Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday Mind Dump (On Monday Night)

Here is the Sunday Mind Dump I started Sunday afternoon before I was pulled away by a very serious emergency that affected a family in our church. Renae and I (as well as a few others) have been with this family at the hospital for the last two days. I’m posting what I started, as is, with no edits. It is shorter than normal as a result.

  • Thanks for stopping by! This blog is simply an opportunity for me to share my thoughts, to be transparent, and describe what God is doing in my life.

  • We had a very good day at church. It was simple, easy, laid back, and to the point.

  • I think it was one of the best communion services we’ve ever had. The theme for today’s communion service was Let Us Remember. It was perfect for Memorial Day weekend.

  • Some really nice comments on Facebook about the service. I’m very thankful that so many people love their church as much as they do.

  • The ushers did a good job serving – their timing was perfect in both services.

  • The song selection was about as good as it gets – perfect for communion.

  • We said goodbye to Alex & Cindy Buell in a farewell reception. They are a military couple who are being transferred to Seattle Washington. We will feel their loss.

  • Alex & Cindy came to PCC 2 ½ years ago which was a very critical time for us. Our ten-year hiccup had just begun and no sooner had certain people walked out the door that God was sending others in just as quickly. Alex and Cindy were once such couple sent by God to our church and I marveled at God’s faithfulness to provide in the hour of need. They are dedicated followers of Christ, have been faithful servants at PCC, and have been an enormous asset to our church. They will be missed.

  • What kind of church do you think PCC is?

  • Churches have to make a choice between being a FORTRESS or an OASIS.

  • A fortress church only takes care of their own; they stay away from the big bad world out there; let evangelism take care of itself; and sort of hunker down with a siege mentality from the safety of their fort.

  • An oasis church is different. An oasis church is exists as a light on a hill – a beacon in the darkness, an oasis in the desert. It’s there for the hurting, the outcast, and those searching for answers. All are welcome. All can find healing.

  • I’m thankful that PCC is more of an oasis church than a fortress church.

Prayers Needed....

No Sunday Mind Dump

Renae and I were at Sacred Heart Hospital yesterday... until 1:00 AM this morning. There is a family in our church who is in desperate need of prayer right now.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Five

1. This Sunday is Communion.

2. This Sunday after second service we have a farewell reception for Alex & Cindy Buell. He is the violinist in our band.

3. Next Sunday we begin a new message series based on the book of Ruth from the OT - Hanging Tough in Tough Times. This series will be very encourging and helpful to people who are hurting. Please invite your friends to attend.

4. The church has been a beehive of activity today with a lot of volunteers up here working. Awseome thing to see.

5. I'm very encouraged about our future.

Time to Reorganize and Restructure

To remain effective, growing churches need a new structure about very 45% of growth. As a church grows its internal systems get overwhelmed, people burn out, and ministry effectiveness goes down. What that means for PCC is this: What worked well for us when we were running 50 people did not work very well when we reached 100 people, so we had to change. When we reached 200, the way we were operating at 100 was no longer effective, so we had to change. Now that PCC keeps bumping 500 in attendance (and sometimes goes over), our old paradigm needs to change

Getting over the 500-attendance threshold is a very critical time in the life-cycle for churches of our size. What a church does at this stage determines its future. Either we make the necessary changes (to our programs, ministries, policies, personnel, and leadership) to break through the 500 barrier so we can reach more people for Christ and disciple them, or either we let the small church mentality keep us where we are and continue the current cycle.

We have simply outgrown our current models for operation. So we are rethinking some things. In fact, everything needs to be put on the drawing board right now:

• My role and leadership style has to change
• The role of our staff has to change
• The way our church is led…..
• Our ability to assimilate new people into our church family is under scrutiny
• We need a new web site with better features
• We are reevaluating our small groups’ ministry
• We are considering changing the times of our Sunday morning services
• Changes in the band are being made
• Changes in the order of service are in effect
• Ministry areas are being expanded with new departments added
• We are considering a church-wide spiritual-growth campaign in the fall
• Key roles are changing and new assignments are being given
• New polices are being written
• We are going to establish goals and time lines for accomplishing them
• We are going to clarify our mission and chisel out a unique identity
• We are going to lead this church as if it is twice its current size
• Kill non-producing budget items to create room for outreach & discipleship strategies
• Develop and mentor new leaders who buy into the vision
• Teach tithing, giving, and generosity more often
• Ask God for souls and growing disciples, and prepare ourselves to receive them
• Motivate new people to invite their network and friendship circles to attend PCC

The biggest hindrance to future success is PAST success. Because something worked in the past, the tendency is to keep doing the same thing believing it will bring success in the future. Not always so. Times change. The context changes. Churches change.

The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things over & over again and expecting new results.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rethinking Church Programs & Volunteers

I can show you a number of church’s who have several hundred people attending on Sunday mornings, but are lucky to have twenty-five show up for the Sunday night service and even less on Wednesday night. Yet, they keep the program going as is.

Something in our human nature causes us to stick with the familiar and comfortable. Unless we are challenged to act differently, most of us try to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions. That’s fine as long as they work. But when they don’t, it’s time for a change.
In rethinking church ministries, some tough calls have to be made. At PCC we are ruthless in our evaluation of church ministries. We follow a simple format – (1) Review, (2) Reaffirm/Refine, (3) Remove/Replace. First we review programs, ministries, and personnel for evaluation. If they are found to be effective and productive, we will then reaffirm them as being valuable to our church and then refine them to be better. But if they are ineffective, they are simply removed and/or replaced.

It doesn’t matter to us if a church across town has the same program or ministry – or even that it worked for us in the past. If it is not working for us now, of if it will not help us fulfill our mission, we won’t do it. And similarly, we won’t reject an idea just because no one else has tried it. If it holds the promise of helping us do a better job, then we’ll give it a try.

Let Dying Programs Die

A main principle in church effectiveness is: Let dying programs die, and put those that are terminally ill out of their misery. Call in Dr. Kevorkian, the suicide doctor, if you have to. But whatever you do, do not let a dying program linger. It will only drain resources, cost more money, sap energy, and demoralize members.

A few years ago we had a ministry in our church that was doing very well. It had gotten off to a good start with a public launch, had an ample budget, and support from the congregation. But after fourteen months and a few thousand dollars later, this particular ministry had went from more than 50 people down to six. It was dying a slow, agonizing death and the ripple effects were being felt throughout our church. It was time to cut our losses and a decision had to be made. And it was.

Cutting our losses is easier said than done. Few of us are anxious to admit our mistakes. So when a program or ministry fails to live up to its expectations, we tend to hang on. No one wants to preside over the death of a once-thriving ministry area. That sounds too much like failure or spiritual retreat.

Another thing that makes it hard to let a dying program die is that every program has its champions. Usually, they are former leaders who invested time and energy into making it successful during the good old days, or folks who were once ministered to by the program. For obvious reasons, they object when we start talking about pulling the plug. But we can’t let that dissuade us, or we’ll soon end up with a bloated calendar, so loaded with yesterday’s programs that we have no energy or resources left for today.

It's time for us to look at every single program in this church.

Volunteers Aren’t Cheap

In rethinking the ministries of PCC our leadership fully understands that it costs money to run an effective volunteer organization. Volunteers are not cheap.

