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TO SAY MORE THIS YEAR

Thank you!

No one says it too much.
We imply it maybe. Our face reinforces it maybe. Our heart feels it maybe. But our lips should say it more this year.
If you’re an expert already, try adding eye contact to it this year. It’ll change the game!

Yes I will.

We have plenty of declines and deflections already. But maybe you agree to play with your kid more. Or taking a risk more often. Or giving more. Your routine is important, yes. And your time and energy are valuable, yes. But there’s a place in your life you’re saying “no” too much. Flip it.

Let’s go!

Approving and joining are different.
“Go ahead” isn’t “let’s go.”
Take a journey with someone. Lead the way sometime. Make someone’s idea a reality. And go with them instead of just encouraging them. It’ll increase your influence too.

I’m going to bed.

Admit it, many times we surrender to sleep instead of deciding to rest. There’s a huge difference between the two.
Set a time and own your schedule. You can pause the show. You can’t pause time, your testosterone decrease, your increasing heart disease risk, your bad attitude tomorrow morning, and more.
Go to bed. On purpose.

No more chips.

This is the year to limit refills. Not only are they making you fatter but also more entitled and more wasteful. Get a drink and quit. Get a bowl of chips and quit. Get a snack and quit.
This will be the hardest one for me but it’s worth it.

I KNOW AND COACH PROFESSIONALLY

Maximizing what I’ve learned
to normalize the exceptional.

MULTISITE

For churches and secular businesses, scaling and multiplication are a specialty I’ve learned and experienced for 20 years … yes, even prior to Elevation and post.

It’s not for everyone. But it’s for more than are leveraging it now. Conversely it’s not for some who are doing it inefficiently.

For all things multisite, I can lend perspective for all layers of what it takes to build 20 locations across states and countries, not to mention 15 minutes down the street.

PS. Online is multisite. And multisite ain’t a causality of Rona, FYI. That’s your fear talking.

MINING AND REFINING LEADERS

I can very well correct the statement “We just don’t have anyone …”. And that conversation will be leader development for the senior leader who then can be better at developing (and recruiting and empowering) leaders to grow and improve the organization. It’s actually more simple than many think. They have the leaders for a church 5x their size but they’re covered up or underutilized. Of all those “amazing leaders” you’re thinking about at the big church, most were attending elsewhere – unseen or underutilized – before you saw them as great “over there.” You have greatness to mine and refine.

TEAM CULTURE AND HEALTH

Finding, hiring, firing, and excusing are not all that’s involved with building the right team. It’s layered, and difficult, and nuanced, and dynamic, and organic, and frustrating, and fun. And if you improve your process just 10% you can see exponential growth through the team. I’ve built healthy teams, across hundreds of miles, who scientifically do more with less, and have fun winning with their peers who they now claim as family. That doesn’t have to be an exception but can be the norm.

CHURCH BUDGETS AND SPENDING

We’ve all taught at some point that God will supply all your needs according to His riches. But many in that same breath will attribute financial struggles to low giving. Almost always, however, spending is to blame. And spending well can be the catalyst for higher giving. Absolutely.

CULTURE OF GENEROSITY

Generosity is a muscle everyone has. Giving is the exercise few improve on. I find many churches and leaders are spending the effort pushing an exercise for a muscle most don’t know they have.
Change the mindset. Coach the spirit. Then capitalize on the act. The right order mobilizes Gods army to do all He had in mind with all He’s already provided.
How to speak about giving? When? To whom? How often? I can help.

TO CONSIDER BEFORE HEEDING CHICKEN LITTLE'S ADVICE

Like when you hear sweeping predictions around “church will never be the same.”

WHAT IS THEIR CONTEXT?

Is Chicken Little in a closed-off state? Socialist country? Are they a 5 or an 8? A 7 or a 1? Are they financially secure or have more freedom at stake?
Predictions and advice carry the smell of a worldview. Thats normal but their foresights aren’t necessarily astute insights. Not to mention predictions in general aren’t helpful, just mildly fascinating and almost always triggering. I want to know what comes first, the trend or the prediction? The chicken or the egg?
So I want to know where a person is standing when they tell me about the winds of change.

WHAT HAVE THEY BUILT?

Building, inheriting, attending, and watching are all different things. And all come with different levels of conviction to protect or make thrive. For example, if I’ve built something then “it won’t work” isn’t a valid reason for killing it. Or “this is no longer working” isn’t a pass for boredom and laziness. But if I’m a passive viewer of trends and sideline reporter, “it won’t work” becomes a quick way to pivot (and get clicks).
Builders will always have the most valuable advice IMO.

WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO GAIN?

Good examples these days are clicks and views. CNN has “deployed people to Africa in search of the next contagion.” That’s an actual CNN headline from last week. They’re legitimately searching for a problem – and creating another by teasing the fear up front – because most of you are addicted to fear and gossip.
If the tone of someone’s assessment of the global Church changes with their income or influence, the podcast or post is not worth my follow.

