Stupid Things Leaders Say When They’re Trying to Initiate Change in Churches

I love this.

It’s from Carey Nieuwhof (who write some great things, by the way… follow him).

These are seven stupid things that leaders say when their trying to lead change.  These hurt your cause, not help it.

I’ll list them here… head over to Carey’s site for some additional commentary and insight.

Here we go:

1.  These changes are great. I can’t understand why you don’t like them.

2.  God told me this is what we should do.

3.  We’ve got this all figured out.  Just trust me.

4.  What happened in the past is completely irrelevant… focus on the future.

5.  Everyone just needs to get on board right now.

6.  I know people are leaving… who cares?

7.  This is a bullet-proof plan.

I’ve heard all of these at one time or another.  Sometimes they are not public, but are rather batted around at the staff/leadership level.

But word gets out.

And your attitude shines much louder than what you are or are not saying publicly.

Have YOU said any of these stupid things before when leading change?

How’d that work out for you?


Would love to hear your comments!


Monday Mornings are prime-time for wimpy pastors

Do you love Mondays?

If you’re like most leaders, you either love them or loathe them. Either you can’t wait to get in the office, or you wish you could stay in bed for a few more hours.

As a pastor, it’s easy to base your Monday morning on what happened yesterday.  Did you have a good Sunday? Did God show up at your services?  Did you get an anonymous note that pummeled you into a bad mood?

Well, it’s Monday… time to get going. I hope you’re excited.

My friend Brad Lomenick gives some great advice for getting started on a Monday morning, or any time really.  He says these are ways that you can stop being a wimpy leader.  I would add that these are great ways to kick-start your motivation level as you start the week.

You see… Monday is an easy day for wimpy pastors.  In fact, a wimpy Monday morning leader will accomplish little, and probably go home at the end of the day no better off than when they unlocked their office door.

Don’t be a wimpy leader today.

Let’s get going:

1.  Set some scary standards. Brad suggests you set a goal that is nearly unattainable.  It should scare you just a little.  Maybe it’s a few phone calls you need to make that you’ve been putting off.  You know what it is (primarily BECAUSE it scares you).  Set that goal.  Accomplish that thing today or this week. Grab it by the (insert whatever you want here) and take it down.

2.  Allow for failure.  Sometimes you will fail… even on Monday mornings.  That’s ok.  In fact, allow for it.  Failure is sometimes the only road to success.  Sometimes you have to find out what doesn’t work before you can find out what does.

3.  Make some decisions. Today. Get off the fence and make some kind of decision today. Start small if you need to.  But wimpy leaders don’t make decisions.  Especially this morning.

4. Reward innovation.  This comes out of #2 to be honest.  Much innovation comes out of persistent failure.  When you or someone on your staff pushes through and innovations, have a little party.

5.  Pursue the right opportunities.  Right now.  Should you read another blog (after this one) or make a lunch appointment with a key leader?  Should you do something comfortable and fun, or write a thank you note?  Do something today that will make a difference tomorrow.

6. Learn to delegate.  You can’t do it all.  You have to trust others to help carry on the vision.  If you don’t, you’re the ultimate wimpy leader… you’ll be stuck where you are for a long while, spinning your wheels, wondering why you’re not going anywhere.

So… will you be a BOLD or WIMPY leader today?

How are you doing so far?


PS – Read more from Brad here

I’m not sure I get it…

This just in in ‘entertainment’ news:

Would you go see this movie? It’s called “Believe Me”:

In BELIEVE ME, Sam Atwell (Russell) stands on the stage as thousands of fans go wild.  Smart, charismatic, handsome, he moves them with his message, and when he calls for donations to his charity, the money pours in. And by the way, Sam doesn’t believe a word he’s saying. Just months earlier he was a typical college senior focused on keg stands, hookups and graduating. But a surprise tuition bill threatens his dream of law school and leaves him thousands of dollars in the hole. Convincing his three roommates they can make a killing exploiting the gullible church crowd, they start a sham charity and begin campaigning across the country, raising funds for a cause as fake as their message. But Sam’s got girl problems. He cares about Callie, the tour manager, who actually believes what he’s saying. When Callie discovers where the money is going, it’s Sam’s moment of truth.On the final night of the tour, before a packed auditorium but alone in the spotlight, it’s time for Sam Atwell to figure out what he really believes.

Here’s the short movie trailer:

Head Scratcher:  This film features Lecrea.