Like all churches, PCC uses volunteers extensively because we cannot function without them. In fact, we use volunteers in many areas that traditionally (in other churches) have been turned over to paid staff. For instance, our church offices utilize five volunteers who carry out a great deal of our administrative duties. All of the custodial services for our building are provided by volunteers. Our campus grounds are maintained exclusively by volunteers. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Every single ministry at PCC is staffed with volunteers.

Pace Community Church has been blessed with a congregation that is willing to serve. At last count, my best guess is that something like 50-60% of our people are serving in an identifiable area of service. I believe one of the main reasons we’ve been able to keep people involved is that our leadership team has been willing to spend money on volunteers.

We understand that the cost of keeping a volunteer happy and well equipped is not so much expenditure as it is an investment. Volunteers have the power to make or break our ministry. If we are plagued by poor morale or constant turnover, or if they lack the proper equipment or supplies they need, they won’t be able to succeed. And any time they fail, we do too.

To keep our volunteers well equipped and happy, we have loosened the purse strings on three important things:

1. Purchase, as soon as possible, the equipment volunteers need. When a teacher says they need a new blackboard or projector, we get it. When our musicians need another monitor or instrument attachment, we buy it. And when the CD ministry gets bogged down, those who run that program get the additional duplicator or faster machine they need. When our hospitality team needs food stuff, we get it. The volunteers who serve in the administrative area have access to computers. When new vacuum cleaners are needed, they are purchased. And when we needed to resource our grounds keeping team this year, we purchased a commercial grade mower and had a shed built to store their equipment in. This costs a lot of money. But it’s not an expense; it’s an investment in our volunteers (and ultimately, our church).

Occasionally, we have to ask for time to raise the money. Sometimes we have to tell our volunteers, “you’ll have to wait until next month.” But we try to never tell our volunteers, “Sorry, you’ll have to make do with the crappy equipment you have.” Eventually, they know they will get what they need. And as long as they know that’s true, they will keep plugging along as faithful as ever.

2. Cover the personal costs that volunteers incur. Volunteering is enough of a sacrifice without asking people to bear the additional expense of child care, training, supplies, or mileage. So we reimburse our volunteers for the costs they incur.

Included is the cost of any training they need in order to do their job better. When it was apparent that our ushers and security team could benefit from a seminar on church safety and emergency response, we gladly picked up the tab – as well as lunch. When the sound-booth crew needed additional information about running our sound system, we paid for a training tutorial. When our ushers and greeters need new polo shirts, we buy them. When some of our adults take off from work to be chaperons at youth camp in the summer, we are glad to subsidize their costs or provide full scholarships.

Not everyone takes advantage of this offer. In fact, many people would rather pay their way and save us (PCC) the money. For this we are thankful. In fact, many people take such ownership of their ministry area that they refuse to let the church pay. But what is important is that the offer has been made by PCC. It lets our volunteers know we appreciate their sacrifice and we’re trying to do everything we can to make their job easier.

3. Hire people for the positions that have the highest turnover rate. These jobs are easy to identify. Those jobs or positions that have a high turnover rate require hired help.

Any time three or four people fail in the same job, you can be sure the problem is with the job, not the people. That’s an important point to keep in mind when dealing with volunteers. If a task is burning out a succession of volunteers, the problem is with the job, not the volunteers. It’s time to break the job into smaller parts or make it a paid position.

Some jobs are simply unfair to ask a volunteer to do. They go too far beyond the call of duty. The people who step forward to tackle these impossible jobs are usually the most loyal and hard-working volunteers. That’s why they step forward in the first place – because no one else will. Allowing them to be eliminated by a suicide mission or burn out makes no sense. We need to keep those people for the long haul. So when faced with a job that has a high turnover rate of volunteers, we try hard to hire someone to do the task.

These are some of the issues I am thinking about right now. As we put these matters on the drawing board and start thinking outside the box, I am confident that we will formulate a better strategic plan for PCC.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Learn to Say No

If I’d listened to my customers, I’d have given them a faster horse – Henry Ford

It’s so easy to say yes. Yes to another request, yes to being there, yes to doing it for them, yes to another idea, yes to an unrealistic deadline, yes to everyone. Soon the stack of things you’ve said yes to grows so tall that you can’t even see the things you should really be doing.

Start getting yourself into the habit of saying no – even to good ideas and legitimate requests. Use the power of no to get your own priorities straight. You rarely regret saying no. But you often wind up regretting saying yes.

People avoid saying no because confrontation makes them uncomfortable. But the alternative is even worse. You drag things out, make things complicated, and work on things you don’t really believe in.

Don’t believe that “customer is always right” stuff, either. They are not always right. Let’s say you are a trained chef. If enough of your customers say your food is too salty or too spicy, you change it. But if a few complainers tell you to add bananas to your lasagna, you’re going to turn them down, and that’s okay. You might even tell them to not come back to your restaurant if they don’t like your cooking. Bending over backwards to making a few vocal customers happy isn’t worth it if it ruins the product for everyone else.

Don’t be a jerk about saying no, though. Just be honest. If you’re not willing to yield to a persons request, be polite and simply say no. If necessary, take the time to give a brief explanation why. People often understand when you take the time to explain your point of view. If not, stand your ground any way.

Your goal is to do what’s best for yourself and your family.

Who Cares What They're Doing?

In the end, it’s not worth paying much attention to rivals or competitors. Why? Because worrying about them quickly turns into an obsession. What are they doing right now? Why did they say that? What are they going to do next? How should we react?

Every little move becomes something to be analyzed. And that is a terrible mind-set to be in. It leads to overwhelming thought patterns and anxiety. That state of mind is poor soil for growing anything fruitful yourself.

It’s pointless anyway. Who cares what they’re doing?

Focus on yourself instead. What’s going on here is way more important than what's going on out there. When you spend time worrying about someone else, you can’t spend that time improving yourself.

Focusing on rivals too much and you end up diluting your own vision. Your chances of coming up with something fresh go way down when you keep feeding your brain with other people’s ideas. You become reactionary instead of visionary.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rethinking Leadership....

Several years ago (before we moved into our church building) I was in a leadership meeting in which we were considering potential nominees for the Senior Leadership Team (SLT). Several names were being considered, more than enough to fill the one slot that was open. Then, just as the meeting was coming to a close, someone suggested another name. It was added to the list.

My first thought was, “Are you kidding me?” I looked around the room and could sense that about half the people in the meeting had some serious reservations about this man too. All of us knew what his election would mean: Trouble!

Out in the open this man was an expert at “God talk.” He was also an obvious suck up. But behind the scenes he was contentious and critical. He was difficult to work with. To make matters worse, he had a very narrow view of Christianity, possessed strong opinions, believed all Christians should be republicans, and fancied certain ideas of how a church should be run. Always quick to notice an interpretation or practice that differed from his opinion, he was inclined to see a conspiracy behind any decision he didn’t like.

I waited for someone to speak up, but no one did. So I did. I was unpersuasive. Apparently, everyone else in this meeting figured it wasn’t worth the risk of alienating him or his friends by refusing his name for consideration. Besides that, his name was at the bottom of the list, too far down to have a serious chance at making the final cut.

