Create a WOW Factor

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One of the best ways to turn a first time guest into a second time guest is to create a wow factor.

One of the best ways to create a wow factor is to give a guest something unexpected. 

When someone shows up at a church, they have some expectations. They expect their kids to be safe and secure. They expect their kids to have fun. They expect to be bored in the service at some point. They expect to look at their watch. They expect to not really feel anything. They expect something to be unclear to them. They also expect you to ask for something.

There are more, but you get the idea.

People show up every week with a list of expectations, and it isn’t always positive or expecting God to speak to them.

To give them a wow factor, to catch them off guard, meet their expectations, exceed their expectations and give them something unexpected.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Give them a gift. At the end of the service we point out gift bags we have for first time guests. These are on a table that is not manned by anyone. This is on purpose. It is a few feet from our welcome area, that has volunteers at it. This is so, someone can take a gift and leave without having to talk to anyone if they choose. If they want to talk to someone, someone is close enough for that to happen. A gift is important because people at a church expect you to ask for something from them. Giving them something instead catches them off guard and is unexpected. It is intriguing and interesting.
  2. Say thanks for coming. Most pastors assume going to church was the only option people have a Sunday. The fact is, they have tons of options for what they can do on a Sunday morning. So, say thanks for coming. Tell a guest you were glad they came and say thanks. It’s a big deal if a guest comes on a Sunday morning, act like it.
  3. Send them a gift. If someone fills out a card at Revolution, we send them a handwritten note with a Starbucks gift card in it. This is another unexpected “thank you.” I get a comment almost every week from a guest who thinks this is a cool. Again, something unexpected makes you intrigued.
  4. Tell them how long it will last and stick to it. I picked this up from Andy Stanley’s book Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend. One of the main questions people have about church is how long it will last. So, tell them at the beginning and stick to it. In the welcome, we say something like, “For the next 75 minutes we’ll be looking at…”
  5. Make them feel something. Yes, the Holy Spirit makes people feel things and moves in their hearts and we have no control over that. What you do have control over is if you try to stop that (tons of churches do this without thinking) and how you will help people deal with the feelings they feel in the service. Think through how you will make someone feel something in the service. How will you help them process the Spirit moving in their heart since they might not know it is happening, only that something is happening.
  6. Help them take a next step. Why is this on the list of unexpected things? Churches are not very good at helping people take their next step. Whether that is in a sermon or into serving or community. Pastors preach, give no application and say, “The Holy Spirit will do that work.” That’s lazy. Be clear about it. Preach and in it say, “Because of the truth of this text, here’s a clear next step.” Talk about the next steps to get connected and make it obvious.

People don’t attend and come back to churches because they are like Disneyland or a rock concert. They don’t stick at churches for those reasons. They stick because of a simple wow factor, that caught them unexpectedly. Some of the unexpected things, a church has no control over. Some of them, they do. The churches that grow are the ones that

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Every Church Has a Target

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If you were to ask most pastors, church leaders or people who attend church, who the target of their church is, this is the answer you will most likely get, “We’re trying to reach everybody.”

This sounds nice, it sounds Christian and loving, but is impossible.

No church is trying to reach everybody. 

Here’s how I know: One, it is impossible. Two, it is impractical.

Think about it like this: the way people dress at your church, the style of preaching, the length of a sermon, the style of music, if you have small groups, MC’s or sunday school classes, the age of people on stage, the look of your building, all of these things decide who will come to your church.

One of the problems churches have is they feel like it is wrong or unloving to have a target.

Churches in the New Testament had a target based on who was there and they contextualized the gospel to their culture and target (who they felt called to).

What is incredible to me is that if you ask a company (Starbucks, Old Navy, Google) who their target is, they know. If you ask a church, the organization with the life saving, life altering truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ who their target is, they don’t know.

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How to Make Christmas Special with Your Kids

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The holidays are special. Things are busy. There are parties, gifts to buy, cards to send, food to make and eat, and memories to be made. Kids will be off of school, parents will be off from work, Christmas specials will be on TV. There is a lot that is different in the month of December.

