NO Minor Roles in Ministry: The Encouragement of a Little Boy

I was encouraged recently reading a passage in 1 Samuel 20:18-23, 35-42. If you know the story, it’s about David’s relationship with King Saul and about his friendship with Jonathan.

These specific verses deal with the question of whether the king wanted to kill David. Jonathan, the king’s son and David’s best friend, agreed to a test to discern the king’s heart. As a sign to David, Jonathan would shoot arrows into the field where David was hiding and a little boy would retrieve them. If he shot the arrows close to the boy, David was safe. If he shot the arrows far beyond the boy, David was in danger.

It’s a great story and I hope you will read it again. My purpose of this post is not the main theme of the story; my focus is the little boy. We tend to read this story for the purposes of David and Jonathan, and while they are certainly central characters in God’s story, so was the little boy.

This little boy was innocent in the matter…he was just doing what he was asked to do. The boy apparently had no idea the importance of the role he was playing at the time in protecting the future king of the Israelites. The little boy, however, was a kingdom builder without knowing it. God used Him in a mighty way, just for being willing to follow through on an assignment.

Have you stopped lately to consider the importance you play in God’s story? You may see your role as minor…perhaps you work in the parking lot ministry…you help with set up or tear down each week…you shake hands…you sweep the floor…you push buttons so another person can talk…you invite your friends to attend church with you…you offer to, and really do, pray for people. It may seem “unimportant” to you, but in God’s eyes, you are playing a vital role in His Kingdom.

Regardless of what you think of your abilities or position, you have the potential to be an important part of carrying out God’s plan through your local church. Most churches couldn’t do what they do without the sacrifices of people like you. You have opportunities the pastors never have. You have value. You have impact. You can advance the cause of Christ, just through your obedience.

Be encouraged with your service!

Post-Easter Evaluation: Don’t Miss It!

Most growing churches will have incredible stories to share today about their Easter services yesterday. At Grace Community Church, we are still overwhelmed with all God did with us.

In addition to the normal celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, I love the energy that Easter brings to a church.  That energy, if channeled correctly, can fuel a church beyond one day per year.

The problem I see with many churches, however, is that they stop the work put into the Easter services a few days too early.  Many churches close the church doors on Easter Sunday, begin the celebration of all God did and take a much deserved rest, but they leave some of the best work of Easter’s momentum undone.  One of the most important parts of effective Easter services that last beyond one day is to spend time evaluating after Easter Sunday.

Today and/or this week is the best time to evaluate. Your church staff/volunteers should be asking questions such as:

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t work?
  • What did we miss?
  • Where did we hit home runs?
  • How could it have been better?
  • What follow-up with visitors do we need to do now?
  • What changes would we make next year?
  • What did we do that had the greatest impact?
  • What did we do that had little or no impact?
  • What groups of people did God bring to the church? (Many times, you’ll see patterns…lots of single moms, young couples, young professionals, etc.)

Don’t close the books on this year’s Easter services until you evaluate.  This time next year, you will forget the answers to many of these questions.  Ask the questions, record the answers, then use them to make your church better all year and save that information to improve even more next Easter.

How does your church evaluate Easter services?

Leaders Lead…Even Without a Position of Leadership

I am fascinated by the story in 1 Samuel 23:1-5.

David saved a city, without any assigned position of leadership.  Sure, he had been anointed to be king, but he wasn’t yet “sworn in” to office.  He was a king in waiting.

It reminds me of an important principle about leaders.  Real leaders don’t need to have a position to make a difference.

David’s first leadership assignment was self-appointed, when he went after Goliath, because his people were too afraid to act.

Leaders lead because there is some cause worth leading, no one else is taking leadership, and they are willing to risk their personal comfort and reputation to see it through to completion.

What cause do you see that needs championing?  Has God called you to be a leader?  Do you feel the urge to lead?

Then start leading…That’s what leaders do…

Balancing Your Strengths and Weaknesses

I have posted many times before about my attempt at discovering my strengths and weaknesses. The older I get the more I realize things I’m not good at doing. This discovery process has led me to what I believe is the perfect combination on a team:

If we can partner people highly skilled at creating ideas…

…With people highly skilled at implementing them…

We can accomplish anything together.

