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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.

insecurity as a leader

Some Simple Practices that Will Get You Over Your Insecurity as a Leader

So you struggle with insecurity as a leader. Join the club.

It’s not fun to struggle with insecurity, but it is great that you see it. Self-awareness helps so much in leadership.

In my last post, I outlined 5 signs of insecurity in leadership.

So, beyond recognizing your problem, how do you overcome your insecurity?

As I’ve wrestled this issue down in my life, I’ve made several key transitions that have helped significantly. They’re not easy to understand, but difficult to do. The key is to simply do them again and again.

When you do these things, your insecurities begin to dissipate. Good habits displace bad impulses.

Here are five changes that can help you deal with underlying insecurity.

insecurities

1. Be generous with your praise

This might sound trivial, but it’s not. Insecure people are often jealous people.

One of the best ways to combat jealousy is to privately and publicly commend and compliment others. Especially if you don’t feel like it.

If you’re afraid of building others up because you think it might diminish you in some way, that’s the perfect time to do it. Don’t remain silent.

Don’t give them a back-handed compliment (“It’s about time he did something good!”) and don’t qualify the praise (“It was pretty good given her track record”).

Publicly celebrating the success of others will move you much closer to what Jesus was talking about when he commanded us to love enemies and people who persecute us.

Strangely, most of the people you don’t want to compliment aren’t close to being enemies.

So in those moments when others make a difference (there are many), smile and acknowledge it, privately and publicly. Be generous with you praise.

2. Recruit and promote people who are better than you

I had to wrestle this one down a number of years ago as we added staff and key volunteers. I had to hire people who were better than me at so many things. In fact, I’m only ‘best at’ a few things in our organization.

My goal in life is to give more of those things away.

Another way I had to deal with this head on is when we started Connexus Church as a strategic partner of North Point Ministries. That means when I’m not teaching, Andy Stanley is.

If you really want to wrestle down insecurity, just put the most gifted communicator around on the screen when you aren’t teaching.

It will quickly teach you to celebrate what others are amazing at, and experience contentment with the role you also play.

3. Give thanks for who you are instead of lamenting over who you aren’t

At the root of much insecurity are two beliefs.

First, that God somehow got it wrong when he created you. And second, that you need to compensate for this.

That’s why insecure people are jealous or resentful of others and why we somehow feel we need to ‘right’ the situation by withholding praise, refusing to hire or recruit better people because it might make us look bad, and trying to control things so they work out in our favour.

Why not start each day thanking God for how he created you?

Why not say “God, you have given me everything I need to accomplish what you’ve asked me to accomplish and you’ve given others exactly what they need to accomplish their mission”?

That shift will also help you relinquish your controlling tendencies.

Realizing God has given you all you need makes you both grateful and dependent.

4. Stop comparing yourself with others. Start learning from them

Constantly comparing yourself to others is a losing game no matter how you try to play it. You end up feeling inferior (wrong) or superior (sinful) to others every time you compare. It corrodes your heart.

So how to do you interact healthily with others? Learn from them. Plain and simple. You grow by being around other people, so grow.

What do they do well? What could you do differently? What are the charts and numbers telling you? How can you develop from what you’re learning?

5. Get ridiculously honest with yourself (and God)

I had a powerful moment in my journey a number of years ago. It was one of those moments where I wasn’t reading the scripture, the scripture was reading me.

This passage in James stopped me dead in my tracks. It described to a ‘T’ what I was experiencing in that moment.

Instead of blowing it off and ignoring it, I admitted (to my shame) that it described me. I prayed about it.

The next day I went back to the same text, reading and praying through it again.

I didn’t leave those four verses until the ugly things they described relinquished their grip on my heart. It took over a week.

Every time I’ve read that text in the years that have passed, I stop and give thanks to God for what he dealt with inside me in that season.

I’m so grateful. But you don’t get to that kind of breakthrough without ridiculous honesty about what’s really going on.

So level with yourself. And with God. Everyone else knows your weakness. So does God. So why not admit it?

We are masters of self-deception. Dead-honest confession stops that.

These five strategies have helped me. What’s helped you? What are you learning?

Want More?

If you want more on how your church can create a healthier leadership culture, I wrote about that in my new book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

The new Team Edition is now available featuring 8 videos that can help optimally frame the conversations for your team. And if you buy the Team Edition before May 31st, 2016, you’ll get access to a private Facebook Group for Team Edition leaders hosted by me.

———

I’m on a sabbatical in May, and (for the most part) running past articles that have slipped off the mainstream but in my view can still help leaders. — Carey

insecure leader

5 Signs You’re An Insecure Leader

Ever wonder if you’re an insecure leader?

There’s a bit of irony in that question. Insecure people by nature wonder about things like that. I know that because part of my personal leadership journey over the years has been spent battling insecurity.

It’s the same for many of us. Most leaders I know struggle with some level of insecurity. In my next post, I’ll share some strategies that can really help getting past the struggle so many of us face.

But in the meantime, how do you know whether insecurity occupies some real estate in your life?

Because self-awareness is a major step toward personal change, here are five signs you might be battling insecurity as a leader.

insecure leaer1. You are constantly comparing yourself to others

You and I have lots to learn from other people, but insecure people aren’t driven so much by a desire to learn as they are to know whether they are better or worse than others.

