The Journey to Success

Begins with the Right M.A.P.

TreasureMap

I think many leaders today are lost. They have an idea about where they’d like to be, but they’re unsure on how to get there. Instead of taking a chance and venturing into the unknown, many choose to stay where they are. But, what if I told you there’s a secret to discovering places you’ve never been? What if I told you there’s a map?

Now, you won’t find this map at the local visitor’s center, and you won’t find this map on Google. This map exists inside of everyone, yet very few people ever choose to open it. John Maxwell said this, “God’s gift to me is my potential. My gift to God is what I do with that potential.” If you want to reach your full potential as a leader, you’re going to need a map.

Motivation

Attitude

Priorities

First, you’re going to need motivation. Without motivation, you’ll never get started or you’ll give up long before you get to your desired destination.

Motivation

  • All great leaders understand that their number one responsibility is for their own discipline and personal growth.
  • Growth is only possible when the leader is willing to “pay the price” for it.
  • What you are going to be tomorrow, you are becoming today.

Next, you need the right attitude. Attitude is a leader’s most important asset. No one wants to go anywhere with someone who has a terrible attitude.

Attitude

  • Great leaders understand that the right attitude will set the right atmosphere, which enables the right responses from others.
  • A leader’s attitude is caught by his or her followers more quickly than his or her actions.
  • God chooses what we go through. We choose how we go through it.

Next, you have to have your priorities in order. Your priorities determine your direction. Many leaders have a desired destination, but their priorities are leading them to a completely different place.

Priorities

  • The petty and mundane steal much of our time. Leaders need to set their priorities.
  • Good is the enemy of best. Leaders need to spend their time doing the things that have the greatest impact.
  • Leaders need to set deadlines. Parkinson’s Law says if you have only one letter to write, it will take all day to do it. If you have twenty letters to write, you’ll get them done in one day.

Success is a journey. It’s achieving one thing and using that as a stepping-stone to achieve something else. Success requires the right motivation, the right attitude, and the right priorities. Success requires a map.

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, I used everything you gave me.” –Erma Bombeck

You Need A Sidekick

The Basics - A Friend

Every Monday I post one of The Basics. The Basics are simple steps every church can take to grow. They are the same steps that led my church from 87 people in attendance to over 700. These steps have helped my church see hundreds of people saved and baptized in just a few short years. Most of these steps you can take this week without even having a board meeting. These are The Basics.

ArmorBearerLego

Two years after having our first child, my wife brought up the idea of having another baby. At first I was hesitant about it. We had just gotten Layla out of diapers, and she was finally sleeping through the night. We were in a good place, and I wasn’t excited about starting all over. But my wife would keep going back to this one statement, “You don’t want her growing up alone”. Layla needed a sidekick, and so do you.

Ministry is hard. It’s especially hard if we’re doing it alone. Your church may be full of people, but if you feel like no one has your back, you’re essentially on your own. You need to find a sidekick. Someone you can confide in. Someone you can share your burdens and frustrations with. Someone who can encourage you. Someone who can work with you to establish change.

Your wife can’t fill this role. She may be the strongest person you know, but she’s not meant to fill this position. If you try to make her, it’ll kill your marriage.

You need to find one person in your church who you can trust, and bring them along beside you. Share your dreams with them, and perhaps God will work through you to accomplish something great. That’s what happened in 1 Samuel 14.

“Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!” “Do what you think is best,” the armor bearer replied. “I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.” 1 Samuel 14:6-7

Did you notice the armor bearer’s response to Jonathan’s crazy request?

“Do what you think is best,” the armor bearer replied. “I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.”

 That’s the type of person you’re looking for. Someone who will follow you. Someone who will fight for you. Someone who is with you completely. If you find that person, you’ve found your sidekick.

Who’s your sidekick? How have they helped you in ministry?

My Epitaph

How will you be remembered?

Epitaph

I came across my epitaph recently. You know, those words that are inscribed on a tombstone. I wrote mine down a few years ago while reading Craig Groeschel’s book Chazown.

Sometimes the best way to prepare for our future is to pretend we’re already there. At the end of your life, what do you want to be known for? How do you want to be remembered?

Most of us have years of living ahead of us. Most of us die slowly. We will likely have days, weeks, maybe even years to look back upon our lives. Will you lie there with no regrets?

It’s not really fun to think about our death. So, few people do. But what if the decisions we’re making today are actually making the bed we lie in while we wait to die? Would you begin to look at your life differently?

Would you take more chances? Would you pursue your true passion? Would you spend your time differently? How would your life change if you began with the end in mind?

What would you want your epitaph to say?

