Friday, February 24, 2017

7 Things You Might Be Missing About Unconnected People

7 Things You Might Be Missing About Unconnected People

7 Things You Might Be Missing about Unconnected People
Ever wish you could suddenly unravel the mystery of how to connect the unconnected people in your church? You know—the ones that no matter what you try, no matter how hard you try—they really don’t seem to want to do anything more than sit in a row. Maybe you wish you’d just sit bolt upright in the middle of the night and yell out, “Eureka! I know how to connect unconnected people!”
Or maybe you’ve just given up and assumed if God really wanted everyone connected in a group He would have given everyone the same level of desire to be part of a group!
Although I’ve frequently written about unconnected people, I’m not sure I’ve framed their situation quite this way.

Seven things you might be missing about unconnected people:

  1. Unconnected people are almost never loners. They are connected already, just not to other people at your church. In fact, I’ve said for many years that the least connected people in your church are the most connected people outside of your church (and conversely, the most connected people inside your church are the least connected outside).
  2. With very few exceptions, all of us are pre-wired for community. While unconnected people seem to be wired differently, they often are already experiencing a version of community somewhere else.
  3. Their taste buds don’t find the same topics appealing. Topics that long-time participants find fascinating rarely do it for unconnected people. Just like the taste for coffee, beer or wine, and brussel sprouts is an acquired taste, the key is to find topics in which unconnected people are already interested.
  4. Since almost nothing new is ever purchased without first sampling, trying on for size or test-driving for feel, why would connecting to a small group be any different? The longer the initial commitment sounds (“sign up for the fall semester” or “sign a 12- to 18-month covenant”), the more cautiously an unconnected person will approach connecting. Conversely, the more the invitation sounds like a test-drive or a taste-test, the less concerned an unconnected person will be.
  5. Unconnected people are not all the same. Within the broad category of unconnected people there are extroverts and introverts. There are socially adept people and there are socially awkward people. There are unconnected people who make great first impressions and those who don’t. While one strategy may work for extroverted, socially adept unconnected people who make great first impressions, the same strategy may feel like a death sentence (or at least life in prison) to the introverted, socially awkward spouse who makes a terrible first impression.
  6. Unconnected people are rarely regular attenders. They may only attend your weekend service on the weekends they have their children, or have Sunday off, or their team plays on Monday night. There are many reasons they only infrequently attend your weekend service.
  7. Unconnected people are often most comfortable with the familiar. While there are unconnected people who seek out new experiences and are the first in line for the new ride at Disneyland or the new latte at Starbucks, there are also many who are drawn to the familiar. At the same time, there are some who will only try the new restaurant if it’s in a familiar part of town or if it serves a familiar dish.
The Key Takeaway: Like all good designers, if you want your product to be purchased and used, you must know your customer. Becoming a student of unconnected people will help you understand them and create better next steps for them (and even first steps for their friends).

Delegation: The Secret Sauce to Effective Leadership

Delegation: The Secret Sauce to Effective Leadership

Delegation: The Secret Sauce to Effective Leadership
“I don’t have a problem with delegation. I love to delegate. I am either lazy enough, or busy enough, or trusting enough, or congenial enough, that the notion of leaving tasks in someone else’s lap doesn’t just sound wise to me, it sounds attractive.” —John Ortberg
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the greatest and most self-aware leaders know that they can’t do it all. The ability to delegate important tasks to other people and then trust them to complete those tasks with efficiency and accuracy is one of the most important skills a leader can possess. If you were to point out a leader that is burnt out and at their wit’s end, you would most likely also see a leader that has never attained the skill of proper delegation.
In essence, leadership and delegation are almost synonymous. When a leader learns to delegate important tasks to another person, they have reached a pinnacle of success that many fail to attain.
What does great delegation look like though? How can a leader decide what they should delegate and what they need to spearhead on their own? The reality is there is not really much that a leader can’t delegate to their team. We have put together a few pointers for you when it comes to delegating like a boss. These simple rules for delegation will help you take your leadership to the next level and get more done.