There is a world of difference between tracking with someone to grow and learn and tracking other people or organizations to see how you stack up.

One is healthy, the other destructive.  As Andy Stanley says, there is no win in comparison. In fact, there’s just a lot of sin in comparison.

2. Your sense of self-worth is driven by your latest results

I’m a results-driven guy. I want to see this mission expand and I want to see things grow.

Some of that is good. And some of that can warp any sense of security you have.

You know you’re an insecure leader when your opinion of yourself rises and falls with your attendance, performance, blog stats, comment thread, reviews or what others say about you.

Preachers, you aren’t nearly as good as your last message, or as bad.

I do monitor all of these things, but I’ve had to learn not to obsess over them.

God’s opinion of me doesn’t equate with people’s opinion of me.

I need to learn from trends and learn from others, but I cannot let someone else determine my worth.

3. You can’t celebrate someone else’s success

This trait is a tell-tale sign that you are insecure.

Why can’t you just give a compliment?  Why can’t you be genuinely happy when someone else succeeds?

Life is actually not a zero sum game – at least not life in God’s Kingdom.  For you to win, someone else does not have to lose.

If you can’t compliment a competitor, why not?  If you can’t celebrate a colleague, is it because you are worried others might think they are better than you?

You do not need to be the only one who is ‘great’ at something.

4. You make no room for people who are more gifted or competent than you

This is where your personal traits inflict direct harm to your organization (not that the other traits don’t, but this one has a direct and lethal impact).

Insecure people always feel a need to be the most gifted person in the room. As a result, the number of gifted people in any room they’re in drops accordingly.

One sign of a great leader is someone who can attract and keep people more gifted and competent than themselves.

The future will belong to people who can forge great alliances, make great partnerships and attract great people.

5. You need to be the final word on everything

Insecure people end up being controlling people.

Insecure people don’t need experts because they want to be the expert. Know-it-alls weren’t much fun in kindergarten; they are less fun in the adult world.

Leaders who need to be the final word on everything end up leading not much more than themselves.

The truth is most of us are only great at one or two things, and even then, you became good at it with the help and advice of others.

When you value the counsel and input of others–especially on the things you’re best at–you embark on a path toward greater wisdom.

Those are some signs I’ve seen that mark insecurity in myself and in others.

How about you?  What have you noticed? Scroll down and leave a comment.

Want More?

If you want more on how your church can create a healthier leadership culture, I wrote about that in my new book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

The new Team Edition is now available featuring 8 videos that can help optimally frame the conversations for your team. And if you buy the Team Edition before May 31st, 2016, you’ll get access to a private Facebook Group for Team Edition leaders hosted by me.

———

I’m on a sabbatical in May, and (for the most part) running past articles that have slipped off the mainstream but in my view can still help leaders. — Carey

Brian Houston Carey Nieuwhof

CNLP 089: Brian Houston On Hillsong and the Ingredients That Have Defined His Leadership

There are few stories like Hillsong and very few leaders who have had the impact that Brian Houston has had.

Carey sat down in person with Brian on a recent Outcry tour stop in Toronto as they discuss the ingredients that have forged Brian into the leader he is today.

Welcome to Episode 89 of the Podcast.
Brian Houston Carey Nieuwhof

Guest Links: Brian Houston

Hillsong Church

BrianCHouston.Com

Live Love Lead: Your Best is Yet to Come!

Brian on Twitter

Links Mentioned

100 Huntley Street

ThinkOrange.Org.Au

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

Some pastors focus on the growth of the church, but Brian focuses on the health of the church, because you can’t grow without being healthy. Sometimes to move upward, you have to stay healthy inward. Here are his suggestions for getting on track and keeping up with the pace:

  1. Lift those who give life to the church. Every church has a soul, and if the soul is prosperous, the church will be prosperous. Brian says that the church isn’t just built on the talents of a few, but the sacrifices of many, so the primary goal of the church is to feed the spirit of the people. Keep on lifting the ceilings for others. If you want your church to explode, you need to build people around to you help what God’s called you to do.
  1. Look past personal insecurities. You can’t be threatened by someone’s success or talent. There is security in surrounding yourself with gifted people. “I’ll be more threatened by someone’s heart if it’s not in the right place,” Brian says. If you can tap into the golden people, it only helps you do what you’re called to do.
  1. Promote the right people. When people leave your church, it isn’t the end of the world, though it may sting a little. Focus on those who do want to be there. Recognize and promote those who are called to do something bigger in the church, and call onto their talents.

Lasting Impact Team Edition is available now!

IMG_7604

I’m excited to announce that the Lasting Impact Team edition releases today! This is a compilation of eight videos designed to allow the teams in your church follow along 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 who are trying to 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 for church leaders and their teams.

Lasting Impact frames 7 pivotal conversations every church team needs to have, covering subjects like declining church attendance, team health, creating a culture volunteers love and how to engineer changes 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!

Quotes from this Episode

 

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Next Episode: Sarah Piercy

Seven years ago, at age 22, Sarah Piercy became Carey Nieuwhof’s executive assistant. In this candid and honest interview, Sarah shared how she learned not only to be an exceptional executive assistant (in Carey’s view), but how she did it in an ever-growing church and exploding wider ministry with no previous training.

 

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 90.

lead your senior leader

The 5 Best Ways to Lead Your Senior Leader

If you were in charge, everything would be different, wouldn’t it?

