Monday, October 23, 2006


He meant it as a compliment (I think). He caught me after the service and said, "The difference between CTK and [name of prominent church in town] is that you don't know what you're doing." I could tell by how he said it that he was actually happy to find a church that wasn't quite so sure about quite so many things.

I actually think it’s healthy for a ministry to not come off quite so certain. When things are too buttoned down it has the adverse affect of causing people who are undone to wonder whether its really true, and if it is true, whether or not they belong. It also puts undue pressure on leaders to keep things in a “together” state. While you may have it together at the moment, when the time comes that you don’t you will be tempted toward “keeping up impressions” instead of “keeping it real.” Once you get into impression management, you fall into a spiral where energy goes into worrying about how we’re being received, instead of whether people are experiencing and expressing the grace of God.

Here are some ways I would suggest you keep it real, and come off a little less sure:

1. Lead from a point of weakness, not strength. As a leader, you set the tone. The Apostle Paul advised boasting in weaknesses so the that God’s power can rest on you. Spice your teaching with phrases like....

• Here’s some thing I’m still working on....
• You might not know this, but I am not a very nice person without Christ....
• I wish I was more like some of you....
• I have failed in areas of my life where I never thought I would....
• Here are some things that God is trying to teach me....

2. Let your dogmatism rise and fall with the clarity of scripture. Don’t be unclear where the scripture is clear. But don’t press your point of view quite so hard, if it is really just opinion. Let people know, “This is my opinion, but I could be wrong.”

3. Don’t be the hero of every story you tell. If you come off looking great in every story you tell, you leave a faulty impression that you rise above all challenges. Tell some stories where you were the priest or Levite in the story, instead of the good Samaritan.

4. Spice freely with qualifying words like sometimes, often, occasionally. Here are some examples:

• We are trying to do the best job we can in kids ministry....instead of....We are doing a great job in kids ministry.
• At CTK we are attempting to reach out to unchurched people....instead of....At CTK we are reaching unchurched people.
• Most of the times when I go to my small group, I come away refreshed....instead of....I always come away refreshed when I go to my small group.

5. Reframe mistakes with optimism. Martin Seligman, psychologist, suggests that a leader convey learned optimism by learning to speak in a particular way about the negative events of their lives:

· This event is not permanent. We can bounce back from this.
· This event is not pervasive. Though we may have failed in this one area, we are not failing in every area.
· This event is not to be taken personally. No one should be labeled or punished.

Counterintuitively, in this story it is the church leader who is most tolerant of mistakes and failure who will be the most likely to succeed. At CTK our goal is not to impress people into the kingdom of God. Our mission is to love them into the kingdom, to accept them into the kingdom, to forgive them into the kingdom.

Oswald Chambers

Gracious Uncertainty
…it has not yet been revealed what we shall be…-1 John 3:2

Our natural inclination is to be so precise- trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next-that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We think that we must reach some predetermined goal, but that is not the nature of the spiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. Consequently, we do not put down roots. Our common sense says, "Well, what if I were in that circumstance?" We cannot presume to see ourselves in any circumstance in which we have never been.

Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life-gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. When we become simply a promoter or a defender of a particular belief, something within us dies. That is not believing God - it is only believing our belief about Him. Jesus said, "…unless you…become as little children…" (Matthew 18:3). The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled. But when we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy. Jesus said, "…believe also in Me" (John 14:1), not, "Believe certain things about Me". Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in-but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him.


One of the more critical junctions in the growth of a CTK Worship Center is the move from offering one weekly worship service, to two. Multiple services are a critical strategy for growth.

Why Multiple Services?

1. Multiple services create an opportunity for DISTRIBUTED growth. This is a principle we use in small group ministry. The fastest way for a church to grow by 10% a year is to break the church into groups of 10 and have every small group reach out to one new person this next year. In other words, by distributing the responsibility for outreach on a micro scale, instead of macro scale, it gets more people involved in the mission and is much more attainable. In the same way, by having three services, if each service reaches out to 10 new people this year, the church will grow by 30, and yet 10 new people is really very attainable for each of the services.

2. Multiple services means giving the people who already want to attend more OPTIONS so they can. I have been amazed that when we start a new service people tell me, "Now I can come back, because it's earlier (or later, etc.)." I know, it seems crazy, but it's true. Some people are early risers; some are not. Their schedules vary from weekend to weekend. By having options you are able to "catch" people who otherwise wouldn't have come at all on a particular weekend (they can now come earlier than they usually do if they have something planned that day; or later than they usually do if they choose to sleep in).

3. Multiple services put more people in the MINISTRY - and this is good. More people in the ministry means more ownership and involvement and commitment. In some cases we have also found it easier to recruit for kids ministry when they can attend one service and then serve at the other. Many times we've found that starting a new service was the excuse we needed to recruit more people ("We're going to need more ushers, greeters, kids workers, etc. if we are going to have two services.")

4. Multiple Services are an expression of FAITH. The time to start new services is before you really need them. Usually I've tried to start new services when we had the leadership (worship, kids, teaching, etc.) to execute it, rather than the people to attend it. I think in terms of creating capacity, and then letting God do the work of bringing in the people (its our job to cast the nets and God's job to fill the nets with the fish). If 100 is a reasonably full capacity for a facility, then with two services you can accommodate 200, but with three services you could handle 300 if the Lord brought them. What we've generally found is that when we step out in faith the Lord responds with growth (If we build it, they come.) Typically we've seen significant growth in overall attendance as we add more services. Perhaps a rule of thumb might be 80% capacity becomes 50% capacity twice (2x) when one service becomes two. In other words, if 80 people are meeting in an auditorium that seats 100, by going to two services they might have two services of 50 (including new people who come; old timers who come back, etc.). So the church immediately grows by 20% and now is positioned to grow rapidly to 200 without anyone feeling more crowded than they were prior to the "split." You do lose the thrill of having 80 people packed into the room each service; but you are giving that up for the ultimate thrill of reaching out to more people and growing Christ's kingdom.

5. Multiple services provide more OPPORTUNITIES to reach lost people. When fishing, you try to get as many lines into the water as possible. I see the enemy continually providing more opportunities for people (more bars, more casinos, more porn sites, etc.). More opportunities translate into more chances to reach more people. I think we want to create as porous an environment as possible.

6. Multiple services BREAKS the "one big happy family" mentality. You know you've got this mentality going when you hear comments like, "But I'm not going to know everyone," or "We're just starting to feel like we know ever body." These comments have always scared me. I see this mentality as a huge limiting factor that has paralyzed the traditional church. Once you make a commitment that you want everyone to be able to know everyone you have now sealed your fate to be a small church. There is simply no way you can be a church that reaches of people, and still feel like you know everyone. For this reason I am anxious to see a Worship Center get to a second service, and even more anxious to get to a third, in order to deal a death blow to this expectation.

7. Multiple services is one of the best ways to LEVERAGE existing resources (more bang for the buck). You already have the building heated up, the coffee brewed, the worship team plugged in, the message prepared....why not allow them to share their ministry a second time, to a second group of people?

8. Multiple services create a BUZZ in the community. Since most churches don't do it, it has been a way for CTK to differentiate itself. It definitely exaggerates our intention to reach out. I find even non-churched people respect it. Everyone knows it's more work to have more services, so it sends a message that this church is willing to do what's necessary to reach people.

9. Multiple services gives you more STORIES to tell. One of the blessings for the pastor of a multi-service church is to tell the story of what is happening: "We had 25 people here Saturday night, 40 at the 9 AM service, and 55 at the 10:30....that means we reached 120 people this weekend! We could have never done that with one, or even two services."

10. Multiple services help to CHURN the environment, as it keeps people from getting too comfortable. I want to insert a certain amount of change just to keep people from settling in to the status quo. New services and times help to keep the church from "setting up" like concrete.

Why Not Multiple Services?

I don’t have a lot of reasons to give you to not have multiple services. But people in your ministry will come up with some, I’m sure. People tend to want to settle, instead of go forward. This is an excellent time for leaders to lead. If you as a the leader are convinced that it is time to add a service, I would pick a date on the calendar on which you will begin this new service. I would then start to inform key leaders and others of the decision and timeline.


