Wednesday, December 28, 2011


You might call 2011 the "year of the uprising." It's been a year of riots and social unrest. All around the world we've seen people take to the streets in protest. There has been the "Arab spring" in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. In England a March on a police station led to a night of arson and destruction. In Athens over 100,000 revolted against pay and pension cuts. Millions protested in 80-plus countries during the Global Day or Rage.

While social media has been credited with facilitating these spontaneous combustions of protest, Twitter has ended up only being the paper on which the invitation was written. Researchers have identified two much more powerful, psychic contributors that actually provide the energy for large numbers of people to get off the couch and have their voice heard, at the risk of embarrassment, arrest or even death.

Clifford Stott, senior lecturer in social psychology at the University of Liverpool, has spent 20 years researching the dynamics of crowd violence, mainly among soccer fans. "Stott boils down the violent potential of a crowd to two basic factors. The first is what he calls legitimacy - the extent to which the crowd feels that the police and the whole social order still deserve to be obeyed. In combustible situations, the shared identity of a crowd is really about legitimacy, since individuals usually start out with different attitudes toward the police and then are steered toward greater unanimity by what they see and hear...The second factor in crowd violence, in Stott's view, is simply what he calls power: the perception within a crowd that it has the ability to do what it wants, to take to the streets without fear..." (Bill Wasik, Crowd Control, Wired, January 2012)

The transferability of these concepts to the Christian movement is obvious. The two co-conspirators to uprisings are 1) legitimacy, and 2) power. To see large numbers of people respond, the participants must be convinced that the cause is legitimate (worthy) and that they have sufficient power to do something about it.

For those of us who want to see Christianity spread like a plague, from life to life, home to home, and village to village, the insights are compelling. For Christianity to become a Great Awakening, participants must be imbued with the legitimacy of Christ's kingdom, and the feeling they have the power necessary to carry it forth. Of course, Christ is THE source of all legitimacy and power. In the commissioning passages (Matthew 28:19,20 and Acts 1:8), Christ even spoke of "authority" and "power." He was letting us know that we have everything we need to spark a movement.

The secular uprisings of 2011 may signal a deepening longing for people to be a part of something bigger than themselves, something world-changing. As Jesus described in Matthew 9, the people are "harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." If the church of Jesus Christ can rise up in His legitimacy and power, 2012 may be a year when we see "a prevailing, multi-location church emerge that will transform the spiritual landscape." The harvest is great. Pray.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


There have been many retrospectives on the life and times of Steve Jobs. The impact on society of Steve, and his company, Apple, has been significant. He transformed several entire industries: computing, desktop publishing, music, phones, tablets. He even made the commercial the best part of the Super Bowl, with his blockbuster ad in 1984. Really, Steve had different ideas about how we communicate. He took the value of simplicity to extremes, even in his annual lectures to the Apple faithful. It is here where those of us who are on stage (as teachers of musicians), can learn something. Listen to Penn Jillette, a master magician and a transformative communicator in his own right, reminisce about what he saw in Steve. In this article from Wired magazine (December, 2011) you might find some ideas to help you be a masterful, surprising teacher, like Steve, Penn, or better yet, like Jesus.

"Steve Jobs is famous for his keynotes. And of course he was wonderful when he unveiled the iCloud and the iPad2 earlier this year. But by then, he was already 'Steve Jobs.' At some point, when the Rolling Stones walk onstage, people cheer. But in 1984, he still had to earn it. And he did it with pure showbiz.

"Even then, in that first keynote when he introduced the Mac, Steve Jobs knew the importance of keeping secrets and the element of surprise. Everybody thinks they outgrow that. The file industry has decided that surprise doesn't matter at all - they'll show you the "Luke, I'm your father" moment in the trailer. But as a magician, I think about the use of secrets and surprise all the time. It's astonishing how well they work. What I find so fascinating in that, while Jobs was sophisticated and the ideas he was selling were deeply intellectual, he was using tactics that play right into our monkey brains.

"He structured this announcement so well. He's got something in a bag. And the word bag is funny, it's humble. It is also not a cliche'. Box would have been cliche'. Holding it in my hand would have been a cliche'. But bag makes it so personal and honest and childlike. And then he takes the computer out of the bag and it speaks - and it refers to Jobs as its father, which anthropomorphizes it and makes it cute and gentle.

