Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Open Door Gathering

Leadership meetings are vital in your church. However, those meetings, in order to be fruitful, must be purposeful. An organized effort of planning, strategy, evaluation and "where do we go from here" must be ironed out before the meeting comes to a close.

I systematically have entire leadership meetings and selective leadership meetings throughout the year - or as often as I can. "communicate, communicate, communicate & over communicate"

Recently, I tried a fresh approach to connecting with my leaders. Here's a sample email I sent them.

Greetings BFWC Leaders,

I will be hosting an open door gathering this eveing from 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm for Ministry Coordinators in my office.

You are welcome to come by to say hello, ask a question, receive training or assistance for your ministry or just have a cup of coffee.


Pastor Hylton

I was delighted to have several leaders stop during those two hours. Some received training and some just wanted to share with me what was happening in their life.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Hey Pastor....Sunday's coming!!

I know it is not my week to post but I read this challenge on a blog by Perry Noble, Pastor of Newspring Church and it challenged me. Hopefully it will challenge you as well.

Hey pastor…

Sunday’s coming…
It will be here in less than 48 hours!!!
Are you ready?
This week will be someone’s first week in your church!
Your church is a powder keg WAITING to explode!!!
God wants to do things in your church that would absolutely blow you away if He were to download it all on you at once.
Sunday’s coming…
People will be in your church that are one heartbeat away from hell…
Will you share the GOSPEL?
Will you call for commitment?
Sunday’s coming…
You have been called, equipped and empowered by God to do what you do!
He knows where you are!
He knows what you are going through!
He has NOT forgotten you!!!
Have you BEGGED God to do something unexplainable and undeniable?
Have you allowed something to distract you this week?
Have you become obsessed with anything or anyone other than Jesus and the vision He has poured into you?
Sunday’s coming…
The next Billy Graham, Bill Hybels or Rick Warren COULD be sitting in your church this Sunday…heck, they MIGHT not even be saved yet…
There is UNLIMITED potential within the people in your church who know Christ.
People want hope!
People want to change!
People want to LIVE!
They need to hear YOU tell them about CHRIST!
Sunday’s coming…
Let’s put on our game faces…
This could be the last message that you ever get to preach…EVER!!!
SO…SAY IT, bring the HEAT!!!
Sunday is NOT a burden…it’s a gift…GO FOR IT!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Help us plan the 2011 General Convention

By Bishop Charles Scott
We would love your feedback on the following:
  1. Would you favor a conference forum with breakout sessions?

  2. What type of sessions would interest you?

  3. Would you prefer outside speakers for the main services?

  4. Would you prefer department led services per history?

  5. What are the most important areas for you in relation to general convention, i.e. what do you expect from the meeting?

  6. What would you most desire from general convention?

  7. What would you like to say about general convention?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Making Vision Stick

When you begin to think about the upcoming year, are you challenged with a renewed Vision from God??

Does it even matter to you as a leader??

Have you been seeking God to show you His direction for your ministry in 2010??

Do you have a plan to communicate that Vision to those that God has entrusted into your care??

Andy Stanley's book Making Vision Stickhas been a powerful resource for me over the past 3 years. I read it a couple of times a year and always find some things that I need to do better to make Vision Stick at Christian Life Center. The following is a summary of the first chapter of this book that makes Vision a reality.

Vision must have clarity, simplicity and must be catchy. This will make it easy to communicate effectively. If it’s clear from the beginning, it can simply answer people’s questions. Make it memorable/unforgettable and people will embrace it! Better to be incomplete and memorable than complete and forgettable. Don’t pass by the limited opportunities to share your vision to the “drive-by” audience. Remember the audience you have every Sunday do not sit around thinking about the Vision as we do on a daily basis, so make it simple.

Be willing to evaluate your vision so it always tells what is distinctive about your church/ministry. Then watch as your clear vision causes people to redirect their focus and resources.

I challenge you to pick up this resource for yourself and your team.
"Making Vision Stick" by Andy Stanley

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Recently a number of challenges have caused me to do some real honest evaluations in my life and seeking the Lord in a number of different ways. In the last few months the Lord has brought me to a place of doing something that I have not really done often nor was I ever really taught about in church and that is in the area of fasting.

I read jentzen Franklin's book on the subject and was challenged greatly. Recently I challenged my staff to set aside one day a week to fast and seek God concerning the many challenges our church is facing.

I am learning to grow in this area but am discovering already how awesome it can be.

I am curious......

Do you fast?
How Often?
What type of fasting have you done and how long?


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gathering The Fragments

Years ago I was flipping channels when I came accross Jeses Duplantis. I was not real familiar with his ministry at the time but I remember like yesterday what he said. Speaking of Jesus feeding the 5 thousand Jesse focused on the "Gathering of the fragments". He shared how God told him that there were fragments wasted in his ministry that could help him do more with what he already had. He told his office to turn off lights whenever leaving a room among other things. In 1 month they lowered their bill by $5000 dollars. During these tough financial times it should cause us to look closely at areas we can be better concerning God's money. I have made changes to my health care without putting my family in jeapordy, shaved some things that were pleasing to me but did not accomplish the mission, took advantage of some other opportunities and basically by December will save us $2000 a month and with things being what they are, that is huge for us. Where are the fragments in your ministry?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Money Matters

Over the last year our church and I am sure many others have experienced some major changes concerning financial contributions. Many families in my church have experienced 30%+ in income loss and some much more! Recently I have had to prayerfully make changes in my personal finances as well as the church while making sure that the ministry that matters does not stop. I am grateful for what God has shown me during this process.
I am curious: Have you experienced substantial decline in finances?
What changes did you make and how?
What things did you refuse to change because it was too important?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What determines Success in Ministry

Every pastor wants to have a successful ministry. Sadly, many compare themselves to the highly visible leaders of large ministries and feel like a failure in comparison.
The size of your ministry does not determine the level of your success.
• Too many pastors have led large ministries while tragically failing personally and morally.
• Too many have sacrificed their families all in the name of “church growth.”
• Too many have lost their personal passion for Jesus while leading His church.

The most successful pastors may not be the ones that others read about, but the ones who faithfully love Jesus and serve people.

Do the Small Things Daily
When working with pastors, many are often looking for a “big win.” They want to have a big community event, a big servants’ banquet, or a big series that runs attendance higher. While all these can be effective, I encourage consistency in the small things daily.

I’ll compare it to football. Most championship teams win games on many four-yard, six-yard, and eleven-yard gains. They might win one game a season on a last second hail-Mary pass, but most games consistently succeeding at the basics.

The same is true in ministry. Successful ministries are built on Christ by leaders who do the small things daily:
• They return calls and emails promptly.
• They show up on time.
• They pray for God’s guidance.
• They love and serve people.
• They study hard and preach passionately.
• They have a consistent and strong work ethic.
• They follow through on commitments.

You could hope for the perfect mailer, plan the killer youth event, or pray for a news story to build your church…or you could move the ball forward one play at a time doing the small things with integrity daily.

Successful When No One Knows
You can be successful today when few people know anything about your ministry. You are successful when you:
• Live daily with integrity.
• Pursue Christ with all your heart.
• Preach your best sermon to a very small crowd.
• Visit the sick in the hospital.
• Cry with the parents who just lost a child.
• Forgive the church member who wronged you.
• Give privately to someone in need.
If your ministry ever becomes “well known” and people call you an overnight success, you can thank God privately that they couldn’t be further from the truth. Deep down, you’ll know you’ve been seeking God for years and serving Him faithfully when few people were watching.

The Private Cost of Visible Success
If you are quietly faithful for years, God may expand your ministry. One day, many will want a ministry like you have. But not everyone is willing to do what you did to have what you have. You and those closest to you will know:
• The sacrifices you’ve made.
• The pain you’ve endured.
• The hard decisions you’ve faced.
• The loneliness you’ve felt.
• The fear you’ve overcome.
• The weight you carry.
Every private painful memory you carry will draw you closer to the One who suffered and died for you. Your “public success” won’t mean nearly as much to you as your private devotion to Christ.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"What IF"

• WHAT IF the early church had been full of people who drove their “luxury camels” to church…but became angry when someone mentioned giving?
• WHAT IF the early church had decided to simply study what Jesus said but not apply it?
• WHAT IF the early church had the attitude of, “we love a small crowd…so don’t tell anyone about Jesus coming back to life. I know He commanded us to tell…but let’s keep it a secret because we don’t want to get too many people?”
• WHAT IF the early church had been more passionate about their comfort than conforming to who Christ called them to be?
• WHAT IF the early church had decided their primary responsibility was to be political, thus organizing protests against the Roman government for occupying their land?
• WHAT IF the early church had required only “religious professionals” to be in ministry?
• WHAT IF the early church had decided to yell and scream at the Romans for acting like Romans?
• WHAT IF the early church had decided their primary call was to save the environment rather than the ones living in it?
• WHAT IF the early church had substituted their personal preferences in place of the words of Jesus?
• WHAT IF the early church had been more obsessed with Robert’s Rules of Order rather than the Scriptures?
• WHAT IF the early church had been focused on the cross on the wall rather than the cross Jesus called them to carry?
• WHAT IF the early church had instructed the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 that He was a little out of hand…and that his movement hadn’t been voted on by the church board.
• WHAT IF the early church had been full of people but weren’t actually willing to do anything to reach people far from God?

