Pastors and Diet Advice

fat guy

A few years ago a friend was telling me his weight loss strategy.

He had all of the stats on eliminating carbs and eating lean protein.

There was just one problem: He was eating a Big Mac while he was telling me this (and the dude as close to 100 pounds overweight).

Whenever I hear about another “church growth consultant” who has the latest theory about growing a church, I think of my McDonald’s-loving buddy.

I hear the consultant’s strategy for how he’s going to help the church grow and I think, “He’s just like the fat guy who giving diet advice.”

Here’s my advice to you: Listen carefully to the guys who are in the trenches everyday leading churches and be careful of the guys who have never done it. 

It’s like learning to swim online (did you know there are websites that can claim they can teach you to swim from the privacy of your home office?).

I’m sorry, but if someone is teaching people to swim and water isn’t involved, run for your life.

As a pastor who is leading a church and in the middle of a multi-million dollar building project after over a decade of being a portable church, I know what it’s like to start a church from scratch. 

I know the pressure of leadership and the weight of teaching every Sunday.

If someone doesn’t understand that, they probably don’t understand you.

So just be careful who you take advice from…

Sunday stuff (Palm Sunday Edition)

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but here goes…

– Great day at Calvary today.

– We finished the book of Ruth in a series called, “Second Chances”

– Once in a while, you teach a series that really hits home. This was one of those times.

– Everyone has made poor choices. Everyone lives with some level of regret. Dealing with that is powerful for any congregation.

– I have to say… leading a church, running Church Ninja, and building a building has pushed me to the limit on more than one occasion. Any of these is a full-time job by themselves. Doing all 3 simultaneously is insane.

– Speaking of building… As a pastor, it’s harder than anything I’ve ever done before. Planting a church was easy compared to construction and everything that goes along with it.

– I will say this, the Calvary staff is an amazing group of people. They have been stretched beyond what I thought possible over the last 2 years and they have emerged refined and mature. I couldn’t be any prouder of them.

– I know all Pastors say that stuff about their staff, but we didn’t hire anyone for 2 years while we were raising money for the building and they all did the work of 3 people to keep up with our growth and construction project.

– There was a season early on when writing messages was the hardest part of my week. Now it’s the easiest.  I don’t know if the messages have gotten easier or everything else has gotten harder 🙂

– People ask me all the time if I’m writing. The short answer is no. The long answer is, I don’t any bandwidth to give writing right now. Plus, writing should be birthed out of burden to say something. Every one of my books started with me searching for a book and not finding it. When I realized it didn’t exist, I wrote it. No good book on John the Baptist’s life? I’ll write Elements. No short, simple book for new believers? I’ll write Begin.

– I see lots of guys starting businesses to serve churches. I think it’s great. A word of caution to Pastors… Beware the person selling you something who has never been in your shoes. A guy might know how to get people to click like on Facebook, but if he has never created ads that get people to get in their car and show up to church… Buyer beware.

– Carey and I are watching all the Harry Potter movies. She read all the books. We’ve seen the 1st four. So far they’re amazing. Good stories are hard to find.

– looking forward to a great Easter week. Good Friday message is written. Tomorrow I’ll finish the 1st draft of mt Easter message.

– Praying for all my pastor-friends and pastors I coach to have huge Easter services and reach a ton of people!

The Mistake That Stunts Church Growth

The mistake that many senior pastors don’t think about because it doesn’t immediately call for their attention is a neglect for their own self-development.

The old saying is true: “Leaders are readers.” To that point, check out this picture of Pastor Rick Warren’s own personal library:

Ricklibrary

Wow. Now, you may not be able to fit that many books in your office and neither can I but reading books is a fundamental way we can continue to grow as a leaders.

The truth is: I’ve met very few successful leaders who don’t give significant time to reading. The formula for growth is that the rate of the leader’s growth determines the rate of the church’s growth.

So, if I want my church to grow, I have to grow first.

That means I need to have a plan for my own personal development as a leader. That needs to include a Bible reading plan, attending conferences that will benefit me as a leader, reading a specific number of books every year, and meeting with other leaders who will stretch my thinking.

I also believe that learning from areas outside of our own field helps us be leaders who are more effective.

