How to Know Your Vision is Clear

If you are a leader, you might wonder if your vision as a church is clear. How do you know if you are accomplishing it? Often, leaders can be so hard charging they never stop to ask the question of whether they are hitting their target. Or, they are so complacent that they don’t care.

Here’s a simple way to know if your vision is clear: Are people coming to your church and leaving your church because of it. 

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Is anyone attending your church because of your vision?

You will know this is true by talking to new people at your church. What drew them to your church? What excites them the most about your church? Why did they get plugged into a missional community, small group or serving team?

Listen to the stories people tell about your church, what they say when they baptized.

Are you seeing new people attend? New people stick?

If what people say is not part of your vision, you either have the wrong vision or it is not very clear.

Has anyone left your church because of your vision?

This will sound unloving and I understand.

As a pastor, you want as many people as possible to attend your church. I want everyone in Tucson to come to Revolution Church, love it and stay. I want them to be on board with our vision, our target and what we feel like God has called us to.

Everyone won’t though.

As much as that hurts, it is okay.

Every city needs lots of churches to reach all of the people in it.

Recently, I talked with two families that left our church and as I talked with them about the reasons why one of them articulated, “We just don’t agree with the vision.” When I asked him to clarify. He told me, “Revolution focuses too much on people who don’t know Jesus.”

He’s right. That is our vision.

If no one has left your church in the past year because they don’t agree with the vision of your church, it is either not clear, not bold enough or you aren’t actually doing your vision.

People don’t leave passive churches because of the vision.

People don’t leave visionless churches because of the vision.

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Celebrate Small Wins

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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. Next you need to handle leaders who do not get on board in a loving way, how leaders lead by example in showing a church what is most important and how a leaders shoots themselves in the foot by having too many options. Finally, when making any change a leader must learn how to grieve losses personally and help others grieve losses.

The last thing to keep a transition moving is to celebrate wins, no matter how small.

You may be great at celebrating things, but most pastors I meet, they are terrible at celebrating things. Part of it is personality, part of it is that they are trained to look for things that are broken and fix them, so they tend to focus on the negative. Many of them are big picture thinkers so they struggle to see how small things add up to big things, they are only looking for the life changing, new church, huge growth instead of the small, everyday life change.

If you don’t learn how to celebrate small wins, you will burnout and miss what God is doing. Your church will also wonder if it is winning.

One of the benefits to using the umbrella of discipleship as the win for your church and MC’s is that almost anything can be a win. That is a good thing. I also think that is how God wants the church to be. Baptism, people taking the step of following Jesus are win’s. But so is someone joining an MC, giving for the first time, reading their bible for the first time, sharing their story at MC, letting someone serve them when they have a need, serving someone when they have a need. All of those are wins because all of those steps are people taking steps to be more like Jesus.

To make any successful change, celebrate any win possible. To keep your church moving forward, having momentum, look for anything to celebrate and share it. Always point out to your people, we are winning, we are moving forward.

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How to Prepare for Losses in Leadership

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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. Next you need to handle leaders who do not get on board in a loving way, how leaders lead by example in showing a church what is most important and how a leaders shoots themselves in the foot by having too many options.

What I wasn’t prepared for as our church transitioned to MC’s and what I think many leaders are not prepared for when a change occurs is the losses that come with that change.

This isn’t just about losing people, although any change is such that not everyone will go with you, but also as a church grows and MC’s multiply, there is excitement and pain associated with that, which is often not discussed in church circles.

First, to lead any change, a leader must be prepared for not everyone to go with them. Some leaders will feel this more personally than others. Some will feel paralyzed with the fear of people leaving, others will try to move past it “for the sake of the vision.” Regardless of your personality, you will feel this personally. Every person who leaves Revolution Church hurts personally on some level to me. I want everyone to be a part of what we are doing, but know they can’t.

Leaders do not grieve well. When someone leaves your church, regardless of the reason, grieve it. Allow yourself to feel it before moving on. Too many pastors try to move on quickly and then as losses pile up they eventually snap. If God has called you to what you are doing, then losses will occur, they will hurt, but you will be able to move forward.

Men, this is an opportunity to shepherd your wife. She will feel the loss of people more than you do. When people leave a church over something the pastor does, he is able to shrug it off, get back to work or chalk it up to “they weren’t on board.” Your wife can’t do that. She will often think about it. She isn’t able to compartmentalize it and get back to work. She can’t write a sermon about divisive people and take out her frustration (although I wouldn’t recommend doing that when people leave your church).

