Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rural Church Coaching

Why Coaching Works:

Coaching works because it’s biblical. Proverbs 24:6 says, “For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Having a coach brings three things; 1) extensive experience and 2) a non-biased, outside perspective of your church and ministry. While conferences are effective, coaching is more effective because of the personal and relational component and accessibility. 3) the cheapest staff person you can ever hire. 

        Our coaches are not people who have read books about rural church growth...they are practitioners who have done it and are still doing it. Our coaches have experienced the bleeding and pain that comes with growing a church in rural America. 

Coaching Objectives:

  • To help you grow spiritually as pastor, leader, and preacher; if we can grow you, we can grow your church.
  • Develop strategies to increase conversions and baptisms.
  • Develop strategies to increase discipleship and gospel-centered assimilation.
  • Create a strategic calendar that will create momentum throughout the year.
  • Create an invite culture and invite platforms to increase weekend attendance. 
  • To build a personal relationship with you. 

Coaching Logistics:
  • Coaching will take place once per month via phone, Skype, or FaceTime. Coaching sessions will last 90 minutes. 
  • Each month, the client will receive a worksheet prior to the coaching appointment. Each worksheet is built uniquely to target the needs of that particular church and/or ministry. 
  • Client will have reasonable phone access to his coach throughout the term.
  • Client will have access to available resources free of charge.
  • Client will have discounted registration fees for all events and/or consultations held with The Barjona Company (restrictions may apply).

Coaching Contract & Fees:

Our coaching fee is $200.00 per month. Payments are due on the second Friday of each month. It is our recommendation that you allow your church pay this monthly fee, as it is an investment for your church. 

You may end your contract at anytime without penalty. At the end of six months, you may renew or end your contract. The rate is subject to change upon renewal. 

If you would like to begin a coaching relationship or have any questions, please email us at coaching@thebarjonacompany.com and be sure to check out our website at thebarjonacompany.com

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Worst Condition a Church can be Found in...ask Jesus

    My favorite books of the Bible are the gospels. In them, we discover who God really is by looking at Jesus' life. When we see the heart of Jesus, we see the heart of the Almighty God. Jesus showed us compassion, mercy and truth. He also showed us things that made him disgusted...one of those things being the local temple. 

  The story begins with Jesus and the disciples entering Jerusalem. It was a very busy time, as the passover was being celebrated. People from all around were making their way into Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the temple. Jesus went into the temple himself. The Bible says "After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late afternoon..." (Mark 11:11). In other words, Jesus came in to inspect what was going on. 

   The next day is when the story gets interesting...even a little confusing. Jesus and the disciples got up that morning and was heading back to the temple. On the way, Jesus' stomach began to growl. Someone forgot to pack breakfast. The Bible says, Jesus being hungry...

"He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so he went over to see if he could find any figs. But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit. Then Jesus said, 'May no one ever eat your fruit again!' And the disciples heard him say it." (Mark 11:12-14). Now if I had of been one of the disciples, I would want to know why Jesus cursed a tree because it didn't have fruit when it wasn't the season for it to have fruit? We'll get back to that in a minute. 

  Afterwards, Jesus and the disciples proceeded to the temple (the same place he was the day before). When he gets there, he finds the church serving the people who have come to worship God. Since many people were from far away, they had to wait and buy their sacrificial animal in Jerusalem; and what better place to support than the local church, right? Many people didn't have the right currency, so they would have to get their money changed over. Again, the church was there to serve them by changing over their money so they could buy their sacrificial animal. But there was a problem. The local church was overcharging the people for both the livestock and to change their money over. In disgust, Jesus turns the tables over, drives out the livestock and calls the church a den of thieves and robbers. But that's not the end of the story. Matter of fact, the most important part happens next. 

   Jesus and his disciples leave the church. The disciples probably whispering about Jesus' really bad day. First, he misses breakfast, which results in him cursing a tree; then he flips over tables and drives out livestock, which killed a major income the church was accustom to getting every year. Yes, things were a little frustrating to say the least. 

