Attributes of a Church Planter

How do you know if you are a church planter? Well, if you like to wear button-down plaid shirts, then there’s a good chance you were born to plant a church. Just kidding! But it is an odd recurring phenomenon I have noticed…

There are lots of personality tests out there, and spiritual gift assessments you can take that can help you determine if you are a good fit for church planting. Ultimately, if God has called you to it, then He will equip you for it. It doesn’t matter if you fit in any particular mold or not.

If you are wondering though, here are some characteristics I have noticed effective church planters possess.

5 Attributes of a Church Planter

Evangelistic
The heart of the Great Commission to make new disciples of Jesus. Is soul winning a burning passion of yours?

Authentic
Are you comfortable being yourself? There is a difference in learning from others and wanting to be like them at the expense of being your authentic self. It is important to know the difference. If you aren’t comfortable being yourself, then others will have a hard time being comfortable around you as well.

Engaging
You cannot rely on marketing tools or other people to build your team. You must be able to attract people to the vision God has given you. This happens through being authentic and speaking the everyday language of people outside of the church. Are you someone who can engage in modern culture, or do you speak in preachy religious terms?

Honoring
You must honor where you came from, and the churches in the area where you are going. You may know “honor-speak,” but do your actions and attitudes match your words? If you are not ready to honor, even when it hurts, then you are not prepared to be a church planter.

Life-giving
You must believe the best in others. You cannot claim to have great faith, without having great faith in people. The people God sends to help you launch your church are your greatest assets.

ARC has an assessment process that does a great job giving feedback on people’s readiness to plant a church. We don’t determine your call, because we know that is between you and God. We do our best though to help you find the right timing and circumstances to launch strong. Visit arcchurches.com to find out more about our process and to apply.

What attributes do you think make a great church planter? I know there are more than just what I mentioned. I’d love to hear from you!

You Might Be A Pharisee If…

Six Signs of Imitation Christianity

No Soup For You

This morning I was reading about Saul. The story reminded me of how even with the best intentions we can slip into legalism. During a battle, he made a rash vow. The soldiers were pursuing victory. Honey was dripping all around to refresh them along the way. The only problem was Saul refused to let anyone eat until their enemies were defeated.

It may sound radical and inspirational at first. Maybe Saul thought this would rally the troops’ commitment. Instead, it left a mess. People were confused and discouraged. This is often the case with immitation Christianity.

So how do we know when this type of thinking creeps into our spiritual life? Here are six signs you might be a Pharisee and don’t even know it.

You do not think you are a Pharisee

Did you hear about the latest Pharisee convention? Me neither. That’s because no one went. No one put it on. Because no one thinks they are a Pharisee. Pharisees are too busy pointing out other people’s fault to take the time to deal with their own.

You subscribe to radical Christianity

I used to be a radical Christian. I took pride in that. Now I realize “radical”  was just a code word for legalism. Radical Christians go to the extreme and believe everyone else is not “really” serving God with all of their heart until they are making the same sacrifices as they are.

You believe you are an elite Christian

If you think there are classes of Christians, then you may subscribe to the false brand of Christianity called legalism. Do you look down on others who do not share your same convictions? Then you misunderstand that convictions are for you and the gospel is for everyone.

You misunderstand holiness

If your priority is outside appearance, then you misunderstand holiness and may be stuck in a Christina performance trap. Jesus called people like this whitewashed tombs. They look good on the outside but are dead on the inside. True holiness begins with grace, is maintained by grace, and works its way from the inside out.

You question other people’s salvation

Do you take snapshots of where people are in the exact moment you see them or do you view yourself and others in a process? Have you ever wondered out loud, “How can they love Jesus and do _________.” Or “If they loved God they would do ________ more.” A Pharisee always questions those who sin differently then they do instead of patiently helping them address the root of the problem.

You serve under a Saul

The thing that made David “David” was he saw Saul as someone worthy of grace and honor.  Instead of focusing on Saul’s faults, he saw himself as the one who needed to become more godly. A Saul sees a Saul in everyone else, while a David is continually looking for the “David” in others, and is aware of the “Saul” in himself.

Only One Good News

In the Book of Galatians Paul warns sternly that anyone twisting the good news would be in danger of judgment. It is one of the harshest warnings in the New Testament. He says, “It pretends to be good news, but is not good news at all.”   

Still, High-Performance Christianity has a way of slipping into the lives of the most well-meaning people. We must keep our eyes, hopes, and security in a love relationship with Jesus and continue to humbly extend the same grace that was given to us to others if we are to avoid this trap.

