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By Carey

Carey Nieuwhof is founding pastor of Connexus Church and is author of several best-selling books, including his latest #1 best-selling work, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.

Carey speaks to church leaders around the world about leadership, change and personal growth. In addition to writing one of the mostly widely read Christian leadership blogs in the world, Carey hosts the top-rated Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast where he interviews some of today’s best leaders.

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7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Rethink Leadership and Orange Conference

I am super excited, because this week (Wednesday, April 27-Friday April 29th) I’m speaking at the Rethink Leadership Conference in Atlanta and hanging out at the Orange Conference next door. And I’m not alone. Over 8,000 leaders will be gathering for these events.

One of my very favourite things to do in this life is connect with other leaders who are trying to make a difference in the local church, whether as staff or volunteers.

You don’t even have to be there to get all the benefit. (There’s live blogging for Rethink Leadership and  live streaming for Orange Conference)

So whether you are there in person or watching online, here are 7 tips.

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1. Don’t Do This Alone

Many senior leaders are loners by nature. To be honest, I can get in that space.

I like to talk to the people I already know. I avoid meeting new people if I can. But it’s a terrible mistake.

Getting to know other leaders, sharing a meal, sitting together at sessions and hanging out during breaks is one of the best ways to sharpen your skills as a leader, grow a network of support, ideas and encouragement and honestly just make friends. Remember friends senior leaders?

I have met so many people at conferences who have become life long friends and ministry collaborators. Don’t miss the gift of the community.

Remember: Solitude is a gift from God. Isolation is a tool of the enemy.

So make some connections. Even if you’re at home, watch and engage with a friend.

 

2. Follow the Hashtags

One of the easiest ways to track everything that’s happening is through hashtags—whether you’re at the conference or at home. Most of my personal updates at the conference will be via twitter or Instagram, but I will make occasional ventures onto Facebook (where hashtags work less well).

The hashtags are perfect for those who don’t attend, but will optimize the experience for those who do.

#RL16 #OC16 are the official conference hashtags.

#OC16Live is the official hashtag of the live stream for Orange Conference (Rethink Leadership, where I’ll be speaking all week, isn’t live streamed).

3. Live Tweeting

I’ll be live tweeting much of the conference, and my sessions will also be live tweeted (thanks to my team). That will make it easy to follow along.

Just follow me on Twitter to catch the latest.

4. Follow the Live Blog

My friend Brian Dodd will be live blogging the entire Rethink Leadership event.

Brian is a leadership blogging machine…so make sure you check his site regularly. There’s no one like Brian when it comes to leadership!

If you want to follow other bloggers blogging the Orange Conference, here’s a complete list.

5. Live Stream!

So you can’t make it? Orange Conference has a live stream. You might not get every session, but you’ll get a ton, I mean a ton, of the experience.

I’ll be doing a live interview on the stream Friday at 1:45 p.m. with Jared Herd and Elle Campbell. That is always so much fun. (We’ll periscope that interview too…just for fun.)

Follow the live stream at www.theorangeconference.com.

6. Evernote

Okay..now a bonus tip. Ever wonder how to synthesize the best learnings you’re trying to capture?

My hands-down top choice for note taking is Evernote. I know almost everyone knows about Evernote, but if you’re not using it at conferences, you’re missing out. Evernote’s free primer on how to use it will get you started if you’re new to it.

I love that I can do a search through the last few years of Orange Conference and this year’s new Rethink Leadership event notes simply by searching “Orange Conference”, “Rethink Leadership” or the name of the speaker, or a key word, or anything I might half remember. It always calls it up. And you can be far more organized for that. And it syncs seamlessly across all devices. Brilliant.

7. Let Me Help Your Team

It’s one thing to get a lot of insights. It’s another to take them home.

The challenge of leadership is that you have to persuade other people to embrace the break through you want to see.

I address seven key issues facing churches today in my book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

This week at the conferences, I’m releasing Lasting Impact Team Edition to help you have even better conversations with your board, staff, elders, volunteers and teams.

What’s the Team Edition?

It’s eight videos I shot outlining the key ideas in the book, designed for you as a leader to play for your team before you dive into the conversations in the book (conversations like “Why Are We Not Growing Faster?” and “Why Are We Not Attracting High Capacity Volunteers?” among others).

It’s like having me come to your church, frame the issue for your team and then give you the tools to have the conversations you need to break through.

All you need to do to start your meeting is press play, and after you can dive right into the conversation (the discussion guide is in the book). I even included a bonus video on how to have pivotal conversations as a team without things going sideways.

You can get it today by direct download or on a USB key if you prefer physical media.

Lasting Impact Team EditionMy team has even put together Team Edition Bundles that you the best deal possible on on the videos and volume purchases of the book in 510 and 20 book bundles.

If you get the Team Edition now, you’ll also get access to an exclusive private Facebook group.

Imagine going through the conversations not just with your team, but with advice and support from other church leaders navigating the same issues you are. Plus, I’ll be jumping in on the conversation within the Facebook group from time to time. (If you purchase the Team Edition by May 31st, you’ll receive an email inviting you to the group. We’re sending out our first batch of invitations on May 13.) But hurry, the Facebook group option is time limited.

So that’s it. Hope all of this helps you lead like never before. 

If you’re in Atlanta this week, I can’t wait to say hi. If you’re watching online, make sure you shout out on social media.

It’s going to be an incredible week!

Whit George

CNLP 085: Whit George on How to Work with Family in Ministry, Taking Over Leadership, and Learning How to Lead in A Brand New Role

Church on the Move in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is known for innovation. It’s also about to undergo a significant leadership transition.

Today I talk with the driving force behind much of the creative innovation at the church in the last decade, Whit George, who is the Executive Pastor and one-day Senior Pastor of COTM, as he prepares to succeed his father, Willie George.

Welcome to Episode 85 of the Podcast.

 

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Guest Links: Whit George

Seeds Conference

WhitGeorge.Consulting

Church on the Move

Whit on Twitter 

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Josh Gagnon; Episode 61

Andy Stanley; Episode 1

10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders Are Attending Church Less Often

Chris Vacher

Tom and Todd Mullins

Haydn Shaw; Episode 69

Bill Hybels

Lasting Impact Team Edition is available today!

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I’m excited to announce that the Lasting Impact Team edition releases today! It’s a compilation of eight videos designed to allow the teams in your church follow along with as a supplement to the book. I highlight key points from the material and discuss additional hot topics that relate to your ministry.

