Great Minds think….Different.

Great Minds think….Different.

Jimmy Smuda writes:  I just got back from one of those staff retreats that make you feel you can really do something with the team that’s around you. For some (including me who is not a big “meetings” guy, but is growing into that role) it can be grueling. 11 hours of hashing, rehashing, coming full circle back to the original….hash! It can be absolutely exhausting. Especially if you’re in a room where you feel almost everyone thinks different then you do. See when you’re talking business, you WANT that. Different types of thinking. Churches are on a kick of “saying” they want that, but in all reality they all look, dress, act, think, plan, vision very similar. I have been a product and employee of such a system. I have worked at larger churches then “Beth” (Bethlehem Assembly of God, Valley Stream NY) , but very much surrounded by alot of “myselfs” <—(jimmy word)

Until now.

“Beth” is the girlfriend I never thought I’d end up falling in love with (get over it, God described Israel as a she/her and the affectionate love for her) . I mean I knew I’d love aspects of her, but in the end wondered how long this relationship could/would last. Then 2 things began to happen a couple of years ago.

1. I began to see who I was NOT, and who they were, and recognized MY need to become more of THEM.

2. I realized who THEY were NOT, and saw the connection oh how God wanted to use ME to influence THEM.
(to do this, you must be intentional PRIDE KILLERS

The Outcome:
THEY, and ME is becoming US (Forgive my improper use of the inglesh langwage)

Which means at 34 years old, and having been in ministry for almost 15 years that I’m finally understanding the principle behind 1 Cor: 12:4-7, 11-13 “Diversity in Gifts”.

In a retreat with many different gifts, make ups, personalities and preferences I realized several key points.

1. God WILL (or may want to) call you to a place different then you, and outside of your personal preference. (this seems to be a dying thought amongst emerging leaders)Pastors, resist the urge to hire YOURSELF, or a yes man. I really love and respect my pastor who well knows our differences, and celebrates them.

2. There is power in the commingling of those who are (Progressive, modern, traditional, Post-modern, Hipster and whatever ridiculous category we can put on a demographic).

Again 1 Cor 12:4-7.

3. THIS type of thinking, and intentional gatherings (even staffing) is a true remedy for transforming and reaching communities with the relevant gospel.


Read more from Jimmy here…

5 Reasons People Aren’t Giving Faithfully To Your Church

Casey Graham thinks that there are 5 key reasons people aren’t giving as faithfully or consistently to your church as you want them to:

1. People don’t feel NEEDED

At one time, I remember church funding being ALL about need!  The “weekly need” was published in the bulletin and the goal was to meet the weekly need.  I believe we have swung the pendulum too far away from this.

We don’t want to be “that” church so we try to make our churches look like everything is professional and “done”.  People park the cars in the parking lot, we have nice signs, and have great children’s workers.  We are trained to create a culture where everything feels “done” and people feel welcomed more than needed.

2. People don’t understand

I truly believe if people just had a clear picture of where the church is headed, you could solve most of your funding issues.  People need VISION and CLARITY about the future more than we think they do.  People’s giving rarely increases unless you give them something to stretch for.  We find that when a church has 3-4 objectives they want to accomplish through their operational budget and they highlight them to the congregation and make a SPECIFIC ask, people move their giving!  Ask this question:

3. People feel like the church wants something from them, not for them

I have found that pastors think they are closer to their people than they really are.  You know who I learn the most from when meeting with staff teams?  The spouses.  The spouses that are not on staff give me more insight into the relational credibility of the senior leadership more than the staff team.  Here is the deal; most of the time we stay quiet about money until we need some.  This is why you have to create RELATIONAL EQUITY with your donors each day, week, month and year.

4. People aren’t educated

I have met with over 1,000 people in a 1-on-1 financial coaching environment.  I never met with one person that was tithing.  Most people would say to me, “We can’t tithe.”  About 90 minutes later they would walk out of the meeting knowing they COULD tithe, but they are choosing not to.  In reality they are choosing five magazine subscriptions over giving to God.  That is just reality.

5. People don’t know what is expected

It is so funny that we want to reach all these lost people, but we rarely tell them what the Bible says about giving.  It is 100% expected of us to give to God & be generous.  How are you helping people understand the theology of giving and all the Bible has to say about it?  When people know what is expected, they will often times meet that expectation.