3 Leadership Tests

Questions Every Leader Should Be Able To Answer

How did you feel before or after a test in school? Whether I passed or not, I was always happy to have it over. I either breathed a sigh of relief after lots of hard work and preparation, or at least the pressure was off until the next one.

Leadership Tests

Leadership tests seem to come even more often than those in school. The stakes are often higher as well. In the real world passing or failing impacts more than just ourselves.

In an interview with the CEO of Charles Schwab, I came across some very intriguing interview tactics to discover the quality of a job candidate. Instead of looking at just their resume, Walt Bettinger devised a peculiar strategy that also provides insight into their character.

When I looked closer at his plan I found three leadership tests I believe every leader should be able to pass.

How do we treat those who can do nothing for us?

During the interview process, Bettinger takes the person out to eat. Once they get there, he has the waiter intentionally mess up the candidate’s order. This is something pre-arranged so that he can see how the person responds.

How do you respond when your order is not correct?

As Christian leaders, when we treat those who can do nothing for us with gentleness and respect, we show how we much we have become like Jesus. Getting bent out of shape at a restaurant when something isn’t right can be a thermometer for our souls. We may say we love and honor people but how we treat them when something doesn’t go our way shows the truth of those statements.

Do we blame others for our failures?

Another surprising thing this CEO does is ask about people’s greatest failures instead of just their most significant accomplishment. Whom they blame for their failures reveals what is in their heart.

As leaders, we need to be able to take responsibility for our own role in the problems we face. Even if our part is only 1% of the problem, when we take responsibility we learn and grow. When we blame others we stunt our growth, not there’s.

Some leaders act as if an apology would indict them or disqualify them from leadership. The reality is owning mistakes grants you credibility. I am always more afraid of what a perfect leader is hiding than what an authentic leader reveals.

Is our success limited to only what benefits ourselves?

Another story Bettinger shares was from when he was in college, and he failed a test that ruined his perfect 4.0. The test only had one question on it, “What is the name of the person who cleans this building?” It turns out her name was, “Dottie.”

Do you know the Dotties in your life?

Lasting success is not based on what benefits only ourselves. Real success is helping people find theirs. We do not gain loyalty from those we lead through our great achievements (although it may appear that way at first), but by helping them accomplish great things with our help.

What score would you get on this leadership test? What are some other tests every leader should pass? I’d love to hear from you!

To read the original interview in the New York Times click here.
To read an abbreviated version that focuses on the interview tactics from The Blaze click here.

Here are a couple of my favorite books along the lines of character and what really matters in leadership:

Creating a Compelling Culture

“Culture is the soul of the organization.” – Dee Ann Turner

You can have an excellent weekend service and efficient systems, but still lose momentum by not being attentive to your church culture. It is crucial to win the battle in the spiritual, but also to remember the influence culture has on your church as well. Culture is not just your best intentions. It is the reality of what you guard, emphasize, and reward. Culture is the air your team breathes as they operate in your ministry and pursue your church’s mission.

Great culture is not always easy to create or maintain. In her book, It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture, Dee Ann Turner offers some great advice to those seeking to create a healthy culture in their organization. Here are four simple steps she gives to create a compelling culture.

4 Steps to a Compelling Culture

  1. “A Clear Purpose for Existing” – This is the why for your church or your vision statement. We have this purpose from the Great Commission, but what language will you use to contextualize this for your specific part in that great work?
  2. “A Challenging Mission” – Your vision is the world you see because of your church exists. Your mission is what you and your team are going to do every day to achieve your vision. This should be simple and easily repeatable by everyone on your team.
  3. “Determine Core Values” – Your church will be and do a lot of things, but if you could only focus on a few repeatable, memorable values, what would they be? Everything else will grow from there. “Businesses [or churches] do not become excellent in the big areas without focusing on the small details too. Excellence in small things leads to excellence in big things.”Dee Ann Turner
  4. “Guiding principles” – These are your culture statements. What phrases are you using to summarize the different aspects of the culture you want to create?

Leaders love seeing external growth. And who can blame them? But we need to also focus on creating cultures in our ministries that will cause us to be internally strong. When we have internal growing up, the external growing out will come and be sustained.

What do you think creates a compelling culture? What are some things that hurt your culture? Anything you would add or take-a-way? Let me know!

Are You Really Leading?

How we can value people over our positions

 

If God gives us a voice we must speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.

If God gives us strong hands we must help those who can’t help themselves.

If God gives us a place to stand we must stand for those who cannot pick up themselves.

 

God does not give us these good gifts for us to build kingdoms for ourselves but rather to build up the people in His Kingdom.

 

If we only serve those who can benefit us, is that really serving?