Work hard to improve your self-awareness as a leader.

Many leaders simply delegate the things that they don’t like to do. It can be easy to decide that the things that you don’t like to do are the things that you aren’t good at. This probably isn’t true, though. Many great leaders learn that they are often good at the tasks they don’t particularly enjoy. They also realize that there are things that they enjoy doing that members of their team are actually better at than they are. You might enjoy speaking in front of large groups of people for example, but you have a team member that is really good at connecting with an audience. Don’t be afraid to realize that other people have talents that are more refined than yours might be. This takes a level of self-awareness that goes beyond what most are willing to accept.

When delegating, ask for a final product instead of giving a road map.

There is a fine line between great delegation and micromanaging. Don’t cross the line! Instead, be intentional about casting the vision to your team about what you would like to see accomplished. It is OK for you to give some rules of engagement, but work hard to allow your team members to map out the plan on their own. If you tell them what to accomplish and how to accomplish it, you are essentially clipping your team’s wings when it comes to creativity and ingenuity. Make sure that you allow room for people to accomplish things differently than you would. Remember, your way isn’t always going to be the best way!

Know your team.

In addition to being self-aware, a great delegator must be aware of the skills and talents of the people they delegate to. Don’t delegate things to someone you know will struggle with those specific tasks. Be aware of their current workload and delegate to someone else if a team member has too much on their plate at the moment.

Be available.

The greatest thing a leader can do (aside from delegation) is support their team. The mantra of a great leader should always be, “My greatest leadership priority is helping my team solve their problems when they need me to.” If you simply spit out orders and then close your office door on your team, you are taking away the most valuable tool your team has: your input and advice. Be sure to always be available to help guide your team and mentor them when they need it.
Remember, all great leaders are great delegators. If you believe you are a strong leader and haven’t mastered this skill then you just might have a blind spot! Take the time to evaluate yourself in this area. Ask those around you about your skills when it comes to delegation. Ask them how you can improve and then take the advice!
This article originally appeared here.

Help in Overcoming Church Hurt

Help in Overcoming Church Hurt

Help in Overcoming Church Hurt
Have you been hurt by a church? If so, you’re not alone.
As a pastor of a church, I’ve heard stories from people who have found church confusing, contrarian, or even damaging. Not every church hurts people, but most churches have hurt someone at some point. Some people are hurt through their own mistakes, others because of sin committed against them, and still others because of failed leadership. This reality can leave them reluctant to re-engage, afraid of being hurt again, wanting to protect themselves, and questioning the place of church in their lives. The good news for the hurting is that God has spoken to your pain in the Bible.
Most of the writing in the New Testament about how to live in a church exists because the church has never been perfect. Most, if not all, of the letters were written to solve problems in the church:
  • Galatians to solve legalism (Galatians 1:6–7, 3:1–3, 4:9, 5:1).
  • Colossians to solve heresy (Colossians 2:4, 8).
  • 2 Timothy to solve tension in succession (2 Timothy 4:9–16).
  • Philippians to solve conflict and selfish ambition (Philippians 2:3–22).
  • 1 and 2 Corinthians to solve a whole host of problems centered around the issues of human pride in gifting and speaking that led to loveless and arrogant religious activity.
And that’s not even to mention the letters to the churches in Revelation (chapters 2–3), one of which is so unhealthy, it makes Jesus want to vomit (Revelation 3:16).
And we think we’ve got problems.

A Broken, but Growing Church

That said, the church is the bride of Christ and the body of Christ—a people set apart to declare God’s praises to the nations and called to become more like the people of God we are meant to be. We shouldn’t be surprised by hurt and pain in the church, because everyone in the church is still sinful. But while saving faith in Christ is not surprised by brokenness, it is never content or negligent with it either.
So how do we make progress in the midst of our church’s flaws? Many things are outside of our individual control, but God has given us a simple formula for walking through every stage of life with every kind of challenge, grief and disappointment. There’s nothing secret or magic about these steps, except for the Father who loves to reveal his power when we give ourselves to them.

