The Toxicity of Religion

Religion is toxic. It breeds sacred cows that weaken and sometimes completely paralyzes the mission of the gospel. The toxicity of religion infects people with self righteousness that results in church rules that aren't biblical. These kind of churches are very inward focused, protective of their traditions and will resist anyone who attempts to change them. They rarely see new people meet Jesus; actually they rarely see new people. Jesus constantly countered religion in the gospels while dealing with the Pharisees, as did the apostle Paul while planting churches. In today’s world, religion has resulted in churches designing rules and beliefs that cripple the objective to reach people with the gospel. Here’s just a few examples...and by the way, they are all unbiblical.
You can’t serve or get involved in church until you become a church memberYou have to use a particular translation of the BibleWomen are not allowed to serve in leadershipYou must be baptized into a particular denom…

The First Step onto the Discipleship Path can be the Most Critical

I recently wrote an article on Polishing your Discipleship Path, where I shared three main ideas to make your path better. In this article, I want to drill into best practices around the first step onto the discipleship path. In my experience of working with many different churches (including my own church), the first step(s) onto the path can be the most critical and can determine retaining guests and making disciples. 
A discipleship path should be built and customized for returningguests who aren’t Christians and/or those who may be brand new to the faith. These are people who aren't church or Bible literate. They aren't sure what it means to have a spiritual gift and certainly don't want to be tested. This is why the first step(s) are super important. Here is a principle that I have seen hold true over and over. For every step someone takes, it gives them courage to take a (deeper) next step. At the end of the day, we want people to meet Jesus, grow in their faith and b…

A Follow-up Strategy for CEO's (Christmas & Easter Only people)

I was recently talking with a pastor about the importance of building a strategic calendar and good invite strategies around the “big days” (Easter, Christmas, etc). During our conversation, he said something I have heard countless times before. “The big days are for the CEO's.” And by the way, he didn’t mean that his Easter Sunday was filled with corporate CEO's. Instead, he was using CEO as an acronym for Christmas-Easter-Only people. We have all seen it. We see it every year because Christmas and Easter happen...every year. 

As a former lead pastor, I can certainly remember the Sundays following Easter, Christmas or some other big day. The services were usually low attended and lacked the energy that was experienced the previous week. Those were usually the Sundays where the number two guy or the youth pastor was scheduled to teach. I've been there too. 
I have talked with churches that said they have pulled back the energy and efforts in trying to follow up with CEO peop…

How Churches can Live out their Mission

Just about every secular organization has some sort of mission statement. They are usually framed and hanging on a wall or printed in their internal documents. A mission statement is a phrase that defines the aim and purpose of the organization. It answers the questions, “What do we value? Why do we exist?” 
God has given the church a mission as well. While there are literally thousands of mission statements floating around churches, most are tied (or should be) to Matthew 28:19-20, which says, 
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” 

I have never encountered a church that disagreed with this passage as the foundation of the mission. However, many churches struggle with living out the mission.
What does it really mean for a church to live out their mission? How ca…

Three Conversations that can inject Health into Leadership Development

One of my favorite 80's movies is The Karate Kid. It's a story about a kid named Daniel who moves to California, meets a girl and soon after, meets her karate trained ex-boyfriend.  After getting beat up a few times, he meets Mr. Miyagi, a highly skilled Japanese martial artist.  Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel about life, love, honor, and yes (my favorite part), karate. In short, Mr. Miyagi developed Daniel from ordinary to extraordinary. In the world of church, that’s  the definition of leadership development; helping people discover  and use the extraordinary gifts and talents God has placed inside of them.

Developing leaders is always a hot topic. It comes up at nearly every church The Unstuck Group works with and showed up as a top trend in a recent Leadership Network study.I believe there are several reasons leadership development is always a front burner conversation, so I wanted to take a moment and share three of those reasons to help pastors and teams have helpful conversat…

Creating the Right Assimilation and Path for Discipleship

Improving the weekend experience helps you expand the “front door” of your church. But on-ramps and next steps are what “close the back door.” In ministry, the word “assimilation” is often used to describe the process of integrating a new person into the life of a church. A good assimilation process provides a path for people to take. Most assimilation processes flow something like this:

First time guests are sent to the welcome center for a gift where their contact info is gathered.
The church sends an email or text to follow up, usually sharing more information about the church and its programs, or an upcoming event, like a Bible study.
If they return, they are asked to mark "Returning Guest" on their card.
If they take that step, the returning guest is usually asked to attend a class, at which the church invites the guest to become a church member.
Do you notice any issue with this process?
There’s an subtle but underlying assumption in the steps and their progression that th…