Will You Mentor Me?

The word Mentor in magazine letters on a notice board

Since Revolution Church is filled with people in college and their 20’s and because we’re part of Acts 29, myself and the other leaders at Revolution will often get requests to mentor someone. Either in our church or a church planter or worship leader.

This has caused me to think through, what makes an effective mentor. They are important, but I think we often set ourselves and the person we are seeking help from up for disaster.

A mentor is someone further ahead of you in an area you want to grow in. 

No one person can mentor you in every part of your life.

This is the problem we run into. We look for someone to be the end all be all for us.

When someone asks for a mentor, I explain this to them and then ask a series of questions:

  1. What is the 1 or 2 areas you want to grow in as you think about your life in the next 3, 6, 12 months? This could be finances, prayer, marriage, boundaries, health, etc.
  2. Why do you think I can help you? I want to know why they think I can help them. Not because I want to pump up my ego, but I want to know they’ve done their homework on me not just threw a dart at the wall and picked the closest person.
  3. What are you doing or have you tried to grow in this area? Often, not always, but often people seek a mentor because they are lazy. I want to know what books or blogs this person has looked at in this area. Are they actively seeking to grow in this area or just hoping to rub off success from someone. Which leads to the last part.
  4. How much time are you willing to put into this? Anything worth doing will take time. You won’t grow in your handling of finances, health, marriage, career, preaching, etc. without putting in time and effort. This is a commitment you are as the person getting mentored is making, the mentor is coming along for the ride and if I as the mentor am not convinced you are into the ride, I’m getting off.

If you are worth your salt as a leader, person or pastor, you will be asked often to mentor people. You must be selectively in who you mentor because you are giving up one of your most precious commodities as a leader, your time. If you are asking to be mentored, to succeed and have it be worthwhile for you, you need to do your homework and be willing to put in the work. There is nothing more exciting than working with a person who wants to grow in an area and helping them to grow in that area. Love seeing that happen.

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Don’t Hide Behind “God Isn’t Moving”

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Pastors and churches often find themselves in a predicament. They want their church to grow, they want to see people start following Jesus, marriages saved, people get baptized, use their gifts, but many do not see that happen. What’s worse is when the church down the road sees these things happening, which let’s be honest, simply means they are preaching an easy gospel or at the very least, “watering down the truth.”

Recently, I heard a pastor say, “My church isn’t growing because God isn’t moving.” I heard another church say, “God just isn’t blessing like he used to.” And then they both talked about how hard our culture is towards God, etc.

I’m sorry, but these are simply excuses.

I know, the church down the road has a bigger budget, more staff members, better staff members, cooler music, they have a building, they meet in a school so they don’t have the traditional trappings, they are a church plant, they an established church so people don’t think they are playing church like a church plant.

Excuses.

What pastors and churches uses these excuses for is to push off having to deal with issues as to why a church isn’t healthy or growing.

If people aren’t getting baptized, why not? Is it unclear? If people aren’t taking that first step to follow Jesus, why not? Do you present the gospel each week?

When these thoughts creep into my mind and they do and have. We’ve had weeks at Revolution where I preached to 11 people, our offering was $84, no one responded to anything, we cancelled baptisms and went 6 months without seeing a salvation.

Here are a few questions for pastors, leaders and churches to ask when “God isn’t moving” the way they would like or think he should be:

  1. Is there any sin I or our leaders or church need to confess?
  2. When preaching a sermon, are next steps clear?
  3. Is the gospel clearly presented each week with a call to take that step?
  4. How clear is the strategy of the church? How clear is the next step for a person from sunday morning?
  5. How complex and busy is the church? The busier the harder it is to know what is important.
  6. Are you being the church God called you to be or are you trying to be the church down the road or the one from the conference you just went to?
  7. How clear and compelling is our vision?

Churches that aren’t healthy and effective often don’t have good answers to these questions. Next time, when your church hits a plateau, instead of giving up or getting jealous about the church down the road, celebrate how God is moving at that church and begin working on why God isn’t working in your heart and church the way you’d like to see him.

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Questions to Ask to Review 2013

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I’m reading The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick and he has some great questions in it to review your year. As we are getting closer to the end of the year, I thought I’d share them with you.

