THE BIG Q’s: Questions of Transformation For The New Year

THE BIG Q’s: Questions of Transformation For The New Year

The key to surviving and thriving in a New Year atmosphere of change is perspective. Your Perspective changes your outcome and your outcome is what you become. We can view change in one of several ways, and the view we choose will determine whether change will be an obstacle or an opportunity for us.

One response to change is to fight it. And many do!! When I was a kid, Sears had the best catalog I knew. I could find all my toys in there. At the time, Sears, one of the leading retailers in America, resisted marketing pressure to change their way of doing business for many years. In 1970, Sears stock was $62 a share, but at one point in the 1980’s, it traded for as low as $14. As retail sales dropped, Sears executives began examining possible causes for the decline. This operational “gut check” revealed layer upon layer of unnecessary bureaucracy and a growing insensitivity to the marketplace.

Your Perspective changes your outcome and your outcome is what you become. Click To Tweet

They stopped asking questions and they stopped looking for solutions. Today, they are no longer the leading company because they refused to grow.

You see, we can resist change around us, but that resistance often draws a costly penalty. We fall behind those who are more willing to be flexible, and instead of leading, we find ourselves in the position of playing catch up. As you approach the New Year, here are some questions you can ask yourself to stay on the side of change with a right perspective. They are called the Big Q’s!

Resistance to change often draws a costly penalty. Click To Tweet

 

  • PHYSICAL QUESTIONS
  1. How much do I weigh? How’s my health? Is that OK?
  2. Do I have a physical appointment scheduled between now and March 31?
  3. What’s my major physical focus area for 2016?
  4. What foods do I need to stop eating or start eating? Do I drink enough water?

 

  • FINANCIAL QUESTIONS
  1. Are my finances in order?
  2. Do I have debt beyond my mortgage?
  3. Should I make a sacrificial offering to my church?
  4. Should I take a financial class like Financial Peace University?

 

  • INTELLECTUAL QUESTIONS
  1. How am I growing as a Christian leader?
  2. What are my reading goals for 2017? Subscriptions to buy?
  3. What conferences and seminars will I attend in 2017?
  4. What leaders am I listening to and why?

 

  • VOCATIONAL QUESTIONS
  1. What caused me the most stress in 2016? How am I going to fix that in 2017?
  2. What am I pretending NOT to know?
  3. What is my calling and what is my next step?
  4. Am I an expert in learning in my field? How do I know?

 

  • EMOTIONAL QUESTIONS
  1. Ask Yourself, what am I supposed to be doing, not what do I do?
  2. Which tasks make you Glad?
  3. Which tasks make you Sad?
  4. Which tasks make you Mad?
  5. Is there anyone whose forgiveness I need to seek or anyone that I need to forgive?
  6. Where is the clutter in my life?

 

  • SPIRITUAL QUESTIONS
  1. Am I closer to God today than I was on Jan 1, 2016?
  2. What is my spiritual growth plan for 2017?
  3. Have I scheduled my Sabbaths for January? All of 2017?
  4. Am I taking my Sabbaths seriously?

 

  • RELATIONAL QUESTIONS
  1. Would I rate my marriage a 10? Would my spouse? (You might want to ask over a nice dinner.) If it’s not a 10, ask this question, “What would it take in 2017 to make it a 10?”
  2. Same question for each of my kids.
  3. Have I scheduled my date nights for 2017 and protected them?

 

Here is the truth — evaluated experience is always the greatest teacher. If you are going to be a great leader, then you must do great evaluation. When you change yourself, you change your perspective.

When you change yourself, you change your perspective. Click To Tweet

 

 

Are you Intentional in your Growth?

Are you Intentional in your Growth?

 Growing by Accident vs. Growing by Intention

Are you getting better as a leader? How do you know? Is it intentional or is it by accident? How do you know that you are getting better at what you do?

Around this time of the year, I do a lot of reflecting and detecting on who I am as a Christ follower and leader. Was I really intentional about my growth, or did I grow (or, more likely, shrink) by accident?

If you are going to grow intentionally then you and I need three circles (C) to converge in our lives.