1. Stay in God’s manual for our grief.

Unashamedly, unshakably, and unreservedly draw your hope for life and healing from the teaching of the Bible. The more we are centered on God’s truth spoken in love (Ephesians 4:1–16), the more we will grow up into maturity and the more resources we’ll have at our disposal to heal from hurt ourselves and to avoid hurting one another.
The temptation will be to avoid God’s word. But keep reading the Bible, even if for just a few minutes each day. It’s like eating. What counts is every single day getting what we need to get through that day. Knowing God’s word will help us as we process hurt and find truth to satisfy and guide us.

2. Pursue the holiness you hope for in others.

Passionately, sacrificially and deliberately persevere in pursuing Christ-like discipleship. When you’re faced with betrayal or disappointment, it will require perseverance—supernatural perseverance. Learn. Grow. Forgive. Repent. Repent some more. Fight the good fight. Urge each other on. Do not give up meeting together. Stay on the path of discipleship, knowing it will be rugged at times. Trust that the good work God is doing in you and in other believers around you will ultimately be for the good of all who believe in him.

3. Trust that love will eventually prevail.

Love anyway. It seems impossible in the moment, but it’s the call of every Christian in every situation. In the end, only love will abide (1 Corinthians 13:13). And without love, our lives will be meaningless and unfruitful (1 Corinthians 13:1–3). Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Therefore, the wisest and safest way forward is always love. Love as if your life depends on it.
To love someone is to seek his best. I can love someone without even liking him. I can find someone frustrating, but still genuinely and truly want what is best for him. Love does not mean avoiding tough conversations or life-on-life accountability, but doing those sorts of things from a loving, humble, gracious and patient position which is from a mind and heart like Christ’s.
Jesus said you could tell his disciples by how they love one another (John 13:35), and so we who are loved by him love each other in turn—even through the darkest, most difficult days.
Of course, none of these steps will make your church experience or relationships perfect. But these truths will change how you process the pain you feel in the church. They will change your life. And eventually, by God’s grace, they will change your church, too.

The Happiest People in the World

The Happiest People in the World

The Happiest People in the World
The statistics are remarkable.
  • 99 percent of those surveyed are happy with their lives.
  • 97 percent answered yes to the question, “Do you like who you are?”
  • 99 percent agreed with the statement, “Do you love your family?”
Do you know of any group of people, of any economic status, educational level, age, ethnicity or geographic region, who approach those percentages? Who are these happy people?
People living with Down syndrome.

World Down Syndrome Day

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day. As the statistics above show, there is a chasm between the experience of living with Down syndrome and the perception given to future parents about how awful life with Down syndrome must be. That perception results in horrible things.
And March 21—which is 3/21—is the perfect day to recognize our uniquely made family members, neighbors and friends because Down syndrome includes an extra, or third, copy of chromosome 21 in every cell of the body.
The intimacy of Psalm 139:13—“You knitted me together in my mother’s womb”—is clearly evidenced by those God makes with Down syndrome. God added that extra copy of chromosome 21 more than a trillion times in a baby with Down syndrome. It is a lot of knitting.

An Amazing Demographic

And one impact of that knitting is that people with Down syndrome report much greater happiness in their lives than any other demographic sample in any part of the world.
Of course, we must not discount the hardship and suffering related with the disabilities and learning complications associated with Down syndrome. Some babies with Down syndrome must have immediate surgeries for heart defects, and there is a higher risk of childhood leukemia and other conditions. Medical care, therapies and education are all expensive and time-consuming.
The cognitive disabilities associated with Down syndrome, which vary with every child, will mean learning will take longer and can be discouraging for everyone involved. Meltdowns, stubborn refusal to obey, sadness about a circumstance and fights with siblings will be part of the mix. Add how badly many in our society behave towards people with Down syndrome, and you are guaranteed to have hard days.