There are two circles in which a leader must operate: the circle of influence, and the circle of concern. The circle of concern represents the areas for which you have some degree of responsibility or accountability. The circle of influence represents the areas for which you have some degree of influence, or control. The circle of concern is usually larger than the circle of influence because we seldom have control over all that we're concerned about.

The circle of influence fits inside the circle of concern. The key is to have the two circles be as close as possible to the same size. The closer the two circles are in size the more positive your experience because you are proactively influencing most of your area of concern. The greater the discrepancy in size between the two circles the more negative your experience because there are large areas of concern that are "beyond your influence" or control. Over time this can be demoralizing.

If you are feeling demoralized at the gap between your circle of influence (too small) and circle of concern (too large), there are two things you can do.

1. Expand your circle of influence. Grow in your leadership. Become more influential. Study leadership. Become more adept at leading. Step out stronger. Make a greater impact. Grow your influence.

2. Restrict your circle of concern. Don't worry about stuff you don't need to worry about. Evaluate whether you worrying about too many things. There is "your pile" and "God's pile." Make certain that you are not moving stuff that belongs in God’s pile into your pile. Shrink your concerns.

Insightful leaders learn to manage these two circle closely. As your circle of influence fills the circle of concern, a leader can afford to take on an expanded circle of concern. This is often referred to as “outgrowing your job.” Conversely, if a leader does not prove to be able to show sufficient influence to cover the circle of concern s/he’s been given, then the circle of concern must be scaled back to be more in line with the leader’s level of influence.

A common Circle of Influence/Circle of Concern problem I’ve seen in churches is the “responsibility without authority” syndrome. Many church boards will give a pastor a large circle of concern (responsibility), but without a corresponding large circle of influence (authority). It is very frustrating to have responsibility without authority. This is one of the most important benefits I’ve experienced being part of CTK – we delegate authority along with responsibility.

Here’s an endorsement for Deliberate Simplicity by D.L. Moody:

“The problem with a great many men is that they spread themselves out over too much ground. They fail in everything. If they would only put their life to one channel, and keep it, they would accomplish something. They make no impression, because they do a little work here and a little work there. Lay yourselves on the altar of God, and then concentrate on some one work.”


Quite a few years ago William Oncken, Jr. developed the monkeys-on-your-back concept. He said that in a work environment we all have monkeys to feed and for which we must care. These monkeys are our projects/tasks/problems. If we are not taking care of our monkeys they jump around on our back and cause us to have pangs of guilt and anxiety. Everyone must take care of their monkeys. Some of the indicators that monkeys are not being taken care of very well:

Papers piling up on your desk
Not getting back to people through phone or email.
Delayed decisions - frustrating both your superiors and your subordinates.
Getting farther behind every day.
Working late and working on our days off.

All monkeys must be handled at the lowest organizational level consistent with their welfare (this is a key point in “monkey management”). A problem occurs when managers end up caring for the monkeys of subordinates. When your subordinate’s monkey winds up on your back, you have one more thing to do, they have one less, throwing you behind in their work as well as your own. The problem must be resolved either by hiring new staff who can care for monkeys, or more often, by changing the attitude of the subordinate and manager in regard to monkey care.

Both the subordinate and manager can contribute to the problem of monkey-care being “reverse delegated”: a) the subordinate when s/he is unable or unwilling to care for the monkey and is all too willing to let the monkey go to the manager; b) the manager when s/he doesn’t trust the subordinate to care for the monkey and is all too willing to take the monkey off the subordinate’s hands. It is sometimes tempting to do things that other people are supposed to do, for several reasons:

We do them well, thus like to do them;
Doing is often easier than managing them; and
Doing them gives our subordinates the chance to watch “genius in action.”

The amateur boss takes on so much of the subordinate's work (making his staff boss-reliant rather than self-reliant) that s/he inevitably runs out of time for them and others in the organization, leaving everybody dissatisfied. Some of the indicators that monkeys are being “reverse delegated”:

Increasing subordinate-imposed time commitments (there should be boss-imposed, system-imposed and self-imposed time commitments).
Less discretionary time for the manager than the subordinate (the boss is super-busy, while the subordinate doesn’t have things to do).

How does a monkey climb from off the back of a subordinate onto the back of a supervisor? Very subtly. Prior to monkeys shifting from one person to another, there is often a conversation that includes the plural pronouns “we” and “our.” You might say, “We need to solve this somehow” or “What are we going to do about our problem?” At the moment that you speak the words “we” or “our” the monkey reaches out a leg and now begins to straddle both the subordinate and the supervisor. You can tell who ends up with the monkey at the end by asking “Who has to take the next step?”

Monkeys need regular feeding times (to do lists) and checkups (appointments). If you are not going to feed a monkey, you should shoot the monkey, assign the monkey, or delegate the monkey (assigning involves a single monkey; delegation involves a family of monkeys).

Managers should retain monkeys only when:

Only the manager can handle the monkey.
It takes no more than 15 minutes a day to feed the monkey.
The monkey population is kept below the maximum number the manager has time to feed.

There should be insurance taken out on monkeys to make certain that monkeys are being cared for well. There are two kinds of insurance. The kind of insurance you choose depends on “the anxiety index” (how critical you consider the decision to be):

Recommend, then act (high level insurance) and
Act, then advise (low level insurance)

The goal of managers is to increase discretionary time and decrease reverse delegation or subordinate-imposed time requirements. As Oncken says, “The more you get rid of your people’s monkeys, the more time you have for your people.” At CTK this is one of the more significant payoffs of good monkey-care, since relationships are a high value.

To guard against reverse delegation a manager must

Make sure monkeys are clearly assigned by discussing “next moves”
Take care to avoid reverse delegation whenever possible by clearly communicating the following (either in words or attitude):

“At no time while I am helping you with this or any other problem will your problem become mine. The minute your problem becomes mine you will no longer have a problem. I cannot help someone who hasn’t got a problem. The monkey will leave this meeting on your back. I can advise you on how to care for your monkey, and will even agree at times to help you with it, but it will remain with you.”

The professional manager eliminates subordinate-imposed time demands by requiring that his subordinates become self-reliant members of an interdependent team, thus giving him/her more time for (a) subordinates, boss, peers and for (b) planning, organizing, leading and seeing to it that things stay on track. Both the manager's leverage and the managee's freedom increase when the managees do more and more on their own (Output) per unit of their boss' time (Input).

At CTK one of our values is empowerment. Perhaps Oncken’s equation of Managee’s Output per unit of the Boss’ Time is a way to measure how well we are executing on this value. In our context we might say Ministry Output/Pastor Time. How many hours of volunteer-led ministry are happening each week relative to the pastor’s schedule? Over time, the ratio should grow dramatically if we are doing a good job of having everyone take care of their own monkeys.


Are you making progress? Are things in a forward gear, as opposed to neutral? One way to get things moving is to constantly define "next steps" in conversations you are having with ministry leaders.

Never leave a conversation about the ministry without defining "the next step" that needs to be taken, and by whom, and by when, and at what point you will check back in. Defining the next step has the following benefits:

1. Releases energy to take the step. Ken Blanchard says, "The more clearly one understands what must be done, the greater the energy and motivation that exist for doing it."

2. Gets the ball rolling. We all know that the all important "first step" of any project is the most difficult to take. Once that step is taken the others become easier.

3. Breaks the project into bite-sized pieces. It is much less daunting to consider taking the next step in the project --make the phone call, schedule the appointment -- rather than being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the entire project.

4. Allows for two focal points. Defining the next step allows you to switch your focus back and forth between the "bigger picture" and the "next step." You can leverage these two points of view back and forth. If the bigger picture is overwhelming, focus on the next step. If the next step is discouraging, then focus on the "bigger picture."

Let me expand on point 4. for a second, because I view it to be a key lesson. Leadership requires vision, but the object of a leader’s vision is not always far off in the distance. In fact, the most effective leaders are constantly alternating their focus from near to far, and back. When it seems as though the work that is right in front of a leader is pointless, then a leader knows to expand his field of vision to see a bigger picture. When the bigger picture is overwhelming, he comes back to the next step that needs to be taken (How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.) This is an important leadership principle as you attempt to make progress: When what you are looking at causes you to stall, change your focal length (either get smaller or bigger in your point of view).