 

C1 – Knowledge: What you picked up along the way

C2 – Education: What you have studied along the way

C3 – Coaching: What others do to instruct you along the way

 

Each of these three circles cannot live without the others. Unless you intentionally live in their intersection, any growth you experience will be purely incidental.

 

If you don't invest in yourself then you can't invest in others. Click To Tweet

 

So, how do you grow intentionally? Here are a few ways:

 

Scriptures: Search who Jesus is in every book

 

Books, blogs, and business: Be close to culture and be in the know with trends.

 

YouTube: Choose your topic, pick channels to subscribe to, and learn all you can.

 

Interviews (20 Q’s): Book a lunch with someone, ask 20 solid questions, listen, and take notes.

 

Feedback: Understand that you won’t always hit a home run, and then learn from it because very soon you’re up to bat again.

Failure is not final. It is the feedback for champions. I’ve heard a few leaders say “Fail forward.” Think of Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, and many other great leaders: they all failed, but that one time that they tried one more time, they succeeded. Never give up.

 

You can’t lead others to where you have not already been. Click To Tweet

 

If you don’t invest in yourself then you can’t invest in others. Remember, You can’t lead others where you aren’t going yourself. You can’t lead others to where you have not already been. There is no question that change, discomfort, and pain are all involved in growth. The real question is whether that growth will be by accident or by intention.

The Other Side of The Tracks

The Other Side of The Tracks

When you look around, what do you see? Do you see opportunity or opposition? For some people, they can only see the negative and the obstacles, but great Christians see what Jesus has promised them.
“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest” (John 4:35).

Jesus spoke these words after He had a conversation with a fornicator: an adulteress woman. She was considered a half-breed to the Jewish race–a nobody. I am sure she grew up being told this as a little girl and had the mentality that she was worth nothing; therefore she acted as if life did not matter– only finding herself clinging onto some type of religious relic, a water well and a mountain!

When Jesus engaged her, her culture, her people, and her sin, things changed. Life meant something different from this point on. Life had a purpose in Jesus to do bigger and better things. Shortly after, Jesus told his followers to Look! there is always success in preaching the gospel.

There is always success in preaching the Gospel Click To Tweet

What Did Jesus See that we do not?

Jesus saw lost, confused, and broken people who had given up both on themselves and on God. Jesus desired that the detached from God would be brought back to Him. (also see Matthew 23:37; Luke 15:1-7). Our current generations are filled with godless people who have no purpose. However, we are living in a time where we get to share hope, truth, and love with people like never before.

What Did the People Need that we can’t give?

When Jesus spoke these words to this woman, He was out of His element as a Jewish man. Our people do not hang with your people. Our Culture is very different from your culture. We are oil and water. Jesus saw a soul, not just a position in society. He understood the position but looked past it for a bigger purpose.

The “other side of the tracks” is ready to be reached here in our Samaria. In the Gospel of John, He added this saying:

“For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans” (John 4:9).

In other words, we Jews are upper class and you Samaritans are lower class project children.

If we want to be like Jesus, then we need to go to people who are not near us or like us. Jesus was willing to teach and reach people regardless of nationality, background, or culture.

I believe that if Jesus were here today walking the streets of our towns, he would be telling us to “look on the fields, that they are white for harvest” Nothing has changed.

If we want to be like Jesus, then we need to go to people who are not near us or like us. Click To Tweet

Remember you and I cannot save anyone. We cannot force people to accept Christ. We are just the delivery guy. The only time when we fail at sharing Jesus is when we do not do it! So when we encounter harsh people who are not interested and will most likely curse us, we share–and move on. Jesus told the disciples in these circumstances to

“shake the dust off your feet” (Matthew 10:14; cf. Acts 13:50-51).

Everyone needs at least one chance to hear the Gospel both locally and globally.

Everyone needs at least one chance to hear the Gospel both locally and globally. Click To Tweet

Christ’s Last Command must be our First Concern!

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Cross the tracks so those people can come to the cross and back on track with God!

