Category Archives: Discipleship

Death by Church Leadership

Cemetary 23

I was 26 years old and I had been given far more than I ever should have been given.  I had a corner office, a team of around 10 people, I was leading, a huge group of volunteer leaders, a large students ministry, a huge budget and ridiculous amounts of freedom with very little measures of accountability.  I had some success teaching, and I was really good on stage.  I was really bad behind closed doors, I was not a good leader, I was not very disciplined in my work ethic, my home was a mess and I had no idea how to disciple and lead the leaders around me.  But each year I was given more opportunity, more responsibility, more resources to manage and more freedom to lead.  Looking back it is only by the grace of God that I survived and that the ministry I lead survived.  I was a leader who had low character and high competency.

This is a story I hear and see far too often, every time we see a young leader with some measure of competency we hand them the keys to the kingdom before they are ready.  We lament over the lack of development of our young leaders and the failure of seminaries & bible colleges to train up the next generation of pastoral leaders.  We rarely however,  look at our own teams and ask ourselves the tough questions about how we are training, discipling & raising up the next generation of young leaders.

Here’s how we got here:

1) – The Disparity Between Intellect & Character

In 1986, the president of Harvard University, Derek Bok saw the writing on the wall.  In his yearly “presidents report” he challenged all learning institutions to reconsider whether they are raising leaders who can give the right answers or detect ethical problems & make the world a better place.  He tells the story of a student who received the highest marks in his applied ethics class, who also was the student he found in dean’s office repeatedly for breaking nearly every moral code on the campus.  He says, the task of teaching students the value of character over competency seems “daunting.”  This was written over 25 years ago i don’t believe things have improved.

I spoke to a pastor recently who, when speaking of his worship leader said, “he’s young, he’s really gifted, people love him, the problem is I can’t trust him to be who he says he is.”  I asked what steps he was taking and it was as if he felt handcuffed & unable to act.  He said, “as long as he does a great job on Sunday’s I can overlook all of his character issues.”  REALLY!

This is where we are as a church?  When did the ability to preach or the ability to lead worship become so important that it has become more significant than who we are?

Here is the reality, bible colleges, seminaries, and churches nearly always reward competency & overlook character.  Until this changes we will develop leaders & not disciples.  We will look great on the outside & terrible on the inside & we will create great spiritual goods & services for our people to consume without ever seeing them change!  Leaders must go first, but leaders can only lead their people to places they have been to themselves.  When we excuse character flaws we are certain to repeat the cycle of developing business leaders to lead organizations & not Godly men to lead people.

2. We have Microwaved Leadership

When I was a student minister I visited a monstrosity of a church, their student ministry had over 2000 students attending, they had the most amazing student building I had ever seen, the band was amazing, the speaker engaging.  After watching a night of incredible worship service I asked the leader of the ministry how they discipled their students.  He proudly said, “discipleship is so hard, we tried to find the easiest way to do it.”  So what they did was video 6 of their “talks” & when students “wanted” to be discipled they sent them home with the DVD’s.  He said in 6 weeks they are discipled.

I wish this was a joke but it’s not, I think the modern American church is looking for the easiest way to the most difficult thing – discipleship!  We have become so accustomed to listening to the gifted teacher that we have abandoned the power of everyday discipleship.  We don’t want to do the hard work of discipleship with our people & our staff teams.

3. Valuing Results over People

When our 2nd son was born our family was in a terrible place.  My wife was suffering from an undiagnosed anxiety disorder, I was working ridiculous hours and although we had been at the church for years we had never developed any deep and meaningful relationships.  Its was the loneliest season of ministry I had ever experienced, my family was a mess and I didn’t know how to fix them, I knew I was over my head with my ministry responsibilities, I had no one in my corner rooting for me, coaching me or challenging me but the wheels of the machine kept on turning.  There was always another message to write, another leader to meet with, another problem to solve, another hill to conquer.

Finally, the bottom fell out & my wife simply told me I needed to be home.  I had to choose between family & ministry & I chose family.    I missed an important event that I was required to speak at and although I called my bosses & explained my situation I was told to get some counseling which they paid for.  I was told repeatedly, that they expected my performance at work to not be effected by my troubles at home.  I was told to compartmentalize my life with work on one side and family on the other.  I never heard another word about it.  No calls checking in, no lunches to talk it through, no prayer times or stopping by the house.  In fact in the entire span of my ministry I had one meal with my boss & never once entered into his home.