And, if you plan ahead as a parent, you can make December a special month. Here are some ideas:

  • Listen to Christmas Music. I’m not a big fan of Christmas music. If you know me, this isn’t news. However, starting at Thanksgiving, we listen to it almost non-stop until Christmas. Why? It is a good tradition. The songs are about Jesus and my kids love music. I look for Christmas music we like and create a playlist that I load onto all our iPod’s and iPad’s so we can listen to it wherever we are. The kids listen to Christmas music as they go to sleep. This helps to change the mood of the month and communicates, this time of year is different. It has its own music. Here are some of the suggestions from our family.
  • Take your kids on a special daddy date. Every week I take one of our kids on a daddy date. We go to a park, go to Starbucks to get a treat and play a game or whatever they decide (within reason). In December, I like to do something special. Usually on that daddy date, I’ll take them to the store to pick out a present for their siblings. My hope is they will learn generosity and thinking of others as we talk about why we give gifts to others. This year, Katie is taking our daughter to see The Nutcracker Ballet as an example.
  • Record Christmas specials and watch them together. Kids love Christmas specials. At least my kids do. So, record them and watch them together. Here is a list of what is on ABC Family this year and when it is on.
  • The tree. Whether you go out and cut your tree down, buy one or have a fake one (like we do here in AZ), make putting up the tree special. Build it up, plan it, make your own ornaments, tell stories about the ornaments you are putting up. And, listen to Christmas music while doing it.
  • Do a special outing as a family. Some families go caroling, sledding. Some shop on black friday together. One thing we love to do is go to Winterhaven to see the lights on Christmas night. After a long Christmas day, it is great to get out of the house to walk around and look at lights.
  • Eat special (and bad for you) food. I’m a health nut about what I eat. At the holidays, I ease off the gas pedal on that. Eat an extra dessert. Have the same thing each year to create a tradition. At our house on Christmas Eve, we make Cream of Crab soup and have chocolate fondue for dessert. We don’t make it any other time so it is extra special.
  • Read a special book together. This year, we are working our way through The Chronicle of Narnia. We are taking extra time this month to read through it and it is sparking some great discussions about who God is, who Jesus is, what humans are like and why we need Jesus, and who we are like in story. Communicating the gospel to our kids doesn’t have to be difficult and we can use books and movies to do so.
  • Make hot chocolate. You don’t make hot chocolate a whole lot any other time of the year. This is when you do it and it feels extra special because of that. Load it up with marshmallows, whipped cream.
  • Celebrate Advent. As a church, we are celebrating Advent every week in our gatherings. In Planet Rev Sunday, we handed out a booklet for families to use with their kids. This year, our family is using a daily devotional Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles: A Christmas Advent Devotional. So far it is great.
  • Give your wife a break. Revolution Church closes its offices between Christmas and New Years so our staff slows down and has a break. During this time, I am able to give Katie some downtime, get out without the kids, take an extra coffee date with a girlfriend, take a nap. This is a great time for you to serve your spouse.
  • Slow down and be together. Years from now, your kids will remember very little about life as a child. They will remember however if you were there. So will you. Don’t miss it. Work isn’t that important. That party isn’t that important. Shopping for one more thing isn’t that important if it keeps you from being with those you love. I’ve been reminded recently by the illnesses of close friends of the brevity of life. If your kids ask you to snuggle or lay down with them, do it. One day they won’t ask.

What do you do as a family to make Christmas special?

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Why do You Do What You Do (Lesson on Vision from Starbucks)

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One of the most important questions every person, leader, organization must answer is “Why do we do what we do?”

If you don’t know the answer to this question, anything is fair game or a good idea. This question answers how you spend your time, spend your money, how you deploy volunteers or staff members. If it is not clarified from the top on down, an organization or church will languish.

The answer to this question empowers people and helps them to know that their contributions matter, are needed and are making a difference.

I recently saw this at Starbucks.

One of the things we’ve done for years at Starbucks is order a large smoothie for our kids and split it into 3 small cups. This helps us spend less and give our kids the amount that they need.

Last week, Katie ordered it that way (as we’ve done for almost 5 years) and the barista said, “we can’t do that.” When Katie asked why, the barista didn’t know. She just said they aren’t allowed to that.

What makes this interesting is how Starbucks has always trumpeted “say yes whenever you can to the customer.” They will remake drinks if they don’t taste right, give out free water if you ask for it and on and on.

Needless to say, knowing this it seemed odd.

