Five Tips to Grow Yourself this Year

I love the beginning of a New Year. I realize it’s just a date on the calendar, but for some reason it brings excitement. There’s this feeling of a fresh start and endless opportunities that emerge in the month of January. Things you’ve been ignoring for months, like that diet or that budget, all of a sudden become important again.

But the excitement of a New Year can quickly wear off, and if we’re not careful our hopes, our dreams, and our goals will be abandoned before we reach the month of February.

It’s happened all too often in my own life. I’ve never exercised for more than five days in a row. I once stopped drinking cokes for over a year, then I started back up again. I have trouble finishing TV series on Netflix. And I’ve never beaten any of the Super Mario games.

I’m great at starting. I’m terrible at finishing.

And yet, everything that’s worthwhile is uphill. There is no reward without work.

So, with that in mind, let’s look at five tips to grow ourselves this year.

  1. Commit. Not just for a week, or a month, if we’re really serious about growing ourselves it needs to be a lifelong commitment. Success in our lives, will depend on our commitment to learning and growth. You can accomplish great things in your life if you’re willing to commit to the work.
  2. Choose. What are your goals? What do you want to get better at? Pick two or three things in your life to work on. Those who are most successful are those who learn to narrow their focus.
  3. Share. Let other people know about your commitment. The more you share it, the less likely you’ll be to quit it. Avoid spending time with those who don’t get excited about what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re not careful their negativity will rub off on you and you’ll give up on your goal.
  4. Invest. The only way you get better is by investing your time, and often your money. Growth does not come without an investment. The one thing that separates those who are average at their job, and those who are awesome, is investment. Do you want to rest, or do you want to be the best? (Quick Disclaimer: I’m not talking about burning yourself out. I’m talking about investing, when everyone else is sleeping.)
  5. Invite. Invite others to go on the journey with you. It’s so much easier to stick to a goal when you know you have friends who are doing the same. That’s why groups like Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous have such a high success rate. We are more likely to keep our commitments when we’re around others who are doing the same.

I hope 2018 is an incredible year for you and your church. If I can ever serve you in anyway, please don’t hesitate to send me an email or visit my coaching page to see the different options I offer. I’d love to connect with you. In the meantime, make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

Top 10 Posts of 2017

A Quick Look Back

Happy New Year! I hope you saw God do some incredible things in your church last year, and I’m sure you can’t wait to see what He’s going to do in 2018. I feel the exact same way. I have some posts coming up in 2018 that I’m really excited about, but before we move ahead, let’s take a quick look back at my most viewed posts of 2017. Enjoy!

My Christmas Wish List – A list of some of my favorite items that have helped my church grow, and I believe could help yours.

One Big Mistake Rural Churches Make – Do you have a rogue sheep that’s killing your flock? In this post I give you five steps to help them straighten up or move on.

Talent Isn’t Enough – One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made as a leader is putting someone in charge based on their talent alone. I don’t make that mistake anymore. Now I evaluate them based on the three areas mentioned in this post.

Some Churches Don’t Need to Change – “I feel like some of us believe our churches need to do a complete 180 in order to reach our community, when the truth is, we just need to get better at the things we already do.”

Five Stages of Church Growth – What do churches and babies have in common? More than you think, as you can see in this post.

10 Tips on Church Growth – You want to see your small town church grow? Start by implementing these tips.

Small Town Church Growth – The post that started it all. If my small town church can see crazy growth, so can yours.

Four Thoughts on Christmas Services – I know, I know, it’s a bit early to be talking about Christmas, but you may want to bookmark this post for next year.

5 Reasons We Made the Switch from CCB to PCO – And I’ve never regretted it. If you’re looking for a church database management system, Planning Center Online is a great option.

5 Elements of a Great Worship Experience – I knew this post caused quite a stir, but I had no idea it would become my most popular post by a very large margin. Read it yourself, and see why it had everyone talking.

Looking back is fun, but I’m more excited about looking forward to 2018. I’m believing this is going to be an incredible year for you and me both. If I can ever serve you in anyway please shoot me an email, or check out my coaching page for the different options I offer.

P.S. I’ve added a store to feature some resources I’m developing this year. Currently you can pick up my 8 Steps to More Impactful Preaching ebook if you don’t already have it, or my new ebook The Basics: 13 Steps to Turn Around Your Small Town Church.

How to Create a Preaching Calendar

For those who may not be familiar, a preaching calendar, in its simplest form is just a calendar in which you’ve written down what you’re preaching about each week for the next year. It’s an incredibly useful tool for pastors, and in this post I’m going to share with you its benefits and how you can create one of your own.

In the early days of the church I serve, my pastor would preach what we would call stand-alone sermons. There was no rhyme or reason from week to week. It was just whatever the Holy Spirit placed on his heart.

We eventually realized stand-alone sermons weren’t the best option for our church, concluded that the Holy Spirit wasn’t limited to week to week, and switched to series based sermons. In my opinion, it was one of the biggest catalysts of our growth.

If you’re still on the fence, you can check out this post I wrote about four reasons sermon series work.

A few years after switching to a sermon series model, we heard about the idea of creating a preaching calendar.

Here are a few reasons why a preaching calendar makes sense.

  1. It ensures balance. Most pastors tend to have certain topics or even scriptures that they love to preach on. For my pastor, the topic is evangelism. Without a preaching calendar, there’s a good chance he would preach on evangelism forty weeks out of the year. He wants people talking about Jesus, which is really important, but there are a lot of other topics we need to talk about as well. A preaching calendar helps you see the big picture and helps to maintain balance in your preaching.
  2. It helps with planning. Try your best to invite a few others to help you plan your calendar. Getting others involved takes the pressure off you to come up with 52 different sermon ideas. It also creates buy-in from those you involve, and they become more invested. A preaching calendar also gives your creative team time to find or create graphics, plan worship sets, and all those other little things they get frustrated with you about.
  3. You preach better sermons. My wife served ribs last night she had been cooking in the crockpot all day. They were fantastic, but how do you think they would’ve tasted if she had just thrown them in the microwave for 15 minutes? Not as good, right? This same concept can be applied to your preaching. The longer you have to think on a message, the better it will be. We’re no longer giving the Holy Spirit just a few hours to work. We’re giving the Holy Spirit days and even months to bring thoughts and ideas to our mind. It’s a better process and creates a better result.

So, when should you start creating that calendar? About six months ago, but since we don’t have a time machine, as soon as possible. Set a date, invite a few others to join you, and don’t leave the room until you have a preaching calendar for the next year. Good luck!

Do you use a preaching calendar? In what ways has it helped you? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.