Criss Cross: Our Newest Staff Member at GcomChurch

We have a new staff member at Grace Community Church. His name is Criss Cross. He started in the office this morning (and thankfully I’m out of town).

Criss Cross is our children’s ministries new mascot. We realize churches usually don’t have mascots, but we are passionate about reaching children for Christ. It amazes me to watch children get excited about a mascot at a ballgame. Sometimes they don’t even know a game is in progress if the mascot is nearby. I love watching their excitement interacting with a mascot.

Our goal for children is to get their attention, so we can share with them the love of Christ. Honestly, in a sea of entertainment, that’s much harder to do these days. We are hoping Criss Cross will help us attain our goal.

Welcome to the team Criss Cross! Stay out of my office!

What are you doing creatively to reach people for Christ?

Ben Arment’s Dream Year: I Love This!

Ben Arment is a bright, energetic, do-something young leader I admire greatly! He’s a former church planter, so that got me interested in following him initially, but then I attended his Whiteboard and Story conferences and admired how he was encouraging the church to think more creatively.  Ben’s Dream Year project is perhaps my favorite of all that he does.

I’m a proponent of dreaming big…I’ve written frequently about it here and even did a series of dream posts once.  Dreaming keeps marriages healthier, it builds careers and dreaming gets us closer to realizing some of the glory of the great God that we serve. No dream could ever be too big for our God. Ben is empowering others to live out their God-given dreams!

What’s your dream?  Maybe Dream Year is for you:

Dream Year Trailer from Dream Year on Vimeo.

If you are reading this in a reader you may need to open the post to see the video here.

Encourage me…inspire me…What’s your dream? Share it here.

One Piece of Advice for Want-To-Be Church Planters

One of my best rules (suggestions) for church planting is don’t try to be a lone ranger. That may work in western movies, but not in church planting. (And even he had Tonto…which makes me question his name…but that’s another post…)

If God is birthing a vision in you, the chances are great that He is birthing the same or similar vision in the hearts of others.

Find those who share your passion for reaching the lost and as you share your vision with them….after you’ve prayed together tons…then, if God is in it…form a team…  To be successful you will need buy-in from other people.  You may even need to give your vision away to people you trust.  (Read a post about that thought process HERE.)

I hear from those claiming to be church planters with a vision who say they have no one to help them plant.  My best advice would be to wait until God reveals those people who are ready to share the burden with you.

There will be lonely nights out on the range of church planting…you’ll be glad you have others around to encourage you to stay the course….

Church planters….do you agree?  How did you find those who were willing to support your God-given vision?

Let My Marathon Training Help Plan Your Life

Are you feeling stressed? Overwhelmed? Over-worked? Like you can never complete everything you are supposed to complete? Do projects never seem to be as good as you want them to be?

Here’s an illustration I hope will help.

I’m training for a marathon. I didn’t start with a 10 mile run. Actually, I’m a consistent runner and try to stay in good enough shape to run a half marathon anytime I choose to run one, but when I started marathon training, the first day out I only ran 3 miles. Why? Because I’m running a marathon, not a sprint.

Take a look at my first few weeks of training (I use a Hal Higdon Training schedule):

Now consider my last few weeks of training:

Do you see how this works? It takes time to train for a marathon. This plan includes 18 weeks of training. I can’t instantly start running 26.2 miles…or even 15…sometimes even 10. A couple weeks before I actually run the marathon, I’m not scurrying to get last minute training in…I’m resting up for the big day. After many weeks of endurance training, I’m ready to finish the big day with excellence!

Here’s where you may come into this blog post.

Some people try to complete a marathon project in church or in business by starting at the last minute… They start planning for the big events just a few days or weeks before the event is to occurs and they run out of time to get everything accomplished they hope to complete. The project overwhelms them and fails to be as good as it could be.

Many try to run their life that way… They sprint rather than pace themselves through life and before they finish their goals they wear out or if they finish they achieve less than desired results.

Allow my running plan to help your life plan.

Spread out the load…discipline yourself….write a plan….schedule out the key assignments…put timelines and benchmarks on paper…get the proper training and coaching….buy the right equipment…pace yourself….work the plan…

Then run the race strong to the finish…

The idea is not to create an elaborate or sophisticated document. The idea is to get something on paper that will be a workable and realistic plan to get you to your desired goal with excellence!

Do you need to better pace yourself so you can accomplish more and better results?

Often being “overwhelmed” with work is not a matter of having too much work as much as not having a plan by which to do it.

