Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

"There is a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money."

Luke 19:8-9 Zacchaeus gave his possessions to the poor and paid back what he owed... Jesus said salvation came to him.

Mark 12:44 Poor widow gives two small coins and is praised by Jesus.

Luke 12:20 (Right before the widow story) A rich man spent all his wealth on himself and Jesus called him a 'fool'.

Consider the the costs-to-benefits ratio. (Pg 11)

Matthew 6:19-21 Where your treasure is...

"Live according to how you give. Don't give according to how you live."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Chapter 2 notes

Pg 37 “If the what is unclear, the how is not even on the radar.”

“What is our process for discipleship?” How would random people in our church answer this question?

Pg 38 Make the purpose the process.

Pg 41 “1st Church Programming: 1. Sunday morning worship service 2. Sunday night service 3. Sunday School 4. Discipleship Classes 5. Small Groups 6. Tuesday morning men and 7. women’s meetings 8. Thursday night visitation

FBC's Programming:
1. Traditional Service
2. Contemporary Service
3. Sunday School
4. Kidstuf
5. Small Groups
6. Bible Studies
7. Choir
8. Christmas Musical

Pg 42 “What is the program that you expect the majority of your guests to attend?” “What program do you teach your people to invite their friends and neighbors to?”
“What program do you attempt to move new members or guests to?”

Pg 46 “Simple churches don’t spend extended time on scheduling (calendars) but evaluates how the weekend worship services are working as part of the discipleship proces.”

Pg 47 Numbers at a Simple Church are evaluated based on horizontal movement through a process. A non-simple church looks at overall attendance.

Pg 49 “Simple Churches respond to needs in the congregation through existing programs. They deal with marriage issues in their small groups without hosting a weekend seminar.”

Pg 51 “Staffing the ‘best’ may result in multiple ministry philosophies on staff. Simple church hires those on board with discipleship process. Be more concerned with a united staff than an ‘all-star’ one.”

Pg 55 “Simple Church announcements are about movement to the next step.”

Simple Church Chapter 1

The following notes are from "Simple Church" by Thom S. Rainer & Eric Geiger. I in no way take credit for any of it, but do take full responsibility to 'lead up' in order to implement the strategy at my church.

Pastor Rush's work week:
Wed pm: 1. Lead prayer meeting, 2. return calls, 3. finance team meeting
(This is the day he returns from a conference too!)
Thurs: 1. Breakfast with one of the men on the church board, 2. Staff meeting 3. hospital visits 4. Small group 5.
Fri: 1. Disapoint a board member by passing on high-school game to date wife instead (and probably feel guilty during the date!)
Sat: Prepare message for Sunday (yes the day before... no small feat physically, emotionally, and creatively!)
Sun: 1. Preach in the morning 2. Preach a different message in the evening (with guilt due to lack of quality in evening messages)!

He has no time to meet neighbors due to constant late nights coming home. Prepares for staff meeting too quickly! Decides he doesn't have time or emotional energy to deal with staff issues so he will not deal with them.

He begins to ask himself questions: "Are the people in his church being transformed? Is his church making real disciples, the kind of disciples Jesus made? Or is everyone just busy?"

"People are hungry for simple because the world has become much more complex."

Over 400 churches surveyed.

Matt 11:28-30 Jesus' yoke is easy... living as a disciple is not complex. Does our church reflect that? "Jesus is adamantly opposed to anything that gets in the way of people encountering Him."

"Many people are busy doing church instead of being the church."

Pg 21 "Ministry schizophrenia." "It occurs most often when churhces attempt to blend multiple churhc models into one."

"Parts are evaluated but never the whole." pg 22

"Simple church leaders are designers." "They are concerned with what happens between the programs as with the programs themselves." pg 25

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Shanna and I decorated our condo today. My fifth time to do so here in the 'southland' where the palm trees are covered in foil and red ribbon (This Canadian will never get used to that!). There is something special about this time of year as I set up Christmas lights to match the 'pritteee liiights' (as Carissa says) across the street. Our real Christmas tree is decorated nicely and fills our condo with a natural pine smell. Carissa is in her first Christmas musical with her 2 year old classmates next Thursday. She has been practicing seeing "Mary had a baby boy" to the tune of "Mary had a little lamb". It's priceless and a slap in the head with regards to how fast she is growing up.
God is good! The local high-school is selling Holiday (Holy Day) trees and Wal-Mart says "Merry Christmas". I even saw "Merry Christmas" at the Post Office... a government run organization! We are off to see Santa Claus lane in Oxnard and tomorrow kicks off 2 of 4 "Christmas Shoes" musicals I play a part in... it's Christmas indeed.

