Monthly Archives: April 2012

Nuggets (Exponential Conference)


I spent last week at the Exponential conference in Orlando Florida.

Here are some nuggets of truth I picked up that have me thinking about ministry and church planting.

I am not a big conference guy but I do love the exponential conference.  I run with 2 different “tribes” of people in the church planting world and if you are planting I suggest you check both of them out!  Both have been incredibly valuable to me in my growth as a leader as a pastor and as a church planter.

New Thing Network & 3DM

1) – Everyone will love you until you lead

– I have found this to be incredibly true in church planting & in college ministry.  New families love us until we ask them to pitch in, college students love us until we ask them to rethink what living for Jesus looks like.  Everyone will love you until you lead the question is when the time comes when God calls you lead in tough ways will you shrink back or will you really lead.  Love what Hebrews 10:39 says:

39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

2) – Create a Covenant with your Spouse

I loved this idea & Sarah and I are in the process of writing one.  It simply lays some ground rules for what ministry can and can’t become.  Bill Hybels and his family said it best, “In ministry you are always going to disappoint someone, make sure that someone isn’t your wife and kids.”

3) – Teach from Scars not from Theory

Wayne Cordeiro said, “young leaders want to start at third base every time they get up.”  There are no short cuts in this.   We have an enormous amount of leaders who want to lead from a business book or lead from a template or a theory.  Very few that lead from our scars.  We lead out of seasons of being sifted, and pruned and then we grow into leaders.  Just as Peter’s greatest season of ministry was birthed from a season of sifting so is ours.

Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you,Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

4) – Discover a great theology of place

Nothing new here or earth shattering but I was simply reminded of how much I love my city and was encouraged to continue to read my city so that I may be better prepared to preach, lead and serve them.

These are some simply nuggets of truth but I hope they encourage you & get you thinking in the same way they did for me!


Nuggets (3DM)

Recently I started an fairly intense 2 year training period with 3Dm

I am so excited about the journey that began this week with a week long learning community in Cincinnati.  It is an amazing movement & God is profoundly shaping the way I practically apply discipleship in our Community.

So this morning I was searching through my mountain of notes and simply praying over what God is teaching me & I wanted to share some simple nuggets that God is working out in me & in our community.  When I say nuggets I don’t mean to minimize their significance, they are immensely valuable & are teaching me to lead as Jesus lead.

Tomorrow I head to Orlando for the Exponential conference and I will share some nuggets from there as well!

1) – The Church is the effect of discipleship not the cause!

When you build a church you don’t always get disciples but when you make disciples you always get the church.

2) – You can’t take the worlds methods & models (based on power & provision) and apply those to the church

In fact, Jesus said, (Lk22:24-30) – Don’t do that & you are not like that and you can’t make disciples that way.  Our current methods of leadership in the church more often than not prevent us from reproducing.  Are you leading in a way that creates dependence on you or in a way that creates of movement of multiplying disciples?

3) – We can’t detach the work of Jesus (Salvation) from the way of Jesus (sanctification)

Our goal is not to get people to walk across a line it is to get people to walk in the way of Jesus.  Our systems support walking the line & making a sell instead of asking people to become like Jesus.  Invite people into families on mission, then challenge them & model the way for them to walk in the ways of Jesus.

4) – Feed the Horse & Maintain the Cart

Our current methods starve the horse (the discipleship engine of the church, what makes us move) and  keep building the cart (the Sunday service).  We starve out the engine that drives the church & then wonder why we aren’t moving.  Think lightweight & low maintenance, we have pimped out our carts but they are being driven by starving horses (disciples & pastors included).   I don’t want volunteers to do what I do, I want disciples who do what Jesus did.  How much time in a normal week do you spend feeding the horse & how much time to you spend building the cart.

These are just a few great nuggets that have me spinning & praying this morning!

If you want more info on 3DM – I suggest grabbing a few books / Building a Discipleship Culture / Covenant & Kingdom / Launching Missional Communities and coming soon Multiplying Missional Leaders.

What happened to all of our young people (pt 3) ProLonged Adolescense

2 Tim 2:22

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Recent findings published by the American Sociological Association and based on U.S. Census data show a sharp decline in the percentage of young adults who have finished school, left home, gotten married, had a child and reached financial independence, considered typical standards of adulthood. In 2000, 46% of women and 31% of men had reached those markers by age 30, vs. 77% of women and 65% of men at the same age in 1960.  Those numbers are continuing to decline rapidly.

Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a developmental psychologist who has studied this age group extensively, explores the mind-set of young people in a  book, Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road From the Late Teens Through the Twenties.