It’s clearly satire.  But I’m not sure from which camp the satire comes.  Actually, I’d be pretty sure… until I saw it featured Lecrea.

What do you think?

1.  Will this film be funny?

2.  Is satiring what many non-believers really think of the church a good thing for the church in any way?

3. Would you go watch this film?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!



100% Money Back Tithe Guarantee

Ed Young is breaking new ground again.

No… it’s not another sexperiment. (Thankfully.  That last one was out of sight!)

(I do want to take a break here and thank Ed for allowing me the ability to write the best headline of my life)

And it’s not the Kingdom Kit. (aka ‘murse’). Again, thankfully.

This time, Ed is introducing the 90 day challenge on tithing. While he’s not the first to do so, he’s getting a lot of attention because he’s Ed Young.

Here’s the promise:  ”If you tithe for 90 days and God doesn’t hold true to his promise of blessings, we will refund 100% of your tithe.”

I’ve not heard how this has gone at a couple of other big churches that have tried it.  Did they return anyone’s money?

What do you think?  Good idea?  Bad idea?

My initial thoughts… much better than the Kingdom Kit; not as sexy as the sexperiment.

Would love to hear your thoughts.


Church’s Bankruptcy is Such a Blessing

As you may know… I am somewhat a connoisseur of Christian press releases.

Some Christian press releases are just chock-full of CS (that’s the politically Christian term for BS, by the way). And this press release I saw yesterday is a great example of how you can spin anything.

The title of the press release is called ‘Without Walls’ Church Bankruptcy Creates Blessings.

(You may remember Without Walls as the Randy and Paula White one-time megachurch in Lakeland, FL… Formerly Carpenter’s Home Church). The place has a pretty storied history (so much so that there’s not enough room in this blog post to hold it all).

But the title interested me… could a church bankruptcy actually be a blessing?

Well… yes, I guess.  At least for the Licensed Real Estate Broker that his handling the auction of the property (and the writing of this press release).  Here’s how they start:

“The Without Walls International Church bankruptcy provides an opportunity for blessing for the church and commercial real estate buyers. The bankruptcy will jettison debt for the church, allowing them to focus on their core mission of serving their members and the community. Additionally, the bankruptcy auction, conducted by Tranzon Driggers, will provide a blessing to buyers seeking to purchase two of the church’s prime commercial properties in Lakeland and Tampa.”

So, the real blessing here… real estate buyers in Lakeland.  And the real estate company.  And the church.

Wait… the church?

Who knew that bankruptcy could be such a blessing?

For some pastors in the Lakeland community, seeing Without Walls lose it’s influence (or at least the brand type of Christianity they marketed) is not an entirely bad thing for the community.  Yet it’s another black-eye in that local community of Christianity gone bad.

But to say that a church bankruptcy is a blessing seems a bit weird to me.

Do you think a church bankruptcy could ever be a blessing?

Here’s the full press release.


PS – In an ironic ministry, Without Walls International Church prominently features their Business Concepts Networking group.  Here’s the description:  Do you own or operate your own business? Would you like to? Do you have a business idea? Then join our Business Concepts Networking group and let us help to develop and maintain the building blocks needed to encourage the growth of your company. See what others are doing and how your expertise may help.

When sons and daughters come out of the closet…

I have four kids. None of which are gay.

But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t thought throughout the years what I would do if one of my children sat my wife and I down one day and gave us the news that they were gay.

How would I respond?

More and more pastors and church leaders are having children ‘come out of the closet’.  In fact, I’ve heard more and more stories of this happening in just the last few weeks.

Of  course the biggest story came right as the SBC got ready for their annual meeting. Pastor Danny Cortez leads a Southern Baptist Church in La Mirada, CA. The table was a little turned for Cortez.  He actually changed his views on homosexuality and told his church the he no longer believed in the ‘traditional teachings regarding homosexuality.” Shortly thereafter, his 15 year-old son declared that he is gay.

Other pastors have also had to deal with how to deal with a gay son or daughter, brother or sister, friend, family member, or even staff member.