The last loss I was not prepared for when it comes to MC’s is the loss that comes from multiplying MC’s. The reason is, no one talks about this pain. The focus is on the mission, the excitement, the moving forward, new leaders developed, new spaces for people to get connected, disciples are being made, people are following Jesus. This is all exciting and should be the focus. But multiplying hurts. Friendships change. People who you used to be with, you no longer see. We’ve been doing MC’s for 3 years now and have launched 4 MC’s out of ours in that time. It is exciting and it hurts. If your MC multiplies, you must create relationships outside of your MC that won’t change regardless of how many times your MC does. This has also caused me to be slower about pushing leaders to start MC’s.

A leader must also prepare other leaders for this. Multiplying is the goal and is exciting, but can also hurt. A strong, healthy MC should multiply out a new one once ever 12-18 months. I think this is a good ratio because it doubles your MC’s each year, but also keeps your leaders sane and relationships close.

I realize unlike the other posts in this series, this one ends on a downer, but stay tuned. The next post is how to celebrate what God is doing in MC’s.

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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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Always Start with Why

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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 to transitioning a church from small groups to MC’s is why do it. I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why. In it, he makes the case that any church, organization or movement can answer why they do something.

If you are going to make any changes, you must be able to answer:

  1. Why are we making this change?
  2. What will we get by making this change?
  3. Why do we have to make this change?

In the church world, MC’s are the thing to do. They are hip and cool and the new church planters are doing it. All the mega-churches are transitioning to them. It is what you do if you are a smart pastor.

I met several people at Exponential who told me that was why they were doing MC’s.

That isn’t compelling. No one in your church cares about MC’s, unless you tell them why. And hearing about it at a conference or reading a book isn’t good enough.

When we started MC’s at Revolution, they were very focused on mission and social justice. Discipleship was not the goal of them. As we’ve grown in our knowledge of what God has called us to, discipleship is the obvious goal of the church and Christians (Matthew 28:18 – 20). Mission, serving together, community, praying together, eating together, walking with each other through hard times and celebrations is all part of discipleship.

Discipleship is the umbrella of missional communities, it is what everything points to.

Once this is clear it helps to answer everything else about missional communities and are church. Things like: what do MC’s do when they meet, what is the point of serving, eating together, how do we evaluate the health of an MC or MC leader?

While an MC lives out the identities of a servant, leader, family and missionary, those are all fuel for discipleship. Discipleship happens while we do those things.

Until this is clear, until the why is clear, until the win is clear, a church and missional communities will struggle to stay focused. They will easily become a family that never allows anyone else to join or they will serve and focus solely on social justice and reaching out to those in need without ever sharing the gospel with them.

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Church Multiplication with Geoff Surratt | Session 3

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Paul and I are spending the day learning about church multiplication and multi-site with Geoff Surratt. Really excited about today as we are looking towards church planting in the future of Revolution Church.

Here are some notes from the third session:

What should a multi-site church reproduce:

  • What do you value?
  • What are you uniquely good at?
  • What is reproducible?
  • What is non-essential?
    • The more you reproduce, the harder it is and the more it costs.

Funding questions:

  • What model are we going to use?
    • The model you are going to use will determine what you will need to spend.
  • How many will we launch?
  • What are our financial expectations?

Two views of operating budgets of multi-site churches

  • Shared Purse: From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.
  • Capitalism: Each church lives on its own income.

Defining DNA

  • What are the irreducible minimums?
  • What is up to individual leaders?
  • Are you a high accountability church or a control church?

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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.

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Thom Rainer on 11 things churches can learn from a church that died.

There was no attempt to reach the community. More and more emphasis was placed on the past. When a church loses its passion to reach the lost, the congregation begins to die.

Aubrey Malphurs on Surviving the busiest season of the year.

Psychologist Dr. Richard Blackmon finds pastors to be “the single most occupationally frustrated group in America” resulting in 30 to 40% of them dropping out of ministry altogether.

14 hints on how to add new service times at your church.

Is your church thinking about adding new service times in the future? We recently interviewed a number of church leaders within the unSeminary community who have led their churches through this change to help extract some helpful hints for you.