WHAT IF…WOW…so glad the early church listened to Jesus and did what HE said…or else we would have been in a lot of trouble!

Perry Noble

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Five Commitments to developing Trust in your church leadership

As I shared yesterday, these are thoughts from Catalyst Conference that I attended a few weeks back. Hope you enjoy

Occasionally they are gaps between what we expect people to do and what they actually do.

I expected ______ but you gave me _______.
we choose what to put in this gap.

We either assume the worst or believe the best.
What we see determines what we believe.
Who I am determines how I respond to others.

A culture characterized by trust produces people that are trustworthy!

If you are unwilling to trust you will never know who you can't trust until you trust them. The longer you refuse to trust the longer untrustworthy people can hide in your organization

Trusting is risky. Refusing to trust is riskier.

Developing a culture of trust begins with the Leader. Trust and suspicion is telegraphed from our actions & ideas about our trust. Quit sitting on mistrust. Don't give a barrel of response to a spoon full of mistakes.

Are you beleiving the best or assuming the worse in those on your team?

Five commitments to developing a culture of Trust

1. When there is a gap between what I expected and what I experienced, I choose to believe the best.

2. When other people assume the worse in you I will come to your defense.

3. If what I experience begins to erode my trust I will come directly to you about it.

4. When I am convinced that I will not be able to fulfill my commitment I will come to you ahead of time.

5. When you confront me about the gaps I've created I will tell you the truth.

Andy Stanley

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

10 Things I have learned in 50 years of Leadership

I recently attended "Catalyst" conference for Next Generation Leaders. This week i will be sharing some of my experiences from this event. Each year they give the Catalyst Lifetime Achievement Award to a very distinct leader. This year they gave it to Chuck Swindoll. At Catalyst Chuck Swindoll spoke a powerful word on Leadership:

10 Things I have learned from 50 Years of Leadership:

1. It is lonely to Lead
2. It is dangerous to Succeed
3. It is hardest to lead at home
4. It is essential to be Real
5. It is painful to Obey
6. Brokeness and Failure are necessary
7. Attitude overshadows Actions
8. Integrity eclipses Image
9. God's way is always better than mine
10. Christ-likeness begins and ends with Humility

To hear a man who has led for 50 years was quiet breath and his words of wisdom given to 12,000 Next Gen leaders with most of them being between the ages of 20-30. I love the fact that there are leaders with many years of wisdom who are willing to share with Next Gen leaders even when they do not understand or agree with how Next Gen leaders sometimes lead.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

There's a Rebel in the House!

I was spending time with one of my pastor friends from Ghana, West Africa (he ministered for us on "International Sunday"). As is the case so often, the subject of rebellion came up.

There is not a pastor, manager, parent, or leader anywhere in time past or present who has not had to deal with rebellion.

I have learned that you can't counsel rebellion; and, in my ignorance, I have even attempted to pastor it. It cannot be pastored, loved, corrected, swept under the carpet or pampered. It must be stopped. It must be cut off. It's influence must be minimized, because innocent people always get trapped in the web of rebellion.

How did God deal with it? Like a lightening strike, He dealt with it swiftly. Even in the perfect environment of Heaven, rebellion found company. Rebellion will always play the part of the victim and find others to take the fall with it.

Absolom gives us a tremendous picture of rebellion. When David returned to his palace after the death of his son Absolom, he would not sleep with his wives (they had slept with his son Absolom). Why? For many reasons, I'm sure. For one, if one of them became pregnant, he would not know who the real father was. We must be careful to deal quickly with rebellion in the church, because when we fail to do so and our people become pregnant with doctrine, philosphy, or vision....we will not know if they are impregnated with rebellion.

Pastors, are you dealing with rebellion swiftly? What are your experiences? What are your thoughts?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Double Portion Anointing!

As one of my spiritual sons was team preaching with me last weekend in Europe (we ministered at two pastor's in Hungary and one in Romania), God was giving him incredible revelation while preaching. (For the record, I have never experienced anything like what we experienced as a father & son preaching on the subject of "Spiritual Fathers & Sons"). He said, "Elisha picked up the mantel. The son's mantel is not to out-perform his father. His mantel is not to preach twice as good, or perform twice the miracles. The son is not in competition with his father. No! My spiritual Papa always says, 'God raises sons & daughters in the House to preserve the vision of the House!' God will never honor the proud, arrogant, or competetive son. The mantel is to continue what the father starts. The mantel is to run with his vision, his dream, and his anointing. When the son runs with the father's mantel, he positions himself for incredible fruitfulness, effectiveness, and results. If it's twice, three times, or more, the son doesn't care. His only desire is to run with his fathers dream!" I thought that was good enough to share with you today! God, give our sons & daughters our vision! Give them our dream! Let them run with it when we're gone! Give them humble hearts! Give them honoring hearts! Position them for DOUBLE PORTION ANOINTING!

Who are your spiritual sons & daughters? How much time do you spend with them daily, weekly, monthly, and annually? What are some of your experiences with them that would encourage pastors to invest in their spiritual offspring?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tell us something good!

What is going on with you and your church? What has God done recently that you want to share, not boast but share something that God did that we all can rejoice over? Anything at all?

I will go first. Times have been a little rought lately and felt like our people needed a break. A little laughter if you will. So, I invited professional comedian Scott Wood (left) who is not only a top comic but is a fellow believer as well. In fact, he attends and occasionally teaches Jr. High at Greg Lauries church in Riverside CA. So yesterday was the day and it was beyond what I expected. He did a 30-40 minutes stand up ruotine, shared his testimony and 15 people got saved! The church was nearly packed both services (255 total which is great for us) with several new families who after service came to me and told me they loved the church and would be back.

Now we are gearing up for our annual Halloween & Thanksgiving Day outreaches. Let us know what God is doing where you are so we can rejoice with you!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Go Johnny Go!

Perhaps the most difficult assignment for any manager, pastor, or leader is to let go of some one in your organization. Timing is so important.

In many ways the church leader must think with a business mind. However, because we are "spiritual" leaders, often we are judged by our decisions on a different level.

How do you know when it's time? There are so many factors; and every church dynamic is different.

It might be time to say "go Johnny go" when: 1) Johnny refuses to give his "Dear Johnny" letter. Most staff members know when it's time. If Johnny stays too long, he can become divisive, rebellious, and nasty. 2) It's time to go when he's no longer productive. If he is not fulfilled or fruitful, you've got trouble on your hands. 3) It might be time to say "go Johnny go" when you see major morale issues with people under his leadership.

There are many reasons to say good-bye, and I've only hit on a few. What is your number one reason to let go of a staff member?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Run Forest Run!

Nobody I know runs faster in ministry than our Recovery Pastor. I have to remind him to slow down, take days off, enjoy family time, etc... Hundreds of people attend our weekly recovery is the fastest growing ministry in our church.

Did you know that September is the National Recovery Month? The National Drug & Alcohol Addiction Recovery Month celebrates it's 20th year this month. One of the fastest growing problems in America is the misuse of presciption drugs. The church cannot afford to turn a deaf ear to this crisis.

23.2 million people in the United States over the age of 12 needed treatment for a substance abuse problem in 2007, and 5.4 million adults also suffered from a concurrent mental illness.

How would you grade your church and ministry when it comes to reaching this segment of society? What programs, ministries, or resources are available in your community? How is your board and ministry team preparing for greater outreach?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sing Baby Sing!

Music pastors, worship leaders, musicians and singers are a gift to the church. Any Senior Pastor can share at least one horror story about their experience with a worship service.

