Living Life in the Rearview

Is it just me, or does your best thinking happen in the shower? I’m not sure if it’s the scalding hot water opening up my pores or the ten minutes alone without a child screaming, “Daddy!” Either way, I try to make the most of it. For me, that means dreaming about the future and trying not to live in the past.


Not that there’s anything wrong with the past. The past has been very good to me. Sure, I have a few regrets, but overall life has been great.

I just never want to get to a place where I think my best days are behind me. I never want to live life in the rearview.

Do you know why they make windshields so big, and rearview mirrors so small?

It’s because what’s in front of you is way more important than what’s behind you.

Spend too much time looking in the rearview and you’re bound to crash. On the other hand, never look in the rearview and you may be doomed to repeat your past mistakes.

So, what’s a good solution? Keep both in the proper perspective.

Windshields should be big. Don’t lose sight of what’s in front of you. God has promised to give you a hope and a future. Don’t take your eyes off of it.

Rearviews should be small. Not matter how great or bad your past was, it’s the past. Don’t get stuck there, but also don’t forget the lessons you learned along the way.

So many churches are living life in the rearview. They love talking about the good old days but have no plans to improve the days they’re currently living in.

And let’s not forget the other mirror in your car, the vanity mirror. You know the one hiding behind the sun visor? Because every once in awhile you need to take a good look at yourself.

Are you still doing ministry for the right reasons?

Are you frustrated with where your church is?

Are you taking too much credit or too much blame?

I once heard a pastor say, “If you blame yourself for every decrease, you’ll credit yourself for every increase.”

Where’s your focus? Are you looking forward, or are you looking back?

Don’t live your life in the rearview.

Which mirror are you most focused on? Why? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and make sure to subscribe to the blog for tips on leadership, church growth, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

4 Traits of Pastors that Persevere

Have you ever noticed how resilient little children are? For example, my three year old daughter just got a Barbie Dream House. Not for her birthday, not for Christmas, just because she demanded it. Now, I didn’t get it for her because I’m just as resilient as she is. I told her no over and over again. So what did she do? She talked her grandparents into getting it for her. She then proceeded to play with it for about three days before moving on to her next demand.


I’m not even mad about it. First, it didn’t cost me anything, and second I’m impressed by her persistence. She knew exactly what she wanted, and she wouldn’t back down until she got it. That will come in handy later on in life, although I’m not looking forward to her becoming a teenager.

As pastors and leaders, I believe we can learn a great deal about perseverance through our children. Many of us, myself included, love coming up with new ideas and plans, but we stink at following through on them.

I bet right now you can think of at least one good idea you’ve had that you never followed through on. Go ahead, write it down, and make sure to come back to it later. Or maybe you tried it, and it didn’t work the first time so you gave up on it.

Go through this enough and it won’t be long before you give up on trying anything at all. For some of you that’s your story. You’ve given up when God has called you to persevere.

I want to see that change. I want to see you persevere. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. You own it.

No more excuses. No more blaming others. No more waiting around for someone to tell you what to do. From this day forward, you take control of your life and how you react to problems and adversity.

  1. You gather the right people around you.

Being a pastor can be one of the loneliest positions you can have. I’m telling you that you’re not meant to do this alone. Find a friend that you can confide in. If you can’t find one in your church, find one online because every pastor needs a sidekick.

  1. You find the silver lining.

It takes absolutely no effort to find problems. Those who persevere learn how to see the positives. Maybe no one showed up to our event, but our volunteers did a great job setting things up. The offering was really low this week, but we had five first-time guests. Always look for the positive.

  1. You focus on what you can change.

There are some things you’re just never going to be able to change. You have to learn to let them go and focus on what you can change. There are some people who will never change. Quit stressing about it, and let God handle it. Put your energy into the things you can change, and don’t waste your time with the rest.

Being a pastor is hard. I’ve written about it before. Unless you begin taking the right steps, your chances of surviving ministry are slim. I hope we can change that. I hope you’ll choose to persevere.

What’s one great idea you’ve had but have never put into practice? I’d love to hear about so leave a comment below. Plus if you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on leadership, church growth, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

Three Lessons on Explosive Growth

Guest Post: Vince Daniel

I am not writing this as a professional church planter or church growth specialist. I haven’t written any books on the topic of “Church Growth in a Rural Community.” We have just seen some really amazing things happen in the last nine months in our church. I want to share three of the lessons we’ve learned as God has taken Real Life Church from 350 in weekly attendance to over 900 in weekly attendance in a short amount of time.


