Two Of My Greatest Decisions…

Two decisions, like no others, have affected my life as a follower of Jesus.

The first was when I decided to honor God with my finances. I heard a pastor speak boldly from God’s Word in regards to tithing, and I decided to take God at His Word and try it. Years have past, and all I can say is that God has been so faithful to me.

The second decision was the choice to roll up my sleeves to get involved in the church that I called home.

I know this might not be the end all in regards to service as we look at a world that is desperately in need of practical ministry, but I do believe that serving in a simple capacity at church on a Sunday can begin to get people to live beyond themselves.

As pastors, we need to facilitate this by casting a strong vision of what it means to follow Jesus. We hear so much these days about the need to cast vision for a building program, a new ministry venture, or a strategic change that we need to make. Yet I hear too little talk of what the world could look like if God’s people started truly following Jesus.

Let me say at the onset that this is going to take guts

People, especially in America, don’t want to hear about a faith that involves taking up your cross and following Jesus. Yet, this is the message we preach.

If we choose simply to let people sit in rows every seven days and call that the Christian faith, then we have done both Jesus and His church a great disservice.


Read about this and more in my free Ebook… “Top 5 Leadership Mistakes Senior Pastors Make”:

What’s Wrong With The “Average” Church…

Something I learned a long time ago: No one gets excited over mediocrity. You’ve never hurried to call your friend to tell her that you just had the most “OK” BLT ever.

In fact, “OK” is, to quote Simon Cowell, “It’s not terrible. It’s just forgettable.” Mediocre isn’t going to cut it if you want to reach people with the Gospel.

The word Gospel doesn’t mean “Decent News, OK News, or Bad News!” It means Good News!

That’s the message that we are communicating every Sunday.

Think about the power of Sunday. Where else can you have the undivided attention of a group of people for an hour?

Television can’t do it. They have to pepper in commercials in to pay the bills. If sporting events could do it, they would do away with halftime and just keep going.

When a church grabs hold of the notion that their Sunday service is the most important hour in their city, everything changes.

The preaching becomes clearer and more concise. The music becomes better and more passionate. The attitude of the church goes from humdrum to happy. The congregation stops checking out halfway through the message and, instead, start inviting their friends to check out their church.

Yet, this change of heart begins with the leaders of the church.

It begins with planning services and talking through the implementation of each movement of the service. It moves to the major players of the weekend services as they design their elements to highlight the focus of the service.

It trickles down to every volunteer who learns the battle cry that “The message begins in the parking lot” as they see what they do as connected to what the pastor does when he stands to preach the Gospel.

But it all begins with answering one question…

Do you believe your Sunday service is the most important hour of the week in your community?

Read more about this in my free Ebook: “Top 5 Mistakes Senior Pastors Make”

A Pastor’s Frustration

Of all the frustrations in this life, the ones that often hurt the most are where we are at fault or fall short of what we aspire.

It’s that feeling of not having the right tool for the job—or rather not being the right tool for the job.

This is where I believe goal setting comes in.  It is how we become the person God is calling us to be.

The purpose of goal setting isn’t simply to attain the goals you set…

The primary purpose of goals is to make us the type of person who can reach these goals.

This is the reason I pray and set goals. It is because I want to continue growing as a follower of Jesus and as a leader. Goals have the ability to bring about major growth in my life.

Business philosopher Jim Rohn says “Set the kind of goals that will make something of you to achieve them.”

You can set goals for any part of your life, but I believe everyone should set goals for these six areas:


What is my plan to grow spiritually in the next twelve months? Will I read the Bible in a year? Will I read a devotional book each morning? How much time will I spend in prayer? Will I go on a mission trip to a foreign country?

Personal development.

What is my plan to grow as a person this year? How many books will I read?

What conferences and seminars will I attend? What hobbies will I take up?


How will I grow in my calling and career this year? Will I put myself in environments where leadership is taught, so I can grow?

Will I get involved in some form of coaching network to improve my skills?


How will I improve my marriage this year? Will I spend more time with my children?

Will I invest in my friendships more? Where will I go on vacation with my family?


