My Notes from Acts 29 Boot Camp in Phoenix

Katie and I spent the last two days in Phoenix at the Acts 29 Boot Camp. In case you missed them, here are my notes from the sessions:

  1. “Leadership & the Surge” | Darrin Patrick
  2. “Theology & the Surge” | Wayne Grudem
  3. “Coaching breakout part 1” | Scott Thomas
  4. “Mission & the Surge” | Matt Carter
  5. “Preaching & the Surge” | Justin Anderson
  6. “The Future & the Surge” | David Kinnaman
  7. “Networks & the Surge” | Scott Thomas
  8. “Coaching breakout part 2” | Scott Thomas
  9. “Missional Communities Breakout” | Ed Marcelle
  10. “Gospel & the Surge” | Jeff Vanderstelt

Coaching Breakout Part 2 (Scott Thomas)

The afternoon of the Acts 29 Boot Camp was breakout sessions. I went to “Gospel Coaching” with Scott Thomas, which was a two-day breakout. In preparation for the breakout, we had to read the book Gospel Coach, which was great, definitely worth reading.

Here are some things from the breakout:

  • The goal of coaching is to produce healthy leaders who produce healthy churches
  • In coaching, you need to focus on accountability
  • Gospel life plan starts with your calling, goes to your goals, steps of action and then to stewardship
  • Every believer is called
  • What do you talk about in a coaching session
    • Connect
      • Connect to the gospel
      • Connect to each other
      • Connect to the spirit
    • Review
      • Look at past sessions
      • Accountability
      • Evidence of grace
      • Issues to focus on
    • Objectives
      • What are your goals for the session?
      • Decide on one or two objectives
      • Clearly define these
      • Tied to disciples calling
      • If you don’t get to this part, you will have wasted your time
    • Strategies
      • Practical means for, and plans for achieving objectives
    • Supplication & Spirit
      • Start with, continue in, and end with prayer
      • Pay attention to what prayer needs the disciple has
      • Seek outcomes through the spirit that need to go into an accountability agreement
  • Coaching is talking to a person and helping them figure stuff out


Acts 29 Boot Camp: Gospel Coaching Part 1 (Scott Thomas)

The afternoon of the Acts 29 Boot Camp was breakout sessions. I went to “Gospel Coaching” with Scott Thomas. In preparation for the breakout, we had to read the book Gospel Coach, which was great, definitely worth reading.

Here are some things from the breakout:

  • There is a fundamental flaw in all coaching materials
  • Coaching needs to look at a leader’s personal, spiritual and missional life
  • Leaders know, feed, lead and protect their church
  • A good coach can focus things and make it simple, they see the big picture well, they see what you can’t, they focus on your weakness and spend more time there, they want you to win, they push you beyond what you think you can do, they ask good questions
  • How far does coaching go? Anyone can be coaching:  pastor to elders, pastor to staff, etc.
  • The biggest difference with Gospel Coaching is that it is more concerned with outcome instead of output
  • What you do doesn’t define you, who you are defines you
  • Every church leader needs a coach
  • Lead as a shepherd by serving (Matthew 20:25 – 28), overseeing (1 Peter 5:1 – 4), providing (Psalm 23:1 – 3), loving (John 21:15 – 19), sacrificing (John 10:1 – 5, 11 – 18), fighting (Acts 20:28 – 35), providing (Revelation 7:15 – 17) and focusing on the Chief shepherd (Jeremiah 3:15)
  • You can’t lead those you don’t love

7 Core Commitments of Coaching

I sat in Scott Thomas’ breakout on Gospel Coaching. Here are the 7 core commitments of coaching:

  1. To glorify God by shepherding leaders in a holistic manner with the gospel.
  2. To make the gospel of Jesus Christ the primary focus of every coaching session.
  3. To shepherd leaders’ hearts for gospel transformation.
  4. To hold to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.
  5. To equip leaders to exhibit gospel implications as image-bearers of God.
  6. To promote the local church as the seat of ministry where community, mission and the gospel exude to the world.
  7. To coach church leaders to be qualified, gospel-empowered developers of other church leaders producing healthy, disciple-making churches.

