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better communicator

5 Tips That Will Definitely Make You a Better Communicator

So you want to be a better communicator. You’re just not sure how to do that.

Sometimes the art and science of becoming better seems so complex, you’re not sure where to start.

After all, most people who hear you talk can’t give you meaningful feedback. They can tell you whether they liked it or not, but rarely can they tell you why they liked it. Even if you did a great job, you will have a hard time repeating it if you don’t understand what made it great.

That’s why it’s so critical to get feedback and coaching from other communicators. They can often explain why your talk worked or why it didn’t, just like a hitting coach in major league baseball can help a .300 hitter become a .310 hitter by offering far more helpful tips than a simple “Hey, just strike out less.”

So in this post, two things. First, below, I share some of my favourite communication tips (including a few I’ve never written about before) that can make a surprisingly big difference.

Second, this week there’s an opportunity to get 3 hours worth of FREE Preaching Coaching. It’s a $299 value but The Rocket Company is making a limited number of seats available at their online AMPLIFY Conference absolutely free.

You can join this virtual conference for free if you pre-register today (affiliate link).  Join Jeff Henderson as he interacts with Dr. Charles Stanley, Lysa TerKeurst, Matt Chandler, and Crawford Loritts.

It happens Wednesday, September 28 at 1:00 pm (EDT).

Want to know my favourite part of the event?

Jeff will select a few audience members (who have pre-registered) to evaluate their sermons LIVE on the air! Jeff has actually done that for me and the level of feedback he provides is astonishing and so helpful. So don’t miss out!

Register here for free.

So, let’s get better together.

Here are 5 simple tips that can definitely make you a better communicator before you give your next talk. They’ve definitely helped me.

better communicator1. Don’t memorize your talk, understand it

This may be my favourite speaking tip of all time. It just solves so many problems and reduces tension before you speak and while you speak.

I get asked all the time how I can speak for 45 minutes or even longer without looking at notes. I learned the secret when I was in seminary and asked Tom Long, a Princeton professor, how he did it.

He told me: Don’t memorize your talk; understand it.

He was right. Memorizing a talk is extremely difficult. Especially a longer talk. I personally find that trying to recall a memorized talk stilts your delivery because you can’t focus on the moment.

So instead of memorizing your talk, understand your talk.

Think about it. You do this intuitively when you talk to someone. For example, you don’t memorize inviting someone to dinner. (Okay, maybe you memorized a dinner invite once, when you were asking that girl you had a crush on out on a first date…And remember how awkward that was? Point made…)

No, if you’re inviting a friend to dinner, you just intuitively know that you need to see if they’re free, set up the details and maybe figure out where and when and who’s bringing what. Your conversation follows that flow.

Your talk is no different. It’s an introduction, a body, a conclusion and some transition points along the way. If you can grasp those main points, it’s amazingly easy to see how you will naturally fill the space in between with what you prepared.

You need to be familiar with your talk and you need to understand it, but you’ll never need to memorize it.

I wrote more on how to deliver a talk without using notes here.

2. Begin writing  your talk weeks in advance

It’s good to get ahead on your talk for so many reasons. But here’s one you may not have known.

Your brain actually has both long term and short term memory capacity.

If you write a talk shortly before you give it, the brain stores your talk in your short term memory. This is why, sometimes, if you’re a preacher who wrote Sunday’s message on a Thursday (or worse, on Saturday night!), it can feel so unfamiliar to you on Sunday.

Contrast that with a talk you’ve worked on weeks ago and maybe delivered recently. For some reason, you probably feel like you know that talk much better than the others you write just before delivery. The reason is simple: your brain stored that information in your long term memory because it’s been around longer.

Ideas stored in long term memory are just easier to recall.

I know it’s hard to get ahead, but try it. I’m working on a series I’m delivering two months from now. I’ve even got most of the bottom lines developed for the series and I’ll flesh out most of the messages in detail two to three weeks before I preach them. My guess is that by the time I deliver the first message, the series will already feel like an old friend.

Because I’m comfortable with it, the talk will immediately connect better with the audience. Your comfort with the subject may even appear to give you more authority on the subject, too, because your audience will assume you understand it well. They’ll realize you own it, because you do.

Speakers, this is also why conference talks you’ve repeated once or twice are so easy to recall: they’re stored in your long term memory.

By beginning every talk well in advance, you give every talk the opportunity to flourish into something better.

3. Include at least one self-deprecating story

If you want to build rapport with your audience, show them your weaknesses, not just your strengths.

I almost always try to find one mildly self-deprecating story in any talk I’m giving. (Fortunately, I seem to have an endless supply of self-deprecating moments from which to draw.)

This does two things. First, it put you on the same level as the audience, which is exactly where you want to be in a post-modern, post-Christian culture. Theologically, that’s a good thing, because you actually are on the same level as your audience. But in our post-modern, anti-authoritarian culture, the audience wants to know you’re one of them.

In a post-modern, post-Christian culture, your authority actually goes up, not down, when you display your vulnerability.

Second, the audience empathizes with you. They see themselves in you, and your honesty makes them quietly cheer for you.

Can you overshare? Yes. Can you under-share? Absolutely.