To be the first to get your copy, visit LastingImpactBook.com! Plus, if you order right away, you will gain access to a private Facebook group where I’ll answer questions from time to time, and where you’ll have the support of many other leaders trying lead the same conversations in their church. But hurry. Access to the private Facebook closes at 11:59 May 31st 2016.

Get your copy of Lasting Impact today! 

My latest book is available now. It’s designed especially of church leaders and their teams.

Lasting Impact frames 7 pivotal conversations every church team needs to have, covering subject like declining church attendance, team health, creating a culture volunteers love and how to engineer change in your church.

Order on Amazon, or visit LastingImpactBook.com! The video team edition, featuring 8 videos where I teach through the key concepts in the book, is available now as well!

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

Whit worked his way from being the church landscaper to being in senior leadership, but his advancement was inherited from his dad. When you follow in the footsteps of someone else, how do you make your own path, and what does that transition look like? Whit tells us about the struggles he encountered and how he worked through them.

  1. You will get frustrated. “It didn’t matter how good my dad did it,” Whit said. “I was always going to be frustrated.” Frustration is part of human nature. Look at Adam and Eve, and look at Peter and Judas. They were two different situations, neither were happy, and there was a great deal of vexation toward indignities. The reality is that it doesn’t matter if you were working at the perfect church or your leader is perfect, because of sin, you’re going to get frustrated.
  2. Embrace differences. Stop being frustrated, embrace change and enjoy it. Whit said God spoke to him. “If everything was done the way I wanted it done, there would be no need for me.” So often we lose patience with how something is said or done, and we don’t stop to analyze the heart behind it. In your prayer, start telling God thank you for what’s meant to be in your life. Turn your frustration into thankfulness. When you’re thankful, it’s hard to be angry.
  3. Be patient. Focus on the things you can control, leverage them and let God do the rest. It easy to hold on to control in the midst of transition because you want to see progress, but when you’re praying into your faith, don’t ask for authority, take responsibility. As leaders, we lose patience with how long it takes for things to happen, so be mindful of God’s timing.

Quotes from this Episode

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Appreciate This? Rate the Podcast.

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Your rating and review helps gets the podcast in front of new leaders and listeners. Your feedback also lets me know how I can better serve you.

Thank you for being so awesome.

Next Episode: Josh Whitehead

In 2003, Joshua Whitehead left business to start serving at Faith Promise Church. Since 2005 he’s served as Executive Pastor and seen the church grow to 5 locations and 6,800 people. Josh and I talk about why so many leaders don’t trust each other and how to overcome the gap.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 86.

morning people

5 Ways Morning People Really DO Have a Leadership Advantage

So you’re trying to be more productive—to get more done in less time.

Here’s the question: does it really make a difference whether you’re a morning person or not when it comes to productivity?

One of the more frequently asked questions I get as a leader is ‘how do you get it all done?’   (church, blogging, podcast, speaking and writing books).

My answer is usually a variation of “It’s amazing what you can get done before 8 a.m. if you try.”

As painful as that may sound to you, it’s probably also true for you. The best leaders I know get more done before 10 a.m. than many people get done in a day.

Let me show you why and how.

morning personI Wasn’t Always a Morning Person…

I wasn’t always a morning person.

I spent my university days choosing classes based on how late they started so I could sleep in.

I’ve made the transition from NOT being a morning person to getting up most days between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m.

How did that happen? Well, the journey got started when my wife and I got married (I decided to get up at 8 because she was a morning person).

Having kids a few years later threw my schedule out the window and I started rising around 6 and kept that discipline up through my 30s. Usually I would get up early, pound through some email (after devotions) and then make breakfast and then start work in earnest around 9.

I spent my 30s wanting to write a book and having friends tell me I should. But I didn’t.

It wasn’t until my 40s that I started getting up earlier and really committing to a 5:00 a.m. wake up call.

Since then, I’ve led our church to the largest it’s ever been, published three books, blogged regularly, launched a podcast and spoken more regularly at conferences…plus spent meaningfully more time with my wife and kids than before.

Is that ALL because I got up earlier? No, age and stage have their advantages.

You accumulate (hopefully) wisdom, learn to do things faster, and your kids get older and don’t demand 24/7 attention like they used to (although I’m still convinced parenting teens requires as much or more time than parenting toddlers). Could I have done all of this in my 30s? Probably not.

But if I got up at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. most days, I’m convinced all I’d be able to handle is my day job…and I’m convinced I would do it more poorly at that. In other words, I’m not sure I’d be doing anything more than my day job had I kept sleeping in.

So how does being a morning person give me (and many other leaders) a distinct advantage?

Here are 5 reasons:

1. Your brain is (probably) at its best

Personally, there’s no doubt I get my best work done before 10:00 a.m. My most creative thoughts, best insights and clearest analysis happens well before lunch.

I’m amazed at how many high capacity leaders I know tell me the same thing.

Some research backs up my personal findings—that morning people do significantly better overall than night owls do.

Other studies show a more balanced view with night owls gaining a few advantages over morning people.

My guess is we could trade studies all day long to make our points, but I’ve personally never been better than when I’m up early.

Your most important asset as a leader is your mind.

And personally, my brain just does better when it’s fresh off of rest. (I think sleep is the secret leadership weapon no one wants to talk about.) By working early (even if it’s just an hour), you do your most important work when your brain is at its best.

Naps can also reset your brain during the day…and I will often take a nap if I can. However, I find a nap recharges my brain for far less time than a 6-8 hour sleep will.

Your brain simply serves you better as a leader when it’s rested.

2. You’re more efficient because you beat rush hour

Work patterns are a lot like traffic patterns: at 5 a.m. you have the road to yourself. At 8 a.m., it could take you three times as long to travel the same distance.  

These days I do everything I can to beat traffic, not just on the road, but in life. I do most of my shopping at off hours.  My wife and I have even begun to do off-season travel.

Why? Because we end up having have more time to do what matters most.

Ditto with work.

Guess who’s texting you at 5:30 a.m.? Nobody.

Guess who’s emailing for you an urgent response at 6:15 a.m.? Nobody.

You’ve got the work lane all to yourself, which means you can work un-interrupted. You can think uninterrupted. You can actually accomplish all your most important tasks completely distraction-free.

And for a naturally ADD guy, I’m grateful for that.

By the way, this reason alone is enough for me to recommend starting early to any leader.

Working when no one else is working gives any leader a distinct advantage.

Any other time of the day, people are trying to communicate with you. But rarely do they do that before 8 a.m.

3. You get to work on your most important tasks

You know what’s fascinating about leadership?