Here’s the problem, they weren’t bad people, they weren’t even bad leaders, they were just busy people, they wanted results but they were so wrapped up in attaining results in their own area that they failed to realize that God brings results. We just walk in his ways and follow His path.  They didn’t understand that leadership can’t be microwaved into a monthly staff training or a yearly retreat.  It can’t be microwaved at all, if you want to raise up leaders, then you have to know them!  You have to take the time to hear their hearts to know their families, to care about them beyond results & to challenge not only their competency but their character.  You have to value your young leaders as your family not as an employee who you need results from.

3) Information without Experience

I spent a few days recently on some Christian college campuses.  I asked one simple question, “as you leave school do you feel like you know how to do ministry or do you feel like you have information about doing ministry?”  95% of the students said they have information about it but don’t feel prepared.  Our teaching is so information based that students have knowledge without experience.  We teach a leadership template but we don’t teach, prayer.  We teach ministry answers but we don’t teach how to follow the Spirit.  We teach leaders to give answers but not how to ask questions.  We teach them how to preach and organize a service but never train them how to have a healthy family at home.  We must move to a more experiential learning experience for the next generation.

So what else do you see in church leadership that is killing the next generation of leaders?

I hate it when bloggers just define the problem without offering solutions so next week I will offer some solutions to this problem.

What are some of the solutions you see to these problems we face?


People Can’t Imitate Your Intentions


This is a guest blog from my friend Ben Sternke – His blog is my favorite on the the entire world wide web!

One of the most important lessons we’ve learned through being involved with 3DM is that imitation is a vital component of discipleship. It’s not enough to give people the right information and then send them straight out from there to try to implement it. There is a necessary experience of imitation in an apprenticeship environment that must take place.

When I first heard this, I instantly realized I was really good at giving people the information, but I was not very consistent in providing people with an example to imitate. I realized that people couldn’t imitate my intentions, they can only imitate my actions, which meant I had to lead by example or I was never going to make a disciple.

So we’ve slowly been developing new rhythms in our life that we can invite others into, so they can “imitate us as we imitate Christ.” My friend Jason Smith asked me awhile ago about what these rhythms looked like, and I promised him a blog post on it! Here we go.

The rule of life we follow shapes our lives and our community around three relational priorities:

  • UP – with God, expressed in passionate spirituality.
  • IN – with the church, expressed in radical community.
  • OUT – with others, expressed in missional zeal.

I’ve organized the specific rhythms under these three categories. These rhythms are flexible, and obviously some have changed temporarily to aid the process of grafting together with another church in our city, but this gives you a general picture of what we’ve been doing for the past year or so in our Missional Community.

Passionate Spirituality (UP)

  • Family prayer, morning and evening. Not too many people join us for this one, of course, but simply having a time of prayer with our family twice a day provides tons of fresh stories to tell others about how Deb and I are seeking to disciple our children. And sometimes people do get to join us, which is always lots of fun. Sometimes it goes well, other times it’s a struggle, but the fruit comes from the consistency of the discipline over time.

  • Community worship and prayer, Sundays. Every Sunday we gather with our Missional Community for a time of worship, Scripture and prayer together. Sometimes we gather in a worship celebration with other MCs in our network, other times we gather as a MC in a home or around a fire, but once a week we are intentionally engaging in communal worship, Scripture reading, and prayer for one another.

  • Prayer furnace, once a month. Once a month we gather on a Friday evening to spend an extended time in worship and prayer together, allowing our faith to rise from the needs within our MC to the needs of our city. We pray kingdom-oriented prayer for our city and region, inviting anyone in who wants to join us. Sometimes we have 5 people, other times 50, but again it’s about the consistency of the discipline over time.

Radical Community (IN)

  • Eating with others, at least once a week. We try to have someone over to eat with us at least once a week. Some weeks we eat with others a lot more, but we try to make sure it happens at least once a week.

  • Intentional proximity. This is more of a long-term thing, but it is something we take seriously. One of the families from our community recently moved into our neighborhood, and we’ve found an exponential increase in our ability to really be in community with them, simply because of their geographical proximity. It’s worth prioritizing when thinking of where to live.

