Category Archives: Leadership

You + 2017 = Best Year Ever (details inside)

take-controlMy goal here is to help equip you to grow in your love and leadership for the people God has put in your care. This week, I get to share with you the opportunity to go after some big goals this next year. All of this leads up to the release of program that I have personally used to transform my day to day schedule, achieve some of my biggest goals, and help others think through God’s purposes for their lives. I am so excited!!! So here’s the $100,000 dollar question:

Have you’ve ever struggled to hit any of the goals you’ve set for yourself?

Maybe you have BIG plans for this year but you are a little hesitant to put pen to paper, the shoulder to the wheel, and get after it?

The problem, so it seems, is that life feels out of control sometimes, doesn’t it?

Project deadlines and kiddo soccer practices and coffee with a friend and getting dinner on the table and sneaking in some exercise and don’t forget that work trip next
week… and… and…

Whew. It’s a lot to handle.

If you are like me sometimes our vision of where we want to be gets obscured because we get so bogged down and focused on the myriad of things calling out and vying for our immediate attention.

What if there was a way to take some of the control back? What if you could get a handle on all the things you are currently doing and begin achieving some of the biggest goals you have for your life?

New York Times bestselling author Michael Hyatt is going to show you, step-by-step, how to use goal-setting to take control of your days and turn them into the life you really want.

You’ll hear Michael share things like:

* The one single strategy that will instantly make
you 42% more likely to accomplish your goals —
it’s shocking how many people miss it

* How to “quit-proof” your goals and ensure 2017 is
the year you finally cross “that big one” off your
list (you know which one I’m talking about!)

* Why detailed action plans work against you and an
alternate strategy that will take a huge weight off
your shoulders

* The secret to sustaining your initial momentum and
keep making progress toward your goals no matter what
life throws at you

* The common and seemingly positive goal-setting
strategy that is likely sabotaging your success
(and what to do instead)

and so much more!

There are several different times to accommodate your
schedule. See what works for you here:

7 Steps to Taking Control in 2017 Webinar

By the end of the presentation, you’ll be crystal

clear about how you can have your best year ever
in 2017.

Make sure you reserve a spot for webinar:

7 Steps to Taking Control in 2017 Webinar

It’s a free presentation but it will fill up super fast (which is why you need to reserve your spot).

Peace,
Micheal

P.S. All registrants will get a special
workbook designed specifically for this
presentation. Here’s the link to sign up:

7 Steps to Taking Control in 2017 Webinar

Get Ready for 2017

bye-achievers-ig

Is 2017 sneaking up on you?

I know the feeling…

In a little over a month a new year will be upon us. I’m not a big believer in resolutions but I am a believer is setting goals (BHAGGGs – Big Hairy Audacious God Given Goals!). These goals aren’t just about what I want to do or accomplish. They are about the person – the disciple, husband, father, leader, and friend- I want to become.

Right now, I’m taking a few days away with the family to celebrate Thanksgiving. The whole point of this vacation is to connect – connect with God, my wife, my kids, and… myself. I’m giving thanks for the things that happened this year – good and not so good – and I’m giving thanks for the things that are on the horizon. I want to do some great things this next year, but mostly I just want to enjoy the life God has given me and keep loving and leading those he has given me. I want to make a dent in their worlds.

If there is one secret to making the most out of a new year it is this…

To make the new year count all you need to do is simply take a few moments to prepare for it.

That’s why I love this (free!) PDF download from my friend, Micheal Hyatt:

Downlaod a free copy of Achieve What Matters in 2017 for FREE! 

In it, 30+ well known influencers all share the most
important thing they do to set themselves up for a
banner year.

It’s a who’s who of succesful people — Tony Robbins,
John Maxwell, Dave Ramsey, Chalene Johnson, and Andy
Andrews, plus more than 20 leaders.

Access to their answers is all yours (at no cost) here:

Achieve What Matters Most

I hope you’ll check it out and that it will set you on a path to preparing for a great 2017!

P.S. This free PDF is a wealth of wisdom to kickstart
2017. If you’ve felt stuck for a while, don’t miss it.