How do you know where the line is? If you’re not sure, I wrote this post on how to be an appropriately transparent leader without oversharing.

The bottom line, though, is this: people may admire your strengths, but they resonate with your weaknesses.

4. Pay attention to the logical flow of your talk

Every talk should take people on a logical journey. Even our stories are sequenced logically, with a beginning, middle and end. If you don’t believe it, try watching a movie with the scenes in random order. It will drive you crazy and the story, of course, will make no sense.

Our brains are hardwired to search for meaning, and logic brings order out of the chaos around us.

Your talk should have a beginning, middle and end, and each section should be logically and sequentially related.

For example, if you start your talk by describing a problem, then your talk should also offer the solution or at least a response to that problem. If it doesn’t, you’ll just annoy people.

Similarly, move the different sections of your talk through a logical grid. It should look something like this: If A, then B, then C and then, finally, D.

Here’s the logical flow of a recent message I gave.

A. Some of you don’t like Christians because you think most Christians are hypocrites.

B. In fact, aren’t some non-Christians actually better moral people than the Christians you know?

C. Well, you’re right. Most of us are hypocrites.  You have a moral standard. The question is: have you kept it?

D. But what if our personal morality isn’t the basis of Christian salvation? Christianity doesn’t make moral people better. It makes dead people live.

E. God is actually more critical of hypocrites than you are.

F. Fortunately he forgives, and challenges those ready to throw stones at others to drop them.

G. In light of God’s incredible mercy, it’s time to drop the stone.

Most messages typically have 3 to 7 key logical moves in them. This one had seven. Whatever it is, understanding the logical flow of your argument will help you understand your talk, which as we saw in Point 1 above, eliminates the need for memorization.

If you can’t figure out the logical flow of your talk as a communicator, your audience never will.

5. Speak with double your normal energy during delivery

One final quick tip: whenever you’re communicating, speak with double your normal energy.

It’s going to feel weird at first, but it’s vital.

Speaking in normal conversational tones when you have a microphone in your hand actually makes you sound boring. So double your energy.

Start by doubling your normal volume. I’m not talking about yelling. I’m talking about speaking more loudly and passionately.

Many speakers get freaked out by the microphone. Don’t. The sound person will turn you down when you project your voice.

A quick hack? Pretend you have no mic on and you’re speaking to the person at the back of the room. That will automatically make you a more compelling speaker.

Energetic speakers are always more compelling.

Any Tips?

What are your favourite tips on becoming a better speaker?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

And don’t forget to register for free for the Amply Event today.

myths about megachurches

5 Unfair Myths About Megachurches It’s Time To Bust

When you think of megachurches, what comes to mind?

If there’s one thing I learned from blogging about the church, it’s that some people hate megachurches. With a passion.

I try not to engage the trolls and the haters in the comments on my blog (engaging them just gives them what they want). But I’ve also noticed that even among more balanced church leaders, it’s easy to take swipes at megachurches.

Sometimes I wonder how much of that is born out of envy, a sense of inferiority or simple misunderstanding, but after another set of cheap shots in response to my blog post on the recent exits of Pete Wilson and Perry Noble from their ministries, I thought it was time to engage the accusations that often come at megachurches.

To give you a sample of what megachurch leaders hear regularly, take this comment that was posted on my blog in response to my post last week:

Wish these guys would get wise and start obeying Scripture and follow the New Testament model of interdependent churches under presbytery rule with representatives. Of course these preachers get burned out. They’ve made themselves the lynchpins of megachurches. They should get burned out. It’s a bad model of church government on many fronts, and it’s actually from the mercy of God that these men burn out. Churches are meant to be small, tightly knit communities, not splashy corporations. You build a monster, you get devoured. Or you become a monster. Burnout of megachurch pastors probably saves souls.

I wish I was making this up. But I’m not. Somebody actually wrote this.

Sigh.

Are megachurches perfect? No. But no church is perfect, including small and mid-sized churches.

Even on a simple logical level, saying all megachurches are bad is like saying all small or mid-sized churches are bad. It’s just simplistic and illogical thinking.

If you’re against church growth, you’re against the basic mission of the church: to reach people.

So what happens when a church starts to grow? Do you shut the growth down? Do you get bad at what you do so you stop reaching people? Do you keep your churches smaller on purpose and multiply (by the way, that’s now called multi-site)?

The logical issues alone with slamming large churches are riddled with problems.

But it’s even deeper than that.

So here are 5 myths about megachurches it’s finally time to bust.

megachurch myths

1. It’s a one-man (or one-woman) show

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that a large church is a one person show.

That’s because—quite naturally—most of us think of the founder or senior leader when we think of a large church (there are some large churches where that isn’t the case, but they’re the exception).

As a rule, most large churches hardly behave like a one-man or one-woman show. There are actually teams of highly skilled leaders around the point leader. Anyone who says a large organization is a one-man show doesn’t understand what’s required to lead a large, complex, let alone multi-site organization. You simply HAVE to have dozens to hundreds of capable staff and thousands of capable volunteers.

In reality, far more small churches are one-man or one-woman shows than large churches.

It’s far more likely that a small church or a mid-sized church (say 400-600) is a one-person show because it IS possible for the leader to do pretty much everything. That breaks down entirely once your church is larger than a thousand in attendance. In fact, your church will never sustainably grow to 1000 people if it’s a one-person show run entirely by the leader.