Friday, December 1, 2006

"Everybody here has the ability to do anything I do and much beyond. Some of you will and some of you won't. For those who won't, it will be because you get in your own way, not because the world doesn't allow you."
- Warren Buffett speaking the University of Washington

Why is it that management and leadership and strategy books keep being published when merely adhering to most of them for an adequate amount of time would yield sustained positive results? Why is it that management and leadership theorists and experts keep reinventing the wheel instead of imploring us to just keep our nose to the grindstone until results happen? Why is it that positive thinking (and planning) is no match for negative behavior?
-Mark Goulston

Great question and even greater point especially looking at the church. I've yet to be at a church that follows a simple process with sustained pressure. There are many examples of these churches offering successful processes to follow (Saddleback, Northpoint, Willow), yet so many churches decide to only bite off a piece. Then they bite off a piece of another successful church's process, and on it goes... When churches push back on the total embracing of a process I hear, "We don't want to duplicate Saddleback we just want to be... (fill in your church name here)." I consider that answer to be completely disengaged from the issue at hand. NO CHURCH WILL BECOME SADDLEBACK. The complete and focused adoption of a system will not result in exact duplication. What makes a local church is the fact that it's a local church... it's the people. Unless you decide to clone Rick Warren and all his members, no church has to worry about becoming a Saddleback.
Peeling back this thought: Why would a church be more concerned about originality than effectiveness? When Church leaders get to heaven will God give more props to churches willing to be original or effective?

One of the biggest take aways from my time spent at Seminary is one sentence. It's still ringing in my ears four years later... and it doesn't come from any Bible class. It came from a text in an Interpersonal Relationship class:
"85% of an organizations' problems are the result of structure."

85% is a lot.
Structure (systems) seems simplistic, cold, not focused on people... but think deeply about this.
"Systems create behavior. God is a God of systems." Andy Stanley

See Solar System (above), 9 human body systems etc...

Systems don't change a local church into a clone. But effectiveness will result. My guess is that the 80% of churches in America that are plateaued or declining are due to bad systems... bad leadership...

Simple solution with hard work and focus (see below for focus) could change a countries spiritual landscape. Inspiring.

I also hear many churches saying... "we don't want to become 'corporate' like in the business world." I say, "Why not?" Today the business world has taken something Godly (systems) and is using it better than the church. Their end may be ungodly but they use Godly means to get there... so I say "Bring on corporate!" to the church.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Alight stop.... focus time! :)

Here are my random thoughts on life and ministry. Hopefully something that will be of help to someone someday and if not it doesn't matter cause it's helpful for me to get this stuff out of my head. I really like the word FOCUS and agree with Marcus on how important this word is for the new leadership today. Share your comments, insights or rants and I'll try and respond often.

1. The word FOCUS. Marcus Buckingham said focus is the new leadership term to define and act upon to become an effective leader. He defines focus as 1. Filtering and 2. Sustained pressure.
What does this mean in a Youth Ministry context? It's a great concept that I'm currently pondering as I search for a new vision and purpose. My current 'vision' statement seems too vague and is really directed toward the club (church culture).
2. "The Present Future" by Reggie McNeal. I attended a seminar with uncle Reggie recently and I'm pleasantly uncomfortable with this read and his concept of becoming 'missional'. He states that the North American church has lost it's missional emphasis and is more interested in entertaining club members.
3. James Collins' article "Organizational Vision and Visionary Organizations". This article is very helpful in getting a handle on defining what vision is and how purpose and mission fit into the puzzle.
Focus, Missional, Organizational Vision... great sounding words... Lord help me follow your systems!

Drive Conference

I went to the Drive Conference ( put on by North Point Community Church near Atlanta, GA. (

The following is a great summary of what Andy shared in the general sessions... I stole these from Tony Morgan who was there and took great notes. John Jackson ( has comments entered in italics.

