Always Start with Why


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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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.


John Piper on Don’t waste your weaknesses in 2014.

Since 2007, millions of people have read books and taken inventories designed to find our strengths. These are useful for positioning people in places of maximum effectiveness. But I am calling you to give attention and effort in finding your weaknesses and maximizing their God-given purpose. The Bible tells us what that purpose is in 2 Corinthians 12:8–10. Paul had been given a “thorn in the flesh” which was one instance of a “weakness.” Why?

The top 30 blogs Christian leaders need to read.

Zach Nielsen on How to avoid mission drift in 2014.

New pastors and/or church planters have extremely high aspirations for maintaining the purity of their church’s mission. All those churches they used to work for got too messy, complicated, and unfocused. “This church won’t be that way!” they vow to themselves and other leaders.

A gut level, honest struggle every Christian leader has.

One of the most difficult aspects of Christian leadership is keeping your relationship with God fresh and alive.

Ed Stetzer on What evangelicals can learn from TIME naming the Pope the person of the year.

The immediate evangelical responses to the TIME story were interesting to watch: some evangelicals said appreciative things about the Pope’s actions, only to be criticized by other evangelicals for compromising, some took the time to point out all the ways they disagreed with Catholicism, and others just said nothing.

Dan Reiland on 4 questions every young leader should be asking.

The leader in trouble is not the one who doesn’t have all the answers; it is the one who doesn’t know the right questions.

Tim Brister on How to create a disciple making plan in 2014.

For many of us, it could be that we are simply not well taught or well trained in the words and ways of Jesus. No doubt, that is an issue. But for all of us, disciple-making is just plain hard. It’s hard because we have years of non-disciple-making habits in us like inertia that need to be moved by Christ’s call of living on mission. It’s hard because we have rarely seen it modeled well before us and therefore disciple-making is turned into a program or function rather than a way of life. It’s hard because we have to evaluate our lives in light of the mission and make disciple-making a priority, and that can be a very painful and challenging process.

Mike Anderson on How to plan your ideal week.

The more responsibility I take on, the more my life feels out of control. One good way to help bring some order to my calendar is planning an ideal week. I try to keep it simple.

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.


Pray For Your Daughter – Mike Leake is beginning a 31-day pray for your daughter challenge. It kicks off January 1.

Steven Furtick on Point the way, clear a path.

Ultimately, there’s nothing we can do to force people to grow in Christ. Nothing. So whether we offer a 26-option discipleship program or a 4-option one really doesn’t matter. If someone really doesn’t want to grow, they’re either going to say no 4 times or 26.

Breaking the 7 barriers of leadership.

Leaders desire what they don’t have and reach for what they haven’t reached. Unfulfilled passions frustrate. Drive encounters barriers. Barriers block the future and frustrate the present.

Marshall Segal on Are you pastoring your pastor?

Some of the least pastored people in the world are pastors. These men work long, unpredictable hours, addressing every physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual issue under the sun, sacrificing their schedule, comfort, and a thousand other things, all without being relieved of their own personal, individual needs.

The pride of pastors.

My church is better than your church.  Our way is better than your way. We’ve figured out something you need to know. But pride is a deadly force.  It will lift you up on platforms and pedestals, setting you up for shame and mockery when you fall.

Christmas at Elevation 2013 (so powerful)

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.


John Piper on When we send someone to their death.

Ronnie Smith was shot and killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday. He was 33. He was a husband and father. The leaders of his home church have given me permission to respond to his death publicly and carefully. You can read the fuller story at World or in the mainstream media. One of the reasons I want to respond is because Ronnie wrote to us at Desiring God last year and told us that one of my messages was significant in leading him and his family to Libya. Now Anita is a widow, and his son Hosea has lost his father.

Jon Bloom on For all who have ever lost a child.

Suffering. Evil. Death. All of us experience them. They consume the lives of our precious loved ones — sometimes in unspeakably horrible ways. They bend us to the ground and produce tearful groanings too deep for words.

Thom Rainer on One of the biggest mistakes pastors make.

Pastors, I want to talk frankly and, hopefully, with a spirit of love, about one of the biggest mistakes I see many of you make. Most pastors have little emphasis, or sometimes, even knowledge about the content that is taught in groups in their churches.

Jonathan Holmes on Why does he look at pornography.

Something I have found personally helpful in counseling with both men and women through this issue is helping the counselee identify what motivates him or her to seek out pornography. In some ways we might say the actual viewing of pornography is symptomatic of a deeper worship disorder that is happening in the heart. What motivates and precedes the viewing of pornography? Once that can be identified then more specific biblical counsel can often be offered.

Letting pastors be real.

We have a cultural tendency to elevate leaders. Maybe it’s because they have an extraordinary education or a title or a position. Maybe it is because they have had a great deal of success in the growth of their church, or as an author or speaker. Whatever the reason, we’re creating minigods in our minds and hearts. That creates expectations in leaders, and expectations are the foundations for disappointment.

