Some Things I’ve Learned So Far

1.    You don’t have to do it, but somebody does.  Most church planters and pastors in churches like ours don’t really visit the hospitals or do counseling.  I can’t tell you how many up and coming leaders that brag that they are too busy to do these things.  But just because we’re not called or gifted to do them doesn’t mean they don’t need to be done.  As our church has matured, I’ve come to realize that while I cannot do these things, I must make sure they get done.  We need a system to meet these needs.  I need to make sure I delegate and train someone.

2.    Don’t use words, develop a language.  What I am talking about is developing a culture.  Creating “The Oak Leaf Way.”   Every church has a culture – a setoff unwritten rules.  Why not craft these and be intentional instead of just letting the wind blow.  If there are words that I would hope would define us (like generosity), then I should work hard to create that as a part of our culture.  When we celebrate communion, we need to work hard to do it in a style that fits our church.  That’s developing a language.

3.    God’s agenda is the only agenda that matters.  People come to church for a bunch of different reasons and lots of people have their own agendas.  We’re not about that…we are about God’s agenda and that’s it.  Even as the lead pastor, I have to set my agenda and personal preferences aside in order to follow God.  It’s great when those two things line up, but in the end, God’s desires are more important.  This isn’t my church…it’s His.

4.    Do it well or not at all.  One of our core values is excellence, and we always come back to it.  We’ve bitten off things that we had no business doing and it’s hurt us because we couldn’t do them well.  Excellence is more than just money…it involves time, preparation, staff, energy, and communication.  You can have the greatest program in the world, but you’re going to have to take time to communicate it.  And you only have so much time to communicate.  And when it comes to money, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can’t be cheap.

5.    There’s no right way to do church, but over communicate your way.  There are lots of churches from lots of molds, and all different style of churches are advancing the Kingdom.  There’s no right way, but there is our way.  It’s not right or wrong, but it’s how WE do it.  We have to communicate this constantly.  And I really do mean constantly.  Every week, we work the mission, vision or purpose of the church into some kind of service element.  It has to become our DNA.

6.    Make the steps simple and easy.  People want to do what you ask them, but too many times, we make it hard.  Anytime we have a church-wide meeting, we have to provide childcare.  It’s a headache and a bother, but with 28% of our Sunday morning attendance children, we have to make the step simple.   And it’s tough for some people to go from a large worship service (anonymous) to a really small group (not anonymous), so we had to create a middle step.

7.    Act a little bigger than you are.  Not the size you currently are, but not five times bigger either.  This is necessary for growth.

8.    Like pastor like people.  Hosea 4:9 is a great illustration of this.  I realize that how I go, so go the people.  If I’m not generous, then our church won’t be generous.  If I don’t pray, then the church won’t pray.  This literally scares the heck out of me.

9.    A church service is not a church.  What we do on Sunday morning is intentional.  We want to reach people that don’t go to church.  But our church’s influence is not limited to what happens on Sunday morning.  It may be the front door, but a house has more than a door.

10.    Evaluate ruthlessly.  I watch and listen to myself teach.  We tear things apart.  Not because we want to be critical or negative, but because we want to keep getting better.  In theology, this is called progressive sanctification.  We have to keep becoming more and more like Christ.

5 comments so far

  1. Andrew Conard on

    Michael – Great stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Josh Roberts on

    thanks for the insight! I would love to hear more about how you deal with #8.

  3. Josh Roberts on

    thanks for the insight! I would love to hear more about how you deal with #8.

  4. smellmylife on

    All of these resonate with me. Good insight Michael.

  5. Ray Reavis on

    #8 scares me too. I’m going into my first church soon and the thought that people will be watching me and how I deal with my faith, my family, and life in general is intimidating.

    I think the best way to deal with this is to model humility. If you acknowledge that you need God’s help on a daily basis, those who look to you will also look to Him.


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