Top ten first world church problems

Most of the problems you face today are probably ‘first world’ church problems.

1.  You got locked out of your Fellowship One account.

2.  Your main video projector’s bulb just blew out.

3.  The pizza delivery guy is five minutes late bringing lunch for your staff meeting.

4.  The air conditioner in the worship center quit working.

5.  The church softball team has lost five games in a row.

6.  Craig Groeschel won’t return your call.

7.  For some reason, Planning Center won’t work on your iPhone.

8.  The flight for your missions trip to Haiti is now 45 minutes late.

9. Having only 8% battery life on your iPad before you go up to preach.

10. You just spent an hour arguing with a staff member on whether Mark Driscoll should have said nagging wives are like water torture.  (That staff member was your wife).

Others you’d like to propose?


Should your church ban interoffice email?

At start-up tech company Nara, you won’t find employees sending an email to someone else in the office.

It’s against the rules.

Instead, employees are encouraged to physically get up and talk to the person directly.

According to an article in Fast Company, this rule isn’t just a gimmick to get people to interact, it is based on science and how the brain responds to various stimulations.

It seems that physical movements actually keep the brain alert and creative.

But CEO Tom Copeman also gives another reason for the policy:

“I really have this philosophy that if you can’t say something very simply–especially when you’re trying to get buy-in and communicate what you are feeling and thinking–it’s too complex and you don’t understand it yet.”

Question for you:  how much of your email in-box is from inside your church or organization?

How much of your time do you spend reply to emails from people across the hall?

How much are you losing out on communication because you’re just sending emails?

I know this happens in churches all the time.  It used to happen in mine.  Everyone was hunkered down in their office with their doors closed… ‘working’… and emailing everyone else in the office.

Relationships suffered.

Thankfully, we’ve corrected that.

But I wonder how many churches (maybe yours) would benefit from a policy like Nara’s?

What do you have to lose?



Read more here…

How teenagers communicate

Fascinating infographic on how our younger generation communicates.  Take note people… this is the church or tomorrow.  Change or die.




How do you shrink a megachurch?

Shrinking-the-Megachurch-300x461Wow.  A free eBook from Wayne Cordeiro (one of my favs).

It happened early on. It was an intentional choice, says New Hope Christian Fellowship Founder/Pastor Wayne Cordeiro. He had to decide whether to build a big church or big people. He chose big people. So for the first 15 years, Cordeiro led his church to plant more than 70 churches. Another intentional decision early on, Cordeiro says, was whether he would be a Kingdom builder or an empire builder. I chose the former, he shares. It was the more expensive road to take. But we made that choice in the first five years of our church plant, and from those decisions, God led us on an amazing adventure.

Shrinking the Megachurch is an autobiographical journey that led New Hope to where they are today, 134 churches later. In this free resource, Cordeiro shares lessons and lesions, signposts and stretch marks of the leadership decision that God has honored. More than 5,000 people have gone on to populate the 24 church plants in one city alone. And God is not done yet. Learn from the indispensable leadership decisions Cordeiro made early on to shrink the megachurch.


The pastor and job satisfaction

I received an email from a friend passing on an old article written by Eugene Peterson. This first appeared almost fifteen years ago in Leadership Journal, but its insight and advice is great for a day just like today. Peterson writes…

Being a pastor who satisfies a congregation is one of the easiest jobs on the face of the earth—if we are satisfied with satisfying congregations. The hours are good, the pay is adequate, the prestige considerable. Why don’t we find it easy? Why aren’t we content with it?Because we set out to do something quite different. We set out to risk our lives in a venture of faith. We committed ourselves to a life of holiness. At some point we realized the immensity of God and of the great invisibles that socket into our arms and legs, into bread and wine, into our brains and our tools, into mountains and rivers, giving them meaning, destiny, value, joy, beauty, salvation. We responded to a call to convey these realities in Word and sacrament. We offered ourselves to give leadership that connects and coordinates what the people in this community of faith are doing in their work and play with what God is doing in mercy and grace.

In the process, we learned the difference between a profession, a craft, and a job.

A job is what we do to complete an assignment. Its primary requirement is that we give satisfaction to whomever makes the assignment and pays our wage. We learn what is expected, and we do it. There is nothing wrong with doing jobs. To some extent, we all have them; somebody has to wash the dishes and take out the garbage.

But professions and crafts are different. In these, we have an obligation beyond pleasing somebody. We are pursuing or shaping the very nature of reality, convinced that when we carry out our commitments, we benefit people at a far deeper level than if we simply did what they asked of us.

Do you look at your work as a ‘job’ or a ‘profession’? How did you feel when you arrived at the office this morning? Excited and ready to start the day, or already tired?