Before You Plant a Church

I was asked by a young leader the other day what you need to know or use to decide whether or not to plant a church. While this list is endless (and Darrin Patrick does a great job of laying this out in his book Church Planter), there are a few things that are important:

Know that you (and your wife) are called. This seems obvious since the qualifications of a pastor and elder start with this in the New Testament, but it is amazing to me how many guys who think church planting would be fun. Let’s define that. Fun is going to the beach, hiking with my wife, playing with my kids. As one author said, “Church planting can kill you.” It can certainly kill your marriage if you aren’t careful (or called). If you aren’t called, don’t even think about it. If your wife is not called and she needs to be just as called you are, then don’t plant a church. You are now one, which means you must both be bought in. If she has doubts, hesitations, listen to her as the Holy Spirit may be using her to talk to you.

The reason calling is so important is because the Bible says it is important. There is a reason this is the first qualification in 1 Timothy 3. The other reason is that leadership is hard, church planting can be brutal. There will be times when no one likes you, they are spewing venom at you, stabbing you in the back, leaving your church in droves, spreading rumors about you, core team members that bail, donors who forget to send a check, leaders who sin and then get mad because you hold them accountable. And those are just Christians, wait til your church is fully on mission and reaching people who are far from God. The bottom line, on those days (and there are more of those days than any other days in church planting), your calling is the only thing that will keep you going. I can tell you from experience, that the only reason Katie and I started Revolution and made it to where we are now is because God called us to it. It gives you the determination, the energy, the passion and fortitude to fight.

Know what you will be, not just what you won’t be. Lots of people plant a church because they are too smart for the church they are on staff at. Every student pastor I have ever met (and I used to be one) is smarter than their lead pastor. Why else would they be the student pastor under the lead pastor? Makes sense. So many guys start a church simply to prove how smart they are, how innovative they are and how if only everyone who has stood in their way would have seen the light revival would have happened.

Whenever I meet with a guy who wants to plant I ask him, “What will you do and who will you try to reach?” This answer should take less than 30 seconds to give. Anything longer than this and it isn’t clear in your head. If it isn’t clear in your head, it won’t be clear for anyone else. How can you form a core team who will give up time, money and energy for something that doesn’t yet exist? How will you get churches to partner with you, support you and pray for you if you can’t tell them why they should?

What things would you add to this? What do you have to know or do before planting a church?

The E-Myth Revisited

Just finished reading The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber for my coaching network. What a great read. The point of the book is that the reason many small businesses (and churches) don’t get off the ground or have problems sustaining themselves passed the leadership of the founder is because of very simple reasons. As I read the book, I was struck by his examples of why small businesses struggle and how it pertains to church plants or small churches.

Too many church planters start a church without any systems. So, it is all up to the church planter to make things happen. He has to build the leaders, connect with all the new people, care for everyone in the church and ultimately, everything is connected to him. I think this is why 85% of the churches in America are under 80 people.

One of the things that has been a huge benefit for us at Revolution is the systems we have put into place. Systems when it comes to evangelism, small groups, follow up of new believers, first and second time guests and first time givers, leadership and strategy. Systems have to be in place for a church or a business to be healthy and effective. Especially if your goal is to plant new churches or launch new sites as is our goal at Revolution.