Why not spend a few minutes today writing a few goals, then back out a plan over a reasonable time, with benchmarks along the way, to achieve your goal with excellence?

Just curious, what tips do you have for pacing yourself, what calendar system/planning tools do you use?

Increasing Creativity and Innovation on a Tight Budget

Here’s a way to discipline yourself to increase creativity on your team or in your organization…especially during times when money is tight.

When you are ready to make a purchase, ask yourself this question:

If you didn’t have the money, and it was a need you had to address, what would you do?

Recently we had this scenario. I was asked to consider a non-budgeted purchase. I delayed in answering the question, somewhat for this reason and some because I got distracted from answering the question. (The thought, however, was that my delay was intentional.) A few weeks later, I was presented with a different request. They had found a way to accomplish the same need, for one-fourth the cost.

Will this work every time? No, but the use of creativity and innovation can often be avoided if there is enough money in the budget. Tight budgets cause us to look for ways to accomplish our mission for less. When this happens…everyone wins…as there is more resources available for other projects.

What are some ways you have had to be creative because funds were limited?

The Power of Caged Momentum

I recently posted an important leadership and life principle I have learned the hard way. When you get a brilliant idea, before you quickly rush to complete it, sleep on it. You can read that post HERE. I want to continue that thought process with another principle that builds from that one. Let me illustrate it with a practical example:

Launching Grace Community Church was an 18-month process from the time I agreed to obey God’s encouragement to start a new church. (I had resisted His encouragement 10 years…but that’s another post.) After we recruited our core team, we asked them to wrestle in prayer months before we had our first meeting or they even officially committed to the vision; then we made them wait 9 months before we ever met as a church. Waiting to implement God’s vision for excited people inclined inclined towards progress was difficult, but the result proved an important principle about human dynamics and organizational development. (That’s a fancy way of saying…waiting sucked, but it worked…)

In a similar fashion, although we knew small groups would be a major part of our mission, we did “test” groups with a few people for months before we allowed the entire church to join a group. We used that time to train leaders, but it also served the purpose to generate enthusiasm among those that had to wait to get in a group.

The principle at work here is what I call The Power of Caged Momentum

Telling a person or a group of people to wait for something they really want to do and are excited about builds positive momentum. Of course, there is always the balance between waiting too long that you lose opportunity and moving to fast that you don’t build enough momentum. I can’t solve that for you in a simple post. Your situation and experience will be unique to you, but the principle here is important.

Don’t be afraid to make your church, organization or team (or even your family) wait before they get to experience something great. The power of caged momentum may even make the experience and outcome better.

Have you seen this principle at work? I’d love to hear your story.

The Best Person for the Job May Not Be the One Who Can Do It Best

Here is a principle you must understand for organizational efficiency:

Sometimes the best person for the job may not be the person who (you think) can do the job best.

Let me explain…

High capacity leaders struggle to let go of something they think they can do better. Most have a higher than normal sense of confidence in their abilities (this ego can be used for good or bad), so they believe they can best implement their ideas. Their drive for progress makes them doers by nature, so they often resist the process of delegation, even if they know it is the healthy thing to do for the organization, because they fear it won’t be done right unless they do it.

One key to solving this issue is for the leader to change visions from the specific project or function the leader desires to see completed to attention to the vision and overall success of the organization. Instead of seeing a project for the potential of pass/fail depending on who does it, begin to see the results of the total organization as the appropriate pass/fail scenario. In this approach, delegation becomes a key to moving projects forward, getting the entire team involved, developing new leaders, and completing all the tasks needed to successfully attain the organization’s goals and objectives.

Leader, if you tend to be a control freak, perhaps you don’t need to change your personality, as much as you need to change your vision. Delegating frees the leader to do those things he or she is most passionate about, most gifted to do, or things he or she never completes because there is never enough time to do them. Begin to see that the best person for the job may not be the person (in your most humble opinion…) who can do the job best.

Plus, chances are very good you will soon realize others can do the job equal to or better than you can.

Are you a control freak?  How do you deal with this?

