Every Church Has a Target

book

If you were to ask most pastors, church leaders or people who attend church, who the target of their church is, this is the answer you will most likely get, “We’re trying to reach everybody.”

This sounds nice, it sounds Christian and loving, but is impossible.

No church is trying to reach everybody. 

Here’s how I know: One, it is impossible. Two, it is impractical.

Think about it like this: the way people dress at your church, the style of preaching, the length of a sermon, the style of music, if you have small groups, MC’s or sunday school classes, the age of people on stage, the look of your building, all of these things decide who will come to your church.

One of the problems churches have is they feel like it is wrong or unloving to have a target.

Churches in the New Testament had a target based on who was there and they contextualized the gospel to their culture and target (who they felt called to).

What is incredible to me is that if you ask a company (Starbucks, Old Navy, Google) who their target is, they know. If you ask a church, the organization with the life saving, life altering truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ who their target is, they don’t know.

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

book

Dallas Willard on There’s no such thing as casual sex.

Al Mohler on God and the Gay Christian? A response to Matthew Vines.

Recently a new book by Matthew Vines was released claiming to present a biblical case for same sex marriage. Albert Mohler, along with James Hamilton, Denny Burk, Owen Strachan, and Heath Lambert, have produced a free eBook offering a response to the biblical, theological, historical, and pastoral issues raised by Vines’ book. To download a copy, go to sbts.me/ebook.

Hanna Rosin on Your not as busy as you think you are.

The art of busyness is to convey genuine alarm at the pace of your life and a helpless resignation, as if someone else is setting the clock, and yet simultaneously make it clear that you are completely on top of your game. 

Ed Stetzer on Why full and public repentance matters.

Pastors are held to a higher standard and must repent of sin in accordance with that standard. As such, pastors are different, not in value, but in responsibility and expectation. They are worthy of double honor and they are harder to accuse. We can see the practical reason for this– like it or not, being a religious leader attracts a higher level of criticism. If you are a pastor, you are probably already well aware of that reality.

Brian Howard on Social media wisdom for Christians and pastors.

Be wise about what you say online. More than representing Grace, you represent Jesus to the world. As leaders, you are “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor 4:1).” Take your calling seriously, and think through how your public comments, posts and “likes” will be privately perceived. If you like it or share it, you endorse it. So if in doubt, leave it out.

Enhanced by Zemanta

5 Ways to Live When You’re Tired

book

It’s the week after Easter. As a pastor, you are tired. Mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally and relationally.

There’s a good chance that you have been preaching almost every week since January 1st. The summer isn’t here yet, so you know it will be a little bit longer before you get a week off of preaching.

The problem is this: you have very little left to give mentally, physically, emotionally, relationally, but most of all, spiritually. 

In light of this reality, let me give you ___ ideas to finish the ministry year strong.

  1. Take care of your soul. Pastors spend so much time helping others that we often fail to help ourselves and care for ourselves. Read something soul stirring, something that challenges you and has nothing to do with leadership or your upcoming sermons. Read something just for you. Over the Easter weekend, I read John Ortberg’s new book Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You. Sometimes I read something from John Piper or  Charles Spurgeon. One of my favorite’s for this is Mondays with My Old Pastor: Sometimes All We Need Is a Reminder from Someone Who Has Walked Before Us.
  2. Take your day off. This can be hard to do after Easter. There are people to follow up with, new believers to disciple, people who need to get connected on a serving team or in community. There is a lot to do. You also have volunteers who are tired and sometimes, because you are so tired (and your spouse is tired) you are both on edge and not being at home helps to keep the peace and is easier on things. Don’t fall for that trap. Deal with the issues that come up at home, deal with the heart issues of delegating things. Know that you have all the time you need to accomplish all you want to accomplish. Notice I didn’t say, “all you need to accomplish.” You have time for your day off and accomplishing everything else, you just need to plan better.
  3. Plan your vacation well. You should be taking some time off this summer and when you do, don’t make the mistake of just showing up for vacation and hoping you relax. You need to plan it. How much relaxing are you going to do? I would challenge you to not take phone calls, look at emails, twitter, instagram or facebook. When we go on vacation I hand my phone to Katie, she changes all my passwords for email and social media and then we leave. It is great. I am able to engage with my family fully. Also, what are you going to read on vacation? I’ve said before that pastors need to read more fiction to let their brains take a break. Last year I read all of Daniel Silva’s books and this year I’m working through a series by Vince Flynn.
  4. Be prepared for your vacation. I usually try to take a retreat overnight before vacation. For this reason, I find that the first 2-3 days of vacation and my summer preaching break I am on edge, I have a hard time letting go of ministry, what has happened and engaging with my family. I try to get away for a night, spend time in silence, reading my bible, journaling through the past year, confessing sin, listening to the Holy Spirit about my heart. This is a time that is not sermon or vision focused, it is about my heart. By doing this, I am able to let go of many things that have weighed me down so I can engage with my family and truly rest in the summer.
  5. Spend time with friends or doing something you enjoy. Because of how busy the spring is for ministry, activities, and dealing with sickness, you have probably not spent a lot of time with friends or done the activities you enjoy. Maybe it has been too cold to get outside where you live and you feel it. Take some time for this. Call up those friends and make dinner plans. Set time aside for a hike, gardening, a bike ride or whatever you love that you haven’t been doing.

