10 Lessons for the Church from Pixar


I recently read the new book Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull on the story of Pixar and the culture of that company. The lessons churches and pastors can learn from them are numerous. There were so many, I’m actually going to share the lessons in multiple blog posts. Here are the first 10:

  1. If we made something that we wanted to see, others would want to see it too. This was the standard in how they decided on when they made Toy Story and has stuck with Pixar as they have made other movies. This is crucial for churches. Pastors need to lead churches they would want to attend and we need to create churches we want to go to. Otherwise, no one will bring anyone. Also, when a guest comes, they will feel our lack of excitement and enthusiasm. It is like going on a trip with someone who doesn’t want to be there.  
  2. Leaders of companies that go off the rails focus on the competition, not looking at themselves. Churches are notorious for this. We complain about culture, how no one cares about church anymore, the culture is shut off and hardened toward the gospel, there is more competing against church attendance today, on and on we go. We try to out market the church down the road. When we put up road signs for our church in front of where we meet, the megachurch 1/4 mile down the road put signs up near ours. Churches tend to fight and target the Christians. Instead of being the best, most healthy church God has called them to be, we settle for something less because of a focus on the wrong things.
  3. Protect the culture of Pixar. One of the most important roles of a leader of a church or ministry is keeping it focused on the main thing. The lead pastor is the primary vision caster and primary vision protector. It cannot be delegated, it cannot be relegated to the back burner. If it is not protected, anything can happen, anything can be important, anything can be the win.
  4. Pixar starts from the presumption that our people are talented and want to contribute. Too many pastors think they are more committed than their people or other leaders. A church planter can easily get distracted and fearful of another talented leader and keep them from leading. A lot changes when a pastor believes everyone is bought in and wants to contribute.
  5. Turn down opportunities that are a diversion from your goal. 
  6. Devote your life to a goal. For Ed Catmull, his life goal was to create an animated movie strictly with computer technology. Too many leaders and churches do not have a goal they are devoted to. They give credence to the great commission, but their budget and actions do not back up their supposed passion for this. For me and Revolution, we dream of planting churches so that everyone in Tucson lives within 10 miles of a church we’ve planted. I pray I see that before I die.
  7. Have total confidence in the people you hire and let them do what you hired them to do. Many pastors are micromanagers, church planters can be even worse. I understand the tension: you started the church, put your livelihood on the line, you have the most skin in the game. Consequently, you don’t trust others, you have a hard time believing someone can do something as well as you can, let alone better than you. This thinking though is shortsighted and keeps a church from growing and keeps people from using their gifts to their full potential.
  8. Fear is groundless. Christians are fearful people. We are afraid of culture, afraid of what politicians are doing, the left-wing lobby, Satan, the economy, you name it. Yet, we serve a God who conquered sin and death. Pastors are fearful of elder boards, powerful lay leaders and influential church members. We don’t say what we should, we don’t preach what we should, we don’t take the risks that we should, all because we fear failure or make a god out of someone else. Fear is groundless, it has not power over you because of the God you serve.
  9. Hire people smarter than you. This is closely related to #7 and if you don’t believe #7, you won’t hire smart people. I am blown away at the caliber of leaders that God has assembled at Revolution. All of them are smarter than me at something. I’m good at a few things, but need others who are great at many things for us to reach the goals God has given to us.
  10. Any hard problem should have many good minds simultaneously trying to solve it. In many Christian circles, the leaders attend conferences, read books, visit churches, follow blogs of people they agree with. This is shortsighted. You should read people who don’t think like you. Read business books, if you preach, read books by vocal coaches. In theology, you should be pushing yourself in your reading. Look outside of your camp for good ideas. Be willing to learn from anybody on how to do church the best way you can.

I’ll share more lessons as I continue working my way through the book. Highly recommend it so far.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • Hard to believe Christmas is only a couple weeks away
  • Crazy
  • Yesterday was one of the most intense days at Revolution
  • The response of people placing their sins on the cross was so powerful
  • Love the song the band played during that moment
  • Fit perfectly
  • Yesterday was a day when everything went together
  • I shared more about our Christmas offering and our partnership with The A21 Campaign
  • We did the second candle of Advent, which is Love
  • And I preached on the cross of Jesus from John 18-19
  • I talked about the sins that put Jesus on the cross and the sins in our lives that put Jesus on the cross
  • It was a powerful, powerful day
  • Tons of things went wrong technically, so you could tell Satan didn’t like us talking so much about the cross
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here
  • I’m excited for this Sunday as we are dedicating Judah
  • It will be awesome to take that step with him after all we’ve been through with him
  • If you would like to dedicate your child, you can go here to get details and sign up
  • We just started talking about the next series we are doing at Revolution that starts on December 29
  • It’s called Breathing Room
  • It will be perfect timing for the new year
  • Speaking of the end of the year, I will be posting my favorite albums and books of the year next week
  • Stay tuned…

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.


