CNLP 321: Chris Hodges and Brad Lomenick on the Incredible Rise of Church of the Highlands, Trends in Next Generation Leadership, and How Systems and Creativity Should Work Together

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Chris Hodges was an unlikely church planter. After burning out at age 38, Chris found a renewed call and planted the Church Of the Highlands, which has become one of the largest and fastest growing churches in America.

Chris and Brad Lomenick talk about mentoring the next generation of leaders, what’s changing, and how systems and creativity can work together rather than compete with one another. Both Chris and Brad will be featured speakers at this year’s Rethink Leadership Conference in Atlanta, April 29-30th, 2020.

Welcome to Episode 321 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

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6 Disruptive Church Trends That Will Rule 2020 by Carey Nieuwhof

5 Disruptive Leadership Trends That Will Rule 2020 by Carey Nieuwhof

CNLP 314: Louie Giglio on How to Take the Relentless Pressure Off Yourself as a Leader, and What’s Changing in Getting People to Attend Live Events

CNLP 288: David Kinnaman Busts Culture Myths Too Many Leaders Still Believe, and Shares Surprisingly Good News About the Faith of Some Millennials and Gen Z

CNLP 297: Gordon MacDonald Shares 8 Decades of Wisdom and Life Lessons, Father Wounds, the Dangers of Drivenness, Counselling a U.S. President, and What Leaders Struggle with Between Ages 32-42 and at Age 48 and Age 62

3 Insights from Chris and Brad

1. The right system is one that works

So many leaders argue for different models and different systems that they prefer to operate in. This is the wrong approach. Chris argues that the best system for you and your organization is the one that works best for you and your organization. Your preference shouldn’t be a factor.

A great example of this is that most churches have a vision to reach lost people, but they haven’t created anything that lost people are attracted to, because they have a bad system. Their system is great at attracting Christians but not lost people. When we fall more in love with our systems and our methods than our vision, the vision dies.

2. These two things will set your church up for financial success

One of the biggest challenges of leading a church is the issue of how to manage the finances. At Church of the Highlands, Chris and his team have learned that there are two major rules for succeeding in finances.

The first is prioritizing generosity. If you, as a church, aren’t able to be generous and show your people how you are being generous, how can you expect your people to be generous at all?

The second is keeping margin. At their church, their yearly budget is based off 90% of the previous year’s income. This allows them to have margin when disasters or unplanned opportunities arise.

3. On sabbath, just stop producing

One of the keys to Chris’ success is his strict policy of keeping a sabbath every week. He noted in the podcast that, “It’s amazing how many leaders would never think about murder or theft, but will disregard the command of sabbath every week.” Chris takes a full sabbath at the start of every week on Monday.

On his sabbath, he is very intentional about making sure that he doesn’t spend any time producing. For him, if he avoids anything digital altogether, and he manages to spend a significant amount of time outside, he will have a successful sabbath. A date night with his wife is usually involved, too.

Quotes from Episode 321

The right system is one that works. @Chris_Hodges Click To Tweet I think the church has to get bigger because lost people matter, but it has to get smaller because individuals matter. @Chris_Hodges Click To Tweet The opposite of depression isn't happiness, it's purpose. @cathyheller Click To Tweet 'It's only the delivery of the product that determines the success of the company. @Chris_Hodges Click To Tweet When you get larger, you can do more. And just because you can, doesn't mean you should. @Chris_Hodges Click To Tweet This year's budget is based off 90% of last year's income. @Chris_Hodges Click To Tweet I never want to go into Sunday morning needing that day’s offering. @Chris_Hodges Click To Tweet God has more and he's not giving it to everybody. He gives it to those who know what the more is for. @Chris_Hodges Click To Tweet Money margin is important, but time margin can change your life. @Chris_Hodges Click To Tweet I don't get up from the chair until I've kind of reduced my whole day down to, 'This day will be successful if I can have these three tasks accomplished.' @Chris_Hodges Click To Tweet I think everything you do first matters. @Chris_Hodges Click To Tweet I even find more joy seeing them succeed than anything that I do. @Chris_Hodges Click To Tweet I just don't let leaders defend something that's not working. @Chris_Hodges Click To Tweet The medium that represents mediocrity, or average, is what's gone away. @bradlomenick Click To Tweet Even if you win the race to the bottom, all you get is the bottom. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 321

Looking for a key quote? More of a reader?

Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

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Next Episode: James Emery White

In an age where many churches and businesses are opening locations, James Emery White decided to close all of his…and experienced the biggest growth they’ve had in years. Jim explains why they did it, how it happened, why he’s investing so much in digital outreach and how to grow your church younger when you grow older as a leader.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 322.

Lead With Confidence and Clarity. Grow Your Church.

As leaders, we tend to see the challenges and roadblocks before other people do.

We've all been there before...

  • You need to refresh your vision for the future but know that change will be an issue for that person.
  • You're overstaffed (or missing a key role) and can't find the right person to fill the role.
  • You aren't reaching enough new people even though you've tried everything that's working for other churches.
  • You can see the issue but aren't confident in what to do about it.

And with another Sunday morning coming up, it'll just have to wait until next week when you have a few minutes to figure it out.

Now ask yourself this:

What would it feel like to have those answers at your fingertips 24/7?

Whether it's reaching new people, improving your preaching, increasing volunteers, refreshing your vision, engaging your staff, or any of the countless challenges we face as church leaders, The Art of Leadership Academy will equip you to lead your church with confidence and clarity.

Between comprehensive church leadership courses, live coaching calls, staff and volunteer training resources, and direct access to a private online community of senior-level church leaders, you'll get the exact insights and answers that fuel your church for growth.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.