WHAT HAVE THEY LEFT OR LOST?

Vengeance is corrosive. (I actually learned that line from Ironman.) But it’s true. And “vengeance” isn’t just the “I hate that person” vibe. It can also be all the residue from a failure or even a positive memory.
I’ve been there myself (as I bet 100% of people have). Regardless of the equal-opportunity impact of vengeance (or regret or nostalgia) it’s worth remembering that it can taint advice and “insights.”

DO I CARE?

Maybe the sky is falling. Maybe “church will never be the same.” But whether or not I care is 100% on me. And TBH, I have a track record of proving “experts” wrong. IYKYK. I don’t buck the system arbitrarily or as often as some think.
But when Chicken Little screams, I still ask “Do I care?” Because I’m not a programmable robot and not a fearful sheep.

I DID TO PREP FOR KIDS

RECORDED STORIES

I wanted to give them real-time insights as they happened and real-time emotions as I felt them rather than being 50 and having selective memory. Not to mention old dad stories just don’t hit the same way Blair Witch style movies do. ? I told them about my passions, jobs, who our favorite people are (or were then). I told them where we lived and why, what I hoped for them, and what I wanted them to get from the videos. It was fun. And hopefully will be fun one day when they get to watch them.

GOT THEM AN EMAIL ADDRESS

Yep, I did. I got my first email at 17, the night I graduated high school. The kids got one before oxygen. That way I could …

EMAIL THEM

I sent the videos to them. I sent voice memos to them. I sent notes to them. Sometimes random encouragement and other times simple stories of what I was doing right that minute … many of which were stories of building The Church and how I was excited to take them to Roanoke or Florida one day. “Daddy had to leave today for Roanoke but we’ll come back as a family and I’ll show you a big star.” It’s a real email Summer got.
They’ll get the password once they need email. That day is coming soon.

ASKED PRESCHOOLERS QUESTIONS

I remember Loren was just a few months pregnant with Summer and we were at Blackson’s house after just getting hired at Elevation. So I sat on the swings with Alyssa and asked her questions about her dad, grown-ups in general, and “what advice would you give me since I’m having a girl?” I won’t forget it.
I did that with many preschoolers … and I don’t care if you think that’s creepy. 🙂

MADE LISTS

What I want them to see. What I want to teach them. What I want to be known for with them.
The lists were mainly to help my mindset – that spontaneity and randomness would be less helpful when they came. But also to help me put things into the perspective that other humans will depend on me so I should spend a few minutes legitimately prepping for it.
Then I cut each list in half to remind me that most of their experiences should come from their dreams, not mine.

I LIKE TO ASK MY KIDS A WHOLE BUNCH OF TIMES

What was your favorite thing about today?
What did you learn today?
Why do you like ___?
Will you go with me?
What do you think about ___?

I HOPE PEOPLE POST LESS IN 2021

“I’m beyond excited.”

Beyond? Prove it. There better be fainting or streaking involved.?

“There are no words to describe ….”

None? Cuz your post is really long describing it. ?

“[x] is the best / most / greatest [x] ever.”

Pretty bold. And you said that about that other friend last week. So which is it, buckaroo? ?

“You’re not gonna wanna miss this weekend.”

Ok Chicken Little. I’m tryna book a vacation but the last 268 weeks at church were “gonna be the best ever” so I’m beginning to think your vocabulary needs work or you’re selling an empty box.?

[Scripture Selfie]

“God is good. He’s all I need. But look at my face while you remember His face.” ?
You’re pretty, it’s fine. God is good, true.
I’m just saying it’s a Christmas wish to see fewer of these.

THAT MAKE MY AIR TRAVEL EASIER

TSA PRE-CHECK

This is non-negotiable. No idea how everyone doesn’t have this. Even if you fly once a year it’s worth it. Ask me more or take my “how to not travel like a caveman” class.

AISLE SEAT

I love the window. I’m still a kid anytime I’m on a plane. But I’ve graduated to the aisle for a few reasons. More room, freedom to get up and walk around when I want, quick exit, and so I’m ready to throat punch any hijacker or angry passenger. Yes, I do indeed plan that out every time I get on a plane.

NEVER CHECK A BAG

8 days in Asia, 8 days in Sydney, 7 days in Brazil, 5 in Colorado… wherever I go I can survive and still dress well (not competing with trendy pastor vibes on IG) with just a carry-on. That means I take fewer pair of shoes than many of my friends. And less denim jackets. But I don’t take an hour to leave the airport, never miss a connection, and never lose a bag.

I PICK THE PLANE NOT JUST THE FLIGHT

For the most part the planes are the same these days. And if it’s less than a 90-minute flight then I don’t care. But longer and I’m looking for certain aircraft with plugs, TVs, particular layouts, and even upgrade potential.
But I do pick routes too. I consider length of travel, connection times, potential delays in certain hubs, weather, and more. Which is why I don’t fly Allegiant, Spirit, or any other airline to save $8.