In a interview in Vision Magazine, Bob Coy, the senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale tells of when he was about ready to quit his church plant after two years because not much seemed to be happening. Bob said he called one of the people that was overseeing him and said, “Here’s what’s happening: I have only 40 or 50 people attending, it’s been two years here, I am not appreciated or respected for what I have accomplished, and I’m thinking about going back to Las Vegas.” The person on the other end of the phone asked him, “Well, do you not want to be there?” Bob’s reply was, “Well, ministry is becoming a burden.” The response back in his ear was, “If it’s a burden, then you need to leave. Representing the work God has given you as a burden is not the Lord; His burden is light. I think you ought to leave. There are some college students here that would love and care for those people.” Bob said that this was not really what he was expecting to hear, and it caused him to get a little ‘fiesty’ in heart. Bob said he thought to himself, “No young college student is going to come here and care for these people. These are my sheep and I’m gonna love them.”

Bob Coy continues, “It was a strange thing, because what happened was God was testing me to find out where my heart was at. Was I just looking for a big thing? Was I just looking for the success of a ministry or did I really care about sheep? The beauty of that was that I came back to church the following week, I think, a different man, and I cared more about discipleship, more about love, and cared about taking these people and really investing in their lives.” Bob was able to change his mindset from having a ‘job’ to having a ‘profession’.

Where are you at today? Have you had a similar experience (moving from a ‘job’ to a ‘profession’)?


I don’t like my church anymore.

When the alarm goes off on Sunday morning, what is your attitude? A sense of excitement or a sense of foreboding?

I came across a very honest, interesting and thought provoking article by Doug Tappan that was originally published at Please take a couple minutes today to read this… I think it will hit a nerve and challenge you as you start your week. Doug writes:

I’ve decided I don’t like going to church. It’s not that I’m going to stop going. But I came to the conclusion last Sunday, as I was showering before church, that I’ve come to the point where I just don’t feel like it makes a difference in my life. When Sunday morning comes, I find myself wishing it were Saturday where I would have the entire day to do whatever I wanted.It hasn’t always been this way. I used to love going to church. I would look forward to it every week. I loved the worship time, ate up the preaching and enjoyed the fellowship with the people around me. However, all this has begun to change for me lately. I’ve come to the point where I don’t want to be bothered with talking to people. It’s not that they’re not good people, it’s just that I really don’t want to talk to them. I find that I’m not as interested in the worship and preaching as I used to be. In fact, I usually find every possible way to criticize the songs we sing or the delivery of the message (that’s the effect Bible college can have on some people).

You see, the problem with all this is that I’m in ministry myself. It’s actually my job to be at the service on Sunday morning. Maybe that’s part of the problem. Maybe I’m bitter that I have to go into “work” while other people can go and enjoy the service because they have no obligation.

There’s a larger problem involved, however, and I don’t believe it’s a problem that is uncommon to people (particularly twentysomethings, of which I am one) in the church today. You see, I walk in to the church service, sit down, cross my arms and expect God to do something in me. I expect the worship team to bring me out of my apathy. I wait for something the pastor says to catch my ear. What’s the problem with all this? It’s me. Nothing has changed in my church since the time when I enjoyed coming. I’ve changed. I’ve become more selfish. I’ve become more cynical. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where my girlfriend told me yesterday that maybe she should sit somewhere else during the service because she can sense that I don’t want to be there.

More than all this, I’ve come to expect the church to forge my spiritual development. Instead of working on my own prayer and devotional life, I want the church to do it for me. Please tell me I’m not the only one in the Body of Christ who has this problem. Please tell me there are other lazy people, who come to church on Sunday and expect to be filled up for the week ahead. Meanwhile, they have no expectation of giving anything. (I’m not talking about money either.) We aren’t willing to give of ourselves in worship. We aren’t willing to give of ourselves to each other, to minister to our friends who have hurts too (we’re not the only ones who hurt, even though we’d like to think so sometimes).

I’d like to blame all this on our American culture of selfishness. I’d like to say that I am this way because I’ve been socially conditioned by all the advertising and marketing that I’m encountered with day after day; advertising that says things like “Have it Your Way.” Well, I do want it my way. Don’t we all? Isn’t it true that if we don’t like how things are done at one church we can just go across town (or across the street, for some of us) and find a church that suits our felt needs better? Is that what Jesus intended for His church? Did He want us to forsake our churches just to seek “greener pastures” somewhere else? It’s true that the Church is flawed. No church is exempt from this. But instead of giving up (or becoming total cynics of every last detail) we should be working to change that which is wrong in our churches, but more than that—to change that which is wrong in ourselves. And changing what is wrong in us is probably the harder of the two. Selfishness doesn’t go away easily (trust me, I’ve still got plenty of it). How else can we work to change from selfish people to gracious and generous people other than asking for the help of the Holy Spirit? There is no other way that I know of (and I’m sure I’ve tried many) to deal with sin of every kind.