When Pastors Tom & Judy Douglas became the full-time Music Pastors at NHIC in 1995, we knew that we were a fit. Sadly, many pastors and music leaders will stand on a platform together this Sunday, yet miles apart in their hearts toward one another. Worse yet is that most in the pews can smell the tension.

There are three questions that senior pastors and their music pastors need to answer: 1) Are We A Fit? 2) Are We Walking the Same Direction? 3) Can We Talk?

How do you know when you and those under your leadership are a fit? What core values are essential to your leadership? What methods do you employ to open the lines of communication?

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Ninety Nine & a Half Won't Do"

I grew up in the home of parents who were born and raised in Eastern Kentucky. With southern roots, their personal tastes seem to always have that "mountain" flavor.

Their musical choice was the same. My dad really enjoys good bluegrass music. So, I grew up listening to groups like The Lewis Family, The Easter Brothers, Bill Monroe, Etc. That type of music seemed to resonate deep from within the soul of people whose life had been carved out of pain and hardship.

I remember a song in particular that talked about "all or nothing" (so to speak). "Ninety Nine & a Half Won't Do." As a child I really didn't understand the song, I just knew it had a catchy tune.

Today, I understand the meaning.

"It takes a hundred to go to Heaven,
just any kind of living won't do.
It takes a hundred to go to Heaven.
Ninety nine and a half won't do."

I liken that old song (and it's principle) to the life of my ministry today. I guess I would say, I feel like Elisha in a sense that I've burned up my plowshare and killed my oxen. In other words, I don't have a back up plan. If this "ministry" attempt doesn't work out - then I'm stuck. I have nothing to go back to.

Now, of course I could get a job somewhere and seek secular employment and do very well in a career of choice. But my heart is ministry. My call came very early in life and since the time of that call I've decided it's ALL or NOTHING.

What amazes me about some of the people I've led to the Lord here in Indianapolis - some of them have been what we would consider HARDCORE sinners. They gave 100% to drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, etc. Since their conversion, they are now 100% CHRISTIANS.

It's amazing.
  • You don't have to "plead" with them to be a soul winner.
  • You don't have to "market" the next meeting for them to decide whether or not they'll attend.
  • You don't have to "sugar coat" anything.
  • They are RAW - "give it to me plain preacher" people.
They show up, early I might add, for everything the church is doing. Their attitude is "is there anything else I can do?" NOT "Again? the church is asking me to do something else?"

How refreshing it is to see people with zeal and passion for the things of God.

I have to take inventory on my own life when I'm around them. Quite honestly, they challenge me to want to do more and not less.

I want to do more for Jesus. I'm not looking for loop holes. I'm not a minimalist when it comes to the work of the Lord. Nor was Jesus. He didn't give only 10% of Himself when He went to Calvary - He gave 100%.

Jesus didn't ask His disciples to give 10% of their lives. He said, "Come and follow me." Scripture declares that they did just that. They left their business interests, careers and homes to follow Him. Sounds like 100% to me.

There is a basketball player who played for the Chicago Bulls during the time of Michael Jordan's famed tenure. His name isn't highly recognized. He didn't play that much. Yet, he was on the team giving 100%. His name is Cliff Levingston.

Cliff suited up for each game not knowing whether or not he would be called upon to play. He knew what we all know...each person on the team is valuable...regardless of the amount of playing time they receive. Yet, Cliff did what we know to do, as ministers:
  • He attended all the practices.
  • He went to all the camps.
  • He suited up for every game.
  • He cheered the other teammates on.
  • He played when called upon.

Even though he is not as known as Michael Jordan - Cliff Levingston has two NBA championship rings. He didn't get all the playing time he would have liked but he did give 100% and as a result he is pictured with his team.

I do not know Cliff Levingston personally. I am not aware of all of his accomplishments or even his failures. However, he stands out to me as someone who gave everything to the cause he was playing for.

I want to lead with this same example. I realize that there are people depending on my influence, impartation and frankly my person hood. Although I cannot be everything people want me to be - I can be all He wants me to be by simply serving with 100% wherever I am.

At what level are you playing the game? Is it 100% or something else?

I can still hear that mandolin & banjo in the background as the music trails off ... "ninety nine and a half won't do...."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Am I Effective Where I'm At?

One of the things that seem to validate effectiveness to me is knowing:
  • I am the right person
  • I have the right gifts
  • I am with the right congregation
  • This is the right time

I can also be ineffective if I'm mis-matched with the congregation at the wrong time in the wrong place. I've known pastors who bloomed in one place and were severely ineffective in another place.

Isn't it important to know whether you're in the right place at the right time doing the right thing?

It took me several years to come to grips with this, but I'm slowly learning that what God wants me to do is usually consistent with how He created me.

Therefore, I have to pay attention to my desires and gifts. But, it's not desire and gifts alone - those must be balanced with the demands of my circumstances.

Sometimes God may call me to a place that I don't necessarily like or where my gifts aren't fully appreciated. It's not always a "perfect" match. But it's there that I must make a choice. A choice to either bloom where I'm planted or complain till everything around me is thorns and thistles.

Who are you?
Where are you?

Consider these questions for your ministry:

  • Do my gifts and style of ministry meet the needs and expectations of my congregation?
  • Do I feel good about myself and my ministry?
  • Am I accomplishing more in my ministry than I did five or ten years ago?
  • Are the leaders who are following me responsive to my ideas?

Monday, September 14, 2009

"I'm behind you Pastor!"

Have you ever heard someone say, "I'm behind you Pastor?"

That statement sounds great - but actually, when you tell someone you're behind them, what you could really be saying is "the reason I'm standing behind you is so I can point my finger at you if something goes wrong."

What I'm learning is, if you're standing WITH someone you cannot point at them from behind.

I would much rather people be standing with me rather than behind me.

Pastor, the same goes for each of us in our relationship with our leader(s). (PCG Bishop - both district and general, spiritual fathers, other Kingdom leaders, etc.)

We are either standing WITH them or BEHIND them.

I'm standing WITH my district leader when:

  • I show up for what matters to him.
  • I support through attendance & finances.
  • I pray for him and speak blessings over him (privately & publically).
  • I do not entertain any type of gossip/slander/negativity about him.

I'm standing WITH my general leader when:

  • I make room in my calendar to attend national meetings.
  • I do not entertain any type of gossip/slander/negativity about him.
  • I show up for General Convention.
  • I give my opinion with a loving sweet spirit - NOT as a matter of fact know it all.

You've heard it said often: "we can be part of the solotuion or part of the problem." That is still my heart when it comes to standing WITH my leaders.

If I wanted to, I could refuse to get plugged into the main stream of our fellowship - I could use the excuse "I don't like politics", "Until things change, I'm going to stand over here in the shadows"....

We could give the same excuses that we would balk at if it was one of our leaders in our church saying it to us.

But how is this helping my leader - who needs my positive presence and influence now?

I stand WITH them just as I would want the leaders in my local church to stand WITH me.

Are you standing WITH or BEHIND?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Best "IN" or "FOR"...What's your pleaseure?

I heard a play on words that caught my attention yesterday during "The Nines" sponsored by The Leadership Network. The pastor said "ARE YOU TRYING TO BE THE BEST CHURCH "IN" YOUR COMMUNITY OR THE BEST CHURCH "FOR" YOUR COMMUNITY?

Those 2 words may be small but the difference is huge! Just look at what we do and how we do them and that will probably reveal our true attitude concerning this question. Most of us feel we are not competing but maybe what we do and how we do it says otherwise. I know in previous blogs we have addressed this area but lt me tackle it with this question?


Why? Because God told you to!!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"One Thing"

What is the "ONE THING" about your church that...

1) you would not touch or change because it is that good. In fact, others could learn from your church?

2) that you would change right now if you could? In fact, you are looking for answers or suggestions.

3) What is keeping you from doing that "ONE THING"?

Monday, September 7, 2009

How Good Is Your Church...... Really?

In my pursuit of being the best we can be as a church I am always evaluating everything from our landscaping, facitlites, services etc. However, I have decided to get the opinion of someone whose opinion really matters....a non-church person. I have decided to find someone from the community every 3 months and pay them $50 to attend a church service (secret shopper) and following that service fill out a questionaire with their honest opinion of everything about our church. The questionaire will include our grounds, facilities, bathrooms, music, the message, the people, the atmosphere as well as whether or not they would return if they were to start attending a church

Why do this? Because all of us have forgotten what it is like to walk into a church for the first time and if we want the truth then we need to ask the person that really matters!