Nobody asks you to accomplish your most important priorities. They just criticize you if you don’t.

In fact, not only will your colleagues never ask you to accomplish your priorities, they will usually ask you to help accomplish theirs.

Which is why you never get your work done.

That’s also what email is, by the way, other people asking you to do things that aren’t on your task list.

By starting early, you can accomplish your priorities and THEN be available to help others with theirs, in person or via email.

Starting early eliminates so much of the push and pull of the every day. Plus you’ll be far more kind and gracious when you interact with them, because you’re already done.

4. You already have series of wins under your belt

Sometimes all you need as a leader is some kind of win.

Starting early gives you that:

You got a jump on your message.

You came up with a great idea.

You discovered a new strategy.

You banged out a chapter you were not expecting to write.

You got the retreat planned ahead of scheduled.

With one or two wins under your belt, the rest of the day is easier.

So much of leadership remains undone at the end of the day–except for what you got done first.

5. Your big to-do’s are already done

Not only is SOMETHING done before 10:00 a.m., if you use your time well, the most important task for the day is done by mid-morning.

I’ve never tried this, but I suspect if I stopped working at 10:00 a.m. most days I’d still be 70% as productive as I am now. And more importantly, I’d have the most significant things done.

The way I usually spend my later time is in meetings, answering email or doing other tasks that require less mental energy.

But again, even if those don’t go well or take longer than expected, the big stuff is already accomplished. Which means you’re kind of already done for the day.

Think about what that could mean to you and the people you love: when you start early, you get your evenings back, your weekends back and your life back. Because your big work is…done. 

Start Now

So how can you become a morning person?

I’d try setting your alarm 15 minute earlier every week until you hit the time you think you need to be up. In a month, you could be operating one hour earlier than before.  (And remember to go to bed earlier too. I’m generally in bed between 9:30 and 10 most nights.)

Michael Hyatt has some great ideas on becoming a morning person as well.

The bottom line is: start now.

Wanting to be a morning person brings you none of the benefits of becoming a morning person.

What Do You Think?

Well morning people? What do you think? And night owls, we love you. We really do.

But I’d love to hear from everyone what you’re learning about productivity and time shifting.

Scroll down and leave a comment! Let’s get better together.

asking better questions

7 Keys to Asking Better Questions (What I’ve Learned From My Leadership Podcast)

If you want to become a better leader (and who doesn’t?), the key is simple: learn to ask better questions.

I wish I knew that 20 years ago when I started.

I thought leadership was about giving answers, not asking questions.

I still have to reign myself in from talking too much and listening too little, but I’ve worked hard on the art of asking questions over the last few years.

In mid-2014, I became immersed more deeply than ever before into the art of asking questions as I prepared to launch my leadership podcast (you can subscribe for free here).  It’s been an amazing journey, as 20 months in we just celebrated passing one million downloads. (Thank you to everyone for making the podcast so amazing!)

In addition, last year, I started interviewing for 100 Huntley Street, a national TV show in Canada (here’s an interview I did with Ravi Zacharias).

One of the surprisingly consistent questions I get is how I come up with the questions for my guests.

People seem to notice the approach I take and want to know how I prepare the questions.

The reality is I haven’t known how to answer that question except to say “I don’t know, I just do it.” Not very helpful.

I also get interviewed frequently these days, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are better lines of questioning, and not-so-great lines of questioning.

So I sat down to try to figure out the principles behind the art of asking better questions.

Here’s what I’ve come up with. I think the principles work whenever you are interacting with someone…whether it’s the foyer on a Sunday, in a meeting, or for a podcast or show.

Asking better questions is foundational to better leadership.

So how do you learn to ask better questions?

I want to keep growing in this field, but here are 7 things I’m discovering.

better questions1. Put yourself in their shoes

You may be getting together to discuss an issue, but behind every issue is a person.

When you speak to the person behind the issue, not just the issue, you always have a better conversation.

How do you do that?

Start here: imagine what it’s like to be them.

This is true if you’re talking to Andy Stanley or whether you’re talking to a college student anxious about what’s next after graduation.

People have emotions, fears, dreams, hopes and experience everything else you do.

A great way to access this stream of thinking is to imagine the questions you would have if you were them.

Imagine launching a church that grows exponentially. What would your hopes, dreams and fears be?

Sure, the person you’re speaking with might respond differently than you would (and be open to that), but this at least gets you into the same emotional ball park.

If you can imagine what it’s like to be them, your questions will not only become better, but they’ll like you. Why? Because you just showed interest and empathy. And we all respond better to an interested, empathetic person.

2. Avoid putting people on the defensive

Most people heading into an interview or conversation are a bit worried—whether that’s a job interview, a podcast or TV interview, or a meeting where you’re asking questions.

They’re afraid they’re going to say something they’ll regret. Or afraid you’re out to make them look bad.

People sense right away whether you’re trying to make them look bad. And they respond to you accordingly.

Any cheap press or momentary victory you get from a controversial quote is in my view, so not worth it.

I never want to make anyone look bad. Even if I disagree with a person.

I just want them to tell their story…and if you put them at ease, they will.

“But what about the truth?” say the suspicious among you.

Well, that doesn’t mean you don’t ask real questions. But in fact, when someone is at ease, they’ll often tell you far more than they would if you put them on the defensive.

If you want to listen to a couple of very authentic interviews on very controversial topics, you can listen to my conversation with Justin Dean on the collapse of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, or Aaron Harris on what it’s been like for him to grow up in the church as gay man.

3. Ask what it felt like

I’m a logical guy. I think a lot. I’m a law school graduate. Most of what I do these days boils down to thinking, solving problems and then figuring out how to communicate what I’ve learned.

As a result, I constantly process principles behind why things are the way they are, and why people do what we do.

But deep down, we’re all emotional creatures. I am. You are.

So is anyone you talk to.

If you really want to connect with the person you’re speaking with (or interviewing), when they tell you about a critical moment in their life (good or bad) ask them what it felt like.

What was it like to learn you had cancer?

What did it feel like to have half your church walk out overnight?

What did it feel like for you as a leader to go from 100 people to 1000 people attending your church overnight?

What were you feeling when you failed out of college and had to go home to tell your parents?

In those moments, you move from head-to-head conversation to heart-to-heart conversation.

And those are my favourite conversations. That’s the kind of stuff around which friendships and bonds form—both between you and your guests, and your guests and any listeners.

4. Look for the counter-intuitive or exceptional

Lots of counter-intuitive things happen in life.

Follow that trail.