But you’re not. At least not yet.

So how do you effect change when you’re NOT the senior leader? How do you lead change when you’re a staff member or simply a volunteer?

Because I’ve written on change, I get that question all the time. That shouldn’t be a surprise, really. Mathematically speaking, far more people are NOT the senior leader than are the senior leader.

It’s easy to think you’re powerless and give up or just try to work around a leader you disagree with. But neither is a great strategy.

So what do you do if you want to bring about change but you’re not the key decision maker?

Here are the 5 best strategies I’ve seen. I’ve observed these both when people are leading up to me and used them when I’m leading up to others more senior than me in an organization.

If you do a little homework and learn to think differently, you can be exceptionally effective at leading change well, even when you’re not the senior leader. Even if you’re ‘just’ a staff member or ‘just’ a volunteer.

shutterstock_421546573

1. Think like a senior leader

So you’re not a senior leader, but try to imagine that you were. Imagine the pressures and issues facing your senior leader and approach the conversation accordingly.

Think through how it impacts the entire organization.

Understand that your senior leader may have budget restraints and many other interests to balance, like a board of directors or elder board. Show him or her that you understand that and you’re willing to be flexible on some points.

Showing your senior leader you understand the bigger picture is huge.

I’ve spent many years as a senior leader, and I’ll disclose a bias here.

When someone on my team comes to me with any idea and I realize they have thought it through cross-organizationally (that is, they’ve thought through how it impacts the entire organization), I am far more open to it than otherwise.

Why?

They’re thinking about more than just themselves.

They did their homework.

They helped me do my homework.

They showed me they’re leading at the next level.

I always try to stay open to new ideas, but here’s the truth. Often before the person has finished their presentation or we’ve wrapped up the discussion, I’ve already thought through 15 implications of their idea.

If they show me theyve thought through the 15 implications before they got to my office, I’m completely impressed and very open.

I’m not saying that’s a good thing, I’m just saying it’s a true thing.

And I think it’s true of most senior leaders.

When you think like a senior leader, you’re more likely to persuade a senior leader.

2. Express desires, not demands

No one likes a demanding person.

In fact, when someone demands something, I notice there’s something inside me that doesn’t want to give them what they asked for.

I don’t always follow that impulse, but expressing demands damages relationships. Instead, talk about what you desire.

Show respect and tell him how you feel – don’t tell him how you think he should feel. And above all, don’t be demanding.

3. Explain the why behind the what

As Simon Sinek has so rightly pointed out, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Your best argument is not the Wwhat (we need to completely transform our church) or the Hhow (here’s how you should do it).

It’s the Why (I think I’ve discovered a more effective way to reach families in our community and help parents win at home…can I talk to you about that?)

The more you explain the Why, the more people will be open to the What and the How.

Lead with why. Season your conversation with why. And close with why.

4. Stay publicly loyal

Andy Stanley has said it this way: public loyalty buys you private leverage.

It’s so true. If you start complaining about how resistant your senior leader is, he’ll probably hear about it. He’s not dumb. So not only will you compromise your personal integrity when you do that, you’ll also lose his respect.

In my mind as a senior leader, the team members who conduct themselves like a cohesive team always have the greatest private influence.

Your public loyalty will buy you private leverage.

5. Be a part of the solution

If you’re discontent (which you should be as I wrote about here), it’s not that difficult to drift into the category of a critic. Unless – that is – you decide to be part of the solution.

Offer help. Don’t end-run your leader, run with your leader on the project.

Be the most helpful you can be.

Volunteer to do the leg work.

Bring your best ideas to the table every day.

Offer to assist in any way you can.

If you won’t be part of the solution, you’ll eventually become part of the problem.

So be part of the solution.

Those are five ideas on how to lead change when you’re not the senior leader.

Do they always work? No…human dynamics are more complicated than that.

But they often work, and if they don’t, you will know you gave it everything you had and then you can weigh your options. (Click here for 5 signs it’s time to move on.)

Non-senior leaders, what would you add?

Senior leaders, what other advice would you give?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

Want More?

If you want more on how your church can have healthier conversations, I wrote about that in my new book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

The new Team Edition is now available featuring 8 videos that can help optimally frame the conversations for your team. And if you buy the Team Edition before May 31st, 2016, you’ll get access to a private Facebook Group for Team Edition leaders hosted by me.

If you want more specifically on change, I wrote about effectively leading change in my best-selling book Leading Change Without Losing It.

———

I’m on a sabbatical in May, and (for the most part) running past articles that have slipped off the main stream but in my view can still help leaders. —Carey

 

worship wars

5 Ways to Battle The Never-Ending Worship Wars

So let me guess: someone recently complained about the music at your church.

It doesn’t matter what style of music your church features or how traditional or edgy your music is; complaining about music is almost a universal phenomenon in the church today.

Some of that is generated by church shoppers (I outlined 5 characteristics of church shoppers here), but the problem is more pervasive than hearing from a few church shoppers.

It’s endemic to human nature and to our consumer driven culture that basically says everything revolves around me. While I think consumer Christianity will die in the future (here’s why), we’re not there yet.

Before we get started, please know this isn’t a slam against any particular style of music in the church.

In fact, I admire all churches that are innovating to become more effective in their mission.

But here’s the challenge.

Many leaders have almost spilled blood getting their church to change in the area of music (or making sure their church doesn’t change).