While the reasons for Mars Hill’s collapse in 2014 are complex (I talk about them in Episode 79 of my Leadership Podcast with Mars Hill insider Justin Dean), you can argue that it wasn’t sustainably built because it imploded when Mark Driscoll left.

But many other very large churches have gone through changes in leadership successfully. Southeast Christian grew significantly after its founder left. So has Christ Fellowship in Florida. Gene Appel handed over a very large Central Christian Church in Las Vegas to Jud Wilhite, who has led it to unprecedented growth and expansion.

People who say large churches are one-man shows don’t understand large churches. Period.

2. The people who attend are just blind sheep

First of all, if you think the people who attend a megachurch are all blind sheep, why don’t you ask them if that’s the case? After all, it’s a pretty insulting accusation.

If you visit most megachurches, you won’t find blind sheep. You will find leaders. Actually, most often, you’ll find capable leaders—independent men and women who appreciate the level of purpose, thoughtfulness and mission behind many of today’s larger churches.

I’m not saying leaders don’t also go to small or mid-sized churches, but they also (perhaps predominantly) become engaged in large churches. Why?

Well, because great leaders tend to gravitate toward churches and organizations that are well led.

They want to be well led in church because that’s what they’re used to in the marketplace and in life. Great leaders attract great leaders.

They’re used to leaders and teams of leaders who know how to make critical decisions, to advance a collective cause and who can lead and manage complex organizations.

By contrast, capable leaders avoid poorly-led organizations and churches.

3. Megachurches don’t produce real disciples

Of all the criticism, this one stings me the most personally, mainly, because it’s just not true. And while I haven’t led a megachurch personally, I have led a large church (1000+) and this criticism always chased our ministry.

Start with the basics. What is a disciple?

Someone who has decided to trust Jesus as their Saviour. But how do you know whether they’re following Jesus?

Jesus actually gave us a very practical test that helps us tell. He simply said: “By their fruit you’ll recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”

In other words, look at someone’s life for the evidence.

In this post, I outline in detail why the chief characteristic of a disciple is love, not knowledge. We’ve falsely defined discipleship in this generation.

Knowledge, as the Apostle Paul pointed out, is not spiritual maturity. Knowledge makes you arrogant. Love transforms you.

If you go to a megachurch, you will discover thousands of people whose lives look more like Jesus a few years down the road than they ever did before. You’ll discover people who have placed their faith in Jesus and who are being transformed by the love of God (and you’ll discover that in small and mid-sized churches too).

You know who isn’t being transformed by love? The critics.

Think about that for a while. And maybe worry about that as well.

4. People don’t like attending large churches

This is a fun argument to spin because it sounds like what Yoggi Berra said about a certain New York restaurant: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

While it may be true that Millennials love relationship and smaller gatherings, the truth is people in every demographic continue to flock to megachurches.  Studies continue to show that megachurches keep getting bigger and there are more of them every year.

Large churches are doing a better and better job of making things smaller too. The launch of new, smaller campuses, and smaller worship spaces are models many megachurches are adopting.

The paradox is that large churches keep getting larger and smaller at the same time. Which is why they keep growing larger.

5. Megachurches are unbiblical

This is a common criticism of megachurches. People don’t like the lights, the structure or “CEO” style leadership.

I’m just not sure the argument stands up, though.

First, the critics of megachurches are rarely practicing what might be called ‘biblical’ forms of church. My guess is most don’t get up at 5 a.m. each day before work, get together with other Christians to pray and promise each other that they won’t cheat on their wives, that they’ll care for the poor and stay faithful to Jesus. My guess is they’re not reciting ancient canticles, gathering daily in each other’s homes and radically pooling their possessions to care for the poor and help other fledgling churches fuel the rapidly expanding Jesus-movement. If they are, my hat’s off to them. This is probably a fair representation of the form of first-century Christian worship.

The reality, of course, is that the church has always changed, adapted and responded to changing times.

Organ music, now seen as traditional, obscure or even quaint, was the ‘radical’ new worship of the nineteen century.

It’s so easy to confuse the method with the mission and preferences with principles. The methods change. The mission doesn’t.

In fact, if you want to jeopardize the mission, never change your method. You’ll become irrelevant in a generation. The person going door to door selling encyclopedias is going to have a tough time in the future, especially given the fact that Encyclopedia Brittanica stopped publishing in 2012 after 244 years. It’s not that people got out of the information business, it’s just that how we consume information changed.

Ditto with the church. There may be a day where large churches are no longer an effective way to share Christ with others. If that’s the case, they’ll fade. In the meantime, though, if they continue to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus, why stop them?

Want More?

If you want more, I outline 7 issues churches of all sizes need to wrestle with to become more effective in my latest book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow.

In the meantime, any thoughts?

I do welcome thoughtful comments. Toxic comments or rants will be deleted. (In my view, you’re not helping anyone with that kind of argument.)

