Leading Alone is Never a Good Idea

If you are leading a team or organization, I have some simple advice for you. This is based on years of experience. I have been guilty of trying to lead on my own. I once had the false idea that I had to lead independent of others and that if I shared my struggles with other leaders, somehow I would be less of a leader. I felt like a sign of strength was to prove that I didn’t need help, but, as many of you know, this is never true for any leader.

Even still, I have been in organizations where there was no one on my team I felt I could confide in with a weakness. If this is your case, or especially if you are the only leader:

Always have a group of people you trust ready to assist you; to be your sounding board.

This isn’t just a leadership principle…this is a good life principle…

Here are a few things to look for in a person for a group like this:

  • One who has been where you are…
  • One who is going where you are going…
  • One who will not judge you….
  • One who can keep a confidence…
  • One you would follow their leadership

Are you leading alone? Be careful…you may want to find someone who can be there at the appropriate time…Don’t be afraid to recruit those people into your life. Chances are good they equally need that connection.

Does this post resonate with your story? Is there a time that it did?

Exploring Coaching Network Options: Help Please


I’m exploring options…thinking through some ways that I can invest in the current and future leadership of the church.  One of the most common themes these days among leaders I admire is to start a coaching network, basically as a way to “coach” a small group of leaders for a determined period of time.  I’ve never been one to copy what everyone else is doing, but I don’t want to miss opportunities either.

So I’m curious…would you help me by answering a few questions?

Have you ever been part of a coaching network?

If so, was it beneficial?  How?

For what reasons would you most want or need coaching today?

What do you think is missing now in the world of coaching networks?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, comments, etc.

Thanks for your assistance.

The Posture of Leadership

It’s a strange phenomenon…I’ve seen people serve in leadership roles who I didn’t think were the most qualified to lead, yet they are leading well and people are following. And, many times, they are achieving great results…

The reason is not their abilities as much as the way they have positioned or presented themselves to a group of followers.

The opposite is equally true. I have seen people who have positions where they are to be the leader but no one seems to be following.

That’s because of one principle of leadership:

Leaders posture themselves as leaders…

  • They seem to be in control or they take control…
  • They aren’t afraid to take a risk…
  • They are willing to go first…
  • They have battle-scarred hands from life experience…
  • They are still dreaming, when everyone else is settling for mediocrity..
  • They have the latest information…
  • They appear to have a plan…
  • They have impeccable character and integrity…
  • They hold a big vision…

You may not have all the answers, you may even be fooling yourself at times, but if you are postured to lead…others will follow…

Consider your leadership posture…would you want to follow you?

What do you look for in a person you will consider following?

Friday Discussion: Should Churches Compare Attendance Numbers?

I realize there is room for debate and even disagreement on this Friday discussion post. I decided when I began this series that I would not shy away from issues only because they may appear controversial. My criteria is really issues I’m wrestling with personally or have a special interest in the discussion. Today’s post fits that category.  I put this off for a couple weeks before I posted it, because I’m not trying to encourage division in the church, but this is really something I’m wrestling through.  I’d appreciate your input. (I think we can disagree on this issue and still be partners in Kingdom-building!)

Should churches be comparing numbers of attendance with other churches?

Recently I’ve read controversy over the recent “fastest growing” and “largest” churches article published in Outreach Magazine. I admit, I read the article and I was encouraged by it and the stories of some of the churches. To this point, I have chosen not to submit our numbers, even though we would easily qualify in the fastest growing category. (I share that now only to illustrate that this is not an issue of bitterness…one of the counter arguments I have heard people say.)

Recently I tweeted that we had our largest non-Easter attendance and instantly people wanted to know the number. Most conversations with pastors start with a discussion of number. Keep in mind, I’ve posted before that the spirit of competition is not always a bad thing, even in the church. (Read those posts HERE and HERE.)

I’ve heard counting attendance numbers compared to 2 Samuel 24 where David wrongly counted the fighting men. At the same time, I’ve heard others counter that there is a whole book named “Numbers” and that most churches count their offering. (True that!)

So, my question remains: Should churches be comparing numbers of attendance with other churches?

What’s the value? What’s the harm? Is it good or bad? What’s your opinion?

I’d love for you to add to the discussion.

