Why You Aren’t a Leader

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I meet a lot of people in their 20′s and 30′s who are really smart. The reason I know they are smart is because they tell me. Typically, in your 20′s, you are always the smartest person in the room, especially as it relates to churches. I get it. I was the same way. I’ve had to since apologize to some people I worked under for my arrogance.

If you are in your 20′s and 30′s, there is also a sense of people should just hand things to you.

I remember a couple of years ago being asked by some people at Revolution why we weren’t supporting a church plant in Tucson (sadly, this church plant no longer exists). My response was, “they never asked.” Now, the people asking knew the planter and asked why we didn’t just give money to them without them asking.

Answer: leaders cast a vision. Leaders make the ask. Leaders make it known what is needed. Leaders sit across the table from influencers, givers, and others leaders, cast a vision and say, “I want you to be involved and here’s how _____.”

Leaders do not wait for someone to give them something.

If you are a church planter or pastor and don’t have the volunteers you need, the money you need, the people you need. You have either not asked or you are not casting a compelling vision for people to join.

Don’t miss this: people are not looking for something else to give to or something else to do. 

They are looking for something worth their time, money and effort.

This is hard to do and this one reason is why so few dreamers ever reach their full potential. Here are 3 ways to ask:

  1. Don’t say no for someone. You have a need and you know the perfect person to fill that need, except they are really busy. Many pastors will not ask that person, they will ask someone less qualified. Don’t. Don’t say no for someone. Let them say no for themselves. They might be too busy. They might cut something out of their life to do what you ask them to do.
  2. Know what you are asking for. If you are asking them to give to something, know how much you are asking for. If it is serving, know for how long and how much time it will take. The more specific you are in what you are asking for, the higher the chance they will say yes.
  3. Know why you are asking. This is where many leaders miss the boat. They know “what” and “how” for their church plant, team, ministry, etc. but they don’t know why. Why should this person do this? What will it gain? Why is it worth their time or money? I once talked to a campus minister and all he told me in our hour meeting was what he would do on campus. I already knew that. I wanted to know why, I wanted to hear his heart, I wanted to hear his passion and why it drove him to give his life to it.

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Help Me Write my Exponential Talk

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I’m speaking at Exponential East in a couple weeks on the topic: Transitioning your church from small groups to missional communities

The goal of my talk is to share the story of Revolution and our transition and help churches understand:

  1. Why they should transition from small groups to missional communities.
  2. How to make this transition (or any leadership transition).
  3. What are the steps in this transition that must be made.
  4. And help them have a plan on what to expect personally from this transition.

If you were sitting in this seminar or have questions about it, what would they be? If you’ve made this transition or are in this transition, what would you tell leaders thinking about making this transition?

Leave me a comment here, on twitter or facebook or shoot me an email. I’d love your feedback.

 

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How Many Times a Year Should a Pastor Preach

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The other day a church planter I coach asked me. “How many times a year should I preach?”

The answer to this question depends on the person, church, philosophy and what the person can handle. While most churches have one person who preaches the majority of the time (ie. 40-48 times a year), some churches have a team where people preach an equal amount of split in some fashion.

When we started Revolution Church, I preached 98 times in the first 2 years. This was partly because we didn’t have anyone else to preach, my desire to get better as a preacher, but also I felt the need to help set the tone of what our church would be like. This was tiring.

Now, the elders have set a goal for me to preach at least 40 times a year. This allows me to preach the most (which is important for the church, which I’ll talk about in a minute) and still develop other communicators. As I get older, I could see this number going down so others can be preaching and developing their gift.

I think it is important for a church to know the person who communicates regularly. This creates a normalcy to church, people know what to expect and they feel connected to a communicator.

The other question a pastor has to ask is how he will break his weeks up.

I’ve learned, my limit for preaching in a row is 10 weeks. Other guys it might be 8 or 13. Around week 10 I start to get incredibly run down mentally and spiritually and feel like my tank is low. I shoot to make sure I have a week off from preaching at least every 10 weeks. Some times I’m able to make that happen and other times because of the season of our church, I can’t.

One question a lot of young planters wrestle with is: when to take a break. 

Each year, before I put together my preaching calendar of topics, I pull out the school calendar (district in my area and the university of Arizona) and see when the breaks are. We run on a year round school system here so we get 6 weeks of summer instead of 3 months. This means we have random breaks in October and March when Tucson seems to shut down. These breaks are great times to have another person preach. The sunday after thanksgiving and the 4th of July, the Sunday of Memorial Day and Labor Day and the last Sunday of the year and the first Sunday of the year are great weeks to take off from preaching and have someone else do it (that’s 6 right there).