  On the way back, they pass the tree. It's completely dried up. Peter, who always spoke up first is like, "Jesus, the tree you cursed is completely dried up!" And I love Jesus' response, "Have faith in God." Here is where Jesus, the Master Teacher ties it all together. 

  First we must conclude Jesus does nothing by accident. He really wasn't just having a bad day. There is also a reason the fig tree was part of the story going to and from the temple. Many would ask why Jesus cursed a fig tree for not having fruit in the season that it wasn't supposed to. However, a fig tree is not like most fruit trees. It's unique. You see, a fig tree always produces leaves and figs at the same time. The fact that this fig tree even had leaves that time of year was a freak of nature. Are you making the connection?

  Jesus is teaching us that the temple (and many of our churches today) are much like the fig tree. From a distance, it promises fruit. From a distance, it sends a message to people that it has the fruit they need to satisfy a spiritual hunger. Nice buildings, steeples and fancy crosses all promise the spiritual fruit of peace that can only be found in God. Yet, when you get up close to it, you realize there are only of leaves, but no fruit. This is a picture of religion.

   There are many churches clothed in the leaves of religion. They promise hungry people spiritual supplement. Yet when people get up close, they find nothing but religion. The leave just as hungry as they came. Religion is the best thief of all. It robs people of their faith; it steals the belief that God is approachable. A church that bears only leaves is a church that cherishes their religion about God more than a relationship with God

  These churches are just like the fig tree. They have a lot of leaves, but they are dry and dead. Jesus has removed his breath of life from them. They exist, but they are lifeless, neither do they see life change. Baptisms are few. Discipleship is just a word. What is the end result of these churches? I love this. Jesus answers the question when Peter ask about the dried up fig tree. Have faith in God. When Jesus is invited into the equation, all things are possible. Even dead, dried up churches can experience a resurrection; they can become fruit bearers and see life change through the gospel. 

  So let me close with this. If Jesus showed up at your church this weekend, would he find a lot of leaves and fruit? Would people show up hungry for God's acceptance and find hope and love? Or would they find burdens and legalism hidden underneath religious leaves? If it's the latter, I can assure you, it's the worst condition a church can be found in, because it makes Jesus very unhappy.

You can't Drink from the Fire Hose!

   I can remember my very first big church conference. The year was 2000. The name of the gathering was the Pastor and Leadership Conference, held at the Potter's House in Dallas TX. and led by the infamous Bishop T.D. Jakes. My church was around one hundred twenty people at the time, so walking into a twenty-five thousand member church fried my brain. The preaching was amazing (and still is. Bishop can preach!) and the worship off the chain. I went back each year for the next three years and always returned home full of new ideas. 

  Over time, I attended Catalyst, Exponential, Verge, and other conferences around the country. Later, I spoke at a few. It's been a great ride. While each conference had it's own genre and flavor, there was a common phrase that I heard at each one. You've probably heard it too. Usually the guy MC'ing the conference would open with it. It sounded something like this, "How many of you are ready to drink from a fire hose this week?" It was normally followed with shouts and cheers from pastors and church planters. Over the next few days, mainline speakers would unload a ton of information and content as pastors and planters typed away, causing MacBooks to overheat and minds to frazzle. 

  While I enjoyed the conferences (and still do), there is one thing I have learned. No one can drink out of a fire hose very well. The water comes fast and hard and you get really wet...but little gets swallowed. Perhaps this is why the majority of conference junkies return to their church with one hundred and one new ideas, with little or no implementation. I know, because I used to be the conference junkie. 

  Now don't misunderstand me. I am not against the big conference. I both attend and speak at them each year. I believe big conferences are great for meeting new people, learning about the latest church movement and hearing phenomenal speakers. Big conferences help guys learn how to dream. They did me. However, I also believe that in order to grow and move forward, you have to stop solely drinking from the fire hose and learn to sip from the saucer. 

  My encouragement to you is simply this. Go to the conference and get soaked. But come home and find a good coach to help you process, translate and...sip the principles and strategies that will help you and your church grow. There are fantastic coaching opportunities all around the country. Many of these are affordable and virtual, so no need to drop a lot of money on airfare. Find you a good gospel-centered coach today! 