Scroll down and add to the conversation. We’ll get better together as we learn from each other.

kara-powell

CNLP 106: Kara Powell on How Many Average Churches are Actually Reaching Millennials

It’s easy to think only large churches with big staffs and significant budgets can reach young people. The truth is they are. But new research shows they’re not the only ones. Kara Powell shares brand new research on how average churches with few staff and little money are reaching young adults in the same way large churches are.

Welcome to Episode 106 of the Podcast.

kara-powell

 

Guest Links: Kara Powell

Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church

ChurchesGrowingYoung.Com

Kara on Twitter

Kara on Facebook

The Fuller Youth Institute

Links Mentioned

The Orange Tour

Parent Cue

Takeaways from this Episode

Kara Powell and her team at the Fuller Youth Institute spent 10,000 hours collecting data from churches to find out what they were doing to reach young people. There were huge variants in background, from culture, to denomination, to ethnicities, and what they found were six core commitments that created healthy environments for young people to thrive.

  1. Empathy. Churches who empathize understand the main questions that young people are asking and journey with them as they figure them out. 3 questions are being asked:
    1. Who am I?
    2. Where do I fit?
    3. What purpose do I make?
  2. Jesus’ message. For younger people, Jesus is first and Christianity comes second. Jesus is magnetic. He’s a message, a person and a context who can handle our biggest questions, including our doubt. Young people connect with that.
  3. Keychain leadership. This is leadership that isn’t centralized control. Every leader has keys of authority of power and influence, and as young people are ready for them, leaders know how to hand the metaphorical “keys” to them.
  4. Prioritize young people. From allocating a budget to speaking their language, churches doing well to reach younger audiences invest in them.
  5. Focus on families. One of the best ways to reach young people is to equip their parents and partner with them.
  6. You don’t need a big budget, and you don’t have to be perceived as “cool.” You can leverage your time, talents and volunteers to serve, and any leader can get better at engaging young people, no matter how “old” they are.

Quotes from this Episode

 

 

 

The Lasting Impact Team Edition

IMG_7604

The team edition 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.

Get your copy of Lasting Impact today! 

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!

A New Episode Every Week…Just Subscribe

The podcast releases every Tuesday morning.

Subscribe for free and never miss out on wisdom from world-class leaders like Brian Houston, Andy Stanley, Louie Giglio, Ravi Zacharias, Craig Groeschel, Sue Miller, Kara Powell, Jon Acuff and many others.

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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: Ben Snyder

A year ago, Ben Snyder got a surprise phone call from his boss, a well known and loved megachurch pastor, who had just been diagnosed with a disease. Ben was asked to become the new lead pastor of a massive church. Surprisngly, it’s gone well for everyone. Listening to Ben will help you understand why.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 107.

desire for consensus

Why It’s Time to Give Up On Your Desire for Consensus

So you’d love to get everyone to buy into your idea, don’t you?

Church leaders (and many other organizational leaders) are famous for trying to get consensus around an idea before launching it.

I get that.

But consensus has a cost. A big cost. Here it is:

Consensus kills courage. 

Very few good, innovative ideas gain consensus before a leader acts.

In fact, most great new ideas worth anything are divisive right out of the gate.

As a result, leaders shrink back. They smell the tension, and they back off. They try to get too much buy-in on the front end, and their vision doesn’t actually become better, it just becomes diluted.

As a result, too many leaders lose hope, passion and vision.

Why is that? How can you turn it around?

drive for consensus

Think about how different history would be if great leaders always needed consensus from the people they led:

Moses would have left the Israelites in slavery.

Jesus would have listened to the disciples and talked himself out of the cross.

Peter would never have given up his kosher diet.

The apostle Paul would have gone back to Phariseeism.

Martin Luther would have waited for his bishop to approve.

Martin Luther King would have delayed until legislators were sympathetic.

Even Henry Ford, inventor of the assembly line and first mass producer of cars, famously said that if he’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said “faster horses.”

Any time you’re seeking to bring about radical change, most people will think it’s a terrible idea. And sometimes, they’re right.

But there are other times where they’re not.

You should live for the ‘once in a while’ idea. It’s the kind of idea that changes everything.

When it comes to courageous change, here are four things that are true:

1. Consensus on the front end kills courage

If you look for consensus during a season of innovation, it will almost always strip the courage out of your idea.

Trying to find consensus while mining for fresh ideas results in diluted ideas because people often don’t realize what they need before they see it.

No one needed smart phones…until the smartphone was invented. Now try to remove it from the marketplace or your life.

Even the electric light bulb was seen as a stupid idea. Scientist Henry Morton of the Stevens Institute of Technology predicted the light bulb would be ‘a conspicuous failure.’ A British parliamentary committee concluded the light bulb was ‘good enough for our transatlantic … but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men.’

And if you are looking for courage, few things will kill it faster than the drive for early consensus.

The best idea only looks like the best idea after it wins.

2. Individuals are almost always more courageous than teams

I don’t know why this is true, but it’s often easier for a team of people to adapt to a bold idea and make it better than it is for a team to come up with a bold idea.

This isn’t always the case, but in many instances, I think it is. I dream in teams and I encourage people to dream alone, but often the best ideas come from one person.

Teams are one thing. Committees are another.

I’m not 100% sure what the differences are between the two, but I think teams tend to attract leaders while committees rarely do.

So, if you want to kill vision, form a committee. The committee will beat the life out of any innovation you bring to the table.