// Read more from Casey here… 5 Reasons People Aren’t Giving Faithfully To Your Church.

What do you think are the main reasons people aren’t giving consistently to YOUR church?


Four things that make teams thrive in every season

Do you strive for a healthy team?

There is nothing more fun (and more exciting) than being a part of a ministry team that is running on all cylinders.

But many teams never get there.  How is your team doing in achieving unity?

Kem Meyer has some great insights on what makes great teams really work:

We’ve got to do it together. Every person has their role in the family effort. And there are threads that weave every role and relationship together like a fabric. That’s what makes us a team.


Vision is a picture of what could be and should be. It binds us together, it invites others to what we’re striving for. If this is clear—it’s a deal maker. If this is not clear— it’s a deal breaker. Those who determine there is worth to the shared vision can do a great work together—more than any of us could ever do solo. [Everything we do is run through, points back to and advances this shared vision.]


People will join a team because they reasonate with and appreciate a leader, or not. Integrity and servanthood matters in leaders. Leaders face temptations to steer off course and can be undone by their own temptation, vulnerabilities and weaknesses. When the pressure is on, what is true about you will be revealed to the world. Deal with your soul. It is only possible to deceive people for a short time.


This has impact on the unity of the team. I can’t work with people who will betray, wound, disparage and gossip about me.


When we all agree THIS is how we are going to treat each other, our daily mission is cohesive. [Our team values.]

// Read more here… Four things that make teams thrive in every season..

Man… I wish someone would’ve told me this earlier…

Will Mancini writes: Every year, Outreach Magazine provides a profile of the 100 Fastest-growing churches in the country. This year, they had a few interview spots entitled, “What I wish someone told me.”

What really struck me are the common threads on vision and alignment. Look for how these pastors discuss clarity and unique calling. The big themes are as follows:

Radical emphasis on mission and vision (including values and strategy)

Willingness to “let people go” who don’t align with the vision

Commitment to stop programs and cut ministry not aligned with the vision

Now, listen to their own words form the 2012 special issue.

Luke Barnett (@LWBarnett),  Phoenix First Assembly of God (12th Fastest-growing)

At first you think the mobilizing leadership happens naturally, like leaders and volunteers and magically appear because you have a great idea, but that’s not so. Over time you learn that you have to be intentional in mobilizing and recruiting leaders and you have to develop the leaders that have bought into the vision and feel appreciated.

John  Beukema (@John Beukema), King Street Church (39th Fastest-growing)

Some people will never leave no matter what happens and some people will leave no matter what happens. Since that has been true, I wish I had been told how pitiful and unproductive it is to worry over who you retain and who you don’t. Just do the right things, be clear on your mission, and don’t get emotionally invested in who stays or goes.

David Brown (@DavidBrown_Ave), The Avenue Church (44th Fast-growing)

People do not have trouble committing to something. Look around at the ball fields and cheerleading meets. The church has been slow at giving them something worth committing to be in. When leaders are passionate about the vision God has given the local church and begin to share that vision people will follow.

// Read more here:  “What I Wish Someone Had Told Me:” Pastors of the 100 Fastest Growing Churches Share on Vision and Alignment – Will Mancini.

What do YOU wish someone would have told you about ministry 10 years ago?


The Six Stages of Vision

The Six Stages of Vision
  • Imagination Stage- This is the fun stage where you get to think outside the box and dream about possibilities.  Typically you’re focused on solving a problem that is close to your heart and praying through ways God wants to use you to make a difference.
  • Preparation Stage – This is the hard work of putting together the timelines, budget, priorities and goals of the vision.  Vision is seeing tomorrows possibilities today, but it’s not enough just to see it, you have to  design a blueprint in order to minimize frustrations along the way.
  • Execution Stage - This is where the vision train gets to leave the station.  Teams are deployed and people move into action to make things happen.  Day by day you get to see the framework of the vision being put together.

There are three more stages of a vision.  But you’ll need to head over to Mac’s blog to read the last three.  Isn’t that frustrating?  (Actually, the FRUSTRATION stage is next!  Click here to read on…)


What part of the vision process do YOU have the most problems with?  Which come easiest to you?

Is Your Church’s Vision Too Small?

Is Your Church’s Vision Too Small?

