When Christian leaders become ambitious, things get tough. Often other people will mistake our ambition for pride or presumption.
But Jesus was ambitious about building His church. Paul was ambitious about pressing toward the prize. Joshua was ambitious about taking the Promised Land. The fact is, God responds to bold, audacious vision and ambition in a leader.
A simple assimilation process is absolutely vital for any church to see sustained growth. Here’s the one I’ve seen work so well, and you can customize it for your church quite easily. It covers the three things we’re called to do as the church, but it lets you fill in the blanks according to your culture, community and context.
“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment, and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seemingto do is not doing.”
That is so true. It seems that we latch on to every get-rich-quick scheme and promise of a quick buck yet don’t want to put in the time, the thought or the perspiration to make our busyness really count.
Change is hard, almost always. Sometimes change is harder than other times.
It’s then where leadership is tested. Tensions can mount. And people are more likely to object.
It’s good to know these times before a leader approaches change. Change is necessary. In fact, while change may produce conflict, without change there will be conflict. Read this post for more on that statement.
Since change is necessary and inevitable, understanding these scenarios before we attempt change may help us lead change better.
Here are five times I’ve discovered that change is hardest to accept and implement:
One of your most important roles as a pastor is as vision-caster. Sharing the vision of your church can’t be a one-time event.
The Bible says, “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves” (Prov. 29:18, MSG).
As the leader, God has called you to help your congregation see what God is doing in your midst. That’s why you must continually put the vision of your church before your congregation—at least every 26 days. That’s the Nehemiah Principle.
Read any leadership book today and within the first few pages you’ll hear about the critical function of vision in your organization. To lead effectively without a shared vision is simply not possible.
But sharing the vision takes skill. And sewing vision into the hearts of those I lead is a skill I continue to refine.
Recently, our fpKIDS team worked together to craft 5-to-6 simple, vision-driven phrases. Why? It’s because our greatest opportunity to connect with volunteers and parents is on the weekend … amidst the hustle and bustle of church services.
Last year, I attended the Velocity 2012 conference hosted by lead pastor Shawn Lovejoy at Mountain Lake Church in Cumming, Ga. For the last seven years, Shawn and his team have invested in the lives of pastors, and in particular church planters, with passion and excellence.
To be invited to speak on leadership development was a delight and privilege. My role was to pour into the young leaders, but I found myself learning and being inspired by the people I met.
Let’s be honest: The church faces significant challenges these days, from financial pressures to declining loyalties toward any one church body. My take on the church is positive, very positive in fact, but I hear a lot of negativity.
I talk with team leaders every week where the team is struggling and trying to figure out how to succeed again. I understand. I’ve been the leader of teams in situations like that many times. Every team experiences times of decline. What you do next almost always determines how long it lasts and how well you recover.
First, I should say that every situation is unique and requires individual attention. Don’t use a script for your team. Also, don’t be afraid to bring in outside help. It could be anyone, from a paid consultant to a friend who leads another team with whom you trade a favor. Everyone can use a fresh perspective at times. It takes humble and wise leaders to welcome input from outsiders.
I recently spent a couple thousand dollars cutting down and stump-grinding nine trees that I spent hundreds of dollars planting 10 years ago. Seems dumb, I know. But sometimes, that’s what it takes.
Perhaps you’ve seen these trees—they are called Cryptomeria. They grow extremely fast and easily reach 35 to 40 feet and more with a 20-foot spread at the bottom. They are similar to the Leyland Cypress but typically seem to grow larger, more lush, and are deeper green in color.
Core Values:The ideals and values we hold that are non-negotiable, that serve as filters for all of our efforts to accomplish our mission. (My working definition.)
The story of Jehu in 2 Kings 10 came in front of me recently, and reading it again, several things really struck me.
Jehu found Jehonadab coming to meet him. He greeted him and then asked, “Is your heart one with mine?
Unity. We can’t accomplish the mission God has given us (helping people find, follow and be- like Jesus) if there is division in the ranks. Without unity, you will be thrown back two steps for every one you think you’ve made.
Dan T. Cathy, president and COO of Chick-fil-A, spoke briefly at the EQUIP 2020 Global Conference in February 2012, held at Christ Fellowship Church in West Palm Beach. Chick-fil-A is more than just the fast food restaurant that made cows famous for saying, “Eat more chicken.” It is one of the largest family owned and successful businesses in the U.S. today with more than 1560+ units in the chain. Personally, I love their waffle fries!
Though the conference focused on biblical leadership, and specifically training international Christian leaders, Dan Cathy spoke on customer service—something all good leaders must be reminded of. I was struck by how well he had personally embodied the vision and how brilliantly he communicated it. From employees walking around the dining area asking if they may “refresh your beverage” and offering pepper from a large pepper mill for your salad, to coming outside with a large umbrella to bring you in from the rain.