I know this is not a new concept but I am curious as to what you are doing to evaluate your effectiveness when it comes to 1st time guests.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Thoughts from Ed Young

Ed Young Jr. is Lead Pastor of Fellowship Church in Dallas, TX. Ed came to this church 20 years ago with less than 100 people. They have one of the best conferences in the country in February, C3 Creative Church Conference. Check it out:
church web:
Ed's blog:

The Toughest 10%
It’s one of the most difficult things for any leader to do. It’s not very popular, but it’s very necessary. It’s moving people out. And as leaders in the church, we cannot be shy about it.

Over the last ten years, Fellowship Church has tried to do just that. It’s a principle that Jack Welch calls differentiation. Basically, Mr. Welch says a healthy organization regularly moves out 10% of its staff. He says, “Winning leaders invest where the payback is the highest. They cut their losses everywhere else."

In other words, great leaders regularly take a look at the organization and evaluate those who should stay and those who need to be moved out.

This isn’t to say that you don’t appreciate the work and blessing that those people brought to the table. God brings people into your organization for a reason. But oftentimes, it’s only for a season. There are situations where it is necessary to move certain people out so that you, and they, can continue to grow.

At Fellowship, we have grown more over the last 20 years through subtraction than through addition. Think of a body. For a physical body to grow and maintain vibrancy, it must regularly eliminate certain things. In the body of Christ, and especially when it comes to staff, the same principle applies.

When you regularly move people out, the results are phenomenal! Those people then have the opportunity to become a blessing, to be used by God somewhere else. You see those left who step up to fill the voids; those who help your church reach the next level. You experience a vibrancy, freshness and newness that may not have been present before. You are forced to think strategically about your resources. And you ultimately experience growth through the change. I call this the spin cycle of success. Change – Conflict – Growth.

For any organization to maintain life, it must remain fluid. Otherwise, it becomes stagnate. And as the living body of Chirst, we must recognize this and not be afraid to follow the steps to maintain vitality and life.

As a leader, don't be afraid to evaluate who is around you. Don't be shy about moving people out. God will continue to work through you. He will continue to use you and your organization for his purposes. And you will experience blessings that may have been blockaded before!

Wow, no that will get in your grill for us PCG people. Have you ever asked anyone to step down from where they are serving??

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thoughts from Tommy Sparger

Today we hear from Tommy Sparger. Tommy planted North Point Church in Springfield, Missouri in 2003. Tommy is licensed with Assembly of God. North Point has grown to 3,500 in 6 years leading hundreds of people to Christ. Check out this ministry.
Church website:
Tommy blogspot:

10 Danger Signs that should be a red flag to a Spiritual Leader

1. You view other churches or organizations in the “kingdom” as competition.

2. You can do what you are doing without the help of God.

3. You are becoming increasingly cynical.

4. You have no friends that you can REALLY open up to.

5. The only friends that you have are the people helping you to accomplish what you are trying to accomplish — and the minute they are of no use to you anymore — they are no longer your friends.

6. Your disciples resemble “The Pharisees” more than they resemble “Jesus”. They are more concerned with being right, doctrine, control, the political process, how horribly biased the secular media is, than they are allowing God to soften their heart and make them more like Him. When your disciples are mean spirited, paranoid, want you to take a public stand against homosexuals, Harry Potter, or whatever else…. be careful….. You are their teacher. What are you attracting and why? What are you teaching? The world has enough mean spirited fundamentalist that are more concerned that we avoid secular music than they are caring for the poor ………….You are there to make a difference. Raise up better disciples. The world needs it - the church needs it - you need it.

7. You have secrets that only you know about.

8. You have escape fantasies.

9. You feel trapped.

10. The only reason that you are doing what you are doing anymore is because you don’t know how else to make a living.

-If this describes you, please know, you can get help. Go see a counselor. Work it out. You can salvage this thing.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What are you learning?

This week i am sharing with you blogs and leadership material that is found online. These are things that we can all learn from without ever traveling or financial investment. Taking some time to read and listen to other Pastors/Leaders struggles and insights could sometimes relieve us of going through the same heartache and we might learn something in the process.

These are two Leadership Conferences taking place online: ck them out. These are both next week. Led by some of the ministries you have heard of and know well. I am so pumped about both of them. Myself along with some of my team will be partcipating in these.

Thoughts from Shannon Odell, Lead Pastor, Brand New Church in Bergman, AR. This is a small town of 450 population, 10 miles from McDonalds & Walmart. Shannon & Cindy Odell became pastors with 40 people and now minister to over 2000 weekly with 4 campuses & 3 satellite churches. Ck it out;

6 Qualities to look for in a Staff Member

When I was hired at Southside Baptist Church, now Brand New Church these were the mandatory requirements…
1) Five years of pastoral experience2) Must be married3) Seminary degree. After reading those I realized Jesus could not get a job at this church. He was single, only had three and half years of ministry experience and never attended seminary.
So now we have restructured our staff requirements:

1) A Red Hot marriageYour marriage is the report card of your walk with God. Also, an Ephesians 5 marriage order. I have seen so many great men of God lose passion and ministry faith because their wives were leading the home.If single…how do they manage their personal self-disciplines (money, mouth, meals, motivation).Are they “majorly in debt, do they talk too much, majorly overweight (everyone who is big is not overweight), self-starter.

2) Orderly Home…Titus 1:5 “a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.”This may be the most unspoken passage of scripture in the Bible from the “pulpit”. God calls you to shepherd your home first, then His Church.

3) Relationship Builder…If you don’t love people you are not called.

4) Passion for our God…This is found out from the people closest to them.(#3 and #4 are the staples of the Great Commission…Love God and Love People.)

5) Loyalty…Listen how they talk about their previous employment and employer. Loyalty to authority is the most difficult quality to find in ministry staff thus far in my short 6 years of pastoring. BNC is too large for a church split, but I am learning that staff can do extensive damage when they are not loyal to God’s leadership paradigm in the local church.

6) Understand God’s Vision for Brand New Church.The word under-stand means submitting to what was stated. The potential staff must get “under” the pastors vision and mission with no “agenda” of his own. They need ministry ideology and creation of new ministry, strategy, development of volunteers and leaders, events, spiritual connection and community, but ‘under” the direction of the senior pastor.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Great thoughts from Perry Noble

Perry Noble is Church Planter & Sr. Pastor @ Newspring in Anderson, South Carolina. It is a city of 25,000 population with NewSpring growing to 12,000 in attendance.

From time to time a church planter will ask me, “what do you wish someone would have told you before you began?” Here’s a list of fifteen things I came up with…
#1 – Everyone Will Not Understand You…SO Stop Trying To Explain Yourself. Cast Vision…And MOVE Forward!
#2 – Everyone Will Not Like You…So STOP Trying To Be Popular.
#3 – You Don’t Have To Be The Person Who Actually Solves Every Problem….Admit You Are Not The Smartest Person and Let Your Experts Be Your Experts.
#4 – Spend WAY More Time Talking About Who You Are Rather Than Who You Are Not.
#5 – A Leader Is Always An Easy Target Because They Are…A Leader. So, Get Over Yourself And Get On With What God Called You To Do!
#6 – When The Holy Spirit Presses Something Into Your Heart…Don’t Ignore Him.
#7 – Do NOT Expect God’s Next Step To Make Sense.
#8 – You Can’t Plan A Move Of God…But You Must Be Prepared For One!
#9 – Do Not Resist Something Just Because You Do Not Understand It!
#10 – People Who Claim You “Are Not Deep Enough” Are Obsessed With Information But Have No Desire To Live Out Transformation.
#11 – You Don’t Need To Listen To Everybody…But You Had Better Be Listening To Somebody Because God Didn’t Ask You To Take This Journey Alone.
#12 – Never Apologize For Asking People To Commit To Something…Jesus Didn’t!
#13 – The Church Has Been Underachieving For Way Too Long…So Dream BIG And Don’t Apologize For It.
#14 – There Will Be Days When You Want To Quit…Don’t…Jesus Didn’t!
#15 – The Gospel Changes Lives…PREACH Every Sermon Like It’s Your Last!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Can A Pastor Have A Friend?

The longer I pastor, the more I wonder if a pastor can successfully pastor a friend. I can remember John Maxwell sharing that it can be lonely for a leader at the top. Some in the congregation may befriend the pastor for the wrong reason. What are your thouts?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

a New Addiction!

Pastoring a church with so many in recovery, I see people who switch addictions; and if not careful, the damage can be just as devastating.