P.P.S. I’ll have more access to resources from Michael Hyatt and a great opportunity for you to lay down some BHAGGGs for yourself and family so that you can make 2017 your best year ever. Stay tuned!

Leadership Thoughts

“Leadership is stewardship. It’s temporary and you’re accountable.”

This quote by Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church, kicks off one of my favorite podcasts. I have it memorized by heart and I think I do a pretty good Andy Stanley impersonation as I mimic his cadence and inflections each week as I listen to the introduction.

More than just a great quote or motivational saying, Andy is right.

Those of us in leadership – whether it is in the church, in the workplace, or at home – have been given our position by God and he expects us to steward each moment to bring Him glory and honor.

Leadership is temporary. Solomon declares that there is a time for everything under the sun including the time we have been given to serve and lead. One day we will transition to a different role, the kids will leave the nest, and for some, retirement may come sooner than we would like. Like Steve Miller says, “Time keeps on slipping into the future.”

We are accountable to God for our leadership, too. One day, if we steward these gifts well we will hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant” or we will be confronted with a reality that because we were afraid, failed to plan well, or just were just plain lazy we left some things undone or missed opportunities God had in store for us.

I think that those of us who find ourselves in leadership positions inherently understand these truths but sometimes we struggle with how to connect our orthodoxy (right understanding) with real, tangible orthopraxis (right practices).

More than anything, I want to help you steward your leadership well by challenging you to honor God in everything you do in every area of your life. The Hebrew word for Honor is kabed and it has a weightiness to it. It can be translated as honor, renown, and glory. When the Psalmist says in Psalm 86:9,12, “I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever” he is honoring God with everything that he is.

I love how Colossians 3:23–25 reads in The Message. Paul says, “Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being Christian doesn’t cover up bad work.”

A person of honor always gives their best effort in every area of their life. Are you stewarding the life God has given you to glorify Him in every aspect inside and out?

I also want to help you lead well during the time God has given you to lead. The day in and say out grind of leadership will test your faithfulness. There is always another person to visit, always another phone call make or email to send, another task to complete, and another project to begin. The problem for most of is not that we have to make choices between right and wrong or choose between good and bad. Tensions arise because we become paralyzed when we have to choose between right and almost right. We procrastinate because we have to choose between good and great. Leadership take discernment and wisdom. To me, wisdom isn’t knowledge. Wisdom is applied knowledge. We are faithful to our calling when we apply the knowledge we have obtained to make the most out of every opportunity presented before us.

Ephesians 5:15–17 (NLT) challenges us saying, “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”

A faithful leader is wise in how they use their time to accomplish the tasks God has given them to serve His people. Are you being faithful with the time and opportunities before you?

Finally, if we are to be accountable we must humbly submit our lives to God. The higher we climb in our leadership and the more things we accomplish the greater the temptation becomes to take full credit for everything good that happens in our lives. Of course the opposite is true. Sometimes things do not work out how we planned. The vision that we had for our lives and the people we serve can go off the rails. When this happens we can be quick to take all the blame. Some call this the Superman theory where leaders begin to believe that they are Superman and must take on every task, burden, pain, joy, celebration, and failure. A wise teacher once told me, “Don’t be quick to carry all the blame when something do not go the way you planned because that same attitude might cause you to be quick to take all the glory when something goes well.” That’s sound advice.

I’ll let you in on a secret that you already know… You are not Superman. Neither am I. We have no way of controlling every outcome of the decisions and choices we make in our leadership. However, we serve the One who knows all, is in all, and works all things – good and not so good – to His glory and the good of those who love Him.

Proverbs 3:5–8 ESV) says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”

An accountable leader humbly submits to God and trusts Him with every aspect of their leadership. Are you trusting in the Lord with all your heart or are you leaning on your own understanding?

See Something, Do Something

“That’s not my job.”

If there were an award for The Most Frustrating Sayings That Cause Me To Bang My Head Against The Wall this one would make it past the swimsuit competition and into the Top 5.