"If you gave that routine to any other CEO, they would say, "I need 30 more jokes in there." But Jobs had the confidence not to do that. When (Penn's partner) Tell and I first played off-Broadway, it was wonderful to go onstage and start our show kind of slowly and easily, knowing that in 50 minutes the audience was going to like us. And Jobs was the same way that day in 1984. He didn't come in clapping his hands and going, 'Whoa whoa whoa, have we got something for you!' He knew that the way to do it is nice and easy and slow.

"Dai Vernon, who revolutionized magic in the 20th Century, said that onstage, movements should be natural. That's something that very few people in magic understand and very few public speakers understand. But Jobs followed that completely. There's nothing about the way he moves that you wouldn't do in a living room. Watch the way he pulls the disk out of his pocket and slides it into the front of the Mac. It's not too slight. He slides it in like bread into a toaster.

"So: He didn't do too much buildup. He let the surprise sell itself. He did just a few jokes and did them very well. And then he the stage. You could structure a 15-minute magic show exactly the same way."

...Or a 30-minute sermon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


We sing, “Your holy presence, surrounding me, in every season, I know you love me.” I reflected on these seasons during a personal retreat, and felt led to share what I wrote:

Lord, thank you for the seasons in which you have been with me.

Childhood – You were the God I admired – the God of all the Bible stories I loved so much. You were also the love in the eyes of the people who taught me those stories. I believe. It all makes sense to me, actually. The God who made the water can walk on it. What’s the big deal? Why doesn't everyone believe this?

Youth – You were the God who called me. You spoke to me personally and powerfully. Am I nuts for hearing voices? No, I’m privileged. I loved listening to you. There is nothing on earth that matters more than getting in touch with heaven. (By the way, Lord. I want to do this with you again? Will you do this with me again? I thought maybe not, but now I think so.)

College – You were the God who burned in me. You gave me a love for your church. It is actually not my love for your church, it is your love for your church. Why does the church have to hurt people? Why does it have to be leaderless? Why does it have to be so ineffective? Do I have stuff in me to make a difference? Is that why you’ve called me? Is that why you have created me?

Young Adulthood – the church is more messed up than I thought. So am I, actually, though I won’t realize that until you break me down. I’m a shepherd, but I’m also a sheep. And you break the legs of stray sheep. Severe mercy. It hurts big-time, but in a way that lets me know I’m loved, not hated.

Middle Adulthood – You were the God who walks with me. Even though I walk with a limp, I still occasionally try to get out in front of you. It’s amazing. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You occasionally hook me back in. You don’t allow me to get too far away. I remember my brokenness, and I revel in your attentive, amazing grace. Our relationship is complicated, but simple. As long as I stay connected to the vine, there’s fruit. Apart from you, I can do nothing. You allow me to see what you can do, and it is WAY more than anything I thought or imagined. Thank you for the front row seat.

Now – You are the God who is moving in me. Just when I thought I had you figured out, you moved. I was about to press the cruise control button, and you decided to go off-road driving. Wow, God. I need a three-point harness. Am I too old for this? I guess not, if you don’t think so. You are wild. I feel your Spirit on me. You are doing things I can’t explain. You are showing up in places I didn’t expect. And that angel standing behind me that one Sunday? I just wanted you to know I noticed. I’m excited about where this is heading, even though I don’t know where this is heading. Father Abraham had many sons, and I am one of them. I feel content in not figuring it out. I’m getting comfortable with my uncomfortability. Now, will you make the supernatural natural, and the extraordinary ordinary?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


The tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). You may have experienced this power before in your own life. When someone says something negative to you, you can feel yourself wilt inside, as your spirit starts to die. On the other, when someone shares beautiful, encouraging words to you your spirit blossoms like a flower. Words are vehicles that take people places; toward life, or toward death.