Then, we went to a different Starbucks the other day and ordered it again and the barista said, “we can’t do that.” Again, Katie asked why and she didn’t know. A manager jumped into the conversation and said, “we can’t do that because we’ve been taken advantage of.”

Here’s where a lack of a clear why destroys a company or church, scarcity comes in. Volunteers and staff aren’t sure what is okay. You say, “always say yes” and then create rules. Fear grows and things stagnate.

Now, will Starbucks go under because of this. No.

Think about my family though and what Starbucks will lose: In the past we’d spend $5 on a smoothie we split into 3 cups. Now, I’ll order 3 tall waters for free. I’ll still get the cups, the straws and the sleeves because my kids love those. The difference? I’ll take money from Starbucks instead of giving it to them.

Running your organization or church through scarcity or a lack of why is destructive. Do you need to be wise? Yes. Make money to survive? Yes. But those who seek to protect instead of give away or be generous quickly find themselves scrambling to keep what they have. Our culture loves generosity, not scarcity. In churches, God blesses generosity, not scarcity.

What to do on “Fat Days”

Most you know my journey of losing weight. I once weighed close to 300 pounds. Over an 18 month time span I was able to lose 130 pounds and I have kept it off for the last 3 years. I’ve talked more about that here.

Even after losing all that weight I still have “fat days.” Days that feel like this…

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Everyone does, right? I assume so.

What do you do in those moments? Regardless of your weight and size you have moments and days that you feel fat. You may not actually be fat, but you feel it.

Feelings of guilt, shame hit you. You think back to what you ate over the last day or two and maybe beat yourself up for that extra serving at dinner, that late night snack or dessert, ordering the venti 3,000 calorie drink at Starbucks instead of the tall skinny water. And on and on it goes.

You maybe even vent to a friend in hopes that they’ll tell you that you don’t look fat but that doesn’t help because you feel fat. And let’s be honest, what we feel is what drives us.

Yet, as a mentor told me, what we know trumps what we feel. 

Here are some ways to handle “fat days”:

  1. Uncover why you feel the way you do. It is okay to think over the last few days, but go further back than that. Not to document what you’ve eaten but what has happened in your life to make you feel the way you do. For many people, food is an addiction like drugs, porn or smoking. Have you experienced abuse in your life that drives you to eat? Are you prone to worry when things get out of control and that drives you to eating? Is there something underneath the comfort that comes from eating? Until you understand why you eat what you do, it is unlikely you will find freedom from eating as a god you go to for comfort.
  2. What does Jesus actually say about you. The next thing is understanding what Jesus says about you. If you are made in the image of God as the Bible teaches, your body is not an accident. Sure it is frustrating that some people can eat at taco bell 4 times a day and lose weight and you gain a pound simply by walking by a McDonald’s, but God made you that way. I get it because I’m that way. If I don’t watch what I eat I gain weight fast, that is my DNA. If you need some ideas on eating, here are some things I eat.
  3. Do you need to make changes to your diet. Practically speaking, you might need to make changes to your diet. While eating is a spiritual thing and can be an addiction and a sin, it is also a practical thing. Keep a food diary, write down everything you eat. You will often be surprised at what you put into your body and how that adds up. We often eat mindlessly and very quickly, which leads to weight gain. Most Christians can quote 1 Corinthians 6:19 about our bodies being the temple of God as a way to say drinking and smoking is bad and then go to the next potluck and gorge themselves on dessert.
  4. What image do you have in your head that you aren’t living up to, how accurate is that image? When you think about your perfect body or the body that makes you feel “fat”, how healthy is that image? Is that the way God made you? Again, if you and I are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), then we need to see ourselves as made the way God intended. This becomes a trust issue with God. We also need to identify the sin of coveting that comes as we page through magazines or put workouts together in an effort to be skinnier or more muscular.
  5. Stop weighing yourself. On the days you feel fat, you weigh yourself constantly. Every 5 minutes to see if something changed. Did I lose weight in the last hour because of all the water I drank and all the food I didn’t eat? The amount of times we weigh ourselves show where our god is and what we find our identity in. Weight gain, weight loss and exercising can be a tricky thing and not always accurate to what is happening in your body. Recently, I’ve gotten into crossfit and have gained some weight. At first, I was frustrated by this. Then I started to wonder, my jeans still fit. I measured myself and found that my waist was still the same size it was just my chest and shoulders that have grown. Translation, that isn’t fat that led to weight gain. It is important to understand where weight gain comes from.
  6. Go easy on yourself. You can very easily beat yourself up, starve yourself or heap guilt and shame onto yourself. If you are a follower of Jesus, there is no guilt and shame to be had. That was nailed to the cross with Jesus and when he walked out of the tomb, he conquered the power of sin, guilt and shame. Now, followers of Jesus do feel conviction and sometimes this comes in the area of food, how we think about our bodies and how we look at ourselves. This is the Holy Spirit helping us become who we are created to become. If it isn’t from the Holy Spirit, go easy on yourself.