I also shoot for a 3 week break from preaching at some point in the summer. The benefits to this are enormous for you personally and your church. This is when I plan the next year of sermons, work ahead, work on my own soul and take a vacation with my family.

But what do you do on a week off?

For many pastors or people in their church, the idea of the pastor having a week off from preaching sounds like he is taking a week off from everything. This is an opportunity for you as a pastor to work ahead on sermons, think through a series coming up, meet with leaders to plan ahead or evaluate a ministry, go to a conference, take an extended spiritual retreat to be with Jesus.

If you aren’t proactive, you will waste these weeks off.

So, why do pastor’s preach too much and burnout?

For some, it is a pride issue. They don’t want to give up control of the pulpit. They think if they aren’t at church, it will cease to exist and fall apart. This gets to the heart of who is building your church, you or Jesus.

For some pastor’s, they truly don’t have anyone else who can handle it. This is a tough spot to be in. You can use a video sermon from a pastor of a large church like Craig Groeschel or Andy Stanley (we do that once a year simply to expose our church to some great speakers and authors that I think would benefit them).

The bottom line is, you get to choose this as a pastor. The choice you make though has an enormous affect on your health and the health of your church.

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Links for Your Weekend Reading

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.

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The 10 best & worst communicators of 2013.

Speaking out against the status quo – and actually creating change – is hard. The challenge and testament of a true communicator is to lead and influence action. The Top Ten Best Communicators of 2013 created change, caused us to think and act differently and powerfully moved us in the process.

Joshua Shaw on 7 actions to engage men in your church.

One would think that with the rise of church planting and prolific pastors and authors advocating for a type of “strong man” Christianity, we would see a difference in the membership of young fast-growing churches. But from mine and many others’ experiences, this trend of a manless Christianity has not only continued, but gotten worse.

Practice may not be the key to success.

The study concluded that only one-third of variation in success (chess or musical) can be explained by practice — the bulk of variation comes from other factors. Other variables that might explain success (at chess or music) include intelligence, starting age, genetics and personality.

Jonathan Howe on 10 important discoveries concerning multi-site churches.

Other churches use a multisite model as a way of church planting. They identify areas of the city in which a church is needed, start a campus, then launch it as an autonomous church later on.

Chap Bettis on How a church can care for its pastor’s kids.

Too many children of pastors are casualties in the spiritual battle. After seeing the inner workings of the church, many do not want anything to do with the Lord or his people.

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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.

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My latest blog post on the Acts 29 Blog.

When we started Revolution, our prayer was and is still, that we would die in Tucson. We wanted to give our lives to one church, to one city, to one movement and out of that church, we prayed that 1 million people would follow Jesus because of it. This commitment has helped when times are the darkest, because sometimes, your calling is all you have. You will come back to it and question it and wonder if you heard God correctly. If you commit to stay, it makes difficult situations a little easier. They still hurt and are painful, but when we hit rough patches, Katie and I would look at each other and say, “We decided to outlast them, so let’s push through.”

Kevan Lee on The best time to write, get ideas, be creative and succeed in work.

Research into the human body—its hormone  allotment, its rhythms, and its tendencies—has found that there are certain times of day when the body is just better at performing certain activities. Eat breakfast no later than 8:00 a.m. Exercise between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.Read Twitter from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. (your fellow tweeters are more upbeat in the morning).

Dave Bruskas on 4 ways a pastor can love his wife well. These apply to all men.

I have to preserve my best energy for my wife, and it often requires me to tell some really great people “no” when they request my energy. This also means disappointing them. But I would much rather live with their disappointment than miss out on knowing my wife more deeply.

12 things Carey Nieuwhof would tell himself if he was starting out in leadership today. This is pure leadership gold.

At 25 I wish I would have enjoyed life more. I probably still struggle with this. I’m driven enough to spend my hours thinking about what could be rather than enjoying what is.

Casey Graham on 3 common time management traps.

Nothing has helped me produce more results in less time than refusing to mix my days up.  I label my days.  They are either a Free Day, Buffer Day, or Profit Day.  Free days are completely work free.  Buffer days are the days to get stuff organized & ready for my profit days.  Profit days are days where I do my highest money-making activities for the business.

8 ways to spot emotionally healthy church leaders and staff’s.

Emotionally unhealthy people keep company with people who bring them down and then blame everyone else when their life isn’t how they want it to be. Conversely, emotionally healthy people don’t act as though the world owes them anything. They don’t waste their time having pity parties or feeling sorry for themselves.