Craig Groeschel gives a helpful exercise in Chazown. He asks you to finish the following statements. I’d love to read your epitaph in the comments section below.

The things that are most important to me was…

People say I stood for…

I made a difference in my world by…

God was glorified because I…

People knew I loved them because…

The reason I expect God to say “well done” is…

Birds and Babel

Speaking the Right Language

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The mockingbird is an interesting character. I came to this conclusion one early morning while I was sitting outside reading my Bible serenaded by the sounds of nature. At least I thought it was the sounds of nature. It turned out to be the sounds of one lone mockingbird who had perched himself upon my roof.

The mockingbird is known for mimicking other birds, anywhere between 50-200 according to Wikipedia. It’s also been known to mimic other animals such as cats, dogs, frogs, and crickets. The mockingbird has learned to speak the language of those around it, something the church could learn from.

Let me explain. If your desire is to reach the unchurched, the King James Version of the Bible is probably not the best version to use. It can be hard to understand, especially for those who didn’t grow up in church. If your church is located in a retirement community in Florida, your worship team probably doesn’t need to be rocking Hillsong’s Young & Free. Tailor your language to those you’re trying to reach.

When everyone within the church speaks the same language, great things are able to happen. We see this take place with the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. Pay attention to the wording God uses.

But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Genesis 11:5-6

Nothing will be impossible for them. Why, because they were united and spoke the same language. Does this describe your last business meeting? If not, what can you do today to change that? Who are the people you need to meet with? Have you given the church a vision they can unite together to accomplish, because God is still capable of accomplishing the impossible? The Tower of Babel may have came crashing down, but something else amazing happened 2,000 years ago, the day of Pentecost.

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. Acts 2:1-6

 They heard their own language being spoken by the believers. The Holy Spirit unites them together. Peter preaches the gospel, and 3,000 people become believers on that day. It’s amazing what can happen when we start speaking a language that everyone can understand.

Do the people in your church speak the same language? What are some things you’re doing within your church to encourage unity?

Pray Before You Go

The Basics - Prayer

Every Monday I post one of The Basics. The Basics are simple steps every church can take to grow. They are the same steps that led my church from 87 people in attendance to over 700. These steps have helped my church see hundreds of people saved and baptized in just a few short years. Most of these steps you can take this week without even having a board meeting. These are The Basics.

InPrayer

To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing. -Martin Luther

It seems silly to even mention this, because it seems so obvious. But I’ve learned in ministry the most obvious things are sometimes the things we miss. Prayer is one of those things. It’s the most important thing we can do, yet often the one thing we take for granted.

Throughout scripture we see anyone who accomplishes great things for God has an active prayer life. Abraham prays for an heir. Moses prays for Aaron. Joshua prays for the sun to stand still. Samson prays for one last victory. David has over 50 prayers recorded in the book of Psalm. Solomon prays for wisdom. Elijah prays for fire from Heaven. Hezekiah prays for a longer life. Nehemiah prays for help to rebuild the wall. Daniel prays three times a day, every day. Jonah prays for deliverance. Habakkuk prays for revival. And Jesus prays for us to be one.

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” John 17:20-21

If you want to see God’s Kingdom grow, you have to devote yourself to prayer. Prayer changes things. Or perhaps better said, prayer changes us so we can change things.

In what ways have you seen prayer work in your life? In your church?

The God of Yes

NoMan

This past January I set a goal of reading twenty-five books this year. Today I begin number 25, four months earlier than anticipated. Now twenty-five books doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, especially since my wife has read three times that many this year, but for a guy who only got through fourteen last year, it’s quite the accomplishment.

I’m sure many of you reading this have already read much more than me this year, and I’m sure there are some reading this that feel as though reading twenty-five books in a year is impossible. What I’m beginning to learn more and more is the things we think are impossible, God often makes possible. Impossible is just an excuse to never start.

Someone once said, “You can make excuses, or you can make progress, but you can’t make both”.

For years I made excuses. My vocabulary consisted of I can’t and I don’t. God gets this bad rep as being the no man. No cussing. No drinking. No fun. But I came to realize I was the real no man in my life. I was the one holding me back.

I’ve learned that self-doubt is ok. We should doubt ourselves; Jesus said apart from Him we can do nothing. So, I find my confidence in Christ and nothing else. My motivation is found in serving Him and serving others. And I’ve found if I’ll be willing to say yes, He’ll say yes. For He is the God of Yes.

“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!'”                                 2nd Corinthians 1:20

What the C3 Conference Taught Me about Dreams

C3Conference

Ed Young’s book The Creative Leader radically changed my idea of what you can do in ministry to reach those outside the church. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say, that this book is the main reason I am where I am today. This book unlocked something within my heart that set me on the course to pursue full time ministry.

