Culture Trumps Strategy

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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.

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5 Things a Pastor MUST Do on Easter

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Sunday is the super bowl of the church year. We love Easter. It is the hope of our salvation and our world. In most churches, attendance will be higher than any other time of the year. Most unchurched people will be there than any other week of the year.

Here are 5 things a pastor MUST do on Easter:

  1. Check your heart. Confess your sins, keep yourself pure going into Easter. Make sure your heart is ready for what is ahead.
  2. Talk about the resurrection. You will be tempted to be cute and talk about something else for fear everyone knows about the resurrection. Don’t. The resurrection is our only hope. Without, Jesus is still in the grave. Sin and death can defeat us. The world will not be made right without the resurrection. Marriages cannot be saved, addictions cannot be defeated, identities cannot be changed.
  3. Challenge them. Don’t be afraid. Take your skirt off, step up to the plate and tell them, “Today is the day.” For some, they need to be challenged to come back. For others, they need to be challenged to follow Jesus. Men love a challenge. Don’t miss this. Don’t be cute and miss the men.
  4. Invite them back. I’m amazed at how many church services I’ve been to an no one invited me back next week. Tell them, “I look forward to seeing you back next week.” Be friendly, walk around and say hi to people. Lead the way in how your church should be welcoming.
  5. Put as much effort into next week as you did this week. Easter was great and you will be tired, but people will be back at your church on April 27th. Put as much effort into that. Hopefully you started a new series on Easter that they want to hear part 2 of. Be ready.

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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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Monday Morning Mind Dump… [Afternoon Edition]

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  • Just now getting this up.
  • I spent all day working on my computer as it decided to not work this morning.
  • Which now puts me about 7 hours behind schedule on Easter week.
  • Not cool.
  • As Katie and I often say, “I’m practicing sovereignty.”
  • Got to spend some extra time praying today and being reminded that God is in control of all this.
  • I continue to be overwhelmed by God’s grace to Revolution Church.
  • We continue to grow every week.
  • I looked out yesterday and thought, “Where did all these people come from?”
  • This week, we are going to put out every chair we have available.
  • Praying we run out.
  • Wrapped up our All In series yesterday and taught on the great commission and how Revolution does church.
  • I think most people want to know that their church has thought through why they do things.
  • Anyone who told me yesterday they don’t like something about Revolution, they followed by saying, “But it makes sense why we do what we do.”
  • I love talking about the vision of Revolution.
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  • Blown away by all the people praying for Revolution Church this week and for other churches in our city.
  • Praying that it causes people to see their prayer lives go to new levels.
  • After so many weeks doing topical sermons, I’m so excited to kick off our series on Galatians on Sunday.
  • Expository preaching definitely is our bread and butter.
  • We’re also celebrating baptisms on Sunday.
  • Not to late to sign up if you want to take that step (you can do so here).
  • Spent the weekend reading the new book Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches.
  • So many great things for pastors to think through and how to protect their church from drifting.
  • Yesterday was Judah’s birthday.
  • Hard to believe we only celebrated his first birthday with us.
  • It was super fun and he was totally overwhelmed.
  • Hope he felt our love in it.
  • I’m also going to write his birthday letter this week.
  • Lots of emotions in that.
  • If you haven’t made plans yet, make plans to join us at Revolution on Good Friday for The Stations of the Cross.
  • It is powerful.
  • We’re doing a Seder this Thursday with our MC.
  • Expecting to be stretched as an MC.
  • I haven’t done one since I was in Jerusalem 14 years ago.
  • Also excited to go see Captain America this week with the guys from my MC.
  • Definitely needed this week.
  • I’m behind, so back to it…
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One Thing I’m Excited about this Week

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Last week, I challenged our church to pray for 30 minutes each day this week for Revolution Church, the city of Tucson, those who will be our guests this Sunday and for other churches.

Each day, I am sending out a short email with a verse on prayer, some specific things to pray for, a list of names (we collected the names of people who don’t know Jesus who will be invited this week and are praying for openness to an invitation and the gospel), along with 2-4 prayer requests from other churches that I contacted and asked “how can we pray for you this week.”

Here are some things I learned:

  1. I don’t personally pray enough. 30 minutes a day is a long time, but I spend time in the car, working out, reading Facebook, staring off into space. I have all kinds of time to pray, I just don’t. The same is true for most Christians. We don’t pray enough, we feel guilty about it, but we aren’t sure what to do. One of our hopes with this prayer challenge is that people will begin to see how prayer changes things, how they can make prayer a bigger part of their day and have their faith expanded.
  2. Christians need to pray more specifically than they do. It is almost like we are afraid to ask God for things. We don’t pray big, audacious, impossible, specific prayers. We pray in general terms, hoping God will answer a vague prayer request and when he doesn’t, we get frustrated. We do this to protect our heart and our faith, but we sell God short.
  3. Your church will pray if you give them something to pray about. Many pastors lament that their church doesn’t pray or people don’t step up. Most of that is on the pastor and not challenging his church. We have almost 100 people praying this week, that is incredible.
  4. Pray is how God moves. If you are a pastor, you know this. Prayer is how God moves. God wants us to pray, He wants us to ask. There are verses all over the Bible, calling us to ask and ask big.

