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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Questions Every Blogger/Writer MUST Answer

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about why every leader and pastor should blog. If you decide to blog, here are a couple of things you need to think through:

  1. Why. Most people struggle with what to blog about, more on that in a minute. Why are you blogging? Why is it worth your time? If your goal with blogging is to build a platform to write a book, that’s a poor reason. Do you want to help people? Serve people? Get better at writing? Be famous? It is important to have a stated goal when it comes to your blog. Not everyone should blog. If you don’t have a compelling reason to start blogging, once the fad of it wears off, you will quit.
  2. What. This is the content. For me, I blog about things I find interesting and helpful. I blog about leadership, books, preaching, family, marriage, NFL, fantasy football, crossfit. Things I like. I assume that there are others out there who are interested in what I am interested in and so far, that seems to be the case. I will share things I think will be helpful to my readers and my church, things I’m learning, things I want to rant about, things about my kids and Katie. Some blogs are focused on one topic, which is great if that’s what you want to do. You should have a focus though, a grid that helps you decide what you do and don’t blog about.
  3. How often. This right here is one reason most blogs fail. They don’t blog enough. You can read about how to design a blog, what plug-ins to use, how to connect it to social media (and you should do all this). If you don’t blog on a regular basis, your blog will not get off the ground. I probably blog too much, but that’s my choice. Some blog 3 times a week or everyday. The point is, your readers need to know how often you will blog. People will tire of checking back on your blog for new information and it isn’t there, they will give up. I would say someone should start blogging when they can do it 3 times a week.

Blogging takes work, it is a job in many ways. You will spend hours writing, working on ideas, finding pictures for posts, responding to comments, looking for links to share and doing it all over again.

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Heaven is for Real

With the movie Heaven is for Real coming out this week, I’ve gotten questions on whether I think this book and movie is worth seeing and reading and if it is true. This is the best thing I’ve found on it.

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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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This Weekend @ Revolution Church: How God Answers Prayer

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Ever feel like your prayer life is lifeless? Like your prayers leave your mouth, float up to the ceiling and fall right back down next to you? Unanswered. 

This week, as we continue our series All In we will look be looking at Acts 4:1 – 35 and seeing how to ask for it all in life.

One of the reasons many followers of Jesus never see God use them to the extent He could, never see miracles happen, never see mountains move is because they don’t ask. Or, if they ask for anything, they ask for the wrong thing.

Our prayer life reveals everything we believe about God and his power. 

And the person that goes all in sees prayers answered in ways that others do not. And there is a reason for that. There is something in their prayers, in their hearts that is not in the prayers and hearts of others.

If you or someone you has struggled to see God move in their life, struggled to see God answer their prayers or struggles to see how God could use them, this is a great week to bring them to Revolution.

Remember, we meet at 10am on Sunday mornings at 8300 E Speedway Blvd.

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Why a Leader Should Blog

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I often get asked by other pastors if they should have a blog. After all, it seems like any pastor who is doing anything has a blog. Whether that is true or not, it feels that way. Also, many pastors hope to write a book one day and a blog is a natural first step.

I’ve been blogging for 8 years now and I believe that a pastor should blog. Here are 4 ways to know if you should:

  1. You feel like you have something to say. If you don’t feel like you have something to say or you are starting a blog because every other pastor in your network has a blog, you shouldn’t start one. Don’t look to fill a void in the blog world, there probably isn’t one. Just write about the things you are passionate about. When I write something, I ask myself, “Do I want to know about this?” That for me is the question. If I’m interested in a topic, I assume others will be as well. This is why my blog has leadership topics, preaching, theology, family, marriage, NFL, fantasy football, health and crossfit and random Dilbert comics. Don’t try to talk about something you don’t care about or aren’t passionate about.
  2. You like to write. I’ve asked writers about their rhythm and schedule and many writers love to write. I’ve met some that have told me, “I write because someone pays me and I have a deadline.” If that’s you, don’t blog. Stick to books. I tried to make on of our leaders blog because I thought it would be helpful and it was a disaster. He hated it and I stopped trying to force him. It has to be something you want to do.
  3. It is a great way to shepherd and lead your church or organization. This is the reason I have continued blogging. I love to preach, read books, prep sermons and develop leaders. Blogging is an opportunity for me to shepherd and lead my church outside of Sunday morning. I can post more ideas about my sermon, talk about things I didn’t have time for in my sermon, pass on great articles and helpful resources. This is why pastors should blog. If you don’t, I believe you are missing a great leadership and shepherding opportunity.
  4. It is work. But it is work. Keeping up a blog takes time. A friend of mine recently told me that he had his highest traffic ever and said it was because he posted regularly. If you want to grow a blog, you have to write regularly. If you don’t, your readers won’t know when there is new content and won’t come back. The best way to grow a blog is to be helpful and write good content. Look at any of the blogs with the most traffic and usually those 2 things are true. Get into some kind of rhythm that works for you in terms of writing and stick to it.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

 

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  • Yesterday at Revolution was awesome.
  • We are in a series called All In right now and I spoke on our part in evangelism yesterday and how we can serve and love those around us to be given a hearing about Jesus.
  • Too many Christians either don’t love well so no one cares or they answer questions people aren’t asking.
  • In the end, we miss the chance to share our faith.
  • Love spending these 4 weeks on this important topic.
  • This Sunday, I’m speaking on how to pray big prayers for your life and for those around you.
  • If you, as a follower of Jesus, are not praying for anyone who doesn’t know Jesus, that’s a problem.
  • If you missed yesterday, you can listen to it here.
  • I have been loving how my MC has been coming together and growing in community.
  • By far, this has been one of our best seasons of MC personally.
  • Saturday night I let my boys stay up to watch the heartbreak that was Arizona’s loss to Wisconsin.
  • While a good game with bad calls made by the refs against both teams, it’s sad when you feel like a game (going either way) is decided by the refs instead of by the players.
  • I read Jonathan Merritt’s new book over the weekend called Jesus Is Better than You Imagined.
  • It comes out tomorrow and you should buy it.
  • So good.
  • Katie and I watched Gravity over the weekend.
  • So intense.
  • Wow.
  • I thought it was good, thought it would be better than it was, but it is 90 minutes of sheer intensity.
  • We’re working our way through this years Oscar nominations for best picture.
  • Excited to watch 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club and of course Anchorman 2. 
  • Should’ve been up for best picture.
  • I did the last workout in the crossfit open this past weekend, 14.5.
  • It was 17 minutes of pure pain.
  • I’m blown away how people did it in half the time I did it in.
  • Unreal.
  • It’s hard to believe that this Sunday Katie and I will celebrate 12 years of marriage.
  • That is crazy talk.
  • For our anniversary this year, we are doing a date day or sorts next week.
  • Excited to spoil her.
  • Can’t believe she said yes and stayed with me all these years.
  • Beyond blessed.
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Mission Leads to Life

When you preach or hear a sermon on mission, evangelism you should walk out of their feeling like you were just released and given the keys to life not burdened for a task.

Yesterday at Revolution we continue our series All In and I talked about sharing our faith through serving. This series though isn’t really about evangelism or sharing your faith, it is about the motivation to go all in, to change the world, to follow Jesus into the places he calls us. That motivation for changing the world, living our lives on mission, sharing the gospel all come from understanding the love God has for us.

The problem in many books and sermons on evangelism, missions or sharing your faith is that at the end, we feel overwhelmed, as if we don’t know where to start. But we also feel like we’ll never do enough.

I got a text after the sermon yesterday and someone said, “That’s exactly what we’ve been trying to do with our friends. We feel so freed up to reach them.”

When you preach on evangelism, people should walk out and feel empowered to do everything God has called them to do, because through the Spirit, they can.

Now, should your preaching challenge, help others to see how difficult this road ahead is? Yes. But it shouldn’t feel like a burden. Jesus took the burden and gives us his (Matthew 11:28).