Most dying organizations have committees. Almost no growing organizations do. It’s an interesting observation.

3. You shouldn’t walk alone, but innovation may require you to start alone

Walking alone is a bad idea, but starting alone is sometimes required for true innovation.

The need to start alone or with a handful of people by your side is not that uncommon a phenomenon.

For example, when I launched my leadership podcast two years ago, almost all the advice I got was “keep it short…people have small attention spans” and “feature your ideas on the podcast.”

I didn’t want to do that. Instead, I wanted to do two things: bring a longer form podcast to the church space AND do it by featuring me interviewing other leaders. Every other podcast in the church leaders space at the time was shorter and featured the podcast subject interviewed by someone else.

Against most of the advice given to me, I launched the podcast as a 45-minute to 90-minute episode with me interviewing someone else. To be fair, I had seen this format done in other areas, but no one in the church space that I knew was doing it.

Now, 24 months later, people seem to love the format, and it’s caught on quickly. I’m not doing it alone anymore, but I had to start alone.

Sometimes that’s okay.

4. Great ideas gain consensus on the back end

So how do you know if you have a truly great idea?

Watch and see if people buy in on the other side of the launch.

What should happen is that as your idea gains steam, more and more people buy in until, on the other side of the launch, you have success.

The principle? Look for consensus on the back side of change, not the front side.

If no one buys into your idea over time, you probably have a bad idea.

Here are some ideas to get you started if you’re handling a divisive, innovative idea:

Don’t ask the team for agreement, just get permission.

Listen to people, but follow your gut.

If you’re wrong, take full responsibility.

When it emerges that you were right, be humble and invite others on the journey.

Ask yourself this

I realize these ideas are controversial. I realize acting on them might get you fired.

But would you rather look back in 30 years with regret at how many great ideas were anesthetized by a visionless committee or group?

Or… would you rather look back and be satisfied that you did everything in your power to bring about change, even if it got you in trouble?

Of course, the third option might be that you successfully ushered in the change that changed everything. But I’d even settle for trying, failing and getting in trouble.

This is not an excuse to be a jerk, but it is permission to be courageous.

So today, don’t look for consensus. Instead, be courageous.

What are your frustrations about consensus? Scroll down and leave a comment!

(P.S. If you want to read more about leading change, I wrote all about leading change without losing it in my book, and also in this blog series about change that starts here.)

recent exit

Some Thoughts About The Recent Exit of Two Megachurch Pastors

Like many of  you, I was deeply saddened to learn of Pete Wilson’s recent resignation as the Senior Pastor of Cross Point Church.

In Pete’s own words (you should read and watch them for yourself), he’s tired, broken and has led on empty for too long. So he’s stepping back.

This comes, of course, just a few months after the exit of Perry Noble from NewSpring.

If someone had told me in January of this year that both Pete and Perry would leave ministry this year under tough circumstances, I probably wouldn’t have believed them.

Their departures have a lot of people talking and a lot of people thinking. Hopefully, it’s also got a lot of people praying.

It also has pastors reflecting.

I’ve been in conversations with people in church leadership. Many of us are asking what it means, and whether it can or will continue to happen to more of us.

Some writers and social media commentators have taken cheap shots. Man, that breaks my heart. I hope this post is the opposite of taking shots at anyone.

The mission of the church and its leaders is too important to do that.

I offer these few thoughts with the sincere hope this makes all of us a little better in the church. I also offer it out of a deep love and respect for Perry, Pete and all of you in church leadership.

exit megachurch

1. Pastors aren’t fake; the struggle is real

When a megachurch pastor resigns because he’s burned out, or because he’s experiencing personal problems, critics often rush in to claim that pastors are fake.

Look, most leaders who get into ministry aren’t fake.

It’s not that pastors are fake; it’s that the struggle is real.

I know Perry and Pete personally and I have only detected sincerity in both of them.

They started churches because they love Jesus. They led out of a love for Jesus. They sincerely wanted to reach people and did reach people who will actually be in heaven because of what happened.

I think I’m on firm ground to say they still love Jesus, very much.

Pete and Perry are the real deal. They’re not the plastic hair/shiny suit type of preacher. They got in this and stayed in this for the right reasons.

I’ve also felt the push and pull of ministry and life. And it almost took me under.

The struggle is real. After a decade in ministry, I burned out too. (Actually, Perry and I talk about burn out in this interview.)

By the sheer grace of God, I came back and am now in a place where, while I have struggles like anyone, I feel healthy and extremely grateful. (While this isn’t a universal prescription, here are 12 things that helped me come back from burnout.)

Often when you see a leader exit, it has nothing to do with whether that leader is sincere. It has everything to do with the fact that the struggles he or she is facing are real.

2. It’s hard to lead anything

It’s hard to lead anything, let alone a church. Or yourself.

Leaders face pressures non-leaders don’t always understand.

And leaders of large organizations face even more complex problems.

When you lead a large ministry or organization, it comes with problems and challenges 99% of the population never wakes up to most days.

Add to that the pressures of life, marriage, family, relationships and the task of leading yourself, and you have a recipe that requires tremendous personal stamina, humility, growth and development.

