What to Read

There’s so much great content available on the internet and through both books and ebooks. Sometimes it can be hard to sift through it all for the good stuff. So I thought I’d share some of the ‘good stuff’ with you, at least by my reckoning. Enjoy.

power-of-habitBook: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

I love this book. It’s a bestseller for a good reason. It’s well written and well thought out. The Power of Habit discusses what a habit is, why it’s so difficult for us to break out of a habit and provides practical input as to how to do so. The book introduces a few very important concepts for churches and non-profits too, the most interesting and powerful being what he calls, “Keystone Habits”. I strongly urge any leader who is trying to run an organization or pastor/counselor who is trying to help people get out of old habits and into new habits to give this book a try. Warning: it is not written from a christian perspective – but most definitely hits the mark.

Some Great Articles Online

6 Ways to Derail Your Church Announcements by Rich Birch

Announcements are a great tool for moving people to action. However, it can be difficult to keep them fresh and creative every weekend. Even worse, the people who do them can get lazy and some bad habits sneak in that undermine their effectiveness. Here are some of the habits I’ve seen over the years. Read More.

Five Things A Church Leader Can Do To Avoid Burnout by Perry Noble

#1 – Talk to your spouse. I can promise you that your spouse may not completely understand what you are going through (I wrote about that here in an article entitled, “The Pastors Pain”), but your honesty is what they are craving the most. One of the things I am most ashamed of in regards to my battle with depression and anxiety is I did not tell Lucretia for quite a while. If I would have told her earlier she could have understood me better and prayed for me as I battled through the issue. Read More.

Three Lessons Learned From My PK’s by John McGee

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to step into your children’s shoes – in other words, to have you as a parent? How would you feel if you were the PK in your family? Recently, a friend was sharing some thoughts he had gleaned from Barnabas Piper’s book about growing up as a Pastor’s Kid. This made we wonder what my kids might say if they ever wrote a book about being a PK. Rather than waiting 20 years for the book, I asked them what it’s like to be a PK at our church. Read More.

Five Things Pastors Need to Say to Their Children by Thom Rainer

Over a year ago, I wrote a post at this blog on pastors’ children. According to the comments and the views, I obviously hit a nerve. Some of the comments came from pastors themselves. But a number of comments came from the children of pastors. Since that article, I have continued to receive comments from children who grew up in pastors’ homes. There is a consistent theme going through many of their perspectives and emotions. Many of them had very positive experiences; but many did not. Through hundreds of comments and conversations, I have been able to distill five things every child of a pastor would like to hear from their pastor/parent. Indeed, those who heard these five things consistently are those who have the healthiest attitudes toward the church today. Read More.

26 Lessons from 15 Church Annual Reports by Rich Birch

Churches use their annual report as a tool to communicate with leaders, volunteers, donors and the general community about what happened over the past year. Done well, annual reports engage people in the mission … done poorly, they aren’t worth the paper they are printed on (or the hard drive space they are stored on)! I asked the unSeminary community to share their annual reports, to see what I could learn from them. I received a lot of reports! Here’s what I discovered from studying them. Read More.

Top 10 Small Group Curriculum Reviews of 2014 by Mark Howell

Looking for great studies to add to your approved list? Here are my top 10 small group curriculum reviews from 2014. Read More.

Five Reasons Why Millennials Do Not Want to Be Pastors or Staff in Established Churches by Thom Rainer

Not all Millennials are averse to serving in leadership roles in established churches. But many of them are. And our churches are approaching a tipping point where many are unable to attract Millennial members or leaders. It will likely soon be a crisis. What is it about established churches that push away Millennials? Let’s examine that question first, and then let’s look at some possible solutions. Read More.

Seats on the Bus

In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins says, “We expected that good-to-great leaders would begin by setting a new vision and strategy. We found instead that they first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats – and then they figured out where to drive it. The old adage, ‘People are your most important asset’ turns out to be wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”

He hit the nail on the head. Ministry is not just all about having people around doing things; it’s also about paying attention to what they are doing as well. Unfortunately, I think this ideas sort of locks many of us up. We think, “How am I supposed to find the exact right seat for everyone?” Ugh. Some of us can hardly figure out where WE fit in, much less trying to figure out which seats on the bus everyone else is supposed to fit.