For example, when I interviewed Perry Noble about burning out in Episode 2 of my leadership podcast, he mentioned it happened when his church had never been bigger and when things had never been ‘better.’

That really surprised me, and we spent a good part of the interview exploring that.

Exploring the counter-intuitive usually leads to great places because it attacks widely held assumptions. For example, people assume you burn out with things are going poorly, not when things are going well.

In a similar way, people are surprised that successful people struggle.

In my view, that’s what made the interview I did with Passion Ministries founder Louie Giglio so riveting. He talked openly and honestly about how success led him to break down and how he battled back.

Bottom line? If something surprises you, chase it.

5. Drill down

Our world is filled with 2-minute sound bites.

The best conversations in my view never happen in 10 minutes or between commercial breaks. They happen long after people have used all their sound bites and pushed past their ready-made answers.x

I took a risk in doing long-form podcasting when I launched (the average episode is around an hour). The reason I chose that path is because meaningful real life conversations tend to be longer, not shorter.

Taking your time also allows you to drill down on key issues.

Whether it’s my podcast, a meeting, or even a job interview I’m conducting, most of my questions are unplanned. I always write questions out ahead of time, but you can’t really anticipate the good stuff.

When you hear something someone says that piques your interest, drill down on it.

Go further. As in:

What do you mean by that?

Fascinating…tell me more.

What happened next?

What…say that again? What happened?

That kind of questioning opens up the floodgates for new insights and principles.

If you just move onto the next question, you usually lose a goldmine in the process.

6. Be curious

Curiosity is your best friend as a leader.

When you’re interviewing, act more like a 6-year-old than a 36-year-old.

Ask why…a lot.

If you’re genuinely curious, ask:

Why did you think that?

Why do you think that happened?

Why didn’t you quit?

Why did you make that decision?

‘How’ is another amazing curiosity question:

How did you even think that was possible?

Wait, how did that happen?

How did you possibly think that might work?

Even in a meeting setting, you will learn so much more about the person you’re talking with or the issue you’re studying if you stay curious.

The best leaders I know are insatiably curious.

They want to know how and why things work, and they want to know more about the things they don’t know about.

So…be curious.

7. Forget about yourself

Too many leaders are interested in making a point rather than asking a question.

And that’s a critical mistake.

If you’re always trying to show how smart you are, you accomplish the opposite.

When I started my podcast in the fall of 2014, my wife listened to the first few episodes and said (in a very loving way), “You talk too much.”

I felt like saying, “It’s MY podcast!”

But she was right.

Since that time, I try to talk less than 10% of the time in a interview (unless the interview is designed to be a two-way conversations, as a few have been).

I’ve tried to talk a lot less in my daily leadership as well. It’s way too easy for me to dominate meetings and I have to put a constant check on my tongue and brain.

After all, leaders, when you listen first and speak second, people are far more interested in what you have to say.

What Do You Think?

Hopefully asking better questions leaves you and whoever you’re talking with feel amazing after a conversation. That’s my goal whenever I talk to a leader, on air or off air.

If you want unlimited free access to my podcast, you can subscribe for free here on any of these channels:

iTunes

Stitcher

TuneIn Radio

RSS feed

In the meantime, what helps you ask better questions? Scroll down and leave a comment!

Brent Ingersoll

CNLP 084: Leading a Rapidly Growing Turn Around Church at Age 29: An Interview with Brent Ingersoll

Leading a turnaround church is tough.

Leading it after the previous leader experienced moral failure is even harder.

Doing it all at age 29 makes the story remarkable. Brent Ingersoll stepped directly from student ministry into the senior leader’s chair where he’s led the church to rapid growth and expansion in an area in which few churches are growing. Here’s Brent Ingersoll’s story.

Welcome to Episode 84 of the Podcast.

brent-ingersoll

Guest Links: Brent Ingersoll

Kings Valley Church

Brent on Twitter

Brent on Instagram

Brent on Facebook

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Tim Guptill; Episode 63

John Stickl; Episode 29

Andy Stanley; Episode 1

Celebrate Recovery

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

In his late 20s, Brent became the lead pastor of a church that was on the decline after irreconcilable conflicts with the former pastor. From his experience, Brent walks us through the steps he took to develop a team, grow his ministry and hang on to faith in the process.

  1. Let God go to work. Brent was thrown into a situation where the only resource he had was God. When you’re in the midst of a difficult season, recognize that God will pour out His grace, and trust that He wants to do amazing things through you. Don’t try to rush through the turmoil or dust it under the rug. Let God do what He’s supposed to do. Brent says to “let the wrecking ball hit,” and once the dust settles, you’ll have a huge opportunity to make lasting changes. Your church will be listening, and they’re ready.
  1. Understand risks related to growth. Expect attendance to turnover, but don’t take it personally. People are going to leave, yet others will want to see what’s new. People are still finding Jesus, and their families are excited about it. Brent says he sees a lot of new generation Christians in his church, and word-of-mouth has been the biggest influencer. Give people something good to talk about.
  1. Embrace risk and trust God. Brent’s turbulent season allowed him to recapture a vulnerable level of open-handed faithfulness. Remember, you can only say yes to what God wants you to do, and success is as big of a test as suffering. Take hold of God and keep your hands open, not allowing yourself to lose faith in His will. Live within calculated risks where God has to show up. If there’s no place for God to show up and do something, you’re not exercising faith. Give Him the chance to work for you, because the pressure is on God. It’s His church.

Quotes from this Episode

Register now for the ReThink Leadership Conference!

Join some of the biggest influencers in church leadership at the inaugural ReThink Leadership Conference this spring! Hear from Andy Stanley, Jon Acuff, Reggie Joiner and many others as they discuss their experience and practical insight for high-capacity leadership.

Enrollment is limited, so make sure you reserve your spot today!

Available online now! Get your copy of Lasting Impact today! 

My latest book is available now. It’s designed especially of church leaders and their teams.

Lasting Impact frames 7 pivotal conversations every church team needs to have, covering subject like declining church attendance, team health, creating a culture volunteers love and how to engineer change in your church.

Order on Amazon, or visit LastingImpactBook.com! The video team edition, featuring 8 videos where I teach through the key concepts in the book, releases later this month. Stay tune for details.

A New Episode Every Week…Just Subscribe

The podcast releases every Tuesday morning.

Subscribe for free and never miss out on wisdom from great leaders such as  Jon Acuff, Mark Batterson, Pete Wilson, David Kinnaman, Caleb Kaltenbach, Kara Powell, Casey Graham, Perry Noble and Andy Stanley.