This principle also matters to those who are following you. In your communications to those you lead you need to vary the focal length from time to time, as well. If a leader constantly paints a HUGE picture, people can become burnt out by the magnitude of it and actually end up uninspired, because it seems unrealistic. So a leader needs to shorten the focal length from time to time and present a “small picture” – something that can be easily assimilated. For instance, to say “We want to establish 100 small groups in the next five years” is a great big picture statement. A small picture statement might be, “We want to start a new small group in the next thirty days.” Alternating these statements is the best case scenario. The statement about 100 groups provides context for the single group you are starting. The statement about the single group brings credibility to the vision of 100 groups.


When you sign on to be a leader, you sign up for a rigorous course in personal development. Here are a couple of leaders I admire, and their comments about the breakthroughs they experienced in their leadership journey.

Brennan Manning
When we accept ourselves for what we are, we decrease our hunger for power or the acceptance of others because our self-intimacy reinforces our inner sense of security. We are no longer preoccupied with being powerful or popular. We no longer fear criticism because we accept the reality of our human limitations. Once integrated, we are less often plagued with the desire to please others because simply being true to ourselves brings lasting peace. We are grateful for life and we deeply appreciate and love ourselves.

Ray Stedman
The flesh, or natural life, likes nothing better than to hide or disguise itself. We all tend to fear rejection if we are seen for what we are. The Satanic lie is that in order to be liked or accepted we must appear capable or successful. Therefore we either project capability (the extrovert) or we seek to hide our failure (the introvert). The new covenant offers the opposite. If we will admit our inadequacy, we can have God's adequacy, and all we have sought vainly to produce (confidence, success, impact, integrity, and reality) is given to us at the point of our inability. The key is to take away the veil.

Maturity means knowing what your strengths are so that your don’t need to fight against them anymore.

Walker Percy: “To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in disrepair.”


One of our values at CTK is community. Community is not only a high value that we must espouse, but that we must model. We want to do life and ministry together.

Lone-ranger ministry is not very fun, much less effective. Ministry is so much better when you do it as a team. As a team you are able to amplify your strengths, and cover your weaknesses. And you are able to enjoy the experience with others.

As the challenge escalates, the need for teamwork elevates. Your team must be the size of your dream. The kind of challenge determines the kind of team you need to build.

Challenge Type
New Creative
Controversial United
Changing Fast and Flexible
Unpleasant Motivated
Diversified Complementary
Long-term Determined
Huge Experienced

The key leader tends to get a disproportionate amount of the credit when things go well (and probably the blame when things do not). Be sure to keep in mind that this is a group mission....

To create an authentic Christian community that effectively reaches out to unchurched people in love, acceptance and forgiveness so that they may experience the joy of salvation and a purposeful life of discipleship.


If you are looking for someone to get in the way of your ministry, you don't have to look very far. The biggest threat to you, particularly your ego.

John the baptizer got it right when he said, "He must become greater; I must become less." To know whether or not you possess sufficient selflessness, ask yourself, "How would I feel if God became so big that He was everything, and I became so small that I was nothing? If God succeeds, and I don’t, will I be ok?"

Scripture makes it clear that the way up for us is down:

John 3:22-31
After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized. (This was before John was put in prison.) An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan — the one you testified about — well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less. “The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.

James 4:6-16
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you — who are you to judge your neighbor? Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.

Philippians 2:1-11
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I had a Christian leader ask me to pray for him. He had gone through some difficult times, and was about to travel and be a presenter at a conference. He said to me, “Pray for me as I go to speak at this conference. I’m in so much pain right now, and there are going to be so many other ‘big names’ there, that I’m afraid I might try to act bigger than I really am.” That request stands as the high-water mark in my mind for personal honesty. We all have contexts in which we are tempted to “act bigger” that we really are. It’s just that few of us would ever admit that.

What have you learned about ministry and ego? Are you willing to be a “little leader”?


Deliberate Simplicity advocates a cellular approach to transforming the spiritual landscape. We actually have a very good (but bad) example of what we're talking about in the terrorist networks that have (unfortunately) changed our world (Al Quaida, Hezbola, etc.). In a recent Leadership Magazine article, Brian McLaren beautifully expands on this analogy:

I can’t stop thinking of faith communities as “unterror cells.” While terror cells plot violence to spread fear, faith cells plot goodness to spread hope. Both want change; both see status quo as unacceptable. But terror networks believe change is pushed by fear and violence; faith networks believe constructive change is pulled by hope and love, service and friendship.

Recently I heard someone describe terror networks. All nodes of the network innovate, he said, and all nodes coordinate to share their innovations. In this way all nodes influence the direction of the network as a whole, and any node can lead. They move like a flock of birds, school of fish, or swarm of bees, and they can respond to changes quickly. All nodes recruit, too, and all nodes share a common and clearly defined enemy – an enemy big enough and bad enough (in their minds) to keep them tightly unified.

What would happen if more of us saw our faith communities – churches, small groups, circle of friends, monastic communities, mission teams, whatever – as nodes in an unterror network that was constantly plotting goodness and hope?

And what is more pastors saw it not as a desk job but as an integral mission, where we are supported by our churches to be pastors for our communities? What is we saw ourselves as leaders of a global unterror network?

Could our denominations reinvent themselves, transforming from systems of control and homogenization to diverse networks linking unterror nodes for communication, coordination, innovation, inspiration, mutual influence?

What is the real enemy we’re striving against? And what is the hope we’re striving for? What’s preventing us from moving together like a flock of birds? What kinds of young men and women would be attracted to this kind of life – as unterrorists, networked in subversion of every unjust and apathetic status quo?....What if the pastorate really is a non-office job, and the local church an unterror cell?

I think that McLaren pretty well summarized what we are trying to be and do at CTK, don’t you?

It occurred to me this week that CTK does not have ANY Worship Centers (that I’m aware of) that convene in a church building (a building specifically designed to be a church). Who knows? Maybe we never will.

On the subject of terror/unterror, the 5th Anniversary of 9/11 is coming up on a Monday night. Here’s an idea: How about holding a “Prayer for our Enemies” night in your community – either through small groups, or in a central location. I think it would make a great statement about “the Jesus way” on a night when many people are going to have their anger inflamed all over again.


“Account management” is a principle for working with people. You “open an account” with everyone your encounter. As you build the relationship you continue to manage the account. In a church – or any public service organization – you have to manage accounts on a number of levels; with colleagues, constituents, supporters, prospects and volunteers.

When you initiate a new relationship, you usually start out with a small positive balance. This is sometimes called “the benefit of the doubt.” Your account will then fluctuate based on your exchanges. You can make more deposits through positive exchanges. You make withdrawals through negative exchanges. The goal is to manage your accounts with people so that you maintain a positive balance, making more deposits than withdrawals, and building up a larger account.

It usually takes several more deposits to equal a withdrawal. This is not fair. It’s just the way it is. You cannot make a withdrawal that exceeds your deposits without bankrupting the relationship. But provided you have made massive deposits, it is possible to survive massive withdrawals.

When you achieve a negative balance, others will close out your account. When an account is closed out on a minor withdrawal it is sometimes called “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” When an account is closed out, word gets around and you may find that others are less likely to do business with you. This is sometimes called “getting a bad reputation.”

What sorts of activities are deposits? What are withdrawals?

Deposits Withdrawals

• Doing what you say you will, when • Not following through.
you say you will.

• Communicating regularly, clearly and • Inconsistent, vague
consistently. communication.

• Making things easier for others. • Making things more difficult for others.

• Taking initiative. • Only acting when told.

• Doing a lot of listening. • Doing a lot of talking.

• Paying attention to details. • Letting details slide.

• Showing interest in others. • Being seemingly interested in only yourself.

• Maintaining a positive attitude. • Going negative.

Unfortunately, we do not receive a “statement” in the mail to tell us where our relational accounts stand. But people who get referred to as “a pain” are usually people who do not manage their accounts well, and are bankrupting their relationships. People who get referred to as “great people” are people who have very healthy account balances with lots of people. They are rich relationally.


For all of you "Christian leaders" out there, maybe you can relate to this. I have felt challenged most of my adult life integrating "Christian" and "leader." At times the "leader" part has wanted to get away from the "Christian" part. At other times, the "Christian" part has seemed like a real drag on the "leader" part. The tension has flared up to a degree that on a few occasions I've fantasized about what it would be like to be a Christian who was not a leader, or vice versa. It always seemed to me that it would easier to be a Christian, if you weren't a leader, and easier to be a leader, if you weren't a Christian.