It’s rare to find one person equally good at both. Not always is the same person who creates the idea the right one to accomplish it.  I’m an idea generator, but I’m not always a great idea implementer. I love big visions, but I miss details. I love to see big dreams realized, so I often push people too hard with new ideas, rather than helping them complete the last idea. While I don’t believe I’m wrong for being an idea generator, it would be wrong for me not to recognize where my strengths end and my weakness begins.  I know I must surround myself with people skilled at making and implementing systems and plans to accomplish them.

Great idea creators sometimes need to be willing to hand off the implementation to someone skilled in doing so.  Otherwise, some of the best ideas never see the light of day.

Consider these questions:

Which are you? Have you tried to be both in your organization?

Do you need to partner with others, give them freedom to stretch you, and allow progress to move forward?

What weakness do you need to balance with someone else’s strength?

Be willing to admit your weaknesses and surround yourself with lots of people wired opposite of you!

10 Questions With Leader Jon Acuff: Stuff Christians Like

Jon Acuff is a funny, intelligent, mega-blogging leader at Stuff Christians Like. When I originally started this series I honestly overlooked some of the best leaders, because I falsely limited myself to people that have positions in a church or ministry. Jon has one of the most read blogs in the church world today. If Jon posts something, others instantly take notice. I call that influence, and if leadership is about influence, Jon is one of the best.

You can buy Jon’s new Stuff Christians Like book HERE and follow him on Twitter HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader Jon Acuff:

When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

Since the third grade when a teacher laminated a book of poetry I wrote I knew I wanted to be a writer. I thought she had published it and I really wanted to keep writing from that moment on.

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

I was a mailman one summer. It was hard. I was pretty lazy at the time and not very disciplined. I made that job a lot harder than it needed to be with my complete lack of focus. I would say realizing the self created frustration of that summer helped me make smarter decisions in my current job.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

I would say my dad. In addition to one on one leadership, I got to watch him start a Southern Baptist Church in New England. His approach to what was a really difficult challenge really shaped how I approach things.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

I would say “The War of Art” by Pressfield.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Creative. Motivational. Funny

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Ability to start new projects.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Ability to finish old projects.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Following through on commitments that have lost the shine and are now down into the grind. I stink at completing things and getting others to complete things.

What is one misconception about your position you think people may have?

People sometimes think I write Stuff Christians Like full time, but I have a full time job and only get to spend about an hour a day on it.

If you could give one piece of advise to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Determine a time to do the thing you are dedicated to and then do it. Don’t argue with yourself about whether you will do it. Just say, “Every morning at 6, I will do this thing.” And then do it.

Are there other leaders I’ve been missing? To read all the interviews I’ve done in this series, click HERE.

4 Benefits of Empowering Leaders for the Organization

I recently posted on the need for leaders to delegate and some steps to doing so. (Read those posts HERE and HERE) Following this post, I asked a supposed leader in an organization for a decision from his organization. It appeared to be a minor decision. It certainly would be in our organization. I have held leadership positions in larger organizations, and it would have been a minor decision in either of those places. This leader, however, had to pass the decision up a chain of command. We eventually received a yes answer, but it took a great deal of time through several layers of people to get there. By the time we got the answer, I didn’t need it anymore. (True story.)

It reminded me of the benefits of empowering leaders in an organization.

Giving leaders the power to make a decision does four things:

1. It expedites good service for the customer.
2. It encourages leadership development within the organization.
3. It increases the productivity of the organization.
4. It keeps from frustrating customers/clients like me.

Does your organization need to release power to other leaders?What benefits do you see from doing so?

10 Questions with Leader Dave Ferguson – Community Christian Church

Dave Ferguson is a pastor and mentor to hundreds of church planters around the globe, including me. He is the visionary for New Thing Network, a church planting network.  His church, Community Christian Church, is a pioneer in the multi-site movement.  Dave is an influencer, a teacher, and a visionary leader.  I appreciate his responsiveness to those of us that desire to learn from him.  I also appreciate his commitment to his family. The one meeting I had schedule with him had to be canceled because of a school program for one of his children. I admired that in him. He has befriended my son in Chicago. I previously wrote about that HERE.

