Leadership

The OFFICIAL Podcast & Blog for Garretson!

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Hi everyone!
I have some really exciting news to share. As many of you know, about a year ago I began something called “The Blue Light Podcast.” The goal was to shed a light on the incredible community I call home. This year I had the opportunity to upgrade the podcast by streaming the video live on Facebook. This has allowed us to extend our reach and connect with even more people. For example, my most recent interview with Bruce Brown (who is running for mayor) has received over 800 views in only five days. Another cool fact is that the content from The Blue Light Podcast’s page has reached over 1,400 people in the past week!

This afternoon, the Garretson Commercial Club voted to make The Blue Light Podcast the official podcast and blog for the community. I have been hired on a very part-time basis to produce original and engaging content to draw people to the community and help people in the community feel more connected.

For more information (or to learn how YOU can be involved) watch the video below by clicking the link:
BIG Announcement about The Blue Light Podcast! 

 

Your Church NEEDS to Change in Three Ways!

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The future is often stuck in a perpetual replay of the past. The events and attitudes of yesterday mold and shape tomorrow. Studying history can be incredibly prophetic in understanding the landscape of the 21st century.

One of the books I am reading for seminary is called The Democratization of American Christianity by Nathan Hatch. Before you close out of my blog and assume that this has no relevance in your context since it is academic, STOP! Hatch gives a vivid view of how the Revolution influenced Christianity in the early republic… and it has DIRECT relevance for churches today!

Don’t believe me? Consider this reflection by Nathan Hatch:
“With the rise of fierce religious competition, movements that employed more aggressive measures prospered. Churches reluctant to compete on the same terms declined.”

The churches which were most effective in reaching lost people with the Gospel were those which employed radical means to make disciples. These aggressive churches were criticized by the established churches as being too progressive and radical in their outreach… sound familiar?

Churches in the 21st century MUST embrace change. Don’t get me wrong. I believe the message needs to continually come directly from Scripture and exalt the person and work of Jesus Christ. Our message CANNOT change… but these THREE things should!

1. We need to harness the power of media!
One of the revolutionary things these radical churches did was utilize the power of mass media. The established churches refused to distribute pamphlets and speak in a “common” language… hence they did not reach the average American!

This is still true in the western world. Churches need to harness the incredible power of media – ESPECIALLY social media! 78% of Americans have a social media account. In light of this statistic, there are MANY churches who refuse to establish a presence on social media. There is an audience waiting to connect with your church and you NEED to learn the basics of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the sake of the Gospel!

2. We need to strive for excellence in preaching!
The pastors which excelled in reaching the lost in the early Republic were those that displayed passion in their preaching! Far too many pastors are content with delivering a dry lecture with no emotion when they enter into the pulpit.

Pastor, eternity literally hangs in the balance every time you open the Scriptures before your people.

I do not understand how many pastors put people to sleep when sharing the INCREDIBLE story of God’s love for people! DO NOT get in the pulpit if you aren’t willing to be passionate about Jesus Christ. Dry lectures and intellectual language does not change people… the simple message of the Gospel does!

3. We need to empower the church for ministry!
One of the criticisms lobbied at these aggressive churches was against the abundance of “common” people involved in the ministry. READ EPHESIANS 4:12. Pastors are given to the church to EQUIP people for the work of ministry! If the people in your church are content with sitting in a pew while paid “professionals” do the work of the ministry, your church will die!

God has gifted your church with incredible men, women, and children called to the ministry! Each Christian in your church is part of the Body of Christ and the entire Body needs to work together in order to advance the Gospel. You need to train the people in your church to see themselves as ministers… not religious consumers!


What are some other ways the church needs to change in order to reach lost people? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Why all the denominations?

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People are often puzzled by the incredible amount of denominations in Christianity – especially in the United States. Many of these denominations began in the 1800s as people began to apply the principles of democracy and personal freedom to religion. As people exercised what they believed to be God-given reason and logic, it fostered a movement full of schisms.

