Tag Archive - converge


Leading your Church into the New Normal of COVID-19

I recently was invited by Scott Ridout, who serves as the President of Converge, a movement of more than 1,300 churches to “Start and Strengthen Churches Worldwide,” to participate in a conversation about the impact of Covid-19 and the future new normal churches will be leading through.

In the conversation we discussed the new normal churches are currently leading through as a result of COVID-19 and the different approaches a church may take in the future depending upon the following 3 unique circumstances:

  1. A Blizzard: Is this a storm that the Church needs to weather for a moment?
  2. A Winter: Is this a season that we need to be prepared to get through?
  3. An Ice Age: Is this a prolonged event that will result in a new normal?

Along with myself and Scott Ridout the conversation was made up of the following Church Leaders:

  • Craig Smith, Lead Pastor of Mission Hills Church, a large mega-church in Littleton, CO.
  • Mike Schnepp, Executive Pastor at Vox Church, a fast growing multi-site church with 9 campuses across New England.
  • Rod Hairston, Lead Pastor of Messiah Community Church in the Baltimore area.  Rod planted the church while he was chaplain for the Baltimore Ravens (yes he has 2 Super Bowl rings). As an African American Pastor he is both experienced and articulate in the unique challenges facing multicultural congregations around the country.
  • Kyle Robinson, Executive Pastor of Wooddale Church a large multisite church with 4 locations in the Minneapolis Area.  

Posted in Leadership


Recent Thoughts about Church Planting from Ed Stetzer

Last week Sun Valley Community Church (the church I have the privilege of serving at) hosted Ignite, the national church planting conference for Converge, which is one of the most successful church planting movements in the country.

While there Ed Stetzer, who among other things serves as the Executive Director of LifeWay Research had the following to say about church planting.

  • There is no biblical mandate to plant churches. The bible never says to plant churches. But it is implied. The whole New Testament is about church planting.
  • Most church plants don’t cross the 100-person threshold until year 4.
  • If we are not careful, church conferences can become “ministry porn” because of the unrealistic expectations it creates about reality.
  • Church planting is becoming increasingly more expensive.
  • As a church planter if your answer is “if the money doesn’t come through then I won’t plant the church,” then you probably shouldn’t plant the church if the money comes through.
  • If God calls you to do a thing you do a thing because Jesus calls you to do it.
  • Don’t be so committed to getting people out of the community you’re planting in that you forget to bless the community.
  • You need to know more about your city than anyone else…you can’t love a people if you don’t know a people
  • One of the modern dangers of church planting is that it’s possible to plant a church in a “non-relational way” today in a way you couldn’t years ago. That’s not what Jesus had in mind when He talked about the discipleship/relationship building movement He died for.
  • Plant a church that actually reflects true religion. Jesus came to serve and to save (true religion as defined in the book of James).
  • Serving the hurting is not Gospel proclamation it’s Gospel demonstration.
  • Today we are planting more churches than we are closing in the U.S.
  • I care more about Church Planters than I do about church planting.

Posted in Leadership


7 Core Issues that your Church Needs to Address in 2016

Recently I had the opportunity to facilitate a round table discussion for Executive Pastors of large churches. Nearly 20 large churches were represented in the discussion. We began by working through an exercise to identify the greatest pressure points that the group was experiencing at their churches and then we used those key items as our agenda for the conversation that ensued the following two days. Below are the 7 biggest items that consumed our time and energy. If you’re anything like these churches, then the following 7 Core Issues are items that the Sr. Leadership Team at your church needs to address in 2016.

#1 Multisite

According to the most recent research conducted by Leadership Network there are nearly 8,000 churches in the U.S. that have adopted a multisite model. Yet few would say that they’ve perfected it. Instead most are faced with a new set of challenges that they never anticipated. Ready to make Multisite work for your church? Don’t miss this free Multisite webinar hosted by Tony Morgan and the Unstuck Group!

#2 Volunteers

Volunteering is discipleship. It’s not just about roles that need to be filled anymore but people that need to be developed. The role of the Church Staff Member isn’t to do the ministry but to equip the church to do the ministry. While most church staff would generally agree to that statement, few are actually doing it. Want to learn more about developing an effective Volunteer Strategy at your Church? Check out these 10 Articles that will Help your Church Build a Stronger Volunteer Culture.

#3 Re-Structuring for Growth

Your church is perfectly structured for the size and results you’re getting today. But like most churches, it’s probably not structured for growth. What is the next staff re-organization that your church needs to make in order to prepare for, accommodate and even catalyze growth?

#4 Generosity

Wherever you find people who truly understand grace you’ll find people who are generous. Money can be a difficult subject for church leaders to talk about with their churches. At times it can come off as though churches want something from their people instead of something for them. Does your church have an effective generosity strategy? This post will help: “20 Ways Church Leaders can Help their Church become More Generous”

#5 Staff Development

How deep is the leadership bench at your church? Most churches are struggling to identify their up and coming young leaders. Is your church attracting, identifying, and intentionally developing young leaders? Most are hopeful that it will somehow happen, but hope isn’t a strategy. Check out these 10 Articles that will Help your Church Develop Young Leaders.