Kevin DeYoung on 7 thoughts for pastors writing books.

Rewind my life six years and I would tell you that one of my biggest dreams in life is to get a book published. I hoped that someday, somehow, somewhere, for somebody I would be able to write a book. I never dreamt I would have that opportunity so soon and so often. It’s much more than I deserve.

Thomas Kidd on Why homeschool.

Homeschooling is all too often treated as a monolith: Homeschoolers are either fundamentalists or anarchists, religious extremists or hippies. Rarely, if ever, is it explored as a potential educational setting for so-called “gifted” children–those looking for an academic challenge beyond that which their local educational facilities can provide.

Links I Like

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

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  1. What is the role of a campus pastor in a multi-site church? Can’t wait for Revolution to plant our first church and we have dedicated staff in this role.
  2. Luke Simmons on A leader needs to love the people they have now.
  3. Billy Graham answers what he would do differently. So insightful.
  4. Brian Howard on How to keep pornography out of your home.
  5. Why worship music should be loud.
  6. Meredith Fineman on Please stop complaining about how busy you are.
  7. The introverted mother.
  8. David Murray on How to criticize a pastor.

A Vision for a Transcultural Church

New Coldplay song from “The Hunger Games”

The Most Important Minutes to a Guest on a Sunday Morning

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Guests at Revolution Church matter a great deal. We care about the environment for them, how they feel, and helping them take their next step with Jesus and Revolution.

To this end, we have thought through the most important moments to a guest:

  • The first seven minutes they are on the church campus.
  • The last 10 minutes they are on the church campus.

I’m not saying these are the most important moments of a church, a service or what we think matter the most. They are the minutes that matter the most to an unchurched guest.

In the first 7 minutes a guest is deciding if they will come back. How easy was parking to find? How hard was it to find my child’s classroom and get them checked in? How secure was the kids ministry? Were the bathrooms easy to find? What about coffee and refreshments?

All of these things happen before a guest sits down.

When they walk in, did someone smile at them? Did someone talk to them?

In the last 10 minutes they are asking their fit in a church. Is anyone talking to them? How did the preaching and music speak to them? Did they find the pastor understandable? Relatable? Did he talk over their heads? Did he make them want to come back and find out more about Jesus? Did the spirit move them during the preaching and the music? Did anyone say, “I’ll see you next week?”

Taken together, these minutes decide a guest’s opinion of the day and if they will be back.

Be Sensitive on Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is a big day for most churches. For Revolution, this is the first time we’ve actually met on Mother’s Day as we met on Saturday nights for the first 4 years as a church. While Mother’s Day is a great day, a day to honor the Mom’s in our lives, it is also a difficult day for many. Most pastor’s on their blogs will talk about honoring women, doing baby dedications, giving out gifts to mother’s, etc. on Mother’s Day.

From the first year, we’ve stayed away from that. On Mother’s Day, it is a hard day for many women in your church. For some, it is a reminder of a broken relationship with their mother, of someone who is no longer there. For some, it is a reminder of the loss of a child. For some, it is a reminder that they aren’t mother’s, even though their desire is there. For some, it is a reminder that they aren’t married yet, when they want to be.

So, be sensitive.

Here are some things we’ve done:

  • Honor all women. 
  • Acknowledge Mother’s and the role they play. While you are being sensitive, don’t ignore that it is Mother’s Day. It is, it’s on the calendar, everyone knows it. You can be sensitive while acknowledging and honoring Mom’s.
  • If you give out a gift, give it to all women. We’ve given all women flowers in the past. This year we are doing free pictures for families, couples or groups of friends or individuals.
  • If you want to give a gift to Mom’s, give it out in your children’s ministry so as to not draw attention to it.
  • Encourage those who Mother’s Day is a difficult day to come forward for prayer with a leader.
  • Acknowledge that Mother’s Day is a great day for some and a hard day for others. This goes a long of way of letting all women know they matter and that you see them.
  • Preach the gospel. You should do this every week, but especially on Mother’s Day. Remind women that their only hope regardless of where they are on Mother’s Day is Jesus.

Lastly, don’t preach to women on Mother’s Day. More than likely, the women you will be preaching to will be back the week after Mother’s Day. Preach to the men they drug to church that day. But, if you’ve been around this blog for any length of time, you should already be preaching to men clearly.

What do you do to be sensitive to women on Mother’s Day?