What if we just started by getting people in the right section of the bus instead? Generally, we have three kinds of people in our church: Creatives, Doers & Leaders. Yes, I know. Sometimes people can be a mixture of one or more of those. But generally speaking, if we know what kind of people we’re dealing with, we can seat them where they fit best and worry about finding their exact seat as time goes on.

The back of the bus – Creatives

Everyone knows that the troublemakers like to sit in the back. If you’re sitting back there, you probably want to be far away from what’s really going on. You aren’t interested in where the bus is going right now. You just want to utilize your creativity to dream, talk, and get into just enough trouble that the bus driver doesn’t notice. 

This is where strategic thinkers and creatives sit. They are big-picture people. They like to try new things. They are sometimes critical thinkers (I didn’t say critical people!) They are the ones you want in the room when you’re dreaming about the future, evaluating how things are going and discussing creative, new things to do or ways to do them. 

These people don’t need a lot of authority to make choices, they just need a platform for their thoughts and ideas to be heard. Great leaders will gather them together to hear them out and learn from them. They also tend to be early adopters, ready to jump in with both feet when it’s time for change.

The front of the bus – Leaders

If you’re sitting at the front of the bus it’s likely because you want to be close to the action. You want to see who’s coming in and out the door. You want to talk to the bus driver. You want to see where the bus is going next and you want to play a part in how you will get there.

This is where the the leaders sit; the ones who make decisions. These are the people in your organization who will actually decide the future and direction of the church. Sometimes the Creatives & the Leaders are the same people. However, often it’s wise to have them sit in a separate section of the bus. Of course, if you’re driving a small bus (a small church/ministry) you don’t always have that luxury. 

In a perfect world, the Creatives come up with some great ideas, feedback and insights and the Leaders can then determine which one’s will work best for the bus based on it’s mission and where it’s going.

The middle of the bus – Doers

If you’re sitting in the middle of the bus you are likely in your own world. You’ve got your iPod in or your just hanging with everyone else in that section. Sometimes you like to listen in on the talk in the back of the bus and sometimes you like to sit near the front to get a feel for the action, without having to be involved. You aren’t cut out for the intensity of the back of the bus and you aren’t really super interested in where the bus is going. You just like being IN the bus.

This is where the doers sit. These are the people who will do whatever is necessary to keep the bus moving and support the vision of the leaders. They are the ones who will dig their heels in and grind out the plans you have made. Your doers don’t make a lot of decisions, and they don’t want to. They do the work based on the decisions that have already been made, and they do it well.

About Your Bus

Here are a few closing observations about how these sections work (or don’t work) in different ‘buses’ or ministries.

  • In my experience, the middle of the bus (Doers) is where the vast majority of people sit, like 90%. There are usually only a few seats in the front and a few seats in the back dedicated to Creatives and Leaders.
  • If a bus has too FEW Doers, it end up coming up with a lot of ideas/plans that never get done. Innovative ideas & new paths don’t get built. The bus doesn’t stop when it should to take on new passengers. It sometimes doesn’t get cleaned properly and needs a fresh coat of paint. You get the idea.
  • If a bus has too FEW Leaders, the bus tends to take loopy circles and gets distracted going places it doesn’t need to go. It also runs inefficiently and needs to spend a lot of time in the shop with repairs. Often, the bus looks great but is going nowhere important.
  • If a bus has too FEW Creatives it takes the path it’s always known, even when there are better paths to take. The bus stays old and eventually becomes uninteresting to prospective new passengers. 
  • The smaller the church, the more Creatives and Leaders have to double up and also be Doers. There is less of a clear demarcation between the different seats.

Four Terrible Assumptions Church Leaders Make

I was standing in the lobby of a local church talking to an unchurched first time guest. It was one of the first times he had ever visited a church and he knew nothing about God or christianity. The service had just completed and people were filtering out of the sanctuary and collecting in small groups, visiting with one another. It was a warm, friendly atmosphere. I was so glad when the pastor noticed me and came over to talk to us.

Alas, my joy was short-lived. The pastor introduced himself to my new friend and then proceeded to talk about his sermon and how important it was for “us Christians.” It was sort of an “insiders” conversation. I wanted to step on his toe or something. I wished he could read the urgency in my eyes. In desperation, I finally interrupted him and blurted out, “Pastor, I didn’t know if I mentioned this or not, but this is our friend’s first time here this morning. Did you get to meet his wife and kids yet?” I’m still unsure if the pastor got the message, but I was at least able to distract him from the unhelpful conversation and redirect it to a more safe topic. Ugh.