One of the reasons many people burn out is we don’t think through or work hard at rest and recharging. I think it takes more work to rest than it does to do anything else. We have to focus on it, engage it and let go of other things for it to happen. Rest, recharging, will not just happen. We will not just stumble into it. If you are a pastor, the fall that is coming up is too important for you to limp into it because you failed to make the most of your summer. Don’t make that mistake.

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta

Cheap Kindle Books [4.22.14]

Kindle-DX

Here are some great leadership books:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Fixing What’s Wrong with Your Church

book

I remember when I was in my 20′s looking for a new church job after seminary and one of my professors told me, “Find a church that you would attend if you didn’t get paid to be there.” Let me ask it another way for pastors, “Would you attend your church if you didn’t get paid to be there?

The answer for many pastors is a resounding, “No.”

You cannot fix anything at your church, you can’t make lasting change until it is clear you want to be there. 

Here’s why it matters:

  1. You aren’t bought in. If you don’t want to be there, you aren’t bought in. You may tell me you were called there or at least take a paycheck from that church, but you aren’t bought in. You will take the next higher paying job as soon as it comes along. As soon as life with the elders or staff member gets difficult, you will update the resume. If you are not bought in, the first sign of a difficult season will send you packing. I know a guy who simply quits his job whenever it gets hard or he doesn’t like someone he works with. Pastors can be the same. This environment creates little buy in from your church and team.
  2. Others know you aren’t bought in. Your church and your leaders know you aren’t bought in. It is obvious. You have no vision, no excitement for the future, you don’t invite anyone to church, you don’t talk about any conversations you have with non-Christians. You are simply showing up and people know it. Pastors think they hide it but your church is as perceptive as kids are with their parents, they don’t miss anything when they are looking. When it comes to vision and excitement, your church is looking to see what you have.
  3. Without being bought in, you will change the wrong things. If you aren’t bought in and aren’t excited, if you don’t want to be there, you will have no vision. When this happens, you will change what you just learned at a conference. You will come back and start a drama team, start using candles, do dialogue in preaching, have more songs or less songs, preach expository sermons or topical ones depending on what the latest trendy pastors said he is doing. This creates a roller coaster ride for your church. They don’t know what the win is and they get nervous when you go to a conference because of what will change afterwards.

I would say, if you wouldn’t attend the church you work at, find a new church to attend. Notice I didn’t say work at. Be bought in somewhere before working there. This is why, when someone emails Revolution about a job, we tell them to move to Tucson, start attending Revolution and we’ll see what happens. We want people who are bought into our vision and excited about where we are going, not people who want a paycheck.

[Image]

Enhanced by Zemanta

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

book

Tim Challies on The preacher’s cheat sheet.

Preparing a sermon is one of the most gratifying and the most difficult tasks you’ll ever face. There is joy in finding meaning in the text, in finding structure, in developing just the right outline, in discovering the perfect illustration. But there is also labor and, at times, intense spiritual warfare. 

Bob Russell looks back at 40 years of ministry and says what he would do differently and the same if he did it all over again.

If I could do it again, I’d stay in one place for 40 years and then step aside at age 62. 

Brad Lomenick on 12 tips to being a better communicator.

Drew Dyck on What hollywood gets wrong about heaven.

Did a 4-year-old boy from Nebraska really visit heaven? I don’t know. My hunch is that the popularity of such stories tells us more about our view of God than the place in which he dwells. Ultimately I believe we flock to gauzy, feel-good depictions of heaven and tiptoe around the biblical passages mentioned above because we’ve lost sight of God’s holiness. I fear we’ve sentimentalized heaven and by extension its primary occupant. I worry the modern understanding of God owes more to Colton Burpo than the prophet Isaiah. And I think this one-sided portrayal diminishes our experience of God. We can’t truly appreciate God’s grace until we glimpse his greatness. We won’t be lifted by his love until we’re humbled by his holiness.