Because of this, it has always been a dream of mine to attend Ed’s C3 Conference in Grapevine, Texas. So imagine my excitement when last year I discovered Southwest Airlines was offering a great deal on fares to Dallas, Texas, just a few minutes away from Grapevine. Now, all I had to do was convince our senior pastor to get on a plane, something he hadn’t done in years. It didn’t help that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had gone missing just a few months before this. But after much encouragement and a great deal of peer pressure, we finally got him, along with our other five staff members, on a plane headed for Fellowship Church.

C3 2015 was an experience I will never forget. The facility was amazing, the worship was inspiring, and the speaker line up was tremendous. There was something else that became quite clear to me during those two days. The culture, in which they operate, couldn’t be more different than the small town culture where I, and many others, do ministry.

That fact was most evident in this five minute talk on fashion, which took place before the Q&A session one afternoon. Or perhaps it was the promoting of Ed Young’s site http://pastorfashion.com. Either way, it soon became obvious that what works in Grapevine, Texas (Population 46,000, Median Income $94,000), isn’t going to translate to Westmoreland, Tennessee (Population 2,200, Median Income $37,000).

I ended up leaving C3 a little disappointed but a lot wiser. No doubt, there are many things we can learn from leaders and speakers who operate in cultures different than ours, but I think the most valuable information we can learn is from those who’ve been in our shoes, those who do ministry in settings similar to ours.

That’s what I hope this blog can be: a resource for small town church pastors that can help guide you along the path to church growth. Who knows, maybe we can even teach the big city guys a thing or two.

What book has influenced you the most? In what ways?

Small Town Church Growth

The Basics - Introduction

starthere

The church where I serve on staff will turn 10 years old next year. In those 10 years we’ve experienced incredible growth in attendance, salvations, baptisms, and giving. But it wasn’t always that way. When the church was launched in 2006, we only knew one method of doing church, the way everyone else in our community was doing it.

We launched with 87 people in attendance at our first service, and at the end of 2006, we had grown to 86 people. Best-case scenario at this rate was closing our doors after 86 years. Not exactly what you dream of when you plant a church.

The Barna group says the average Protestant church size in America is 89 adults. So, after our first year of ministry, we had basically achieved average. It was at this point we knew we had to start making some changes if we wanted to see the church grow.

Many of the changes we made were small tweaks that any church can put into practice this week. For example, create a follow up system for first time guests, offer free coffee and doughnuts, and place friendly smiling faces at your main entrances. It’s these changes that I’ve defined as the Basics.

Some of these changes may seem simple and insignificant, but they are the changes that helped us achieve incredible growth. In 2007 our church grew by 18 percent, in 2008 it increased to 48 percent, and in 2009 it topped out at a whopping 57 percent growth. We were one of the fastest growing churches in America, and we’ve continued to grow every year since.

Of course not everyone was happy about our growth. Some people didn’t like the changes, and some of those people left the church. We learned to be ok with that. We made the decision that seeing people come to know Jesus was more important than catering to people’s preferences.

If you want to move beyond average, you’ll have to do the same. The Basics is a good place to start.

If you’re interested in learning simple ways you can grow your church, as well as your leadership make sure to subscribe to the blog at the top right of the page.

Don’t Call It a Comeback

Comeback

I’ve been here before.

In 2009, I started my first blog. A few months later I found myself in a Board Meeting trying to explain what I meant by my post “New Wine”. The Gospel of Luke Chapter 5:37-39 talks about putting new wine into old wineskins. Needless to say, not everyone was ready for the new wine.

I’ve learned a lot since then. I’ve learned that change is hard, but possible. I’ve learned that ministry can be painful, yet beautiful. I’ve learned that friendships can begin and end in an instant. I’ve learned that there’s a time to speak out, and a time to keep your mouth shut. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to learn that one, and I still make mistakes.

Most importantly I’ve learned that small town doesn’t have to mean small church. In fact I believe small town churches have big opportunities for growth. In fact I know they do. I came on staff at a small town church shortly after that infamous board meeting. In the 6 years since then our attendance has increased by 300 percent. We went from an average attendance of 235 in 2009, to over 700 today, in a small town of 2,200 people. It can be done.

So, throw away your excuses. I know you don’t have the right building, the church board controls you, and your worship team is less than ideal. It can still be done. You can make an impact in your small town.

All it takes is a passion to see people fall in love with Jesus. A passion that will prompt you to take risks, embrace change, and work harder than you’ve ever worked before. You can do it. I’m here to help you along the way.