  • Economic sharing when possible. We had some friends move in down the street from us, and we’ve been trying to be intentional about sharing resources together. For example, we share a lawn mower. We are looking forward to more of this kind of sharing in the future.

  • Parties, once a month or so. We try to make sure there is some kind of “fun” happening once a month that we can invite others into. Sometimes it’s a bonfire, sometimes it’s movie night, sometimes it’s guys’ night out, sometimes it’s girls’ night out, etc. Informal time for people to connect.

Missional Zeal (OUT)

  • Intentional mission, once a month. Our MC plans at least one explicitly mission-oriented activity per month. Sometimes it’s a prayer walk, other times it’s a game night at a homeless shelter for women and children, other times it’s kickball in the park to invite neighbors to… the important thing is keeping a foot on the “mission gas pedal” because our overwhelming tendency is to turn inward.

  • OUT focus at MC gatherings. We try to constantly bring our focus back to an outward posture in our MC gatherings, whether it’s by training people practically in evangelism or recognizing “people of peace,” or by going for a quick prayer walk around the neighborhood, or by simply having a brief time of explicitly outward-focused prayer, or by having people share stories of breakthrough in evangelism or loving their neighbors.

Those are the basic rhythms it seems we’ve attempted to create. I’d love to hear from you, though:

What are the rhythms that you have sought to implement in your disciple making?

Ben + Deb Sternke live in Fort Wayne, Indiana with their kids Ethan, Raina, Ella, and Sydney. The Sternkes direct spiritual formation and discipleship efforts at a church called Grace Gathering, which is beginning to function as a network of mid-sized missional communities in the Fort Wayne area. They also coach church leaders from all over the U.S. through 3DM, and have a background in church planting and worship ministry.


“The Look”

Psalms 32 :8

I will instruct  you and teach you  in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on  you.

This week during one of our morning prayers we simply reflected on Psalms 32 and in particular verse 8.  We had a group of college students & a few of the students made very similar comments.  All of them were something like, “there are moments when I feel so stuck in my faith, because I’m having such a hard time determining God’s will for my life.”  They all felt as if so much of their life was found waiting on God to speak that they never actually moved.  We start our apprentice program with the very simple idea that the foundation of discipleship is learning to hear God’s voice & respond.

The culture that many of the students come from is a culture where there are pastors, small group leaders, parents, mentors who are the “answer guys.”  So each time they struggle with what’s next, what job to take, what to major in, what classes to take, or what to eat for breakfast on a Thursday.  They grab their answer guy & listen & then they go.  Some can’t find a local “answer guy”  so they find a celebrity pastor, an author or someone they can podcast.  What we create here is a culture of co-dependency!

The spiritual leader loves to be the “answer guy” but the young person never learns to actually seek & pursue God, they simply live out someone else’s faith.  So, we have a generation that often times seeks wise counsel without ever seeking God!

Breaking this co-dependency is not easy but it’s where we start with our students!

So back to our morning prayers, I told the story of how I can simply give my daughter a look & she cries.  This may sound terrible but I am kind of proud of it.  I can simply mean mug her for a minute & she will automatically start crying, and telling me she is sorry.  This doesn’t work with my older boys, my wife or the other pastors on staff at the ave.   Although I think I’m close with Jeromie Jones & a few of our elders!  The idea is that with a simple glance my daughter knows she has wandered, she knows she has drifted outside of my comfort zone for her life & she knows something needs to change.  Every husband knows this look from his wife, every employee knows this look from their boss, every wide receiver knows this look from his QB.  Every Christian should know this look from God!

We need to train our young people to simply, intuitively walk by faith.  Not because they have spent hours with mentors discussing Gods will, not because they have spent months waiting on Gods will but simply because, the sheep know the shepherds voice.

Jesus tells a parable of an unprofitable servant in Lk 17:7-10:

7 And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? 8 But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. 10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ”

Doing college ministry for the last decade I have learned that one of the greatest dangers we face is a generation of young people who “do their duty” but don’t know their master.  Instead of knowing Christ because of grace they believe they follow him out of their own merit.  They don’t party, drink & sleep around and they believe that this sums up their salvation & their faith.  However, the master wants more from us than simply doing what we were commanded to do.  He wants us to know him!

