The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

bookBen Horowitz’s new book The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers is quite possibly one of the best church planting books I’ve ever read and it has nothing to do with church planting.

Horowitz shares so many insights from starting businesses, which is very similar to church planting. The hard road of raising funds, building teams, keeping great people and how to handle the high’s and low’s of being a CEO. The insights for lead planters are incredible. I found myself nodding over and over with all the lessons for pastor’s.

The whole book is great. If you are a church planter, thinking about planting or leading a church right now, this is the next book you need to read. It is that good.

Here are a few insights from it:

  • If there is one skill that stands out, it’s the ability to focus and make the best move when there are no good moves.
  • A healthy company culture encourages people to share bad news.
  • Build a culture that rewards—not punishes—people for getting problems into the open where they can be solved.
  • You don’t make yourself look good by trashing someone who worked for you.
  • Hire for strength rather than lack of weakness.
  • If your company is a good place to work, you too may live long enough to find your glory.
  • Being a good company doesn’t matter when things go well, but it can be the difference between life and death when things go wrong.   Things always go wrong.
  • There are only two ways for a manager to improve the output of an employee: motivation and training.
  • The most important difference between big and small companies is the amount of time running versus creating. A desire to do more creating is the right reason to want to join your company.
  • If you don’t know what you want, the chances that you’ll get it are extremely low.
  • The right kind of ambition is ambition for the company’s success with the executive’s own success only coming as a by-product of the company’s victory. The wrong kind of ambition is ambition for the executive’s personal success regardless of the company’s outcome.
  • While I’ve seen executives improve their performance and skill sets, I’ve never seen one lose the support of the organization and then regain it.
  • A company will be most successful if the senior managers optimize for the company’s success (think of this as a global optimization) as opposed to their own personal success (local optimization).
  • Nothing motivates a great employee more than a mission that’s so important that it supersedes everyone’s personal ambition.
  • The CEO job as knowing what to do and getting the company to do what you want.
  • When an organization grows in size, things that were previously easy become difficult.
  • The further away people are in the organizational chart, the less they will communicate.
  • Evaluating people against the future needs of the company based on a theoretical view of how they will perform is counterproductive.
  • There is no such thing as a great executive. There is only a great executive for a specific company at a specific point in time.
  • Everybody learns to be a CEO by being a CEO.
  • If you don’t like choosing between horrible and cataclysmic, don’t become CEO.
  • When my partners and I meet with entrepreneurs, the two key characteristics that we look for are brilliance and courage.
  • Some employees make products, some make sales; the CEO makes decisions.

To see other book notes, go here.

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Culture Trumps Strategy

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One of the reasons that churches fail to change or be effective is the leaders change the wrong things.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast. -Peter Drucker

In their book Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and ChurchesPeter Greer and Chris Horst point out corporate culture is tough to pin down. It’s difficult to define. But it sure is easy to feel. Culture is just “what happens.”

Every church says their strategy is to welcome new people, help people meet Jesus, grow in their relationship with Jesus, develop leaders and plant churches. Yet, for a very few churches is this reality.

Most churches do not see guests, new believers, baptism’s or disciples.

Why?

Their culture fights it.

So what do you do? How does a pastor change a church?

Go for the culture. Define the culture you want. Then go for that.

Don’t tell me that your strategy is the great commission if you aren’t seeing anyone start following Jesus.

Peter Greer said, “Leaders cultivate corporate culture within faith-based organizations just like they cultivate their own spiritual lives.”

You must create boundaries, policies, rules (whatever you want to call them) to keep the culture you are going for clear and on track.

You must celebrate the things that matter most, that help you accomplish your culture.

If your culture that you are going for has new Christians in it, celebrate when that happens. If it is baptism’s, celebrate when they happen. Tell stories. Show videos. Preach sermons.

