Tag Archive - faith

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Risking Crazy

I recently had the opportunity to connect with Jason Taylor, Lead Pastor of The Vertical Church in Yuma, AZ and talk about his new book Risking Crazy. The following are highlights from the conversation. You can follow this link to get your hands on your own copy of his new book.

In a world where following Jesus increasing looks crazy, Jason’s personal story of planting Verticle Church in Yuma, AZ challenges readers that following Jesus is still the best way to live life.

Paul: Where did the idea for your new book “Risking Crazy” come from?
Jason: Ever since a young age, I felt a deep desire to be a part of something bigger than myself.  Acts 17:6 where the Bible speaks of the early disciples having a reputation of “turning the world upside down” really resonated with me from an early age.  I know that I have not risked as much as those early disciples or even what believers around the world are risking everyday; however, I began to think what would it look like if every Christian took the words of Jesus to “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him” seriously.  From that thinking came the term “Risking Crazy”. Everyone risks at different levels for Jesus; however, for all the idea of doing what Jesus is asking you can sometimes seem crazy.
Paul: You talk about calculated risk in your book. Some may ready that and respond by saying that, “calculated risk isn’t risk at all.” What are your thoughts on that?
Jason: The calculation part comes into play knowing that God has already calculated the cost and outcome of the risk He is asking you to take.  It is not that you calculate yourself and know the outcome, but that you are trusting in God who has already planned your life in advance for His glory.  Proverbs 3:5-6 tell us that if we “Trust in the Lord”, “lean not on our own understanding”, and  “in all our ways acknowledge Him” that He will “make our paths straight.” I truly believe that this is a promise that God has already calculated the risk for us and we can trust in His calculation for the outcome.  Knowing and believing this can help you take the “calculated” risk that God has planned for you.
Paul: How do you view the connection between faith and risk?
Jason: They are deeply connected. Godly faith leads you to take the risks that He asks of you.  You can risk in your own strength all day long.  But, if Godly faith is not involved, you are not risking for Jesus. There is a self glory that takes over.  Some people just love the feel of adrenaline.  What I am talking about is different.  It is trusting in Jesus for the outcome while doing something you never dreamed possible.  People might want to ask themselves “Is what I am risking so big that unless God does it I am doomed to failure?” If you can do it in your own strength you do not need faith in a big God to do the big thing through you.  So faith and risk are deeply connected if you are doing it for the glory of Jesus.
Paul: In the book you tell the story of the start of Vertical Church, the church you’ve planted. What did you learn about your own ability to “risk crazy” during that time?
Jason: Church planting is hard.  We parachuted into a place neither my wife nor I had connections in and from day one had to learn to step out of our comfort on a minute by minute, day by day basis.  The book Risking Crazy speaks about much of that experience.  I learned that God wants us to surrender, but at the end of the day, the outcome is not ultimately up to me.  To truly make a dent in a city for the glory of Jesus, the Holy Spirit has to be your senior partner on a daily basis.  Learning to commune with the Spirit and listen to His voice and then obey that voice was the risk for me.  It seemed like once we conquered one risky hurdle, the Spirit of God was asking us to jump another.  Thankfully, He has and still gives us the power to jump those risky hurdles.
Paul: What do you hope readers walk away with as they read “Risking Crazy?”
Jason: After reading Risking Crazy, my dream is that readers will look at the world around them differently.  That God has placed each of them in their corner of the world for one reason: to take risks that bring glory to the name of Jesus.  I am praying that people will read this book and walk away saying “yes” to the call to plant churches, feed the homeless, care for the sick, reach out to a neighbor, and impact their pocket of the world.  Last, I believe if the readers take the words of Jesus to “deny self and follow Him” seriously, together we can “turn the world upside down”.

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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Top Posts of 2013 #3: “6 Indicators You’re Leading an Insider Focused Church”

By far the most popular topic I blogged on this year was the tension between being an insider-focused or an outsider-focused church. It’s a tough tension to manage. Do we focus on reaching those outside the faith or helping those inside the faith go “deeper.” Can a church do both? Most churches in America tend to lean towards becoming insider-focused. It’s natural because after all, what comes natural to us, is well us.

How do you know if you’re leading an insider-focused church? Here are 6 indicators that you and your team can use to evaluate your church:

#1 Language

The language you choose to use is important because it both reflects and builds culture at the same time. There are all kinds of ways this goes wrong in churches. Coming up with cool names and brands for ministries that mean nothing to people outside the church, sub-branding things to death, and mentioning people from stage by name without explaining who they are just a couple of them. Two big principles to keep in mind when it comes to the language you choose to use in your church are: clear always trumps cute or cool and you’re always better off just calling things what they are.