#6 Discipleship Pathway

The majority of churches in North America have no true discipleship pathway. They may have a class or a multitude of ministries that compete for time, promotion, money, and participation. But they do not have a true clear strategic pathway for people who are new to following Jesus to move towards knowing and following Him. What is the next step that you want people to take at your church to become a more fully devoted follower of Jesus?

#7 Communication Strategy

In most churches a weekend bulletin and announcements in the worship service is the extent of their communication strategy. And most of the ministries in the church are competing for “air time” on those announcements. If it’s not announced from the stage they spam people to death with constant emails, to the point that they are ignored. Interested in learning more about church communications? Check out these 10 Findings from New Research on Church Communications.

It would be worth talking about this list of Core Issues for Churches in 2016 with the Sr. Leadership Team at your church to make sure you’re all on the same page with how you’re addressing them.

Posted in Leadership


Join me at Transform 2016

Dates: January 11-14, 2016
Location: Jacksonville, FloridaGet all your registration info here

I want to invite you to join me at Transform 2016. Transform is not the typical church conference. And here’s why. Instead of mere inspirational talks and leadership theory, you will interact all week with ministry peers discussing leadership practice and implementation. Student Pastors will meet with Student Pastors, Lead Pastors of churches 500 – 1,000 will meet with other Lead Pastors at churches of 500 – 1,000, Executive Pastors will meet with Executive Pastors (I’m leading that room), and so on…you get the idea.

Peer-to-Peer Discussions

Participants connect with peers who understand and appreciate the challenges they face and the solutions they’ve found. You’ll find answers, camaraderie and new friends.

Participant-set Agendas

In each group, peers set the agenda based on real-time ministry issues and needs — not top-down, cookie-cutter, quick fixes. You’ll receive realistic help and encouragement for what you’re facing.

Interactive Facilitation

Respected, experienced pastors and leaders facilitate candid, to-the-point interaction of key topics selected by the group. Bring your questions and your team. You’ll be heard, understood and appreciated.

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation


6 Qualities of a Leader I’ve Followed

Over 18 years of full-time ministry I’ve had the opportunity to work some great leaders and my friend Scott Ridout is one of the best. Scott has recently been appointed to be the next President of Converge Worldwide, the movement of churches that Sun Valley (the church I serve at) is a part of. I don’t single out individual leaders as examples very often, and if you knew Scott, he’d be embarrassed by the fact that I’m even writing this, but I believe the best place to learn leadership is from leaders. And I think there is a lot we can learn from the way Scott has led. So here are 6 qualities of a leader that I’ve personally followed…

1. Humility

When most leaders these days protect, posture, and hang onto their leadership power, Scott consistently shares and gives it away. He isn’t afraid of other strong leaders, rather he recruits them to his team and then frees them to excel and lead in their area of brilliance. Even if that means submitting at times to others where they bring strength to the team. This has allowed him to build and keep a high performing team when they could have gone elsewhere.

2. Courageous

Scott doesn’t shy away from risk. When it became apparent that Sun Valley Gilbert, the original Sun Valley Campus, would eventually max out on attendance due to property, parking and facility constraints Scott had the courage to lead the Board to consider not just planting new churches (which he has led the church to plant more than 20 churches in his time as Sr. Pastor), but take the risk of going multisite. When the opportunity to adopt a church to be a Sun Valley Campus came up, Scott took the risk to leave the original campus to build the Sun Valley culture at the new location. Leadership always requires risk, growth, and loss; and Scott courageously embraces them all.

3. Shepherding

Unlike many high profile leaders Scott is consistently available. He makes it a priority to get to know his staff and their families. Even intentionally scheduling time to take them out to dinner to invest in those relationships outside the context of work. If you’ve ever served on a team that Scott has led you knew that your leader cared deeply for you, not just the performance that he could get out of you.

4. Resolute

Years ago when Scott became the Sr. Pastor of Sun Valley he successfully grew the church from 400 to 200. A little known fact he jokes about now. But he didn’t give up on the dream that God put in his heart. Scott is disciplined in his daily pursuit of what God has called him to lead the Church to become. Today Sun Valley runs more than 5,000 people in attendance across 3 campuses. Much of that is due to the fact that Scott didn’t give up even when things got difficult.

5. Coach

Scott is a coach at heart. He loves seeing others get better and he loves helping them get better. He’s a trainer and has built a culture on his teams of insentient tinkering and improvement. He himself has taken on the posture of a learner and in doing so encourages a culture of learning.

6. Moral Authority

Scott leads with moral authority. If he expects his team to be in a small group, he’s going to be in a small group. What you see on stage, is what you get in person. He is the same person, all the time. His public life, personal life, and private life align.

Photo Credit: Kay Gaensler via Compfight cc

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation
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