Results of Brainstorming At Our Staff Retreat

Yesterday I posted about the need for a church to plan for the future.  You can read that post HERE. In that post I shared three questions our staff worked through at our last extended staff retreat at Grace Community Church.

The questions were:

  1. Missing Holes
    What needs developing?
  2. Dying Momentum
    What needs tweaking or killing?
  3. Gaining Momentum
    What needs energy/additional resources right now?

Here are some bullet points these questions led us to think through.  While I realize you will not understand some of them, they will help to see the types of thoughts generated with this type of brainstorming.   (Thanks to Christy Crosby on our staff for these notes.)

Missing Holes


  • Recruiting Volunteers
  • Surveys
  • Networking
    • Mentoring


    • On Stage (in message, announcements, worship leaders, videos)
    • Bulletins
    • Grace Weekly
    • Website
    • Blogs, Facebook
    • Flyer/Handout


    • Overlapping
    • An update at the beginning of the week of what is coming, a briefing email?


    • Creating an atmosphere for people to fellowship on Sunday mornings
    • Are we friendly on the surface but hard to connect with
    • Ask Me? button

    Dying Energy

    • Dead Zone in the Hall, after service starts
    • Set up & Tear Down
    • Core Momentum
    • Dream session?

    Gaining Momentum

    • Gathering – excitement is back
    • Relevant Student Ministry– Camps, Remix
    • Cross Street Live-Promotion in Clarksville Family, Billboards
    • Evangelism/Baptism Effort – Re-enforcing it in EVERY area
    • Community Presence – Rivers and Spires, Operation Serve
    • Stickier – Not as big of a back door
    • Credibility – In community and in the church circles
    • Volunteers – Ready to invest in other volunteers, training
    • Community Groups – Learning from each other

    Of course, the key now will be actually implementing some of this, but that will need to be the subject of another post.

    Lithuania or Bust!

    125px-Flag_of_Lithuania.svglogoTomorrow morning Cheryl and I and another couple leave for Lithuania.  For over a year Grace Community Church has worked with City Church in Klaipeda, Lituania.  (I love a church that has a website in multiple languages!)  I talk regularly with the pastor via Skype and Tokbox and we share ministry stories, struggles and victories.  The people of our church share the same struggles as the people of City Church and therefore we are able to help each other.  My pastor friend Saulius and his wife Sanna will be our host and I will have the opportunity to preach in their church next Sunday.  We will be dreaming of ways our two churches can broaden our partnership.  I love investing in other pastors and learning from them and this will be a sweet time of fellowship without the barrier of distance.

    If you want to read more about Lithuania click HERE and HERE.

    I have programmed some blog posts for the next few days and I hope to have opportunity to post some from on site, but in case I do not have time or access, at least you know where I am.

    Just curious, will you have to look Lithuania up on a map to see where it is?

    Are You Planning For Your Church’s Future?

    Where is your church going in the next five years? What will it look like it ten years? If nothing changes, will it still be as equipped to reach the community around you?

    If we aren’t careful, church becomes a Sunday-to-Sunday routine process and we look up someday from the weekly grind and realize we never reached our potential. For most churches, when one Sunday is over they are planning for the next Sunday. The church addresses the ministry needs of the week, but little time is spent planning for the months and years to come for the church. The monotony of a repeating schedule can often replace long-term planning.

    (Because every time I do a post like this I hear this comment I know that at this point one of my readers (maybe two) is thinking, “God is in charge of us reaching our potential”, and it is at this point that I have to remind said reader that planning exists throughout the Bible and in fact, God seems critical of those who fail to plan.)

    This post is just a simple reminder to steal some time from the weekly grind to plan a few steps ahead in the life of the church. Think through issues such as worship, discipleship, staffing, space needs, volunteer recruitment, and community and world involvement. In addition to weekly impromptu meetings and our bi-weekly all staff meetings, our staff gets together three times a year in an extended staff retreat. We have found this process to be where major initiatives and ideas originate and gain energy.

    At our most recent staff retreat at Grace Community Church, after we went looked again at the Growth/Maintenance/Development issue again (Read a post about that process HERE), we considered these three questions to help us think through some critical planning issues for our church:

    1. Missing Holes
      What needs developing?
    2. Dying Momentum
      What needs tweaking or killing?
    3. Gaining Momentum
      What needs energy/additional resources right now?

    You may consider trying this with your staff. If you are the only staff member, recruit a few key people in your church to help you plan.

    Tomorrow I will post some of the bullet point that came as a result of these three discussions. If you need more help with these issues, email me at

    Let us learn from you.  How does your church plan for the future?

    I Am Glad To Be In A Man’s Man Kind of Church

    snake e-mailOne of my good friends is a man’s-man kind of guy. My friend’s name is Dirt and the name says a lot about this guy. He is a professional hunter and fisherman. He actually owns an International shooting supply company, has led professional hunting and fishing expeditions around the world and has a well known hunting show on several cable stations. (If he were a Bible character he would be a Jacob or a Peter.)

