Your Easter Sermon

A quick thought for pastors: As you put the final touches on your Easter message please remember something incredibly important: You will probably have visitors this Sunday.  And depending on how connected your church members are in your community, you will probably have some unchurched or dechurched visitors as well.  Make sure you prepare your message with them in mind. […]

How Does A Visitor View Your Church?

It’s been often said that you only have one chance to make a first impression.  And unfortunately the first impression you actually make on someone is hard to overcome.  Few people will give you a second chance if your first impression is a negative one.  It’s been said that excellent customer service is the best marketing strategy.  This is absolutely true for churches! […]

Modern Day Tax Collectors

First Century Pharisees (Jewish religious leaders) classified people into two categories: righteous people and sinners.  You were either one or the other.  The righteous were those that successfully checked all the boxes on their religious to-do list.  It didn’t matter if they were jealous, vengeful, greedy, proud or  judgmental.  What mattered was that they followed the Mosaic Law to the letter. The sinners… well, they were like the rest of us.  They didn’t quite get it right.  It didn’t matter if they were kind, generous or humble.  All that mattered was that they just didn’t make the cut.  And they would never be a part of the “in crowd.” But there was one especially wicked group of sinners: tax collectors. […]

Facing Reality

Reality – what a painful word for leaders.  It refers to the status quo we live in.  It speaks of the circumstances we are currently experiencing – the inconvenient truth we probably aren’t happy with. A good friend of mine worked at a large church in the Midwest a number of years ago.  This church had been plateaued for awhile, and was starting to head into decline.  So they made a smart decision: they brought in an outside church consultant.  This brings in a fresh set of eyes and removes the emotion from decision-making.  A consultant has nothing to lose by being honest.  He/she can talk about “the elephant in the room” without fear of consequences. […]

A Quick Thought About Pruning

When thinking about leadership strategy for pastors, something came to me the other night as I was recalling some of the churches we’ve worked with over the years.  It comes from a familiar passage of Scripture. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. – John 15:2 Notice that both the fruitful and the unfruitful branches face the pruning shears. […]

Common Sense Metrics

In my last post I mentioned Jesus’ words: He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. – John 15:2 I wrote that everything we do needs to be analyzed to determine if it fits with WHO God has called us to be and WHAT He’s called us to do.  Those things that don’t fit need to be eliminated.  And those that do fit need to be evaluated. I want to drill down on that idea of evaluation.  In order for us to evaluate our ministries, we have to have a way to measure the WHO and the WHAT.  It sounds good, but how do you actually do it?  How do you determine if you’re actually moving in the right direction? […]

God’s Thumbprint For Your Church

Over the years I have been privileged to work with many churches – both from the inside as a staff member, and from the outside as a consultant.  One of the things I’ve learned through this process is that church leaders need to invest the time, energy, focus and prayer to discover their unique God-given DNA – God’s thumbprint for their church.  I once heard Carey Nieuwhof say they need to wrestle it to the ground.  This is a perfect analogy because it is NOT an easy process.  But once settled, it provides the foundation for building a thriving, God-honoring local church. Churches need to first decide WHO they are – who God has created them (as a local church) to be.  Then they need to decide what matters most – their core values.  This provides the WHY behind what they do.  Many leaders already know this.  But then what should they do? […]

Absolute Statements in a Relativistic World

I consider myself a nice guy.  I genuinely like people.  My ENFP personality type means I am very comfortable in front of a crowd, and that I’m always looking to help people connect with one another.  I prefer conversation to confrontation. When it comes to sharing my faith, I would rather speak of the goodness of God than challenge someone’s relativistic views.  I believe a key to reaching people in a Post-Christian world is found in the Apostle Paul’s words to the Roman believers: “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” (Romans 2:4) But that does create some issues for me.  What do you do with the absolute statements that are contained in the Bible?  How do you reconcile Jesus’ messianic claims with a culture that believes there is no right and wrong? […]

The Ministry of Quality Control

Months ago I had a conversation with a pastor over lunch. I had recently visited his church and, I must say, I liked it a lot. His church had an amazing band and had a lot of young people serving in prominent positions in the church. It was growing and had a lot of positive momentum. By outward appearances, everything was working… and it was working well. When he told me how many visitors they’d had recently I asked him how he was doing quality control with their visitor experience. He replied, “That takes care of itself. People vote with their feet and their finances. As long as people keep coming I know it’s working.” I was honestly shocked to hear this, although I didn’t let him know that I was. […]

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