Why I have no goals

I do have goals. Catchy headlines are key to grabbing readers. 

But the KINDS of goals I have are different as a “blue chip” pastor. They are not numerical. Numbers are good. Growing a church or making disciples ADDS to the Kingdom. There are numbers. 

Yet, I am not as consumed with “what are we running” week to week, or what we “want to run” in five years. 

This verse from Abraham’s life captures me:

12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. (Heb. 11:12)

Abraham didn’t put his faith in the promise of a new nation. He put his faith in the ONE who gave the promise of a new nation. At the end of his life, Abraham still had only one son. He didn’t see the “multitudes.” Yet, he knew it would come. His faith was in the One who promised.

I have dreams. New churches planted, leaders trained, countries impacted. But I can’t get to the end of my life and see the numbers. I need to get to the end of my life and in SPITE of the “numbers” look to the One who gave me those promises and say, “I know this is God.” 

My GOAL is to keep my eyes glued to the One who gives me promises and dreams. When the rest of it happens is not up to me. 

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Turn off the “HUGE” button

There are times we need, as pastors, to turn off the “HUGE” button. And it ain’t easy. Everything that gets emphasized in ministry training… I mean LEADERSHIP training… is about HUGE. We’ve gone from the crusades of the 70s to the megachurches and seeker sensitive models of the 80s and 90s to the satellite campus models of the current trend. And it’s all about … HUGE.

Being Blue Chip isn’t about “huge” nor “not huge.” It’s not about embracing “small.” It’s about embracing your ministry DNA and the call to actually pastor. 

And that means you have to turn off the “HUGE” button. It’s noisy. It’s always in our faces. But we need the noise off to hear the voice of the Spirit so we can explore what is truly our spiritual DNA, then turn to what the DNA of our church is, and then serve God and our community with passion.

It may mean backing away from some conferences or denominational meetings for awhile. It may mean some other things. But the vitality of ministry isn’t based on “HUGE” or “small.” It’s based on obedience to the Spirit.

Find your DNA.

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Who Is the Pastor?

Brian Fulthorp:

Some good thoughts here from Scott, on who a pastor is and what the pastor is to do:

Originally posted on The Prodigal Thought:


It’s a well-used word within the Protestant-evangelical community. And we have all sorts of ideas of what a pastor is, or at least should be.

He’s the guy (and, yes, male only, some would say) who delivers the 45-minute homily every Sunday morning (or 50 our 52 Sundays). Or he is to make sure doctrinal purity is maintained within the church, in accordance with biblical standards. Or she’s the one who visits the sick in the hospital or home. Or he or she make the direction and vision known to the church. Or she is the one to implement different programs that the members would like to see within the church community. O, problem of all problems, the pastor functions as the CEO of a corporate-esque entity.

And there are probably a host of other ideas out there.

But, as I was recently reading J.R. Briggs’ Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst…

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It doesn’t have to be lonely

Being “small” as a church isn’t about a point of “pride,” but it should not be a point of shame, either.

But being “small” will sometimes give a feeling of being marginalized, pitied, etc.

What needs to happen for Blue Chip Pastors is a movement of conversation. Not a blog post. Not a book. A conversation.

When I first got into ministry and was planting a church, it was going awful. I was young, only had ideas, and was struggling. Another church was being planted in an area not far from my town, so when our pastors got together at sectional meetings, this other church planter would be there as well. He was “well funded.” He was the “district’s” church. In my tiny little mind this guy had no problems.

After one particular meeting he came up to me and asked how I was doing.

“Fine.” Easy answer.

“Well, I’m doing lousy,” he blurted out. He decided to be honest. He had no place else to go and as it turned out, we were in the same exact boat with the same exact frustrations. Out of that came a lot of encouragement and the will to keep on in ministry.

A conversation needs to be started. You and one other minister. You don’t know if THEY are doing well, but you know you’re struggling. Somehow you know this may be a person you could be honest with… so you risk huge and just start the conversation.

“I’m struggling. Could we talk?”

Maybe you’re doing okay at the moment, but you sense someone else needs that freedom to just be honest. You can start that conversation. It’s not huge. There isn’t a crowd. It may never get written up in any article or noticed at any church council. But you start. You have the conversation.

It doesn’t have to be lonely.