Do you really believe that God wants to instruct you & guide you today?  Do you know that his eye is on you?  Do you know the look?  The simple glance of God that makes us re-evaluate where we are going, what we are doing, and who we are becoming.

Our homework for our students this week is to come back & report on a moment when God gave us “the look”.  Would you consider doing the same?

Study Less – Do More

My background is a teacher. I was trained as a teacher and loved teaching. So the following statement needs to be understood as someone who is all for education and knowledge.

Here is the statement: Christians, as a whole, need to study less.

Like I said I’m a teacher so let me explain.

When I was in college there was a big push to train teachers to not simply cover material but to make sure the students were mastering the material. An example of this was not only knowing how to spell a word but making sure a student knew what the word meant and how to use it correctly when speaking or writing. Until the student could use the word naturally, they hadn’t mastered the word. Spelling it correctly was simply a small piece of a bigger task.

In the same way, many Christians can take studying the Bible and do the same thing. They can recite some of the facts about a topic such as loving their neighbor, but they haven’t actually gained mastery of it.

They haven’t put it into practice.

They don’t know what it looks like when they see it. They’re not sure how it applies in their lives.  But they do know a verse or two.

Many of us stop well short of mastery. Why? Because it is hard. It is easier to pass a spelling test then to use new words correctly in everyday conversation. It is harder to love a neighbor that is annoying or simply different than it is to recite a memory verse.

But here is the thing I keep coming back to. Jesus asked us to follow him, not to study him. Do we need to do a little studying? Sure but that is only a small part of a bigger change that needs to happen.

This makes sense when you think about for a second. Who do you want to spend time with, someone  who knows a lot about the facts and theory of forgiveness or someone who actually forgives? Someone who knows a lot about the verses on kindness or someone who is actually kind?

So back to the original statement. Christians, as a whole, need to study less.

What if over this summer you decided to simply let God transform you with what you already know?

Most of us already know more than we ever put into use already.
If you’re wondering how to get started with this, and you are in the Louisville area, let me suggest our Mobilize Monday’s this summer. We’re not going to look at new and undiscovered ideas. Instead we’re going to look at how we can live out in our everyday lives so many of the things we already know but don’t really do.

For details about Mobilize Monday’s go here Our hope is that by the end of the summer we not only study Jesus but we’re following him more as well.

The following is a guest blog from –  Jeromie Jones – Pastor of Missional Communities at the Avenue Church

What I look for in Young Leaders

We are about to roll out the information for our residency program at the Avenue for 2012.  I am very excited about the opportunity for us to invest in a large group of young leaders.  (More coming on all of this)  One of the avenue’s goals is to invest in 20 to 30 young leaders each year and to simply say follow us as we follow Christ.  Our goal is to get them prepared for ministry in many different contexts whether they are a kingdom worker disguised as an engineer or a student minister at a local church.

Here is what I look for in young leaders:

  1. Humility / Teach-ability – Does he/she respond well to coaching?  Does he/she have a humble spirit that desires to grow?  Can he/she take constructive criticism and grow?  Does he or she want to be discipled?  If the answers to any of those questions are a resounding “NO” then they may not be ready for leadership.
  2. Character -In Mike Breen’s new book Multiplying missional leaders – There is a few brilliant chapters on Character & Competency.  He defines Character as being like Jesus.  Does the young leader desire to look like Jesus, live like Jesus and act like Jesus?  The Rich Young Ruler was interested in the answers but unwilling to change his  life in order to look more like Jesus.  I see the same problem in many young people.  They know the right answers but have no desire to do the hard work required to live like Jesus.
  3. Competency -Character & competency always go side by side.  While character is being like Jesus on the interior, competency is doing the things Jesus did.  A leader who is low character /high competency is dangerous while a leader who has high character but low competency is limited.  We are looking for leaders who have & desire the character of Christ but also have the desire to live and act as Jesus did.