  1. Know Yourself

Before I pastored Real Life, I had never pastored a church larger than about 100 people. There have been moments that I have thought, “What is God doing? I am not qualified to do this.” And then God would send 100 more people to the church just to show that His quantity is never based off my qualifications. I believe God keeps me in that tension so that I never get to the place of thinking that I am the sustainer. The moment I start to think “Oh I’ve got this,” He sends more folks to remind me those are His words not mine. So I do my best to stay teachable, constantly learning what the next level is like, just in case God decides to take us there.

  1. Know your Culture

Our community is unique, so is yours, and so is the church’s down the street or two towns over. It took us a while to wrap our minds around this. I wanted to build a trendy new facility that had all the bells and whistles, but I have come to realize if the product is authentic and done with quality, the packaging matters little in our community. We currently meet in a renovated horse barn, and our people love it. Before you make an assumption…we are not a Cowboy church. We are a community that appreciates authenticity and humility. So be approachable and gracious. We are in a community that appreciates quality. So whatever your facility is create an environment that is excellent. I promise if any horse walked into our barn now they would say, “Whoa!” (You see what I did there…Horse joke…whoa).

  1. Know God

If God truly places His hand of favor on you and your church, you cannot manage, contain or manufacture it. You can only hope to live in it as long as He sees fit. In the last nine months, we have had to change our facility three different times, our children’s check-in system at least twice, and our organizational structure has resembled a game of Jenga. And all of this has been awesome! Our teams freak out a little bit, but we survive. We look back wondering why God would ever allow us to be a part of this movement called the local church. We look forward in wonder of what He will do next. It is my prayer that you will still be in awe of what God is capable of doing in your church. Stop trying to figure out what’s not working and go back to what always has, loving people with the Gospel of Jesus.

Vince is a Jesus follower, church planter, husband and dad. He is the senior pastor of Real Life Church in Mountain Home, Arkansas which will be celebrating their 5 year anniversary in September.

What Happened to Passion?

When I look for volunteers or leaders in the church, one of the most important qualities I look for is passion. I want them to be excited and enthusiastic about Jesus, His church, and using their gifts to reach those who don’t know God. Although, lately it seems that these people are getting harder and harder to find, and I think I may know why. Passion literally means to suffer, and no one likes to suffer, including myself.


Rusty Rustenbach, a name that it looks like I made up, said it this way,

“You and I live in an age when only a rare minority of individuals desire to spend their lives in pursuit of objectives which are bigger than they are. In our age, for most people, when they die it will be as though they never lived.” – Giving Yourself Away

I was talking to a young gentleman the other day that has a bright future ahead of him. I asked him how he was spending his free time, his response, “I’m really into leisure time.”

Aren’t we all? Given the choice between suffering and leisure, I believe we all would pick leisure.

Yet, nothing great has ever been accomplished through leisure. It only comes through suffering.

Great musicians suffer through hours of daily practice because of their passion for music. The calluses on a worship leader’s hands can testify to this.

Michael Phelps didn’t become the most decorated Olympian ever without suffering. During the peak of his training, he trained six hours a day, six days a week, and ate a whopping 12,000 calories a day.

God always seems to have a special way to use suffering in people’s lives.

Noah spent 120 years building a boat.

Abraham was told he would be a father of a great nation and spent 25 years waiting for a son.

Joseph was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, then betrayed and forgotten in a dungeon.

David was anointed king, yet spent years running from Saul.

Daniel was thrown into a den of lions.

Jesus was crucified.

Each suffered greatly, and each experienced greatness.

You can’t have one without the other.

On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your passion level? How do you keep the passion alive? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on leadership, church growth, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

Change and Church Health

Have you ever noticed that no one cooks as good as your mom? You may not want to admit it in front of your wife, but there’s just something special about mom’s cooking. Especially if you grew up in the south and had the pleasure of experiencing beans and cornbread.


Unfortunately, over the past few years my mom’s cooking isn’t as good as it used to be. We still have beans and cornbread and all the stuff that comes with it, but the flavor isn’t what it once was. Something’s changed.

My parents are getting older, and my dad’s health isn’t what it once was. In the past few years he’s been diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, and has had to have multiple stints put in to open up arteries in his heart.

