servant leaders


We have an


opportunity to BE THE

CHURCH, to be the hands

of help and voice of

hope for Jesus.

What are you preaching on this Sunday? The series of messages I’m working on is simply, BE THE CHURCH.

I’m drawing from Acts 2:42-47 and then Acts 4:42-47 and we will be encouraging and challenging with some very practical and daily ways to BE THE CHURCH now and in the new normal.

Here are some very practical things we are working on at The Church at Bradenton…

How to be real help and real hope:


2 – Pray with and for people.

3 – Encourage, encourage, encourage!

4 – Donate to FELT (Feeding Empty Little Tummies).

5 – Check up on single moms, widows and elderly in your neighborhood and our TCAB family.

6 – Partner with your community. i.e. Give to our local food bank and give to your church food pantry.

7 – Give to your local church so we can continue to be hands of help and voice of hope.

8 – Pray with and for people.

Share your thoughts and how you and your team are being the hands of help and voice of hope where you live and lead! #encourageencourageencourage

Here is a helpful article with helpful links on catching up with the challenge curve that the average church is facing in this season…

How to be a BIG Church

Unknown-12I Love BIG Churches – Part 4

How to be a BIG Church!

Bigger is always better when it comes to some things… but we aren’t talking about mere numbers. Regardless of the size of your ministry and the greater demographic you are hoping to influence, here are some ways you can go BIG for Christ.

5 Ways to be a BIG Church…

1) BIG prayer. You can be certain of this, “Whenever God determines to do a great work, He first sets His people to pray!” (Charles Spurgeon) Fast and pray together in increasingly creative ways… 24hr prayer summits, days of fasting, scripture praying, prayer walls, stations and more. Simply put, you and your ministry family cannot pray enough as you align yourself with God’s unique purpose for you!

2) BIG worship. It doesn’t have to be a large venue or a long service to worship well and dive deep together into the Word of God. Make your times of gathering as a congregation a priority not only for you, but for those neighbors and friends you are inviting to join you. Give your best and make it all about Jesus!

3) BIG service. Who are you partnering with in your community to meet needs and be the hands and feet of Jesus? From a local school’s tutoring program to a homeless shelter, from a foster parenting group to a ministry fighting human trafficking, there are people with a heart for service you can partner with in your sphere of influence!

4) BIG giving. Don’t be afraid to inspire and inform often about the importance of tithes and offerings. Why? Because of the partnership potential it brings to the Kingdom of Christ. Keep the motivations before your people… from missionaries abroad to local and regional ministries, remind often that giving makes it go as God multiplies it for His glory!

5) BIG love. “Love one another.” The most influential thing any church has going for them is their capacity to love each other. People are attracted to people who genuinely care for one another, in spite of faults, failures and sins. Through small groups gathering often to simply being there for each other on a daily basis… leave no doubt in your communities mind that you are love by God and love one another in a BIG, BIG way!

Be BIG and go BIGGER and BIGGER in the ways that truly matter. The numbers will take care of themselves as people come to Jesus and you grow disciples who make disciples!

Here’s a BIG BONUS for small/medium sized churches… check out Breaking 200 Without Breaking You by Carrie Nieuwhof.

Leading Culture On It’s Own Terms


“Trails are managed as part of

the natural environment.

Visitors must be prepared to

meet and accept nature on it’s

own terms.” 

I passed this sign countless times along an all too familiar trail, but never really read it. For some reason it stopped me in my tracks this time and its message was as clear as it was challenging.

Here are four simple takeaways for us as leaders of any organization, especially churches.

1 – “Trails are managed…”

Things aren’t just going to get better because you’ve showed up. You and your team will have to pray, process, plan, and get it done with perseverance for there to be lasting change and preferred outcomes along the way. Own it. It’s your trail… for the moment.

2 – “…as part of the natural


How you find the environment of the organization you are leading is only natural. No one said it was optimal, just a natural part of life and leadership in a broken world. Don’t take it personal and simply take personal responsibility for what your organization is and will become.

3 –  “Visitors must be prepared…”

We must be aware and prepared for the fact that we are stewards, not owners. We are the “visitors.” Even if you planted the church or started the business, someone else will replace you. Let this humble you and challenge you to be prepared day in and day out. The very trail this sign is on was once Native American tribal land, then a regional center of colonial life, then a thriving resort, now a national landmark known as Fort Boonesborough.

4 – “…to meet and accept nature

on it’s own terms.”