This diagram from 3DM has helped shape my thinking of Character & Competency:

  1. Enthusiasm –  I want energy from young leaders.  I want excitement, I want questions, I want hope, I want enthusiasm.  Our young leaders should make us young, they should make us rethink the old ways of doing things, but they should do so not in a cynical or condescending tone but with enthusiasm.  Angry leaders make wars, inspired leaders make change!  I see far too many angry young leaders who believe they have solved the worlds problems at 23 instead of excited young leaders who want to really see the church change.
  2. Problem Solvers –  I was taught at a young age that there are 2 types of leaders.  One who can define the problem & one who can solve it.  Most young leaders excel at defining the problem.  They can sense what is wrong & have no trouble voicing their dis-approval.  Real leaders don’t only define the problem but they solve it.  I don’t need young leaders constantly telling me whats not right I need them coming up solutions to get to where it is right.  My boss when I was 25 asked me to never criticize an idea unless I had a better one, to never define a problem unless I had at least one idea on how to solve it.  That advice has served me well!
  3. Family Focused –  I want young leaders who are not looking out for # 1.  I want young leader who want to be a part of a family on mission together.  I want them to understand that in a family everyone has a role & I want young leaders to buy into their role the family.  Its not enough just to be humble and serve, you also need to let your church family know how much you love them.  Say thanks, young leaders, if someone is investing in you, make certain that you let them know how much you appreciate it.  I can always tell which interns are going to succeed by the way they leave.  If they leave saying thanks, I know they will do well.  If they leave feeling under appreciated, or under utilized, I am certain their character still needs some growth!
  4. Love the Church – There is an increasing frustration for God’s church in young leaders.  I am looking for young leaders who love God’s church and believe that the church although it is flawed is still how God will reveal His, “manifest wisdom” to the world.  I know the next generation feels let down by almost everyone.  Parents, politicians, the economy, the job market and even the church.  The best young leaders I have ever worked with loved Jesus with all their heart & because they  loved Jesus they loved His church with all their heart as well.  You can’t love Christ & hate his bride, it just doesn’t work that way!

Did I miss anything?

What would you add?

What do you look for in young leaders?

3 Questions from Sunday

As we studied the life of Abraham last weekend I asked 3 simple questions of our congregation.

1) – Where are you tempted to take shortcuts in your walk with God?

  • Gen 16 -21 is filled with shortcuts between the promise & the fulfillment – Where are you tempted to take shortcuts on the journey

2) – What are you holding back from God?

  • God says this to Abraham after Isaac was laid on the altar.  Because you have not held back, I will not hold back.  What are you tempted to hold onto.
    because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you

3) – Where in your life do you need to take the first step of faith?

  • God often moves only when we take the first step of faith.  Where in your life are your feet planted & unmoving, where has he said go & you said no?

I would love to hear your thoughts – Lets share together so we can grow together as a family on mission!

You can hear the message here –

What happened to all our young people pt 4 – Consumer Creation

Let me start by saying, I was a student ministry pastor for nearly 15 years.  I know its tough, I know most student pastors are not only young but they are alone.  They are isolated and there is no one pouring into them.  I get it, in fact I personally meet with a group of student ministers in our community often and I hear their longing for some one to lead them as they lead students. I know how tough it is to work with today’s students and I feel your pain, I meet with a group of 15 year old boys 3 days a week and they are incredibly frustrating.  I speak at 15 to 20 student events a year and if there is anyone who is on your side youth ministers its me!

With all that being said, our student ministries are producing consumers and not disciples!

I know because I inherit consumers & not disciples every year.

We have catered to their needs, we have attempted to compete with culture to have the coolest program in town.  I spoke to a youth minister who in tears told me that over the last few years he had spent more time trying to create cool t-shirts & teaching series than he had in discipling students.  What we save them to is what we have to keep them with.  Unfortunately, we have a generation of young people who don’t know Jesus but know cool programs, bands, t-shirts, conferences & funny speakers.

The prophet Isaiah may have said it best with Is 1 – When he not only critiques but absolutely criticizes gatherings that don’t create lasting change!

Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
    Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons,Sabbaths and convocations—
    I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
    I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
    I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
    I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
    I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!

When our gatherings lose sight of Jesus we lose everything!  Instead of offering our students the abundant life of following Christ or giving them a vision of making disciples we give them a show, a production or a t-shirt.

So I could rage against the machine for quite some time but I’m not sure that is productive:

Here are 5 things I suggest every youth minister does to start making shifts from a consumer culture to a discipling culture:

1) – Be Discipled!

– 95% of you have not been, so find someone you respect, someone who looks like Jesus to you & follow them.  Ask them to disciple you!  Find someone who’s life is worth imitating & imitate them!