Subscribe via

iTunes

Stitcher

TuneIn Radio

Appreciate This? Rate the Podcast.

Hopefully this episode has helped you lead like never before. That’s my goal. If you appreciated it, could you share the love?

The best way to do that is to rate the podcast in iTunes and leave us a brief review! You can do the same on Stitcher and on TuneIn Radio as well.

Your rating and review helps gets the podcast in front of new leaders and listeners. Your feedback also lets me know how I can better serve you.

Thank you for being so awesome.

Next Episode: Whit George

Church on the Move in Tulsa Oklahoma is known for innovation. It’s also about to undersgo a sigifincant leadership transition.

Next week, I talk with the driving force behind much of the creative innovation at the church in the last decade, Whit George, who is the Executive Pastor and one-day Senior Pastor of COTM, as he prepares to succeed his father, Willie George.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 85.

learn about you as a leader

What People Learn About You as a Leader Without You Saying A Word

As a leader, people are always anxious to figure out who you really are.

It’s understandable. A leader’s primary commodity is trust. People follow leaders they trust. Violate that trust, and people stop following you.

Many leaders talk a good game. And that’s understandable.

Yet habits and actions reveal more about any leader than words. And that’s what people study. As the old saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.” And that’s exceptionally true in leadership. 

So what actions are people looking at? What are they really studying to see whether you are a good leader to follow?

In my experience, there are at least 5 things that reveal who you really are as a leader. It’s also easy to overlook these 5 things, or to convince yourself that what you say will compensate for what you do if what you do falls short.

Yet nothing a leader says eventually outweighs what a leader does. Your actions—not your words—create your leadership and your legacy.

without using words

So what should you be watching as a leader?

1. Whether you deliver on your promises

You never need to open your mouth for your team to determine whether they can trust you.

Trust, after all, is confidence.

The best way to establish confidence as a leader is to do what you said you’re going to do when you said you’re going to do it.

The challenge, of course, is that’s much harder to do than it seems.

Be careful about what you promise.

Be even more careful about how you deliver. It is far better to under-promise and over-deliver than it is to offer assurances that mean nothing.

And if you mess up, own up. People respect that.

And then do everything in your power not to repeat the same mistake again.

2. Whether you truly value your family or their family

I was talking to a leader the other week who was trying to figure out how much time to take off when there was so much to do at his rapidly growing church.

As we discussed this, it occurred to me that how he valued his family would signal whether he wanted his staff to value their families.

Most team members want a senior leader to go home at night to see his family.

The late night, early morning and all weekend emails actually discourage your staff.  So do the seven day work weeks.

Even if you tell your staff “you take time off, I need to work,” they rarely feel secure in taking that time off.

Unfortunately, it took me years to learn that my working longer hours communicates to the team that it’s never safe for them to take time off.

How you value your family signals to your team whether you value their families.

3. What your real priorities are

You don’t need to tell people what your true priorities are; they can see them.

Often there’s a disconnect in many leaders’ minds between what they think their priorities are and what they actually are.

What reveals your real priorities?

What you spend your time on.

What you spend your money on.

What you measure.

What you reward.

You can say someone or something is important, but if you never fund it, never spend time on it, never assess results or reward progress, people will rightly conclude it’s not a priority.

If you say reaching young families is a priority but you budget $500 a year for it and refuse to put your best staff or volunteers on the project, it’s not a priority.

As a leader, your calendar and your organizational budget reveal what you value most.

4. Whether people matter to you

Leaders juggle so many issues that it’s hard to not be constantly distracted or pre-occupied when talking to someone.

It’s easy to become a leader who brushes people off, looks impatient and simply sees people as a means to an end.

People aren’t a means to an end; they’re actually the end. Ultimately, we’re all in the people business.

When you meet someone, ask yourself:

Did you stop? 

Did you listen?

Did you look them in the eye?

Did you follow up?

How you treat people is a sign that they matter. Or a sign they don’t.

5. What you’re really like when the pressure’s on

Most of us like to grade ourselves on our good days or on our average days.

And that sets the tone of a lot of your leadership.

But what do people really watch for?

How you handle things on bad days.

How you responded during your last crisis will tell you exactly where your character is at.

Most of us will look back to the last crisis and wince. But that’s okay: it establishes the baseline from which progress needs to be made.

Crisis reveals character, and, as much as you wish it wasn’t true, your team is watching you intensely on your bad days.

What Else?

If you want more on character, heart, health and leadership, I wrote a full chapter about it in my best selling church leadership book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.

In the meantime, what do you look for in other leaders?

And what do you look for in yourself?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

sermons are boring

7 Real Reasons Your Sermons, Writing or Ideas Are Boring

If there’s one thing you never set out to be as a leader or communicator, it’s boring.

And yet everyone who communicates, preaches or even tries to persuade someone of an idea has discovered that sinking sense that you’ve lost your audience.

How exactly does that happen?

I’ve been communicating professionally since I was 16 years old in radio, law and for the last two decades, preaching and speaking, and over the years have become a student of what engages people and what doesn’t.

I learned the principles below because at one point or another, I violated all of them.

Here are 7 factors that disengage an audience that are so easy to miss if you’re not looking for them.

boring sermons

1. You haven’t understood or empathized with your audience

There is no such thing as a ‘generic’ audience; you really can’t connect with your audience if you don’t understand them.

Recently I spent some time with a friend talking about a conference we’re both speaking at.

Because I knew the audience better than he did, he spent 40 minutes asking me exactly who would be in the audience, what their hopes and fears are, what they struggle with and how he should approach them.

I was amazed by this for a few reasons.

First, my friend is a multiple New York Times bestselling author and speaks to large influential audiences all the time. If anyone could just waltz in and speak, he could.

Second, even though he has far more offers to speak than he can possibly accept, he is infinitely interested in the audiences he speaks to.

The fact that he’s so in demand, so good at what he does and that he cares deeply about his audience is likely all connected.

The more deeply you care about your audience, the more deeply they’ll care about what you say.

2. Focusing on what people need to know, not on what people want to know

There’s a tension for every communicator between talking to people about what they want to know and talking to people about what they need to know.

If you want to draw a crowd, it’s easy to focus on what people want to know.

But every communicator knows sometimes you just need to tell people what they need to know, even if they don’t want to hear it.

That’s an especial challenge for preachers.

If you always preach about what people want to know, you’ll likely miss what people need to know.

If you only focus on what people need to know, people have a way of tuning you out.