Sometimes critics say large churches are bad because they seem to generate outcomes like the ones we’ve seen recently.

The reality is that small church pastors also leave their ministries, experience burnout and suffer moral failure every day.

You just never hear about it because those stories don’t make the news. (Please note, neither the exit of Pete or Perry involves moral failure.)

Large churches aren’t inherently bad. Small churches aren’t inherently good.

Churches just have people in them. And that makes it…well, complex.

3. God loves and uses broken people

Are Perry and Pete broken?

Yep.

And so am I.

So are you.

Too often we hold up perfect pictures of what our life is supposed to be like.

We all remember Eden somewhere in the back of our minds. It’s like we all know what it was like, and what it will be like in heaven.

But this isn’t Eden and this isn’t heaven. The war’s been won, but we’re living in a battlefield somewhere in between what was and what will be.

As a result, our lives are a complex mixture of sin and grace. Of brokenness and redemption.

This is true of pastors too.

We don’t have a direct line to God any more than you do. Our marriages aren’t ‘easier’ just because we’re in ministry (actually, you could argue that they’re harder). Our souls aren’t inherently more virtuous.

Pastors aren’t better people; they’re just called people. Called to the same calling to which non-pastors are called but in a specialized role.

Sometimes I wish people would actually read their bibles. We think we have to be perfect for God to use us.

But then there’s scripture…

Noah got drunk and partied naked after God delivered him and his family from death.

Moses came into ministry after he murdered someone.

Jacob raised perhaps the most dysfunctional family imaginable.

Judah slept with his daughter-in-law only because he mistook her for a prostitute.

David was a fantastic king. And then he saw Bathsheba.

Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived in Old Testament times but really struggled with sex. And God. And cynicism.

Elijah saw one of the most powerful displays of God’s power in history, and then promptly fell into a self-pitying depression.

Jonah ran away from God again, and again, and again.

Peter denied Jesus.

Thomas doubted even when he saw Jesus with his own eyes.

Paul was a little insecure (just read 2 Corinthians).

The early church as described in Corinthians is a study of dysfunction.

Early Christians stopped believing in the resurrection (Read 1 Corinthians 15).

The amazing part is this: God used it all.

I know we preach on this stuff but it’s like we don’t expect it to apply to us.

As my friend Reggie Joiner and I wrote a few years back, God doesn’t use perfect pictures. He uses broken people.

Why does God use broken people? Because those are pretty much the only people he has.

Don’t get me wrong, none of this is an excuse to start sinning.

I want to stay faithful to my wife, be a compassionate father and be a healthier, better leader because I know it honours God to do that. Plus, life honestly goes better if you avoid those pitfalls.

But the fact that we are imperfect shouldn’t be a reason to say we can’t lead.

Clearly, there are activities and conditions that would and should take us out of ministry for a season or longer, but we have to get over this idea that leaders need to be perfect.

Christ is perfect. We get to partner with him.

If you’re thinking well, I’m just more righteous than all this, you need to know that puts you in great company. That’s exactly what the Pharisees thought.

What Now?

I hope and pray the day will come where we see Perry and Pete back in strong and vibrant leadership in the local church. The story isn’t over for either of them. As Perry often famously said, if you’re still breathing, God’s not done with you.

I also hope and pray that honest, helpful dialogue will help many more of us avoid hitting the crisis point that tips us out of leadership, if even for a season.

This is not a ‘do these 5 things and it will bullet-proof your ministry’ kind of post. Because the issues are far more complex than that.

But as for me, I want to develop the practice of getting the help I need before I need it. Yesterday, I went back to my counsellor not because I have any burning issues, but because I want to see them before they start. As a close friend has told me, sometimes you need to go to a counsellor not because you have a bad marriage, but because you want a good one.

I want to stay close to my inner circle, telling them more things more often. Walking closely with people who love me enough to call me out and tell me the truth.

And finally, I want to stay even closer to God. It can be difficult to have an intimate relationship with God when you do his work every day (I know that’s hard to understand if you’re not in full-time ministry, but trust me, it is). So I’ll keep pressing closer knowing he loves me because I’m me, not because I lead.

I’m not saying my friends didn’t do any of these things or didn’t want to do them, I’m just saying I know that when I do them, I’m healthier.

Any thoughts on this, friends? Abusive or negative comments will be deleted. This isn’t the time or the place for that. Cynics, please go somewhere else.

But for those of us who love the church and its leaders, what are your thoughts and what has helped you when you’ve run into the challenges of life and leadership?

Scroll down and leave a comment.

dan_reiland

CNLP 105: Dan Reiland – 35 Years of Wisdom from An Exceptional Church Leader

Dan Reiland talks about what it’s been like to work with John Maxwell for over 30 years, about how they vritually created the role of Executive Pastor, and what he’s learning serving as the XP of one of the largest churches in the country (12 Stone). Dan even tells us the top 5 leadership lessons of all time that he learned from John Maxwell.