    What impresses me with a guy like Dirt is that in addition to being a tough guy, he loves his wife, his two daughters and his grandchildren. Cheryl and I have traveled on the mission field with Dirt and Connie King, and underneath that rough exterior, that frankly would intimidate me if I didn’t know him, is the heart of a great guy who would do anything he could to help someone in need. Whenever he is not traveling with his television show he is sitting in church and is one of my biggest encouragers every week he is there.

    I like that kind of guy. We see it in our brave soldiers who fearlessly defend our nation. We see it in the dozens of hunters and fishermen in our church. We see it in the football and baseball players and coaches. We see it in the guy who works an office job fighting his way through the corporate world or the factory worker who sweats 8 hours a day to feed his family. One thing I am so thankful for at Grace Community Church is that we have attracted a lot of men’s men who are tough outside, but inside they have tender hearts for God and their families. I love when a man leads his family to church. Of course, I am thankful for all our ladies who come even when their husbands don’t, but when  man leads the way his family will almost always follow.

    I hope we are always that kind of church. Happy Father’s Day!

    An Encouragement To Be A Dad (Happy Father’s Day!)

    1013952_55377813Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Psalm 128:3 NIV

    The role of a father is so important in the home. God bless the fathers of the world today!

    I have shared this story many times, but a friend told me once about an incident at her daughter’s house. Her son-in-law was really excited about reading the “Left Behind” series of fiction novels. One night he was so anxious to finish the latest release that he stayed up most of the night. Seated comfortably in his favorite chair, his back was to the rest of the house. The first time he got up was well after midnight. He was startled to stumble over one of his sons. His son was sleeping behind his chair, just to be close to “Daddy”.

    What an impact a father has on his family. I can honestly say I have never met a woman who would not faithfully serve the Lord if her husband did. Most women I know, even very independent women, welcome their husband assuming the spiritual leadership of the home. Women are freer to serve Christ and be fruitful for the Kingdom when they have a supportive husband who surrounds her with unconditional love.

    Children love to spend time with their fathers. They long for male attention, male interaction, and a father’s approval. One of the greatest gifts I can give to my boys is to simply spend time with them in the backyard. They love for me just to pass a ball with them. It is these times that I believe is molding their character into being godly young men.

    Fathers, please, don’t neglect your greatest responsibility. I know the world is demanding much from you these days. I know you are tired from the pressures and stress of life, but your family’s health depends so greatly on the important role you play.

    3 Questions To Help Answer Difficult Issues

    I received a call recently from someone trying to make a difficult decision. I seem to get those kinds of questions frequently. Usually the dilemma a person is facing has no direct, easy answer and the exact answer is not always clearly spelled out in the Bible.

    • The one who has to decide whether to risk losing a friendship to do the right thing…
    • The girl who knows she is in the wrong relationship, but can’t decide whether to let it go…
    • The person who is ready to give up on their marriage…
    • The person working for a boss he or she knows is being dishonest…
    • The person who did something wrong, did not get caught, but wonders if they should confess…

    You know the type….
    In fact you’ve probably been there…

    Usually I do not give the person an answer; either because I do not know the right answer or because I have learned that even if I did he or she might resent the answer I give them. (I wrote a post about that principle HERE) Even though they have asked for my opinion, the person needs to own the decision they make, based on what is in their heart and their personal inclination. I can and will share truth with them, but the reality is that I cannot effectively lead people where they do not want to go.

    Through years of counseling I have landed on the following three questions that have proven helpful to give people as a framework to use when working with these type decisions. Often these questions will guide an individual towards the best decision personally without pressure from me. They are more likely to follow a decision they reached on their own.

    What can you do?

    God’s grace is amazing. Even when we make a wrong decision, God works all things for good. (Proverbs 16:9) When a person understands this truth they actually are more open to making the wisest decision. The kindness of God does lead to repentance.

    What should you do?

    This is obviously a more difficult question. With this question the person is forced to consider the issue of right and wrong. They should think through this concerning what God would have them to do and what would be best in the short-term and long-term for all parties involved. The separation between the first two questions often helps people work through the correct answer for their situation.

    What will you do?

    This is the biggest question, because it forces the person to consider making the best decision as opposed to the popular, comfortable or easy decision. When a person answers this question it helps them develop a resolve in their heart to carry through on their commitment.

    I give these questions to people and usually let them work through them on their own, at least at first. If they need to talk through them I will do that after they have wrestled to answer them personally at first.

    Have you had times when you had to make a difficult decision and could not decide what to do? How did you solve your dilemma?

    Strengths Finder 2.0 a Great Team-Building Tool

    strengths-finder-2-200Strengths Finder 2.0 has proven already to be a great tool for my leadership. We are going to use this instrument with our staff in the coming months.  I have been using Myers-Briggs Type Instrument for years and still plan to, but this is now another tool I plan to use to help build a healthy team.