And yet, despite the battles fought over music, many churches are still not much further ahead in reaching people because of it.

Why is that?

There are five problems I see church leaders struggle with when navigating the sensitive and emotional issue of worship style in church.

worship wars

1. You become so focused on pleasing the people you have that you lose sight of the people you’re trying to reach

Whatever your music style, many church leaders are overly worried about how ‘their people’ will handle the change.

This is healthy. Leaders who don’t care how their congregation thinks eventually end up leading nobody.

But it’s also a trap. When peoples’ reactions become an overriding fear, the mission shifts away from reaching new people to keeping the people you have happy.

As a result, leaders:

Abandon change to keep people happy.

Compromise vision to try to satisfy the discontent.

Stop innovating to try to placate people.

These attempts at making people happy virtually never work (I wrote about the problems people-pleasing leaders face here).

What to Do

So what do you do to combat your people pleasing focus?

Focus on who you’re trying to reach rather than on who you’re trying to keep.

And when you’re communicating a change to your congregation, focus on why you’re making the change (to reach people) and far more people will accept what you’re trying to do (changing the style of worship).

If you want more on this subject, I’ve written more on leading change here.

2. You define ‘contemporary’ relative to how you used to worship

Let me name the elephant in the room. Most of what passes for ‘contemporary’ worship isn’t that contemporary at all.

Sure, the church has changed. And there may have been some battles over the change.

But walk into many self-described ‘contemporary’ churches and it feels like 2004, or 1994, or even 1984. The church isn’t actually ‘contemporary’ (contemporary means ‘occurring in the present’).

Tony Morgan makes a great point in The New Traditional Church: If most churches truly wanted to be contemporary, Sunday would have a lot more hip-hop and R&B (have you listened to the Top 40 lately?).

But most church leaders don’t like that style of music or are afraid their church wouldn’t.

What to do

Be honest. Don’t call yourself contemporary if you’re some paler version of it. Self-awareness and honestly actually matter if you’re trying to reach unchurched people.

Sadly, well-meaning self-deception runs rampant in church leadership today.

Be truthful about what you’re doing. If you are, it might just make you frustrated enough to make you change again.

In the meantime, realize that despite all the change, you might still be miles away from being relevant to the people living around you.

3. You’ve become stuck in “No Man’s Land”

I learned about No Man’s Land in churches from James Emery White.

It’s a term that describes churches too contemporary to please the traditionalists and too traditional to reach people who connect with a contemporary approach.

I have no desire to ignite a furious debate about ‘blended worship’ (a combination of traditional and contemporary styles).

Can it work? I’m sure it can, done right.

But you don’t have to get too far into the conversation with most church leaders who are in a blended format to realize it’s not an overriding passion to reach the outsider that fuels the change, it’s fear that if they go too much further there will be an apocalypse.

What’s the bottom line? Most blended worship happens because leaders are afraid to go further, not because leaders think it’s the best option.

The attempt to make everyone happy usually makes no one happy.

In my view, the last 10 percent of change is the hardest. When we transitioned from traditional to blended to full-out ‘contemporary’ music a decade ago, the last 10 percent of the change was harder than the first 90 percent. I think that’s how leaders get stuck.

Again, I’m not saying blended services are a bad thing (we’ve chosen to not embrace that strategy at Connexus for very specific reasons). I’m just saying if you end up there, make sure that’s where you want to be because you believe it’s the most effective way to accomplish your mission.

What to do

Don’t get stuck somewhere you’re not called to be.

Finish the change or make sure where you’re at is honestly the very best way to fulfill your mission.

4. Style has become an end in itself, not a means to an end

Your style of music and service should serve the mission. It is not the mission.

Once again, this nails all of us: traditionalists, innovators and everyone in between.

Our goal is not to arrive at a particular worship style. It’s to accomplish the mission Christ has given us.

I love how our church does music.

But 40 years from now, I don’t want to be sitting around in a retirement home with my friends complaining that young people today don’t sing enough Hillsong Young and Free, play cover tunes at church or make pour-over coffee.

The church should always change, and it needs to change on your watch.

How do you address this? 

Be committed to constant change. Don’t rest.

Your style as church helps you achieve the mission. It is not the mission.

5. Older leaders make decisions that belong to younger leaders

Far too often in the church, I have seen older leaders make decisions that rightly belong to younger leaders.

There is a role for middle-aged leaders and older leaders. They bring wisdom to the table and a seasoned viewpoint almost impossible to find in someone who is starting out.

I’m not slamming others. I am almost the oldest person on our staff team.

Even though I’m fairly up to date on culture, music, and technology, I’m no longer the guy who should be calling the music, design or cultural shots at our church.

I’m not sure most leaders over 40 should be. Not if you want to impact the next generation.

Sitting around the table at our service programming meetings are leaders who are 10-30 years younger than me (we almost always have a teenager in the mix).

I trust their judgment more than mine when it comes to how our services will connect with the people we’re trying to reach.

I have just seen too many leaders in their 40s, 50s and 60s make decisions that alienate younger generations and then sit around and ask where all the young people went.

Don’t be that leader.

What to do

Ensure you have younger leaders around your leadership table and empower them to make the decisions that drive your organization.

It’s really not more complicated than that.

Want More?

