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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!

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Developing Leaders for Church Planting and Beyond

You have heard of “ABC: Always Be Closing,” but in ministry it needs to be “ABD: Always Be Developing leaders (which includes recruiting leaders).” While recruiting people for your church plant you should consider reaching people far from Christ, finding people who need a church to grow in their faith, but you also have to have other gathers who can help you support the mission of the church.

“If I were running a company today I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could [because] the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.”

– Jim Collins, Author of Good to Great

Such a good thought for church planters in the recruiting phase. I believe this also applies to all seasons of any organization. Leaders are the skeleton that supports church growth. You can swell without good leaders. You can gather by taking advantage of seasons and great planning for an event. But sustainable growth requires great leaders and teams of leaders to hold the pieces together. Leaders are the ones who transmit the values and culture into others.

The question is how do we develop leaders while taking care of everyone else in the church? Understanding the 3 phases of pastoring should help.

3 Phases of Pastoring

Reaching New People
If your church plant is not reaching out to those far from God, then you are missing the point. A new church should not just add a new worship service to a community. It should be an outpost of help and rescue. A new church should be actively displaying the love of Christ by helping people meet their spiritual and physical needs.

Caring For Members
This is the group that can be easily overlooked in the mix of starting a new church or growing an existing church. It can also become the total focus of a church that ends up unintentionally ignoring the other two groups. A wise pastor is continuously aware that members need love, encouragement, and correction. We need to cry with them and celebrate them. Our goal with this group is to help them take one step at a time in their faith; patiently caring for them along the way.

Developing Leaders
Leaders require a different type of attention and plan of action. We don’t love anyone more, but to love everyone equally, then we have to love each person differently. As a church planter, you should keep your eyes out for gathers. These are people who carry their own influence and have a desire to share that influence with you to grow the local church. The goal is to let them know they are appreciated, but that they are also carrying the culture. This means they may get more access, but the hope is this will multiply your efforts when you delegate responsibility to them when the time is right.

So to sum things up, we need to always be recruiting three types of people. 1) New People – through serving and outreach 2) New Members – through gatherings and pastoral care 3) New Leaders – through access and individualized plans. This is not just something that is important for church planting but is also a great way to “get and hang on to the right people” to help your ministry achieve its mission of reaching people and growing Christ-followers.

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The Best Kept Secret of Church Plant Team Building

Do you have a talent for getting people to quit their job and sale their home at the same time? Neither do I. That shouldn’t discourage you from stepping out to launch a church though. Asking people to leave their family and friends to start a new church is a big ask. Don’t get discouraged if everyone you know isn’t ready to jump on the church planting train and travel across the country with you on the railroad tracks of faith. This may be the best thing for your future church because the team you build is more important than the team you bring. 

Parachuting into a city where you have no relationships to start a church can be one of the scariest things you can do in ministry. There’s no “but” followed by a comforting remark here. It’s just kind of a scary deal! Trying to connect with people in a place you have never lived to start a church with a limited budget and a fixed timeline takes nerves of steel.

Using City Momentum to Build a Launch Team

The solution may appear to be to recruit as many people as possible to move with you from other places. While this is helpful, there is also something called, “city momentum” that you need to consider. 

City momentum is when people in your new community bring awareness and more people to your launch through their network of relationships that existed in the area before you even moved there. It’s the buzz created by the locals. 

Every person you add to your team, gives your team momentum. It does not matter if they move with you or not. When someone from your new city joins your team it gives you “city momentum” as well. Launch team members who already live in the community have built-in equity with existing relationships. They don’t have to earn people’s trust to invite them to your interest meeting or church launch like your other team members will. 

We can see a similar promise of influence for the gospel in John 4:37-38. Here Jesus says, “Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” City momentum is just a practical way we can see this promise play out in church planting.

So how do you create city momentum and what should you avoid that may squash it? 

5 Steps to Creating City Momentum

Leave some key roles open 

You may not know the highest contributors on your launch team yet. When you give away your top leadership roles before you move, you lose the chance to connect with the influential people in your new city who may be a better fit for those positions. Doing this makes it challenging to recruit gatherers who can multiply your city momentum.

Give responsibilities instead of titles

Asking for commitment to specific duties over a particular period gives everyone freedom. The first way is by creating a natural exit ramp for the volunteer to move on to something else if they decide they are not a good fit. The other way, is it frees you up to put someone you already trust into a much-needed position while you figure out who may be the best person to carry the title long-term. 

Know the difference between pioneers and settlers

Pioneers like to start new things. It excites them. They are not intimidated by the hard work and sacrifice it takes. Others are pilgrims who come along once there is already momentum, but end up staying longer. This is why arc church planters start with a “launch team” and don’t transition to a “core team” until after launch. Forcing everyone to be a pilgrim is to not appreciate how God has wired people and may lead to burnout on your team. 

Get out of your relational comfort zone

Familiar relationships can be a safe place for church planters when everything else seems chaotic. Understanding city momentum can be a way for you to grow your friendships outside of your existing circles even when it is uncomfortable.

People in your city are not just looking to be a plug that fills a hole in your team. They are looking for a genuine relationship with you. This means you will need not only new team members to launch your church but also new friends that you have opened up and allowed into your life.

Prepare for the unexpected

What if God has something better for you than you have planned for yourself? That fantastic worship leader you wanted to move with you and ends up taking a full-time job at a mega-church may just be making room for someone better. Maybe the person you meet in your city that becomes your worship leader will one day become an executive pastor whose spouse is also amazingly creative and has a friend who is an amazing photographer whose parents own Pepsi and will start tithing before you even launch? Ok, I maybe took that one a little too far, but you get my point. God can do much more than we expect. This includes providing a team that is much better and bigger than we ever imagined.

A Strong Team = A Strong Launch

We need to have people we trust helping us in the church planting journey. As they say, “your network is your net-worth” in more ways than one. While bringing team members with you is a huge bonus, ultimately it will be continuing to build that team with city momentum that leads to a strong launch.

What do you think? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment or send me a message!

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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:

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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!

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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.

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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.