  1. If you want to be a great leader, you must have vision.
  2. Donald Zimmerman on How to structure your worship ministry. This makes me appreciate Paul Ingram all the more.
  3. Personal branding for introverts.
  4. Tim Challies on Do you have a personal relationship with Satan?
  5. Great leaders are rarely normal, well-adjusted people.
  6. Garrett Kell on How to destroy your marriage before it begins.
  7. Hannah Joiner on Secrets for dads with daughters.
  8. Stop trying to date yourself. Great word for singles.
  9. Chan Kilgore on What he wished he would’ve known about leadership, parenting and satanic attacks when he started pastoring. If you are a pastor or thinking about it, this is a great series of blog posts.
  10. Will people have a chance to repent after they die?
  11. Trevin Wax on When your kids say “Dad, I know all the bible stories.”
  12. What one pastor wish he would’ve known about critics and parenting when he started pastoring.
  13. Thom Rainer on 7 tips for introverted pastors.
  14. The most important interview Rick Warren has ever done. I watched this last night and was blown away while watching it. Really a moving interview.
  15. How to not make a hiring mistake.

An Awkward Interview on a New book

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.


  1. How to uncomplicate your life.
  2. Russell Moore on How to explain the same sex marriage debate to your kids.
  3. Preachers of L.A. I can’t believe this is real.
  4. Tim Challies on 8 ways Satan convinces you to question your salvation.
  5. Joe Thorn on How open air preaching went.
  6. Walt Mueller on Teens and plastic surgery. If you are a parent of teenagers or a student pastor, you should be reading Walt’s blog.
  7. 10 things every Christian should know about Islam.

Tonight @ Revolution || Stations of the Cross


Good Friday is a day of remembrance when, as Christians, we solemnly reflect on the death of our Savior Jesus on a Roman cross to pay the penalty for our sin. It is a sober reminder of what we did to God before our joyous celebration of what God did for us—resurrect from death and conquer Satan, sin, and death—on Easter Sunday.

“No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

– Jesus Christ (John 10:18) 

This year at Revolution we will be walking through the stations of the cross.  This journey takes us through the last hours of Jesus life and reminds us of His incredible sacrifice.

Join us anytime between 6:00 and 7:30 to walk through the stations.

*Due to the intense and serious nature of this activity, there will be a separate activity for children 10 and under for parents to take advantage of if they wish.

Communicating the Gospel to Your Kids Through Movies


I love movies. As a family, it is the same. Every week, we have family movie night. The child who had their daddy date that week gets to pick family movie night. This past week, we watched The Rise of the Guardians. 

If you haven’t seen the movie, here’s a quick synopsis:

When the evil spirit Pitch launches an assault on Earth, the Immortal Guardians team up to protect the innocence of children all around the world.

One of the ways that we’ve learned to communicate the gospel to our kids is through cultural pieces like movies and stories. Every movie and story mirrors the story of God.

In the rise of the guardians, the character pitch was thrown out of the guardians. He came back to take over, to fight them. Pitch, played the character of Satan and evil. At one point, the character of Sandman was killed. At the end of the movie, Sandman rose from the dead, and defeated Pitch when it looked hopeless for the other guardians. Sandman, in that way, was similar to Jesus.

After watching the movie, over dinner we asked our kids and talked through:

  • Who was Pitch like?
  • Why was Pitch evil?
  • What was Pitch trying to do to the kids in the movie?
  • How does Satan tempt us to sin?
  • Who was Sandman like?
  • Did Jesus rise from the dead?
  • Because Jesus rose from the dead, what does that mean for us?
  • Can we conquer sin and death the way they did in the movie?

Communicating the gospel to your kids through movies and stories takes time and practice, but it isn’t as hard as you think. Every single kids movie from Pixar to anything else has this storyline. Just look and then talk about it with your kids. A great way to apply Deuteronomy 6.