The Sticks Conference: Helping Churches in Small Towns

Recently I had the awesome opportunity to hang out with Artie Davis. I knew Artie from online, but had never met him personally.  Artie is one of those people who invests in everyone he meets.  I instantly felt love and warmth from Artie and I believe we have started a long-term friendship as pastors.

I was especially interested in a couple projects Artie has going.  One in particular is The Sticks Conference. I had seen Tweets of this conference, but really didn’t completely understand it until we talked.  Knowing the vision of this conference, I want to make sure my readers know about it.  If you are doing church in a small town…pay attention!

Here’s a conversation I had with Artie Davis about The Sticks Conference:

What is The Sticks Conference?

It is a gathering “movement” committed to bringing leaders and pastors together that do ministry in smaller towns. The Sticks Conference is the national gathering where these incredible, unsung hero’s have open access to other leaders and the opportunity to learn from the successes and failures of the other small community leaders.

Are there special considerations for churches in smaller communities to consider?

Absolutely!  Unlike larger metropolitan areas, every smaller community has it’s own “culture.” There are truly as unique as DNA. No two are the same. Some principles can be transferred, but methodology must be relevant to that communities uniqueness.

Who should attend this conference?

Every leader, pastor, minister, lay leader, church planters & wanna be leaders who have a heart to reach their town for Jesus!

When and where is it and how does someone register?

It’s November 9-10 at Cornerstone Community Church.  You can get more details at thesticks.tv

Thanks Artie!  Again, if you are attempting to minister to people in smaller cities, this conference is tailored just for you.  You will not want to miss this conference. Artie and his team are going to invest in you and make your ministry better.

Cows With Names Produce More Milk

Did you know a cow with a name produces more milk than a cow without one?

I saw it recently in a Southwest Airline “Spirit” magazine.

So I tested the theory. You can view that video here:

The experiment was part of my message yesterday on why we do community groups as a part of our strategy at Grace Community Church. To see the whole message and understand how it fits, watch this video:

Will We Be Obedient?

I am amazed at what God has done through the work of the people of Grace Community Church in the first five years. We celebrated that milestone last week, but tomorrow is a new day. The start of the next five years. As a natural dreamer, I can’t help but wonder what the next five years will bring.

The anniversary caused me to be reflective this week. I thought about some of the obedience of the people following God in Scripture:

  • Noah did as the Lord commanded. Genesis 6:22
  • Moses followed God even when it meant leaving the comforts of a king Hebrews 11:27
  • Joshua did what the Lord commanded. Joshua 11:9
  • Rahab sacrificed her life for the life of some Israelite spies Joshua 2
  • Gideon led the people in spite of his weaknesses Judges 6-7

Throughout the Bible we find stories of people willing to risk everything they had to follow God, simply because He is God.

And, in turn, God seemed to favor and honor people who were obedient.

My time of reflection makes me want to obey Him even more. The question of what God will call me (us) to in the next 5 years is not near as important, at least from my perspective now, as the question of whether or not I will remain obedient…regardless of the risks and obstacles along the way.

What is God calling you to do? Will you be obedient?

Seriously….will you?

7 Ways to Prepare for More Effective Meetings

Successful projects and teams require meetings to accomplish goals and objectives of the organization. Busy leaders, however, are usually somewhat anti-meetings oriented because of the interruption they appear to be in getting actual work done.  I have found, however, that much of the frustration is in the lack of proper preparation prior to the meeting.  When done well, the time spent in meetings can actually make projects better and strengthen the work of the organization.  A large part of that is found in the preparation prior to the meeting.

Here are 7 ways to prepare for more effective meetings:

Ask the big question – The big question to ask before any meeting is scheduled is, “Do we need to meet?” For me personally, most meetings feel as if they are an interruption, even though I realize the importance of them. If the issue can be handled, without meeting, most will not argue.  Unnecessary meetings cause frustration and slow progress.  If people agree a meeting is necessary, they are more likely to come prepared to accomplish something.

Determine a win – The meeting will be more successful if before the meeting begins the purpose is clear. Ask the question, “What do we need to accomplish in the meeting for it to be successful?”  Working towards a defined win will help keep the meeting headed in the right direction.

