Every Church Has a Target

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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.

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5 Ways to Live When You’re Tired

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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.

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Fixing What’s Wrong with Your Church

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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.

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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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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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