Dave’s new book written with his brother Jon, Exponential:  How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement, will debut at the Exponential Conference next month. (A great conference!)  You can follow Dave on Twitter HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader Dave Ferguson:

When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally?  If not, what did you want to do?

Of course not!  I was supposed to be 6’5” and a professional basketball player.  And since I never got drafted….

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

When I was in high school, I drove an ice cream truck.  True!  You know, the small white trucks driving around your neighborhood with the music playing loudly to get kids attention (and their money!). First, I learned basic business principles, which have been helpful in the corporate side of running a church. Selling ice cream was like having my own business because I paid a small fee for the truck and then bought the ice cream from corporate and then sold it at a mark up.  Secondly, I learned to be creative with no resources.  I made every Thursday “FREE ICE CREAM DAY”.  On that day which ever kid got to my truck first would get something free of his/her choice.  Of course it brought whole bunch more kids running and I made a lot more sales.  I did other creative things and on July 4th I broke the record for single-day sales of any ice cream salesman in Sam’s Ice Cream history. If I ever look for another job that is definitely going on my resume!

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

I think it has to be my parents.  Before I understood that God believed in me, they believed in me.  And before I ever felt grace, they were gracious to me.  Something that is unique about COMMUNITY and the culture of NewThing is that we assume that you can do it and we believe in you implicitly.  I didn’t know how unique that was until later on in life.  I think Jon and I got that from my parents and we have passed it on.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

I will name two.  First, Victor Frankel’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” is a great story and philosophical work that reminds us that what people need most is hope.  Secondly, Carl George’s “Prepare Your Church for the Future” gave us the foundation to become a reproducing church and dream of a reproducing movement.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?




What is your greatest strength in leadership?

According to Strengthfinders my #1 strength is “Futuristic”.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

I have to be careful because there are times my vision can outstretch our finances and I need people around me to make sure that we don’t commit to more than we can handle financially.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

When you have to help someone find another place to lead or serve and they don’t see it the same way as you – that is really hard.

What is one misconception about your work you think people may have?

Some people have a misconception that COMMUNITY is a typical multi-site mega-church with a large facility that has lots of “bells and whistles” as the hub.  Not true.  We are a reproducing church with eleven locations in all kinds of spaces with some sites as large as 2500 in average attendance and other sites as small as 150 in attendance.

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Do a leadership residency.  Find a church or a leader that is doing what you one day want to do (or as close as you can find) and do whatever it takes (even if you have to pay them!) to spend 6 months to a year doing a leadership residency in that place with that leader.  That kind of apprenticeship is invaluable!

What inspires you about Dave and his influence on the church?

Saturday Dream Stretch: Local Church Vision

I have enjoyed the dream series the past few Saturdays. Thank you to all those that have participated in these posts.

Today I have a fun dream stretch. I am curious what some of these dreams will be. At my church, Grace Community Church, we are seeing God do amazing things. This post was inspired a result of that activity of God.  Somehow, I believe we have only scratched the surface of all God dreams for us to do.  (I’d love our people to participate in this dream stretch, as well as other churches.) This dream is more specific than last week’s world problem dream stretch. I want to hear your dream for the local church.

Here is today’s Saturday Dream Stretch:

If money, time, or volunteers were no limitation, what would you have your church be able to do? What dream do you have for your local church?

Go ahead….DREAM BIG! I don’t believe for a second you can out dream God.  As with previous dream stretches, please comment here on the blog, rather than to me through Facebook or Twitter, so everyone can read your response.

Are there any other dreams you’d like me to consider for a Saturday post?

You can still participate in past posts with the related posts links below this one.

10 Questions With Leader Jenni Catron – Crosspoint Church

I consider Jenni Catron a friend and ministry partner. Jenni serves as the Executive Director at Crosspoint Church in Nashville.  The church’s proximity to our church helps me learn from their success.  Jenni is a hard-working, genuine leader.  I love the transparency she shares through her blog and the intentionality she brings to her ministry.  I am fully convinced that much of the success of Crosspoint is due to Jenni’s leadership.  You can follow Jenni on Twitter also.

Here are 10 questions with leader Jenni Catron:

When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally?  If not, what did you want to do?

I grew up attending very small rural churches so the idea of a role like the one I serve in now never even occurred to me.  I thought people who worked in church were either pastors or secretaries.  While I was very involved as a volunteer doing everything from leading worship to running the children’s ministry to speaking at youth group, it didn’t occur to me to pursue ministry vocationally.