I happen to know this pastor has a heart of gold. He’s a great guy, a seasoned minister, and truly loves both his congregation and the people in the community. I know he has a heart for the lost.

But he has fallen into a trap. One that, unfortunately, is very easy for pastors and church leaders to stumble into. He’s forgotten that the people who sit in his congregation are not like him. He’s making several bad assumptions about the people in his church, and I’m afraid it’s potentially turning them away.

Four Terrible Assumptions Church Leaders Make:

Since I visit a lot of churches as a ‘Mystery Guest,’ I have the chance to experience their church from a very unique perspective. Following are four terrible assumptions I have seen church leaders make way too often. 

Assumption #1: Guests Know What To Do

It saddens me greatly when church leaders assume guests have experience attending churches and know what’s going on, what they are supposed to do, where they are supposed to go, etc. They forget that the church environment, one they are intimately familiar with, is a brand new environment for many guests. Even those who have, perhaps, attended church before may still be in the dark, especially if their ‘church experience’ was from a different denomination or style of church.

Imagine visiting a place that you have never visited before, where everyone but you feels at home and nobody thinks to help you get acclimated. Even better, go find that place and check it out. Perhaps your local health club or golf club, I don’t know, try the New York Stock Exchange. Visit that place and be reminded that your guests are experiencing something similar.

They don’t know what to do with their kids. They don’t know the words to the songs, and probably feel a little uncomfortable singing them. They don’t know if they are supposed to give money or take communion. And they don’t know when to stand, when to sit or what to say. At one church I visited, everybody quotes, from memory, the Lord’s Prayer and sings the Doxology every week. Your guests know neither of those things.

Assumption #2: Guests Know the Bible.

Walk up to just about any adult in America and you will discover that they know how to drive a car. It’s a given – and it’s pretty much assumed. After all, everyone we know eventually ends up behind the wheel. Sometimes we ride with them while they drive. That sense of familiarity has seeped into many churches regarding the Bible. Church leaders spend a ton of time with other people who read the Bible, understand what it’s about, and know all the stories. So it’s not that great a leap for them to assume that anyone who is in the church has Bible knowledge.

Imagine walking into an advanced physics class at your local university. Even better, go visit it sometime. Don’t tell anyone who you are or why you are there. Just let the instructor & students talk to you as if you’ve already been through the other physics courses, like everyone else. You get the picture.

You’re guests probably don’t know where to turn in the Bible, if they even own one. And it’s likely they don’t know the story of Jonah, David & Goliath, the parting of the Red Sea, the Last Supper, Pentecost and quite possibly even the story of Jesus’ death & resurrection. You learned all that as a kid in Sunday School; they didn’t. For many of your guests, the most they know about the Bible and it’s stories is from what they’ve seen at the movies. Do you really want to briefly mention Noah after they just watched Hollywood’s rendition of the story? 

Assumption #3: Guests are Christians

Perhaps one of the worst assumptions church leaders can make is that guests are already Christians. The tragedy behind this assumption is that, by making it, there is little to no room to actually open up the most important conversation that individual may ever have. When we assume someone has already discovered Christ’s love and forgiveness, we no longer think to share the Good News with them. Even worse, when we talk to unbelievers like they are already believers and part of the family, we may even give them the false impression that they are, in fact, Christ followers. They may end up attending and serving in the church for months or even years, and have never truly grasped the simple, yet profound message of the Gospel.

Imagine being invited to a football party with a bunch of people you don’t really know. What if, without being asked, everyone assumes you’re rooting for the same team as everyone else in the room? When a touchdown is made, everyone cheers and slaps five and nobody even stops to think that you aren’t rooting for that team, and maybe don’t even like football! Is it possible that our Sunday morning environment and the way we talk to and treat guests aren’t too far off from that hypothetical situation?

There is no guarantee your guests know God, or understand God. Jesus Christ may simply be a religious and historical name. Salvation? Forgiveness? A loving God? Atonement? All may be totally foreign words or concepts. The next time you shake the hand of that guest, assume nothing about their faith in God. Realize that they could be completely unchurched, or an atheist or agnostic; or to complicate matters, even possibly a Mormon, Buddhist, Muslim . . . you get the idea.

Assumption #4: Guests have it all together.