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Breaking Your Growth Barriers

    Most pastors agree his number one job in the local church is to "grow the church" by making disciples. Church growth takes more than relevant sermon series and strong home groups; it also takes another vital ingredient...growing leaders and leadership. One of the greatest responsibilities of pastors and leaders in the church is reproducing themselves. When leaders stop raising up leaders, a growth barrier is just around the corner. Why? Because your church can only grow as large as your leadership; and as talented as you are, your leadership alone cannot sustain consistent growth. Church growth is synonymous with growing your own leadership and raising up new leaders. 

    This is one of the reasons (not the only reason) most rural churches in America tap out around 80 people. In this scenario, the pastor is typically the only one leading. A decent leader can consistently lead around 80-100 people well. When a church begins pushing past 200 or 300, you'll notice the pastor has grown himself and has raised up other leaders around him (youth pastor, elder, exe pastor, etc). It's a simple principle; whatever you're leading today (the number of people) is based upon your current leadership, which will determine what you are capable of leading tomorrow. If you want to grow your church, grow yourself AND raise up leaders around you and you'll find yourself leading more people tomorrow. 

  While working with different pastors from around the country, there is always two underlined questions that come up when I talk about raising up leaders. 

  • "How do I raise up new people who want to become a leader?"
  • "How do I empower new people who already seem to be a good leader?" 

   These are great questions. For the pastor, raising up new people as leaders can be a little scary. There is always risks involved when allowing new people to lead whom you have never seen their track record (if they even have one). And we can't discount those with no track record, because they are the norm; finding people who are already strong leaders will always be the exception.  If we don't create an onramp for new emerging leaders, we automatically invite growth barriers to our church. Also see my blog on Raising up Leaders from Inside your Church.

   The other side of the coin is plugging in new people who already have leadership traits. This is people who have leadership experience in the church and/or corporate world. They know the language, they're organized, and they understand strategy; and while you're excited to watch them flourish, there's a little knot in you're stomach because you know they lack the DNA of the church. We all know when new people come into the church with extensive leadership backgrounds, they can be a trophy or a tragedy. Experienced leaders, if not shaped and molded to the vision and DNA of your church, can cause division. The question is, how do I shape and form someone who is already a leader without making them feel like I'm micromanaging them? Micromanaging good leaders is one of the quickest ways to lose good leaders. 

   Let me give you two simple concepts that will help you deal with new inexperienced emerging leaders and new people who are already experienced leaders. Every person who leads in your church needs to be on a train track or a road with guard rails. When you and your team are together talking about potential leaders, you should be able to determine quickly if that person is a train track person or a guard rail person. Let me explain. 

The Train Track: New, inexperienced, emerging leaders always need to be placed on the train track. A brand new leader should be treated like a conductor. He or she is in charge of what's behind them; and while they are controlling the speed and the direction, they have a very defined area of movement. The train track allows movement to occur, but only in one direction with little or no opportunities to veer off course and no swerving. New emerging leaders need to be placed in positions where the destination is clear and defined; their responsibilities should consist of leading something from point A to point B on a very well laid out track. Of course, there will always be derailments and train wrecks, which will serve as teaching moments for you to make them a better leader. 

The Guard Rails: New people who have experience in leadership need to be given guard rail positions. Unlike the train track, there is much more room to move, swerve, and even do a U-turn when necessary. However, the guard rails are in place to keep the experienced leader from veering off course, or a better term, from falling into vision drift. Experienced leaders (especially from other churches) oftentimes carry pieces of vision with them from their previous role, and if they're not careful, they'll take a sharp left and get everyone who is following them lost (which is how most church splits occur). Experienced leaders must have room to move; they need permission to make u-turns and even get in the ditch sometime; but there must be guard rails in place to make sure they understand the destination. Unlike the train track, they have more freedom, which means they'll have the option (or temptation) to take a side road. Good guard rails (things like accountability, close relationship, healthy, consistent vision casting, etc) help prevent that and will enable the experienced leader to become vital part of your church and mission. 