I actually had my sights set on the music business.  I think somewhere around middle school I learned about the Christian music business and I started pursuing a career in that industry.

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

When I was 15 I applied for my very first job at our local ice cream shop.  The owner of the store really took me under her wing and gave me huge opportunities and responsibilities.  By 16 I was named manager of the store and directly managed 3 other employees.  Little did I know the leadership and management lessons I was learning with that opportunity.  I’m incredibly grateful to Bonnie who invested in me in a huge way!

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

I’ve been privileged to work with some amazing leaders both in the music business and in my role at Cross Point, but one of the greatest leadership influences for me has been my friend Kat.  Kat and I were in our early twenties working together at ForeFront Records.  Both of us recognized our need to develop as leaders and so we started meeting every Friday for lunch to read and discuss various leadership books.  Those lunches were instrumental in helping me process my leadership strengths and weaknesses.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

The first book that Kat and I discussed together was John C. Maxwell’s book “The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day”.  This book is still one of my favorite leadership books.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?


What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Oh man, this is a tough one.  I think my strength in leadership is in my ability to “put feet to vision”.  I’m a second chair leader.  I think I’m at my best when I’m working alongside a visionary leader and helping that person put structure and plan around the vision.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

My greatest weakness is my impatience.  My driven/focused nature causes me to move fast – oftentimes so fast that I forget to engage the people around me.  I can easily put task before people and I have to constantly evaluate how I’m doing in this area.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

The hardest thing I have to do in leadership is self-management.  There is always another email to respond to, another task on the to do list, another conversation to have, another blog post to write, another event to plan, etc.  Giving myself permission to disconnect and rejuvenate is very difficult for me.

What is one misconception about your position you think people in your church may have?

That’s a great question.  I think sometimes people assume I only care about numbers, systems, details – the business of the church.  I love ministry.  I love seeing life change.  I love knowing that by helping us steward our resources, people, facilities, etc I’m helping to create environments that allow ministry and life change to happen.

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

I would encourage young leaders to seize the moment, whatever situation you are in.  If you don’t feel like you have the leadership responsibilities that you would like, take the time to evaluate, study and learn from the leaders around you.  Take notes on every leadership situation you observe.  Someday you’ll be in the same situation.  Leadership is a journey.  Make it a point to learn every step of the way!

Thanks Jenni for your work and ministry and for sharing from your experience.

Who else should I attempt to interview?

4 “Easy” Steps To Delegating

Yesterday I posted about the principle that letting go of responsibilities, even for the control freak leader like me, actually improves the organization.  You can read that post HERE.

Obviously, when you address the principle of letting go, which could also be called delegation, it opens a huge question for those wired as completers.  The question is: HOW? How do you let go of responsibility when you are wired so heavily towards not doing so?

With that question in mind, here are 4 “Easy” Steps to Delegation:

Identify – Find something that would be better delegated, either because you aren’t as skilled as others, don’t have adequate time to commit to it, or have lost interest.

Match – Find the right person/s for the responsibility based on passion, experience, and follow through capabilities.  This can be volunteer or paid, but pick people that will do what they say they will do and that you trust, otherwise you will constantly be looking over their shoulder. (Please don’t say there is no one to trust in your organization. If that’s the case, you either need to change organizations or change the leader…just saying.)

Release – This is the “letting go” part. Few leaders really do this well.  Knowing this is the difficult part, you should read THIS POST and THIS POST and THIS POST for more on this process.  You must give up your right to control.

Follow Up – If you are the overall leader, even when you delegate you have some responsibility.  Set a reminder on your calendar to periodically follow up with the person, but stay out of their way as they complete the assignment.

I realize it’s not easy for some to let go of (delegate) responsibility.  It comes with discipline and practice.   One way to improve at this is to consider the overall purposes and goals of the organization, recognizing that they can better be attained through delegation, and allow accomplishing them to be the leader’s principal responsibility.  When the drive towards completing is aimed towards a bigger vision goal that includes delegating, letting go to achieve greater success receives more motivation.

How are you at delegating?  What tips do you have to be better at letting others take over some of your responsibility?