I’m convinced most Christian leaders would make terrible police officers. We have no idea how to truly profile another person. I’m pretty sure if we were sitting in the police car with an officer, watching the same people, we’d point out the nicest people as being potential criminals and totally miss those truly guilty. Sad to say, but I think a lot of church leaders look at our guests and falsely assume that, if they’re smiling, dressed well and friendly, then they are happy, well off and emotionally healthy; and if they’re scowling, dressed poorly and want to make a quick exit, then they are grumpy, in loads of debt and emotionally unstable.

Think about what you’ve gone through, personally, this year. I know you’ve faced a few challenges of your own – we all pretty much do. If this has been a good year, then go back a couple years until you hit that particularly difficult situation. Now, how many of the employees knew about your challenge at the local supermarket when you were buying milk? No. They thought you were fine. 

Philo of Alexandria once said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” That includes your guests. We don’t know if the battle is a recent loss, an addiction, a broken relationship, a serious illness, major debt or a lost job. Whatever it is, you aren’t going to see it when you introduce yourself and welcome them to the church. Don’t be fooled. They need the hope, love, healing, peace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

How about you. Which assumption are you most guilty of making?

Toby Cavanaugh on Persistent Prayer

My friend, Toby Cavanaugh, shared an outstanding message to our staff, pastors, and leaders at Elim Fellowship on Persistent Prayer a while back. I was so impressed I decided to share the wealth. I know this message will inspire and challenge you in the area of prayer. It might also be a great video to consider sharing with your leaders at some point! Enjoy.

If you can’t see this video, click here.

Communicating For A Change

I’ve listened to a lot of public speakers. Unfortunately, many tend to operate under the assumption that they are ‘good’ speakers when, really, well, they aren’t. Don’t worry. I won’t name names (that way I can ensure my name stays off the list too). I think we can often come to the conclusion that we know how to preach, or teach, because people listen to us – and maybe even nod their heads at times.

Of course, the real issue isn’t whether people listen to us so much as what happens after they are done. Is there any change or transformation taking place in their hearts? Do they have something they can and will do? Are they motivated to become more of what God desires of them?

Every preacher or teacher wants to see people’s lives impacted for eternity through their message. This is why I am recommending the book, Communicating For A Change, by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones. This book has played a HUGE role in my own career as a speaker. That’s not to say I’ve ‘arrived’, but I know I have grown. If you don’t already own it, I urge you to purchase and devour this book this week! If you do own it, I recommend you crack it open and give it another read. I know you won’t be sorry.

Here’s a great & simple excerpt from the book:

Create A Map: ME, WE, GOD, YOU, WE.
With this approach the communicator introduces a dilemma he or she has faced or is currently facing (ME). From there you find common ground with your audience around the same or a similar dilemma (WE). Then you transition to the text to discover what God says about the tension or question you have introduced (GOD). Then you challenge your audience to act on what they have just heard (YOU). And finally, you close with several statements about what could happen in your community, your church, or the world, if everybody embraced that particular truth (WE). page 120

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

To Do or To Delegate

So should you do it yourself or delegate it to someone else? That’s a loaded question. I’ve already shared Nine Reasons Why People Don’t Delegate in another post. Delegation is an important, and often difficult, part of leadership. 

In fact, I wonder if people who DON’T delegate shouldn’t be labelled leaders at all. After all, doesn’t being called ‘leader’ imply that others are doing things on behalf of that person? It’s just a thought.

One of John Maxwell’s most famous “Laws of Leadership” includes what he calls the “Law of the Lid“. He explains it in his book, ‘The 21 Laws of Leadership” like this:

“Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his potential. The higher the individual’s ability to lead, the higher the lid on his potential. To give you an example, if your leadership rates an 8, then your effectiveness can never be greater than a 7. If your leadership is only a 4, then your effectiveness will be no higher than a 3. Your leadership ability – for better or for worse – always determines your effectiveness and the potential impact of your organization.”

Note in the two diagrams below that a person can have the same commitment or ‘Success Dedication’ towards their cause, but the actual impact is drastically increased when it’s combined with ‘Leadership Ability’. Ironically, according to this illustration, it seems that someone could potentially be LESS dedicated and still accomplish more in the long run. Interesting.

low-lid2 high-lid

If we apply this principle to our leadership skills in delegating ministry to others, it’s clear that the overall impact is going to be much greater. If we focus on delegating to other leaders, who are also skilled in the art of delegation, then our impact becomes exponential.