“They’re not as mature because they’re not required to be,” he says. “It’s really the society and culture as a whole.”

“This is a generation that has grown up in an accelerated culture and forced them to be older before they’re ready,” says David Morrison, president of Twentysomething Inc. “Now that they have their independence, they are going to squeeze every ounce of that sponge before they settle down.”

For the 1st time in our countries History we have a generation of young people who want to delay adulthood.

In his  book, “Guyland,” a Stony Brook professor notes that the traditional markers of manhood—leaving home, getting an education, finding a partner, starting work and becoming a father—have moved downfield as the passage from adolescence to adulthood has evolved from “a transitional moment to a whole new stage of life.”

What once was lets spend a weekend together before we get jobs & leave college has now become a new life stage for young men!

Today’s guys are perhaps the first downwardly mobile—and endlessly adolescent—generation of men in U.S. history. They’re also among the most distraught—men between the ages of 16 and 26 have the highest suicide rate for any group, despite their image as a band of back slapping buddies.

Why is this happening?

1) – Student Loans & Cost of College – Students are faced with the option of enormous amounts of debt that force young people to stay away from college.  When I was in college I interned at a church, I coached basketball at a local high school and I worked in the student center.  About 25% of the college students I know today actually work.  The rest spend a lot of time playing video games, watching sports & enjoying life.

2) – Entitlement – This makes young people wait for the perfect job instead on take the one that is available.  I know many young people who instead of taking a fast food job or job at the mall choose to live on someone else’s couch & never move forward.

3) – Fear – We can’t over emphasize enough that this is a fatherless generation & that they are terrified of making the same mistakes their fathers did.

4) – Media Glorification of Immaturity – Watch any film or television show targeting men between the age of 18-30 & all of them will involve a group of young men who are immature, who have never grown up, who are simply enjoying life & doing whatever feels good.  The only person portrayed in these films as being in bondage is always the one who is married & works from 9 to 5.  Entourage, the Hangover, any show on MTV, the list could go on & on.  I can’t think of one character on film or TV who is in their mid to late 20’s married, working and happy.  The lie is go out & do whatever feels good because once you are married and working you will never enjoy life again.


1) – Discipleship & Mentors – As surprising as this may sound our young people want authority in their lives.  I know I am banging the same drum again and again but our young people need a Titus 2 model of the church where they have someone walking beside them.  They need someone to tell them to get off the couch, to go get a job, to man up & stop being a child.  They need a Paul pushing them towards maturity.

2) – Vision of Godly Families – They need to see family modeled correctly!  At least 3 times a week we have college students at our dinner table.  They watch how I correct, love & encourage our children.  They see how Sarah and I love each other, deal with conflict & love our children.  We invite students to go on family activities with us, we invite them to be a part of our lives.  They don’t need a perfect example of Jesus in the family but they need a living one!  Invite students into your home & into your families life.

3) – College Ministry can’t be youth group 2.0 – We don’t play ridiculous games, we don’t do 1500 events a year, we don’t try to wow our students every week with a cooler band and a better program.  We teach them that the church is a family on mission together & its their turn to take their place in that family.  We push them towards maturity, towards sacrifice for the body & towards leadership (Heb 5).  90% of the campus ministries I see and observe simply continue youth ministry for our kids with an endless supply of messy games, retreats, concerts & foolishness.  I could argue that our current student ministry model is not working with high school students, we lose 7 out of 10 of them when they go to college.  If its not working there why continue it here?  We need a new vision of what college ministry looks like.

4) – Don’t give them spiritual Busyness / Give them Jesus – Our great hope in Christ has been reduced to Spiritual activity & busyness.  Our students don’t need another event, activity or fellowship night.  They need Jesus! Give them a picture of how Jesus changes everything, teach them that they are the priesthood of all believers & that they are missionaries now.

5) – Local training centers for Students – In the past 2 years since our church has been in existence 11 students have walked through the Multiplicity project (an intense year long discipleship & training program).  Next year we already have 5 signed up already and our goal is 15-25 students.  Students need to receive intense training, discipleship & mentoring from the church! This can’t be microwaved it takes time commitment, discipline & structure.  Call your students to spiritual discipline & commitment.  If they can study liberal arts 101, jog walk and communications 101.  They can commit themselves to studying scripture for a year.

What happened to all our young people (Part 2) Unequipped leaders

A Generation of Unequipped Leaders

Judges 2:  After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to their own inheritance. 7 The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.

10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.