MEDICINE AND FOOD

I always have some in the bag. I’ve rarely been stuck on the ram but occasionally I run into a time when I need food, pills, and some Tums. “Oh it’s just an hour” is something I never say when prepping a flight. Jerky, crackers, nuts, Tums, ibuprofen, protein bars (that don’t melt), fiber pills, water bottle… I’m ready to camp on the plane and this stuff adds just a pound to my bag.

PEOPLE TELL THEIR KIDS BUT FORGET TO LIVE AS ADULTS

“Don’t worry about what others think.”
“Be yourself.”
“Don’t be a liar.”
“Treat others how you want to be treated.”
“Say ‘Thank You.’”

I’LL ALWAYS SPEND MONEY ON

INTERNET

I’m the nut who thinks it’s essential to life. Not in the same way the Kardashians think or people who spend 8 hours watching TikTok. ? But the news media doesn’t report, they direct. And that’s been true for at least 20 years (Please @ me your 2020 “unprecedented times” rants.?) I need to have a place to FIND info, not be FED info. And connectivity to humanity is online too. The Internet is a powerful tool and brilliant privilege. It’s not evil. What you lazily let into your brain from the web is your fault, not the Internet’s fault. I’ll always pay the insane, ridiculous, criminal costs of getting online.

VACATION

I know some call it a luxury but I see it as necessity. Doesn’t have to be a cruise or week in Greece. Stop comparing to others IG and the debt they don’t post about. But intentional time away, intentional adventure, intentional rest is worth the money.

MEAT

It’s how we were created. 🙂 Protein is good and plant protein just doesn’t cut it for me. Not anti-veggie or anti-vegetarian, just not for me. I’ll always have an extra dollar for steak over pasta or hamburger over fakeburger.

MY KIDS

I honestly spoil my kids. It’s my fault. They don’t have ponies or their own pool house but I’m not above donut Fridays or spontaneous drives to the beach for hotdogs. It’s not traditional parenting and I can see for myself some problems I’ve created. ? But I’ve chosen to err on that side. I’ll always have an extra dollar for pretzels at Disney or gummies at the movies.

GIVING

Giving is the act, generosity is the spirit. I’m generous because how I was raised, because gratitude for what God has done, and even in response to how I’ve seen it improve my life. So I need to prove and further cultivate the spirit with the act. Buying dinner for a team, giving through the church, investing into a church planter, or getting Loren’s favorite drink. Giving is essential, not optional. If it’s optional to you, your heart and logic are broken, not your calculator or wallet.

CAMPUS PASTORS ARE NOT

PROJECT MANAGERS

But many are hired, paid, and led like that. If that’s the goal, call them PMs and don’t feel bad about it. But if the wish is for them to pastor thousands, lead a staff, empower hundreds of volunteers, and build The Church, then they need giver access, appropriate budgets, regular connection to the Lead Pastor (aka the voice they’re stewarding … do they even know that voice?), freedom to execute the vision in their unique setting far from broadcast, and belief from the Lead Pastor and executives.

AN EMPLOYEE OF THE EXEC. ASSISTANT

I know the role of Exec Assistant is unique. And in some cases extremely hard. And I know there is a communication flow through them down to CPs and other staff. But the authority should be clear and limited. Otherwise call the Assistant an Executive Pastor. Because while they have calendar and personality access to the Lead Pastor, generally they have little to no understanding of team leadership, campus growth, and the million nuances of what their message will lead to … especially when they’re angry and condescending. If the majority of leadership direction has to go through the Assistant to the CPs, you have project managers leading your campuses.

LEAD PASTORS

The jobs of CPs and LPs are vastly different. And the personalities are different too (regardless of enneagram or other assessments that say they’re similar). The roles dictate situational personalities and they’re just different. They should resemble the values and messaging of the Lead Pastor, not necessarily the operational tasks or passions of the Lead Pastor. And you know how to improve the clarity in the gap? Lead Pastors need to know (and be vulnerable, honest, and interested in) their CPs.

EVERYDAY PREACHERS

I do think they should preach from time to time. It’s a great built-in bench when the LP needs off. It’s also a good idea to develop that skill in them. And it’s a good way for them to increase credibility with their campus. But unless they’re doing it 40+ times a year, they won’t be as “good” (relative term for sure) as the LP. And they definitely won’t do it like the LP. And that’s ok. I do think they should spend substantial effort on their message and have some guidelines and coaching. But the expectations have to be different, not in quality but in direction and purpose of their message.

TRYING TO BE A LEAD PASTOR

It’s a very small number of CPs who even want the role of a Lead Pastor, much less are actually trying to become one. It’s possible they think they can do the job better but that belief exists in every staff role at every church about some other role. LPs even think they can be CPs too sometimes. So don’t fear that particular thought. I worry more about how the fear of mutiny is a Thanos-level killer of momentum and impact. Want to wipe out half of all potential? Snap your fingers with the thought of “they want my job” and operate with a chasm between LP and CP. That’ll slow things down quick. And like The Blip, it may also take 5 years to recover from.