Sometimes the growth barrier we are struggling with is external. External barriers would be those conditions and circumstances that prevent us from practically delegating tasks to others. Maybe it’s an imminent deadline, lack of resources, or some other barrier. In those cases, we sometimes need to get our hands dirty and get it done. Later on, it would be good to do some strategic thinking on how you might remove those external barriers.

However, I suspect MOST of the time, the barrier is internal. That is, it’s a leadership problem, which means it’s one of the nine reasons I’ve already discussed. When we are the lid preventing effective ministry from happening, it’s time we get honest and ask ourselves what we could or should do differently. That conversation (with ourselves) isn’t always easy, but it’s an important step in growing and developing ourselves as leaders.

Sometimes, we need help. Our blind spot is too big for us to find and we need others to step in and help us find it. In this case, I recommend you find a 3rd party leader who you trust to help you grow in this area. It might be a mentor, another pastor or leader, or possibly a Leadership Coach. Of course, I’m available to assist you as a Leadership Coach, if you feel that’s a viable option as well.

So which is it for you? Do or Delegate?

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

9 Reasons Why People Don’t Delegate

People chuckle when I say, “I like to delegate.” I guess it must be true. To me, delegation is part of the Ephesians 4 process of ‘preparing God’s people for works of service.’ When I can successfully release, equip & empower others to serve it seems as if I am propelling them towards their God-given purposes and calling. It helps that I can do more of what God’s called me to as well!

But I also have a very personal understanding of why we tend to procrastinate when it comes to delegating tasks, projects and leadership to others. Here are 9 reasons I can think of why we don’t delegate.

  • Not Enough Time
    It’s ironic, but true. The very thing we don’t have time to do is what will eventually give us more time. Getting started is often the hardest part. When will we find the time to recruit, train & keep track of what others are doing? Honestly, I wonder if it’s not really that we don’t have the time. Perhaps it’s simply that we haven’t made delegation a priority? Just a thought.
  • Losing Control
    When we invest a lot of time, energy & passion into a project or ministry, it can simply be real hard to let it go. Delegation requires some calculated risk-taking. It means we won’t be holding the steering wheel anymore. Which also means we won’t be able to control how things are done. Of course, when we give into this fear, what we’re really saying is that nobody can do it better than us – which probably isn’t really true. Giving up control is a basic ingredient of leadership. If you can’t do it, you’re not leading.
  • Not Getting Credit
    I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy some praise every once in a while. For some of us, this is more important than others. But ultimately, this motivation is simply self-centered. If I’m not releasing others to lead, manage or ‘do’ because I’m addicted to back patting, then what I’m really saying is that I’m more important than the potential team I have sitting around me. 
  • Losing Tasks You Love
    This is a more complicated excuse for not delegating. On the one hand, I could argue that it’s self-centered to keep the tasks we love for ourselves. However, it could be that the reason you love to do them is because it’s what God has for you. I know people who have intentionally refused promotions in the workplace simply because they don’t believe the next rung in the ladder is what God has called them to do. That said, when this is the challenge we face, I believe hitting the floor and submitting the issue to God is the best solution you can find.
  • You Can Do It Better
    At the beginning, this is almost always true. It’s also probably the number one reason why we don’t delegate. Years ago, a mentor told me this. If someone else can do it 80% as well as you, it’s probably worth releasing it to them. Here’s the key: as long as I’m committed to equipping and training them, this can work. Over the years I’ve watched a lot of great people rise far above their leaders. But they rarely began that way. It didn’t happen until those leaders took the risk and let them struggle and fail at times.
  • Delegated Out of a Job
    Every once in a while our reasons might be purely due to the worry that, if I give away my responsibilities, maybe I might find myself out of a job. I have two thoughts about this. First, maybe that’s true. If so, then I can only assume that it’s for the best. If others can do what you’re doing better, then it may be time to trust the Lord’s leading for both you and where you are working. This releases you to find the place where you can shine. Second, and this is more likely to be true, if you can successfully delegate leadership to others, you will very likely prove your value to your leaders. True leaders rarely get rid of others who know how to lead. 
  • You Don’t Trust Others
    It’s a fact of life. Other people are sometimes not trustworthy. It’s very important that, when we delegate, we do so to the RIGHT people. That said, often our mistrust of others can end up crippling our leadership. We can end up ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ if we’re not careful. Leaders take calculated risks. So calculate and take some risks.
  • Saying ‘No’ For Them
    In my 20+ years of ministry I’ve heard more reasons why people CAN’T do things than I have ever heard why they can. What’s ironic is that it’s not the actual person who had those reasons. It was the leadership team that was considering calling and asking them to get involved! We sit around and tell ourselves, “They’re too busy.” or “They’ve been going through a hard time.” or “They are already involved somewhere else.” When we do that, we are stripping those people from the very opportunities they may unknowingly be waiting for. Don’t say no for others, let them do it instead, if they want to.
  • You Don’t Know How
    It’s hard to recruit and delegate others. In ministry, we tend to assume that if I’m the leader or director of the ministry then I should know how to recruit others to join the team. That’s presumptuous. Businesses spend millions of dollars every year training and paying for professional communicators to promote and recruit people to their causes. I recommend you stop assuming everyone knows how to recruit & delegate and begin getting books, articles and speakers in to train your team instead. A great little book you might consider starting with is Andy Stanley’s, “Making Vision Stick“.