I am not blind enough to miss the fact that every generation that takes hold of the leadership of the church advances the church in many ways but also makes some mistakes along the way.  It seems that the church is attached to a pendulum that now swings faster than it has ever swung before & with every movement of that pendulum we become more balanced in one area & more out of balance in another area.

When I was a child the pendulum swung in seeker sensitive movement out towards others.  As it swung it focused us in a positive way towards examining our programs & language in order to reach unreached people.  It brought us out of balance in believing that “bigger is better” and as much as it welcomed people into church, it failed to move them towards becoming fully devoted followers of Christ.

When I was in college the pendulum swung towards worship – This worship movement re-focused our hearts up towards God in worship.  It re-focused the church towards God’s glory & pushing us in a relationship towards him.  It also brought us out of balance in moving outward towards others.  It increased the “wow me” mentality of the church & created consumers looking for the best band, preacher & show instead of the best community to live on mission with.

As the information age, facebook, twitter, podcasts, webinars, & enormous church conferences kicked in, the pendulum began to swing faster & the church has recently begun re-looking at what it looks like to live missionally & what it looks like to return to discipleship.  With each swing of the pendulum progress is made & ground is lost.

Now I’m not naive enough to say that the answer is balance, balance is not our goal.  Living like Jesus is!  We must figure out a way to incorporate the same rhythm of life we learned through the life of Jesus.  An Upward relationship with God, where he speaks to us, gives us power, direction and we rest in Him.  An inward relationship with other believers where we live life as the family of God together.  Sharpening each other, urging each other on, living life as a family (the church) on mission together.  An outward relationship with the world.  Where we live on mission, intentionally seeking to love & serve the least of these with the love of Christ.

Now here’s the problem with the pendulum swing & the speed in which it swings……..

  • It’s that the next generation of pastors have never been discipled by the previous generation.  They are young and lack discernment therefore they believe whatever methods seem to be working somewhere else must also work in their context.
  • It’s that this generation is so wowed by the bigger is better lie that whenever the pendulum swings they move without listening to God but they move because prevailing church growth principles say move.
  • They lack the understanding & the discernment in order to lead & disciple effectively so every shift is short lived until the next new fad, new book or new movement pops up.  This slows the mobilization & order of the church & sends congregations on new initiatives & pursuits every year.
  • With the speed of information & the amount of conferences we are losing our apostolic leaders & raising up leaders who simply seek to apply whatever new tools the big church down the street is using this year.  We are losing our dreamers & only raising up imitators.

What are the Solutions?

  • I challenge every pastor over the age of 50 to find a pastor under the age of 30 to invest in, disciple & take an interest in.  This will take time & effort but it is an investment that will reap a return!
  • I hope that every young pastor will start asking God, who He has called your church to be & then to pursue faithfulness towards Gods vision & not imitation towards someone else’s vision.
  • We need to move our young leaders from information gathering, to imitation, to innovation.  Not enough of our young leaders are getting to innovation because no one is walking beside them saying follow me as I follow Christ.  We use the language train, reproduce, send.  The church currently does some training and small amounts of reproducing but not enough sending.  Are you creating a culture that sends young leaders out for kingdom work or do you care more about growing your vision than you do for your young leaders?  Are you creating an army of Timothy’s & do you celebrate with those Timothy’s as they go or do they leave your churches, beat up defeated & frustrated?  As I speak to young leaders most are leaving their churches defeated & not equipped & encouraged. This must change!
  • I am asking young pastors to take a year off from conferences & podcast’s & asking them to seek God for his vision for their ministry.  I am asking them to listen to less celebrity pastors & read more scripture.  I am asking them to stop buying the newest book & to find an older pastor who looks like Jesus to them & to follow them.
  • I am hoping that young leaders begin to pour into college students & that our seminaries & bible college teach less methods of church growth & more methods of hearing & listening to the voice of God.  I also encourage churches to start their own training centers for training & sending young leaders into the ministry and into the workplace.  Does your church have a vision for training, reproducing & sending young leaders?  If not what could that vision look like?

Thoughts?  Solutions?  What other ideas do you have?

Must Reads – March

Here are a few blogs that you must read!

I promise they will get you thinking!  They did for me.

Solid as always from Mike Breen – “Why we must expect different things from our Pastors.” 

Some good thoughts that really got me thinking by my friend Jeromie Jones – God Doesn’t have ADHD

Here is a very solid blog about replacing the Center of Youth Ministry

Great blog by Ben Sternke –  Centralization before Decentralization

As far as must read books from March – I struck out quite a few times but found this gem from Bill Hull – The Complete Book on Being and Making Followers of Christ – I loved it!


What about you what are some must read blogs or books from the last month?