If we only honor those who can honor us, is that really honor?

If we only sacrifice when there is someone to see, is that really a good deed?

If we only step out when there is no risk, are we really leading?

 

People matter to God. He does not give position and influence to protect those who already have it, but so those with it can protect and provide for those who do not have it. Position is not for the leader but for the follower.

 

We should measure success in our leadership…

Not by how many people like us, but by how we love the unlovable.

Not by how many celebrate us, but how many we celebrate.

Not by how much pain we avoid, but how much pain we enter into.

Not by how many we have serving us, but how many we are willing to serve with what God has given us.

 

Christian leadership is a paradox. It’s not corporate leadership. It’s not amassing followers. It is serving the masses by caring for the one. It is a two-way street. It’s influence rooted in stewardship. We must be careful that as we grow in influence we also grow in the same portion of selflessness as well.

Benefits of Critics

4 Reasons to Listen to Your Critics

Many people say to ignore your critics. Don’t listen to them they say. Once during a wedding prayer of blessing, I actually prayed that the bride and groom would, “shake the haters off.” For some odd reason, people haven’t rushed to ask me to pray for them at their weddings after that.

I don’t know that this advice is always good. Sometimes I think we say “ignore your critics,” as a way to insulate ourselves from some tough things we don’t want to hear. This can lead us to even mistakenly identify people who are trying to help as people who are hurting us because they are sharing difficult truths with us.

But what do we do about the actual critics – the people who we can’t make happy no matter how hard we try? Is there anyone like that in your life? What do we do when folks keep getting drunk on the “haterade” or seem to always pull into work in their Navi-hater.

There are secret benefits of having critics, fault-finders, and unwelcomed commentators snickering behind you. All the greats had them. I don’t think you can stand for something worthy without having someone stand against you. If you turn to scripture instead of cultural expectations in your response to critics, you can tap into the benefits of those that seem to love to hate.

4 Benefits of Critics

Listen

Our friends are often hesitant to share things they know we may not want to hear. This is because they want us to like them. They keep our feelings in mind. Critics don’t care if you like them. They are not interested in our emotions. In some small way, this can be a good thing if we pause to ask ourselves if there is a grain of truth in what is being said.

We may not always agree, but we can always listen. Listening is a way we can show that we value people even when we may not agree with what they are saying.

Learn

Critics can broaden your appeal when we learn from their perspective. Maybe their attitude is wrong. Perhaps they have an agenda. But maybe we can also learn how to better reach someone with their outlook on things next time before they even become a critic.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” We should be looking to win people over and not just win arguments. We can’t do this if we do not slow down and learn from those that are different than us.

Lean-in

Suffering through some unfair criticism can cause us to lean into what matters most. It can hurt when we hear someone doesn’t like our idea, perspective, or well-intended actions. This can also give us the opportunity to evaluate if we are living for the approval of God or others.

We don’t always get to respond to our critics. At times we have to turn the situation over to God. In these moments, we are able to draw closer to Him and reflect the grace and mercy we have received from Him.

Don’t Linger

While we can learn from critics, and at times should even listen to them to build future bridges, we shouldn’t linger there. Some criticism offers a lesson in letting go and moving on when things are outside of our control.

We shouldn’t allow criticism to be a focus. If we are always concerned about avoiding critics or responding to them, then there is no time to just be who God made us to be. Doing the right thing at times will be criticized. It’s not always fair, but most of the time it is best to keep loving and moving forward.

Give them what they lack

I used to be an extremely critical person. No one or nothing was good enough for me. I realized along the way that my high standards were keeping me from enjoying the people God gave me in my life. Since then, I have started offering more grace to people. I have noticed though, that the last person we are willing to give grace to is the judgmental among us.

Why give mercy to someone who doesn’t show it to anyone else? Because that is apparently what they are in most need of because they don’t have any to spare. Give grace to your critics and over time their cup may eventually overflow and begin to refresh others as well.

Moses CEO Part 2

4 Steps to Lead Your Team Out of Dysfunction

Moses returned from his executive retreat to find his organization in total disarray (Exodus 32:9-10). You can see the four decisions that lead to this disaster in my previous post. The results of Aaron’s passive leadership led to the group getting off mission, internal corruption, and dangling on the edge of total destruction.

How Moses responded to this dysfunctional situation shows us how to problem solve and lead in an organization. I read this story in Exodus while I was also going through the book, The Five Dysfunctions of Team. This caused me to wonder what Moses would do if he was the CEO of a corporation, church, or non-profit. You do not have to be an executive to learn from Moses’s example. You can make difference in any position with these 4 steps,

Take responsibility (Exodus 32:10-11)

Moses was not willing to be promoted at the expense of his team. Instead he took responsibility for something that was out of his control so his team could succeed together. He didn’t blame others. He looked for the best version of his team and refocused on their original vision (the future) instead of focusing on their failure (the past) or current circumstances (the present).