If you want more on how your church can have healthier conversations, I wrote about that in my new book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

The new Team Edition is now available featuring 8 videos that can help optimally frame the conversations for your team. And if you buy the Team Edition before May 31st, 2016, you’ll get access to a private Facebook Group for Team Edition leaders hosted by me.

That’s what I see. I’d love to know what you’re seeing and experiencing.

What challenges do you see around music in the church? Scroll down and leave a comment!

_______

I’m on a sabbatical in May, and (for the most part) running past articles that have slipped off the main stream but in my view can still help leaders. —Carey

Martin-Daland

CNLP 088: A Step By Step Guide to Breaking the 200 Attendance Barrier: An Interview with Martin Daland

How do you break the 200 attendance barrier? Martin Daland became the senior leader in a conflicted small church of 180. Within two years, he saw his church grow to more than 300. He talks about how he changed pastoral care, fought burn out, and got the church healthy. Amazingly, he did this in Norway, where only 5% of the population attends church. But the application is universal.

Welcome to Episode 88 of the Podcast.

Martin-Daland

Guest Links: Martin Daland

Skien Misjonskirke

Martin on Facebook 

Links Mentioned

ThinkOrange.Org.Au

Josh Pezold; Episode 87

Josh Gagnon; Episode 61

How to Break Growth Barriers: Capturing Overlooked Opportunities for Church Growth

Who Wants More Time?

Orange 

Andy Stanley; Episode 1

Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend

Push Down Decision Making

Things You Can Do Right Away

God gave Martin a vision, and he couldn’t believe he was chosen to do something so powerful for Christ. After an exhausting journey led by faith, he became the senior pastor of a church in Norway. Here’s how he handled the challenges he faced.

  1. Start with self-care. If you’re not ok, the staff won’t be ok, and the church won’t thrive. Martin had many questions about his new role and God’s plans for him, and transitioning into senior leadership was taking a toll on his personal life. He saw a counselor, walked in faith and slowly began to restore balance. Though he wasn’t the source of previous conflict in his church, he knew that he didn’t seek help for himself, the future of the church would be unstable.
  2. Care for your staff. Martin believed he had to build confidence and trust back into his team if he wanted the mission of the church to thrive. He focused on building a healthy culture where constructive criticism and encouragement were welcome by providing a safe environment for conversation.
  3. Care for the congregation. Many church members felt hurt after previous leadership betrayed their trust. Martin placed emphasis on listening to his congregation, showing empathy and going back to the fundamental principles of what the church was founded on, Christ. He spent time having one-on-one conversations with the most influential people of the church and led from a place of humility.
  4. Place emphasis on the values. Martin says he focused on preaching into the church’s key values. The church is more than 160 years old, so he didn’t want to change them, but exalt them.
  5. Connect with other pastors in your region. As a new senior pastor in a new denomination, Martin needed to define his role, so he worked with his church about how to move forward. He decided to reach out and establish relationships with other pastors in the city so they could meet regularly and lean onto each other for support.

Lasting Impact Team Edition is available now!

IMG_7604

I’m excited to announce that the Lasting Impact Team edition releases today! This is a compilation of eight videos designed to allow the teams in your church follow along 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 who are trying to 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 for church leaders and their teams.

Lasting Impact frames 7 pivotal conversations every church team needs to have, covering subjects like declining church attendance, team health, creating a culture volunteers love and how to engineer changes 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!

Quotes from this Episode

 

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 on iTunes and leave us a brief review! You can do the same on Stitcher and on TuneIn Radio as well.

Your ratings and reviews help us place 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: Brian Houston

There are few stories like Hillsong and very few leaders who have had the impact that Brian Houston has had. Carey sits down in person with Brian on a recent Outcry tour stop in Toronto as they discuss the ingredients that have forged Brian into the leader he is today.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 89.

prayer works

Why Christians Should Stop Saying “Prayer Works” (And 2 Other Things)

One reason people stay away from Christianity is not because they don’t know any Christians.

It’s often because they do.

Our actions and our words as followers of Jesus have the power to attract or repel people from Christianity.

The number of people who never go to church or follow Jesus keeps growing. And their thinking keeps changing too (I’ve outlined 15 characteristics of unchurched people here).

So what can we do about it?

Well, in addition to modeling humility, grace, truth, love and so many other things that describe the earliest Christ followers, we Christians can watch our words.

This post was originally inspired by a piece by Scott Dannemiller wrote, in which Dannemiller urged Christians to stop saying “feeling blessed” whenever something good came their way. He makes a thoughtful, insightful argument around that.

In that vein, here are three other things Christians should really stop saying.

prayer works

1. Prayer works

Should we really stop saying that prayer works?

Well, yes and no.

Most people who say prayer works these days really mean God did what I wanted him to do. As if prayer was a button to be pushed to release exactly what they wanted from the vending machine.

Prayer is not a button to be pushed; it’s a relationship to be pursued.

Prayer does ‘work,; but it works very differently than we’d like. It still ‘works:’

When we can’t trace out any direct result from our prayer.

When the opposite of what we prayed for happens.

In those moments when we feel very distant from God.

When we bang down the door of heaven for years and are not sure anything is going on up there at all.

There are scores of people inside and outside the church whose spirits are crushed because they prayed (fervently) and:

They didn’t get the job.

Their mom died of cancer.

Their child was born without a heartbeat.

They ended up in a car crash that left them permanently disabled.