When people tune you out, it might not be evidence that you’re being faithful (as many preachers claim). It might just be evidence you’re being ineffective

So what do you do?

Here’s where I’ve landed. I try to discern what people want, and then I deliver what people need.

For example, few people want to hear about what the Bible has to say about money or sex.

But as a communicator, if I drill down on why God gave us instruction in this area and look for the benefit God intends to bring to people’s lives through it, I’ve then isolated what people will want to hear and can better deliver what they need to hear.

3. You haven’t described a problem people want to solve

The problem with a lot of communication is that it doesn’t start with a problem.

Too often, communicators or writers just start.

Your audience is asking one question: why should I listen? Why should I read further? I have problems to solve and you’re not helping me.

Counter that explicitly.

If almost always start any talk I’m doing describing a problem people face—at work, at home, in their relationship with God or in their relationship with each other.

How do you do that? Describe the problem in detail: ie. You’re so frustrated with God because He says he’s a God of love, but you read the Old Testament and beg to differ. And you wonder if you can even trust a God like that.

If you really want people to drill down on the issues, take the next step. Make the problem worse. Describe it in such detail that people are no longer sure there’s a solution to it.

If you want to see this in action, I spend the first ten minutes of my message on violence in the Old Testament explaining the problem and then ‘making it worse’ before I address it.

You can watch that message here.

4. You didn’t expressed an old idea in a fresh way

For the record, Solomon was right, there isn’t anything new under the sun.

None of us truly speaks about anything new.

As a result, it’s easy to fall into cliches and common descriptions of issues everyone’s trying to address.

For example, I almost called point 2 of this blog post “You’re answering questions nobody is asking.” But I realized that as you skimmed the article you would think “I’ve heard that a thousand times” and tune out.

So I changed the expression of the point to “Focusing on what people need to know, not on what people want to know.”

It’s a little fresher.

Again, that’s not a brand new idea, but it’s a more unique expression of it.

If your ideas are simply retreads of other people’s ideas, people will tune out.

5. You haven’t crafted your words well enough to make them memorable

I spoke to a couple a few weeks ago about a series I preached four years ago.

They’re in their twenties, so that’s almost one fifth of their life in the past.

They quoted the bottom line of that series to me and asked me to use it again at their wedding.

The bottom line was simply this: Like is an emotion. Love is a decision. 

It’s hard to believe someone remembers something you said four years earlier, but it happens.

They then told me they want their life together to be built on a decision to love each other, not an emotion they’re feeling. What’s so powerful to me as a pastor is that single line contained the direction for an entire six part series whose ideas they were able to recall. (If you’re wondering, that isn’t available online right now. It might be again soon.)

The power of carefully crafted phrases is that they’re memorable, and memorable phrases keep going to work years after you’ve finished speaking them.

How do you craft memorable phrases? I outline the process here.

6. You don’t personally own the message

There was a season when cool church was enough.

But people are tired of slick. They’re suspicious of polish.

In many ways, authentic is the new cool.

One of the keys to authenticity is personally owning everything you say. People want to know you believe what you’re saying.

In a world of spin where so much is sold, people are looking for real.

Be real.

When you own the message—when it comes from the core of who you are—it resonates.

So own your message.

That means you’ve processed it deeply enough that it has become part of who are, not just something you say.

7. You’re relying too heavily on your notes

In public speaking, people won’t believe you own the message if you’re reading it.

It comes across as a press release. Or a statement someone else prepared. Or something you think they should believe, but you don’t believe yourself.

I know that’s tough for people who are tied to manuscripts.

Please hear me: reading from your notes doesn’t mean you’re insincere, it just means people often think you are.

So is there help? You bet.

If you want to learn how to free yourself from speaking with notes, I shared a 5 step method on how to do that here. It’s exactly how I got freed up from my notes.

Want the heart of it?

It’s this: don’t memorize your talk. Understand it.

You don’t memorize your conversations before you have them because you understand them.

So understand your next talk.

You can always talk about things you understand.

Want More?

Personally, my go-to resource for learning how to improve my preaching has become Preaching Rocket (affiliate link). I have learned so much from Jeff Henderson and the team there over the years.

If you want to sample Preaching Rocket for free,  you can check out their free 7 day free trial offer here.

In the meantime, let’s share some learning. What are some other things you’ve seen that lose an audience?

ravi zacharias

CNLP 083: Ravi Zacharias on How Preaching And Evangelism Need to Change to Reach the Next Generation

Few people alive today have spoken to as many non believers and believers alike as Ravi Zacharias.

In this interview, Ravi shares what’s changed in people’s attitudes toward Christianity and what needs to change in Western preaching to effectively share the Gospel with the next generation.

Welcome to Episode 83 of the Podcast.

Ravi-Zacharias

Guest Links: Ravi Zacharias

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

Episode 53

Ravi on Twitter

Ravi Zacharias on Facebook

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Peter Tan-Chi

John Stott

Thanks A Million—Let’s Celebrate (Some Gifts For You)

Thank you to the listeners who have inspired this podcast! This week, we pass 1,000,000 downloads, and I couldn’t be more excited! To celebrate, I have a couple of surprises for you. I will load a Starbucks gift card to my Instagram at random times, once a day for 5 days. (April 12-April 16) Enjoy the free drinks while they last.

Also, if you’ve read my new book, Lasting Impact, I’m going to be giving away a FREE team edition, a video companion to the book that goes along with each chapter.

If you’ve read the book, leave a review on Amazon.

When you receive your confirmation for leaving a review, forward that to leadership@careynieuwhof.com.

From April 12-16, I will be giving away one free team edition to the book! We’ll let every winner know if they’ve won via email.

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

How do we begin to step into the changes of facing Christianity in the midst of cultural changes? Ravi Zacharias emphasizes how leaders need to shape and sharpen our messages to have a more powerful impact.

  1. The message has to be interesting. If it’s not interesting, we’re competing against a world that has a scorching paganism, and you can’t put tepid Christianity beside it.
  1. Effective preaching needs to be intellectually rigorous. Preachers need to fully engage the mind and the heart. Without the heart, intellect becomes intellectualism.
  1. Effective preaching needs to be emotionally connected. Preachers need to fully engage the heart and the mind. Without the mind, emotional preaching becomes emotionalism.

Quotes from this Episode

Register now for the ReThink Leadership Conference!

Join some of the biggest influencers in church leadership at the inaugural ReThink Leadership Conference this spring! Hear from Andy Stanley, Jon Acuff, Reggie Joiner and many others as they discuss their experience and practical insight for high-capacity leadership.