John MacArthur has his advice for all of us if this should ever happen to us:

(Ironically, the “Grace to You” logo is over his shoulder while he gives his advice)

In another article hitting the interwebs the same day, Larry Tomczak encourages a little softer approach that doesn’t include disassociating yourself with them (although I’m not sure how this script he gives would go over… it may have the same effect):

“My son/daughter, we love you more than you can imagine, and God allowed us as a couple to unite in a procreative act that brought you into this world. Your thinking is totally unacceptable to God and us. It dishonors our Lord Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to save us from our sins. It is contradictory to His eternal plan for marriage, which has been upheld for over 5,000 years of human history. Therefore this ‘coming out’ needs to be a coming out of deception and, like the prodigal son, returning to the God and Father who created you, loves you and has a wonderful destiny for your life. Have we made ourselves perfectly clear?” (link here)

So… how would you deal with a son or daughter who comes out as gay?

Or… how did you respond when your child came out as gay?

Would you Matthew 18 them? Would it cause you to change your thinking about gays? Would it make you reconsider your theology?

I would love to hear your thoughts.


Oh, they tell me of an unclouded day…

Two of my essential internet services have suffered outages this past week.

First, Google Drive went down for nearly an hour last week.  It was like a sign of the apocalypse if you read the tweets during the outage. Never mind that the service if totally free for most users, the fact that you could not access your documents was maddening even to the most mild-mannered interwebs users (that would be me).

Today, Feedly is down… supposedly due to a mass DDoS attack, and that the perpetrators are saying they won’t stop the attack unless Feedly pays them a ton of money (ransom, I think they call it). Feedly has said no, and the site is still down this morning (keeping me from all the great content I wanted to blog about… that’s why you’re reading this!)

But my thoughts have turned to this.

When parts of the ‘cloud’ go down, even for a few minutes, people start to panic.  They start biting their nails and jumping off buildings.

But what would happen if your church stopped existing?  And we’ll give you the luxury of closing down for a week.

Let’s be honest.  It’s Wednesday.  If your church closed up shop, how many people would even know about it before Sunday (unless you posted it on Facebook)?

What kind of uproar would there be in your town, city, region if you just closed up shop and called it a day?

Would people be sad? upset?  Would people even notice?

Is your church making enough of a difference in people’s lives that they would notice?

Here’s what I think would happen in many churches (though probably not yours) if they shut down today… Wednesday, June 11, 2014.

No one would notice.

And when people arrive at the building on Sunday morning (four days from now) and find a sign on the door that there would be no services this week, many people would lament that they could have slept in longer.

Question is… how is your church helping transform the lives of people TODAY?

Tell the truth… if your church went offline, if your cloud failed, who would notice today? Who would be sad?  Who would be outraged?

The moral of the story:  Make them notice.  Make a difference.

I’m so thankful for thousands of churches that do this each and every day. You are doing God’s work… and you are appreciated. You are making a difference.  You are winning the game.  Heaven is a bigger place because of you.

Don’t lose your focus today. Keep on, my friend.


The 6 Hour Staff Meeting That Turned into 12 Years

Yesterday, I wrote a post about overconfident church leaders.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 9.48.14 AMI cannot think of a better example (please excuse me for naming names) than Jack Schaap.

Schaap is the former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, IN… a HUGE church grown over the years by his father-in-law (the also cocky) Jack Hyles.

Both of these leaders never had their ‘kabaragoya’ moment.

Jack can be a poster child for what happens when a church leader gets overconfident.  (I said yesterday, that over-confidence’s twin siblings are manipulation and intimidation.  Both are at play here as well).

Overconfidence leads to arrogance and sin.

Schaap was sentenced last year to twelve years in jail for transporting an underage girl across state lines to have sex with her.

Now, Schaap’s attorney’s are asking for the sentence to be lightened or thrown out.  Their reasoning: They think the sentence is harsh; and that, if the truth be told, the young girl did have ‘extensive sexual experience’ and was ‘sexually aggressive’ toward the pastor.  I mean… who could resist?

When sentenced, the judge gave Schaap more than the minimum sentence.  And here’s why:

Schaap called a staff meeting at the church after word leaked of his relationship with the girl.  The meeting lasted SIX HOURS. During the meeting, Schaap denied any wrongdoing and talked to his staff about loyalty. Schaap also fired a staff member who brought some of the initial information to light.

That six hour confidence, manipulation, and intimidation meeting turned into a 12 year sentence for Schaap.

What was going on in Schaap’s head in that meeting?  Firing someone he knew was telling the truth.  Manipulating his staff.  Lying overtly and categorically. And pointing the finger questioning loyalty, when he knew all along he was the one being disloyal to his family, church, and Lord.

This is very powerful lesson in the power of sin; and lack of accountability.