A friend was telling me about how when he was a kid, his mom said in his presence, “I wish I had had an abortion.” That is a destructive statement that rings in his ears to this day. On the other hand, one person’s proclamation, positively, can have great influence too. This is where Jesus comes in. In John 1, when Jesus was calling out his disciples he found Simon. Simon was a "ready, fire, aim" sort of guy. But when Jesus called him out, He changed his name to Peter, which mean "rock." I wonder if anyone had ever believed in Peter like that, and said something that life-giving.

There are five ways we can take people toward life with our words:

1. Words of affirmation…about who they are (Antidote to: Insecurity). Insecurity is a big issue. There are a lot of negative messages out there, but none louder than the voices in our head. We need to find our identity in who we are in Christ. We also need to have that identity reinforced through the affirmations of others. When Kristyn and I were newly married and living in Tacoma. I was managing an apartment complex, working at a sporting goods store, going to seminary and serving in the church. Kristyn was in her first teaching assignment, fresh out of college. We were "out on our own" feeling very insecure, and a bit scared at times. But there was an older lady, Marie Robinson, who took a special interest in us. She always built us up, "You guys are doing so great! You are going to be just fine." She gave us a "warm fuzzy" every time we saw her. Years later, when our second daughter was born, we named her Jenna Marie.

2. Words of hope…about where they are going (Antidote to: Despair). On the fourth of July, 1952, Florence Chadwick, who was 34, set out to be the first woman to swim from Catalina Island to the mainland of California. She was the first woman to swim the English Channel. She set out with support boats on either side of her, with guns to protect her from sharks. She swam for nearly sixteen hours against rough water. About a half mile from shore she hit a solid wall of fog. Suddenly she wanted to stop. Her mother and trainer urged her not to quit, telling her how close she was. But she asked to be taken out of the water. Still thawing her chilled body several hours later, she told a reporter, "Look, I'm not excusing myself, but if I could have seen land I might have made it." It was not fatigue or cold or sharks that defeated her. It was the fog. She was unable to see her goal. One of the ways we can use our tongues in a life-giving way it to point out the end in mind.

3. Words of encouragement…that they can get there (Antidote to: Disappointment). People can know that God loves them and that he has a plan for them, and yet they can become disappointed in their progress. One day our son Daron came home from preschool with a handout, “Ways to make sure your child hates reading.” It was tongue in cheek, but it described how we as parents could point out his every mistake, become frustrated when he isn't "getting it," etc. On the other hand, we could celebrate every time he got a word right, and our child might like that better. In other words we have a part to play in how well they make it. One of the best lines from the cowboy song "Home on the Range" is "where seldom is heard a discouraging word." Don't you want your home to be like that? For Christians, and particularly for Christian leaders, there should seldom be a discouraging word (Ephesians 4:29).

4. Words of edification…that they will get there (Antidote to: Fear). People need built up. One of the reasons we don’t build up others as we should is that we don’t think about it. Our mouths are running, but our minds are disengaged. This section from an Al-Anon devotional is particularly salient: "There was a time when if a thought entered my mind, it would automatically come out of my mouth. Even if I wasn’t sure that what I was saying was true, the words poured out of me. I have learned to “Think” before I speak. When I’m tempted to respond to angry accusations with accusations of my own, I stop and “Think.” When I have an urge to betray a confidence, to gossip, or to tell something extremely personal to a total stranger, I stop and “Think.” And when my opinion about another person’s business has not been requested, I take the time to “Think” before I get involved. That way I make a conscious choice about how I will respond. Perhaps I will decide to say nothing, or choose a more tactful way to proceed, or question whether I really mean what I have been thinking. I may decide that this is not an appropriate place to discuss what is on my mind. Or I may choose to go right ahead and speak up in a very direct manner. Regardless of which option I select, today I am willing to accept the consequences of my actions because I have taken the time to make a choice."

5. Words of trust…that God wlll get them there (Antidote to: Doubt). God has called us to a life of faith. But sometimes we get shaky. So we need each other (Hebrews 10:25). Sometimes people need to borrow your faith. Sometimes you may need to borrow theirs. We need to band together so that we can be strong with each other, strong for others, and strong against our enemy….Satan.

