Leaders Lead by Example

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Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at Exponential on the topic of transitioning a church with small groups to a church with Missional Communities. A few asked for some notes on it and thought I’d do a few blog posts on it.

The first step in this process is to start with why and the win of this transition. The second step is to get essential leaders on board. At this point, step 3 happens (though it is often skipped or a leader pushes through it) and that is to handle leaders who do not get on board in a loving way.

Consider this conversation I have on a regular basis as to why this step is important. The pastor or leader in charge of small groups or MC’s will call me and say, “I can’t get people in my church to get into a group or an MC.” They share their frustration and how hard they have worked and all the ways they have tried to motivate their church and nothing happens. The question I ask them after they share their story is one I know the answer to or else they wouldn’t be calling me.

It is this: is your lead pastor and elders leading an MC or in one?

The answer is always no.

This is a requirement for us at Revolution: an elder or pastor must be leading a missional community.

This doesn’t have to be the case at every church, but if you want people in your church to know something is a priority, leaders lead by example.

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How to Handle Someone who is Not on Board with a Change

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Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at Exponential on the topic of transitioning a church with small groups to a church with Missional Communities. A few asked for some notes on it and thought I’d do a few blog posts on it.

The first step in this process is to start with why and the win of this transition. The second step is to get essential leaders on board.

The moment you begin to get essential leaders on board with any change or transition is the point of no return for a leader, they have now gone public.

I would say this is one of the most crucial moments of a change because of this. It is also when leaders derail themselves without realizing it and it is because they don’t handle someone who is not on board correctly. 

Think of this scenario: a leader has spent weeks, months and some times years thinking about a vision or a dream, a way forward. They begin sharing this dream with leaders and decision makers. Most people are excited because they love the leader or the direction or both.

Then, something happens: they meet someone who is not excited.

They ask questions, give pushback and generally do not seem excited about what the leader is proposing. The leader, because they are the leader starts to get defensive, pushes back even harder and both people sit across the table and dig their heels in.

Who is right in this situation?

Possibly both people.

Leaders will look at this person, whether they met in person or heard through the grapevine that someone isn’t on board and they will see a person who is being divisive or not submitting to authority.

Leaders forget that they have had the opportunity to process a change of direction or new initiative or ministry for a long time, this person just heard about it and has not had as long. It isn’t that they aren’t supportive, wanting to be on mission or not submitting, they are just reacting to a change and almost always are first reaction to a change is to be defensive.

If the leader fails here, most changes get derailed. For the simple reason that the person who seems unsupportive usually wields greater influence than the leader.

As a leader, here are some ways to handle this person:

  1. Stay humble. Do you need this person to make this change? Who knows. But God has placed you as the leader to shepherd this person through this change, so care for them. Stay humble, otherwise, God will oppose you and that will be worse than this person opposing you.
  2. Ask questions. Ask what their fears are, why aren’t they excited about this. Often, it is the loss of something that makes us defensive about a change, not because we don’t love the possibilities of something new, it is that we are mourning what we are losing.
  3. Listen. Don’t get defensive or seek to win. 
  4. Have resources for them to listen to or read. Have something to give them. Pick the thing that pushed you over the edge, the most influential piece to give to them and say, “This helped me. Before you decide, would you listen to this or read this and consider the possibilities?”
  5. Ask them to pray about it. They may or may not actually pray about it, but ask them to. If they do, give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to do what only the Holy Spirit can do, change them.

In the end, if God wants whatever change you are making to come to pass, it will. The person who seems the most against something at the beginning can often be the biggest supporter of it by the end if they are led well.

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How to Get Essential Leaders on Board with Change

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Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at Exponential on the topic of transitioning a church with small groups to a church with Missional Communities. A few asked for some notes on it and thought I’d do a few blog posts on it.

The first step in this process is to start with why and the win of this transition. The second step is to get essential leaders on board. This is simple change theory and applies to any change a leader is thinking about making, but it is incredibly important as we talk about transitioning a church from small groups to missional communities.

The reason is: groups and MC’s are so different that it will change everything about your church. It is not simply adding “missional” to your church, but changes everything. 

When you make any change or transition you need to be able to answer these questions: Who needs to know? When do they need to know it?

A few other things to ask: What leaders will be the most crucial to making this transition happen? Who are the people in this church (leadership by title or leadership by influence) who can keep this transition from happening that I need to get on board early?

Too many leaders when they make a change think they can bulldoze through it because “they’ve heard from God” or “are the leader.”

When we transitioned from groups to MC’s, we made a list of everyone we thought who could be an MC leader and I met with them to cast the vision, invite them into the process and join in being a part of this. By the time we announced the change to our church, almost 30% of our church knew about the change, why we were making it and were on board with it.

