21 Unforgettable Quotes from the 2017 Leadership Summit

Every year, the two days I spend attending the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit with my fellow staff members is the highlight of my year. The Summit is two amazing days filled with refreshment, recharging, learning and inspiration from top-notch leaders from the realms of business, church, activism, media and government.

I hear so many brilliant and inspiring thoughts each year, I try to tweet them all. But, because I can’t keep up, last year I wrote a blog on the 21 most unforgettable quotes from the Summit. This year is no different. Here are 21 unforgettable quotes from the 2017 Leadership Summit.

“Your organization’s culture will only be as healthy as the top leader wants it to be.” – Bill Hybels

“Leadership development is both the individual and organization’s responsibility.” – Sheryl Sandberg       

“Listen to outsiders. Outsiders aren’t bound by our assumptions.” – Andy Stanley

“Talent x effort = skill. Skill x effort = human achievement. Talent counts, but effort counts twice.” – Angela Duckworth

 “Leadership begins with a dream. Fear silences dreams.” – Gary Haugen

“Sometimes, where you are used to being is not where you belong.” – Sam Adeyemi Continue reading

Book Review: Sticky Leaders

Reviewing Sticky Leaders, by Pastor Larry Osborne was a joy because the insights in this book are inspiring, important, and easy to understand. As a church consultant, I’ve read many wonderful books on church leadership, and Sticky Leaders does not disappoint. I highly recommend you read it. Here are four areas Osborne emphasizes that are worth considering.

Osborne introduces the concept of “serial innovators” – leaders who try new things, think outside the box, and take careful, calculated risks. He says, “Healthy organizations…can’t just focus on the past. They must also think about creating the future…” This calls for flexibility and innovation.

He says a genuine innovation must work and be widely accepted. The author gives the example of the Segway – the personal, two-wheeled motorized vehicle. Segway’s work. But they never became widely accepted,…except if you’re a mall cop. He states that if a “better” solution isn’t widely adopted, it’s an invention, but not an innovation. Continue reading

How Measuring Results Enhances Ministry Effectiveness

Written in pencil on the wall of the closet in my home office are dates and lines that measure the growth rate of my youngest son. You see, my office used to be his bedroom, and from October, 2004 – December, 2008, he periodically measured and recorded his height on that closet wall. When asked why he did it, he replied, “How else would I know if I’m growing?” To him, it seemed like a natural thing to do.

It’s been said you can’t manage what you don’t measure. And while it seems natural to track results, many church leaders don’t measure effectiveness for fear of finding the answers. Cold, hard facts can reveal painful realities which force us to make difficult decisions. We can either courageously lead our churches through transition, or we can keep the status quo, thinking we’re making progress but actually having little impact.

Every number tells a story
Biblical writers counted people. Someone counted 5,000 fed, 3,000 saved, and 9 out of 10 lepers who didn’t say ‘thank you.” Fortunately, today more and more church leaders recognize the importance of counting and measuring ministry effectiveness. If you’re looking to enhance your church’s ministry by beginning to measure progress, here are five things to consider.

Define your purpose
In The Numbers Game, Chris Mavity and Steve Caton, say, “Many churches plan events…(but) they never consider what the outcome should be.” They say that events and programs need to work in tandem with the vision and mission of the church. If the two don’t sync up, the event should be scratched. And pastor and author Andy Stanley, in 7 Practices of Effective Ministry, encourages church leaders to clarify the win, and ask “What’s most important?” Church leaders need to define the purpose of any program or event to be able to determine if the endeavor was successful. Without a clearly stated
goal, any attempt at evaluation will be hazy, yielding unclear conclusions. Continue reading

Top 5 Work & Life Blog Posts of 2016

In over 30 years of ministry, I’ve noticed that many wise ministry principles can relate to work and life in general, and vice versa. Here are my top five blog posts of 2016 that contain wise principles for work and life. Enjoy!

