Stop Preaching Every Week!

I love talking “shop” with other pastors, and lately, I’ve had the pleasure to interact with many. Preaching seems to always surface as a topic of conversation. Every pastor feels the pressure to preach great messages – not just true, but engaging and helpful content presented in an engaging way.

The most common question I’ve received in the past month or so revolves around the number of times in a calendar year a typical Senior Pastor should preach. The questions do not always start there, but that question tends to be the core issue. The last time this issue was presented to me by another pastor, it sounded something like this: “I know you preach without notes. How can I do that when I’m preaching 51 weeks a year?”

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Every Leader Loves a Little Evolution

Every leader loves progress, and driving environment, program, event, or even leadership evolution is part of of the progress loop. Great leaders practice the art of evaluation and evolution. Individually, they are equally important, but without their counterpart, each is purposeless.

Some definitions based on my personal use: Evaluation is the systematic process of analyzing against a standard of expectation. By definition alone, effective evaluate is far from accidental. But evaluation is nearly worthless without evolution. Evolution is the process of change toward the standard of expectation.

If you want to be effective at both evaluation and evolution, make sure you:

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The Mentor Leader, by Tony Dungy

The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently by Tony Dungy

I recently read Tony Dungy’s “The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently.” Honestly, my favorite part of the book was getting to peak behind-the-scenes of his time in the NFL. As a sports fan and football fanatic, I’ve always appreciated Tony’s approach to leadership and coaching. This book, while not providing a wealth of new information on leadership (but seriously, what new can be said), was a fun read due to the football side notes and leadership reminders.

That said, here are my highlights:

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Just Be Normal!

The most abnormal pastors I know are the ones who seem completely normal. That’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s pretty true. Being a pastor is difficult. I know there are many tough jobs – many which are way more difficult than being a pastor. But there are not too many jobs that require a person to carry the weight of a pastor. And it’s the weight that can make us weird. It’s a unique kind of weight – both personal and spiritual. And the spiritual weight is no joke. It’s real, and it’s heavy.

Pastors can begin to look abnormal quickly. They often dress differently (especially in some denominations), they act differently, and they are expected to behave differently. I learned this the hard way while cheering for my son in a soccer game. “Get up,” I yelled across the field, “and if that boy knocks you down again, you get up and KNOCK HIM DOWN!!!” You might be able to yell something like this. I can’t … anymore. I did once, and it just so happened that the bully on the other team and his family went to Watermarke Church where I’m the Lead Pastor. I intentionally use the past tense “went,” because I doubt they attend any longer!

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The Moment When Innovation Appears

Other’s inspiration can often create or spark innovation in you. Gavin Adams

I love the moment when I discover something new. Even if I end up trashing the idea, in that moment, I feel motivated and empowered to be better and do better. That moment makes me feel alive to encounter new ideas that improve what I’m already trying to do or discover innovations that could change my direction.

I recently came across one of those moments. Time will tell if it is a game changer or just a bad idea that leads to something better down the road. Here’s was my recent moment: What if I incorporate better imagery in my messages to help visually invoke emotion and connection. Okay, I realize you are probably not impressed (maybe some of you have already done this or realized it’s a bad idea), but for me, I found myself transported to a world of imagination and innovation where things are always getting better. That’s my favorite land to visit.

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A Critical Pause for Critical People

“You’re wrong” builds a wall. “Help me understand” opens a door.

I’m not the biggest fan of running, but when it comes to my work-life, I like to run pretty fast. That said, as a leader, pausing for any reason can feel like being frozen in a progress glacier. Sure, glaciers are beautiful, but they don’t move too fast. As a leader, that causes me a lot of tension.

Here’s what I’ve learned: There are many, many places where taking a moment to pause and ponder proves helpful. For me, one of the best places to pause is when I face criticism.

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Why Is Nobody Paying Attention?

I feel very blessed – no, extremely blessed – to be a part of North Point Ministries where I consistently meet with and get feedback from guys like Andy Stanely and Lane Jones. Of course, there is a lot of pressure knowing every time you preach, Andy and Lane are going to listen and critique you. But that is nothing compared to the pressure I feel knowing that an audience of unchurched people who might be giving God and the church one more chance is listening, as well. That’s pressure – and it’s healthy. Every preacher should feel that healthy pressure. It makes me work hard and take my role as communicator very seriously.

One thing I’ve learned from Andy and Lane is the power of tension in a message. Maybe it’s better to say I’ve learned the necessity of including tension in a message. Too often preachers believe that people will listen and follow because they are talking. That is equivalent to believing people will watch your television program just because you put it on TV or your video simply because you posted it on YouTube. But just because you’re talking doesn’t mean people are listening. Just watch a teenager.

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Why Combing Your Hair Is Like Leading A Church

Why do we feel the need to label everything? Sure, some things need labels, like expiration dates on milk cartons or warning labels on fireworks. But why do we label churches? “They’re a missional church.” “They’re attractional.” “They’re traditional.” My guess is we label because we want a clear way to elevate our label over every other label, but again, that’s just a guess.

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I’ve Got A Question…

 Common ground is the common denominator for connection. Gavin Adams

As a younger leader, I made a lot of statements. Actually, I made a lot of exclamations – with multiple exclamations marks!!!  I guess I believed great leaders knew a lot about pretty much everything. As a younger leader, even though I thought I knew a lot, I really didn’t know very much at all. If you tried to tell me that, though, my response would be followed by several exclamations points!!! Of course, in the moment, I didn’t know, because we all have a tendency to not know what we don’t know.

Nevertheless, I wanted to look good as a leader and display confidence, so I made a lot of statements and shared my opinion openly and frequently. Nobody ever questioned where I stood on any issue, because I was all too willing to share. Yet I could not seem to gain influence, and at the time, I was not sure why. In hindsight, it’s very clear. Statements end conversations. Statements push people away, down, or to the side. Statements do not engage others. Exclamations are even worse.

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Why Start a Blog?

I’ve asked myself that questions for years now. Multiple times I began working on launching a blog space – more times than I care to admit – but I always stopped short of posting one idea. I would get hung up on what to write, the name, finding the perfect URL. Thinking back, I’m not sure I ever had the right energy or motivation around a blog. But that has changed. Better late than never, I guess.

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