Mike Leake on The shame of pornography and God’s justification of sinners.

For me there was a vicious cycle of freedom, failure, shame, depression, freedom. Over and over and over for the better part of ten years–from my teenage years until a few years into my marriage. The shame over failure only caused me to spiral into deeper despair and more sin took root.

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Pastor, Enjoy the Season of Growth (And Pruning)

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I was talking to a church planter the other day who is in the hard season of planting. He told me (something I have felt and heard other planters say), “It seems like nothing we are doing is working or growing. But it seems like Revolution is going gang busters right now.”

A few thoughts I shared with him:

  1. This season is coming. If you are a pastor, leader or church planter, you will feel like this at some point. Whether it is because it didn’t go as you expected, people leave your church, giving goes down, no one responds to a sermon, you lose a place to meet or have a fight within your leadership or a hard season with your spouse or kids. Either way, it is coming.
  2. Let’s admit that from our perspective everyone has it easier and better. It doesn’t matter if you are a pastor or not, everyone has it better. Everyone has the bigger church, bigger budget, better marriage, better situation, better staff, better worship leader, kids pastor, student pastor, bigger blog or twitter platform. Everyone else is a better communicator, leader, pastor, better everything. It isn’t true, but it seems that way and because it seems that way, it becomes true in your mind.
  3. Don’t waste the pruning season. Pruning is brutal. Whether personally or as an organization. Everyone needs it and everyone gets it. The question is if they use it or waste it. Every leader from Moses, David, Jesus and Paul went through the desert and were pruned. Everyone of them came out the other side and while no leader wants to go through the desert, after going through it, they wouldn’t trade it. For me and our church, 2012-2013 was a season of pruning. It was hard. I grew a lot in those years. God did a lot of work on my heart and in our church. During that season, our church didn’t grow a lot. I think sometimes God protects our churches from growing so he can work on the leaders. Bottom line is this, if you are in a season of pruning personally, as a church staff or as a church (and you know if you are), lean into it. Grow in it. Don’t waste it. Those seasons tend to last until God is finished with us so you might as well dig into it.
  4. Enjoy the harvest season. Right now, Revolution is moving from the pruning season (we are still in it) to a season of growth and harvest. This is what every pastor and church dreams of, and it is fun. This is when things work, things grow, MC’s grown and multiply and people get saved, sermons have life and connect. It is easy to miss this season and not enjoy it. That doesn’t mean sit back and be lazy, but thank God for this season. It is his grace on you.

Regardless of the season you are in, it doesn’t last forever. Spring does come and winter ends. But the summer harvest also moves into a season of fall which becomes winter. Nothing lasts forever, no matter how much we want it to or how much it seems like hard difficult season won’t end, it will.

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Links for your Weekend Reading

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.

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Chuck Lawless on 10 questions every leader should ask every week.

Most leaders, though, would benefit from more regular evaluations – particularly self-evaluations. Even daily and weekly self-evaluations merit our consideration if we want to lead well, regardless of our position.

12 things TEDx speakers do that pastors do not.

“An idea isn’t just a story or a list of facts. A good idea takes evidence or observations and draws a larger conclusion.” Of course TEDx talkers often have multiple points, but they always have direction: they’re always moving forward to a set conclusion (and that’s all big idea preaching is, for all the flack it gets). They also suggest to the speaker: “Get your idea out as quickly as possible.”

Joe Stengele on 4 time management tips for leaders and pastors.

I get to meet lots of leaders. Some are young, some are old, but without a doubt the ones who get the most done always manage their time well. Most young leaders I meet have no idea how to manage their time. I’m one decade into what I pray will be a lifetime of ministry, and I have made plenty of mistakes, but there are four time management tips I have learned. I pray these will help you as you grow in leadership, by God’s grace.

Brian Dodd on 5 lies men believe. This is so good.

J.D. Greear on Why plant campuses when you could plant churches.

One of the most frequent objections I get to our multi-site approach is this: “Why do you plant more campuses when you can plant churches instead?” Since our church is committed to church planting, I take this objection very seriously. And at first glance, the objection seems rather intuitive—people and money you could be investing in a church plant are instead being re-directed into a campus. This objection, however, is built upon two assumptions: first, that church planting solves the problem of overcrowding; second, that the multi-site approach competes with—or even precludes—church planting. But neither assumption is true.

Dave Page on Why people leave a church plant early.

Those who start the journey with you seldom finish with you. In the church planting world I call this principle THE LAW OF SCAFFOLDING. The people you start the church with are not the people you grow the church with. This is one of the hardest lessons I had to learn as a church planter.