I've been thinking about Satan lately, especially since the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. And it occurred to me that Satan is always a hijacker. He cannot create anything on his own. He can only take the beautiful things that have been created and try to use them for a destructive purpose. He wants to hijack sexuality. He wants to hijack your appetites. And he wants to hijack your life...your mind, your tongue. You have life-giving power, but only if you will keep your tongue under the command of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Some churches are more like schools, than churches. They have teachers, classes, and textbooks. The people come "to learn." The pastor is hired "to teach the Word." It's all very academic. It's not education, a good thing. It's educationalism, a bad thing. It's the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Heads are full of info, but hearts are cold.

In my humble opinion, the gravitation for the church toward "educationalism" has come from two places:

1. The American School System. The Sunday School movement (which was a huge movement in the church a hundred years ago) patterned after the American school system. To a great extent, "discipleship" to this day is often thought to require a text book and a classroom. The American school system is very linear and departmentalized/compartmentalized (age graded, 101, 201, etc.). It is classic modernism from a decidedly Western viewpoint. Jesus' instruction was quite non-linear and holistic. It is from an Eastern, circular, viewpoint. The Hebrew model of education is a more "as you walk along the way" model. However, Jesus also modeled extended teaching times (Matthew 5-7) and Rabbis would often teach for long periods in the synagogue. We have an instance in Acts where a guy fell out the window because the teaching session got so long; obviously we don't want to kill people!

2. The Denominational Seminary. Seminaries are mostly lead by scholars, and what scholars can best model to their students is how to study in depth and teach in depth, not how to lead, evangelize, mentor, pastor or disciple. Greek professors will pound the lectern about how important it is to know Greek, but at times, I've gotten the sense that this point of view is also about their job security. As long as everyone is convinced they need to know the original languages to be a pastor, then students will pay the big bucks for a "seminary education." Lately, however, the secret is starting to get out that this whole business is oversold, and that while the pastor needs to be a student of the Word, he does not need to be a scholar of the Word. In fact, some of the most ineffective pastors are seminary trained, and there may be a bit of cause and effect there. So I like Donald Miller's statement: "The first disciples were not teachers, they were fishermen, tax collectors and at least one was a Zealot. We don't know the occupation of the others, but Jesus did not charge educators with the great commission, he chose laborers. And those laborers took the gospel and created Christian communities that worked, that did things and met in homes and were active."

For myself, I have done the schooling. I've earned the degrees. I have a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Divinity and have completed coursework for a Doctor of Ministries. I'm not anti-education. But I am anti-educationalism. What we need is knowledge on fire. What we need is knowledge on purpose. We need heads and hearts that are in service to Christ and His kingdom. We need to remember that "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" is in service to "go and make disciples."

Thursday, September 08, 2011


On September 11, 2001, Jimmy Dunne was on the golf course when a tournament official rolled up and suggested he call the office. He tried. There was no answer. When he finally reached a friend, he was told, "You have to come to terms with the fact that most of the people in your firm are dead."

Dunne was a senior executive at Wall Street firm Sandler O'Neill, the "little big firm" that had its headquarters on the 104th floor of Tower 2. On that day 83 people came to work at Sandler, and 66 never went home. Dunne found he was the only surviving executive. Leading this shattered company through its overwhelming losses would prove to be the greatest leadership challenge of his relatively young (44 year old) life. Between that Tuesday and the following Monday (when the stock market opened for business again), Dunne attended countless funerals. He cried his tears and steeled his nerve. The company set up temporary headquarters on West 57th Street.

When he gathered with the survivors the next week he gave them this challenge: "Look, we've been involved in an international incident. It's not something we wanted, it's not something we were prepared for, but the reality is, we're right in the middle of it." He acknowledge that some in the company might want to leave the firm. As for himself, he was going to stay and rebuild. He continued, "Come on in! There's room in the boat. Everybody can get an oar. Now, there are some of you that are doubting. We cannot have you in the boat! We wish you well. But you can't come in the boat. Because if you're in the boat you have to have an oar."

The team signed on. Everybody grabbed an oar and started rowing.

The results have been astonishing.

The firm has grown exponentially in the past ten years to over 340 employees. Spurring their growth: the legacy of those they lost. They decided to take the proceeds of the firm and provide health care for the victims' dependents for the next ten years. As a group they committed to pay 100% of tuition, regardless of merit or need, for all the children of the deceased. Their work matters. The story of Sandler O'Neill is a great illustration of what can be accomplished when a group of people are called to active engagement in pursuit of a greater purpose.