It’s time to do this in your organization and to keep doing this daily as it evolves and grows through the natural cycles of all organizations. You will vision, work, grow, plateau, decline and eventually die unless you continually and creatively (stubbornly) face new realities, embrace change, and reinvent all while holding fast to the bedrock principles that guide you. For most of us… this means the timeless Gospel of Jesus communicated in ever changing ways.

How is your church or business really doing?

Don’t just pass the signs that

are right in front of you.

Stop. Read them. Realize that how you apply their guidance and where this trail leads you and your organization is yours to steward for a season. Start by accepting the realities of the culture you serve in on its own terms.

31 Ministry Tips for 2016 – #21

Here is Tip #21 for Ministry Leaders in 2016…

Live and lead >.

Purpose to partner in something bigger than your team and vision. This may have nothing to do with advancing your agenda. Maybe it’s a partnership with a local charity or school, neighborhood association, serving at a homeless shelter, supporting foreign missionaries or getting away for service projects at a kid’s camp. Here are 4 Things Leading “Greater Than” will do for your lead team…

> Helps others. Again, this won’t move your mission forward but just might for someone else. The value added is in living and giving more like Christ… meeting people at the point, place and time of their need. That’s it. That’s enough.

> Lends perspective. We all need a “reality check.” Sometimes we just get caught up in our own little worlds. Getting away has a way of helping us see our agendas for what they may have become… small, even petty. For example, going with our youth ministry and leadership team to live and work on an Amish farm for 2-3 days. Wow… this is highly recommended! Up while dark and gladly in bed at sundown, these people know the meaning of honest labor. And, let’s just say that drinking farm-fresh milk has a whole new meaning.

> Sparks creativity. Seeing how other people live and lead can create “Aha!” moments.  Simply put, others may be doing it better! Be intentional about looking for these “Aha!” moments and then unpacking them when you get back to the reality of your own world. What did we learn and how does it apply? We need reminded that living and leading only for our visions is not God’s vision for us.

> Encourages unity. The shared experience can both expose a lack of “team spirit” as well as foster it. When we are out of our element we need one another, are sometimes forced to rely on one another in ways we may have gotten out of the habit of doing. Re-ignite the need for and genius of teamwork by getting out of your comfort zones, together.

I often remind my team of the “secret to happiness” that Jesus ultimately modeled through His life, death and resurrection… “Get over yourself and start giving yourself.” 

The Best (re)Action

images-3What is our first reaction to a challenge, problem, or crisis? How many panic or just plain freak out? How many get all “hero” and do something immediately… even if it’s wrong? How many retreat ASAP to get away, process and plan?

What if we did something altogether different? What if, instead of immediately asking, “What am I going to do?” we first asked, “Lord, what do you want to do?”

Pray first. Consider a small but powerful commentary on some of our Biblical heroes found in Scripture, “Abraham prayed…” “Isaac prayed…” “Jacob prayed…” “Moses prayed…” “Samson prayed…” “Hannah prayed…” “David prayed…” “Elijah prayed…” “Elisha prayed…” “Nehemiah prayed…” “Daniel prayed…” “Jonah prayed…” “Jesus prayed…” “Stephen prayed…” “Peter prayed…” “Paul prayed…”

…you get the picture.

Then again, do we get the picture when it comes to prayer? The great theologian, John Bunyon lends perspective, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” Sure, we can spend a lifetime doing things by pure initiative. But what if, through prayer, we partnered in God’s initiative, His plan and purpose? We won’t know until we try.

The next time something comes up and we don’t know what to do, let’s make our first reaction taking action through prayer. Remember, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” (Oswald Chambers) 

31 Tips for 2016 – #17

Unknown-1Here is Tip #17 for ministry leaders in 2016…

Stay for the credits. 

Our son was home from college and we were catching a family movie. When it was over, Elisabeth and I got up to leave, but Andrew stayed put, still watching the screen. “You ready?,” I asked impatiently. “No, I’m watching the credits,” he replied. So, we sat down and watched as the names of hundreds of people in dozens of roles scrolled on and on. When it was over, we were, of course, the only ones still there as the lights came on. We got in the car and he explained…

“My roommates are film majors. I have a new respect for what they do.” He went on to tell us more about what goes into the making of informative and inspiring film. We had no idea and had been given a valuable education into what goes on behind the scenes. That was a few years ago and we are still staying for the credits.

Your organization probably has some good leaders. However, any good leader knows that it is the great people behind the scenes who make all the difference. The truth is, it just doesn’t get done without their creative talents and tireless, unseen efforts. This is where you come in.