According to Nathan Hatch in his book “The Democratization of American Christianity“, one of the primary reasons this happened is, “They denied the age-old distinction that set the clergy apart as a separate order of men, and they refused to defer to learned theologians and traditional orthodoxies.”

It this a positive or negative concept?

My answer is YES!

1. The concept of denying the distinction between clergy and lay-people is extremely positive.
As the church became institutionalized around the time of Constantine, Christianity became powerful. It was recognized as an official religion and Constantine devoted a vast amount of wealth to create buildings and memorials to the faith.

This also encouraged Christians to pattern their churches after the Roman government. Rather than being led by servants following in the example of Christ, the church was led by powerful leaders intent on exercising militant-like authority towards those in their charge.

Eventually the Scriptures were chained to the pulpit and the “common people” had to rely on the priests to mediate the Word of God. This resulted in spiritual abuse, domineering leadership, and the twisting of Scripture. Thankfully the many reformations led by men such as Luther, Calvin, Erasmus, Zwingli and others brought the Scriptures to common people.

Nevertheless, there was still a distinct class difference between clergy and lay-people. The Scriptures teach that it is the job of the pastors and spiritual leaders in the church to equip the people for the ministry (Eph. 4:12). In other words, the model that the “paid professionals” do the work of the ministry while everyone else sits in a pew and critiques the work is deeply flawed and began to meet its demise in the belief that there was no distinction between clergy and laity.

2. The refusal to defer to learned theologians and traditional orthodoxies was negative and fostered heretical movements.
These first American Christians practiced what C.S. Lewis called “intellectual snobbery.” They believed that their own reason and logic trumped the labor put in by faithful followers of Jesus throughout the centuries. Through such statements as “No Creed but the Bible” the people were ironically led into heretical movements such as Mormonism!

The irony is that there are numerous creeds in the Bible itself!

When Christians, especially Christian pastors, refuse to study church history they are exercising arrogance. In pride they believe that their conclusions, arrived at through searching Google, are more sound than the hours of labor put in by faithful saints throughout the ages. As Christians, we desperately need to understand and defend sound doctrine against those who have shipwrecked their faith by listening to the teaching of demons (1 Timothy 4:1).

This means we need to enter into conversation with Christians of other centuries through carefully reading ancient texts and Christian classics. These writings have stood the test of time for a reason – they have something substantial to say which still applies to the 21st century!


Have you ever studied Christianity in the early United States? What are some concepts you noticed which have shaped our understanding of religion today? 

We have authority issues…

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I LOVE history.

One of the things I find incredible about studying history is the direct relevance it has on our lives today. I’m currently reading a book called The Democratization of American Christianity. The book explores 19th century Christianity in the early United States. It has given me amazing insight into why we act the way we do!

One of the issues we have as Christians in the west is a problem with authority. This is what gave rise to 100,000+ denominations in a short amount of time. This is what helped propel democracy into a time-tested institution.

When it comes to the church, our authority issues are toxic.

Hebrews 13:17 
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing—for that would be harmful to you.”

Let’s look at this verse together. I want to make three observations to explain why our rejection of authority is to our own detriment and sorrow:

1. God has placed leaders in the church.
Many Christians have a romantic but unrealistic view of church authority. Church members often believe they should have a vote in EVERY decision made at a church. From the color of the carpet to the tone of the preacher; this is unrealistic! If a church votes on every decision and overrides the pastor repeatedly, the church has effectively stripped the pastor of any sort of fruitful leadership.

Many churches don’t want a pastor, they want a chaplain.

They want someone who will bow down to the felt needs of the congregation rather than boldly proclaim the Gospel. God has placed qualified and faithful leaders in the church to actually LEAD!

2. These leaders should be deeply concerned about your soul.
Pastors have many things to do. It is easy for them to become distracted by issues which are of no significance in the grand scheme of things if there is not a team of people around them.

The pastors in a church should not exercise domineering, CEO-like leadership. Instead the leadership should come from a place of deep humility, supernatural gentleness, and grave concern for the salvation of the church. Your pastor (probably) spends hours each week laboring on your behalf at the throne of grace. He is continually on his knees pleading with God for the salvation of his hearers.