Year End Review Questions:

1. What are the 2-3 themes that personally defined 2012 for me?

2. What people, books, accomplishments, or special moments created highlights in 2012?

3. Give yourself a grade from 1-10 in the following areas of focus for 2012: vocationally, spiritually, family, relationally, emotionally, financially, physically, recreationally.

4. What am i working on that is BIG for 2013 and beyond?

5. As I move into 2013, is a majority of my energy being spent on things that drain me or things that energize me?

6. How am I preparing for 10 years from now? 20 years from now?

7. What 2-3 things have I been putting off that I need to execute on before the end of the year?

8. Is my family closer at the end of this year? Am I a better friend at the end of this year? If not, what needs to change immediately?

If this is something that is a struggle for you, this book: The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months is a great place to start. 

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What I’ve Read Recently (Have a Plan for Growth)

I know many of you read this blog on a reader, iPad or by email and maybe don’t see the sidebars of my blog to see what I’m reading or read recently. I mention it because as a leader I think it is important to always be reading, know what you are going to read next and have a plan for how you are going to grow. Summer is a great time for reading because it is warm, you are on vacation, other things in your life slow down or stop, so I thought I’d share what I’m reading and how I make a plan.

Each year, I make a goal of reading at least 50 books and we are almost halfway through the year and I am halfway to my goal. But I don’t want to read just any books, I want to read great books. There’s nothing worse than wasting time on a book. If you start a book and it doesn’t grab you by page 50, stop.

One of the ways I choose what to read is when I hear leaders I respect talk about books they’ve read. I think it is important as a leader to read more than just leadership books.

Here are the books I’ve read recently or I’m in the middle of reading:

To stay up on other book reviews, go here.

When You Feel Bothered at Church

Recently I’ve had a few conversations or emails that went like this, “In the last few weeks at church, I’ve become really bothered by what you are saying.” Or, “I left church on Saturday really uncomfortable by what you said.” Now, sometimes those comments can reveal a problem with theology. That isn’t what this post is about or what those conversations were about.

As I talked with them, it became obvious what was going on and it was awesome to be able to walk them through it. For these Revolutionaries, they were experiencing the Holy Spirit moving and challenging them in their lives and their thinking.

Our first reaction as Americans when we feel uncomfortable or conviction of some kind is to brush it off. Our mindset is to avoid this at all costs. Church in our mind should always leave us encouraged, feeling warm and fuzzy. But sometimes, the Holy Spirit needs to take us to the woodshed so to speak.

Regardless of what you feel at the end of a sermon, or during it for that matter, lean into that. Here are some questions to work through:

  • Why am I feeling this way? Whether it is happy, sad, blessed, encouraged, convicted or punched in the face. Why do I feel this way from this passage, this sermon?
  • What does that mean? What do I need to change in my life? What do I need to keep doing because of this feeling?

If your pastor is worth his salt and has paid the price, then he is prayed up and prepared and preaching the gospel to you. So, listen. Often, the greatest growth comes when we are the most uncomfortable.

If you feel like something is unbiblical or heretical or you need clarification. Ask. Don’t leave without finding out because that stews in you and can lead to division.

Being on Mission Today

The approach of the first Christians was strikingly different [than our modern way of evangelizing]. It was a totally opposite strategy [than how we do ‘outreach’]. They learned it from Jesus. He had spent much quality time with three men; Peter, James and John. Beyond that had been the circle of the twelve, then of the seventy, then of the crowds. Jesus had concentrated on getting the center of his little band hot and well informed, and he moved out from there. And that is what the disciples did. They gave attention to their own unity and prayerfulness, obedience and expectancy. And they were able to move out from that hot center onto the streets with enormous effect on the day of Pentecost and in the months and years that followed. In obedience to Jesus, they began to be his witness in Jerusalem first, then Judea, then Samaria and then to the uttermost ends of the earth. It was an effective strategy. Their fellowship was so vibrant, their lifestyle so attractive, their warmth so great that it was infectious. People were drawn in, as to a vortex. God added to the church those who were being saved. -Michael Green, Thirty Years that Changed the World

The Process of Growth

Though the Christian life requires intense activity, it is not in the least self-reliant. Instead it follows this four-stage sequence. First, as one who wants to do all the good you can, you observe what tasks, opportunities and responsibilities face you. Second, you pray for help in these, acknowledging that without Christ you can do nothing — nothing fruitful, that is. Third, you go to work with a good will and a high heart, expecting to be helped as you ask to be. Fourth, you thank God for the help given, ask pardon for your own failures en route, and request more help for the next task. Biblical holiness is hard-working holiness, based on endless repetitions of this sequence. -J.I. Packer, Gospel Change