This is the moment the change becomes real because you invite people into it. 

Up until this moment, the change or transition is simply a dream, a hope, a prayer in your mind. This moment is when you put the flag in the ground and bring others into it.

To get the leaders on board that you need, you will have to make sure the change is clear, thought out and you can answer questions.

In short: be as clear as possible. 

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Why Change Fails

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If you talk to any leader or pastor, they will tell you stories of changes, new ideas and initiatives failing. Even if, the new program would do better than the old program.

Churches are notorious for change failing.

Why quit having a class when no one comes? Because someone’s grandmother started that ministry 35 years ago. Why add drums or change how worship is done? Why bring in lights or projectors? Why should we change how we do discipleship since the way it is happening right now is not developing leaders or disciples? Because we’ve always done it this way. 

Going right along with this is a failure on the part of pastors and leaders to engage change well.

In his book Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds, Carmine Gallo makes this comment:

People don’t know what they want and, if they do, they have a hard time articulating what they truly desire.

The average person, when you ask them if they prefer A or B, they don’t know what they would prefer. They only know what they have experienced.

If your church only does Sunday School and you begin exploring small groups, people who have never experienced them will be resistant. Especially because pastors don’t know how to ask. They ask if “they would go to a home group?” “NO” is the resounding answer.

When a church begins exploring a second service, all people can think of is what they lose if the church goes to 2 services and how it will change their life and bring them a different experience.

Churches exploring multi-site and video preaching run into the same thing. People in your church only have one lens to look through, what they know and have experienced. 

A better way to change something is to ask:

  • Would you be open to trying a small group in a house?
  • Would you be open to going to an earlier service so we can open up seats for guests?
  • Would you be open to attending a church plant we send out?
  • Would you be open to trying a church with video preaching?

Now, when they say no and someone will, you are having a different conversation. Now you are talking about vision and buy in. Now you are talking about idols, resistance to change, what their fears are to new things. You also have an opportunity to help a person wrestle through what they don’t know and helping them see that they don’t know something. This is a great opportunity to shepherd someone into new things and help lead them.

Leaders, we need to learn how to ask better questions.

Four years into the life of Revolution Church we changed from meeting on Saturday nights in a church building to Sunday morning in a school. We had to raise $50,000 to go portable, set everything up and tear it all down and we changed days and times. There was some resistance. But we asked people if they would be open to trying it. Most everyone said they would try it. Same when we transitioned from semester small groups that met for 12 weeks to moving our church to being on mission in missional communities.

Leader, as you lead change, ask better questions to move your people and your church forward.

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Why We Don’t Change

I’m preaching on change this Saturday at Revolution. To prep, I’m reading How People Change by Paul David Tripp & Timothy Lane. Here’s a quote:

Many Christians underestimate the presence and power of indwelling sin. They don’t see how easily entrapped they are in this world full of snares (Galatians 6:1). They don’t grasp the comprehensive nature of the war that is always raging within the heart of every believer (Romans 7). They’re not aware of how prone they are to run after God replacements. They fail to see that their greatest problems exist within them, not outside them.

Re-Asking Questions

Yesterday I was in Phoenix with some other Acts 29 pastors and we had a fascinating conversation on what changes at the point of salvation. Does who we are change? Is it just our behavior? Our hearts? Souls? Minds? What does that mean?

I believe the gospel should change everything about us.

Think about, when we aren’t a Christian, we strive to please the flesh, we are children of wrath, we think in selfish ways, we look to please ourselves, we look to our goals. When we make plans, we are at the center of them. We do what we want.

When we are changed by the gospel, we need to re-ask all the questions we have “always known.” We have to re-ask what it means to be a man, a woman, a wife, a husband, a boss, an employee, a student. We have to re-ask the questions when it comes to money, sex, power, leadership, submission, goals, career, relationships. We have to re-ask the questions about what we watch, read and listen to.

Does our personality change? Does our whole life change?

It should.

If the gospel has changed us, we should be more patient, more gracious, more generous, less prone to fly off the handle, gossip and be stingy (just to name a few). The gospel changes everything, including who we are. It doesn’t just change us, it makes us better, it takes us to a new place.

As a husband, when you are changed by the gospel you want to fulfill what God calls a husband to be. You want to lovingly lead your family and take the responsibility that God has called you to have. Up until this point, as a man separated from God by sin you have been selfish, not leading your family, not laying your life down for your wife. You have now changed. Everything about you has changed.