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Saturday Night Mind Dump…

  • Unbelievable night tonight
  • Blown away by how God is working at Revolution and the people he is entrusting to us
  • We had our 2nd highest attendance ever
  • I was reminded tonight looking at our church worship, just how much God has done in the last 15 months
  • Tonight was all about clarifying the win for Revolution
  • Who are we trying to reach, why we are trying to reach them
  • Here is some of what I said
  • One thing I laid out when it comes to vision and what I shared tonight was “vision answers the why question, not the how”
  • We’re still figuring out the how
  • But we know the why of our vision
  • One thing I have learned about vision is, it divides, it draws a line in the sand
  • No matter what you say though, your vision is always misunderstood and misconstrued
  • Which is okay too
  • I love the example of Nehemiah when the critics showed up at the end of chapter 2
  • He lovingly but firmly said, “We hear you, but here is the win for us” and then moved on with the vision they felt like God gave him
  • Tonight laid out one of the hills Revolution has chosen to die on
  • If you missed tonight, you can listen to it here
  • So many people signing up for small groups tonight
  • If you want to join a group, you can sign up online or email Christe LePeau
  • Read a great book this week, that if you are exploring Christianity, you should definitely read, if you are unsure why you believe what you do about, you should read this book
  • It was excellent
  • Heard from so many first and second time guests tonight who were pumped about finding Revolution
  • I love the excitement of new Revolutionaries and how God is growing a force that wants to see this city changed
  • So excited about our small group starting tomorrow
  • Most of the people in our group are people we don’t know, it will be great getting to know some other Revolutionaries
  • It was sad to see the last Tonight Show with Conan O’ Brien last night
  • He will be missed
  • We’re also hanging out with some neighbors this week
  • One thing that has been on mine and Katie’s heart has been our neighborhood and being more intentional about getting to know our neighbors to “invest and invite” them to church
  • Got a huge day of meetings on Tuesday
  • Meeting with someone about a potential mission opportunity for our church to be involved in
  • Meeting with Cody to talk about Rev Up
  • Ever since we announced we are starting a student ministry, God is sending us families with students
  • It is awesome
  • We are having a baptism on February 20th, so if you would like to take that step, just email me
  • My heart is just full right now with all the things God is doing people’s lives at Revolution and the people’s lives He is stirring in that we will be a part of reaching in the coming months
  • Revolutionaries, be praying for our church, for protection from critics and how Satan would like to derail us, and that God will continue to use us to reach people
  • Come early next week, we keep packing it out

How we View Sin

“We tend to think of sin as we see it in rags and in the gutters of life. We look at a drunkard, poor fellow, and we say, there is sin. But that is not the essence of sin. To have a real picture and a true understanding of sin, you must look at some great saint, some unusually devout and devoted man, look at him there on his knees in the very presence of God. Even there self is intruding itself, and the temptation is for him to think about himself, to think pleasantly and pleasurably about himself and to really be worshiping himself rather than God. That, not the other, is the true picture of sin. The other is sin, of course, but there you do not see it at its acme, you do not see it in its essence.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Spiritual Warfare, 30 Day Sex Challenge and You

First a note on spiritual warfare. There are different opinions about it within the church.

You have the guy who sees a demon everywhere, in a Starbucks cup, in the dark and at McDonald’s. Some do not believe spiritual warfare is real and so whenever it comes up they think you are nuts.

Here is the reality, the Bible is clear about a few things:

  • Satan is real
  • Jesus is real
  • Demons and angels are real
  • There is a world we do not see, the spiritual realm
  • All of us who pray believe in this spiritual realm or else we wouldn’t pray

The Bible is also clear about what happens whenever you take a step in the direction of following Jesus and doing what He wants. In this case, the 30 day sex challenge. The 30 day sex challenge is designed to help couples raise the level of intimacy, bring them closer together and teach them to meet each other’s relational, emotional and physical needs. For those who aren’t married, it is designed to train them to have integrity, boundaries, allow Jesus to meet their needs as opposed to looking for those needs to be met by someone that is not supposed to meet them (ie. boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance’ or porn).

In case you realized it or not, doing the 30 day sex challenge is right up the alley of what Jesus wants in our lives, it is a step in the direction of living biblically. Now, you can live biblically without doing the challenge, so don’t misunderstand. But, when you decided to do the challenge, you also invited Satan to come and hang out in your life. Anytime, we take a step in the direction of following Jesus and the Bible, we invite Satan. We don’t invite him, but he comes anyway.

If you haven’t already, here is a warning. Get ready for the world you do not see to come and hang out in the world you live in.

If you are not married, over the next month as you try to have integrity and purity, as you try to live a Godly life, Satan will do everything in his power to stop that. He will do everything in his power to bring temptation into your life, make you busy so you forget to meet with God, he will do everything in his power to keep you from keeping your commitment.

If you are married. He will do everything in his power to make sure you do not connect with your spouse. Whether that is making you too tired, making sure the kids keep walking in, you will fight more in the next month than you did last month, you will find reasons why you don’t want to do the devotional guide together.


You are becoming more like Jesus.

So, have patience. When this happens, take a deep breath, pray alone or as a couple. Get another person or couple to walk with you (who is doing the challenge, in case you don’t know, a high percentage of our church is doing this) somoene who can pray for you and ask how it is going.

And know this, the goal of following Jesus is to become like Jesus. The fact that Satan is taking notice means you are going in the right direction.