In the end, I can only blame my own sinful nature that allows me to become like I am. It’s my fault, not my church’s, that I think and act this way. Until I, and those like me, are willing to own up to this, we will continue to be unfulfilled Christians who take up space in the pews on Sunday mornings, but have nothing to contribute to the radical mission that the church is called to.

What are your thoughts? Have you had these same feelings? Have you ever felt like you were in the same boat as Doug or something totally different? Please leave your comments below.


I prayed so hard for you, I had a stroke.

Sometimes I scratch my head at all the things that are going on in the church today.

Some church leaders are delusional.  Some are plain out living a lie.  And some are living a double life.

It makes me so angry when I hear stories of sexual immorality and general unscrupulousness of some church leaders.

And it’s easy to think that things are much worse today than ever.

But you know what?  They’re not.

Sin has always played a starring role in the lives of some church leaders.  I mean you can go back as far as the old testament to see that.

But today, I just want to go back to 1991.

Robert Tilton.

You remember him?

I recently found this clip Robert Tilton aired on his TV show the day after ABC News did an expose’ of his ministry for allegedly  having donations sent to a drop address; taking the checks; and dumping the prayer request forms in a dumpster.  Supposedly thousands of them.

Robert Tilton’s defense?

1.  We never did that. If they found real prayer request forms in [multiple] dumpsters [over months of time], then they HAD to be stolen.

But he takes it a few steps further:

2.  He said that he prayed over EVERY prayer request that was sent in.  And when I say he prayed over them, he did so literally. He physically laid on top of the stack of prayer requests while he prayed.

That’s nice.  And gives me an uncomfortable picture.

And it would have been ok if he would have left it there.  But he continues.

3.  He physically laid on the stacks of prayer requests SO much, that the ink from the prayer request forms entered through his skin into his blood stream, and gave him at least two mini-strokes.

OK… you lost me.

That’s just friggin’ unbelieveable.

And probably physically and medically impossible.

And it seems that most other people didn’t buy it either.  Tilton was forced off the air within months.

So… why would someone like Tilton say this?

Was he delusional?  Just a plain out nut?  A case could be made for that… probably pretty easily.

But Tilton was no nut.  He did quite well, thank you very much.

Was he just a con-artist?  Did he make this play in just an effort to keep his scheme going?

Could be.  But it didn’t work.

When church leaders go off the rails, there are often lies involved.

Maybe not as stark as Tilton’s lies in 1991; but lies none the less.

My question for you today:  are you starting to tell little fibs in your ministry or personal life that may turn into giant bold face “I had a stroke because I prayed for you so hard” lies?

Don’t underestimate the power of sin.  Neither should you underestimate the quickness and the veracity that it will bring upon your life to bring you down.

As a pastor or church leader, you have EVERYTHING to lose… your career… your family… your friends… your income… everything.

Don’t screw it up by succumbing to little sins now that will overtake you. Because they will overtake you.

Get some help.  Call a friend.  Contact me.

But don’t end up as some washed up church leader with nothing but a Walmart greeter job.

I’ve seen it happen to too many people.  And I don’t want it to happen to you.


What we’re learning about generosity, multisite ministry and leadership development

I’m happy to share our newest online event at Leadership Network.  It’s called Church Innovate, and it features leaders from the front line of ministry in three innovation areas:  generosity, leadership development, and multisite.

We’re excited to share with you what we’re learning as we assemble some of the best and brightest leaders from churches all across the US and Canada.  I hope you’ll join us on May 14… it’s free!

church_innovate_logo (1)three_innovations

Register now… it’s free!

Stop going crazy. You can only do nine things today.

Here’s the theory:

On any given day, assume that you can only accomplish one big thing, three medium things, and five small things, and narrow down your to-do list to those nine items.

It’s called the 1-3-5 rule.

So… essentially, you pick 1 BIG task; 3 MEDIUM tasks; and 5 LITTLE tasks to accomplish today.

Finish up those, and then call it a day.

What do you think?

Is this possible?

Have you tried a similar system?

I think I will try it.

Because I go from dawn until dusk, constantly working on things, and never feeling like I’m done.

This may be a good line in the sand for me.

What about for you?

Here’s a nice little helper to get you started.



Stop talking about your vision. It has nothing to do with me.

Michael Lukaszewski writes:

Vision is a powerful word in the church world.  Pastors love to talk about it.

But here’s a secret.

People don’t want to hear about the vision of your church, they want to hear about themselves.

That’s right.  People love to talk about themselves.  Their dreams, their accomplishments, their problems.   And they like to listen to messages that address those things.

So while the three year plan of your church might be interesting to you, people might not care about it if they don’t see themselves IN it.  While your vision statement and core values might be carefully worded, people might not truly care if it doesn’t intersect with their lives.

Read more here.

Thoughts?  Is this true?  If so, should it affect how you talk about vision?



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