7 REALITIES OF REBUILDING A CHURCH (Part 7)

7 REALITIES OF REBUILDING A CHURCH (Part 7)

Rebuilding or revitalizing a church is not easy, and I believe that it takes a special call from God and a special anointing to accomplish it. I have found that there are realities you need to face if God has called you to this daunting task. You are God’s person for the Job! He called you and equipped you, so trust him. Here are some things that I have learned over the past three years as I have walked through this process of rebuilding and revitalizing a church.

 

Celebrate the small victories! Click To Tweet

7. MEASURE SUCCESS AND THROW A PARTY!

Everyone loves a good party! So have one! Celebrate the small victories. This helps to build and sustain positive momentum, as well as to give everyone the feeling that things are indeed looking up and launching out. That winning attitude lays the foundation for bigger victories that lie ahead. Every small thing is a big thing. So celebrate every goal and milestone achieved. Then plant the seed for the next one to focus on. Having people see that things are progressing gets more people on board to help with the next step.

It is also important to keep good records so you know where you started and what you have achieved. Sometimes this is the only thing that will sustain you through the tough times. I have to constantly remind myself when I am exhausted and down that we are making progress, and we’ve come a long way – so celebrate!

You must exude passion so that the people of your church catch it... Click To Tweet

You, as the leader, are responsible for creating vision and communicating it at every opportunity and to every person who will stand still long enough to hear it. You have been placed in your church to restore and relaunch a dream or, perhaps, to create and start a new one. You must exude passion so that the people of your church catch it and become passionate too about working to achieve the dream with you.

This task is much bigger than just one person... Click To Tweet

Start building a team of people who will come alongside you and help you deal with the seven realities of rebuilding a church mentioned in this series of blog posts. This task is much bigger than just one person, so communicate your God-given mission and vision and get other people on board to help you accomplish it.

7 REALITIES OF REBUILDING A CHURCH (Part 6)

7 REALITIES OF REBUILDING A CHURCH (Part 6)

Rebuilding or revitalizing a church is not easy, and I believe that it takes a special call from God and a special anointing to accomplish it. I have found that there are realities you need to face if God has called you to this daunting task. You are God’s person for the Job! He called you and equipped you, so trust him. Here are some things that I have learned over the past three years as I have walked through this process of rebuilding and revitalizing a church.

6. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY!

Most churches do way too much. #mytwincity #quality Click To Tweet

You can’t do everything well. More than likely, in a rebuilding situation, the church has a lot of programs that are struggling to stay afloat but have been around for years. Our staff and leaders were spread thin across many areas, and I had to make some tough decisions to scale back, reevaluate what we were doing, and focus on doing less better.

You can't do everything well. #mytwincity #quality Click To Tweet

It’s the philosophy of quality over quantity. If you are trying to revitalize a church, step back and ask yourself the question, “Are we doing too much?” “Are my leaders and staff exhausted?” After you have defined your mission and vision, start filtering the existing programs and events through it. If they don’t help you accomplish your mission, get rid of them.

Most churches do way too much. They are programmed out. Instead focus on what is working and do it. This will help bring clarity to the chaos. Do a few things, and do them well.

Do a few things, and do them well. #mytwincity #quality Click To Tweet
7 REALITIES OF REBUILDING A CHURCH (Part 5)

7 REALITIES OF REBUILDING A CHURCH (Part 5)

Rebuilding or revitalizing a church is not easy, and I believe that it takes a special call from God and a special anointing to accomplish it. I have found that there are realities you need to face if God has called you to this daunting task. You are God’s person for the Job! He called you and equipped you, so trust him. Here are some things that I have learned over the past three years as I have walked through this process of rebuilding and revitalizing a church.

5. IDENTIFY THE SYSTEMS!

Systems will always outlive fads, and systems are no respecter of preference or person. They will also help you execute that plan you just created. One of the benefits of starting a church from scratch is that you, the Lead Pastor, get to create the systems of the church. However, when you step into a rebuilding situation, you have to deal with the systems, or lack of systems, that have been in place, sometimes, for years.