TONY MORGAN INTRO: Sitting here at the Drive Conference at North Point. Andy Stanley is on the platform. He's going to share some good stuff over the next few days. I thought I'd try to capture all the smart things that Andy says over the next few days. So, here's the beginning of the list. These are the smart things Andy said... part one:

1. We're not there yet. And we won't be. Life is a journey. Enjoy it.

2. We all do ministry in communities where people think church is for church people. That's the type of world we live in. People care about God. People want to connect with God. There's a hunger for God, but the church is in the way. "I'm giving the rest of my life to change that." Ouch. What will it take for me to lead a church that connects people to God?

3. The church ought to be the magnet. It should be irresistible. If we're the body, we should be irresistible. Robert Lewis, The Church of Irresistible Influence

4. Sinners liked to be around Jesus. They liked him, but they were nothing like him.

5. Leaders are very dissatisfied unless there's progress. I believe it was Robert Jarvik who said that leaders have a poorly developed sense of fear about the future.

6. Since the beginning of the church, the "insiders" have been making it difficult for the "outsiders." From the very beginning, the church has tried to change the outsiders before they can connect with the church. (Acts 15)

7. If we create obstacles for people to connect with the church and God, we are working against God. Yes Lord, and I repent of that.

8. The majority of churches have made it difficult for people to turn to God.

9. The Gospel should be easy and accessible. And demand your life. All at once.

10. For some reason, there's something in us that wants to make church a formula. We make it difficult for people who are turning to God.

11. The gravitational pull of your ministry is to create insider language, rules and programs that makes it more difficult for people to turn to God.

12. The only people that really love a big church are the pastors. It's a hassle for everyone else.

13. We had to create empty seats at optimal times in order to make room for people who were unchurched. Otherwise, I would have just been talking to the Christians.

14. This is the difficult question we need to continuously ask: Is it still easy and accessible here?

15. When a local church gets off-mission, God gets uninterested. God says, "They don't need me."

16. We made a fundamental decision years ago that we were going to be more committed to reaching people than keeping people.

17. We're not here for the party going to Heaven. And therefore we have to be ever vigilant about our Older Brother Worldview (see Luke 15)

18. Are you willing to take a critical look at your organization or ministry team and determine whether or not you're unintentionally making it harder for people to take steps toward Christ?

19. God works through systems. For example, your body is a complex system designed by God. It's systematic and predictable. God created systems. That doesn't make him small. Likewise, God works through systems in our ministry. Systems aren't secular. When I write about it, I say Developing Systems is one of the 4 key roles of leaders

20. You can pray your heart out for change to take place in your church, but change will not take place without change to your systems.

21. Your church is a conglomeration of systems. You can't pray that away. You can't faith that away. You can't inspire that away. You can't preach that away. Somebody has to address those systems.

22. McDonalds and Coke have accomplished their "great commission." We say, "That's the worlds way." Maybe not. Maybe it's God's way. God works through systems.

23. There are some organizational systems that impede ministry. In effect, we are resisting the Holy Spirit.

24. Some systems free leaders and some obstruct leaders.

25. "I may not be right, but I'm going to be critical."

26. I know a pastor that is supposed to lead his church but a separate committee hires the staff. "That's stupid." It's obstructing ministry in his environment.

27. When you don't understand systems thinking, you always blame the players.

28. Systems create behaviors. For example, if you're a youth pastor, your teaching can't outweigh the influence of a dysfunctional family system. Or, if you're a parent, the wrong system of friends trumps what you teach at home.

29. The systems you inherit, adopt or create will eventually impact what staff and volunteers do. This is really a critical piece…more on this in future blogs….what we think, feel, say, decide, do is all interwoven like a chain.

30. The reason people are not inviting friends to attend services and events in your church is because you have a system that discourages people from doing that.

31. If you have to get up on the platform and beg people to do something (like recruit volunteers), that's a system problem.

32. Anytime you hear, "our people just won't," you're listening to someone who doesn't understand systems. They're blaming people instead of addressing the systems. (Tony's note: And these people are not leaders. They're just whiners.)