For my coaching network, I had to write down my top takeaways from this book (I inserted church every time he used the word business), so here they are:

  1. Your church, as a church planter is nothing more than a distinct reflection of who you are. At some point, a church will begin to look and act like the lead pastor. His strengths and weaknesses will be seen in the church at large. His passions and the vision he drives will be seen in the church. If you look around a church and don’t like the lack of evangelism or community or discipleship, look to the lead pastor. Now, this is where churches differ and have different visions and it plays out differently, which I think is a positive thing. It would be a bad thing if every church was alike or tried to be alike.
  2. A church doesn’t just become a great church. They have to act and think like it first. One of the things we have always tried to do at Revolution is act and think larger than we are. To get somewhere, you must have a goal, and you must think and act to get there. You cannot grow a church from 50 to 200 without at some point thinking and acting like a church of 200, and you must think and act like a church of 200 before you get there. One way to think about this is spiritual readiness, the idea that God sends people to churches that are ready for them, God uses people who are ready and willing to be used. Growth, health and effectiveness in a church does not just happen, it must be prayed for, planned and acted upon.
  3. Growth and effectiveness has less to do with what’s done in a church and more to do with how it’s done. Brining your A game is something we talk a lot about as leaders at Revolution. Everything must be done to the best of our ability, with excellence. Excellence is simply doing the best you can with what you have. Too many churches are willing to put out thrown together things, whether it is songs, videos, sermons (don’t get me started on lazy preachers), invite cards, mailers, name tags, whatever. When something has your church’s name on it, it represents not only your church, but also Jesus. How you do things is a direct reflection of the gospel and if it is worth your time and hard work. Remember, someone always pays the price, it is either you as a leader or your church/city.
  4. Systems are the solution to the problems you are experiencing. This idea is throughout the book and worth the price of the book. The reason many churches and leaders fail is because they lack systems to succeed. At some point, the weaknesses you and I have as leaders will become apparent and will hurt your church and mine if we don’t have systems in place. If it was up to me to connect to everyone and care for everyone at Revolution, we would be in trouble. My gifts don’t lie in those areas, so we have created systems where people with those gifts are able to bless the church and use them. My gifts lie in the areas of leadership and teaching and because of the systems we have in place, I am freed up to use them to bless our church.
  5. A church that looks orderly says to the people who walk through your door, we know what we’re doing. This is the death of many churches, they have no idea what they are doing and it is obvious. Anything from no signs, unclear vision, follow up that doesn’t happen, last minute announcements for events, services that are thrown together, sermons that are not well planned (plan a preaching calendar). All of this says to people, we don’t know what we are doing, we weren’t expecting you but we hope you’ll stay. I think many church planters hope to get by because they are a church plant and not having their act together. The people who walk through your door have full-time jobs, families, kids, they want things to be together, they want church to start on time. Our sign says we start at 5pm, we start at 5pm. All of this speaks volumes to guests, good or ill.
  6. Have consistency in your experiences. When people show up at your church, do they know what to expect? If someone brings a first time guest, will they feel comfortable knowing what church will be like? This doesn’t mean you can’t have surprises and change things up, but is there a certain level of quality that your church always shoots for? For people to invite someone to church with them, they need to know what church will be like and that they won’t have to apologize to their friend and say, “Sorry, it isn’t normally like this.”
  7. The difference between great people (and churches) and everyone else is the great ones actively created their lives and churches instead of waiting or hoping it would happen.I hear pastors complain about the culture or city they are in, how unchurched it is and how hard it is to do ministry. It is true, but it is hard for everyone. And don’t forget, our world is not anymore broken or sinful than the first century world in which the apostles turned the world upside down with the gospel. So, pray up, get a vision, get some passion and start moving. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in you as a follower of Jesus, start acting like it.

All in all, a good read. Worth picking up in you are a small business owner, church planter, or pastor of a church.

Leaders Grow

In every leadership book or at every leadership conference you hear the mantra, “Leaders are readers” or “Growing leaders grow churches” or something to that affect. In his book The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber puts it another way, “The job of the leader is to know more than you do.”

I meet a lot of pastors who unknowingly are not allowing their churches to reach their full potential because they are not reaching their full potential. For a lead pastor, eventually, your church will look like you. Good or bad. Two years into Revolution, I can tell you that is very true. I can look back over the last 2 years and many of the things we are doing that are working are things we learned from other churches, reading books and articles, being in coaching networks or going to conferences. It scares me to think where Revolution would be if we did not have this emphasis on growing as leaders.