But one month later, there the man was, the final and only name on the list who was presented at our annual congregational meeting. His name had worked its way up the list when the others ahead of him had been unwilling or unable to run for office. Sure enough, he was elected to a three-year term. True to form, he became a major source of division and conflict. He resisted every attempt at forward progress. He was a gossip and caused our church a great deal of grief. Fortunately, his term ended early (after 2 years) when he left the church in a huff over a series of decisions he didn’t like.

Was I ever relieved. But my relief was short lived. This man continued to create division, conflict, and trouble for our church for more than a year after he left PCC! The fallout was enormous.

Similar scenarios are played out every year in churches. Each time, the unity of the leadership team (or church board) suffers, and often the entire church suffers. While we usually direct our frustration at the person who causes the problem (and they certainly bear responsibility for the divisions they cause), the real culprit is a CARELESS SELECTION PROCESS.

I have learned some bitter lessons about this.

After much thought (re-thinking) I have found there is only one cure. We have to “GUARD THE GATE.” That is, we have to be very selective about who is allowed to serve on our Senior Leadership Team. It’s too late to try to build unity after we’ve allowed a contentious or divisive person on the team. The damage has been done. At that point, the best we can hope for is damage control, not unity.

But “guarding the gate” is delicate and dangerous. To pull it off effectively, a key question has to be answered:

Representation or Leadership?

What is the primary purpose of a church board? Is it “REPRESENTATION” (of the congregation) or “LEADERSHIP” to the congregation? The answer to that question determines how much unity we will have and how effective our church will be.

Many congregations across America have opted for the representative model. It appeals to our sensibilities of democracy. It ensures that everyone has a chance to be heard and that everyone has a chance to vote. But a board of representatives also has its negatives. Members of a representative board see themselves as lobbyists who represent a specific segment in the congregation. From a representative perspective, any church member, no matter how divisive or unqualified, has a right to be part of the church’s leadership. John may become the chairman of traditional worship, while Larry defends the youth. Meanwhile, Sally fights for the rights of the women’s ministry, and Belinda serves on the flower committee and is willing to go to the mat each time her flowers are moved. Forgotten in this conflict can be the most important thing of all – carrying out the will of God.

For these reasons, and many more, I have become a strong advocate of the leadership-oriented board (or Senior Leadership Team). Leadership boards have a totally different agenda than boards who act as representatives. Rather than figure out what everybody else wants them to do, the members of the leadership team have only ONE FOCUS: FINDING the BEST COURSE OF ACTION and CARRYING IT OUT. They are more concerned with leading the congregation than responding to every whim and whine of the congregation. When faced with a difficult decision, they do not ask, “How will people react?” but rather, “What does God want us to do?” or “What is best for the mission of the church?”

This is not to say that the leadership team is unresponsive to the needs and concerns of the body. On the contrary, good leaders are always in touch with their people. But a good pastor and leadership team never forgets they ultimately work for Jesus Christ, not the sheep.

Leadership boards have an easier time “guarding the gate” than representative boards because they DON’T ASSUME that everyone who wants to be on the board has the RIGHT to be there. From their perspective, when it comes time to select members for the Senior Leadership Team (SLT), it doesn’t matter whether a person represents a portion of the congregation or how big a donor they may be. What matters is whether this person can help the church fulfill its primary objective.

Someone like the contentious nominee I described earlier would have NO PLACE on a leadership team. Nor would he have a CHANCE of being selected. Despite his popularity, his record of being contrary and difficult to work with WOULD BE ENOUGH to EXCLUDE him.

In the beginning years of PCC, our leadership team leaned heavily towards the representative model. As a result, whenever we had a critical decision to make, the first thing that the team members wanted to know was, “What will the congregation think?” They were representatives of a group of people who might complain if changes were made. No one really knew who “they” were, but we spent a great deal of time trying to keep “them” happy.

Over time I was able to get our church to learn more towards the leadership side of the scale. Instead of first asking what “they” want us to do, we first ask ourselves what does God’s Word command us to do. Not only is this a better question, it is a tremendous unity builder. It undercuts any tendency to see ourselves as lobbyists, defending the rights of the young or old, charismatics or non-charismatics, or any other group in the church for that matter.

I envision our leadership team as being on point for God. I often remind them that their first job is to discern and carry out God’s will, not the varying interests of the congregation. Yet, ironically, the more we’ve moved in this direction, the greater support and unity we have received from our congregation. Go figure.

For instance, when we decided to go to two services, a few people objected. But since our leadership team was convinced that this change was best for the church as a whole, we kept moving forward. If we’d had a representative board, we would probably still be debating the issue. As it was, once we made the decision, a few people who felt strongly against it left, but the vast majority went along with the change, especially once they saw that our leadership team was united. It was enough to convince me that most people prefer to follow a LOVING and UNITED GROUP OF LEADERS rather than a group of bickering representatives.

Who Are We Looking For?

In many churches the primary qualification seems to be a willing heart. Anyone who faithfully supports the church and works hard eventually finds himself or herself rewarded with a seat on the board.

But passages such as Acts 6, I Timothy 3, Titus 1, and I Peter 5 make it abundantly clear that a willing heart and hard work is not enough. There are other qualifications that must be met, and some of them are very strict. They go to issues of character, family life, and temperament, among others. These qualifications focus more on what a person IS, not their willingness or zeal. We shouldn’t be surprised, since some of the most contrary people in a church are often those exhibit a high level of zeal, hoping to be rewarded with a seat on the board. And if they get it, watch out!


Rethinking the leadership model at PCC several years ago demanded that structural changes be made, and so they were. These changes have resulted in high morale, effectiveness, growth, and unity for our church family. We are better, bigger, stronger and healthier today than we ever have been. And we also do a much better job at “guarding the gate” as to who gets on the Senior Leadership Team. The scenario I described earlier about the contentious man being selected for our leadership team will never happen at PCC again. All of this means we have a brighter future ahead of us. By realigning our leadership structure we have now positioned ourselves to make other strategic decisions about our future.

PCC is now twelve years old and it is time to rethink again - everything. Rethinking is not asking “How can I do this better?” as much as it is about asking, “Why do I do it this way,?” or even more importantly, “Why do I do this at all?”

If we are going to be the kind of prevailing church God has called us to be, then these questions and more need to be answered and the appropriate changes made.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Mind Dump - May 23, 2010

  • First of all let me say that I am amazed at all the comments on Facebook about PCC – not just today’s service, but the whole program. I am very glad that so many people love their church as much as they do.

  • Today was a good day. All the way around.

  • Attendance was up 70 people from last week. Honestly, our numbers won’t blow anyone away, but I’m having a blast.

  • You ever look around and realize you love your life?

  • I love what God is doing at PCC, and think our church is going to have a big impact on those people who are far from God.

  • Lost people matter to God, and therefore should matter to us.

  • We have some amazing people at PCC and I am blown away by their generosity and willingness to serve sacrificially.

  • It’s amazing to me how God always sends us the right people at the right time. Just saying…

  • The change in the order of service is working pretty good for us. It still needs some tweaking though. All things considered, I like how it feels and like how the service ends (for now).

  • Do you ever noticed how long people hang around after each service? That is amazing to me. It’s always a good sign when people love to hang out with one another.