Prayer doesn’t ‘work’ because I got what I wanted and they didn’t.

The parade of saints across the centuries would have been shocked to see prayer reduced to God-doing-what-I-asked-him-to-do-when-I-asked-him-to-do-it. God is not a puppy to be trained or a chef in the kitchen who prepares food to suit our every whim. He is sovereign.

As Richard Foster says:

For those explorers in the frontiers of faith, prayer was no little habit tacked on to the periphery of their lives; it was their lives. It was the most serious work of their most productive years. Prayer—nothing draws us closer to the heart of God.

Do things happen supernaturally when we pray? Well, yes they do. But often in ways we cannot understand or even trace out.

I think Christians can take consolation in the fact that when we pray, we often don’t know what to pray for or even how to pray, yet the scriptures tell us the Holy Spirit will translate the prayer into something better than we could phrase in the moment.

So pour your heart out to God. Pray about the things the scripture says are close to God’s heart. And when something ‘goes your way,’ be grateful and offer it back to the God who gave it to you.

And when things don’t go your way, understand that God is still very much in control and very much loves you. Just because God is silent doesn’t mean God is absent.

2. God told me to …

Often, you hear people (and pastors) say things that start with, “God told me to … .”

The longer I follow Jesus, the more hesitant I am to say God told me to do anything specific. Maybe that’s an issue I need to work on, but it springs from my observation that I’ve seen this misused far more than I’ve seen it used well or authentically.

In fact, I’ve often noticed that the more outrageous the claim, the more likely someone is to say, “God told me to … .”

When I hear someone claim God told them to do something, I feel like saying:

God told you to do that? Really? God himself spoke directly to you and told you to specifically build that building for which you have zero money? Or leave that church that you were in deep conflict with without resolving things? Or buy that house that’s way out of your price range? Wow!

Are you sure it wasn’t the pizza? Or the voice in your head that often tells you to do the things you simply feel like doing?

For the record, I believe there are times when God does speak to people today. But let’s be realistic. What made me put this phrase on the list is the number of times I have heard the phrase used to describe a decision that is:

Selfishly motivated (come on, admit it … you’re justifying your impulses).

Contrary to scripture (the scriptures pretty clearly suggest that what you’re doing is sinful … or at least isn’t wise).

Designed to shut down debate (does anyone really think they can win a “God told me” debate?).

I’m not saying God never tell us anything directly, but I am suggesting it happens far less than most of us claim.

So what’s a better course?

Say something like, “Based on what I know from scripture, I believe this is the best/boldest/wisest course of action.”

That makes sense. And then you can have an intelligent discussion.

And you don’t pull the God card to justify something about which Christians and others can have a legitimate discussion.

Or, if you’re just trying to shut down debate, just be honest. I wanted to do it, so I did it. There. Now you said it and everyone will feel better.

If you’re dead honest, you might even realize you made a crazy decision.

3. I could really feel God’s presence

You’ve heard this before. We live in an emotional age and we’ve arrived at a place where many of us feel like we’ve become mini-authorities on when God is present and when God is not.

But analyze that.

The truth is, we tend to feel God’s presence more:

When the band played our favourite song.

When the band played five of our favourite songs in a row.

When the room was packed.

When the decision went our way.

When we felt happy during our quiet time.

Is God only present when we feel him?

Or better yet, is God’s presence synonymous with our ability to detect it?

Well, of course not.

So why do we insist on speaking like it is?

Nowhere did God promise that the Holy Spirit is a feeling or an emotion.

Jesus did explain to us that the Spirit is a Person and moves freely. The Holy Spirit is bigger than our emotions and not subject to our editorial commentary about whether he is present or not.

I have had moments when I believe I felt the presence of God palpably.

But God is just as present:

On our worst days as he is on our best days.

When we are uncomfortable as when we are comfortable.

When we are hurting as when we are healing.

And sometimes … the room was just full, and the band was just really good.

We need to learn to trust in God’s presence especially in those moments we suspect he’s absent.

What if?

What if Christians started having more intelligent, less consumer-oriented, deeper conversations with people?

What if our relationship with Christ was grounded more deeply in God’s character and less in the constantly shifting circumstances we see around us?

I’m thinking the dialogue inside and outside the church would be so much healthier for it.

What do you think?

Any other things Christians should stop saying now? Scroll down and leave a comment!

Want More?

If you want more on how your church can relate to a constantly changing culture, I wrote about it in my new book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

The new Team Edition is now available featuring 8 videos that can help optimally frame the conversations for your team. And if you buy the Team Edition before May 31st, 2016, you’ll get access to a private Facebook Group for Team Edition leaders hosted by me.

_______

I’m on a sabbatical in May, and (for the most part) running past articles that have slipped off the main stream but in my view can still help leaders. I actually lost this article from my site two years ago in a site redesign along with another one I just re-published. Fortunately, ChurchLeaders.com had also featured it and it’s great to be able to re-run it on this site. —Carey

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Why Christians Should Let Non-Christians Off the Moral Hook

I feel like I need to get something off my chest.

It bothers me that Christians continually express shock, disapproval and judgment at the way non-Christians live.

You’ve seen it, and maybe even done it:

Doesn’t anyone believe in marriage anymore?

I can’t get over how many people today smoke weed.

Can you believe they just sleep in instead of coming to church?

Did you hear they moved in together? That’s so bad!