Would attending a seminar on marketing help you be a more effective communicator? Would reading a business book help you look at decision making in a new light?

Sometimes, by cross-pollinating our learning experiences, we gain new insight through hearing things from a new perspective.

Self Development is just one of the areas I talk about in my free e-book, “Top 5 Mistakes Senior Pastors Make.” Fill out the form below to get your free copy:

5 Keys To Making Easter HUGE

Easter is only 33 days away.

If you haven’t started gearing up for this big day, time is running out.

So let me get right to the point.  Here are some keys to making sure you leverage the biggest day on the church calendar:

#1. Mobilizing the congregation is the top priority this Easter

That means we need to arm them with invites and opportunities to serve the community if we want to reach more people than ever this Easter.

#2. Do Multiple Services

Easter is a family day, so we need to make sure we have multiple options for people to worship and then do the family activities they have planned.

#3. Start your Promotion Early

You need to start telling your church about Easter 4-5 weeks before Easter Sunday. (Remember, Easter changes every year, so most people don’t know when it’s happening. That’s why we need them to commit to attending a service before they commit to something else).

#4. Ticket the Event

We always ticket our Easter services. A ticket creates commitment once the person accepts it and it’s a much more powerful invite.

#5. Have a strategic plan for reaching those who don’t attend your church

Easter is the best Sunday of the year to reach people, so don’t miss this opportunity to reach people in your community who are unchurched.

When Leaders Fail You, Who Do You Follow?

I heard about another pastor who fell into sexual sin this week.

My heart hurts for the congregations and families involved.

This recent news brings up some feelings in me as I’ve watched a friend and mentor fall into sin in recent weeks.

As I’ve processed and walked through this situation with friends and some in my congregation, certain feelings people have expressed have made total sense to me.

Feeling of…

…Sadness
…Anger
…Betrayal
…Loss
…Fear

But there’s another emotion/ attitude that I’m a bit surprised by.

It’s the attitude that says, “We don’t follow a man; we follow Jesus”. The idea is, they may have listened to that pastor every week and served in the church, but they were never “following” him. Instead, they were following Jesus exclusively.

Don’t get me wrong. Jesus, not any other person, died for us. There is no Savior besides Jesus, period.

However, is it really true what people are saying, that they only follow Jesus and not men?

I’ve had people tell me that following a man is wrong.

I must disagree.

The apostle Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)

The writer of Hebrews said, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)

Here’s my point: it’s not wrong to follow a leader. In fact, we’re called to do so.

A pastor or leader should not be the object of our faith, but if they are a leader worth their salt, they should be influencing and informing our faith.

Pastors are shepherds and shepherds by nature, lead sheep to green pastures and quiet waters (See Psalm 23). Sheep follows shepherds. When it’s working as God intended, it is a beautiful thing.

To me, the “we don’t follow a man, we only follow Jesus” sounds very spiritual, but in actuality turns out to be uninformed and immature.

(I must admit that church leaders cause a lot of this confusion unintentionally. We talk about supporting the pastor’s vision and “holding the pastors arms up”. These are all good things, that is, until the pastor falls. If sin occurs, we backtrack and say, “It’s never been about a man; it’s all about Jesus here.” This line of thinking creates a false dichotomy. The reality is, if a pastor is worth following, supporting his vision as a leader will be all about Jesus.)

So what’s the right approach?

Realize that men of God are placed in our lives to build us up and help us grow into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

They are also men “with a nature like ours” (James 5:17) and have the capacity to fail us.

So we thank God for leaders who help us grow (Ephesians 4:11-12), but they do not become the object of our faith. When a leader becomes the object of our faith, the Bible calls that idolatry.

Instead, godly leaders help us follow Jesus more closely.

But to say we don’t follow any man is missing the point altogether and I believe, is simply masking the pain of disappointment because the man you followed let you down.

I rejoice that there are men I follow and I am honored there is a congregation of people who follow me as I follow Christ.

So here’s my encouragement to you: embrace the hurt. Feel the pain that comes from someone you trusted letting you down.

Allow this to lead you to draw closer to God than ever before.

Then, in an odd way, the leader who failed you will be doing what leaders are supposed to do… leading you closer to the Savior who loves you and died for you.