3. These leaders will give an account to God of how they lead you. 
Pastoral leadership carries a terrifying weight. God has entrusted His people to the leadership of a church to shepherd and proclaim the Gospel. On top of this, pastors face intense spiritual warfare as they advance into the ruin and wickedness of this world.

Rather than trying to buck the authority of your leaders, pray for them. Rather than being easily offended and sending a nasty e-mail, allow your love to cover a multitude of sins.

Pastors are broken people trying (and often failing) to imitate the Good Shepherd. They are in desperate need of the grace and mercy which comes from the Gospel… just like YOU!

Instead of being the person with deep authority issues that the pastor has to shield himself from, make the ministry a joy. Allow your pastor to shepherd, lead, and boldly proclaim the Gospel… this is for YOUR good!

Three Ways to Shut the Backdoor of YOUR Church

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This post is the fourth of a series posts of my reflections on the Small Town, Big Church Roundtable event I attended at The Rescue Church. I encourage you to read the first three:
1. It Takes ALL Kinds of Churches…
2. Three Reasons Your Church is Struggling Financially
3. Hiring Church Staff with No Money


Every church seems to have a revolving backdoor. In other words, a small church may see 50+ guests every year with many of these people becoming permanent members while continuing at the same attendance. This happens because people who have been attending the church regularly leave.

Watching people leave your church, especially when the reason is unknown, is one of the most painful parts of being a pastor.

This backdoor was a major problem at The Rescue Church. After reading the book Sticky Church, we have begun to search for solutions to the problem. This was also a topic which was brought up at the roundtable; below are three ideas that resonated with me:

1. You need excellent small groups!
If you are like many pastors, you may have audibly groaned when you read those two words: small groups. As pastors we hate to talk about small group ministries because we aren’t very good at them (that’s saying it nicely!). This has also been brutally true of the church I help lead.

We are currently experimenting with sermon-based discussion groups. These meetings have been effective in connecting people to each other and to God. An average group for us looks like this:
(30 minutes) – We have a meal together.
(15 minutes) – We share what is REALLY going on in our lives and pray for each other.
(30 minutes) – We spend time going through the discussion questions from the bulletin.
(15 minutes) – We close with prayer.

It is a simple but effective format. If you are interested in this, you NEED to read Sticky Church!

2. You need to personally follow-up with visitors!
It’s terrifying to attend a new church for the first time. After the service, the person will have an internal (or external) debate on whether or not to attend the following week.

If you want visitors to return to your church, you NEED to follow up with them personally. This means you need to have a way of gathering their information. We have “Connection Cards” which people can fill out and have a welcome gift mailed to them.

If you have their phone number, I highly recommend giving them a call. Thank them for attending the service and answer any questions they might have. Explain that you would be honored to have them join you again the following week!

3. You need to have a relational church!
The primary concept which continued to come up in our discussion was relationships. People stay at a church because of the relationships they have forged there. If the people in your church have the mindset of a country club and refuse to welcome guests to the service, your church will not grow!

You need to cultivate a deep love for guests in your congregation. This is more than going to grandma’s house after church with the same people every week. The people in your church should intentionally look for ways to welcome guests!

We have a “First Impressions” team at The Rescue Church. These are our greeters, ushers, coffee bar severs, etc. Although we have an official team, we are clear that EVERYONE is on the First Impressions team. This is something that we embed into the DNA of every person who attends our church. One of the greatest compliments I hear from first time guests is how genuinely friendly everyone at the church is!


Have you noticed that your church has a backdoor? What are some things you have learned to help close it? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Three Qualities of a Go-Getter

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This post was inspired by the classic book Go-Getter by Peter Kyne.


Let’s be real. Many people in your organization, whether its a church or a business, are not go-getters. Everybody claims that they are… they just aren’t.

A go-getter is someone who will accomplish an objective in the face of impossible and discouraging obstacles.

Are YOU a go-getter? Below are some characteristics which should be evident in your life!

1. You make decisions!
So often we do not accomplish anything noteworthy in our lives because we are afraid to make decisions. Every time you say yes to something great you are saying no to a lot of good things. This tends to terrify rather than energize people.