  • This Wednesday night is UNITE FAMILY PICNIC. Grills hot at 6:00 PM

  • Next Sunday is COMMUNION SERVICE – Let Us Remember

  • Next Sunday after the second service is a FARWELL RECEPTION for ALEX & CINDY BUELL. We are going to miss this wonderful couple.

  • The guys in the tech booth (audio, lights, & projection) and doing their job well. Making me sound good. Even with the change in the order of service, they are barely missing a beat. It’s good to have people serving who know our church’s culture, can feel our vibe, and keep their head in the game.

  • Today I talked about staying diligent in our spiritual growth so that, as Peter said, we “don’t fall from our steadfastness.” In the last two weeks I have heard of two pastors who have fallen from their steadfastness because of sex traps.

  • Just because we have hands raised in the service doesn’t mean we have hearts surrendered. Big difference.

  • I am meeting with a group of church planting pastors this week for breakfast. Looking forward to it.

  • Tell ANYONE and EVERYONE you know (who doesn’t have a church home) that I would love to have them visit us and join us for worship. Invite them. Bring them. Tell them what a great church PCC is. Better yet, tell them what a great God we serve.

After Church Today

Took a trip on a pontoon boat today after church with Robert & Joyce Hughes and Donnie & Lori Smith who also brought their pontoon boat. Had a great time together. We launched the boats in Milton at Carpenter's Park then went up Blackwater River to the point where Coldwater Creek empties into Blackwater. We beached the boats at a sandbar and had a picnic. Lot's of fun. Click each picture for an enlarged view.

Great scenery and exceptional outdoor recreation right here in our own backyard. It's good to live in NW FL.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


There is a pressing need for PCC to rethink WHY we do WHAT we do and the WAY we are doing it. I’m not talking about the gospel, the purposes of the church, our mission, or our Biblically based core values; God’s Word is unchanging. What I am talking about is our practices and the tendency to keep doing the same things the same way without asking ourselves why.

The tendency of all churches and the people in them is to keep doing the same thing the same way simply because it worked in the past. We fall in love with our programs & the way we do things, and resist change. Broken systems don't need to be repaired - they need to be replaced. Sometimes you just have to put the axe to current programs and start over from scratch.

We need to rethink.

Rethinking is not asking “How can I do this better?” as much as it is about asking, “Why do I do it this way,?” or even more importantly, “Why do I do this at all?”

Everything is on the drawing board right now. I am challenging everyone – from top to bottom – to rethink. We need to rethink everything; discipleship, worship, serving, programs, schedules, structure, building usage, community, small groups, job descriptions, and more.

Business as usual is going to change. It must change if we are going to be the kind of prevailing church God has called us to be. It is time for PCC to go to a whole-new-level.

I will be writing a lot more about this topic beginning Monday of next week. If you have an interest in the future of PCC, you might like to tune in.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ten Facts About Starting a New Church

1. It’s harder than you think – in ways you can’t even imagine yet.

2. It’s more fun that you think it’s going to be. You’re building something from scratch.

3. There are a lot of people who DON'T want you to succeed. Identify those people and ignore them; and if they attend your church, show them the door.

4. There are people who DO want you to succeed; identify those people and seek them out. They will be one of your greatest assets.

5. It’s not easy to figure out who the people are from #3 and #4 above. You’ll make some miscalculations along the way and will get bit in the butt.

6. The weather will constantly work against you. Deal with it.

7. You will plan an event and no one will show up.

8. The church you visualize in your mind may or may not become reality. Deal with it.

9. Live with open hands; let people come and go. People will leave; even your friends will leave. If your confidence and self image depend on making everyone happy, you will fail as a pastor and will become a terrible person to live with.

10. Settle the question of failure before you start. It is an option, or not?

You Have GOT to See This!

Be sure to watch it two or three times to take it all in. These people are enjoying themselves!

If you have trouble viewin this video on my blog, go to this link at YouTube

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

From My Garden....

.... not from Walmart

Your Church Plant is in Trouble When...

Over the years I’ve had a lot of interaction with other church planters, including a group I meet with. Church planters are unique because they really understand risk and faith. I’ve seen some church plants do very well, and some fall apart. Here are ten signs your church plant is in serious trouble:

1. Your friends and family are with you, but you struggle to get others to join.

2. You focus more on the core group rather than reaching those who are far from God.

3. You intentionally and regularly solicit Christians from other churches to keep your enterprise afloat.

4. You can’t motivate people to show up early for set up. This is a leadership issue and if you have a problem with this, you will have more serious problems later on.

5. Your core team and other key leaders do not tithe to the church.

6. You think your church is the hope for your city because you believe you are doing something that nobody else is doing.

7. You spend too much time in sermon preparation. As a church planter you better learn how to put together your sermon in one day or less, and then spend the rest of your week making phone calls and inviting people to come to church; that way somebody will actually be there to listen to what you've got to say. BTW, if your church ever grows and becomes solidly established, then and only then, will you be able to devote 2-3 days to sermon preparation.

8. You are not willing to work your fingers to the bone. Being a church planter is not a 40-hour-a-week job. It’s all consuming. If you are not willing to meet with people after they get off work, put out some road signs, meet with community leaders, unload a trailer, write vision statements, evangelize, disciple, develop other leaders, stay up later and get up early, you are not going to make it.

9. You are willing to accept failure. If failure is an option for you, it will be your fallback plan when the going gets tough.

10. You stop growing as a leader.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why 80% of New Church Plants Fail (Part 2)

6. Lack of Ministry Gifts - Many new churches fail because the point leader or leadership team lack the ministry gifts needed to plant a successful church. Certain gifts are essential for a successful start of a church. One person does not need to have them all, but they must be present within the founding leaders. These gifts are: leadership, communication, and evangelism. Be brutal on this evaluation. There is a difference between wanting to lead and being gifted to lead. Ministry is through spiritual gifts; and if the proper gifts are not present, the going will be tough.

7. Lack of Money - New churches cost more and tend to bring in less during the first few years through offerings than church planters think. Many new churches fail because they don’t have sufficient capital to stay afloat. Too many let trite phrases, such as "God will provide” to flow from their lips in response to this critical need. In reality, the New Testament speaks of churches in financial need with the apostles making strong appeals without any indication of a lack of spirituality on the part of the church itself.

New churches must have working capital to sustain themselves and invest in growth until they are self-sufficient. Lack of money sets up a self-defeating cycle. Since there is barely enough money to get by, a church can’t invest in growth through additional staff, better facilities, or efforts such as direct mail campaigns. Yet without growth, the church remains financially stagnant.

8. Wandering in No-Man’s-Land - New churches also fail because they are wandering in no-man’s-land regarding the people they are trying to reach. Are you going to be a church focused on fulfilling the Great Commission? Do you see your church as a place of community? Or do you see your church as a place that exists to correctly administer the sacraments? These are vital questions to answer and then position yourself for.

Define your vision for the church, and then be pure in its presentation and operation. Too many churches race headfirst into no-man’s-land, and then languish, never breaking through the critical growth barriers necessary to flourish.

