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Heading towards burnout Part-1

Take a moment to do a quick internet search on “pastor burnout” and the results might shock you. You’ll find pages and pages of articles, statistics, and stories of literally hundreds of men leaving the ministry every single day. Just take a quick look below:

CNNMoney.com posted an article listing 15 “Stressful Jobs That Pay Badly.” Included in this list are #5 “Music Ministry Director” and #10 “Minister.”

Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention in their churches.

Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.

Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

If you ask me, all of this sounds like a far cry from the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 where he said: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” So how do you know if you’re headed towards burnout? Below are a few indicators that might be worth taking a look at.

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Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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The Prodigal God

Prodigal God

About a year and a half ago Tim Keller, Lead Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, wrote a book called “The Prodigal God,” and yes, I’m just now getting around to reading it. In fact my wife and I both read it this past weekend and I’ve got to say that it has absolutely reframed Luke chapter 15 for us.

Traditionally in church-world we have focused merely on the rebellion of the younger brother and the grace given to him by a loving father as he seemingly repents of his waywardness and returns home. Tim Keller blows such a surface read of this parable out of the water and lays out for the reader that there are two ways to be alienated from the father, two ways to be your own savior and lord. In one way we do so by being rebellious and very bad. In the other we accomplish the same aim by being obedient and very good.

The truth of the matter is neither one of these brothers truly loves the father, they’re both lost. The older brother obeys and claims to have done everything right, and in doing so believes that because of his righteous performance that he deserves a reward from the father. The younger brother comes to the father only to get what is owed to him (albeit a bit early) in order to go out and spend it on himself. Neither of these brothers truly cared about the father or about the things the father cared about. They cared only for themselves, in that they cared only about what they could take from the father for themselves.

What really struck a nerve for me though was how he contextualized the story of these two brothers with the previous two parables in Luke 15, the story of the lost sheep and of the lost coin. In which both instances describe someone who went looking for something that was lost, found it, and subsequently there ensued a celebration. In the story of the two brothers, no one goes looking for the “lost son.” The person that should have gone, the older brother, was too busy tending to his responsibilities and “obeying” his father. How many times do we become so busy doing work for our Father that we forget that the heart of our Father is not bent so much towards our acts of righteousness or even obedience but towards the lost son? See, what keeps the father up at night is not the one son who is tucked in safe and sound at home. But the one is out who knows where, doing who knows what, with who knows who! Those who truly understand the heart of the father and aren’t just interested in what they can get from him are moved into action by what moves his heart. So if what truly keeps the father up at night is the lost son, then we’ve got to ask ourselves, do we find ourselves out looking for anyone? Or have we simply taken the approach that if we build it, they will come? Do we find ourselves chasing after people who look like us, dress like us, and have the same socioeconomic status that we do? Or do we ever find ourselves chasing after those who have spent their money on women and pleasure as though we were chasing down a long lost member of our very own family? In church-world I believe we’ve forgotten the fact that the church doesn’t exist for us, we are the church, and we exist for those who have not yet met the father.

At the end of the story ironically enough, the brother who should have been searching was the one that ended up lost and never made it to the party.

And if I’m gut level honest with myself, it’s scary to think about how many times I’ve fallen into the comfortable trappings of older brother thinking.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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Leading people to be the church not just come to church

Serve_Day

Today was one of those moments that most pastors dream about. Today at Cornerstone almost 3,000 people got a taste of what it felt like to live an others oriented life. We conducted abbreviated services and sent people out all over to serve our local city by cleaning up parks, doing landscaping for the city, hanging door hangers for Iglesia Vida a Hispanic church that has been meeting on our campus that is launching in our community, and packing over 140,000 meals with Stop Hunger Now that will be on the ground and distributed in Haiti in 3 weeks by Food for the Hungry Today was one of those moments where people didn’t just come to church; today the people of Cornerstone took a step towards being the church. I was humbled and thrilled to serve along side the people of Cornerstone today and proud to have the honor to be on Staff here. We took a real step towards maturity together today.

This was one of those moments that reminded me of how the average person who doesn’t know Jesus could care less about if we are orthodox in our theology, have strong air tight arguments for our convictions, or even if we’re right in our views. Because people aren’t impressed by what we say we believe, but by how we live our lives. And what they’re waiting for is to see if there is a church that is actually willing to put their money where their mouth is. A church full of people who don’t just speak in a self righteous lingo about receiving the forgiveness of Christ, but learn to live out and offer it to others. A church that isn’t going to just talk about Jesus but be like Him, and put the needs of others before their own. They want to know does following Jesus make any real tangible difference in our lives and they want us to show that difference by they way that we live. And I must confess it’s a pretty good request. So let me remind us of a passage of scripture that we’re all probably a little too familiar with.

Ephesians 4:11-13

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”

In this passage, among other things, the Apostle Paul directly links maturity to doing the work of the ministry. Now while I don’t believe that serving necessarily makes you and I mature, it’s impossible for us to be mature without it. And if people who don’t know our Jesus are waiting to see a church that is radically committed to living out what they say they believe then churches are waiting for someone to lead them to a life of sacrifice and service. So if you and I are serious about leading the church toward maturity, we’ll be leading our people to live others oriented lives. You see the church doesn’t exist for us, we are the church, and we exist for people who have not yet met our Jesus.

So the idea of shutting church down for a Sunday and serving your community may be better stated as actually finally opening your church up. And who knows, it might just be the best sermon you’ll ever preach.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Volunteers

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Why 20 Large Churches went, didn’t go, and still might go Multisite

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit in a room full of over 20 Executive Pastors. These incredible men serve at various large churches across America ranging in size from 750 to over 6,000 in weekend attendance. Of the many issues and subjects that were tackled through out the week, one that we ended up drilling down on for considerable time was the Multisite Church movement that’s grown legs over the last decade. What made the conversation so complex and layered was that the room was full of men who represented churches that took the multisite plunge years ago and had multiple campuses in operation, while some had just launched their second campus, others had made the decision to go multisite but had not pulled the trigger as of yet, while still others had not seriously considered the option. It was that dynamic that made for some incredible push towards sharpening, affirmation, and learning. So the list below is for you. It’s comprised of the top 6 reasons (in no particular order) that these churches decided to go Multisite. My hope is that this will give you a peek into a great conversation and allow you the opportunity to go to school on others.

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Posted in Leadership

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What Jesus had to say to Church Leaders and why it should Freak us out…Part-1

It’s easy to read the gospels and cheer on Jesus when we view the Pharisees as the bad guys in the story. But what if we re-read the gospels, and inserted our name or title in place of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and religious leaders of the day? How would that change how we interact with and follow Jesus? How would we feel if it were us He was directing His comments towards? What if it were us He was dicing up and leaving lay bare?

Getting to the desired destination and becoming the kind of person you want to be, or perhaps better said the kind of person God has dreamed up for you to become, has a lot to do with learning to ask the right questions. Jesus directed the statements below to the religious leaders of the day, and I’m pretty sure that breathing in His words and the questions below could help keep you and me on the right trajectory.

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Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation
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