This phrase makes my skin crawl. It is one thing to here it from a kid who doesn’t want to clean up the mess caused by another kid but it is a whole different level when it is coming from an adult leader.

The problem is… I thought it earlier today. 

I was in the Men’s Room at our building and I reached for the soap dispenser and it was empty… just like it has been for the last 2 weeks.

“Why is there still no soap in this dispenser?!?” I thought. “Someone needs to replace the empty cartridge. Someone besides me. That’s not my job.”

One of the maxims I try to live my life by is See Something, Do Something. It means that if you see something that needs to be taken care of… Take care of it. No fuss. No blame. Just do it.

Trash on the ground? Pick it up.
Batteries dead? Replace them.
Gate left open? Close it.
No toilet paper? Get a new roll.

These aren’t tasks that you have to ask permission to take care of. They aren’t jobs that require you to blow a whistle and announce what you’re doing either. Sometimes things slip through the cracks and the person responsible overlooks it or is unaware of the problem.

Sure, if it becomes a chronic problem or a habitual nuisance it needs to be address with the one accountable. However, more often than not it is a one-off mistake or simple oversight.

When you See Something, Do Something you are living out some fundamental virtues needed in the world today such as INITIATIVE, TEAM WORK, and SELFLESS SERVICE. When you ignore something that has been left undone and get upset about it you simply are being LAZY and SELF-CENTERED.

Next time you come across something that needs to be taken care of, don’t ignore it. Don’t make a phone call or write a memo. Don’t get huffy and flustered.

Go to the storage room, pick up the new soap cartridge, and cheerfully, gladly, and with a song in your heart replace the empty one.

Now, excuse me while I head off to the storage room.

Strategy Sunday

PAUSE.PURPOSE.PLANS.PEOPLE

Welcome to Kicking at the Darkness!

This blog is for those of you who are in the leadership trenches of serving in a local church. You could be a full-time pastor, a part-time children’s director, or volunteer youth minister. It doesn’t matter what your title is or how many hours you work each week. If you love God and have desire or calling to serve Jesus and His people, than I hope you will find community and encouragement here.

Today is Sunday.

You probably taught a class, led worship, preached a message, or served within you ministry area today. I’m in the middle of a sermon series focusing on the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. My message for us today centered around Jesus’ invitation for us to ask God to give us “our daily bread.” I also taught our Adult Bible class this morning as well. Oh, and I opened up the building before everything got started. I usually lock the building down but, a handful of people were around after service so they locked up for me today (very, very grateful to them) so that I could grab lunch with a family.

We had a great service today… even though it was a holiday weekend and we were missing a few regular faces.

So here is where my message on focusing just on today gets in the way of serving in the local church…

Today is Sunday… and another Sunday is coming.

The relentless onslaught of the coming weekend is always before us. It undercuts our ability to evaluate and improve week to week and it also robs us of finding joy in the moment.

Tomorrow, I want to blog a bit about how we can focus on TODAY each and every day but right now I want to talk about a strategy that you can use each Sunday night to connect with what you did today and plan your coming week.

I call this my Sunday Night Strategy Session. Each Sunday night, i go through this process to help me tie up any loose ends from the week before and prepare for the week ahead.

1) Pause
This is absolutely critical for your soul and your leadership. Before you begin mapping out and planning the week to come, take a few moments to pause and reflect on the week that was.

Ask yourself the following questions about last week:
What went well?
What didn’t go well or go as planned?
How can I improve next week?
What help do I need to get to the next level?

2) Purpose
Reminding yourself the reasons that you do what you do does 2 things. First, connecting my purpose is like a big vitamin B12 shot right to my heart. When I am reminded of why I am in full-time ministry and my calling to go and make disciples I get pretty amped up. Secondly, when my purpose is always in front of me, I can make decisions based on long-term vision and trajectory instead of making decisions in the heat of the moment. Purpose helps me say “Yes” to what I need to and “No” to everything else.