Enrollment is limited, so make sure you reserve your spot today!

Available online now! Get your copy of Lasting Impact today! 

My latest book is available now. It’s designed especially of church leaders and their teams.

Lasting Impact frames 7 pivotal conversations every church team needs to have, covering subject like declining church attendance, team health, creating a culture volunteers love and how to engineer change in your church.

Order on Amazon, or visit LastingImpactBook.com! The video team edition, featuring 8 videos where I teach through the key concepts in the book, releases later this month. Stay tune for details.

A New Episode Every Week…Just Subscribe

The podcast releases every Tuesday morning.

Subscribe for free and never miss out on wisdom from great leaders such as  Jon Acuff, Mark Batterson, Pete Wilson, David Kinnaman, Caleb Kaltenbach, Kara Powell, Casey Graham, Perry Noble and Andy Stanley.

Subscribe via

iTunes

Stitcher

TuneIn Radio

Appreciate This? Rate the Podcast.

Hopefully this episode has helped you lead like never before. That’s my goal. If you appreciated it, could you share the love?

The best way to do that is to rate the podcast in iTunes and leave us a brief review! You can do the same on Stitcher and on TuneIn Radio as well.

Your rating and review helps gets the podcast in front of new leaders and listeners. Your feedback also lets me know how I can better serve you.

Thank you for being so awesome.

Next Episode: Brent Ingersoll

Leading a turnaround church is tough. Leading it after the previous leader experienced moral failure is even harder. Doing it all at age 29 makes the story remarkable. Brent Ingersoll stepped directly from student ministry into the senior leader’s chair where he’s led the church to rapid growth and expansion in an area in which few churches are growing. Here’s Brent Ingersoll’s story.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 84.

emotions

5 Things Great Leaders Know About Their Emotions That Others Don’t

Emotions.

Some days you orobably think it would be better if you could lead without them.

You get excited about a new idea only to become discouraged when no one else thinks it’s a great idea…or it doesn’t work.

As a church leader, you spend most of Monday wishing Sunday had been different, and it’s rarely healthy.

You get one nasty email and it ruins your day week.

Your bad day at work becomes a bad night at home.

Your mood dictates too much of the tone at the office.

Misunderstood and unaddressed emotions sink more leadership potential than most of us realize.

If you don’t understand your emotions or know how to manage them, you will never reach your leadership potential.

And yet emotions are absolutely necessary for great leaders.

So how do you manage your emotions?

There are 5 practices effective leaders adopt when it comes to their emotions. Knowing them can make a huge difference in your leadership.

emotions

So what do effective leaders do with their emotions?

Well, great leaders:

1. Never let today’s emotions drive tomorrow’s decisions

When emotions drive decisions, you almost never make great decisions.

For sure, great decision making is a combination of the head and the heart.

But think about all the terrible decisions you’ve made when you were emotional:

You said terrible things.

You fired someone you wish you hadn’t.

You hired someone you wish you hadn’t.

You lost your temper in a meeting.

You broke up.

You ate too much.

You drove so fast you got a killer ticket.

You almost quit.

You did quit.

Wise leaders know that. They realize that rash things they do today impact tomorrow.

They have come to realize that no matter how they feel in the moment, a good night’s sleep, some prayer, discussing the matter with wise friends and even some distance will make for a better decision down the road.

I had to learn this the hard way, but it’s such a good principle: Don’t make tomorrow’s decision on today’s emotions.

2. Refuse to let emotions distort reality

Emotions distort reality.

It’s never as bad as you think when you’re emotional. And it’s likely not as great as you think either.

Emotions make you see negative things more negatively than you should, and positive things even more positively than you should.

Even positive emotions can hurt you when they are detached from reality. If you’re overly positive, you can ignore reality, miss impending dangers and gloss over problems that actually require your attention.

Time is your friend when it comes to making wise decisions. Putting a little distance between your emotions and your decisions is a great strategy.

So is wise counsel. Great leaders trust the judgment of other people as much as they trust their own.

And when they’re emotional, they trust the judgment of others more than they trust their own.

3. Won’t let emotions spawn selfish behaviour

Bad days or bad emotions are most often fueled by pain.

A stinging email triggers a deep hurt. A bad staff situation eats away at your joy. A season without momentum erodes your self-confidence.

You end as a leader in pain. And pain is selfish.

In the same way that stubbing your toe makes you forget about whatever else you were doing until the pain is resolved, your emotional pain (no matter its source) makes you more selfish as a leader.

People in pain:

Don’t listen well to others.

Withdraw and sulk.

Blame others.

Eventually turn every conversation to a conversation about themselves and their needs.

Want others to share their misery or sadness.

Seek attention.

And selfish leaders are never effective leaders.

Effective leaders know that.

The best way to get rid of your selfishness is to get rid of your pain.

Pray about it. See a counsellor. Drill down on your issues.

4. Let emotions fuel passion

Emotion isn’t all bad.

After all, who wants to follow an emotionless leader?

In fact, when you look at churches that are doing a great job of reaching adults under 35, passion is an indisputable characteristic (here are the other 4). Passion is directly fueled by emotion and is incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to fake.

Consequently, great leaders realize there is no sustained or contagious passion without emotion.

You are attracted to people who are passionate, or at least you can’t easily dismiss them.

When you lead with passion, teach with passion and preach with passion, your leadership becomes far more magnetic.

Plus, passion ends up fueling you. It’s what makes you get out of bed in the morning and drives you on.

Effective leaders are emotional, but they ensure that the emotions that drive them in leadership are the emotions that positively impact others.

5. Keep their hearts fully engaged

Your heart gets beat up in leadership, and as a result it’s easy to pull your heart back. To never engage. To stop trusting. To withdraw.

Effective leaders simply don’t do that.

They realized that the great leaders push past the hurt, the cynicism and the pain and keep their hearts fully engaged.

They decide to hope again, to trust again and to believe again.

Why? Because when your heart is engaged and alive, you become a better leader.

When you feel a full range of emotions (both positive and negative) you can empathize with people who are hurting and celebrate with people who are celebrating.

You can walk with a group or congregation through a hard time and celebrate joyfully in the great moments.

To do that, you need to keep your heart healthy and in tune.

I wrote about the top 10 habits of leaders who effectively guard their hearts here.

And if you think your heart isn’t, here are some signs it might be burn out and some resources to help you get your heart back.

What Are You Learning?

If you want to drill deeper, I wrote more about the impact of emotions on leadership in my best-selling book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.

Managing your emotions in leadership is one of the things that distinguishes great leaders from the rest.