Think You Have a Great Idea…Sleep On It

Think you have a great idea….sleep on it…

If you read this blog regularly, surely you have learned that I’m a risk-taker by nature. I love to encourage big dreams and I want to be a catalyst for idea generation and innovative thought. I’m even a church planter!!! Talk about risk…

In spite of that tendency in me to act quickly, I have learned one principle of leadership by personal experience…this is one of those wisdom learned by mistake kind of things…so listen closely…

When you get the next great idea…don’t act on it immediately…even as great an idea as it may be. Sleep on it…for a day…a week…or a season…(depending on the size of and type of the idea)…before you take action towards it. (Now if you are absolutely certain it’s a “word from God” then move immediately, but in my case I have mistaken His voice for my own ideas a few times…so you might keep reading…)

I know…I know…that seems to contradict some of what you have been taught. If you don’t act immediately, someone else will steal your idea. If you don’t act immediately, you may lose valuable momentum. If you don’t act immediately, you might miss out on an opportunity.

I’m not trying to kill ideas, I’m trying to help you make better ideas. Before you throw stones, consider my rationale…keep this in mind…here’s why this is important…

You want to make the decision you are making is not based solely on emotion. You want time for emotions to subside (if they are going to) before you invest the energy and resources into the idea.

Still questioning? Consider this…

You wouldn’t advise someone who is experiencing negative emotions to make immediate decisions…would you? If someone loses a spouse, you wouldn’t encourage him or her to make a random and sudden decision to sell everything and move where they know no one…would you?

Why are positive emotions anymore trustworthy?

Remember, you don’t have to act immediately to act quickly. I realize there is a great balance here between stalling out and pausing, but don’t allow your emotions to cause you to react too quickly and regret your decision later.

Pause, get wise counsel, make sure rationale is equal to emotion…then you can and should move fast…you’ll be glad the emotion is still strong…

Share your story…

Have you made too quick of a decision you later regretted making?

What did it cost you?

Funded and Free: Helping Church Finances

Casey Graham
and Joe Sangl have become good friends. Casey and Joe share several things in common with each other. They are both incredibly high-energy, they are both funny (or think they are) and, most importantly, they both share a heart to help churches and people live in financial freedom. Specifically for the church, their desire is for churches to be able to fully fund the vision God has given the church.

As writers of the new book, “Funded and Free”, Casey and Joe combine their practical experience serving on church staffs with their most current experience helping churches and individuals across the nation achieve financial success. In this easy-to-read, practical and concise book, Casey and Joe help us understand the obstacles churches face and how to deal appropriately with finances and debt. Every church leader needs to read this book.

Check out the FUNDED AND FREE website where you can buy 5 copies for $50. This low-cost investment will promote lasting Kingdom rewards. Let your finance team, leadership team, or staff read this book together and get your church headed in a more positive direction financially.

Just curious, how is your church fairing financially in this current economy? Could you use some help?

I Am Suffering From Pastor Burnout — What Now?

Desperate man holding his face in hands appears in a miserable state of unhappiness.

Pastor burnout is a common problem in the church today.  I hear from pastors everyday facing the stress of ministry.

Here’s a common scenario that can cause that to happen…or pieces of this scenario…these may be the most common one I hear…perhaps this is your story:

  • The church gets to a certain level.
  • Things start to slow down.
  • The church stops growing.
  • Maybe even slides backwards for a while.
  • Money becomes tighter.
  • People are complaining more it seems.
  • Everyone is asking the pastor “What’s next?” “What do we do now?”
  • You’ve done everything you know how to do.
  • You feel stuck – trapped – afraid – paralyzed – confused – overwhelmed.

If not careful, the stress will quickly cause the pastor to:

  • Stop reading and learning techniques and strategies
  • Stop trying anything new
  • Quit taking risks
  • Quit expecting God to move
  • Become protective – maybe even isolated
  • Become more sensitive to criticism and stress

If this is your story, I have a few words of encouragement:

  • Get help now. That may be professional or not, but ask for help today!  You wouldn’t encourage the people you lead to do life alone – so why is it a good idea for you?
  • Surround yourself with people. Not the opposite, which is the usual response to times like this – especially it seems by pastors.  Find people who love you – they are there if you look.
  • Find your center of gravity again. (Most likely that is Christ, right?)
  • Get back to the truth you already know.  You may start by reading 1 Kings 19 for another time one of God’s servants fell on difficult times.
  • Renew the passion for your vision. God called you to something. He never said it would be easy. God-given dreams rarely are.
  • Start doing something towards a goal.  Inactivity never solved anything. Waiting doesn’t mean doing nothing.
  • Look for some small wins.  It will help rebuild your confidence.
  • Stay faithful in the small things. And God will once again bring the bigger victories.

I’d love to hear from you if this is your story. You can comment here (which will encourage others also) or you can send me an email to

Thanks for serving – even when the serving gets difficult.