It is better to make a wrong decision than do nothing at all. At times it is greater to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. If you are repeatedly consulting your supervisor on how to accomplish an objective, you are not a go-getter.

Go-getters understand what needs to be done and create their own strategy to reach the destination. If you are a go-getter, you will be offended if someone lays out a step-by-step plan on how to accomplish your job; this would be an insult on your intelligence!

2. Obstacles become opportunities!
When you are pursuing the objective, you can become paralyzed by obstacles. These obstacles loom like giants, ready to crush your aspirations. Unfortunately, this is the fate of many well-intended leaders who give up too quickly!

The larger the obstacle, the greater the victory!

In order to be a go-getter, you need to be scrappy. When an objective becomes “impossible”, you should immediately begin figuring out ways under it, around it, or over it. There is ALWAYS a way and you need to FIGHT to discover it!

3. You have an “It shall be done” attitude!
Anytime you are presented with a task or assignment, you should immediately say, “It shall be done.” Regardless of how difficult it seems, you need to rise to the challenge. Rather than listening to how other people have failed before you, you need to forge a new path through the rough terrain.

Ultimately, this comes from a place of faith. A true go-getter is someone whose faith is in the living God rather than themselves. A go-getter disconnected from the purposes of God becomes an arrogant, egotistical workaholic.

The ultimate goal of the go-getter is to hear these words…
“Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” – Matthew 25:21


What are some characteristics you would add to my list? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Hiring Church Staff with No Money

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This post is the third of a series posts of my reflections on the Small Town, Big Church Roundtable event I attended at The Rescue Church. I encourage you to read the first two:
It Takes ALL Kinds of Churches…
Three Reasons Your Church is Struggling Financially


The pastorate can be incredibly lonely. This feeling is multiplied by the pastor having no team around him to help lead the church. Many pastors are the “savior” of their congregation. The pastor is required to be at every hospital bed, preach every sermon, and fix every technology issue.

This is a toxic system of ministry which will bring death into your church.

Pastors in small churches tend to envy pastors who have multiple staff members. Many small church pastors dream of having a team of people around them helping propel the ministry forward. This is why many pastors see small, rural churches as a stepping stone to a larger ministry.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Everything you need in order to take your church to the next level is already in your church!

One of the concepts that has revolutionized The Rescue Church is volunteer staff. Volunteer staff are church members empowered to help lead the mission of the church. There are many people in your church who would be honored to put their hands to the plow (for free!) but you need to call it out of them!

So how can you do this? I’m glad you asked!

1. Have a clear vision!
Everybody wants to be part of something bigger than themselves. Unfortunately, many churches are content with preserving the 1950s to the best of their ability. No one is going to want to serve for free under an organization that has no vision for the future and is stagnant in its growth.

If you want men and women to step into leadership at your church, you need to have a vision that is clear, compelling, and simple!

2. Call people to HIGH commitment!
Often we try to fill volunteer roles by convincing people of how easy it will be. This is bad leadership! If you do not hold a high standard for the people you place in leadership, they will only do enough to get by.

You need to find dynamic leaders who are willing to pry open doors and wrestle with the impossible.

At The Rescue Church, we call all of our volunteer staff leaders to commit to 5 hours a week outside of their weekend duties. This is a BIG commitment for people! If you recognize leadership in people, call them to a HIGH commitment so that they can grow in their faith and impact the community!

3. Show them the exit ramp!
No one wants to get signed on to a volunteer position which requires them to give up every Tuesday night until Jesus comes back. You need to understand that the people who are going to be leading in your church are probably leading outside of the church as well. They are BUSY people and you do not want to risk burning them out.

We require our volunteer staff members to sign a commitment which says they will serve for one year. At the end of the year, we always give our staff members the option of stepping down. We value our volunteer staff members greatly and want to be sure they are spiritually, emotionally, and physical healthy; this means rest is vital!


Have you ever hired volunteer staff members? What are some things you would add to this list? Let me know by leaving a comment!