From you perspective' how can we encourage people to love Jesus passionately without falling into the trap becoming addicted to ministry?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Go SpeedRacer!

I had a recent experience of a lifetime. About one hundred people from our church came out to see me in a stock car race. I was only the passenger; but what a thrill. The driver leads our Raceway Ministry. He prays with the racers and pit crews every Saturday night before the races begin. We have a biker ministry; and, of course our recovery ministry is the fastest growing ministry in the church. How are you reaching people in "outside the box" ways?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Apple or PC?

Which do you use for your worship services? What program(s) do you use or recommend for churches and leaders?

Personally, I'm on the verge of making the switch - getting tired of the PC experience (anti-virus ugrade scams....pc slowdowns, etc...) What are your thoughts?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fall Quarter Kick Off

This Wednesday we will have a Fall Quarter Barbeque Kick Off to announce our fall programs. (pulled pork & beef brisket - yum)

This will include a revamp of our college/carreer class, new marriage class, financial class, connections, etc.

Personally, I will be launching a new mentorship group on Wednesday mornings.

There always seems to be a lot of momentum during this season.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Beyond The First Visit"

A few weeks ago I was preaching Jr/High School camps for the Central Cal District. While in my "Man Cave" otherwise known as my modest sleeping quarters I read a book by Gary Mcintosh called "Beyond The First Visit". I want to reccommend this to all of our leaders due to it's simplistic but all to often ignored truths. Several months ago we (our team) began asking some very tough but necessary questions about the "Connectivity" of our church and found this book to be helpful and confirmational to our many discussions. In this book Gary deals with churches and how they handle "Guests" beyond the first visit, an area we and too many other churches struggle in. He covers first impressions, facilities, follow up, intentional discipleship and much much more. We have made some very tough choices in letting some ministries die and letting some leaders go in our church. We have also spent countless hours creating a path for our guests to not only come and experience Legacy, but how they can connect beyond their first visit and this book has helped. Hope you enjoy the book and if you do, let me know what you got from it. If you have already read it, what did you like about it?

Monday, August 10, 2009

1 church, 2 campuses

Eddie raised a great question last week about merging churches. In So Cal we have a number of churches 30 min or less from one another but in different cities. It was mentioned last week in Eddie's blogs about pastor's operating outside their gifting meaning that some should be assisting i n a church and not leading a church. Maybe something for some of us to consider is those pastors who are capable to maybe take on one of those struggling churches that is somewhat close but in another city and place a campus pastor there. Those who have proven that they can build and lead a congregation could take on one of the smaller struggling churches and merge them into 1 church, 2 campuses type of thing. I realize that some of those who "hold credentials" or are looking for "a place to preach" may get upset and it goes against the norm for us but we need to consider the ongoing problem of finding someone to "fill the pulpit". I as a board member hate putting someone in a church simply because we don't have anyone else! We have some great visionary leaders who pastor near struggling churches who could help lead that church into health. We have some hard choices to make and talking about them is only a start!

Your Thoughts!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

my answer is yes

Simple and Straightforward....

My answer is yes. I will do whatever it takes to create a healthy church environment. If we are not creating an atmosphere to Convince the UnConvinced then really what are we doing??

My answer is yes. I have been sharing the thought of church mergers with a couple of other pastors in our city that ARE NOT PCG. So for me, YES, we should do whatever it takes.

Does it really matter who owns the property, NO. It is all God's resource. Does it really matter who is the Lead Pastor, NO. It is God's vision.

There is billions of dollars in property all over the country that is setting almost empty with congregations that have lost vision and almost dried up without a leader. Those congregations should not be allowed to continue without a God-given, Fire burning vision that will kick down the gates of Hell instead of comforting the so called saints.

I don't care who owns the property we call our church. I care that lives are saved fromt the pits of Hell.

So, yes is my answer. I am considering a church merger to continue the vision placed in my heart to reach this city for Him. And if joining forces and becoming one church with one vision can accomplish that to a greater degree, then I am all in.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

would you??

Would you consider a Church Merger with another PCG church??

Would you consider a Church merger with another church that is not PCG??

What are some of the things you are doing now to Parnter with other churches in your community??

What is the one thing that you think keeps us (PCG) from Merger??

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

what is your thoughts??


In the past few months i have been doing lots of research on this very subject. Give some thought to this. Why is it we have churches in our communities dying but no one is willing to join forces, why is it we have churches needing space but no other churches will donate their space, why is it we work for the same goal but compete against one another.

I know these thoughts are not popular but really, what keeps us from joining hands with other churches to accomplish Kingdom Expansion. Why is it we have churches in our districts that suffer and we continue to put a Pastor there and they stay a year or two then move on. There is simply one word for it. They are UNHEALTHY. Why can't we merge these churches with other churches to create and environment to create healthy environments instead of just keeping the doors open with a few people, so they can have everything their way??

Read the insert below that i have copied for your thoughts from:
Churches Embrace Mergers through Multi-site Movement by Jim Tomberlin

According to church experts, the majority of churches in America have plateaued or are dying. Hundreds of congregations close their doors every year. The majority of Americans are essentially unchurched. Imagine the results if thousands of struggling congregations in desperate need of vibrant ministry could join the small number of energetic congregations in desperate need of space. Imagine if local congregations decided they could reach more people and serve their communities better by uniting as one church in multiple locations. We could see a revitalized Church that could have a profound impact upon the social landscape across the nation.
In the fall of 2006, The Chapel of Lake County, Ill., became a multisite church in four new locations. Three of those locations were pre-existing churches, but each one had a different merger story. One was a church building for sale without a congregation. A second was a struggling congregation of 50 without a pastor. The third was a solid congregation of 800 whose founding senior pastor was ready to make a ministry transition. Each one had a different journey, but all three transitioned into successful, strong local congregations who are healthier than before their merger.

So why to we continue to operate UNHEALTHY church environments that are not producing Fruit??

Are we afraid to shut down churches or to merge them with a thriving church at the risk of having less churches to count?? But really should we count them if they are not producing??

Tough questions, but it is time to ask these questions!!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

We Fixed What Kept You Away!

I received a marketing flier for a new church in our area today. Thought I'd pass on the info for those of you looking to market with something new.

#10 No dress code. Just wear some clothes; socks are optional.
#9 Accepting, forgiving, and authentic. We all have issues, so you will be at home here.
#8 We don't beg for money.
#7 A practical message that will help you overcome life's difficult issues. No history lesson. Yes, we even use movies and videos.
#6 Your kids will love the indoor playground, x-boxes, live music, clowns and more.
#5 No membership required, just a place to connect.
#4 30 nations of people, so you will fit in.
#3 Loud guitars. Big drum set. Worship like you've never experienced before.
#2 Experience a freedom that leads to a life of purpose.
#1 Come reconnect in a living and safe atmosphere.

Friday, July 10, 2009

How Much Does The Sr. Pastor Matter?

In my last post I focused on location in a poll that asked why the un-churched choose a church. If you look back, location was #13 of 13. The pastor & his preaching were #1.

Looking below you will notice that the top 9 reasons the churched choose a church. Where is the pastor, he is #8 out of 9. What does this mean? If this research is anywhere near accurate, then when it comes to reaching the churched, the pastor is not nearly as important as he is when it comes to reaching the unchurched.

Could it be that pastors pay too much attention to the churched (which has little effect on their decision on choosing a church) and not enough on the un-churched which according to this research plays a HUGE role in their choosing of a church?

Top 9 Reasons that Church-Attenders Choose a Church(research conducted by the Barna Group in 1999)
58% - Doctrine/Theology
53% - People Caring for Each Other
52% - Preaching
45% - Friendliness
45% - Children’s Programs
43% - Helping the Poor
36% - Denomination
35% - Like the Pastor
26% - Sunday School

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

location, location, location

I recently came accross some data researched to find out why the unchurched choose a church.
Here are the top 13 reasons why:

90% - Pastor/Preaching
88% - Doctrines
49% - Friendliness of Members
42% - Other Issues
41% - Someone Church Witnessed to Me
38% - Family Member
37% - Sensed God’s Presence/Atmosphere of Church
25% - Relationship Other than Family Member
25% - Sunday School Class
25% - Children’s/Youth Ministry
12% - Other Groups/Ministries
11% - Worship Style/Music
7% - Location

look again at number 13...location. I have heard for years now people say the reason they can't grow a larger or more impactful church is the location of the church. Really? Is that the reason or is lack of vision, work ethic, leadership etc. the real reason?