Don’t leave it to chance. Too many pastors seem content to leave their desired culture to chance and hope that a strategy will enable to accomplish their vision.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

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  • Today is the beginning of a different sort of week for me
  • I’m not preaching this coming Sunday
  • One of my targets to stay fresh in my preaching and leadership is to make sure I never preach more than 10 weeks in a row
  • Josh Watt, the student pastor at Redemption Gateway, in Phoenix is coming down as we kick off our brand new series All In
  • If you missed the last time Josh preached for us, you can listen to it here
  • You definitely do not want to miss it as Josh talks about our motivation for going All In and changing the world
  • It’s going to be a powerful morning
  • We’re also having one of our up and coming worship leaders lead worship
  • Which will be great
  • I’m excited for a different sort of week to be able to work ahead on our series called Change that is kicking off on Easter through the book of Galatians
  • Every desires change in their lives, but few ever see it
  • I think it will be very timely
  • So many great things happening at Revolution right now
  • I got to spend Friday evening with many of our Planet Rev volunteers at a training/thank you night
  • Love the passion they have for the families and kids of our church
  • It was also great interacting with the team that is heading up our search for a kids ministry leader
  • So excited to add this person to our team
  • Yesterday was a great day at Revolution as we wrapped up Fight
  • It was great spending 5 weeks speaking on manhood
  • Blown away by the response to this series from men and women
  • If you missed yesterday, you can listen to it here
  • Started reading a book on gospel centered productivity over the weekend called What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done
  • I’m excited to get better at being more efficient and productive and thinking about it from a godlier perspective instead of “I want to accomplish more”
  • Last night, Katie and I tried a new place for date night: 47 Scott
  • Highly, highly recommend it
  • So good
  • Started putting together my crossfit box in my garage
  • Love working out at home
  • My kids even are loving doing crossfit kids
  • Time to get to it…
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All In Starts in 2 Weeks!

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Everyone wants their lives to matter, yet most people live in obscurity and rarely accomplish what God created them to accomplish.

Why?
The risk is great, but the payoff is even greater.
But what happens when a group of people go all in and put it all on the line for Jesus?
A world is changed.
Join us at Revolution Church as we spend 4 weeks leading up to Easter and look at how to go all in so that our lives matter and we see others live the life God created them to live.

March 23: Why Go All In

March 30: Giving All I’ve Got

April 6: Asking for it All

April 13: This is How we Change the World

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Top Posts for the Month of October

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If you missed them, here are the top posts for the month of October:

  1. What our Family Does on Halloween
  2. What Now for our Family (And How You can Be a Part of our Lives Now)
  3. Beauty Comes out of Brokenness
  4. The Beginning of The End
  5. Sometimes, This is How Introverts Feel :)
  6. My Journey of Losing Weight
  7. When Eating Becomes a Sin
  8. 10 Gospel Truths about Homosexuality
  9. This is the End (Why Most Sermons Fail)
  10. A Simple Time-Management Principle

9 Reasons Values Matter to a Church

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  1. They determine ministry distinctives.
  2. They dictate personal involvement.
  3. They communicate what is important.
  4. They guide change.
  5. They influence overall behavior.
  6. They inspire people to action.
  7. They enhance credible leadership.
  8. They shape ministry character.
  9. They contribute to ministry success.

From Look Before You Lead: How to Discern & Shape Your Church Culture by Aubrey Malphurs.

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The Dreams that Drive Revolution Church

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Revolution is going to turn 5 years old yesterday. Over the last week on the blog, I shared some of the things that drove us to start Revolution and drive us to this day. If you missed them, here they are:

  1. Help people become who they were created to be.
  2. Helping people take their next step with Jesus.
  3. Get the Men, Win the War.
  4. Be simple.
  5. Unleash leaders & plant churches.

Take Your Next Step

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Revolution is going to turn 5 years old this Sunday. It is really hard to believe that the church God birthed in me 13 years ago while living in Chicago actually came to be with 11 people who prayed and dreamed together in Tucson, AZ. Over the coming week as we gear up towards Sunday I thought I’d share some of the dreams that drove us to start Revolution and still drive us to this day.

Yesterday we looked at our dream of helping people become who they were created to be. Today, going hand in hand with that is helping people take their next step with Jesus. 

Our culture loves the idea of goals and resolutions. Everyone makes them every year in January. We talk about the future, what things will be like, what we will accomplish, how next week, next month and next year will be better. The sad thing about all of this is that very few people actually stick with their goals and resolutions or see any change because of them.

One of the ways I evaluate the effectiveness of my sermon or the sermons of those who preach is the amount of next steps that are taken. Each week when I am preparing a sermon one of the most important question I need to answer is, “Because of this truth in Scripture, what do I want them to do, what is this calling us to?” Those are my next steps.

At the end of my sermon before communion, I ask everyone to pull out their connection card and walk them through the next steps. Each week we point out taking the step of following Jesus or getting baptized and then the specific next steps for that week based on the sermon. It doesn’t end there though. Each person who fills out a connection card with their next steps gets an email from me with some ideas on how to accomplish those next steps. For example, if it is memorizing a verse, I give them ideas on scripture memorization. If it is forgiving someone, I’ll share a story of how I applied that truth in my life. Then, our staff and elders pray over those next steps that week as they move forward. We also encourage our MC’s to talk through the next steps people take each week to give it some accountability that is personal.