9. Failure To Contextualize – Some churches fail because they take something from outside their context and put it into a form for their context. They see something another church is doing in another community and try to implement the very same model or program in their own church, not realizing that each context is different. Using a cookie-cutter approach to church planting simply does not work. The principles and philosophies behind most successful churches will translate anywhere, but there are some areas that need to be adjusted: type of music, the style of worship, dress code, atmosphere, and the selection of sermon topics

10. You don’t have a compelling vision. Let’s face it; in the early days of a new church plant your church does not have much to offer. Attendance is low, which translates to a lack of energy in the services. The music is marginal. There is very little to offer families for their children. There is nothing for the teens. Even setting up a nursery is a challenge. You don’t own your building. Your church simply cannot offer any of the amenities that other, already established, churches are able to offer. Therefore, the only thing you can offer is a compelling vision; one that ignites the imagination and passion of your listeners. They have to be able to visualize a better tomorrow, a hopeful future, and a dream they want to see fulfilled. A compelling vision is able to get just enough people to stick it out with you, keeping the church alive, at a time when your lack of amenities is causing so many others to walk out the back door. Without a compelling vision, the death knell sounds.

Not only must there be a vision, the lead pastor must do a good job of selling the idea. He has to preach it, teach it, say it, communicate it, live it, and be willing to die for it; only then will others catch the fire.

Finally, not only must there “be” a vision, and not only must the lead pastor “motivate” people towards it, but there must also be tangible accomplishments along the way. People need to see that progress is being made. To simply write a vision down on paper and talk about it every now and there, is not enough. You’ve got to produce results! Otherwise morale will sink and support will drop off.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why 80% of New Church Plants Fail (Part 1)

Church planters are a rare breed. No one in their right mind would ever choose to do it; especially in this day and age. It must be a calling. The church planter must have a call from God.

No one wants their church plant to fail, but most do. Current statistics state that new church plants have about an 80% failure rate. The reasons are many, but here are five that I have observed:

1. The Church is Planted Out of Conflict Rather Than a Divine Calling from God. What some people call a “new church” is often a spilt born out of spite. When a group of angry people – who have never been happy anywhere they’ve ever attended before - get together and start a church, that isn’t necessarily a call from God. And usually within two or three years it goes belly up. But before it does, it gets really, really bad. The same negativity and bitterness that was the motivation for starting the church in the first place eventually reemerges and destroys it from within. Let me be clear – when bitterness, anger, and discontent are the root of a church plant, then that church is in deep trouble right from the very beginning. It will only produce fruit from its poisonous root.

2. The Pastor Has No Desire to Fulfill the Great Commission. A church plant cannot be built by transferees from other churches or by sheep stealing. That is a recipe for frustration, and eventually disaster. It must be built by targeting the lost with the gospel (the unchurched and the irreligious) and turning them into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. That’s called evangelism and discipleship. If the pastor of the church plant is more interested in feeding the already fed than he is in reaching the lost (i.e., scattered sheep who have no shepherd), then he is doomed to failure. Guaranteed.

3. The Pastor Lacks Courage and Allows the Vision and/or Mission to Get Hijacked In Order to Keep Everyone Happy. There will always be people who have an opinion about the direction of the church and believe that things ought to be done differently; and they won't mind expressing that opinion either. Every church planter will be tested in this – right from the very beginning within the first six moths, all the way through the first decade. Some heavyweight personality (whose giving represents a big portion of the budget) will begin to list his/her demands and threaten to pull out if those demands are not met. People will take pot shots at you, People will misquote you, and will take what you say out of contex. Some will even lie about you. And you are not going to be liked by everyone. To face all of this takes courage. If you lack courage, the church will be hijacked and you will not make it. This is not a time to lead with diplomacy or majority vote. It’s time to be decisive and stand up to these church bully’s.

4. The People Possess a Small-Church Mentality. Another mistake common among church plants is a small-church mentality that permeates the entire community of faith. Just about everything they do – announcements, recognizing people, demeanor, social get-togethers, and levels of quality – is done as a little church, in little church style. This may seem laid-back and cozy at first, but it breeds a small-church mentality that prevents growth because it becomes ingrained as part of the church's culture (DNA); ultimately becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. If it survives past the five-year mark, it's likely to still be running under 75 people.

5. It’s Just Plain Hard Work and the Pastor & His Wife Are Not Prepared For It. The bottom line is that planting a church is hard work and requires great personal sacrifice in every area of the church planters’ life… in ways you can’t even imagine.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Mind Dump - May 16, 2010

  • Simply a good day at PCC. I felt as relaxed and comfortable as I have in a very long time.

  • It started raining and the bottom fell out right at service time. I knew it would affect attendance – and it did, we were off a bit – but for the first time I said, “I’m okay with that.”

  • The message felt good. I really enjoyed the section of scripture that talked about the eternal nature of God and why He (seemingly) delays His coming – so that more might be saved.

  • If Jesus had returned ten years ago, many of the people sitting in church this morning would have missed salvation and died lost.

  • If Jesus returns tomorrow, many of the people you know and love will miss salvation and die lost. Everyday that God delays His return is another day of mercy extended to mankind.

  • We experimented with a few changes in the order of service, and it worked pretty well for our first time. I think I need to do better job of receiving the offering at the new place, and a better job at extending an invitation at the end. All in all, I liked the “feel” and we got some positive feedback in both services.

  • No, there have been no death threats to me. We have, however, increased our security measures at PCC to be proactive. It’s a dangerous world today and churches are soft targets for kooks. It is becoming increasingly common to hear of some wacko enter a church service with a firearm and kill 3-4 people before he is stopped. We have placed this matter high on our priority list.

  • No, Renae is not leaving the youth department. She is simply taking a four-week break on Wednesday nights. She has been at the helm for the last few years, combined with her other responsibilities at PCC, and right now it a good time to take a short breather before Student Camp. By taking a step back, others are stepping up. As a result, when she returns, she won’t have to step so far back in. Get it?

  • In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that other changes might be taking place. We are evaluating everything; the way that we do things, why we do them a certain way, and discussing what we can to work smarter – not harder.

  • I have written about this recently. You can read about it here: “When the Game Plan Changes.” This will give you an idea. We have to change our game plan, and indeed we are.

  • You can also read “Around PCC” for some other information about changes.

  • In time, my role at PCC will change significantly. To begin with, and most noticeable to all, will be changes in my visibility on the stage. I will still welcome guests and preach, but not much else. Others will conduct the call to worship, meet & greet, etc. Soon we should have another up-front man to take care of these tasks. I might even minimize my guitar playing to ½ the time too.

  • A group of workers and parents for the middle school aged teens stayed back after church today for a meeting. They shared a meal, had fellowship, and did some planning. Glad to see this happen.

  • I think I am going to watch the new movie “Robin Hood” starring Russell Crowe. He did an exceptional job in the movie “Gladiator” – so I’m hopeful that this new movie will be more of the same. I’m in the mood for looking for some Alpha male type action.

  • I used to really like the scrappy feel of being a church planter in our early days – i.e., the set up each Sunday, being portable, hauling the equipment back and forth, wondering if anyone is even going to show up each week, the risk and uncertainty of it all. I lived with the possibility of failure every day. And making the changes in today’s service (as well as some other recent changes) has given me that feel of “taking a risk” again. I like it.

  • Job security is fatal to success.

  • Playing it safe is fatal to being innovative.

  • Hoping for a good night of rest. Plan to take a long run in the morning before it gets hot.