Systems...are no respecter of preference or person. #mytwincity Click To Tweet

Then there are the hidden or unspoken systems that take you by surprise, the ones that were never written down, yet existed in the minds of the former staff and leadership. Don’t assume that you know everything about the systems of the church you are taking over. Before you take over, ask lots of questions and take good notes.

Don't assume that you know everything about the systems of the church you are taking over.… Click To Tweet

Getting healthy systems in place can help you execute your plan for rebuilding and revitalizing your church. You must ask the question, “What are the systems currently in the organization, and are they working effectively?” If you identify ones that are not working, shut them down and create ones that will take you to the next level. This process takes time, but pays off big in the long run.

Systems will always outlive fads... #mytwincity Click To Tweet

One of the best people on systems that I know is Nelson Searcy at church leader insights. Check it out here, and he and his team can help you with these systems.

7 REALITIES OF REBUILDING A CHURCH (Part 4)

7 REALITIES OF REBUILDING A CHURCH (Part 4)

Rebuilding or revitalizing a church is not easy, and I believe that it takes a special call from God and a special anointing to accomplish it. I have found that there are certain realities you need to face if God has called you to this daunting task. You are God’s person for the Job! He called you and equipped you, so trust Him. Here are some things that I have learned over the past three years as I have walked through this process of rebuilding and revitalizing a church.

4. YOU HAVE TO HAVE A PLAN!

God’s man with a plan builds Kingdom fans (or, what I like to see) fanatics for Jesus. I started with a basic checklist on a legal pad. You need to ask the tough questions: “What are we doing?”; “Why are we doing it?”; “What do we need to do?”; and “Why do we need to do it?” Chances are that your programs and systems have been in place for a long time, and it’s time to see if they are really working.

God’s man with a plan builds Kingdom fans! Click To Tweet

But don’t assume that everything is broken. Being aware of the realities means more than revealing the nakedness of the organization’s weaknesses; it’s also a matter of seeing and understanding the organization’s strengths and assets. Make a list, find out what’s working and what’s not, and then start creating a plan. Ask the people already serving how things are working. Chances are they already know where the holes are and are more than willing to offer constructive criticism. Create a plan and then come to a concise conclusion about what needs to be focused on first. Then execute the plan and follow through till completion.

Make a list, find out what’s working and what’s not, and then start creating a plan. Click To Tweet

My wife is the master organizer and problem-solver. While I am agonizing over a problem, she is sitting down organizing our way to a solution. That is why we are amazing together. I dream, think and create; she organizes and plans; and, together, we execute. If you do not have someone like this beside you, find someone that can help you in this area, someone good at organization and administration. Schedule several hours together, make a pot of coffee, gather several legal pads, and start making notes. Walk the campus, visit every area of your church and start making notes. Ask outsiders, first time guests or another pastor to walk alongside of you and get their opinion. Ask them what needs to be fixed. Get everything on paper and then starting creating your action plan, prioritizing the areas that need the most attention.

7 REALITIES OF REBUILDING A CHURCH (Part 3)

7 REALITIES OF REBUILDING A CHURCH (Part 3)

Welcome to Part 3. Rebuilding or revitalizing a church is not easy, and I believe that it takes a special call from God and a special anointing to accomplish it. I have found that there are certain realities you need to face if God has called you to this daunting task. You are God’s person for the Job! He called you and equipped you, so trust Him. Here are some things that I have learned over the past three years as I have walked through this process of rebuilding and revitalizing a church.

3. NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO LIKE YOU, AND THAT’S OK!

I took over for the founding pastor who had faithfully served our church for 41 years. Talk about a daunting task. The people had never experienced another type of leader other than him. If you are in the same situation or one like it where the pastor you are following was there for many years, you must understand that not everyone is going to like you, and the transition is going to take time. However, you can’t take it personally. The relationship between a pastor and the people is a deep one. The people who have a hard time accepting you would more than likely feel the same way about anyone stepping into the role as Lead Pastor.

The relationship between a pastor and the people is a deep one. Click To Tweet

You can’t let that deter you from doing what God has called you to do. My philosophy has always been, “Honor up, honor down, honor all around.” You need to honor the work that was done in the past while you embrace the future and what God is going to do in the future. If people can’t support that and have a difficult time moving forward, it is not on you. Show them that you genuinely love and care about them, and that you want them and the church to succeed. Stay faithful to the call and carry on, even if people decide to not support you.