Why do people love to give time, money, energy, and love to parachurch organizations when they don’t give time, energy and love to their home church?  Craig Groeschel suggests that it could be because the parachurch organization has a bigger vision than your church!

Craig says:

Almost daily, I hear great church members excited about their ‘outside the church ministry’. Instead of whining about why they don’t give, serve, or care about the ministry of the local church, I’ve made two commitments:

  1. I’m going to cast such a compelling vision for the power of the local church that the vision would draw their hearts back to the local church.
  2. I’m going to celebrate and embrace whatever they are doing to make a difference.

You can read more here…

QUESTION:  Do you have people in your church that are more pumped about their favorite parachurch organization than about your church?  What can you do to change that?  And… do you need to?

WHY aren’t you communicating the WHY?

The premise:  No one cares what you’re doing until they understand why you’re doing it.  As church leaders, it is vitally important to communicate the WHY if we expect/want people to follow our leadership.

Tim Peters offers three ways to communicate the WHY of what you’re trying to accomplish

#1 – Communicate with Consistency 

Vision leaks.  You must constantly keep the vision, the WHY, in front of the people you are leading.  Every announcement, event, message – everything – must be an opportunity to communicate the WHY.

#2 – Communicate with Urgency

It’s the vision.  It matters.  It’s imperative.  It’s urgent.  It’s the WHY.  If it’s not important enough to be urgent, it’s not important.

#3 – Communicate with a Call to Action

The WHY is what drives us to do something.  If your church mission is to love God and love others, that’s the “what.”  If you stand before your church and constantly communicate the what, people will understand they are supposed to love God and love others.  And maybe you even communicate when and how.  But if you aren’t communicating in such a way that it DRIVES people to act, then you aren’t communicating the WHY.  Why does the why matter in the church? It matters because eternity is at stake.

Great stuff to keep in mind as you prepare to communicate the WHY this weekend (and during the week for that matter).

Read more from Tim here.  A couple of other things he’s written that I think you should check out are:

Tips for Church Communications Leaders

6 Ways to Follow Up with First Time Guests

Bad Execution of a Great Vision

Bad Execution of a Great Vision

You can have the best vision in the world, but without great execution, you’ll get sidetracked.  Every time.

Will Mancini has some great thoughts on how NOT to get sidetracked.  He shares 6 common mistakes on implementation and execution that you may want to consider:

#1 Spinning Wheel Decision-making. Sometimes a team can have a great vision process only to get bogged down in complex or ineffective decision-making after the fact. On a car ride of a thousand miles, the spark plugs fire a thousands times each mile. If the little steps to make the vision happen don’t fire, you’ll only putter along.

#2 Courage-on-empty: Clarity is no good if there isn’t courage and conviction to act on it. Sometimes the team or the point leader get fired up about the next ministry chapter or new direction only to hit the brakes if a few people push back. This lack of courage may be just another way to describe approval addiction.

#3 Ego Side Trips: Sometimes a team of strong leaders create sideways energy. Maybe two senior leaders have different operating philosophies. Or, maybe youthful vigor on the team insists on going in its own direction. Sometimes leaders gets distracted with building their platform outside of the organization or use a ministry position in a way that promotes personal hobbies and interests. While I don’t often run into ill intent in ministry, I do see lots of strong egos that don’t harness together well.

Read the last three here at Will’s blog…

So… what’s the bigger problem with you?  Coming up with the stellar vision or the follow-through and execution of the plan?

Rick Warren’s Year End Chat

Rick Warren’s Year End Chat

Well… let’s try this again… yesterday I posted what I thought was a link to Rick Warren’s year-end message to pastors… except I forgot to include the link.  So much for my new year’s resolution.

Here are some year-end points from Rick, then I’ll try (again) to link to the video.  You can catch more at, of course:

As pastors we live with the constant tension between the ideal (our dream for our church) and the real (how things actually are). Here are 10 key

Looking forward to 2012

points that would be good to remember this coming year –

1. Ministry is a marathon, not a 50-yard dash. It’s not how you start that matters. It’s how you finish the race. Sustainability counts more than speed. Don’t give up! Paul tells us to run the race for a “heavenly reward that never disappears” (1 Cor. 9:25). Live with your eyes on eternity.

2. Every church is large is God’s eyes. In God’s eyes, there is no such thing as a small or insignificant church. Jesus died for your church. That’s how much your ministry matters to God. It is the Body and Bride of Christ. The church is the only thing on earth that will last forever.