What other reasons can you think of why we don’t delegate?

This article was originally published on this blog in December of 2013. photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

What to Read

Every once in a while I like to post some great articles I’ve stumbled across on the web that I think will be helpful to my readers. Here are some great ones for you to consider looking over! Enjoy!

Twelve Ways Pastors Went from Burnout to Vision  by Thom S. Rainer
There are few vocations that can engender burnout like the pastorate. The demands on a pastor’s time, emotions, and energy can be overwhelming. When I was a pastor, I often felt at least the symptoms of burnout. I recently spoke with 17 pastors who had experienced burnout, or who felt they came precariously close to burnout. The good news about these pastors is that they moved out of burnout; and now they are re-engaging in exciting and visionary ministries. Read More.

10 Symptoms of an Inwardly-Focused Church  by Tony Morgan
Can you imagine a business that never focused on reaching new customers? Imagine Apple saying, “We have no plans to sell phones, tablets and computers to new customers in the future. We’re going to focus solely on our existing customers from now on.” For a season Apple would likely continue to thrive because it has plenty of existing customers. But, over time, Apple would slowly lose it’s customer base until eventually everyone has either started purchasing products from other companies or passed away. Read More.

Gather Stories as If Lives Are in the Balance  by Mark Howell
As important as quantitative measurement is, today we need to talk about gathering stories, the qualitative aspect of small group ministry. Why? Let’s just say that while your ministry intelligence depends on the numbers we gathered yesterday, lives actually hang in the balance and depend on the stories you gather. Read More.

Never Start a Ministry Without a Minister  by Rick Warren
Saddleback didn’t have an organized youth ministry until we had 500 in attendance at the church. We didn’t have a singles ministry until we had 1,000 people in attendance. And I’m glad we didn’t. It’s not because those ministries aren’t important. They’re vital! But God hadn’t provided anyone to lead them. Never create a ministry position and then fill it. Read More.

3 BIG Reasons People Leave Your Church  by Dan Reiland
Why do you think people leave your church? Why do you think people leave churches in general? We’ve read reasons (and I’ve written about these too) like: “I just didn’t get anything out of the messages.” Read More.

Leadership Development Insights From Ephesians 4  by Aubrey Malphurs
One of the constant struggles church leaders face is determining how to achieve alignment between congregational and pastoral expectations. If you are reading this, you likely are a Christian leader. You also are likely to attend a church that expects the pastors to do the ministry of the church (most do). After all, that’s what they hired you for, right? Wrong! Kind of…   Many churches hire their pastor looking for someone to do the ministry. People are busy, and the other staff is overloaded. Read More.

Preaching Without Words: 10 Things To Consider When Using Visuals  by Troy Page
Many of us grew up in a church where children and student ministry was fun, creative and caught our attention. Then as we grew older and started attending “big” church, everything seemed to get boring! Thankfully during the last twenty plus years, there has been a wave of new churches who place a value to make things more creative, exciting and interesting. One way this is done is when speakers use visuals such as props and videos to capture the attention of the audience. Read More.