How will I be a better steward of the resources God has entrusted to me? Will I give more than I did last year? Will I support a missionary? Will I save more? Get out of debt? Will I intentionally invest more into my retirement?

Physical Health.

How will I improve my health this year? Do I plan to lose weight? How much weight? By what day do I plan to achieve this goal? How often will I go to the gym? Will I hire a personal trainer? Do I want to stretch myself and run a marathon or participate in a triathlon?

To reach our goals, we have to ask ourselves these important questions. No one has ever reached his or her goals by accident. They are obtained when we are intentional and determined.

To learn more about being a productive pastor, check out my free ebook:

One Key to Being a Productive Pastor

A study was conducted with students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program. The students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”

Of all the students, only 3 percent had written goals and plans; 13 percent had goals, but they were not in writing; and a whopping 84 percent had no specific set goals. Ten years later, the members of the class were interviewed again, and the findings were amazing! The 13 percent of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all. And what about the 3 percent who had clear, written goals?

They were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

The moral of the story is that goals matter. In fact, I believe goals are the difference between fulfilling the vision God has given you and falling short. Simply put, goals are dreams with deadlines. Goals force us to think about our future and get specific about what we desire to accomplish.

I have a personal rule of setting goals each year for the coming year. These are not resolutions. Everyone knows that resolutions are thrown out with the Christmas tree. The reason many people don’t change is that they don’t set specific, measurable, and attainable goals that can propel them to where they ultimately desire to be.

3 Guidelines for Goal Setting

Be specific about your goals.

Too many times, we set goals that are impossible to measure, and thus, we don’t know if we’ve reached them. Here is an ambiguous goal: “To honor God.” Honoring God is a worthy endeavor and should be the reason we exist, but how do I know if I’m reaching this goal? A more specific goal might be “I want to invest in my relationship with God by devoting fifteen minutes each day to prayer and Bible reading.” While that obviously doesn’t cover every aspect of my relationship with God, it is specific and I can look at the clock to see if I am meeting my goal or not. Is the goal attainable?

If you’re the pastor of a church of one hundred, don’t set a goal that you want to grow to ten thousand attendees in the next six months. I don’t say this because I believe it is impossible. Jesus said, “With God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27, NKJV).

Make Them Attainable

My encouragement is to set goals that are attainable, but not presumptuous. At the same time, don’t set goals that are too low. Stretch yourself, and expect God to work in your life and grow you into the person He wants you to be.

Review your goals.

It is not enough to write out goals and file them away in a drawer where they will never see the light of day. I recommend you write out your goals and put them in a place where you can see them. Review your goals weekly, and think through practical steps to achieving your goals.

So, where do you want to be in the next twelve months? Instead of being frustrated every year about how things never change, make goal setting a normal part of your life, and watch how God uses them to transform your life.

Next Week I’ll write about the different areas of goals setting.  So tune in for that.  You can find out all of this and more in my free ebook, “The Productive Pastor.”

The Mistake That Stunts Church Growth

The mistake that many senior pastors don’t think about because it doesn’t immediately call for their attention is a neglect for their own self-development.

The old saying is true: “Leaders are readers.” To that point, check out this picture of Pastor Rick Warren’s own personal library:


Wow. Now, you may not be able to fit that many books in your office and neither can I but reading books is a fundamental way we can continue to grow as a leaders.

The truth is: I’ve met very few successful leaders who don’t give significant time to reading. The formula for growth is that the rate of the leader’s growth determines the rate of the church’s growth.

So, if I want my church to grow, I have to grow first.

That means I need to have a plan for my own personal development as a leader. That needs to include a Bible reading plan, attending conferences that will benefit me as a leader, reading a specific number of books every year, and meeting with other leaders who will stretch my thinking.

I also believe that learning from areas outside of our own field helps us be leaders who are more effective.

Would attending a seminar on marketing help you be a more effective communicator? Would reading a business book help you look at decision making in a new light?

Sometimes, by cross-pollinating our learning experiences, we gain new insight through hearing things from a new perspective.

Self Development is just one of the areas I talk about in my free e-book, “Top 5 Mistakes Senior Pastors Make.” Fill out the form below to get your free copy: