Archive for the ‘Leading’ category

Playing It Safe

April 25, 2009

safeI’ve been doing some reflecting lately on the goodness of God and the focus of my life. Of course that also involves a reflection on the ministry too. I’ve noticed somethings about myself and the ministry: 1) I have a desire to see disciples made in a way Jesus would recognize, and 2) I don’t want to place it safe in the ministry. 

I’ve noticed most churches in the west play it safe. Church for most people is about being connected only lightly as a member and attending alone. The messages I see from many churches from their websites reveal their priorities. Much of the focus is internal and safe. Many churches focus on things that just don’t matter or should matter at the expense of the Great Commission. 

Here’s a list of where I see most churches missing the future:

1. Disciple making is stuck on program in a culture that grows best by process and in community. 

2. Churches’ websites need to be seriously upgraded. The look bad, have the wrong content in them, and are not focused on vistors but insiders. I’ve seen churches of 200 have better web than churches of 2000. 

3. Churches are playing it safe with media. For a church to not have a Facebook page and a Twitter site, well, that’s ignoring the future. 

4. Traditionally structured churches know they need to change the form of their ministry design, but refuse to because “this is how we have always done it.” 

5. Churches offer too many things at the expense of the most important thing: making disciples. Events come before getting a majority people in groups. People are inspired by events, but disciples are made by getting in groups. 

Where do you see churches playing it safe? I could list more. But where should we be taking risks and are not?


The Finish Line

March 20, 2009

Crossing the finish line is a good feeling. I was thinking earlier today about the meaning of life. I’ve made a lot of hospital visits and head quite a few walk ins this week. People are hurting. People are always hurting. And we are to be “soul doctors.” People need help these days. I’m trying to help as many people as I can in as many ways I can. But today, I found joy in thinking of how Jesus Christ will one day lead a massive reunion for those who cross the finish line. We will see those who have already crossed the finish line. 

Finishing is a good thing. The goal of life is to finish faithful and to hear Christ say, “Well done.” 

Next week I go to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary to defend my doctoral project. Pray for me to have favor with God and with Dr. Haddon Robinson and Dr. Sid Buzzell who will be on the committee. I’m hoping to pass the defense and come back to Arlington to make corrections on the dissertation. My hope is to graduate in May with the Doctor of Ministry. In the scope of eternity, this doesn’t mean much. In the scope of discipleship, this means a lot. I’ve learned a lot and have become a better disciple by doing doctoral work. 

Cross the finish line. Help others to cross the line. It’s worth it.

Pastor Shot Dead In Pulpit?

March 8, 2009

The days are truly evil. After worship today I checked Twitter and found that a pastor had been shot dead in his pulpit. At first I thought it was a joke. But as I checked it out I quickly realized the story was true. Fred Winters, Senior Pastor, had been shot. The story is here. More details will surely be found out this week as to how a man walks up to the pulpit and shoots a pastor dead.

We need to pray for the Winters Family and the First Baptist Church Maryville, ILL, family. They watched their husband, father, and pastor die at their place of worship. I’m going to pray for them all week. Join me! 

One thing I’ve learned in the African-American church culture is the role of Armor Bearers. Armor Bearers are men who serve to keep an eye on the crowd. They are the pastors “body guards.” They usually stand at a distance, but close enough to react. No one should get close to a pastor. No one should just “walk up” to a pastor while he is preaching and not be confronted before hand. If your church does not have Armor Bearers, please get your elders or deacons to start this needed ministry. Besides protection Armor Bearers also,

1. Ensure the pastor has water

2. Ensure the pastor has a ride when needed

3. Ensure the pastor is never alone at the church

4. Travel with the pastor to other church related events

5. Ensure the pastor has a light snack between services

There’s more to it. Most of these things can seem unimportant and in some contexts they are. But today is a reminder of the precious commodity a pastor is to his family and church.

I’m sad today for the Winter’s family. Remember to pray. And protect your pastor. The days are evil.

Tribute the Young Adults @ CBC

February 28, 2009

Last night our young adults hosted an event called “The Pillar.” It was a coffee, community, and conversation hangout. We converted the Cornerstone foyer (half of it) into a living room coffee shot. It was my first time sitting and watching people do poetry or “spoken word” in a coffee shop event. Our worship pastor, whose skills are not right (the guy can preach, teach, make disciples, evangelize, and do all kinds of stuff on every instrument known to man; it’s not right), created music to the theme of the night. Our youth pastor officiated the night. We probably had 45-50 in attendance. We had over 100 in confirmed in Facebook. Ultimately we want to offer something to college students that’s Christian, but not church-ish. 

I have never been more proud of our young adults. They are God’s champions and will reach people in our culture for Christ. 


1. A little over a year ago an event like this was a dream, but could never have been a reality. The key players we not in place. 

2. This event was birthed out of a Bible Study Class/small group. Environment is everything. A healthy small group/Bible Study Class should produce ministry and missional life at some point. I knew this could happen, but had to wait a year to see this happen. 

3. One young lady in the class has a vision to open a coffee shop. She said, “let’s do this.” We did it. We had a planning meeting and boom, it happened. Vision breeds unity. 

4. Last night, we had a unchurched people in the crowd. The gospel was shared. 

5. Momentum is important. People were excited. They want excitement. 

6. Every church should turn its foyer into a coffee shop. In this culture, do it. Community is important. People are disconnected and the American culture doesn’t help. People need friends and spiritual growth.  

7. Young adults, if you invest in them, will participate. One of our young adults who is gone to college sent the church a check to defray costs for the event. Hello! That’s kingdom!

Last night before I went to bed I thought of this:

“Taking risks is good when people are the focus and God gets the glory.” 

I’m glad we took a risk to do an event that was “out of the box.”

What I Love Most About Being a Pastor?

January 3, 2009

In 1992 I was called to ministry. I didn’t choose it as a profession. God spoke and I moved. I left a career, went to question-mark-2seminary, and have served in 4 churches as a pastor or associate pastor. I love being a pastor. Why?

I love being a pastor because…..

1. I know I’m doing what God has called me to do.

2. I get to help others come to Christ and disciple them.

3. I get to help people at times in life when no one else can (Death, Marriage, Trials, Benevolence).

4. I get to rub shoulders with great Christian leaders.

5. I get to keep my family grounded in the church (I’m there often).

6. I get to study the word of God for a living.

7. I get to take care of God’s house and campus.

8. I get to be a part, as a leader, of the greatest movement in history (The Great Commission). 

9. I get to develop other Christians leaders formally and informally. 

10. I get to see peoples’ lives change.

How to Turn Your Sunday School Class into a Small Group

November 20, 2008

Last night I had 14 young adults from my Sunday School class in my living room. Last week God impressed on me to invite 12 people to my house. My class averages 20-24 students. Sunday we had 40. Everyone showed up. So, when at the end of the class I passed around the list. I told the class to sign up if they would like to come over and eat, build relationships, and receive coaching on the spiritual life, sign up. All 14 showed up and life transformation happened in my living room. We allowed an hour for eating and fellowship. Then we spent 2 and a 1/2 hours answering these questions: small-groups-community-life“What’s your name, your life story, and where you are on the spiritual journey?” I can’t tell specifics of course. But my wife Jeana summed it up like this: “Each of you gave a piece of yourself to this group.” It was awesome. It was what it’s all about. 

What people need are relationships. They don’t need more content and classes. That can help, but first people need friends. Most of our system in the west is built to foster only short term superficial relationships (Larry Osborne @ Sticky Church Conference). You don’t really need Larry to tell you that though do you? You realize the lack of any real relationships in the church don’t you? Sermon based small groups push relationship first, then content. Content in groups will take care of itself from the pulpit and the process of being in a sermon based small group. 