  • Since starting my blog I have now posted more than 1000 entries, with more than 121,000 hits by those visiting to read.

Dinner with the Family

Yesterday Renae and drove to Destin to have lunch with the family. Here are are eating at PF Changs on the patio. Lettuce wraps, hot & spicey soup, pepper steak, and a variety of other oriental style dishes that only PF Changs can make. Oh yes, it came with a swollen stomach too.

Had a great time.

Oldest Son & Daughter In-law

They are in a candy store in Destin FL.

Nice couple. Next week is their one year anniversary.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Don't Miss Church Tomorrow!

If you're thinking of missing church tomorrow, don't. We'll be talking about the certainty of Christ's return, and what an awesome God we serve!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Around PCC...

  • The current series (Transformed by Truth) continues this Sunday. The message title is “The Certainty of Christ’s Coming” – based on 2 Peter 3:1-10. One more message after this and the series is over.

  • The next message series will probably be from the OT, the book of Ester. It’s an amazing story. God used this woman to save an entire nation. The title or theme of the series will be “Seeing God at Work in Your Circumstances.”

  • New security standards are being implemented for all age-level workers, staff, chaperones, and volunteers. This means updating our files, having all workers fill out an application of eligibility, conducting a background check, and attending a training session. This will begin happening this month and be concluded in June.

  • We are going to experiment with making a few changes in the Order of Service on Sundays. We will welcome guests, make a few announcements and receive the offering during the song service. This should make our giving more meaningful by keeping it connected as an act of worship, rather than as a tack-on at the end of service. It will also help me in regards to preaching; when the song service is over I can simply step up and go straight to the message without having to ramble on for ten minutes with announcements. The end of service will be different too – the band will not come back to do a closing number. I will pray, say “amen” and service will be dismissed. We’re going to give this a try, and if it benefits us, we’ll continue. If it flops, we’ll go back.

  • Changes in the band. Recently we have been using a smaller band and it has been working pretty good. It’s so much easier to manage; especially in regards to audio/technical. Plus, band rehearsals are more effective. We are going to continue operating this way for the next little while, and making some changes in the schedule too. I think the new schedule will be something like this: one group of singers will be on for one month, then the next group of singers will be on for one month, etc. Trust me, having this kind of consistency will greatly reduce audio difficulties and will better establish team cohesion.

  • We also have some big plans for summer and fall. It's going to be an exciting year at PCC!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Worship and Preaching - No Need to Dumb it Down

I was recently reading a pastors blog who was explaining his philosophy for planning Sunday services. To him the most important thing seemed to be tailoring the Sunday service ENTIRELY for the unchurched person, while neglecting the believer. His words in effect were:

“I want to remove anything from the service that an unchurch person does not understand. I want them to be completely comfortable.”

Completely comfortable? I think he may have missed the point of the gospel.

ON ONE HAND we should be mindful of unbelievers in our church services, making sure we don’t get too carried away with things. For instance, in I Corinthians 14, the apostle Paul instructs (and rebukes) the church about speaking in tongues during the services, using the gift of prophecy, and other similar controversial issues. To make his point, Paul imagines a hypothetical scenario in which an unbeliever shows up at church and can’t figure out what in the world is going on because everyone is speaking in tongues. Paul states that this form of extremism is confusing and unhelpful to the unbeliever. The conclusion: our language MUST BE CRYSTAL CLEAR if it’s going to do anyone (including the sinner) any good.

But ON THE OTHER HAND, Paul suggests if the unbeliever is confronted with the prophetic power of God in a way that he CAN understand “…he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’” (1 Cor. 14:25)

THAT IS EXACTLY THE POINT. Not that the unbeliever would be COMFORTABLE. But rather that the presence of God would be MANIFESTED and UNDENIABLE in the church services.

Whether they completely get it or not at first, they should SENSE it…

Whether they completely agree with it or not, they should be DRAWN TO it…

I don’t think that’s going to happen if we tone it down or dumb it down. Don’t get me wrong, at PCC we are fully committed to reaching people who are far from God. We go to great lengths to target unbelievers for evangelism and we are sensitive to their fears and hang-ups when the come to church. Our goal is that they be filled with the life of God and become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

That’s why I believe the best way for them to connect with God is to offer them an amped-up, full throttle, passionate presentation of the gospel. We will lift our hands in worship. We will sing to the top of our voices. We will pray passionately. We will shout in church and clap our hands. And when it comes to preaching/teaching God’s Word, we will present it hard-hitting just as it is written.

It’s like going to a college football game for your first time. You are sure to encounter things that you don’t really identify with yet. But the passion is overwhelming. The volume is very loud. The mullet haircuts and shirtless rednecks are a bit too much. “I wish those fools would sit down and shut up. They are destracting me from the game.”

But there’s something about the atmosphere that DRAWS YOU IN.

Even if you don’t like everything that’s going on in the football game, you can just sense that THIS IS THE PLACE TO BE. Before you know it, you are screaming at the top of your voice right along with the hardcore fans who fully understand it all.

Get my point?

At PCC, I want our Sunday morning experience to be SO DISTINCTIVE, unique, and full of passion, that, even though you (or unchurched Sam or Pam) may not fully understand it at first, you are DRAWN INTO the experience and can sense THIS IS THE PLACE TO BE.


Big Hairy Audacious Goals

• We will audaciously challenge the way we worship God in our services, as individuals, and in our personal level of commitment

• We will make audacious additions to the Ministry Team of PCC, including an Executive Pastor or Pastor of Family Ministries

• We will audaciously restructure our leadership team

• We are going to be making audacious improvements to our age-level ministries

• Awe-dacious adjustments will be made to our online capabilities; including a new website, free MP3 downloads of the Sunday sermons, and more interactive features

• We believe in the Big Hairy Audacious Goal of seeing 1000 people attending the Sunday services at PCC, with hundreds of new converts and growing disciples being developed along the way

• We audaciously believe that the members of PCC will BE the CHURCH in our community and lead hundreds to Christ

• God is so audacious that He is right now calling and raising up new ministers and pastors from the ranks of PCC who will be recognized as installed as leaders who take us into our future

• I believe God is going to give us audacious faith to enable us to accomplish all of this

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


That's Renae in the front of the canone. Me? I'm not pictured. Know why? I'm in the back rowing. I did this for eleven miles...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Call Me Old Fashioned

I have Bible software on my computer. I have as one of my friendly sites; which I access all the time. I have a blog and a Facebook account. But when it comes to studying for Sunday messages for the people of God and reading my Bible for personal study, I AM OLD SCHOOL. I prefer reading from an actual Bible that has onion skin pages with gold emboss along the edges. I also prefer a commentary printed on paper.

I love technology. After all, most people today grew up on it and it can be an effective tool in church services. But when I preach, I always have an actual Bible at the pulpit with me. Mine is marked up with multi colored pens, pencils, and highlighters. The pages are worn from overuse. Part of me feels like it seems more authentic and authoritative when I preach from that OLD BLACK BOOK. There is something about touching the leather cover of a Bible that is memorable and forceful to both the preacher and the people of God.

When I am preaching/teaching, I absolutely love it when I hear the pages of Bibles turning when people are following along in the text. I like it when people are paying attention and following along. I like it when people approach me after service and ask me for further explanation about a certain passage. I love it when I see people taking notes and marking up the pages of their Bibles.