One Family’s Adoption Journey

Cheap Kindle Books 8.27.13


Here are some cheap kindle books. Not sure how long they’ll stay that way:

Top Posts of July


In case you missed them, here are the top posts of July 2013:

  1. The Five Stages of Discipleship
  2. Why Pastor’s Should Take a Summer Preaching Break
  3. The Sins of a Pastor || The Pastor’s Family
  4. The Sins of a Pastor || Giving Away too Much at Home
  5. Adoption and the Desire to Control
  6. Finding an Accountability Partner as a Pastor
  7. 21 Skills of Great Preachers
  8. Interacting with the Opposite Sex as a Pastor
  9. The Things Pastors Know and See
  10. The Sins of a Pastor || Untouchable


Q: Why Doesn’t Revolution Have a Women’s Ministry

If a woman comes to Revolution with a church background, at some point they usually ask, “Why doesn’t Revolution have a women’s ministry?” This is not an accident or an oversight, in fact, it is a very specific decision we made when we started.

3 Reasons we Don’t Do Women’s Bible Studies

The first reason has to do with a desire to be simple. Our goal from the beginning has been to stay away from becoming the church that does a thousand programs, keeping people at church every night of the week. I was on staff at a church that said, “Our goal is to have people at church 6-7 nights a week.” Having options, while it can be helpful, also very quickly muddies the waters of what matters.

The second has to do with our desire to reach men. One of the things that happens with a women’s ministry, for married women, is that they no longer need their husband for their spiritual or relational needs. While many women join a women’s bible study for this purpose, the bible study actually keeps her husband from stepping up and fulfilling his role to pastor his wife and lead her spiritually. Men are good at doing as little as possible, so if a man’s wife is getting her spiritual needs met somewhere else (a women’s bible study), he will sit back and do nothing. I’ve seen this in a variety of couples, but also in looking at many of the women who attend women’s bible studies.

The third reason has to do with splitting couples up too much. Often, as I stated above, many women who attend a bible study, her husband does not attend a bible study. You actually begin to create an atmosphere where a husband and wife are growing at different levels, learning different things and ultimately, you start to move them in different directions at different speeds.

What we Do at Revolution

The first thing we do is challenge men and women to be who God called and created them to be. We challenge the men of our church to step up and lead their homes, to be servant leaders, pastoring their families. We challenge single men to have integrity, lead themselves well so they are ready to lead a women well. We provide resources every week for families to dive into scripture together, for couples to open the bible and for the husbands to lead them well. Instead of throwing men into the deep end of the pool alone, we hand them resources.

The second thing is in our missional communities. Our MC’s study the sermon in more depth. Instead of learning something new, couples sit together in church, hear the same sermon, then talk through it during the week in community. One of the reasons men often don’t lead their families well is they are afraid they won’t do a good job at it. This is the benefit of the resources we create each week and studying the sermon in MC’s.

The third thing is what we call DNA relationships. In the context of an MC, people will begin to get to know each other. In that context, we encourage 2-3 people of the same gender to meet together outside of an MC for shepherding, encouragement, prayer, accountability and deeper community. For me, the benefit of DNA cannot be overstated.

What about Titus 2?

People will often ask about Titus 2 and the call for older, more mature women to mentor and disciple younger women. Honestly, I feel like what we do in MC’s and DNA groups actually makes this happen more than most women’s ministries do. For one, MC’s and DNA groups are filled with men and women of all ages and life stages.

On top of that, Titus 2 is not a call to form a women’s ministry, it is a call for women to disciple other women. Can that happen in a women’s ministry? Sure. Is that the best way for it to happen? I don’t think so.

When a woman brings up Titus 2 to me as a reason to have a women’s ministry, my first question to them is who they are discipling. The answer is usually no one. Instead of looking for a church to create a program so that you can be involved in discipling someone, disciple someone. Find someone you are further ahead than and reach out to them. Find someone who is further ahead than you are and reach out to them.

What if I really want a women’s bible study?

After talking through this with couples, some women are skeptical and ask, “What if I really want a women’s bible study?” My answer, “Go to one.” We have women who go to other churches for MOPS, meet with women on the air force base for this.

As a church, we just don’t do it.

The results

One thing I always tell people about this topic or anything associated with our vision and values. You may disagree with it, but you can’t tell me it doesn’t work. What we’ve seen are men (single or married) step up and lead well. Learn to have integrity, shepherd their wives well, disciple their kids. We’ve seen single women get discipled in their MC through the couple leading their MC or another woman in their MC. In short, we’ve seen Revolution strive to live out the commands of a church in the New Testament. Not always in the way a normal American church has done it, but that isn’t the goal.

While it is different than many churches, our desire for life-on-life discipleship, the benefits and the results have been incredible.

Links I Like

  1. The publishing process in GIF form. I can honestly say since starting to write a book, this is so true.
  2. Charles Stone on 10 questions every pastor should ask about his preaching.
  3. Greg Atkinson on Are you an evangelism or a discipleship church.
  4. Michael Hyatt on 5 ways to stop procrastinating.

The Question we Ask After Church to our Kids

Saw this on Alex Absolam’s blog the other day.

It’s all about what you learned
What’s the first question we ask our kids after church?  ”What did you learn today?”  It’s a telling question if you think about it for a moment.  It infers that what is most important at church is what we learn (information).  Of course students will learn more in a setting designed just for them and therefore having them in adult church can not be too helpful.   But what if we changed the question?  Aren’t there better questions to ask after church?  What if we started to ask our kids, “Did you honor Jesus with your heart today?”, or “Did you connect with someone today that  helped you follow Jesus?”, or “Did you worship with all of your heart, or did you hold back?”

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