7 REALITIES OF REBUILDING A CHURCH (Part 2)

7 REALITIES OF REBUILDING A CHURCH (Part 2)

Welcome to Part 2…..Rebuilding or revitalizing a church is not easy, and I believe that it takes a special call from God and a special anointing to accomplish it. I have found that there are certain realities you need to face if God has called you to this daunting task. You are God’s person for the Job! He called you and equipped you, so trust Him. Here are some things that I have learned over the past three years as I have walked through this process of rebuilding and revitalizing a church.

2. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!

It is so important for you to regularly communicate to the people of your church your God-given vision. Jesus is building His church (Matthew 16:18), so don’t take His job! Emphasize that it is not about you, but rather it is about what God has called you and the church to do. People naturally do not like change, and change can bring major resistance. However, most people love movement, progress, and accomplishment. When people see and hear about your God-given mission and vision for the church, and they see that God is moving and working and that progress is being made, they will get excited. If you try to make it all about you and what you want, you will probably run into resistance. Make Jesus’ last commandment your first concern and be passionate about what God has called you to do.

Our passion communicates action which facilitates God’s reaction. Click To Tweet

The people of your church will naturally follow along and support your God-given vision. Habakkuk 2:2 says, “And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, so that he may run that readeth it.” Solidify the mission and vision of your church, talk about it, and put it up where people can see it. The church can’t achieve it if they don’t know what it is. Let them know it is God’s will, not your will.

7 REALITIES OF REBUILDING A CHURCH (Part 1)

7 REALITIES OF REBUILDING A CHURCH (Part 1)

Church Planters are one of my favorite groups of people on the planet. They are risk-takers, radical, and bold. They understand that when God calls you to a situation, He does it because He knows that He has equipped you for the success that is ahead for His kingdom. The building of the church has very little to do with us in its construction (Matthew 16:18). Jesus is building His church. Our responsibility is to obey the call wherever that may lead.

 

Jesus is building His church. Click To Tweet

Many times, church planters are called to start new things, new works. But what happens when God calls you to help Him breathe new life into something that already exists but may be stagnant, dying, or near death? The statistics for churches closing and pastors leaving the ministry are staggering – scary, actually. How can we reach the next generation for Christ if so many churches are closing their doors and so many pastors are leaving the ministry? Planting new churches across the country is vital; however, keeping existing churches from closing their doors is just as important.

Rebuilding or revitalizing a church is not easy, and I believe that it takes a special call from God and a special anointing to accomplish it. I have found that there are some realities you need to face if God has called you to this daunting task. You are God’s person for the job! He called you and equipped you, so trust him. Here are some things that I have learned over the past three years as I have walked through this process of rebuilding and revitalizing a church.

1. BE A REALIST, YOU WILL CRY!

I can honestly say I have cried a lot over the past few years. It is hard to believe that it has been that long since I first felt the overwhelming sense that God was calling me to New England. It could not have been any clearer if God had written it in the sky for all to see. But with that call came the reality that I was leaving a church and a work that I loved. I had poured my life into supporting my Pastor, team, and the people of our church; and my family and I had formed many deep bonds and relationships there. Yet God was calling us to leave our church family and the comfort of our situation and go to a place where we knew no one and to a church that was in desperate need. We cried, and we cried a lot. But God showed me throughout the process that we were not saved for comfort, but for conformability. Are we ready to conform to His will for our lives, even if it means being uncomfortable?

...we were not saved for comfort, but for conformability. Click To Tweet

Once we arrived at our new church, God broke us for the people and the area around us. I still weep over the people and the needs around me and the fact that there never seems to be enough time in the day to accomplish all that needs to be done. Rebuilding a church is tough, and there will be times when you cry. Know that it’s okay. God will sustain you and will give you the strength you need to accomplish the task, even when it feels impossible.
Stay Tuned for Part 2….

Rebuilding a church is tough, and there will be times when you cry. Click To Tweet
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