3) Plans
Here is where the To-Do lists, calendars, Moleskines, post-its, and everything else come into play. I use a combination of old school paper and new fangled tech. However, what’s on paper gets put in the tech and what’s digital gets put on paper. I don’t have a paper calendar with somethings and my tech calendar with another set of dates and information. One calendar, many locations.

4) People
Finally I ask, “Who do I need to connect with this week?” As a pastor, the lifeblood of ministry is people. Connecting with people is a priority for me and my ministry and by having a set time each week to think through this area I can be more strategic and intentional with the time I do have to connect with others.

So here’s is tonight’s challenge: Get Strategic. Pause and reflect. Remember your Purpose. Layout your Plans. Make room for People. I’ll talk to you tommorow to see how you did.

Exit Question: How do you plan for the week ahead?

Catalyst Dallas Highlights

I had a full weekend.

I had the opportunity to attend both The Catalyst Conference in Dallas with some of my team and than a Men’s Conference with some great dudes from our church. I am exhausted, inspired, spent, fired up, sleepy, and wide-awake. Many of you in ministry and leadership know exactly the kind of tension I am feeling right now. These events are often like trying drink from a firehose. With so much information and inspiration coming at you you grab what you can, take some notes, sing loud and proud, and then find some time over the next few days to ruminate on and incorporate what you’ve learned into your real world.

The theme of Catalyst this year was A Community of Change Makers. I attend the Atlanta event back in October and was excited to take a handful of our ministry leaders to the event at Gateway Church here in the metroplex. The major emphasis from every speaker was that to truly lead others effectively, a leader must lead him or herself first.

Here is a fundamental truth that is so important for us to learn and live out:

Who we are as leaders is more important that what we do.

For today, I just want to share a few of my favorite quotes from the weekend – with a couple of Don Miller & Bob Goff quotes from the Men’s Conference. I hope that these thoughts give you some motivation for your week ahead. Be sure to comment on the exit question at the bottom.

Whatever you have to do today, Love. Everybody. Always.

Andy Stanley

  • 2 questions every leader must ask: 1) Who am I? 2) What breaks my heart?
  • Great leaders make things better for their people.
  • You have no idea what hangs in the balance of your decision to embrace the burden God has put in your heart.
  • Many years from now, what would you like people to line up to thank you for?

Lisa TerKeurst

  • External Change requires Internal Shifts.
  • The 1st Five – give the first five minutes of your day to the Lord.
  • God is good and God is good at being God.

Dr Caroline Leaf

  • Your brain is nothing compared to your mind.
  • Change you mind and you can change your brain.
  • You can listen to God or Google and Gossip. (Non-toxic thoughts vs. Toxic Thoughts)

Eugene Cho

  • God doesn’t want to change the world. He wants to change us.
  • Act upon the thing that God puts on your hearts.
  • Don’t be more in love with the IDEA of change. Actually Change.
  • Don’t quit. Persevere. (Note: Apparently Cho had been ill and traveled from Seattle to Dallas. He had to stop part way through to take a breath and recover.)

Robert Morris

  • We may be born selfish but we are re-born generous.
  • Do not GIVE in order to GET. Wrong motivation.
  • Mammon promises us things only God can give. Life. Peace. Joy.
  • People don’t need money. They need God.
  • Abel gave of his first fruits. Cain gave what he wanted, when he wanted, in the way he wanted.
  • We are the most like God when we GIVE.

Robert Madu

  • When you encounter Jesus you always walk away with more than you expected.
  • Fatherhood is the best ‘hood.
  • There is a vast difference between knowing Church and knowing Jesus.
  • Jesus wasn’t just a good man but a God-Man.
  • When someone is lowered through the roof… you should probably shut that sermon down.
  • When your EXPERIENCE doesn’t line up with your EXPECTATIONS God is probably giving you a REVELATION. Pay attention to what he is telling you.

Danielle Strickland (The Highlight of Catalyst for me)

  • Everyone wants to change the world. Not everyone is willing to get up (early) to do it.
  • You know which surfer catches the wave? The one in the water.
  • Posture yourself/Posture your life in such a way that when the wave comes, you can catch it.