For instance, in six years I had a hand in planting 7 Worship Centers in four counties. Those were great years in my life, especially for the "leader" part of me. But I always felt a little apologetic, concerned that I might be going too fast or far. I've wanted to know that I was not getting ahead of God. I've never really felt comfortable "putting the pedal to the metal."

Just this past year I came to a helpful insight that makes the marriage between "Christian" and "leader" work a lot better. The insight is this: A Christian leader is not different in his aggression, only in his motivation. What makes Christian leadership "Christian" is not that it is less aggressive, but that it is properly motivated.

A Christian leader should be every bit as driven and persistent as any leader (more so, maybe?) but only for one reason: Love. 1 Corinthians 16:14: "Do everything in love." Love is a great stimulus, actually. It is a far better stimulus than threat or pressure. While a non-Christian leader may be driven by power, prestige, popularity or position, a Christian leader is driven by love, either for God or other people. But he is driven.

Leaders are ambitious. Ambition may be called by many names: motivation, drive, enthusiasm, or achievement. Regardless of how it is described, a certain amount of drive is essential to leadership .

Christian leaders may just as ambitious as non-Christian leaders. It's just that love has to be the driving force for a Christian leader. As Max DePree writes in Leading Without Power, “We are working primarily for love.” John Stanford, a successful leader in the military and education, has often been asked the secret of his success. He says,

When anyone asks me that question, I tell them I have the secret to success in life. The secret of success is to stay in love. Staying in love gives you the fire to ignite other people, to see inside other people, to have a greater desire to get things done than other people. A person who is not in love doesn’t really feel the kind of excitement that helps them to get ahead and to lead others and to achieve. I don’t know any other fire, any other thing in life that is more exhilarating and is more positive a feeling than love is.

I read about one of the most successful executives of one of the largest corporations in America. When he was asked about how he achieved such stunning results he said, “I just took principles from the Bible and put them into action on the job.” He said, “Love is a legitimate business strategy.” Evidently, Christian and leader can go together pretty well. Love is the glue.


Leaders are courageous. They possess emotional fortitude, and psychological hardiness.

Most people think if you are afraid, you don’t have courage. Courage is the management of fear, not the absence of it. It is getting your butterflies to fly in formation. It is going forward in spite of doubt and fear.

Especially in turbulent times, leaders must behave like emotional and intellectual anchors. They must have the courage of their convictions. They must be willing to take principled action when others make excuses or quit. They must be able to endure feelings, and learn from them, instead of immediately reacting to them. Leaders must be more like thermostats than thermometers.

Somebody is always trying to pull you down when you’re a leader. And you cannot be vacillating back and forth with the wind. There can be a wind when you’re successful and everyone agrees with you. Or there can be a wind where you’re not successful and everyone disagrees with you. Courage gives a leader the ability to stand straight and not sway no matter which way the wind blows.
- Mike Krzyzewski, Leading With The Heart

Leaders who go the distance have a heavy-duty resilience. They do not quit at quitting time.


Over the years I think CTK has promoted itself pretty well (I’m thinking here of mailers, advertisements, etc.). I don’t think that promotion is what causes a church to grow (there is never just one reason that a church grows), but it has been an important part of our story.

It is a popular notion in the “emergent” church (the latest iteration of “post-modern” ministry) to not promote the church at all through advertisement, or sometimes even through signage. The feeling is that the church remains more philosophically pure without self-promotion, and then if the church grows we know it “must have been a God thing” since we did not promote it. I mostly disagree with this notion. Christ did not commission us to be philosophically pure. He commissioned us to reach a lost world with the gospel. A certain amount of promotion can help us achieve this mission.

While there are back-eddies of post-modernity in our culture, the mainstream of our culture is still modern. Most people get their information from media. If anything, there are now just more kinds media from which you can derive information (add internet, wireless devices, satellite radio, et al to television, radio and newspapers). It is a huge part of the environment. To not use these media to promote your ministry is like being a fish out of water.

The way in which a church promotes itself does matter, however. There is a philosophy that we have employed to be as strategic as we can be.


There are five things to think about as you promote your ministry:

1. Think about “the bringer and includer.”

We all know that nothing beats a personal invitation. There are individuals in every Worship Center who do a disproportionate amount of inviting to your small groups and worship services. These people are bringers and includers. My experience has been that one bringing and includer can account for dozens of people coming to know Christ. They are highly connected. They are highly relational. Think about them as you promote your ministry. In effect, through advertising you are giving air cover for their ground attack. The next time they invite someone they might hear, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard about CTK.” This sets up a repoire that increases the bringer and includer’s effectiveness.

2. Think about the system.

Good promotion cannot overcome a bad experience. Don’t you hate it when you respond to an ad, and the store doesn’t deliver as promised? Sometimes we need to get the experience right before we promote ourselves too aggressively. Are your small groups ready for newcomers? If people visit one of your services will there be competent childcare, worship that makes sense, a message they can understand? If they come and have a good experience, then they will no doubt go out and tell others. If they come and have a bad experience, they will let others know about that, too.

3. Think about giving people something to talk about.

In political circles it’s called “a talking point.” Ask yourself, “What is the story that people will come away with after being here?” Because there will be a story. When they get to work on Monday, their friends are going to ask them, “Hey, did you check out that Christ the King Church? What did you think?” What comes out of their mouth in response? Some possibilities (hopefully...):

• You know, that was the first time in a long time that I have actually understood what the pastor was talking about.
• Man, you should have heard this band that played Sunday. They were awesome.
• Its the first church I’ve ever been to where they had coffee out for everyone. That was nice.
• I couldn’t believe how many locations these guys meeting in, and I guess they are going to be starting a new location soon closer to us.
• They gave me a mug as a gift for visiting. That was kind of cool.

I was at a CTK worship service yesterday where there was a very tasty accordion player as part of the worship team. It was very cool, and something I will probably tell three or four people about this week. Keep your eyes peeled for these kind of opportunities.

Your overall experience can be worth talking about, or you can inject specific storylines into your experience that are worth talking about, like mission trips, interesting teaching topics, changes in personnel, times, locations (there are times when I have changed service times just to give people something to talk about).

You’ll know what the story line is when someone comes up to you and says, “Yeah, this is my first time here. My friend Joe told me I should come because.....”

4. Think about those who are about to come.

It is important that you stay engaged with lost people, to know what makes them tick. A lot of church advertising that I see says “these people do not know what is going on in the real world.” For instance, if you are not aware that for most people their most precious asset is now time, and not money, then you might think an ad like this would be attractive: “Be with us all day. Worship service followed by barbeque, followed by prophecy seminar, followed by worship event.” What an unchurched person might take away from this ad: “I can’t go to that church. I don’t have the time.”

5. Think about leverage points.

Promotion can be simple, but effective. One ad that works is worth 20 that don’t. Certain lines in an ad can “position” your ministry in people’s minds forever. Lines like “Given up on church, but not on God” or “It’s not a fashion show, it’s just church” or our motto, “Always A Place For You,” give people a feeling about CTK that won’t be easily lost. Some day, when someone from CTK personally invites them, that good feeling will be activated and make them more susceptible to the invitation.


Leaders have an incredible capacity for self-observation. They have “it.” It is hard to say what “it” is, but “it” is certainly an intangible quality that separates people into two categories: Those who have “it” and those who do not.

When professional coaches are deciding whether to draft and invest in a star collegiate player, they haul out their clipboards, tape measures, and stopwatches and put a number to everything. But it’s not just about the numbers. There are hidden qualities that differentiate. Some have “it.”

As I have reflected on “it” over the years, I have come to this conclusion about “it”s makeup: Whatever “it” is, it begins with the prefix self-. People with this makeup have mastered the uniquely human ability to “get outside themselves” and look back. They self-correct based on what they see.

“It” may overlap what Proverbs refers to as wisdom. “It” brings prosperity and a good life. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of “it.” Fools don’t get “it.”