AT WHICH YOU’LL NEVER BE TOO GOOD

GIVING

You can give yourself broke. But that’s not smart. You can give a big number but a small percentage and that’s not necessarily generous. You can give consistently but begrudgingly and that’s not a conduit fit blessing. But to know what, when, how much, how, and to whom will always be a different combination. Keep working.

APOLOGIZING

You can use the words without the heart. Or you can be right and not see the need. Or you can apologize too much just to fill the silence. Hopefully we don’t need a lot of practice but are always ready to exercise the muscle. But see … I bet no one is ever an expert though. Keep working.

SAVING MONEY

Just like giving, you can do a lot of it but not for the right reasons. And can do a lot of it and still not maximize it. “Savings” and “stingy” look a lot alike … the ever changing intent is the fulcrum. Stay creative on saving, not content with stingy. Keep working.

ENCOURAGING

It’s impossible to be an expert on this because the recipient’s context dictates your contribution. You can’t use the same words or same tone each time. You have to adapt to the waves of emotion and understanding. And BYW, superhero encouragers know how to encourage without even saying anything. Work harder.

TRUSTING

It’s all on you, not them. But what they do should make you throttle what you trust then with. It can be annoying, I know. And why you’ll never be too good at it. But trust unlocks intimacy and influence unlike anything else so you need to give it. “But …” is an indication of work still to be done.

THAT KEEP YOUR CHURCH’S GIVING LOWER THAN ITS POTENTIAL

TIMIDITY

If you’re timid to ask, I’ll be timid to give. Cliche preacher jokes don’t help either because they prove you’re apologizing for what the Bible says about giving. And if you’re apologizing for the Bible you can’t be blessed by it.
Be confident and prove it.

CONFUSION ABOUT WHY

“Because the Bible said” can’t be it. And you can’t say “We’re a New Testament church” for every other sermon and belief and then use Malachi 3 for the giving sermon. Do you “pitch” giving as if you’re doing us a favor? Or do you go hard the other way and flippantly say “we don’t need your money”? Are you still trying to get people to give instead of cultivating generosity? Do you know the difference? Do you even know your own theology behind giving?
Clear it up.

CONFUSION ABOUT HOW

Have you checked the links? Have you checked the text-to-give number? Have you listened to your giving setup or vision messaging to see how unclear and uncertain you are? Are you so “clear” about the endless options that you list phone numbers, links, QR codes, boxes, bowls, bank drafts, the finance lady, and Coin-star machines? I’ve heard people spend more time on all the “convenient options” than on the point or value of giving. Or are you so passive with “give on the way out” that it’s unclear how or even why?
Clear that up too.

YOU APPEAR TO BE A BAD INVESTMENT

The building isn’t clean. The staff is inefficient. You think hiring more staff is ever the answer. You keep telling us about all the needs while also preaching about how “He will supply all your needs…”. You’re inconsistent with your vision and messaging. And frankly, sometimes the leader just doesn’t even seem like someone you’d trust to multiply an investment. Level up.

YOU’RE NOT SHOWING ME THE ROI.

Tell us what we are doing and how we are winning. Tell us how we are growing and continually being challenged. Share with me stories of everyday scenarios, not always overpriced foreign trips or orphaned children with a disease. I want to connect to the mission, not just write a check. Because when I’m connected to the mission I write a check.
Show, don’t tell.

I CAN NEVER GET ENOUGH OF

Piloting an airplane
Sitting on the beach
Hearing my kids laugh
Watching Loren make herself laugh
WWII era documentaries

THAT COMMUNICATE THE CULTURE OF YOUR CHURCH MORE THAN SERMONS OR SONGS

BATHROOMS

It’s where integrity is graded. You say you’re excellent? We’ll see in there. You say environments matter? We’ll see in there. It’s typically more like Monica’s closet that no one wants to talk about or show, just a necessary part of a building.
To me it’s the truth or lie to the often overstated and mostly underachieved value of excellence.

FIRST TIME GUEST AREA

It’s where we find out if you’ve developed and deployed connectors or trained and employed sales people. It doesn’t need to be wasteful small talk and can be an efficient stop. But shouldn’t be a transactional vibe without eye contact or introductions. The best connectors share numbers or connect on IG on the spot because they really want to … you know … connect.

MAP ACCURACY AND SIGNAGE

I know you don’t own Google but what Google says (or doesn’t say) about you is still on you. Have you checked to see how maps lead me to your church? Does your signage match the map? Does your signage provide direction or just logos? Getting to the general area of town in easy, it’s the last 100 yards to the parking spot that either adds the anxiety and chips away at the good first impression or tips the “this isn’t so bad” domino of potential.

