing I have noticed in the lives of pastors and those who are on church staff is a fear when it comes to volunteers and delegation. I understand where it comes from and appreciate it (because I used to feel the same way), but there is also a lot of danger in it and a robbing of our churches.

It goes something like this. A leader in a church has a need, a role that needs to be filled. They have someone in mind who could fill it and do it very well, but they don’t ask them. It might be because they think the person is too busy, that they will say no or that they won’t want to do it. (Most leaders normally feel this way because we assume that if we don’t like to do something every person on the planet also dislikes doing those things.)

What happens then is the leader says no for the person without giving them a chance to say yes or no. Would that person say no? I have no idea and neither do you.

I hear from many pastors, though, who feel guilty for asking people to give their time in building the kingdom. I understand this sentiment as people are incredibly busy. But I think this also says something about our theology. If all Christians are given spiritual gifts and will one day make an account to God for how they stewarded those gifts, it is our job as leaders to help them develop those gifts and use them (Ephesians 4). When we don’t challenge people, make the big ask of them to step up, we are robbing them of becoming all that God wants them to become, and we are keeping them from using all the gifts and talents that God gave to them.

So what do you do? “Don’t ever say no for someone.”

So I started letting people tell me no instead of doing it for them. What it has done is require me to trust God more when it comes to leaders and the holes that our church has, and it has forced me to make some big asks of people and cast vision to people. But God has also had people step up in ways that I didn’t expect them to do because, “I didn’t say no for them.”

So, pick up the phone, ask that person for coffee and cast a huge vision to them and let them decide. You never what might happen.

What Makes Leadership so Hard?


The other day I asked a friend why he thought leadership and being a leader is so hard. He looked at me and said, “That’s why only a few people aspire to it and only a few people ever do it.”

To cast a vision. To stand against a tide. To say that you are moving forward to a place that no one has ever been and you don’t know how you will get there, but you know you are going. That is hard.

To challenge people to become all that they can be. To withstand the criticism that comes with leadership and the misunderstanding that comes with being confident and purposeful. That is hard.

Romans 12:8 says if you have the gift of leadership you should lead with all diligence. Diligence means, “A zealous and careful nature in one’s work, a decisive work ethic, budgeting one’s time, to guard against laziness, putting forth full concentration in one’s work.”

That is leadership. That is what makes it hard. Leadership challenges. Leadership and vision divide because they say, “This is where we are going and this is what the win is, and consequently, that over there is not where we are going and that is not the win.”

What Should the Culture think about Christians?


When I read through the gospels, I am blown away by the conversations Jesus had with people. There is a difference in the way Jesus talked to them and his expectations for people outside of Christianity compared with today.

It always strikes me as interesting when Christians talk about the culture, politics or current issues and are surprised when people who don’t follow Jesus act like they don’t follow Jesus.

Why are we surprised?

If Christians believe that the gospel changes us (which we do), then we should expect someone who has been changed by that truth to live and act a certain way. The New Testament writers did. That’s what all the NT letters are about, how to live and act as the body of Christ. Paul did it one way in 1 Corinthians, a different way in Philippians, and James and Peter added their own takes to it.

Here are a couple of ideas on how to interact with the culture in light of this:

1. If you are a follower of Jesus, live like it. One of the best ways to move the gospel forward is to live like the gospel has changed you. Too many people who attend church every week do not live, think or feel any different from those who claim to not follow Jesus. As I said once in a sermon, a follower of Jesus should be obvious because they will have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22 – 23).

2. Give space for those exploring Jesus to explore. Your church, community group and missional community should be places where those who don’t know Jesus feel comfortable asking questions and exploring Jesus. You should be the kind of person those who don’t know Jesus feel comfortable being around. Too many Christians don’t know how to be friends with people who don’t know Jesus, let alone share their faith with them. Be a good friend. Be someone who can be counted on, trusted, respected. This goes a long way in sharing the gospel.

3. Have a community/life that is attractive to those who don’t know Jesus. Same thing as above. If you are a pastor, how many people who don’t know Jesus do you see coming through your doors each week? How many people are getting baptized? Following Jesus? If the answer is low, you do not have an attractive community for the gospel.

4. Lovingly confront sin. If you are around humans, you will need to learn how to lovingly confront sin. The NT calls us to do this. Over and over community is to pull people aside and confront the sin in their lives with the truth of the gospel. Christians are good at shouting about the truth but terrible at doing this in a loving way. Don’t be passive aggressive. Remember how broken you are when confronting someone, and confront them the way you would want to be confronted.

5. Lovingly confront Christians who are unloving to those who don’t know Jesus. When you hear about Christians pointing their fingers, turning up their noses, or expecting not yet Christians in your church to act like Christians, lovingly confront them. Tell them how great it is that someone felt comfortable to put their cigarette out in the parking lot; at least they are there. Roll the red carpet out for not yet Christians by teaching Christians to love.