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!!!