Welcome to Episode 105 of the Podcast.

dan_reiland

Guest Links: Dan Reiland

DanReiland.Com

Dan on Twitter

12Stone Church

12Stone Resources

Links Mentioned

Injoy Stewardship Solutions

John C. Maxwell

ReThink Leadership

Bill Hybles

Amplified Leadership: 5 Practices to Establish Influence, Build People, and Impact Others for a Lifetime

Dan Reilands Top 5 Insights From John Maxwell

How do you qualify yourself as a leader? It’s more than someone assigning a title to you. How you leverage your influence to lead change makes all the difference. Dan shares the incredible advice he’s learned from John Maxwell.

  1. Leadership is influence. It’s too easy try to make it mechanical or about a title or about a function, but leadership is more relational and organic. It’s more art than science. It’s not stratified.
  2. Leaders are agents of change. The local church can be a place where nothing changes. Dan has a deep passion that sees progress, and he says that just can’t happen without change.
  3. Encouragement is 51% of leadership. It sounds simple, but you have to define encouragement. We think of it as something soft, but as a leader who’s an encourager, people will migrate to you. The outcome overrides the action.
  4. Attitude can make or break you. It’s a choice that can take you to the top. It’s common to see what needs to be fixed. When you work hard, and you carry a heavy load, your perspective gets skewed. Or you can choose the opposite, and free your thoughts.
  5. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Some people make mentorship too big. Mentoring isn’t about this big program; it’s about the right person with the right word at the right moment. How you make an impact doesn’t have to do with what you know, but how you relate to someone.

Quotes from this Episode

 

The Lasting Impact Team Edition

IMG_7604

The team edition 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.

Get your copy of Lasting Impact today! 

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!

A New Episode Every Week…Just Subscribe

The podcast releases every Tuesday morning.

Subscribe for free and never miss out on wisdom from world-class leaders like Brian Houston, Andy Stanley, Louie Giglio, Ravi Zacharias, Craig Groeschel, Sue Miller, Kara Powell, Jon Acuff and many others.

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: Kara Powell

It’s easy to think only large churches with big staffs and significant budgets can reach young people. The truth is they are. But new research shows they’re not the only ones. Kara Powell shares brand new research on how average churches with few staff and little money are reaching young adults in the same way large churches are.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 106.

iPhone 7

Why I Returned My iPhone 7 An Hour After Ordering It

So I did a crazy thing recently that some of you do. I set my alarm for 2:55 a.m. EDT to make sure I was one of the first in line to pre-order the new iPhone 7 Plus (yes, I’m a Plus guy) on release day.

(And hang on…whether you’re an Apple fan, Android fan or whatever-fan, the point of this post is universal, I promise.)

It’s been 2 years since I upgraded, so I was excited to order a new phone. I did what it seems most people did: I ordered my new phone in the brand new JetBlack colour.

But literally less than an hour after I ordered it, I canceled my order.

Why?

Simple. I couldn’t get back to sleep easily so I decided to watch a user review of what I just bought (thanks, Jennifer McWilliams, for the link).

Apparently, even at the release event, the JetBlack phones were scratching and smudging. And they’re slippery. I’m a neat freak, so scratching, smudging and slipping are not my love language.

So I went back online and ordered the iPhone 7  in matte black, which apparently is much better. Plus it ships earlier (less demand). And then I promptly canceled my JetBlack order.

So what’s my point?

Here are three quick thoughts on user reviews that can make a difference for any leader.

iphon

 1. What USERS say about you trumps what YOU say about you

In today’s culture, what users say about you trumps what you say about you. Even if you’re Apple.

Think about it: when was the last time you bought anything significant without checking out user reviews first? For years now, I haven’t bought a TV, car, computer or frankly even a replacement water filter for my fridge without looking at the reviews before I buy.

Something that was absent from the market a decade ago now dominates consumer purchases and consumer thinking.

Leaders who understand this will always do better than leaders who don’t.

2. Direct access and interaction matters. A lot.

Again, as little as a decade ago, few of us had any interaction with major brands. At best you went to a clunky website and filled out a customer form and waited to hear back.

Social media changed all that.

While most of us don’t have direct access to companies as gigantic at Apple, you probably have interaction with your airline via social media. I’ve been surprised to hear back from CEOs of start-ups and executives at even mid-sized companies.

People expect it.

The point?

When you hear directly from an organization, you are far less likely to complain about the organization.

So… leaders, to what extent are you interacting on social media and other channels with your congregation or tribe?

Are you…

Asking questions?

Answering questions?

Expressing gratitude?

Encouraging people?

Listening?

If you are, you’re building a much better experience for others.

Using social media for dialogue rather than monologue can really help sharpen the experience for both leaders and customers.

Plus, paying attention to user reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Google or other platforms is tremendously enlightening. Even if you don’t agree with what users are saying, you’ll learn from them.

3. Leaders who think like customers are better leaders

Hey, I realize churches don’t have customers—we have congregations. But as a leader of a church or organization, you live a good chunk of your life as a customer of other companies.

Leaders who think like customers are better leaders.

For example, even Apple admits its JetBlack phones will scratch and carry “micro-abrasions” (see footnote 1 way down at the bottom of the iPhone 7 page). Maybe the fears about scratched phones are way overblown. And clearly, all the other models do not have this problem. But why would you release a model that you know is going to bother a meaningful percentage of your customer base?

Releasing an expensive product that already has a built-in problem is a bit perplexing to me, but perhaps there are factors at work I don’t see or can’t realize.