Riding the Wind of the Spirit
What windsurfing teaches us about listening to God.

3 Simple Questions to Help Address Complex Issues
Very complex issues are best addressed by asking and answering very basic questions.

3 Principles of Productivity
Things to consider when making decisions and taking action.

Delegating Versus Releasing Authority: What’s the Difference?
Why releasing authority is better than delegating tasks.

6 Key Areas in Which to Develop Margin
How to replenish your energy by developing margin in your life.

Top 5 Ministry Blog Posts of 2016

My passion is to bring clarity and focus to ministry and mission. I accomplish this by doing church consulting at Interactive Church Consulting, and by blogging. Here are my top 5 blog posts of 2016 that help churches and ministries both honor God and inspire people.

3 Layers of Ministry
Contemplating the importance of three critical aspects of ministry.

Clarifying Church Growth Terminology
What exactly are we talking about when we talk about church growth?

Categories of Beliefs, and Why Separating Them is Important
Which beliefs will you discuss, defend, and die for?

3 Kinds of Church Staff Members
Maximizing the effectiveness of the experts, managers, and leaders on your ministry staff.

Got Clarity? (Part 2)
How creating clarity in systems increases ministry efficiency.

Clarifying Church Growth Terminology

During the past twenty-five years many books have been written, sermons preached, and seminars given about the mission, vision and values of the church. I’ve read, listened to, and attended many of them. And I’ve received practical advice, useful tools and helpful tips that serve to define the mission of the church. The only problem is that no one seems to define things the same way.

Some experts even use the same definition to describe different words, creating confusion rather than clarity. The paragraphs that follow will define several important words that will bring clarity in your efforts to lead your church. Here are seven definitions of critical terms for you to consider.

Foundational Beliefs
Someone once said, “A belief is what you hold. A conviction is what holds you.” Foundational beliefs are stronger than regular beliefs. They are convictions. Some churches have different levels of beliefs. They separate them into discuss, defend, and die for beliefs. Your foundational beliefs are essential to your church paradigm. They define what you believe, and what you’ll die for.
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21 Unforgettable Quotes From This Year’s Leadership Summit

195fbff6e89aa01b89abca97c01ee06e“Everyone wins when a leader gets better.” This is just one of many though-provoking truths I overheard at this year’s Global Leadership Summit. Every August, for the past 21 years, the Willow Creek Association puts on a 2-day conference from Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, highlighting the best leaders from the world of business, politics, athletics, entertainment, education, philanthropy, and the church. The W.C.A. believes that leadership is vital for church vitality. I whole-heartedly agree. So for the past 11 years, I’ve invested into my own leadership to attend one of the 230 U.S. sites that simulcasts the Summit. And every year I’m glad I did.

Many years ago I heard Dr. John Maxwell say, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” These 6 simple words became foundational to my thinking and ministry. Dr. Maxwell was one of this year’s faculty at the Summit and every August, I attend and fill my notebook with notes and quotes that serve to inform and inspire me throughout the year. Here are 21 of the most unforgettable quotes I heard at this year’s Global Leadership Summit. Continue reading

3 Layers of Ministry

Fairly, or unfairly, people are typically judged by three things. Who they are. (Their core values and foundational beliefs.) What they do. (Their productivity.) And what they look like. (Their external appearance.) Linus Morris, in his book The High Impact Church, compares these three areas to an apple. In his analogy, an apple has three parts. The core, the substance, and the skin. The apple core is the inner-most, life-giving part of the fruit. Everything else emanates from it. The substance, or flesh of the apple, is the fruit you consume and enjoy. Finally, the skin is the exterior layer of protection that people see.

skin flesh core JPEG

The same can be said of a person, a ministry, or a church. The internal core is the life-giving essence. The flesh is what is consumed, or the output. And the outer peel is what it looks like. All three are important and it’s good to consider how much emphasis each deserves.