Every year I get a complete physical from my doctor. It’s a thorough check-up from head to toe. I usually have the same initial thoughts about this invasive, needle-sticking, blood-sucking, finger-poking experience. First, I’m too busy for this. I just don’t have time. Second, This is not going to be fun! Third, I don’t want to know what I might learn! But the end result is always the same: I’m glad I did it, and it always leads to continued or better health.
Your church is similar to this experience. No one really wants to do a thorough and honest evaluation, but you are wise to do so. It leads to better church health and robust performance!
All of us want to be part of a team that is successful, accomplishes goals and gets things done. But a “make it happen” team culture is only possible if we, as individuals and leaders, are truly committed to do our part in helping create that team culture.
So here are 15 keys I’ve found for how each of us can contribute to that end:
1. Your yes is yes, and your no is no. Do what you say you will do.
2. You take responsibility before being told.
Closing the back door is more about keeping the front door wide open. The spirit and atmosphere that makes a church inviting is the same spirit and atmosphere that makes people want to stay.
Church leaders have been talking about “closing the back door” for years. It’s a good conversation. After all, it is frustrating to see visitors come, people say yes to Jesus, get baptized and maybe even attend a new Christian’s class. And yet, the church still struggles to grow. People seem to be coming in the front and going out the back.
I’ve been in church all my life. Along the way, I’ve seen and learned a lot. Almost all the insight I have into church has come by experience.
I have observed, for example, that paradigms can often shape a church’s culture. A paradigm, in simple terms, is a mind-set—a way of thinking. In this case, it's a collective mind-set of the church, often programmed into the church’s culture.
If the church is unhealthy, part of the reason could be because it has some wrong paradigms. In that case, it will almost always need a paradigm shift in order to be a healthier church again.
Recently, I’ve been thinking of some of the paradigms that impact a church. I’ll look at some of the negative ones in this post, and in another post I'll share some of the positive paradigms that can impact a church.
Our culture says bigger is better. But in the kingdom of God, less is often more.
There’s nothing more disheartening to a preacher than to see empty seats in a church service. I’ll be honest—I like meetings where you have to pull out extra chairs and put people in the aisles. Why? Because I assume if God’s blessing is on a meeting it will be packed. I like numbers because, in my carnal thinking, crowds are more significant.
Our culture puts value on things depending on how popular they are, and we are guilty of applying this rule in the church. We like big. We even rate churches based on size. We know that the three largest churches in America in 2013 are (1) Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, (2) Andy Stanley’s North Point Ministries and (3) Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek Community Church. The assumption is that these churches are leading the way in making spiritual impact.
Nearly all pastors and ministry staff, volunteer leaders too, lean a little more toward evangelism or discipleship (one or the other) in their personal bent and wiring. According to Matthew 28:19-20 they are both essential and should not be separated, so neither is better than the other.
I believe that the church (in North America for sure), naturally moves toward discipleship on its own; therefore we need to intentionally fight for evangelism. But that’s my personal opinion.
Easter is a good picture of the balance of both. For weeks we build toward Easter Sunday. We run a full-court press for evangelism. Then what? Is it over? What’s your plan? Is it business as usual, or do you take advantage of that great momentum?
Authentic leaders have to be approachable and real. Over the years at Catalyst, we’ve tried to be authentic as an organization and as a leadership movement. We strive to be available, answering e-mails quickly, and even posting our e-mails on our website. We’ve maintained a concierge service since we started Catalyst that made following up with folks and connecting personally a priority. It’s incredibly important to us that we are authentic, humble, and personable. No matter how big our organization gets, we want to maintain this essential trait.
I try my best to be personable, even as Catalyst continues to grow. When you are in a hurry or think someone isn’t worth your time, remember that you were once in that position. One piece of advice I tell leaders all the time is when you’re small, act big. And when you’re big, act small.
Blessed are the flexible! There may not be a greater secret to success in serving another person’s ministry.
In the first chapter of my book The Blessing of Serving Another Man’s Ministry, I shared the dramatic encounter I had with God as a young student at Oral Roberts University—and how He revealed His calling to serve another man’s ministry as I crossed the walking bridge from the student parking lot to the ORU campus. God spoke a few weeks later in our chapel service as Dr. Morris Cerullo ministered—that this was the man He had called me to stand by and serve. (You can read more about this here.
When I left the ORU chapel that spring morning, I was certain that after my experience with God, when I called the Morris Cerullo World Evangelism (MCWE) offices, I would immediately be asked to travel and minister with Dr. Cerullo.