I know that as a leader, it’s way too easy to think about what I’m passionate about as the leader of an organization rather than what the end-user experience is like.

If you really want to be a better leader, flip your viewpoint from your perspective to your end user’s perspective. Ask yourself:

What will it really be like to hear the message I’m writing on Sunday?

What’s it like to be ‘new’ at our church?

What will small group feel like if I’ve never in a small group before?

How will people react when they see this email I’m writing in their inbox?

What it’s like for a first-time single mom to hand her child off to a volunteer in our pre-school ministry?

It’s just so easy for leaders to only think through things from their point of view as a leader. But leaders who think like customers are always better leaders.

No, you don’t need to do everything your customers say (that’s not leadership), but it does mean you should listen to your customers.

If you understand your customers, you’ll be the best able to serve them.

What are you learning about user reviews and listening to customers?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

Ask_Carey

CNLP Bonus 012: #AskCarey Part 11

Your questions are the best questions.

We’re back with another bonus episode of Ask Carey. Scroll down to see what questions I tackle this episode.

Welcome to Ask Carey Part 11.

Ask Carey

Questions Featured in this Episode

2:49   How many entry level staff still focus on building relationships in the church? As you switch to a larger organization, does all the staff make that transition?

9:39 How do you find people to mentor and work with, and creating a humble environment?

15:45 What would you say are the top 5 or 10 hindrances today?

23:01 How do you strengthen and maintain when trying to plant or pastor a church?

25:59 In what places are you finding where people feel a sense of community?

29:47 How do you define a win when it comes to Monday morning?

Links Mentioned

Carey on Facebook

Carey on Twitter

Carey on Instagram

Carey’s Blog (with link to SpeakPipe)

Church Leaders Podcast / How to Break the 200 Barrier

Seven Practices of Effective Ministry

Previous Bonus Episodes

CNLP Bonus Episode #1

CNLP Bonus Episode #2

CNLP Bonus Episode #3

CNLP Bonus Episode #4

CNLP Bonus Episode #5

CNLP Bonus Episode #6

CNLP Bonus Episode #7

CNLP Bonus Episode #8

CNLP Bonus Episode #9

CNLP Bonus Episode #10

CNLP Bonus Episode #11

 

Quotes from Carey 

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!

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.

Ask_Carey

CNLP Bonus 011: #AskCarey Part 10

Your questions are the best questions.

We’re back with another bonus episode of Ask Carey. Scroll down to see what questions I tackle this episode: it’s everything from how to grow a church, dealing with ‘committee-led’ churches, and how to engage volunteers.

Welcome to Ask Carey Part 10.

Ask Carey

Questions Featured in this Episode

1:38 How does a church overcome its negative reputation or stigma in the community?

5:44 Is there a time when God actually wants your church to fall?

11:11 How would it look if a church of 100 merged with a church of 5? What’s the best route to go?

16:12 Is there an experimentation process with people joining new churches?

22:54 How do I avoid burnout when I’m part of an unhealthy work environment?


Links Mentioned

Carey on Facebook

Carey on Twitter

Carey on Instagram

Carey’s Blog (with link to SpeakPipe)

7 Signs Your Church Will Never Change

Jim Tomberlin; Episode 43

Rich Birch; Episode 8

Warren Bird; Episode 28

The Secret to Crushing New Year’s Resolution

Previous Bonus Episodes

CNLP Bonus Episode #1

CNLP Bonus Episode #2

CNLP Bonus Episode #3

CNLP Bonus Episode #4

CNLP Bonus Episode #5

CNLP Bonus Episode #6

CNLP Bonus Episode #7

CNLP Bonus Episode #8

CNLP Bonus Episode #9

CNLP Bonus Episode #10

 

Quotes from Carey 

 

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!

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.

Ask_Carey

CNLP Bonus 010: #AskCarey Part 9

Your questions are the best questions.

We’re back with another bonus episode of Ask Carey. Scroll down to see what questions I tackle this episode!

Welcome to Ask Carey Part 9.

Ask Carey

Questions Featured in this Episode

1:45 What did you do to engage unchurched people for Christmas services?

9:55 What is there for leaders who aren’t Type A personalities?

13:15 How did you come up with the metrics for attendance?

17:13 What does it look like, specifically, to engage millennials during church service?

21:08 Does your church allow an operations manual for volunteers?

25:26 How do you gauge church membership vs. church attendance?

Links Mentioned

Carey on Facebook

Carey on Twitter

Carey on Instagram

Carey’s Blog (with link to SpeakPipe)

Andy Stanley; Episode 1

Craig Groeschel; Episode 052 

Tony Morgan; Episode 06

The UnStuck Group 

Kara Powell; Episode 4

Orange Resources

Connexuschurch.com/watch

How Pastoral Care Stunts the Growth of Most Churches

10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders are Attending Less Often

Previous Bonus Episodes

CNLP Bonus Episode #1

CNLP Bonus Episode #2

CNLP Bonus Episode #3

CNLP Bonus Episode #4

CNLP Bonus Episode #5

CNLP Bonus Episode #6

CNLP Bonus Episode #7

CNLP Bonus Episode #8

CNLP Bonus Episode #9

 

Quotes from Carey 

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!

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.