Rich Wilkenson Jr

  • God hasn’t called us to hard things. God has called us to do IMPOSSIBLE things.
  • Don’t let your past failures or your fear of future failures keep you from following where Jesus is calling you.
  • Don’t take a fragment of failure with you to the next place.
  • Criticism can get on you but don’t let it get IN YOU.

Bob Goff

  • You are not defined by your worst day or your greatest success. You are defined by LOVE.
  • When we live under the banner of Christ it doesn’t just change some things, it changes EVERYTHING.
  • I’m just trying to be the next humblest version of myself.
  • Love. Everybody. Always.
  • People turn into who others say they are.
  • You get the green lights you get.
  • God wants us to live right on the edge of YIKES.
  • It’s not about MANNING UP. It’s about SHOWING UP!

Don Miller

  • Tie your dreams with the dreams of others. Good stories involve other people.
  • Think of Joker’s face and Vader’s limbs. They didn’t do the hard work needed to bring about real healing.
  • We are in the middle of Act II. It’s difficult. There is no resolution. In the midst of conflict.
  • Look at the people God calls into LEADERSHIP. You have not done worse than them.
  • Heroes are in it for the sake of others.

Exit Question:

What is the most important leadership lesson you are currently try to live out in your leadership context?

The Fifteenth Year

15 years ago I had just returned from a semester overseas studying abroad in Athens, Greece. My small Christian college seemed even smaller after exploring the world but I was ready to get back to classes and earn my degree in Youth and Family Ministry.

That’s when I got the call.

A graduate student had recommended me to a small church just outside of Little Rock to serve as their part-time youth minister. He told me about the church and all that the job entailed. I would teach classes on Sunday, Sunday Night, and Wednesday night. I would also occasionally lead singing and participate in the life of the church.

He said that the job was mine if I wanted it.

I said, “Yes!”

With that invitation and with my agreement to work and serve that little church, I officially began as a full-time minister following God’s calling in my life.

So much has happened over the last 15 years. 

We have moved from AR to AL and back to TX. I have taught hundreds of classes, led thousands of songs, read countless commentaries, and attended numerous conferences. I’ve held new born babies, prayed over men and women going into surgery, spent late nights in the ER, and stood by those who have lost loved ones. I’ve welcomed new families in the church and said goodbye to others. I’ve been to the mountain top and I’ve trudged through the dark valleys. I have seen God work wonders and I have seen Him transform myself and those around me.

My focus for this year is Fitness.

I want to be Spiritually Fit.

I want to be Physically Fit.

I want to be Emotionally Fit.

I want to be Intellectually Fit.

As I think about what it means to be fit in ministry and in life I remember the challenge Paul shares with the church on Corinth:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24–27)

Over the last few weeks I have been praying over and planning some pretty ambitious goals for this year. I feel God is calling me to abandon the average life and ministry in order to go deeper into His Story and His Kingdom. No one stumbles into fitness. No one wanders around the track and crosses the finish line. To run the race and finish well takes training, focus, passion, and faith in the One who provides the strength needed to endure.

I live a great life.

I get to live out my calling doing the thing that I love with people that I love for a Savior that I love.

As I begin my 15th year in full-time ministry I have never been more excited about what God may have in store. I’m ready to dig deeper, reach higher, abandon average, and run the race full out.

Here’s to the start of another 15 years in ministry.

 

4 Reasons Why I Prepare My Preaching Calendar Months in Advance

This is a big week for me because this is the week I plan my 2014-2015  Preaching Calendar. I already have everything laid out through the end of the year but after this weekend I will have the next 12 months of my preaching calendar planned out. For me, this is huge and very exciting.

I believe that planning ahead is a great way to trust in the Spirit and allow him to move through the entire process from prayer to planning to study to execution. God blesses planning and preparation as well as faithfulness. Planning your Preaching Calendar one month, 3 months, or even a year in advance is a way of being faithful to Jesus, God’s Word, and your calling to share the Good News.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to God, praying, and asking for wisdom in planning this calendar. Before I share with you the steps I take to create this calendar, I want to share with you 4 Reasons WHY I Prepare My Preaching Calendar Months in Advance:

1) Planning ahead simply helps give me DEPTH in my preaching through advanced studying and preparation. When I know what I’m preaching on and when I am preaching on it I can take more time in my reading and study. I have the time to research, interview, read, and listen to what other have said. I also have more time to think through and clarify my thoughts and understanding of topics or passages. Planning ahead helps me go deeper.