7 things a good dad says.

I have found myself thinking back to the many models of fatherhood I have seen and admired through the years. What made these fathers admirable? What set them apart? What was it that they said to their children? From these models I have drawn seven things a good father says.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • Having a hard time getting going this morning.
  • Most Monday’s feel like that, but Easter has a way of taking it out of you.
  • If you’re a pastor and struggling today, here are some ideas to help you.
  • Blown away by God’s grace to Revolution Church this weekend.
  • The Stations of the Cross on Friday were incredible.
  • Love exposing our church to a practice they haven’t done before.
  • I loved hearing from people who have done the stations with us before talk about how powerful they are doing them again.
  • Yesterday was incredible at Revolution.
  • We had 2 baptisms and 7 people take the step of beginning a relationship with Jesus.
  • That never gets old.
  • We had over 100 kids yesterday in Planet Rev.
  • Praying God’s timing speeds up so we can find a full-time kids director.
  • If you know of someone who would be a good fit or is interested in the position, let me know.
  • Loved hearing Davin and Derrell’s story as they got baptized.
  • Humbled by how God uses our church in the lives of people.
  • We kicked off our series on the book of Galatians yesterday.
  • I think the timing of this book will be incredibly helpful for our church as we continue to live in God’s grace.
  • It feels good to be back preaching through a book of the Bible.
  • That is definitely my favorite way of preaching.
  • If you missed yesterday, you can listen to it here.
  • Over the weekend, I started to read John Ortberg’s new book Soul Keeping
  • So good.
  • It reminds me of this fantastic book.
  • Both are much needed reading for pastors.
  • We have our kids homeschooling end of year celebration tonight.
  • Should be fun.
  • I told someone I met over the weekend that we homeschool and he asked, “You can have tattoos and do that?”
  • So funny.
  • One of the things that was cool to see yesterday was to see some people we had invited to church come.
  • Such a cool feeling.
  • You hope, you pray and then when they are there, you pray really hard that something hits them.
  • And that the preacher doesn’t say anything stupid.
  • I’ve been working through my book and I am about 50% done.
  • Excited to keep working on it and see what God has in store for it.
  • Last night Katie and I sat on the back porch talking about it and reminiscing of where we came from in the past 5 years.
  • Crazy to think where we are as a church now.
  • I have my next coaching appt. with Brian Howard today.
  • I can’t begin to describe how helpful this has been.
  • Time to get back to it…
Enhanced by Zemanta

Culture Trumps Strategy

book

One of the reasons that churches fail to change or be effective is the leaders change the wrong things.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast. -Peter Drucker

In their book Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and ChurchesPeter Greer and Chris Horst point out corporate culture is tough to pin down. It’s difficult to define. But it sure is easy to feel. Culture is just “what happens.”

Every church says their strategy is to welcome new people, help people meet Jesus, grow in their relationship with Jesus, develop leaders and plant churches. Yet, for a very few churches is this reality.

Most churches do not see guests, new believers, baptism’s or disciples.

Why?

Their culture fights it.

So what do you do? How does a pastor change a church?

Go for the culture. Define the culture you want. Then go for that.

Don’t tell me that your strategy is the great commission if you aren’t seeing anyone start following Jesus.

Peter Greer said, “Leaders cultivate corporate culture within faith-based organizations just like they cultivate their own spiritual lives.”

You must create boundaries, policies, rules (whatever you want to call them) to keep the culture you are going for clear and on track.

You must celebrate the things that matter most, that help you accomplish your culture.

If your culture that you are going for has new Christians in it, celebrate when that happens. If it is baptism’s, celebrate when they happen. Tell stories. Show videos. Preach sermons.

Don’t leave it to chance. Too many pastors seem content to leave their desired culture to chance and hope that a strategy will enable to accomplish their vision.

[Image]

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Book Notes | Raised?: Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection

book

Every Saturday I share some notes from a book I just read. To see some past ones, click here. This week’s book is Raised?: Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection by Jonathan Dodson.

This book was incredibly helpful as I thought through my sermon for this Sunday.