33. Components of a system include: expectations/rules, rewards (or lack of), consequences (or lack of), communication (content and style) and behavior of those in charge.

34. What's rewarded gets repeated.

35. Systems have a greater impact on organizational culture than do mission statements. That’s because systems are what people “do” and mission statements are what people round file!

36. This principle explains why it is so difficult to transition a church.

37. You can't change, add or delete programs to change a church or change lives. Programming doesn't change behavior.

38. The NT does not present us with a comprehensive system model. We discover what the early church did, but it doesn't instruct leaders what to do.

39. Always ask the question: Is this what we are told to do or is this just what they did? Is it prescriptive or descriptive?

40. Delegation, accountability, authority, interdependence, point leadership and seeking counsel are all examples of systems outlined in the OT and NT. There's nothing to suggest congregational rule is an appropriate system for a church. Preach Andy! Of course, you probably don’t want to know that when I was a Baptist denominational executive that I wrote an entire document opposed to congregational rule, do you? If you do, drop me an e-mail at and I’ll send it to you.

41. Your system should allow you to involve and hire the best person for the job. If you hire great people, great things happen.

42. Your system should provide you with the flexibility to get the right people to the table to make decisions.

43. Your system should allow you to make complex decisions within the context of a small group of empowered individuals. You cannot effectively communicate complicated information to a lot of people.

44. Your system should ensure that only person answers to "they." At North Point, Andy is the only person that works for a group. You can't answer to a boss and a committee.

45. Romans 12 indicates leaders need to "govern diligently." This is all about the systems.
(Some of Andy's staff team also contributed to this session.)

46. Your current system is perfectly designed for the results you're getting. That may be great news, or that may be bad news. Ok…this one feels bad. But it is absolutely right on.

47. Connect the dots. You need to figure out a way for every single volunteer in your organization to understand what they contribute to the whole.

48. The very best people are busy people. Because of that, you need to define the terms of service. What's the commitment required?

49. Fresh starts always provide momentum. Let volunteers take a break and then start up again. (Tony's side note: That's why launching a new weekend series every 5 or 6 weeks is so important.)

50. Eliminate the competition. If you try to do everything, you'll run out of volunteers. One of the questions that's asked around NP is this: Where do we have competing systems?
51. Don't run because you face conflict. If you start running, you'll never stop. There will always be conflict. Wherever there's change, there's conflict.
52. To be leaders, you have to be strong and courageous. Don't show your fear. You cannot carry out your responsibility by being fearful.
53. Conflict in our ministry divides our mind. We think about it all the time. It's a distraction that keeps us from our goals. It destroys relationships.
54. Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.
55. The message must never change. The methods can.
56. Learn to fight your battles on your knees. A true is this of me.
57. Just tell the truth.
58. If you focus on your opposition, that's bad. If you focus on God, that's good. It's easy to get distracted. Keep your focus where it belongs. Your object of focus becomes your desire…where do I focus when conflict happens?
Back to Smart Things from Andy:
59. There's a difference between leading a team and leading a staff.
60. A high performance team is a group of competent individuals passionately engaged in the execution of a plan designed to solve a specific problem.
61. Team advantage = synergy instead of misaligned energy
62. Four essentials to team: (1) a clearly defined problem, (2) an agreed upon solution, (3) clearly assign roles, (4) a clear understanding of the interdepency among staff members.
63. The question we need to ask is this: What is the problem that won't be solved if we don't do what God has called us to do?
64. Teams dissolved when the problems are all solved. If meetings are a waste of time, you don't know the problem or you've lost sight of it.
65. If there are 60% of the people in your community driving by your church each Sunday, one of your problems is irrelevant church environments.
66. If you just want to be a boss with employees, just tell them what to do. (Tony's note: If you do this, your leaders will flee.)
67. Agreement necessitates "unfiltered debate."
68. Every team member must buy in before he will wholeheartedly pitch in.
69. Andy challenged us to create a one-sentence job description for each of our team members. That helps them understand their role. Sahweet idea….our church staff team will be doing this!
70. A lack of clarity always results in poor which point we typically blame the person.
71. On a real team, when one person drops the ball, the entire team suffers.
72. You capture a person's heart, you'll get their hands.
73. What without "why" feels like a task.