For us, it is a failure if we have no next steps. For this reason, preaching and discipleship is not just about dispensing information. Many pastors see this as the goal of preaching. The goal of preaching is transformation. If transformation is happening, lives are changing, which means, people are taking steps to Jesus. Churches and pastors need to help their people define what those steps are, give them resources for them and hold them accountable.

Become Who You Were Called to Be

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Revolution is going to turn 5 years old this Sunday. It is really hard to believe that the church God birthed in me 13 years ago while living in Chicago actually came to be with 11 people who prayed and dreamed together in Tucson, AZ. Over the coming week as we gear up towards Sunday I thought I’d share some of the dreams that drove us to start Revolution and still drive us to this day.

The first is to help people become who they were called to be. 

This might sound simplistic and something every church sets out to do, but it s the heartbeat of my preaching and our church. Jesus said in John 10:10 that he came to give life, overflowing and abundant life. All throughout the New Testament, we see places where we are told that God wants us to be holy, set apart, to live the life we were created to live. Not a shell of that life where we indulge our idols or chase empty ambitions, but life.

This means every week, we want to challenge people in our sermons to confront the idols of the heart and show people the truth of the gospel. We want our MC’s to weekly confront each other in areas where they aren’t believing the gospel, but instead are living out of lies. When people are seeking to control things, make decisions to gain approval or power, our hope is that people will challenge each other lovingly with the truth of the gospel and remind each other to be who they were created to be.

This means, we don’t believe anyone is accidental. God doesn’t need us to be someone else, live out someone else’s gifts, vision or dreams. He doesn’t need us to try to live up to someone else’s standard. He needs us to be us. He created us to be us.

For Revolution, this is the gospel piece. This is where we challenge those who are not yet Christians to take that step and begin following Jesus. For those who are Christians, this is where we challenge them in sin patterns and to be holy as Christ is holy (1 Peter 1:16).

For anyone to become who they were created to be, a few things must happen:

  • You have to talk about creation. You have to talk about how God created the world to be. People must see how they and those around them were created in the image of God and what that entails.
  • You have to talk about the brokenness in our lives and in our world because of the fall. You have to talk about the reality of sin and hit it head on.
  • You have to talk about the resurrection. The cross matters greatly, but I get fearful when I hear pastors talk about the cross and then never mention the resurrection. As Paul tells us, talk about both (1 Corinthians 15:14).
  • You have to talk about the kingdom and the reign of Jesus and what it means to live forever in the kingdom of God, the way God meant the world to be. You have to give your people a vision of what God intends and why that matters. Too often, pastors do not help people imagine a better future because of the gospel.

Bob Franquiz sums this up well in his book Pull: Making Your Church Magnetic:

Great preaching aims for repentance in each message. This is the goal of every message we teach. Repentance means to change your mind, and we must all changes minds about false beliefs we’ve had, false teachings we’ve held, false ideas we’ve hung on to, and false securities on which we’ve depended. The essence of the gospel is embracing Christ and walking away from idols. The question to ask is, “What is the false god, false belief, false idea, or false teaching we’ve held on to, and how does the gospel require us to respond?” When you preach for a decision with unbelievers, the answer is obvious: you want people to come to Christ. When you teach this to believers, it’s a bit more difficult, but something always tries to draw us away from the gospel. Our goal is to keep believers and unbelievers face-to-face with the gospel.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. Barnabas Piper on Trading street corners for social media. This is a great look at how Christians act online.
  2. Ten things Ed Stetzer has learned on twitter.
  3. Luke Simmons on How to keep what is most important in a church, most important. This is a great message for leaders.
  4. Books to read on loving God and loving others. Great book list.
  5. Paul Alexander on Leadership lessons he wished he’d known when he was younger.
  6. What Adam Ramsey wish he had known about student ministry and preaching when he started. I’m really enjoying this series on The Resurgence.
  7. R.D. McClenegan on 6 lessons I learned as a rookie pastor.
  8. 16 ways to reignite momentum.
  9. J.D. Greear on Lead by influence, not command.

The Hypocrite

Here is a teaser video for the final week of the LifeSuckers Series @peopleschurchtv. This series was great and this video was hilarious.