SPELLING AND DATES

Excellence? Why are there still handouts with old dates? Still have web banners and videos from last month? Misspelling and grammar hiccups on handouts? It all says something. It’s not a deal breaker (the first time) but it might be an indication of the level of detail you operate with (or without).
Obsessive is a goal. It’s only a derogatory term for lazy people to say about driven people.

STAGE HOST

This is the time we see behind the curtain. Sermons, songs, and videos are scripted. The host segment is a window into the potential relationship between the guest and the church. Are you hosting me or driving me? Inviting me or informing me? Talking at me or engaging with me? Can you make it timely but thorough? What about witty but authentic? I’ll attend a church with C-level preaching and A-team hosting. But A-level preaching with C-level hosting is what YouTube is for (and why Watch Parties are all the rage these days?).

I WONDER ABOUT DR MARTIN L KING JR

I wonder if he would have a Bible translation or interpretation.

Like The Passion Translation or The Message. I imagine his insight into Scripture was unique and his study of it next level. I imagine his descriptions of the space between the lines would source more than a few worship anthems. And what would a Bible plan written by him look like on YouVersion.

I wonder how he’d respond to the people who use his name in vain.

To the people who use him as a mascot more than an inspiration. To those who can quote a line or two but have no clue about his heart. To those who forgot he was a preacher of the Gospel, not just some social club president. Or even to those who hold him equal to Jesus.
I imagine it would be like those rare ninjas who can punch you in the throat (verbally) but somehow make you feel like it was a blessing. ? A little T.D.‘esque maybe?

I wonder what sort of athlete he’d be in his 40’s and in today’s culture.

I wonder what his golf handicap would be. And his bench press. And if he would be the kind of old dude to wander on a court, be the 6th man after some young guy got hurt, then just rain 3’s nonchalant. I do know he wouldn’t be the guy to roam the gym with a gallon of water or protein shake. Cuz he seemed like he understood the body could survive 45 minutes of mirror gazing and 3 minutes of standing curls without the need for a drink.

I wonder what he’d think of Maxine.

Cuz there’s no alternate endgame Dr Strange saw that has those two agreeing on anything.

I wonder if he’d be more annoyed with Jerry Jones or more proud of Tom Brady.

He’d have to pick one, it’s my game here. He’s a focused leader with little patience for excuses and cliches so he’d have a hard time with Jerry. And I’m sure he’d be excited to see someone dominate like Brady for so long but may come in strong with a “the game needs more parity.” I can’t see it but that seems like some heresy Stephen A. would rant about.
I bet he’d text Brees “Good run”, text Tom “Good run and wow, how’d you do that?” then hit up Prime to watch the next generation being built in Texas.

OF PERSPECTIVE TO “REGULAR” LEADERS AT REGULAR SIZED CHURCHES

You know when you call a big church or famous leader for coaching, friendship, or to encourage them and get no response?

It ain’t just you. Happened to me all the time when I was calling churches a quarter the size and fraction of the impact of Elevation. Even some we were trying to serve at their own request. ? So 1) don’t take it personally. 2) Don’t confuse size with value. It’s common that a big church’s operations won’t serve you specifically. 3) Do you want insights or just a contact? Don’t be a small name wanting to name drop a bigger one.
P.S. The only people who care about the expensive pastor you had fill in for you are Christians from other churches.
They’re not your target.

The most poorly managed church I know is 10,000+ with multiple locations.

They preach the gospel. People meet Jesus. It’s a fine church. But what you see ain’t what you get. Don’t get mesmerized by flash or a 3×6” screen with 15 second clips of a single face. Remember highlight reels aren’t just used by people but organizations too. You could be admiring the opposite of what you want. Stay focused. Stop chasing them. I promise many of them are trying to rewind to where you are to do it over correctly. Cuz the right and intentional culture is typically what gets left behind on the starship rise to preacher-fame.

Pay attention to the big-church cliches you make fun of now… so you can guard against them later.

Like “You have more to protect when you’re bigger.” (I’ve always wondered why not “more to work with.”)
Or “More money more problems.” That’s not encouraging or relevant to a single person or church in the history of the world.
Or “I’ll be available for the regular pastors when I get famous. I’ll have an open green room.” ???
Seriously, write them down. Count them as curses if you use them so you can change it.

The Instagram account you’re trying to be like has an entire team producing content for it. You don’t.

And all that content loses 98% of its potency within 24 hours of posting. Imagine if you bought food with that decomp rate.
It’s fine if you have that kind of money for the staff and international following to speak to. But your church isn’t growing because you boost ads to people in other states. Your platform might a little … so what are you trying to grow? ? Make sure your mission statement, staffing, and energy reflect your actual mission. Be honest.

You’re trying too hard to be creative right now and it’s not that important.

