Tag Archive - risk

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How to Say No to Ministry Opportunities and Why You Should

As the ministry you’re a part of grows, you’re going to have more opportunities available to you. Good opportunities. Some of them great opportunities. But just because you’re given some great opportunities doesn’t mean they’re the right opportunities.

One of the more difficult things you’ll ever do as a leader of a growing church or organization is to learn to say no to good opportunities.

Does it get you Closer to the Vision?

The clearer your vision the easier it is to say yes…or no, to new opportunities. The first question you need to ask yourself when presented with a new opportunity is, “Does this get us closer to the vision that God has given us?”

Is it an Upgrade?

It’s not enough for it to simply be better. The real question is if you say yes to this opportunity will ti be significantly better? Is it a serious upgrade? Will everything get better if you say yes to this opportunity? Is the return much greater than the investment?

Does it Create Competition?

Would saying yes to this new opportunity create competition? Would you be creating competing systems that cannibalize resources and actually become a limiting factor to future success? If you say yes to this new opportunity what are you saying “no” to?

Does it Overextend You?

By saying yes to this opportunity will you overextend yourself? Will you overextend your HR capacity, facilities, volunteer teams, financial margin, or systems and structures? Are you willing to live with yourself if it all goes wrong? Is it worth it?

Is it Worth it?

As church leaders our job isn’t to keep shareholders happy or keep a strong bottom line. The ROI (return on investment) we’re tasked with is “life change.” Will more lives be changed through the Gospel if you say yes to this opportunity?


Posted in Leadership

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Why Some Churches Win But Most Lose

Not every church is winning. In fact Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources has stated in his research that: “Eight out of ten of the approximately 400,000 churches in the United States are declining or have plateaued.”

There are a lot of reasons why 80% of churches in America aren’t winning and there’s no “silver bullet” fix. But there are a couple of things that winning churches consistently do that losing churches don’t.

1. They make Decisions based on Who they are trying to Reach Instead of Who they are trying to Keep

The primary filter for winning churches is “What can we do (short of sin) to reach people who are far from Jesus?” You may think that all these churches care about is evangelism and helping people meet Jesus (Is that so bad?), and that leads to the church being a mile wide and an inch deep. But surprisingly these churches are usually very sensitive to helping people who have recently said yes to following Jesus take their next steps in their spiritual journey with Him. If a church isn’t reaching new people then it’s already dying, it just hasn’t shown up yet.

2. They Embrace Change

Winning churches embrace change. They change their staff and organizational structure. They change their worship style. They change their strategies. They change what ministries they offer. They are incessantly tinkering to try and improve what they do to reach new people with the Gospel. They take big risks because they have a big God and they trust Him for big results. They are not afraid to try new things. They’re not afraid to fail.

3. They don’t just Shepherd People well they Lead People

While the staff at winning churches care deeply about people, they don’t view themselves as simply caretakers and they don’t view their role as simply taking care of people. They view themselves as leaders and feel a responsibility to lead people where Jesus wants them to go even if that means it’s going to be uncomfortable. After all, when was following Jesus ever comfortable?

4. They Help People take Steps not get into a Class

Most winning churches I’ve been around aren’t as interested in biblically educating people as they are challenging people to become obedient to the biblical knowledge they already have. They view discipleship as obedience not information. Winning churches have a clear plan to move people from guests to fully involved and people that say yes to Jesus to following Jesus. Their goal isn’t to simply get people into a class.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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5 Keys to Developing Young Leaders in Your Church

It seems like everywhere you turn lately some national church leader is writing about the bleak future of the US Church due to younger generations leaving. Well, recently I spent some time at a place that made me really hopeful about the future of the church in America.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to do some coaching at Ethos Church, a young multisite church located in Nashville, Tennessee. In just 7 years Ethos has grown to 3 locations and more than 2,500 people in attendance, and the rate at which they are baptizing people is in the top 10% of churches in the US! Plainly stated God is using the ministry of Ethos Church to change people’s lives. But what excited me the most about my time with them was everywhere I looked there were young leaders, and not just serving as interns or in some inconsequential role. But there were young men and women in their 20’s and 30’s (the ones in their 30’s were the old ones…I guess that makes me ancient now) who are serving as the Sr. Leaders of this fast growing church.