“Fat days” come no matter what size you are. But the gospel transforms those days.

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Food, Weight, The Gospel and Stop Being the Victim

If you are addicted to food, overweight or struggling with an eating disorder the good news is that you are not alone. While it may feel that way, in fact, if you attend church it can feel incredibly lonely. You wonder how many other people struggle with it. It has become the sin that we don’t talk about. Make not mistake, it is a sin because we hope to find wholeness, completeness, fulfillment and happiness in food, eating too much, eating too little or working out.

Who Temptations Hurt

We often think of ourselves as the victims when wrestling with temptations. We rationalize why we do what we do. I don’t trust people because my dad broke promises to me. I don’t take charge in my life because my mother always dominated my life so I’ve just learned to sit back and wait for it to be taken care of. I buy things so that I’ll feel like I belong with my neighbor or good friend. I eat like I do because it makes me feel better after a long day.

Our addictions and temptations often start as someone else’s fault. This is why it is so easy for us to live with the addictions and think, “This is just who I am. I can’t do anything about it.” I’m just the guy who gets angry. I’m just the girl who can’t keep her mouth shut. I just need to have the newest gadget.

You may believe that you are overweight because of something your parents did, how they raised you, or what someone said to you in high school. We play this record over and over in our heads. We use those words as reasons to keep us from dealing with what lies underneath.

When we sin, we hurt. We feel guilty, we feel distance from friends and family, but ultimately, we feel distance from God. Our scope when it comes to sin and temptation is almost exclusively bent towards us.

Do You Really Hate Sin?

One of the problems in our culture is that most of us don’t have a biblical view of sin. We talk about sin as guilty pleasures or vices. Many in our culture believe sin is something made up by Christians to make us feel guilty. Many of us approach sin as if it’s something we can live with, something that is true of everyone. So what’s the big deal?

While sin is true of everyone (Romans 3:23), we are told in Scripture that sin is death (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1) and sin is committing adultery against God (James 4:4).

When you sin, do you have that view? When you gossip, are stingy, look at porn, or eat too much, do you think, I am cheating on God?

Scripture teaches this because when we sin, we are living outside the way God designed life to be lived. We are choosing our way over God. In that moment, we believe that sin will be more gratifying and more fulfilling than God.

When it comes to food, eating too much or seeing food as a crutch, the church is silent on whether this is a sin. This allows many to continue living without a worry. It is also why we don’t see food as a spiritual issue – only a health issue.

Lies we Believe 

Tim Keller said, “Every time we sin, we believe a lie.” In that moment of sin, we believe that it will be more gratifying, more enjoyable, more fulfilling than the life Jesus has promised us. When Jesus came to earth, he promised (John 10:10) that He came to give life – life to the fullest. This life is beyond what we can dream or imagine. A life many of us only hope is true. When we sin, we believe this life is not possible for us and that we can find life on our own.

If we’re honest, sin, in the moment we commit it, feels fulfilling. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t do it. When you eat, it feels good, it brings you comfort, and it is a friend in your loneliness. This is why many of us eat like we do. Then something happens after we eat. You know the feeling. The guilt and shame that quickly follow is a different story.

The lie many believe is that they can’t persevere. Often we give into temptation before it even comes. We are defeated people, broken down by life, hopeless to withstand any temptation or trial. We simply acquiesce that we will always be overweight. We shrug our shoulders and eat another scoop of ice cream. I’ll always be the overweight girl that is excluded. I’ll always be the last picked for the game.