Some of the biggest churches have some of the more mellow and repetitive preaching. Some preachers have 30,000+ listeners and say the same jokes every 4-5 weeks. Literally. Just listen. Some preach on anxiety 40 weeks a year. Listen. But is that wrong or wise?
Is it possible you’re wanting to be creative for your own ego or boredom? Preach. Lead.
Be consistent. Because, sadly, these days …
consistency is revolutionary.

I THINK ABOUT CHURCH WATCH PARTIES

I never used them to determine the location of the next campus, I used them to prove the viability of a potential campus.

“There are a lot of people over there” meant (and means) nothing to me. “Many people” can be true for any event from Super Bowl parties to riots. I didn’t do “Interest meetings”, I held “investment meetings.” Meaning “who is invested in this endeavor to reach their city?” Not “who passively listens to Pastor Steven in 5-minute clips?” Elevation is a tool, not an achievement. And I used WP’s to prove that. One of the best ever was in Melbourne, FL. There hasn’t been one better in terms of building leaders, being about the right purpose, and staying focused. (And there were many other good ones.)

They’re nothing similar to a church location in terms of operations and expectations.

A huge reason Watch Parties can be a liability is because even according to their name they’re passive. There are great people at them and who host them. But potluck, pool decks, and a TV make up a different operational and leadership weight than a 5am setup time for the next 7 years, having a pastor come in to lead what you (the host) built, and increasing the expectations of serving and giving. Very few “hard core” WP attendees lasted in leadership after we transitioned to a campus. Bar got too high.

They’re relatively short-term.

And should be.
Are you doing a house church movement? Fine. If not, set a clock for your WPs to be a campus or be done? Dangling those forever looks cool on your Instagram and in your annual reports. But are you reporting all that turnover? Or the fact it’s been the same size for 5 years? Are you loving the people who had to find another “church” because kids ministry just wasn’t cutting it in a house? How many events can you do in a city before it would be more on-mission to encourage the people to connect to another church in their city where there’s a long-term future and they can remain actively engaged!

Their purpose and your expectations need to be defined, not discovered.

Don’t start because “We might as well help them since they already have group.” ? I have a need, send me your tithes with that same “compassion.” ? Also “they need Jesus” or “it’s a good opportunity” is true for literally every city in the world. Please don’t let “cool stories” (aka usually just 3 stories) be the catalyst. And numbers are a fraction of the story. So … What is the point of your WPs? And did you set that up prior to sending money, energy, a video feed, and staff to that “really cool” group of 15 people? What do they think is the goal? Are you leading them there or just hoping then complaining when it craps out? Cuz I get paid from many who do the latter.

Elevation did not invent them but thanks for the credit.

Watch Parties were a thing way before Elevation. And not even a church thing. I can tell you where I got the idea in September 2010 before I was even hired at Elevation.
My point, though, is that this is a good reminder to adapt and leverage productive tools from other industries. What connection, engagement, and messaging tools exist outside the Church that you can improve on and leverage? When is the last time you got a growth idea from a company or friend, not another big church? I find by the time The Church adopts something, its trends of innovation and productivity has already peaked.

YOU’RE TO STEWARD WELL OTHER THAN MONEY

ENERGY
ENCOURAGEMENT
ATTENTION
POSSESSIONS
TIME
Do it wisely.

I FIND GENERALLY UNNECESSARY

HALF THE STAFF AT EACH CHURCH

I said it. But we hire a lot of people these days because that other church did. And we hire because we don’t want to work hard. And then we hire others to do simple tasks since we don’t like to do the meaningful work of leading, developing, and empowering people who would love to do it for free and better.
My pastor said long ago “If you want to lead like Jesus you have to be willing to make unreasonable requests.” Yep! Do that.
Lead better, hire less. And CashApp me a percentage of the wasted money I just saved you. ? Need a list of specific roles? @ me.

COLLEGE

It’s not universally relevant anymore (barely ever was). Aside from obvious professional practices, a degree is full of fluff. And if an employer (churches included) need you to have one “to prove you can finish something,” is that a place you want to give your life? ? If it’s a personal goal or value, great! Otherwise, I can list better ways to spend $200k and 4 years. And a bunch of your favorite CEOs could suggest that too.

SOCIAL MEDIA

? I know, I see the irony in this post. But what we think is “necessary” could also be described as a parasite. It could be something that grew on us that we endure, not what we need. Just like “necessary” in-person meetings in 2020?! I use SM, sure. But essential to life? That’s the question. You mean to tell me there’s no other way in the whole wide world to have friends or communicate your business values? Sounds like SM isn’t a tool but a master.

DIETS

A lifestyle change is essential, yes! Chasing trends and quick fixes are a waste. And exactly like investing, the more you mess with it the less returns your enjoy. How many times have you lost and gained weight on diets in the 2.5 years that I’ve kept off my 30lbs with a lifestyle shift?