What’s wrong with our government? Why don’t they uphold biblical values?

Whenever I hear that, I feel like saying, “Do you seriously expect non-Christians to behave like Christians?”

Think it through.

Most people in the West no longer consider themselves Christian.

Or even if they use the term “Christian” to describe themselves, few believe in the authority of scripture or profess a personal faith in Jesus Christ.

So why would we expect them to behave like Christians? Why would we expect people who don’t profess to be Christians to:

Wait until marriage to have sex?

Clean up their language?

Be celibate when they’re attracted to people of the same sex?

Pass laws like the entire nation was Christian?

Seriously? Why?

They’re not pretending to be Christians. Why would they adopt Christian values or morals?

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Please don’t get me wrong.

I’m a pastor. I completely believe that the Jesus is not only the Way, but that God’s way is the best way.

When you follow biblical teachings about how to live life, your life simply goes better. It just does. I 100 percent agree.

I do everything I personally can to align my life with the teachings of scripture, and I’m passionate about helping every follower of Christ do the same.

But what’s the logic behind judging people who don’t follow Jesus for behaving like people who don’t follow Jesus?

Why would you hold the world to the same standard you hold the church?

Before you judge a non-Christian for behaving like a non-Christian, think about this:

1. They act more consistently with their value system than you do

It’s difficult for a non-Christian to be a hypocrite because they tend to live out what they believe.

Chances are they are better at living out their values than you or I are.

Jesus never blamed pagans for acting like pagans.

But he did speak out against religious people for acting hypocritically.

2. Your disapproval is destroying the relationship (if you have even have a relationship in the first place)

Some of the most judgmental Christians have zero non-Christian friends. Is that a surprise, really?

I mean, on a human level, how many people have you made time for this week that you know disapprove of who you are and the way you live?

Exactly.

3. Judgment is a terrible evangelism strategy

People don’t line up to be judged.

If you want to keep being ineffective at reaching unchurched people, keep judging them.

4. Judging outsiders is un-Christian

Paul told us to stop judging people outside the church. Jesus said God will judge us by the same standard with which we judge others.

Paul also reminds us to drop the uppity-attitude; that none of us was saved by the good we did but by grace.

So what can you do?

1. Stop judging non-Christians. Start loving them

Very few people have been judged into life-change. Many have been loved into it.

2. Empathize with non-Christians

Ask yourself, “If I wasn’t a Christian, what would I be doing?” Chances are, you might be doing exactly what the non-Christians in your neighbourhood are doing.

Understanding that and empathizing with that completely changes how you see people. And they can tell how you see them.

3. Hang out with non-Christians

Jesus did. And caught plenty of disapproval for it. I have a friend who continually drops f-bombs in my presence.

As much as it bothers me, I never correct him (he’s not a kid, he’s my peer). But I do pray for him every day and we talk about my faith.

I pray I see the day when he’s baptized.

4. Pray for unchurched people

How many unchurched people do you pray for daily? How many people you disagree with do you pray fro daily?

It is impossible to hate someone you genuinely pray for daily.

5. Live out your faith authentically

Your actions carry weight. Humility is far more attractive than pride. When a non-Christian sees integrity, it’s compelling.

I just have a feeling if we in the church loved the world the way Jesus did, the world might come running to Christ.

And then the change we long to see might actually begin to happen.

What do you think? Scroll down and leave a comment. 🙂

Want Practical Help?

If you want more on how your church can relate to a constantly changing culture, I wrote about it in my new book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

The new Team Edition is now available featuring 8 videos that can help optimally frame the conversations for your team. And if you buy the Team Edition before May 31st, 2016, you’ll get access to a private Facebook Group for Team Edition leaders hosted by me.

_______

I’m on a sabbatical in May, and (for the most part) running past articles that have slipped off the main stream but in my view can still help leaders. I actually lost this article from my site two years ago in a site redesign. Fortunately, ChurchLeaders.com had also featured it and it’s great to be able to re-run it on this site. 

In many ways, the thinking in this post is similar to my argument in my #1 most-read post of all time, Some Advice on Same-Sex Marriage for US Church Leaders From a Canadian.—Carey

Josh-Pezold

CNLP 087: Starting a Church From Scratch in a New Community and Some Insights on Mentoring with Josh Pezold

Josh Pezold has done at least unique things in the last few years. He’s parachuted into New England to start a church from scratch in a community in which he never lived, and he chose Carey Nieuwhof as a personal mentor. We talk about both in today’s podcast.

Welcome to Episode 87 of the Podcast.

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Guest Links: Josh Pezold

BridgePointe Christian Church

Young Church Leaders

Top 8 Things I’ve Learned While Being Mentored by Carey Nieuwhof

Restoration House Ministries

Young Church Leaders Facebook

Young Church Leaders on Instagram

Josh on Twitter

Links Mentioned in this Episode

ThinkOrange.org.au

Andy Stanley; Episode 1

Andrew M. Beal

Reggie Joiner

David McDaniel; Episode 47 

Things You Can Do Right Away

It’s not every day you hear about a pastor’s enthusiasm for planting a church in a region known for having a large unchurched population. And as a young pastor, Josh was presented a set of challenges that required a patience and grace from a God-given vision. In this episode, he told us about what he did to reach the community and how he looked to mentorship for guidance.