    Once you take the online assessment you are emailed your strengths.  The following are a summary of my strengths according to this indicator are:

    Relator describes your attitude toward your relationships. In simple terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know. You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people—in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends—but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends. You are comfortable with intimacy.

    Command leads you to take charge. Unlike some people, you feel no discomfort with imposing your views on others. On the contrary, once your opinion is formed, you need to share it with others.

    The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity.

    Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day—workdays, weekends, vacations.

    Your Analytical theme challenges other people: “Prove it. Show me why what you are claiming is true.” In the face of this kind of questioning some will find that their brilliant theories wither and die. For you, this is precisely the point. You do not necessarily want to destroy other people’s ideas, but you do insist that their theories be sound.

    Have you taken the Strengths Finder assessment?  Feel free to share your strengths here.

    The Caution of Working with Friends

    I believe in being friends with the people with whom I work.  I consider the people on our staff to be friends. I hope we never hire anyone I could not also claim as a friend.  Part of building a healthy team environment is getting to know team members and building close relationships…friends.

    That is the disclaimer statement, because this post is not about working with friends.  Actually this post is the opposite. This post is a warning against working with friends; especially close friends.  Well maybe not a warning, but definitely a caution.

    Here are a few cautions when working with or supervising friends:

    • Sometimes leaders allow the vision to be sacrificed to protect a friend, but that approach is never good for the organization or the friend. Relationships should not get in the way of accomplishing vision.
    • Friendships create a fine line between what is fair for the organization and what is fair for the friend.
    • Close friendships within an organization can sometimes cause others in the organization to feel left out of private conversations or inside jokes, creating tension in the working environment.
    • When a friend is disciplined or fired it can be difficult for the friend who stays with the organization to continue respecting leadership.
    • When a friend is under performing many leaders have a harder time addressing the problem if that worker is a friend.
    • Friends sometimes assume unqualified job security.  Some leaders are afraid to fire a person if that person is a friend, but again that approach is never good for the organization or the friend.  There are times when a friend is no longer a good fit for the position or even for the organization.
    • If a friend no longer is a fit for the organization and is asked to leave, it can become more difficult to maintain the friendship.

    As I said at the start, I love working with friends.  I would not want it any other way.  It is important, however, that friends recognize the risk of working together, knowing that the vision of the organization, at least in the work environment, trumps the friendship.  The bottom line is that doing the best thing for the organization often involves making hard decisions. Leaders should not be held back because of the level of difficulty.

    I realize that even this post will create division among readers. Some readers will say that friendships are more important than the vision, but I would disagree.  If the vision is a worthy goal then the vision is worth protecting and friendships should not get in the way.

    Have you seen close friendships affect the work environment in a negative way?  Would you rather you did or did not work with friends?

    Great Things Often Come In Small Packages

    1187603_98883611Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.  Psalm 117

    The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117. I have often wondered what was going through the Psalmist’s mind when he recorded his thoughts for this Psalm.  Was he finished?  Did he get interrupted?  Was there something else he wanted to say?  Was he satisfied with his work?  (Obviously God was.)  This shortest chapter has huge meaning.  If we were to memorize just these two verses and implement them in our life, I think it may make a difference in our perspective on the world and the situations in which we find ourselves.

    We often think that for something to be grand it must be huge, but that is not the complete definition of the word grand. (For a definition look HERE.)  Shortest or smallest does not always indicate lack of importance.  Many times it is the smallest detail that determines success or failure with a project.  The shortest moments of time can often cause the greatest and the most horrific life changes.  In my life the shortest words of encouragement have often had the biggest impact.

    Are you concerning yourself with the small things that matter most?

    The Value of Facebook and Twitter Combined



    I love the combination of Twitter and Facebook. Now that Facebook has usernames it will be easier to connect the two. I use the two differently, but both have value in my ministry.

    Here are some of the ways I use the two:


    • Twitter allows me to make quick connections/network with people who encourage, inspire or teach me.
    • Twitter allows me to get things out quickly that I am processing in my mind. As someone who is always processing, this is a needed mind dump at times.
    • Twitter updates my Facebook, which makes gives me two platforms to connect with people at once.
    • Twitter connects me to people I would never meet otherwise.
    • I have written more about Twitter HERE and HERE.
    • If we are not connected by Twitter find me HERE.


    • Facebook has become the most frequently used way that my church stays in touch with me. People feel they know me personally because of my consistent updates. That opens the door for more personal contact via Facebook emails.
    • I get to know my church better through Facebook. It helps me remember names, connect faces to people and I actually feel a part of people’s lives that I only see once a week.
    • Facebook allows people to see my family, connect with Cheryl, and realize that I am just a real person. With a large church it keeps me from seeming like just a person who shows up on stage to speak and I believe people listen most to people they trust and feel they know personally.
    • Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with friends I have not seen in years. I am getting to know them all over again as well as meeting their families all while online. I almost feel that I am in high school or college again at times.
    • If we are not connected by Facebook find me HERE.

    I love the two social mediums working together.  How do you incorporate the two?  What other tools do you use to connect with people?