In order to live a long life, his diet had to change.

This means sweet tea is now made with Splenda, potatoes are baked instead of fried, and a lot less salt and fat in the pinto beans.

It certainly doesn’t taste as good to me or him, but we both realize it’s either change or face a shortened lifespan.

Many churches are facing the same choice, change or face the consequences.

But change isn’t easy for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few:

  1. Tradition

First, let me say that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with tradition. None of us would be were we are today without the great Christian men and women who have gone before us in ministry. The issue arises when we are so in love with the past that we’re not willing to make the changes necessary to reach people today.

  1. Risk

Every change involves risk. The bigger the change, the bigger the risk. The smaller the church, the bigger the risk. It may be that the change that needs to be made may be the very thing that used to bring people to the church. Many pastors are able to see what needs to change, but they’re not willing to risk losing key members of the church in the process.

  1. Uncertainty

Some people fear the dark because they can’t see what’s in front of them. Change has the same effect on people. When you’ve been doing ministry a certain way for a long time, it’s hard to imagine how you would do it any other way. For example, the cake walk may not be the best way to raise money anymore, but at least you know how to put one on.

Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have, and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up. 

James Belasco and Ralph Stayer

My dad understands that if he wants to be around to see his grandchildren grow up, then his diet had to change. For many people in the church, we need to come to that same realization.

If you want the church to be around for the generations coming along after you, you have to be willing to change. It may not taste as good as the beans and cornbread you ate when you were growing up, but it will increase the life expectancy of your church.

Do you have a success story about change in your church? I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment below, and make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on leadership, church growth, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

Landmark Leadership Conference

I wanted to do something a little different on the blog today and let you know about an incredible church conference I get to be a small part of. The Landmark Leadership Conference is a gathering designed for church leaders and planters desiring to learn and be inspired by others.  The format includes times of worship, national keynote speakers, and live Q & A.


If you’re a church pastor or leader, here are a few reasons you should plan on being there.

  • It’s a great opportunity to network with other pastors and leaders.
  • It’s not being put on by a megachurch, which means we can relate to where you are.
  • It takes place at a portable facility, which means you can see what doing portable church in a school looks like.
  • It’s an incredible value at just $30 a ticket.
  • It includes a free lunch from Chick-fil-A.
  • It has a great speaker line-up including: Brandon Petty, Trevor Barton, Justin Davis, and Shawn Lovejoy.

The event takes place on September 17th in the big city of Portland, Tennessee about 45 minutes north of Nashville. To get your tickets, please visit

If you have any questions about the conference, please leave a comment and let me know, and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on leadership, church growth, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

4 Types of Pastoral Leadership

As a pastor it can seem noble and even Biblical to try to be all things to all men. The apostle Paul even said as much in his letter to the church in Corinth.

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” 1 Cor 9:19-23

Young businessman in the wheat field searing for the new opporun

But what if the expectations we are placing on ourselves are becoming the source of our stress and anxiety? What if we were never meant to be all things to all men? What if we were just meant to be exactly who God made us to be?

Because let’s face it, none of us are Jesus. All of us are gifted yes, but we’re not great at everything. In order for our churches and us to be at our best, we need to operate within our gifts and realize our limitations.

Sam Chand in his book Leadership Pain does a great job of describing the four types of pastors. Take a look and see which one best describes you.

  1. Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are incredible at casting vision and inspiring others to help accomplish that vision. They have no problem setting a course to achieve the seemingly impossible. They often accomplish greater things than anyone else, but many people will think they’re crazy.

  1. Shepherd

Shepherds believe above all else God has called them to care for the hurting, reach the lost, and comfort the grieving. They are peacemakers, great counselors, and enjoy visiting the sick. Entrepreneurs get frustrated with them because they don’t seem to care as much about growth, and administrators get frustrated with them because they forget about important details.

  1. Teacher

All pastors teach the word of God, but some are especially gifted in this area. These pastors love to study the word of God and are able to uncover rich insights, creative illustrations, and applicable next steps for their listeners. These pastors are often able to draw large crowds, but they struggle providing clear direction for the future.

  1. Administrator

Administrators are excellent at creating plans, strategies, and systems that keep the church running. They have no problem delegating tasks and placing everyone in the right role. Administrators can drive entrepreneurs crazy because they insist on having everything in place before they begin a new initiative. Shepherds may assume that their concentration on systems misses the hearts of the people.