I know some churches are not in the best of areas whether it be low population, poor area, violence etc. However, in the end, aren't those all excuses? Especially when the excuses we use are the very people Christ died for!

Maybe we have to ask what kind of people do we really want in our churches. I remember coming to Banning (a little over 20,000 + in population at the time) and the church had almost no money, 4 people and a horrible track record as far as pastors were concerned (6 in 10 years). Just for the record, the area was fair!

As I was praying I remember God spoke to me concerning protection and provision and He said "I know your address". In other words He knew where we were, the question was, did we? When I look around So Cal Dist. I see almost all of our churches located where the land was cheap and location undesired. However, it is where we are and we can either make it a reason to sit, leave or get busy reaching the city he planted us in. "They can't come if they don't know where you are" may be true but what more is true is they won't come "because you did't invite them to where you are".

What are you doing to invite the lost to where you are?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I cried for my president!

I must admit I was tempted to blog about Michael Jackson. I watched a portion of his memorial service, not because I was a fan (although I did like him in my earlier years) but for several other reasons.

However, I feel directed otherwise to share with you something that happened to me yesterday at church. At the last moment I was told of a nation-wide event called "TheCall2Fall". Simply put it was a challenge for churches and believers all over America to fall to their knees in prayer for America according to 2 Chr 7:14. Churches were asked to dedicate a portion of their service to pray for America.

I preached a message entitled "The Prayer That Shook The House" from Acts 4:31-33.
I marveled at the fact that Peter and John after being beaten, told to keep quiet and had their lives threatened before their release immediatley upon their release ran back to their "Own Companions" and the 1st thing they did was pray and ask God to make them bold. Make them bold to do what? To speak the very Word that got them beaten and their lives threatened to begin with. Think about that! There is much more I could share about this but here is my point for this blog.

I realize more and more how our government is betraying our foundation of faith and I will admit I am not a fan of our current leader. However, at the end of each of our 2 services I challenged our church to fill the altars and cry out to God on behalf of our country and that he would as He did in Acts 4:31-33 by Shaking our house, forgiving us, filling us with His Spirit and using us to speak His Word with boldness.

During our 8:30 a.m. service I prayed for Obama, his wife and then his kids. I have prayed for them before but this time it was different. It was with a repentant heart and a sincere desire to see God Bless he and his family. During that time I began to cry as I realized that although many love him, there are many more who desire to kill him or see him fail!

I love America. The older I get the more patriotic I become. I get angered at ball games when people don't remove their hats and talk during our national anthem. I become frustrated at times to see people use a holiday such as the 4th of July as a simple excuse to become intoxicated.

July 4th represents our independance as a nation but more importantly our dependance on God to be truy free! He has blessed America but America has turned her back on Him. I love my country, I honor the men and women of our military and pray that God will fill the White House and every other government building with His presence and that our leaders will fall on their knees as we did yesterday and ask God to forgive us & heal our land as we humble ourselves, pray, seek Him and and turn from our wicked ways.

Remember: Although we want our leaders to do this, the key in this verse is wrapped up in the following "IF MY PEOPLE".

Yesterday I cried not only for me and my country, but for my president. You?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Investment in Next GEN

As you know at General Convention we made a decision to make a much OVERDUE Investment into Impact Student Ministries. I was saddened to see that our average age of ministers has actually increased to 57 years old. It is so important that we make an investment into the NEXT Generation to raise up leaders by equipping our Impact Ministries Dept with staff.

What are some ways that you see we can continue investment to Impact Student Ministries??

What are some things that you see we can do to bring more FOCUS on the Next Generation as a movement??

What are some things you can do in your own District to see this investment into the Next Gen continue to make an impact in the PCG??

Saturday, July 4, 2009

We are MOVING!!

As per General Convention this week, the General Council will be processing the feasibility of moving the General Headquarters & Messenger College to a metropolitan city, Dallas, Oklahoma City or Tulsa.

My thoughts about the move;
I think it is a good move to be in a metropolitan area for travel purposes. I also like the fact that we will be able to be debt-free and funds will be released to see investment in growing the Kingdom of God. I also think it gives the PCG an opportunity to get a new face for the organization. Without a doubt, some will not understand the move but i support the Vision and trust their leadership.

What are your thoughts about this move?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Add it up

So what do you get when you add these words together?? hotels, banquets, service 3 times a day, people of every generation, 3 ring binder, financial reports, people speaking their opinion, pk day, teen talent, 60 yr. ordination pens, Fireflight concert = PCG General Convention 2009.

All though all of this stuff happens and is important (or some of it is), what is the most important thing we get from these gatherings??

Without reservation, this is what i look for at Gen Conv. The leadership of PCG layed out a vision that will take hopefully catapult us into a season of growth. Here it is as it was spoken by our leadership:

We are PCG!!
This was the theme of the General Convention 2009 for the PCG. So what does it mean??

We are Global, Connected, Absolute & Relevant!!
If we are going to stop the decline of the PCG these things are a must. Bishop Scott delivered a powerful word and Vision to lead us forward while cherishing our heritage.

We are Here!!
The answer given to us of the question, where are the young leaders? Making an investment in the Next Generation of leaders is a must to see the survival of PCG.

We are Moving!!
Where? the General Council will begin processing the essentials of moving the General Office & Messenger College to a metropolitan city; Dallas, Oklahoma City or Tulsa.

I love it. Leaders Lead and i was glad to see our Leadership doing just that.

Give your thoughts to the Vision and Changes coming to PCG!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Using Technology to Save Money!

Recently, my ministry "Papa" ministered to hundreds of pastors without leaving his home in Texas. From his studio, he used web-cam's and technology to preach, prophecy, teach, pray, and minister without the expense of travel, lodging and food (not to mention the fact that he could sleep in his own bed each night). Wow!

With the challenges of a weakened economy, churches and leaders must consider ways to maximize ministry and minimize expenses. What are practical ways that churches and/or denominations can utilize technology to accomplish these two objectives?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

United We Stand; Divided...

A recent study on the American view of Denominationalism concluded that by its very nature, it (Denominationalism) is perhaps the "moral failure of modern Christianity". At first glance, those words are offensive. But after looking at Jesus' words in John 17, praying for "oneness" and "unity", those words may be worth reading again.

Who is "the Church"? Is it important to connect with other organizations or denominations? If so, how? Would Jesus commend us or chastise us? Is He pleased or grieved? What are your thoughts?


What has been the most effective way to get you plugged in to the PCG on a National, District, or Sectional level? For those that may not feel connected, what are practical ways to solicit greater participation and involvement (beyond methods currently employed)?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In your opinion, and according to your experience, what is the number one benefit for your partnership and relationship with the Pentecostal Church of God?

Going 2 Convention?

Are you going to the General Convention? If so, what are your expectations?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Twittering General Convention

What are you doing now?

This is the only question asked by Twitter. Apparently, the General Convention will be "twittering" throughout the convention.

What do you think about this?

Will this "twitter" the results of resolutions, elections, appointments, etc., in real time?

Will this be helpful to the constituency of the PCG?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Electronic Evolution

Pastor/Leader: since electronic communication is so much a part of our world today, what type of tools are you using to communicate the Gospel?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Electronic Socialism

myspace, facebook, twitter, texting…we are definitely in the electronic age. I enjoy the advances we have in technology and I love to make full use of it – especially if it broadens our outreach. However, I wonder what studies will show in a few years from now (should the Lord tarry His coming), about the social skills of the present/next generation.

I believe we must have BALANCE (moderation) in all we do. An over indulgence in anything speaks of being out of balance.
  • How many hours a day are you surfing through myspace & facebook – reading up on everyone?
  • Count the number of texts you receive and send today.

Recently, I shared this with our congregation. I asked them to consider the amount of time they are indulging in electronic socialism. We discussed the value of carrying on a conversation with someone face to face. Being able to read body language, looking someone in the eye and getting a sense of their character. All of that is shielded behind a computer screen and a keypad.

Last week some teens joined me for a round of golf. They kept their phone on them the entire time and were text messaging between every hole and updating their facebook on the fly. It was a little ridiculous and even a little irritating.

Again, I’m not opposed to the use of technology and communication. I just wonder what we’ll discover about our social skills when the latest studies come out.

Too much of anything can be damaging.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Self-Competing is Self-Defeating

I have realized that we sometimes feel defeated when attendance in some services or programs is not where we would like. However, could the attendance be elsewhere. In other words, are the attending something else that is competing for their times as well?