I love it when God’s people have an old fashioned honor for the Word of God.

A Couple of Days Away

Renae and I have been away for a couple of days. We simply needed the break. On Monday we drove eight hours along the Gulf Coast on hwy 98. We did a lot of sight seeing. It was a very enjoyable drive. We got to see a lot of "old Florida" towns and fishing villages. Then we spent the night at this place (where the pictures were taken). I can't tell you where it is, because if I do the secret will be out.

I will say that this place was built in the 1920s and is simply fabulous. Another clue, some old Hollywood movies from the 1930s were filmed here.

We arrived here and had an amazing dinner, prepared by a first class chef. Then we slept for 12 hours straight! Yes, 12 hours. We went to bed while it was still daylight. The next morning I got up about daylight and took a 50 minute run down a 6 mile trail through the woods. The trail bordered crystal clear water coming from the springs. It was exactly what I needed to de-tangle my mind.

You can click the picture for an enlarged view. Then backspace to come back here.

PS - After twenty-eight years I still love spending time with her.

Tomato Bush

This is one of the tomato plants in my garden. As you can see it's pretty tall. Renae and I are getting a lot of enjoyment out watching these plants grow.

Sago Palm

This is my Sago Palm coming back to life after being hurt this winter with the extreme cold. I think in looks like one of those egg pods in the movie Alien. Kinda freaky. Would you stick your head in there?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunday Mind Dump - May 9th, Mother's Day

  • Yes, I know I have not posted anything since Wednesday. It has been intentional. I wanted to be sure that my last blog post, “When the Game Plan Changes” was read by as many people as possible; especially those who are affected the most.

  • This is EXACTLY where our church is right now. We are in a transition. It cannot be avoided. Some things must be dealt with.

  • MAJOR CHANGES are taking place – of necessity – across the board. PCC is a growing church and becoming increasingly complex in regard to the many departments, personnel, and the systems in place that need to be adjusted.

  • Today was a good day at PCC. Today was also a complicated day for me.

  • Read my last post again, “When the Game Plan Changes.” We are there right now.

  • Things have been crazy over the last two months. I can’t remember the last time it was so stressful.

  • Even though things have been crazy, God has blessed me, Renae, and PCC beyond measure.

  • I am doing my best to juggle marriage, pastoring, preaching, teaching, supervising ministries, and providing oversight, but it’s a bit overwhelming right now.

  • Maintaining good relationships is hard work. We are selfish from birth and usually live our lives thinking everything revolves us, when it doesn’t. I am doing my best to remember that.

  • I am thankful for my family. They deserve a lot better than me.

  • I am blown away every week by what God is doing at PCC. It humbles me to see what God is doing to build His Church and I am thankful that I get to have a small part in that.

  • Attendance was pretty good today – 462. I think we can do better, and should.

  • I am ready to see PCC become a church of 1000. There is no reason why we can’t become that. God wants us to reach more people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the only hindrance to accomplishing this goal is US – we are standing in the way.

  • I wish we had someone who could put the Sunday sermons online as a free MP3.

  • Over the next year I would love to increase our effectiveness at using technology in letting our community know that we exist.

  • If you know someone who is looking for a church home, where the Word of God is preached AS IT IS WRITTEN (without man’s RE-interpretations), then tell them about PCC.

  • One thing that really impresses me about PCC is the GREAT PEOPLE that God as sent to our church family. We simply would not be who we are today without these people.

  • I absolutely love seeing the variety of age groups on Sunday morning.

  • I am busier than I need to be. So is Renae. So is Gene. We need to work smarter, not harder.

  • Every day I am reminded why this community needs Pace Community Church to be greater than it is right now.

  • I hope we never lose our heart for outreach, targeting those who are far from God.

  • I truly believe God is going to do things through PCC that is going to leave us astonished.

  • If you are looking for a church home, check us out at 930 or 1100 on Sunday mornings.

  • I would love and appreciate your prayers this week. I truly need them. God knows.

  • I've GOT SOME STUFF TO SAY right now, and will be saying so this week.

  • I’m fried and going to bed now.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When the Game Plan Changes....

As a church grows, more members and more staff don’t just make the church bigger. They make it DIFFERENT. Roles and relationships change, often dramatically, and usually unintentionally.

Most people fail to recognize this; especially those whom it directly affects.

Over the years, PCC has steadily grown. More like a glacier than an avalanche, we’ve worked our way through the various stages of growth from a solo-pastor to a multi-staffed, multi-celled, multi-department church. Along the way we’ve had to reinvent our structures, policies, roles and relationships many times. Some changes were so natural we hardly noticed them. Others were difficult, some gut-wrenching. But all of them are INESCAPABLE. Our only choice was to embrace them or resist them – but we could not avoid them.

Our church is at such a place again; the game is changing dramatically. It’s a bit unsettling.

When a church leadership team increases to 15-25 people (i.e., staff and lay leaders heading departments) the game changes radically. The dynamics of this size group can be very unsettling for those who prefer to work with a smaller group of close friends. For them, it can get downright painful.

Let me ILLUSTRATE with the game of FOOTBALL. On a football team very few of the players are inter-changeable. Guards seldom become quarterbacks. TEAMWORK is more important than one-on-one skill. In fact, a great athlete who insists on continually freelancing can disrupt the entire offensive team or defensive team. THIS SAME PRINCIPLE HOLDS TRUE FOR THE LARGER LEADERSHIP TEAM.

For members of a leadership team that once played in a team of close-knit relationships and spontaneous decisions, this can be a very difficult adjustment. It can leave some members feeling left out or unappreciated. Some won’t be able to make the change. Some won’t want to. BUT THERE IS NOTHING THEY CAN DO ABOUT IT. At this size, THE GAME HAS CHANGED.

Caught By Surprise…..

These kind of changes are inevitable in a growing leadership team, yet many leaders don’t see them coming. What worked in the past no longer does. The simplest and most predictable indicator that leadership roles and relationships ARE changing and NEED to change is the NUMBER OF PEOPLE ON YOUR TEAM. But there are others. Here are three more indicators that suggest the game has changed – even if no one has noticed.

Relational Overload

A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF TIME SPENT MASSAGING RELATIONSHIPS is an early sign that the game plan has changed.

I’m a relational type of guy. That’s my preferred style of leadership. I’d rather convince you than give a directive. I’m not good doing memos. Instead, I prefer to cast vision and direction through ad hoc meetings while standing in the church hallway or sitting at a picnic table at a church picnic.

But that style doesn’t work forever. With steady growth, comes a need to add new players. Eventually there are too many workers on the team to maintain direct relational contact with. Then I find myself in the role of spending a lot of time trying to keep everyone happy and in the loop.

This leads to being sucked into a relational nightmare. I often end up spending hours each week tying to catch up with anyone who feels left out or who’s feelings have been hurt. My time used to motivate the team, cast vision, and study God’s Word DISAPPEARS, being squeezed into late evenings and early mornings. Days off become days to catch up. What used to be fun with friends, becomes dreaded tension.

Increased Miscommunication

Another sign that the game plan is changing is miscommunication. When important messages or instructions are chronically missed, misunderstood, or ignored, IT IS TIME TO CHANGE THE WAY WE PLAY THE GAME.