As a wife, when you are changed by the gospel, you want to fulfill what God has called you to be. You want to respond to your husband’s leadership, you re-think leadership and submission in your home and marriage. You re-think your goals and identity in terms of what a woman is. You are looking to him for leadership, giving pushback when needed but you now look at life differently and live differently.

The gospel changes everything about you. It doesn’t leave you as you are.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Just read Chip and Dan Heath’s book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. After reading it, if are leading change of any kind or will at any time in the future, you need to read this book.

The Heath brothers look at the idea of an elephant and a rider to show how change happens, how it is reacted to and why it is reacted to that way. The rider represents our analytical side or analytical people. They are interested in data, the why behind change and how it will play out, the plan. The elephant is the emotional side, the feelings, the impulsiveness to a change. The elephant asks, “How will this change affect me?”

What they pointed out that was really interesting was the idea that people often react to change and the problem is not a people problem but a situation problem, an environment problem. What they showed through a variety of studies and examples is that often to make change happen, you need to change the environment that  people reside in.

One of the leadership principles that often gets overlooked that they talked about was looking for bright spots. Often leaders, especially in churches, we look for what is not working and try to change that, and that is the focus of our change. What if instead, we looked for what is working, the bright spots and look at how to replicate that. As the Heath brothers said, “Anytime you have a bright spot, your mission is to clone it.”

In the midst of change, uncertainty will arise at some point. In those moments, that is when the people in your church or organization will retreat to what they know. That is why clarity is so important. That is why you need to appeal to the head (the rider) and the heart (the elephant) to keep them on track, to keep them on the path as the writers point out.

What was probably the most helpful was the idea of scripting moves. When making a change, changing a culture, adding something to a church, tell people what is expected, what will the new world look like once the change is complete. The authors pointed out, “The details is where people get hung up and fall off track.” Ambiguity is the enemy of change. Or the flip side, “Clarity dissolves resistance.” Describe for people what your church will be like when the change is complete. Paint a picture. Tell them how you will get there, what it will feel like on the way. Sometimes, prepare them for failure or what will seem like failure. Often, change efforts use the sequence of analyze-think-change, which rarely works. Instead, use see-feel-change.

Often what trips up leaders in making changes is the herd, the crowd. If you get the crowd, you win the change because people follow the crowd, as behavior is contagious. The authors point out “We imitate the behaviors of others, whether consciously or not.”

Here are a few other things that jumped out:

  • For anything to change, someone has to start acting differently.
  • What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.
  • If you want people to change, you must provide crystal clear direction.
  • The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people, and behavior change happens in highly successful situations mostly by speaking to people’s feelings.
  • To keep the elephant motivated, people must get a sense of progress. Without progress, people will get demoralized.
  • The rider needs direction, the elephant needs motivation.

As I said, this is a book definitely worth picking up. I was able to read it on the plane the other day, so a fast read with a ton of nuggets in it.

What I Learned about Life & Leading from Nehemiah

Last week, I shared 6 things I learned about life and leadership from preaching through the book of Nehemiah. If you missed them, here they are:

  1. Vision
  2. Prayer
  3. Calling
  4. Endurance
  5. Integrity
  6. Calling Sin a Sin

You Can Change

For my talk this week, I read Tim Chester’s book You Can Change. Wow. This was easily the best book I’ve read on the topic of change, freedom from sin and understanding how grace works.

What this book points out and what I could never put into words but agreed with completely was how wrongly we think about grace and freedom when it comes to sin. All Christians look to Jesus for salvation, we see our salvation as coming through the cross, forgiveness and grace of Jesus. So that is all God, but when it comes to following Jesus, we make that all about us. We see Jesus forgiving our sins when we become Christians, but live like we don’t believe he forgives us after following Him or even having the power to help us in that area.

Do we still sin after becoming Christians? Yes, but the power of sin in our lives has been broken. Yet, you and I as followers of Jesus rarely live like we are free from the power of sin. As Chester points out, the question isn’t “if we will sin, but when.”

What was quite possibly worth the price of the book was when he discussed how we think of law and grace after becoming a Christian. He points out that many Christians live like they are still under the law. We “talk about what we shouldn’t do. We say things like, “I shouldn’t do that, I shouldn’t do this.”” That is what law says, according to Chester. Grace says, “I don’t need to do that. I don’t need to do this.”