CONFERENCES

Aka paying to visit a fraternity. In today’s world, what can you get at a conference that you can’t get free and faster 1 million other places? Not content, no way! Networking? I’ve seen plenty of people at conferences and they’re not networking, they’re gawking. Inspiration? A preach-off surely isn’t your idea of inspiration? Building ideas? Call a church or more relevant company and go visit for free. I’m legit flabbergasted conferences are still a thing. Not mad about it, just intrigued. ?

I’VE NEVER AND WILL NEVER SAY TO MY KIDS

“We need unity.”

I’d say “Work together.” But declaring a blanket need for unity without any context or what to unify around is pointless. And actually divisive since it’s a weapon of deception by means of distraction.
Germany was very unified in the late 30’s. Unity wasn’t the problem. So I don’t need my kids randomly and vaguely chasing “unity.” I need them working together in a clear and noble direction. That’s the option that puts the responsibility on them. And “we need” is just wishful filler.

“For your safety.”

I’d say “Be careful.” I’m raising kids and building leaders. That means I need to unload on them as much opportunity for responsibility and ownership as I can. Want to raise entitled, anxious, scared, and sad little humans, take responsibility from them and make all their decisions. Wrap it in a verbal hug of fluffy comfort words and it’s guaranteed. I find that “for your safety” always means “for my security.”

“Comply.”

I’d say “Do you understand?” RoboCop and Terminator say “comply.” I want my kids to understand rules and policies that exist and even evaluate if they’re valid, legal, or wise. Aside from the actual “compliance”, do they even know what for or why they’re complying? And I’m my kids’ boss and authority. But I’m not their dictator. The difference is mindset. A stern dad still has kids coming back in adulthood. A dictator creates irreconcilable division and lifelong anxiety. I want them to see me as a guide who trusts them and builds trust with them. Compliance is the goal for computer systems without brains and contractors building decks.

“Not my fault.”

I’d say “Whose fault is that?” Or better yet, “Why did that happen?” I want them to think for themselves and discern causes and effects. Sometimes it’s not a person who is immediately at fault but a system or series of habits that went sideways. Immediate abdication – true or not – tells them it’s an option for them one day. And to go all the way in, I actually show them through example to say “my fault” more often and then quickly move to remedy the situation. Taking fault is a quicker way to change than arguing about whose fault it is or isn’t. Try it today.

“You have the right…”

I’d say “You have the privilege…”. Rights are theoretical except those we have in Christ to be realized in their fullness after we leave this planet. The US Constitution theorizes the idea of rights but relies on God-fearing, selfless people to enable those to be real. Regardless, rights in general are still privileges if and when they’re available. So I’d rather start at privilege and be blessed with “rights.” Than to start with “rights” and be disappointed and endlessly upset when they’re taken away. I do think there is much to fight for and true injustices in the world. But fighting from the predictable foundation of gratitude is better than the shifty ground of entitlement.

ABOUT FORMER STAFF AND CHURCH MEMBERS

If you are one (like me), you’re done!

Whether your decision or someone else’s, you’re done for now. Reapply if you want.
Serve faithfully and positively under authority. Or move on. And tell your insider friends who are weak sauce wannabe whistleblowers that you’ve moved on too. They’re talking to you because they’re still stuck in indecision and fear masked in “calling” or “stay planted” cliches. ? (Psst… that’s called “quit and stay.”) Regret is real but it’s also a scab. Stop picking at it and tell the story of the scar after it heals. Until then you’re grossing everyone out.

If you know one, they have a rare viewpoint that could be productive if you know how to leverage it.

Their anger or sarcasm is just malt vinegar that few enjoy. But there’s probably meat beneath. They’ve seen both sides of the org chart. They’ve seen what holes exist in the communication outside the office. Your leadership does have gaps. You probably do have some inconsistency. At least consider it. If you write them off solely based on the sauce, you miss the goodness of the meat.
You don’t have to meet with them but you can transplant the core of their questions into your evaluations.

If you are one, don’t conveniently leave out details in the story you tell yourself.

I know we all have selective memory. Me too. But what you forgot is probably remembered by others. Like a guy who’s been ranting for years about his former employer where he missed multiple days of work every month sleeping in, missing deadlines, and turning in subpar work. Not only that but he wasn’t close to a culture fit to begin with, just a contracted fill-in. Reallocate that negative energy to research your whole story to help move you to something greater. It’s been too long. Shew!

If you have one, let them go!

Don’t even feel like you have to censor them. You can if you want, that’s your prerogative. But I think you can trust your audience to perceive the rot in their comments. Ignoring them drowns them in their own vomit. Like a medically included coma, sometimes they need to pass out to be helped. Let them go. They can re-re-re-read GlassDoor posts while you execute your vision.

If you are one, don’t let your legacy on their lips be “Wow, we dodged that bullet.”