When operating with a smaller staff and leadership team, you almost never have to schedule formal meetings to discuss anything. You are already together most of the time. If we have something to discuss, we discuss it on the spot. It is fun and fluid, and takes little time or planning.

But as a staff and leadership team grows, someone is always missing, or out of town, is late, or does not communicate with the rest of the team. The larger the leadership team, the more hectic the game gets, and the greater the need becomes for specially called meetings and chalk talks TO KEEP EVERYONE ON THE SAME PAGE. As the team grows, we have to DEVISE MORE STRUCTURED and INTENTIONAL COMMUNICATION TOOLS.

That’s not as easy as it sounds. Expect resistance. Players who thrive on leisurely fairways feel cheated (offended) when you substitute spontaneous conversations with scripted meetings and agendas. For many of them, it’s not the game plan, it’s the relationships that count the most.

Because of this resistance (and the fact that some of us like the old game better than the new game), it can be tempting to communicate in the old ways long after they no longer work. That might keep one or two of the players happy, but the rest of the team will flounder.


If PCC is to reach its redemptive potential, I would consider this unacceptable.

Conflict Over The Decision Making Process

When the decision making process produces conflict, it is a sign that something is STRUCTURALLY WRONG. Most often it will be a set of rules or assumptions from the past, appropriate for a game plan you are no longer playing.

Occasionally, the problem comes from MAKING DECISIONS TOO QUICKLY. This happens when a long-time track star moves to a larger team-based ministry style. USED TO BEING HIS OWN COUNSEL, this pastor (or team leader) CONTINUES to make decisions without consulting the rest of the team. This can be very disruptive to everyone else.

As a leadership team grows, decisions that affect the whole church need to be made by a GROUP at the top.

The real issue at this stage is not WHO makes the decisions. Rather, it’s a matter of whether or not the DECISION-MAKING PROCESS is APPROPRIATE to the NEW GAME we are playing. And when it no longer fits, we must be willing to change it.

As a youth, I played a variety of sports. I certainly had a favorite. But once the season began, it DIDN’T MATTER which one I LIKED THE BEST (or which one came most naturally to me). ALL THAT MATTERED was my WILLINGNESS to ADJUST to the game we were CURRENTLY playing.

Too often, church leaders know what game they prefer to play and keep on playing that same game plan no matter what. The odds of success are about the same as Tiger Woods dropping a five foot putt with a basketball. When the game changes, some things won’t happen no matter how hard we try or how talented we may be.

In contrast, successful church leaders PLAY THE GAME that is IN SEASON. They ACCEPT the CONDITIONS and NEW RULES. They discern what kind of leadership is needed and adjust their structures, roles, and relationships accordingly.

And they play ball at a whole new level.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Choosing Leaders...

The design and purpose of appointing leaders in the church is not to pay them a compliment; not to do a friend a favor; not to give status; but to secure people who are truly devoted to the local church who will ultimately become overseers. To this end, such persons must meet God’s criteria and standards for selection.

The Bible defines the qualifications of pastor-elders in two primary places (I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9), and the lists are virtually identical. Three important factors stand out:

1. Such persons must be good Christians and firmly grounded.

2. Qualification for church leadership is due, in large part, on how successful such a person has been in the home with their family skills, and in his extended world of neighbors and coworkers.

3. Establishing whether a person meets the criteria requires relational time in the church over a long season of observation because ones character must be proven.

A person is qualified for church leadership by what he IS, not by what he or she does or the talent they possess.

The best rule of thumb for elders and all other leaders is to appoint slowly and terminate quickly. Unfortunately many churches do it exactly the opposite – putting people into position too quickly and unable to remove them without a church-wide fight – which is devastating to church unity and momentum.

Four Kinds of People We Need

There are four kinds of people we need in our lives:

(1) MODELS to follow (Philippians 3:17)

(2) MENTORS for counsel (Proverbs 11:14)

(3) PARTNERS for help (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

(4) FRIENDS for support (Proverbs 7:17).

Monday, May 3, 2010


Crude Crisis

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It Would Not be PCC if not for...

Let me state up front that nobody (even me) is indispensable to Pace Community Church. But to me, it just wouldn’t be PCC without….

• Seeing Wayne, Beth, Larry, Paul, Calvin and Evelyn and others mowing the grass and maintaining our church grounds each week to ensure our grounds are well-maintained
• Reading Facebook each Sunday afternoon and seeing the nice comments by Susan, Mike, Christa, Beverly, and others who talk so favorably about our church
• Depending on Gene who does anything and everything that needs to be done to make my job easier, not to mention all the regular responsibilities assigned to him in his job description.
• Counting on Ron, Carole, Robert, Austin, Kennedy, and Evelyn who serve in hospitality ensuring that our members and guests are well-served
• Seeing Robert, Donnie, Jeff, John, Lou, and so many others who serve in our ushers department; it gives me peace of mind and assurance just knowing that this area of our church is completely covered without direct supervision from me simply because capable men are “handling it”
• Counting on Renae, Sandra, Renee, DJ, Wade, Mike, Robert, Alex B., Greg, Alex C., Greg, Cameron, Martha, Jonathan, Taylor, and Shelby to pull off excellent singing and authentic worship in our services
• Watching Lori, Robert, Rose, and so many other who serve as greeters on Sunday morning
• Knowing that Sherri, Sidney, Sherry, Connie, Trish, and Sandy who are always faithful at our Welcome Center
• Absolutely depending Paul W., Brad H. Brad U., Bruce, John, Clayton, Paul T., and Patrick who serve on our audio and visual technical teams
• Knowing that Mom, Phyllis, Paul, Daniel, Butch, Bill, and Sharon will show up to church each Friday to clean the building. What that does for me and the rest of our senior staff I cannot fully describe
• Listening to the band (all volunteers) practice songs before people arrive for the Sunday services
• Knowing that Kim, Ray, Larry, Sharon, Ron, Carole, Buddy, Mary, and others are ALWAYS there for our 101 Seminars
• Having the assurance that Dottie, Barbara, Richelle, Kristy, Brian, Denise, Rick, Scott, and so many other are going to be found at their post of duty on Sunday mornings teaching our children and providing a safe environment for them
• Seeing teenagers hang out at PCC on Sunday afternoon long after the services are over
• And so many others that I don’t have the space to mention……

Let me conclude by saying that PCC is full of UNSUNG HEROES! I notice and appreciate them all. It is a joy to be your pastor.

PS - Yes, I know. I am not mentioning everyone. That's only because my brain if fried right now and it's getting harder to think.

Seminar 101, May 2, 2010


We had a blast tonight at Seminar 101 and have some fabulous peoeple who attend PCC. Click each picture for an enlarged view. Then backspace to come back to this site.

PCC Riders Recent Trip...

I am very glad that so many people in the PCC family have forged the kind of friendships that gets beneath the surface. The Greek word for this Biblical concept is Koinonia - and we translate that word to be "fellowship." It's what "community" is all about - doing life together. Click each picture for an enlarged view. Then hit your backspace button to come back to this site. BTW, each one of the people pictured here are fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ and good examples of what a disciple is supposed to be. Thanks Tom for the pictures.