1 Samuel 16:7 says “…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

It’s clear that the heart is very important. But so is the outcome of a church’s ministry and how things look. But that verse does not say people don’t look at the outer appearance. On the contrary, it says they do! Church leaders would do well to contemplate the importance of each of these three aspects of ministry, so let’s consider each individually.

The core of a church is its spiritual dimension. It’s the life-giving component that makes the church different from other organizations. A church’s theological foundation, its values, purpose and mission need to be solid for it to be effective for the kingdom of God.  

We’ve seen tragic examples of churches, ministries, and Christian leaders with bad cores. Consider Rev. Jim Jones and the massacre in Jonestown, Guyana in 1979. Tragic consequences overtook a large group of people due to the bad theological, ideological, and emotional core of a church and its leader.

Contrast that to a person in ministry with a healthy core. This person loves Jesus, has solid theology, and a good heart. She is humble and in ministry for the right reasons. Remember, the core of a person affects everything that person does. Its importance cannot be underestimated.

The substance of a church is the ministry it does. Just as people eat the flesh of an apple, people consume the flesh of a ministry. In the children’s ministry, for example, the flesh is the programming and its impact on the children. In the music ministry, the flesh is the music that’s played and the worship it inspires.
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3 Principles of Productivity

In any organization, how decisions are made and how things get done are extremely important. Volumes have been written about strong organizational health, effective managerial principles, and efficient company-wide practices.

The same holds true for the local church. Ensuring wise decision making and encouraging effective work habits are important and of eternal significance. Jesus gave his followers principles related to this idea. He said things like, “be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” And “Let your yes be YES. Let your no be NO.”

Productivity_4Seems simple, right? However, in my 30 years of ministry, I’ve learned that decisions and actions are actually more complex and hold greater significance than one might think. Making decisions and taking action can have far-reaching impact on hundreds, if not thousands, in your church and community. Therefore, it’s important to give this topic its due consideration, and to get this right. So, here are three principles to consider when making decisions and taking action.

What you do
Getting the job done efficiently is the bottom line in many organizations. Managers assigns tasks, provide instructions, give deadlines, and expect follow through. And your job, as a faithful employee, is to do it. Do it well. Do it on time. Exceed expectations, if possible. And, especially if you work in the church, do it joyfully. That’s simply how effective businesses are run.    

But for church employees there are additional thoughts to consider. In some work environments, it seems what is done is all that matters. But in other environments, like a church, how it’s done is also important. So, it’s a good idea to consider how you do what you do. Continue reading

4 Things That Make a Great Executive Pastor

The most significant relationship in the church is between the Senior Pastor and the Executive Pastor. It’s almost a given that these two influential leaders need to be unified regarding vision, complement each other’s strengths, and compensate for each other’s weaknesses. While their roles are very different, each plays a unique and significant part of your church’s ministry. Therefore, having the right Executive Pastor on your staff is critical. So if you are looking to hire one, or you currently are one wanting to increase your effectiveness, here are four things that make an exceptional Executive Pastor.

Reflect the heart of the leader
img3The chief aim of a great Executive Pastor is to reflect the heart of the leader. Getting to know the Senior Pastor’s passions, goals and priorities is vital. The Executive Pastor should be the Senior Pastor’s chief representative, main confidant, and most reliable associate. This relationship must be characterized by trust and transparency. And that takes intentionality. It won’t happen by simply sitting in meetings together or working on the same project. Instead, it will require relational interdependence that comes from common experience and shared passion for the mission of the church.

Recognize your role
An exceptional Executive Pastor recognizes his main role is to make the Senior Pastor successful. Once the Executive Pastor knows and reflects the heart of the leader, he can begin to re-cast the leader’s vision, – not his own. When it comes to defending the leader, a wise Executive Pastor knows he must support publicly, yet confront privately. Again, the relationship must be healthy enough for the Executive Pastor to challenge, question, and give direction to the Senior Pastor. But all these conversations must be done in person, and in a private environment.
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