In working with churches around the country unfortunately churches like Ethos have become the exception rather than the rule. It doesn’t have to be that way. This list below of “5 Things Young Leaders Need” is a great place for your church start.

1. Opportunity

Even leaders who have been gifted greatly don’t start out as great leaders. Someone somewhere gave them their first opportunity. The tough thing about leadership is that it isn’t learned in a classroom it’s learned by leading. In order to grow and develop, young leaders need the opportunity to get real hands on experience.

Question: Does your church give young leaders real opportunities to lead stuff that matters?

2. Access

Young leaders need access to real leadership conversations. They need to be a “fly on the wall” in board meetings, management team meetings, and executive team meetings. They need to watch the Sr. Leaders in the organization lead through the tough stuff and make the big decisions. They need access to ask experienced leaders questions about how they lead and why they do it the way they do.

Question: Do the Sr. Leaders in your church give young leaders unfiltered access to watch real leadership take place and discuss it?

3. Authority

Young leaders don’t just need busy work to keep them occupied. Once they’ve proven they can deliver through following through on tasks being delegated to them they need to be empowered to make real decisions and exercise real authority to accomplish objectives through leading their own teams and delegating to others.

Question: Does your church give young leaders real consequential responsibility?

4. Grace

Part of the nature of being a young leader is making mistakes. Even experienced leaders don’t get it right all the time; and young inexperienced leaders certainly are going to make mistakes, it’s the nature of young leaders. How you respond when young leaders fail matters.

Question: Does your church give young leaders the room to fail?

5. Coaching

Great coaching can make all the difference in the performance of a team or a particular player. Great coaches do four simple things with their players. They train their players before the game, they put their players in game like situations in practice and get “reps” in before the real game happens, they make in game adjustments, and they watch the game film after the game to review and learn from the player’s performance.

Question: Does your church expect young leaders to learn on their own through their own experience or do you actually coach them?


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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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 2014 #7: “4 Reasons Why Churches become Insider Focused”

Another late addition to the top 10 posts of 2014 comes in at number 7. I wrote this at the beginning of December but it quickly became one of the most shared and most popular posts of the year!

It’s rare that I ever come across a church that started off as an insider focused church. Most churches start with a desire to reach new people with the Gospel. In those early stages of a church plant they have to reach new people or they die due to a lack of viability. So how does a church that’s eager to help people outside of the faith follow Jesus drift towards becoming insider focused and spending all of it’s energy taking care of people who are already convinced? Here are the four most common reasons why churches become insider focused:

1. Stop Taking Risks

By its very nature everything about a church plant is risky. It’s a brand new start up. Everything is new and everywhere you turn there is a new risk to take. Somewhere along the way when some measure of viability is reached churches begin to mitigate risk by taking care of key stakeholders (insiders). It’s a lot easier (and less risky) to keep church people happy than it is to continue to reach out to people who are outside of the church. When is the last time your church risked something big for God? If you have outgrown your original risk taking ethos then your church is probably moving towards becoming insider focused.

2. Stay Married to Old Methods

If you don’t have a well of new ideas that you can go to and possibly implement at any given time then you’re probably spending a lot of energy propping up old methods and programs. And those old methods and programs bring a certain comfort with them, because they keep people who are already in the church happy. Every idea has a shelf life. If your church isn’t constantly evaluating and strategically stopping old things and starting new things then you’re probably moving towards becoming insider focused.

3. Planning overtakes Chaos

One of the most common misunderstandings of strategic planning is that the goal is not order; the goal is to accomplish the vision. In a growing church you want planning and management to lag slightly behind the chaos of change and movement. It’s possible to manage and plan your way into losing momentum. When planning and order become higher priorities than chaos and movement your church is teetering on becoming insider focused.

4. Lack of Vision

Clear vision is the greatest catalyst for movement and action in the church. When vision is fuzzy things slow down and naturally drift towards becoming insider focused. We all wake up every day thinking about ourselves, it’s what comes natural to us. That’s why both Jesus and the Apostle Paul paint a clear vision of spiritual maturity as living an others focused life. If your church is not sure where it’s going, chances are your moving towards becoming insider focused.

Interested in reading up some more on Insider Focused Churches? Check out the posts below:

Photo Credit: BrianTuchalskiPhotography via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership
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