Where do you see yourself among these four? Being able to identify where you are most gifted is the first step, but equally important is identifying where you are weak. Once you’ve identified where you are weak, you can start taking steps to place gifted people in the areas of your weakness.

You were never meant to be all things to all people. Trying to will only lead to pain, frustration, and burnout. Operate within your gifts and place others around you to take care of the rest.

Which leadership style are you? What have you done to cover your weaknesses? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure to subscribe to the blog in order to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to you inbox each week.

Five Stages of Church Growth

I don’t like kids. Let me take that back, I like my kids…most of the time, but I probably don’t like your kids. Nothing personal, it’s just that they can be annoying and require a lot of attention. In many ways they’re like the local church.


Not that the church is annoying, just some of the people in the church. Luckily most kids grow out of it. Your church may not be so lucky.

But just as your kids grow up and go through different stages of life, your church does the same. Some of those stages are incredibly enjoyable, while other stages you’d rather skip over.

As I think about the church, as well as children, I see five unique stages we all go through.

  1. Conception

This is the fun part. At least it should be, if not, you may be doing something wrong. This is the stage where you dream and plan. While many people will be excited for you, others will think you’ve lost your mind. I mean have you really considered the cost of having a baby? Think about the freedom you’ll be giving up.

  1. Baby

Ah, my least favorite stage. While this stage is exciting because you experience a lot of firsts, it’s hampered by the number of diapers you have to change. You rarely see your friends anymore, and you’re always exhausted. If it weren’t for those special moments of life change that pop up from time to time, you would consider giving up.

  1. Child

A time to learn and a time to grow, this is the child stage. Some of your best memories will come during this stage. You become established, and you learn who you are. You have seemingly endless amounts of energy, and your passion has never been greater.

  1. Adult

You’ve stopped growing, you take yourself a little too seriously, and your vision isn’t as good as it once was. You may become lethargic and your passion may wane. You’re now much more likely to make excuses for problems rather than find solutions.

  1. Senior Adult

You look back on your life and wonder what have you accomplished. Hopefully, you realize that in order to reach the next generation you must be willing to change. You now are able to use your experience to pour into others.

Each stage is special in its own way, and each stage has its own set of difficulties. Navigating each stage takes a bit of skill and a lot of luck. Learn to enjoy it because it goes by quicker than you’d ever think.

What stage would you say your church is in? Why? Leave a comment and let us know, also make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and other tips on raising children delivered straight to your inbox each week.

Taking a Sabbatical Saved My Ministry

Guest Post: Brandon Petty

Last year one week before Father’s Day, I woke up like any other Sunday morning. It was about 5:30am. I normally get up, put on a pot of coffee, and begin to read, write in my prayer journal, and focus on the sermon for that day. I grabbed my phone off of the nightstand and noticed I had two voicemails. I didn’t recognize the numbers. I had gone to bed earlier than normal the night before due to a hectic week. Both voicemails were from my father’s sister. She called me late the night before to inform me that my father had passed away from a heart attack at 62 years old. As you can imagine, my heart sank as I listened to her words drop in my ear like heavy bags of sand that seem to pour out into my soul. I even felt guilty for going to bed so early and missing the phone call. But with my life being filled with so much anxiety and chaos, I found myself tired…a lot.


Why am I sharing this story in a post about taking a sabbatical? Because it was that life event that finally drove me to a place of desiring mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health over ministry success. After planting a fast growing church in 2012, my life seemed stuck in the mud with tires spinning as fast as I could put my foot to the pedal. As I reflected on who my father was, a man who had made a journey that started with a ton of mistakes throughout his life with addictions, poor choices, and dysfunction within his own family to a man who loved God, loved people, and loved life. He finished well. Those three words echo through my hearth and soul…he finished well. Isn’t that the issue with most of us in ministry today? We all start out with the courage to start something great but rarely have the character to sustain consistency. After all, we are too important and too busy at the expense of our congregation or in most cases, a leader board to slow down and think about how we are going to finish. That usually leads to poor decision-making, burn out, or even moral failure.