3. There is no correlation between the size and strength of a church. A church can big and flabby just as a church can be small and wimpy. Neither big nor small is better. Healthy is betterStrong is better. Focus on developing people and God will build his church.

4. Never compare your ministry to anyone else’s. God says it is foolish to compare (2 Corinthians 10:12). Why? First, you can always find someone doing a better job than you and you’ll get discouraged. Second, you can always find someone you’re doing a better job than, and you’ll become prideful. Either one can sabotage your ministry. When you get to heaven, God won’t say, “Why weren’t you more like (some other pastor)? He made you to be you and if he didn’t want you to be you, he wouldn’t have created you!

5. Live for an audience of One. The moment you start worrying about what other people think, your ministry is handicapped. If criticism is true, listen and learn from it. If it is false, ignore it and forget it. Remember that God is the ultimate judge of your life and ministry. Maintain a tough skin and tender heart.

6. Never criticize nor envy another ministry. I’ve seen more pastors defeated by these two traps than anything else. A critical or an envious spirit quenches God’s anointing. God loves to bless people you disagree with! “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4). God is watching your reaction to the failures and successes of your brothers. We are to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).

7. Be humble or you’ll stumble. He who gets too big for his britches will inevitably be exposed in the end! Whenever I am prideful I become the enemy of God because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble people are teachable and don’t rush to judge others Humility is being honest about your weaknesses. Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less! It’s not about you!

8. Learn from everyone. The danger of looking at lists such as, “The 100 fastest growing churches”, or “The 50 largest churches” is that you’ll compare and compete. Bad idea! Instead, learn from the models represented by the churches on those lists. The Bible tells us that skill, not merely dedication, is what brings success (Ecclesiastes 10:10). Work smarter, not harder. Every time I hear about anyone making an impact, I say, “Amen! Now teach me how to do it too!” All leaders are learners. The moment you stop learning, you stop leading. You can learn from anyone if you ask the right questions.

9. Remember all growth is seasonal. Every living thing goes through seasons of growth (spring and summer) and dormancy (fall and winter). Churches go through these seasons. Healthy growth takes TIME. When God wants to make a mushroom, he takes 6 hours. When he wants to make an oak tree, he takes 60 years. Do you want to be a mushroom or an oak tree?

Churches that explode overnight are not necessarily growing; they may simply be swelling by attracting believers who transfer from other churches. That is not legitimate growth. Conversion growth is real growth, so focus on how many new believers you are winning and baptizing, not your attendance.

Nothing bears fruit year round. Your church may be in a Fall-like season right now (no leaves, no fruit) or winter (everything seems dead.) Keep on believing, learning, loving, and putting down roots. Spring and summer are coming! Hang on! The tide goes out, but it always comes back in.

10. Never confuse prominence with significance. My nose is prominent but I could lose it and still live a happy life. On the other hand, my lungs and liver will never been seen but they are far more significant. I’d die without them. You may be serving a small town or in circumstances with limited growth potential. So what? God put you there, and you’d better stay where God put you until God chooses to move you! God has every hair on your head numbered; your ministry matters to the Kingdom!

OK… here’s the link…  Remember to go in about 16 minutes before it starts.




Last week, Rick Warren shared his thoughts with pastors in a year-end webcast.  He shared his reflections on 2011 and offered insights and wisdom for 2012.

You can watch the webcast here.  (Just fast forward to the :16 minute point for the start.

Let me know your thoughts…

Signs You are Coasting

Signs You are Coasting

Will Mancini writes:

I was recently dialoguing with a very successful pastor about the ten-year vision horizon of the large church he pastors.

He made a striking comment.

“I don’t want to coast on original vision.”

It made me wonder, how do you know if you might be coasting on a vision that “used to be?”

  1. You use adjectives that position the vision as historical: original, founding, previous, last season, former chapter, etc.
  2. You have increasing realization of how far you God has taken your ministry in the last five or ten years.
  3. You actually feel less excited about a the ideals, aspirations, or pictures of the future you used to have.
  4. People around you express ask more questions about the future and show increasing curiosity for things like clarity.


Will is one of our speakers for The NINES this year. Find out more about Will here, or check out all of our speakers here… and if you haven’t registered for The NINES yet, you can do so here.

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