If you're ready to grow your church, start by growing your own leadership. Find a good mentoring or coaching relationship and read the right books. Be intentional about raising up leaders. Begin compiling a list of people who you feel have the potential to become leaders in your church and determine where they should start...the train track or the road with guard rails. 

For coaching opportunities check out The Barjona Company

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Raising Up Leaders INSIDE your Church

   One of the greatest challenges in church is raising up church leaders. This topic comes up at nearly every speaking engagement I participate in. Most statistics show that only about 3-6% of people in an organization are strong leaders; that's a small basket to pick from. 

     When we think about those stats, we need to remember one thing; the 3-6% are only strong leaders because someone poured into them. While I agree, some people are born with extraverted and/or proactive personalities, the reality is, leaders are not born, they are raised up. So the question is, how do we raise up leaders in the church...especially a church who reaches unchurched people?

   I believe the answer is clear; and most importantly...its gospel.  

 The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Matthew 13:44 NLT

  The tendency of pastors is to look for the 3% instead of looking for treasure that's hidden in the field. Translation: typically everything you need is already in front of you; you just have to find it. As we break down this parable, let me share three things that will help you begin to think about raising up leaders in your church.  

  • Beware of Billboards: The parable says the treasure was in an empty field (not a gold mine). The implication here is there was nothing special about the field. In other words, this was probably not prime real estate. When raising up leaders, be careful not to only look at the prime real estate (the 3-6%); look deeper. Things can look good on the surface, but with little or no value underneath the surface. Trust me, It's much easier to take a person who loves Jesus and raise up a leader than to take a strong leader and make him fall in love with Jesus. 

  • Leaders Have to be Discovered: I believe churches are full of treasures; but like most treasure, it's buried. If Jesus built the church, I'm pretty sure he has everything you need to accomplish the mission IN the church; and what isn't there, he'll send. This means you have to spend time "looking" for the treasure. Discovering leaders takes intentionality. You have to bring people into the right environments and create the right conversations to discover the treasure. While there are times we have to pull people in from the outside, often we overlook valuable people who's buried in the very "field" of people we preach to every Sunday morning. 

  • Finding Treasure Requires Digging & Investment: Here's the bottom line. If you're going to dig for treasure, you have to be willing to deal with the dirt. Some people are buried a little deeper than others; some are right underneath the surface. Yet both have dirt (actually, we all do). No one pulls a clean, shiny treasure out of the ground. Before the treasure can shine, it's has to be washed, cleaned and polished. Some are dirtier than others; therefore, some takes more time. This means you have to coach people; speak into their lives; help them understand God's plan for their lives. The parable says the man sold everything he had to buy the field. Why? Maybe it was because he thought, "If there's one treasure in this field, there's probably more." The fact is, you have lots of treasure in your congregation. Some are messy, some are dirty and some are buried. Your job is to discover them and help them understand their value to God and His mission. 

    In my own church, we reach a very diverse crowd of people. We have three recovery homes, which allows us to minister to very broken people; but we also have entrepreneurs and business leaders who appear to have their life together. Yet both have their own dirt. We have to be willing to deal with the dirt in order equip the saints to discover their worth and giftedness for God. And yes, some of my greatest leaders today are those who were buried very deep; but once they were discovered and invested in, they become that 3-6%.

Let me know if you want to talk more about raising up leaders. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Death Valley

   There are lots of things that frustrate pastors; crying babies, sleeping parishioners, or that one guy in the back who won't stop talking while the pastor is preaching his guts out. Yet there's one thing that tops all frustrations, and that's when he can't see the vision God gave him coming alive within the church. He's cast it, dripped it, and even bled it, but at the end of the day, he stands scratching his head because it appears no one is getting it. There's lots of vision, but little or no execution. Yes, I've been there. 

    Obviously there's lots of reasons why execution may not be happening. Miscommunication, misalignment with core values, or even communicating the wrong vision are just a few. However, I believe the number one reason visions don't get carried out is because they get stuck, and sometime even die, in the valley. Let me explain. 