My reflection on my father during that season brought me to a place of self-reflection. My dad loved spending hours in the woods praying or meditating. He had such a love and respect for God’s creation. He had a lot of demons in his life but had seemed to overcome them. I could remember a time when I was kid and my go-to sources of renewal were a campsite, a fishing hole, the woods, or simply outside my cousin’s barn playing basketball in a gravel driveway. I loved being outside and enjoying God’s creation as well. But my source of renewal had become my phone, my computer, or even going to a church conference in the name of ministry. I would only come back with more anxiety over feeling the need to figure out how to continue to grow the church. So last fall, I finally took a week long sabbatical. It was just me, a tent, a hammock, and the great outdoors…and food, of course. It was one of the most amazing weeks of my life. I read books, prayed, listened to sermons, but most of all, I slept! God poured so much restoration and vision into my life during that week. I want to give you five reasons why you should take a sabbatical:

  1. Healthy things grow, not busy things.

As pastors, we all feel the pressure to lead well in our churches. We want needs to be met, souls to be saved, and the church to grow and be strong. The problem is, we normally sacrifice our own health or spiritual growth on the altar of performance. We think that if we work non-stop or if we say yes to every request, then somehow God will bless us, people will love us, and our church will be successful. I have found that nearly 100% of the time the opposite is true. What I’ve discovered is that if you’re not healthy at the core, the rest of you won’t be healthy. That’s true for you personally and for your church. I began to change my focus on church growth strategy to health and culture. I began to focus on my own spiritual growth and the growth of my leaders. I know that if I create a healthy culture at the core, my leadership capacity (and the church) will grow. Why? Because healthy things grow.

I took intentional steps towards overall health in the last 2 years. The gym is a consistent part of my life. I began going to counseling for my own past that was embedded with dysfunction. I make sure I take a Sabbath day off each week. I’m intentional about date nights with my spouse and spending time with my kids one on one. And now, I plan a week long sabbatical each year. The healthier I am overall, the healthier my family and my ministry will be.

  1. The only way we can be productive is to rest.

I’m reminded of a moment in 1 Kings with Elijah when he had just performed one of the greatest miracles in scripture. He had just called down fire from Heaven and defeated the 450 prophets of Baal. You would think he would be on cloud nine. But something happened right after this intense God moment:

“When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.”

Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.

Then the angel of the lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”1 Kings 19:1-7 (NLT)

Elijah goes from feeling unstoppable and full of faith to depressed and zapped of his strength. In a matter of moments, he is in such depression that he desires for God to kill him. Have you ever been there, Pastor? One minute you just finished delivering your greatest sermon and people’s lives are being changed; the next minute someone has sent you an email that has ruined your week and brought you to the brink of quitting. Ministry can be emotionally overwhelming. What’s our response in times that we feel like we just need to press on? We’ll eat unhealthy, load up on coffee or energy drinks, stay up later, or even put more stuff on our calendar. What did the angel encourage Elijah to do? He encouraged him to sleep, eat, and repeat. Why do we struggle with that at times? We feel that we are being unproductive, but honestly, the best way to be productive is to stay rested. God knew Elijah had another leg of his journey and purpose ahead of him. He couldn’t use Elijah if he wasn’t well rested. What happened next? God used him to anoint Elisha to replace him. Our longevity in ministry isn’t even about us. Someone else’s calling and purpose also hang in the balance. Take time to rest; it’s actually encouraged by God.

  1. You have to disconnect in order to re-connect.

The greatest way to hear from God is get away from everything else. This time I’m reminded of Moses and his encounter with his father-in-law. That statement sounds scary, I know. But in Exodus, we see that Moses was doing everything. He was trying to lead, but he was also listening to everyone’s disputes. He did this every single day. Basically, he was accessible to everyone at every moment. His father-in-law gave him this advice:

“This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to him. Teach them God’s decrees, and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives. But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.”—Exodus 18:17-23

Many of us would be truly set free if we took Jethro’s advice. Notice where he said Moses’ focus should be: visionary, preacher, teacher, and ultimate example for all to follow. Do you know what happened after Moses took his advice? He took a trip in the wilderness at Sinai and went up the mountain. It was there he received the Ten Commandments from God. Sometimes, our greatest revelation comes from our greatest times of rest. Moses appointed leaders to lead so that he could disconnect from the people and re-connect with God. Your church is expecting you to be the one to hear from God and give them direction. You can’t do that if you don’t disconnect to re-connect.