Another lie we often believe is that our sin or temptation is not our fault. Maybe you are like me and blame your weight on your upbringing and how your parents didn’t teach you good eating habits. Maybe it is God’s fault that you can’t have the metabolism of a 14-year-old now that you are 35. I don’t know why God created people who could eat Taco Bell 4 times a day and lose a pound in the process when I feel like I gain a pound every time I smell McDonald’s. We rationalize that we aren’t the most sinful person we know. In fact, if you made a list of the 10 most sinful people you know, my guess is that you wouldn’t be on it.

This gets at the fundamental question that gets debated in our culture, “Are people basically good or bad?” According to Scripture, we are sinful and broken. We sin out of our desires. You might be thinking, “I sin because of what happened to me.” On the surface, this may be true, but underneath it is another level that maybe you sin out of protection, to not let people see your brokenness, or have to deal with the brokenness and hurt in your life.

God and our Bodies

When I was at my heaviest, I had a conversation with my brother-in-law that proved to be a life altering conversation. We were at Starbucks and he asked me, “How can you challenge people in sermons to have self-control when you don’t have any in the area of food?”

The reality of being overweight in the Christian community is that until you have a heart attack or some other health issue, no one will say anything to you. It isn’t seen as a sin, so what’s the point of saying anything? If you choose to be overweight, it’s your choice.

Back to Temptation

We’ve all had that conversation with someone we love who has been hurt by our addictions. We utter these hopeful words that often feel empty, “This is the last time.”

Why do they feel empty?

These words are brimming with the opportunity of freedom. But they are empty because they are overused. Men addicted to porn swear to their wives they will never do it again. They will get accountability and this time it will be different. After a mother screams at her children, she tells them she won’t do it again. On the verge of bankruptcy, we tell our loved ones that this is the last time we will spend more than we make. We will stop buying things. We will stop drinking. Stop gambling. Stop gossiping. Stop eating too much.

This is the year that I’ll lose weight. How many times have you uttered those fateful words? How many Januarys have you said or written down, “This is the year I will get healthy?”

The personal issue my brother-in-law pointed out is that pastors are unhealthy and many of them are overweight. Ouch. A 2001 Pulpit and Pew study of 2,500 clergy found that 76% were overweight or obese compared to 61% of the general population at the time of the study. For many, it has to do with a lack of controlling their schedules when it comes to their sleep and exercise habits along with making poor choices at their lunch meetings or laziness.

I think the larger issue for people who say they believe in God is that we compartmentalize the gospel to the point that it is strong enough to save us for eternity, but not transform our eating habits or body image issues.

It’s not just pastors who are overweight. The problem has moved into the pews. A 2006 Purdue study found that fundamental Christians are by far the heaviest of all religious groups led by the Baptists with a 30% obesity rate compared with Jews at 1%, and Buddhists and Hindus at 0.7%. This study prompted the lead researcher, Ken Ferraro, to say, “America is becoming a nation of gluttony and obesity and churches are a feeding ground for this problem.”

Similarly, a 2011 Northwestern University study tracking 3,433 men and women for 18 years found that young adults who attend church or a Bible study once a week are 50% more likely to be obese. The Pawtucket Heart Health Program found that people who attended church were more likely than non-church members to be 20 percent overweight and have higher cholesterol and blood pressure numbers.

There are a few reasons for this reality. One reason is that churches don’t talk about food as an addiction, the need for exercise, or body image issues. It can be awkward. I didn’t realize this until I lost all my weight. I remember standing on stage talking about this, weighing in at 170 pounds, and looking out at my church. I saw some people who were overweight; some were very obviously overweight, while others just slightly. Whenever you bring up weight, body image issues or food as an addiction, immediately everyone thinks you are talking about them. While you are speaking to them, it is beyond each individual, and leaders must see it as a larger issue as well. It isn’t that we as pastors want to shame anyone in our church or any leader wants to bring guilt on someone who works for them. But we know they will feel so much better about themselves and their life if they can gain the freedom that Jesus offers in this area. We want them to experience the life Jesus promised. Too often, we interpret the life described in John 10:10 is simply about heaven. This life, an abundant life, is also about the pace we keep, what we put into our bodies and how we think about our bodies.

A second reason this isn’t talked about has to do with the leaders of churches in America. You can’t preach about something you don’t believe or don’t live out. You can’t talk about believing in the life Jesus promises when it comes to weight and body image issues while eating the way we do at the church potluck. You can’t challenge your church to have self-control in areas you struggle to have self-control in.