Here are some things that jumped out to me:

  • Does your reputation matter to you more than holiness?
  • We often want to stop sinning because of the consequences of sin, not because we hate the actual sin.
  • Our sinful heart portrays our actions as inevitable, unavoidable, or appropriate.
  • We choose to follow our sinful desires because in that moment we believe they offer more than God.
  • The #1 reason people don’t change pride, followed by hating the consequences of sin but still loving the sin itself.
  • Desire is at the helm of our lives. It is determines behavior. We always do what we want to do.
  • Behind every sin is a lie (easily the best line in the book).
  • The real me is revealed when I’m too tired to keep up the pretense.
  • Legalism is appealing because it makes holiness manageable & holiness becomes something we do.
  • I am a hopeless person, but Jesus Christ died for hopeless people.
  • We don’t change so we can prove ourselves to God. We’re accepted by God so we can change.
  • When we try to prove ourselves by good works, we’re saying, the cross wasn’t enough.

This is a book definitely worth picking up if you are wrestling with an addiction or a sin that you want freedom from. I can’t recommend this enough.

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Saturday Night Mind Dump… (Sunday Edition)

  • Last night was one of those nights that reminds you as a pastor what is at stake whenever you get up to preach
  • I was reminded last night of the image one of my mentors uses when he talks about preaching, he said when you preach it is like “reaching down into the road to hell and pulling people back”
  • That was how last night felt
  • It really reminded me of the joy and weight of what I do
  • Last night was all about freedom from sin and addiction and how to change for good
  • Too many Christians walk around with this idea that there is nothing I can do about the sin in my life
  • Um, the cross conquered the power of sin
  • Yes, we will still be tempted
  • Yes, we will still sin
  • But, we have already won, we can win each day
  • I am blown away every week by how God is working
  • Seeing people accept Christ, take next steps in their journey, get plugged in
  • I sat in my car after the parking lot was empty and thought, “This is so cool”
  • This past week I read through Tim Chester’s book You Can Change, this has to be the best book I’ve read on the topic of change and freedom from sin
  • Seriously, if last night spoke to you in any way, you need to pick up this book
  • I’ll blog some thoughts later this week
  • If you missed last night, you can listen to it here
  • There are only 2 weeks left in our series on Nehemiah, I’m kind of sad about that
  • This series has been one of my favorites, but it is always exciting to start a new series
  • Our next series is going to be really cool
  • Stay tuned
  • Many of you asked about the prayer I read at the end of my sermon last night
  • You can check it out here
  • Have you joined Revolution on the city yet?
  • The city is our online community and it is also the primary way we are starting to communicate as a church, do sign ups for things and scheduling for our teams
  • You can sign up here
  • If you have an elementary age child, you need to mark your calendar for July 12 – 16th
  • It is Revolution’s first ever Day Camp
  • If you need more information, or if you are interested in helping out please email Jennifer Ingram
  • I am really, really, really excited for Katie and the kids to get back on Tuesday
  • They have been gone visiting family for 15 days and I am really excited about having them back
  • Everyone has asked me “I bet it has been great to have a break and be alone?” If being a bachelor was that cool, I would have stayed one. I have lots of friends who love being bachelors and more power to them, I like my family
  • On the plus side, I have gotten a lot of work done for upcoming series we are doing over the summer
  • We are doing our first ever parenting and family series in July and I had some serious breakthroughs on it this past week
  • Speaking of that, this morning I read Family Driven Faith and was really challenged in how I am doing in raising my kids in a Godly way, how I am teaching and training them and passing on my faith
  • Definitely a book worth picking up
  • If you aren’t a parent, don’t worry, this series might actually be more powerful for you than the parents in the room
  • How you ask?
  • Find out July 17th
  • I feel like right now I am ending one intense, busy season and I know another one awaits at the beginning of July when we get ready to move
  • So, I’m looking forward to the next month
  • Getting some rest and downtime, a calm before the storm so to speak
  • Really, really excited about going to Colorado in June with Katie and the kids
  • No phone, computer, email, twitter, facebook
  • Can I get an amen
  • So excited to unplug
  • 3 more weeks
  • Tomorrow I am meeting with a church planter who is in town and hopes to move here and start a church
  • It is exciting to see God putting Tucson on the hearts of church planters
  • Then on Tuesday, I’m meeting with some church planters in Phoenix for a roundtable, rapid fire lunch
  • We’re meeting with the pastor of East Valley Bible Church in Phoenix and we can ask him whatever we want over lunch
  • I love things like this, not only getting some questions answered, but learning from the questions of others
  • Keeps me sharp and growing
  • Speaking of church planting, we are in the process of joining Acts 29, which is an international church planting network
  • This will give us a great network to be a part of, not only in learning as we grow as a church, but also to gain experience to reach our vision of being a church planting church
  • Now, I’m going to take a nap and then watch the Suns game
  • Hopefully they will show up and make it a series
  • If not, I’ll take a second nap on the couch during the game

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