As we grow, I am seeing that I need to spend more and more time learning, stretching myself, getting alone with God trying to discern what is next and not getting comfortable in what we already “know.”

Here are a few questions I am constantly going through:

  1. For Revolution to become twice the size we are now, what do I need to start doing? What do I need to stop doing? What things will keep us from getting there?
  2. If we were twice the size we are now, what things would we do differently?
  3. What things are we doing right now that need to be tweaked? What things need to go to a new level?
  4. What new leaders do we need to raise up?
  5. What leaders need to be challenged to go to a new level?

Saturday Night Mind Dump…

  • Tonight was unreal
  • With 2 minutes before the service it seemed like it was going to be a down night
  • But we ended up having our highest attendance every
  • I am loving this series
  • Tonight was one of my favorite passages in 2 Timothy
  • I know I said that last week and will probably say it again before the series is over
  • If you haven’t downloaded the study guide for Ultimate Fighter, you can get it here
  • This is a great way to get into the Bible as there are daily devotional questions through 2 Timothy
  • I love being able to pray with people after the sermon, what an honor
  • Found out this week I am speaking at The Great Adventure conference
  • I’m doing a few breakouts based on 2 Timothy called “Jesus Didn’t Tap: Living like an Ultimate Fighter”
  • Sitting here with Katie listening to Mumford & Sons, love this band
  • If you need some ideas on how to maximize your time, check out these ideas
  • This time next weekend, college football starts
  • So ready for football season
  • If you are curious what we will be preaching on in the coming year at Revolution, here you go (otherwise, just come to Revolution for the next year and you’ll find out)
  • Had our small group leader & host training tonight
  • Loved seeing so many new leaders and hosts
  • Blown away that we will have 8 groups this fall
  • Makes me excited for January when we have 12+
  • Dave & Christe are doing such a great job
  • Tomorrow we’re taking the kids to a birthday party
  • Lots of kids under 5 running around, sliding on a inflatable waterslide, it will be insane
  • Sign ups for our fall groups started tonight on The City
  • If you aren’t on The City, you can sign up here
  • Don’t wait because groups fill up
  • Started my new coaching network with Bob Franquiz this past Thursday and I am so pumped about what we’ll be covering this year and what it will do for me as a leader and for our church
  • Finished the study guide for our next series on the book of Philippians this week called “The Blessed Life”
  • Reading two great leadership books right now:  Rework and The E-Myth Revisited
  • Major project this week is finishing up all the stuff I need to write for finish our application with Acts 29
  • This makes me laugh everytime I watch it
  • We have our first homestudy meeting for our adoption this Wednesday, excited and nervous about it, but ready to keep moving
  • Also starting pre-marital counseling this week for a couple I’m marrying in November
  • One of the things Katie and I love doing is helping couples get started on the right foot
  • Tired of preseason football, I’m ready to watch my Steelers play real games
  • That’s it, I’m beat tired but so, so excited about what God is doing at Revolution
  • Gonna hang out with Katie and listen to some more tunes from Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers
  • Great music after church

Cut to the Chase

If you ask any leader, or anyone for that matter, they will tell you that they need more time to get done what they want to get done. While I’ve always believed, you have time to do everything you want to do, there are some things you can do to maximize your time and what you get done. Enter Stuart Levine’s little book Cut to the Chase and 99 Other Rules to Liberate Yourself and Gain Back the Gift of Time.

What Levine writes is nothing earth shattering (most time saving ideas aren’t), but they are incredibly helpful and practical.