There’s something that happens in a living room that you cannot reproduce in a class room on campus. So, what do you do when you can’t make a shift to small groups? 

1. Create a culture in your class that makes it have a context that feels like a small group. Talk about the need to be a part of a “smaller” community. Talk about your participants’ need to “walk with God.” Talk about the need to invest in people and build strong relationships in the church and community. circle-of-chairs

2. Use Acts 2:42 to create a teaching outline on the basics that lead to ministry and missions

  • Use 4 C’s: Confidentiality, Community, Commitment, Consistency
  • Apostles Doctrine: spend time in the word as the map for your life
  • Fellowship: Need to be a part of the biblical community and participate in it (Phil. 1:5)
  • Breaking of Bread: Keep your eyes on the cross consistently by taking the Lord’s Supper
  • Prayer: Develop and maintain a vibrant prayer life

3, Use a mass email to communicate with your class twice a week. Email them once on Saturday to reinforce attending Sunday. Use My Space and Face Book too. If you have people on Twitter, use it. Text message people when you can. 

4. Once you hit 24-30 people in class, pilot a small group out of your class. Let people sign up at will and see what happens. Fellowships in classes are good, but they only foster superficial relationships. Everyone is an acquaintance, even after years of attending. The small group is a part of the class. It’s an extension. Yes, it requires more time and work. BUT, who is going to ask the people in your class, “Tell your story! I care about you.” They won’t get asked in Sunday School. You must add to your class, not change it. Changing it is too much and most churches are unwilling to do what it takes. And it takes too long.  The small “life group” does not have to go year round. 

5. Pray for an apprentice and train that person. Set a target date to birth a new class, usually a year out. Then, train your apprentice by planning backwards. Your apprentice will keep the class while you take 2-3 people with your to start a new class. 

6. Reproduce small groups in your class. The groups need to meet weekly.

7. Clarify the win with your fellowship philosophy. A monthly fellowship will only perpetuate short term, surface relationships. Instead of monthly fellowships at a home, plan a real social activity like a movie or putt putt golf, or bowling. If you’re going to have a fellowship event with a crowd larger than 12-14, don’t fake it. Don’t assume biblical community and life transformation happen in groups larger than 14. People don’t know you care because you invite them over. They know you care because you invest in them at a personal level. 

9. Introduce small groups in your large groups Sunday School Class. Use horse shoes and have discussion leaders in each horse shoe. Make your class discuss the text or application in groups of 7 or 8. question-mark1Use questions with precision. Transformation happens when people begin to discuss a biblical idea. A Christ follower moves from passive learning the active learning when an idea is discussed, performed, or taught. If they are only listening, they will only retain 10%. 

10. Use multi-media and a fill in the blank outline in your class. It will revolutionize your class. Of course, use keynote on mac instead of power point if you can. Use pictures in your presentation. Put only the outline in the presentation. You’ll be surprised how your class motivation will change for the better. 

If making disciples through a relational process is your thing, add a personal element to your Sunday School model.

7 Practices of Effective Ministry

November 16, 2008

For the past 3 weeks I have led the CBC Lead Team through Andy Stanley’s 7 Practices of Effective Ministry. This book is simply awesome. Even if you don’t agree with or do the same as North Point Church, the book could help your ministry. The book is worth it just for the first chapter, “Clarify the Win.” 7-practices-of-effective-ministry2This book is worth the discussion it will bring within your team. And any team can use the book. It’s a simple book that helps teams stream line ministry. It will help you get a plan for whatever ministry  you’re in. This week we are on “Teach less for more.” If you’re interested in making disciples with intentionality, read this book.

We had a great day today in young adult Sunday School (iConnect). Our class almost doubled today. We had 39 young adults and plan to reach more. I’ve got an apprentice in place so pray for the leadership process. 70% of young adults fall out of church.

Next week, you’ll have an opportunity to serve other people. Just do it. For the sake of souls. Share Him as you serve.