This is a book I would definitely pass on to someone with questions about the resurrection and its validity. What I appreciated most was how it engaged all those questions, historically and in our culture today. Too many Christians take the resurrection for granted instead of engaging it. It is really a belief that is hard for many people to handle. I think if Christians actually stood back and thought about the beliefs they simply believe and listen to themselves from a secular perspective, they would hear how crazy we can sound. Yet at the same time, there is proof to answer those questions and doubts.

Here are some things I highlighted:

  • Humanity seems prone to settle for less. We choose pleasure over life-long relationships, comfort over lasting impact. Many people approach Christianity this way, instead of firmly grasping the life Jesus offers, which is joyful and full of risk, they settle for an hour on Sunday.
  • The mere scope of Jesus’ death sets him apart from any other martyr. Jesus’ sacrifice was not for a few, but for the many. His death was for people across ethnic, cultural lines. In Christ, we have a selfless death on behalf of all humanity.
  • He died to death sin, yes, but he rose to defeat death (Romans 5:15 – 21). Jesus’ crucifixion is set apart from all other martyrs because he did not remain dead. The grave could not contain him. In fact, he isn’t a martyr, he’s a death defeater.
  • Abundant life and purpose are restored in Christ. The life is the same: a restoring of deep intimate relationship with God. The purpose is also the same: reflect God’s image and be a blessing to the world. Jesus creates a new humanity that looks like him. If you are in Christ, you have resurrected life.
  • If Christ hasn’t been raised, the Christian faith is fiction and we are stranded in the fall of humanity, trapped in our imperfections (1 Corinthians 15:17).
  • If you doubt one thing, it’s because you believe another thing. If you doubt that a supernatural resurrection is possible, it’s because you have faith in the natural, that only natural explanations can account for our world. your doubt reveals where your faith is. In this case, your faith would be science. The religious person isn’t’ the only one who possesses faith. So does the secular person. One believes that Jesus rose from the dead; the other believes that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. Both require faith. Both mean something for our lives and future.
  • Leslie Newbiggin said, “Doubt is not an autonomous activity.” Doubt is not self-sufficient. It cannot exist on its own. It does not live in a vacuum. Doubt is propped up by faith in something else. To doubt one thing is to have faith in another.
  • Instead of trusting in reason and experience, the religious person trust in religious activity for meaning and life. This could be in church attendance, spiritual disciplines, holy living, generosity, or telling others how many spiritual things you’ve done (Linnea). Acceptance and love from God becomes based on my performance. The sin under the sin is self-righteousness.
  • Jesus is the right target for our faith is because he is the resurrection and the life. It is important to grasp that Jesus is not asking for faith “in the resurrection” per se (a supernatural event), but for faith in a resurrected Christ. Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates his power over death, which also proves he uniquely has the power of life. By rising from the dead, Jesus is saying to the secular and religious person: “In your search for meaning, worth, acceptance, and love, I’m what you’ve been looking for. I alone can give you life. All that greatness, acceptance, beauty, love is all found in me. Your god-sized desire for intimacy is meant for God, the God of life. Faith in women can’t get you that. Faith in kids can’t get you that. Faith in a career or money can’t get you that. When we put our faith in the resurrected Christ, we redirect all our desires to their origin, like tracing divine threads of joy, meaning, and purpose all the way back to the source. Jesus isn’t scolding us for our desire to be loved, accepted, beautiful, or even experience greatness. He’s showing us that he, alone is where we find tru love, acceptance, beauty, and greatness.
  • If Christ has not been raised, we are stuck in a tailspin of desire and a life of misdirected faith in this life and the next. However, if Christ has been raised we have forever fulfillment of desire and the final target for our faith. The resurrection points us to eternal life in Jesus. Faith in Jesus will bear fruit not just in this life but also in the life to come. Receiving this promise of bodily resurrection life will be our final step into the resurrection. If Christ has not been raised, we remain in our sins and our faith is futile. But Christ has been raised; therefore, your faith in him will be forever fruitful.
  • There are some big assumptions in the gospel: we sin, Christ is strong enough to deal with sin, and that he was stronger than death – he was raised from the dead!
  • At first glance, the death of Jesus is easy enough to embrace. It is well documented that the Roman authorities crucified people regularly. The god-sized claim beneath Jesus’ self-sacrifice is what ruffles feathers. The claim that his sacrifice was on behalf of all humanity troubles both our pride and our intellect. Jesus represented all of us? What gives him the right? Who says we need a representative or sacrifice anyway?
  • Biblically, resurrection isn’t restricted to Jesus. All who have faith in him will eventually gain a resurrected body to enjoy a “resurrected” world.
Enhanced by Zemanta