Test Drive A Volunteer Opportunity

Wow! I love this idea. I need to clarify I had nothing to do with it and didn’t know about it until I read it on one of our staff member’s blog, but I’m so proud of our team! As you know, our church is growing rapidly. We are averaging over a 30% increase every week over this same time last year. With more new people comes more needs for volunteers.

Have you ever wanted to test out a volunteer position? Well this is your week at Grace Community Church. Join the fantastic people in Grace Acres or Cross Street this Sunday for a free “test drive” to see if you like it. Here’s the cool part…you will.

1. Lots of love
2. Meet new people
3. Feel appreciated
4. Serve God

You can’t beat that deal. See Katrina or Adam this Sunday and take a test drive.

Now we need to get the other ministry areas to play copycat!

What creative ways has your church recruited volunteers?

A Day In The Life Of A Pastor

Today was one of the hardest days in ministry that I’ve had in many months, yet it was a confirming day at the same time. Let me explain.

I emailed our staff Sunday night that this was an impossible week for me schedule wise. It is my last week of classes for my second master’s degree (YEA!), I am speaking at a conference this weekend, and I’m preaching Sunday, in addition to a full schedule of meetings. I was feeling overwhelmed before I started and wanted them to have advance warning that I would be stretched. (I’m not that much fun to be around during those times…some days.) This morning, after learning of my fifth crisis of the week and it being only Tuesday morning, I sent the staff another email. I had tried too hard to plan my schedule for the week and God had other plans. I needed their prayers.

That’s also when the confirmation occurred to me. This is what I’ve been called to do. I spent 20 plus years in business running from a call to vocational ministry, but today is an example of why I believe God placed a call on my life. I have, for whatever reason, the ability to help people wade through the crisis times of life. I have an ability to bring calm to some storms. As hard as those times are…as much as I’d love to run from them some days, this is what and who God called me to be.

This week is not over yet, and I’m hoping for some rest from the storms to prepare my heart for the next wave of trauma, but I’m also confident I’m doing what God has called me to do.

Here’s an important question I think God would have me ask at this point:

Are you doing what God has called you to do?

(I obviously can’t and wouldn’t share any specifics, but would you be willing to pray for some very hard situations right now?)

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!

Leadership Development for Dummies

Sorry if the title is crude, but leadership development may not be as difficult as we often make it out to be. One of the number one questions get about leadership is how to develop new leaders within an organization. The task seems overwhelming. Maybe it doesn’t have to be.

Leadership development begins with an understanding that the success of any organization depends greatly on the leader’s willingness to delegate responsibility to others in the organization. The attitude of top leadership is vitally important to developing new leaders.  The more a leader tries to control, the less likely others will be to help him or her accomplish the vision. Without people willing to follow a leader, there is no leadership development. (For you pastors who reject this idea, please read Exodus 18 or Acts 6…or just follow Jesus through the Gospels.)

I believe the best leadership development is accomplished by allowing others to gain experience by doing, therefore we must find ways to allow others to lead. The good news is that delegation can be simplified into two words.


Invest in others so they understand the vision of the organization and have the resources, skills and authority to accomplish their assignment.

Release them to add their strengths, creativity and energy to accomplishing the vision.

I realize this is a very simplified answer to a very complicated process, but perhaps simplifying leadership development is needed to ensure we tackle this necessary part of growing a healthy organization.

Have you made leadership development a more complicated process than it needs to be?

Are you holding other potential leaders back because you will not release them to lead?

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.

Catalyst One Day Chicago: Recap

I had a great time hanging with Nate Edmondson at Catalyst One Day Chicago. It was refreshing to be recharged and encouraged by two incredible leaders.

One thing I love about conferences is connecting with my online friends.  I was able to connect with online friends such as Michael Hyatt, Dave Ferguson, Jesse Phillips, and Jarrett Stevens.

I decided to add all my posts into one category. If you want to feel like you were there, click HERE and read these posts.

Have you ever attended Catalyst?  What conference do you most want to attend?

Catalyst One Day Chicago: Andy Stanley on Momentum in our Practices

Andy Stanley closed out Catalyst One Day Chicago with a talk about momentum in our programming with a talk titled “Don’t Be That Couch”.  The title is based on a metaphor that we often hold onto the old couch that is no longer in style or even functional because we are attached to it emotionally.

Whereas programming begins as an answer to a question, over time it becomes a part of organizational culture.

The problem is that as culture changes, we don’t change the answers.  Instead, we institutionalize our answers and eventually it is no longer a valid answer.

We must continue to be more committed to our mission than to our programming or our model.

The tendency is to become more committed to our programs than the reasons they were designed.  Over time, sustaining the model can become the mission.

The church is in decline because we have fossilized around very old practices and we aren’t willing to adapt to a changing culture.  Andy admitted this is his opinion, but he said, “You cannot pray yourself out of decline.  You must behave yourself out of decline. “

Questions to evaluate:

  • What have we fallen in love with that’s really not as effective as it used to be? – Sometimes we hold onto things just because we love them, but they aren’t working anymore.
  • Where are we manufacturing energy?- If the pastor can’t get excited about it anymore, why should the people?
  • What are our organizational assumptions? – We make assumptions about people and programs that aren’t even true, based on our own limited assumptions.

Andy said some of us need to walk back into our churches and make the changes we know need to be made.

I have heard this talk before, and some of you readers will have also, but this is a talk I need to hear every few years.

Here are my questions I’m considering:

What programs are no longer effective in your church or organization, but you are married to them, because they’ve become a part of your culture?

Is it time for them to go?

Are you willing to make the hard leadership decision to let them go?

(Do any of these apply to you?)