It appears that the emerging science of emotional intelligence (EQ) has stumbled onto “it.” EQ (as defined by Daniel Goleman in Primal Leadership) has identified four intelligence domains and associated competencies, two of which begin with “self-“:

• Emotional self-awareness: Reading one’s own emotions and recognizing their impact; using “gut sense” to guide decisions
• Accurate self-assessment: Knowing one’s strengths and limits
• Self-confidence: A sound sense of one’s own self-worth and capabilities

• Emotional self-control: Keeping disruptive emotions and impulses under control
• Transparency: Displaying honesty and integrity; trustworthiness
• Adaptability: Flexibility in adapting to changing situations or overcoming obstacles
• Achievement: The drive to improve performance to meet inner standards of excellence
• Initiative: Readiness to act and seize opportunities
• Optimism: Seeing the upside in events

While emotional intelligence eventually extends to others, it begins with personal mastery. Before you can effectively manage others, you must learn to manage yourself. Your toughest management challenge is always yourself.

People who stay on the path of self-development for years achieve what Jim Collins calls Level 5 Leadership. John Maxwell refers to this level as Personhood, a level where people follow you, not just because of what you have done for the organization and for them, but because of who you are and what you represent. The two sides to this highest form of leadership, according to Daniel Goleman, are Professional Will and Personal Humility.

The cultivated self is a leader’s greatest asset. The first Army leadership manual coined the phrase, “Be, Know, Do.” The sequence is instructive. We first and foremost human beings, not human doings. Good leadership requires a well-rounded, well-balanced person. As Bill Hybels says, “The best gift you can give the people you lead is a healthy, energized, fully surrendered, focused self.” Leaders must lead from a healthy core. Unresolved character defects and personal problems have derailed many promising leaders. A leader must have enough personal recovery that he is comfortable in his own skin, and able to own both strengths and inadequacies. And he must be willing to grow along with the organization, as Edwin Markham penned,

We are blind until we see
That in the human plan
Nothing is worth the making
If it does not make the man

Why build these cities glorious
If man unbuilded goes?
In vain we build the world
Unless the builder also grows.

When people follow a leader, they don’t follow a skill set, a technique or a message. People follow a person. They may appreciate a skill, or a technique or a message, but they are going to follow you, and by that I mean who you are, more than what you say or do. Who are you?


Any organization can deal with good news. The difference between a great organization and a mediocre one is how they deal with “bad news.”
“Bad News”: Things that are true and need to be said, but are difficult to say. This could include disagreement, criticism, or dissent.

A great organization deals with bad news effectively. This means bad news goes “up” the organization as well as “down.” Bad news is expected to go down the organization, and usually does. When a pastor or director has a problem with someone or something, he will usually go to that person and express his concerns. But what does down, must come up. Pastors and directors must “invite” criticism and dissent. We must create a climate where it is clearly ok for bad news to travel up the organization.

To deal with bad news effectively, it must be carefully “channeled” to the people who need to know. This is a key distinction between good news and bad news. Good news does not need to be channeled, and in fact should be liberally and broadly distributed. Tell all the good you know about everybody, Ben Franklin said. Discretion is required with bad news. While we want the circle of celebration to be expanded, we want to keep the circle of concern as small as possible (see Matthew 18). People have a need to know bad news only when they are part of the solution or part of the problem.

Bad new must be delivered in a timely fashion. Timing is more art than science. Sometimes the earliest possible moment is not the right time to deliver bad news, because of the environment, or your personal landscape. But sometimes waiting is not a good idea, either. Bad news tends to become “badder” with age. Don’t put off ‘til tomorrow the difficult conversation you need to have today.

At CTK we want to distinguish ourselves as an organization that is not afraid of bad news. The glue that holds us together is a mutual commitment to our mission, vision and values. But disagreements will arise over implementation, and should if we’re trying to do anything at all.

Have you had any tough conversations lately?

“Iron sharpens iron” sounds real good until you think through what that means. Sparks typically fly when iron comes into contact with iron. But the sharpening process is sometimes violent. The way iron sharpens iron is through abrasion. The surface that is used to sharpen is rough and coarse. We become sharper through the collisions. If you don’t have any relationships in your life or ministry that are abrasive, you need some.

One of the requirements for being able to have hard conversations, and still come away on the same team, is to maintain a clear distinction between who you are, and what you think or do. We cannot take bad news personally. In fact, the Proverbs are quite clear that “faithful are the wounds of a friend.” If the “friends” around you are only telling you what they think you want to hear, then they are not loving you very well.


Most churches believe that they are friendly. I would say that our church, for instance, is friendly. However, if we were to survey the visitors who attend CTK, we might find a totally opposite perception. Gary McIntosh suggests several practical guidelines to help churches be more friendly to newcomers:

1. Give guests the best attitude.

People appreciate a friendly attitude from greeters and ushers, especially when they are visitors. People often make judgments about how welcome they feel within the first 30 seconds of entering the front door. So we must project enthusiasm, courtesy and pride to our guests as their first impression.

2. Give guests the best communication.

McIntosh suggests that churches adopt the "10 Foot Rule" and the "Just Say Hi Policy." That is, whenever we come within 10 feet of a person that we don't know we should at least say “Hi.”

3. Give guests the best service.

From parking spaces to the information center we should attempt to give guests the best service. But we all need to become involved in carrying out three principles of friendliness: 1. Approach new people promptly. 2. Offer help and information. 3. Introduce them by name to others.

4. Give guests the best welcome.

Welcoming guest – either in print in the weekly program, or as an announcement from the front is an important part of our friendliness. But it doesn't hurt for each of us to repeat that welcome personally when we see guests.

5. Give guests the best seats.

The most popular seats on an airplane are the isle seats. People like to have a sense of openness rather that one of being trapped. Likewise, guests prefer the isle seats and the seats in the rear of the auditorium. However, that's the exact place most regular attenders like to sit! If we really want to be friendly, we should scoot into the middle of the pew and leave the best seats for guests.

6. Give guests the best time.

McIntosh suggests that friendly congregations adopt the "Five Minute Rule." That is, we reserve the first five minutes after the close of a service to attempt to meet and speak with our guests. We should not do any church business or talk with our friends until five minutes has elapsed. This helps our guests to know that they are our first priority.

Albert Einstein was once asked what he considered to be the most important question in the world. He replied, "Is the universe a friendly place?" Guests who visit our church are asking a similar question. The answer to the question may alter their eternal destiny. Our friendliness is important.


Several years ago Newsweek ran an immensely valuable two-page piece entitled "Advice to a (Bored) Young Man" in it's "Responsibility Series." Despite its title, its counsel is to us all - man or woman, young or old.

Died, age 20; buried, age 60. The sad epitaph of too many Americans. Mummification sets in on too many young men at an age when they should be ripping the world wide open. For example: many people reading this page are doing so with the aid of bifocals. Inventor? B. Franklin, age 79.

The presses that printed this page we powered by electricity. One of the first harnessors? B. Franklin, age 40.

Some are reading this on the campus of one of the Ivy League universities. Founder? B. Franklin, age 45.

Others in a library. Who founded the first library in America? B. Franklin, age 25.

Some got their copy through the U.S. Mail. It's father? B. Franklin, age 31.

Now, think fire. Who started the first fire department, invented the lightning rod, designed a heating stove still in use today? B. Franklin, ages 31,43,36.

Wit, Conversationalist, Economist, Philosopher, Diplomat, Printer, Publisher, Linguist (spoke and wrote five languages). Advocate of paratroopers (from balloons) a century before the airplane was invented. All this until age 84.

And he had exactly two years of formal schooling. It's a good bet that you already have more sheer knowledge than Franklin ever had when he was your age.

Perhaps you think there's no use trying to think of anything new, that everything's been done. Wrong. The simple, agrarian America of Franklin's day didn't begin to need the answers we need today. Go do something about it.

Newsweek then suggested that the reader tear out the page and "Read it on your 84th birthday. Ask yourself what took over in your life; indolence or ingenuity?"

There's no reason, however, to wait until your 84th birthday to evaluate. How about looking at it today? There are plenty of motives to keep us going for a lifetime of service to the Lord and others. Time is short. Needs are great. There's lots to do. Go do something about it.


Developing the next generation of leaders is the greatest amplifier of a leader’s impact. But becoming a leader who develops leaders instead of a leader who develops followers requires an entirely different focus. Consider some of the differences John Maxwell points out in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership:

Leaders who develop followers Leaders who develop leaders

Need to be needed Want to be succeeded

Focus on weaknesses Focus on strengths

Develop the bottom 20 percent Develop the top 20 percent

Treat people the same for fairness Treat people as individuals for impact

Hoard power Give power away

Spend time with others Invest time in others

Grow by addition Grow by multiplication

Impact only people they touch Impact people far beyond their reach

John Schnatter, founder of Papa John’s Pizza says, “It’s my job to build the people who are going to build the company.” I like that point of view. It is not his job to build the company. It is his job to build the people so that they can build the company.