An Opportunity for the Church

So, this presents a great opportunity for the church. As Christians we already have a reason to welcome people with Down syndrome into our lives and our churches—God made them (and everyone else) in his image, for his glory. Christ’s church can look at and respond to both the suffering and the joy in realistic and hopeful ways that make God look glorious and build up families experiencing disability of every kind.
Because of Jesus, we can live like Paul instructed, “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10), as we walk alongside families experiencing Down syndrome. We can do so because the God who made the child with his or her unique chromosomal makeup (Exodus 4:11) is the same God who promises he will supply our every need (Philippians 4:19).

Dispel the Myths About Down Syndrome

World Down Syndrome Day was started to dispel myths about Down syndrome. That’s a laudable goal, especially given the astounding and tragic number of unborn children who are aborted. And let’s not add to myths by overstating how loving and gentle “they” are. God makes every one of us uniquely, even those who share the characteristic of an extra copy of chromosome 21.
And let’s really confound our culture and the world by encouraging those with Down syndrome to develop and use their gifts in our churches. They have God-given good works to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Next time you hear that Down syndrome is part of the package of a child coming into a family, or you see a young person or adult with Down syndrome coming to your church, don’t stereotype into categories of “tragedy” or otherwise. Rather, pray for wisdom, go introduce yourself to an inherently valuable person (or her parents), and see what God might be pleased to do for them through you—and for you through them.

6 Indicators That You Are Not Ready for Leadership

6 Indicators That You Are Not Ready for Leadership

6 Indicators That You Are Not Ready for Leadership
Just because someone desires to lead, doesn’t mean they are ready to lead.
We all know those who tried to step into leadership roles without understanding what it means to truly lead others. And the outcome was unfortunate.
These men and women end up frustrated, disappointed and embarrassed.
So are you leadership-ready? Here six indicators that you may need to postpone accepting a leadership role:
  1. You think it is about you. The great leaders know that it is not about them. It is about their team. Their success is found in helping their team members find success.
  1. You think that position equals leadership. The great leaders aren’t concerned about their title. A title may give you authority, but it doesn’t always give you influence. Leaders are more concerned about influence than title.
  1. You believe that yelling louder works. This is a symptom of #2. Yelling may be effective in the short-term. But it rarely provides long-term results. Influence provides long-term results.
  1. You can’t delegate. The best leaders desire to empower, not hinder. Young leaders tend to struggle with delegation. Here are a few reasons why.
  1. You don’t trust anyone. Trusting in your own ability is easy. But this is not leadership. Leadership requires trusting in another’s ability.
  1. You don’t follow well. The best leaders are the best followers. A leader will struggle to lead if he or she doesn’t understand what it means to follow.
We can all find areas in which to improve. And if you find yourself relating to these indicators, taking on leadership responsibility is still possible. But it might not be best to take it on right now.
Take some time to improve in these six areas, and make yourself better prepared to be a steward of people.

12 Preaching Tips From Charles Spurgeon

12 Preaching Tips From Charles Spurgeon

12 Preaching Tips from Charles Spurgeon
Charles Spurgeon is arguably one of the greatest preachers in the history of Christianity.
  • He preached over 600 sermons before the age of 20.
  • The collection of his recorded sermons fills 63 volumes and over 20 million words, making it the largest collection of books by a single Christian author.
  • He once spoke to an audience of 23,654 without the use of a microphone or sound system.
  • He frequently preached 10 times per week because he accepted so many invitations to speak.1
Spurgeon was so gifted and influential that it’s no wonder he earned the nickname of the “Prince of Preachers.”
It’s safe to say that we could all learn much about preaching from such a prolific preacher.
So here are 12 preaching tips that Charles Spurgeon taught his students:


Nothing prepares you to preach more than prayer.
“Prayer will singularly assist you in the delivery of your sermon; in fact, nothing can so gloriously fit you to preach as descending fresh from the mount of communion with God to speak with men. None are so able to plead with men as those who have been wrestling with God on their behalf.”2


The beginning of your sermon should immediately capture our attention.
“I prefer to make the introduction of my sermon very like that of the town-crier, who rings his bell and cries, ‘Oh, yes! Oh, yes! This is to give notice,’ merely to let people know that he has news for them, and wants them to listen. To do that, the introduction should have something striking in it. It is well to fire a startling shot as the signal gun to clear the decks for action.”3


