May 25, 2010


Desperation: that's not a word that many people would like to have attributed to them is it? However, it's an essential ingredient in the Christian faith. Recently I was reading some in Exodus & came to chapter 33. The picture of Moses in this chapter is one of a desperate man. He desperately wants the presence of God to go with Him. In fact, he begs God to not send him & the people away into the Promised Land unless God's presence goes with them. Moses realized that the only thing that set Israel apart from the rest of the world was God, not the people, not Moses, but God.

And it's after this desperate plea that God allows Moses to see a brief glimpse of His glory. It seems to me the lesson here is that desperation for God's presence opens our eyes to see God's glory. The reason why so many of us haven't seen a radical move of God is because we haven't run out of options yet. When you're desperate for God, you've run out of all your "plan B's". You have to have Him or you'll have nothing.

If we want to see God's glory in our churches & ministries, then we have to remain desperate for His presence. Our plans & strategies are great, but they have to be built on a sense of our desperate need for God to act on our behalf.

May 22, 2010

Hitting The Links

It's been awhile since I highlighted some of the stuff that I've read that I think you should check out too. So here are just a few links to some good stuff.

Craig Groeschel did a series of posts on honor this week. Two of them were particularly good.
To Highly Esteem
Honoring Your Church Leaders
These posts from Craig are really good. I think that in the case of church's, most of the stagnant, lifeless ministries could begin to be cured simply by honoring those that God positions in leadership.

Here's an interesting post from leadership & marketing guru, Seth Godin. In Good at Talking vs. Good at Doing, Seth stresses the need for action over & above talking. I'm pretty sure most ministries & ministry leaders need to read this.

Parents should check out Airplane Mode from Reggie Joiner. Reggie is doing some great things for family ministry & is a voice that both ministry leaders & parents should be listening to.

Who else or what else are you reading that I should know about?

May 19, 2010

Lead Or Leave

Much has been made about the fact that so many teenagers, especially guys, leave the church soon after they graduate high school. In fact, I've read studies that put the number as high as 90% that leave the church between high school graduation & college graduation. The problem is fairly complex. Part of it is that we tailor children & youth ministries to appeal to a youth culture, but in many cases, once a student leaves the youth ministry, he or she enters a new church culture: the one of their parents or worse, their grandparents. Some people like to blame youth ministries & say that youth ministries are simply trying to draw a crowd & not really building disciples. While there's a good bit of truth in some of those ideas, it's way bigger than that. It's not just a youth ministry problem; it's a church problem. To take it a step further, it's a church leadership problem.

One of the biggest reasons why young adults walk away from the church is that they don't have a sense of real connection beyond their youth ministry. The bottom line is that many of us as leaders have failed to prepare students to lead in the church. Therefore, they leave the church. This generation desperately wants to be a part of something that matters. It may shock some people to imagine that more students get excited about a ministry project than about a pool party. When I was a teenager that wasn't the case, but this generation is different. They want their lives to count; that means they will only invest their lives in things they believe will count. Too many times we've failed to help them connect that sense of purpose to the mission of the church, & even more often we fail to give them opportunities to lead in a meaningful ministry setting. We've reduced discipleship to a classroom, to a book, to a program. Teaching is important, but some of the best teaching involves getting our hands dirty.

Churches & youth ministries have to work to equip their students to lead in the church if they don't want their students to leave the church. Thoughts?

May 7, 2010

Lessons Learned-Part 5

Finally, here are a couple of lessons about what's really important & about not losing your passion for what you do.

9) Your Family Is Way More Important Than Your Ministry
If what you're doing in church is sucking the life out of your family, stop, take a few steps back, & take an honest look at what's going on. Is your place of ministry, whether it's a volunteer or staff position, more important than your role in your family? Seriously, should we even have to ask this question? If the work of the church is destroying the work of God in your family, things have to change. I can't tell you what that will look like, but I can tell you that you can't keep doing what you're doing without some serious consequences. Prioritize where you're irreplaceable, & that place is your family. There are hundreds if not thousands of people who can do your job, but you are the only one who can be the parent or spouse your family needs.

10) If Your Ministry/Leadership Is Your Job, You're Not Really Ministering/Leading
When you blend these two things into one, you're missing the point. I've told teenagers over & over, "You don't always get decide who you lead or how many you lead, you simply get to decide whether you will lead." Ministers especially get wrapped up in thinking their job is their ministry, but that's not really the case. If the only ministry we do, if the only leadership we exert is in our official, paid role, then we're not really ministering or leading; we're providing a service for a price. Some of the most important leadership I've given has been in these months where I haven't been employed by a church.

May 6, 2010

Lessons Learned-Part 4

Here are a couple of lessons about leadership and how to handle your relationships with successors.