Are you building the ministry, or are you building the people who are building the ministry?

John Maxwell makes a distinction between achievement, success, significance and leaving a legacy:

Achievement comes to someone when he is able to do great things for himself. Success comes when he empowers followers to do great things with him. Significance comes when he develops leaders to do great things for him. But a legacy is created only when a person puts his organization into the position to do great things without him.

One of the greatest moments that will occur in your leadership journey is the moment when you realize that you are not needed. Why? Because you have done such a great job of “equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry.” It can be a hard moment too, because inside of us all is often a “need to be needed.” But great leaders fight that predictable internal resistance to reach for a higher calling, the advancement of the kingdom of God.

What happens when you “work yourself out of a job.” Is there job security in being such a great leader that you are no longer needed? Oh yeah. One-time Vice Presidential candidate Admiral James Stockdale declared, “Leadership....means obvious and wholehearted commitment to helping followers…What we need for leaders are men of heart who are so helpful that they, in effect, do away with the need of their jobs. But leaders like that are never out of a job, never out of followers. Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away.”


Joel Osteen crossed the line. He admitted it himself. In an effort to tell people what he thought they wanted to hear, he did not tell them what they needed to hear: the truth. Here's what happened:

KING: What if you're Jewish or Muslim, you don't accept Christ at all?

OSTEEN: You know…I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know...

KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They're wrong, aren't they?

OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if I believe they're wrong. I believe here's what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God will judge a person's heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So, I don't know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.


KING: So then, a Jew is not going to heaven?

OSTEEN: No. Here's my thing, Larry. Is I can't judge somebody's heart. You know? Only God can look at somebody's heart, and so - I don't know. To me, it's not my business to say, you know, this one is, or this one isn't. I just say, here's what the Bible teaches and I'm going to put my faith in Christ. And I just I think it's wrong when you go around saying, you're not going, you're not going, you're not going, because it's not exactly my way. I'm just...

KING: But you believe your way.

OSTEEN: I believe my way. I believe my way with all my heart.

KING: But for someone who doesn't share it is wrong, isn't he?

OSTEEN: Well, yes. Well, I don't know if I look at it like that. I would present my way, but I'm just going to let God be the judge of that. I don't know. I don't know.

Actually, I think that Joel Osteen does know. He just didn’t say. At least not very clearly. He later apologized for being so ambiguous, and I think we all should accept that. My point, is not that Osteen did something that we would never do, but the opposite. We could all easily find ourselves cornered. If the Apostle Peter could find himself shirking the truth under pressure, any of us can. There will be times when lost people will phrase their questions in such a way that it will be difficult in the moment to “speak the truth in love.” This is why scripture asks us to “be ready to give an answer.”

My daughter Jenna was “on the spot” recently at high school. One of her best friends, Sara, started peppering Jenna with questions: “So if I don’t believe like you do, in Jesus, you think I’m going to go to hell, right?” Jenna was caught off guard, but she replied directly and truthfully, “Yes, if you don’t believe in Christ you are going to hell.” Sara didn’t let up, “So we’re never going to see each other after we die, right, because you think that you are going to heaven and I am going to hell?” Ouch. This line of questioning is not very friendly, to be sure, but it is not uncommon. What if you were on the other end of these questions? What would you say, and how would you say it? Let me suggest that you....

1. Appeal to Grace

How about this for an answer....

“Here’s the deal. Not one of us is deserving of God’s heaven. Not me. Not you. If God were to give us what we deserved, we would all go to hell. But God doesn’t want any of us to go to hell. He has gone to great lengths to save us, even dying on a cross for our sins. The question is not ‘Why is God sending me to hell?’ but ‘Why are you not accepting his heaven?’”

Some want to position the discussion as if they are deserving of heaven and that God is being wrong by sending them to hell. This is the wrong basis for discussion. Flip the script by appealing to grace.

2. Appeal to Experience

How about this for an answer....

“Can I tell you my own story? I came to a place where I realized that I had sinned against my creator, and that I needed to receive his forgiveness for my sins. When I reached out to God, I believe that he forgave me, and as the Bible says, ‘the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me from all sins.’ I hope that you will have that same experience.”

This is the “I once was blind, but now I see” response. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Give your testimony. It’s hard to argue with someone’s personal story. Flip the script by appealing to experience.

3. Appeal to Scripture....

How about this for an answer....

“Really, it’s not what I think, or don’t think, that matters. It’s what God has said. In the Bible it is clear that man’s sins have separated him from God, and that Christ is the savior for our sins. If you’d like I’d be glad to show you. Do you have a Bible?”

In a post-Christian context, the authority of scripture may not always be acknowledged or accepted. But it is nevertheless our only basis for faith and practice. While they may not be ready to accept biblical authority in the moment, give them a legitimate alternative to return to when their other authorities let them down. Flip the script by appealing to scripture.

Is Christ the only way?

This is the record: God has given to us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He that has the son has life. He that does not have the son of God does not have life. - 1 John 5:11-12

There is an exclusivity to this statement that raises a question: Is Christ the only way? "He who has the son has life" is cause to celebrate. But “he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” causes some to hesitate and stumble. This is one of more than a dozen similar statements in the New Testament saying that Jesus Christ is not just a way, but the only way by which a person may receive eternal life in heaven with God.

More than at any other time in history, we’re aware of how broadly divergent people are in their religious faiths. Of all the people in the world

40% claim to follow Christ

18% are Islamic

17% represent no particular religious outlook

14% are Hindus

7% are Buddhists

4% subscribe to some other religion or cult

In America we are deeply committed to the principle of religious freedom and toleration. We want to guarantee that everyone has the right to believe whatever they want to believe about God and about faith. This is a profoundly wise way to govern. But this outlook of tolerance has led many people to a fallacy that if all religions are to be equally tolerated, then all religions must be equally valid, true or worthwhile. In fact, the fastest way to be labeled a bigoted, religious fanatic in American society is to say in public that you believe Christ is the only way to God. People are shocked if you say that. They become angry. If you want to be accepted in contemporary society as a wise and compassionate person you have to take the position that religious faith is like climbing to the top of a mountain. God is at the top. There are many roads to take. Whatever road you take is O.K. as long as you reach the top.

In contrast, at CTK we espouse that there is only one way to the top of that mountain, and Jesus is that way. Our belief that Christ is savior and king follows from our belief in the trustworthiness of God and His word. The Bible teaches that Jesus is the only way to eternal life.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. - Acts 4:12

(Jesus:) Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. - John 14:1-6

The word of God is unequivocal on this point: Christ is the way. As we think through the implications of this teaching logically there can be only two possible conclusions:

1) Christianity is narrow and wrong

2) Christianity is narrow and true

At Christ the King we have concluded that Christianity is narrow, but it’s true. Instead of being “hung up” on the fact that there is only one way, we are rejoicing that there is a way! Several decades ago Dr. Jonas Salk developed a serum that would keep people from contracting polio in a time of a polio epidemic all across the country. The polio vaccine was distributed to millions of children and adults – a sugar cube with a pink syrup on it. You would have been foolish to say, “That seems a little narrow to me” or “I’m sure there are many cures for polio, as long as you’re sincere.” When you have a cure, you’re thankful. There may only be one cure, but, thank God, there’s a cure.

If someone were to offer you a wonderful new home, on one condition, that you use the key, you would be crazy to not accept the offer because it’s “restrictive.” Yet this, in parallel, is what Christ has done by offering us heaven through faith in Christ.

Ironically, we accept narrowness in many other aspects of our lives. If I decide that I want to run my car on water instead of gasoline because it’s less expensive, I’m not going to get very far. My car will only run on gasoline. For that matter, only one key opens the door and turns on the ignition. Only one pedal causes my car to accelerate. There’s only one steering wheel.

There are some things that are not a matter of personal preference. We believe eternal salvation is one of these matters.