As a leader, make sure to roll the credits. Whether in your social media outlets, hard copy presentations or both… make the recognition of your volunteers and key staff members the norm for your organization. How about an annual volunteer recognition BBQ, party or banquet? Even better,  encourage people face-to-face and be specific about the ways they are making everything and everyone better in your organization. However you do this, be intentional.

Cultivate a culture of awareness and gratitude for not just what these people do, but for who they are… moms, teens, grandpa’s, single dads all who probably don’t have a lot of time to spare. Yet, there they are, week after week, serving the Lord by serving in your church or organization. Want to take it to the next level? Join them in doing some of the unseen and unsung work yourself as the norm for you and your lead team.

Jesus described this culture in simple terms, “The greatest among you will be your servant.”(Matthew 23:10, NIV)

“Cut. Roll credits!” 


31 Tips for 2016 – #6

Unknown-1Here is Tip #6 for Ministry Leaders in 2016…

Get more sleep.

For too long it has been a disturbing badge of honor to live and lead by “burning the candle at both ends.” While there are days and even short seasons of life when we have to get up earlier and stay up later to get it done, this shouldn’t be the indefinite lifestyle of a healthy leader.

The truth is, if someone is always exhausted (and letting everyone know about it), then at some point there are simply some poor life and leadership management choices being made. We’ve all been there when we haven’t gotten enough zzzz’s… we get “cranky,” our creativity decreases along with our attention span, our poor eating and drinking choices increase, we just aren’t as “sharp” as we know we can be.

Here is a link to a great article on the correlation between rest and productivity by Michael Hyatt – Why People Who Sleep Longer Achieve More

It’s simple. If we want to be our best for the Lord, your family, team and the people you lead, then we must choose to be well-rested. We might even take an elusive “power-nap” every now and then. New York Times best-selling author and all around life and leadership guru Jon Acuff says, “In a world that praises busyness, rest is an act of bravery.” 

Sleep well, live well. Live well, lead well.

6 Ways to Lead in Limbo


Are you sensing a change on the horizon but aren’t sure about what, when, where or how? We’ve all been there and will likely be there again in the future. Whether you are considering a big change of location, vocation or vision, how do you lead well when you honestly aren’t sure what’s next?

Here are 6 Ways to Lead in Limbo…

1) Pray about it, but not alone. If the Spirit brought you to your present position, make sure the Spirit leads you to the next. Invite a small group of trusted leaders to pray with you about what you are sensing. Besides, those closest to you are likely already sensing something themselves. Pray through it together.

2) Talk about it, but not with everyone. Beginning with your spouse and extending to a confident inner circle, don’t just think about it, talk about it transparently. There is power and clarity in honestly processing where you are at and where things are headed. Don’t make assumptions about anything.

Perhaps a good question is… what aren’t you seeing? Others possess a perspective you simply don’t. Tap into their wisdom and perspective behind the scenes. For example, my wife has a sense of discernment that is out-of-this-world when it comes to people. I have regretted deeply not listening to her leanings on several occasions… and have been so very grateful I have on others. Listen up and listen well!

3) Don’t withdraw. It will be easy to pull back relationally when your are thinking… “I may be leaving anyway.” Or, “I wonder if people notice I don’t really have a clue?” Resist the temptation to isolate yourself as a leader and distance yourself from your team, ministry or organization.

4) Focus on the fundamentals. In other words, keep leading! What are the essentials of your role and ministry that will continue long after someone else is filling your shoes? Sure up team relationships, focus on the values that are bigger than any one person and the vision that is greater than you. Remember, you are part of a greater team. Run your leg of the race well before the baton is passed or another direction is taken.

5) Seek more advice. Ask some open and honest questions of those who have been down this road. These may not be in your immediate circles or part of your prayer team. Find out what some seasoned veterans in your field wish they would have asked, said or done if they had it to do over again. Invite them to ask you the hard questions. Answering them now will save a lot of regret later.

The wisdom writer reminds us, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22, NIV)

6) Take your time. The tension of feeling torn will tempt you to make a premature decision. Don’t. Besides, you might be settling for something less than God’s best for all involved, whether that means staying or going. Change will come soon enough. Take the time to make sure it is Spirit-led.

Transitions are inevitable. They are challenging even in the best of times. However, you can lead well through them in these healthy ways and more. What would you add? What advice can you give others leading in limbo? Leave your suggestions in the Reply section below!

How to Diffuse the Situation

images-8Great teams are full of leaders with equally strong talents, personalities and the opinions to go with them. While this creates a high potential for productivity, no one should be surprised when conflict arises and personalities collide.