  1. Jesus took a sabbatical.

Jesus actually began His ministry with a 40-day sabbatical. Granted, He didn’t have hammocks, tents, or electricity (don’t judge me), but He disconnected in order to prepare for His destiny. Jesus often went off by Himself to pray and disconnect. It would often come at times when it seemed the people needed Him the most. Jesus knew what was more important. Know this, Pastor: people don’t need you as much as you think they do. They need Jesus. The only way Jesus could fully give Himself to the world was to fully give Himself to the Father. Your church doesn’t need your time as much as they need your anointing. What God does through you is what impacts people’s lives. It’s not about what you do for the church. Refusing to rest is actually idolatry. You believe you’re too important to get away from it all. If you don’t have leaders around you that can handle things while you’re gone, then maybe you don’t have Christ followers. You might have pastor followers.

  1. It will help you gain focus on who you’re becoming.

One of the things I do on my sabbatical is write down goals for ministry, personal growth, and family. I want to ensure that each year I am becoming a better Christ follower, husband, and father. Those three things are far more important than any sermon series I could preach. If I’m not stretching my capacity to love Jesus and my family more each year, then how can I affectively minister to people? Let me tell you, it’s a lot easier to preach a sermon series on marriage and relationships when I’m actually living out what I’m talking about. I don’t want to practice what I preach. I want to preach what I practice. When you set goals and ask God to continue to change YOU, then everything that you do as a leader will come from a place of authenticity. Most people avoid the church like a plague due to the lack of authenticity. And I believe it’s because there are too many people focusing on becoming a good preacher and pastor instead of focusing on becoming a man after God’s own heart. Eventually, people will find out which one you aspire to be.

As I finish writing this post, I just came back from my annual camping sabbatical. I caught a lot of fish, sat by campfires, prayed, read books, read my Bible, laid in my hammock, and I slept. I also came back with the next five years of vision for myself, my family, and our church. I came back with a renewed focus and fire. I came back rested.

My prayer for you is that you would not focus on simply having the courage to start strong. People love starting new things (especially if you’re a church planter). But I pray that you would have the character and consistency to see a dream through until the end. My prayer is that like my father, you would finish well. Take care of your mind, body, strength, and soul. How can we fulfill Christ’s commandment to love Him with all of those if we don’t? Take time to disconnect. I promise you that it will save your ministry and change your life.

Brandon Petty. Follower of Jesus, Husband to Jessica, and proud daddy to Launa, Mya, and Truett. I enjoy playing basketball and weight lifting. Pastor of Generation Church, which quickly grew to over 600 people in a few short years after starting in 2012. I am absolutely passionate about encouraging leaders and investing in others. I also coach church planters and love to speak to the next generation. If you would like to know more about me please visit me at

The Cost of Comfort

Air conditioning, a rather new invention. The first one was invented in the 1920’s by Willis Carrier to help control the humidity in the printing plant where he worked. In the thirties and forties, air conditioning would make its way into movie theaters, department stores, and office buildings. Yet even as late as 1965, only ten percent of homes had air. Which leads me to this question, how did people survive?


I came home this week to a hot and humid house. Apparently, my HVAC unit finally lost its battle with the Tennessee heat. I like to keep my thermostat temp on the high end in the summer to save money, but even I was suffocating in a house that had reached 87 degrees.

To make matters worse, I couldn’t get a technician to come out and check the unit until the next day. Have you ever tried sleeping in a Mexican sauna? I can imagine that would be the equivalent of what I experienced that night.

The next day didn’t get any better. Our technician informed us that he tried his best, but the HVAC unit could not be saved. We would need to buy a replacement, a $3,500 replacement.

Upon hearing this I did what any normal person would do, I grieved.

I’ve heard there are five stages of grief, and I’ve experienced them all: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

My current status is somewhere in between depression and acceptance.

But I keep going back to this thought: comfort has a cost. We don’t like to think about it, but it’s true.

Some of you who are pastors are so comfortable in your positions that you’re scared to make the changes necessary to reach the next generation because you’re worried it might cost you your position.

Some of you who have the potential to be great leaders are so comfortable in your daily routine that you’re not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to take yourself to the next level.

Some of you are so comfortable just showing up to church and going home that you will never know the blessings of serving someone other than yourself.

You can choose to ignore it all you want, but your comfort has a cost.

In what area of your life are you too comfortable? What is it costing you? Please share your comments, and if you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to the blog for awesome tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.