  There is a dangerous area between vision and execution. I call this area Death Valley. On one side of the valley stands the visionary. He is precise and clear to let everyone know WHAT the vision is. No one is confused...not even the guy who always talks in the back during the preaching. The vision is posted all over the church building. You can't go to the bathroom without reading it right above the wall urinal. Everyone also knows the why behind the vision. It's gospel centered and aligns with the Great Commission. The visionary pastor usually succeeds with the what and the why. Where most fail is the HOW. 

  When the vision falls into death valley there are obvious signs, because inside the valley are pitfalls. Here's what those pitfalls look like. 

  • Pitfall #1: Statements instead of Movements: You have a vision statement, but no vision movement. When there's no movement, there's no measurable. You cannot grow what you cannot measure. Statements that do not cause movement are worthless. Words will stir emotion; but gospel strategies build devotion. 
  • Pitfall #2: Micro-Management: When a vision is stuck in death valley, there are no clear steps to execution. Therefore the only one who knows how to execute the vision is the visionary himself. This means he or she must be involved every step of the way. While everyone knows the what and why, no one knows the how. Soon, the visionary becomes burned-out and frustrated. 
  • Pitfall #3: Maverick Leadership: When the "how to" part of the vision isn't clear, others will rise in an attempt to execute the vision; most with great intentions, but with the wrong leadership. This usually results in division. 
  • Pitfall #4: Egypt Mentality: When people try to execute the what and the why of vision, without the how, the end result is usually failure. And when people fail due to lack of clarity, they typically want to go back to Egypt, or in other words, revert back to the old ways of doing things because it's much safer and predictable  This causes churches to get stuck. 

The answer is to build a bridge of strategies and systems that lead to execution and avoid Death Valley all together. 

   So...build good solid bridges to execution and you'll keep your vision out of death valley. Hit me on twitter if you want more info or visit The Barjona Company.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

No Pain, No Gain

Last week I was honored to share and hear great leaders at Exponential in Orlando. I went with our network, Planting the Gospel, led by David Putman. In addition to connecting with leaders and planters, we also connected with some pretty good restaurants. One night, near the point of starvation, we pulled into Landry's, a seafood spot in Orlando, and we sinned terribly. After consuming gumbo, shrimp, salad, and fish, our entire team was in need of repentance. 

When we returned to the house, David and I decided we were going to punish ourselves for our gluttony with a four mile run...with full stomachs. My normal range is two miles, but due to my sinful state of over indulgence, four miles sounded like ample punishment. 

After two miles, my side began to cramp (and all I could taste was shrimp); I slowed my pace and David began to pull ahead. He glanced back and asked, "Are you o.k.?" I replied, "I have a cramp in my side." What I was hoping to hear was, "Let's slow it down" or "Let's rest for a minute." Instead, without missing a beat David said, "Suck it up, let's go" After a few minutes (and a large burp) the pain left and we continued the run. David eventually pulled ahead, and when I finished the fourth mile, David was waiting for me at the gate of the neighborhood we were staying in. He jogged the last stretch with me. 

As I was finishing my last mile, God spoke this to me. 

1) Leaders need Conditioning: I had to slow my pace at mile two because I did not condition myself beyond the two mile mark. As leaders, it is up to us to push ourselves, grow ourselves, and condition ourselves for the race that God has set before us. We must set the pace for our team. If we're not living a disciplined life, we shouldn't expect our teams to. 

2) Leaders Don't Give in: David could have easily said, "Let's rest," but instead said, "Suck it up." When your team is assigned to do something that is out of their comfort zone, often they will respond painfully, hoping you'll say, "Let's rest." When the leader slows down, the pace slows down, and then everything slows down. Rest is important, but we should never slow down simply because a team member is lazy and has refused to condition himself. The only reason I finished the four mile haul without stopping is because I was challenged. 

3) Leaders Finish Well: Although David finished before me, he was there when I arrived. Good leaders should be ahead of their team; if they're not,  they aren't leading. Good leaders also go back and help their team to finish well. On our last stretch David encouraged me and bragged on me for not quitting...as a result, my milage range has changed. 

Final thought...

Set the pace, challenge your team, and help them finish well.