In a recent article Marshall Goldsmith was opining about resumes and the things that we typically include in one. Then he challenged the reader to imagine writing a resume that did not include any of the typical categories (school, work experience, accomplishments) but only "soft" skills. What if you had to prepare a resume where you couldn't highlight the elite college you graduated from, or your years of ministry, or the “nickels and noses” you were able to bring in? The only data you can put on your resume are your interpersonal skills. What would they be? What would you say? That you are able....

To listen?

To give proper recognition?

To share - whether information or credit?

To stay calm while others panic?

To make midcourse corrections?

To accept responsibility?

To admit a mistake?

To defer to others?

To let someone else be right some of the time?

To say thank you?

To be uplifting - to encourage others?

To resist playing favorites?

I think you see where this is going. Fact is, when it comes to schooling and work experience, pretty much everyone has that. Where you can really differentiate yourself is in your interpersonal skills. Pick one, any "soft" skill that you feel you're lacking. And start developing

Let us now define what godliness is. We can say at once that it is not simply a matter of externals, but of the heart; and it is not a natural growth, but a supernatural gift; and it is found only in those who have admitted their sin, who have sought and found Christ, who have been born again, who have repented. But this is only to circumscribe and locate godliness. Our question is: What essentially is godliness? Here is the answer: It is the quality of life that exists in those who seek to glorify God.

The godly man does not object to the thought that his highest vocation is to be a means to God's glory. Rather, he finds it a source of great satisfaction and contentment. His ambition is to follow the great formula in which Paul summed up the practice of Christianity - "glorify God in your body....whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 6:20; 10:31). The godly man's dearest wish is to exalt God with all that he is in all that he does. He follows in the footsteps of Jesus his Lord, who affirmed to his Father at the end of his life here: "I have glorified thee on the earth" (John 17:4), and who told the Jews: "I honor my Father...I seek not mine own glory" (John 8:49f). He thinks of himself in the manner of George Whitefield the evangelist, who said: "Let the name of Whitefield perish, so long as God is glorified." Like God himself, the godly man is supremely jealous that God, and only God, should be honored. This jealousy is a part of the image of God in which he has been renewed. There is now a doxology written on his heart, and he is never so truly himself as when he is praising God for the glorious things that he has already done and pleading with him to glorify himself yet further.

We may say that it is by his prayers that he is known - to God, if not to men. "What a man is alone on his knees before God," said Murry McCheyne, "that he is, and no more." In this case, however, we should say, "and no less." For secret prayer is the veritable mainspring of the godly man's life.

- J.I. Packer, "Hot Tub Religion"


Jesus appropriately exercised authority. His was not a democratic organization. When he told his disciples to prepare a boat to go across the Sea of Galilee, He did not call a committee meeting. When He decided to head for Jerusalem, He didn't ask for a show of hands. He exercised his authority.

One thing I try to encourage pastors not to do is to give up their authority. While it is customary in churches for decisions to be made by groups (i.e. The board) and carried out by individuals (i.e. The pastor), at CTK we prefer that decisions be made by individuals and carried out by groups. When the church is led by trustworthy, competent individuals, we tend to get better decisions, quicker.

Trying to get a group to come to consensus is a tedious process, that often "dumbs down" the decision to the least common denominator. The exact synonym for consensus is mediocrity. When you ask a group to come to consensus, you unwittingly empower the person in the group with the most fear, least insight, or weakest conscience. At CTK we prefer that the church be led by leaders.

In the church authority stems from a clear master and a clear mission. When you have a clear master and a clear mission, you do not need further mandate. You should not seek further permission. God already commissioned us to make more disciples of Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” A mandate of such clarity allows us to proceed aggressively in the work, with "more signal, less noise."

As a Christian leader your authority should be established by not just the call of God, but the character of Christ. The style of leadership that we exercise should always be "servant" leadership. At first glance, authority and servanthood would seem to be antonyms. But servanthood actually frees you to lead with more aggression than an autocratic style, as Peter Senge opines: "Paradoxically, the 'leader as commander' has less freedom and authority. Every commander is usually following directions from another commander; even Patton took his orders from Eisenhower. A servant leader, by contrast, has the authority to do what he or she thinks is right, and to be responsible for the consequences."

If God has called you to serve (He has)....then please serve. If God has called you to lead (He has)....then please lead. And do so with His authority.

In the CTK organization I like the phrase “Distributed Authority” better than “Delegated Authority.” Delegated authority sounds as if the authority resides at the top, and then is apportioned downward. Distributed Authority implies that we all share in the authority that we have been given. One of our values, after all, is empowerment. With empowerment as a value, the power should grow, not lessen, as you move out from the center of the organization. In truth, the person with the greatest freedom in our ministry is the small group leader. They love, lead, do and decide. They can meet when they want, when they want, with an agenda that they choose. They have the ultimate flexibility and control. And this is how we want it to be. In a good organization, as you go “up” in your responsibilities you go “down” in your freedoms.

Authority is authority, right? Not necessarily. Christian authority is always expressed with love and humility. One of my favorite G.K. Chesterton quotes is about the man who is “fit to lead.” I think this quote rounds out the spirit in which a Christian exercises authority.

Much vague and sentimental journalism has been poured out to the effect that Christianity is akin to democracy, and most of it is scarcely strong or clear enough to refute the fact that the two things have often quarreled. The real ground upon which Christianity and democracy are one is very much deeper. The one specially and peculiarly un-Christian idea is the idea of Carlyle – the idea that the man should rule who feels that he can rule. Whatever else is Christian, this is heathen. If our faith comments on government at all, it’s comment must be this – that the man should rule who does not think he can rule. Carlyle’s* hero may say, “I will be king”; but the Christian saint must say, “Nolo episcopari.”** If the great paradox of Christianity means anything, it means this – that we must take the crown in our hands, and go hunting in dry places and dark corners of the earth until we find the one man who feels himself unfit to wear it. Carlyle was quite wrong; we have not got to crown the exceptional man who knows he can rule. Rather we must crown the much more exceptional man who knows he can’t.

It can be a real bummer when someone goes on a power trip. The fear that someone will get “the big head” leads organizations to severely restrict authority. But I like Chesterton’s implied solution better: Just don’t give authority to anyone who thinks they deserve it. But then if you can find someone who will exercise authority humbly, they should be empowered enough to exercise it.

*Thomas Carlyle was a contemporary of Chesterton’s who was espousing a self-made-man approach to leadership.
**Nolo episcopari = I don’t want to be overseer.

Jesus not only exercised His authority, He also recognized the authority of His Father; "Yet not my will, but yours be done." For health and protection, everyone should find themselves under authority, even those who are in authority. At CTK the relationships between the church council, lead pastor, area pastor and local pastor provide a framework in which leaders can both lead and be led.


I am convinced that the gap holding back most believers is not the gap between what they know and what they don’t know. It’s the gap between what they know and what they’re living. The gap between knowing and doing is significantly bigger than the gap between ignorance and knowledge. Many Christians are trafficking in unlived truth. They are educated beyond their obedience.

If this is true, there are implications for us as leaders.

1. Teach Practice-ally

Practical teaching is teaching that results in action, or practice. Talk about where the rubber meets the road. Use illustrations of people actually living out their faith. Call for changes in behavior, not just belief.

2. Get People in the Game

Many view the pastor as the performer, God as the director, and themselves as the audience. Change that around where the people are the performers, the pastor is the director and God is the audience. Get folks out of the bleachers and out onto the field. Ask folks to either join a small group or a ministry team where they can live out their faith. Ask folks to engage in some form of active ministry, either in the church, or, preferably, outside of it.

Christianity is not a head trip, though some want it to be. Why do some clamor for "deeper" teaching (not deeper in practice, mind you, but in information)? It may be because facts give us a sense of power and control. “Knowing more” can serve as an illegitimate substitute for “walking by faith,” where we have to give up power and control. It may also be because talking about doing it, and thinking about doing it, is way easier than actually doing it.

Even first-century Christianity was challenged with the gap between knowing and doing. James challenged his audience, "Faith without works is dead." A dead faith is a faith that just lays there. It doesn't do anything. It doesn't go anywhere. When it's time to "get up and go" a dead faith doesn't send a charge.

At CTK we have committed ourselves to being "an authentic Christian community that effectively reaches out...." We've said we are going to be something, and that we are going to do something. We need to be held accountable to both sides of the equation.