Be proactive instead of reactive (Exodus 32:19-20)

When Moses returned from his leadership retreat and saw that things were in disorder, he immediately took action. Moses did not sweep the situation under the rug and move on. He didn’t take a vote to see who wanted to keep the detestable golden calf. He addressed the root of the issue. He made sure a crack in their foundation would not compromise the integrity of the team, even if it meant a painful immediate adjustment.

Prioritize what is right over what was popular (Exodus 32:25-26)

Moses was willing to step away from what was popular in order to prioritize what was right. Sometimes groups can do more wrong than individuals. When no one speaks up, we all assume everyone else is in agreement. The reality is many times others are just waiting for someone else to speak up. Who is waiting on you to prioritize what is right over what is popular and stand with you?

Be loyal (Exodus 32:30-32)

Behind closed doors Moses was for his team. He was not in denial that they had made a mistake, but was willing to honor them when their behavior could only be seen as a liability to him. Not only that, but Moses also honored up by seeking God in this situation instead of taking matters into his hands.

Moses was not a perfect CEO, and he did not lead a perfect team. However, he did many things right and does have a special place of honor in the hall of faith. Ultimately we look to model Jesus in everything we do, and we can see Christ in how Moses led his team.

What is Your Gold Calf?

The gold calf is present in every team and organization, even the most healthy ones. It represents the one things that obviously needs to change, but we dance around it or are unwilling to admit it. We can make a lot of little adjustments, but until we find our golden calf and are willing to confront the weaknesses in our own leadership, little will change.

What lessons do you see in leadership from the story of the Golden Calf?

What are Jesus style leadership traits that seem to contradict worldly wisdom?

Which of these four traits are a weakness for you.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Be the first to get the next one by subscribing here.

If you are interested in a great leadership fable that talks about pulling together as a team checkout The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Moses CEO Part 1

Aaron COO: 4 Leadership Mistakes

Moses took over a failing corporation that had a brilliant founder, but was plagued by internal discord. After delivering some miraculous results that impacted the world, these people found themselves under dictatorial leadership. Moses comes in to lead them to the Promise Land but not without some resistance and lessons we can all learn from along the way.

What Went Wrong?

Before we look at what Moses did right let’s see what Aaron the COO did wrong. Moses was away at an executive retreat with his assistant, Joshua. Meanwhile Aaron is left to lead the organization, and we see he makes a few common mistakes right of the bat.

He didn’t honor up (Exodus 32:1)

When the people complained against Moses, Aaron didn’t step up to honor his leader with a defense. Instead of guarding Moses’s leadership, Aaron gave room for complaints and tried to be the solution to the void people saw in Moses’s leadership.

He didn’t practice sacrificial leadership (Exodus 32:2-3)

Aaron had the people bring their best to him instead of him giving them his best. Getting to the top is not about having the most people serving you. Filling a leadership role is about being in the best position to serve the most people. The top of the org chart is not for those who want to prop their feet up.

He put a spiritual skin on a selfish ambition (Exodus 32:4)

It is very easy in church environments to mistake grand plans for God’s plan. We must be careful to not call something God that didn’t originate with Him. We shouldn’t dress up a need to be noticed with a good cause. God’s plans always draw people closer to Him, before they lift up the false idols of success, competition, and popularity.

His was reactive instead of proactive (Exodus 32:5)

Aaron waited for the problem to occur, and then chose a solution that would be the most popular over the most effective. We must lead with foresight and learn from hindsight. Reactive leaders display passivity in moments of need, and prioritize stabilizing the boat instead of plugging the hole.

Conclusion

The result of Aaron’s leadership is that his team drifted off mission and began to crumble from the inside out (Exodus 32:7-8). He lost the leadership battle by allowing his position to become about him, and then protecting that position by pleasing people. Reactive leaders see pleasing people as the solution, while proactive leaders know protecting people is the priority. Reactive leaders don’t want to compromise their popularity, while proactive leaders don’t want to compromise the values that protect people and the vision that keeps the mission clear and secure.

This is part 1 of 2 of Moses CEO. Next up are the four things Moses did to turn this situation around. Be the first to get the latest post by subscribing here.