The Lonely Pastor: Nine Observations  by Thom S. Rainer
The conversation took place just yesterday. A young man told me his dad, a pastor, recently committed suicide. He talked about the pain his father experienced in ministry as well as the intense loneliness. Though suicide is not an inevitable outcome, I do know the number of pastors experiencing loneliness is high—very high.  Read More.

3 Pieces of Advice from a Church Planter to Church Planters  by Ed Stetzer
Church planting is difficult, but a few simple actions can make it a bit easier. When I planted my first church in Buffalo in 1988, I was considered strange. People asked why I was planting a new church instead of pastoring an established one and wondered aloud if maybe I couldn’t land a real ministry job. Read More.

Knowledge Empowers Leaders To Make Wise Choices


A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers. Proverbs 24:5-6

There is very little that will frustrate a true leader more than lack of knowledge. Knowledge, when wielded by the right individual, is like a sharp sword that is capable of cutting through confusion to find truth and wisdom. Lack of knowledge leaves us whacking away at ghosts in the darkness, hoping we will stumble upon the right path. Empires have fallen because of lack of knowledge. Relationships have come to ruin. Bank accounts have run dry. Employment opportunities have passed people by. All because someone didn’t have the information needed to make a wise choice.

The church world is not exempt from this truth. When leaders have access to the right information, it empowers them to make wise choices. Those wise choices ultimately lead to transformation in the lives of the broken and hurting people in that community.

Proverbs 24 (quoted above), reminds us that leaders can have ‘great power’ and ‘increased strength’, which can lead to ‘guidance’ when facing battles. In other words, we have a greater chance of victory than we did without them (wisdom & knowledge); we are ’empowered.’

If wisdom were a fire keeping us warm and giving us light, knowledge would be the wood and fuel feeding that fire. Of course, knowledge must be given to the right person, a wise person, in order for it to make a difference. Otherwise, it is simply wood sitting in a pile on the floor. 

Charles Spurgeon said it this way: “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”

Knowledge is not our ONLY source of wisdom. There are other sources as well, the most important Source being God Himself, who promises to give wisdom to all who ask it (James 1:5.) But I suspect that knowledge is one of the primary tools God gives us to make wise choices.

How does this apply to you today? What area of your life or ministry are you struggling with? What challenge are you facing that seems overwhelming and insurmountable? I recommend you start with prayer and then begin asking lots of questions. Go on a treasure hunt. Look for answers and don’t stop until you’ve found them. 

Image from istockphoto.com.

Cared for, Called & Empowered to Serve

fields-ripe2I was reading Matthew chapters 9-10 this week. I’d like to share 9:36-10:1 with you.

When he {Jesus} saw the crowds he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore to send out workers into his harvest field.’ He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

This passage is rich with encouragement and truth for us today. 

  • Jesus is a compassionate God.
    The word ‘compassionate’ can be defined as ‘feeling/showing sympathy & concern for others.’ Jesus is focused on you and I today, and is aware of our individual circumstances.
  • Without Him, we are harassed & helpless.
    Jesus is our Shepherd and can turn ‘harassed’ into ‘protected’ and ‘helpless’ into ‘empowered’ when we put our faith & trust in Him. Even as believers, we need to be reminded to turn to our Great Shepherd instead of continuing to try and do it all on our own.
  • It is the Lord who sends out workers.
    We do not have the authority to send out people to be His hands & feet. It is the Lord who ultimately calls us to serve in His name. The best we can do is to acknowledge His calling in the lives of others and help them succeed in that calling in whatever way we can.
  • We have the right & authority to ask for workers.
    Wow. This is so empowering for us. We may not be able to ‘send’, but we have the blessing of Jesus Christ to ask for laborers. Whether volunteers in our churches, new hires in our ministries, evangelists in our communities or missionaries in the world – there is an implied promise from God that, when we ask, He will send.
  • We are the answer to the question.
    It is interesting to me that the very next chapter and sentence starts with ‘He called.’ Since you and I are serving in leadership and ministry today, we must be the answer to someone’s request to ‘send out workers’. That means we get to serve as shepherd’s under the Great Shepherd, reaching a world that is ‘harassed & helpless.
  • We are empowered.
    Jesus is not one to send his workers out without the tools they need to succeed. He ‘gave them authority’ and he has ‘given us authority’ to minister to those He has ushered into our spheres of influence and responsibility. We can do it, because He has authorized us to!

Be encouraged! You are cared for, called and empowered to fulfill His purposes today!

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