Ruth Graham on The heresy of Jesus Calling

I’m tempted to call this blasphemy. Thomas Nelson specifically requested I not use the word “channeling” to describe Young’s first-person writing in the voice of Jesus—the word has New Age connotations—but it’s hard to avoid it in describing the book’s rhetorical approach.

Todd Rhoades on Are you more like Jay Leno or Jimmy Fallon as a leader?

Leno was, by most accounts, forced out early by NBC.  A new article/commentary at Mashable tells why:  Jay Leno, while he was doing great in the traditional measures (nationwide TV audience in a given demographic) could not make the switch to the future (which included youtube, vine, twitter, facebook, and all the viral directions that TV and late night was going).

Bryan Rose on How to ask the right questions when hiring a church staff member.

Mistakes are most often made when hiring is based on surface characteristics like stage ability, resume experience or fashion sense, rather than on the foundation of church culture. Your values define your church’s culture. Therefore, values should form the basis of your staffing logic, whether the prospective leader is paid or unpaid. Well thought-through interview questions, based on values, could be the difference between a perfect match and the perfect storm.

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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.

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Mark Driscoll on The 6 kinds of church services and how they impact preaching and worship planning.

Too often a church service is themed theologically, without consideration for the mood emotionally. But getting the mood right is very important. If you don’t, the sermon and the rest of the service won’t align for a journey, but collide like a car wreck.

Rosaria Butterfield on You are what you read.

Michael Hyatt on How millionaires manage their time.

I’ve been lucky enough to interview over 130 millionaires. They know the value of their time, and use it to the best of their ability. I’ve curated the top tips on their time management to help you have more time to work, and more time to play and be with your family. So how do you stay productive when faced with a seemingly endless to-do list? Here are four awesome tips for greater productivity, straight from the millionaires themselves.

The 5 most important questions a church needs to answer.

  • Question 1:  What is Our Mission?
  • Question 2:  Who is Our Customer?
  • Question 3:  What Does the Customer Value?
  • Question 4:  What are Our Results?
  • Question 5:  What is Our Plan?

4 Tips for Starting a Children’s Ministry in a Church Plant.

Church plants are becoming increasingly popular and in the midst of all there is to do, getting your children’s ministry off the ground can tend to slip under the radar. Here are a few practical tips for starting a children’s ministry in your church plant.

People Pleasing Pastors

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Church Multiplication with Geoff Surratt | Session 3

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Paul and I are spending the day learning about church multiplication and multi-site with Geoff Surratt. Really excited about today as we are looking towards church planting in the future of Revolution Church.

Here are some notes from the third session:

What should a multi-site church reproduce:

  • What do you value?
  • What are you uniquely good at?
  • What is reproducible?
  • What is non-essential?
    • The more you reproduce, the harder it is and the more it costs.

Funding questions:

  • What model are we going to use?
    • The model you are going to use will determine what you will need to spend.
  • How many will we launch?
  • What are our financial expectations?

Two views of operating budgets of multi-site churches

  • Shared Purse: From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.
  • Capitalism: Each church lives on its own income.

Defining DNA

  • What are the irreducible minimums?
  • What is up to individual leaders?
  • Are you a high accountability church or a control church?

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Church Multiplication with Geoff Suratt | Session 2

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Paul and I are spending the day learning about church multiplication and multi-site with Geoff Surratt. Really excited about today as we are looking towards church planting in the future of Revolution Church.

Here are some notes from the second session:

Could multi-site work for you? (The following stats are from Leadership Network)

  • Campuses grow faster than autonomous church plants.
  • Campuses have a greater evangelistic impact than church plants.

Questions a church must ask before going multi-site:

  • How healthy is your church?
  • Is your church growing?
  • Are people finding Jesus through your church?
  • Are disciples being made?
  • Are people excited about inviting their friends and family?
  • What is the driving impetus behind going multi-site?
  • Are key leaders onboard?

Keys to successful multi-site

  • Start with a compelling vision
  • Choose the right campus pastor (visionary leader from the second chair, owner’s work ethic, a great communicator, a self starter)
    • A campus pastor is a great communicator, a preaching pastor is a gifted communicator.
  • What will sink a campus pastor?
    • He is not approachable, he is unmotivated, he is a responder instead of an initiator.
  • Create a compelling experience
    • Whatever your DNA is, you must keep it across the board.
  • Embrace a one church philosophy
    • Every church needs to be treated the same and gets the same finances and staff as everyone else.
  • Go all in.
    • At some point, there is no turning back as a church.

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