Here are 5 Ways to Diffuse the Situation…

1) Don’t! The escalation may be an indicator of a relational or organizational disconnect or disagreement or it may just be that creative minds are hard at work. Abruptly ending the argument or placating someone will only provide a false and temporary peace that may keep things from going forward through the push and pull of high-capacity leaders. Remember that a steam engine only moves forward under well-controlled pressure.

2) Take charge… but just long enough to assure those involved that they will be heard, in turn and with respect. Be clear. Disagreement is tolerated and even welcomed in your organizational culture. Disrespect is not.

3) Keep digging. Ask questions that force the real issues behind the emotion. This will not only address the issues at hand, but will serve notice that unnecessary drama is out of place and simply “not what we do here.”

Jesus was the master at the art of inquiry, often answering questions with questions. Two of his disciples were arguing over who might sit by Jesus’ on His throne in Heaven. Rather than answering directly, Jesus asked them about their ability to lead well in the here and now. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” (Mark 10:38, NIV) In other words, with leadership may come certain privileges, but with great responsibility to God and others.

4) Assign responsibility but don’t create new policy. Refuse any tendency to add policy based on isolated arguments. This only punishes the greater team and encourages wasted lateral energy. Be specific with the individuals involved as you assign the actions you believe are necessary to restore team health and harmony.

5) Follow-up. Team unity is too essential to be assumed. Check-in with the people involved individually and as a group. Again, this will help cultivate a healthy culture where people are free to disagree but where respect for one another stays at a high level.

How do you deal effectively with rising tensions on your team? Share your thoughts in the Reply section below.

I would love to come to equip and encourage you and your team! Email me at to see how we can partner for a leadership conference, retreat or coaching relationship.

High Capacities of Great Leaders

images-2What do great leaders possess that sets them and their organizations apart? How can you make these traits a part of your life, family and lead team?

Here are 8 Capacities of Great Leaders…

1) High Capacity for Vision. Great leaders “see first and see farther.” (John Maxwell) This doesn’t just “happen.” It’s the result of purposed listening, learning and processing from others while asking, seeking and knocking in prayer. In these ways they see what others can’t… or won’t. Keep looking!

2) High Capacity for Tenacity. They are the “pitbulls” of their organization when it comes to the people, the vision and values that shape it. Other words for this are perseverance, patience, and my favorite “King James Version” description… looooongsuffering. Whatever it takes they hold on and hold out when they know they are headed in the right direction.

3) High Capacity for Learning. Great leaders are lifetime learners. They read, listen, watch, podcast, blog and more in order to stay sharp and current. They are humble enough to ask the tough questions, even when it reveals their own ignorance on a given subject. They soak it in to the point that it’s part of their DNA… and then pass it on in simple but creative ways.

4) High Capacity for Communication. They get it… people are busy and need to be reminded more than once. So, they put the important messages out there through multiple platforms multiple times. They partner with those skilled and experienced in social media, harnessing their creativity and celebrating with them as the word gets out. Communication is a constant, a lifestyle.

4) High Capacity for Gratitude. Great leaders don’t forget the grace of God and others. They don’t forget where they have come from. They don’t tolerate entitlement and are intentional about thanking others and creating a culture of gratitude by modeling it daily.

5) High Capacity for Teamwork. Great leaders are great gatherers. They not only recruit both volunteer and paid individuals with high capacities in their chosen field, they recognize potential yet untapped and invest in them with a passion. Think Jesus and His less than learned disciples. (For you LOTR fans… think the “Fellowship of the Ring!”)

6) High Capacity for Feeling. Great leaders understand the felt needs of their teams and take the emotional pulse of their organization often. They have little tolerance for “needy” in themselves or others while creating safe environments and experiences for people to share their hearts. They can sense when morale is getting low or momentum is shifting in the wrong direction and they take action to call it out and turn it around.

7) High Capacity for Compassion. Great leaders are great lovers of people. The love of Jesus compels them with a constant awareness that, apart from His grace, they themselves are unloveable. This drives them to meet people as Jesus did (and still does!), at the point, place and time of their deepest need.

8) High Capacity for Adventure. Great leaders aren’t afraid to step out into the great unknown! Another word for this is faith. What is faith? “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV) They see the vast unknown as an even greater opportunity for advancing the vision of their organization. They cast a clear vision, gather a ready team, plan, pack and then launch out into it with great expectations!

What capacities of great leaders have you observed? How can these be purposed in ministries and organizations? Share your insights in the Reply section below!