If you want to be a part of it, send an email to Ciara Hull and we’ll add you to the list.

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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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Will Mancini on Why your church is working at only 50% of its effectiveness.

The problem is that most churches have a general sense of their mission rather than clearly defined and contextually crafted mission.

Jon Acuff on 6 tips to get up earlier in the morning.

Daniel Cooly on Pastoral envy.

So, after an average first pastorate, we moved from Canada to a church plant of 120 people in New Mexico. I was ready to become a workaholic, see our church grow, have a meltdown, repent of my selfishness, lead a seminary department, and write a best-seller entitled Dogs Playing Poker. Actually, I’ve never wanted a mega-ministry, but a growing, healthy ministry would be awesome.

Denny Burk on How to spot a false teacher.

The Bible suggests at least six characteristics that commonly identify false teachers. Not every false teachers exhibits all of these characteristics at once, but often times they present some combination of these traits.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

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  • The season that Revolution Church is in and the season that I am in personally is one of those seasons that you hope for.
  • Yesterday, Katie and I celebrated 12 years of marriage.
  • Hard to believe it’s been 12 years already.
  • It was fun reminiscing about life with her.
  • Really excited for our anniversary date day tomorrow.
  • Got lots of fun things planned.
  • We had almost 300 people yesterday @ Revolution for the 3rd week in a row.
  • Love seeing all the guests and people taking next steps.
  • Praying that we break 400 on Easter.
  • Speaking of Easter, I am so excited about the people taking the next step of getting baptized on Easter.
  • If that’s a next step you’d like to take, go here.
  • Yesterday’s sermon felt like more of a soapbox sermon for me.
  • I unpacked what Revolution Church believes about the gospel and how to share the gospel.
  • With all the talk about being “gospel centered” or “talking about the gospel enough” or “correctly” I think it’s important to define what that means.
  • Those terms while nice aren’t very helpful.
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  • I challenged our church to pray 30 minutes each day between Palm Sunday and Easter and we had 75 people take the challenge.
  • That’s 259 hours of people praying.
  • So excited to see how God will work through that.
  • I’m hoping to have an exciting announcement about my book in the next week.
  • Stay tuned for that!
  • Taking my boys to the air show next Saturday with some guys from our MC.
  • Excited to take it all in with them.
  • They are going to be blown away.
  • I’ve been making some changes to my schedule and the people at Revolution that I spend my time with so that I’m intentionally developing leaders.
  • Love the fruit that has come from that so far.
  • I’m afraid too many pastors let their schedule happen to them instead of the other way around. I know I did for years.
  • Working on my talk for exponential this week. If you’d like to give some input on it, go here.
  • I’m excited about spending a few days with Mike DeAlto in Orlando.
  • I’ve been working the last few weeks on my Easter sermon and getting ready for our next series on the book of Galatians.
  • I think it is going to be an eye opening series for our church as we talk about grace, law, legalism, moralism and how being a good person isn’t enough to make you right with God.
  • Time to get back to it…
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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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6 ways to stay off the emotional roller coaster of ministry.

Ministry is an emotional roller coaster. Much of leadership is for that matter. One day you’re on top of the world,. The next day you want to bury yourself in a deep cave. You probably think only the way to get off the emotional roller coaster of ministry is to quit. To leave it for a more normal life. It’s not. In fact, I don’t recommend it.

Thom Rainer on 10 fears of church leaders.

Leading a church means the leader will have critics. Sometimes the criticisms become so frequent that it seems easier not to lead. For pastors and other church leaders, the steady inflow of negative comments becomes emotionally, spiritually, and physically draining.

Joshua Shaw on 7 ways to engage men in 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. We have done everything we can to open the doors for their acceptance and involvement, but when push comes to shove, the idea of staying at home watching ESPN, designing a logo for a new company, finishing a work project, or merely sleeping in, becomes top priority.

Eric Geiger on Your leadership shelf life.

Leadership is always a temporary assignment—always. It is a temporary assignment because leaders do not ultimately own the teams, ministries, or organizations that they lead. They simply steward what the Lord has entrusted to their care for a season. Wise leaders embrace the temporal reality of leading, and they prepare the ministry for the future. Because the assignment is fleeting, developing others for leadership is an essential responsibility of a leader.

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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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Jared Wilson on Why Easter giveaways are unwise.

Every year some churches seek to outdo themselves — and their local competition — by luring unbelievers (and I suppose interested believers) to their Easter service(s) with the promise of big shows and in some cases big giveaways. One guy in Texas made national news for giving away new cars. Another church has dropped prize-filled Easter eggs out of helicopters to gathered crowds below. Local churches with more modest budgets sometimes promise door prizes like iPods or iPads or gift certificates to local restaurants.

Thom Rainer on What attracts millenials to church.

Millennial Christians, and a good number of seekers among their generation, are gravitating to churches where the teaching and preaching is given a high priority. They are attracted to churches whose focus is not only on the members, but on the community and the world. Inwardly focused congregations will not see many Millennials in their churches.

Sam Rainer on When Vision Stops.

If you pastor for any length of time, you’ll undoubtedly face an issue when something “unforeseen grinds the church to a halt.” Sam shares how to lead in the wake of those events.

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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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