If you are interested in a great leadership fable that talks about pulling together as a team checkout The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Crossing the Line

4 Questions that show you have gone from honest to harsh

How do we know when sharing truth has needlessly moved from bold compassion to insensitive confrontation? We have to be able to honest without being harsh. In my previous post I talked about sharing our opinion without burning bridges. Today I would like to explore how to know when we have crossed that line. Here are four questions to ask that show if we have gone from apologetics to just annoying.

Am I correcting or embracing?

Correcting before disarming undermines our influence. When it becomes about being right instead of using our influence to help others we need to change gears. We don’t want to correct people we want to influence them. If we want to walk with someone to a new destination then we should probably start with an embrace, or at least a handshake, instead of a finger in their face.

Am I invading or inviting?

We need to make sure people actually want to hear what we have to say before we say it. If not, we are just wasting everyone’s time. Getting things off our chest is about us. Doing this sacrifices our leadership collateral. Blowing off some steam online alienates others from the very truth we want to give them.

Am I building walls or bridges?

Walls divide and protect while bridges connect and protect. We shouldn’t live in a world without either. We just need to be wise in how we use them. One way we build walls in a wrong way is by making ultimatums. This forces people to accept everything we say without us seeking to understand the other side. Ultimatums divide but they don’t protect. A bridge allows people to take one step at a time until we are walking side by side.

Am I leading by example?

Sometimes it seems we can actually see people winding up at the beginning of an online post before delivering their fastball of truth. They got it over the plate but it came by so fast that no one could hit it. We should make sure are goal is to influence and not just attack. We must be careful we are not lashing out at those we want to learn from us.

How can we set an example of disarming that is easy to follow? Slow down before we post. Ask ourselves if we have left room for the small but all to often case we are not right. If we can’t walk a statement back if we are wrong then maybe it needs to be rephrased. Considered that there may be more to the story that we haven’t discovered yet. 

Lines in the sand

We need to do what Jesus did and extend truth with grace. He drew a different kind of line in the sand. His lines caused people to put down their stones and change their ways. In the same way we should also kneel down to where people are instead of only expecting them to climb up to our platform of truth.

I hope these two posts help us influence others instead of being isolated from them. Social media can be a great tool. Following these steps may help us use our online platforms to work for us instead of against us.

For more thoughts on this subject check out Chris Hodges’s book The Daniel Dilemma.

 

Bridges of Opinion

4 ways to share truth without burning bridges

I recently read a post on social media that was right but wasn’t very friendly. I wondered if the thought would have gotten more traction if it would have been shared with a smile. When we are right but don’t present our truth in a right way we alienate ourselves. This not only discourages us but also keeps our solutions from those who need them most.

How do we share truth without burning bridges? There are probably many ways, but here are four that came to me.

Disarm

We disarm people with humility. By stating the obvious like, we don’t know everything, we could be wrong, and that we are just presenting one way of seeing things, we cause people to put down their defenses. When we make big statement and don’t give room for the perspective of others we only get both sides more entrenched in what they already believe.

Build a bridge

Making dogmatic statements or targeting certain groups with identifiable phraseology is like firing shots over the bow. People aren’t going to come out to listen in this situation. They are going to duck and cover, or fire back.

Making “we” instead of “you” statements says we are in this together. This builds the bridge to their understanding. So does owning our part of past mistakes. It is easier for people to join us by crossing a bridge that we extended than it is to climb down and then up the cliffs of our different opinions.

Invite people over

We need to make sure we have earned the right to instruct the group of people we want to influence. A social media account doesn’t magically make us an expert. Acknowledging that by inviting people to be part of a conversation instead of just asking them to “like” our bold statements grows our influence more than a single post ever could.

One way to do this it to ask sincere questions. Judgmental questioning that casts blame doesn’t help. This just points out how others are on what we see as the wrong side. It doesn’t invite them over to what we believe is the right side.

Embrace them

Abraham Lincoln is famous for preserving the Union. His life also shows that he was able to build a team of rivals instead of like minded friends to lead our nation. He was once accused of treating his enemies too kindly. He responded by saying, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” When was the last time you “destroyed” an enemy in this way?

We should be careful not to take positions that make it impossible to embrace people if they do come to our side. When someone lashes out respond with grace. Billy Hornsby said that anytime we back someone into a corner we should be wiling to let them out. Give room for there to be people different than you on your side of an argument. If not, there won’t be room for anyone to make their way over from the other side. Once they do make sure you embrace them.

This is only part one of two on sharing truth without burning bridges. In my next post I am going to talk about how to know when you have crossed the line from apologetics to just plain annoying. Subscribe and not only will you be the first to know when the post is out, but I will also give you a free gift.

For more thoughts on this subject check out Chris Hodges’s book The Daniel Dilemma.