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. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Exponential 2013

 I'll be doing a break session on disciple-making assimilation.  Assimilation is often about moving people into membership or partnership. What would an assimilation process look like that moved people towards becoming a Christ-centered disciple? This workshop turns our traditional approach to assimilation on its head, creating a model where our weekend services becomes a step towards making disciples and leaders. 
Time: Thursday 8:45-9:45am
Location: Educational Building E-2 332

Meet me there! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Staying Alive in a Growing Church

   There's lots of things in the world that creates energy and excitement; a championship basketball game, the Super Bowl, or even a good movie. Yet I believe there's hardly anything that can compete with the excitement of a growing church, especially if you're a pastor or serve on staff at a church. Every pastor wants his church to grow; and when it does, it is exhilarating. However, with success comes stress and when a lead pastor and staff ignores the stress, the season of success can be short lived. Typically growth-related stress hurts us because it causes us to neglect crucial areas in our own personal lives. 

    Here are three train-wrecks you want to avoid as your church grows. As a lead pastor, you need to make sure your staff is aware of these as well.  If you'll take care of these, chances are, you and your staff will stay alive and endure the stress that comes with the success of every growing church. 

  • Grocery-Store Death: Too often pastors and lead staff spend all their energy and efforts in seeing that others are spiritually well fed, while they starve to death. They will read, plan, and prepare lessons and sermons to share with their people. Of course, God speaks to us in our planning and prepping, but we must break the habit of searching for a sermon every time we open the Bible. We need to read God's Word for ourselves. When your Bible time is always a sermon search, you'll go hungry. It's the same as starving to death in a grocery store; you feed everyone but yourself. Read Hebrews 4:12. Remember, you need the Word of God for YOU. You need it's life-giving power in your personal life. Don't feed the people, while starving to death yourself. Feed yourself too, and then you'll be able to better feed others. 
  • Prayer-Warrior Sickness: As leaders, we spend a lot of our time praying for the needs of others. It's good to pray for others, but don't neglect your own prayer life. When praying for others becomes the definition of your prayer-life, you quickly become the devil's punching bag. Read Matthew 16:18-19. Jesus gave YOU power to overcome the adversities in your own life. Pray for others, but make time to sit at the feet of Jesus and let him minister to your needs too; then you can better pray for others. 
  • Cheerleader Crisis: Every weekend we encourage people to worship God. We pour tons of energy into making sure the worship songs, the instrumentation, and the sermons are powerful. Yet don't allow what you do on Sunday to define your worship. When intimate worship is missing in our personal lives, we unintentionally become a weekend cheerleader. The truth is, while we do worship God on the weekends, as pastors and leaders, we are still always working. You need your worship with God. Read John 4:23-24. Jesus said God is looking for true worshippers (which means there is a false worship). Our worship must be deeper than a weekend service. Put on some groovy worship tunes, shut the door, bow before Him, and worship Him! It'll change your life! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Should church be comfortable?

  When my youngest daughter was little, she used to watch a kid's show called "The Big Comfy Couch." It always started with a woman, who was dressed like a little girl, sitting on a huge couch. I always wondered why a couch had to big in order to be comfy. My daughter loved it; I hated it, but like most dads, endured it. 

  I was reminded of that show today during lunch, when I ran into a Cavelander at the local Pizza Hut. This guy has been with us a long time. I have always had the utmost respect for him and his wife because they stuck with us when we went from a traditional to post-modern model, despite the fact they're from the older generation. During lunch he gave me one of the best compliments I have ever received about our church. He said, "You know Chad, Caveland Church isn't comfortable. It's not a church where you can come in and sit down and get comfy." I'm not sure he knew it was a compliment, but it was. 

  Over the years I have learned that comfort and challenge cannot exist in the same room. I have also learned that challenge pulls out the potential of our people. Our weekend services should be a place of worship, fellowship, and yes, they should also be a place where people are challenged to follow and obey Jesus. Some may argue that following Jesus isn't uncomfortable. Yet I remember the response Jesus gave to those who said, "Hey Jesus, we'll follow you!" Jesus said, "The birds have nest, the foxes have dens to sleep in, but the Son of Man has no where to rest his head." In other words, following Jesus isn't comfortable, matter of fact, it's kinda messy. 

  My prayer is that I'll never run into a Cavelander who says, "Man, Caveland is so comfortable!" Because where there is no challenge, there is no mission.