The last reason this isn’t discussed in churches and why pastors and those who sit in our churches every week are unhealthier than the culture around them is we don’t believe that Jesus is better than food, work, and our pace in life. Since we don’t believe it there is no sense in living it. For many who attend church, the gospel is simply how one gets to heaven and how we spend eternity. Yet, the gospel, the truth of Jesus, is so much bigger and impacts the here and now of our lives. Until this changes, we won’t see how the gospel can free us from food as an idol or an addiction. In short, we won’t be able to see the glory of how God created us in his image and why this is an amazing truth.

The Sins of a Pastor || Lazy

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Pastors, like any person sin. While this may be surprising for some people as they put their pastors and their wife on a pedestal, it is true. Because of the nature of being a pastor and the life they live, their sins are often not obvious and ones that no one will ever know about. In fact, some of the most hurtful and dangerous sins are ones that a church and elders can unknowingly encourage. These sins are not in any particular order, just the order I wrote them in.

So far we’ve covered:

  1. Your Bible is for more than just sermon prep.
  2. A pastor being untouchable.
  3. The pastor’s family. 
  4. The need to be needed. 
  5. Giving away too much at home.

The sixth sin that many pastors deal with is the sin of being lazy.

Not exercising or eating well. Pastors are notoriously overweight. The reasons for this are many. Most of our meetings happen at Starbucks or over a meal. There is snack sitting around at every church function and feeding more than 4 people is hard to do in a healthy way. This may be a symptom of poor planning, bad eating habits or a lack of self-control. I speak from experience on this as I used to weigh 300 pounds.

Not making enough money. Many pastors are underpaid. This can be because the church doesn’t have the money. Or, as is often the case, the church doesn’t pay well enough. Too many elder teams still hold to a poverty theology when it comes to their pastors, as if this will teach them humility. If you think your pastor needs to learn humility, you shouldn’t have hired him in the first place. 1 Timothy 5:17-18 says: “The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain and, the worker is worthy of his wages.” By no means should a pastor be overly wealthy and most pastors do not go into ministry for the money, but they should be paid well. A pastor should be paid like others in his church.

Not having structure in the church to stay on task. Many pastors do not stay on task well. They struggle to close their office door and get things done. You should have times that cannot be interrupted. If you need to get out of your office to not be disturbed, do that. Go to Starbucks or work from home on your sermon. Set a time that you begin work and end work and stick to that. Decide when you are most alert and creative and do your sermon work then. For me, that is the morning. Nothing intrudes on my morning. All my meetings happen in the afternoon and evening because the elders have stated to me the most important thing I do centers on my sermon.

Here are a few ways to fight this:

  1. Make an exercise and eating plan. Find something, join a Crossfit box, make an eating plan and stick to it. Decide that you will start losing weight and eating better. One of the ways to do that when you go out is to know what you are going to eat when you go to a restaurant so you don’t even need to see the menu and the tantalizing pictures of food you shouldn’t eat. When you eat out, order first so you aren’t swayed by what others order (this has huge implications if you order after someone), try it sometime.
  2. Get accountability on that plan. Go public with your plan. If you are planning to eat a certain or exercise, tell others about it. Have them hold you accountable.
  3. Ask for a raise. If you need to make more to provide for your family, ask for it. Lead up in this area to your elders. If they are a stone wall and want to keep you humble, pray that God will change their hearts. If they stay closed off to you and you feel God has released you, look for a new job.
  4. Elders and money. If you are an elder and have the power to give a raise to a pastor, ask yourself, “How would I want this elder team to treat me and my finances if I was the pastor?” Changes the discussion when you put yourself in the position of receiving money. Bottom line for elders, one of the main reasons pastors leave churches is so they can provide better for their families. Before you get angry about that, everyone in your church switches companies for the same reason.
  5. Create structure. Have a start and end time to work. Have a to-do list, the 2-3 things you have to accomplish everyday for today to be worth it and get those 2-3 things done each day.

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A Man Feels Called to Plant a Church but His Wife Does Not. Should He Plant?

From time to time I’ll meet a couple. He feels like God has called him to plant a church, but she isn’t so sure. Sometimes, it is just fear on her part.