How do I respond when someone tells me, “The teaching at CTK needs to be deeper”? Graciously, I hope. Then, I’ve been known to take several different tacks in response:

(1) I quote the mission statement, “Our mission is to create an authentic Christian community that effectively reaches out to unchurched people in love, acceptance and forgiveness so that they may experience the joy of salvation and a purposeful life of discipleship.” The best defense is a good offense. To me our mission is balanced between knowing and doing. Admittedly it is a challenging mission statement. But our mission does not allow us the freedom of just cramming our heads with more and more information. What we know must be lived and shared.

(2) I ask them if they are involved in a small group or ministry team. Often I’ve found the answer is “No.” If so, I challenge them to take what they know and find a place where they can share it with others. God tends to take us deeper when there is an outlet for that depth. I say, “If God can get it through us, God can get it to us.”

(3) I quote what Jesus said in Mark 12:20, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” I tell them that spiritual formation is holistic, involving thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors, and that God wants all of these redeemed. I tell them, “I am preaching so that people will know what Jesus knows, feel what Jesus feels, believe what Jesus believes and do what Jesus did.”

(4) I encourage them with the unlimited opportunities that any of us have to go deeper, if that is our desire. There are books, videos, Christian television, Christian radio, e-learning, distance education, Christian colleges, etc. If someone truly wants greater depth of insight, they are living at a great time in history. This is the information age. There is absolutely nothing that could hold them back from finding out everything they would like to know about any conceivable subject.

(5) I tell them that we are an outreach church, and we have to be faithful to our calling. Over the years CTK has proved to be a place where thousands of people can grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. That is not an insignificant story (or as one of our pastors says, “The jury is not out on whether or not CTK is making an impact.”). We are not a Bible Institute, Bible College, or Seminary, though we appreciate what Bible schools add to the kingdom. We are a church. Our calling is to be an authentic Christian community that effectively reaches out to unchurched people. We need to become more of who we already are.

When it comes to practice, it is important for us who are leaders to model the way - to “practice what we preach.” If you emphasize small groups, you yourself need to be in a small group. If you teach tithing, you also need to tithe. Dallas Willard once said, “A great danger is to invite others to live a life that we are unwilling to live.” Do not succumb to this danger.


Psychologists Suzanne C. Kobasa and Salvatore R. Maddi studied individuals in business who although in the midst of highly stressful situations nevertheless experienced low degrees of illness. They discovered that people with psychological hardiness:

1. Believed that they had an influence on their environment and acted consistently with that belief.
2. Consistently considered how to change situations for advantage and never accepted events at face value.
3. Regarded change as part of the normal course of events.
4. Viewed change as a helpful path to positive development.
5. Were committed to learning and personal transformation.

The catch-phrase for psychological hardiness is, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." Frankly, at times, ministry can be pretty tough. Spiritual warfare. Intense schedules. Counseling issues. Being understaffed. People problems. It can get pretty intense sometimes. At those times, you need to hang tough. You need to dig deep. You need to stand in there. Of course, not in your own strength, but in God's.

Psychological hardiness is a must for leaders. Hardiness is simply meeting the demands of the situation with character and courage. Don't shrink back from the challenge.

In the book of Hebrews one of the overarching stories is that of the children of Israel being spooked by the giants in the promised land, and backing down. God hates it when we have a little faith and then shrink back from that.

Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Hebrews 3:16 – 4:2

Evidently, God does not have a lot of patience with “shrinker backers” and he warns us to “be careful” to not get a spankin’ ourselves.

Honestly, it will be difficult for you to remain in ministry if you are a wimp. Yes, ministry is tough. Yes, people can be difficult. Yes, you get tired. Yes, we never have enough money. Yes, it is hard to work with volunteers. But there are times when you just have to “get over it.” We can’t call you a “wahmbulance.” I like how the coach of my son’s Little League team tells the boys, “If you get hurt, spit on it (“pthew”) and keep going.”

Teddy Roosevelt

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena: whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strive valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”


A key talent of outstanding leaders is the ability to be led. As Irwin Federman says, "Leaders listen, take advice, lose arguments, and follow." Ben Franklin said, "He who cannot obey, cannot command."

This is often difficult for leaders. After all, you have achieved a position of leadership because you have known the right answers most of the time. But promotion eventually brings you to a place where the level of complexity and responsibility is unfamiliar. This new territory requires a leader to rely on the skills and competencies of others. No one is as smart as everyone.

Sometimes you will get the insights you need from those above you (managers), sometimes you will get the insights you need from those around you (colleagues), often you will get the insights you need from those under you (subordinates). Studies show that most innovations do not come from ideas generated by leaders, but by followers. To gain the insights you need, you will need to develop what Peter Senge calls the ability to "balance advocacy with inquiry." This is the ability to hold a position, while at the same time holding it loosely. (F. Scott Fitzgerald said the test of a first-rate mind is the ability to hold two opposing ideas at the same time and still be able to function.)

The humility required to "balance advocacy with inquiry" typically brings secondary benefits beside giving you better answers. It creates a better environment, with more team unity, trust and cohesion. People love to be asked their opinion. They feel valued when they are included. Inquiry also keeps the leader from becoming relationally isolated. As Chris Argyris says in Overcoming Organizational Defenses, “Loneliness at the top is a product of a reciprocal isolating dynamic of aloofness between subordinates and the executive.”

Humility is essential to a synergistic work environment. Consider how the dots connect in Philippians 2:1-3:

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

A tell-tale for pride is an unwillingness to ask for help or advice. When was the last time you said to those on your team, “I don’t know. What do you think we should do?”

Daniel Boorstin, the Librarian for Congress, gives a lecture about amateurs and professionals. "The leader," he said, "is by definition an amateur - open to new vistas that training precludes from the professional."

Something I’ve said to reinforce the idea that the best ideas may be “below” you: “There’s not much oxygen at the top of the mountain. The oxygen is down in the valley where the people live.”


Dunn and Bradstreet did a study of business failures and discovered that 95% of business failure comes from bad management. The same could be said of personal failure.

Before you can effectively manage others, you must learn to manage yourself. Your toughest management challenge is always yourself. There are four aspects of life that need your attention today:

1. Manage your thoughts.

Your thoughts are key. What are your thoughts about yourself, your team, your challenge? What are you reading? What are you learning? Your ability to learn is key. What are you thinking?

2. Manage your goals.

Aristotle said "People are goal-seeking animals." Have a written goals program. Most do not. 3% have written goals. 10% have goals, but not written ones. 60% have some ideas about their goals, but no clear thoughts. 27% don't have any thoughts about goals. You can probably predict which category produces the high-achievers. Yup. Time to get out a piece of paper.

3. Manage your actions.

If time is getting away from you, round it up. Perhaps inventory your time by keeping track of your work week in 15 minute increments. On what activities are you spending the most time? Is your time investment balanced between work, family, friends, play? How about alone time? Time with God? Prayer time? Does your calendar relate to your goals?

4. Manage your attitude.

Your attitude will determine your altitude. It will make or break you, your team, your home, your church. You set the tone. What tone are you setting? Are you relaxed? Are you joyful?

I have constructed a Life Plan that I review on Monday mornings. I have several "accounts" that I review (Spiritual Life, Career, Marriage, etc.). That weekly inventory informs my strategy for the week to manage my most significant and challenging responsibility: myself.

There are stages of management that you go through, as you develop in your leadership, starting with yourself and working out from there.

Stage One: Manager of self

Fundamental to leadership, is leadership of self. As Bill Hybels says, “The best gift you can give the people you lead is a healthy, energized, fully surrendered, focused self.”

Stage Two: Manager of others

Helping others do it is one of the most important passages you go through as a leader. This involves Planning, Setting Objectives, Assigning Work, Selection, Delegation, Performance Assessment, Feedback, Coaching, Rewards and Motivation, Communication and Climate-setting, Relationship Building. During this stage, a leader provides training and coaching to achieve results through others.

Stage Three: Manager of managers

This passage is frequently de-emphasized. It is assumed that there is very little difference between managing others, and managing managers. But here the alignment desired is not around task, but around values. The manager of managers is the connection between the values of the organization and the accomplishment of tasks.

Stage Four: Manager of the organization

This stage involves setting the enterprise’s direction and building its people capacity. Your behavior is now symbolic. In this stage, a leader focuses on developing new forms of communication and functional strategies to create competitive advantage.