It takes a higher level of preparation and discipline to say less.
“Brevity is a virtue within the reach of all of us; do not let us lose the opportunity of gaining the credit which it brings. If you ask me how you may shorten your sermons, I should say, study them better. Spend more time in the study that you may need less in the pulpit. We are generally longest when we have least to say.”4


Nobody wants to listen to a monotone preacher.
“What a pity that a man who from his heart delivered doctrines of undoubted value, in language the most appropriate, should commit ministerial suicide by harping on one string, when the Lord had given him an instrument of many strings to play upon! Alas! alas! for that dreary voice, it hummed and hummed like a mill-wheel to the same unmusical turn, whether its owner spake of heaven or hell, eternal life or everlasting wrath. It might be, by accident, a little louder or softer, according to the length of the sentence, but its tone was still the same, a dreary waste of sound, a howling wilderness of speech in which there was no possible relief, no variety, no music, nothing but horrible sameness.”5


Your life off the stage overshadows your message on it.
“We have all heard the story of the man who preached so well and lived so badly, that when he was in the pulpit everybody said he ought never to come out again, and when he was out of it they all declared he never ought to enter it again… We do not trust those persons who have two faces, nor will men believe in those whose verbal and practical testimonies are contradictory. As actions, according to the proverb, speak louder than words, so an ill life will effectually drown the voice of the most eloquent ministry.”6


Clear communication begins with clear enunciation.
“Take great care of the consonants, enunciate every one of them clearly; they are the features and expression of the words. Practice indefatigably till you give every one of the consonants its due; the vowels have a voice of their own, and therefore they can speak for themselves. In all other matters exercise a rigid discipline until you have mastered your voice, and have it in hand like a well-trained steed.”7


A pause can also snap the listener to attention.
“Know how to pause. Make a point of interjecting arousing parentheses of quietude. Speech is silver, but silence is golden when hearers are inattentive. Keep on, on, on, on, on, with commonplace matter and monotonous tone, and you are rocking the cradle, and deeper slumbers will result; give the cradle a jerk, and sleep will flee.”8


Be yourself, not a cheap imitation of somebody else.
“Your mannerism must always be your own, it must never be a polished lie, and what is the aping of gentility, the simulation of passion, the feigning of emotion or the mimicry of another man’s mode of delivery but a practical lie.”9


Embrace the fact that each person is his or her favorite subject.
“I suggest again that in order to secure attention all through a discourse we must make the people feel that they have an interest in what we are saying to them. This is, in fact, a most essential point, because nobody sleeps while he expects to hear something to his advantage. I have heard of some very strange things, but I never did hear of a person going to sleep while a will was being read in which he expected a legacy, neither have I heard of a prisoner going to sleep while the judge was summing up, and his life was hanging in jeopardy. Self-interest quickens attention. Preach upon practical themes, pressing, present, personal matters, and you will secure an earnest hearing.”10


A good story attracts attention.
“I have often seen some poor fellow standing in the aisle at the Tabernacle. Why, he looks just like a sparrow that has got into a church, and cannot get out again! He cannot make out what sort of service it is; be begins to count how many people sit in the front row in the gallery, and all kinds of ideas pass through his mind. Now I want to attract his attention; how shall I do it? If I quote a text of Scripture, he may not know what it means, and may not be interested in it. Shall I put a bit of Latin into the sermon, or quote the original Hebrew or Greek of my text? That will not do for such a man. What shall I do? Ah! I know a story that will, I believe, just fit him.”11


Always preach the simple gospel.
“Of all I would wish to say this is the sum; my brethren, PREACH CHRIST, always and evermore. He is the whole gospel. His person, offices and work must be our one great, all-comprehending theme. The world needs still to be told of its Savior, and of the way to reach him… We are not called to proclaim philosophy and metaphysics, but the simple gospel. Man’s fall, his need of a new birth, forgiveness through an atonement and salvation as the result of faith, these are our battle-ax and weapons of war.”12