Keep talking, complaining, and gossiping and that is exactly what it will be. And from my experience at a massive church and a tiny church, that legacy may have started before you left. Start a new, better one at whatever is next. Let the last season sit. Then in a few years it could be an old well to dig out for new life. But that possibility is determined today.
P.S. How you respond to this post will dictate your future success and reference from that church you “hate” but still put on your resumé. I’ve been a ninja reference for multiple Elevators who didn’t even put me down as a one.?

A BIGGER CHURCH BUDGET WON’T FIX

Bad hires from a lack of discipline
Culture inconsistent with values
Poor communication to the church
Too many or unclear CTAs
Apathy from too much shallow hype

OVERHEARD IN THE CHURCH LOBBY

“Season” ?

It’s the most popular descriptor used by Christians to describe a timeframe of “going through something.” Everywhere else it’s a “phase of life” or “week from hell.” But it does flow off the lips better like a Hallmark movie title at Christmas. ??

“Let’s connect.” ?

Surely this is one of the top-5 teases in church? Like “I’ll call you” in that great episode of Friends when Chandler couldn’t not say it. Don’t be Chandler. Connect or don’t say it. Also define it. Because as I see it, even talking about it is connecting. Box: checked. ?

“Nice shoes.” ?

If this isn’t part of lobby convo then you don’t go to a cool church. And Jesus loves cool church more. I learned that from Instagram Bible School. That’s why they have preacher sneaker accounts and why many preachers want to know what Pastor Furtick is wearing. ?
Don’t forget the denim jacket over the hoodie. Stay warm out there … in summer?

“Enjoy the service.”

Cuz, you know, that’s the goal. ? Even better when the “enjoy the service” people complain during the week about “being fed” or “going deeper.” But ? … ??

Church people: “Hey good morning so good to see you guys how are you thanks for joining us today have an amazing worship experience take a worship guide!” (All one breath no punctuation)

Them: “…”
Definitely a 89:1 ratio of “talked at” vs “spoken with” in many lobbies. Say the thing, throw them an envelope, usher them in, post the score. ? I know, I know, it’s not the intention. But that’s my intention… to point out we may lack some intention. We’re not Build-A-Bears with a squeeze-my-tummy button and a recorded line. Coach your team on feeling and connection instead of task and statement.

TO ALWAYS STRIVE TO PUSH DOWN

SCREEN TIME

There’s an app for that. Mainly talking about the phone too. After all, you just turn on the TV for the background noise while you dive into your phone. Unless people are posting brilliant content like this “5 Things” stuff then move on. ? Just try it … shoot to have less time on your phone this week than last week. I dare you! We can compete. I’ll show you my screen time if you show me yours. ?

EXPENSES

The little things add up. We all have mortgage, insurance, and gas. But driving down food expenses, entertainment expenses, and coffee addictions can add thousands back to your pocket. Yep, literally thousands! Track it … and let’s race down the hill.

CHOLESTEROL

Exercise. The eating part is important too. But these days I think diets are so trendy that the weight loss can mask other unhealthy and unaddressed problems. Go run, bike, push up, squat down, or even just wake up earlier and go to bed earlier.

WORRY (aka The News)

Can you do anything about all those theories you’re worried about. Are you Jason Bourne? Or Jesus? Awareness is important, absolutely. And preparation is wise, absolutely. But worry is different. And you’re filling your mind with worry in the name of “being informed.” If you have that robotic need to check your phone while still in bed, “informed” isn’t what you’re being. Trained is what you are.
Checkmate: Tech.

Your volume when mom is still asleep!

Shut your door. Do dishes some other time. Play outside. You get the idea. ??

YOU SHOULD ASK YOUR SPOUSE TO SEE IF THEY REALLY LOVE YOU?

Are you ok if I go out by myself for a little bit … maybe run to Target?
[10 hours / $134 later] Thanks.
Does this make me look fat? This one too? All of them? What about that one? NM.
Will you give me a massage? Ok, fine, will you scratch my back?
Will you help the kids brush their teeth? You’re better at it.
Wanna bring me home some coffee?

ABOUT LOREN ON HER 35th BIRTHDAY

She’s driven to help others.

You see a lot of her Keto coaching now (and need to capitalize on that). But you may not have seen her buy strangers coffee, or send money to people in need, or watch someone’s kids for a day so mom can sleep.

She’s committed.

Once she determines what and where, she’s all in. Whether it’s a church role, life coaching, babysitting, teaching our kids to read and write, she’s all in. Dependability and responsiveness are quickly-diminishing traits these days. Not so with her.

She’s an addict.

Coffee, I mean. It’s why she started her business, to support her coffee habit that my income wasn’t going to cover.
Pray for her. 🙂

She’s coached, believed in, and encouraged people to lose over 10,000 lbs through a Keto lifestyle.

That’s substantial. She’s not full of hype, she’s a living example of disciplined and consistent fueling of the body. My fav part? She doesn’t shame other diets or lifestyles, she just focuses on what has absolutely worked for her, me, and hundred of others she serves personally.

She’s funny.

No qualifier for this one. She just is and I love it!