2) Planning ahead aids in giving me room to share the message of Jesus more CREATIVELY. Personally, I believe that it is next to impossible to go deep and/or be creative at the last minute.

3) Planning ahead makes sure that I am being faithful to the WHOLE of SCRIPTURE and not simply preaching on the flavor (issue) of the month. I would preach on Discipleship every single weekend if I didn’t have a plan. Creating this calendar will help bring balance to what I teach week in and week out.

4) Planning ahead helps me ENLIST HELP in gathering resources, help, buy-in, prayers, and fuels an excitement among the leadership about what God will be saying to us.

When all is said and done this week, I will have a guided map for my study and preparation for the next 12 months with a tentative plan for each of the next 52 weeks.  Will some of these series change or be scrapped? Maybe. What if God calls you to speak on something else? I’ll submit willingly and gladly! I estimate that with this process only about 70% (conservative estimate) of what is planned remains set.

I started planning out my teaching series years ago and it has helped make all the difference in the way I pray, plan, study, and prepare my lessons. Less pressure and more reliance on God to help and guide me means more encouragement and focus on what he has called me to do. That is a great position to be in!

Up Next: How I Prepare My Preaching Calendar Months in Advance

Want to be a Catalyst Leader?

If you are a leader, I want you to know about a brand new book that is hot off the press. Many of you are familiar with Catalyst, the innovative and experiential leadership movement that has been going on for now almost 14 years, and now one of America’s most influential leadership organizations, with conferences and leadership gatherings all around the US.

Today is a big day because of the release of the book The Catalyst Leader. My good friend Brad Lomenick authors this game changing leadership book, based on his 20 years of leadership experience, as well as the last 10 years experience as the president and lead visionary of Catalyst. In it Brad identifies and captures what he calls the 8 Essentials for Becoming a Change Maker. Ultimately identifying the essentials of a Catalyst Leader needed for leading well, and leading now.

According to the book, a catalyst leader must be the following:

Called by God to leadership and willing to seek his will

Authentic and humble, becoming influential rather than impressive

Passionate about God, committed to developing a heart for the creator

Capable and determined, working harder than anyone on the team

Courageous when the time comes to take a leap

Principled in every decision made, unwilling to compromise for convenience

Hopeful despite challenges, believing God can do what we cannot

Collaborative, drawing on the strength of others and sharing praise

Living and leading by these essentials provides both spiritual and practical avenues to developing the qualities essential to leaders hoping to build a passionate, effective team that will last. This is not a book of theories. It is not a bragging autobiography from one successful boss. It is an honest and authentic examination of what you must be and do in order to empower and lead others to success and righteousness.

You can purchase the book wherever books are sold. Go to the book site at http://catalystleader.com to purchase today. I can’t recommend this book enough, whether you are a young leader or seasoned sage. It’s filled with practical leadership advice and application.

And, as a special bonus anyone who purchases the book between today and May 5th, scan and send your receipt to catalystleaderbook@gmail.com and you’ll receive over $600 of leadership resources for FREE, all for simply purchasing the book during this week from any outlet, including the Catalyst store as well as other retail outlets.

Order the book and receive:

Catalyst Leader eBook – Take The Catalyst Leader with you on the go with the e-Reader of
your choice. Or, keep the eBook for yourself and give the physical copy to a friend!

? Catalyst Leader Audiobook – It’s true all leaders are readers, but if reading isn’t your thing,
this is a great way to hear this incredible content!

? Catalyst Leader Music Sampler Album – Catalyst is passionate about worship and releasing
new songs into the church. This sampler album will give you some of the top songs from the Catalyst movement.