  1. Be relational. Josh went out into the community and started meeting people at local businesses and neighborhoods. He joined a gym, held meetings in local restaurants, became acquainted with staffs and started building relationships. You can’t expect to have a substantial influence on someone if you don’t take the time to know them.
  2. Host events. While getting involved with the community, Josh and his team held free events that catered to the community. They held parties in the park, passed out free hot chocolate at the local skating rink and performed random acts of kindness with altruistic hearts. “This is what Christians do,” Josh said. “They do life together. It’s messy and dirty sometimes, but it’s a huge blessing.”
  3. Be transparent. When you’re transparent and can lead from a place of vulnerability, you’re opening the door for better relationships and greater influence. People desire open relationships and it was Josh’s goal to create an environment where that could happen organically. “I can’t lead someone where I’m not going,” Josh said.
  4. Find a mentor. Throughout the process of planting a church, Josh looked toward mentorship for guidance. You won’t learn without taking risks and asking questions, so don’t miss an opportunity because you’re feeling insecure. Have a mentor who will hold you accountable.

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Lasting Impact Team Edition is available now!

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I’m excited to announce that the Lasting Impact Team edition releases today! This is a compilation of eight videos designed to allow the teams in your church follow along 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 who are trying to 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 for church leaders and their teams.

Lasting Impact frames 7 pivotal conversations every church team needs to have, covering subjects like declining church attendance, team health, creating a culture volunteers love and how to engineer changes 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!

Quotes from this Episode

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 on iTunes and leave us a brief review! You can do the same on Stitcher and on TuneIn Radio as well.

Your ratings and reviews help us place 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: Martin Daland

How do you break the 200 attendance barrier? Martin Daland became the senior leader in a conflicted small church of 180.Within two years, saw his church grow to over 300. He talks about how he changed pastoral care, fought burn out, and got the church healthy. Amazingly, he did this in Norway, where only 5% of the population attends church. But the application is universal.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 88.

Negative Person

7 Signs You’re Dealing With a Negative Person

While we’d all rather avoid it, negativity is a part of life. Chances are you got some negative feedback already this week, and you’re not sure how to process it.

Do you take it to heart, even though it stings? Or dismiss it, and run the risk of ignoring helpful feedback?

Even though it’s unavoidable, negative feedback can derail you – even stunt your progress – if you don’t know how to handle it.

To begin with, there’s a world of difference between receiving feedback from a generally positive person who makes meaningful contributions to the culture and people around him or her, and receiving feedback from a truly negative person.

The first strategy for dealing with negative feedback is to determine whether you are dealing with negative feedback from a positive person or negative feedback from a negative person. You can read about that here.

That distinction will help you develop a filter to figure out the difference between the two. Negative feedback from a positive person can almost always be helpful. Negative feedback from a negative person is rarely as useful.

So how do you know if you’re dealing with a negative person? Here are seven signs:

Negative Person

1. Their negativity is part of a pattern

You’ve seen their negativity before. Maybe they’re a frequent flyer in your inbox or at congregational meetings. But it’s not an isolated, out-of-character incident you’re looking at.

The criticism you’re dealing with is ‘in character’ for them.

2. They’re negative about more than just your organization

Not only are they upset about something you or your team has done, but they’re angry about work, about a whole host of retail experiences, about how bad the world has become and long list of other grievances.

3. They fail the call display test

As subjective as this sounds, the call display test is a pretty good indicator of whether a person drains you or energizes you. When you see anyone’s name come up on your caller ID, you get an immediate emotional reaction to it.

Sometimes you’re thrilled to see the name and can’t wait to take the call. Other times you’re neutral. But sometimes you wince. Whether it’s a phone call, a text or an email, you respond negatively and quietly think “oh no.”

That’s a sign that the person’s overall influence in your life has been negative, not positive.

4. They are mostly against things, but never for things 

Sadly, negative people rarely know what they stand for; they only know what they stand against.

If the person you’re dealing with isn’t “for” anything positive, they likely have a negative worldview.

5. Compliments are usually followed by the word “but”

A positive person (and even a neutral person for that matter) can give a compliment. Negative people can’t.

What starts out positively (“I really enjoyed the event today”) is inevitably followed by a “but” (“but had they turned the volume down and shortened the message it would have been better.”)

People who can’t give a compliment are rarely the kind of people you build the future on.

 

6. They aren’t accomplishing much with their life

Okay, this one sounds harsh, but it’s accurate. Truly negative people rarely accomplish anything great.

You can’t build a life on what you’re against.

Because they are against so much, few people want to work with them. Stalled out careers, a history of frequent job changes, financial trouble and other similar markers often characterize negative people.

Sometimes they get notoriety (think angry bloggers), but beyond a few ‘angry celebrities’, most negative people do nothing significant with their lives.

And I’m not sure you could call angry blogging or commenting ‘significant’.

7. They have no vision for the future

A negative person is almost never excited about the future. They have no compelling vision for what should be.

They can just tell you why your vision is wrong. When you ask them for alternatives, they rarely have original or well-thought-out ideas.

What do you see?

Those are seven signs I look for to determine whether I’m dealing with a negative person.  In the final post in this series, we’ll look at how to handle negative people in your life and in your organization.

I wrote more about creating a healthy church culture in my latest book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.

In the meantime, what are some signs that tell you you’re dealing with a negative person.  What would you add or change in this list?

Scroll down and leave a comment!