If our church calendars are so full of stuff, especially during the same week or same night even, can we realistically expect our people to show?

My mid-week is down by nearly 50% since starting home groups. I am ok with that. Knowing most people will attend 2 services or functions a week, next to Sunday morning my home groups would be my next choice for them. If you don't want people going somewhere else, don't give the option and make sure what you provide is well worth their time!

Any thoughts on this? What are you doing to keep from competing against yourself?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Your Thought's

Would a weekly topic verses a daily topic help to create more contructive dialogue? Instead of us who post doing a daily topic which would require daily reading, commenting etc. Would a well thought out weekly topic maybe stimulate more conversation?

Your thought's?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Keep Running The Race

I posted a blog on here not long ago about the fact that I was losing weight by eating healthy and a steady diet of excercise including softball once a week, basketball twice a week and started running a few times a week. Since that post I have now lost about 35-37 lbs depending on the time of day I weigh and have dropped from a 48" waist & 3xl shirt to 40" waist and xl/xxl shirts. I share this because I feel great and have now increased my running dramatically, atleast for me.

You see, I have never liked not at all. However, recently I started running and now run quite a bit. About 4-5 miles now when I do. I remember when I first started running I got my running shoes on, my athetic shorts, muscle shirt and even my ipod with my running music (i'd tell you what it was but you'd think I backslid if I did). Anyway, I looked like I could run but when I first got started I didn't even make it to the corner of my street before I had to stop due to severe oxygen shortage. Today I run several miles before I feel too much and have even learned to enjoy it. One thing I learned was that when I reached that point of saying to myself "ok, slow down, you've gone far enough" because it hurts a little, that is the time I need to press on a little further. You see I have goals of how long, how far etc I will go before I will slow down and catch my breath. Everytime I reach the goal I have set I bear down and push on a little further. What I am doing is increasing my endurance levels. Pushing myself further helps make it easier down the road to reach those distances and goals I am pursuing. People ask me all the time "what is your desired weight"? It made me think of and I actually recently preached to my church Hebrews 12:1,2. The part I want to focus on is the end of verse 1 "and run with ENDURANCE the race that is set before you".

ENDURE = to suffer patiently without yielding. to carry on through despite hardship

When we have laid aside the weight (that which hinders us) and the sin (that which disqualifies us) and find ourselves facing adversity of anykind, we MUST NOT YIELD & MUST CARRY ON THROUGH. How? Looking unto Jesus (the author, perfecter and rewarder of our faith)

KEY (vs 2): who for the JOY that was set before Him (which was the end result)

Endured the cross, disregarded the shame and is now at the right hand of God. Note "who for the JOY that was set before Him. When you lose sight of the why, what and who for you will find it easier to give in. Once you give in it becomes easier and easier until it becomes your character.

In my early years my character was to quit when it got hard, uncomfortable, short of breath. Now I am learning how to change that character by pressing on through despite the difficulty and in doing so am building endurance and finding out that I can do more and go further than I ever realized.

I am not all I want to be but I certainly am not what I used to be either. Same goes for my ministry. I have not accomplished all I want or that God has put within me but I am convinced more than ever that I have the endurance to get there and that is something that I continually keep in front of me!

So, are you still running or what?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Just Curious?

Every week several of us pastor's have committed to engaging in conversation that effects all of us not only as ministers of the PCG but more importantly as servants of His kingdom. However, I have noticed just the same few of us are commenting back and forth and engaging in any dialogue. I understand that not every topic discussed demands a response or simply is not something you are interested in discussing. However, I am curious how many are even reading.
As we continue this NPN blog, would you take a moment and let us who are posting topics on here know that you are atleast reading and may I encourage you to step out and let us know your thoughts occasionally as well.
Your participation is important and encouraged.
So take a moment if you would and just let us know you are reading this. We are curious who is out there!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Who's Will?

Few things in life are more powerful than the human will. One idea, coupled with the human will, made modern transportation possible. One idea, coupled with the human will, made it possible for any person on any continent of the earth to fly to another continent – anywhere in the world – the airplane was created. One idea, coupled with the human will, put the first man on the moon. The human will has made modern transportation and modern technology a reality. Few things in life are more powerful than the human will.

The Bible says that David was “…a man after God’s own heart…” King Saul & King David were so different in so many ways. King Saul did things his way. He did what was right in his eyes, and what was right in the eyes of others. His will came before the will of God. But, David’s will was submitted to the will of God. As I was reading (in my Daily Bible Reading) a few weeks ago, I read David’s words in Psalm 101. Eleven times, King David uses the words “I Will”.

“…I will sing of your love and justice, Lord. I will praise you with songs. 2 I will be careful to live a blameless life—when will you come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. 3 I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them. 4 I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil. 5 I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride. 6 I will search for faithful people to be my companions. Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me. 7 I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house, and liars will not stay in my presence. 8 My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked and free the city of the Lord from their grip…” It was evident me, while reading this passage, that King David had learned to surrender his will to the will of God.

Jesus had to surrender His will at the age of twelve when His parents found him in the Temple. He had to surrender His will in the Garden of Gethsemane. Noah built an ark for more than one hundred years while being ridiculed. His will was in check. Nehemiah, the disciples, the Apostle Paul…well, the list doesn’t end – they surrendered their wills to God.

What about you today? Who’s will is most important to you: The will of the people, the will of self, or the will of God? How can you miss the will of God? What are common ways that we, as church leaders, ignore the will of God?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

CAUTION: There's a Young Leader in the House!

David was somewhere between twelve and fifteen when he was anointed to become King of Israel. But David wasn’t appointed as King for more than a dozen years. There were things that had to happen between the anointing and the appointing. Many senior leaders fail to put the mark of a father on their spiritual sons and daughters, fearful that they’ll lose them. But young leaders must be taught, corrected, encouraged, rebuked, and trained.

Many up-and-coming leaders miss the vital lessons necessary for a successful future ministry when impatience, pride, or rebellion so often leads them away from their places of preparation.

What can David teach us? First, David learned to wait for God’s timing. When David was anointed to be King at a young age, he didn’t throw a party. He didn’t post it on Face-Book, MySpace, or his church web-site. What did he do? He went back to work. He was faithful to his current assignment. He waited on the Lord’s timing for promotion.

Secondly, David learned how to cooperatively and faithfully serve the current leader. Even when his leader attempted to kill him, David never lost his heart for the King. When given the opportunity to kill the King in self-defense, he refused to do it (he would not touch God’s anointed and appointed leader).

Next, David learned to win over the little things before tackling the big ones. Before David could take on a giant by the name of Goliath, he first was tested with the battle of a lion and a bear. Before he could be King, he would have to serve the King. Apprentice leaders must learn to win over small things before God can offer the challenging battles of the ministry Goliaths veteran leaders must face on a regular basis.

Finally, David learned to win over his private battles before entering the public arena. The Lion and the bear were private battles. Young leaders need to learn how to win the private battles before stepping into their places of maximum impacting ministries. So often, when they prematurely leave their place of preparation, they leave without victory over the private issues that will later hinder their success in public ministry.

How are you handling your young leaders? Do you recognize greatness when you see it? Does potential in others intimidate you? Do you feel threatened by strong leaders on your team? Are you afraid to offer correction to apprentice leaders? What could you add to my above observations concerning King David?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A New Season

Monday was graduation day for "The Season of Evangelism". Our Recovery Ministry hosted our annual B-B-Q. More than 300 were in attendance. Last night, there were eight new families at our Get Real Recovery service (between 100-200 people attend each week).

A couple of weeks ago our youth hosted it's season finale with the "Gym Jam". Hundreds of teens come for this outreach each month. There were more than 40 who gave their lives to Christ.

In a few weeks, we'll baptize between 50 and 75 people. It's the end of another great season of evangelism before heading into the new season.

It's a new season: "The Season of Fellowship". I'm getting ready!!! Are you???

Can you share your summer ideas? What do you do in the summer months to promote fellowship? Help my staff...we're always open to new ideas!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Do You Plan To Slow Down?

As a youth pastor in the early 90's, I dreaded those numbers-deflating summer months! It seemed we lost about two thirds of the group. I was a "numbers guy". When the numbers were up, I was up too; but when they were down, I spiraled into frustration and self-examination.

After a few years of agony, I finally decided to pray about my situation. Asking the Lord for purpose during those lonely months of ministry, He revealed a truth that has helped me beyond youth ministry.

