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?

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 Competitive Nature: Could It Be Used for Good in the Church?

There’s a competitive spirit in most of the leaders I know…even church leaders. I saw mine kick in while running recently…

It was 6 AM and already 76 degrees with near 90% humidity. I was casually running, listening to our former worship pastor and my friend Daniel Doss’s song Masterpiece, when out of the corner of my eye I sensed someone trying to pass me. I looked around and it was a girl! She’s the wife and sister of two good friends from college, and a dedicated athlete, so I may have normally been okay with her passing me, but something snapped in me. I exchanged a few cordial remarks and then I gradually picked up speed. I killed myself…and I suffered for it the next day…but I won! YEA!!!Not that it was a race, and I’m sure she could have taken me had she wanted to, but there was the thrill of victory when I pulled ahead on the road.

I have written about this concept before (read a previous posts HERE and HERE) and I know it creates controversy to talk about, but what if we used that competitive spirit in a way that helped grow the Kingdom? Is there a way to satisfy a natural tendency of many leaders and still glorify God? (Seriously, I’d love your input!)

As I reflect on Scripture, Jesus picked disciples who seemed to have a competitive spirit about them. (Consider Matthew 18:1-3 and Mark 10:35-45) Jesus didn’t condemn the disciples for entering a competition. He even acknowledged, “Whoever wants to be great”. Then He simply pointed them back to the correct way for a disciple of Jesus to compete: in service to others. Consider also Paul’s encouragement in 1 Corinthians 9:24.

Personally, I think we should not be as afraid or freaked out when the natural competitive nature rises. Instead of asking people to check that competitive spirit at the door (along with enthusiasm and excitement), I think we should learn to channel it towards energy, which honors God, serves others, and advances the mission He has given the church. The strange thing to me is that many will leave our churches on Sunday and experience the “thrill of victory” by watching a competitive sport, yet we tell them this is a wrong attitude to have in the church.

What if, in our desire to win, we strived to be great in service to others, excellent in the way we love the unloveable, or awesome in how we forgive the people who hurt us most? What if we competed with our natural tendencies towards sin…with a competitive desire to win? I know some will suggest I’m advocating pride, or even false humility, but every good thing has the potential to be corrupted if misused. What I’m really suggesting is that maybe our goal is not to do away with a natural tendency towards competition, but to figure out how to balance that with a command to be holy as He is holy.

(Plus, sometimes I just like to stir discussion!)

What do you think?

One Statement and One Question that Impacted My Life

Recently, actually in the same week, I had a statement made to me and a question asked of me that made me stop and reflect.   Does that ever happen to you?  Can one word or phrase someone says jump out at you and challenge you to think about your life for a moment?

Either way, here’s what happened to me and I thought it was important enough to share.

One Statement:

I have become friends with our local university president. Recently while we were having lunch, I talked to him about the possibility of getting my doctorate.  I just completed my second masters degree this past month.  He was encouraging, but questioned how I would do that and continue to pursue the big dreams God has me in the middle of right now.  His statement was:

Ron, at our age, we can’t afford to waste a moment of our time.

Wow!  Do you see the urgency in that statement?  He’s right.  What he didn’t know at the time is that I didn’t plan to quit everything else to pursue a doctorate, but the point is well taken.  I need to be more purposeful in my life these days than ever before.   I’m thinking…perhaps…that you do also!

One Question:

My son Nate has always been part of my personal accountability, whether I asked for it or not.  He’s home for the summer and recently while throwing a baseball he asked me this question:  Dad, are you going through a mid-life crisis?

He was referring to my increased passion lately for writing, networking, and connecting online.  He specifically wanted to know if I was building my platform for my own sense of accomplishment.  He wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting a big head.

I answered him by saying something such as, “Well, if it’s the kind that you’ve heard about, where a man grows his hair long again, gets a new moustache, a girlfriend or a motorcycle, then the answer is ‘No!’.”  The truth is, however, and what I went on to explain to him, is that I am more purposeful than I’ve ever been in my life.  For the same reasons my university president’s statement resonated with me so loudly, I want to be even more purposeful these days than ever before in my life.  If that’s a mid-life crisis…so be it!

What about you? Why are you doing what you are doing?

Don’t Quit Your God-Given Vision Before It’s Time

There is a sobering story in Numbers 32:1-5

The tribe of Reuben wanted to bail on the rest of the Israelites.  Read the story for yourself.

  • They wanted to take the easy way out…
  • They wanted to rest on their current success…
  • The journey ahead seemed too much for them…

Perhaps that’s your story today.  The journey has gotten much harder than you expected and the days ahead seem unbearable.  Some days you would just rather quit trying.

  • Are you tired of pushing forward?
  • Are you burned out…satisfied…comfortable…afraid…confused?
  • Are you ready to quit?

If you know the job you’ve been called to do isn’t finished yet…

Don’t quit…

Find the courage, recharge your batteries, raise up some other leaders…

…But whatever it takes…move forward…

Is that your story?  Are you tempted to give up? Leave a comment and others and I will pray for you…

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?

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.

Ted Talks: Paul Romer’s radical idea: Charter cities

This video from Ted blows my mind. I love big dreams…I love mind-stretching exercises…this one helps me think bigger than I might normally think. It’s 18 minutes long, but it’s worth watching. Whether you agree with this line of thinking or solution to global problems is not the issue here, but feel free to share them. I’m sharing this because I love how big Paul Romer is thinking.

What do you think? Will this work? More than that, does it make you think bigger?

What To Do When Questioning Your Abilities

Next time you question your abilities to pursue your God-given vision , consider the story of Moses:

Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Exodus 4:10-13

Moses was used of God to do incredible things for God’s glory, yet Moses, more than many leaders I know, questioned his own abilities. He lacked confidence and would have probably never volunteered for the job. His reasons might have been:

  • Past failure
  • Fear
  • The task was overwhelming
  • He was intimidated by the Asker
  • He felt unqualified

What’s your excuse for not obeying the vision God has placed in your heart? Is it really a valid reason?
Perhaps you need to do as Moses did…walk by faith, not by sight.