9 Reasons You Could Be the Growth Barrier in Your Church

This is Part 2 of a blog series on Creating Continuous Growth in Your Church.

SERIES SUMMARY:

Every church leader facing a growth barrier desperately wants to break through, because every church leader, including me, desires a growing, thriving church. Not because church attendance is the only measure of success, but because increasing attendance is proof that people are being reached.

If that is true, then breaking through barriers is important. But, what if instead of just breaking through a specific barrier we were able to barrier-proof our church? Pause for a moment and imagine never hitting a growth wall again.

I believe barrier-proofing is possible for every church in any denomination, and that’s exactly what we are going to evaluate in this blog series.

I believe there are 6 specific ingredients to create continuous growth in your church. In this post, we are going to look at the first, and most difficult to embrace:

Ingredient 1: REMOVE YOURSELF AS A BARRIER TO GROWTH

By far, this is the most challenging of the ingredients to evaluate and embrace. Often when we bump into an issue or problem, we are tempted to look around and cast blame. At times blame should be cast elsewhere, but as a point leader of any team or organization, there is always an element of blame that should fall back on our shoulders. After all, we are the leader.

Looking in the mirror is more onerous than looking through a window, though. Discovering and owning our part in any problem is painful at best, but if we desire the build THE Kingdom more than our kingdom, a mirror moment is necessary.

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How Andy Stanley’s Surprise Visit Taught Me Something Important

Have you ever been frustrated that you were frustrated?

Sometimes our frustration is understandable. Sometimes only we can understand our frustration.

But then there are those times when we are frustrated, but we know we shouldn’t be frustrated…which makes us more frustrated! This pretty much describes my experience when my boss, Andy Stanley, recently paid Watermarke Church (the campus location where I lead) a surprise visit.

Just a little background. It’s not normal for Andy to be at Watermarke. We still meet in a school, so our ability to export and broadcast messages to our other church locations is limited. When Andy preaches, everyone needs to hear him, so preaching from Watermarke is not optimal at the moment. But on this particular Sunday, Andy was not preaching, so with his off-Sunday, he decided to pay us a visit – an unannounced visit.

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Go Ahead… Say It Out Loud: “I Don’t Know”

Are you comfortable with the phrase, “I don’t know?”

I’m not … but I’m learning to familiarize myself quickly. Luckily, leading a growing organization provides many opportunities to practice!

I used to avoid this statement like I avoided waking up for my 8am Art History class in college (I never went!). I’m becoming more comfortable today, though. It’s not that I know less today than a few years ago. At some point my age may cause that to be true. Rather, I’m just becoming more comfortable accepting and acknowledging what “I don’t know.”

Here is the problem. When I was a younger leader, I assumed admitting my lack of insight would undermine my leadership influence. I wanted to be seen as a thought leader. I wanted the promotion. I wanted the next opportunity. And I believed the path to the leadership promise land was paved by answers, expertise, and confidence.

Unfortunately, pretending to know all the answers led me to over-promise and under-deliver. In case you don’t know, that’s NOT the best method to promotions and opportunities.

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Why Are You Hiding?

Have you ever met someone who was truly authentic and transparent? A person who didn’t mind admitting their mistakes, failures, or personal deficiencies? A person who didn’t just KNOW they have gaps, but were open to admitting they have gaps. Take a second and think of someone … I’ll wait. It’s harder to find people like this, isn’t it? There aren’t too many people in our world who are authentic. Sure, we all have a friend or a spouse with whom we can share SOME of who we are, but complete transparency is typically not our default posture.

If you have trouble being transparent, here’s some great news – you are in good company. In fact, from the beginning of time, our defense to being found out was to hide out. The same holds true today.

Genesis 3:10 (NIV); [Adam] answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

The first thing Adam and Eve did after disobeying God was to hide from God. Unfortunately, we’ve been hiding ever since. There is just something in you and me (and apparently in Adam and Eve) that automatically desires to hide from others rather than be honest with others. We so desperately desire to look good that we pretend we are good.

The real irony is pretending and hiding prevents us from experiencing what we are trying to find by pretending and hiding. That’s a complicated thought, so let me say it again. What we all desire is to be known for who we really are, but when we hide our true self, we will never be fully known. A game of “hide and seek” was fun as a child, but as an adult, it works directly against what we need the most – to know and be known.

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Why Can’t I Let Others Help Me?

It seems everybody in the world made fun of my Atlanta friends and me during the 2014 Snowpocalypse. I can’t blame them. It looked like a snowy scene from The Walking Dead. I can’t imagine how bad an actual zombie invasion will make traffic! Even though I was stuck in the mess for 7 hours myself, I found it funny, too (after I made it home the following day).

After driving for 7 hours, I realized I was not going to make it home. As I began to evaluate my options, sleeping in the car became the most logical choice. In a moment of divine intervention, my wife remembered SHE had just made a friend who lived close to where I was currently stranded. She called and asked one of the weirdest questions of her life – “Can my husband spend the night at your house?” Luckily, I’m a pastor and this family attends our church, so the “don’t you want to help your pastor” ploy was in full effect.

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