At CTK we say, "Always a Place for You." But when we say this, we don't mean that there's room in the boat. We mean that everybody can get an oar.

Monday, August 29, 2011


One of the tricky "Can God do...?" questions you sometimes hear is, "Can God make two mountain peaks without a valley between them?" This is a question akin to, "Can God make a rock so big that he can't life it?" The answer to this kind of question is "God can do anything that is within his nature to do, and the fact that his nature does not allow contradiction is a positive trait not a negative one." But I digress. The main thing I want to talk about is how valleys come with the peaks.

Growing up in Alaska, I developed a love for Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. It rises up from the landscape in a daunting way, and can be seen from hundreds of miles around on a clear day. When I went to Colorado for college, I grew to appreciate the Rocky Mountain Range, as well. But, while the Rockies are formidable, experiencing the Rockies is not like experiencing McKinley. The difference? There are so many high peaks in the Rockies, that none stand out on the landscape quite like the solitary McKinley.

This is a subtlety, to be sure. But the artistic servant of Christ realizes that what makes a peak stand out is surrounding landscape, not so tall. If quietness gradually builds to a crescendo, the crashing of the cymbals has great impact. If it's nothing but crashing cymbals from beginning to end? Well, that's called noise. A ten thousand foot mountain rising from sea level seems more impressive than a twelve thousand footer with a base a mile above sea level. I was reminded of the difference between McKinley and the Rockies a few months ago, in a worship service. The worship team, in this particular case, led us in four "epic" songs in a row. By epic, I mean a song that is so significant, and meaning-full, that it rises above. (I'm sure you realize that not all songs are created equal.) I could appreciate the desire the leader had to string several of these large-magnitude songs together. But in a way, by putting them all together, the impact that any one of them could have had was lost. There was no longer a "peak." Everything was on a plane at higher elevation.

How does this apply? In various ways. It applies to the attendance rhythm of the year. If you have a high attendance every week, it won't be a high attendance any more. It will be your low attendance. It applies to personal "ups and downs." You can't always be "on top of it." There will be times when you experience less than "peak performance." It applies to all the ways we "express" ourselves through worship and teaching. I've said this to many pastors through the years, but there is no need for a teacher to "hit a home run" every weekend. I always coach, "Just get the bat on the ball. When you make solid contact, every now and then the ball will go out."

As a servant of Christ, don't become overly discouraged when things are "down." The valley may just be wonderfully setting up the next peak.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Had an interesting conversation the other day about the speed at which we sometimes move at CTK. As to their comfortability with the pace of change, the folks in the conversation represented the spectrum of possibilities, from early adopters to laggards. Some were "no go," some were "go slow," others were "go now." Each point of view had its rationale. As leaders in Christ's church, where should we fall on the spectrum? The answer: we should be moving at the pace of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we don't have a predetermined preference for fast or slow, now or later. Our preference is to be in sync with what God is doing, and when. Our desire is to be on His schedule, and sometimes that mean speeding up, and sometimes that means slowing down.

In Galatians 5:25 Paul says we should "keep in step with the Spirit." "With" is the key. We don't want to be arrogant and get in front of the Spirit. Like the early church, sometimes we wait in the upper room until the Holy Spirit arrives and comes upon us in power. We also don't want to be fearful and lag behind. When the pillar of fire and cloud moves, we move. We want to go with Him, beside Him. Truly, walking by faith is a real, lively experience between you and God.

I do think that walking by faith implies motion. There is a predisposition toward motion. It's the Christian walk, not the Christian sit. We are keeping in step, not getting stuck. So stay "in gear" even if your foot is on the brake waiting for the next green light. Like the children of Israel before leaving Egypt, if you are not yet moving, at least be packed and ready to go.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Apple (maker of the iPhone, iPad, etc.) is as secretive, as it is good. But Fortune Magazine recently released an article written by Adam Lashinsky entitled “Inside Apple,” which provides dozens of rare insights into the business and culture at Apple, as well as the mind of its CEO, Steve Jobs.