Here are the ones that jumped or ones that I had put into place before reading the book:

  1. Take control. At the end of the day, this is the ball game when it comes to saving time. Who controls your time? You or someone else?
  2. Turn your email off. With phones and wireless, you can access email anywhere, and it can access you anywhere. When you are doing something that you want to focus on, turn it off. When I am working on my sermon, my email is off. I check it at certain times each day, respond to emails and then turn it off. It boils down to you controlling your life and time or letting someone else do it.
  3. When you got the point, say so. This wastes so much time, listening to people drone on and on after you got the point. How many meetings could be stopped by telling someone, “I got it, let’s move on.”
  4. Start earlier. It is amazing what getting in front of my computer even 30 minutes earlier than I used to can do to my day. I starts quicker, I get more done and I feel less rushed.
  5. Do the most important thing first. At the beginning of the day, decide “what is the one thing I have to get done today.” Whatever that is, start with that. This helps you get that thing done, gives you the most time to do it and helps you to be more strategic in how you used your time instead of being a prisoner of the urgent.
  6. Bag consensus. Too many pastors get caught up in trying to get buy in. While I believe you should “seek permission” when it comes to decisions, leaders have to lead and sometimes that means making a call that isn’t the most popular. At the end of a discussion, make a decision and make sure everyone will stand behind it publicly and then move forward. Lead.
  7. Teach people how to use your time. Someone will control your time and often we are more than happy to let everyone else control it. If you block out time for meetings, writing, reading, let people know. For me, Wednesday – Friday mornings are sermon prep time. I don’t have my phone or email on (see above) because that time is crucial to the life and health of our church. When you create guidelines and expectations, stick to them.
  8. Don’t waste other people’s time. If you want people to value your time, value theirs. Be on time for a meeting, be prompt in responding to them. If you ask someone to do something, know what you specifically you want them to do, know if you need their time.
  9. Two minute rule. If it can be done in 2 minutes, do it and don’t put it on your to do list.
  10. Know when you aren’t needed. As a leader, you don’t need to be at everything. It would be nice and many leaders would like to know all the details, but it is unnecessary. Sometimes, your presence goes a long way in a meeting, other times it is just appeasing someone when your time could be put to better use elsewhere. When a request is made ask, “Does she need me? Do I have to be there?”
  11. The meeting before the meeting. I am amazed at how few pastors do this. Whenever I know we are going to be making a big decision or having an important conversation, I always have the meeting before the meeting. This is the time that I share my thoughts and ideas and get honest feedback. Sometimes this meeting is meant to create buy in (this is especially important if you aren’t the final say on something and you need that person’s support). Never, ever have a tough or important meeting without the meeting before the meeting.
  12. If you need a drummer, hire a drummer. Too many churches hire someone with a great resume and is a nice person but can’t do the job. Before we started Revolution, we hired a singer to lead worship. It was a disaster. After getting off the ground, we hired Paul. We needed a worship pastor, so we hired a worship pastor.
  13. And my favorite, Create a not to do list. Everyone has a to do list, but a few (the successful leaders) have a not do list. What things shouldn’t you do? What things can you give away? What things are you not gifted at? For me, learning what I should not do might have been just as important as learning what I should do. When I’m asked to do something, because I have my 2 lists (do and not do), I know what my answer will be.

All in all, a great, short read. Definitely worth picking up if you want some ideas on how to maximize your time and leadership. And who doesn’t want to get better at that?

Coaching Network

I am starting a brand new lead pastor coaching network today with Bob Franquiz. Last year, I was part of one with Nelson Searcy which proved to be an amazing experience for me as a leader and for our church.

While we have a lot of systems in place at Revolution and things are humming along well, I am excited because of what will be covered in the coaching network with Bob. We’re going to cover:

  • The personal development of the lead pastor
  • Follow up
  • Developing other leaders
  • Leading an effective staff
  • Advanced outreach strategies
  • Preaching for life change
  • Breaking barriers to growth

We’ve been having a lot of discussions as a staff about how we break 250 and continue to grow. I feel like this network is coming along at just the right time for me personally, our team and for our church as we will be covering things I need to grow in or we need to be prepared for in the coming year.