What will it look like? What will being a pastor’s wife feel like? Will my friendships change? How will this affect my kids? Where will money come from?

Many guys, because they are visionary, excitable, wanting to serve God with their whole lives either ignore these questions or simply give answers akin to, “We’ll figure it out.”

When I meet a couple, if she does not feel called to plant a church, I tell them to wait.

If a couple is truly one and if God is calling one of them to plant a church, he will make it clear to the other one that they are both called to plant. If they plant while one is still on the fence or opposed to it, disaster for them and the church awaits them.

When I say this, I get a stunned look from many guys and they reply with, “If I do that, I won’t plant. What am I supposed to do then? I’m sinning if I don’t do what God has called me to.”

Here are a few thoughts on that question that you may have right now:

  1. If God has called you to plant, you’ll plant. It may not be on your timetable or how you would picture it, but it will happen. Maybe you’ll be part of a church plant, maybe you’ll actually be the planter. You may want to do it at 20, but it will happen at 40. Revolution got planted a full decade after God birthed the vision in my head. Why? I needed to grow up and get beat up in ministry so my pride was sanded down for God to properly use me. 
  2. Just because you feel called to ministry doesn’t mean you are. Lots of guys want to be a pastor. They see what a pastor does on stage. Everyone is looking at them, they are in front of people, they spend time at Starbucks, have lunch meetings, read books and blogs and work one day a week. What they don’t see are the angry emails, the stress that can come from leading volunteers and staff, budget meetings, counseling sessions that go awry, and the stress and spiritual warfare that comes to a pastors’ wife and kids. You may be called to ministry, you may want to be called to ministry. That is why it is important to have a church affirm your calling.
  3. Being called to ministry is something every Christian is called to. Every Christian is in ministry. Some are freed up to be pastors, some are in ministry in government, in companies or other non-profits. All Christians have spiritual gifts that they are to use. Planting and leading a church may be yours, it may not be. If it isn’t, you are not a second rate Christian.
  4. Lead your wife first. If a guy wants to plant but his wife doesn’t he’ll ask me what to do. My response? Lead your wife first. She is your first disciple. If you want to know what kind of followers or disciples a man will develop, look at his wife and kids. If you can’t lead them well, if they don’t feel called to follow you into a church plant, why will others?

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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.

book

  1. Christine Hoover on 25 things a veteran church planter’s wife has learned about church planting. I couldn’t agree more with this list. So much truth here.
  2. What churches can do to prevent sexual abuse in their church.
  3. Darryl Dash on How many hours should a pastor work in a week.
  4. Victoria’s Secret is coming for your middle schooler. A must read for parents of daughters.
  5. Russell Moore on Should Christians boycott Starbucks.
  6. Knowing how much access to give as a pastor and leader. Great insights.
  7. An open letter to the church from a lesbian.

Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind-dump

  • What a day yesterday
  • Church was off the charts
  • It was great being back after a week off from preaching
  • We continue to set up more and more chairs and God continues to fill them up
  • We had a newcomer’s lunch yesterday
  • Blown away that we’ve had 3 in the 3 last months and had over 60 people attend them
  • Love the excitement and questions new Revolutionaries have
  • Continued our series in Ecclesiastes yesterday and talked about how to enjoy and savor life
  • Something I’m growing in
  • I’ve been loving this series
  • Ecclesiastes hits a ton of topics I would never pick to preach on, one of them was yesterday’s
  • We’re finalizing our plans and things for Easter weekend
  • So excited to do the stations of the cross as a church
  • If you’ve never done it, make sure you don’t miss it
  • It’s powerful
  • We’re kicking off a brand new series on Easter called Jesus Changes Everything on the book of John
  • This is the first time in the history of Revolution that we’re preaching through a gospel
  • Can’t wait
  • While we were away, I discovered Peet’s coffee to drink at home, we’ve totally switched from Starbucks
  • If you are looking for some good worship albums, here are 2 that are on constant play at my house right now
  • The United one is one of the best albums I’ve heard all year, of any genre
  • Really excited for tomorrow as we are having our preaching lab for some up and coming preachers at Revolution
  • If you’re free for lunch, come out and support them
  • Pumped for next Sunday at Revolution
  • I’m preaching on how not to be an idiot
  • I’m sure you know someone, so make sure to bring them