Invite the right people – Not every meeting needs to involve every person on the team.  Decide who needs to be at the table and invite the appropriate people.  Those without a defined purpose will tend to drag the meeting away from its purpose and leaves them frustrated.  As a leader, I usually ask people on my team, “Do I need to be there?” when I learned of a meeting, before I place it on my calendar.

Decide on a time limit and frequency – I get very bored after an hour. Some of our meetings, such as our bi-weekly staff meetings take longer, but as a rule, I like shorter rather than longer and less frequent rather than more frequent.  If you are attracting leaders to your organization, they will want meetings to be kept to a minimum as much as possible.

Craft an agenda – The meeting should be purposeful, but not too tightly controlled by time.   Be sure to allow adequate time for brainstorming, questions and the necessary social interactions, which happen with healthy teams. For our team the social part starts the creative process and gets people to buy into the meeting.

Give adequate notice – This will not always be possible, but people who like to be prepared, have Introverted tendencies, or are highly organized will give better participation, if they are given enough time to prepare for the meeting.

Plan to start and end on time – People will be less hesitant about attending your meetings if they know their time will not be abused.

What tips do you have for preparing for more effective meetings?

12 Random Things I Learned from My Time with Rick Warren

I had an awesome opportunity a few weeks ago to spend a couple hours with Rick Warren and a dozen or so other pastors. Rick was in town to speak to a conference and Ed Stetzer arranged for him to meet with us. Obviously, this man is a mega-influencer just because of the book, the publicity he has received, and the impact he has in the church world and society. He is becoming a statesman for the church around the world.

It was a humbling experience. I didn’t choose the seat of honor (I promise), but I ended up sitting next to him in the meeting. Rick talked randomly and conversationally with us and I took notes as fast as I could. There are so many principles I took from our time, but here are 12 random things I gleaned from him: (Some are quotes…I put them in quotation marks…some are random points of information I heard from Rick’s talk.)

“We need to be reproducing churches. We need to reward multiplication of churches, not size of churches.”

“The model of Saddleback is to take people from “come and see” to “come and die”…as Jesus modeled.”

“You only listen to people you like. Be likable.”

Rick has the gift of faith. He sees things God wants to do that others can’t and has faith that it can happen. (That’s what leaders do!)

Until a few years ago, Rick read a book a day. He is a consummate learner.

Rick Warren is passionate about equipping pastors and leaders for the next generation and wants to spend the rest of his life equipping pastors.

“The ministry is not hills and valleys, but like a railroad passing through two extremes all the time.”

When he wrote “Purpose Driven Life” God told him “It’s not about you”. He never knew how many times he would be tested by that word from God.

Rick’s prayer every Saturday and Sunday before he preaches is, “Remind me that I belong to you…not this church…and this church does not belong to me”

“Jesus hung out with lepers…today that would be people with full blown AIDS”

“If you want your ministry to last, pastors need integrity, humility, and generosity.”

“Satan tempts us to use the strengths and gifts we have in a way that gives us glory instead of God.”

I realize Rick has his critics. Honestly, until you’ve sat where I sit and had a chance to hear his heart, I wouldn’t judge his ministry. He has some incredible plans for the next phase of his ministry and the influence of Saddleback Church in the years to come. I left more impressed than before I arrived. He’s the real deal.

Has the ministry of Rick Warren had an impact on you, your ministry or church?

Knowing Your Identity Helps Establish Your Influence

I once wanted to be known as the life of the party. I’m funny, quick-witted and actually kind of silly at times, but these days people seldom see the real me. My family does, and often the people I work with gets to see who I really am, but except for occasional bursts of randomness the rest of the world thinks I’m always serious, always thinking about something purposeful or profound. (Social media has helped with that some.) I had to come to the realization that I’m an introvert and, in crowded settings, I most often shut down the wild side.

Knowing who you are is the first step to becoming a person of influence. Knowing yourself, strengths and weaknesses, passions and goals, helps form your life direction. People that try too hard to be someone they are not end up living with disappointment.

I know now that, unless I am on stage or in a controlled setting, where I have time to prepare, I cannot wow a room. My influence will be used in other ways. That’s one reason blogging works for me.

The key for you to establish influence may be for you to stop trying to be everyone else and be who God created you to be.

Who are you? Have you become comfortable with how God has wired you?

How do you see your identity being used for influence…for a greater good?