#2 High giving-per-head

It may sound counter-intuitive but in growing outsider focused churches I consistently see giving-per-head numbers around $20-$30 per person. In churches that are stuck and insider focused it’s not uncommon to see giving-per-head numbers between $30-$50 per person.

#3 No Way-finding

At one church I visited I had no idea where to take my children. Everyone else seemed to know where to go but us. When we asked for help we were told to go to the “B-Building.” While the person who helped us was polite and came off as genuinely interested in helping us I had no idea what or where the “B-Building” was. Even worse there was no signage directing us to the “B-Building” or anything else for that matter. You’d be amazed how well placed, clear, directional signage and calling things what they are (i.e. Children’s Center, Student Center, Office, Worship Center) can help guests find their way on your campus.

#4 No clear Spiritual Maturity Pathway

Most churches are hoping that people outside of the faith will somehow miraculously jump in on what the church is already doing for existing members of the church. The problem is that just doesn’t happen. Have you clearly defined what you want people to look like who are walking with Jesus and created clear steps for them to get there?

#5 Few Baptisms/Conversions

Insider focused churches have a tendency to criticize growing churches, as if to say “They are doing something wrong and aren’t preaching the Word.” Essentially saying that if they were doing things “right” and “preaching the Word” they wouldn’t be growing.

#6 Poor Guest Services

My first week attending a church that I had recently gone on staff at we showed up trying to discover where to take my children for the Children’s Ministry (are you sensing a theme here?). A Children’s Staff Member shouted and pointed from down the hallway. There was no one to help us get where we needed to go, including that staff member who kept walking the other direction after they had yelled at us. The ironic thing is they had a great children’s ministry. Developing a culture of guest services in your church begins with developing a culture of guest services among your staff.

If none of those ideas resonate with you, here’s something that should push you towards taking a serious look at evaluating the church you’re leading. Don’t forget that you can still be growing and be insider focused; it’s called being the best Christian show in town.


Posted in Leadership

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The Why of Leadership

I’ve read a lot about how to lead… how to lead teams…how to lead through change…how to lead courageously…how to lead spiritually…even how to lead like Jesus. Some authors make a very good living on writing this stuff and we’ve benefitted from their wisdom. Great guys like: Patrick Lencioni, John Maxwell, Bill Hybels and Andy Stanley have given us great tools for how to best lead our organizations or churches in any climate.

But why do we lead?  What’s the goal of our leadership?

Ever since I was a kid, leading is just something that came naturally to me. Whether it was in playing games at recess or taking the initiative on a class project, leading was just something I did. I can’t say my motives were always good or that I knew how to get the most out of people, but I never questioned why I should lead.

The answer has to be more than just to get something accomplished. There’s more purpose to leading than getting people to complete a task.

Recently, a statement the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy caught my attention like never before.  He urges Timothy to stay in Ephesus and instruct men there not to teach strange doctrine or pay attention to myths and endless genealogies (1 Timothy 1:3-4).

Then, in verse 5, he says the “goal” of this leading, the purpose, the WHY is:

1. Love from a pure heart

God wants His people to grow in love for Him and for each other.  As leaders we need to inspire and influence the people we shepherd to have a genuine love for each other as well as the God we serve.  We should be modeling for our people what pure motives and selfless love looks like.

2. A good conscience

People need to know the Truth.  And they need to know how to live according to that Truth.  More than ever, in a culture of moral relativism, the people we lead need guidance on how to live a godly life.  This takes courage and boldness on our part.  It may require a difficult conversation.  It may require sacrificing competency for character.

3. Sincere faith

Faith wavers.  We should be an anchor when the storms of doubt come.  As leaders we need to remind ourselves, and the people we lead, of God’s unfailing faithfulness.

I believe that this ought to always be our goal for the people we lead.  No matter what the mission statement, vision, core ideology, process, purpose, etc – we lead to influence people in the direction of these three things. No matter what vision God has given us to inspire our people, we should also be inspiring them to grow in love, to keep a good conscience and trust in God at all times.

 


 

This is a guest post by Matt Thompson who serves as the Worship Pastor on the Sun Valley Community Church, Gilbert Campus. To keep up with Matt you can connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.


Posted in Leadership