? Catalyst Message Sampler Album – Get a few downloads of some messages that have
impacted the Catalyst movement throughout the years. Featuring timeless leadership lessons,
these messages have helped form the insights shared in The Catalyst Leader.

100 Photo/Text Images – We’ve picked some of our favorite quotes from The Catalyst
Leader and created 100 sharable images with the quotes. Tweet, Instagram, or share them and
challenge the leaders around you with profound leadership insights.

You will want to have The Catalyst Leader in your leadership library for years to come. Get it today and make a dent in your universe for the Kingdom of God.

Do You Have A Theological Vision?

This Fall I have spent a great deal of time reading and thinking through Tim Keller‘s excellent book, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City. Keller is the Pastor at Redeemer in the heart of NYC and is one of my favorite authors/thinkers. Rather than a “cut and paste, this is how we do ministry-this is how you should do ministry” book, Center Church focuses on developing a Theological Vision that is consistent with what a particular congregation believes and that drives the way ministry happens. Too often the ministry expressions of a church are divorced from or even at odds with their beliefs as well as unconnected from the very people they are trying to reach. This causes frustration within the congregation and confusion from those outside looking in.

Keller defines Theological Vision as an underlying vision that brings your theological understanding (doctrine, beliefs) to bear upon your ministry expressions (practices, programs). It is in essence, a faithful understanding of the Gospel “with rich implications for life, ministry, and mission in a type of culture at a specific moment in history.” Developing a robust Theological Vision is important because it forces the people of God to think long and hard about the character and implications of the Gospel, what the Gospel has to say within your particular culture, and what it means to do ministry in your time and place.

With a Theological Vision in place, leaders and churches can make better choices about ministry expression that are faithful to the Gospel while at the same time are meaningful to their ministry context. That means a greater impact in Worship, Discipleship, Evangelism, Service, and Cultural Engagement.

A Theological Vision helps you determine what you are going to do with what you believe within your cultural setting.

Keller sums up the importance of this vision when he says, “A Theological Visions allows (us) to see (our) culture in a way that is different than (we) have ever been able to see before… Those who are empowered by the theological vision do not simply stand against the mainstream impulses of the culture but take the initiative both to understand and speak to that culture from the framework of the Scriptures… The modern theological vision must seek to bring the entire counsel of God into the world of its time in order that its time might be transformed.

In order to develop a Theological Vision Keller says that you must spend time in “deep reflection” on Scripture and the particular culture that you minister in. In order to think deeply and reflect on these things, Keller offers 8 questions to help in the development of a robust and significant Theological Vision.

They are:
1) What is the gospel, and how do we bring it to bear on the hearts of people today?
2) What is this culture like, and how can we both connect to it and challenge it in our communication?
3) Where are we located — city, suburb, town, rural area — and how does this affect our ministry?
4) To what degree and how should Christians be involved in civic life and cultural production?
5) How do the various ministries in a church — word and deed, community and instruction — relate to one another?
6) How innovative will our church be and how traditional?
7) How will our church relate to other churches in our city and region?
8) How will we make our case to the culture about the truth of Christianity?

Keller warns that the development of this type of vision is hard but it is essential. The quality of your Theological Vision will determine your effectiveness as you find ways to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ clearly to your particular place in history.

Over the coming weeks, I am planning on meeting with a group of leaders to think through these 8 questions as a group in order to gain a better understanding of our mission to those within our church body and our surrounding community. The Starbucks near us recently built a new location complete with a variety of warm and inviting meeting areas so we are going to wrestle with these questions in the heart of the local agora just like Paul did in Athens. Of course Paul, as far as we know, didn’t get to sit in plush leather chairs sipping a peppermint mocha from a red cup.

If you have not read Keller’s Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City, I want encourage you to pick it up and wrestle with these questions within your own ministry context. I’ll be posting my thoughts and feelings as we go along so you are welcome to join in the conversation here in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter.

So what do you think of all this? Is a Theological Vision important? In what ways have you gained a greater understanding of the Gospel? In what ways have you worked to gain a better understanding of your particular culture?