There was always great purpose in the Fall season of ministry. Kids were back from the summer break. They were thinking of school, learning, discipline, structure, schedules, sports, and more. It was a great opportunity for a youth pastor to capatalize on the season - and I did! I called it "The Season of Discipleship". My messages and calendaring complimented the season. I preached about "Lordship", "Commitment", "Servanthood", and the like.

There was also great purpose in the Winter/Spring Season of youth ministry. Those were the months of great growth, and I called it "The Season of Evangelism". I learned that from January to May, I could motivate the youth to bring friends to youth. I preached messages about salvation and the need for evangelism. We did major outreach events like the "Gym Jam", where it was not uncommon for 30-50 teens to receive Christ each month. Teens were saved by the dozens every year (I think it is safe to say that they were saved into the hundreds).

I just couldn't find purpose for those dreadful summer months until the year I finally prayed about them. God revealed to me that the summer months had purpose. He gave those months definition for me. I would see them differently from that moment on. I actually looked forward to the summer months the very next year. I called it (rather, the Lord defined it as) "The Season of Fellowship". Who cared that I only had 35-40 kids in those summer months - they were still important kids to God! I decided to give those kids the summer of their lives. We went to water parks, theme parks, camp-outs, bowling days, golf days, swim days, and so much more. We had water-wars, B-B-Q's, game days (Oakland A's and SF Giants baseball), and they enjoyed every moment of their summer. I built relationships in those summer seasons that continue to this very day. A leader can let his/her hair down at a fellowship event. Followers get to see their leader on a lighter note; and it was often in that season when a teenager and his/her parents gave me permission to lead them.

During "The Season of Fellowship", my messages were about family, friends, and relationships (always leading them to their relationship with God). They grew together as a group; and in many cases, leaders in the youth group emerged during those months.

Today, I'm looking forward to the next season. I'll prepare for the Fall. I'll prepare for the Winter. I can't wait for "The Season of Discipleship" and "The Season of Evangelism". Each year for the past three years, we've baptized more than 150 people. We're very intentional about each season. My team is already gearing up for the seasons. But, we're ready for this new season: "The Season of Fellowship". Retreats, campouts, game days - they're already planned! While people are resting, we rest! While people are playing, we play! While people are hanging out with one another, so are we! When they're slowing down, we don't feel guilty if we slow the pace either. Let me ask you today: What are your plans to enjoy this new season? Do you feel guilty when you rest? Do you get frustrated when your people are camping out, on a bike ride, visiting family, or vacationing? What are you planning to do with them this summer?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Team Ministry

Team ministry recognizes the WORTH of all ministries. Trying to do ministry alone is as useless as a "screen door on a submarine." (I think I remember that line from a song in the 80's - concerning faith without works. lol)

We all need someone!
  • Batman had Robin
  • The Lone Ranger had Tonto
  • Laverne had Shirley
  • Laurel had Hardy
  • etc.
Nehemiah was a leader that relied on others to assist in his dream. "... I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man and feared God above many." - Nehemiah 7:2

Two qualifications: Faithfulness and the Fear of God.
  • We can accomplish MORE when we are surrounded by people who know they will give an account to God for everything with which they've been entrusted.
  • Nehemiah's team held off the enemy as well as restored God's people at Jerusalem.
With today's world slipping further away from Godly principles - we need teams of FAITHFUL men to lead us!
  • Where no council is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. - Proverbs 11:14
Solomon considered it an extreme importance to have a MULTITUDE OF COUNSELORS surrounding him.
  • Pastor - as you lead your team - who's leading you?
  • Do you have a multitude of counselors (i.e., counseling team, spiritual fathers, etc.) in place?
If we are to be effective Pastors - we must have the THREE FOLD CORD in our life. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) The teams we lead are definitely watching our life as we are leading them. They are watching to see if we are being "led" just as we are "leading".

Last week, Beverly and I celebrated 10 years of pastoral ministry at Bethel Family Worship Center. We were so blessed to have all five of our spiritual fathers in attendance at the same time. As I look at this group of men, I see diversity, seasons & wisdom wrapped up in their collective. They are a gift from God. (Ephesians 4:11)
  • Teaching Father - Rev. Ray Hylton
  • Pastoral Father - Rev. Leeroy Hill
  • Evangelistic Father - Bishop Tom Branham
  • Prophetic Father - Bishop Wayman Ming Jr.
  • Apostolic Father - Rev. Rick Clendenen

I'm truly thankful for the team that is leading me. Diversity - they are definitely that. Each of them have had a part (and continue to) in my life at specific seasons. Their wisdom collectively is the biggest safety net I've ever had.

What a team!

Friday, May 22, 2009

What would your team say about you?

How is your relationship with your team? You may view it one way, but your team may have an entirely different opinion.

The relationship between the lead pastor and the rest of the team pastors is vital to the health and ministry of the church.

If you ask your team about how they view their relationship with you, what do you think they would say?

Another question. What do you feel your staff would say matters most to them as it pertains to maintaining a professional or even a personal relationship with you?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Qualities of a Good Team

My heart this week has been to focus on the team God has graciously allowed me to work with. Working with a team is so much better then working alone. Can you imagine doing it all again? I remember 10 years ago when Beverly and I came to Indianapolis, we assumed leadership of a church that was struggling with internal dysfunction in it's leadership.

The good news is that we just loved the people through it and an atmosphere of trust was created which gave us the opportunity to set the right climate. Don't get me wrong, this took time. (You don't turn a ship on a dime.) Today, with the right climate, we've been able to produce a culture that is conducive to leadership training.

Building a diverse team has been an exciting challenge. Here are some things that I've kept in mind along the journey.

1. The leader must be gifted & committed to leading the team. - Ephesians 4:11
2. The team must be united under the Lordship of Jesus. - Ephesians 5:23
3. Recruit gifted people for vital roles (especially in areas you are weak in.) - Acts 6:3
4. Give on the job training. - Matthew 28:19-20
5. Create a "servant-leadership" climate where service is more important than position. - Luke 22:26-27
6. Show respect for one another. - Hebrews 13:17
7. Recognize the need for honest and open communication. - 2 Corinthians 12:19
8. Prepare for opposition. - 1 Peter 5:8-9
9. Stay focused on your vision & goals. - Philippians 3:14
10.Be accountable and open to correction. - Revelation 3:19

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Building a Great Team!

Beverly and I are blessed to have a great ministry team. That team consists of pastoral staff, elders, deacons & ministry coordinators. All of which, are the wheels of the ministry at BFWC. Without them, well...we'd be severely handicapped.

As you know, building the right team can take time. Each team member has a unique personality and diverse giftings. Learning how to flow those personalities together can be a challenge. However, when it's can be a win-win situation for you and your congregation.

  • The Ant - (the driver) (Apostle Paul) - "Excuse me, pardon me, coming through!" These people can appear to be rude, offensive, bossy and just plain over the top. And at times they are. But at least they get the job done. Once they are tempered by the "fruit" of Galatians 5:22-23, they may still have the ability to "cut your ear off" but they are more mindful of how they are perceived.

  • The Conie - (the peacemaker) (Barnabas) - "Can't we all just get along?" These people strive for peace and can't stand arguing or strong debate. They will defend the underdog and make sure everyone is treated fairly. They are a blessing because of their ability to manufacture peace in almost any situation.

  • The Locust - (the partier) (Apostle Peter) - "Whens the next church dinner?" These people exemplify the personality of a networker. They would rather talk than work. They have the ability to sell sand in the desert and they almost never know a stranger! They are great for connecting with new people.

  • The Spider - (the thinker) (Apostle John) - "Let's think before we speak." These people are perfectionist in their personalities. They are often loners. When they offer their opinion, you know they've given a lot of time thinking it through. They are problem solvers and can save your neck if you listen to their council.

We definitely have all four personalities at work in our pastoral team. It's amazing to watch everyone function together - so different, yet so compatible.

We administer a personality test to each of our leaders. This helps us find their best place on the team. Nothing is worse then having personality clashes - it disrupts the flow of ministry. Sometimes it's unavoidable. However if you can understand a person's personality, then you can communicate with them better.

This by far, has been the most valued lesson I've learned in building a great team.

Our pastoral team in Chicago on our last Staff Retreat.
L-R: Jeremey & Tara Mckinney - Children's Pastors
Russell & Beverly Hylton - Senior Pastors
Josh & Jennifer Palmer - Youth Pastors
Nathan & Julie Steensma - Executive Pastors