Even the best preachers slide into bad habits.
“Get a friend to tell you your faults, or better still, welcome an enemy who will watch you keenly and sting you savagely. What a blessing such an irritating critic will be to a wise man, what an intolerable nuisance to a fool! Correct yourself diligently and frequently, or you will fall into errors unawares, false tones will grow and slovenly habits will form insensibly; therefore criticize yourself with unceasing care. Think nothing little by which you may be even a little more useful. But, gentlemen, never degenerate in this business into pulpit fops, who think gesture and voice to be everything.”13

  2. Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures To My Students, Kindle ed. (Fig, 2012), 45.
  3. Spurgeon, Lectures, 133.
  4. Spurgeon, Lectures, 135.
  5. Spurgeon, Lectures, 111.
  6. Spurgeon, Lectures, 17.
  7. Spurgeon, Lectures, 123.
  8. Spurgeon, Lectures, 138.
  9. Spurgeon, Lectures, 302.
  10. Spurgeon, Lectures, 138-39.
  11. Spurgeon, Lectures, 395.
  12. Spurgeon, Lectures, 79.
  13. Spurgeon, Lectures, 123.

You Will Have an Affair If

You Will Have an Affair If…

You Will Have an Affair If...
I want to see you have a marriage that moves to the next level, but it will become extremely damaged or completely ruined of you fall into adultery. This article exists to teach you how to affair-proof your marriage.
You will have an affair if…
  1. You have unguarded lust.
Lust is a part of our fallen nature. The Bible declares that in this world we all struggle with, how 1 John 2:16 puts it, the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes…not from the Father but is from the world.
It all started with a look. There is not a man reading this who does not relate to this matter. Men are drawn to look at the shape, form and beauty of a woman. Men are attracted by the eye.
Men are drawn by the eye. If my wife were to look out the window and see a naked man, she’d call the police!
  1. You have unresolved conflicts.
Every relationship is marked by conflict. If we fail to address things, we will become a victim of the injury of such conflict.
Dissonance creates distance, and distance will often cause people to stray.
2 Samuel 6:16 says, As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart.
As the Ark of the Covenant came to Jerusalem, it was a day of triumph. It was a big day for Israel, and especially for David. Despite this truth, David’s wife Michal “despised him.”
Hebrews 12:15 teaches, See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.
This is important to notice from Luke’s writing in Hebrews: Unresolved conflict and bitterness lead to immorality.
  1. You have an underdeveloped self-esteem.
We are preoccupied with ourselves. Going back to David, remember that he is held responsible for his actions, but there is the Bathsheba part of the equation. She was exposed and then she was exploited.
I don’t know if this was an issue for her, but I do know that it is a regular issue for many who “stay on the market” today.
People dress, act and draw attention to themselves and are willing to risk great destruction by trying to bait attraction.
  1. You have unmet needs.
1 Corinthians 7:4–5 says, For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
There is a holiness and a wholeness to the sexual union of marriage. It is intended for the union and well-being of both parties in the marriage.
  1. You have an ungrateful attitude.
Failing to recognize what God and your mate have given you results in a lack of gratitude. This results in pride. Adultery is fueled by pride and lust.
Psalm 51:17 says, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
I hope you will put some key things into action in order to protect your family from adultery…
RESOLVE to get honest with God and with yourself about the destructive power of lust. There is no such thing as innocent lust. You can’t avoid the look, but you don’t have to feed the lust.
Martin Luther once said, “You can’t always avoid the birds from flying overhead, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”
REALIZE that seduction begins in the heart. David not only saw, but he contemplated it, then he reflected and explored. No one knew outwardly what David was entertaining inwardly.
Proverbs 4:23 says, Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
RENEW your vows daily. I’m not talking about something spoken, but through your actions and overall life.
REFLECT on God’s faithfulness to you and His goodness to your family.
REMEMBER what we cover, God uncovers, but what we uncover, God covers.
Have any additional thoughts on affair-proofing your marriage? Let me know in the comment section below.