It’s not about being bitter. It’s not about being marginalized. It’s realizing we have a “both/and” world when it comes to churches, sizes, etc., and where you are is a struggle at times. Find the courage to have the conversation.

You be the one to make the call, buy the coffee, whatever the venue of your choice may be…

But start. One on one.

If it fails? Start up another conversation.

Keep talking. Because silence will not heal the situation.

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Filed under Leadership, pain in ministry, Pastoral Ministry

Raising up spiritual leaders

As you look to raise up leaders in your setting, what do you look for when you train? What are the results you desire to have in a leader after you have trained them?

Some areas to look for:

1. How grounded are they in the Word and prayer? How grounded can I help them be after they spend time with me?

2. How do they handle finances? How is their giving? What do I want them to know about giving?

3. How are their relational skills? I certainly know people who had “training” and thought their degrees qualified them for ministry, but they really can’t stand being around people… or they’re really not that good around people… Ummmm…. awkward!

4. How are their communication skills? What do I want them to know about communication as they spend time with me?

5. Leadership skills. Do others look to them? Do they have a servant’s heart? Are they teachable? How are they with conflict resolution? How are they with keeping a confidence?

6. What are their spiritual gifts? What do THEY say in that area? What do YOU see in that area?

What other areas would you identify in raising up spiritual leaders in your congregation?


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Hang out with people you don’t agree with

Over the years of pastoring my current church I have developed strong ties with most of the churches in my community. In fact, those ties are closer in some ways than with my own denomination.

From certain perspectives, some would say it’s because I’m probably backslidden. ;)

What I have learned over the years is I can develop friendships with other pastors, other believers from other denominations and theological perspectives, and out of that friendship find a way to converse about the things that typically divide us. I begin to hear them. They begin to hear me. And we find respect through the differences.

I also find that when I hang out with people I don’t agree with, I learn. If I want to live in the echo chamber of my “right” thoughts all the time, and only listen to the people I agree with… I will find a very small room. But if I listen to other opinions and thoughts, I am able to grow. I am able to solidify my own beliefs, I am able to learn the character of Christ in compassion, I am able to hear without automatically condemning… I grow in my ability to stretch my own mind.

Too often we want to hunker down in our theological bunkers and lob the occasional political/theological grenade at the other side with a silly Facebook post and think, ‘THERE! TAKE THAT!”

I have grown to hate that avenue. Holding to my own convictions and still listening to others causes me, at times, to “take fire” from people who normally like me… or don’t like me anymore. I haven’t figured that out.

But I have found that when I center in on Christ and insist that all conversation around me center on Christ, we can discuss the “peripheral” issues much better.

Hang out with pastors in your community you don’t agree with. Read theologians you don’t agree with. Hone in on WHY you don’t agree, and don’t start with, “I disagree because that person’s an idiot.” Start smarter. Live larger.

And keep Christ as the center… not your hard and fast doctrinal rules.


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Be Yourself But Better

Screen-Shot-2013-02-20-at-4.08.17-PMThis is a quip I have often told my preaching students, “Be yourself, but better!” The old wisdom was “Be yourself” but as far as I’m concerned we all need improving. If we were to just “be ourselves” we would never become who we need to become. I get the idea of the wisdom (so don’t inundate me with hate comments): don’t try to be like someone else. I just think it sounds better than what I would have said before. :-)

I was reminded of this as I encouraged one of my students in their preaching. The usual request for prayer is that we not preach our own message, but the message of the Lord. This is fine except that it ignores the very humanity of our God in Christ Jesus. It forgets that the Scriptures are as fully human words couched in human contexts as they are the words of the living God inspired by the Spirit. They were not dictated. These words were inspired via the history, mentality, language, etc. of each writer. And if that can be confessed to be God’s word, shouldn’t the preacher also expect to preach from their own history, mentality, language, etc. all the while preaching with the authority of the Lord?

We are created in the image of God. We bear his imprint on our very lives. But we are also being redeemed and so we are in need of renewal and regeneration. We are in need of being ever conformed to the image of Christ, of being transformed in the renewing of our minds, of being sanctified through and through. So be yourself, but better. Better by the enablement of the Spirit of God. Better by the blood of the Lamb. Better by the love of the Father. A better preacher preaching a better message, but still your message…empowered by His Spirit.


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Filed under Preaching, Spiritual Growth