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.”