Saturday Night Mind Dump… (Sunday Edition)

  • Normally I do this on Saturday night, hence the title, but I came home last night and was spent from the night and the week, so I ate with Katie and went to bed
  • After watching the highlights and press conferences from my Steelers win
  • I was kind of glad I was preaching during the second half because I was stressed watching the highlights
  • Last night was a good night at Revolution, different than normal
  • Usually, I look for moments in my sermons and things to say in the passage that are these life changing moments that will create immediate steps
  • Last night’s passage and topic: faith and doubt, was more of a challenge to our thinking
  • For me, this was a challenging talk to work through
  • I told Paul beforehand that I felt an unusually heavy weight about the topic
  • Unfortunately, we had some technical difficulties and we weren’t able to record the talk
  • I did however put together a quick write up on what I talked about that you can read here
  • I am continually blown away every week at the amount of guests we have and how God continues to work in people’s lives
  • If we keep this up, we are going to move to 2 services really quickly
  • Love that God is using us to help people find their way back to God
  • Right now, God is doing a lot of work behind the scenes in my life and in our leaders as we think and pray through how to become  a reproducing church
  • We are doing a lot of reading, talking with other churches and praying through how to create a movement of churches in Tucson
  • I’ll be sharing more about those plans over the coming months and how God is preparing us for what is ahead
  • My prayer is that in the next 5 years we are able to launch 2 – 3 sites or church plants
  • A lot of this has to do with our partnership with Acts 29 which has pushed us to talk through how we develop leaders, , worship leaders, communicators, pastors and church planters
  • I love thinking like this, praying big prayers and asking God to use us to change a city through building a network of churches all across Tucson instead of building one large church in a single area
  • This has been pushing my thinking when it comes to community, mission and discipleship
  • Grateful to Jeff Vanderstelt and the way he has challenged me through conversations and his talks
  • I would ask for your prayers because I believe the next few months are going to pivotal to the next decade at Revolution
  • On a different note, and a really positive one, my Steelers moved forward in the playoffs
  • I am a Jets fan tonight because I’d rather have a home game in the AFC championship game and I’d like to avoid the Patriots
  • I’m excited because were hanging out with some Revolutionaries and some of our neighbors to grill out and watch football, praying that we can be a positive example of the gospel to our neighbors tonight
  • Heading up to Phoenix again this week for my surge table
  • This is something I am getting trained for us to be able to create a school to develop leaders and pastors in house at Revolution
  • Can’t wait for this to get off the ground later this year
  • As I said, a ton of things are happening behind the scenes right now
  • I believe God is positioning us for some great kingdom things right now
  • Well, I need to help get ready for football and food with friends

Links of the Week

  1. 5 reasons men cheat and how to stay faithful. This is based on a Gallup study and put out by Men’s Health. Interesting how biblical there 5 ways to stay faithful are and some good stuff to think about. The best thing Katie and I have done besides a weekly date night is setting up boundaries.
  2. Andy Crouch on the Ten most significant cultural trends of the last decade. Huge implications to ministry in the church as we try to reach the culture.
  3. Living gospel centered. You need to read this post.
  4. Watch this great video with Scott Thomas and Jeff Vanderstelt talking about what living on mission looks like.
  5. Trevin Wax on Reframing the discussion on homosexuality and the Bible. This is one of the best things I’ve read on this topic. Wow.
  6. Rest and the pastor’s soul.
  7. C.J. Mahaney on What the bible says about productivity. This was a really helpful thing for me, lots of great things in this short e-book.
  8. Luke Simmons on Leadership development. Luke is a good friend and has been to Revolution several times to preach and he has some great insights.
  9. Perry Noble on 6 steps to overcoming obesity Part 1 and Part 2. I’ve shared my journey and struggle with my weight before and Perry is right on when he says being overweight is a spiritual issue first.
  10. 17 signs of a fast growing church.
  11. John Starke on Teaching children the gospel in everyday prayers.
  12. Church trends with Jim Tomberlin. This has been a great series by Tony Morgan on what leaders see as the coming trends in church, this one in particular caught my eye.