According to insiders, one parable that Jobs tells quite frequently is entitled “The Difference Between the Janitor and the Vice President.” In the story Jobs talks about his trashcan not being emptied in his office. Jobs approaches the janitor about why this is the case, and the janitor says, “I couldn’t empty it, because they changed the locks, and I could no longer get into your office.” It is a legitimate reason, and Jobs totally understands it. But Jobs goes on to make a distinction. It’s OK for the janitor to make excuses when things go wrong. But those in management don’t get that luxury. “Somewhere between the janitor and the CEO, reasons stop mattering. [That] Rubicon is crossed when you become a Vice President.”

Steve Jobs’ parable is particularly salient for us at CTK, since we are seeking to build a culture of empowerment.

In the CTK story, I would say that the Rubicon of Responsibility is certainly crossed when you become a pastor, or associate pastor…but we will take an entirely new step up as an organization if the Rubicon is passed at the Director level.

Empowerment means giving authority, as well as responsibility to those who need it. But it doesn’t mean authority instead of responsibility. In some ways it means having more responsibility than ever.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Eric Metaxas has written a compelling and award-winning biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. On page 209 Metaxas gives the account of a sermon that Bonhoeffer preached from the book of Jeremiah:

"The picture that Bonhoeffer painted of Jeremiah was one of unrelieved gloom and drama. God was after him, and he could not escape. Bonhoeffer referred to the 'arrow of the Almighty' striking down its 'hunted game.' But who was the hunted game? It was Jeremiah! But why was God shooting at the hero of the story? Before they found out, Bonhoeffer switched from arrow imagery to noose imagery. 'The noose is drawn tighter and more painfully,' he continued, 'reminding Jeremiah that he is a prisoner. He is a prisoner and he has to follow. His path is prescribed. It is the path of the man whom God will not let go, who will never be rid of God…' He marched farther downhill: 'This path will lead right down into the deepest situation of human powerlessness. The follower will become a laughingstock, scorned and taken for a fool, but a fool who is extremely dangerous to people’s peace and comfort, so that he or she must be beaten, locked up, tortured, if not put to death right away. That is exactly what became of this man, Jeremiah, because he could not get away from God.'"

Of course, little did Bonhoeffer know when he preached this message that his "path of ministry" would lead to martyrdom at the hands of his countrymen - the Nazi regime. But his words definitely put the "call to ministry" in a different light, don't they? When God "gets" you, He gets you. Paul spoke of being "compelled" and being a "slave to Christ." If you are like me, you maybe sometimes fantasize about what it would be like to not be in ministry, to have a regular 9 to 5. But all ambivalence about where God has us needs to cease and desist immediately. God has us, and that is that.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Maybe it's March Madness, but I see a lot of analogies between church and sports, and between pastoring and coaching.

1. Game Plan. Winning teams/churches have a plan. You see teams win with a running game, or win with a passing game. It almost doesn't matter what the plan is. It is far more important that there is one. Do you have a strategy for achieving your mission?

2. Playbook. Winning coaches hand out a play book. Have you put on paper "here's what we're gonna do"?

3. Practice. Winning teams rehearse. What do you need to be rehearsing because it is that important? Greeting? The teaching? Small groups? Perfect practice makes perfect performance.

4. Huddles. In every sport you see interludes during the game where team members put their heads together. These moments are ideal for play calling and encouragement. Are huddles happening in your ministry?

5. White board. Many coaches use a white board, not just to draw up plays, but to list priorities prior to a game. Is it time to white board some points of focus?

6. Yelling. During a game, you can sometimes hear the coach yelling at his players. It's immediate feedback. Have you been good about giving your leaders immediate feedback (perhaps in a soft tone of voice)?

7. Benching. When players mess up frequently (do more harm than good), they are removed from the game. When was the last time you benched someone?

8. Recruiting. Great coaches are always on the lookout for talent. Who was the last winner you recruited to your team?

9. Clear Goals. Teams often have clearly identified goals in mind - to make the playoffs, the win the championship, etc. What is your immediate goal?

10. Coaches. Along with the head coach, there are often assistant coaches who specialize in various aspects of the game. Are you identifying "faithful men" who will be able to teach others also?