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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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Dear Worship Leader

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Dear Worship Leader,

Because I speak every week and have done so for the last 10+ years, I’ve seen a lot of worship leaders. From camps, conferences, church services, student and college ministry, it takes all kinds. Most of them are great. Some of them, not so much. Most of them have great hearts with a desire to lead a group of people into the presence of Jesus to worship, others, not so much. I thought I’d share some thoughts as a person who preaches and worships in church on a weekly basis, sort of my viewpoint of you and some requests.

  1. It’s not about you. I know worship leaders would never say it is about them or preachers either. But sometimes, it seems like it is more about you than Jesus. We are not there to watch you worship. We are not there to see how amazing you are or how incredible your voice is or that killer drum or guitar solo you just nailed. If that’s all people talk about at the end, it failed.
  2. Talk normally. So many worship leaders when they talk between songs sound like they are trying to seductively get me out of my clothes. If your voice sounds like Barry White normally, then great. If not, talk normally. Don’t breath heavy, make weird pauses. I leaned over to Katie at one worship service recently and told her I felt like the worship leader was hitting on us. It shouldn’t feel that way.
  3. Everything you say, pray and the songs you sing teach me about God. When you pray, think through it. When you talk about asking for more of the presence of the Holy Spirit, is that possible? Or do we need to be more aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit? Make sure you know what the Father, Son and Spirit do. When you make it up on the fly, you make theological errors that we in the seats listen to and believe. After all, you’re on stage. As for lyrics, make sure they are theologically correct. Also, what does it mean to sing to the heart of Jesus? When you tell us to sing this straight to Jesus I wonder who we’ve been singing to this whole time. A lot of what is said on the latest Hillsong and Passion album sound awesome in an arena, but when there are 25 people in a church planet, we don’t want to shout to God.
  4. Pray normally. When you pray, do you say God or Jesus over and over. Dear God, we love you God. Thank you God. God, your presence is so amazing God. Oh God. If that’s how you pray, great. If not, pray normally. The way you pray teaches the rest of us to pray and if it doesn’t sound normal, it communicates a normal person can’t pray. Also, when you pray, I learn theology about God.
  5. Don’t repreach the sermon. There is nothing worse than preaching a sermon, one that I as the preacher has thought about for anywhere from 1 week to 8 months just to have a worship leader come up after me and on the fly repreach it in 5 minutes and make me wonder, “Why did we just sit here?” Or, when you repreach it incorrectly? I remember speaking at another church and the worship leader came up and tried to make my point, but missed it. Showing he wasn’t really listening.
  6. Your dress reflects your heart. This is for men and women. If your dress is distracting, revealing or over the top, no one is paying attention to Jesus. They are looking at you. What you wear, how low cut it is, how shirt your skirt is, how tight your shirt is, all reflects your heart.
  7. Don’t make us stand forever. I know people stand forever at a concert, but once you start getting to 15, 20, 25 minutes of straight standing people start checking out because it hurts. Knees, back, necks, they all start to ache.
  8. When you sing high, men stop singing. If you are a worship leader, you probably have an incredible range. That’s awesome. You can probably sing all the songs exactly as they are recorded on the CD. That’s awesome. The problem is few other people can, especially men. When you sing too high, men stop singing and check out.
  9. Explain what we are doing. Why are we standing? Why are we reading this prayer? If you want me to do something, tell me and explain it. Don’t assume I want to do the thing you want me to do. You’ve spent all week thinking about it, working on it and I just heard about it.
  10. Sing songs each week. I love new songs and if you lead worship, you get tired of songs quickly. The reason? By the time you teach a song to a church, you’ve listened to it 100 times. The problem is, most people do not listen to worship music throughout the week. They don’t know the songs. So, if you teach a song and the following week don’t sing it again, we forget it.

I love worship leaders. I love that at Revolution, almost half the service is music. I want you to be great. If you don’t serve with a pastor that wants you to be as great as possible, go find a new pastor to work with. The people who show up each week show up wanting to meet Jesus and you are a big part of that. You help us encounter Jesus in a personal, emotional and logical way. I want you to be great and I don’t want anything to stand in the way of you being the worship leader God called you to be.

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