7) Don't Be Ashamed Of Who You Are & How God Has Shaped You
Most ministry leaders waste some of their best years worrying about what others think & trying to figure out how to please those people. Stop it! Instead discover what God is saying to you & work on pleasing Him. Once you've learned how God has made you & shaped you to lead, to do anything less is disobedience in the name of keeping people happy. Here's a not so big secret: Those who lead in the direction God is leading usually make a few people mad along the way. Don't sacrifice your God given character, talent, & vision to lead just to keep some people "happy" who will probably never be happy.

8) Pray For Those Who Step Into Your Shoes
If you're leaving one place of leadership or ministry, pray for whoever follows. It doesn't matter whether you know them or get to meet them face to face, pray for them. Those of us in church world tend to think changing a staff situation is a cure-all, but it's not. Whoever follows you is going to deal with the same stuff you faced, both good & bad. And who better to pray for them than you? After all, you've lived it; you know exactly what they will face & what they will need to overcome obstacles & to continue the momentum in that position. So pray for them. If you can meet them, great. If they're totally anonymous, great. Just pray for them.

God has designed you to lead in a way that is unique to who you are. That means you need to understand who you are to maximize your leadership impact. Also, leadership is a stewardship. One day you won't be the leader anymore; praying for & supporting the leader to follow is an extension of godly leadership.

May 5, 2010

Lessons Learned-Part 3

Today I want to share a couple of lessons I've learned that have to do with stepping back & gaining some perspective & on really learning about God's faithfulness to us.

5) Everybody Should Take Sabbaticals
Extended time away from whatever it is you do is important. Stepping back gives you perspective that you can't get when you're in the middle of your work. I know that this is one of the hardest things to do, but you really need to figure out a way to take some extended time off to learn lessons about your leadership or ministry that you would otherwise be unable to learn. On top of the lessons learned, you will be able to recharge & prepare for whatever is next in your ministry or work.

6) God Really Is Faithful
We say stuff like this all of the time in church, but we rarely put ourselves in positions to prove it. We hedge our bets; We have "Plan A", "B", "C" and so on & so on. It's not until you do something radical that you really learn this lesson. It's not until you do something without a safety net that you realize how faithful God is to His people. Yeah, it will probably look crazy, even to you, but if it's done in faithful obedience to God, you can count on His faithfulness in return.

Ironically, God has already taught us that its when we rest (take a Sabbath) from all of our trying & striving, we can see His faithfulness to provide for us. However, most of us will neglect that truth our entire lives. We will never slow down or stop & simply rest in God.

May 4, 2010

Lessons Learned-Part 2

Here are a couple more lessons I've learned or relearned over the last few months as I've had time to step back from ministry & reflect on leadership, ministry, & life

3) Trust In Leadership Is Essential
If you don't have this, you don't have anything. You can be talented & charismatic, but if you don't capture the trust of people, your time as their leader will only be as long as it takes them to realize they can't trust you. If you're a point leader, the leaders who follow you must trust that you have their back. They have to know you want what's best for them & not what's best for you. If you fail to do that, they'll eventually leave. It's that simple.

4) There Are More Important Things Than Being Right
This should be obvious, but most of the time we operate like being right is our most important goal. Convincing people that you're right is great...if you're right, but sometimes there's something else that's more important & more powerful: being so comfortable with your position that you don't have to convince others, you simply live it out & let your life speak louder than any other argument.

Both of these are lessons that are true to life in general, but they're incredibly practical to leadership as well.

May 3, 2010

Lessons Learned

During this break from day to day church ministry & consequently without a paycheck, I've learned some valuable lessons that I don't think I could have ever learned otherwise. I'll be sharing a list of them today & over the next few days. So here they are in no particular order.

1) Your Real Friends Are Revealed
Unfortunately many relationships within the church aren't built on mutual love but on mutual convenience. As long as the people we're "in relationship" with are useful to us, the so-called relationship appears healthy, but the minute we're no longer useful to each other, the "relationship" dissolves because it was a relationship built on convenience & not a real connection. As a result, you learn very quickly who your real friends were & who you were using & who was using you. It's an ugly but all too real truth in many churches. As leaders we have to understand it & be the first to set out to build authentic relationships, not relationships of convenience.

2) Save, Save, Save
Can you afford to trust God? Literally, can you financially afford to trust God? Many of us can't follow God into a lot of places because we simply haven't created the margin necessary to do so. If you're not building the discipline of saving into the rhythm of your financial life, then you are setting yourself up to be a slave to your bills rather than a servant of your God. In relation to this lesson is another: It doesn't take as much money as you think it does to live. The reason so many of us live paycheck to paycheck is because we choose to not because we're forced to.