11. Captains. On every team there are standout, experienced players. Have you identified them in your ministry?

12. Video. Following the game, the team may get together to review how things went. Some coaches spend hours reviewing film. What is your analysis process and how often does it happen?

13. Responsibility. On great teams, everyone feels responsible for their part - they don't leave it up to a couple stars to make all the plays. What is your level of involvement?

14. High Fives. Winning teams are happy teams, or maybe it's the other way around! How's morale?

15. Roles. Roles are important on a great team. (Seems like Paul might have mentioned this in 1 Corinthians 12.) Have you defined how everyone's contribution goes together?

16. Win. Coaches get all the "players" to get involved and let them know that they are contributing to "the win." What is a "win" in your context?

17. Celebration. As victories are won, winning teams take time to celebrate. Sometimes they will even say for how long ("We're going to enjoy this win today, but tomorrow we're going to be back practicing getting ready for our next opponent."). Are you celebrating along the way?

Monday, March 21, 2011


Ministry is stressful. Some of the anxiety is good, and some bad. Only God can reveal whether the anxiety is coming from a place of dependence or independence. We see both types of anxiety in scripture.

There was good anxiety for Peter when he was being asked to get out of the boat.

There was bad anxiety for Jonah as he was getting on a boat.

There was good anxiety for Abraham when he was offering his son.

There was bad anxiety for Abraham when he was lying and saying his wife was his sister.

There was good anxiety for Hosea when he was marrying a prostitute.

There was bad anxiety for Judas when he was selling Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Times of anxiety are a test for a leader. A critical aspect to figure out is the origin of the anxiety. Is it arising because you are following God (walking by faith), or because you are going your own way?

Saturday, January 29, 2011


From time to time, people in your ministry will come up with novel ideas for ministry. "I have a friend who can shape balloons into little puppies. What if we went to the park every Saturday and did balloon art for kids and shared the gospel? Don't you think that would be cool, Pastor?"

Now before you answer that, let me give you a tool that might be helpful: In your response, try to connect their "what" with your "why." Sometimes the ideas that people have (the whats) are a little off of the church's mission (the why). If you don't connect the "whats" with your "why" you will end up with a lot of divergent ministries, going in a lot of different directions. If you can connect the "whats" to the "why" you can end up with a lot of creativity pointed in the same direction.

Taking the illustration of the balloon artist (something I made no offense please), your response could go something like this: "Interesting idea. I've been thinking lately about our mission, and how we want to create an authentic Christian community that reaches out effectively to unchurch people with love, acceptance and forgiveness. Is there a way that you can see your idea expressing authentic Christian community that would reach out with love?" Now we're talking. You've got them thinking about your "why" and how to connect their "what" with it.

I find that some pastors, when outside-the-lines ideas come to them, are a little too quick to say, "No, I don't think that would work here" and miss a very teachable moment; a moment when you can teach them, not what to think, but how to think. And you just might end up with a new balloon ministry that is on mission.

Monday, January 10, 2011


One of the great quotations from the inspirational movie Remember the Titans was “Attitude reflects leadership, captain.” The context is that two football teams from two different high schools (one white and one black) are being merged together. One of the black players is frustrated that white players are not blocking for “Rev,” one of the black running backs. In return, the black players decide to not give their complete effort for the white players. When one of the white captains of the team, Bertier, hears about this, he exclaims, “That’s the worst attitude I’ve ever heard.” To which Big Ju responds, “Attitude reflects leadership, captain.”

As a Christian leader it is incumbent upon us to model positive attitude. There are three kinds of sunny outlooks we can captain. The first is optimism -- the firm belief that things will go well. The second is hope -- the belief that things might or could go well. The third kind of outlook I will call "relentless positivity.” Relentless positivity is not an optimistic belief that things will go well, or could go well. Nor does it involve denying or ignoring bad things that happen. Rather, it is a determination to stay positive, even though one knows already some bad things are going to happen.

In any social enterprise – churches not excluded – there will be challenges (read: disagreements, disappointments, frustrations, misunderstandings, et al). At these setback moments a leader must behave more like a thermostat than a thermometer. But for a Christian leader, the positivity is fueled by a promise from Christ himself: “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”