What are you learning about managing your emotions as a leader?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

Church shoppers

5 Key Differences Between Church Shoppers and the Unchurched

Every week you hope to have new people at your church.

But there’s a world of difference between reaching the unchurched and attracting serial church shoppers.

I’m fortunate to be part of a church where we’ve had first-time guests every single weekend since we launched eight years ago.

While it’s easy to think of a visitor as simply a ‘visitor,’ not all visitors are the same.

Like many of you, our goal is to reach the unchurched. And in nearly every community, there’s a growing number of unchurched people to reach.

But there’s another group entirely that shows up at your church regularly: church shoppers.

Serial church shoppers are not the same as the family that moved and is looking for a church in their new community who might try five churches before settling. Nor are they the same as family that is leaving a church they’ve been part of for years, has exited well (here are some thoughts on how to do that) and is looking for a new place to call home for a long time.

Families moving to your community and Christians who transfer well out of another church can be welcome additions to any local church.

But serial church shoppers are different. They’re consumers.

If you end up facing a true church shopper, you might discover that they’ve been to 5 different churches in the last 10 years, and will soon have another one (that’s not yours).  Or you might discover they’ve never settled down anywhere and have 3 churches they sample regularly, when it’s convenient.

As a leader, being aware of the difference between church shoppers and who you truly want to reach is critical.

I have seen far too many church leaders waste time and energy trying to please church shoppers, to no avail. Do it regularly, and it will take you completely off mission.

Trying to appease a serial church shopper is an exercise in pleasing the un-pleasable.

Here are 5 key differences between church shoppers and the unchurched every church leader should know to ensure your church stays on mission.

Church shoppers1. Church shoppers think their job is to evaluate; the unchurched are looking to learn

A church shopper comes into every church with an evaluation mindset.

Is this my kind of music?

Is the preaching good?

Did the people notice me?

Do I like this place?

It’s not that unchurched people don’t ask the same questions. They do. And be honest. To some extent, we all do.

But a church shopper thinks the church exists to please them. After all, that’s why they left the last eight churches.

An unchurched person might start with evaluation, but they ultimately don’t stay there. They want to learn. They want to grow. They want to challenge and explore, and most are very open to a much deeper journey than one that starts and ends with evaluation.

Church shoppers ask, “Did I like it?” And the moment they don’t, they’re done.

If you really boil it down, serial church shoppers think their mission is to criticize, not contribute.

2. Church shoppers move quickly from love to hate; the unchurched warm up to you gradually

It’s not uncommon to have a church shopper tell you how much they love love love your church on the first Sunday.

But over the years I’ve seen this pattern: people who love your church immediately and go out of their way to tell you how it’s the best thing ever rarely feel that way for long.

In fact, they often end up disliking your church just as strongly. And they’re vocal about it.

The unchurched (and healthy Christian transfer growth) is different. They might like your service, but they’re a little more reserved in getting involved or even letting their heart buy in.

In my experience, the people who begin a little cautiously or at least moderately and who gradually warm up turn out to be the healthiest church members in the long run.

Contrast that with a church shopper. Sometimes it seems like everything church shoppers love about your church today they will dislike tomorrow.

3. Church shoppers want your church to be like the last church (that they left); unchurched people don’t

I continue to be amazed at how often a church shopper will tell you how much they didn’t like their last church but then ask you why your church isn’t more like that church.

Our old church had a men’s ministry.

Our old church had more singable music.

Our old church had far more mid-week activities happening.

Which makes me want to ask: “Then why did you leave?”

It’s actually a good question.

The unchurched, if they have any concept of a ‘last church’ are usually opposed to some stereotype of church that revolves around judgmental preaching, boring services and outdated methods.

Often they’re railing against a straw man from the last generation. And they appreciate the alternative you’ve created.

4. Church shoppers blame the church when things go wrong; the unchurched take responsibility

Somehow, the fact that a church shopper doesn’t like any church never seems to be their fault.

It’s always the church that lets them down.

In preparing to write this post, I put feelers out on social media, asking what frustrations people experience with church shoppers. Jason Stockdale, who pastors the three month old Hills Church in Memphis, shared this story from another ministry he was part of:

A couple had been to 4-5 churches over the last 2 years, I followed up with their “connection card” when they visited. They claimed they never could get “connected” at any other church, but really liked our church the few times they had been. Proceeded to then tell me the son plays competitive baseball 6-7 months out of the year and the dad often travels with him on the weekends, the daughter plays competitive volleyball and soccer (pretty much year around) and the mom travels on the weekend with her. The mom worked nights as a nurse so they had no nights during the week available to get connected in a group and were rarely ever going to be at church together as a family.

I did everything I could to get them involved in one of our Sunday morning small group classes we offered, they lasted about 6 months and then he called me one day and said they were going to start looking for another church, they just didn’t feel connected to ours.

I think every church leader can relate. Sure, shift work is tough, but there are other choices in the mix that might have prompted more introspection and ownership.

Sadly, I suspect the pattern for this family might repeat itself again and again.

Why is it the people you do the most for are the people who claim you failed them?

In my experience, the unchurched, by contrast, take far more responsibility if things don’t work out. They’ll say “Hey, I’m just not sure this is the right thing for me. Keep doing what you’re doing. But I think I’m out.”

Sure, that’s disappointing, but it’s healthy.

Before we leave the subject of responsibility, here are 5 things people blame the church for…but shouldn’t.

5. Church shoppers want to lead THEIR ministry; unchurched people want to get involved in THE ministry

If a church shopper gets involved for a season, they’ll often want to lead THEIR ministry rather than get involved with your ministry.

Maybe it’s a group or something they did at their old church, or a special cause they’re passionate about.

Often with serial church shoppers, ministry involvement is more about them than it is about the mission.

Unchurched people are usually fine getting involved with the wider mission of the church. They’re content with finding their part in a larger story. They don’t have to be the story.

What Do You See?

Am I saying that ALL church shoppers are unhealthy and ALL unchurched people are healthy?

No.

There’s likely a story under some serial church shoppers’ experience that explains the behaviour.

And is every unchurched person healthy?

No, not at all.

But I will take a genuinely unchurched person over a serial church shopper any day, not just because that relationship is far more on mission, but because it actually has the potential to change a life.

Serial church shoppers are more interested in changing a church than they are in changing their life.

Here’s to staying on mission. And if some serial church shoppers settle down in the process, that’s amazing.

In the meantime, what has you spinning your wheels when you could be reaching the unchurched instead?

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