2) – Stop Counting Attenders & Start Counting Disciples

– You have to change the scorecard from how many butts are in the seats to how many students are in huddles, how many students are serving, how many students have an adult (not a 19 year old) pouring into their lives weekly.  I know you can fill an auditorium if you serve enough pizza, get a good enough band and do enough fun activities, but if that does not translate into disciples its all a “worthless assembly.”

3) – Huddle with a group of 6 to 8 students every week

– Make this your number one priority!  This is more important than sermon prep, event prep & t-short design. This matters!

4) – Find moms & dads who know how to disciple their kids & recruit them to invest in other students

– Look for parents who love their kids & who’s kids love the Lord & invite them to help you.  Listen to them!  They may not know whats cool but they know how to raise kids who love the Lord.  Invite them to help you, invite them to open their homes to other kids, invite them to huddle with groups of 6 to 8 kids in their homes.  Pray that God shows up!

5) – Start asking yourself important Questions

  •  Is my life worth imitating?
  • Am I walking with students close enough so they see my life?
  • Who am I intentionally investing in today?
  • Do the plans I am making this week make consumers or disciples?
  • Am I willing for our numbers to get smaller in order to make more disicples?
  • Am I inviting students to a relationship with Jesus while challenging them to live their life for him?

Guardians & Fathers – How do you lead

In 1 Cor 4:14-16 – Paul writes to the church in Corinth and shares these thoughts:

14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me.

The word guardian is the same term for the word pedagogue – (If you want to learn more about a pedagogue ask Evan our intern he is yoda with these things)

A pedagogue is a teacher.  In Greco Roman culture as children of wealthy families grew up they were assigned a pedagogue, this person served as a teacher and protector.  In a child’s early years they would be entrusted to this guardian for a season until they were ready to follow their fathers & mothers & prepare for their trade.

The key role of this guardian was to pass on information & protection.

Then a moment comes when a child is handed off to his father, it usually came with some sort of ceremony where a son would then begin working with his father to learn his fathers trade.  So at the age of 12 or 13 a young boy would start working with his father to learn how to do whatever his father did.

The key role of the father is imitation.  The child was to imitate what the father did.  Whatever trade the father worked in the son would follow and he would learn by imitation.

Obviously, a child would follow his father until he was prepared to take over his fathers business at which point he would not only imitate who his father was but he would actually innovate and define new ways of doing the family business.

3dm has a great tool for this idea explaining what Paul is discussing here in 1 Cor 4:14

Our team today sat down and started asking the question throughout your life how have you been lead?

Like a guardian or like a father?

Paul says we have had 10,000 guardians, which I know has been true for me.  Information about Jesus is easy to find its everywhere with one click I could download volumes of books, hours of sermons and days of content about Jesus.  Having someone who says follow me as I follow Christ is much more rare.  Someone saying I am going to walk shoulder to shoulder with you & allow you to imitate me is not common in our culture.  The intentionality of life on life discipleship has been replaced with a corporate model of leading church teams in the same way we would lead a business.

Here’s the scary thing:

Our staff team who has a combined 40 to 50 years in church ministry felt like we had never had a boss on a church staff who lead as a spiritual father but only as a guardian.  We have never had a leader say imitate me as I imitate Christ but we have always had leaders who lead at a distance.

Guardian leadership is about passing on information, its transactional, it performance based, its seasonal, its formal and it keeps its followers at a distance.

This isn’t how I lead my family!  My love for my sons is not transactional, my affection for my daughter is not performance based or seasonal.  I would never keep them at a distance but I want to draw them in.

This also isn’t how a spiritual father leads a family on mission!

Leadership in a family is about imitation its not transactional its a commitment to each other, its not performance based but it is held together by love.  Its not seasonal or formal but life long and informal.  Its not about keeping our followers at a distance but it is about inviting them into your life.  We seem to have created teams with coaches but not families with spiritual fathers!

A team is great but a family is better!

So our team/family simply asked the question if their are 10,000 guardians and not many fathers than how do we start leading staff teams as Spiritual fathers and not as Corporate guardian leaders?

How would things change?

What steps need to take place?

How do we lead more like fathers and mothers of spiritual families instead of corporate business leaders?

What does it look like to lead out of imitation instead of information?

These questions and many more have my mind spinning – Pray for us as we attempt to not just listen to these words from Paul but as we attempt to live in them!  I would love to hear your thoughts as well!

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.