When was the last time someone disagreed with you?  Did you automatically question their loyalty?  Did you make them feel like they were not a part of the team because of the disagreement? Watch out.

Have you found yourself telling little fibs here and there to make yourself look better?

Do you engage or distance people that are in legitimate places to hold you accountable?

Be very careful.

Overconfidence is a killer. While your sentence may not be 12 years, it will be significant if you don’t take steps now to correct it.


Read more here…

Overconfident Church Leaders and Kabaragoya

Ahhhh… confidence.

It’s a great quality to have as a church leader. In fact, Hebrews 10:35 says that you should not “throw away your confidence, which has great reward.”

But I’ve seen more than a few ‘over-confident’ church leaders in my day.

Cocky.  Arrogent.  Egotistical. Confidence on steroids.

Have you ever fallen into this trap?

You think you know exactly how to do something as a leader.  In fact, it may be a cinch.  At least that’s what you think, until it slaps you in the face.

See this example, and see if you can sympathize:

You think… ‘this is an easy one… I could do this in my sleep’.

Later you wake up to find out to find out that just wasn’t true.  You botched it. Bigtime.

Many young leaders, after a couple of small victories, feel invincible.

Then, the ‘kabaragoya’ happens.

It’s like someone threw ice water in your face.

It’s humiliating.

And necessary.

Because if you don’t have a few kabaragoya moments in your leadership life, you will grow into a leader that is consistently over-confident.  And over-confidence often brings it’s twin siblings along: manipulation and intimidation. (both of which are deadly as a church leader).

So… what was your ‘kabaragoya moment’?

How do you maintain the proper level of confidence as a leader without falling into the trap of over-confidence?

Think about it.


Your Real Competition on Sunday Mornings

Ask most pastors what their competition is on Sunday mornings, and you’ll quite possibly hear a list of what other churches in town are doing.

Most church leaders aren’t real competitive with most all of the churches in their town or region.

But most have at least one or two churches in their area that they feel a little heat from.  It could be that the church is bigger.  It could be that they’re doing something unique.  Or it might be that they are just getting a lot of ‘buzz’ or are the cool church to be at.

But the competition you have on Sunday morning really isn’t other churches.  It’s largely a combination of the following things:

1.  Apathy – People aren’t going to bed on Saturday night or waking up on Sunday morning keenly aware and interested in their spiritual lives.

2. Busyness – When people don’t place a priority on attending church, other things take it’s place.  Sporting events, camping, sleeping in… just to name a few.  (A fun experiment for you sometime… visit your closest Walmart sometime in between a couple of your Sunday morning services.  It’s a great place to invite your casual worship attenders back to church).

Bottom line:  your church has not presented a good enough value proposition.

Now wait. I know that’s a business term. So please don’t jump all over me.

But if people enter your church on Sunday morning and don’t leave encouraged, challenged or changed in some way, there’s a good chance they won’t return the next weekend.

If they leave without being connected (or worse yet, without having a single conversation with ANYONE), they will probably not be long-term attenders.

That’s the back door that everyone talks about.  Your front door can be as wide as you like it, but people will find the back door when there is not a good value proposition.

You may be very leery of the ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality when it comes to church attendance.  I get that.  But be careful. That cuts both ways.

What if YOU don’t get YOUR way? What if the board doesn’t approve YOUR plan?  What if YOUR paycheck diminishes? What if YOU don’t feel appreciated or get as many pats on the back as YOU want? What happens when the pastor appreciation gifts don’t arrive with YOUR name on them?

Many church leaders are just as fickle as the people we point the finger at that leave through the back door.

So… let’s talk.

If you’re having problems with people not ‘sticking’, it could be because your message isn’t resonating or sticking with them.

That doesn’t mean that you have to be all things to all people. But it does mean that you need to find fresh and innovative ways for the gospel to STICK. For people to feel VALUED. And for Jesus to become a WAY OF LIFE for the people that enter through your doors.

That’s a tough thing to do.

(Especially when it’s easier to just talk negatively about the people that take that back door exit).

What is your church doing to make sure you give a good value proposition to those that attend?  Why (other than a sense of obligation) would most people attend your Sunday morning service rather than sleep that extra hour or run make a Walmart run for motor oil?

What will you do THIS Sunday to help make the message stick and connect people with each other and Jesus’ message?

Your real competition this Sunday is YOU.  And how you choose to (or not to) move people from the status quo of their lives.




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